THE BLESSEDNESSE OF THE RIGHTEOUS Discoursed from Psal. 17, 15.

By John Howe M. A.

When he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is,

1 John 3. 2.

[...]. Plat. in [...].

LODON, Printed by Sarah Griffin, for Samuel Thomson and are to be sold at the sign of the Bishops-head in Duck-lane, 1668.

To the Reader.

I Am not at all solicitous, that the World should know the History of the conception of this Treatise. If there be any thing that shall recompence the pains of such as may think fit to give themselves the trouble of per­using it, in the work it self; I should yet think it too much an under-valuing of them, if I did reckon the minuter circumstances re­lating thereto, fit matter for their entertain­ment.

Nor am I more concern'd to have it known what were the inducements to the publication of it, Earnest protestations and remonstrances of our good intentions in such und [...]rtakings, as they leave men still at liberty to believe, or doubt, at their pleasure, so they gain us little if they be believed. It is no easie matter to [...]arry one, even, constant tenour of Spirit, [...]hrough a work of time. Nor is it more easie [...]o passe a setled, invariable judgement, con­ [...]erning so variable a subject: when an heart [...]hat may seem wholly framed and set for God [...]is hour; shall l [...]ok so quite like another thing [...] next: and change figures and postures al­ [...]ost as often as it doth thoughts.

[Page] And if a man should be mistaken in judg­ing himself, it would little mend the matter, to have deceived others also into a good opinion of him.

But if he can approve himself to God in the simplicity of an honest and undeceived heart; The peace that ensues, is a secret between God and him.Senec. They are Theatre enough to one another (as he said to his friend.) 'Tis an inclosed pleasure. A joy which the stranger cannot intermiddle with.

'Tis therefore any mans concernment, here­in rather to satisfie himself, then the world. And the world rather to understand the de­sign of the work then the Author: and whi­ther it tends, rather then whereto he meant it.

And 'tis obvious enough to what good pur­poses discourses of this nature may serve. This is, in the design of it, wholly practical; Hath little or nothing to do with disputation. If there be any whose business it is to promote a private, divided interest; or who place the sum of their Religion in an inconsiderable, and doubtful opinion: It doth not unhallow their altars, nor offer any to affront their idol. It intends n [...] quarrel to any contending, angry party. But deals upon things in the substance whereof, Christians are at a professed agree­ment. And hath therefore the greater pro­bability of do [...]g go [...]d to some, without the of­fence of any.

[Page] 'Tis indeed equally matter of complaint and wonder, that men can find so much leasure to direct from such things, wherein there is so much both of importance and pleasure unto, what one would think should have little of temptation or allurement in it, contentions jangling. It might rather be thought, its visible fruits and tendencies should render it the most dreadful thing to every serious be­holder. What Tragedies hath it wrought in the Christian Church! Into how weak and lan­guishing a condition hath it brought the Reli­gion of professed Christians? Hence have risen the intemperate preternatural heats and angers that have spent its strength and spirits; and make it look with so Meagre and Pale a face. We have had a greater mind to dispute then live; and to contend about what we know not, then to practice the far greater things we know: and which more directly tend to nourish and maintain the Divine Life. The Authour of that ingenious sentencePruritus dis­putandi sco­bies Ecclesia. (who­ever he were) hath sitly exprest what is the noisome product of the itch of disputing. It hath begot the ulcerous tumors; which, be­sides their own offencive soreness, drain the body, and turn what should nourish that, into nutriment to themselves. And it effects are not more grievous, then the pleasures which it affects and pursues are uncouth and unnatural.

[Page] Ut ulcera quaedam noci­turas manus apoetunt & tactu gaudent & faedam cor­porum scabi­em delectat quicquid [...] [...]sper [...]t: Non alitè [...] dixerim his m [...]ntibus in quas volup­tates velut mala ulcera crupê unt, voluptati esse laborem, vex [...] ­tionem (que) S [...]n. de tranquilli­tate an [...]. The rough touch of an ungentle hand. That onely pleases which exasperates (as the morallist aptly expresse [...] s [...]me like disaf­fection of diseased minds.) Toyl and vexati­on is their only delight what to a s [...]und spi­rit would be a pain, is to these a pleasure.

Which is, indeed, the triumph of the disease, that it addes unto torment, repr [...]ach, and mockery, and imposes upon men by so ridiculous a delusion (wh [...]le they are made to take pleasure in punishing themselves) that even the most sober can scarce look on in a fitter posture, then with a compassionate smile. All which were yet somen hat more tollerable if that imagined vanishing pleasure were not the whole of their gain: or if it were to be hoped that so great a present real pain and smart, should be recompensed with as real a [...] consequent fruit and advantage. But we know, that general [...]y, by how much any thing is more disputable, the lesse it is necessary or conducible to the Christian life. God hath graciously provided, that what we are to live by should not cost us so dear. And possibly as there is lesse occasion of disputing about the more momentous things of Religion, so there may be somewhat more of modesty, and awe in reference to what is so confessedly venerable and sacred (though too ma [...]y are over-bold even here also) then so foolishly to trifle with [Page] such things. Therefore more commonly, where that humour prevails, men divert from th [...]se plainer things, with some slighter and super­ficial reverence to them, but more heartily, esteeming them insipid and jejune, because they have less in them to grati [...]ie that appetite; And betake themselves to such things about which they may more plausibly contend; and then what pitiful trifles oftentimes take up their time and thoughts. Questions and Problems of like weighty importance (very often) with those which, the abovenamed Authour tells us,Sen de Brev. vit. ‘this disease among the Greeks prompted them to trouble themselves about, as what number of Rowers Ulisses had? Which was written first the Iliad or the Odysses? &c. So that (as he saith) they spent their lives very operously doing nothing. Their conceits being such that if they kept them to themselves, they could yield them no fruit: and if they published them to others, they should not seem there­by the more learned, but the more trouble­some, (To this purpose he truely speaks.) And is it not to be resented that men should [...]ell away the solid strength and vitals joy which a serious Soul would find in substantial Religion for such toyes! Yea and not only famish themselves but trouble the world, and im­broil the Church with their impertinencies! [Page] If a man be drawn forth to defend an impor­tant truth against an injurious assault, it were treacherous self-love to purchase his own peace by declining it. Or if he did sometimes turne his thoughts to some of our petite questi­ons, that with many are so hotly agitated, for recreation sake, or to try his wit, and exercise his reas [...]n without stirring his passions, to the disturbance of others or himself; here an in­nocent divertisement, and the best purpose that things of that nature are capable of serving. But when contention becomes a mans element, and he cannot live out of that fire, strains his wit, and racks his inven­tion to find matter of quarrel; is resolved, nothing said or done by others shall please him, onely because he means to please him in dissenti [...]g. Disputes onely that he may di­spute, and loves dissension for it self. This is the unnatural humour that hath so un­speakably troubled the Church, and despi­sed Religion, and filled mens Souls with wind and vanity. Yea with fire and fury. This hath made Christians gladiaters, and the Christian World a clamorous Theater, while men have equally affected to contend: and to make ostentation of their ability so to do.

And surely as it is highly pleasurable to re­ [...]re ones s [...]lf, so it is charitable to call aside [Page] others out of this noise and throng, to con­sider silently and feed upon the known and agree'd things of our Religion; which im­mediately lead to both the duties and delights of it.

Among which there are none more evident and undoubted, none lesse intangled with controversie, none more profitable and plea­sant then the future blessedness of the righteous which this discourse Treats of. The last end is a matter to little disput­able, that 'tis commonly thought (which is elsewhere more distinctly spoken to) not to be the object of election, and so not of de­liberation consequently, but of simple in­tention onely, because men are supposed to be generally agree'd as touching that. And the knowledge and intention of it is appa­rently the very soul of Religion; animates, direct, enlivens, and sweetens the whole there­of. Without which Religion were the vain­est irrational and most unsavoury thing in the World.

And because the more clearly this our last end is understood, the more powerfully and sweetly it attracts and moves the Soul, this Treatise endeavours to give as plain and posi­tive a state and nation of it as the Text in­sisted on, compared with other Scriptures would afford to so weak an eye.

[Page] And because men are so apt to abuse them­selves with the vain and self-contradicting hopes of attaining this end without ever ha­ving their spirits framed to it, or walking in the way that leads thereto, as if they could come to Heaven by chance, or without any design or care of theirs. The proportion is indeavoured to be shewn between that Divine likeness in the vision and participation where­of this Blessedness consists, and the Righte­ousness that disposes and leads to it. Which may it be monitory to the ungodly and profane, who hate and scorn the likeness of God where­ever they hehold it. And let me tell such from (better-instructed) Pagans,

That Nihil est Deo similius aut gratius quam vir animo per­fectè bonus, &c. Apul. de Deo So­ [...]atis. there is nothing more like or more accept­able to God, then a man that is in the temper of his Soul truly good who excells o­ther men, as he is himself excelled (pardon his Hyperbole) by the immortal God.

ThatInter bonos viros ac. De­um, amicitia est conciliante virtute, amicitiam dico? etiam necessitud [...], & similitud [...], &c. Sca de prov. between God and good men, there is a friendship, by means of vertue; a friendship? yea a kindred, a likeness, in­asmuch truly as the good man differs from God but in time (here sprinkle a grain or two) being his Disciple, Imitatour, and very of-spring.

[Page] That [...]—Plato in Min [...]e. God is full of indignation against such as reproach one that is alike to him, or that praise one that is contrarily affected (or unlike) bu [...] such is the good man (i. e. he is one like) God, A good man (as it shortly after follows) is the holiest thing in the World, and a wicked man the most polluted thing.

And let me warn such haters of holiness, and holy men in the words of this Auth [...]urs immediately subjoyned. [...]. ‘And this I say for this cause, that thou being but a man the son of a man, no more offend in speak­ing aginst an Hero; One who is a Son of God.’

Me thinks men should be ashamed to pro [...]esse the belief of a life to come, while they cannot behold with [...]ut indignation, nor men­tion but with derision, that holiness without which it can never be attained, and which is indeed the seed and principle of the thing it self.

But such are not likely much to trouble themselves with this discourse. There's little in it indeed of Art, or Ornament to invite or gratifie such as the Subject it self invites not. And nothing at all but what was appre­hended might be some way useful. The af­fectation [Page] of garnishing a margent with the names of Authours, I have ever thought a vain pedantry yet have not declined the occa­sional use of a few that occurred. He that writes to the World must reckon himself debt­er to the wise and unwise. If what is done shall be found with any to have promoted its proper end. His praises to God shall follow it (as his prayers do that it may) who professes him­self.

A Well willer to the Souls of men. J. H.

Christian Reader.

YOu whose hearts are set on Heaven, who are dayly laying up a treasure there, here is a welcome messenger, to tell you more th [...]n perhaps you have well considered, of the nature of your future Blessedness, and to illustrate [...]he Map of the Land of promise, and to bring you another cluster of its grapes: Here is a useful help to make you know that Holiness doth perticipate of Glory, and that Heaven is at least Virtually in [...]he Seed of Grace: Though this life be properly called a life of Faith, as contradistinct from the [...]ntuition and fruition hereafter, as well as from the lower life of sence; yet is it a great truth, and not sufficiently considered and improved, that we have here more than Faith, to acquaint us with the Blessedness expected: Between Faith and Glory, there is the Spirit of Holiness, the love of God, the heavenly desires, which are kindled by Faith and are th [...]se branches on which the happy flower and fruit must grow: They are the name and mark of God upon us: They are our Earnest, our Pledg, and the first fruits; And is not this more than a word of pr [...]mise only? Therefore though all Christians must lively Faith, marvell not that I tell you, that you may, you must have more than Faith. Is not a Pledge, and Earnest, a first Fruits more? Therefore have Christians, not only a Spirit to evi­dence their Title, but also some foretast [...]f Heaven it [Page] self: for Faith in Christ is to recover us to God and so much as we have of God, so much of fruition And so much as Faith hath kindled in you of [...] love of God, so much foretaste you have of He [...] ven: for you are deceived if you think that any [...] Notion speaketh more to you of Heaven and of y [...] Ultimate end, than THE LOVE OF GOD And though no unsound ill-grounded Faith, [...] ­serve to cause this sacred Love, yet when it caused, it over-tops this cause, and he that pe [...] ceiveth the operations of a strong effectual Lov [...] hath an acquaintance with God and Heaven whi [...] is above that of believing: Faith seeth the Fea [...] but Love is the tasting of it. And therefore it that the Holiest souls sticks closest unto God, because (though their re [...]soning faculty may be d [...] fective) they know him by the highest and m [...] Tenacious kind of knowledge, which this Wor [...] [...]ff [...]rdeth, (as I have lately shewed elsewhere; [...] Here you have described to you, the true witness the spirit; Not that of supposed Internal Voice [...] which they are usually, most taken up with, wh [...] have the smallest knowledge, and Faith, and Love and the greatest self esteem or spiritual pride, with the strongest phantasies and p [...]ssi [...]ns, But the ob­jective and the sealing Testimony, the Divin [...] Nature, the renewed Image of God, whose Chil­dren are known by being like to their Heavenly Fa­ther, even by being Holy as he is Holy. This is the Spirit of Adoption, by which we are inclined, by Holy Love to God, and confidence in him, to cry Abba Father, and to flie unto him: The Spi­rit of Sanctification is thereby in us the Spirit of Adoption: For both signifie but the giving us that [Page] Love to God, which is the filial nature, and our [...]athers Image.

And this Treatise doth happily direct thee, to [...]at faithful beholding God in Righteousness, which [...]ust here begin this blessed Assimilation, which full [...]tuition will for ever perfect.

It is a happy sign that God is about to repair our [...]ins and divisions, when he stirreth up his ser­ [...]ants to speak so much of Heaven, and to call [...] the minds of impatient complainers, and con­ [...]tious censurers, and ignorant self conceited di­ [...]ders, and of worldly, unskilful, and unmerciful [...]stors, to look to that state where all the godly shall one; and to turn those thoughts to the furtherance Holiness, to provoke one another to Love and to [...]od works, which two many lay out upon their hay [...]d stubble, And to call men from judging and [...]spising each other (and worse then both those) out their Meats, and Drinks, and Dayes, to study [...]ghteousness, and Peace, and Joy in the Holy Ghost. [...]r he that in these things serveth Christ (in which [...] Kingdom doth consist) is acceptable to God, and proved of men (that are wise and good.) Let us [...]erefore follow after the things which make for [...]ace, and things wherewith one may edifie ano­ [...]er; whilest the contentious for meat will destroy [...]e work of God. Rom. 14. 17, 18, 19, 20. The [...]ion between Peace and Holiness is so strict that he [...]o truly promoteth one, promoteth both. Heb. 12. [...]4. Jam. 3. 17. The true way of our Union is ex­ [...]lently described, Eph. 4. 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, [...]6.

If any plain unlearned Readers, shall blame the [...]curateness of the stile, they must remember that [Page] those persons have not the least need to hear of He [...] ­ven, and to be drawn up from the vanities of ear [...] who cannot digest a looser stile.

As God hath endued the worthy Authour with more th [...]n ordinary measure of judiciousness, [...] soundness and accurateness of understanding, [...] seriousness, spirituality, and a heavenly mind; we have for our common benefit, the effects of these happy qualifications, in this judicious, he [...] venly discourse. And if my recommendations m [...] in any measure, further your acceptance, in provement and practising of so edifying a Treat [...] it will answer the ends of him who waiteth with [...] in hope for the same Salvation.

Rich. Baxter.

THE BLESSEDNESSE OF THE RIGHTEOUS.
A Proemial Discourse to the in­tended Subject.

THe continual mixture of Good, and Evil, in this present state of things; with its uncertain fluctuations, and sub­jection to perpetual changes; do natu­rally prompt a considering mind to the belief and hope of another; that may be both more perfect, and more permanent. For certainly it could never be a design adequate (or any way agree­able) to the Divine Wisdom and goodness, that the blessed God should raise such a thing, as this lower Creation out of nothing; Only to give [Page] himself the temporary pleasure of beholding (the alternate Joys and Sorrows of the best part thereof) his reasonable creature seated in it. Nor a delight at all proportionable to an eter­nal happy being; when he hath connaturalliz'd such a creature to this sensible world; onely to take notice how variously the passions he hath planted in him may be mov'd and stir'd by this variety of occasions, which he shal thence be presented with. And what suddain, and con­trary impressions may be made upon his easie passive senses, by the interchanged strokes and touches of contrary objects. How quickly he can raise him into a transport of high contentment, and pleasure; and then how soon he can again re­duce him to a very Paroxism of anguish and despair. It would discover us to have very vile and low thoughts of God, if we did not judge it altogether unanswerable to his perfe­ctions, to design no further thing in creating this world, and placing such a creature as man in it; then onely to please himself for a while with such a spectacle, and then at last clear the Stage, and shut up all again, in an eternal Silent darkness. If we could suppose a man fur­nished with such power, he would surely adde little to the reputation of his being wise, or good beyond other men, by a design so to use it.

Much less, can we think it worthy of God to perpetuate such a state of things as this; and con­tinue a succession of such persons and actions, as we now behold in the world, through eternal generations; onely to perpetuate to himself the same pleasure, in the exercise of his im­mense [Page] power, upon created natures; over which he hath so infinite advantage.

And indeed nothing can be more uncon­ceivable, then that the great Creatour and Authour of all things, should frame a Crea­ture of so vast comprehension, as the Spirit of man, put into it a capacity of knowing, and conversing with himself; give it some prospect of his own glory and blessedness, raise there­by in many, boundless unsatisfied desires after him, and an unexpressible pleasure in the pre­conceived hope of being received into the com­munion of that glory and blessedness; and yet defeat and blast so great an expectation by the unsuspected reducement of the very subject of it again to nothing. Yea, and that he should deal herein (as in that case he must) the most hardly with the best; And that such souls, whose meer love and devotedness to him, had made them abandon the pleasures of this life, and run thorough whatsoever difficulties for his sake, should fare worse then the very worst, were, [...], &c. Dyonys. Ha­licar. Antiq. Rom. lib. 8. beyond all the rest, most utterly unima­ginable; and a thought which Pagan-reason hath not known how to digest or entertain. ‘If (saith one, and he speaks the sense of many another, as well as his own) with the dissolution of our bodies, the essence of the Souls, whatsoever that be, should be dissol­ved too, and for ever cease to be any thing; I know not how I can account them blessed, that never having enjoyed any good, as the reward of their vertue, have even perished for vertue its self.’

[Page] Wherefore it is consequent that this present state is only intended for trial to the spirits of men, in order to their attainment of a better state in a better world. That is, that inasmuch, as the infinitely wise and blessed God, had given being to such a creature, as man, in which both words (the material, and the immaterial) did meet; And who, in respect of his Earthly, and Spiritual natures, had in him somewhat suitable to each. And whereas this Creature had lost (with his interest) his very inclina­tion to the Spiritual Objects, and enjoyments of the purer immaterial world (wherein alone his true blessedness could consist) suffered a vile depression of his Spirit unto this gross cor­poral world; and hereby brought himself un­der a necessity of being miserable; his nobler part having nothing now to satisfie it, but what it was become unsuitable and disaffected to.

His merciful Creatour, being intent upon his restitution, thought fit not to bring it a­bout by a suddain and violent hand (as it were to catch him into Heaven against his will:) But to raise his Spirit into its just Dominion and Soveraignty in him, by such gradual Methods, as were most suitable to a rational, and intelligent nature. That is, to discover to him, that he had such a thing as Spirit about him; whence it was fall'n, how low it was sunk, to what state it was yet capable to be rais'd; and what he had design'd, and done for its happy recovery. And hence by the secret and powerful insinuations of his [Page 421] own Light and Grace to awaken his drowsie slumbering reason, and incline his per­verse, and wayward will, to the consideration and choice of such things, as that felicity con­sists in; which that better world can afford, and his better part enjoy.

And while he propounds such things to him, how reasonable and agreeable was it, that he should keep him sometime under a just proba­tion (yea, how much was there in it, of a gra­cious and compassionate indulgence, often to renew the trial? whether he would yet bestir himself; and (having so great hopes before him, and such helps and aids afforded him, and ready to be afforded) apply, at last, his intel­lectual, and elective powers, to mind and close with so gracious overtures, in order to his own eternal advancement and blessedness.

Nor was it an unreasonable expectation, that he should do so. For, however the temporal good, and evil that may constantly affect his sensitive part and powers, be present and near; but the eternal misery, or blessedness of his Soul future, and remote: Yet inasmuch as he is capable of understanding, the vast dis­proportions of time and eternity; of a mortal flesh, and an immortal Spirit: How prepo­sterous a course were it, and unworthy of a man; Yea, how dishonourable and reproach­ful to his Maker; should he prefer the mo­mentary pleasures of narrow incapatious sence, to the everlasting enjoyments of an inlarged comprehensive Spirit? Or, for the avoiding the [Page] pains and miseries of the former kind, incur those of the latter?

Whence also, the holy God doth not ex­pect and require, onely that men should make that wiser choice; But doth most justly lay the weight of their eternal states upon their doing, or not doing so. And in that day when he shall render to every one according to their works; Rom. 2, 6, 7, 8, 9. make this the Rule of his final judgment. To allot to them, who by a patient continuance in well doing, seek for honour, glory, and immortality, e­ternal life. To the rest, indignation and wrath, tribulation, and anguish, &c. and that whether they be Jews, or Gentiles.

Nor is it a new thing in the world, that some among the children of men, should in this comply with the righteous will of God, and so judge, and chuse for themselves, as he is pleased to direct and prescribe. 'Tis a course ap­proved by the concurrent suffrage of all them, in all times and ages, into whose minds the true light hath shined, and whom God hath inspired with that wisdom, whereby he maketh wise to salvation.

That numerous Assembly of the perfected Spirits of the just, have agreed in this common resolution. And did in their several genera­tions ere they had past this state of tryal, with an Heroique magnanimity trample this present World under their feet, and and aspire to the glory of the world to come. Relieving themselves against all the grievances they have fuffered from such, [Page] whose portion is in this life, with the alone hope and confidence of what they were to enjoy in another.

And hereof we have an eminent and il­lustrious instance in this Context, were the ground is laid of the following Dis­course.

THE BLESSEDNESSE OF THE RIGHTEOVS.
CHAP. I.

Psal. 17. 15.‘As for me, I will behold thy Face in Righteousness: I shall be satis­fied, when I awake with thy likeness.’

A reflection upon some foregoing verses of the Psalm, by way of Introduction to the Text. A consideration of its somewhat various readings, and of its literal importance. A discussion of its real importance, so far as is necessary to the settling the subject of the following discourse.

THe Title speaks the Psalm a Prayer of David. The matter of the Prayer is preservation from his enemies. Not to go over the whole Psalm, we have [...]n the 13. and 14. verses, the sum of his de­ [...]ires, with a description of the Person he prayes to be delivered from; in which De­scription [Page 2] every Character is an Argument to enforce his prayer.

From the Wicked] q. d. They are equally enemies to thee and me: not more opposite to me by their cruelty, then by their wicked­ness they are to thee. Vindicate, then at once, thy selfe and deliver me.

Thy sword thy hand] Thou canst as easily command and manage them, as a man may weild his sword, or move his hand. Wilt thou suffer thine own sword, thine own hand, to destroy thine own Servant.

Men of the world, which have their portion in this life] Time, and this lower World bound all their hopes, and fears. They have no se­rious believing apprehensions of any thing be­yond this present life: therefore have nothing to withhold them, from the most injurious vi­olence, if thou withhold them not (Men that believe not another world, are the ready Actors of any imaginable mischiefes, and Tragoedies in this.)

Whose belly thou fillest] i. e. Their sensual ap­petite. As oftentimes that term is usedRom. 16 18. With thy hid Treasures, Phil. 3. 19. viz. the riches, which either God is wont to hide in the bowels of the earth, or lock up in the repository of Providence, dispensing them at his own pleasure.

They are full of Children] So it appears by that which followes, it ought to be read, and not according to that grosse [...] (but easie) mi­stake of some Transcribers of the Seventy.

As if in all this he had pleaded thus; Lord thou hast abundantly indulged those men al­ready, [Page 3] what need they more? They have themselves, from thy unregarded bounty, their own vast swoln desires sufficiently filled, enough for their own time; and when they can live no longer in their Persons, they may in their Posterity, and leave not Strangers, but their numerous Off-spring, their heirs. Is it not enough, that their avarice be gratified, ex­cept their malice be also? That they have whatsoever they can conceive desirable for themselves, unlesse they may also infer what ever they can think mischievous on me?

To this description of his enemies, he ex oppo­sito, subjoyns some account of himself, in this his closure of the Psalm: As for me] Here he is at his statique point, and, after some appear­ing discomposure, his spirit returns to a con­sistency, in consideration of his own more hap­py state, which he opposes and prefers to theirs in the following respects.

That they were wicked, he righteous. I will behold thy face in righteousnesse.] That their happinesse was worldly, terrene, such onely as did spring from the earth; his heavenly and divine, such as should result from the Face and Image of God. Theirs present, temporary, compast within this life; His, future, everla­sting, to be enjoyed, when he should awake. Theirs partial, defective, such as would but gra­tifie their beastial part, fill their bellies; His adequate, compleat (the [...]) Such as should satisfie the Man: I shall be sa­tisfied, &c.

The variety in rendring this Verse (to be [Page 4] seen, [...] by comparing, the Original and Tran­slations noted in the Margent, need not give us any trouble, the differences not being of great moment, nor our own reading liable to exception. The word [...], about which is the greatest diversity,Sept. [...]. hath the significancy we here give it, in the second Commandment, and constantly elsewhere. And then, what more proper english can this text be capable of, than it hath in our Bibles? Each word hath its true and genuine import;The v [...]lgar Latine, E [...]o­autem [...] appa [...]c [...]o [...]o [...]spe­ctui [...], satia­bo [...] [...] [...]p [...] [...]ri [...] glo [...]ia tua. Exactly fol­lowing the Se­venty, as doth the Ethiopique. the Chaldee Pa­raphrase disa­grees little, the Arabique lesse, the Sy [...] [...]ck mistook it seem [...] [...] for [...] and so read that word saith which we read likenesse. and the Syntax is sufficiently regular, and grammati­call of the whole.

Only as to the former, that usual and obvi­ous observation must here have place; tha [...] the [...] prefixed to [...], and which, with it, w [...] read, [in righteousnesse] doth often signifie a­mong its various acceptations) by or through and that, not onely as denoting instrumentali­ty; but more at large, the place of any me­dium necessary to the attainment of the end, it subserves to, whence the same use of the Grek [...], that answers thereunto, is wont to go for an Hebraism.

And as to the latter, the onely thing liable to controversie is; whether the Gerund [...] is to be construed with the Person speaking [when I awake] or [in my awaking] or with the thing; the likenesse or image spoken of [in the awaking of thine image] or [when thine image shall a­wake] and I conceive,Hieronymus (juxta Hebr.) reads the words exactly as we do. Ego in justi [...]iâ vi [...]bo faci [...]m tuam, implebor, cum evigilavero, similitudine tua. we need not discusse [Page 5] it; but following our own Translation, leave the judgement of it to the ear it self, which (as Elihu tell us) trieth words.

In the mean time, the real importance of this Scripture, more calls for discussion than the literal; concerning which a threefold enquiry will be necessary, for the settling the subject of the following discourse:

  • 1. What relation this [righteousnesse] must be understood to have to the Vision of Gods face, and the other consequent blessednesse.
  • 2. What time or state [awaking] re­fers to.
  • 3. What is intended by the [likenesse of God.]

To the first, [...] It is onely necessary to say at present:Seems best to be rendered here [by or through righte­ousness,] as by the condition in which he may expect the return of Gods mercies here, or the eternal vision of him hereafter, &c. So the learned Dr. Hammond, Annot. in loc. quoting also Castellio. to the same purpose. that the already noted import of the preposition [in] being supposed most sut­able to this text (as apparently it is) Righte­ousnesse must be lookt upon in reference to this vision, not as in an idle, or meerely casu­all concomitancy; or as an unconcern'd cir­cumstance, that hath nothing to do with the bu­sinesse spoken of; but as in a close and intimate connexion therewith; being 1. Antecedent. 2. Conducible. 3. Necessary thereto. Nor can I better expresse its place, and reference to it, generally and in one word, than in saying it qualifies for it, which how it doth will be more proper to consider hereafter. It may now suffice to say those words give us the qualified subject of this blessednesse [I in righteousness.] A righteous person as such.

[Page 6] 2. To the Second: Taking it for granted th [...] none will understand this awaking as opposed to natural sleep in the tralatitious or tropica [...] sense; it must be understood to intend either some better state in this life in comparison whereof the Psalmist reckons his present state but as a sleep; or the future state of blessed­edness in the other life. There have been some, who have understood it of the former, and thought the Psalmist to speak onely of an hoped freedom from his present temporal af­flictions, but then, that which will be imply'd seems not so specious; that trouble and affli­ction, should be signified by the (necessarily) presupposed sleep, which sure doth more re­semble rest than trouble.

I conceive it lesse exceptionable to refer [awaking] to the blessed state of Saints after this life▪ For;

That Saints, at that time when this was writ, had the knowledge of such a state (indeed a Saint not believing a life to come, is a perfect contradiction) no doubt can be made by any that hath ever so little read and compared the Old and New Testament.Heb. 11. We are plainly told that those excellent Persons mentioned in that famous roll *,ver. 1. liv'd by that faith, which was the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen. 9. That of them Abra­ham, 13. Isaac, 14. and Jacob, while they lived in Canaan, yet sought a better, 15. an heavenly Country; Con­fessing themselves pilgrims and strangers on earth: 16. We know it was the more general belief of the Jews in our Saviours time. And whence should [Page 7] they have it, but from the Old Testament? Thither our Saviour remits them to search it out,John 5. 39. and the way to it. The Apostle Saint Paul gives it as the common faith of the twelve Tribes;Act. 16. & 6. 7. compared with the 8. grounded upon the promise made to their forefathers: and thence prudentially he herein states the Cause, wherein he was now engag'd; supposing it would be generally re­sented, that he should be call'd in question, for avowing (onely) so known, and received a truth. Sure, they were beholding to these sacred Writings they had then among them, for so common a belief: and since it is out of question, from our Saviours expresse words, they do contain the ground of that belief; what cause have we to be so shy of so inter­preting Scriptures, that have a fair aspect that way?

Is it, that we can devise to fasten here and there another sence upon divers such? I won­der, what one text can be mentioned in all the Old Testament to this purpose, wherein one may not do so: and what then would be the ten­dency of this course, but to deny in all the particulars: what, upon so clear evidence, we are, in the general, forced to admit? and to put Moses, and Abraham, and David in a lower classe, then Pythagoras, and Socrates, and Plato.

And I think, it would not be easie to find one text in all that part of the Bible; where both the words thereof, and the context, do more fairly comply than in this, so as not only to admit, but even to invite that interpretation.

[Page 8] For the terme [awake] about which the present enquiry is, how apt and obvious i [...] the analogy between our awaking out of na­tural sleep, and the holy souls emerging out of the darknesse and torpor of its present state, into the invigorating light of Gods presence. It is truely said so to awake, at its first quitting these darksom regions, when it layes aside its cumbersom night-vail. It doth so more per­fectly in the joyful morning of the Resurre­ction day, when mortality is swallowed up in life, and all the yet-hovering shaddows of it are vanished and fled away. And how known and usual an application this is of the meta­phorical terms of sleeping and awaking in holy Writ, I need not tell them, who have read the Bible. Nor doth this interpretation lesse [...]itly accord to the other contents of this verse. For to what state do the sight of Gods Face, and satisfaction with his likenesse, so fully agree, as to that of future blessednesse in the other world.

But then the contexture of discourse, in this and the foregoing verse together, seems plainly to determine us to this sense. For what can be more conspicuous in them, then a purposed comparison and opposition of two States of Felicity mutually each to other? That of the wicked, whom he calls Men of time (as the words are rendred by [...] one, and do literally signifie) and whose portion, he tells us, is in this Life; and the righteous man's, his own; [...] Pagnin. which he expected not to be, till he should awake, i. e. not till after this life.

[Page 9] Thirdly, it is further to be enquired, how we 3 are here to understand [the likeness of God] I doubt not but we are to understand by it, his glory. And the only difficulty which it will be necessary, at present, to consider, about it, is; whether we are to take it objectively or subje­ctively, for the glory to be represented to the blessed soul; or the glory to be imprest upon it; the glory which it is to behold, or the glo­ry it shall bear. And I conceive the difference is more easily capable of accommodation then of a strict decision on either part.

By [Face] is undoubtedly meant objective glory, and that in its most perfect representati­on (the face being, as we know with men, the chief seat of a spectable Majesty and Beauty.) Hence when Moses desires to see Gods glory; though he did vouchsafe some discovery of it, yet he tells him his face cannot be seen. Here­upon, therefore, the next expression [thy like­ness] might the more plausibly be restrained to subjective glory; So as to denote the Image of God now in its most perfect impression on the blessed souls.

But that I insist not on; Supposing therefore, that what is signified by [Face] be repeated o­ver again in this word [likeness] yet I con­ceive the expression is not varied in vain, but having more to say than only that he expected a state of future Vision, viz. that he assured himself of satisfaction too, another word was thought fit to be used that might signifie also somewhat that must intervene in order to that satisfaction. 'Tis certain the meer [Page 10] objective representation and consequent in­tuition of the most excellent, (even the Di­vine) glory, cannot satisfie a soul remaining disaffected and unsuitable thereunto. It can only satisfie, as being represented, it forms the soul into the same image, and attempers it to it self. q. d. I expect hereafter to see the bles­sed Face of God, and to be my self blessed or satisfied by his glory, at once appearing to me and transfusing it self upon me. In short therefore, I understand by that tearm, the glo­ry of God as transforming, or, as impressive of it self. If therefore, Glory the Object of the soul [...] Vision, shall by any be thought to be intended in it, I contend not; Supposing only, that the Object be taken not materially, or potentially on­ly, for the thing visible in it self considered▪ but formally, and in esse actu [...]ti objecti: that is, as now actually impressing it self, or as con­noting such an impression upon the beholding soul. For so only is it productive of such a pleasure and satisfaction to it, as must ensue. As in this form of speech [such a man takes pleasure in knowledge] it is evident knowledge must be taken there both objectively, for the things known, and subjectively, for the actual perception of those things; in as much as, ap­parently, both must concur to work him de­light. So it will appear, to any one that at­tentively considers it, glory must be taken in that passage we rejoyce in hope of the glory of God. Rom 5. 2. 'Tis Divine glory both revealed and received. His exhibition and communication of it, ac­cording to his immensity, and our participa­tion [Page 11] of it, according to our measure that must concurr to our eternal satisfaction. Herein the Platonique adageVoluptatis ge­neratio est ex in­finiti & finiti copulatione. hath evident truth in it. Pleasure is here certainly made up of some­thing finite and something infinite, meeting together. 'Tis not (as the Philosopher speaks) a [...] but a [...], not any thing separate from the soul, but something it possesses that can make it happy. 'Tis not happy by an in­communicate happiness, nor glorious by an incommunicate glory. Indeed the discovery of such a glory to an inglorious unholy soul must rather torment than satisfie. The future glory of Saints is therefore called a glory to be revealed in them (or into them as the word sig­nifies.)Rom. 8. 18▪ [...] And in the foregoing words, the Apo­stle assures Christs fellow sufferers that they shall be glorified together with him. Surely the notation of that word, the formall notion of glorification cannot import so little as only, to be a Spectator of Glory: it must signifie a be­ing made glorious.

Nor is the common and true Maxime other­wise intelligible, that grace and glory differ only in degree For certainly, it could never enter into the mind of a sober man (though how dangerously some speak that might possibly have been so if too much learning had not made them mad, will be animadverted in its place) that objective glory, and grace in Saints, were the same specifique (much less the same numerical) thing.

'Tis true that Scripture often expresses the future blessedness by vision of God. But where [Page 12] that phrase is used to signifie it alone, 'tis evi­dent (as within the lower region of grace, words of knowledge do often imply affection, and correspondent impressions on the soul) it must be understood of affective transforma­tive Vision, such as hath conformity to God most inseparably conjunct with it. And, that we might understand so much, they are else­where, both expresly mentioned together, as joynt-ingredients into a Saints blessedness; as in those words so full of clear and rich sense. When he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

Which Text I take for a plain Comment upon this; and me-thinks it should not easily be supposeable they should both speak so near the same words and not intend the same sense: you have in both the same season When he shall appear, when I shall awake, the same subject the righteous person born of God, (compare the close of the former Chapter with the be­ginning of this) and I in righteousness, The same Vision, We shall see him as he is, I shall behold his face, The same Assimilation, We shall be like him, I shall be satisfied with his likeness; (concerning the [...] or habitude this vision and assimilation mutually have to one another, there will be consideration had in its place.)

I therefore conceive neither of these No­tions of the Divine likeness, do exclude the o­ther; if it be enquired which is principally meant, That needs not be determined; if the latter, it supposes the former; if the former, it infers the latter. Without the first, the [Page 13] other cannot be, without this other, the first cannot satisfie.

If any yet disagree to this Interpretation of this Text, let them affix the Doctrine pro­pounded from it to that other last mentioned (which only hath not the expresse mention of a consequent satisfaction as this hath, whence therefore, as being in this respect fuller, my thoughts were pitch'd upon this.)

Only withal let it be considered how much more easie it is, to imagine another sense, and suppose it possible, than to disprove this, or e­vince it impossible. How far probable it is, must be left to the judgment of the indifferent: With whom, it may not be insignificant to add, that thus (mostly) it hath been understood by Interpreters, (I might adventure to say the generality) of all sorts: however the few an­nexed Agitur de re­surrectione & Manifestatione gloriae coelestis▪ Ruffin. in loc. Cum apparuerit gloria tua. i. e. gloria resurre­ctionis. Bed. Comment. in Psalm. How the Jews were wont to un­derstand it, may be seen at one view in that of Petrus Galatinus in loc. Duo mi Caprio, me hic per priscas Ju­daeorum Scrip­turas ostendere ho [...]taris, & ge­neralem mortuo­rum resurrectionem futuram ess [...] & cam per Messiam factum iri, Primum ita­que pat [...]t no [...] solu [...] per sacrae scripturae testimo [...]ia verum etiam per Talmudi­starum dicta. N [...]m illud quidem Psal. 17. dictum Ego [...] justitiâ—&c. sic e [...]ponuat, & presertim Rabbi Abraham Aven Ez [...]a & Rabbi Solomo, &c. And so he goes on to recite their words. De Arcanis Catholicae veritatis. Opponit [...]aec, iis quae de impiis dixerat. Illi Sapiunt terrena Saturantur filiis, & portionem suam in hâc vitâ ponunt, mihi verò contempta est haec vi­ta; ad futuram festino, ubi non in divitiis, sed i [...] justitiâ videbo non terren [...] haec transitura, sed ipsam faciem tuam, nec saturabor in siliis carnis sed cum evigilavero tuâ similitudine [...]icut. 1 John 3 2.—Cum apparuerit, &c. I [...]th in Psalm. —Resurgam è mortuis—videbot [...] perfectissimè sicut es Similis [...]ro [...] Jan. & Tremel. in Psal. 17. Mollerus thinks it ought not to be restrained to life Eternal, but saith, some understand it of the glory, quâ ornabuntur pii in vitâ aeter­nâ. And adds,—& quidem non male. in loc. —Ego ver▪ & omnes electi tui—piè & justè vivimus in hoc soeculo, ut aliq [...]ando [...]n saturo saeculo videamus faciem tuam, & eâ sattemur cum [...] à pulvere terrae evigil [...]verimus & reformati fuetimus ad similitudinem Chri­sti tui. S [...]b. Munster. in notis in loc. —Cum ego ad imag [...]nem tuam conditus resurrexero. Vatablus (though he adds, alii ad resurrectionem non referunt.) —De futurae vitae soelicitate ait satiabor quum expergiscar. i. e. quum resurgam è mortuis—Similitudine tuâ hoc est videbo te perfectissimè, sicuti es & [...] [...]ro tibi quum patefactus Christus glorioso adventu suo. 1 John 3 2. Fabrit. Conc. in Ps. 17. ult. D [...]sc [...]bit his verbis Psalmographus beatitudinem [...]ternam filiorum Dei. Gesnerus in loc. (for I neither apprehend the necessity, nor have the present conveniency of alledging many) will suffice to avoid any imputation of singularity or novelty.

CHAP. II.

A summary proposal of the Doctrine contained in this Scripture. A distribution of it into three distinct Heads of Discourse, viz. 1. The qualified subject. 2. The Nature. 3. The season of the blessedness here spoken of. The first of these taken into considera­tion, where the qualification righteousness is treated of. About which is shewn, 1. What it is. 2. How it qualifies.

NOW the foregoing sense of the words being supposed, It appears that the proper Argument of this Scripture is, The blessedness of the righteous in the other life, consisting in the vision, and participation of the Divine glory, with the sa­tisfaction that resulteth thence.

[Page 15] In which summary account of the Doctrine here contained. Three general Heads of Dis­course offer themselves to our view.

The

  • Subject,
  • Nature,
  • Season,

of this Blessedness.

Or to whom it belongs, wherein it consists, and when it shall be enjoyed.

First then, we begin with the consideration 1 of the subject, unto whom this blessedness ap­pertains. And we find it exprest in the Text, in these only words [I; in righteousness] which amount to as much as A Righteous person as such. They represent to us, the subject of this Blessedness in its proper qualification. Wherein, our business is to consider his quali­fication, Righteousness, under which Notion only he is concerned in the present Discourse. And about which two things are to be enqui­red.

  • What it Imports,
  • How it Qualifies.

First, What it imports. I take Righteous­ness here to be opposed to Wickedness in the foregoing verse, (as was intimated before) and so understand it in an equal Latitude: not of particular, but of universal righteousness: That is, not that particular vertue, which inclines men to give every one their right (unless in that every one, you would include also the bles­sed God himself, the Sovereign common Lord of all) but an universal rectitude of heart and life, comprehending not only equity towards men, but piety towards God also. A confor­mity [Page 16] to the Law in general, in its utmost extent, adequately opposite to sin, 1 John 1. 9. (which is indeed of larger extent than wickedness; and in what different respects righteousness is commensu­rate to the one and the other, we shall see by and by) as that is, generally, said to be [...], a Transgression of the Law. 1 John 3. 4.

Among Moralists, [...]. such a comprehensive Notion of righteousness as is inclusive of all other vertues is not unknown. But in Scrip­ture, it is, its much more ordinary acceptation. To give instances, were to suppose too much ignorance in the Reader, and to enumerate the passages in which this term is taken in that ex­tensive sense, were too great an unnecessary burden to the writer. It were indeed to tran­scribe a great part of the Bible. How familiar is the opposition of righteous and wicked, and righteous and sinner in sacred Language! And how fully coextent righteousness is in the Scri­pture Notion of it to the whole Law of God, that one passage sufficiently discovers, Where 'tis said of Zacharias and Elizabeth that they were both righteous before God,Luke 1. 5, 6. walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

'Tis true indeed, that when the words god­liness or holiness are in conjunction with this tearm, its significancy is divided and shared with them, so as that they signifie, in that case, conformity to the will of God in the duties of the first Table, and this is confined to those of the second: Otherwise, being put alone, it signifies the whole of man; as the other expres­sions [Page 17] also do in the same case, especially the latter of them.

As it seems not to be within the present de­sign of the Context to take notice of any im­puted wickedness, of the opposite sort of per­sons, other than what was really in them, and whereby they might be fitly characterized: so I conceive, imputed righteousness is not here meant that is inherent in the person of the Mediator, but that which is truly subjected in a child of God, and descriptive of him. Nor must any think it strange, that all the requisites to our Salva­tion are not found together in one Text of Scri­pture. The righteousness of Him, whom we are to adore as made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him, hath a much higher sphear peculiar and appro­priate to it self. This of which we now speak, in its own inferiour and subordinate place, is necessary also to be, (both had and) under­stood.

It must be understood by viewing it in its Rule, in conformity whereto it stands; which must needs be some Law of God. There hath been a twofold Law given by God to mankind, as the measure of a universal Righteousness, the one made for innocent, the other for lapsed man, which are distinguished by the Apostle under the names of the Law of works, Rom. 3. [...] and the Law of faith. It can never be possible, that any of the Apostate Sons of Adam, should be denomina­ted Righteous by the former of these Laws, the Righteousness thereof consisting in a perfect and sinless obedience.

[Page 18] The latter therefore is the onely measure and rule of this Righteousness, viz. The Law of Faith; or that part of the Gospel-revelation which contains and discovers our duty, what we are to be and do in order to our Blessed­ness; being, as to the matter of it, the whole Moral Law, before appertaining to the Cove­nant of Works; attempered to the state of faln sinners, by evangelical mitigations and indulgency by the super-added precepts of repentance and faith in a Mediator, with all the other duty respecting the Mediator, as such: and cloathed with a new form as it is now taken into the constitution of the Covenant of grace▪

This Rule, though it be in the whole of it capable of coming under one common No­tion, as being the standing obliging Law of Christs mediatory Kingdom, yet according to the different matter of it, its obligations and annexed sanctions are different.

As to its matter; it must be understood to require

1. The meer being and sincerity of those gracious principles with their essential Acts (as there is opportunity) expressed therein, in op­position to the nullity and insincerity of them.

2. All the possible degrees and improve­ments of such principles and acts, in opposi­tion to any the least failure or defect. In the former respect, it measures the very effence of this Righteousness, and enjons what concerns the being of the righteous man as such: in the latter, it measures all the super-added degrees of this righteousness, (which relations, where [Page 19] they have a mutable foundation admit) injoyn­ing what concern's the perfection of the righ­tous man. In the former respect, righteousness is opposed to wickedness, as in that of the Psalmist,Psalm 18. 2 [...]. Ver. [...]4. I have kept the wayes of the Lord and have not wickedly departed from my God— therefore hath the Lord recompenced me according to my righteousness. In the latter to sin, with which the Apostle makes unrighteousness co­extent, in these words, If we say we have no sin re deceive our selves, &c. if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleans [...] us from all unrighteousness.

Accordingly are its sanctions divers. For wherein it injoyns the former of these, the es­sence of this righteousness, in opposition to a total absence thereof; it is constitutive of the terms of salvation, and obligeth under the pe­nalty of eternal death: So are faith, repentance, l [...]ve, John 8. 24. c. 3 18, 36. subjection, &c. required, If ye believe not that I am he ye shall dye in your sins. He that be­lieveth not is condemned already.—The wrath of God al ideth on him—If ye repent not ye shall all likewise perish. Luke 13. 3, 5. Repent that your sins may be blotted out. Act. 3 19. c. 5. 31Him hath God exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour to give repentance and remis­sion of sins. 1 Cor. 16. [...]. If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maran-atha. He that loveth Father or Mother more than me is not worthy of me, Mat. 10 37. &c. Luke 14. [...]6▪ If any man come to me and hate [...] his Father and Mother, and Wife and Children, and Brethren, and Sisters, yea, and his own life al­so, (that is as the former Scripture expounds this, loves them not less than me) he cannot be [Page 20] my Disciple, (i. e. While he remains in that temper of mind he now is of, he must needs be wholly unrelated unto me, and uncapable of benefit by me, as well as he is indocible, and not susceptible of my further instructions, neither capable of the precepts or priviledges belonging to Discipleship.) He is the Author of eternal Salvation to all them that obey him, Heb. 5. 9. and will come in flaming fire to take vengeance of those that know not God, 2 Thes. 1. 8, 9, &c. and obey not his Gospel; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, &c. Where it is onely the sincerity of those several requisites, that is, under so severe penalty, exacted and called for; in as much as he that is sincerely a Believer, [...] Penitent, a lover of God or Christ, an obedi­ent Subject, is not capable of the contrary de­nomination, and therefore not liable, accor­ding to the tenour of this Law, to be punished as an Infidel, an impenitent person, an enemy, a rebell.

When it enjoyns the latter, viz. All the subsequent duty through the whole course, whereof the already sincere soul must be ten­ding towards perfection; though it bind not thereto under pain of damnation further then as such neglects and miscarriages, may be so gross and continued, as not to consist with sin­cerity: Yet such injunctions are not wholly without penalty, but here it oblidges, under less penalties, the hiding of Gods face, and o­ther paternal severities, and castigations. They that thus only offend, are chastened of the Lord, [...] Cor. 11. that they may not be condemned with the [Page 21] world. Psalm 89. Their iniquity is visited with the Rod, and their transgression with stripes, though loving-kindnesse be not taken away—Yea, and while they are short of perfect holiness, their bles­sedness is imperfect also; which is to be acknowledged a very grievous penalty, but un­conceiveably short of what befalls them that are simply unrighteous. That it obliges thus diversly is evident; for it doth not adjudge un­to eternal death for the least defect; for then what other Law should relieve against the sen­tence of this? or wherein were this a relieving Law? Yet doth it require perfection, that we [...]erfect holiness in the fear of God, 2 Cor. 7. 1. that we be per­fect as our Father in heaven is perfect. Mat. 5. And o­therwise, did it bind to no other duty than what it makes simply necessary to Salvation, the defects, and miscarriages that consist with sin­cerity, were no sins not being provided against by any Law that is of present obligation. For [...]o suppose the Law of works in its own proper form, and tenour to be still obliging, is to sup­pose all under hopeless condemnation; in as much as all have sinned. And besides, it should oblige to cast off all regard to Christ and to seek blessedness without him, yea, and it should oblige to a natural impossibility, to a contradiction: to make that not to have been which hath been: a sinner to seek happiness by never having sinned. Yet though it cannot [...]n its own form be mans rule of Duty, 'tis ne­vertheless Gods rule of Judgment upon all whom the Law of faith relieves not, as not coming up to the terms of it (whom also this [Page 22] super-vening Law brings under a super-vening aggravated condemnation) For where the obli­gation to obedience is violated, the obligation to punishment, naturally takes place.

The rule of this Righteousness therefore be­ing evidently the Law of Faith, the Gospel-revelation, wherein it is preceptive of duty▪ This Righteousness can be understood to be nothing but the impresse of the Gospel upon a mans heart and life. A conformity in Spirit and Practice to the revelation of the Will of God in Jesus Christ, a collection of graces ex­erting themselves in suitable actions and de­portments towards God and man. Christ for­med in the soul, or put on; the new creature in its being and operations, the truth learned as it is in Jesus, to the putting off the old man and the put­ting on the new.

More distinctly, we may yet see wherein it lyes, upon a premised view of some few things necessary to be foreknown in order thereun­to. As

That this righteousness is a renewing righte­ousness, or the righteousness of one formerly a sinner, a lapsed perishing wretch, who is by it, restored into such a state towards God, as he was in before that lapse (in respect of certain great essentials, though as yet his state be not so perfectly good while he is in his ten­dency and motion; And shall, by certain ad­ditionals, be unspeakably better, when he hath attained the end and rest he is tending to.)

That a reasonable creature, yet untainted with sin, could not but have a temper of mind [Page 23] [...]uteable to such apprehensions as these, Viz. That as it was not the Author of being to it self, so it ought not principally to study the pleasing and serving of it self, but him, who gave it being: that it can no more conti­nue and perfect it self unto blessedness, than it could create it self; and can therefore have no expectation hereof, but from the same Author of its being: And hence that it must respect, and eye the great God, its Creator, and Maker, as

The

  • Soveraign Authority whom it was to fear, and obey.
  • Soveraign Good whom it was to love, and enjoy.

But because it can perform no duty, to him, without knowing what he will have it do; nor have any particular expectation of savours from him, without knowing what he will please to bestow: and is therefore obliged to at­tend to the revelations of his Will concerning both these. It is therefore necessary, that he eye him under a notion introductive, and sub­servient to all the operations, that are to be exerted towards him, under the two former notions: i. e. as the Eternal never failing Truth, safely to be depended on, as intending no­thing of deceit in any the revelations, whe­ther of his righteous Will, concerning matter of duty to be done, or of his good Will, concern­ing matter of benefit to be expected and en­joyed.

That Man did apostatize and revolt from God, as considered under these severall noti­ons: [Page 24] And returns to him, when an holy re­ctitude is recovered, and he again becomes righteous, considered under the same.

That it was not agreeable to Gods wise­dom, truth, and legal justice, to treat with Man a Sinner, in order to his recovery, but through a Mediator: and that therefore he was pleased in wonderfull mercy, to consti­tute and appoint his own Son Jesus Christ God-man, unto that Office and Undertaking; that, through him, man might return and be reconciled to himself, whom he causlessely forsook; designing that man shall now be­come so affected towards himself, through the Mediator; and firstly therefore towards the Mediators own person, as he was before, and ought to have been towards himself immedi­ately.

Therefore, whereas God was considerable, in relation to Man, both in his innocency and Apostacy, under that forementioned two fold notion of the supream

  • Authority.
  • Goodness.

He hath also set up and exalted our Lord Je­sus Christ, and represented him to Sinners un­der an answerable two fold notion of a

  • Prince
  • Saviour

i. e. a mediating Prince and Saviour to give repentance first; to bow and stoop the hearts of sinners, and reduce them to a subject po­sture again, and then remission of sins to re­store them to favour and save them from the wrath to come. Him hath the Father cloth'd with his own authority, and fill'd with his [Page 25] grace: requiring sinners to submit themselves to his ruling power, and commit themselves to his saving mercy; now both lodg'd in this his Son: to pay him immediately, all homage and obedience, and through him ultimately to him­self; from him immediately, to expect Salva­tion and blessedness, and through him ulti­mately from himself.

That whereas the Spirits of men are not to be wrought to this temper, but by the inter­vention of a discovery and revelation of the di­vine Will to this purpose: Our Lord Jesus Christ is further appointed by the Father to reveal all this his counsel to Sinners. And is eminently spoken of in Scripture upon this ac­count, under the notion of the Truth, in which capacity he more effectually recom­mends to Sinners, both his authority and his grace. So that his three fold (so much celebra­ted) Office of

  • King,
  • Priest,
  • Prophet,

(the distinct parts of his general Office as Mediator) which he manages in order to the reducement of lost Sinners, exactly correspond (if you consi­der the more eminent acts, and properties of each Office) to that threefold notion under which the Spirit of Man must alwayes have eyed and been acted towards God, had he ne­ver fallen, and hence this righteousness, which consists in conformity to the Gospel, is the former righteousness, which was l [...]st; with such an accession as is necessary, upon consideration that it was lost, and was only to be recovered by a Mediator.

[Page 26] Therefore you may now take this short, and as compendious an account as I can give of it, in what follows.

It includes, so firm and understanding an as­sent to the truth of the whole Gospel Revelati­on; as that the soul is thereby brought, through the power of the Holy Ghost, sensibly to ap­prehend its former disobedience to God, and distance from him, the reasonableness of subje­ction to him and desirableness of blessedness in him; the necessity of a Redeemer to reconcile, and recover it to God; the accomplishments and designation of the Lord Jesus Christ to that purpose: And hence, a penitent and compla­cential return to God, as the supream Authori­ty, and soveraign Good, an humble and joyful ac­ceptance of our Lord Jesus Christ as its Prince and Saviour, with submission to his Au­thor [...]y, and reliance on his grace (the exercise of both which are founded in his blood) look­ing and pitching upon him, as the only medium, through which he and his duties can please God, or God and his mercies approach him: and through which he hath the confidence to ven­ture upon a Covenant-acceptance of God, and surrender himself to him, afterward pur­sued to his uttermost, by a continued course of living in his fear and love, in obedience to him, and communion with him through the Me­diator, alwayes, while he is passing the time of his pilgrimage in this world, groaning under remaining sin, and pressing after perfect ho­liness: with an earnest expectation (anima­ting him to a persevering patience through all [Page 27] difficulties) of a blessed eternity in the other world.

That such a conformity to the Gospel should be expressed by the name of righteousness, can­not seem strange to such as acquaint themselves with the language of the Scripture. That gra­oious frame which the Gospel (made essential) impresses upon the soul, is the Kingdom of God, in the passive notion of it, his Kingdom received and now actually come with power upon our Spirits. And this Kingdom, (sometimes also by an apt Synecdoche called Judgment in the same notion) is said to consist in righteousness; whence then result also,Rom. 14. 17. Peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. The same holy impressions, and conse­quent operations are mentioned, by the Apo­stle,Phil. 1. 11. under the name of fruits of righteousness, wherewith he prayes his Philippians might be filled. It was Elym [...]s's opposition to the Gos­pel, that stigmatized him with that brand, Thou enemy of all righteousness. To yield our selves servants to righteousness, in opposition to a former servitude to sin▪ is obeying from the heart the Doctrine of the Gospel, into the type or mould whereof we have been cast or delivered. And sure, both the seal and the impression, Gods re­velation and holiness (however now more ex­plicite and distinctly conspicuous in all their parts) are the same, with us, substantially, and in Davids time; whence we need make no difficulty to own this latter, when we meet with it, as here, under the same Name.

By what hath hitherto been said, it may be already seen in part, how exactly this righ­teousness [Page 28] corresponds to the blessedness for which it qualifies; whereof we shall have oc­casion hereafter to take further notice. In the mean time, it will be requisite to shew (which was promised to be done in the next place.)

2 How it qualifies. To which I say (very brief­ly) that it qualifies for this blessednesse two wayes.

1. L [...]gally, or in genere Morali, as it de­scribes the Persons, who by the Gospel-grant, have,Mat. 25. alone, title thereunto.—The righte­ous into life eternal. 1 Cor. 6.The unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. Say to the righte­ous it shall be well with them. Isa. 3. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him. Ezek. 18.In his righte­ousness he shall live. In which last words, how this righteousness conduceth to life is exprest by the same Praeposition as in the Text. In this kind it is not at all causal of this blessed­nesse, but 'tis that which the free, and wise, and holy Law-giver thought meet, by his set­tled constitution (besides what necessity there is of it upon another account) to make requi­site thereto. The conformity of our Lord Jesus Christ to that severer Law, under which he is said to have been made, is that which a­lone causes, merits, purchases this blessed­ness which yet is to be enjoyed, not by all indiscriminatim, or without distinction; but by such alone, as come up to the terms of the Gospel, as he did fully satisfie the strict exacti­ons of that other rigid Law, by doing and suf­fering for their sakes.

2. Naturally, or in genere Physico. In this [Page 29] kind it may be said to be some way causal, that is, to be a causa materialis dispositiva, by a pro­per positive influence, disposing the subject unto this blessedness, which that it shall, yet, enjoy, is wholly to be resolved into the Divine good pleasure, but it is put by this ho­ly rectitude into that temper, and posture that it may enjoy it, through the Lords gracious vouchsafement; when without it, 'twere na­turally impossible that any should. An un­righteous impure soul, is in a natural indispo­sition to see God or be blessed in him. That de­praved temper averts it from him, the steady bent of its will is set another way, and 'tis a contradiction that any (in sensu composito) should be happy against their wills, i. e. while that aversion of will yet remains. The unrighteous banish themselves from God, they shun, and hate his presence. Light and darkness cannot have communion. The Sun doth but shine, continue to be it self, and the darkness vani­shes, and is fled away. When God hath so determined that only the pure in heart shall see him, that without holiness none shall; he layes no other Law upon unholy souls than what their own impure natures lay upon themselves. If therefore it should be enquired, Why may not the unrighteous be subjects of this blessed­ness, See God, and be satisfied with his likeness, as well as the righteous; the question must be so answered, as if it were enquired, Why doth wood admit the fire to passe upon it, suffer its flames to insinuate themselves till they have in­troduced its proper form, and turned it into [Page 30] their own likeness: but we see water doth not so, but violently resists its first approaches and declines all commerce with it? The natures of these agree not. And is not the contrariety here as great? We have then the qualified subject of this blessedness; and are next to consider This Blessedness it self.

CHAP. III.

The nature of this Blessedness propounded un­to consideration, in the three ingredients (here mentioned) whereof it consists. 1. Vision of Gods Face. 2. Assimilation to him. 3. The satisfaction resulting thence. These propounded to be consider­ed 1. Absolutely and singly each by it self. 2. Relatively in their mutual respects to each other. The first of these, Vision of Gods Face discourst of. 1. The Object. 2. The Act.

2 NOW for the Nature of this Blessedness; or the inquiry wherein it lyes, so far as the Text gives us any account of it, we are invited to turn our thoughts and discourse to it. And we have it here represented to us in all the particulars that can be supposed to have any nearer interest in the business of Blessedness, or to be more intimate and intrinsical thereunto.

[Page 31] For (the beatifique Object supposed) what more can be necessary to actual, compleat for­mall blessedness, than the sight of it, and adap­tation or assimilation to it (which is nothing else but its being actually communicated and im­parted to the soul, its being united and made as it were one with it) and the complacential fruition the soul hath of it so communicated, or having so transformed it into its self?

And these three are manifestly contained in the Text (the beatisique Object being involved with them) the first in the former clause, I shall behold thy face, the second and third in the latter, I shall be satisfied with thy likeness; where, being made like to God hath been discovered to be supposed, & the satisfaction, the pleasant content­ful relishes consequent thereto, plainly exprest.

We shall therefore have stated the entire nature of this Blessedness in the handling of these three things.

  • Vision of the Face of God.
  • Participation of his likeness.
  • Satisfaction therein.

And I shall chuse to consider them

  • 1. Absolutely, and singly, each by it self.
  • 2. Relatively, in the mutual respects (by way of influence and dependence) they may be found to have towards each other.

Therefore first, in the absolute considera­tion of them severally, we begin with

First the Vision of Gods Face, where

The

  • Object, the Face of God,
  • Act of seeing and beholding it are distinctly to be spoken to.

[Page 32] 1. The Face of God (the Object of this Vi­sion) which is his glory represented, offered to view. And this objected or exhibited glory i [...] twofold.

1. Sensible, such as shall incurr and gra­tifie (after the resurrection) the bodily eye.

2. Intellectual, or intelligible: that spiri­tual glory that only comes under the view and contemplation of the glorified mind.

1. A sensible glory, (to begin with what is lower) is fitly in our way to be taken notice of; and may well be comprehended (as its lesse-principal intendment) within the signi­ficancy of the expression the Face of God. So indeed it doth evidently signifie, Exod. 33. 11. And if we look to the notation of the word, and its frequent use as applied to God, it may com­modiously enough and will often be found to signifie, in a larger and more extended sense, any aspect or appearance of God: And though it may be understood verse 23. of that Chap­ter to signifie an overcoming spiritual glory, as the principal thing there intended, such as no soul dwelling in flesh, could behold, with­out renting the vail and breaking all to pieces; yet, even there also, may such a degree of sen­sible glory be secondarily intended, as it was not consistent with a state of mortality to be able to bear.

And supposing the other expression [Thy likeness] to signifie, in any part, the objective glory Saints are to behold, it is very capable of being extended so far, as to take in a sensible appearance of glory also, which it doth in these [Page 33] words, The similitude of the Lord shall he be­hold (yet even that glory also was transforma­tive and impressive of it self:Numb. 12. 8. to Ezek 1. 28. Moses so long converst with it, till he became uncapable, for the present,Ex. 34 35. &c. of converse with men, as you know the story relates.)

Such a glory as this, though it belong not to the being of God, yet it may be some [...]mbrage of him, a more shadowy represen­tation, as a mans garments are of the man, which is the allusion in that of the Psalmist, Thou art cloathed with Majesty and Honour, Ps. 1 [...]4 1 [...]. Thou coverest thy self with [Light] as with a Garment.

And in as much as that spiritual Body (the House not made with hands) wherewith the bles­sed are to be cloth'd upon, must then be un­derstood to have its proper sensitive Powers and Organs, [...] resined to that degree, as may be agreeable to a state of Glory; so must these have their suitable objects to converse with. A faculty without an object is not possible in Nature; and is altogether inconsistent with a state of Blessedness. The bodies of Saints will be raised in glory—fashioned like Christs glo­rious body; 1 Cor. [...] must bear the image of the hea­venly;Phil 3 [...] and this will connaturalize them to a Region of glory, render a surrounding sen­sible glory necessary, and natural to them, their own element: they will as it were not be able to live but amidst such a glory. Place is conservative of the body placed in it, by its suitableness thereto. Indeed every created being (inasmuch as it is not self-sufficient, [Page 34] and is obliged to fetch in continual refresh­ings from without) must alwayes have some­what suitable to it self to converse with, or it presently languishes. By such an harmony of actives and passives the world consists and and holds together. The least defect thereof, then, is least of all supposeable in the state of blessedness.

The rayes of such a glory have often shone down into this lower World. Such a glory we know, shewed it self upon Mount Sinal: afterwards often about the Tabernacle, and in the Temple, Such a glory appeared at our Saviours Birth, Baptism, and Transfiguration; and will do at his expected appearance, which leaves it no unimaginable thing to us; and shewes how facile it is to God to (do that which will then be, in some sort necessary) creat a glory meet for the entertainment, and gratification of any such faculty, as he shall then continue in being. But,

2. The intellectuall glory, That which per­fected Spirits shall eternally please themselves to behold, calls for our more especial consi­deration. This is the glory that excelleth hy­perbollical glory (as that expression imports) such, [...]. as in comparison whereof, the other is said to be no glory: 2 Cor 3 10. as the Apostle speaks, comparing the glory of the Legal, with that of the Evangelical dispensation, where the former was, we must remember, chiefly a sensible glory, the glory that shone upon Mount Sinai, the latter a purely spiritual glory; and surely if the meer preludes of this [Page 35] glory, The primordia, the beginnings of it, The glory—yet shining but through a glass (as he there also speaks of this glory) were so hyperbollically glorious, what will it be in its highest exaltation in its perfected state? The Apostle cannot speak of that, but with hyper­bole upon hyperbole in the next chapter, [...]. as though he would heap up words as high as heaven to reach it,2 Cor. 4 17. and give a just account of it.

Things are as their next Originals. This glory more immediately, rayes forth from God, and more neerly represents him. 'Tis [...]is more genuine production. He his stiled [...]he Father of Glory: Eph. 1. every thing that is glo­rious is some way like him, and bears his [...]mage.Heb. [...] But he is as well the Father of Spirits, [...]s the Father of Glory; and that glory, which [...] purely spiritual, hath most in it of his na­ [...]ure and image: as beams but in the next [...]escent from the body of the Sun. This is [...]is unvailed face, and emphatically, the divine [...]keness.

Again things are as the Faculties which [...]hey are to exercise and satisfie, this glo­ [...]y must exercise and satisfie, the noblest [...]aculty of the most noble and excellent crea­ [...]ure. Intellectual nature in the highest im­ [...]rovement tis capable of in a creature must [...]ere be gratified to the uttermost, the most [...]nlarged contemplative power of an im­ [...]ortal Spirit finds that wherein it terminates [...]ere, with a most contentful acquiescence.

Tis true it must be understood not totally [Page 36] to exceed the capacity of a creature, but it must fully come up to it. Should it quite transcend the Sphere of created nature, and surpass the modell of an humane under­standing (as the divine glory undoubtedly would, did not God consider us in the man­ner of exhibiting it to our view) it would cofound not satisfie. A creature even in glo­ry is still a Creature, and must be treated as such. After the blessed God hath elevated it to the highest pitch, he must infinitely con­descend, it cannot otherwise know or converse with him. He must accommodate this glory to the weaker eye, the fainter and more lang [...]id apprehensions of a poor finite thing. I had almost said, nothing, for what is any crea­ture, yea the whole creation in it's best state compared with the I AM, the being (as he justly appropriates to himself that name) the All in All. We must be careful then to settle in our own thoughts such a state of this glory (in forming that indeterminate no­tion we have now of it) as may render it (though confessedly above the measure of our present understandings as to a distinct knowledge of it) not manifestly incompetent to any created understanding whatsoever, and as may speak us duly shy of ascribing a De­ity to a worm, of affixing any thing to the creature, which shall be found a­greeing to the blessed God himself alone▪ Their expressions therefore, who over magn [...]fie (even deifie) the creature as­sumed into glory, must be heard and rea [...] [Page 37] with caution and abhorrency, as the high swelling words of blasphemous vanity. Is it not enough that perishing wretches,Not being willing to tro [...]ble a dis­course wholly of another na­ture and de­sign, with any thing of con­troversy: I have chos [...]n onely to annex a marginall digression, wherein, somewhat to animadvert upon the overbold disputes and definitions of the Schol [...]stique generation, touching what we have now under consideration. Some of whose. Writings seem the very Springs of the putid conceits (there no [...] wanting those, that are offiicious enough to serve the illiterate, in accommodating things of that kind to their genius and language) o greedily imbib'd by modern Enthusiasts. Tis a Question much agitated among the School-men, whether the Divine Essence be exhibited to the veiw of the Blessed in Hea­ven, in it self, immediately, or, by the inter [...]ention of any [...] or similitude. Had it been agreed to forbear looking within this vail (the [...] attempt whereof, rather rents than draws it aside) and to shut up all discourse of this kind, in a modest awful silence; or had the Ad­ventures some have made been fool [...]sh onely, not [...], this pre­sent labour had been spared. But when M [...]n speak of things [...]ove their reach, not to no purpose barely, but to very bad; what they say ought to be considered. The Divine Essence, say the [...] (and the Scotists here disagree not) is it self immediatedly united to the intellect of the blessed [in rat [...]on [...] Spec [...]i intellig [...]bilis] so as there is no place for any intervening likeness, or representation. Ipsa D­viaa Ess [...]ntia est, quae videtur & q [...]o v [...]d [...]tur. Th [...]m. Sum. p [...]imd pa [...], q 12. A [...]t. 2. 3 contr. Gentes c 51. Now they assert concerning the Sp [...]cies intelligibiles, in general, that they have not, Locum objects, intell [...]ctionem termi [...]a [...]tis (which they make the place and office of the verbum mentis per intellectionem productum) but formae [...] & âctûs primi, and that the understanding so act, by them, as fire by it▪ pro­per form, Thom. Sum. primd parte, q. 85. A [...]t. 2. (the contrary where­to is asserted by Scotus in 1. Sentent. di­stinct. 3. q. 6.) Yea and Caj [...]t. affirms 1. [...]p. q. 76. Art. 2. That the Intellect and the intelligible species are more one than the mat­ter and form in the compositum. For, saith he, (or to that purpose, not having him now at hand (the matter is not turned into the form nor [...]e contrà, but the intellect, which is in it self meer power, doth, in genere intelligibili turn into its very intelligible object; and the in­telligible obj [...]ct it self is after a certain manner imbib'd in the in­tellect. So [...]desma de Divin. per [...]ect. q. 3. Art. 5. Unum transit in aliud ex quo scqu [...]tur, qu [...]d unum sit aliud. And hence, say they, applying this doctrine to the present purpose, [& secundum illum [...]dum, in conjunctione illâ essabili divinae essentiae cum intel­l [...]ct [...] creato, sit unum agens integrum, scil. intellectus creatus factus D [...]us mirab [...]ls modo] [Intellectus in visione beatificâ, est potentia jam deficata, per lumen gloriae, Cajet. primâ parte q. 12. Art. 2. ex Ledes. q. 8. Art 8.] For besides this immediate union of the Divine Essence it self with the intellect they assert a lumen gloriae, an accident super­added, without which the vision cannot be performed; which addi­tional the Scotists reject. Some, though they admit it, think the vision may be without it, and that it doth not implicare contradi­ [...]nem visionem beatificam fieri sine lumine gloriae, cum solo speciali [...] auxilio, q [...]od item asserunt multi ex scholasticis, Palud. in 4. dist. 49. q. 1. Ar [...]. 3. Corel. 2. Thom. de A [...]gent. q. 2. Art. 1. Major. q. 4. H [...]nr. qu [...]ibet 7. Zumel. 1. p. q. 12. Art. 5. disp. 2. c [...]ncl. 3. Ita O tuphr. de virtute poe [...]tenti. Whether there be any ve [...]bum creatum, the product of intellection, The Thomists are themselves divided. Their more common opinion is, that there is none, as Ledesma assures us; telling us also his reason, why he conceives there can be none. Beati no [...] forma [...]t verbum in videndo Deo, sed plus vident quam verb [...] creato dicere p [...]ssunt—nam beatus per visionem beatam quamvis non vi­ [...]eat [infinitè] videt tamen infinitum.—(which is their great ar­gument against any intelligible species) & he further addes, sicut visio Dei quae est in ipso Deo h [...]bet pro principio & specie intelligibili ipsam Di­vinam Essentiam; & protermino ips [...]m Divinam Essentiam visio beatorum est ità supernaturalis, & divini ordinis, & participatio divi [...]ae visionis ita perfecta, ut ipsa etiam habeat pro principio & spe­cie intellig [...]bili, divinâ Essen [...]iā, & p [...]otermino sive verbo pro­ducto, ipsammet divinā Ess [...]ntiā. So that the principle and term of this vision are own'd to be no­thing else, but the simple Divine Essence. Concerning the formal act it self, it is much disputed, whether the creatures intellect do at all effectively concur to it, or whether God himself, be not the one­ly efficient or agent in this vision. Some stick not to a [...]irm the latter, Marsil. in 3. q. 1. Palud. in 4. dist. 49, q. 1. A [...]t. 2. (referente Led [...]s [...]â) and say plainly, that the action of the in [...]eriour agent wholly ceases, and the superiour onely acts, the same thing that D. M. Causabon in his Enthusiasm charges one M [...]ximus with, who in a book entituled [...] writes thus; [...]. T [...]at the Soul taken into immediate union [...] Go [...], loses all us k [...]owing power (though this be not distinctively spoken of the state of glory, And what doth this amount to? but that while they are eagerly contending about the Saints blessednesse, and too curiously labouring to explicate the manner of their seeing God, they unawares destroy the subject of the question, and deny that they see him at all; and so upon the whole, dispute themselves into a worse than P [...]ganish infidelity. And even the rest, that agree in the sense of the passages above recited, will not be easily able to avoid the charge of as intollerable consequen­ces; which it is my businesse, here, onely to discover, and not to de­termine any thing in this controversie, whiles I tax the too much boldnesse of others, who adventure it. And here not to insist on the absurdity of what they say concerning the intelligible species in general, let it be considered. 1. That the Divine Essence is said to be united to the intellect of the blessed, as an intelligible species. 2. That the intelligible species, in the businesse of intellection, and the intellect, become one another, do not remain distinct things uni­ted, but are identified. 3. That hence in understanding God, the in­tellect is deified and becomes God, which naturally followes from the two former; and is moreover expressely asserted in plain words. What need is there to presse this Doctrine with hard con­sequencies? or how can it look worse than it doth already, with its own natu­ral face? Nor can I appre­hend which way it should be made look better. For should it lay claim to that favour, to be understood acco [...]ding to the usual sense of the peripat [...] m [...]xime, Intellectus, intelligendo, sit omnia; it will be found manifestly to have precluded it self: That maxime is wont to be un­derstood thus; that the intellect becomes that which it understands [...], by putting on the species or likeness of its Object, the re­presentation of it. For instance, when I form in my mind the notion of a mountain, my understanding becomes an Ideal or Spiritual moun­tain: it becomes that species (which is liable to more exception too than I shall now insist on, and looks more like the language of a Poet than a Philosopher) that is now formed there; and not the material mountain it self. But how shall this assertion [The understanding by its act of understanding God becomes Go [...]] be capable of that int [...]rpretation, i. e. It becomes his likeness, his Id [...]a, his representation now formed in it, when any such intervening likeness or representation is utterly denied; and th [...]t supposed species is said to be the simple Divine essence it self▪ and if the Divine essence it self be that species by which 'tis un­derstood, will it not follow from that other Arist [...]t [...]an axiome (which with them must signifie as much as a Text from Saint Paul) s [...]bile & [...]: That our very knowledge of God must be God too, or would they disown that maxime, sure, when once the faculty is supposed dei [...]ied, the act immanent in it, cannot be a created accident; nor can that maxime (understood of the [...] or the [...] denied by them: And sure. if the Saints k [...]owledge of God; the likeness of him in their [...] be God; their holiness, the likeness of him in their h [...]arts, must be so too. How absurd then would it be, to use that Scripture language, and speak of these under the names of Gods image or likeness, when [...] and [...], are no­tion [...] so vastly disagreeing; and since a Saints knowledge and holiness here and in heaven differ but in degree; they can be, here on earth, nothing but God dwelling in them. And supposing that Scotus have better defended than his adversaries impugned the real identity of the soul and its faculties, that must be deified too. However, wh [...]t could be imagined more absurd, than that the substance of the soul should be a creature, and its faculty God? Whence then do we think that mo­dern familists have fetch their admired non-sense? Whom have they had their original instructors? or who have taught them that brave magnificent language of being Godded with God, and Christed with Christ but these? Nor sure need they blush to be found guilty of so profoundly learned inconsistencies, or to speak absurdly after such Patrons. And what should occasion these men so to involve them­selves, I cannot find, or divine more than this, that they were not able to fasten upon any more tolerable sense of the word [...] 1 Cor. 13. 12. 1 John 3. 2. but taking that in its highest pitch of significan­cy; all their arguments are generally levelled at this mark to prove that no created species can possibly represent God [sicuti est] and thence infer that he cannot be seen by any created species in the glo­rified state, where he is to be seen sicuti est. But could we content our selves with a modest interpretation of these words, and understand them to speak not of a parity, but of a similitude only between Gods knowledge and ours, nor of an absolute omni modous similitude, but com­parative only; that is, that comparing our future with our present state, the former shall so far excell this, that, in comparison thereof, it may be said to be a knowing of God, as we are known, and as he is; insomuch as our future knowledge of him, shall approach so unspeakably nearer to his most perfect knowl [...]dge of us, and the truth of the thing, than our present knowledge doth or can; by such an interpretation we are cast upon no such difficulties. For admit that no species can represent God as he is, in the highest sense of these words, yet sure, in the same sense wherein he can be seen by us as he is, he may be represented to us as he is. And what can be more frivolous than that fore-recited rea­soning to the contrary? There can be no created representation of God [sicuti est] adequate to the Vision the blessed have of him; but they see more than any created representation can contain, for they see [...]finitum, though not in­finitè. For how must we understand the i [...]finitum they are said to see? Materially or formarlly? must we understand by it him that is infinite onely, or else as he is in­finite? If it be said the latter, that is [...] say, they see infinitè too; If the former only; Do not Saint on [...] see, (viz. mentally which is the vision we are speaking of) him who is infinite, in their pre­sent state, where it is acknowledge their knowledge is by Species. Y [...]t would I not hence conclude, that the knowledge Saints shall have of God hereafter shall be by Species, for my design in all this is b [...]t to discover the vanity of too positive and definitive conceptions concerning it, beyond the measure of G [...]ds Revelation, and the ducture of clear and unintangled reason. All knowledge hath been thought to be by assimilation, i. e. by receiving the species or images of the things known. So the intellect is not really turned into the things which it understands but only receives their species wherewith it is united so closely that it is therefore said to be [like] to them. Virtuosi of Franc [...] Confer. 65. One waie or other it hath been judged necessarie the mind should be furnished with such images of the thing it is said to understand; which therefore, some have thought connate, others, sup­plied by sense totallie; others, by a separate intellectus Agens; which some have thought to be God himself: others one common Intelli­gence. Others a particular Genius so indispensably necessarie it hath been reckon'd unto intellection, that office should be performed by one or other. If any clearer explication can be given, or better way assigned of the souls knowing things, it cannot but be welcome to ra­tional men. But I se [...] no necessity or reason it should have a specifi­callie distinct way of knowing here and in heaven. Much less that we should imagine to our selves such a one as to that other state, as is al­together unaccountable and capable of no rational explication. And reckon it much more becoming to be silent, than on pretence of anie mysteriousness in the things we discourse of, to talk absurdlie and un­intelligiblie about them. A confessed ignorance in this case is becoming to say with that great Apostle, It doth not appear what we shall be. But to conclude and define such matters is surely [...]. that were within one hands breadth of Hell, are sa­ved except they be also deified too? that they become happy unless they also become Gods? The distance even of a glorified creature from the glorious God is still infinitely greater, than between it and the silliest worm. The minutest atome of dust.

[Page 38] And by how much more we shall then know of his glory, so much more shall we understand that distance. Yet as he shall then enlarge the capacity of the soul he glo­rifies to a very vast comprehension, so shall [Page 39] the exhibition of his glory to it, be fully ad­equate to its most inlarged capacity. They are as yet but obscure glimmerings, we can have of this glory; But so far as, without too bold curiosity, we may, and wherein Scrip­ture light will give us any preapprehension of it, let us consider a while,

[Page 40]The

  • Nature
  • Excellency

of it.

We cannot indeed consider these sepa­rately, for we can no sooner understand it to be glory, than we conceive it excellent; Glory, in the proper Notion of it, being no­thing else but resplendent excellency, the lustre of excellency or real worth made conspicuous. Yet as there is an excellency [Page 41] conceivable in the nature of it, that excellen­cy whereof it is the splendor and brightness; so we must conceive a peculiar excellency of that very radiation, that splendor it self, where­with it shines unto blessed souls. In its very na­ture it is the brightness of Divine excellencies: in its present appearance, it shines in the highest [Page 42] excellency of that brightness; in its nature it ex­celleth all things else: in its present exhibition, compared with all its former radiations, it ex­celleth it self.

As to the nature of this glory, 'tis nothing else but the conspicuous lustre of Divine perfecti­ons. We can only guide our present concepti­ons of it, by the discovery God hath already given us of himself, in those several excellen­cies of his Being, the great Attributes that are convertible and one with him. When Moses besought Him for a sight of his glory, he an­swers him with this, I will proclaim my name be­fore thee. His Name, we know, is the collecti­on of his Attributes.

[Page 43] The Notion therefore we can hence form of this glory, is only such as we may have of a large volume by a brief Synopsis or Table; of a magnificent fabrick, by a small Module or Platform, a spacious Countrey by a little Landskip. He hath here given us a true re­presentation of himself, not a full: such as will secure our apprehensions, being guided thereby, from error not from ignorance. So as they swerve not in apprehending this glory, though they still fall short. We can now ap­ply our minds to contemplate the several per­fections which the blessed God assumes to himself; and whereby he describes to us his own Being: and can in our thoughts attribute them all to him, though we have still but low defective conceptions of each one. As if we could at a distance, distinguish the Streets and Houses of a great City; but every one appears to us much lesse than it is; we can apprehend somewhat of whatsoever he reveals to be in himself, yet when all is done how little a por­tion do we t [...]ke up of him! Our thoughts are empty and languid, straight and narrow such as diminish and limit the holy one: Yet so far as [Page 44] our apprehensions can correspond to the disco­very he affords us of his several excellencies, we have a present view of the Divine glory. Do but strictly and distinctly survey the many per­fections comprehended in his name, then ga­ther them up and consider how glorious he is! Conceive one glory resulting from substantial wisdom, goodness, power, truth, justice, holi­ness; that is, beaming forth from him who is all these by his very Essence, necessarily, origi­nally, infinitely, eternally; with whatsoever else is truly a perfection. This is the glory blessed Souls shall behold for ever.

For the excellency of it, 'tis called by way of discrimination, 2 Pet. 1. 17. the excellent glory. There was glory put upon Christ in the transfiguration; of which, when the Apostle speaks, having occasion to mention, withal, the glory of heaven it self, from whence the voice came, he adds to this latter, the distinguishing note of the excellent: He himself was eye-witness of the honour, and majesty, and glory which the Lord Jesus then received; but beyond all this, the glory from whence the voice came, was the excellent or stately glory, [...] as the word imports.

'Tis a great intimation how excellent a glory this is,1 Pet. 4. 13. that 'tis said to be a glory yet to be re­vealed, as if it had been said, What ever ap­pearances of the Divine glory are now offered to your view, there is still somewhat undisco­vered, somewhat behind the Curtain that will out shine all. You have not seen so much, but you are still to expect unspeakably more.

Glory is then to shine in its Noon-day [Page 45] strength and vigour: 'Tis then in its Meridian. Here, the riches of glory are to be displayed, certain treasures of glory, the plenitude and magnificence of glory. We are here, to see him as he is, to know him as we are known of him. Certainly, the display of himself, the raies of his discovered excellency must hold propor­tion with that Vision, and be therefore exceed­ingly glorious.John 17. 'Tis the glory Christ had with the Father before the foundations of the world were laid; into the vision and communion whereof, holy souls shall now be taken, according as their capacities can admit; that wherewithall his great atchievements, and high merits shall be rewarded eternally; that wherewith he is to be glorified in heaven, in compensation of having glorified his Father on earth, and fini­shed the work whereto he was appointed. This cannot but be a most transcendent glory. 'Tis in sum, and in the language of the Text, the glory of Gods own face, his most as­pectable, conspicuous glory. Whose trans­forming beams are productive of the glory im­prest; the next ingredient into this blessedness, which will presently come to be spoken of, af­ter we have given you some short account of

2. The Act of beholding: the vision or intuition it self, by which, intervening, the impression is made.

Glory seems to carry in it a peculiar respect to the visive power (whether corporal, or men­tal; as it is it self of the one kind or the o­ther) 'tis something to be contemplated, to be lookt upon. And being to transmit an im­pression, [Page 46] and consequent pleasure to another sub­ject, it must necessarily be so, it can neither transform, nor satisfie but as it is beheld.

And here the sensitive intuition, I shall not insist on, as being less intended in the Text, and the discourse of it lesse suitable to such, as with a spiritual mind and design, set themselves to enquire into the nature of the Saints blessed­ness. Yet, as this is the most noble, compre­hensive, quick, and sprightly sense, so is the Act of it more considerable, in the matter of blessedness, than any other of the outward man, and the most perfect imitation of the act of the mind, whence also this so often borrows the name of the other, and is called seeing. 'Tis an act indeed very proper and pertinent to a state of glory. By how much more any sensible ob­ject is glorious (supposing the sensorium to be duely disposed and fortified, as must be here supposed) so much is it the fitter object of Sight; hence when we would express a glori­ous object, we call it conspicuous, and the lesse glorious, or more obscure any thing is, the less visible, and approaches the nearer to invi­sibility, whence that saying in the common Philosophy,Arist. in 3. Me­teor [...]l [...]g. Cap. de [...]ride. To see blackness is to see nothing.

Whatsoever a glorified eye, replenished with a heavenly vitality and vigor, can fetch in from the many glorified objects that encom­passe it, we must suppose to concurr to this blessedness. Now is the eye satisfied with seeing, which before never could.

But, 'tis intellectual sight we are chiefly to consider here, that whereby we see him that is [Page 47] invisible, and approach the inaccessible Light. The word here used, [...] some Criticks tell us, more usually signifies the sight of the mind. And then, not a casual, superficial glancing at a thing, but contemplation, a studious, designed viewing of a thing, when we solemnly compose and aplly our selves thereto, or the vision of Prophets or such as have things discovered to them by divine Revelation (thence called Chozim, Seers) which imports (though not a previous design, yet) no lesse intention of mind in the act it self.

And so it more fitly expresses that knowledge which we have, not by discourse and reasoning out of one thing from another, but by imme­diate intuition of what is nakedly, and at once offered to our view, which is the more proper knowledge of the blessed in heaven. They shall have the glory of God so presented, and their minds so enlarged, as to comprehend much at one view, in which respect they may be said, in a great degree, to know as they are known, in as much as the blessed God compre­hends all things at once, in one simple act of knowing. Yet that is not to be understood as if the state of glory should exclude all ratioci­nation, more than our present state doth all in­tuition (for first and indemonstrable principles we see by their own light, without illation or argument) nor can it be inconvenient to ad­mit, that while the knowledge the blessed have of God is not insinite, there may be use of their discursive faculty with great fruit and pleasure. Pure intuition of God, without any [Page 48] mixture of reasoning, is acknowledged (by such as are apt enough to be over-ascribing to the creature) peculiar to God alone.Cognoscere deum clarè & intuiti­vè est proprium & naturale so­li deo sicut est proprium ig [...]i calefacere & so­li illuminare Ledesm. de di­vin. perfect. q. 8. Art. 7. But as the blessed God shall continually afford (if we may speak of continuity in Eternity, which yet we cannot otherwise apprehend) a clear dis­covery of himself, so shall the principall exer­cise, and felicity of the blessed soul consist in that less labouring and more pleasant way of knowing: a meer admitting or entertaining of those free beams of voluntary light, by a grateful intuition, which way of knowing the expression of sight, Mat. 5. 8. or beholding doth most in­cline to,Heb. 12. 14. and that is, we are sure, the ordi­nary language of Scripture about this matter.

CHAP. IV.

The second ingredient into this Blessedness considered, assimilation to God or his glo­ry imprest. Wherein it consists, discove­red in sundry Propositions. The third in­gredient, The satisfaction and pleasure which results, stated and opened.

AND now, upon this Vision of the bles­sed face of God, next follows, in the order of discourse, The souls perfect assimilation unto that revealed glory, or its participation thereof, (touching the or­der the things themselves have to one another, there will be consideration had in its proper [Page 49] place) and this also must be considered as a distinct and necessary ingredient into the state of blessedness we are treating of.

Distinct it is, for though the vision now spo­ken of, doth include a certain kind of assimi­lation in it, as all vision doth, being only a reception of the species or likeness of the Object seen: This assimilation we are to speak of, is of a very different kind. That is such as affects only the visive or cognitive power, and that not with a real change, but intention­al onely, nor for longer continuance than the act of seeing lasts; but this is total, real, and permanent.

And surely it is of equal necessity to the souls blessedness, to partake the glory of God, as to behold it; as well to have the divine-like­ness imprest upon it as represented to it. After so contagious and over-spreading a depravati­on as sin hath diffus'd through all its powers: it can never be happy without a change of its very crasis and temper throughout. A diseased ulcerous body would take little felicity in gay and glorious sights: no more would all the glory of heaven signifie to a sick, deformed, self-loathing soul.

It must therefore be all glorious within, have the Divine nature more perfectly com­municated, the likeness of God transfus'd and wrought into it. This is the blessed work be­gun in Regeneration; but how far it is from being perfected, we may soon find by consi­dering how far short we are of being satisfied in our present state, even in the contemplati­on [Page 50] of the highest and most excellent Objects. How tasteless to our souls are the thoughts of God! How little pleasure do we take in view­ing over his glorious Attributes! the most ac­knowledged and adorable excellencies of his Being! And whereto can we impute it but to this, that our spirits are not yet sufficiently connaturallized to them? Their likeness is not enough deeply instamped on our souls: nor will this be, till we awake; when we see better, we shall become better: When he ap­pears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

But do we indeed pretend to such an expe­ctation? Can we think what God is, and what we are in our present state, and not confesse these words to carry with them an amazing sound, we shall be like him! How great an hope is this! How strange an errand hath the Gos­pel into the world! How admired a design! to transform men and make them like God! Were the dust of the earth turned into stars in the firmament, were the most stupendous po­etical transformations assured realities, what could equal the greatness and the wonder of this mighty change? Yea, and doth not the expectation of it seem as presumptious, as the issue it self would be strange? Is it not an o­ver bold desire? too daring a thought? a thing unlawful to be affected, as it seems impossi­ble to be attained?

It must be acknowledged there is an ap­pearance of high arrogance in aspiring to this, to be like God. And the very wish or thought of [Page 51] being so, in all respects, were not to be enter­tained without horror: 'Tis a matter there­fore that requires some disquisition and expli­cation wherein that impressed likeness of God consists, which must concur to the Saints bles­sedness. In order here unto then take the following Propositions.

1. There is a sense wherein to be like God is altogether impossible, Proposition 1. and the very desire of it the most horrid wickedness. The prophet in the name of God charges the proud Prince of Tyre with this, as an inexpiable arrogance, that he did set his heart as the heart of God, and up­on this score challenges and enters the lists with him: Come you, that would sain be taken for a God, Ile make a sorry God of thee e're I have done,verse 6. because thou hast set thy heart as the heart of God, I'le set those upon thee, that shall draw their swords against the beauty 7. of thy wisedom, and that shall defile thy brightness; And what? Wilt thou yet say in the hand of 8. him that slayeth thee I am a God? Thou shalt 9. be a man and no God in the hand of him that slay­eth thee,—I have spoken it saith the Lord God. 10. He will endure no such imitation of him, as to be rival'd in the point of his Godhead. This is the matter of his jealousie.Deut. 32. They have mov­ed me to jealousie with not-God. (so 'tis shortly and more smartly spoken in the Original Text) And see how he displayes his threats and terrours hereupon in the following verses. This was the design and inducement of the first transgression to be as Gods. And indeed all sin may be reduced hither, what else is sin [Page 52] (in the most comprehensive notion) but an undue imitation of God? an exalting of the Creatures Will into a supreamacy; and oppo­sing it as such to the divine. To sin, is to take upon us, as if we were supream, and that there were no Lord over us, 'Tis to assume to our selves a Deity, as if we were under no law or rule, as he is not under any, but what he is to himself, herein, to be like God, is the very core, and malignity of sin.

2 2. There is a just and laudable imitation of God, a likenesse to him, that is matter of command, praise, and promise, as wherein both the duty, excellency and blessednesse of the rea­sonable creature doth consist; and which is in some respect inseperable from the nature of man.Eph. 5. 1. We are required to be followers of God, [...]. as dear Children (imitaters the word is) David is commended as a man after Gods own heart (though but now we saw, in ano­ther, with what disdain and indignation it was resented, that he did set his heart, as the heart of God.)J [...]m. 1. 18. The new Creature, the new Man, the first fruits,Eph. 4. 24. (as he is called) the flower of the Creation is made after God. Saints ex­pect upon the assurance of his word, to be more fully like him, as we see in the text, and parallel places. Yea man was made at first with a concreate similitude to God, which we know was the counsel of Heaven, and the result and issue of that counsel. Gen. 1. 26, 27. This is evident enough in it self, and needs no more words. But to make a further step in this businesse, observe next.

[Page 53] 3. There can be no allowable imitation of any 3 one, but with an exception, as to some peculiari­ties, that may belong to his special station, rela­tions, and other circumstances of the condition in which he is, or with limitation to such things as are of common concernment unto both. Regis ad exem­plum totus com­po [...]tur orbis. 'Tis commonly observed how naturally a people form their manners and fashions to the ex­ample of the Prince; and there is no well disposed ruler, but would take it well to be imitated in things that are of common con­cernment to him and his subjects,Nam facere re­ct [...] bonus prin­ceps faciendo docet. Cumque sit imperio maximus, ex­emplo major est. Velleins Paterculus. that is, that concern him, not as he is a King; but as he is a man, or a Christian. To behold the trans­forming power of his own example; where it is such as begets a fair and unreproach­ful impress * how his virtues circulate (his justice, temperance, love of religion) and produce their likeness among his people twill be a glory,Rom. Hist. l. 2. and cannot but be resented with some delight. We cast an honor upon them whom we imitate: for we acknowledg an excellency in them (which is all that ho­noring imports in the first notion of it) and that naturally is received with pleasure. But now should subjects aspire to a likeness to their Prince, in the proper appendages, and acts of soveraignty; and because he is a glorious King, they will be such too: and assume the peculiar cognisances of regality; ascend the Throne, sway the Scepter, wear the Crown, enact Lawes, &c. There cannot be more of dutifulnesse and observance, in the for­mer imitation; than there is of disloyalty, and [Page 54] treason in this. A Father is pleased to have his Son imitate him, within such limits before­mentioned; but, if he will govern the Fa­mily, and fill up his room in all relations, this will never be indured.

4 4. There are some things to be found in the blessed God, not so incommunicable, and appropriate; but that his Creatures may be said to have some participation thereof with him: and so far to be truely like him. This participation cannot be univocal; as the nature of a living creature in general, [...] is equaly in Men and Brutes. So it is a self evident principle, that Nothing can be c [...]mmon to God and an inferiour being. Nor is it onely aequivocal; a participation but of the same name, when the natures signified thereby are, altogether diverse; but analogi­cal, in as much as the things spoken under the same names of God and the creature, have a real likenesse, and conveniency in nature with one another; and they are in God, prima­rily; in the creature, by dependance, and deri­vation: in him, essentially, as being his very Essence: in them, but as accidents, (many of them) adventitious to their beings: and so while they cannot be said to be the same things in them, as, in him, are fitly said to be his likeness.

5 5. This likenesse, as it is principally found in man among all the terrestrial creatures; so hath it man for its seat and subject, his Soul or spiri­tual part. The effects of divine wisdom power, goodnesse, are every where visible, through­out the whole Creation; and as there is no [Page 55] effect, but hath some thing in it, correspon­ding to its cause (wherein it was its cause) so, every creature doth, some way or other, re­present God. Some in virtues, some in life, some in beingM [...]ltis enim modis dici res possunt similes Deo, aliae se­cundum virtu­tem, & sapica­tiam, [...]actae; qui [...] in ipso est vi [...]tus & sapientia non facta; aliae in quantum solùm vivunt, quia ille summe & pri­mè vivit; il [...]ae, in quantum sunt, quia ille summe & primitus est, Aug 8 [...]. quest. p (mihi) 211. only, the material world, repre­sents him as an house, the builder. But spiritual beings, as a child, the father [...].. Other Creatures (as oneP. Moulin [...]us de cognitione Dei. fitly expresses it) carrie his footsteps; these, his image: & that, not as drawn with a pencil, which can onely express figure and co­lour: but, as represented in a glasse, which in­timates action and motion. To give the prehe­minence thereforeHeathens have disdained and declaimed against so unworthy thoughts of God. [...], &c. Maximus Tyr. Disser [...]. 1. The same Author warns us to take heed, that we ascribe to God, [...], Ibid. Unto which purpose is that decant [...]te Distich of Home [...] [...], &c. And that saying of Pli [...]y, Quapropter effigiem Dei formamqu [...] quaerere imb [...]cilitatis humanae [...]r or, applied by Z [...]ach. de operibus Dei. And we may see much of like import alledg'd by Natal. Com. l [...]b. 1. p. 13 Which (by the way) discovers how [...]atly opposite the Ido­latrie forbidden in the second commandment is to the light of Na­ture it self. Which hath been also the just Apologie of the Ancient patrons of the Christian cause for the simplicitie of their worship in this respect: and their not imitating the pompo [...]s vanitie of Pagan Image worship. [...], Origen. coatr. Celsum. lib. 7. To which purpose see at large Min. Felix, Quod simulacrum Deo fingam? &c. And surely 'tis as improvable against the same piece of Christian Paganism. The usually assigned differences would easily be shewn to be trifling impertinencies. in this point to the body of man, was a conceit, so gross, that one would wonder how it should obtain; at least in the Christian world.

[Page 56] Yet we find it expressely charged by Saint Angustine upon the Antropomorphites of old (or Melitonians, Corpus hominis noa animam esse imaginem Dei, Aug. (if it be Augustines) lib. de haeresibus. as he calls them, from one Me­lito the Father of them) not onely, that they imagined God in a humane shape (which was their known conceit) but that they stated Gods image in Man, in his body, not his soul. Nor are Van Helmonts phansies,See Dr Charle­ton of his I­mage of God in man. about corporal likeness capable of excuse by any thing, but that they were a dream (as they are fitly stil'd) and not likely to impose upon the wa­king reason of any man.

6. This image or likenesse of God in the Spi­rit of Man, representing what is communicable in him, is either Natural or Moral. There is first, a natural image of God, in the soul of man, which is inseperable from it; and which it can never divest it self ofEst Dei simili­tudo quaedam, quam nemo v [...] ­vens, nisi cum vitâ [...]xuit; qua [...] habet ho­mo & volens, & no [...]ens, &c. Bernard. de vi­ [...]â Solitar.. Its very spiritual immortal nature, it self, is a representation of his. Its intellective and elective powers are the image of what we are constrained to con­ceive under the notion of the same powers in him. Yea, the same understanding, with the me­mory, and will, in one soul are thought a lively resemblance of the Triune Deity.D. Aug. (su­ [...]) lib. 10. de Trinitat. But there is further a similitude of him in respect of mo­ral Sed e [...]t alia, magis Dei pro­pinqua, simili­tudo [...], Bernard. virtues or perfections answering to what we conceive in him, under that notion. His wisedom, (so far as it hath the nature of a moral virtue) his mercy, truth, righteousness, holiness, &c. These two kinds or parts (as [Page 57] they may be called) of the divine impresse upon the Spirits of men, are distinguisht by some (I see not how properly) by the di­stinct names of Image, denoting the former: and similitude, the latter: answering, as is thought, to two Hebrew words of the like import [...] Zanch.: but the things themselves are evi­dently enough distinct, viz. what perfects the nature of man; in genère physico, as he is such a particular being in the Universe: and what perfects him, in genere morali, as he is consi­derable in reference to a Law or rule guiding him to blessednesse: as his end.

7. 'Tis a likenesse to God in respect of those 7 moral excellencies or perfections, that is especial­ly, considerable by us, in reference to our present purpose; as more immediately relating to the souls blessednesse in God. By the former it hath a potentiality, by the latter an habitude in refe­rence thereunto. Or (to use termes, more liable to common apprehension) by the former it hath a remoter capacity, by the latter a present fitnesse; or, as the Apostle expresses it, is made meet to be partaker of the inheritance of the Saints in Light (i. e. considering this likenesse, as begun in the soul.)

8. Besides what is thus (in the sense before 8 exprest) communicable between God and man, there are some things so peculiarly appropriate to God, as that, in respect of them, there can be no formal likenesse in the creature: and it would be impious boldness to aspire thereto. Many things of this kind might be mentioned; I shall on­ly instance in two, wherein there is a mani­fest [Page 58] competition of the Apostate world with him; and which are therefore more relative to practice. His Soveraign authority, and his Independency. In these while men affect to imi­tate they wickedly [...]ffront him. And here is the great controversie between the glorious God, and the degenerous Children of Men. Every man would catch at a God-head, and either assume it to himself, or cast it, many times upon other creatures, viler and more ignoble than himself. Snatch the reins of Government out of Gods hand; and exalt their own wills into an absoluteness as liable to controul from none; place and settle their dependence on their own wit, power, forti­tude, industry; or, if that be a more hope­less course (for they often find an entire God­head too much for one creature, and are there­fore constrained to parcell it out among many) place their confidences, and expecta­tions in something else without them: do, of­ten, that ridiculous thing, so worthy to be hooted at, make the congested dirt of the earth their trust (the righteous shall laugh at him, and say,Psal. 52. 6, 7. Lo! this is the man that trusted in riches) their wealth, their strong Tower; which onely the name of the Lord is to his Righteous ones. Yet, all the while, self is the center, and end in which all must meet, and terminate. This at last carries away the assumed fictious Deity. And this thing, that is thus now made like God, is an Idol (which indeed signifies so much) and this imitation of him wicked Idolatry, than which nothing [Page 59] more debases a reasonable soul, or devests man of himself,Isa. 46. 8. that [...]ill they redress this they give no proof of their being men.

This assimilation of our selves to God is ve­ry remote then from being a perfection; it is a most reproachfull deformity, as we know imitations, if they be visibly affected, and strain­ed too far, are alwayes thought ridiculous by Wise men.

9. Though, in respect of these incommu­n [...]cable 9 things, there cannot be a proper, formal, immediate similitude to God: Yet, there ought to be a correspondency which must be measured, and estimated by the consideration of his state, and ours; whence it will appear, that what so properly apper­tains to him, and what ought to correspond thereto in us, do agree to each; upon one and the same intervening reason.

For instance, is he absolutely Supream, in as much as he is the first Being? the correspon­dent impression with us, and upon the same reason, must be a most profound, humble self-subjection, disposing our souls to constant obedience to him. Again, is he simply inde­pendent, as being self-sufficient and all in all? the impression with us must be a nothingness; and self-emptiness, ingaging us to quit our selves, and live in him.

This is the only conformity to God, which, with respect to his incommunicable excellencies, our creature state can admit; It may be also stil'd a likeness to him, being a real conformity to his Will concerning us: and his very na­ture as it respects us. We may conceive of it, [Page 60] as of the likeness between a Seal, and the stamp made by it; Especially, supposing the inequality of parts in the Seal, to be by the protuberancy of what must form the signature. In that case there would be a likeness, aliquatenus, that is, an exact correspondency, but what would then be convexe or bulching out in the Seal, would be, as we know, concave, or hallow in the impression. Such is the proportion between Soveraignty and Subjection, between self-fulness and self-emptiness. Whereas a similitude to God, in respect of his communicable perfections, is as that between the face and its picture; where no such difference is wont to appear.

10 10. Assimilation, or conformity to God in both these respects composes that excellent frame of moral perfection, which the divine glory, beheld, impresses upon the soul; and which immediately conduces to its satisfaction and blessedness. I say, moral perfection, because that only is capable of being imprest by the intervening ministry of our own understanding: viz. by its Vision, intimated, as was formerly observed, in that of the Apostle, We shall be like—for we shall see him, &c. Its natural perfections are antecedent, and presupposed, therefore not so fitly to be understood here. And I say, both these wayes, for, as we cannot form an intire Idea of God, without taking in, together, his perfections of both sorts, communicable, and incommunica­ble, (the former whereof must serve instead of a genns; the latter of a differentia, in composing the notion of GodT [...]s. Salm [...]. de D [...]o imm [...]so.) so nor will his impresse on us be intire, without something in it re­specting [Page 61] both; in the senses already given.

What it will contribute to future blessedness, we shall shortly see, in its place, when we have made a brief enquiry (which is the next thing, according to our order proposed) con­cerning.

Thirdly, The satisfaction that shall hence ac­crue. 3 Where it will not be besides our purpose, to take some notice of the significancy of the word. [...] And not to insist on its affinity to the word used for swearing, or rather, being swornWhich some think to be the Niphal of the same word notwithstand­ing the diffe­rent punctati­on of the [...]. (which; an oath, being the end of controversies, and beyond which we go no further nor expect more, in way of testifying; would, the more fitly here represent to us the soul in its non-ultra; having attained the end of all its motions, and contentions) Its equal nearness to the word signifying the number of seven, is not altogether unworthy observation. That number is, we know, often used in Scri­pture as denoting plenitude and perfection; and God hath, as it were, signalliz'd it, by his rest on the seventh dayHow fit a Symbol it is of God [...] Sabbati (que) rest, see Dr. Moris's defence of his Philoso­phical Sab­bata from Philo Judaeus. and if this were not de­signedly pointed at here in the present use of this word (as it must be acknowledged to be frequently used where we have no reason to think it is with such an intendment) It may yet occasion us to look upon the holy soul now entered into the eternal SabbathE [...]it ibi verè maximum Sab­batum, non ha­bens vesperam, quod commenda­vit Dominus in primis operibus mundi, ut legitur & requievit die Septimo—Dies enim Septimus etiam nos ipsi erimus quando ipsius [...]uerimus benedictionum & sanct [...]ficationum pleni at­que resecti—ibi vocabimus & vid [...]bimus, vidi [...]bimus & amabimus amabimus & laudabimus, &c. Aug de civit. Dei l. 22. c. 30. vid. eund. de civit. Dei l. 17. c. 4. the rest of God: which, (secluding all respect to that [Page 62] circumstance) is yet the very substance and true notion of the thing it self (to the consi­deration whereof I now passe) under the word held forth to us.

For this satisfaction is the souls rest in God. Its perfect enjoyment of the most perfect good. The expletion of the whole capacity of its will; the total filling up of that vast enlarged appetite; the perfecting of all its desires in delight and joy. Now delight or joy (for they differ not, save that the latter word is thought something more ap­propriate to reasonable nature) is more fitly defined the rest of the desiring faculty in the thing desired Quies appe [...]i­tus in appetibili Aquin. Su [...].. Desire, and Delight are but two acts of Love, diversified, only, by the distance, or presence of the same Object; which, when 'tis distant, the soul, acted and prompted by love, desires, moves towards it, pursues it; when present, and attained, delights in it, en­joyes it, staies upon it, satisfies it self in it (ac­cording to the measure of goodness it finds there) Desire, is therefore, love in motion; Delight, is love in rest: and of this latter delight or joy, Scripture evidently gives us this Notion, He will rejoyce over thee with joy, Zeph. 3. 17. (unto which is presently added as exegetical) he will rest in his love: Which, resting can be but the same thing with being satisfied.

This satisfaction then is nothing else but the re­pose and rest of the soul amidst infinite delights. Its peaceful acquiescence, having attained the ultimate tearm of all its motions, beyond which it cares to go no further; the solace it finds in an adequate full good; which it ac­counts [Page 63] enough for it, and beyond which, it desires no more; reckons its state as good as it can be, and is void of all hovering thoughts (which perfect rest must needs exclude) or in­clination to change.

And so doth this being satisfied, not only ge­nerally, signifie the soul to be at rest; but it specifies that rest; and gives us a distinct ac­count of the nature of it. As that it is not a forced violent rest; such as proceeds from a be­guiled ignorance, a drowsie sloth, a languish­ing weakness, or a desire and hope of happi­ness, by often frustrations bafled into despair▪ (to all which, the native import and propriety of that word [satisfaction] doth strongly re­pugne.)

But it discovers it to be a natural rest. I mean, from an internal principle; the soul is not held in its present state of enjoyment by a strong and violent hand; but rests in it by a connaturalness thereunto, is attempered to it, by its own inward constitution and frame. It rests not as a descending stone, intercepted by something by the way, that holds and stops it, else it would fall further; but as a thing would rest in its own centre, with such a rest as the earth is supposed to have in its proper place; that, being hung upon nothing, is yet unmoved (ponderibus librata suis) equally bal­lanced by its own weights every way.

It is a rational judicious rest, upon certain knowledge that its present state is simply best, and not capable of being changed for a better: The soul cannot be held under a perpetual [Page 64] cheat, so as alwayes to be satisfied with a [...]ha­dow. It may be so befool'd for a while, but if it remain satisfied, in a state that never ad­mits of change; that state must be such as com­mends it self to the most throughly informed reason and judgement.

It is hence a free voluntary chosen rest: Such as God professes his own to be in Zion. This is my rest, Psal. 132. 14. here will I dwell, for I have desired it.

It is a complacential rest, wherein the soul a­bides steady bound only by the cords of love; a rest in the midst of pleasantnesses; The Lord is my portion, Psal. 16. 6. [...] the lots are fallen to me [in amani­tatibus] it cannot be more fitly exprest than [amidst pleasantnesses] And this speaks, not only what the Psalmists condition was, but the sense, and account he had of it. That temper of mind gives us some Idea of that contentful, satisfied abode with God, which the blessed shall have. He intimates how undesirous he was of any change. Their sorrows (he told us above) should be multiplied that hasten after ano­ther God. Ver. 4. Hereafter there will be infinitely less appearance of reason for any such thought. Now it is the sense of an holy soul, Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none I desire on earth besides thee (q. d. Heaven and Earth yield not a tempting Object, to divert me from thee) 'tis now, so at sometimes, when faith and love are in their triumph and exaltation (but the Lord knows how seldom!) but much more when we see him as he is, and are satisfied with his likeness.

It's an active vigorous rest. Action about the [Page 65] end shall be perpetuated,I think n [...]t worth the while to in­gage in the disp [...]te (so much agitated between the [...] and [...]) whe­ther blessed­ness do formal­ly consist in this satisfying fruition, or in the anteced [...]ne vision: This satisfaction is certainly inse­parable from it, and I see not how to be ex­cluded out of its formal Notion, 'tis not vision as visica, but as [...] [...]y­ing, that makes us happy; and to talk of the satisfaction or pleasu [...]e which the understanding hath in knowing, is insipid: wh [...]le the soul understanding, i. e. the mind, knows 'tis the soul enjoying, i. e. the will is pleased and finds content, and till the soul be fully co [...]tented, it is not blessed, and it is, by being so, when it saith, now am I full-sa­tisfied, I have enough, I desire no more. here, though action towards it ceases. 'Tis the rest of an aw [...]kned, not of a drowsie, sluggish soul; of a soul sati [...]fi [...]d, by heavenly sensations and fruitions: not unca­pable of them; or that hath its powers bound up by a stupifying sleep.

Its the rest of hope perfected in fruition, not lost in despair; of satisfied, not defeated expecta­tion. Despair may occasion rest to a mans body, but not to his mind; or a cessation from further endeavours, when they are constantly found vain, but not from trouble and disquiet. It may suspend from action, but never satisfie.

This satisfaction therefore speaks both the realitie and nature of the souls rest in glory: that it rests; and with what kind of rest.

CHAP. V.

The relative consideration of these three in­gredients of the Saints blessedness. Where it is propounded to shew particularly. 1. What relation Vision hath to Assimi­lation. 2. What both these have to Sa­tisfaction. The relation between the two former inquired into; an entrance upon the much larger Discourse, what relation and influence the two former have towards the third. What Vision of Gods Face, or glory contributes towards Satisfaction, Esti­mated from the consideration. 1. Of the Object, the glory to be beheld, as 'tis divine, entire, permanent, appropriate.

THUS far have we view'd the parts or necessary concurrents of which the blessedness of the Saints must be composed absolutely, and severally each from other. We proceed

Secondly, to consider them relatively, viz. in the mutual respects, they bear one to another; as they actually compose this blessed state, wherein we shall shew particularly,

1. The relation (by way of in [...]luence, and dependence) between Vision and Assimila­tio [...].

2. Between both these and the satisfaction that insues: Which latter I intend more to [Page 67] dwell upon; and only to touch the former, as a more speculative and lesse improvable subject of Discourse, in my way to this.)

1. First, It may be considered, what rela­tion there may be between vision of God, and assimilation, or being made like to him; and it must be acknowledged (according to what is commonly observed of the mutual action of the understanding and will) that the sight of God, and likeness to him, do mutually contribute, each towards other. The sight of God assimi­lates, makes the soul like unto him; that like­ness more disposes it for a continued renewed vision. It could never have attained the beati­fical vision of God, had it not been prepared thereto by a gradual previous likeness to himWhich ne­cessity of a likeness to God to dispose [...]or the vi [...]n of him, is ex­cellently ex­prest by a [...] Philo­sopher. The divine nature, the [...], which he saith is lia [...]e to no sense, ( [...], &c.) is yet visible to that in the soul which is most beauti­ful, most pure, most perspica­cious, most su­blime, most noble, in re­spect of a cer­tain similitude and cognation that is be­tween them. Max. T [...].. For righteousness (which we have shewn qua­lifies for this blessedness) consists in a likeness to God; and it could never have been so pre­pared, had not some knowledge of God intro­duced that conformity and yielding bent of heart towards him. For the entire frame of the new man, Col. 3. [...]0. made after the image of God, is renewed in knowledge.

But as notwithstanding the circular action of the understanding and will upon one ano­ther; there must be a beginning of this course some-where, and the understanding is usually reckon'd the [...], the first mover, the leading faculty: So notwithstanding the mu­tual in [...]luence of these two upon each other, seeing hath a natural precedency and must lead the way unto being like; Which is sufficiently intimated in the Text, [I shall behold thy face] [Page 68] and then I shall be satisfied with thy likeness, and more fully in that parallel Scripture: We shall [...]e like him for we shall see him, &c.

From whence also, and from the very na­ture of the thing, we may fitly state the re­lation of the first of these to the second, to be that of a cause to its effect. Sight begets likeness, is antecedent to it, and productive of it.

That is the face or glory of God seen; that glory, in conjunction with our vision of it: for the vision operates not; but according to the efficaciousness of the thing seen, nor can that glory have any such operation, but by the in­tervention of vision.

Tis therefore the glory of God seen, as seen, that assimilates, and impresses its likeness up­on the beholding Soul: and so its causality it is that of an objective cause (which whether it be­long to the efficient or final, I shall not here dispute) that operates onely as it is apprehended: so introducing its own form, and similitude into the subject it works upon. Such a kind of cause were Jacobs streaked rods of the productions that ensued; and such a cause is any thing whatever that begets an im­pression upon an apprehensive subject by the mediation and ministry, whether of the phan­cy or understanding. This kind of causality the word hath in its renewing transforming work; and the Sacraments wherein they are [...] of real physical mutations on the Subjects of them. So much of the Image of God as is here imprest upon souls by Gospel dispen­sations, [Page 69] so much is imprest of his glory. The work of grace is glory begun.

And now as glory initial, and progressive in this life enters at the eye— (beholding as in a glasse the glory of the Lord,2 Cor. 3. 18. we are changed) so doth perfect, and consumate glory in the other life. For we have no reason to imagine to our selves any alteration in the natural or­der the powers of the soul have towards each other, by its passing into a state of glo­ry.

The Object seen is unspeakably efficacious; the Act of intuition is full of lively vigour, the Sub­ject was prepared, and in a disposition before; and what should hinder, but this glorious ef­fect should immediately ensue; as the Sun no sooner puts up its head above the Hemi­sphere, but all the vast space whether it can diffuse its beams is presently transformed in­to its likenesse, and turned into a Region of light.

What more can be wanting to cause all the darkness of Atheism, carnality, and every sting of sin, for ever to vanish out of the a­waking soul, and an intire frame of holiness to succeed, but one such transforming sight of the face of God? one sight of his glorio [...] Majesty presently subdues, and works it to [...] full subjection; one sight of his purity makes [...] pure: one sight of his lovelinesse turns it into [...] and such a sight alwayes remaining the impress remains alwayes actually (besides that it is in it self most habitual and permament in the souls now confirmed state) fresh and lively.

[Page 70] The Object hath quite another aspect upon a wicked soul, when it awakes, and the act of seeing is of another kind; therefore no such effect follows: besides the subject is otherwise disposed, and therefore as the Sun inlightens not the inward parts of an impervious dung-hill, but it inlightens air, so the sight of God trans­forms and assimilates at last, not a wicked, but it doth a godly soul. That which here makes the greatest difference in the temper of the subject is Love. I look upon the face of a stranger, and it moves me not, but upon a friend, and his face presently transforms mine into a lively, cheerful aspect.P [...]ov▪ 27. 17. (As iron sharpens iron, so doth the face of a man his friend) puts a sharp­ness and a quickness into his looks. The soul that loves God opens it self to him, admits his influences and impressions, is easily moulded, and wrought to his will; yeilds to the trans­forming power of his appearing glory: There is no resistent principle remaining, when the love of God is perfected in it, and so overcoming is the first sight of his glo­ry upon the awaking soul, that it perfects it, and so his likenesse both at once.

But enmity fortifies the soul against him, as with bars and doors; averts it from him; carries with it an horrid guilty consciousness, which fils it with eternal despair and rage, and enraps it in the blackness of darknesse for ever.

2. Both the vision of God, and likeness to him must be considered in their relation to the consequent satisfaction, and the influ­ence, they have in order thereto. I say both; [Page 71] for though this satisfaction be not expressely, and directly referred by the letter of the text, to the sight of Gods face, yet its relation there­to, in the nature of the thing, is sufficiently ap­prehensible and obvious, both mediate, in re­spect of the influence it hath towards the sa­tisfying assimilation, and immediate (which we are now to consider) as it is so highly plea­surable in it self: and is plainly enough inti­mated in the text, being applied in the same breath to a thing so immediately, and inti­mately conjunct with this vision, as we find it is. Moreover, supposing that [likeness] here do (as it hath been granted it may) signifie objective glory also as well as subjective, and re­peat what is contained in the former expres­sion [the face of God] the reference satisfacti­on hath to this vision (which the remention of its object, though under a varied form of ex­pression supposes) will be more expresse: therefore we shall shew.

1. What the vision of the divine glory con­tributes to the satisfaction of the blessed soul: and what felicity it must needs take herein, which cannot, but be very great whether we respect.

  • The glory seen, the object of this vision, or,
  • The act of vision, or, intuition it self.

1. The Object, the glory beheld: what a spring of pleasure is here? what rivers of pleasure flow hence? In thy presence (saith the Psalmist) is fulnesse of joy: Psal. 16. 11. at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore, The awaking soul, [Page 72] having now past the path of life (drawn through Sheol it self, the state of deadly head) appears immediately in this presence; and what makes this presence so joyous, but the pleasant b [...]ghtness of this face? to be in the presence of any one, and before his face (in conspectu) are eq [...]i [...]alent expressions: therefore the Apostle [...] this passage, renders it thus, Thou hast [...] me with gladness, [...] by thy [countenance.] Now in this glorious presence or within view of the face of God is [fulness] of joy, i. e. joy unto sati [...]f [...]ction. And the Apostle Jude speak­ing of this presence under this name [a pre­sence of glory] tels us of an exceeding joy, [...] a ju­bilation (an [...]) that shall attend the presentment of Saints there. The holy Soul now enters the divine Shechinah, the Chamber of presence of the great King, the ha [...]itation of his holiness and glory. The place where his honour dwelleth. Here his glory surrounds it with incircling beams: 'tis beset with glory, therefore surely also fill'd with joy. When the vail is drawn aside: or we are within the vail, in that very presence whither Jesus the forerun­ [...] [...] for u [...] entred (through that path of life) O the satisfying overcoming pleasure of this sight! Now, that it is to us revealed or unvail­ed glory, which was hidden before. Here the glory set in Majesty (as the expression is,Ezek. 7. con­cerning the glory of the Temple) is presen­ted to view openly and without umbrage. G [...]d is now no longer seen through an obscu­r [...]g medium. They are not now shadowed [...]mmerings, transient, oblique glances, but [Page 73] the direct beams of full ey'd glory that shine upon us. The discovery of this glory is the ultimate product of that infinite wisedom and love, that have been working from eternity, and for so many thousand years through all the successions of time towards the heirs of salvation. The last and compleat issue of the great atchievments, sharp conflicts, glorious victories, high merits of our mighty Redeem­er. All these end in the opening of Heaven (the laying of this glory as it were common) to all believers. This is the upshot, and close of that great design: will it not (think ye) be a satisfying glory! The full blessedness of the re­deemed is the Redeemers reward. He cannot be satisfied in seeing his seed if they should be unsatisfied. He cannot behold them with con­tent if his heart tell him not that he hath done well enough for them.Heb. 11. 16. God would even be ashamed to be called their God, had he not made provision for their entertainment wor­thy of a God. Tis the season of Christs Tri­umphs, and Saints are to enter into His joy. Tis the appointed jubilee at the finishing of all Gods works, from the Creation of the world, when he shall puposely shew himself in his most adorable Majesty, and when Christ shall appear in his own likenesse (he appear­ed in another likeness before) surely glory must be in in its exaltation in that day. But take a more distinct account, how grateful a sight this glory will be in these following par­ticulars.

1. It is the Divine glory, Let your hearts 1 [Page 74] dwell a little upon this consideration. 'Tis the g [...]ory of God, i. e. the glory which the blessed God both enjoyes and affords, which he con­templates in himself, and which raies from him to his Saints, 'tis the felicity of the divine Being. It satisfies a Deity, will it not a worm? 'Tis a glory that results and shines from him and in that sense also divine (which here I mainly intend) the beauty of his own face the lustre of Divine perfectio [...]s, every Attribute bears a part, all concur to make up this glo­ry.

And here pretermitting those which are lesse liable to our apprehension; his Eternity, Immensity, Simplicity, &c. (of which, not having their like in us, we are the more un­capable to form distinct conceptions, and con­sequently of perceiving the pleasure, that we may hereafter upon the removal of other im­pediments, find in the contemplation of them) let us bethink our selves how admirable and ravishing the glory will be.

1. Of his unsearchable wisdom, which hath glory peculiarly annext and properly belong­ing to it. Glory is as it were, by inheritance, due to wisdom.Prov. 3. 35. The wise shall inherit glory. And here now the blessed souls behold it in its first seat,Job. 12. and therefore in its prime glory, wise­dom, counsel, understanding, are said to be with him; as if no where else. Twice we have the Apostle ascribing glory to God under the notion of only wise: Rom. 16. 27. which is but an acknow­ledging him glorious in this respect.1 [...]m. 1. 17. Wisdom, we know, is the proper and most connatural [Page 75] glory of intellectual nature; whether as it re­lates to speculation, when we call it knowledge, or action, when 'tis prudence.

How pleasant will the contemplation be of the divine wisdom in that former Notion; when in that glasse, that speculum aeternitatis, we shall have the lively view of all that truth, the knowledge whereof can be any way possible and grateful to our natures; and in his light, see light; when all those vast treasures of wise­dom and knowledge,Col. 2. [...]. (which already by their alliance to Christ, Saints are interested in) shall lye open to us. When the tree of Know­ledge shall be without enclosure; and the most voluptuous Epicurism in reference to it be innocent! Where there shall neither be lust, nor forbidden fruit, no withholding of desirable knowledge, nor affectation of undesirable. When the pleasure of speculation shall be without the toil; and that maxime be eternally antiquated, that increased knowledge increases sorrow!

As to the other notion of it; how can it be lesse grateful to behold the wisdom that made, and govern'd the world? that compast so great designs; and this, no longer in its effects, but in it self? Those works were honourable and glorious, sought of all them that have pleasure in them. What will be the glory of their cause? It would gratifie some mens curiosity to behold the unusual motion of some rare automaton; but an ingenious person would, with much more pleasure, prie into the secret Springs of that motion; and observe its in­ward frame, and parts, and their dependence, [Page 76] and order each to other. 'Tis comely to behold the exterior oeconomy of a well govern'd people; when great affairs are, by orderly conduct, brought to happy issues; but to have been at the helm, to have seen the pertinent, proper application of such and such maximes to the incident cases; to have known all the rea­sons of state, heard debates, observ'd, with what great sagacity, inconveniencies have been foreseen, and with what diligence prevented; would much more gratifie an inquiring Ge­nius.

When the Records of Eternity shall be ex­posed to view; all the counsels and results of that profound wisdom lookt into, how will it transport! when it shall be discern'd, lo [...] thus were the designes laid, here were the apt junctures and admirable dependencies of things, which, when acted upon the stage of the world, seem'd so perplext, and crosse, so full of mysterious intricacy?

If Saint Paul were so ravisht at those more obscure appearances of divine wisdom, which we find him admiring, Rom. 11. 33. O the depths, &c. what satisfaction will it yield to have a perfect modell of the deep thoughts and counsels of God presented to open view! How is the happiness of Solomons Servants magnified, that had the priviledge continually to stand be­fore him, and hear his wisdom. But this happi­ness will be proportionably greater, as Solomons God is greater than he.

2 2. The glory of his power will add comliness to the Object of this Vision. Power duly placed [Page 77] and allay'd is lovely. Beauty consists much in a Symmetrie or proportion of parts. So must there be a concurrence of divine perfections to compose and make up the beautiful com­plexion of his face, to give us a right aspect, the true Idea of God. And here his power hath a necessary ingrediency. How incoherent, and disagreeing with it self were the motion of an impotent God. [...]. Col. 1. 11. His power gives lively strokes to his glory. 'Tis called glorious power, or the power of glory. Yea, 'tis simply called glory it self; Rom. 6. 4. the Apostle tells us, Christ was raised from the dead by the [glory] of the Father, when 'tis plain he means [power]: And the same Apostle prayes,Chap. 3. 16. on the behalf of the Ephesians, that God would grant them according to the riches of his glory to be strengthened with might, &c. How frequently are power and glory ascribed to him in conjunction; intimating that as he is powerful he is glorious. And certainly even this glory, cannot but cast a grateful aspect upon the blessed soul, and be infinitely pleasant to behold. What triumphs doth it now raise in gracious Spirits to behold the exertions of it in his works; Job 26. 9. to read its descriptions in his word, while as yet he holds back the face of his throne, while the countenance of inthroned Majesty cannot be seen: when so little a portion is heard of him,Ver. 14. and the thunder of his power so little understood. The infinitely fainter Rayes of this power in a creature; power in that unspeakable diminution and abatement, that derived, precarious power, when 'tis inno­cently used, is observed with pleasure; Here [Page 78] is power in the throne, power in its chief and highest seat; essential, and self-originated power; the root and fountain, the very Ele­ment of power; power in its proper situation, in its native place to which it belongs. God hath spoken once, Psal. 62. 11. power to God Hebr. twice have I heard this, that power belongeth unto God. It languishes in a Creature as in an alien Subject. If I speak of strength, Job. 26. lo he is strong (saith Job) q. d. Crea­ted power is not worth the speaking of; Here is the power that deserves the name, that is so indeed. How satisfying a pleasure will this af­ford to contemplate this radical power? this all-creating, all-ruling power, the principle of all action, motion, and life, throughout the whole Creation. This will be as natural a pleasure, as the Child takes in the Mothers bosom, and in imbracing the womb that bare it. How grateful to behold whence the vast frame of nature Sprang! what stretcht out the Heavens, established the Earth, sustained all things, what turned the mighty Wheels of Providence throughout all the successions of time; what ordered, and changed times and seasons, chained up Devils, restrained the out­rages of a tumultuous world, preserved Gods little Flock; especially what gave Being to the new Creation,Eph. 1. 19, 20. The exceeding greatness of power that wrought in them that believed, &c. what made hearts love God, imbrace a Saviour, what it was that overcame their own, Psal. 110. 3. and made them a willing people in that memorable day.

How delightful a contemplation to think, [Page 79] with so inlarged an understanding of the pos­sible effects of this power, and, so far as a creature can range into infinity, to view innu­merable creations, in the creative power of God.

And yet how pleasant to think not on­ly of the extents, but of the restraints of this power, and how, when none could limit, it became ordinate, and did limit it self; that, since it could do so much, it did no more; turned not sooner a degenerous world into flames:Posse & nolle nobile. withhheld it self from premature re­venge, that had abortiv'd the womb of Love, and cut off all the hopes of this blessed Eternity that is now attained. This also speaks the greatness of power. Numb. 14. 17, 18. Let the power of my Lord be great according as thou hast spoken the Lord is gra­cious, long-suffering, &c. This was his mightiest power, whereby he overcame himself. Fortior est qui se, &c.

3. And what do we think of the ravishing 3 aspects of his Love! when it shall now be open fac'd, and have laid aside its vail; when his amiable smiles shall be chekered with no in­termingled frowns; the light of that pleasing countenance be obscured by no intervening cloud! when goodness (which is love issuing into benefaction, or doing good) grace (which adds freeness unto goodness) mercy (which is grace towards the miserable shall con­spire in their distinct, and variegated appear­ances to set off each other, and enhance the pleasure of the admiring soul! when the won­ted doubts shall all cease, and the difficulty vanish of reconciling (once necessary) fatherly [Page 80] severity with Love. When the full sense shall be unfolded to the life, of that description of the divine nature, God is Love; and the soul be no longer put to read the love of God in his name (as Moses was when the sight of his face could not yet be obtained) shall not need to spell it by letters and syllables, but behold it in His very nature it self, and see how intimately Essential it is to the divine Being. How glori­ous will this appearance of God be (we now hear something of the glory of his grace) and how satisfying the intuition of that glory!Eph. 1. 6. Now is the proper season for the full exercise and discovery of Love. This day hath been long expected and lo now 'tis dawned upon the awaking soul: It's now called forth; its sen­ses unbound, all its powers inspirited, on pur­pose, for love visions and enjoyments, 'tis now to take its fill of loves. The Apostles extatical prayer is now answered to the highest degree possible with respect to such a one.Eph. 3. 16. 17. 18. 17. He is now according to the riches of divine glory, strengthened with might by the Spirit in the inner man—to comprehend with all Saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; to know the love that passeth knowledge, &c. He shall now no longer stand amazed spending his ghesses What manner of love this should be and expecting ful­ler discoveries, further effects of it, that did not yet appear; but sees the utmost, all that his soul can bear or wish to see. He hath now traced home the rivulets to their fountain, the beams to the very Sun of Love. He hath got the prospect, at last, into that heart, where [Page 81] where the great thoughts of love were lodg'd from everlasting? where all its counsels and designs were formed. He sees what made God become a man? what cloathed a Deity with humane flesh? what made Eternity be­come the birth of time (when come to its parturient fulness) what mov'd the heart of the Son of God to pitch his Tabernacle among men?Gal. 4. 4. what ingaged him to the enterprize of redeeming sinners? what mov'd him so ear­nestly to contest with a perishing world? led him at last to the Cross, made him con­tent to become a sacrifice to God, a spectacle to Angels and men in a bitter reproachful death, inflicted by the Sacrilegious hands of those whom he was all this while designing to save. The amazed soul now sees into the bot­tom of this design; understands why it self was not made a prey to Divine revenge; whence it was that it perish't not in its enmity against God; that he was not provoked, by the obstinacy of its disobedience, and malice of its unbelief, beyond the possibility of an atonement; why he so long suffered its in­jurious neglects of him, and unkind repulses of a merciful Saviour; and perswaded till at last he overcame, made the averse heart yield, the careless disaffected soul cry out, Where is my God? now a Christ or I perish? All this is now resolved into love; And the adoring soul sees how well the effects agree to their cause, and are owned by it. Nothing but heaven it self that gives the sense, can give the notion of this pleasure.

[Page 82] 4. Nor will the glory of holiness, be less re­splendent, that great Attribute which even in a remote descent from its original, is fre­quently mentioned with the adjunct of beauties. What loveliness will those beauties add to this blessed face! Psal. 110. 3. &c.

Not here to insist (which is besides my pur­pose) upon the various notions of holiness. Real holiness Scripture states in purity, 2 Cor. 7. 1. an alie­nation from sin, 'tis set in opposition to all fil­thiness to all moral impurity, and in that no­tion it best agrees to God, and comprehends his righteousness, and veracity, and indeed, whatever we can conceive in him under the notion of a moral excellency.

This may therefore be styl'd a transcenden­tal attribute, that as it were runs through the rest, and casts a glory upon every one. 'Tis an at­tribute of attributes; Those are fit predications, holy power, holy truth, holy love, &c. And so it is the very lustre, and glory of his other perfe­ctions.Exod. 15. 11. He is glorious in holiness. Hence in matters of greatest moment, he is sometimes brought in Swearing by his holiness (which he is not wont to do by any one single attribute) as though it were a fuller expression of himself,Psal. 89. 35. Amos 4▪ 2. (an adaequalior conceptus) than any of the rest.

What is of so great account with him, will not be of least account with his holy ones, when they appear in his glorious presence. Their own holiness is a conformity to his, the likeness of it. And as their beholding it forms them into that likeness: so that likeness [Page 83] makes them capable of beholding it with plea­sure. Divine holiness doth now more ravish than affright. This hath been the language of sinful dust,1 Sam 6. Who can stand before this holy God? when holiness hath appeared arm'd with ter­rors, guarded with flames, and the Divine Majesty been represented as a consuming fire. Such apprehensions sin and guilt naturally be­get. The sinners of Sion were afraid. But so far as the new man is put on, created after God, and they who were darkness, are made light in the Lord, he is not under any notion more acceptable to them, than as he is the ho­ly one. They love his Law, because holy; and love each other, because holy, and hate them­selves, because they are no more so. Holi­ness hath still a pleasing aspect when they find it in an Ordinance, meet it in a Sabbath, eve­ry glimpse of it is lovely. But with what tri­umphs hath the holiness of God himself been celebrated even by Saints on earth?Exod. 15 11. Who is a God like unto thee, 1 S [...]m 1 2. glorious in holiness! There is none holy as the Lord, Psal. 30. 4▪ 97. 12. for there is none besides thee. Sing unto the Lord, all ye Saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. What thoughts will they have of it,Si ergo pul­chritudo divina nondùm visa, sed totum cr [...]di­ta & spera [...]a tantum ign [...]m desiduii exci­tat: Quid faciet cùm remo [...]o v [...]le ut est in se conspicitur? Omnia [...]id faci [...] ut to [...] voluptatis illius inebriati, neque velimus, neque passi [...]es, vel ad punctum tempo is ocu [...]os ab eâ divertere. Bella made ascens. mentis ad D [...] ­um grad. 2. when their eyes can behold that glory? when they imme­diately look on the archetypal holiness, of which, their own is but the image; and can view that glorious pattern they were so long [Page 84] in framing to! How joyfully will they then fall in with the rest of the heavenly hoast; and joyn in the same adoration and praise; in the same acclamation, and triumphant song, holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth. How uncon­ceiveable is the pleasure of this sight; when the [...], the first pulchritude, the original beauty offers it self to view! Holiness is intel­lectual beauty; Divine holiness is the most per­fect, and the measure of all other; And what is the pleasure or satisfaction, of which we speak but the perfection and rest of love! Now Love, Max. Tyr. dis­sert. 11. as love, respects, and connotes a pulchritude in its object. And then the most perfect pulchri­tude, the ineffable, and immortal pulchritude, that cannot be declared by words, or seen with eyes, (they are an Heathens expressions concern­ing it) how can it but perfectly, Id. Ibid. and eternally please and satisfie!

And we are told by the great Pagan Theo­logue Plato in Phae­dro p [...]ssiùs. (Though he there speak these things as the memo­ries of his sup­posed praeex­ [...]stent soul) [...]. in what state we can have the felicity of that spectacle; not in our present state: When we have, indeed, but obscure repre­sentations of such things as are, with souls, of highest excellency. But when we are associ­ated to the blessed quire. When we are deliver­ed from the body (which we now carry about as the Oyster doth its shell.) When we are no longer sensible of the evills of time, when we wholly apply our selves to that blessed vision, are admitted to the beholding of the simple permanent sights, and behold them, being our selves pure, in the pure light; Then have we the view of the bright shining pulchritude, &c.

[Page 85] 2. It is an entire or united glory. We have something of the divine glory shining, now, upon us: but the many interpositions cause a multifarious refraction of its light. We have but its dispersed rayes, its scattered dis­chevel'd beams; we shall then have it perfect and full. 'Tis the eternal glory we are here­after to behold.

Eternity (as the notion of it is wont to be stated) is a duration that excludes both Succession, and End.

And if it be an unsuccessive duration, (though it is more difficult to apprehend how the being or injoyments of a creature can come under that mensuration) the glory presented to the view of a blessed soul, cannot be pre­sented by parcels, but at once.Aeternitas est interminabilis vitae tota simul & perfecta pos­sessio. In our temporary state, while we are under the mea­sure of time, we are not capable of the ful­ness of blessedness, or misery, for time ex­ists not altogether but by parts. And indeed we can neither injoy, nor suffer more at once than can can be compast within one moment; for no more exists together. But our relation to eternity (according to this notion of it) will render the same invariable appearance of glo­ry alwayes presentaneous to us, in the entire fulness of it. We read indeed of certain [...] afterings of Faith (as it may be significantly enough rendred,1 Thes. 3. 10. let but the novelty of the expression be pardoned) things lacking we read it, but there will be [Page 86] here no [...] afterings of glory. What is perfect admits no increase; 'tis already full, and why should not a full glory satisfie? there's here no expectation of (greater) future, to abate the pleasure of present discoveries. Why therefore shall not this satisfaction be con­ceived full and perfect? It must be the ful­ness of joy.

3 3. 'Tis permanent glory; a never fading, un­withering glory,1 Pet 1 3. ( [...]) glo­ry that will never be sullied,2 Cor▪ 4. 17. or obscured, never be in a declination.2 Tim. 2 10. This blessed face never grows old;1 P [...]t. 5 10. never any wrinkle hath place in it. 'Tis the eternal glory, in the other parts of the notion of eternity; as it imports an endless duration, neither subject to decay, in it self, or to injury, or impair­ment from without. Isa. 60. 14. As stable as the divine being [thy God, thy Glory, the Lord thy ever­lasting light] if that have a true sense with respect to any state of the Church mili­t [...] on earth, it must needs have a more full t [...]nse, in reference to it triumphing in heaven. As, therefore, full, entire glory afford's fulness of joy, permanent, everlasting glory affords plea­sures for ever more. Psal▪ 16 11.

An appropriate glory, even to them 'tis so, a glory wherein they are really interes­sed. 'Tis

  • The glory of their God,
  • And their happiness is designed to them from it.

They are not unconcern'd in it as 'tis the glory of God. It cannot but be grateful to them to [Page 87] behold the shining glory of their God, whom they feared, and served before; while they could have no such sight of him. That glory of his was once under a cloud, concealed from the world, wrapt up in obscurity; It now breaks the cloud, and justifies the fear, and reverence of his faithful, and Loyal ser­vants, against Atheistical Rebels that feared him not. 'Tis infinitely pleasing to see him now so glorious, whom they thought to have a glory beyond all their conceptions before; while others would not think so of him, but judg'd it safe to slight, and set him at nought. Subjects share in their Princes glory, Chil­dren in their Fathers. But besides that col­lateral interest, that interest by refle­ction.

They have a more direct interest in this glo­ry. A true and real right upon a manifold title, The Fathers gift, Sons purchase, Holy Ghosts obsignation, and earnest; The promises tender; their faiths acceptance; their fore­runners prepossession; Rom. 8. 17. yea 'tis their inheritance; they are children,Ch. 15 7. and therefore heirs, heirs of God,1 Thes. 2. 12. and joynt-heirs with Christ, to the same glory with him. They are by him recei­ved to the glory of God, called to his Kingdom and glory. Will it not contribute exceedingly to their satisfaction, when they shall look upon this glory, not as unconcern'd spectators, but as interressed persons. This is my happiness to behold and enjoy this blessed God? what a rap­turous expression is that, God our own God shall bless us, Psal. 67. 6. and that, Thy God thy glory. Upon in­terest [Page 88] in God, follows their interest in his glory and blessedness: Which is so much the dearer; and more valuable, as it is theirs. Their glory, from their God. They shall be blessed by God, their own God; Drink waters out of their own well. How indearing a thing is propriety▪ Another mans son is ingenious, comely, per­sonable; this may be matter of envy, but mine [...]wn is so, this is a joy. I read in the life of a devout Nobleman of France Monsieur de Renti. that receiving a Letter from a friend, in which were incerted these words, Deus meus, & omnia; my God, and my all; he thus returns back to him, ‘I know not what your intent was to put into your let­ter these words, Deus meus, & omnia; my God, and my all: Only you invite thereby to return the same to you, and to all creatures; My God, and my all, my God, and my all, my God and my all: If perhaps you take this for your Motto, and use it to express how full your heart is of it; think you it possible I should be silent upon such an invitation? and not express my sense thereof? Likewise be it known unto you therefore, that he is my God, and my all; and if you doubt of it, I shall speak it an hundred times over: I shall add no more; for any thing else is superflu­ous to him that is truly penetrated with my God, and my all; I leave you therefore in this happy state of subjection; and conjure you to beg for me of God the solid sense of these words.’

And do we think my God, and my all, or my God, and my glory, will have lost its emphasis [Page 89] in heaven! or that 'twill be less significant among awaked souls? These things concur then, concerning the object; 'tis most excel­lent (even divine) entire, permanent, and theirs: How can it but satisfie?

CHAP. VI.

What the Vision of Gods face contributes to the Souls satisfaction. Estimated from the consideration of the act of vision it self. Wherein this pleasure surpasses that of sense. A comparison pursued more at large, between this intuition and dis­course between it, and Faith. This in­tuition more absolutely, considered its cha­racters; and why they contribute to the satisfaction of the blessed Souls. That 'tis (viz.) efficacious, comprehensive, fixed, appropriative.

THe act of vision, or intuition it self. How 2 great the pleasure will be that accrues to the blessed from this sight of Gods face, is very much also to be estimated from the nature of the act; Res sunt perfe­ctio [...]es vel im­perfectiores pro­ut à summa per­fectione magis vel minimè ab­scedu it. as well as the excel­lency of the object. In as much as every vital act is pleasant, the most perfect act of the noblest facultie of the soul must needs be attended with highest pleasure. 'Tis a pleasure that most nearly imimates divine pleasure. And every [Page 90] thing is more perfect, as it more nearly ap­proaches divine perfection.

Intellectual pleasure is as much nobler than that of sense; as an immortal Spirit is more noble than a clod of earth. The pleasure of sense is drossie feculent, the pleasure of the mind refined,Pet. [...] de cogau [...]o [...]e dei. and pure; that is faint and lan­guid, this lively, and vigorous; that scant and limited, this ample and inlarged; that tem­porary and fading,See C [...]l [...]rwel of the light of nature speak­ing (as I re­member) to this purpose. c. 17. this durable, and perma­nent; that flashie, superficial; this solid and intense; that raving, and distracted; this calm and composed. Whence even that great (reputed) sensualist Epicure himself, pro­fessedly disclaimes (or is represented as dis­claiming) the conceit of placing happiness in sensual delights.Quo ci [...]ca & cum universe [...] beatae vi [...]e esse finem di [...]imus; lo [...]gè profect [...] [...]bsumus ut e [...]s voluptates quae sunt virorum luxa [...]d [...], aut aliorum etiam, qu [...]tenus spectantu [...] in ipsâ mo [...]ione, [...], quâ nimirum sensus jucundè dulciterque assicitur, intel­liganus: vel [...]ti quidam rem ignorantes, aut à nobis dissentientes, aut aliò­quia [...] nos malè affecti, int [...]pretantur; Sed illud duntaxat (ut res [...]) intelligimus; no [...] dole [...]o corpore; animo non perturb [...]ri, Gas­send. Syn [...]. Philos. Epicur.

And, as the pleasure of intellection excells all the pleasure of sense, so doth the pleasure of intuition, excel all other intellectual plea­sure. Let us to this purpose, but consider, generally, this way of knowing things, and compare it with those two other waves, by

  • Discouse.
  • Faith.

1. Discourse. I mean (that I be not mista­ken by the vulgar Reader) the discourse of the [Page 91] mind or ratioc [...]nation, that way of attaining the knowledge of things, by comparing one thing with another, considering their mutual relati­ons, connexions, dependencies; and so argu­ing out what was more doubtful, and obscure, from what was more known and evident.

To the altogether unlearned it will hardly be conceiveable; and to the learned it need not be told, how high a gratification this em­ployment of his Reason naturally yields to the mind of a man: When the harmonious con­texture of truths with truths; the apt coinci­dence, the secret links, and junctures of co­herent notions are clearly discerned; When effects are traced up to their causes; Felix qui potuit rerum cognosce­re causas. Properties lodg'd in their native subjects: Things sifted to their Principles. What a pleasure is it when a man shall apprehend himself regularly led on (though but by a slender thred of dis­course) through the Labyrinths of nature; when still new discoveries are successfully made, every further enquiry ending in a fur­ther prospect; and every new Scene of things entertaining the mind with a fresh delight! How many have suffered a voluntary banish­ment from the world, as if they were wholly strangers, and unrelated to it; rejected the blandishments of sense, macerated themselves with unwearied studies for this pleasure; ma­king the ease and health of their bodies, to give place to the content and satisfaction of their minds!

But how much intuition hath the ad­vantage, above this way of knowledge, [Page 92] may be seen in these two obvious respects.No [...] [...]ulli laed [...]o [...] ve [...]tatis, cuili­b [...]t opinioni po­tius igaavi suc­cumb [...]nt; quam i [...] explorand [...] [...], perti­naci [...] persev rire [...] Mr. Fe­lix. Octiv. 9.

1. 'Tis a more facile way of knowing; Here is no need of a busie search; a tiresome indaga­tion, (the difficulty whereof makes the more slothful, rather trust than try) a chaining to­gether of consequencies. The Soul hath its cloathing (its vestment of light) upon as cheap terms as the Lilies theirs; doth neither toyl nor spin for it: And yet Solomon, in all the glo­ry of his (famed) wisdom was not aray'd like it. This knowledge saves the expence of study, is instantaneous not successive; The soul now sees more, at one view, in a moment, than before in a lifes-time. As a man hath a spee­dier, and more grateful prospect of a plea­sant Country, by placing himself in some com­modious station that commands the whole Re­gion; than by travelling through it. 'Tis no pains to look upon what offers it self to my eye. Where there is a continued series of consequencies, that lie naturally connected; the soul pleasingly observes this continuity, but views the whole frame, the whole length of the line, at once (so far as its limited capacity can extend) and needs not discuss every par­ticle, severally, in this series of truths; and proceed gradatim from the knowledge of one truth to another; in which case only one, at once, would be present to its view. It sees things that are connected, not because they are so. As a man coveniently plac't in some eminent station, may possibly see, at one view, all the successive parts of a gliding stream [...]; but he that sits by the waters side, not changing [Page 93] [...] place, sees the same parts only because [...] succeed, and these that passe make way [...] them that follow to come under his eye: [...] doth a learned man, apply, describe the [...]successive knowledge of God; of which the glorified souls way of knowing, is an imitation, [...] the very words seeing or beholding (which it [...]so frequently set forth by in Scripture) do naturally import. Yet that as to them, all ra­ [...]cination shall be excluded that state, I see [...] reason to admit; though with God it can [...]ve no place. And, as he is reckon'd to live [...]pleasanter life, that spends upon a plentiful [...]ate; than he that gets his bread by the sweat [...] his brows; so this more easie way of know­ing must needs be reckon'd more pleasing. This knowledge is as Jacob's Venison, not hun­ [...]ed for, but brought to hand. The race is not [...]ere to the swift; The unlearned Ideot knows as much as the profoundest Rabbi (at least with as much satisfaction) and all arms are of an equal size.Herbert.

2. 'Tis more certain. For what do we use [...]o reckon so certain as what we see with our eyes? Better (even in this respect) is the sight of the eyes, than the wandring of the desire. While, here, the mind is carried with most earnest desire to pursue knowledge, it very often mistakes its way, and miserably wanders. In our most wary ratiocinations, we many times shoot at rovers; but when we know by [...]his Vision, our mark is immediately presen­ [...]ed to our eye. We are in no danger to be [...]mposed upon by delusive appearances of [Page 94] things. We look through no fallacious me­dium's, are held in no suspence; puzled with no doubts, whether such consequencies with­hold, such conclusions be rightly infer'd, an [...] so are not retarded from giving a present un­wavering assent. Here are no perplexing in­tricacies, no dubious hallucinations, or un­certain guesses; we see things as they are by [...] simple and undeceiving light, with both sub­jective, and objective certainty, being secure both from doubt, and error.

2. Faith. How magnificent things doth Scripture speak of this grace! which the ex­perience also of such as have been wont to li [...] by it (i. e. to make it the governing principle of their lives) doth abundantly confirm. Ho [...] clear are its apprehensions? [...] 'tis the evidence [...] things not seen; Heb 11. 1. how sweet its enjoyments whom not seeing ye love, and though now you [...] him not, 1 Pet▪ 1. 8. yet believing, ye rejoyce with joy unspeak­able and full of glory.

Even the Heathen Theology hath magnifie it above knowledge, ‘What is it (saith one that unites us with the self-goodness, and [...] joyns us thereto, that it quiets or gives re [...] to all our action and motion; I will express [...] it in one word, 'tis faith it self, which un [...]speakably and after a hidden manner, do [...] unite and conjoyn happy souls with the sel [...] good. For (saith he) it concerns us n­either in a way of Science [...] &c. [...] Plat. T [...]el. or with any i [...] perfection to enquire after the good but [...] behold our selves in the divine light, and [...] shutting our eyes, to be placed in th [...] [Page 95] unknown and secret unity of beings.’

And a latter writer gives us this, as a con­clusion from that former Author. That as Faith which is credulity, P [...]cus Mirand. is below Science, so that Faith, which is truly so called, is, super-sub­stantially, above Science, and intelligence immediately uniting us to God.

But 'tis evident intuitive knowledge far ex­ceeds even faith also.Isa. 53. 1. Rom. 10. 16.

1. 'Tis more distinct and clear, Faith is taking a thing upon report; Who hath believed [...]ur report? And they are more general, languid apprehensions, we have of things this way. Faith enters at the [...]ar; it comes by hearing. And if we com [...]re the perceptions of these two external [...] ▪ that of hearing, and sight, the latter is unspeakably more clear, and sa­tisfying. He that hath knowledge of a forreign Country, only by report of another, hath very indistinct apprehensions of it, in comparison of him who hath travell'd it himself. While the Queen of Sheba only heard of Solomons glo­ry, she could not satisfie her self, without an [...], [...] [...]ght of her own eye; and, when she saw it. [...] [...]aith, the one half was not told her of wh [...] she now beheld. The Ear more slowly and gradually receives; and the Tongue more defectively expresses, to another, an ac­count of things, than ones ocular inspection would take it in▪ But, as to the excellency of this [...] above Faith, the com­parison [...] knowing by the mi­nistry of a more [...] sense, and a less noble, but knowing by dependance on a less noble, [Page 96] and without dependence upon any at all. When God hath been pleased to afford disco­veries in that way of Vision to men in the body (his Prophets, &c.) he hath usually bound up all their senses by sleep, or trances; sense hath had no part or lot in this matter, unto believing it must necessarily concurr.

2. More affective. What we see, even with our external eye, much more powerfully moves our heart, than what we onely give credit to upon hearsay. The Queen of Sheba much admired no doubt Solomons famed splen­dor, and magnificence, while she only heard of it, but when she saw it, it puts her into an extasie, it ravish'd away her soul, she had no more spirit, &c. What would the sight of the Divine glory do, if God did not strengthen with all might; were there not as well glorious power to support, as powerful glory to transform!

Job had heard of God, by the hearing of the ear, but when once his eye saw him (whether that were by the appearance of any sensible glory, which is probable enough, for 'tis said, the Lord answered him out of the whirlewind, or whether by a more immediate revelation, 'tis less-material (what work did it make in his soul?

The Devils believe, and tremble; so impres­sive are the pre-apprehensions of Judgment to come, and the consequents thereof with them; yet their present torment, thence, is no tor­ment, in comparison (art thou come to torment us before the time?) of what they expect. Let wicked men consider this (they will have [Page 97] their intuitions in hell too) were your belief, and terror thereupon, with reference to the eternal Judgment, and the impendent wrath of God, equal to what the Devils themselves have, upon the same account; actual sensa­tion will make you more exceed your selves in point of misery, than the Devils do now ex­ceed you. There is, no doubt, a proportio­nable difference between the impressions of present faith, and future vision, with holy souls. Now, not seeing, yet believing, they re­joyce with joy unspeakable: their present joy cannot be spoken; their future then cannot be thought! Experience daily tells us, how great­ly, sensible, present objects have the advantage upon us, beyond those that are spiritual and distant, though infinitely more excellent and important. When the tables are turned, the now sensible things disappear, a new scene of things invisible and eternal, is immediately presented to our view; the excellency of the objects, the disposedness of the subjects, the nature of the act, shall all multiply the ad­vantages on this part, How affective will this vision be; beyond what we have ever found the faint apprehensions of our so much disad­vantaged faith to amount to? A kind message from an indulgent Father to his far-distant Son, informing of his welfare, and yet con­tinuing love will much affect, but the sight of his Fathers face will even transport and over­come him with joy.

But further consider this intuition a little more particularly and absolutely in it self. [Page 98] So you may take this somewhat distincter ac­count of it in some few particulars, correspon­ding to those by which the object (the glory to be beheld) was lately characterized.

1. It will be a vigorous efficacious intuition; as that which it beholds is the most excellent, even the divine glory; such an object cannot be beheld but with an eye full of lively vigour; a sparkling, a radient eye; A weak eye would be struck blind, would fail, and be closed up at the first glance. We must suppose, then, this Vision to be accompanied with the high­est vitality, the strongest energy: A mighty plenitude of Spirit, and Power, no lesse than the divine; nothing but the divine power can sufficiently fortifie the soul to behold divine glory. When the Apostle speaks only of his desire of glory, he that hath wrought us to this self same thing (saith he) is God; he that hath moulded us, suitably framed us for this thing (as the word signifieth) is God; 'tis the work of a Deity to make a Soul desire Glory; cer­tainly then 'tis his work to give the power of beholding it, and by how much the more of power, so much the more of pleasure, in this Vision. Weak sight would afford but languid joy. But when the whole soul animated with divine power and life shall seat it self in the eye: when it shall be as it were all eye, (as one said of God, whom now it perfectly imitates) and be wholly intent upon Vision; apply it self thereto with all its might as its only busi­ness,S. Hye [...]onym. what satisfying joyes doth it now taste! renewed by every repeated view! How doth [Page 99] it now as it were prey upon glory, as the eye of the Eagle upon the beams of the Sun! we meet with the expression of aures bibulae, here will be oculi bibuli, thirsty eyes. A soul ready to drink in glory at the eye. If vision be by in­termission, what attractive eyes are here? draw­ing in glory, feeding upon glory: If by ex­tramission, what piercing darting eyes, send­ing forth the soul at every look to embrace the glorious object.

There is a great power that now attends reallizing thoughts of God; whether it appear in the consequent working of the soul directly towards God, or by way of reflection upon it self. If directly towards God, how mightily is he admired; who is a God like unto thee! If by reflection upon our own sin, and vileness; how deeply doth it humble,—Now mine eye seeth thee, therefore I abhor myse [...]f—Wo is me, I am undone,—mine eyes have seen the Lord of glory. If by way of reflection upon our inte­rest in him, or relation to him; how mightily doth it support and comfort? I will look to the Lord, M [...]ca [...]. 7. 7. —my God will hear me. How full of rich sense is that Scripture, They looked to him, and were lightned, Psal 34▪ 5. one look cloath'd them with light, cast a glory upon their souls; fill'd them with life and joy: 'twas but a thought, the cast of an eye, and they were as full as hearts could hold. O, the power then of these hea­venly visions! when we dwell in the views of that transforming glory!

2. This will be a comprehensive intu [...]tion; as its 2 object is entire glory. I mean comparatively, [Page 100] not absolutely comprehensive. More of the di­vine glory will be comprehended, unspeakably, than before. 'Tis called, we know, by the School­men, the knowledge of comprehensors, in con­tradistinction to that of viators; we shall better be able to discern the divine excellencies to­gether; have much more adequate concepti­ons, a fuller, and more compleat notion of God: We shall see him as he is. 'Tis too much observable, how in our present state, we are prejudiced by our partial conceptions of him, and what an inequality they cause in the temper of our Spirits.

For wicked men, the very notion they have of God, proves fatal to their souls; or is of a most destructive tendency, because they compre­hend not together what God hath revealed of himself. Most usually, they confine those few thoughts of God they have only to his mercy, and that exclusively, as to his holiness, and justice; hence their vain and mad pre­sumption. The notion of an unholy (or a not-holy, and not-just) God what wickedness would it not induce? Thou thought'st I was altogether such a one as thy self: A God after their own hearts: then the reigns are let loose. More rarely, when the conscience of guilt hath ar­rested the self-condemned wretch; God is thought of under no other notion, than of an irreconcileable enemy, and avenger; as one thirsting after the blood of Souls, and that will admit of no atonement; so without all pre­tence, and so slatly contrary to all his discove­ries of himself, do men dare to affix to him [Page 101] black and horrid characters, forged only out, the radicated and inveterate hatred of their own hearts against him. (That never takes up good thoughts of any one) only because they have no mind to acquaint themselves with him; and that they may have some colour for their affected distance; and so, perhaps, never re­turn, but perish under an horrid, wilful des­pair.

And even the people of God themselves are too apt, sometimes, so wholly to fix their eye upon love, and grace; that they grow into an unbecoming, uncreaturely familiarity, while the thoughts of Infinite Majesty, adorable greatness, and glory are asleep sometimes, possibly, apprehend vindicative justice, the indignation and jealousie of God against sin, (precluding, meanwhile, the consideration of his indulgent compassions towards truly hum­ble, and penitent souls) to that degree of af­frightment, and dread, that they grow into an unchildlike strangness towards him; and take little pleasure in drawing nigh to him.

But when now our eye shall take in the disco­very of divine glory equally; how sweet, and satisfying a pleasure will arise from that grate­ful mixture of reverent love, humble joy, modest confidence, meek courage, a prostrate magnanimi­ty, a triumphant veneration, a soul shrinking before the divine glory into nothing; yet not con­tenting it self with any less enjoyment, than of him who is all in all.

There's nothing here in this complexion, or [Page 102] temper of Soul, but hath its warrant, in the various aspect of the face of God comprehen­sively beheld, nothing but what is (even by its suitableness) highly grateful, and plea­sing.

3 3. 'Twill be fixed, steady intuition (as its ob­ject is permanent glory.) The vision of God can neither infer, nor admit weariness. The eye cannot divert, its act is eternally delectable, and affords an unvariable, undecaying plea­sure. Sensual delights soon end in loathing; quickly bring a glutting surfet, and degene­rate into torments,P [...]baist [...]s, quae [...] apt [...]s vo [...]ntur [...] modum trans­ [...] [...] S [...]n. Ep. 83. [...], &c. Socra [...]m Epist. 9. when they are continu­ed & unintermittent. A Philosopher in an Epi­stle which he writes to a friend, from the Court of Dionysius, where he was forceably detained, thus bemoans himself, ‘We are unhappy O An­tisthenes, beyond measure, and how can we but be unhappy that are burdened by the Tyrant every day with the most sumptuous feasts, plentiful compotations, precious oint­ments, gorgeous apparel, and I knew as soon as I came into this Island and City, how un­happy my life would be.’ This is the nature and common condition of even the most plea­sing sensible objects. They first tempt, then please a little, then disappoint, and lastly vex. The eye that beholds them blast's them, quick­ly risles and de [...]lowers their glory; and views them with no more delight at first, than disdain afterwards. Creature enjoyments have a bottom, are soon drained & drawn dry: hence there must be frequent diver­sions; Other pleasures must be sought out; [Page 103] and are chosen, not because they are better, but because they are new.

This demonstrates the emptiness and vanity of the Creature. Affectation of variety only proceeds from sense of want; and is a confessi­on, upon trial, that there is not, in such an enjoyment, what was expected.

Proportionably, in the state of glory, a con­stant, indesicient fulness renders the blessed soul undesirous of any change. There is no need of varieties, or diversions; what did once please, can never cease to do so. This glory cannot fade or lose any thing of its attractive power. The faculty cannot languish or lose the disposition by which it is contempered and made proportionable thereto: Hence no weariness can ensue. What, a soul in which the love of God is perfected, grow weary of beholding him! The Sun will sooner grow weary of shining; The touch'd Needle of turning its self to its wonted point; every thing will sooner grow weary of its centre, and the most fundamental Laws of Nature be sooner antiquated and made void for ever.

The eye of the fool, Prov. 17. 24▪ Solomon tells us is in the ends of the earth; his only, is a rolling wan­dring eye, that knows not where to fix, wis­dom guides, and fixes the eye of the holy soul, determines it unto God only.Psal. 16. 7, 8▪ I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel, my reines [...]so instruct me.—I have set the Lord alwayes [...]efore me. Surely heaven will not render it less ca­pable of dijudication, of passing a right judg­ment [Page 104] of the excellency & worth of things. And, here, a rational judgment will find no want; & an irrational will find no place. Therefore, as perma­nent glory will certainly infer a perpetual vision: perpetuated vision will as certainly perpe­tuate thesouls satisfaction, and blessedness.

4. 'Twill be a possessive intuition: as 'tis an appropriate glory which it pitches upon. 'Twill be the language of every look; this glory is mine. The Soul looks not upon it shily, as if it had nothing to do with it; or with slight, and careless glances; but the very posture of its eye speaks its interest, and proclaimes the pretentions it hath to this glory. With how different an aspect, doth a stranger, passing by, and the owner look upon the same house, the same lands. A mans eye layes his claim for him, and avowes his right. A grateful object that one can say is his own, he arrests it with his eye. So do Saints with appropriative looks, behold their God, and the Divine Glory, Even with such an eye as he was wont to be­hold them.Isa. 66. 1, 2. To this man will I look, &c. (that is, as the place of my rest, mentioned before) he designes him with his eye, [...] Tim. 2. 19. which is the im­port of that expression. The Lord knows who are his. His eye markes them out; owns them as his own. As concerning others, whom he disowns, the phrase is, I know you not. And how vastly different is such an intuition, from that, when I look upon a thing with an hungry lingring eye which I must never enjoy, or ne­ver expect to be the better for. This vision is fruitive; unites the soul with the blessed ob­ject. [Page 105] Which kind of sight is meant when actu­al blessedness is so often exprest by seeing God.

We see then what vision, the sight of Gods face contributes to the satisfaction of blessed souls.

CHAP. VII.

Wherein assimilation (the likeness or glory of God imprest) contributes unto satisfa­ction. Where is particularly propounded to be shewn; what pleasure it involves; what it disposes to. What it involves in the esse of it, what in the cognosci. 1. The plea­sure of being like God, discovered. 1. Shewing, concerning the Image of God (generally considered) that it is the souls health and soundness restored; that it is a vital, an intimate, a connatural, a per­fect image.

OUr next business is to discover what 2 assimilation, or the impressed likeness of God may further add to this satis­fied state, or what satisfying pleasure the blessed soul finds in this, that it is like God.

And here we are distinctly to enquire into

  • The pleasure which such an assimilation to God
  • involves in it self, tends, and disposes to

1. The pleasure it involves in it self; or which [Page 106] is taken in it abstractly considered; which we may, more particularly unfold by shew­ing.

The pleasure involved,

  • 1. In being like God.
  • 2. In knowing or reflecting up­on the same.

The

  • Esse,
  • Cognosci
  • Of this assimu­lation.

1 1. The pleasure in being like God; which may be discovered both by a general consideration hereof, and by instancing in some particulars, wherein blessed souls shall be like him.

1. It is obvious to suppose an inexpressible pleasure in the very feeling, the inward sen­sation, the holy soul will have of that happy frame in general, whereinto it is now brought. That joyful harmony, that intire rectitude it finds within it self. You may as soon separate light from a Sun-beam, as pleasure from such a state.

This likeness, or conformity to God is an [...] a perfect temperament; an athletique health ness; a strong sound constitution of soul: Do but imagine what it is to a mans bo­dy, after a wasting sickness, to find himself well. Frame a notion of the pleasure of health and soundness, when both all the parts and members of the body are in their proper pla­ces and proportions, a lively, active vigour, a sprightly strength possesses every part, and actuates the whole, how pleasant is this tem­per! If we were all body, there could be no greater felicity than this. But by how much [Page 107] the more noble any creature is, so is it capable of more exquisite paines, or pleasures. [...], &c. Mo [...]. Tyr. [...] 41. Sin is the sickness and disease of the soul, infeebles all its powers; exhausts its vigour, wasts its strength. You know the restless tossings, the weary rollings to, & fro of a diseased languish­ing body; such is the case of a sinful soul. Let it but seriously bethink it self, and then speak its own sense, (but here is the malignity of the disease, it cannot be serious, it always raves) what will it be; O I can take no rest. (The way of wickedness is called a way of pain: Sinners would find it so, [...] if the violence of the disease had not bereft them of sense.) Nothing savors with me, P [...]al 139. [...]4. I can take comfort in nothing. The wick­ed is as a troubled Sea, Is. 57. (as their name imports) that cannot rest. [...] H [...]c illud & [...]ae [...]um & dis­plicentia sui & nusquam r [...]si­dent [...]s animi vo­tut [...]t [...]o &. Sen. de Tranquil. animi. Whose waters, &c. The Image of God, renewed in holiness nad righteous­ness, is health restored after such a consuming sickness; which, when we awake, when all the drowsiness that attends our disease is shaken off, we find to be perfect. The fear of the Lord (an ordinary paraphrase of holiness or piety) is said to be health to the navel, and marrow to the bones. Our Lord Jesus invites wearied sinners to come to him, Ma [...]th 11 28. to take his y [...]ke on them, to learn of him, (that is, to imitate him, to be like him) and promises they shall finde rest to their souls. How often do we find grace, and peace in conjunction in the Apostles salutati­ons and benedictions? We are told that the wayes of divine wisdom (i. e. which it pre­scribeth) are all pleas [...]ntness and peace. P▪ [...]. 3. 13. Psal 19. That in keeping the Commandments of God,1 Joh. 5. 3. is great [Page 108] reward. That they are not grievous (i. e. for there seems to be a Meiosis in the expression, are joyous pleasant.) And what are his Com­mandments, but those expresses of himself, wherein we are to be like him, Rom. 14. 17. and conform to his will? The Kingdom of God (that holy order which he settles in the spirits of men; his Law transcribed and imprest upon the soul, which is nothing else but its confor­mation and likeness to himself) is righteous­ness, Rom. 8 6. and then peace. The [...], (That notion, and judgment, and s [...]vour of things, that excellent temper of mind and heart (for that is the extent of the expressi­on) whereof the holy Spirit of God is both the author, and pattern) is life, and peace; in­volves them in it self. When one thing is thus in casu recto, predicated of another, it speaks their most intimate connexion, as Rom. 14. 7. above, so 1 Joh. 5. 3. This is love that, &c. So here, such a mind is life, and peace (though the copula be not in the original, it is fitly sup­ply'd in the translation) you cannot separate (q. d.) life, and peace from such a mind. It hath no principle of death, or trouble in it. Let such as know any thing of this blessed temper, and complexion of soul; compare this Scrip­ture, and their own experience together, when, at any time, they find their souls under the blessed Empire, and dominion of a Spiri­tual mind; when wholly spirituality rules and denominates them: are not their souls the very region of life and peace? both these in con­junction, life and peace, not raging life, not [Page 109] stupid peace; but a placid peaceful life, a vital vigorous rest and peace; 'tis not the life of a furie, nor peace of a stone: Life that hath peace in it, and peace that hath life in it. Now can the soul say, I feel my self well; all is now well with me, nothing afflicts the Spiritual mind,Invulnerabile est no [...] quod non feritur, sed quod non laedi­tur. Sen. de constantiâ sapi­entis, sive quòd in sapientem non cadit injuria. so far, and while 'tis such: 'Tis wrapt up, and cloath'd in its own innocency, and purity, and hereby become invulnerable, not liable to hurtful impressions; Holiness (un­der the name of light, for that is by the con­text the evident meaning of the word there) is by the Apostle spoken of as the Christians armour. Put on, saith he, the armour of light (in opposition to the works of darkness which he had mentioned immediately before) strang ar­mour! Rom. 13. 12. that a man may see through. A good mans armour is,Integer vitae sce­lerisque pu [...]us, &c. Hor. that he needs none, his armour is an open breast; that he can expose himself, is fearless of any harm. Who is he that shall harm you, [...]. if ye be followers of that which is good? It should be read imitators, [...]. so the word signi­fies, and so, where as following is either of a pattern, or an end, the former must be meant hear by the natural importance of that word and hence, by [that which is good] is not to be understood created goodness; for 'tis not enough to imitate that goodness, for so we must be good, but the words are capable of being read, him that is good, or (which is all one) the good. As Plato and his followers used the ex­pression [...] fully, accord­ing to the sens [...] of M [...]t. 19. 17 And so 'tis the increate good, the blessed God himself, formally, considered un­der the notion of good. Nothing can harm you; if you be like God, thats the plain sense [Page 110] of this Scripture. Likeness to God is armour of proof, i. e. an imitation of him, viz. in his moral goodness, which holiness (as a general name of it) comprehends. A person truly like God is secure from any external violence, so far as that it shall never be able to invade his Spirit. He is in Spirit far raised above the tempestuous, stormie region, and converses where winds and clouds have no place.

Nor can (so far as this temper of soul pre­vails) any evil grow up to such a mind within it self. It is life and peace; It is light, and pu­rity; for 'tis the image, the similitude of God. God is light, 1 Joh. 1. and with him is no darkness at all. Holy souls were darkness, [...]ut they are light in the Lord. He the Father of lights, They the children of light. They were darkness; not in the dark;Eph. 5. Jam. 1. but (in the abstract) [darkness] as if that were their whole nature; and they no­thing else but an impure masse of co [...]globated darkness. So, ye are light, as if they were that, and nothing else, [...], &c. nothing but a Sphere of light.

Why, suppose we such a thing, as an entire Sphere of nothing else but pure light; what can work any disturbance here? or raise a storm within it? A calm, serene thing; per­fectly homogeneous, void of contrariety, or any self-repugnant quality, how can it disqui­et it self?

We cannot yet say, that thus it is, with holy souls in their present state,Marc. Anto­ [...]in. lib. 11. according to the highest literal import of these words, ye are light. But thus it will be, when they awake, [Page 111] when they are satisfied with this likeness: They shall then be like God fully, and throughout. O the joy and pleasure of a soul made after such a similitude! Now glory is become as it were their being, they are glorified. Glory is revealed into them, transfused throughout them. Every thing that is conceivable under the no­tion of an excellency, competent to created nature, is now to be found with them, and they have it inwrought into their very beings. So that in a true sense it may be said (that they are light) they not only have such excellencies, but they are them.Omnia non tam habere quam esse. Sen. As the Moralist saith of the wise, or vertuous man, that he not so pro­perly hath all things, as is all things. 'Tis said of man, in respect of his naturals, he is the image and glory of God. 1 Cor. 11. 7. As for his supernatu­ral excellencies, though they are not essential to man, they are more expressive of God, and are now become so inseparable from the nature of man too, in this his glorified state, that he can assoon cease to be intelligent, as holy. The image of God, even in this respect, is not separable from him: nor blessedness (surely from this image. As the divine excellencies, being in their infinite fulness in God, are his own bles­sedness; so is the likeness, the participation of them in the soul that now bears this image, its blessedness. Nothing can be necessary to its full satisfaction, which it hath not in it self, by a gracious vouchsafement, and communi­cation. The good man (in that degree which his present state admits of) Solomon tells us is sati [...]fied from himself; Prov. 14 14 he doth not need to [Page 112] traverse the world, to seek his happiness abroad. He hath the matter of satisfaction (even that goodness which he is now enrich't with) in his own breast and bosom; yet he hath it all by participation from the fountain-goodness. But that participated goodness is so in­timately one with him, as sufficiently warrants and makes good the assertion; he is satisfied from himself, viz. from himself, not primarily, or in­dependently; but by derivation from him, who is all in all, Intimonostris in­timior. Esse no­stru [...] laudabis. Gibl. de lib. ex Plat. & Aug. and more intimate to us, than we to our selves; and what is that participated good­ness, but a degree of the divine likeness? But when that goodness shall be fully participated, when this image, and imitation of the divine goodness shall be compleat, and intire; then shall we know the rich exuberant sense of those words. How fully will this image or like­ness satisfie then?

And yet more distinctly we may apprehend how satisfying this likeness (or image im­prest) will be, if (a little further deferring the view of the particulars of this likeness which we have defigned to instance in) we consider these general properties of it.

1. 'Tis a vital image, not the image only of him that lives; the living God; but it is his li­ving and soul quickning image. 'Tis the likeness of him, in that very respect, an imitation, and participation of the life of God, by which, once revived, the soul lives that was dead be­fore. 'Tis not a dead picture, a dumb shew, an unmoving Statue; but a living, speaking, walking image; that wherewith the Child is [Page 113] like the Father: the very life of the subject where it is, and by which it lives as God, speaks and acts comformably to him. An image, not such a one as is drawn with a Pen­cil, [...] that expresses only colour, and figure, but such a one as is seen in a Glass, that re­presents life, and motion (as was noted from a worthy Author before.) 'Tis even (in its first and more imperfect draught) an analo­gical participation (as we must understand it) of the divine nature,2 Pet. 14. before which first tin­cture, those preludious touches of it upon the Spirit of man: his former state is spoken of as an alienation from the life of God; Ephes 4 18. as having no interest, no communion therein. The put­ting on of the new man, which after God is cre­ated in righteousness, V. 23, 24. and true holiness, is pre­sently mentioned, in direct opposition to that dismal state; implying that, to be a participa­tion of the divine life. And certainly so far as it is so, 'tis a participation of the divine bles­sedness too.

2. 'Tis an image most intimate therefore to its subject. Glory it is; but not a superficial skin­deep glory; such as shone in M [...]s [...]s his face, which he covered with a Vail. 'Tis throug [...]y transformative; changes the soul throughout; not in external appearance, but in its very nature. All outward imbellishments, would add little felicity to a putrid corrupt soul. That would be but painting a Sepulchre. Thi [...] adds [...]rnament unto life, and both, especially, to the inward man. 'Tis not p [...]int in the [...], while d [...]th is at the heart; but 'tis [...] [Page 114] of such a principle within, as will soon form and attemper the man universally to it self. 'Tis glory, blessedness participated, brought home and lodged in a mans own soul, in his own bosom; he cannot then but be sa­tisfied. A man may have a rich stock of out­ward comforts, and while he hath no heart to enjoy them, be never the happier. But 'tis impossible that happiness should be thus lodg­ed in his Soul, made so intimate, and one with him, and yet, that he should not be satisfi­ed, not be happy.

3. An image connatural to the Spirit of man. Not a thing alien, and forraign, to his nature, put into him purposely, as is were to torment and vex him; but an ancient well-known inha­bitant, that had place in him from the begin­ning. Sin is the injurious intruder, which therefore puts the soul into a commotion, and permits it not to rest, while it hath any being there. This Image calms it, restores it, works a peaceful orderly composure within, returns it to it self, to its pristine blessed state be­ing reseated there, as in its proper primitive subject.

For though this image, in respect of cor­rupted nature, be supernatural; in respect of institute, and undefiled nature it was, in a true sense, n [...]tural (as hath been demonstrated by divers of ours against the Papists; and upon the matter yielded by some of the more mo­de [...]e, among themselves.As may be seen by com­paring what I [...]st [...]s says to the two q [...]e­stions. [...] At least it was [...] with humane nature; consentane [...]us to it, and per [...]ective of it. (We are speaking, it [Page 115] must be remembred of that part of the divine Image that consists in moral excellencies, there being another part of it, as hath been said, that is even in the strictest sense, na­tural.)

There is nothing in the whole moral Law of God (in conformity where unto this Image did, ab origine consist) nothing of what he re­quires from man, that is at all distructive of his being; prejudicial to his comforts, re­pugnant to his most innate principles; nothing that clashes with his reason; or is contrary to his interest; or that is not, most directly, conservative of his being, and comfors, agree­able to his most rational principles, subservi­ent to his best and truest interest.Deut. 10 12. For what doth God the Lord require but fear and love, Mich. 6. 8. ser­vice, and holy walking, from an intire and un­divided Soul? What? but what is good, not only in it self, but for us, and in respect whereof his Law,Rom. 7. 1 [...]. is said to be holy, just, and good.

And what he requireth, he impresseth. This Law, written in the heart, is this likeness.

How grateful then will it be, when, after a long extermination and exile, it returns and repossesses the Soul; is recogn [...]zed by it, be­comes to it a new nature (yea even a divine) a vit [...]l, Rom [...]. [...] living Law; The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. What grievance, or bur­den is it to do the dictates of nature? actions that easily, and freely slow from their own principles; and when blessedness it self is in­folded in those very acts and inclinations? [Page 116] How infinitely satisfying and delightful will it be, when the soul shall find it self connatu­rallized to every thing of its duty, and shall have no other duty incumbent on it than to be happy! when it shall need no arguments, and exhortations to love God, nor need be urged and prest, as heretofore to mind him, to fear before him. When love, and reve­rence, and adoration, and praise, when de­light, and joy shall be all natural acts. Can you separate this in your own thoughts from the highest satisfaction?

4. This Image will be now perfect. Every way fully perfect.

First, In all its parts; as it is in the first in­stant of the souls entrance into the state of re­generation (the womb of Grace knows no defective maimed births.) And yet here is no little advantage, as to this kind of perfection; For now those lively lineaments of the new creature all appear, which were much obscured before; every line of glory is conspicuous; every character legible; the whole entire frame of this Image is in its exact Symmetrie, and apt proportions, visible at once. And 'tis an unspeakable addition to the pleasure of so excellent a temper of Spirit, that accrews from the discernable intireness of it. Heretofore some gracious dispositions have been to seek (through the present prevalence of some cor­ruption or temptation) when there was most [...] occasion for their being reduced [...]. H [...]nce the reward and pleasure of [...], and improvement of the principle [Page 117] were lost together. Now the Soul will be e­qually disposed to every holy exercise, that shall be suitable to its state. Its temper shall be even, and Symmetral; Its notions uniform, and agreeable; nothing done out of season. Nothing seasonable omitted, for want of a present disposition of Spirit thereto. There will be not only an habitual, but actual intire­ness of the frame of holiness in the blessed Soul.

2. Again, this Image will be perfect in degree; so as to exclude all degrees of its contrary; and include all degrees of it self. There will now be no longer any colluctation with contrary principles; no law in the members warring against the law of the mind, No lustings of the flesh against the Spirit. That war is now ended in a glorious victory, and eternal peace. There will be no remaining blindness of mind, nor errour of iudgement, nor perverseness of will, nor irregularity or rebellion of affecti­ons. No ignorance of God, no aversation from him, or disaffection towards him. This likeness removes all culpable dissimilitude or unlikeness. This communicated glory fills up the whole soul, causes all clouds and dark­ness to vanish; leaves no place for any thing that is vile or inglorious; 'tis pure glory, free from mixture of any thing that is alien to it.

And it is it self full. The Soul is replenish't not with airy, evanid shadows, but with sub­stantial, solid glory, a massie, mighty glory, (for I know not but subjective glory may be2 Cor. 4 17. [Page 118] taken in within the significancy of that known Scripture, if it be not more principally in­tended in as much as the Text speaks of a glo­ry to be wrought out by afflictions, which are the files and furnaces, as it were, to polish or refine the Soul into a glorious frame.) 'Tis cumulated glory, glory added to glory. Here 'tis growing progressive glory; we are changed into the same image from glory to glory. It shall now be stable,2 Cor. 3 18. consistent glory; that carries a self-fulness with it (which some in­clude also in the notion of purityPurum est quod est plenum [...]ui, & quod minimum habet ab [...]ai. 'tis full of it self, includes every degree requisite to its own perfection. God hath now put the last hand to this glorious Image, added to it its ultimate accomplishments. Now, a confor­mity to Christ, even in the resurrection from the dead, in his glorious state is fully attained. That prize of the high calling of God is now won. And the humble sense of not having attained as yet, and of not being already per­fect, in which humility, the foundations of the temple of God in a Saint is laid, and the building raised, is turned into joyful accla­mations, Grace, Grace for the laying on of the top stone, the finishing of this glorious work.

And when this Temple is filled with the glory of the Lord, the soul it self replenished with the divine fulness, will not its joy be full too? For here is no sacrifice to be offered, but that of praise, and joy is the proper sea­soning for that sacrifice.

Now the new creature hath arrived to the [Page 119] measure of the stature of a perfect man in Christ Jesus. The first formation of this Spiritual (as well as of the natural) man was hidden and secret, it was curiously wrought, and in a way no more liable to observation, than that of framing the Child in the Womb; as that is as hidden as the concoction of Mine­rals, or precious stones in the lower parts of the earth; (no secrets of Nature can outvie the the Mysteries of godliness) Its growth is also by very insensible degrees; as it is with the pro­ducts of nature; but its arrival to perfection is infinitely more strange, than any thing in nature ever was, how sudden and wonderful is the change; when in the twinkling of an eye, the blessed soul instantly awakes out of drowsie languishings, and miserable weak­ness, into perfect strength, and vigour!

As a man is, Psal. 19. so is his strength; and as his strength is, so is his joy, and pleasure. The Sun is said to go forth as a strong man, rejoicing to run his race. When a man goes in the ful­ness of his strength upon any enterprize, how do blood and spirits triumph beforehand, no motion of hand, or foot is without a sen­sible delight. The strength of a mans Spirit is unspeakably more than that of the outward man: Its faculties and powers more refined and raised; and hence are rational or intel­lectual exercises and operations, much more delightful than corporal ones can be.

But (still as the man is, so is his strength) 'tis an incomparably greater strength that attends the heaven-born man. This man born [Page 120] of God, begotten of God after his own like­ness. This Hero, this Son of God, was born to Conflicts, to Victories, to Triumphs. While he is yet but in his growing age, he overcomes the world: (as Hercules the Serpents in his Cradle) overcomes the wicked one, and is at last more than Conquerour. A migh­ty power attends godliness, a Spirit of power, and of a sound mind: but how much this di­vine creature grows, so much the more like God, and being perfect, Conflicts cease: (he had overcome, and won the Crown be­fore.) And now all his strength runs out in­to acts of pleasure. Now, when he shall go forth in his might to love God (as we are re­quired to love him now with all our might) and every act of praise shall be an act of pow­er; done with a fulness of strength (as 'tis said their praises at the bringing home of the Ark, were with all their might) O! what will the pleasure be that shall accompany this state of perfection. Perfect power, and per­fect pleasure are here met, and shall for ever dwell together, and be alwayes commensu­rate to one another. They are so here, in their imperfect state; our feeble, spiritless duties, weak, dead prayers, they have no more sweetness than strength; no more pleasure, than power in them. Therefore we are listless, and have no mind to duties, as we find we are more frequently destitute of a spiritual lively­ness and vigour therein. When a spirit of might, and power goes on with us in the won [...] ­ [...]d course of our converses with God; we then [Page 121] forecast opportunities, and gladly welcome the season; when it extraordinarily occurs, of drawing nigh to him. It cannot be thought that the connexion and proportion between these should fail in glory, or that when eve­ry thing else is perfect:Matth. 5. The blessed Soul it self made perfect, even as God himself is per­fect (this bearing his likeness) should be unlike him in bliss; or its satisfaction be im­perfect.

CHAP. VIII.

The satisfaction carried in the glory of God impressed, further shew'n by in­stances. Certain particulars of this im­pression instanc't in. A dependent frame of Spirit. Subjection, or self-devoting, Love, Purity, Liberty, Tranquility.

BUt besides the general consideration of this likeness, we shall instance in some of the particular excellencies compre­hended in it. Wherein the blessed shall imitate, and resemble God. Whence we may further estimate the pleasure and satis­faction that being like God will afford. Only here let it be remembred, that as we all along in this discourse, speak of likeness to God in respect of moral excellencies; So by likeness to him in respect of th [...]se▪ we understand not only a participation of those which are communi­cable; [Page 122] but a correspondent impresse also, as to those that are incommunicable, as hath been more distinctly opened, in the Propositions concerning this likeness: Which being pre­mised I shall give instances of both kinds, to discover somewhat of the inexpressible plea­sure of being thus conformed to God.

And here, pretermitting the impresse of knowledge, of which we have spoken under the former head of vision, we shall instance.

1. In a dependent frame of Spirit; which is the proper impress of the divine all-sufficiency, and self-fulness duly apprehended by the bles­sed soul. It is not easie to conceive a higher pleasure, than this, competible to a creature, The pleasure of dependence. Yea this is a higher than we can conceive. Dependence (which speaks the creatures [...] or habitude to its principle as the subserviency which im­parts its habitude to its end, is two­fold.

1. Natural, which is common and essential to all creatures; Even when no such thing is thought on, or considered by them. The Creatures live, move, and have their beings in God whether they think of it or no.

2. Voluntary or rational, which is de facto, appropriate; and de jure; common to reasonable creatures as such. A dependence that is, [...] ▪ Elective, and with a foregoing reason, (which I understand by elective, not a liberty of doing or not doing it) and con­comit [...]nt consideration of what we do, and animadversion of our own act, when know­ingly [Page 123] and willingly, understanding our selves in what we do, we go out of our selves and live in God. This is the dependence of which I speak. And it cannot but be attended with transcendent pleasure in that other State, when that knowledge and animadversion shall be clear and perfect. Both, as this dependence imports.

A

  • Nullifying of self.
  • Magnifying (I may call it omnifying) of God, a making him all in all.

As it imports (which it doth most evidently) a self-annihilation. A pure nullifying of self. 'Tis a continual recognition of my own no­thingness. A momently, iterated confession, that my whole being is nothing but a meer puff of precarious breath, a bubble rais'd from nothing by the arbitrary fict of the great Creator, reducible, had he so pleased, any moment to nothing again. These are true and just acknowledgments; and to a well-tempered soul infinitely pleasant, when the state of the ca is throughly understood (as now it is) and it hath the apprehension clear, how the crea­tion is sustained, how, and upon what terms its own being, life, and blessedness are conti­nued to it; that it is, by its self, nothing, and that it is every moment determinable upon the constancy of the Creators Will, that it is not simply nothing. 'Tis not possible that any thing should hinder this consideration from being eternally delightful; but that diabolical un­creaturely Pride, that is long since banisht Heaven, and banisht its very subjects thence [Page 124] also. Nothing can sute that temper but to be a God; to be wholly independent; to be its own sufficiency. The thoughts of living at the will and pleasure of another, are grating; but they are only grating to a proud heart, which here hath no place. A soul naturallized to humiliations, accustomed to prostrations, and self-abasements, trained up in acts of mortifi­cation, and that was brought to glory, through a continued course, and series of self-denyall: That ever since it first came to know it self was wont to depend for every moments breath, for every glimpse of light, for every fresh influ­ence (I live yet not I—) with what pleasure doth it now as it were vanish before the Lord!Gal 2. 20. what delight doth it take to diminish it self; and as it were disappear to contract and shrivel up it self; to shrink even into a point, into a nothing, in the presence of the divine glory, that it may be all in all. Things are now plea­sant (to the soul, in its right-mind) as they are sutable; as they carry a comliness and congrui­ty in them. And nothing now appears more becoming, than such a self-annihilation. The distances of Creator and Creature, of Infinite and Finite, of a necess [...]ry and arbitrary being, of a self-originated and a derived being of what was from [...]ver [...]sting, and what had a beginning, are now better understood than ever. And the soul by how much it is now come nearer to God, is more apprehensive of its distance. And such a frame, and posture doth hence please it best, as doth most fitly correspond thereto. Nothing is so pleasing to it as to be [Page 125] as it ought. That temper is most grateful that is most proper, and which best agrees with its state. Dependence therefore is greatly plea­sing, as it is a self-nullifying thing. And yet it is, in this respect, pleasing, but as a means to a further end. The pleasure that attends it is higher and more intense, according as it more immediately attains that end, Viz.

The magnifying and exalting of God; which is the most connatural thing to the holy soul. The most fundamental and deeply imprest Law of the New Creature. Self gives place that God may take it, becomes nothing, that he may be all. It vanishes, that his glory may shine the brighter.

Dependence gives God his power glory. 'Tis the peculiar honour and prerogative of a Deity, to have a world of Creatures hanging upon it, staying themselves upon it: to be the fulcrum, the centre of a lapsing Creation. When this dependence is voluntary and intelligent, it carries in it a more explicite owning ac­knowledgment of God. By how much more this is the distinct and actual sense of my soul: Lord, I cannot live but by thee, So much the more openly and plainly do I speak it out, Lord, thou art God alone, thou art the fulness of life and being, the only root and spring of life, The Everlasting I Am. The being of beings.

How unspeakably pleasant to a holy soul will such a perpetual agnition or acknowledg­ment of God be, when the perpetuation of its being, shall be nothing else than a perpetuati­on of this acknowledgment; when every re­newed [Page 126] aspiration, every motion, every pulse of the glorified soul, shall be but a repetition of it, when it shall find it self in the eternity of life, that everlasting state of life, which it now possesses, to be nothing else than an everlasting testimony that God is God: He is so, for I am, I live, I act, I have the power to love him; none of which could otherwise [...]e. When amongst the innumerable myriads of the heavenly hoast, this shall be the mutual alternate testimony of each to all the rest, throughout eternity will not this be pleasant? When each shall feel continually, the fresh illapses, and incomes of God, the power, and sweetness of divine in­fluences, the inlivening vigour of that vi­tal breath, and find in themselves, thus we live and are sustained: and are yet as secure, touching the continuance of this state of life, as if every one were a God to himself; and did each one possess an intire God-head. When their sensible dependence on him, in their glorified state, shall be his perpetual triumph over all the imaginary Deities, the phansied Numina, wherewith he was heretofore pro­voked to jealousie: And he shall now have no rival left, but be acknowledged and known to be all in all. How pleasant will it then be, as it were to loose themselves in him! and to be swallowed up, in the overcoming sense of his boundless, alsufficient, every where flow­ing fulness!

And then add to this; they do by this de­pendence actually make this fulness of God their own. They are now met in one common [Page 127] principle of life and blessedness, that is suf­ficient for them all. They no longer live a life of care, are perpetually exempt from solicitous thoughts which here they could not perfectly attain to in their earthly state. They have nothing to do but to depend, to live upon a present self-fufficient good, which alone is enough to replenish all desires; else it were not self-sufficient. [...]. A [...]st. de mer. lib. 1. c. 4. How can we divide in our most abstractive thoughts, the highest pleasure, the fullest satisfaction from this de­pendence! 'Tis to live at the rate of a God; a God-like life. A living upon immense ful­ness, as he lives.

2. Subjection; which I place next to depen­dence, as being of the same allay. The pro­duct of imprest Soveraignty; as the other, of all-sufficient fulness: Both, impressions upon the creature, corresponding to somewhat in God, most incommunicably appropriate to him.

This is the souls real, and practical acknow­ledgement of the Supream Majesty: Its ho­mage to its Maker: Its self-dedication: Than which nothing more suits the state of a crea­ture, or the Spirit of a Saint. And as it is suit­table, 'tis pleasant. 'Tis that by which the blessed Soul becomes, in its own sense, a conse­crated thing, a devoted thing, sacred to God: Its very life, and whole being refer'd and made over to him. With what delightful relishes, what sweet gusts of pleasure is this done! while the soul tasts its own act; approves it with a full ungainsaying judgment; apprehends the [Page 128] condignity, and fitness of it assents to its self herein; and hath the ready suffrage, the har­monious concurrence of all his powers. When the words are no sooner spoken, Worthy art thou, O Lord, to receive glory, honour, and pow­er, for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are, and were created; but they are resounded from the penetralia, the inmost bow­els, the most intimate receptacles, and secret chambers of the Soul. O Lord, thou art worthy; worthy, that I, and all things should be to thee; worthy to be the Omega, as thou art the Alpha, the last, as thou art the first; the end, as thou art the beginning of all things; the Ocean into which all being shall slow; as the Fountain from which it sprang. My whole self, and all my powers, the excellencies now implanted in my being, the priviledges of my now glo­rified state, are all worth nothing to me but for thee, please me only, as they make me fit­ter for thee. O the pleasure of these Senti­ments, the joy of such raptures! when the soul shall have no other notion of it self, than of an everlasting sacrifice, always ascending to God in its own flames.

For this devotedness, and subjection speak not barely, an act, but a state. A Being to the praise of grace. Rom. 12. 1. A Living to God. And tis no mean pleasure that the sincere soul finds in the imperfect beginnings, the first Essayes of this life; the enitial breathings of such a Spirit, its entrance into this blessed state; when it makes the first tender, and present of it self to God (as the Apostle expresses it) when it [Page 129] first begins to esteem it self an hallowed thing; separate, and set apart for God. Its first act of unfeigned self-resignation; when it tells God from the very heart, I now give up my self to thee to be thine. Never was marriage cove­nant made with such pleasure, with so compla­cential consent. This quitting claim to our selves, parting with our selves upon such terms, to be the Lords for ever: O the peace, the rest, the acquiescence of Spirit that attends it! When the poor soul that was weary of it self, knew not what to do with it self, hath now on the sudden found this way of disposing it self to such an advantage! there is pleasure in this Treaty. Even the previous breakings and relentings of the soul towards God are pleasant. But, O the pleasure of con­sent!Rom. 6. 13. of yielding our selves to God, as the Apostles expression is: when the Soul is over­come, and cryes out, Lord, now I resign, I yield, possess now thy own right, I give up my self to thee. That yielding is subjection, self-devoting; in order to future service,V. 16. and obedience. (To whom ye yield your selves servants to obey, &c.) And never did any man enrol himself, as a ser­vant, to the greatest Prince on earth, with such joy. What pleasure is there in the often iterated recognition of these transactious: in multiplying such bonds upon a mans own soul (though done faintly, while the fear of break­ing, checks its joy in taking them on.) When in the uttering of these words, I am thy ser­vant, Psal 116. 1 [...]. O Lord, thy servant, the son of thine hand­maid; (i. e. thy born servant, all [...]ding to that [Page 130] custom and Law among the Jews.)Ps. 119 38. Thy ser­vant devoted to thy fear, a man finds they fit his spirit, and are aptly expressive of the true sense of his soul; is it not a grateful thing? And how pleasant is a state of life consequent and agreeable to such transactions and Cove­nants with God! when 'tis meat and drink to do his will. When his zeal eats a man up; and one shall find himself secretly consuming for God! and the vigour of his soul exhaled in his service! Is it not a pleasant thing so to spend and be spent? when one can in a mea­sure find that his will is one with Gods, trans­formed into the divine will; that there is but one common will, and interest, and end be­tween him and us; and so that in serving God, we raign with him; in spending our selves for him, we are perfected in him. Is not this a pleasant life? Some Heathens have spoken at such a rate of this kind of life as might make us wonder, and blush. One speaking of a vertu­ous person; saith, ‘he is as a good Souldier that bears wounds, [...] de vitâ [...]râ, lib. 15. Et ut b [...]us [...] [...]eret [...], &c. and numbers skars, and at last, smitten through with darts, dying, will love the Emperour, for whom he falls; he will (saith he) keep in mind that ancient pre­cept, follow God. But they that complain, cry out and groan, and are compelled by force to do his commands, and hurried into them against their will, and what a madness is it (saith he) to be drawn rather than follow? And presently after subjoyns, we are born in a Kingdom; to obey God is liberty.’ The same person writes in a Letter to a friend: [Page 131] ‘If thou believe me when I most freely discover to thee the most secret fixed being of my soul,Epist. 76. in all things my mind is thus formed: I obey not God so properly as I as­sent to him. I follow him with all my heart, not because I cannot avoit it.’ And ano­ther,Epictet. Enchit. ‘Lead me to whatsoever I am appointed, and I will follow thee chearfully, but if I refuse, or be unwilling, I shall follow not­withstanding.’

A Soul cast into such a mould, formed into an obediential subject frame, what sweet peace doth it enjoy! how pleasant rest! every thing rests most composedly in its proper place. A bone out of joynt knows no ease, nor lets the body enjoy any. The creature is not in its place but when 'tis thus subject, is in this sub­ordination to God. By flying out of this sub­ordination the world of mankind is become one great disjoynted body; full of weary tos­sings, unacquainted with ease, or rest. That soul that is but in a degree reduc't to that bles­sed state & temper, is as it were in a new world; so great, and happy a change doth it now feel in it self. But when this transformation shall be compleated in it; and the will of God shall be no sooner known than rested in with a complacential approbation; and every moti­on of the first and great mover shall be an effi­cacious law to guide and determine all our mo­tions: and the lesser-wheeles shall presently run at the first impulse of the great and master-wheel, without the least rub or hesitation; when the law of sin shall no longer check the law of [Page 132] God; when all the contentions of a rebellious flesh; all the counter-strivings of a perverse, ungover­nable heart, shall cease for ever; O unconcei­vable blessedness of this consent, the pleasure of this joyful harmony, this peaceful accord!

Obedience, where 'tis due but from one creature to another, carries its no small advan­tages with it, and conducibleness, to a plea­sant, unsolicitous life. To be particularly prescribed to, in things about which our minds would otherwise be tost with various appre­hensions, anxious, uncertain thoughts; how great a priviledge is it! I cannot forget a per­tinent passage of an excellent person of recent memory. ‘And (saith he) for pleasure I shall profess my self so far from doting on that popular Idol,Dr. Ham [...]'s Sermon of Christs easie yoke. liberty, that I hardly think it possible for any kind of obedience to be more painful than an unrestrained liberty. Were there not true bounds of Magistrates, of Laws, of piety, of reason in the heart, every man would have a fool, I add, a mad Tyrant to his Master, that would mul­tiply him more sorrows, than bryars and thorns did to Adam, when [...]e was freed from the bliss at once and the restraint of Paradise; and was, sure, greater slave in the wilder­ness, than in the inclosure; would but the Scripture permit me that kind of Idolatry, the binding my faith, and obedience to any one visible infallible Judg or Prince, were it the Pope, or the Mufti, or the grand Tar­tar; might it be reconcilible with my Creed, it would be certainly with my inter [...]st, to [Page 133] get presently into that posture of obedience: I should learn so much of the Barbarian Am­bassadors in Appian, which came on pur­pose to the Romans to negotiate for leave to be their servants. 'Twould be my policy, if not my piety, and may now be my wish, though not my faith, that I might never have the trouble to deliberate, to dispute, to doubt, to chuse (those so many profitless uneasines­ses) but only the favour to receive com­mands, and the meekness to obey them.’ How pleasurable then must obedience be to the per­fect will of the blessed God, when our wills shall also be perfectly attempered and conform­ed there unto!Perfectifli­mum in suo genere est mensura reli­quorum. Therefore are we taught, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. What is most perfect in its kind gives rule to the rest.

3. Love. This is an eminent part of the image or likeness of God in his Saints; As it is that great Attribute of the divine being that is,1 Joh. 4. 8, 16. alone, put to give us a notion of God. God is love. This is an excellency (consider it whether in its original, or copie) made up of pleasantnesses. All love hath complacency or pleasure in the nature, and most formal no­tion of it. To search for pleasure in love, is the same thing as if a man should be solicitous to find water in the Sea, or light in the body of the Sun. Love to a friend is not without high pleasure, when especially he is actually present, and injoye'd. Love to a Saint rises higher in nobleness, and pleasure, according to the more excellent qualification of its ob­ject. [Page 134] 'Tis now in its highest improvement, in both these aspects of it, where whatsoever tends to gratifie our nature, whether as hu­mane, or holy, will be in its full perfection. Now doth the soul take up its stated dwelling in Love, even in God who is Love; and as he is Love; 'tis now enclosed with Love, encom­pas'd with Love, 'tis conversant in the proper region, and element of Love. The Love of God is now perfected in it: That Love which is not only participated from him but termi­nated in him,1 John 4. That perfect Love casts out tor­menting Fear. So that here is pleasure with­out mixture. How naturally will the blessed soul now dissolve and melt into pleasure! It is new fram'd on purpose for Love-imbraces, and injoyments. It shall now love like God, as one composed of Love. It shall no longer be its complaint and burden that it cannot reta­liate in this kind; that being beloved it can­not love.

4. Purity. Herein also, must the blessed soul resemble God, and delight it self. Every one that hath this hope (viz. of being hereafter l [...]ke God, and seeing him as he is) purifieth him­self as he is pure. A God-like purity is inti­mately connext with the expectation of future blessedness, much more with the fruition. Blessed are the pure in heart; besides the reason there annext [for they shall see God] (which is to be considered under the other head, the pleasure unto which this likeness disposes) that proposition carries its own reason in it self. It is an incomparable pleasure that purity [Page 135] carries in its own nature; As sin hath in its ve­ry nature (besides its consequent guilt and sorrow) trouble and torment beyond expres­sion.Whose Do­ctrine, as to this matter of pleasure, is not so much to be blamed as his practise, if both rightly represented to us. Whatsoever defiles doth also disturb. Nor do any but pure pleasures deserve the name. An Epicurus himself will tell us, there cannot be pleasure without wisdom, honesty, and righteousness. 'Tis least of all possible there should, when once a person shall have a right knowledge of himself, and (which is moral impurity whereof we speak) the filthiness of sin. [...]. Ex Cicer. 1. de sin. I doubt not but much of the torment of Hell, will consist, in those too-late, and despai­ring self-loathings, those sickly resentments, the impure wretches will be possessed with, when they see what hideous deformed mon­sters their own wickedness hath made them. Here the gratifications of sense that attend it, bribe and seduce their judgments into another estimate of sin; but then, it shall be no longer thought of under the more favourable notion of a [...], they shall taste nothing but the gall and wormwood.

'Tis certainly no improbable thing, but that reason, being now so fully rectified, and un­deceived, vizors torn off, and things now ap­pearing in their own likeness; so much will be seen, and apprehended of the intrinsique evil and malignity of their viliated natures, as will serve for the matter of further torment; while yet such a sight can do no more to a change of their temper than the Devils faith doth to theirs; Such sights, being accompanied with their no hope of ever attaining a better [Page 136] state, do therefore no way tend to mollifie, or demulce their Spirits, but to increase their rage and torment.

It is however out of question, that the pu­rity of heaven will infinitely inhance the plea­sure of it; For 'tis more certain the intrinsical goodness of holiness (which term I need not among these instances, in as much as the thing admits not of one entire notion, but lies partly under this head, partly under the second, that of devotedness to God) will be fully under­stood in Heaven, than the intrinsecal evil of s [...]n in Hell: And when it is understood, will it not affect? will it not please? Even here, how pleasing are things to the pure (but in degree so) that participate of the divine pu­rity.Ps. 119. 140. Thy word is very pure (saith the Psalmist) therefore thy servant loveth it. Under this notion do holy ones take pleasure each in other, be­cause they see somewhat of the divine like­ness, their Fathers image, in one another; will it not be much more pleasing to find it each one perfect in himself? to feel the ease, and peace, and rest, that naturally goes with it. A man that hath any love of cleanlinesse, if casually plung'd into the mire, he knows not what to do with himself; he phansies his own cloaths to abhor him (as Job rhetorically speaks) so doth as natural a pleasure attend p [...]rity:Jo [...] 9. It hath it even in it self. The words of the pure (saith the Wise-man) are pleasant words, Prov. 15 26. (words of pleasantnesses it might be read.) That pure breath that goes from him, i [...] not without a certain pleasurableness ac­companying [Page 137] it. And if so to another, much more to himself, especially when every thing corresponds; and (as the expression is) he finds himself clear throughout.

5. Liberty; (Another part of the Divine likeness, wherein we are to imitate God) can­not but be an unspeakable satisfaction. Suppo­sing such a state of the notion of liberty as may render it really a perfection. Which other­wise it would be a wickedness to impute to God, and an impossibility to partake from him.

I here speak of the moral liberty of a Saint as such, not of the natural liberty of a man, as a man: and of the liberty consummate of Saints in glory; not of the inchoate, imperfect liberty of Saints on earth.

And therefore the intricate controversies about the liberty of the humane will, lye out of our way, and need not give us any trouble.

'Tis out of question that this Liberty consists not (what ever may be said of any other) in an equal propension to good or evil, nor in the wills independency on the practical under­standing; nor in a various, uncertain muta­bility, or inconstancy; nor is it such as is op­posed to all necessity, 'tis not a liberty from the government of GodWhich is a no more desi­rable state than that which I re­member the Historian tells us was the con­dition of the Armenians, who having cast off the go­vernment that was over them, became Incerti, se [...]uti (que) & [...]àgis sine domino quam in liber [...]ate Tacit. An. l. 2. nor from a deter­mination to the simply best, and most eligible Objects.

But it is a liberty from the servitude of sin; from the seduction of a misguided Judgment; and the allurement of any insnaring, forbidden Objects, consisting in an unbounded amplitude [Page 138] and inlargedness of soul towards God, an in­determination to any inferiour good, resulting L [...]b [...]rtas nostra no [...] est subjectio ad Deum for­maliter sed am­plitudo coase­qu [...]ns cam. from an intire subjection to the divine will; a submission to the order of God; and steady adherence to him. And unto which the many descriptions and elogies agree most indisputa­bly, which from sundry Authors are congest­ed together by Gibieuf, Gibieuf. * in that ingenious Tractate of Liberty.De libert. dei & creaturae. lib. 1. c. 32.

As that he is free that lives as he will (from Cicero, insisted on by S. Aug. de Civit. Dei lib. 14. c. 25.) that is, who neither wishes any thing, nor fears any thing; who in all things acquiesces in the will of God; who minds no­thing but his own things, and accounts nothing his own but God, who savors nothing but God, who is mov'd only by the will of God.

Again;Id. ibid. he is free, that he cannot be hindred being willing, nor forced being unwilling (from Epictetus) i. e. who hath alwayes his will; as having perfectly subjected it to the will of God (as the same Author explains himself.

Again; He is free that is master of himself (from the Cilians) i. e. (as that liberty respects the spirit of a man) that hath a mind indepen­dent on any thing forreign, and alien to him­self.

That only follows God (from Phi [...]o Judaeus) That lives according to his own reason (from Ari­stotle) with many more of like import; that alone, do fully, and perfectly sute that state of liberty the blessed soul shall hereafter eter­nally enjoy; as that Author often acknow­ledges.

[Page 139] This is the glorious Liberty of the Children of God. The Liberty wherewith the Son makes free. Liberty indeed, measured, and regulated by the royal Law of Liberty, and which is perfected only in a perfect conformity thereto. There is a most servileQuam invex­ere sibi adju­vant servitu­tem. Et sunt, quodamodo pro­priâ Lib [...]rtate captivi. Boeth. ex Gib. Nect [...]t qu [...] va­lcat tr [...]hi cate­na [...]. Sen. T [...]ag. Liberty, a beingRom. 6 20▪ free from righteousness, which, under that specious name and shew2 Pet. 2. inslaves a man to corruption; and there is as free a service, by which a man is still the more free by how much the more he serves, and is subject to his superiours will, and governing influences: and by how much the lesse possible it is, he should swerve there­fromLibertor quò divinae gratiae subjectior Pri­mum Liberum arbitrium quod homini datum est quando primum creatus est rectus, potuit non peccare; sed potuit & peccare. Hoc autem novissimum e [...] potentius erit, quò peccare noa potuit. Aug de Civitat. Dei lib. 22. c. 30..

The nearest approaches therefore of the soul to God; Its most intimate union with him, and intire subjection to him, in its glorified state, makes its liberty consummate. Now is its deliverance compleat, its bands are fallen off, tis perfectly disentangled from all the snares of death, in which it was formerly held; 'tis under no restraints, opprest by no weights, held down by no cloggs. It hath the free ex­ercise of all its powers; hath every faculty and affection at command. How unconceivable a pleasure is this! With what delight doth the poor prisoner entertain himself, when his manacles and fetters are knockt off! when he's enlarged from his loathsom dungeon, and the house of his bondage, breaths in a free air! [Page 140] can dispose of himself, and walk at liberty whither he will. The bird escaped from his Cage; or freed from his Line, and Stone, that resisted its ruine and too feeble strug­lings before, how pleasantly doth it range, (with what joy doth it clap its wings, and take its slight! A faint Emblem of the joy, wherewith that pleasant chearful note shall, one day, be sung and chanted forth. Our soul is escaped, as a bird out of the snare of the Fow­ler, the snare is broken, and we are escaped. There is now no place for such a complaint. I would, but I cannot, I would turn my thoughts to glo­rious objects, but I cannot. The blessed soul feels it self free from all confinement; nothing resists its will; as its will doth never resist the will of God. It knows no limits, no restraints; is not tyed up to this or that particular good, but expatiates freely, in the immense univer­sal all comprehending goodness of God him­self.

And this liberty,Libertas n [...]st [...]a inhaer [...]t divina, ut exemplari, & in p [...]p [...]luâ ejus imitat [...]one versatur, sive ortum, sive p [...] ­gressum, sive con [...]mm [...]tio­nem ejus in­tue [...], li­bertas nostra, in o [...]tu, est capacitas Dei. In progressu libertas res est longe c [...]ar [...]or; progress [...]senim at [...]nditur p [...]nes access [...]m hominis ad D [...]m; q [...]i qui­dem [...] sed imitatione & [...]ss [...]latione c [...]nst [...]t & e [...]t uti­quc, im [...]atio [...]e, & assi [...]il itio [...], secuadum quam si [...]ut Deus est sablimis, & excelsus seipso; ita homo est sublimis, & excelsus Deo, & altitudo ejus Deus est ut inquit D, Augustinu [...]. Consummatio deni (que) libertatis est, cum homo in Deum, felicissimo gloriae coelestis statu, transformatur; & deus omnia illi esse incipit? Qui quidem postremus status, co dissert à priore—quippe homo tum non modo inalligatus est creaturis, sed nec circaillas negotiatur, etiam referen­do in finem—nec in creaturis se insundit, nec per illas procedit, ut faci [...]bat cum esset viator; sed in solo Deo, & conquiescit & effundit se placidissimè, & motits ejus, cum sit ad presentissimum, & conjunctissimum bonum, similior est quieti, quàm m [...]tui, Gib. l. 2. c. 14. is the perfect Image and likeness of the liberty of God, especially, in its consummate state. In its progress towards it, it increases as the Soul draws nearer to God: which nearer approach is not in respect of place, or local nearness, but likeness, and conformity to him; in respect whereof, as God is most sublime and excellent in himself, so is it in him.

[Page 114] Its consummate liberty is; when it is so fully transformed into the likeness of God, as that he is all to it, as to himself. So that as he is an infinite satisfaction to him­self; his likeness in this respect, is the very satisfaction it self, of the blessed soul.

6. Tranquility. This also is an eminent part of that assimilation to God, wherein the blessed­ness of the holy Soul must be understood to lye: a perfect composure, a perpetual and everlasting calm, an eternal vacancy from all unquietness or perturbation. Nothing can be supposed more inseparably agreeing to the nature of God than this: Whom Scripture wit­nesses to be without variablness or shadow of change. There can be no commotion without mutati­on, nor can the least mutation have place in a perfectly simple, and uncompounded nature: Whence even Pagan reason hath been wont to attribute the most undisturbed and unalterable tranquility to the nature of God. Balaam knew it was incompatible to him to lye, or re­pent. And (supposing him to speak this from [Page 142] a present inspiration) it is their common Do­ctrine concerning God.Omnes turbulae tempestates quae procul à Deo [...]rum coelestium tranquilitate exulant, &c. Apuleius de Deis S [...]c [...]atis. Any the least troubles and tempests (saith one) are far exiled from the tranquility of God for all the inhabitants of hea­ven do ever injoy the same stable tenour, even an eternal quality of mind. And a little after speaking of God, saith he, 'tis neither p [...]ssible he should be moved by the force of another, for nothing is stronger than God; nor of his own ac­cord, for nothing is perfecter than God.

And whereas there is somewhat that is mu­table, [...], &c. Max. Ty [...]. disser. 1. and subject to change, somewhat that is stable and fixt, in which of those natures (saith another) shall we please God; must we not in that which is more stable and fixt, and free from this fluidness and mutability? for what is there am [...]ng all beings, that can be stable or consist, if God do not by his own touch, stay and sustain the na­ture of it?

Hence is it made a piece of deformity, of likeness to God, by another, who tells his friend; It is an high and great thing which thou desirest: and even bordering upon a Deity, not to be moved.Quod desideras aut [...]m, mag [...]m, summum [...], Deo (que) vici­num, noa concu­ti. S [...]n. de tr [...]n­quil. Animi.

Yea, so hath this Doctine been insisted on by them, that, (while other Divine per­fections have been less understood) it hath oc­casioned the Stoical [...]ssertion of fatality, to be introduced, on the one hand, and the [...]picurian n [...]g [...]tion of providence on the other; least any thing should be admitted that might seem rep [...]gnant to the tranquility of their Nu­m [...].

But we know that our God doth whatsoever [Page 143] pleaseth him both in heaven and earth; and that he doth all according to the wise counsel of his holy will; freely, not fatally upon the eter­nal prevision, and foresight of all circumstan­ces and events, so that nothing can occur that is new to him; nothing that he knows not how to improve to good; or that can there­fore infer any alteration of his counsels; or occasion to him the least perturbation, or dis­quiet in reference to them.

Holy souls begin, herein, to imitate him; as soon as they first give themselves up to his wise and gracious conduct. 'Tis enough that he is wise for himself and them. Their hearts safely trust in him. They commit themselves with unsollicitous confidence, to his guidance, knowing he cannot himself be mis-led, and that he will not mis-lead them. As Abraham fol­led him, not knowing whether he went: and thus by faith, they enter into his rest.

They do, now, in their present state, only enter into it; or hover about the borders. Their future assimilation to God in this; gives them a stated settlement of Spirit in this rest. They before did owe their tranquillity to their faith, now to their actual fruition. Their for­mer acquiescency, and sedate temper was hence, that they believed God would deal well with them at last; their present, for that he hath done so. Those words have now their fullest sense (both as to the rest it self, which they mention; and the season of it) Return to thy rest, Psal. 116. O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt boun­tifully with thee. The occasions of trouble, and a [Page 144] passive temper of Spirit, are ceased together. There is now no fear without, nor terror within. The rage of the world is now allay'd, it storms no longer. Reproach and persecu­tion have found a period. There is no more dragging before Tribunals, nor haling into Prisons; no more running into dens, and de­serts; or wandring to and fro in Sheep-skins, and Goat-skins. And with the cessation of the external occasions of trouble, the inward dis­positions thereto are also ceased: All infirmi­ties of Spirit, tumultuating passions, unmorti­fied corruptions, doubts, or imperfect know­ledge of the love of God, are altogether va­nished and done away for ever.

And indeed, that perfect cure, wrought within, is the souls great security, from all future disquiet. A well tempered Spirit hath been wont strangely to preserve its own peace in this unquiet world. Philosophy hath boasted much in this kind; and Christianity performed more.

The Philosophical ( [...], or) calmness of mind, is not without its excellency and praise;Sen. de tran­quill▪ anim. ‘That stable settlement and fixedness of Spirit; that [...] (as the moralist tells us it was wont to be termed among the Gre­cians, and which he calls Tranquillity;) when the mind is alwayes equal, and goes a smooth even course, is propitious to it self, and beholds the things that concern it with pleasure, and interrupts not this joy, but remains in a placid state, never at any time exalting or depressing it self.’ But how far [Page 145] doth the Christian peace surpass it, that peace which passeth all understanding; Phil. 4. 7. that amidst sur­rounding dangers enables the holy soul to say (without a proud boast) none of all these things move me. Act. 20. 24. The peace that immediately results from that faith which unites the soul with God, and fixes it upon him as its firm basis; when 'tis kept in perfect peace, Isa. 26. 3. by being stay'd upon him, Psal. 112. 7. because it trusts in him. Rom. 15. 13. When the heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord, filled full of joy, and peace, or of joyous peace (by an [...]) in believ­ing.

And if Philosophy and (which far transcends it) Christianity, Reason and Faith have that statique power, can so compose the soul and re­duce it to so quiet a consistency, in the midst of storms and tempests: how perfect and con­tentful a repose, will the immediate vision, and injoyment of God afford it, in that serene and peaceful region, where it shall dwell for ever, free from any molestation from without, or principle of dis-rest within!

CHAP. IX.

The Pleasure arising from knowing or con­sidering our selves to be like God: from considering it, 1. Absolutely. 2. Comparatively, or respectively to the former state of the soul. To the state of lost souls. To its pattern. To the way of ac­complishment. To the souls own expectati­ons. To what it secures. The Pleasure whereto it disposes, of union, communion. A comparison of this Righteousness, with this Blessedness.

2. HEre is also to be considered, the pleasure and satisfaction involv'd in this assimi­lation to God, as it is known, or refl [...]cted on, or that arises from the cognosci of this likeness.

We have hitherto discoursed of the pleasure of being like God, as that is apprehended, by a spiri­tual sensation, a feeling of that inward recti­tude, that happy pleasure of souls now per­fectly restored? We have yet to consider a further pleasure, which acrews from the souls animadversion upon it self; its contemplating its self thus happily transformed. And though that very sensation be not without some ani­madversion (as indeed no sensible perception can be performed without it) yet we must conceive a consequent animadversion, which is much more explicite, and distinct; and [Page 147] which therefore yields a very great addition of Satisfaction and delight. As when the blessed soul shall turn its eye upon it self, and de­signedly compose, and set it self to consider its present state and frame, the consideration it shall now have of it self, and this likeness imprest upon it, may be either

  • Absolute, or
  • Comparative & respective.

1. Absolute. How pleasing a spectacle will this be, when the glorified soul shall now in­tentively behold its own glorious frame? When it shall dwell in the contemplation of it self? view it self round on every part, turn its eye from glory to glory, from beauty to beauty, from one excellency to another; and trace over the whole draught of this image; this so exquisite piece of divine workmanship, drawn out in its full perfection, upon it self. When the glorified eye, and divinely enlight­ned, and inspirited mind shall apply it self to criticize, and make a judgment upon every several lineament, every touch and stroke, shall stay it self, and scrupulously insist upon every part? view at leisure every character of glory the blessed God hath instamp't upon it; how will this likeness now satisfie! And that expression of the blessed Apostle (taken notice of upon some other occasion formerly) [The glory to be revealed in us] seems to im­port in it a reference to such a self intuition. What serves revelation for, but in order to vi­sion? What is it but an exposing things to view? and what is revealed in us, is chiefly exposed to our own view.

[Page 148] All the time from the the Souls first conver­sion till now, God hath been as it were at work upon it.2 Cor. 5. 5. (—He that wrought us to, &c.) hath been labouring it, shaping it, polishing it, spreading his own glory upon it, inlaying, in­ameling it with glory; now at last the whole work is revealed, the Curtain is drawn aside; the blessed Soul awakes. Come now saith God, behold my work; see what I have done upon thee; Let my work now see the light, I dare expose it to the censure of the most curious eye, let thine own have the pleasure of beholding it. It was a work carried on in a Mystery se­cretly wrought (as in the lower parts of the earth, as we alluded before) by a Spirit that came, and went no man could tell how. Be­sides, that in the general only, we knew we should be like him, it did not yet appear what we should be, now it appears. There is a re­velation of this glory. O the ravishing plea­sure of its first appearance! and it will be a glory always fresh and flourishing (as Job's expression is, my glory was fresh in me) and will afford a fresh, undecaying pleasure for ever.

2. The blessed soul may also be supposed to have a comparative and respective considera­tion of this impressed glory. That is, so as to compare it with, and refer it to several▪ things that may come into consideration with it: and may so heighten its own delight in the contem­plation thereof.

1. If we consider this impression of glory in reference to its former loaths [...]me deformities that [Page 149] were upon it; and which are now vanished and gone. How unconceivable a pleasure will arise from this comparison? when the soul shall consider at once what it is, and what once it was, and thus bethink it self. I that did sometimes bear the accursed image of the Prince of darkness, do now represent and partake of the holy pure nature of the Father of lights. I was a meer Chaos, an hideous heap of Defor­mity,2 Cor. 4. 6. Confusion and Darkness; But he that made light to shine out of darkness, shined into me to give the knowledge of the light of his own glory in the face of Jesus Christ, and since, made my way as the shining light shining brighter and brighter unto this perfect day. Prov. 4▪ 18. I was an habitation of Dragons, a Cage of noisom lusts; that as Ser­pents, and Vipers were winding to and fro through all my faculties and powers; and preying upon my very vitals. Then was I hateful to God, and an hater of him; sin, and vanity had all my heart. The charming in­vitations, and allurements of grace were as musick to a dead man; to think a serious thought of God, or breath forth an affectio­nate desire after him, was as much against my heart, as to pluck out mine own eyes, or of­fer violence to mine own life.

After I began to live the Spiritual new life; how slow, and faint was my progress and ten­dency towards perfection? how indisposed did I find my self to the proper actions of that life? To go about any holy spiritual work, was, too often, as to climb an Hill, or strive against the stream; or as an attempt to fly [Page 150] without wings. I have sometime said to my heart; Come now lets go pray, love God, think of heaven; but O how listless to these things! how lifeless in them! Impressions made, how quickly lost! gracious frames, how soon wrought of and gone! characters of glory rac'd out, and overspread with earth and dirt! Divine comeliness hath now at length made me perfect. The glory of God doth now in­cloath me, they are his ornaments I now wear. He hath made me, that, lately, lay among the pots, as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold, he hath put ano­ther nature into me; the true likeness of his own holy divine nature; He hath now per­fectly master'd and wrought out the enmity of my heart against him. Now to be with God is my very element. Loving, admiring, prai­sing him are as natural, as breathing once was. I am all Spirit and life, I feel my self disbur­thened, and unclogg'd of all the heavy op­pressive weights that hung upon me. No body of death doth now incumber me, no deadness of heart, no coldness of love, no drowsie sloth, no aversness from God, no earthly mind, no sensual inclinations or affections, no sinful devisions o [...] heart between God and Creatures. He hath now the whole of me. I injoy and delight in none but him, O bles­sed change! O happy day!

2. If in contemplating it self, cloathed with this likeness it respect the state of damned souls. What transpor [...]s must that occasion! What ravishing resentments! When it compares [Page 151] humane nature in its highest perfection, with the same nature in its utmost depravation? An unspeakably more unequal comparison than that would be of the most amiable lovely person, flourishing in the prime of youthful strength and beauty, with a putrified rotten carcasse, deformed by the corruption of a loathsome grave. When glorified Spirits shall make such a reflection as this. Lo here we shine in the glorious brightness of the divine Image; and behold yonder deformed accursed souls. They were as capable of this glory as we. Had the same nature with us; the same reason, the same intellectual faculties and powers; but what monsters are they now become? They eternally hate the eternal excellency. Sin and death are finished upon them. They have each of them an hell of horror and wickedness in it self. Whence is this amazing difference! Though this cannot but be an awful wonder, it cannot also, but be temper'd with pleasure and joy.

3. We may suppose this likeness to be considered in reference to its pattern; and in comparison therewith, which will then be another way of heightning the pleasure that shall arise thence. Such a frame and constitution of Spirit is full of delights in it self: but when it shall be re­fer'd to its original, and the correspondency between the one, and the other be observ'd and view'd; how exactly they accord, and answer each other as face doth face in the wa­ter; this cannot, still, but add pleasure to pleasure, one delight to another. When the [Page 152] blessed soul shall, interchangeably turn its eye to God, and it self; and consider the a­greement of glory, to glory; the several derived excellencies to the original. He is wise, and so am I, holy and so am I. I am now made perfect as my heavenly Father is; this gives a new relish to the former pleasure. How will this likeness please under that notion, as it is his; a likeness to him. O the accent that will be put upon those appropriative words to be made partakers of [His] holiness, and of the [divine] nature. Personal excellencies, in themselves considered, cannot be reflected on but with some pleasure; but to the ingenuity of a child, how especially, grateful will it be, to observe in it self, such and such grace­ful deportments, wherein it naturally imitates its father. So he was wont to speak, and act, and demean himself: how natural is it unto love, to affect, and aim at the imitation of the person loved: So natural it must be, to take complacency therein; when we have hit our mark, and atchiev'd our design. The pursuits and attainments of love are proportionable, and correspondent each to other.

And what heart can compass the greatness of this thought, to be made like God! Lord, was there no lower pattern than thy self, thy glorious blessed self according to which to form a worm! This cannot want its due re­sentments in a glorified state.

4. This transformation of the blessed soul into the likeness of God, may be viewed by it, in reference to the way of accomplishment; as an end, brought [Page 153] about by so amazing stupendous means; which will certainly be a pleasing contemplation. When it reflects on the method and course insisted on, for bringing this matter to pass, views over the work of redemption, in its ten­dency to this end,Phil. 2▪ 7. The restoring Gods Image in souls; Considers Christ manifested to us, in order to his being revealed and formed in us. That God was made in the likeness man, to make men after the likeness of God. That he partook with us of the humane nature, that we might with him partake of the divine; that he assumed our flesh, in order to impart to us his Spirit. When it shall be considered for this end had we so many great and precious promises; for this end did the glory of the Lord shine upon us through the glass of the Gospel; 2 Pet. 1. 4. that we might be made partakers, 2 Cor. 3. 18. &c. That we might be changed, &c. Yea, when it shall be called to mind, (though it be far from following hence, that this is the only or principal way wherein the life and death of Christ have influence in order to our eternal happiness) that our Lord Jesus lived for this end, that we might learn so to walk, as he also walked, that he dyed that we mught be conformed to his death; that he rose again, that we might with him attain the resurrection of the dead; that he was in us the hope of glory, that he might be in us (that is, that same Image that bears his Name) our final consummate glory it self also. With what pleasure will these harmonious congruities, these apt cor­respondencies, be look'd into at last!

Now may the glorified Saint say, I here see [Page 154] the end the Lord Jesus came into the world for. I see for what he was lift up, made a spectacle; that he might be a transforming one. What the effusions of his Spirit were for; why it so earnestly strove with my way-ward heart. I now behold in my own soul, the fruit of the travel of his Soul. This was the project of re­deeming love, the design of all-powerful Gospel grace. Glorious atchievement! bles­sed end of that great, and notable under­taking! happy issue of that high desin!

5. With reference to all their own expectations and indeavours. When it shall be considered by a Saint in glory; the attainment of this perfect likeness to God, was the utmost mark of all my designs, and aims; the term of all my hopes and desires. This is that I long'd, and laboured for, that which I pray'd and waited for; which I so earnestly breath'd after, and restlestly pursu'd. It was but to recover the de­faced image of God. To be again made like him, as once I was. Now I have attained my end; I have the fruit of all my labour and travels; I see now the truth of those (often) incou­raging words, Blessed are they that hunger, and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. Be not weary of well doing, for ye shall reap, if ye faint not. What would I once have given for a steady abiding frame of holiness, for an heart constantly bent and biassed toward God; con­stantly serious, constantly tender, lively, watchful, heavenly, spiritual, meek, humble, chearful, self-denying. How have I cryed and striven for this to get such an heart! such [Page 155] a temper of spirit! how have I pleaded with God, and my own soul in order hereto. How often over have I spread this desire before the Searcher and Judge of hearts; Turn me out of all my worldly comforts, so thou give me but such an heart; Let me spend my dayes in a Prison, or a Desert, so I have but such a heart; I refuse no reproaches, no losses, no tortures, may I but have such a heart. How hath my soul been somtimes ravisht with the very thoughts of such a temper of Spirit, as hath appeared amiable in my eye, but I could not attain? and what a torture again hath it been that I could not? What grievance in all the world, in all the dayes of my vanity; did I ever find compa­rable to this; To be able to frame my self by Scripture, and rational light and rules, the Notion and Idea of an excellent temper of spirit, and then to behold it, to have it in view, and not be able to reach it, to possess my soul of it? What indignation have I sometimes conceived against mine own soul, when I have found it wandring and could not reduce it; hovering, and could not fix it; dead, and could not quicken it; low, and could not raise it! How earnestly have I expected this blessed day, when all those distempers should be perfectly healed, and my Soul recover an healthy, lively spiri­tual frame? What fresh ebullitions of joy will here be, when all former desires, hopes, indeavours, are crowned with success and fruit! This joy is the joy of Harvest. They that have sown in tears, Psal 126. 6. do now reap in joy. They that went out weeping, bearing precious seed; now [Page 156] with rejoycing bring their sheaves with them.

6. In reference to what this imprest, likeness shall for ever secure to it: an everlasting amity and friendship with God, that it shall never sin, nor he ever frown more. 1. That it shall sin no more. The perfected image of God in it, is its se­curity for this; for 'tis holy throughout; in every point conformed to his nature and will. There remains in it nothing contrary to him. It may therefore certainly conclude it shall never be liable to the danger of doing any thing but what is good in his sight; and what solace will the blessed soul find in this! If now an Angel from Heaven should assure it, that from such an hour it should sin no more, the world would not be big enough to hold such a soul. It hath now escaped the deadliest of dangers, the worst of deaths (and which even in its present state, upon more deliberate calmer thoughts it accounts so) the sting of death, the very deadly head of death; the Hell of Hell it self. The deliverance is now compleat which cannot but end in delight and praise.

2. That God can never frame more. This 'tis hence also assured of: How can he but take perfect everlasting complaceny in his own perfect likeness and image; and behold with pleasure, his glorious workmanship, now never liable to impairment, or decay? how pleasant a thought is this! The blessed God never beholds me but with delight. I shall alwayes behold his serene countenance; his amiable face, never covered with any [Page 157] clouds, never darkened with any frown. ‘I shall now have cause to complain no more; my God is a stranger to me, he conceals himself, I cannot see his face, lo he is in­compast with Clouds and darkness, or with flames and terrours.’ These occasions are for ever ceased. God sees no cause either to behold the blessed soul with displeasure, or with displeasure to avert from it, and turn off his eye. And will not this eternally satisfie! when God himself is so well pleased, shall not we!

2. The pleasure it disposes to. Besides that the inbeing, and knowledge of this likeness, are so satisfying: It disposes, and is the souls quali­fication for a yet further pleasure. That of closest union, and most inward communion with the blessed God.

1. Union. Which (what it is more then relation) is not till now compleat. Besides relation it must needs import presence; not Phy­sical, or Local, for so nothing can be nearer God, then it is but moral, and cordial, by which the holy soul with will and affections, guided by rectified reason, and judgment, closes with, and imbraces him, and he also upon wise forelaid counsel, and with infinite delight, and love imbraceth it: so friends are said to be one (besides their relation as friends) by an union of hearts. An union between God and the creature, as to kind and nature high­er than this, and lower than Hypostatical or personal union I understand not, and therefore say nothing of itI would fain know what the Tertium shall be, re­sulting from the Physical union some speak of..

But as to the union here mentioned; as, till [Page 158] the image of God be perfected, it is not com­pleated; so it cannot but be perfect then; When the soul is perfectly formed according to Gods own heart; and fully participates the divine likeness, is perfectly like him; that likeness cannot but infer the most intimate union that two such natures can admit. That is (for nature) a love-union; such as that which our Saviour mentions, and prayes to the Father to perfect between themselves, and all believers, and among believers mutually, with one ano­ther.Joh. 17. 11. Many much trouble themselves about this Scripture;ver. 11. but sure that can be no other then a love-union: For, (1.) 'Tis such an union as Christians are capable of among themselves,Ver. 21. (for surely he would never pray that they might be one with an union whereof they are not capable.) (2.) 'Tis such an union as may be made visible to the world. Whence 'tis an obvious corollary, that the union between the Fa­ther and the Son, there spoken of, as the pattern of this, is not their union or oneness in essence, (though it be a most acknowledged thing, that there is such an essential union between them) for who can conceive that Saints should be one among themselves, and with the Father, and the Son, with such an union as the Father, and the Son are one themselves, if the essential union between Father and Son were the union here spoken of? But the exemplary or pattern-union, here mentioned, between Father and Son, is but an union in mind, in love, in de­sign, and interest; wherein he prayes▪ that Saints on earth might visibly be one with them [Page 159] also, that the world might believe, &c.

'Tis yet a rich pleasure that springs up to glorified Saints from that love-union (now per­fected) between the blessed God and them. 'Tis mentioned and shadowed in Scripture, under the name and notion of marriage-uni­on; in which the greatest mutual compla­cency is always supposed a necessary ingredi­ent.1 Cor. 6. 16. To be thus joyned to the Lord, and made, as it were, one Spirit with him; For the eternal God to cleave in love to a nothing crea­ture, as his likeness upon it ingages him to do, is this no pleasure, or a mean one?

2. Communion, unto which that union is fundamental, and introductive; and which follows it upon the same ground, from a na­tural propensity of like to like: There is no­thing now to hinder God, and the holy soul of the most inward fruitions and injoyments; no animosity, no strangeness, no unsutable­ness on either part. Here the glorified Spi­rits of the just have liberty to so [...]ce them­selves, amidst the rivers of pleasure at Gods own right hand, without check or restraint. They are pure, and these pure. They touch nothing that can defile, they defile no­thing they can touch. They are not now forbidden the nearest approaches to the (once) inaccessible Majesty, there's no Holy of Holies into which they may not enter, no dore lockt up against them: They may have free admission into the innermost secret of the divine presence, and pour forth themselves in the most liberal effasions of love [Page 160] and joy, as they must be the eternal subjects of those infinitely richer communications from God, even of immense and boundless love and goodness.

Do not debase this pleasure by low thoughts; nor frame too daring positive apprehensions of it. 'Tis yet a secret to us. The eternal con­verses of the King of glory, with glorified Spi­rits, are onely known to himself and them. That expression (which we so often meet in our way) It doth not yet appear what we shall be; seems left, on purpose, to check a too curious and prying inquisitiveness into these unreveal­ed things. The great God will have his re­serves of glory, of love, of pleasure for that future state. Let him alone a while, with those who are already received into those man­sions of glory, those everlasting habitations. He will find a time for those that are yet pil­grims and wandring exiles to ascend and enter too.

In the mean time what we know of this communion may be gathered up into this ge­neral account, The reciprocation of loves; the flowing and reflowing of everlasting love, be­tween the blessed soul and its infinitely blessed God; Its egress towards him, his illapses in­to it.

Unto such pleasure doth this likeness dis­pose and qualifie: You can no way consider it, but it appears a most pleasurable satisfying thing.

Thus far have we shewn the qualification for this blessedness, and the nature of it, What it [Page 161] prerequires, and wherein it lyes, and how highly congruous it is that the former of these should be made a prerequisite to the latter, will suf­ficiently appear to any one, that shall, in his own thoughts, compare this righteousness and this blessedness together. He will indeed plain­ly see, that the natural state of the case, and habitude of these each to other, makes this con­nexion unalterable, and eternal; so as that it must needs be simply impossible to be thus blessed, without being thus righteous.

For what is this righteousness other than this blessedness begun, the seed and principle of it? And that with as exact proportion (or rather sameness of Nature) as is between the grain sown, and reaped, which is more than intimated in that of the Apostle,Gal. 6▪ 7▪ 8. Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap: For he that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption: (there is the same proportion too) but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit, reap life everlasting: Which though it be spoken to a particular case, is yet spoken from a general rule and reason applicable a great deal further.

And as some conceive (and is undertaken to be demonstrated) that the seeds of things are,Dr. H [...]rv. de. Ovo. not vertually only, but actually, and for­mally the very things themselves: so is it here also. The very parts of this blessedness are discernable in this righteousness. The future vision of God, in present knowledge of him; for this knowledge, is a real, initial part of righ­teousness. The rectitude of the mind, and [Page 162] apprehensions concerning God, consisting in conformity to his revelation of himself.

Present holiness, including also the future [...]ssimilation to God. And the contentment, and peace that attends it, the consequent satisfacti­on in glory.

But as in glory, the impression of the divine likeness, is that which vision subserves; and whence satisfaction results; so is it here (vi­sibly) the main thing also. The end, and design of the Gospel revelation, [...]. of whole Christianity (I mean Systematically consi­dered) of all Evangelical Doctrines, and knowledge, is to restore Gods likeness, and image; from whence joy and peace result of course, when once the Gospel is believed. The Gospel is the instrument of impressing Gods likeness, in order whereunto it must be understood, and received into the mind. Being so, the impression upon the heart, and life, are Chri­stianity ha [...]itual and practical, Rom. 15. 13. whereupon joy and pleasure (the belief or thorough recep­tion of the Gospel thus enterveining) do ne­cessarily ensue.G [...]. [...] in Christa [...] ­mus hom [...], &c. Orat. 1

So Aptly is the only way, or method of seeing Gods face, so as to be satisfied with his like­ness; said to be, in or thorow righteousness.

CHAP. X.

The season of this satisfaction, which is two­fold; at

  • Death.
  • Resurrection.

The former spoken to, wherein is shewn, That this life is to the soul (even of a Saint) but as a sleep. That at death it awakes. As to the latter, that there is a considerable accession to its happiness at the resurrection.

3. THe season of this blessedness, comes next to be considered, which (as the words [when I awake] have been concluded here to import) must in the general be stated beyond the time of this present life.

Holy souls are here truly blessed, not per­fectly, or their present blessedness is perfect only in nature and kind, not in degree. 'Tis in this respect, as far short of perfection, as their holiness is. Their hunger and thirst are pre­sent, their being filled is yet future. The ex­perience of Saints in their best state on earth, their desires, their hopes, their sighs, and groans do sufficiently witness they are not satisfied, or if they be, in point of security, they are not in point of enjoyment. The completi­on of this blessedness is reserved to a better state, as its being the end, of their way, their rest, Matth. 5. 6. from their labours, the reward of their work [Page 164] doth import, and require. Therefore many Scriptures, that speak of their present rest, peace, repose, satisfaction, must be understood in a comparative, not the absolute highest sense.

More particularly in that other state; the season of their blessedness is twofold, or there are two terms from whence (in respect of some gradual, or modal diversifications) it may be said severally to commence, or bear date. Viz.

The time

  • Of their entrance upon a blessed immorta­lity, when they shall have laid down their earthly bodies in death.
  • Of their consummation therein, when they receive their bodies glorified, in the general resurrection.

Both these may not unfitly be signified by the Phrase in the Text [when I awake] For, though Scripture doth more directly apply the term of [awaking] to the latter; there will be no violence done to the Metaphor, if we extend its signification to the former also. To which purpose, it is to be noted, that it is not Death, formally, or the disanimating of the body, we would have here to be under­stood by it (which indeed sleeping would more aptly signifie than awaking) but (what is co-incident therewith in the same period) the exuscitation, and revival of the soul. When the body falls asleep, then doth the Spirit awake, and the eye-lids of the morning, even of an eternal day do now first open upon it.

1. Therefore we shall not exclude from this [Page 165] season the introductive state of blessedness, which takes its beginning from the blessed souls first entrance into the invisible state. And the fitness of admitting it will appear by clear­ing these two things.

1. That its condition in this life, even at the best, is in some sort but a sleep.

2. That when it passes out of it into the in­visible Regions, 'tis truly said to awake.

1. Its abode in this mortal body, is but a continual sleep; its senses are bound up, a drowsie slumber possesses, and suspends all its faculties and powers.

Before the renovating change, how fre­quently doth the Scripture speak of sinners as men a sleep?1 Thes. 5▪ 6. Let not us sleep as do others. Awake thou that sleepest, Ephes 5. 14. and stand up from the dead, &c. They are in a dead sleep, under the sleep of death. They apprehend things as men asleep. How slight, obscure, hovering notions have they of the most momentous things? and which it most concerns them to have thorough, real apprehensions of. All their thoughts of God, Christ, Heaven, Hell, of Sin, of Holi­ness, are but uncertain, wild guesses, blind hallucinations, incoherent phansies; the ab­surdity, and inconcinnity whereof, they no more reflect upon then men asleep. They know not these things, but only dream of them. They put darkness for light, and light for darkness, have no senses exercised to discern between good and evil. The most substantial realities are with them meer shadowes, and chemaera's, Phansied, and imagined dangers startle [Page 166] them (as 'tis wont to be with men in a dream) real ones, though never so near them, they as little fear, as they. The creature of their own imagination, the Lion in the way, which they dream of in their slothful slumber, affrights them; but the real roaring Lion that is ready to devour them, they are not afraid of.

And conversion doth but relax, and inter­mit; it doth not totally break of this sleep; It, as it were, attenuates the consopiting fumes, doth not utterly dispel them. What a difficulty is it to watch but one hour? There are some lucid, and vivid intervals, but of how short continuance? how soon doth the awakened soul close its heavy eyes, and fall asleep again? how often do temptations surprize even such, in their slumbring fits, while no sense of their danger can prevail with them to watch and pray (with due care and constancy) least they en­ter thereinto.

So well doth the Apostles watchword suit our case, awake to righ­teousness and sin not, &c. Hither are most of the sins of our lives to be imputed and referr'd, not to meer ignorance, that we know not sin from duty; or what will please God, and what displease him; but to a drowsie inadvertency, that we keep not our spirits in a watchful, considering posture. Our eyes that should be ever towards the Lord, 1 Cor. 15▪ 34. will not be kept open, and though we resolve, we forget our selves; before we are aware we find our selves overtaken: Sleep comes on up­on us, like an armed man, and we cannot avert it. How often do we hear, and read, and pray, and meditate as persons asleep? as if we knew not what we were about? How re­markable, [Page 167] useful providences escape either our notice, or due improvement, amidst our se­cure slumbers? How many Visits from hea­ven are lost to us, when we are (as it were) between sleeping and waking (I sleep, Cant. 5 2. but my heart waketh) and hardly own the voice that calls upon us, till our beloved hath withdrawn himself. Indeed, what is the whole of our life here but a dream? The entire scene of this sensible world, but a vision of the night? where every man walks but in a vain shew: where we are mockt with shadows & our cre­dulous sense abus'd by▪ impostures,Psal. 39 6. and delusive appearances; nor are we ever secure from the most destructive, mischievous deception, further than as our souls are possest with the apprehensions that this is the very truth of our case, and thence instructed, to consider: and not to prefer the shadows of time, before the great realities of eternity.

Nor is this sleep casual, but even connatural to our present state, the necessary result of so strict an union, and commerce with the body, which is, to the in-dwelling Spirit, as a dor­mitory or charnel-house, rather than a man­sion. A soul drench't in sensuality (a Le [...]e that hath too little of fiction in it) and immur'd in a sloathful putid slesh, sleeps, as it were, by fate▪ not by chance; and is only capable of full relief, by suffering a Dissolution; which it hath reason to welcome as a jubilee, and in the instant of departure to sacrifice as he didViz. [...]. Who at the time of his death sprink­led water up­on the ser­vants about him, addita vo [...]e se liquorem ill [...]m libare Jo­ [...]i l [...]beratori. Tacit▪ Annal. (with that easie and warrantable change, to make a Heathen expression Scriptural, Jehovae [Page 168] liberatori) to adore and praise its great Deli­verer. At least (accounts being once made up, and a meetness in any measure attained for the heavenly inheritance, &c.) hath no reason to regret, or dread the approaches of the eter­nal day, more than we do the return of the Sun after a dark and long-some night. But, as the sluggard doth nothing more unwillingly than forsake his bed, nor bears any thing with more regret, than to be awak't out of his sweet sleep, though you should intice him, with the pleasures of a Paradise, to quit a smo­ky loathsome Cottage; so fares it with the sluggish soul, as if it were lodg'd in an in­chanted Bed; 'tis so fast held by the charms of the body, all the glory of the other world is little enough to tempt it out, than which there is not a more deplorable Symptome of this sluggish slumbring state. So deep an oblivion (which you know is also naturally incident to sleep) hath seiz'd it of its own Countrey, of its alliances above, its relation to the Father and world of Spirits, It takes this earth for its home, where 'tis both in exile and captivity at once. And (as a Prince, stoln away in his infancy, and bred up in a beggers shed) so little seeks, that it declines a better state. This is the degenerous torpid disposition of a soul lost in flesh, and inwrapt in stupifying clay; which hath been deeply resented by some Hea­thens. So one brings in Socrates pathetically bewailing this oblivious dreaming temper of his soul ‘which (saith he) had seen that pul­chritude (you must pardon him, here, the [Page 169] conceit of its pre-existence) that neither. humane voice could utter, nor eye behold But that now, in this life, it had only some little remembrance thereof, as in a dream, being both in respect of place, and condition, far removed from so pleasant sights, prest down into an earthly station, and there en­compast with all manner of dirt and filthi­ness, &c.’

And to the same purpose Plato often speaks in the name of the same person: and particu­larly, [...]. of the winged stati, of the good soulIn Phaedro., when apart from the body, carried in its triumphant flying Chariot (of which he gives a large description,Cant. 6. 12▪ somewhat resembling So­lomons rapturous Metaphor: Before I was aware, my soul made me as the Chariots of Aminnadib.) But being in the body, 'tis with it, as with a Bird that hath lost its wings, it falls a sluggish weight to the earth.

Which indeed is the state even of the best, in a degree, within this Tabernacle. A sleepy torpose stops their flight. They can fall, but not ascend; the remaines of such a drowsiness do still hang even about Saints themselves. The Apostle therefore calls upon such to awake out of sleep; from that consideration (as we know men are not wont to sleep so intensely towards morning) that now their salvation was nearer then when they believed, Rom. 13 11. i. e. (as some judicious Interpreters understand that place) for that they were nearer death,Arelius▪ Beza, &c. and eterni­ty than when they first became Christians (though this passage be also otherwise [Page 170] (and not improbably interpreted.) However,

2. The holy souls release and dismission, from its earthly body (which is that we propounded next to be considered) will excusse and shake off this drowsie sleep. Now is the happy Season of its awaking into the heavenly vital light of God. The blessed morning of that long desired day is now dawned upon it; the cumbersome night-vail is laid aside, and the garments of salvation and immortal glory are now put on. It hath past through the trouble & darkness of a wearisome night, and now is joy arrived with the morning (as we may be permitted to allude to those words of the Psal­mist,Psal. 30. 5. though that be not supposed to be the pe­culiar sense.)

I conceive my self here not concern'd, ope­rously to insist in proving that the souls of Saints sleep not in the interval, between death and the general resurrection; but enjoy pre­sent blessedness. It being besides the design of a practical discourse, which rather intends the propounding and improvement of things acknowledg'd, and agree'd for the advantage and benefit of them with whom they are so; then the discussing of things dubious and con­troversible. And what I here propound in order to a consequent improvement and ap­plication, should methinks pass for an acknow­ledg'd truth among them that professedly be­lieve, and seriously read and consider the Bible. For meer Philosophers, that do not come into this account, 'twere impertinent to discourse with them from a Text of Scripture; and [Page 171] where my design only obliges me to intend the handling of that; and to deliver it from what may fitly be supposed to have its ground there, unless their allegations did carry with them the Species of demonstrating the simple impossibility of what is asserted thence to the power of that God whose word we take it to be; which I have not found any thing they say to amount to. That we have reason to pre­sume it an acknowledged thing among them that will be concluded by Scripture; That the Soul doth not sleep when it ceases to ani­mate its earthly body, many plain Texts do evince, which are amassed together, by the reverend Mr. Baxter, In his Saints rest, p. 2. c. 10▪ some of the principal whereof I would invite any that waver in this matter seriously to consider. As the words of our Saviour to the Thief on the Cross. This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise. Luke 23. 43. That of the Apostle,2 Cor. 5 8. We are willing rather to be ab­sent from the body, and present with the Lord. And that, Phil. 1. 23. I am in a straight, having a desire to depart, Heb. 12. 23. and to be with Christ. That passage, The Spirits of just men made perfect, &c. Which are expressions so clear,'Tis true that divers of the Fathers, and others, have spoken some dubiously, some very di­minishingly, of the blessedness of separate souls; many of whose words may be seen together in that elaborate Tractate of the learned Parker, de descens. lib sec [...]n [...] p. 77. Yea, and his own assertion in that very page (be it spoken with reverence to the memory of so worthy a person) argues some­thing gross, and I con­ceive, un­warrantable thoughts of the souls de­pendance on a body of Earth. His words are, Tertium vulnus (speak­ing of the prejudices the Soul receives by its separation from the body) omnes operationes etiam suas quae sunt praesertim ad ex­tra extinguit. Where he makes it a difficulty to allow it any operati­ons at all, as apears by the praesertim inserted. He first indeed denies it all operations, and then more confidently, and especially those ad extra. And if he would be understood to exclude it only from its operations ad extra (if he take operations ad extra, as that Phrase is wont to be taken) he must then mean by it all such operations as have their ob­jects; not only those that have their terms to which without the Agent, i. e. not only all transient, but all immanent acts that have their object, without them. As when we say, all Gods acts ad extra are free; we mean it even of his immanent acts that have their ob­jects without him, though they do not po [...]re terminum extra deum: as his election, his love of the elect. And so he must be understood to deny the separate souls (and that with a praesertim too) the operati­ons of knowing God, of loving him, and delighting in him; which are all operations ad extra, as having their objects extra animam, though their terminus ad qu [...]m be not so; which makes the condition of the se­parate souls of Saints unspeakably inferiour to what it was in the bo­dy, and what should occasion to dismal thoughts of that state of sepa­ration, I see not. Scripture gives no ground for them, but evidently enough speaks the contrary. Reason and Phylosophy offers nothing that can [...]ender the sense we put upon the forementioned plain Scrip­tures, self contrad [...]ctions or impossible. Yea such as had no other light, or guide have thought the facility of the souls operations, be­ing separate from its earthly body, much greater by that very separa­tion. And upon this score doth Saint Augustine, with great indigna­tion inveigh against the P [...]ilosophers (Pla [...]o more especially) be­cause they judg'd the separation of the Soul from the body necessary to its blessedness. [Quia videlicct ejus perfect [...]m beatitudinem tunc illi fieri ex [...]stim [...]at cum omni prorsus corpore exuta, ad Deum s [...]n [...] lex, & sol [...] & quodommodo nuda redierit. De civit. Dei l. 13 c. 16.] unto which pur­pose the words of Philol [...]us Pyth [...]goricus, of Plato, of Porphyrius are cited by Ludo­vicus vives in his Comment upon that bovementi­oned passage. The first speaking thus—Deposito corpore hominem Deum immortalem fieri. The second thus,—Trahi nos, à corpore, ad ima, & à cogitatione superarum rerum subinde revocari: ideo relinquendum corpus, & hîc quantum pos­sumus, & in alterâ vitâ vitâ prorsum, ut liberi, & expediti verum ipsi videamus, & optimum amemus. The third denies—Aliter fieri b [...]atum quenquam posse, nisi relinquat corpus & affigatur Deo. I conceive it by the way not improbable, that the severity of that Pious Father a­gainst that Dogma of the Philosophers, might proceed upon this ground, that what they said of the impossibilitie of being happy in an earthly body, he understood meant by them of an impossibilitie to be happy in any body at all; when 'tis evidently the common opinion of the Platonists, that the soul is alwayes united with some body or other; and that even the Dae [...]o [...]s have bodies (aereal or etherial ones) which Plato himself is observed by St. Augustine to affirm whence he would fasten a contradiction on him, ibid. not considering ('tis likely) that he would much less have made a difficultie to con­cede such bodies also to humane souls, after they had lost their ter­restial ones; as his sectators do not, who hold they then presently become Daemons. In the mean time 'tis evident enough the doctrine of the separate souls present blessedness is not destitute of the patronage and suffrage of Philosophers. And 'tis indeed the known opinion of as many of them as ever held its immortality (which all of all Ages and nations have done, a very few excepted, for in as much as they knew nothing of the resurrection of the bodie, they could not dream of a sl [...]epi [...]g in­terval. And 'tis, at least, a shrewd presumption that nothing in reason lies against it, when no one instance can be given among them that professedly, gave up themselves to its only guidance, of any one that, granting the immortality of the soul, and its separableness f [...]om its terrestrial body, ever denied the immediate blessedness of good souls in that state of separation. Nor (if we look into the thing it self) is it at all more unapprehensible that the soul should be indepen­dent on the body in its operations then in its exist [...]? If it be pos­sible enough to form an unexception­able notion of a spiritual being, distinct, and separable from any corporeal substance (which the learned Doctor More hath sufficiently demonstrated in his Treatise of the immortalitie of the Soul) with its proper attributes, and powers peculiar to it self; what can reasonablely with-hold me from assenting, that, being separate from the body, it may as well operate alone (I mean exert such operations as are p [...]oper to such a being) as exist alone? That we find it here, de facto, in its present state, acting only with dependence on a bodie, will no more infer that it can act no otherwise, then its present existence in a body will, that it can ne­ver exist out of it neither whereof amounts to more then the trifling exploded argument à non esse ad non posse, and would be as good sense as to say such a one walks in his clothes: therefore out of them he can­not move a foot. Yea and the very use it self, which the soul now makes of corporeal organs, and instruments, plainlie [...]vinces that it doth exert some action, wherein they assist it not. For it supposes an operation upon them, antecedent to any operation by them. Nothing can be the in­strument which is not first the subject of my action; as when I use a pen, I act upon, in order to my acting by it, i. e. I impress a motion upon it in order whereunto I use not that, or any other such instru­ment; And, though I cannot produce the designed effect, leave such characters so and so figured without it, my hand can yet, without it, perform its own action, proper to it self, and produce many nobler effects. When therefore the soul makes use of a bodily organ; its action upon it, must needs, at last, [...]e without the ministry of any or­gan, unless you multiply to it bodie upon bodie in infini [...]um. And if possibly it perform not some meaner, and grosser pieces of drudgerie; when out of the body, wherein it made use of its help, and service before; that is no mo [...]e a disparagement, or dimunution; then its to the Magistrate, that law and decency permit him not to ap­prehend, or execute a Malefactor with his own hand. It may yet per­form those operations, which are proper to it self; that is, such as are more noble, and excellent, and immediately conducive to its own felicitie. Which sort of actions, as Cogitation, for instance, and Dilection, though, being done in the body, there is conjunct with them an agitation of the Spirits in the brain and heart; It yet seems to me more reasonable, that, as to those acts, the Spirits are rather subjects then instruments at all of them, that the whole essence of these Acts is antecedent to the motion of the Spirits; and that motion certainly (but accidentally) consequent, only by reason of the pre­sent, but soluble union the soul hath with the body. And that the pu­rity and refinedness of those Spirits doth only remove what would hin­der such acts, rather than contribute positively thereto. And so little is the alliance between a thought, and any bodily thing, even those very finest Spirits themselves; that I dare say whoever sets himself closely and strictly to consider, and debate the matter with his own faculties, will find it much more easily apprehensible, how the acts of intellection, and volition may be performed without those very corporeal Spirits then by them. However suppose them never so in­dispensably necessarie to those more noble operations of the soul, it may easilie be furnisht with them, and in greater plentie, and puri­tie from the ambient aire (or aether) than from a dull torpid body; with some part of which air, if we suppose it to contract a vital union; I know no rational principle that is wronged by the supposition (though neither do I know any that can necessarily infer it.) As therefore the doctrine of the souls activitie out of this earthly bo­dy, hath favour and friendship enough from Philosophers; so I doubt not but upon the most strict and rigid disquisition, it would be as m [...]ch befriended (or rather righted) by Philosophie it self; And that their reason would afford it as direct, and more considerable defence then their Authority. In the mean time, it deserves to be considered with some resent­ment, that this Doctrine should find the generality of Learned Pa­gans more forward Advocates, then some learned, and worthy Pa­trons of the Christian Faith; which is only imputable to the undue measure and excess of an otherwise j [...]st, zeal, in th [...]se latter, for the resurrection of the body, so far transporting them, that they became willing to let go one Truth, that they might hold [...] the [...]ster; and to ransome this, at the too deare (and unnecessary) expence of the former. Accounting they could never make sure enough the re­surrection of the bodie; without making the souls dependence on it so absolute, and necessarie, that it should be able to do nothing but sleep in the mean while. Whereas it seems a great deal more uncon­ceiveable, how such a being as the soul is, once quit of the entangle­ments and encumbrances of the body, should sleep at all, then how it should act without the body. that it is hard for an industrious Caviller to find what to except to them; and indeed the very exceptions that are put in, are so frivolous, that they carry a plain confession, there is nothing colourable to be said.

[Page 172] Yea and most evident it is from those Texts; not only that holy souls sleep not, in that state of separation; but that they are awaked by it (as out of a former sleep) into a much more lively, and vigorous activity, than they enjoyed before: And translated into a state, [Page 173] as much better then their former, as the tortures of a Cross, are more ungrateful, then the plea­sures of a Paradise; these joyes fuller of vitalitie, then those sickly dying faintings. As the im­mediate presence, and close imbraces of the [Page 174] Lord of life; are more delectable then a mourn­ful disconsolate absence from him (which the Apostle therefore tells us he desired, as far better (and with an Emphasis which our Eng­lish [Page 175] too faintly expresses; for he uses a double comparative [ [...]] by much more better, and as a perfected, i. e, a crowned triumphant Spirit, that hath attained the end of its race (as the words import in the agonistical notionSee Dr. Hammonds annot. in loc.) is now in a more vivid, joyous state then, when, late­ly [Page 176] toyling in a tiresome way, it languished un­der many imperfections. And it is obser­vable, that in the three former Scriptures, that phrase of being with Christ, or being present with him, is the same which is used by the Apostle, 1 Thes. 4. 17. to express the state of blessedness after the resurrection, inti­mating plainly the sameness of the blessedness before, and after. And though this phrase be also used to signi [...]ie the present injoyment saints have of Gods gracious presence in this life (which is also in nature, and kind the same) yet it is plainly used in these Scriptures (the two latter more especially) to set out to us such a degree of that blessedness, that in compa­rison thereof our present being with Christ, is a not being with him; our presence with him, now, an absence from him. While we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord; and I am in a strait betwixt two, desiring to depart (or having a desire unto desolution) and to be with Christ, &c. How strangely mistaken, and disappointed had the blessed Apostle been, had his absence from the body, his dissoluti­on, his release, set him further off from Christ, or made him less capable of converse [Page 177] with him, then before he was! And how ab­surd would it be; to say the spirits of the just are perfected, by being cast into a stupifying sleep; yea, or being put into any state, not better then they were in before? But their state is evidently far better. The body of death is now laid aside, and the wights of sin, that did so easily beset, are shaken off; flesh and sin are laid down together; the soul is rid of its burdensome bands, and shackles; hath quitted its filthy darksome prison (the usual place of lasiness, and sloth, is come forth of it's drowsie dormitory, and the glory of God is risen upon it. 'Tis now come into the world of realities; where things appear as they are, no longer as in a drean, or vision of the night. The vital quickning beams of divine light, are darting in upon it, on every side, and turn­ing it into their own likeness. The shadows of the evening are vanished, and fled away. It converses with no other objects but what are full themselves, and most apt to replenish it with energy and life. This cannot be but a joyful awakning; a blessed season of satisfaction and delight, indeed, to the enlightned, re­vived soul. But

2. It must be acknowledged the further, and more eminent season of this blessedness will be, the general resurrection day, which is more expresly signified in Scripture, by this term of [awaying] as is manifest in many plain Texts,Dan 12 2 where 'tis either expresly thus used,Joh. 14 12. or implyed to have this meaning in the opposite sense of the word sleep.2 Cor. 15. 2 Thes. 4. &c.

[Page 178] What addition shall then be made to the Saints blessedness, lyes more remote from our apprehension; in as much as Scripture states not the degree of that blessedness which shall intervene. We know, by a too sad in­structive experience, the calamities of our present state, and can therefore more easily conceive, wherein it is capable of better­ment, by the deposition of a sluggish, cum­bersome body, where those calamities mostly have their spring: but then we know less where to fix our foot, or whence to take our rise, in estimating the additional felicities of that future state, when both the states to be compared are so unknown to us.

But that there will be great additions is plain enough. The full recompence of obedience, and devotedness to Christ, of foregoing all for him, is affixed by his promise, to the resur­rection of the just; The judgment day gives every one his portion according to his work [...]. Then must the holy, obedient Christian hear from its Redeemers mouth, Come ye-blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom, &c. Till then, the Devils think their torment to be before their time. 'Tis when he shall appear, we shall be like him▪ and see him as he is. That noted day is the day of being presented faultless with ex­ceeding joy.

And divers things there are, obviously enough to be reflected on, which cannot but be understood to contribute much to the in­crease and improvement of this inchoate blessedness.

[Page 179] The acquisition of a glorified body. For our vile bodies shall be so far transfigured, [...]. as to be made like [conform to] the glorious body of the Saviour, Phil 3. 20, 21. the Lord Jesus Christ. And this shall be when he shall appear from heaven, where Saints here below, are required to have their commerce as the infranchised Citizens there­of, and from whence they are to continue looking for him, in the mean time. When he terminates and puts a period to that expecta­tion of his Saints on earth, then shall that great change be made, i. e. when he actually appears, at which time the trumpet s [...]unds, and even sleeping dust it self awakes; 1 Thes. 4. 14, 15▪ 16. the hallow­ed dust of them that slept in Jesus first, who are then to come with him. This change may well be conceived to add, considerably, to their felicity. A natural congruity, and ap­petite is now answered, and satisfied, which did either lie dormant, or was under some­what an anxious, restless expectation before; neither of which could well consist with a state of blessedness every way, already perfect. And that there is a real desire, and expectation of this change, seems to be plainly intimated in those words of Job, Chap. 14. 14. All the days of my ap­pointed time will I wait till my change come: Where he must rather be understood to speak of the resurrection, than of death (as his words are commonly mistaken, and misap­plyed) as will appear by setting down the Context from the seventh verse. For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch, thereof will not [Page 180] cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof dye in the ground: yet through the sent of water, it will bud and bring forth boughs like a plant. But man dyeth and wasteth away; yea man giveth up the Ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the Sea, and the flood decayeth, and dryeth up; so man ly­eth down, and riseth not till the heavens be no more: they shall not be awaked nor raised out of their sleep. O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret till thy [...]rath be p [...]st, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man dye, shall he live again? All the dayes of my appointed time, will I wait till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee; thou wilt have a desire to the work of thy hands. He first speaks accord­ing to common apprehension, and sensible ap­pearance touching the hopeless state of man in death, as though it were less capable of reparation, then that of some inferiour crea­tures unto the end of ver. 10. And then, gra­dually, discovers his better hope; bewrayes his Faith, as it were obliquely, touching this point; lets it breaking out, first, in some ob­scure glimmerings, ver. 11, 12. giving us in his Protasis, a similitude not fully expressive of his seeming meaning, for waters, and flouds, that fail may be renewed; and in his Apodosis more openly intimating mans sleep, should be only till the heavens were no more. Which [till] might be supposed to signi [...]ie [never] were it not for what follows, ver. 13. where he ex­presly speaks his confidence by way of petition, [Page 181] that at a set and appointed time, God would remem­ber him, so as to recall him out of the Grave, and at last being now minded to speak out more fully▪ puts the question to himself, if a man dye, shall he live again? and answers it; all the dayes of my appointed time (i. e. of that appoint­ed time which he mention'd before, when God should revive him out of the dust) will I wait till my change come, i. e. that glorious change, when the corruption of a loathsome grave, should be exchang'd for immortal glory, which he amplifies, and utters more expresly, ver. 15. Thou shalt call, and I will answer, thou shalt have a desire to the work [...]f thy hands. Thou wilt not always forget to restore, and perfect thy own creature.

And surely that waiting is not the act of his inanimate, sleeping dust, but, though it be spo­ken of the person totally gone into H [...]des, into the invisible state; 'tis to be understood of that part, that should be capable of such an action, q. d. I, in that part, that shall be still alive, shall patiently await thy appointed time of reviving me in that part also, which Death, and the Grave shall insult over (in a temporary triumph) in the mean time; And so will the words carry a facile, commodious sense, with­out the unnecessary help of an imagined Rhe­torical Scheme of Speech. And then, that this waiting carries in it a desirous expectation of some additional good, is evident at [...]irst sight, which therefore must needs add to the satisfa­ction and blessedness, of the expecting soul. And wherein it may do so, is not altogether [Page 182] unapprehensible. Admit that a Spirit, had it never been imbodied, might be as well with­out a body, or that it might be as well pro­vided of a body out of other materials; 'tis no unreasonable supposition, that a connate ap­titude to a body, should render humane souls more happy in a body sufficiently attempered to their most noble operations. And how much doth relation and propriety endear things, otherwise mean▪ and inconsiderable? or why should it be thought strange, that a soul connaturallized t [...] matter should be more particularly inclined to a particular portion thereof? So as that it should appropriate such a part, and say 'tis mine▪ And will it not be a pleasure to have a vitalit [...] diffused through what even more remotely ap­pertains to me, to have every thing belonging to the Supposition perfectly vindicated from the Tyrannous dominion of death? The return [...]ing of the Spirits into a benumb'd or sleeping toe or finger, adds a contentment to a ma [...] which he wanted before. Nor is it hence ne [...]cessary the Soul should covet a re-union wi [...] every effluvious particle of its former body. A desire implanted by God in a reasonable soul will aim at what is convenient, not wh [...] shall be cumbersome, or monstrous.

And how pleasant will it be to comtemplat [...] and admire the wisdom and power of th [...] great Creatour in this so glorious a change when I shall find a Clod of Earth, an Hea [...] of D [...]st refined into a Celestial purity an [...] brightness; when what was sown in corrupti [...] shall be raised in incorruption; what was sown [...] [Page 183] dishonour, 1 Cor. 15. is raised in glory; what was sown in weakness, is raised in power; what was sown a natural body, is raised a Spiritual body. When this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal an immortality; and death be whol­ly swallowed up in victory. So that this awaking may well be understood to carry that in it, which may bespeak it the proper season of the Saints consummate satisfaction and blessedness. But besides what it carries in it self: there are other (more extrinsical) concurrents that do further signalize this season, and import a great increase of blessedness, then to Gods holy ones.

The body of Christ is now compleated, the fulness of him, that filleth all in all, and all the so nearly related parts cannot but partake in perfection, and reflected glory of the whole. There is joy in Heaven at the conversion of one sinner; though he have a troublesome Scene yet to pass over; afterwards, in a tempt­ing, wicked, unquiet world, how much more when the many sons shall be all brought to glory together?

The designes are all now accomplished, and wound up into the most glorious result and issue; whereof the Divine Providence had been, as in travel, for so many thousand years. 'Tis now seen how exquisite wisdom govern'd the world, and how steady a tendency the most intricate, and perplexed Methods of Providence had, to one stated and most wor­thy end.

Specially the constitution, administration, [Page 184] and ends of the Mediatours Kingdom, are now beheld, in the exact aptitudes, order, and conspicuous glory; when so blessed an issue and success shall commend, and crown the whole undertaking.

The Divine Authority is now universally acknowledged, and adored; his Justice is vindicated, and satisfied; his Grace demonstrated and magnified to the utter­most. The whole assembly of Saints so­lemnly acquitted by publique sentence, presented spotless, and without blemish to God, and adjudged to eternal blessed­ness. 'Tis the day of solemn triumph, and jubilation, upon the finishing of all Gods works, from the creation of the world, where­in the Lord Jesus appears to be glorified in his Saints, 2 Thes 1. and admired in all that believe: Upon which ensues the resignation of the Mediatours Kingdome (all the ends being now attained) that the Father [...]im­self may be immediately all in all. 1 Cor. 15. How aptly then are the fuller manifestations of God, the more glorious display of all his Attributes, the larger and more a­bundant Effusions of himself, reserv'd, (as the best Wine to the last) unto this joyful day? Created perfections couldnot have been before so absolute, but they might admit of improvement; Their ca­pacities not so large, but they might be extended further; and then who can doubt but that divine communications [Page 185] may also have a proportionable increase, and that upon the concourse of so ma­ny great occasions they shall have so?

CHAP. XI.

An Introduction to the use of the Doctrine hitherto proposed. The Use divided into Inferences of Truth. Rules of Duty. 1. Inference, That Blessedness consists not in any sensual injoyment. 2. Inference, The Spirit of man (since 'tis capable of so high a Blessedness) a Being of high ex­cellency.

AND now is our greatest work yet behind;Use. the improvement of so momentous a truth to the affecting and transforming of hearts. That (if the Lord shall so far vouchsafe his assistance and blessing) they may taste the sweetness, feel the power, and bear the impresse and image of it. This is the work both of greatest necessity, difficulty, and excellency, and unto which all that hath been done hitherto is but subservi­ent, and introductive. Give me leave there­fore, Reader, to stop thee here, and demand of thee ere thou go further, hast thou any de­sign in turning over these leaves of bettering thy Spirit? of getting a more refined, heaven­ly [Page 186] temper of soul, art thou weary of thy dross, and earth, and longing for the first fruits the beginnings of glory? dost thou wish for a soul meet for the blessedness hitherto described! What is here written, is designed for thy help, and furtherance. But if thou art looking on these pages, with a wanton, rolling eye, hunt­ing for novelties, or what may gratifie a pru­rient wit, a coy and squeamish fancy; Go, read a Romance, or some piece of Drollery; know here's nothing for thy turn; and dread to meddle with matters of everlasting concern­ment without a serious Spirit;Dissoluti est hominis in re­bus s [...]riis quae­rere volupta­tem. Arnob. read not ano­ther line till thou have sighed out this request, Lord keep me from trifling with the things of Eternity. Charge thy soul to consider, that what thou art now reading must be added to thy account against the great day. 'Tis ama­zing to think with what vanity of mind the most weighty things of Religion are entertain­ed amongst Christians. Things that should swallow up our souls, drink up our Spirits, are heard as a tale that is told, disregarded by most, scorned by too many. What can be spoken so important, or of so tremendous consequence, or of so confessed truth, or with so awful solemnity, and premised mention of the sacred name of the Lord, as not to find either a very slight entertainment or contemp­tuous rejection? and this by persons avowing themselves Christians! We seem to have lit­tle or no advantage in urging men upon their own principles, and with things they most readily and professedly assent to. Their hearts [Page 187] are as much untouch't, and void of impression by the Christian Doctrine, as if they were of another Religion. How unlike is the Chri­stian world to the Christian Doctrine! The seal is fair and excellent, but the impression is languid or not visible. Where is that serious godliness, that heavenliness, that purity, that spirituality, that righteousness, that peace un­to which the Christian Religion is most aptly designed to work and form the Spirits of men? we think to be saved by an empty name, and glory in the shew and appearance of that, the life and power whereof we hate and deride. 'Tis a reproach with us not to be called a Chri­stian, and a greater reproach to be one. If such and such Doctrines obtain not, in our professed Belief, we are Hereticks or Infidels: if they do, in our practice, we are precisians, and fools. To be so serious, and circumspect, and strict, and holy, to make the practice of god­liness so much our business, as the known and avowed principles of our Religion do plainly exact from us (yea though we come, as we cannot but do, unspeakably short of that re­quired measure) is to make ones self a com­mon derision and scorn. Not to be professedly religious is barbarous, to be so in good earnest ridiculous. In other things men are wont to act and practise according to the known Rules of their several Callings, and Professions; and he would be reckon'd the common fool of the neighbour-hood, that should not do so. The Husbandman that should sow when others reap, or contrive his Harvest into the depth of [Page 188] Winter, or sow Fitches, and expect to reap Wheat; The Merchant that should venture abroad his most precious Commodities in a leaky bottom, without Pilot, or Compass; or to places not likely to afford him any valuable return. In Religion only it must be counted absurd to be, and do according to its known agreed Principles, and he a fool that shall but practise as all about him professe to believe. Lord! whence is this apprehended inconsist­ency between the profession and practise of Religion! what hath thus stupify'd, and un­man'd the world! that seriousness in Religion should be thought the character of a fool! that men must visibly make a mockery of the most Fundamental Articles of Faith, onely to save their reputation, and be afraid to be se­rious least they should be thought mad! Were the Doctrine here opened, believed in earnest, [...]cientiam qui [...]idicit, & fa­ [...]enda & vi­ [...]nda percepit, [...]dum sapiens [...] nisi in ea quae [...]dicit transfi­ [...]ratus est ani­ [...]s. Sen. Ep. [...]4. were the due proper impresse of it upon our Spirits, or (as the Pagan Moralists expression is) were our mind transfigured into it; what manner of persons should we be, in all holy conversation and godliness!

But 'tis thought enough to have it in our Creed though never in our hearts, and such as will not deride the holiness it should produce, yet indeavour it not; nor go about to apply and urge truths upon their own souls to any such purpose. What should turn into Grace, and Spirit, and Life, turns all into Notion and Talk; and men think all is well, if their head be fill'd, and their tongues tipt, with what should transform their souls and govern [Page 189] their lives. How are the most awful Truths and that should have greatest power upon mens Spirits, trifled with as matters only of speculati­on, and discourse! They are heard but as empty airy words, and presently evaporate, pass a­way into words again;Non prodest cibus, nec cor­pori accedit, qui statim sum­ptus emittitur. Sen Epist. [...] Epitlet. like food (as Seneca speaks) ‘that comes up presently, the same that it was taken in; which (as he saith) profits not, nor makes any accession to the body at all.’ A like case (as another inge­niously speaks) ‘as if sheep when they have been feeding should present their Shepherds with the very grass it self which they have cropt, and shew how much they had eaten. No saith he, they concoct it, and so yield them Wool and Milk. And so (saith he) do not you (viz. when you have been instru­cted) presently go and utter words among the more ignorant’ (meaning they should not do so in a way of ostentation to shew how much they knew more than others) ‘but works that follow, upon the concoction of what hath been by words made known to them.’ (Let Christians be ashamed that they need this in­struction from heathen Teachers.)

Thy words were found and I did eat them (saith the Prophet) and thy word was to me the joy, and rejoycing of my heart. Divine truth is only so far at present grateful, or useful for future, as 'tis received by faith and consideration, and in the love thereof into the very heart, and there turned (in succum & sanguinem) into real nutriment to the soul: So shall man live by the word of God. Hence is the application of [Page 190] it (both personal and ministerial) of so great necessity.

If the Truths of the Gospel were of the same alloy, with some parts of Philosophy, whose end is attained as soon as they are known▪ If the Scripture Doctrine (the whole entire Sy­stem of it) were not a Doctrine after godli­ness, if it were not designed to sanctifie and make men holy, or if the hearts of men did not reluctate, were easily receptive of its im­pressions, our work were as soon done, as such a Doctrine were nakedly proposed. But the state of the case in these respects is known and evident. The tenour and aspect of Gospel truth speaks its end; and experience too plainly speaks the oppositeness of mens Spirits. All (therefore) we read and hear is lost if it be not urgently apply'd. (The Lord grant it be not then too.)

Therefore, Reader, let thy mind and heart concur in the following improvement of this Doctrine which will be wholly comprehended under these Two heads

  • Inferences of Truth
  • Rules of Duty.

that are conse­quent and con­natural thereto.

1. Inferences of Truth educible from it.

1 1. True Blessedness consists not in any sensual injoyment. The blessedness of a man can be but one; Most onely one. He can have but one highest and best good. And its proper chara­cter is that it finally satisfies and gives rest to his Spirit. This the face and likeness of God doth; his glory beheld and participated. [Page 191] Here then alone his full blessedness must be understood to lye.

Therefore as this might many other wayes be evinced to be true, so it evidently appears to be the proper issue of the present truth; and is plainly proved by it. But alas! it needs a great deal more to be pressed than proved. O that it were but as much considered, as it is known. The experience of almost 6000. years hath (one would think sufficiently) testified the incompetency of every worldly thing to make men happy, that the present pleasing of our senses, and the gratification of our animal part is not blessedness▪ that men are still left un­satisfied notwithstanding. But the practice and course of the world is such, as if this were some late, and rare experiment: which (for curiosity) every one must be trying over a­gain. Every age renews the inquiry after an earthly felicity; the design is intail'd (as the Spanish designs are said to be) and reinforc'd with as great a confidence, and vigor from age to age, as if none had been baffled, or defeat­ed in it before; or that it were very likely to take at last. Had this been the alone folly of the first age, it had admitted some excuse, but that the world should still be cheated by the same so oft-defeated impostures, presents us with a sad prospect, of the deplorable state of mankind.Psal. 49. This their way is their folly, yet their posterity approve, &c. The wearied wits and wa­sted estates, laid out upon the Philosophers stone, afford but a faint defective representation of this case. What Chymistry can extract hea­ven [Page 192] out of a clod of clay? What art can make blessedness spring and grow out of this cold earth? If all created nature be vext and tor­tured never so long, who can expect this E­lixir? Yet after so many frustrated attempts so much time, and strength, and labour lost, men are still as eagerly and vainly busie as ever. Are perpetually tossed by unsatisfied desires; labouring in the [...]ire, wearying them­selves for very vanity, distracted by the un­certain (and often contrary) motions of a ra­venous appetite, and a blind mind; that would be happy, and knows not how. With what sounding bowels, with what compassio­nate tears, should the state of mankind be la­mented, by all that understand the worth of a soul? What serious heart doth not melt, and bleed for miserable men, that are (through a just nemesis Ira d [...]i est ista vita mortalis ubi homo vani­tati similis fa­ctus est & dies ejus velut um­bra pretereunt, &c. Aug. de Civ. Dei l. 21. c. 24.) so perpetually mockt with sha­dows, cheated with false delusive appearances, infatuated and betrayed by their own senses. They walk but in a vain shew, disquieting themselves in vain; their dayes flee away as a shadow, their strength is onely labour and sorrow; while they rise up early, and lye down late, to seek rest in trouble, and life in death. They run away from blessedness while they pretend to pursue it, and suffer them­selves to be led down without regret to perdi­tion; as an ox to the slaughter, and a fool to the correction of the stocks, till a dart strike through their liver. Descend patiently the chambers of death, not so much as once thinking, whe­ther are we going? dream of nothing but an [Page 193] earthly paradise, till they find themselves amidst the infernal regions.

2. The Spirit of man (in as much as 'tis ca­pable of such a blessedness) appears an excellent creature. 2. Inference. Not that this blessednesse can be attain­ed by meer humane in­deavours (more where­of see under the next Infe­rence) but there's an in­clination, a certain po [...]du [...] naturae (as some School-men speak) by which it pro­pends towards it; or there is the radix, or [...]und [...]m [...]ntum, or capacitas (as some o­thers) i. e. that it not on­ly may receive it; but that it may be ele­vated by grace, actively, to concurr, by its natural powers, as vital prin­ciples, towa [...]ds the attainment of it, according to that known saying of Saint Aug. P [...]sse credero naturae est hominis, &c. Its natural capacity is supposed; for the Psalmist speaks of his own numerical per­son the same that then writ; I shall behold; shall be satisfied take away this supposition: and it could not be so said; or, as in J [...]b's words; I shall behold him, and not another for me; It would certainly be another not the same. Judge hence the excellency of an humane soul (the principal subject of this blessedness) without addition of any new natural powers, 'tis capable of the vision of God; of partaking, unto satisfaction, the divine likeness. And is not that an excellent creature, that is capable, not onely of surveying the creation of God, passing through the several ranks, and orders of created Beings; but of ascending to the Be­ing of beings, of contemplating the divine ex­cellencies, of beholding the bright and glori­ous face of the blessed God himself; till it have lookt it self into His very likeness, and have his intire image inwrought into it.

The dignity, then, of the Spirit of man is not to be estimated by the circumstances of its present state; as 'tis, here, clad with a [...]or­did flesh, inwrapt in darkness, and gravelling in the dust of the earth; but consider the im­proveableness of its natural powers, and fa­culties; [Page 194] the high perfections it may attain, and the foundations of how glorious a state are laid in its very nature. And then who can tell whether its possible advancement is more to be admired, or its present calamity deplor'd. Might this consideration be permitted to settle, and fix it self in the hearts of men; could any thing be so grievious to them, as their so vast distance from such an attainable blessedness: or any thing so industriously avoided so earn­estly abhorred, as that viler dejection and abasement of themselves, when they are so low already by Divine disposition, to de­scend lower by their own wickedness; When they are already fallen as low as Earth, to precipitate themselves as low as Hell. How generous a disdain should that thought raise in mens spirits, of that vile servitude to which they have subjected themselves, a ser­vitude to brutal lusts, to sensual inclinations, and desires; as if the highest happiness they did project to themselves were the satisfaction of these! Would they not with an heroick scorn, turn away their eyes from beholding va­nity, did they consider their own capacity of beholding the divine glory? could they satis­fie themselves to becomeVoluptas bonū [...] est—H [...]c tu (no [...] dico [...]ter vi [...]os s [...]d) inter ho­mines nume­ras? cujus [...] bo­num [...], ac [...], ac [...] cons [...]? exced [...]t ex hoc anima [...]um nu­mero pulch cri­m [...], ac dus se­cu [...]do; [...] Sen. Ep. 91. like the beasts that pe­rish. did they think of being satisfied with the likeness of God. And who can conceive unto what degree this aggravates the sin of man, that he so little minds (as it will their misery, that shall fall short of) this blessedness! They had spirits capable of it. Consider thou sensual man whose happiness lies in Colours, and Tasts, [Page 195] and Sounds (as the Moralist ingeniously speaks) that herd'st thy self with bruit creatures, and aimest no higher then they; as little lookest up, and art as much a stranger to the thoughts and desires of Heaven; thy Creation did not set thee so low; they are where they were; but thou art fall'n from thy excellency. God did not make thee a brute Creature, but thou thy self. Thou hast yet a spirit about thee, that might understand its own originals, and alliance to the Father of Spirits; that hath a designation in its nature to higher converses, and imployments. Many myriads of such spi­rits, of no higher (original) excellen­cy then thy own, are now in the presence of the Highest Majesty; are prying into the eternal glory, contemplating the perfections of the Divine Nature, beholding the [...] un­vailed face of God, which transfuses upon them its own satisfying likeness. Thou art not so low-born, but thou might'st attain this state also. That Soveraign Lord, and Authour of all things, calls thee to it; his goodness in­vites thee, his authority enjoyns thee, to turn thy thoughts, and designs this way. Fear not to be thought immodest or presumptuous; Hic Deos aeq [...]a [...], illò ten­dit, originis suâ memor. Ne­mo, impro è eò co [...]atur ascen­dere unde de­sc [...]nderat—so­c [...]i eis sumus & memb [...]a, &c. Sen Ep. 92. 'tis but a dutiful ambition; an obedient aspiring. Thou art under a Law to be thus happy; nor doth it bind thee to any natural impossibility; it designs instruction to thee, not delusion; guidance, not mockery. When thou art required to apply, and turn thy Soul to this blessedness; 'tis not the same thing, as if thou wert bidden to remove a Mountain, [Page 196] to pluck down a Star, or create a World. Thou art here, put upon nothing but what is agreeable to the primaeval nature of man; and though it be to a vast heighth, thou must ascend; 'tis by so easie, and familiar Methods, by so apt Gradations, that thou wilt be sensible of no violence done to thy nature, in all thy way. Do but make some trials with thy self; thou wilt soon find, nothing is thy hindrance, [...]ut an unwilling heart. Try however (which will suffice to let thee discern thy own capa­city, and will be a likely means to make thee willing) how far thou canst understand, and trace the way (complying with it, at least as reasonable) that leads to this blessedness. Re­tire a little into thy self; forget a while thy re­lation to this sensible world. Summon in thy self [...]reflecting and considering powers. Thou wilt presently perceive thou art not already happy, thou art in some part unsatisfied; and thence will easily understand, in as much as thou art not happy in thy self, that it must be something, as yet, without thee, must make thee so; and nothing can make thee happy, but what is, in that respect, better then thy self; or hath some perfection in it, which thou findest wanting to thy self. A little further discourse or reasoning with thy self, will easily perswade thee, thou hast something better about thee, then that luggage of flesh thou goest with to and fro; for thou well knowest, that [...]. Plotin. Ennead. 4. lib. 3. is not capable of reason, and discourse; and that [Page 197] the power of doing so is an higher perfection then any thou canst entitle it to; and that therefore besides thy bulkie material part, thou must have such a thing as a spirit, or soul belonging to thee; to which, that, and thy other perfections (not competible to gross mat­ter) may agree. Thou wilt readily assent; that thou canst never be happy, while thy bet­ter, and more noble part is unsatisfied; and that it can only be satisfied with something sutable and connatural to it. That therefore thy happiness must lie in something more ex­cellent then this material, or sensible world, otherwise it cannot be grateful and sutable to thy soul, yea in something that may be better, and more excellent then thy soul it self, other­wise how can it better, and perfect thatSicut noa est à carne, sed lu­pe [...] carn [...]m, q [...]od carnem fac [...]t v [...]vert: sic non est [...], sed super homi [...]m q [...]u [...] hominem sacit [...] v [...]v [...]re. D. Aug de Ci­vit. Dei lib 19. c. 25.. As thou canst not but acknowledge thy soul to be spiritual, and immaterial, so, if thou attend, thou wilt soon see cause to acknowledge a spi­ritual, or immaterial being, better and more perfect then thy own soul. For its perfecti­ons were not self-original, they were therefore derived from something, for that reason, con­fessedly, more excellent, whence at last also thou wilt find it unavoidably impos'd upon thee, to apprehend, and adore a being a [...]s [...] ­lutely perfect; and then which, there cannot be a more perfect; the first subject, and com­mon fountain of all perfections; which hath them, underived in himself, and can derive them unto inferiour created beingsUt in ord [...]ne causarum [...]ffi­ci [...]ntium, ita & in gradi us vir­tut [...]s & pe [...]f [...] ­ctionis, non da­tur prog [...]ess [...]s [...]a infi [...]i [...]um: sed oportet sit ali­qua p [...]m [...] & summa perfe­ctio. P. Molin. de cognitione Dei. Not to insist upon what hath been much urged by learned men of former, and latter (yea & of the pre­sent) time [that whoso­ever denies the existence of an absolute perfect being, contradicts himself in the denial, inasmuch as n [...]cessity of existence is included in the very subject of the neg [...]tion.] some accounting it a Sophisme, and it being unseasonable here to dis­cuss it.). Upon this [Page 198] eternal, and self-essential being, the infinitely blessed God; thou necessarily dependest and owest, therefore, constant subjection, and obe­dience to him. Thou hast indeed offended him; and art thereby cut off from all inter­est in him, and intercourse with him; but he hath proclaimed in his Gospel, his willing­ness to be reconciled, and that, through the sufferings, righteousness, and intercession of his only begotten Son, thy merciful Redeem­er, the way is open for thy restitution, and recovery; that thou may'st partake from him what ever perfection is wanting to thy blessedness. Nothing is required from thee in order hereunto, but that relying on, and submitting to thy Redeemers gracious con­duct, thou turn thy mind and heart towards thy God, to know him, and conform to him; to view, and imitate the Divine perfections; the faithful indeavour, and inchoation whereof, will have this issue, and reward; the clear vi­sion, and full participation of them. So that thy way, and work differ not, in nature, and kind, from thy end, and reward; thy duty from thy blessedness. Nor are either repug­nant to the natural constitution of thy own soul. What violence is there done to rea­sonable nature in all this? or what can hinder thee herein, but a most culpable averse, and wicked heart. Did thy reason ever turn off thy soul from God? was it not thy corruption only? What vile images dost thou receive from earthly objects, which deform thy soul, while thou industrio [...]sly avertest thy Makers [Page 199] likeness, that would perfect it? How full is thy mind, and heart of vanity? how empty of God? were this through natural incapacity, thou wert an innocent creature; it were thy infelicity (negative I mean) not thy crime; and must be resolved into the Soveraign will of thy Creator, not thy own disobedient will. But when this shall appear, the true state of thy case, and thou shalt hear it from the mouth of thy Judge.

Thou didst not like to re­tain me in thy knowledge or love; thou hadst reason & will, to use about meaner objects, but none for me; thou couldest sometimes have spared me a glance, a cast of thine eye at least, when thou didst rather chuse it should be in the ends of the Earth. A thought of me had cost thee as little, might as soon have been thought, as of this or that vanity; but thy heart was not with me. I banish thee, there­fore, that presence which thou never loved'st. I deny thee the vision thou didst always shun, and the impressions of my likeness which thou didst ever hate. I eternally abandon thee to the darkness, and deformities which were ever grateful to thee. Thine is a self created hell; the fruit of thy own choice; no invitations or perswasions on mine could keep thee from it. How wilt thou excuse thy fault, or avert thy doom! what Arguments or Apologies, shall defend thy cause, against these pleadings. Nay what Armour shall defend thy Soul, against its own wounding self-reflections hereupon? When every thought shall be a Dart; and a convicted Conscience, an ever gnawing [Page 200] Worm; a fiery Serpent; with endless involu­tions, ever winding about thy heart?

It will now be sadly thought on, how often thou saw'st thy way, and declin'dst it, know'st thy duty, and did'st wave it; understood'st thy interest, and did'st flight it; approvd'st the things that were more excellent, and did'st reject them. How often thou did'st prevari­cate with thy light, and run counter to thy own eyes; while things, confessedly, most worthy of thy thoughts, and pursuits, were overlook't; and empty shadows eagerly pur­su'd. Thy own heart will now feelingly tell thee, it was not want of capacity, but inclinati­on that cut thee off from blessedness. Thou wilt now bethink thy self, that when life, and immortality were brought to light before thy eyes, in the Gospel; and thou wast told of this future blessedness of the Saints, and prest to follow ho­liness, as without which thou couldst not see God; it was a reasonable man was spoken to, that had a power to understand, and judge, and chuse; not a stone or a brute, Thy capacitie of this blessed­ness makes thee capable also of the most exqui­site torment, and re [...]lected on, actually infers it. How passionately (but vainly) wilt thou then cry out, ‘O that I had fil'd up the place of any the meanest Creature throughout the whole Creation of God, that I had been a G [...]at, or a Fly, or had never been rather, then to have so noble, abused pow­ers eternally to reckon for▪’ Yea and thou must reckon for not onely the actu­al light, and good impressions thou had'st, [Page 201] but even all thou wast capable of, and mightst have attained. Thou shalt now recount with anguish, and horror (and rend thy own Soul with the thoughts) what thou mightest now have been; how excellent and glorious a crea­ture! hadst thou not contriv'd thy own misery and conspir'd with the Devil, against thy self, how to deform, and destroy thy own Soul. While this remembrance shall alwayes a fresh return, that nothing was injoyned thee as a duty; or propounded, as thy blessedness; but what thou wast made capable of, and that it was not fatal necessity, but a wilful choice made thee miserable.

CHAP. XII.

Inference. 3. That a change of heart is ne­cessary to this blessedness. The pretences of ungodly men whereby they would avoid the necessity of this change. Five conside­rations proposed in order to the detecting the vanity of such pretences. A particu­lar discussion and refutation of those pre­tences.

3. 'TIs a mighty change must p [...]sse upon the Souls of men in order to their enjoy­ment of this Blessedness. 3. Inference. This equally follows from the consideration of the Nature and substantial parts of it, as of the qualifying righteousness prerequired to it. A lit­tle [Page 202] reflection upon the common state and tem­per of mens spirits, will soon inforce an ac­knowledgement that the Vision of God, and conformity to him are things above their reach, and which they are never likely to take satis­faction in, or at all to savour; till they become otherwise disposed then, before the renovating change, they are. The text expresses no more in stating the qualified subject of this blessedness [in righteousness] then it evidently implies in the account it gives of this blessedness it self, that it lies [in seeing God and being satisfied with his likeness.] Assoon as it is considered that the blessedness of Souls is stated here, what can be a more obvious reflection then this, Lord! then how great a change must they un­dergo! what! such Souls be blessed in seeing and pertaking the Divine likeness that never loved it? were so much his enemies? 'Tis true they are naturally capable of it, which speaks their original excellencie, but they are moral­ly uncapable. i. e. indisposed and averse which as truly, and most sadly speaks their present vile­ness; and the sordid object temper they now are of. They are destitute of no natural Powers necessary to the attainment of this blessedness; but in the mean time have them so depraved,Capax est nos­ter [...] p [...] ­fectur illo, si [...] dep [...]i­ma [...]t. by impure, and vitious tinctures; that they cannot relish it or the means to it. They have reasonable Soul's, furnished with intellective, and elective faculties;Sen. Epist 92. but labouring under a manifold distemper and disaffection; that they cannot receive, 1 Cor 2. 14. they cannot savour, the things of God,R [...]m▪ 8. [...]. or what is Spiritual. They want the [...] [Page 203] (as we may express it,) the well disposed­ness for the Kingdom of God intimated Luke 9. 62. the [...], the meetness, the aptitude, or idoneity for the inheritance of the Saints in light. Col. 1. 12.

A settled aversion from God hath fastned its roots in the very spirit of their minds (for that is stated as the prime subject of the change to be made) and how can they take pleasure,Eph. 4 23. then, in the vision and participation of his glory? whereas, by beholding the glory of the Lord, they should be changed into the same image; a vail is upon the heart till it turn to the Lord, as was said concerning the Jews. 2 Cor. 3. The God of this world hath blinded their minds least (that transforming light) the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. Chap. 4. 4. They are alienated from the Life of God through their ignorance,Eph. 4 18. and blindness of heart. The life they chuse is to be [...], Atheists, or without God in the world. Chap. 2. 12. They like not to retain God in their knowledge,Rom 1 28. are willingly ignorant of him.2 Pet. 3. Say to him depart from us we desire not the knowledge of thy wayes.Job 21. 14. The Lord looks down from Heaven upon the children of men to see if any will understand,Psal 53. if any will seek after God, and the result of the inquiry is, there is none that doth good no not one.Joh. 15. They are haters of God, as our Savi­our accused the Jews,Rom. 1. and Saint Paul the Gen­tiles. Are lovers of pleasure more then lovers of God. Their understandings are dark, their minds vain, their wills obstinate, their Con­sciences [Page 204] seared, their hearts hard and dead, their lives one continued Rebellion against God and a defiance to Heaven. At how vast distance are such Souls from such blessedness! The notion and nature of blessedness must sure be changed, or the temper of their Spirits. Either they must have new hearts created, or a new Heaven, if ever they be happy. And such is the stupid dotage of vain man, he can more easily perswade himself to believe, that the Sun it self should be transformed into a dunghill, that the Holy God should lay aside his Nature, and turn Heaven into a place of impure darkness; then that he himself should need to undergo a change. O ye powerful in­fatuation of self love, that men in the gall of bitterness should think 'tis well with their spirits, and fancie themselves in a case good enough, to enjoy Divine pleasures; that (as the Toads venome offends not it self) their loathsom wickedness, which all good men detest, is a pleasure to them, and while 'tis as the poison of Asps under their lips, they call it as a daintie bit, revolve it in their thoughts with delight. Their wickedness speakes it self out to the very hearts of others, while it never affects their own; Psal. 36. 1, [...]. and is found out to be hateful while they still continue slattering themselves. And because they are without spot in their own eyes; they adventure so high, as to presume them­selves so, in the pure eyes of God too; and in­stead of designing to be like God, they already imagine him suc [...] a one as themselves. Hence their allotment of time (in the whole of it,Psal. 50▪ [Page 205] the Lord knowes, little enough) for the work­ing out of their salvation, spends a pace; while they do not so much as understand their business. Their measured hour is almost out; an immense Eternity is coming on upon them; and lo they stand as men that cannot find their hands. Urge them to the speedy serious indea­vour of an heart-change; earnestly to intend the business of regeneration, of becoming new creatures; they seem to understand it as little, as if they were spoken to in an un­known tongue; and are in the like posture with the confounded builders of Babel, they know not what we mean, or would put them upon. They wonder what we would have them do.They are (say they) Orthodox Christians. They believe all the Articles of the Chri­stian Creed. They detest all Heresie, and false Doctrine; They are no strangers to the house of God, but diligently attend the in­joyned Solemnities of Publick Worship: Some possibly can say they are sober, just, Charitable, Peaceable; and others that can boast lesse of their Vertues yet, say they, are sorry for their sins, and pray God to forgive them; And if we urge them concerning their Translation from the state of Nature, to that of Grace; their becoming new creatures, their implantation into Christ. They say they have been Baptized, and therein regenerate, and what would we have more?’

But to how little purpose is it to equivocate with God? to go about to put a fallacy upon the Judge of Spirits? or escape the animad­version [Page 206] of his fiery flaming eye, or elude his determinations, and pervert the true intent and meaning of his most established Constitu­tions and Laws.

Darest thou venture thy soul upon it? that this is all God means,Psal. 51. by having a new heart created, a right Spirit renewed in us, by being made Gods workmanship, Eph. 2. 10. created in Christ Jesus unto good works: 2 Cor. 5. 17. by becoming new creatures, old things being done away, all things made new: by so learning the truth as it is in Jesus, Eph. 4. 23, 24. to the putting off the old man—and putting on the new; which after God is created in righteousness and true holi­ness; Jam 1. 18. by being begotten of Gods own will by the word of truth, to be (the [...]) the chief ex­cellency, the prime glory (as certainly his new creature is his best creature) the first fruits, or the devoted part, of all his creatures; by having Christ formed in us; Gal. 4. 19. by partaking the divine nature, the incorruptible seed; the seed of God, 2 Pet. 1 4. by being born of God, Spirit of Spi­rit, 1 Pet. 1. as of earthly parents we are born flesh of flesh. John 3. 6. When my eternal blessedness lies upon it, had I not need to be sure, that I hit the true meaning of these Scriptures? especially that, at least, I fall not below it, and rest not in any thing short of what Scripture makes in­dispensably necessary to my entring into the Kingdom of God?

I professedly wave controversies, and 'tis pity so practical a business, as this I am now upon, and upon which Salvation so much de­pends, should ever have been incumbred with any controversie. And therefore (though I shall [Page 207] not degress so far as to undertake a particular and distinct handling, here, of this work of God upon the soul, yet) I shall propound something in general, touching the change ne­cessarily previous to this blessedness, (where­in that necessity is evidenceable from the na­ture of this blessedness, which is the business I have in hand) that, I hope, will pass among Christians for acknowledged truth, not liable to dispute, though the Lord knows it be little considered. My design being rather to a­waken souls to the consideration of known and agreed things, than to perplex them about un­known. Consider therefore.

First; that the holy Scriptures, in the foremen­tioned 1 and other like passages, do plainly hold forth the necessity of a real change, to be made in the inward temper, and dispositions of the soul; and not a relative only, respecting its state. This cannot be doubted by any, that acknowledge a real, inherent depravation, propagated in the nature of man. No, nor denyed by them that grant such a corruption to be general, and continued among men; whether by imitation only, or what way soever. And willing I am, to meet men upon their own principles, and concessions, however erroneous, or short of the truth they may be, while they are yet im­provable to their own advantage. Admit that regeneration, or the new birth includes a change of our relation and state God-ward; doth it there­fore exclude an intrinsique subjective change of the inclinations and tendencies of the Soul? And if it did yet other termes, are more pecu­liarly, [Page 208] appropriate to, and most expressly point out, this very change alone; As that of conver­sion, or of turning to God; of being renewed in the spirit of the mind; of putting off the old man that is corrupt by &c. and putting on the new man which is created in righteousness, and true holiness &c. of partaking the Divine nature; It matters not if this or that expression be understood, by some, more principally in another sense, the thing it self, of which we speak, is as clearly expressed, and as urgently pressed (as there was cause) as any other matter whatsoever throughout the whole Book of God. But men are slower of belief, as to the great Article of the Christian Doctrine, then to most (I might say, any) o­ther. This Truth more directly assaults the strong holds of the Devil, in the hearts of men; and is of more immediate tendency to subvert his Kingdom; Therefore they are most unwill­ing to have it true, and most hardly believe it. Here they are so madly bold, as to give the lie to all Divine Revelations; and though they: are never so plainly told without holiness none shall see God, they will yet maintain the con­trary belief, and hope; till, go ye cursed, vin­dicate the Truth of God, and the flames of Hell be their Eternal confutation. Lord! that so plain a thing will not enter into the hearts of men; that so urgent inculcations will not yet make them apprehend, that their Souls must be renewed, or perish! That they will still go dreaming on, with that mad conceit that (whatever the Word of God says to the contra­ry) they may yet with unsanctified hearts get to [Page 209] Heaven! How deplorable is the case, that when men have no other hope left them, but that the God of truth will prove false, & belie his word; yea, and overturn the nature of things, to save them in their sins! Thou that livest under the Gospel, hast thou any pretence for thy (seem­ing) ignorance in this matter? couldst thou ever look one quarter of an hour into the Bible, and not meet with some intimation of this truth? What was the ground of thy mistake? What hath beguiled thee into so mischievous a delusi­on: How could such an imagination have place in thy soul; that a Child of wrath by nature, could become a Child of God without receiving a new nature? That so vast a change could be made in thy state, without any at all in the temper of thy Spirit?

Secondly, consider, That this change is, in its own 2 nature, and the design of God, who works it, disposi­tive of the soul for blessedness. 'Tis sufficiently evi­dent, from the consideration of the state it self, of the unrenewed soul, that a change is necessa­ry for this end; such a soul in which it is not wrought when once its drowsie, stupifying slum­ber is shaken off, & its reflecting power awaken­ed, must needs be a perpetuall torment to it self. So far it is remov'd from blessedness, it is its own Hell, and can flie from misery & death no faster then from it self. Blessedness composes the soul, reduces it to a consistancie; it infers (or rather is) a self-satisfaction; a well-pleasedness and con­tentment with one self; in rich't, and fill'd with the divinefulness. [...]. Hence 'tis at rest; not as being pent in, but contentedly dwelling with it self; and keeping within its own bounds of its own accord. The unre­newed [Page 210] soul can no more contain it self within its own termes, or limits; is as little self con­sistent, as a raging flame, or an impetuous tempest. Indeed its own lusts perpetually (as so many vultures) rend and tear it; and the more, when they want external objects. Then (as hunger) their fury is all turned inward; and they prey upon intestines; upon their own subject; but unto endless torment, not satis­faction. In what posture is this soul for rest and blessedness.

The nature of this change, sufficiently speakes its own design. 'Tis an introduction of (the primordia) the very principles of blessedness.

And Scripture as plainly speaks the design of God. He regenerates to the undefiled inheritance. Makes meet for it; 1 Pet. 1 [...] 4. works, formes, or fashions the soul unto that self same thing, Col 1. 12. viz. to desire & groan after that blessed state; 2 Cor. 5 5. and consequently to ac­quiesce and rest therein. Therefore, vain man, that dreamest of being happy without under­going such a change; how art thou trying thy skill to abstract a thing from it self. For the prerequired righteousness whereunto thou must be changed, and this blessedness are in kind, and nature the same thing; as much as a Child, and a man. Thou pretendest thou would'st have that perfected, which thou canst not indure, should ever be begun: Thou set­test thy self to prevent and suppresse what, in its own nature, and by Divine Ordination tends to the accomplishment of thy own pre­tended desires. Thou wouldst have the Tree, without ever admitting the Seed, or Plant. [Page 211] thou wouldst have heat, and canst not indure the least warmth; so besotted a thing is a car­nal heart!

Thirdly, That, in as much as this blessedness 3 consists in the satisfactory sight, and participation of Gods own likeness, unto whom the soul is ha­bitually averse, This change must chiefly stand in its becoming holy or godly, or in the alteration of its dispositions and inclinations, as to God. Other­wise the design, and end of it is not attained. We are required to follow peace with all men (but here the accent is put) and holiness, Heb. 12 14. with­out which no man shall see God, Heb. 12. 14. 'Tis therefore a vain thing, in reference to what we have now under consideration, viz. the possibility of attaining this blessedness; to speak of any other changes that fall short of, or are of another kind from, the right disposition of heart Godward. This change, we are now con­sidering, is no other then the proper adequate impress of the Gospel-discovery, upon mens spirits, (as we have largely shewn the righte­ousness is, in which it terminates.) The sum of that discovery is▪ [That God is in Christ recon­ciling the world unto himself] The proper im­press of it,2 Cor. 5 18 19. therefore, is the actual reconcilia­tion of the soul to God, through Christ; a friendly well affected posture of Spirit towards God our last end, and highest good; and towards Christ, our only way (since the Apostacy) of attaining and injoying it. To rest therefore in any other good dispositions, or indowments of mind, is as much besides the business, as impertinent to the present purpose, as if [Page 212] one design'd to the Government of a City, should satisfie himself that he hath the skill to play well on a Lute; or he that intends Phisick, that he is well seen in Architecture. The general Scope and Tenor of the Gospel tells thee, O man, plainly enough, what the business is thou must intend (if thou wilfully overlook it not) in order to thy blessedness. 'Tis writ­ten to draw thee into fellowship with the Father and the Son, that thy joy may be full. 1 Joh. 1. 1, 2, 3, 4. It aimes at the bringing of thee into a state of blessedness in God through Christ; and is therefore the in­strument by which God would forme thy heart thereto. The seal by which to make the first impression of his image upon thee. Which will then as steadily incline, and determine thy soul towards him; as the magnetique touch ascertains the posture of the Needle; wherefore doth he, there discover his own heart; but to melt and win, and transform thine. The w [...]rd of grace is the seed of the new Creature. Through the exceeding great and pre­cious promises, he makes souls partake of the divine nature. Grace is, firstly, reveal'd, to teach the de­nial of ungodliness, &c. Turn thy thoughts hither then, and consider, what is there done upon thy soul, by the Gospel, to attemper and conform it to God? wherein hath thy heart answered this its visible design; and intend­ment? Thou art but in a delirious dream till thou seriously bethinkest thy self of this. For, otherwise, how can the aversion of thy heart from him escape thy daily observation; thou canst not be without evidences of it; what [Page 213] pleasure dost thou take in retiring thy self with God? what care to redeem time onely for con­verse with him? had'st thou not rather be any where else? In a time of vacancy from bu­siness, and company; when thou hast so great a variety of things before thee, among which to chuse an object for thy thoughts, do they not naturally fall upon any thing rather then God! Nor do thou think to shift off this, by as­signing the mear natural cause; for if there were not somewhat more in the matter, why is it not so with all? He, upon whom this change had passed,Psal. 36. 5, 6. could say; My soul shall be satis­fied as with marrow and fatness; Psal. 104 34. and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lip [...], when I remember thee upon my bed, Psal. 139 17, 18. and meditate on thee in the night watches. My meditation of him shall be [...]; I will be glad in the Lord. Isa. 16. 8, 9. How precious are thy thoughts unto me, O God, how great is the sunt of them? If I should count them, they are more in number then the sand; when I wake, I am still with thee. Yea, in the way of thy judgment, O God, have we waited for thee, the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. With my Soul have I desired thee in the night, yea with my spirit within me will I s [...]ck thee early, &c. Therefore, plain it is, there is a sinful distem­per to be wrought out, an ungodly disposition of heart; which it concerns thee not to rest, till thou see removed.

Fourthly, Consider, that to become godly; or 4 this change of inclinations, and dispositi [...]ns towards God, is that which of all other, the soul doth most strongly reluctate and strive against; and [Page 214] which therefore it undergoes with greatest difficulty and reget. 'Tis an horrid and amazing thing it should be so, but Scripture, and experience leave it undoubted that so it is. What! that the highest Excellency, the most perfect Beau­ty, Loveliness, and Love it self should so little attract a reasonable Spiritual being that issued thence? His own off-spring so unkind! what more then monstrous unnaturalness is this, so to disaffect ones own Original! 'Twere easie to accumulate, and heap up considerations that would render this astonishingly strange. So things are reckon'd upon several accounts, ei­ther as they are more rare, and unfrequent (which is the vulgar way of estimating won­ders) or as their causes, are of more difficult investigation; or (if they are moral won­ders) as they are more unreasonable, or cause­less; upon this last account, Christ marvelled at the Jews unbelief; And so is this hatred just­ly marvellous;Mark 6. 6. as being altogether without a cause. Joh 15. 25.

But thence to infer there is no such thing, were to dispute against the Sun. No truth hath more of light and evidence in it, though none more of [...]rr [...]ur and prodigie. To how many thousand objects is the mind of man indiffe­rent? can turn it self to this or that; run with facility all points of the Compass, among the whole universe of beings; but assay, only, to draw it to God, and it recoiles: Thoughts, and affe­ctions revolt, and decline all converse with that blessed object! Toward other objects it freely opens, and dilates it self, as under the [Page 215] benign beams of a warm Sun: there are placid, complacential emotions; amicable sprightly converses and imbraces. Towards God only, it is presently contracted, and shut up. Life retires, and it becomes as a stone, cold [...]rigid, and impenetrable. The quite contrary to what is required (which also those very pre­cepts do plainly imply) 'tis alive to sin, to the world,Rom. 6. 11. to vanity, but crucified, mortified, dead to God, and Jesus Christ.

The natures of many men that are harsh, fierce, and savage, admit of various cultivati­ons, and refinings; and by moral precept, the exercise, and improvement of reason, with a severe animadversion, and observance of them­selves, they become mild, tractable, gentle, meek. (The story of the Physiognamists guess at the temper of Socrates is known) but of all other, the disaffected soul is least inclinable ever to become good natur'd towards God, wherein grace, or holiness doth consist. Here 'tis most unperswadable, never facile to this change. One would have thought no affecti­on should have been so natural, so deeply in­wrought into the spirit of man, as an affection towards the Father of Spirits; but here, he most of all discovers himself to be without na­tural [...]ffection, surely here is a sad proof, that such affection doth not ascend.

The whole duty of man as to the principle of it, resolves into love. That is the fulfilling of the Law. As to its object; the two Tables de­vide it between God, and our neighbour. And accordingly divide that love. Upon those two [Page 216] Branches whereof; love to God, and love to our neighbour, hang all the Law and the Pro­phets.

The wickedness of the world hath kil'd this love at the very root; and indisposed the nature of man to all exercises of it, either way, whether towards God, or his neighbour. It hath not only rendred man unmeet for holy communion with God; but in a great measure for civil society with one another. It hath de­stroyed good nature; made men false, envi­ous, barbarous; turn'd the world (especially the dark places of the Earth, where the light of the Gospel shines not) into habitations of cruelty. But who sees not the enmity, and disaffection of mens hearts towards God is the more deeply rooted, and less superable evil?

The beloved Apostle gives us a plain and sad intimation how the case is, as to this; when he reasons thus. He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen; how can he love God, whom he hath not seen?

He argues from the less to the greater; and this is the ground upon which his argument is built: That the loving of God is a matter of greater difficulty, and from which the Spirit of m [...]n is more remote, then the loving of his neigh­bour. And he withall insinuates an account why it is so; Gods remoteness from our sense, which is indeed a cause, but no excuse. For is our so gross sensuality no sin? that nothing should affect our hearts but what we can see with our eyes? as if our sense were the onely [Page 217] measure or judg of excellencies. We are not all flesh, what have we done with our souls? if we cannot see God with our eyes, why do we not with our minds? at least so much of him we might, as to discern his excellency above all things else: How come our souls to lose their dominion, and to be so slavishly subject to a ruling sense? But the reason less concerns our present purpose; that whereof it is the rea­son; that implyed assertion, that men are in a less disposition to the love of God then their neigh­bour, is the sad truth we are now considering. There are certain homilitical vertues, that much adorn and polish the nature of man; Urbanity, Fidelity, Justice, Patience of Injuries, Compassion towards the Miserable, &c. and, indeed, without these, the world would break up, and all civil societies disband; if, at least, they did not in some degree obtain. But in the mean time men are at the greatest distance imaginable from any disposition to society with God. They have some love for one an­other; but none for him. And yet it must be remembred that love to our neighbour, and all the consequent exertions of it, becom­ing dutie by the Divine Law; ought to be per­formed as acts of obedience to God; and therefore ought to grow from the stock and root of a Divine Love; I mean love to God. They are otherwise but Spurious Vertues, Bastard Fruits (men gather not Grapes of Thorns, &c.) they grow from a Tree of another kind, and what ever semblance they may have of the true, they want their constituent form, their [Page 218] life and soul.1 Joh. 3. 14. Though love to the brethren, is made a character of the regenerate state, of having past from death to life; 'Tis yet but a more remote, and is it self brought to trial by this higher, and more immediate one, and which is more intimately connatural to the new crea­ture,Chap. 5▪ 2. even the Love of God; By this we know we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his Commandments. A respect to God Proinde vir­tutes quas sibi videtur habere, nisi ad Deum retulerit, etiam ipsâ vitia sunt potiùs quàm virtutes. Aug▪ de Civit. Dei l. 19. c▪ 25. specifies every Vertue, and Duty. What ever is loved, and served, and not in him, and for him (servato ordine fini [...], as the School-phrase is) becomes an Idol, and that love and ser­vice is Idolatry. And what a discovery is here of disaffection to God; that in the exercise of such the above mentioned vertues, one single act, shall be torn from it self, from its speci­fying moral [...]orm, onely to leave out him. A promise shall be kept, but without any re­spect to God—(for even the promises made to him are broken without any scruple.) That which is anothers, shall be rendred to him; but God shall not be regarded in the business. An alms given, for the Lords sake, left out. That which concerns my neighbour often done, but what concerns God therein, as it were studi­ously omitted. This is what he that runs may read; that though the hearts of men are not to one another as they should; they are much more [...]verse towards God.

Men are easier of acquaintance towards one another, they slide insensibly into each others bosomes; even the most churlish, mo­rose natures are wrought upon by assiduous re­peated [Page 219] kindnesses (gutta cavat lapidem, &c.) as often falling drops at length wear and work into very stones. Towards God their hearts are more impenetrable then Rocks, harder then Adamants. He is seeking with some, an acquaintance all their days: They live their whole age, under the Gospel, and yet are never wonne. They hearken to one another, but are utterly unperswadable towards God; as the deaf Adder that hears not the voice of the Charmer, though charming never so wisely. The clearest Reason, the most powerful Argu­ments, move them not, no nor the most insi­nuative allurements, the sweetest breathings of love.Matth. 13▪ 37. See Psal. 81. 8. to 13. How often would I have gathered thee, as the Hen her Chickens under her wings, and ye would not. Pro. 1. 20. to 24, &c. God draws with the cords of a man, with the bends of love; but they still perversly keep at an unkind distance. Hos. 11. 4.

Men use to believe one another (were there no credit given to each others words, and some mutual confidence in one another, there could be no humane converse, all must affect so­litude, and dwell in Dens, and Desarts as wild beasts) but how incredulous are they of all Divine Revelations? though testified with ne­ver so convincing evidence. [...]ho hath believed our report! The word of the eternal God is re­garded (O amazing wickedness) as we would the word of a Child or a Fool. No sober rational man, but his Narrations, Pro­mises, or Threatnings are more reckon'd of.

Men are more reconcileable to one another, when enemies; more constant, when [Page 219] friends. How often doth the power of a con­quering enemy, and the distress of the con­quered, work a submission on this part, and a remission on that. How often are haughty spirits stoopt, by a series of calamities, and made ductile; proud arrogants formed, by ne­cessity and misery, into humble supplicants, so as to lie prostrate at the feet of a man, that may help, or hurt them; while still the same persons retain indomitable, unyielding spirits towards God, under their most afflictive pres­sures. Though his gracious Nature, and In­finite fulness promise the most certain, and li­beral relief, 'tis the remotest thing from their thoughts to make any address to him. They cry because of the oppression of the mighty, Job. 35▪ but none says where is God my Maker, who giveth songs in the night. Rather perish under their burdens, then look towards God, when his own visible hand is against them, or upon them, and their lives at his mercy; they stand it out to the last breath; and are more hardly humbled then consumed: Sooner burn, then weep, shrivel'd up into ashes, sooner then melted into tears. Scorched with great heat, Rev. 16. yet repent not to give glory to God: Gnaw their tongues for pain, and yet still more disposed to blaspheme, then pray or sue for mercy. Dreadful thought! As to one another, Reconciliations among men are not impossible, or unfrequent; even of mortal enemies, but they are utterly im­placable towards God! yet they often wrong one another, but they cannot pretend God ever did them the least wrong, yea they have [Page 220] liv'd by his bounty all their days. They say to God, depart from us, yet he filleth their houses with good things. So true is the HistoriansTacitus speaking of the hatred of Tiberius, and Augusta, against Ger­manicus, the causes where­of, saith he, were acriores, quia iniquae. observation. Hatred is sharpest where most un­just.

Yea, when there seems at least to have been a reconciliation wrought, are treacheries, Covenant-breakings, revolts, strangeness, so frequent among men towards one another, as from them towards God? How inconsistent with friendship is it, according to common estimate, to be alwayes promising, never performing: upon any, or no occasion to break off intercourses, by unkind alienations, or mutual hostilities; to be morose, reserv'd each towards other. To decline▪ or disaffect each others converse. To shut out one another from their hearts, and thoughts. But how common, and unregretted are these carriages towards the blessed God? It were easie to ex­patiate on this Argument, and multiply In­stances of this greater disaffection. But in a word, what observing person may not see, what serious person would not grieve to see, the barbarous sooner putting on civility; the riotous, sobriety; the treacherous, fidelity; the morose, urbanity; the injurious, equity; the churlish, and covetous; benignity, and charity; then the ungodly man piety, and sin­cere devotedness unto God. Here is the prin­cipal wound and distemper sin hath infected the nature of man with: Though he have suf­fered a universal impairment, he is chiefly prejudic'd in regard of his habitude, and ten­dency [Page 222] towards God; and what concerns the duties of the first Table. Here the breach is greatest, and here is greatest need of repair. True it is an inoffensive winning deportment towards men, is not without its excellency, and necessity too. And it doth indeed, un­sufferably reproach Christianity, and unbe­come a Disciple of Christ; yea it discovers a man not to be led by his Spirit, & so to be none of his, to indulge himself in immoral deport­ments towards men; to be undutiful towards Superiors; unconversable towards equals; oppressive towards Inferiors; unjust towards any. Yet is an holy disposition of heart to­wards God, most earnestly, and in the first place to be indeavoured (which will then draw on the rest) as having in it highest e­quity and excellency; and being of most imme­diate necessity to our blessedness.

5 Fifthly, consider, That there may be some gradual tendencies, or fainter essayes towards god­liness, that fall short of real godliness, or come not up to that thorough change, and determination of heart Godward, that is necessary to the blessed­ness. There may be a returning, but not to the most high, Hos. 7▪ 16. and wherein men may be (as the Prophet immediately subjoyns) like a de­ceitful Bow, not fully bent, that will not reach the mark; They come not home to God. Ma­ny may be almost perswaded; and even within reach of Heaven, not far from the Kingdom of God; may seek to enter, and not be able; their hearts being somewhat inclinable, but more averse; for they can only be unable as they are [Page 223] unwilling. The soul is in no possibility of taking up a complacential rest in God, till it be brought to this, to move toward him Spon­taneously, and with (as it were) a se [...]f motion. And then is it self moved towards God, when its preponderating bent is towards him. As a massie stone that one attempts to displace, if it be heav'd at till it preponderate, it then moves out, by its own weight, otherwise it reverts, and lies where, and as it did before. So 'tis with many mens hearts, all our lifting at them is but the rolling of the returning stone, they are mov'd, but not remov'd: sometimes they are lifted at, in the publique Ministry of the Word, sometimes by a private seasonable admonition, sometimes God makes an afflicti­on his Minister: a danger startles them, a sickness shakes them, and they think to change their course; but how soon do they change those thoughts, and are where they were? what inlightnings and correctio [...]s; what awakenings, and terrours; what remorses, what purposes, what tasts, and relishes do some find in their own hearts, that yet are blasted and come to nothing? How many miserable abortions after travailing pangs and throwes, and fair hopes of an happy birth of the new Creature? Often somewhat is produced that much resembles it, but is not it. No gracious principle, but may have its counterfeit in an un­gracious heart; whence they deceive not others only, but themselves, and think verily they are true converts, while they are yet in their sins. How many wretched souls that lie du­biously [Page 224] strugling a long time, under the con­trary alternate impressions of the Gospel on the one hand, and the present evil world on the other; and give the day to their own sen­sual inclinations at last. In some degree, escape the corruptions of the world, 2 Pet. 1, by the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, but are again intangled, and overcome, so as their latter end is worse then their beginning. Such a man is so far from being advantaged by his former faint inclinations towards God, that he will be found, at last, under this aggravated wick­edness beyond all other men: that when others wandred from God through inadver­tency, and inconsideration; this man will be found to have been his enemy upon delibera­tion, and again the various strivings of his convinced heart to the contrary. This is more eminently victorious and raigning enmity, such a one takes great pains to perish. Alas! 'tis not a slight touch, an overly superficial tincture, some evaned sentiments of piety, a few good thoughts or wishes, that bespeak a new man, a new creature. 'Tis a thorough pre­vailing change, that quite alters the habitual posture of a mans soul; and determines it towards God; so as that the after course of this life may be capable of that denomination, a living to God; a living after the Spirit. That exalts the love of God into that Supremacy in him, that it becomes the governing principle of his life; and the reason and measure of his actio [...]s; that as he loves him above all things else, better then his own life; so he can truly [Page 225] (though possibly sometimes with a doubtful trembling heart) resolve the ordinary course of his daily walking, and practice into that love, as the directive principle of it. I pray, I read, I hear, because I love God. I desire to be just, sober, charitable, meek, patient, because I love God. This is the perfection, and end of the love of God, therefore that must needs be the principle hereof) obedience to his will▪ Herein appears that power of godliness, [...] [...] [...] Chap. 1. 7. de­nied (God knowes) by too many that have the form: The Spirit of love, power, and of a sound mind. That onely is a sound mind, in which such love rules in such power. Is not love to God often pretended by such, that when ever it comes to an actual competitio [...] discover they love their own flesh a g [...]eat deal more; that seldom ever cross their own wills to do his; or hazard their own fleshly inter­est, to promote his interest? we may justly say (as the Apostle, in a case fitly enough re­ducible hi [...]her) how dwells the love of God [...] that man? Notwithstanding such a subdued; ineffectual love to God, such a one shall be denominated, and dealt with as an enemy. 'Tis not likely any man on earth, hates God so perfectly, as those in Hell. And is not eve­ry quality not yet perfect in its kind, and that is yet growing more, and more intense; in the mean time allayed by some degree of its con­trary? Yet that over-mastered degree deno­minates not its subject, nor ought a man from such a supposed love to God, have the name of a [...]over of him. That principle only is capable [Page 226] of denominating the man, that is prevalent and practical, that hath a governing influence on his heart, and life. He in whom the love of God hath not such power and rule, what­ever his fainter inclinations may be, is an un­godly man.

And now, methinks these several conside­rations compared, and weighed together, should contribute something to the settling of right thoughts in the minds of secure sinners, touching the nature and necessity of this heart-change; and do surely leave no place for the forementioned vain pretences that occasioned them.

For (to give you a summary view of what hath been propounded in those foregoing considerations) It now plainly appears, that the holy Scripture requires in him that shall injoy this blessedness; a mighty change of the very tem­per of his soul, as that which must dispose him thereto; and which must therefore chiefly consist, i [...] the right framing of his heart towards God; towards whom it is most fixed averse, and there­fore not easily susceptible of such a change. And that any slighter, or more feeble inclination toward God, will not serve the turn; but such onely where­by the soul is prevalently, and habitually turned to him.

And then what can be more absurd, or un­savory? what more contrary to Christian Do­ctrine, or common Reason? then instead of this necessary heart-change to insist upon so poor a Plea, as that mentioned above, as the onely ground of so great a hope. How empty [Page 227] and frivolous will it appear in comparison of this great Soul-transforming change, if we severally consider the particulars of it.

As for Orthodoxie indoctrinals, 'tis in its self an highly laudible thing, and in respect of the Fundamentals (for therefore are they so called) indispensibly necessary to the blessedness. As that cannot be without holiness, Joh. 17. 17. so nor holiness without truth. But (Besides that this is that which every one pretends to) is every thing which is necessary, sufficient? As to natural ne­cessity (which is that we now speak to) rea­son, an intellectual nature, are also necessary; shall therefore all men, yea, and Devils too be saved?

Besides, are you sure you believe the grand Articles of the Christian Religion? consider a little, The

  • Grounds
  • Effects

of that petended Faith.

First, its grounds, every assent is as the grounds of it are. Deal truly here with thy soul. Can you tell wherefore you are a Christian? what are thy inducements, to be of this Religion? are they not such as are common to thee with them that are of a false Religion? (I am here happily prevented by a worthy AuthorMr. [...] Trial of sin­cere love to Christ., to which I recommend thee, but at the present, a little bethink thy self) Is it not possible thou may'st be a Chri­stian for the same reasons, for which one may be a Jew, or a Mahometan, or a meer P [...]g [...]? as viz. Education, Custome, Law, Example, Outward advantage, &c. Now consider, if [Page 228] thou [...]ind this, upon enquiry to be thy case; the Motives of thy being a Christian, admit of being cast together into this form of rea­soning.

That Religion which a Mans Forefathers were of, which is established by Law, or ge­nerally obtains in the Country where he lives: The Profession whereof, most conduces to, or best consists with his credit, and other outward advantages, that Religion he is to imbrace as the true Religion. But such I find the Chri­stian Religion to be to me. Therefore, &c.

The Proposition, here, is manifestly false; for it contains grounds common to all Religi­o [...]s, publiquely owned, and profest through­out the world; and sure all cannot be true: And hence the conclusion: (though materially considered it be true yet) form [...]lly considered, as a conclusion issuing from such premises, must needs be false; and what then is become of thy Orthodoxie; when as to the formal object of thy Faith thou believest, but as M home­tan [...], and P [...]gans do? when thou art of this Faith, by Fate, or Chance only, not Choice, or rational Inducement?

Next, as to the effects of thy Faith: Let them be inquired into also, and they will certainly bear proportion to the grounds of it. The Gospel is the power of God to salvation to every one th [...]t [...]; Rom. 1. 16. to them that believe it no [...], it [...]gnifies nothing.1 Thes. 2▪ 3. The Word of God received with a Divine Faith, as the Word of God [...] works [...]ttually upon all that so receive [...], i. e. all that believe what such efficacio [...]s [Page 229] workings of it hast thou felt upon thy soul? Certainly its most connaturural effect is that very change of heart, and inclinations God-ward, of which we have been speaking. What is so sutable to the Gospel Revelation, as a good temper of heart Godward? and how absurd it is to introduce the cause, on purpose to ex­clude its genuine inseparable effect? But evident it is (though true Faith cannot) that superficial irrational [...]ssent, in which alone, many glory; may too well consist with a dis­affected heart towards God; and can it then signifie any thing towards thy blessedness? sure to be so a solifidian, is to be a null [...]fidian. Faith not working by love, is not Faith: at least profits nothing.

For thy outward conformity in the solemnities of worship, 'tis imputable to so corrup [...] mot [...]ves, and principles; that the thing it self, ab [...]a­ctively considered, can never be thought cha­racteristical, and distinguishing of the heirs of blessedness. The worst of men, [...] per­form the best of outward duties.

Thy most glorious, loasted vertues, if they grow not from the proper root, love to [...], they are but splendid sins, as above appears, and hath been truly said of old.

Thy repentance is either true, or false, if true, it is that very change of mind and heart, I speak of, and is therefore eminently signa­liz'd by that note 'tis repentance [towards God] If false,Heb 6. God will not be mocked.

For thy Regeneration in [...]; what can it avail thee, as to this blessedness, if the present [Page 230] All worldly evils are willingly endured, and all (such) good things quitted and forsaken for Christs sake, and his Elects. And if the question be ask't (as it was once of Alexander, when so frankly distributing his treasures a­mong his followers) what do you reserve for your self? The resolved Christian makes (with him) that short and brave reply, HOPE. He lives upon things future and unseen. The ob­jects any one converses with most, and in which his life is, as it were, bound up, are suitable to the ruling principle of life in him. They that are after the flesh, do savour the things of the flesh; they that are after the Spirit, Rev. 9. 5. the things of the Spirit. The Principle of the fleshly life, is Sense; The principle of the Spiritual life, is Faith. Sense is a mean, low, narrow, incom­prehensive principle, limited to a point. This Center of Earth; and [...] (this now) of time. It can reach no higher then terrene things; nor further then present things. So bruitish is the life of him that is led by it; wholly confined to matter and time.

But the righteous live by Faith. Their Faith governs, and maintains the life. They stear not their course according to what they see; but according to what they believe. And their daily sustenance is by the same kind of things. Their Faith influences, not their acti­ons only, but their comforts, and enjoyments. They subsist by the things they believe; even invisible, and eternal things. But it is by the intervening exercise of hope, whose ob­ject is the same. The Apostle having told [Page 231] us from the Prophet,Hab. 2. 4. that the just shall live by Faith, presently subjoyns a description' of that Faith they live by;Heb. 10. [...]7. viz. that it is the sustance of things hoped for, Chap. 11. 1. and the evidence of things not seen; it substantiates, and reallizes, evi­dences, and demonstrates those glorious ob­jects so far above the reach, and Sphere of sense. It is constantly sent out to forage in the invisible Regions, for the maintenance of this life. And thence fetches in the provisi­ons upon which hope feeds, to the strengthen­ing of the heart, the renewing of life, and spirits.2 Cor. 4. 16, 8. Our inward man (saith the Apostle) is renewed day by day; while we look, or take aime (which is next in the series of the dis­course for the intervening verse is manifest­ly parenthetical) not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen; for the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen, [...] are eternal. And the word here ren­dred [look] doth plainly signifie the act of hope, as well as that of faith; for it doth not import a meer intuition, or beholding; a taking notice, or assenting onely that there is such things, but a designing, or scoping at them (which is the very word) with an ap­propriative eye; as things that notwithstand­ing their distance, or whatsoever imaginable difficultie, are hoped to be attained to, and en­joyed. And here are evidenly the distinct parts of Faith and Hope in this business; Faith, upon the Authority, and credit of the Divine Word, and Promise, perswades the heart that there is such a glorious state of

[Page 232] Nor is that aversation the lesse culpable for that it is so hardly overcome, but the more. 'Tis an aversation of will; and who sees not that every man is more wicked, ac­according as his will is more wickedly bent? Hence his impotencie or inability to turn to God, is not such as that he cannot turn if he would; but it consists in this, that he is not willing. He affects a distance from God.

Which shews therefore the necessity still of this change. For the possibility of it, and the incouragement (according to the Me­thods wherein God is wont to dispense his Grace) the Sinner hath to hope, and in­deavour it; will more [...]itly fall into conside­ration else where.

CHAP. XIII.

Fourth Inference. That the Soul in which such a change is wrought, restlesly pur­sues it till it be attain'd. Fifth Inference. That the knowing of God, and conformity to him, are satisfying things, and do now in a degree satisfie ac­cording to the measure wherein they are attained. Sixth Inference. That the love of God towards his people is great, that hath de­signed for them so great, and even a sa­tisfying good.

4. 'TIs further to be inferr'd, that a soul 4 wherein such a change is wrought, pursues this blessedness with restless supreme desire, till it attain to the fulness thereof. We have here a plainly-im­plyed description of the posture and tenden­cies of such a soul (even of a sanctified, holy Soul; which had therefore undergone this blessed change) towards this state of blessed­ness. I shall (saith he) be satisfied with thy likeness, q. d. I cannot be satisfied other­wise. We have seen how great a change is ne­cessary to dispose the Soul to this blessedness, which being once wrought, nothing else can now satisfie it. Such a thing is this blessedness [Page 234] (I speak now of so much of it as is previous, and conducing to satisfaction, or of blessedness materially considered, the Divine Glory to be beheld, and participated.) 'Tis of that nature it makes the Soul restless, it lets it not be quiet, after it hath got some apprehension of it, till it attain the full enjoyment. The whole life of such a one, is a continual seeking Gods face. So attractive is this glory of a subject rightly disposed to it. While others crave Corn and Wine, this is the summe of the holy Souls de­sires,Psal. 4. Lord lift thou up the light of thy counte­nance, &c. The same thing is the object of its present desires that shall be of its eternal sa­tisfaction and enjoyment. Psal. 27. This is now its one thing, the request insisted on, to behold the beauty of the Lord, &c. and while in any mea­sure it doth so, yet 'tis still looking for this blessed hope, still hoping to be like him, see him as he is; the expectation of satisfaction in this state implies the restless working of de­sire till then, for what is this satisfaction, but the fulfilling of our desires; the perfecting of the souls motions, in a complacential rest. Mo­tion, and rest do exactly correspond each to other. Nothing can naturally rest in any place, to which it was not before naturally inclin'd to move; and the rest is proportionably more compos'd, and steady, according as the motion was stronger, and more vigorous. By how much the heavier any body is, so much the stronger and less resistible is its motion down­ward, and then accordingly, it is less move­able, when it hath attained its resting place. [Page 235] 'Tis therefore a vanity, and contradiction to speak of the Souls being satisfied, in that which it was not before desirous ofAptitudinal­ly (I mean) and Exhypo­thesi, i. e. sup­posing the knowledge of the object: Otherwise, as to actual ex­plicite desires God doth give us beyond what we can ask or think. But 'tis impos­sible the soul should rest sa­tisfied in that which upon knowledge it is undesi [...]ous of, and d [...]th, or would re­ject.. And that state which it shall ultimately and eternally ac­quiesse in (with a rest that must therefore be understood to be most composed and sedate) towards it must it needs move with the strong­est and most unsatisfied desire, a desire that is supreme, prevalent, and triumphant over all other desires, and over all obstructions to it self, least capable of diversion, or of pitch­ing upon any thing short of the terme aimed at. Ask therefore the holy Soul, What is thy Supreme desire? and so far as it understands it self, it must answer; to see, and partake the di­vine glory; to behold the blessed face of God; till his likeness be transfused through all my powers, and his entire image be perfectly formed in me; present to my view what else you will, I can be sa­tisfied in nothing else but this.

Therefore this leaves a black note upon those wretched souls, that are wholly strangers to such desires; that would be better satisfied to dwell always in dust; that shun the blessed face of God as Hell it self; and to whom the most despicable vanity is a more desirable sight, then that of divine glory. Miserable souls! consider your state, can that be your blessedness which you desire not? or do you think God will receive any into his blessed presence, to whom it shall be a burden? me­thinks, upon the reading of this, you should presently doom your selves, and see your sen­tence written in your breasts, compare your [Page 236] hearts with his holy mans: See if there be any thing like this, in the temper of your Spirits; and never think well of your selves till you find it so.

5. The knowledge of God, Inference. and conformity to him, are, in their own nature, apt to satisfie the de­sires of the soul, and even no [...] actually do so, in the measure wherein they are attained. Some things are not of a satisfying nature; there is nothing tending to satisfaction in them. And then the continual heaping together of such things, doth no more towards satisfaction, then the accumulating of Mathematical Points would towards the compacting of a solid bo­dy; or the multiplication of Ciphers only to the making of a summe. But what shall one day, satisfi, hath in it self a Power, and aptitude thereto. The act (when ever it is) supposes the power. Therefore the hungry craving soul, that would sain be h [...]ppy, but knows not how; needs not spend its dayes in making uncertain guesses, and fruitless attempts, and trials. It ma [...] [...] [...]ts hovering thoughts, and upon af­ [...] [...] given, say I have now found at [...] satisfaction may be had; and have [...] this to do; to bend all my powers hi­ther, and intend this one thing, the posses­sing my self of this blessed rest; earnestly to in­ [...]e [...], and patiently to wait for it.

Happy discovery! welcome tidings! I now know which wa [...] to turn my eye, and di­rect my pursuit. I shall no longer spend my [...]if in dubious toilsome wandrings, in anxi­ous, va [...]n inquiries. I have found▪ I have [Page 237] found! blessedness is here. If I can but get a lively, efficacious sight of God, I have enough—Shew me the Father, and it suf­fices.

Let the weary wandring soul bethink it self, and retire to God; he will not mock thee with shadows, as the world hath done. This is eternal life to know him the onely true God, and Jes [...] Christ whom he hath sent. A part, from Christ thou canst not know, nor see him, with fruit and comfort, but the Gospel re­velation (which is the Revelation of God in Christ) gives thee a lovely prospect of him. His Glory shines in the face of Jesus Christ, and when, by beholding it, thou art changed into the same likeness, and findest thy self gradually changing more and more, from glo­ry to glory, thou wilt find thy self according­ly in a gradual tendency towards satisfaction, and blessedness. That is, do but seriously set thy self to study, and contemplate the Being, and Attributes of God; and then look upon him, as, through the Mediatour, he is willing to be reconcil'd to thee, and become thy God; and so long let thine eye fix, and dwell here, till it affect thy heart; and the proper im­press of the Gospel be by the Spirit of the Lord instamp't upon it; till thou find thy self wrought to a compliance with his holy will, and his image formed in thee; and thou hast soon experience thou art entring in­to his est; and wilt relish a more satisfying [...] in this blessed change; then all thy [...] sensual injoyments, did ever afford thee before.

[Page 238] Surely, if the perfect vision, and percepti­on of his glorious likeness will yield a com­pleat satisfaction at last; the initial, and pro­gressive tendencies towards the former, will, proportionably, infer the latter.

'Tis obvious hence, to collect who are in this world (ordinarly and, caeteris paribus, where more unusual violent temptations hinder not) the most satisfied, and contented per­sons; even those that have most of the clari­fying sights of God, and that thence partake most of his image (indeed Scripture on­ly vouchsafes the name to such sights of God, he that doth evil hath not seen God) Such as have most of a godly frame wrought into their spirits, 1 Joh. 3. 6. and that have hearts most attempered,3 Joh 11. and conformed to God.1 Tim. 6. 6. These are the most contented persons in the world. Content is part of the gain that attends godliness; it con­curring, renders the other a great gain. [—godliness with contentment] the form of ex­pression discovers how connatural content­ment is to godliness; as if they were not to be mentioned apart. Godliness, as if he had said, is a very gainful thing, but if you would comprehend the gainfulness of it fully, do not abstract too curiously, take in with it, that which is of so near an alliance, that you will hardly know how to consider them apart; let its inseparable adjunct contentment, go along with it; and you will find it againful thing indeed.

The true knowledge of God so directly tends to holiness, and that to contentation, that it [Page 239] may be too evidently concluded, that a dis­contented person, hath little of the one or the other, not much knowledge, and less grace; he is so far from being like God, that in the Apostles language above we may say, he hath not seen him. Doth that person know God, or hath ever seen him, that falls not into the dust, admiring so glorious a Majesty? that subjects not himself to him, with Loyal affe­ctions, accounting it his only grand concern­ment to please, and serve him? But the dis­contented person takes upon him, as if he were God alone, and as if he expected every crea­ture to do him homage, and thought the crea­tion were made for the pleasure and service of none but him. Hath that person ever seen God, that acknowledges him not a sufficient portion? a full, all-comprehending good. Hath he seen him, that sees not reason to trust him; to commit all his concernments to him. Hath he seen him that loves him not, and de­lights not in his love? Hath he seen him that quits not all for him, and abandons not every private interest to espouse his; and how evi­dently do these things tend to quiet and com­pose the soul? Discontent proceeds from ido­lizing thoughts of our selves; 'tis rooted in self-conceit, in self-dependence, self-love, self-seeking, all which despicable Idols (or that one great Idol, Self, thus variously ser­ved, and Idolized) one sight of the Divine Glory would confound and bring to nothing. The sights of God melt the heart, break it un­der a sense of sin, and hence compose it to [Page 204] a meek, peaceful humility; but the discon­tented spirit is an unbroken, proud, imperious spirit. The sights of God purifie the soul, refine it from the dross of this vile world, make it daily aspire to a conformity unto the pure and Spiritual nature of God. But a discon­tented spirit, is a sensual, terrene spirit (for what, but such objects are the usual matter of most mens discontents?) taking sensuality in its just latitude, 'tis a low, D [...]nghil spirit; fit for nothing but to rake, and scrabble in the dirt.

I insist upon this apprehending (what de­serves more lamentation then it hath observa­tion) that too many annex a profession of eminent godliness, and spirituality into an indulged, querulous, impatient temper of spi­rit, joyn a splendid appearance of piety to an unreformed perverse frowardness (which a­gree as well as a Jewel of Gold to a Swines [...]nout) nothing pleases them; their mercies are not worth the acknowledging; their affli­ctions intolerable, not to be born. They fall out and quarrel with all occurrences, actions, events; neither Man, nor God, doth any thing good in their sight. The world is not well go­vern'd, nothing falls out well as to themselves. What can possibly be thought on more repug­nant to the knowledge of God. The g [...]and design, of all Religion, and the very Spirit of the Gospel; than this temper? which way do these tend and aime but to lead souls to blessedness; to bring them into a peaceful happy satisfied state and frame? and must we, [Page 205] because that end cannot be attained here, there­fore go the quite contrary way? or pretend we are going to heaven with our backs turned upon it? Sure the discoveries God now makes of himself to us, and by which he im­presses his likeness upon his own; though they ultimately design our satisfaction and blessed­ness in heaven; as intermediate there unto, they aime at the bringing us into an Heaven upon Earth, to form us unto a life agreeable, and hath analogie with that of heaven; unto which nothing is more analogous in our pre­present state then that peace, and serenity which result from Divine Knowledge, and holiness: nothing more inconsistent, then a peevish, fretful, turbulent Spirit. The one is a participation of a bright, and mild light from heaven; the other of a dark, and raging fire from Hell? 'Tis onely Gods face, his glo­rious likeness reflected on our souls, that shall satisfie hereafter, and make heaven, heaven. He doth not now wholly conceal himself from us, nor altogether hide his face. The shining of the same face (in what degree he now vouchsafes them) will make this Earth an Heaven too. One glance towards him may transmit a lively, pleasant lustre upon our spi­rits (They looked to him and were lightned. Psal. 34. [...]) And we live in the expectation of clearer, and more impressive, eternal visions. It will become us to express a present satisfiedness, proportion­able to our present sights, and expectations; and to endeavour daily to see more, and to be more like God, that we may be daily more [Page 206] and more satisfied. While me cannot yet attain to be making gradual approaches towards that blessed state. By how much any have more of the vision and likeness of God in their pre­sent state: so much they approach nearer unto satisfaction.

6. We infer; The love of God to his people is great, which hath designed for them so great, and even a satisfying good. We cannot overlook the occasion this Doctrine gives us, to consi­der, and contemplate a while the love of God. I [...] this shall be the blessedness of his Saints, 'tis a great love that shall be the Spring and source of it.

Two things, here before our eyes, discover the greatness of this love. That it designes satisfact on to the persons meant; and that they shall be satisfied with the Divine vision and likeness.

1. It designs their s [...]tisfacti [...]n. This is as far as love can go. 'Tis love to the uttermost: I [...] doth not satisfie itself, till it satisfie them. 'Tis love to spare an enemy, to relieve a stran­ger; but to satisfie for ever, them that were both; this s [...]e exceeds all the wonted mea­sures of love. Much love is shewn in the for­giveness of sin, in the s [...]pply of necessities, but herein (as the Apostle speaks in another case) is the love of God perfected (as to its exercise) it hath now perfectly attained its end; when it hath not left so much as a craving desire, not a wish unsatisfied; the soul cannot say, I wish it were better; O th [...]t I h [...]d [...]ut this one thing more to [...] my h [...]ppi [...]ss. It hath neither [Page 207] pretence, nor inclination to think such a thought. Divine Love is now at rest; It was travailing (big with gracious designs) be­fore it hath now delivered it self. It would rather create new heavens every moment, then not satisfie: but it hath now done it to the full, the utmost capacity of the soul is filled up; it can be no happier then it is. This is loves triumph over all the miseries, wants, and desires, of a languishing soul. The ap­propriate, peculiar glory of D [...]v [...]ne love. If all the excellencies of their whole creation be­sides, were contracted into one glorious crea­ture, it would never be capable of this boast; I have satisfied one soul. The love of God leaves none unsatisfied, but the proud despisers of it. Now is the eternal Sabbath of love. Now it enters into rest, having finish't all its works, it views them over now with delight, for [...]o, they are all Good. its works of Pardon, of Justi­fication, and Adoption. Its works of Rege­neration, of Conversion, and Sanctification; its establishing, quickning, comforting works; they are all good, good in themselves, and in this their end; the satisfaction and repos [...] of bles­sed souls. Now divine love puts on the Crown, ascends the Throne, and the many Miriads of glorified Spirits fall down about it, and adore. All professe to owe to it the satisfying plea­sures they all injoy. Who can consider the unspeakable satisfaction of those blessed Spirits, and not also reflect upon this exalted greatness of divine love!

2. 'Tis again great love, if we consider [Page 208] wherewith they shall be satisfied. The sight, and participation of the Divine glory, his face, his likeness, his represented and impressed glory. There may be great love that never undertakes, nor studies to satisfie all the desires of the persons we cast our love upon; especi­ally where nothing will satisfie but high, and great matters. The love of God knows no difficulties; nor can be overset. The greater the performance, or vouchsafement; the more suitable to Divine Love. It hath resolved to give the soul a plenary satisfaction, perfectly to content all its desires; and [...]nce nothing else can do it, but an eternal beholding of the glorious face of the Divine Majesty, and a transformation into his own likeness; that shall not be with-held. Yea it hath created, refined, inlarged its capacity on purpose, that it might be satisfied with nothing less. Great love may sometimes be signified by a glance; the offered view of a willing face. Thus our Lord Jesus invites his Church to discover her own love, and answer his, Let me see thy face, &c. Cant. [...]. 14. Love is not more becoming­ly exprest, or gratified then by mutual looks, [ubi amor, [...] oculus] How great is that love that purposely layes aside the vail; that never turns away its own, nor permits the aversion of the beholders eye, throughout eternity. Now we see in a glass; then face, to face; as if never weary of beholding on either part, but on that part the condiscention lies, is the transcendent, admirable love. That a generous, beneficent (the other till it be satisfied here) [Page 209] a craving indigent love. And how inexpressible a condiscension is this? poor wretches! ma­ny of whom, possibly, were once so low, that a strutting Grandee, would have thought him­self affronted by their look; and have met with threatning rebukes their overdaring venturous eye; lo now they are permitted (to stand be­fore Princes? that's a mean thing) to feed their eyes with D [...]vine glory, to view the face of God. He sets them before his face for ever.

And that eternal vision begets in them an eternal likeness, they behold and partake glory at once, that their joy may be full. They be­hold not a glorious God, with deformed souls; that would render them a perpetual abomina­tion, and torment to themselves. Love can­not permit that Heaven should be their affli­ction; that they should have cause to loath and be weary of themselves in that presence. It sa­tisfies them by cloathing, and filling them with glory; by making them partake of the Divine likeness, as well as behold it. 'Tis reckon'd a great expression of a complying love, but to give a Picture; when the parties loved only permit themselves to view in a mute represen­tation, a vicarious face. This is much more, a vital image (as before) Gods one living likeness propagated in the soul, the inchoation of it (is called the Divine Nature, the seed of God; what amazing love is this, of the great God to a worm? not to give over till he have assimilated it to his own glory; till it appear as a ray of light begotten of the Father of [Page 210] Lights.1 Joh. 2. ult. Chap. 3. 1. Every one▪ saith the Apostle, that doth righ­teousness, is [...]orn of him and then it follows; Be­hold, what manner of love—to be [...]he sons of God; to be lik [...] him, to see him as he is, &c. How great a word is that (spoken in reference to our pre­sent state)—to make us partakers of [his] ho­liness. H [...]b. 12. And (as well it might) 'tis instanc't as an effect, and arg [...]ment of love (for sure chastening it self abstracted from that end of it, doth not import love.) Wh [...]m the Lord loveth, he chesteneth—and then by and by, in the same series and line of discourse is added-to make n [...] partakers of his his holiness. Love always either supposes similitude, or intends it, and is sufficiently argued by it either way. And sure the love of God cannot be more directly expressed, then in his first intending to make a poor soul like him, while he loves it with compassion; and then imprinting and per­fecting that likeness, that he may love it with eternal delight: Love is here the first and the last, the beginning and end in all this business.

CHAP. XIV.

The 7th Inference. That since this blessed­ness is limited to a qualified subject [I in righteousness] the unrighteous are ne­cessarily lest exclud [...]d. The 8th Infe­rence. That righteousness is no vain thing, in as much as it hath so happy an issue, and ends so well.

7. COnsidering this blessedness is not common, but limited [...]o a qualified subject [I in righteousness] per­son cloth'd in righte [...]usness. I [...] evi­dently follows. Th [...] unrighteous are nec [...]ss [...]i­ly excluded, and shut out; can have no p [...]r [...] nor p [...]rtion in this blessedness. The same thing that the Apostle tells us without an inference; Know ye not that the unrighteouss shall not inhe­rit the Kingdom of God, 1 Cor. 6. &c. Intimating that to be a most confessed known thing. Know ye not? is it possible ye can be ignorant of this?

The natural necessity of what hath been here infe [...]'d, hath been argued already from the consideration of the nature of this blessedness. The legal necessity of it, arising from the Di­vine will, and Law, is that I mainly intend at present. By such a necessity also, they are excluded: who by Gods rule (according to which the supreme judgment must be ma­naged) [Page 212] shall be found unrighteous. Those that come not up to the tearms of the Gospel Covenant; never accepted the offers, nor sub­mitted to the commands of it. And that hence consequently are unrelated to Christ, and ununited to him; no way capable of advantage by his most perfect and all-sufficient righteousness, that alone fully answers all the ex [...]ctions, and demands of the Covenant of Works: and so, who are at last found unrigh­teous by the Old Law, and the New; the Law both of the Creatour, and Redeemer too.

There is the same necessity these should be excluded, as that God should be just and true. The word is gone forth of his mouth in righteousness and cannot return. He did not d [...]lly with sinners, when he settled those constitutions, whence this necessity results. He is not a man, that he should lye, nor the Son of m [...]n, that he should repent. An Heathen un­derstood so much of the nature of God.

I have thought sometimes, with much won­der, of the stupid folly of unsanctified hearts, they are even confounded in their own wishes; and would have (in order to their security) they know not what. Were the question faith­fully put to the very heart of such a one, what wouldest thou have done in order to thy eter­nal safety from divine wrath and vengeance? would not the answer be, O that God would recall those severe constitutions he hath made, and not insist [...]o strictly, on what be hath re­quired in the Gospel, in order to the salvati­on [Page 213] on of sinners. But foolish wretch, dost thou know what thou sayst? wouldst thou have God repeal the Gospel that thou mayest be the more secure? in what a case art thou then? Hast thou no hope if the Gospel stand in force? what hope wilt thou have if it do not? Must the hopes of all the world be ruin'd to esta­blish thine? and yet leave them involv'd in the common ruine too? What, but the Gospel gives the least hope to Apostate sinners? There is now hope for thee in the Gospel pro­mise, if thou return to God. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Isa. 55. and let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, and he will abundantly pardon. But take away the Gospel and where art thou? Were it possible for thee to repent, and become a new man, what settles the connexion between Repen­tance, and Salvation but the Gospel-promise? Will the violated Law of works accept thy Repentance instead of Obedience? Doth it not expresly preclude any such expectation? Doth it give any ground to look for any thing but death after sin? Thou must therefore flye to the Gospel or yield thy self lost; and know it contains none but faithful and true sayings, that have more stability in them, than the foundations of heaven and earth. Therefore expect nothing to be altered for thy sake. The Gospel-constitution was settled long be­fore thou wast born; Thou com'st too late with thy Exceptions (if thou hadst any) a­gainst it. Remember, therefore, this is one [Page 214] of the unalterable determinations of this Gos­pel, without holiness thou shalt never see God, or (which amounts to the same) thou canst not be­hold his face but in righteousness. There is no word in all the Bible of more certain truth than this. In this also how apt are sinners foolishly to intangle themselves. The Gospel is true and to be believed, till they meet with something that crosses them, and goes against the hair, and then, they hope it is not so But vain man! if once thou shake the truth of God, what wilt thou stay thy self upon? Is God true when he promises? and is he not as true when he threatens? if that be a true saying: S [...]y to the righteous it shall be well with him—is not that as much to be regarded; wo to the wicked it shall be ill with him. The righ­teousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. Are not these of equal authority? If thou hadst any reason to hope, thou mayest be happy though thou never be righteous; is there not as much reason to fear thou might'st be mise­rable though thou be; since the one is as much against the slat express word of God as the o­ther? Let not thy love to sin betray thee out of all Religion, and thy wits together. Wherein wilt thou believe one upon the bare value of his word, that will lie to thee in any thing? Yea, and as it is the same authority that is affronted in every command, whence disobedience to one is a breach of all; so is the same veracity denyed in every truth; and the disbelief of one belies all, and wilt thou believe [Page 215] him in any thing, thou hast proclaimed a lier in every thing? Therefore so little hast thou gained by disbelieving the divine revelation in this thing; that thou hast brought thy self to this miserable Dilemma; if the word of God be false thou hast no foundation of any Faith left thee; if it be true, it dooms thee to eter­nal banishment from his blessed face, while thou remainest in thy unrighteousness. It will not be thy advantage then to disbelieve this Gos­pel record, but to consider it, and take it to heart, 'twill prove never the lesse true, at last for that thou wilt not believe it, shall thy unbelief make the truth of God of none effect? And if thou wouldest but reasonably con­sider the case; methinks thou shouldest soon be convinc't. Since thou acknowledgest (as I suppose thee to do) that there are two states of men in the other World, a state of blessed­ness, and a state of misery; and two sorts of men in this World, the righteous, and the unrigh­teous. Let thy reason and conscience now judge, who shall be allotted to the one state, and who to the other. Sure if thou acknow­ledge a righteous Judge of all the world, thou canst non think he will turn men, promiscu­ously into Heaven, or Hell at random, with­out distinction: Much less canst thou be so ab­surd, and mad, as to think all the unrighteous shall be saved, and the righteous perish; and then what is le [...]t thee to judge, but that which I am now urging upon thee, that when the righteous shall be admitted to the vision of Gods blessed face; the unrighteous shall be driven forth into outer darkness?

[Page 216] It may be some here will be ready to say, but to what purpose is all this, they were of the same mind before; and cannot think that any one would ever say the contrary.

Nor do I think so either; but 'tis one thing not to believe a conclusion to be true, and an­other to prosess a contrary belief. And one thing to believe a conclusion, another to think we believe it. Men often know not their own minds. In practical matters 'tis best seen what a mans belief is, by his practice. For when any profess to believe this or that practi­cal truth, relating to their salvation, if they believe is not practically, i. e. with such a be­lief as will command their suitable practice, it matters not what belief they are of, or whe­ther they were of that judgment or no. Yea it will prove in the issue, better for them they had been of another, when their own profes­sed belief shall be urged against them. But let us cosider a little how in practical matters of less concernment we would estimate a mans belief. You meet a Traveller upon the way who tells you, the Bridge over such an un­pass [...]ble River is broken down, and that if you venture, you perish; if you believe him you return; if you hold on, he reasonably con­cludes you believe him not; and will there­fore be apt to say to you, if you will not be­lieve me, you may make trial. Your Phy­sician tells you a disease is growing upon you, that in a short time will prove incurable, and mortal; but if you presently use means, he shall prescribe, 't [...]s capable of an easie reme­die. [Page 217] How would you your self have your be­lief of your Phisitian judged of in this case; would you expect to be believed, if you should say, you do not at all distrust your Phisitians integrity, and judgment, but yet you resolve not to follow his directions? unless you would have us believe too, that you are weary of your life, and would fain be rid of it. There is no Riddle or Mystery in this. How ridicu­lous would men make themselves if in matters of common concernment they should daily practice directly contrary to their professed belief? how few would believe them serious, or in their wits? But however, call this be­lieving, or what you will, we contend not about the name, the belief of such a thing can no further do you good, you can be nothing the better for it, further then as it ingages you to take a course suitable and consequent to such a belief. To believe that there is a Hell, and run into it, that unrighteousness persisted in will damn you; and yet live in it. To what purpose is it to make your boasts of this Faith?

But since you are willing to call this belie­ving; all the foregoing reasoning is to ingage you to consider what you believe. Do you believe that unrighteousness will be the death of your soul? will eternally separate you from God, and the pre­s [...]nce of his glory? and when you have rea­son'd the matter with your self, you find it to be certainly so; should not such a thing be more deeply pondered? The bare proposal of an evident truth com­mands present assent; but if I further bend my mind [Page 218] to reason out the same thing to my self. I am oc­casioned to take notice of the grounds, depen­dencies, the habitudes of it, what it rests upon, & whither it tends, and thence more discern its importance, and of what moment it is; then I should have done if upon first view I had as­sented only, and dismist it my thoughts. And yet is it possible you should think this to be true, and not think it a most important truth? Is it a small matter in your account, whither you shall be blessed, or miserable for ever? whether you be sav'd, or perish eternally? Or is it considered by you according as the weight of the matter requires, that as you are found righteous, or unrighteous, so will it everlast­ingly fare with you?

You may possibly say, you already conclude your self righteous, therefore no further im­ploy your thoughts about it.

But methinks you should hardly be able how ever to put such a thing out of your thoughts; while as yet the final determination is not given in the case. If a man have a que­stion yet depending concerning his life or estate: though his business be never so clear, he will hardly forget it, the trial not being yet past. And though in this matter, you have no reason to suspect errour, or corruption in your Judge (through which many honest causes may miscarry in an humane Judicature) yet have you no reason to suspect your self? If the holy Spirit hath assured you it hath not stupified you, but as you have then the less of fear, you have the more of love, and joy. Therefore you will not [Page 219] thence mind such a concernment the less, but with the more delight; and therefore also, most probably, with the more frequency, and in­tention. What a pleasure will it be to review evidences, and say, [...]o here are the Mediums by which I make out my title to the Eternal In­heritance. Such, and such characters give me the confidence, to number my self among Gods righteous ones. And do you lead that heavenly raised life? do you live in those sweet and ravishing comforts of the Holy Ghost, that may bespeak you one whom he hath sealed up to the day of redemption?

If you pretend not to any such certainty, but rely upon your own judgment of your case; are you sure you are neither mistaken in the notion of the righteousnesse required, nor in the application of it to your own souls?

Possibly you may think your self, because in your ordinary dealings you wrong no man (your self being judge) a very righteous person. But evident it is, when the Scripture uses this tearm as discriptive of Gods own peo­ple, and to distinguish betweeen them that shall be saved, and perish, it takes it in that comprehensive sense, before explained. And however, it requires, at least, much more of thee under other expressions, as thou canst hardly be so ignorant, but to know. And do but use thy reason here a little, and demand of thy self. Is he to be accounted a righteous person that thinks it fit to avoid wronging a man, but makes no conscience at all of wrong­ing God? More particularly. Is it righteous to [Page 220] live all thy dayes in a willing ignorance of the Author of thy being, never once to enquire where is God my Maker? Job 35. Is it righteous to for­get him, dayes without number, not to have him from day to day in all thy thoughts? Is it righteous to estrange thy self from him, and live as without him in the world? while thou liv'st, mov'st, and hast thy being in him? not to glorifie him in whose hands thy breath is? to be a lover of pleasure more then God? a worshipper, in thy very soul, of the creature, more then of the Creatour? Is it righteous to harden thy heart against his fear and love? to live under his power, and never reverence it, his goodness, and never acknowledge it? to affront his Authority, to belie his Truth, abuse his Mercy, impose upon his Patience, desie his Justice? to exalt thy own interest against his, the trifling petite interest of a sil­ly worm, against the great all comprehending interest of the common Lord of all the world? to cross his will, to do thy own? to please thy self, to the displeasing of him? whence hadst thou thy measures of Justice, if this be just?

Again, is it righteous to deny the Lord that bought thee, to neglect that great salvation which he is the Authour of? And whereas he came to bless thee in turning thee from thine iniquities, wilfully to remain still in an ac­cursed servitude to sin? when he was made manifest to destroy the works of the Devil, still to yield thy self a captive at his will? whereas he died that thou might'st not any longer live to thy [Page 221] self, but to him that died for thee, and rose again; and that he might redeem thee from thy vain conversation, and that thou art so expresly told that such as still lead sensual lives, mind earth­ly things, have not their conversation in hea­ven, are enemies to the Cross of Christ; Is it no unrighteousness that in these respects thy whole life, should be nothing else but a con­stant contradiction to the very design of his dy­ing? a perpetual Hostility, a very Tilting at his Cross? Is there no unrighteousness in thy obstinate infidelity, that wickedly denies be­lief to his glorious Truths, acceptance of his gracious Offers, subjection to his holy Laws? no unrighteousness in thy obstinate, remorsless, impenitency? thy heart that cannot repent? that melts not while a crucified Jesus amid'st his agonies, and dying pangs, cryes to thee from the Cross, O sinner enough, thy hard heart breaks mine! yield at last, and turn to God. Is it righteous to live as no way under Law to Christ? to persist in actual rebellion against his just Government, which he died, and re­vived, and rose again to establish, over the li­ving and the dead? yea, and that while thou pretendest thy self a Christian? In a word; Is it righteous to tread under foot the Son of God, to vilifie his Blood, and despise his Spi­rit? Is this the righteousness that thou talkest of? are these thy qualifications for the everlast-blessedness?

If thou say, thou confessest thou art in thy self, in these several respects, altogether un­righteous; but thou hopest the righteous­ness [Page 222] of Christ, will be sufficient to answer for all.

No doubt Christs Righteousness is abundant­ly available to all the ends for which it was in­tended by the Father and Him; but it shall never answer all the ends that a foolish wicked heart will fondly imagine to it self.

In short, it serves to excuse thy non perfor­mance of, and stands instead of thy perfect sin­less obedience to the Law of works; but it serves not instead of thy performance of what is required of thee, as the condition of the Gospel Covenant. That is, It shall never supply the room of Faith, Repentance, Re­generation, Holiness, the loving of Christ above all, and God in him; so as to render these unnecessary, or salvation possible without them. There is not one iota, or tittle in the Bible, that so much as intimates, an unrege­nerate person, an unbeliever, an impenitent, or unholy person, shall be saved by Christs righteousness; but enough to the contrary, every one knows, that hath the least acquaint­ance with the Scriptures.

Vain Man what? is Christ devided, and devided against himself; Christ without, against Christ within? His suffering on the Cross, and foregoing obedience, against his Spirit and Government in the Soul? Did Christ die, to take away the necessity of our be­ing Christians? And must his death serve, not to destroy sin out of the world, but Christiani­ty? who hath taught thee so wickedly to mis­understand the design of Christs dying? And [Page 223] when the Scripture so plainly tells thee,Joh 3. 16. That God so loved the world, that he gave his only begot­ten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. Heb 5. 9. And, That he became the Authour of eternal salvation to them that obey him, yea, and that he will come in flaming fire to take vengeance on them that know, and obey him not. What should induce thee to think thou mayst be saved by him, whether thou belie­vest, and obeyest or no?

No, if ever thou think to see God, and be happy in him; thou must have a righteousness in thee, resembling his: the very product the thing wrought in the work of regeneration. If ye know that he is righteous,1 Joh. 2. 29. ye know that every one that doth righteousness is born of him. Whereupon follows the description of the blessedness of such righteous ones in the be­ginning of the next Chapter.—They are sons—they shall be like &c. So that in a word, without some sight of God here, there's no seeing him hereafter; without some likeness to him now, none hereafter. And such as are destitute of that heart-conformity to the Gos­pel, wherein the Evangelical Righteousness stands; are so far from it, that we may say to them,Joh. 5. 37. as our Saviour to the Jews, Ye have nei­ther heard his voice, nor seen his shape, i. e. you have never had right notion, or any the least true glimpse of him; your hearts are wholly destitute of all Divine Impressions whatso­ever.

8. We may further infer, from this qualifi­cation of the subject of blessedness. That righte­ousness [Page 242] is no vain thing. That is not in vain that ends so well, and hath so happy an issue at last. Scripture tells us, that the labour of the righteous tendeth to life: Pro. 10. 16. and that we may understand it of their labour, as they are righteous: we are more plainly told that righteousness tendeth to life; Chap. 11 14: and that to them that sow righteousness shall be a sure reward. Ver. 18. That the righteous shall shine as the Sun in the Kingdom of the Father. Mat. 13. 43.—The righteous into eternal life.Chap. 25. 46. And we here see that righteous­ness ends in the blessed sight of Gods glorious face, Isa. 55 2. in being satisfied with the Divine likeness: Foolish sinners as justly upbraided that they spend their labour for that which satisfies not; takes much pains to no purpose; such are all the works of sin,Rom. 6. 20, 21. toilsome, fruitless; what fruit had ye of those things (viz. which ye wrought when you were free from righteous­ness) whereof ye are now ashamed; for the end of th [...]se things is death. But (it follows) being now made free from sin, and bec [...]me servants to God (which is paraphrased above by servants to righ­teousness) ye have your fruit unto holiness, & the end everlasting life. The fruit is a continual increase of holiness, a growing more and more like God, till at last everlasting life, satisfaction with his likeness, do Crown and consummate all.

You have now what to answer to the Athe­ists profane Querie; what profit is it to serve God? to what purpose to lead so strict, and precise a life? you may now see to what pur­pose it is; and whereunto godliness (which righteousness here includes) is profitable (as [Page 225] having besides what it intitles to here) the pro­mise of that life which is to come.

There needs no more to discover any thing not to be vain (in as much as nothing can be said to be but in reference to an end, as being good for nothing) then the eviction of these two things.

That it aims at a truly worthy, and valuable end; and that its tendencie thereto is direct, and certain.

In the present case both these are obvious enough at the first view.

For as to the former of them, all the world will agree without disputing the matter, that the last end of man (i. e. which he ultimate­ly propounds to himself) is his best good; and that he can design no further good to himself, then satisfaction; nothing after or beyond that; and what can afford it, if the vision and participation of the Divine Glory do not?

As to the latter, besides all that assurance given by Scripture-constitution to the righte­ous man, concerning his future reward; let the Consciences be consulted of the most be­sotted sinners, in any lucid interval, and they will give their suffrage (Balaam that so earnest­ly followed the reward of unrighteousness not excepted) that the way of righteousness, is that only likely way to happiness, and would therefore desire to die, at least, the righteous mans death, and that their latter end should be like his. So is wisdom (I might call it righteousness too, the wicked man is the Scripture-Fool; and the righteous the wise [Page 226] man) justified not by her children only, but by her enemies also.

And sure 'tis meet that she should be more openly justified by her Children, and that they learn to silence, and repress those mis­giving thoughts; Surely, I have washed my hands in vain,Psal. 73. [...]. 15. &c. And be steadfast, unmovable, alwayes abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as they know their labour is not in vain in the Lord.

CHAP. XV.

Two other Inferences from the Consideration of the season of this blessedness. The for­mer, That in as much as this blessed­ness is not attained in this life. The present happiness of Saints must in a great part consist in hope. The latter, That great is the wisdom and sagacity of the righteous man, which waves a present temporary happiness, and chuses that which is distant and future.

IN as much as the season of this blessed­ness is not on this side the Grave; nor ex­pected by Saints till they awake, we may further infer;

9 Ninthly. That their happiness in the mean time doth very much consist in hope. Or that hope must needs be of very great necessity, and use to them, in their present state for their com­fort, and support. It were not, otherwise, [Page 227] possible to subsist in the absence, and want of their highest good, while nothing in this lower world is, as to kind and nature, suitable to their desires, or makes any colorable over­ture to them of satisfaction, and happiness. Others (as the Psalmist observes) have their portion in this life; that good, which as to the species and kind of it, is most grateful to them, is present, under view, within sight; And (as the Apostle) Hope that is seen is not hope, Rom. 8. 24. for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for it. But those whose more refined spirits (having re­ceived the first fruits of the holy Spirit of God) prompt them to groan after something beyond time, and above this Sublunarie Sphere; of them, the Apostle there tell us, that they are saved by hope. They (as if he should say) subsist by it; they were never able to hold out, were it not for their hope. And that an hope too, beyond this life, as is the hope of a christian;1 Cor. 15. 19. if in this life only we had hope in Christ, 1 Pet. 13. &c. the hope of a Christian as such is sui­table to its productive cause; the resurrection of Christ from the dead; begotten to a lively hope by the resurrection, &c. Thence is it, the hope of a renewed, never dying life; the hope of a bles­sed immortality; whereof Christs resurrecti­on was a certain argument and pledge.

Indeed the new creature is, ab origine, and all along an hoping creature both in its primum, and its porro esse. 'Tis conceived, and formed, and nurst up in hope. In its production, and in its progress towards perfection, 'tis mani­ [...]ly influenc't thereby. In the first return [Page 228] of the soul to God, hope being then planted as a part of the holy gracious Nature, now manifestly discovers it self, when the soul begins to act, (as turning, after the reception of the Divine influence, is its act) hope insi­nuates it self into (or induces rather) that ve­ry act. Returning is not the act of a despair­ing, but hoping soul. 'Tis God apprehended as reconcileable, that attracts and wins it: while he is look't upon as an implacable ene­my, the soul naturally shuns him, and comes not nigh,Hos. 11. till drawn with those cords of a man, the bands of love. Jer. 2. While it says, there is no h [...]pe, it says with all (desperately enough) I have loved strangers, and after them will I go. But if there be any hope in Israel concerning this thing. If it can yet apprehend God willing to forgive,Ezra 10. 2, 3. then Let us make a covenant, &c. This presently draws the hovering soul into a clo­sure,Psal. 78. 7, 13. and league with him. And thus is the union continued; unsteadf [...]stness in the Cove­nant of God, is resolved into this not setting, or fixing of hope in him, or (which amounts to the same, setting of hope in God is directed as 10 a means to steadfastness of spirit with him, and a keeping of his Covenant. Jer. 3 2 [...], 23. R [...]volting souls are en­couraged to return to the Lord, upon this con­ [...], [...], that salvation is h [...]ed for, in vain, [...]om any other. The case being indeed the s [...]me, in all after conversions as in the first. God, [...]s multiplying [...] p [...]rd [...]n; and still retain­ing the same name,Exod 23. 2 [...]. the Lord, the Lord gr [...]ci­ [...], [...] (which name in all the se­ [...]rails that compose and make it up, is in his [Page 229] Christ) invites back to him the backsliding sinner, and renews its thoughts of returning. And so is he afterwards under the teachings of grace led on by hope, thorough the whole course of Religion towards the future glory. Grace appears, teaching sinners to deny un­goodliness,Titus 2. 11▪ 12. &c. in the looking for the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of the great God, &c. So do they keep themselves in the love of God; Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. Thus is the new creature formed in hope, and nourisht in hope. And if its eye were upon pardon at first, 'tis more upon the promised glory afterwards. And yet that last end hath in a degree, its attractive in­fluence upon it, from the first formation of it, 'tis even then taught to design for glory. 'Tis begotten to the lively hope (where though hope be taken objectively, as the appositi­on shews of the following words, to an inheri­tance, yet the act is evidently connoted, for the thing hoped for, is meant under that notion, as hoped for.) And its whose following course is an aiming at glory; a seeking glory, hon [...]ur, immortality, &c. R [...] 2. 7. Thus is the work of Sanctifi­cation carried on.1 Joh. 3. 3. He that hath this hope [...]uri­sieth himself. Heb 1 [...]. 34. Thus are losses sustained; The spoiling of goods taken joyfully, through the expecta­tion of the better and enduring substance. The most hazardous services undertaken, even an Apostleship to a despised Christ. Tit 1 [...] 1, 2.In the hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie hath pro­mised. All difficulties encountred, and over­come, while the he [...]met is the h [...]pe of salv [...]tion.1 Thes 5, [...]. [Page 230] [...] [Page 231] [...] [Page 232] things reserved for Saints in general (Faith can go no further, for the Word of Promise goes no further) and so serves instead of eyes, in the Divine Light, to view those glories; or it presents them (as so many substantial reali­ties) demonstrates them, submits them to view; whence Hope reaches forth to them, contends against, and triumphs over all at­tending difficulties? and possesses them; gives the soul an early, anticipated fruition of them, for its present support,Rom. 5 2. and relief. So that it rejoyces in the hope of the glory of God. Chap. 12. 12. It might well therefore be said, I had fainted, if I had not believed (or who can express how sad my case had been,Psal. 27. 13, 14. if I had not believed? for there is an elegant Aposiopesis in the Hebrew Text, the words [I had fainted] being sup­plyed in the translation. If I had not belie­ved, what had become of me then? q. d.) In as much as faith feeds, as it were, those hopes which more immediately, the Lord makes use of, for the strengthening his peoples hearts, as it is intimated in the following words, com­pared with Psal. 31. 24. In the present case; Faith ascertains the heart, of the truth of the Promises: so that thus the Soul states the case to it self; Though I have not walkt to and fro in [...] upper regions, nor taken a view of the heaven­ly [...], though I have not been in the third [...] us, and seen the ineffable glory; yet the [...] which hath brought life, and im­mortality to light, the word of the eternal God, who hath [...] me this is the state of things, in the other world; cannot but be true; my faith may [Page 233] therefore be to me instead of eyes, and the Divine testimony must supply the place of light; both together give, methinks, a fair prospect of those far distant glorious objects, which I have now in view. Now this awakens hope, and makes it revive, and run to imbrace what Faith hath discovered in the Promise.Tit. 1. 2.In hope of eternal life, Psal. 119. 49. which God that cannot lie hath promised. 'Tis the Word of God that causes the soul to hope, (i. e. believed for disbelieved, it signifies no­thing with it) and that, not onely as it con­tains a narration, but a promise, concerning the future estate. I may without much emotion of heart, hear from a Traveller the descripti­on of a pleasant Country, where I have not been; but if the Lord of that Country give me, besides the account of it, an assurance of en­joying rich, and ample possessions there; this presently begets an hope; the pleasure where­of would much relieve a present distressed estate; and which nothing, but that of actual possession can exceed. That 'tis not more so with us here, admits of no excuse. Is God less to be believed then a man? will we de­ny him the priviledge of being able to disco­ver his mind, and the truth of things credib­ly? which we ordinarily allow to any one that is not a convicted Lier? Christ expects his Disciples should very confidently assure themselves, of the preparations made for them in another world, upon that very ground, alone, that he had not told them the contrary. Let not your hearts be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Fathers House [Page 234] are many mansions, Joh. 14. 1, 2. if it were not, so I would have told you. I go to prepare, &c. Intimating to them, they ought to have that opinion of his plainness, and sincerity, as never to imagine he would have proselyted them to a Religion, that should undo them in this world; if there were not a sufficient recompence awaiting them in the other; but he would have cer­tainly have let them know, the worst of their case; much more, might he expect they should be confident, upon his so often, and ex­presly telling them that so it is.

If his silence might he a ground of hope, much more his word. And surely so ground­ed an hope, cannot but be consolatory; and relieving in this sad interval, till the awaking hour.

Lastly,Inseren. 10. Since this blessedness of the righte­ous, is as to the season of it, future, not expe­cted till they awake, we may infer. That 'tis great wisdom, and sagacitie, that guides the righte­ous mans choice; while he waves a present, and tem­porary, and chuses this future expected blessedness.

'Tis true, that Philosophy hath been wont to teach us, that choice or election, hath no place about the end, because that is but one; and choice always implyes a competition. But that ve­ry reason evinces that in our present state, and case; choice must have place about the end. That Philosophy might have suited bet­ter the state of innocent Adam; when there was nothing to blind, and bribe a mans judg­ment, or occasion it to deliberate, about the supreme end (then it might be truly said, deli­beration [Page 235] it self, was a defection) nor to pervert, and misincline his will; and so its action, in proposing its end, would be simple intention, not choice.

But so hath the Apostasie, and sin of man, blinded and befooled him, that he is at a loss about nothing more, then what is the chief good. And though S. Augustine reduce Varro's 288.De Civit. Dei. lib. 19. differing Sects about it to 12. that's enough to prove (but daily experience doth it more convincingly, and sadly) a real, though most unjust competition. Therefore a sinner can never be blessed, without chusing his blessed­ness; and therein, it highly concern's him to chuse aright; and that a Spirit of Wisdom, and Counsel guide his choice. While Man had not as yet fal'n to deliberate whether he should adhere to God, or no; was a gradual declen­sion, the very inchoation of his fall; but having fal'n; necessity makes that a vertue, which was a wick [...]n [...]s [...] before. There's no returning to God, without considering our ways. The so much altered state of the case, quite alters the nature of the things. It was a consulting to do evil, before; now, to do go [...]d. And hence also chusing the Lord to be our God, Josh. 24. becomes a neces­sary duty. Which is to make choice of this very blessedness, that consists in the know­ledge, likeness, and enjoyment of him. And now, in as much as this blessedness is not fully attained by the longing soul, till time expire, and its eternity commence; here's a great dis­covery of that Wisdom which guides this hap­py choice. There is great wisdom in prospe­ction; [Page 236] in taking care of the future; and at how much the further distance, one can pro­vide; so much the greater reputation of wis­dom it justly acquired to him; Yea, we seem to place the summe of practical wisdom, in this one thing, while we agree to call it providence, under the contracted name of prudence. Prov. 22. 3. The wise man makes it at least an evidence, or part of wisdom, when he tells us the prudent foreseeth, &c. The righteous man so far ex­cells in this faculty; as that his eye looks tho­row all the periods of time; and penetrates into eternity, recommends to the Soul a bles­sedness of that same stamp, and alloy; that will endure, and last for ever. It will not content him to be happy for an hour, or for any Space, that can have an end; after which it shall be possible to him, to look back, and recount with himself how happy he was once. Nor is he much solicitous, what his present state be; if he can but find he is upon safe tearms, as to his future, and eternal state. As for me, saith the Psalmist (he, herein, sorts, and se­vers himself from them, whose portion was in this life) I [shall] behold—I [shall] be satisfi­ed, Est benè non po­tuit dicere dix­it erit. when I awake; he could not say it was well with him; but it shall be q. d. Let the pur­blind, short-sighted Sensualist, imbrace this present world; who can see no further; Let me have my portion in the world to come; may my soul always lie open to the impres­sion of the powers of the coming world; and, in this; so use every thing, as to be under the pow­er of nothing. What are the pleasures of sin [Page 237] that are but for a season; or what the suffer­ings of this now; this moment of affliction, to the glory that shall be revealed; to the exceed­ing, and eternal glory. He considers patient, afflicted godliness will triumph at last; when riotous, raging wickedness shall lament for ever. He may for a time weep, and mourn, while the world rejoyces; he may be sorrow­ful,Joh. 16. 20, 2 [...]. but his sorrow shall be turned into joy; and his joy none shall take from him. Surely, here is wisdom; this is the wisdom that is from above, and tends thither. This is to be wise unto salvation. The righteous man is a judicious man; he hath, in a measure, that judgment (where­in the Apostle prayes the Philippians might a­bound) to approve the things that are excel­lent,Phil. 1. 9, 1 [...] and accordingly to make his choice. This is a sense (little thought of by the Authour) wherein that sober Speech of the voluptuous Philosopher is most certainly true.Epicurus. A man cannot live happily, without living wisely. No man shall ever enjoy the eternal pleasures hereafter, that in this acquits not himself wisely here; even in this chusing the better part, that shall never be taken from him. In this the plain righteous man, out-vies the greatest So­phies, the Scribe, the disputer, the Politician, the prudent Mamonist, the facete Wit; who in their several kinds, all think themselves highly to have merited to be accounted wise. And that this point of wisdom should escape their no­tice; and be the principal thing with him, can be resolved into nothing else but the Divine good pleasure. In this contemplation, our [Page 238] Lord Jesus Christ is said to have rejoyced in Spi­rit (it even put his great comprehensive soul into an extasie) Father, I thank thee, Lord of heaven and earth, Luke 10. 21. that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them to babes: Even so Father, because it pleased thee. Here was a thing fit to be reflected on, as a piece of Divine Royalty? a part, worthy the Lord of hea­ven and earth. And what serious spirit would it not amaze, to weigh, and ponder this case awhile; to see men excelling in all other kinds of knowledge, so far excelled by those they most contemn, in the highest point of wisdom; such as know how to search into the abstrusest Mysteries of Nature; that can un­ravel, or see through the most perplext in­trigues of State; that know how to save their own Stake, and secure their private Inter­ests, in whatsoever times; yet so little seen (often; for not many wise) in the matters that concern an eternal felicity! It puts me in mind of (what I find observed by some) the particular madness (adementia quoad hoc) as 'tis called; when persons, in every thing else, capable of sober, rational discourse; when you bring them to some one thing (that in reference to which they became distemper­ed at first) they rave, and are perfectly mad. How many that can manage a discourse with great reason, and judgment, about other mat­ters, who when you come to discourse with them about the affairs of practical godliness, and which most directly tend to that future state of blessedness, they are [...] at their wits [Page 239] end; know not what to say. They savour not those things. These are things not understood, but by such to whom it is given. And surely that given wisdom is the most excellent wisdom. Sometimes God doth, as it were, so far gratifie the world, as to speak their own language; and call them wise that affect to be called so, and that wisdom which they would fain have go under that name; Moses 'tis said was skil'd in all the wisdom of Egypt, Act. 7. 22. &c. but at other times he expresly calls those wise men fools; and their wisdom, folly, and madness; or an­nexes some disgraceful adject, for distinction sake; or applies those appellatives Ironically, and in manifest derision. No doubt, but any such person as was represented in the parable would have thought himself to have done the part of a very wise man in entertaining such deliberation and resolvs,Luke 12. as we find he had there with himself. How strange was that to his ears, Thou fool, this night shall they require thy soul, &c. Their wisdom is sometimes said to be foolish, or else called the wisdom of the flesh, or fleshly wisdom, said to be earthly, sensual, devillish, they are said to be wise to do evil; while to do good, they have no understanding; they are brought sometimes, as it were, upon the stage with their wisdom, to be the matter of divine triumph; where is the wise? and that which they account foolishness is made to confound their wisdom. And indeed do they deserve to be thought wise; that are so busily intent upon momentary trifles; and trifle with eternal concernments; that prefer va­nishing [Page 240] shadows to the everlasting glory? that follow lying vanities, and forsake their own mercies? Yea, will they not cease to be wise in their own eyes also; when they see the issue, and reap the fruits of their foolish choice? when they find the happiness they preferred before this eternal one is quite over; and nothing re­mains to them of it, but an afflictive remem­brance. That the torment they were told would follow, is but now beginning; and without end: when they hear from the mouth of their impartial Judge; Remember you in your life time had your good things, and my faith­ful servants their evil; now they must be com­forted, and you tormented. When they are told you have received the consolation; you were full, ye did laugh, Luke 6. 14. 25. now you must pine, and mourn, and weep. Will they not then be as ready to befool themselves, and say as they; be those (righte­ous ones) are they whom we sometimes had in de­rision, Wisd. 53. &c. and for a proverb of reproach; we fools counted their life madness, and that their end was without honour, but now how are they numbred a­mong the sons of God, and their lot is among the Saints. They that were too wise before, to mind so mean a thing as Religion (the world through w [...]sd [...]m knew not God, 1 Co [...]. 1. strange wisdom! that could so wisely baffle Conscience; and put fallacies upon their own souls; that had so ingenious shifts to elude a conviction; and direct any serious thought, from fastening up­on their spirits, that were wont so slily to jeere holiness; seemed as they meant to laugh Reli­gion out of countenance,Folly is [...] they will now [Page 241] know that a circumspect walking, Prov, 15 21. a faithful re­deeming of time, and improving it in order to e­ternity, was to do, not as fools, but as wise; and begin to think of themselves, now as lost, as all wise, and sober men thought of them be­fore.

CHAP. XVI.

The second general Head of the improve­ment or use of the Doctrine propounded from the Text, containing certain Rules or prescriptions of duty connatural there­to. Rule 1. That we settle in our minds the true notion of this blessedness. Rule 2. That we compare the temper of our own spirits with it, and labour thence to discern whether we may lay claim to it or no.

THus far we have the the account of the Truths to be considered, and weigh'd, that have dependence on the Doctrine of the Text.

Next follows the duties to be practis'd, and done in reference thereto, which I shall lay down in the ensuing Rules or Prescriptions.

That we admit, and settle, the distinct notion of 1 this blessedness in our minds, and judgements. That we fix in our own souls apprehensions agreeable to the account this Scripture hath given us of it. This is a counsel, leading, and introductive to the rest; and which if it [Page 242] obtain with us, will have a general influence upon the whole course of that practice, which the Doctrine already opened, calls for. As our apprehensions of this blessedness are more distinct, and clear; it may be expected more powerfully to command our hearts, and lives. Hence it is in great part, the Spirits, and con­versations of Christians have so little savour, and appearance of heaven in them. We rest in some general, and confused notion of it; in which there is little either of efficacy, or pleasure; we descend not into a particular inquiry, and consideration what it is. Our thoughts of it, are gloomy, and obscure; and hence is our Spirit naturally listless, and in­different towards it: and rather contents it self to sit still in a Region all lightsome round about, and among objects it hath some pre­sent acquaintance with, then venture it self forth as into a new world which it knows but little of. And hence our lives are low and carnal: they look not as though we were seek­ing the heavenly Country; and indeed, who can be in good earnest in seeking after an un­known state? This is owing to our negligence, an infidelity. The blessed God hath not been shy, and reserv'd; hath not hidden, or con­cealed from us the glory of the other world; nor lock't up Heaven to us; nor left us to the uncertain guesses of our own imagination: the wild fictions of an unguided phansie; which would have created us a poetical heaven only, and have mock't us with false Elysiums. But, though much be yet within the vail, he hath been [Page 243] liberal in his discoveries to us. Life and Im­mortality are brought to light in the Gospel. The future blessedness (though some refined Heathens have had near guesses at it) is cer­tainly apprehensible by the measure onely of Gods revelation of it. For who can deter­mine, with certainty, of the effects of Di­vine good pleasure ('Tis your Fathers good plea­sure to give you a Kingdom.) Who can tell, before hand, what so free and boundless good­ness will do; further then as he himself dis­covers it? The discover [...] is as free as the dona­tion. 1 Cor. 2. 9. The things that eye hath not seen, and ear not heard, and which h [...]ve not entred into the heart of man, God hath revealed to us by his Spi­rit: and it follows, v. 12. We h [...]ve received the Spirit of God, that we might know the things free­ly given us of God: The Spirit is both the prin­ciple of the external revelation, as having in­spired the Scriptures which foreshew this glo­ry, and of the internal revelation, also to en­lighten blind minds that would otherwise ( [...]) never be able to discover things at so great a distance, see af [...]r off. Therefore called the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, by which the eyes of the understanding are inlight­ned to know the hope of that calling, Eph. 1. 17. and the riches of the glory of his inheritance [among] the Saints (as the [...] there is most fitly to be ren­dred.)

But this internal discovery is made by the mediation, and interveniencie of the exter­nal: Therefore having that before our eyes we are to apply our minds to the study, and [Page 244] consideration of it; and in that way, to expect the free illumination of the holy Spirit. In the mean time we must charge our ignorance, and the darkness of our cloudy thoughts, touching these things, upon our carelesness, that we do not attend, or our incredulity, that we will not believe what God hath revealed concerning them: 'tis therefore a dutiful attention, and reverential Faith that must settle and fix the notion of this blessedness. If we will not regard, nor give credit to what God hath discovered concerning it, we may sit still in a torpid, disconsolate darkness, which we our selves are the authors of, or (which is no less pernicious) compass our selves with sparks beaten out of our own Forge; walk in the light of our own fire, cheat our souls with the fond dream of an imagined Heaven, no where to be found, till we at length lye down in sorrow. How perverse are the imaginati­ons of men in this (as in reference to the way, so) in respect of the end also: For, as they take upon them to fancy another way to hap­p [...]ness quite besides, and against the plain word of God; so do they imagine to themselves another kind of happiness; such as shall grat [...]fie onely the sensual desires; a Mahome­t [...]n (indeed a Fools) Paradise; or, at best, 'tis but a negative Heaven; they many times en [...]ertain in their thoughts (of which their sense too is the onely measure) a state where­in nothing shall offend, or incommodate the flesh; in which they shall not hunger, or [...], or feel want; and when they have [Page 245] thus stated the matter in their own thoughts; we cannot beat them out of it, but that they desire to go to heaven (viz. the heaven of their own making) when did they conceive it truly, and fully, they would find their hearts to abhor from it, even as hell it self.

Therefore here we should exercise an au­thority over our selves; and awaken conscience to its proper work and business; and demand of it, Is it not reasonable these divine discoveries should take place with me? hath not God spoken plainly enough? why should my heart any longer hang in doubt within me, or look wish­ly towards future glory, as if it were an un­couth thing? or is it reasonable to confront my own imaginations to his discoveries? Charge conscience with the duty it owes to God in such a case; and let his revelations be received with the reverence and resignation which they challenge; and in them study and contemplate the blessedness of awakened souls; till you have agreed with your self fully how to conceive it. Run over every part of it in your thoughts, view the several divine excel­lencies, which you are, hereafter, to see, and imitate; and think what every thing will con­tribute to the satisfaction and contentment of your Spirits. This is a matter of unspeakable consequence.

Therefore, to be as clear as is possible, you may digest what is recommended to you in this Rule, into these more particular directions.

1. Resolve with your selves to make the divine revelation of this blessedness the prime measure, [...]nd [Page 246] reason of all your apprehensions concerning it; Fix that purpose in your own hearts, so to order all your conceptions about it, that when you demand of your selves, What do I conceive of the future blessedness? and why do I conceive so? the divine revelation may answer both the questions. I apprehend what God hath re­vealed, and because he hath so revealed. The Lord of heaven sure best understands it; and can best help us to the understanding of it. If it be said of the origen of this world [...],Heb. 11. 3. it may much more be said of the st [...]e of the other, we understand it by faith. That must inform, and perfect our intellectuals in this matter.

2. Therefore, reject and sever from the notion of this blessedness, whatsoever is alien to the ac­count Scripture gives us of it. Think not that sensual pleasure, that a liberty of sinning, that an exemption from the divine dominion, di­stance and estrangedness from God (which by nature you wickedl [...] affect) can have any in­grediency into (or consistency with) this state of blessedness.

3. Gather up into it whatsoever you can find by the Scripture-discovery to appertain or belong there­to. Let your notion of it be to your uttermost, not only true, but comprehensive, and full; and as particular and positive, as Gods revelation will warrant: Especially remember, 'tis a spiritual blessedness; that consists in the re­fining, and perfecting of your Spirits, by the vision and likeness of the holy God; and the satisfying of them thereby for ever.

[Page 247] 4. Get the notion of this blessedness deeply im­printed in your minds; so as to abide with you, that you may not be alwayes at a loss; and change you apprehensions every time you come to think of it: Let a once-well formed Idaea, a clear full state of it be preserv'd en­tire: and be (as a lively image) alwayes before your eyes; which you may readily view upon all occasions.

2. That having well fixed the notion of this blessedness in your minds,2 Rule. you seriously reflect upon yourself, and compare the temper of your Spirit with it: that you may find out how it is affected thereto; and thence judge in what likelihood you are of enjoying it.

The general aversion of mens Spirits to this so necessary work of self-reflection is one of the most deplorable Symptoms of lapsed, degene­rate humanity. The wickedness that hath over­spread the nature of man, and a secret consci­ousness, and misgiving, hath made men afraid of themselves, and studiously to decline all acquaintance with their own souls; to shun themselves as Ghosts and Spectives; they cannot indure to appear to themselves. You can hard­ly impose a severer task upon a wicked man, than to go retire an hour or two, and com­mune with himself, he knows not how to face his own thoughts: His own soul is a Devil to him (as indeed it will be in hell, the most frightful, tormenting Devil) Yet what power is there, in man, more excellent, more ap­propriate to reasonable nature, than that of reflecting, of turning his thoughts upon him­self. [Page 248] Sense must here confess it self out done. The eye that sees other objects cannot see it self. But the mind, a rational Sun, can, not only project its beams, but revert them; make its thoughts turn inward. It can see its own face, contemplate it self. And how use­ful an indowment is this to the nature of man? If he err he might perpetuate his error, and wander infinitely, if he had not this self-re­flecting power, and, if he do well never know, without it, the comfort of a rational self-approbation. Which comfort Paganish morality hath valued so highly, as to account it did associate a man with the inhabitants of heaven; [...], &c. [...]. and make him lead his life as among the gods (as their Pagan language is) Though the name of this reflecting power [Conscience] they were less acquainted with; the thing it self they reckon'd as a kind of indwelling Deity, (as may be seen at large in those Discourses of Maximus Tyrius, and Apuleius both upon the same subject concerning the god of Socrates) And another giving this precept, Familiarize thy self with the gods; adds, ‘and this shalt thou do, if thou bear thy mind becomingly towards them; being well pleased with the things they give, and doing the things that may please thy Daemon or Genius, whom (saith he) the most high God (which they mean by Jupiter) hath put into every man as as a derivation or extraction from himself ( [...]) to be his president and guide,Mar. Anto­nin. Lib. 5. viz. every ones own mind and reason.’

And this mind or reason in that notion of it, [Page 249] as we approve our selves to it, and study to please it; is the same thing we intend by the name of Conscience.

And how high account they had of this work of self-reflection, may appear in that they entituled the Oracle to that document Know thy self, Ecoelo descen­dit [...]. esteeming it above humane discovery, and that it could have no lower than a divine Original; therefore consecrating and writing it up in golden Characters in their Delphick Temple (as Pliny informsHist. Mundi The wisedom and significan­cy of which Dedication Plato also (in Alcibiad. 1.) takes notice of. us) for an heaven­ly-inspired dictate.

Among Christians that enjoy the benefit of the Gospel-revelation, in which men may be­hold themselves, as one may his natural face in a glass, how highly should this self-knowledge be prized, and how fully attained? The Gos­pel discovers, at the same time, the ugly de­formities of a mans soul, and the means of at­taining a true spiritual comliness; Yea it is it self the instrument of impressing the divine image, and glory upon mens Spirits; which when it is in any measure done they become most sociable, and conversable with them­selves; and when 'tis but in doing, it so con­vincingly and with so piercing energy, layes open the very thoughts of mens hearts, so thoroughly rips up and diffects the soul,Heb. 4. 12. so directly turns and strictly holds a mans eye, intent upon himself; so powerfully urges, and obliges the sinner to mind and study his own soul; that, where it hath affected any thing, been any way operative upon mens spirits, they are certainly supposed to be in a good [Page 250] measure acquainted with themselves, whatever others are. Therefore the Apostle bids the Corinthians if they desire a proof of the power and truth of his ministery; to consult them­selves, [examine your selves] and presently sub­joyns know ye not your own selves? 2 Cor. 13. 5. intimating it was an unsupposeable thing they should be ig­norant; What? Christians, and not know your selves? Can you have been under the Gos­pel so long, and be strangers to yourselves? none can think it. Sure 'tis a most reproach­ful thing; a thing full of ignonimy, and scan­dal, that a man should name himself a Chri­stian; and yet be under grosse ignorance touching the temper, and bent of his own soul. It signifies that such a one understands little of the design and tendency of the very religion he pretends to be of; Yet he was a Christian by meer chance, that he took up, and conti­nues his profession in a dream. Christianity aims at nothing; it gets a man nothing; if it do not procure him a better Spirit? 'tis an empty insignificant thing, it hath no design in it at all, if it do not design this. It pretends to nothing else. It doth not offer men se­cular advantages, emoluments, honours, it hath no such aim to make men in that sense, rich, or great, or honourable, but to make them holy, and fit them for God. He there­fore loses all his labour, and reward, and shews himself a vain trifler in the matters of Religi­on, that makes not this the scope and mark of his Christian profession, and practice, and herein he can do nothing without a constant self-in­spection. [Page 251] As it therefore highly concerns, it well becomes a Christian under the Gospel, to be in a continual observation, and study of himself; that he may know to what purpose he is a Christian; and take notice what (or whether any) good impressions be yet made upon his Spirit; whether he gain any thing by his Religion. And if a man enter upon an enquirie into himself; what more important question can he put then this; In what posture am I as to my last and chief end? how is my Spirit framed towards it? This is the in­tendment and business of the Gospel, To fit souls for blessedness: and therefore if I would enquire, what am I the better for the Gospel? this is the sense and meaning of that ve­ry question, is my soul wrought by it to any better disposition for blessedness? Upon which the resolution of this depends; am I ever like­ly to enjoy it, yea or no? That which may make any heart, not deplorably stupid, shake, and tremble; that such a thing should be drawn into question; but the case, with the most, re­quires it, and it must be so. 'Tis that there­fore, I would fain here, awaken souls to, and assist them in; that is, propound something (in pursuance of the present direction) which might both awaken them to move this great que­stion, and help them in discussing it. Both which will be done in shewing the importance of this latter ultimate question in it self, and then the subserviencie of the former subordinate one, to­wards the deciding it. These two things there­fore I shall a little stay upon.

[Page 252] 1. To shew and urge the requisiteness of debating with ourselves, the likelihood, or hopefulnesse of our enjoying this blessed­nesse.

2. To discover that the present habitude, or disposedness of our Spirits to it, is a very pro­per apt medium, whereby to judge there­of.

First, As to the former of these; methinks our business should do it self, and that the very mention of such a blessedness, should na­turally prompt souls to bethink themselves, doth it belong to me? have I any thing to do with it? Methinks every one that hears of it should be beforehand with me; and prevent me here. Where is that stupid soul that reckons it an in­different thing to attain this blessed state, or fall short of it? When thou hearest this is the common expectation of Saints, to behold the face of God, and be satisfi'd with his likeness, when they awake; Canst thou forbear to say with thy self, and what shall become of me when I awake! what kind of awaking shall I have! shall I awake amid'st the beams of glory, or flames of wrath? If thou canst be perswaded to think this no matter of indifferency; then stir up thy drowsie soul to a serious inquirie, how 'tis like­ly to fare with thee for ever; and to that pur­pose put thy conscience to it, to give a free, sin­cere answer to these few Queries.

1. Canst thou say, thou art already certain of thy eternal blessedness? Art thou so sure, that thou need'st not enquire. I know not who thou art that now readest these lines, [Page 253] and therefore cannot judg of thy confidence, whether it be right or wrong; onely that thou may'st not answer too hastily, consider a little; that certainty of salvation is no common thing: Phil. 2. 12. not among (I speak you see of subje­ctive certainty) the heirs of salvation them­selves. How many of Gods holy ones, that cannot say they are certain, yea how few, that can say they are? That exhortation to a Church of Saints, Work out your salvation with fear and trembling (they of whom he ex­presseth such confidence, Chap. 1. 6. over whom he so glories, Chap. 4. 1.) implyes this to be no common thing. So doth Christs advice to his Disciples, Strive to enter in at the strait gate; and St. Peters to the scattered Jews (that he saith had obtained like precious faith, &c.) give diligence to make your calling and election sure, with many more passages of like import. Yea, how full is the Scripture of the complaints of such crying out of bro­ken bones, of festering wounds, of distra­ction by divine terrours. Now what shall we say in this case, when so eminent Saints have left us Records of the distresses and agonies of their Spirits, under the apprehended dis­pleasure of God; may it not occasion us to suspend a while, and consider; have we much more reason to be confident then they? And do we know none that lead stricter, and more holy lives then we, that, are yet in the dark, and at a losse in judging their Spiritual states? I will not say that we must therefore think our selves bound to doubt, because another possibly [Page 254] ter then we doth so. Unknown accidents may much vary the cases. But, who would not think that reason, and modesty had quite for­saken the world, to hear (where the odds is so vastly great) the vain boasts of the loose ge­nerality, compared with the humble, solici­tous doubts of many serious knowing Christi­ans? To see such trembling about their soul concernments, who have walk't with God, and served him long in prayers, and tears; when multitudes that have nothing whereon to bottom a confidence, but Pride, and Igno­rance; shall pretend themselves certain! If, drawing breath a while, thou wilt suspect thou have reason not to be peremptory in thy con­fidence; thou wilt sure think thy self con­cern'd to inquire further. Urge thy Soul then with this question again and again, art thou yet certain, yea or no.

2. Is it a comfortable state to be uncertain, or to have before thee apparent grounds of a rational, and just doubt? For causeless doubts may sooner vanish, when their cause­lesness is once discovered; and so they are less likely to keep a person that is capable of understanding his own case, under a stated dis­comfort. But I suppose thee, in order to the answering the foregoing Querie, to have in some measure considered thy case; and that, with a preponderating apprehension of danger in it, thou returnest it uncertain. Uncertain man! and what, wilt thou remain uncertain? wilt thou sit still so, till thou perish? shall thy life hang in doubt, and thy soul be in jeopardy [Page 255] every hour, till the everlasting flames resolve the doubt; and put the matter out of question with thee? What course canst thou apply thy self to, but to inquire, and search further into thy own state, to avoid the torture of thy own fears, the pangs, and dreadful expectations of a palpitating misgiving heart; 'tis tru, that inquisi­tive, diligent doubtfulness, hath hope, and comfort in it. But doubtfulness, joyned with a resolution of casting off all further care, is utterly desperate, and disconsolate; what re­mains to thee in that case, but a fearful, look­ing for a fiery indignation? how canst thou pass an hour in peace, while thou apprehendest it unlikely, thou see the face, and be satisfied with the image of God, do not thy own thoughts represent to thee the amazing sights, the hor­rid images which shall for ever entertain, and possess thy soul? Art thou not daily haunted with Divine Horrors? when thou sayest at night, thy bed shall refresh thee, art thou not terrified with dreams, and affrighted with visions? Dost thou not say in the morning, would to God it were evening, and in the evening say, would to God it were morning: And while thou knowest not what else to do, meditate onely changes instead of remedies. Or if thou find no such trouble invading thy mind, let me further ask.

3. Is it reasonable to be secure in such a state of uncertainty! Debate this matter a little while, with thy self. Is it thy reason, or thy sloth that makes thee sit still; and forbear to look into thy Spiritual affairs? Is it any ratio­nal [Page 256] consideration, or not rather the meer indispo­sition of a Soul, affraid to know its own state, that suspends thee from inquiring? what hast thou to say that looks like a reason? Is it that it will disturbe thy thoughts, interrupt thy pleasures, fill thee with anxious cares and fears, which thou art as loath to admit, as burning coals into thy bosome? Is it that thou canst not endure to look upon so dreadful an object, as the appearing danger, or possibility of thy being miserable to eternity? And art thou therefore resolved to shut thine eyes, and cry peace, peace? This is to avoid a present in­convenience by an eternal mischief (a gross overstraining of the Paradox! for avoiding the present fear of Hell, to run into it; as if be­cause a man cannot bear the thoughts of dy­ing, he should presently cut his own throat. Vain man! canst thou not bear the thoughts of eternal misery, how wilt thou bear the thing? And how long-liv'd dost thou think that peace shall be that thou purchasest upon so dear, and hard tearms? canst thou promise thy self an hour? may'st thou not lose thy purchase, and price together the next mo­ment? canst thou defer thy misery by forget­ting it? or will thy judgment linger, and thy damnation slumber, while thou securely lin­gerest, and slumberest? canst thou wink Hell into nothing; and put it out of being, by put­ting it out of thy thoughts? Alas man! open thy eyes, when thou wilt, thou shalt find thou h [...]st n [...]t bettered thy case by having kept them [...]st closed. The bitterness of death is not yet [Page 257] past. The horrid image is still before thee. This is not a phansied evil, which a man may dream himself into, and (eadem operâ) with as little difficultie, dream himself out of it again: no, thy case is miserable and danger­ous when thou composest thy self to sleep; if thou awakest, thou wilt find it still the same; onely thou did'st not apprehend it before, for then thou wouldest not have slept. As the Drunkard that kills a man, and after falls asleep in his drunken fit; he awakes and understands his wretched case. Would his sleeping on, till the Officers arrest had awak't him, have mended the matter with him?

But thou wilt possibly say, is it not better, here, to have a little quiet now, then to be mi­serable by sad thoughts here, and miserable by actual suffering hereafter too? Is not one death enough? why should one kill himself so often over? and hasten misery as if it came on too slowly?

Better, man? an hard choice. Supposing thou art to be eternally miserable; If thou un­derstand'st that word eternity; The good or evil of this little inch of time, will signifie so little with thee, as hardly to weigh any thing in the Scale of a rational judgment. But what, art thou now dreaming, while thou thus reasonest? Dost thou yet no better understand thy case? Art thou not under the Gospel? Is it not the day of thy hope, and of the Lords grace, and patience towards thee? It was said that sleeping would not better thy case; but it was not said, that awaking would not; but all [Page 258] that is here said, is designed to the awakening of thee, that thou may'st know thy case, and indeavour a redress. Dost thou think any man in his sober wits, would take all this pains thus to reason with thee, if that were the acknowledged, and agreed state of thy case; that it were already taken for granted thou must perish? We might as well go preach to Devils, and carry down the Gospel into Hell. But dost thou think the holy merciful God sent his Son, and his Ministers to mock men; and to treat with them about their eter­nal concernments, when there is no hope? Were that thy case, thou hadst as good a pre­tence as the Devil had, to complain of being tor­mented before thy [...]im; But if thou be not wil­fully perverse, in mistaking the matter we are reasoning about, thou may'st understand, Thy reason is here appealed to in this; whether having so fair hopes before thee, as the Gos­pel gives of this blessedness, we are discour­sing of; it be not reasonable from the appre­hension of a meer possibility of miscarrying, (which can only be through thy wilful securi­ty, and neglect) to give up thy self to a supine negligence, and indulge that security, which is so sure to ruine thee, and exchange possible h [...]ped heaven, for a certain Hell; or whether rather it be not reasonable, to stir up thy soul to consider in what posture thou art, towards the attainment of this blessedness; that thou may'st accordingly steer thy course in order to it? If an Accusation, or a Disease do threaten thy life; or a suspected slaw, thy Title, to thy [Page 259] Estate, would'st thou not think it reasonable to inquire into thy case? and is it not much more desirable, in a matter of this con­sequence to be at some certainty? and pru­dent to indeavour it, if it may possibly be at­tain'd? Whence let me further ask.

Fourthly, Canst thou pretend it to be impossible? Hath God left thee under a necessitated igno­rance, in this matter? or denied thee sufficient means of knowing how 'tis with thee in respect of thy Spiritual Estate? Though he have not given thee a List, or told thee the Number, or Names of his Sanctified ones; yet hath he not sufficiently described the persons, and gi­ven thee characters by which they may be known? And hath he not furnish't thee with a self reflecting power, by which thou art in­abled to look into thy self? and discern whe­ther thou be of them or no? Doth he not of­fer, and afford to serious, diligent souls, the assisting light of his blessed Spirit to guide, and succeed the inquirie? And if thou find it difficult, to come to a speedy, clear issue, to make a present, certain judgment of thy case; ought not that to ingage thee to a patient, continued diligence, rather then a rash, de­spairing madness, to desist, and cast off all? In as much as the difficultie, though great, is not insuperable, and the necessity, and advantage incomparably greater? And (though divers other things do confessedly fall in) the principal difficultie lies in thy aversation, and unwilling­ness. Thou art not put to traverse the Crea­tion, to climb Heaven, or dig through the [Page 260] Earth; but thy work lies nigh thee, in thy own heart, and Spirit, and what is so nigh, or should be so familiar to thee, as thy self? 'Tis but casting thy eye upon thy own soul, to dis­cern which way 'tis inclin'd, and bent, thou art urged to. Which is that we propounded next to discover. Viz.

2. That we are to judge of the hopefulness of our enjoying this blessedness, by the present habi­tude, or disposedness of our spirits thereto. For what is that righteousness which qualifies for it, but the impress of the Gospel upon the minds and hearts of men? The Gospel-revela­tion is the onely Rule, and Measure of that righ­teousness. It must therefore consist in confor­mity thereto. And look to the frame, and de­sign of the Gospel-revelation; and what doth so directly correspond to it, as that very habi­tude, and disposedness of spirit for this blessed­nesse whereof we speak? Nothing so answers, the Gospel, as a propension of heart towards God (gratifi'd in part, now, and increasing, till it find a full satisfaction) a desire of know­ing him, and of being like him. 'Tis the whole design of the Gospel, which reveals his glory in the face of Jesus Christ, to work and form the spirits of men to this. They there­fore whose spirits are thus wrought, and framed, are righteous by the Gospel-measure, and by th [...]t righteousness are evidently entituled, and fitted for this blessedness. Yea that righteousness hath in it (or rather is) the elements, the first Principles, the seed of this blessedness. There can therefore be no surer Rule, or Mark, [Page 261] whereby to judge our states, whether we have to do with this blessedness, may expect it yea or no, than this.

How stand we affected towards it, in what dispo­sition are our hearts thereto? Those fruits of righ­teousnesse, by which the soul is qualified to appear without offence in the day of Christ; the several graces of the Sanctifying Spirit; are nothing else but so many holy Principles, all disposing the soul towards this blessednesse, and the way to it, Mortification, Self-denial, and godly sorrow, take it off from other objects, the World, Self, and Sin, Repentance ( [...]that part of it which respects God) turns the course of its motion towards God, the end. Faith directs it, through Christ the way. Love makes it more freely; desire, earnestly; joy, pleasantly; hope, confidently; humility, even­ly; fear, circumspectly; patience, constantly, and perseveringly. All conspire to give the Soul aright disposition towards this blessed­ness. The result of them all is heavenliness; an heavenly temper of spirit. For they all (one way, or other) as so many Lines, and Rayes, have respect to a blessedness in God (which is heaven) as the point, at which they aim; and (the cuspis) the point in which they meet, in order to the touching of that objective point is heavenliness. This is the ultemate, and im­mediate disposition of heart, for this blessed­ness; the result (the terminus productus) of the whole work of righteousness, in the Soul; by which 'tis said to be as it were, gnota ad glo­riam, begotten to the eternal inheritance, [Page 262] Concerning this therefore, chiefly institute thy inquiry. Demand of thy self, is my soul yet made heavenly? bent upon eternal bles­sednesse or no? And here thou mayest easily apprehend of how great concernment it is, to have the right notion of heaven; or future blessedness, as was urged under the foregoing Rule. For if thou take for it, another thing; thou missest thy mark, and art quite beside thy business. But if thou retain a right, and scrip­tural state and notion of it; the Rule thou art to judge by, is sure; They shall have heaven whose hearts are intent upon it, and framed to it. Scripture is every where pregnant, and full of this.

The Apostle plainly intimates; this will be the rule of Gods final judgment. Certainly it cannot be unsafe for us, to judge our selves by the same Rule. He tells us, when God shall judge every one according to his works (the great business of the judgment day) eternal life, Rev. 2. 6, 7. shall be the portion of them, who, by patient continu­ance in well doing, sought glory, and honour, and immortality, (which are but other expres­sions of the same thing) what can be more plain. They shall have eternal life, and glory that seek it; whose hearts are to­wards it. Again, speaking of true Christians, [...] (i. e. in a way of contradiction from Pseudo-Christians, such, as, he saith, were ene­mies of the Crosse) he gives us (among o­ther) this brand of these latter; that they did mind earthly things, and tells us their end would be destruction, but gives us this opposite [Page 263] character of the other;Phil. 3. 18, 19, 20. our conversation is in heaven; our trade and business, our daily ne­gotiations (as well as the priviledges of our Citizen-ship) lie there (as his expression imports) and thence intimates the opposite end of such; whence we look for a [Saviour] not destruction, but salvation. And in the same Context of Scripture where,Col. 3. 1. 2, 3, 4. they that are risen with Christ, and who shall appear with him in glory, are requir'd to fet their [mind] on things above, not on things on the earth. That we may understand this, not to be their duty onely; but their character; we are immediately told; they who do not so mortifie, not their earthly members (those lusts that dispose men towards the earth, and to grovel in the dust, as the gra­ces of the Spirit dispose them heaven-ward, and to converse with glory) are the children of disobedience, upon whom the wrath of God com­eth. Heb. 11. 1▪ 13. 16. The Faith, the just live by, is the substance of things hoped for, &c. Such believers, are con­fessed, avowed strangers on earth, & seekers of the better, the heavenly Country, whence 'tis said, God will not be ashamed to be called their God: plain­ly implying, that as for low, terrene spirits; that love to creep on the earth, and imbrace Dunghills, God will be ashamed of them; he will for ever disdain a relation to them, while, and as such. And if we will be determined by the express word of our great Redeemer, to whom we owe all the hopes of this blessed­ness. When he had been advising not to lay up treasure on earth, Matth. 5▪ 19, 20, 21. but in heaven; he pre­sently adds, where your treasure is, there will your [Page 264] hearts be also. If thy treasure, thy great inte­rests, thy precious, and most valuable good, be above; that will attract thy heart, it will certainly be disposed thitherward.

Yet here it must carefully be considered; that, in as much as this blessednesse is thy end, i. e. thy Supream good (as the notion of trea­sure, also imports) Thy heart must be set up­on it above any other injoyment; else all is to no purpose. 'Tis not a faint, slight, overmastered inclination that will serve the turn; but (as all the forementioned Scriptures import) such as will bespeak it a mans business to seek hea­ven, his main work; and give ground to say of him, his heart is there. If two lovers solicit the same person, and, speaking of them in compa­risons she say, this hath my heart; is it tole­rable to understand her, as meaning him she loves less? so absurd would it be to understand Scriptures, that speak of such an intention of heart heaven-ward; as if the faintest desire, or coldest wish, or most lazie, inconstant in­deavour were all they meant. No, 'tis a steady prevalent, victorious direction of heart towards the future glory, in comparison whereof, thou despisest all things else (all temporal, terrene things) that must be the (evidential) ground of thy hope to enjoy it. And therefore in this, deal faithfully with thy own soul, and demand of it; Dost thou esteem this blessednesse above all things else? Do the thoughts of it continually return upon thee? and thy mind and heart, as it were naturally, run out to it? Are thy chie [...]est solicitudes, and [Page 265] cares taken up about it, least thou should'st fall short, and suffer a disappointment? Dost thou savour it with pleasure? hath it a sweet and grateful relish to thy Soul? dost thou bend all thy powers to pursue, and presse on towards it? Urge thy self to give answer truly to such enquiries; and to consider them seriously, that thou may'st do so.

Such whose Spirits are either most highly rai­sed, and lift up to heaven, or most deeply deprest, and sunk into the earth, may make the clear­est judgment of themselves. With them that are of a middle temper, the trial will be more difficult; yet, not fruitless, if it be mana­ged with serious diligence; though no certain conclusion or judgment be made thereupon.

For the true design, and use of all such en­quiries, and reflections upon our selves (which let it be duly considered) is, not to bring us into a state of cessation from further indeavours; as if we had nothing more to do, (suppose we judge the best of our state that can be thought) but to keep us in a wakeful temper of Spirit; that we may not forget our selves in the great business we have yet before us; but go on with renewed vigour, through the whole course of renew­ed indeavours, wherein we are to be still con­versant, till we have attained our utmost mark, and end. Therefore is this present enquiry di­rected, as introductive to the further duty, that, in the following Rules, is yet to be recom­mended.

CHAP. XVII.

Rule 3d. Directing such as upon enquirie find, or see cause to suspect a total aversation in themselves to this blessed­nesse, to be speedy, and restlesse in their indeavours, to have the temper of their Spirits altered, and made suitable to it. Doubts and Objections conconcerning the use of such indeavours, in such a case, answered. Some Considerations to en­force this Direction propounded and pressed.

3.Rule. 3. THat if, upon such reflection, we find, or suspect our selves, wholly diseffected, and unsuitable to this blessedness, we apply our selves to speedy, incessant in­deavours to get the temper of our Spirits changed, and fitted thereto.

The state of the case speaks it self, that there is no sitting still here. This is no condition, (Soul) to be rested in; unless thou art pro­vided to encounter the terrours of eternal darkness, and endure the torture of everlast­ing burnings. Yet am I not unapprehensive how great a difficulty a carnal heart will make of it, to bestir itself in order to any re­dresse of so deplorable a case. And how real a difficulty it is to say any thing, that will be thought regardable to such a one. Our sad ex­perience [Page 267] tells us, that our most efficacious words are commonly wont to be entertained, as neglected puffs of wind; our most convi­ctive reasonings, and perswasive exhortati­ons lost (yea, and though they are managed too in the name of the great God) as upon the deaf, and dead. Which is too often apt to tempt into that resolution, of speaking no more in that name. And were it not that the dread of that great Majesty retains us; how hard were it to forbear such expostulati­ons; ‘Lord, why are we commonly sent upon so vain an errand? Why are we required to speak to them that will not hear? and ex­pose thy sacred truths and counsels, to the contempt of sinful worms? to labour day by day in vain, and spend our strength for nought.’ Yea; we cannot forbear to complain. ‘None so labour in vain as we. Of all men, none so generally, im­prosperous, and unsuccessful. Others are wont to see the fruit of their labours, in pro­portion to the expence of strength in them. But our strength is labour, and sorrow, (for the most part) without the return of a joy­full fruit. The Husbandman ploughs in hope, and sowes in hope, and is, commonly, partaker of his hope; we are sent to plough, and sow among Rocks, and Thorns, and in the high Way; how seldom fall we upon good ground! where we have any increase. Yea Lord! how often are men the harder for all our labours with them, the deader for all indeavours to quicken them. Our [Page 268] breath kills them, whom thou sendest us to speak life to, and we often become to them a a deadly savour. Sometime, when we think somewhat is done to purpose, our labour, all returns, and we are to begin again; and when the duties we perswade to come di­rectly to cross mens interests, and carnal in­clinations, they revolt and start back, as if we were urging them upon flames, or the swords point, and their own souls, and the eternal glory are regarded as a thing of naught. Then Heaven and Hell become with them Phancies and Dreams, and all that we have said to them false and fabulous. We are to the most, as men that mock, in our most serious warnings, and counsels, and the word of the Lord is a reproach. We some­times fill our mouthes with Arguments, and our hearts with Hope, and think, sure, they will now yield, but they esteem our strong­est reasonings (as Leviathan doth Iron, and Brass) but as Straw, and rotten Wood, and laugh at Divine threatnings; as he doth at the shaking of the Spear. Yea, and when we have convinc't them, yet we have done no­thing; though we have got their Judge­ments and Consciences on our side, and their own; their Lusts, onely, reluctate, and carry all. They will now have their way, though they perish. We see them perishing under our very eye, and we cry to them (in thy name, O Lord) to turn, and live, but they regard us not. For these things some­times we weep in secret, and our eyes trickle [Page 269] down with tears, yea we cry to thee, O Lord! and thou hearest us not; thy hand seems shortened, that it cannot save; it puts not on strength as in the days of old. It hath snatcht souls by thousands, as firebrands out of the fire, but now thou hidest and drawest it back. Who hath believed our report, to whom is the Arm of the Lord revealed. Mean while even the Divels instruments prosper more than we. And he that makes it his business to tempt, and intice down souls to hell, suc­ceeds more then we that would allure them to heaven.’

But we must speak, whether men will hear, or forbear, though it concerns us to do it with fear and trembling. Oh how solemn a business is it to treat with souls! and how much to be dreaded least they miscarry through our impru­dence, or neglect! I write with sollicitude what shall become of these lines; with what ef­fect they will be read (if they fall into such hands) by them, whom they most concern; Yea, and with some doubt, whether it were best to write on, or forbear. Sometimes one would incline to think it, a merciful omission [...] lest we adde to the account, and torment of many at last, but sense of duety towards all; and hope of doing good to some must oversway. Con­sidering therefore the state of such souls I am now dealing with, I apprehend there may be obstructions to the entertainment of the coun­sell here recommended, of two sorts; partly in their minds, partly in their hearts, something of appearing reason; but more of re [...] perverse [Page 270] will. That which I shall do in persuance of it, will fall under two answerable heads,

  • 1. A reply to certain doubts and objections wherein to meet with the former.
  • 2. The proposal of some considerations, wherein to contend against the latter.

As to the first, It appears men are grown in­geniously wicked; and have learned how to dis­pute themselves into hell; and to neglect what concerns their eternal blessednesse, with some colour, and pretence of reason. It will therefore be worth the while to discusse a little their more specious pretences; and consider their more obvious (supposeable) scruples, which will be found to concern, either the possibility, lawful­ness, advantage, or necessity of the endeavours we perswade to.

Is it a possible undertaking you put us upon?Doubt. 1. or is there any thing we can do in order to the change of our own hearts? We find our selves altogether, un­desirous of those things wherein you state blessedness, and they are without savour to us. If therefore the notion you give us of blessedness be right, all the work necessary to quallifie us for it, is yet to be done; we yet remain wholly destitute of any prin­ciple of life, that may dispose us to such relishes and injoyments. If the new Creature, (as you say) consist in a suitable temper of Spirit unto such a state as this, 'tis as yet wholly unformed in us. And is there any thing to be done by a dead man in order to life? Can a Child contribute any thing to its first formation? or a Creature to its coming into being?

If you were serious in what you say;Reply. methinks you should have little mind to play the Sophi­sters, [Page 271] and put fallacies upon yourselves in a matter that concerns the life of your souls. And what else are you now doing? For sure, otherwise one would think it were no such dif­ficulty to understood the difference between (the esse simpliciter) the meer being of any thing, and (the esse tale) its being such, or such; by the addition of somewhat afterward to that being, Though nothing could contribute to its one being simply. Yet sure, when it is in being, it may contribute to the bettering, or perfecting of it self (as even the unreasonable creatures themselves do) And if it be a creature natural­ly capable of acting with design, It may act de­signedly in order to its becoming so or so qual­lified, or the attaining of somewhat yet wan­ting to its perfection. You cannot be thought so ignorant, but that you know the new Creature is onely an additional to your former being. And though it be true, that it can do no more to its own production, than the unconceived Child (as nothing can act before it is) doth it there­fore follow, that your reasonable soul, in which it is to be formed, cannot use Gods prescribed means in order to that blessed change? You can­not act holily, as a Saint; but therefore can you not act rationally, as a man! I appeal to your reason and conscience in some particulars.

Is it impossible to you to attend upon the dis­pensation of that Gospel, which is Gods power unto salvation? the seal by which he impresses his image, the glass through which his glory shines to the changing of soules into the same likeness, are you not as able to go to Church, [Page 272] as to the Tavern; and to sit in the assembly of Saints, as of Mockers?

Is it Imp [...]ssible to you to consult the written word of God, and thence▪ learn what you must be and do in order to blessedness? will not your eyes serve you to read the Bible as well as a Ga­zett or Play-book?

Is it impossible to inquire of your Minister, or an understanding Christian neighbour con­cerning the way and terms of blessednesse! Can­not your tongue pronounce these words, what shall I do to be saved? as well as those, pray what do you to think of the weather? or what news is there going! Yet further,

Is it impossibly to apply your thoughts to what you meet with suitable to your case, in your attendance upon preaching, reading, or dis­course? Have all such words a barbaro [...]s sound, in your ear, can you not consider what sense is car­ried under them? What they import and signify? can you not bethink yourself; do the doctrines of God, and Christ, and the life to come, signifie something or nothing? or do they signifie any thing worth the considering, or that tis fit for me to take notice of?

And yet to proceed a little further with you,

I pray you once more demand of yourselves, and put your consciences clossely to it; whe­ther, when they have told you (as no doubt they will) that such things deserve your con­sideration, it be impossible to you, to use your considering power thus, and imploy it even about these things. Do but make this easie tryal, and then say, whether it be impossible; See if you [Page 273] cannot select one hour on purpose, wherein to it down by yourselves alone, with this resoluti­on. Well, I will now spend this hour in considering my eternal concernments. When you have ob­tained so much of your self: set your thoughts on work (you will find them voluble and un­fixt, very apt to revolt, and fly off from things you have no mind to) but use your authority with your self. Tell your soul (or let it tell it self) these things concern thy life. At least, tak­ing this prepared matter along with thee (that [...]hou mayst not have this pretence thou know­est not what to think of) try if thou canst not think of these things, now actually suggested, and offered to thy thoughts; as namely,

Consider, that thou hast a reasonable immor­tal soul, which, as it is liable to eternal misery, [...]o it is capable of eternal blessedness.

That this blessedness thou dost understand to consist onely in the vision of the blessed God, in being made like to him, and in the satisfaction that [...]s thence to result and acrue to thee.

Consider (what thy very objection suppos­eth) that thou findest the temper of thy Spi­rit to be altogether indisposed, and averse to such a blessedness. Is it not so? is not this thy very case? feel now again thy heart, try is it not at least coldly affected towards this blessed state?

Is it not then obvious to thee to consider that the temper of thy Spirit must be changed, or thou art undone? That, inasmuch as thy bles­sedness lyes in God, this change mustly in the alteration of thy dispositions and the po­sture [Page 274] of thy Spirit towards him. Further,

Canst thou not consider the power, and fixedness of thy aversation from God? and with how mighty a weight thy heart is carri­ed, and held down from him? Try, lift at thy heart, see if it will be raised God-ward, and Heaven-ward? dost thou not find it is as if thou wert lifting at a Mountain, that it lies as a dead weight, and stirs not? ponder thy case in this respect. And then,

Is it not to be considered, that thy time is passing away apace? that if thou let thy self alone, 'tis likely to be as bad with thee to morrow, as this day, and as bad next day, as to morrow? And if thy time expire, and thou be snatcht away in this state, what will become of thee? And dost thou not therefore, see a necessity of considering what ever may be most moving, and most likely to incline thy heart God-ward, of pleading yet more lowdly, and importunately with thy self?

And canst thou not consider, and reason the matter thus? ‘O my soul, what's the reason that thou so drawest back, and hangest off from thy God? that thou art so unwilling to be blessed in him? that thou shouldest ven­ture to run thy self upon eternal perdition rather? what cause hath he ever given thee to disaffect him? what is the ground of thy so mighty prejudice? Hath he ever done thee hurt? Dost thou think he will not accept a returning soul? that is to give the lie to his Gospel, and it becomes not a perishing wretch so to provoke him in whom is all [Page 275] its hope. Is the eternal glory an unde­sirable thing? or the everlasting burnings tolerable? canst thou find a way of being for ever blessed without God, or whether he will or no? or is there a sufficient, present plea­sure in thy sinful distance from God, to out­weigh Heaven and Hell? Darest thou ven­ture upon a resolution of giving God and Christ their last refusal? or say, thou wilt never hearken to, or have to do with them more? or darest thou venture to do, what thou darest not resolve? and act the wicked­ness thou canst not think of? scorn eternal Majestie and love? spurn and trample a bleeding Saviour.’

Commune thus awhile with thy self, but if yet thou find thy heart relent nothing. Thou canst yet further consider, that it lies not in thy power to turn thy own heart (or else how comest thou thus to object?) And hence,

Canst thou avoid considering, this is a di­stressed case? that thou art in great straits; li­able to perish (yea sure to do so, if thou con­tinue in that ill temper of Spirit) and wholly unable to help thy self. Surely thou canst not but see this to be a most distressed case.

I put it now to thy conscience; whether, being thus led on, thou canst not go thus far. See whether upon trial, thy Conscience give thee leave to say; I am not able thus to do, or think: and be not here so foolish, as to sepa­rate the action of the first cause, and the se­cond, in judging thy ability: Thou may'st say no, I cannot think a good thought without [Page 276] God; true, so I know thou canst not move thy finger without God; but my meaning in this appeal to thy Conscience, is, whether up­on trial, thou findest not an assistance sufficient to carry thee thus far?

Possibly thou wilt say yea; but what am I the better: I am onely brought to see my self in a dristressed, perishing condition, and can get no further.

I answer, 'tis well thou art got so far; if thou do indeed see thy self perishing, and thy drowsie soul awake, into any sense of the sadness of thy case. But I intend not thus to leave thee here. Therefore let me, further­more, demand of me. What course would'st thou take in any other distress, wherein thou knowest not what to do to help thy self? would not such an exigencie, when thou findest thy self pinch't, and urg'd on every side, and eve­ry way is shut up to thee, that thou art beset with calamities, and canst no way turn thy self to avoid them; [...]udio v [...]l [...]us cum ad coe [...]u [...] [...] nihil aliud quam Deum [...], v [...]lgi naturalis [...] est s [...]rmo. Min. F [...]l. Oct [...]. would not such an exi­gencie force thee down on thy knees? and set thee a crying to the God of mercy for relief and help? would not Nature it self prompt to this. Is it not Natural to lift up▪ Hands, and Eyes to Heaven, when we know not what to do?

Therefore having thus far reasoned with thee about thy considering power. Let me de­mand of thee, if thou canst not yet go some­what further then considering? that is, in short,

Is it impossible to thee to obey this dictate of [Page 277] nature? I mean, represent the deplorable case of thy soul before him that made it? and crave his merciful relief? Do not dispute the mat­ter, thou canst not but see this is a possible, and a rational course as thy case is. Should not a people seek unto their God? Fall down therefore low before him, prostrate thy self at the foot­stool of his mercy-seat. Tell him thou un­derstandest him to be the Father of Spirits, and the Father of Merci [...]s, that thou hast heard of his great mercy, and pitty towards the spirits of men, in their forlorn lapsed state. What a blessedness he hath designed for them, what means he hath designed to bring them to it. Tell him thou only needest a temper of Spirit, suitable to this blessedness he invites thee to. That thou can'st not master, and change thy sensual, earthly heart, thou know'st he easily can; thou art come to implore his help, that his blessed, and holy Spirit may descend, and breath upon thy stupid, dead Soul; and may sweetly encline, and move it towards him, that it may eternally rest in him; and that thou may'st not perish, after so much done, in order to thy blessedness; onely for want of a heart to entertain it. Tell him thou com'st upon his gracious encouragement, having heard he is as ready to give his Spirit, to them that ask him, as Parents bread to their craving Chil­dren, rather then a stone. That 'tis for life thou beggest. That 'tis not so easie to thee to think of perishing for ever, that thou canst not desist, and give up all thy hopes; that thou shalt be in Hell shortly, if he hear and help thee not.

[Page 278] Lastly, If thus thou obtain any communi­cation of that holy blessed Spirit, and thou find it gently moving thy dead heart, let me once more demand of thee; Is it impossible to forbear this or that external act of sin at this time, when thou art tempted to it, sure thou can'st not say, 'tis impossible. What neces­sitates thee to it? and then certainly thou may'st as well, ordinarily, with-hold thy self from running into such customary sensualities, as tend to grieve the Spirit, debauch Con­science, stupifie thy Soul, and hide God from thee.

And if thou canst do all this, do not fool thy slothful soul with as idle a conceit, that thou hast nothing to do, but to sit still, expecting till thou drop into Hell.

2. But have I not reason to fear I shall but add sin to sin,Doubt 2. in all this? and so increase the burden of guilt upon my own soul, and by endea­vouring to better my case, make it far worse.

Two things I consider, that suggest to me this fear. The

  • Manner,
  • End,

of the duties you put me upon, as they will be done by me in the case wherein I apprehend my self yet to lie.

1. Manner. (As to the positive actions you advise to) I have heard the best actions of an un­regenerate person, are sins through the sinfulness of their manner of doing them, though as to mat­ter of the thing done, they be injoyned, and good. And though it be true, that the regenerate cannot perform a sinless duty, neither yet their persons, and works being covered over with the righteous­ness [Page 279] of Christ, are look't upon as having no sin in them, which I apprehend to be none of my case.

2. End. You put me upon these things in order to the attaining of blessedness: and to do such things with intuition to a reward, is to be (as may be doubted) unwarrantably, mercenary, and [...]ervile.

1. First,Reply. as to this former reason of your doubt, methinks the proposal of it answers it. For as much as you acknowledge the matter of these actions to be good, and duty (and plain it is they are Moral duties, of common, perpetual concernment to all persons, and times) dare you decline, or dispute against your duty.

Sure, if we compare the evil of what is so substantially in itself, and what is so circumstan­tially, onely by the adherence of some undue modus, or manner; it cannot be hard to de­termine which is the greater, and more dread­ful evil. As to the present case, shouldst thou, when the great God sends abroad his Procla­mation of pardon and peace, refuse to attend it; to consider the contents of it, and thy own case in reference thereto; and there up­on to sue to him for the life of thy own soul. Dost thou not plainly see thy refusal must needs be more provoking then thy defective performance. This speaks disability, but that rebellion, and contempt Therefore as to that form of expression [that such acts of unre­generate men are sins] that is a Ca­techrestical piece of Rhe­torick which being so un­derstood, is harmless, but to use it in property of speech, and thence to go about to make men believe that it's a sin to do their duty, is void both of truth & sense, and full of danger unto the souls of men.. Besides, dost thou not see that thy objection lies as much against every other action of thy life; the wise man tells us, the ploughing of the wicked is sin, (i [...] that be literally to be understood.Prov. 21. 4.) And [Page 280] what would'st thou therefore sit still and do nothing; Then how soon would that Idleness draw on gross wickedness? and would not that be a dreadful confutation of thy self, if thou who didst pretend a scruple, that thou might­est not pray, read, hear, meditate, shalt not scruple to play the glutton, the drunkard, the wanton, and indulge thy self in all riot, and excess. Yea, if thou do not break out into such exorbitances, would any one think him serious, that should say it were against his Con­science to be working out his salvation, and stri­ving to enter in at the strait gate. Seeking first the Kingdom of God, &c. would not this sound strangely? and especially that, in the mean time, it should never be against his Consci­ence, to trifle away his time, and live in per­petual neglects of God, in persevering A­theism, Infidelity, Hardness of heart, never re­gretted or striving against; as if these were more innocent?

And what thou say'st of the different case of the regenerate, is impertinent; for as to this matter, the case is not different, they that take [...] themselves to be such, must not think that by their supposed interests in the righteous­ness of Christ, their real sins cease to be such, they only become pardoned sins; and shall they therefore sin more boldly then other men, be­cause they are surer of pardon?

Secondly. As to the other Ground of this Doubt, there can onely be a fear of sinning, upon this account, to them, that make more sins and duties then God hath made. The [Page 281] doubt supposes Religion inconsistent with Hu­manity, and that God were about to raze out of the nature of man, one of the most radical, and fundamental Laws written there, A desire of blessedness. And supposes it, against the expresse scope, and tenour of his whole Gos­pel-revelation. For what doth that design, but to bring men to blessedness? and how is it a means to compass that design, but as it tends to ingage mens spirits to design it too? unless we would imagine they should go to heaven blindfold; or be roll'd thither as stones, that know not whether they are mov'd; in which case the Gospel, that reveals the eternal glo­ry, and the way to it, were an useless thing. If so express words had not been in the Bible, as that Moses had respect to the recompence of re­ward; yea, that our Lord Jesus himself for the joy set before him, indured the Cross, &c. this had been a little more colourable, or more modest.

And what, do not all men in all the ordina­ry actions of their lives act, allowable enough, with intuition to much lower ends? even those particular ends, which the works of their several callings tend to, else they should act as bruites in every thing they do. And would such a one scruple, if he were pining for want of bread, to beg, or labour for it, for this end, to be relieved. 'Tis the mistaking of the notion of Heaven, that hath also an ingrediency into this doubt (if it be really a doubt) what is it a low thing to be filled with the Divine fulness? to have his Glory replenishing our souls? [Page 282] to be perfectly freed from sin? in every thing conformed unto this holy nature and will? That our minding our interest in this, or any affairs, should be the principal thing with us, is not to be thought; our Supreme end must be the same with his, who made all things for himself, of whom, through whom, and to whom all things are, that he alone might have the glory. But subordinates need not quar­rel. A lower end doth not exclude, the higher but serves it; and is, as to it, a means. God is our end, as he is to glorified, and enjoyed by us: our glorifying him is but the agnition of his glory; which we do most in beholding, and partaking it, which is therefore in direct sub­ordination thereto.

3. But it may further be doubted, Doubt. 3. what if it be acknowledged that these are both things pos­sible and lawful; yet to what purpose will it be to attempt any thing in this kind? O! what assurance have I of success? is there any word of promise for the encouragement of one in my case? or is God under any obligation to reward the indeavours of nature with special grace? wherefore, when I have done all I can, he may with-hold his in­fluence, and then I am but where I were, and may perish notwithstanding.

And suppose thou perish notwithstanding.Reply. Do but yet consult a little with thy own thoughts, which is more tolerable and easie to them to perish, as not attaining what thy fainter struglings could not reach; or for the most direct, wilful rebellion; doing wickedly as thou couldest? Or who shall have, thinkest thou, [Page 283] the more fearful condemnation. He that shall truely say when his Master comes to judgment; ‘I never had indeed (Lord) an heart so fully changed, and turned to thee, as should de­note me to be the subject of thy saving, par­doning mercy; but thou knowest (who knowest all things) I long (and with some earnestness) did endeavour it. Thou hast been privy to my secret desires, and moanes, to the weak strivings of a listless, distempered spirit, not pleased with it self; aiming at a better temper towards thee. I neglected not thy prescribed means, onely that grace which I could not challenge thou wast plea­sed not to give; thou didst require what I must confess my self to have owed thee; thou did'st with-hold onely what thou owedst me not; therefore must I yield my self a convicted guilty wretch, and have nothing to say why thy sentence should not pass. Or he that shall as truely hear from the mouth of his Judge; Sinner, thou wast often forewarned of this approaching day, and call'd upon to provide for it. Thou hadst Precept, upon Precept, and Line, upon Line. The counsels of life, and peace were, with frequent impor­tunity prest upon thee, but thou rejectedst all with proud contempt, did'st despise, with the same profane scorn, the offers, com­mands, and threats of him that made thee; hardenest thy heart to the most obstinate re­bellion against his known Laws, did'st all the wickedness to which thy heart prompted thee, without restraint, declinedst every [Page 284] thing of duty which his Authority, and the exigency of thy own case did oblige thee to; did'st avoid, as much as thou couldest, to hear or know any thing of my will, could'st not find one serious considering hour in [...] whole life time, to bethink thy self wha [...] was likely to become of thee, when thy place on earth should know thee no more. Thou might'st know thou wast at my mercy, thy breath in my hand, and that I could easily have cut thee off, any moment of that large space of time, my patience allow'd thee in the world. Yet thou never thought'st it worthy the while to sue to me for thy life. Destruction from the Lord was never a ter­rour to thee. Thou would'st never be brought upon thy knees, I had none of thy addresses, never didst thou sigh out a serious request for mercy: Thy soul was not worth so much in thy account. Thy blood, wretch be upon thy guilty head; Depart accursed into everlasting flames, &c.’

Come now, use thy reason a while; imploy a few sober thoughts about this matter; re­member, thou wilt have a long eternitie, wherein to recognize the passages of thy life, and the state of thy case in the last judgement. Were it supposeable, that one who had done as the former, should be left finally destitute of Divine Grace, and perish. Yet, in which of these cases would'st thou chuse to be found at last?

But why yet should'st thou imagine so sad an issue as that after thine utmost endeavours▪ [Page 285] grace should be with-held, and leave thee to perish; because God hath not bound himself by promise to thee? what promise have the Ravens to be heard when they cry? But thou art a sin­ner. True, otherwise thou wert not without promise; the promises of the first Covenant would, at least, belong to thee. Yet experi­ence tells the world his unpromised mercies free­ly flow every where; The whole earth is full of his goodness; yea, but his special grace is convey'd by promise onely; and that onely through Christ; and how can it be communicated [thr [...]ugh him] to any but those that are in him? What then is the first inbeing in Christ no special grace? or is there any being in him before the first, that should be the ground of that graci [...]us communication? things are plain enough, if we make them not intricate, or intangle our selves by foolish subtilties. God promises sinners indefinitely pardon, and eternal life for the sake of Christ, on condition that they believe on him. He gives of his good pleasure that grace whereby he draws any to Christ, without promise dire­ctly made to them, whether absolute, or conditio­nal; though he give it for the sake of Christ also. His discovery of his purpose to give such grace to some▪ indifinitely, amounts not to a promise claimable by any, for if it be said to be an absolute promise, to particular persons, who are they? whose duty is it to believe it made to him? If conditional, what are the conditions upon which the first grace is certainly promised? who can be able to assign them?

But poor soul! thou need'st not stay to puzzle [Page 286] thy self about this matter. God binds himself to do what he promises; but hath he any where bound himself to do no more? Did he promise thee thy being; or that thou should'st live to this day? did he promise thee the bread that sustains thee, the daily comforts of thy life? Yea, (what is nearer the present purpose) did he promise thee a station under the Gos­pel? or that thou should'st ever hear the name of Christ? if ever his Spirit have in any de­gree mov'd upon thy heart, inclin'd thee at all seriously to consider thy eternal concern­ments, did he beforehand make thee any pro­mise of that?

A promise would give thee a full certainty of the issue, if it were absolute out of hand? if con­ditional, assoon as thou findest the condition performed. But what, canst thou act upon no lower rate then a foregoing certainty, a preassu­rance of the event?

My friend, consider a little, (what thou canst not but know already) that 'tis HOPE (built with those that are rational, upon rational probabi­lities, with many, oftentimes, upon none at all) is the great Engine that moves the World, that keeps all sorts of men in action. Doth the Husbandman foreknow when he Ploughs, and Sows; that the Crop will answer his cost, and pains. Doth the Merchant foreknow, when he Imbarques his goods, he shall have a safe, and gainful return? Dost thou foreknow, when thou eatest, it shall refresh thee? when thou takest Physick, that it shall recover thy health? and save thy life? Yea further, can the c [...] ­ [...]tous [Page 287] man pretend a promise, that his unjust practises shall inrich him? the malicious, that he shall prosper in his design of revenge? the ambitions, that he shall be great and honourable? the voluptuous, that his pleasures shall be always unmixt with gall, and wormwood? Can any say, they ever had a promise to ascertain them that profaneness and sensuality would bring them to Heaven? that an ungodly dissolute life would end in blessedness? Here the Lord knows men can be confident, and active enough without a promise, and against many an expresse threatning. Wilt thou not upon the hope thou hast before thee, do as much for thy soul, for eternal blessedness, as men do for uncertain riches, short pleasures, an airie soon-blasted name? yea as much as men desperately do to damn themselves, and pur­chase their own swift destruction.

Or canst thou pretend, though thou hast no preassuming promise, thou hast no hope? Is it nothing to have heard so much of Gods gra­cious Nature? Is it suitable to the reports, and discoveries he hath made of himself, to let a poor wretch perish at his feet, that lies prostrate there expecting his mercy? Did'st thou ever hear he was so little a lover of souls? Do his giving his Son, his earnest, unwearied strivings with sinners, his long pa­tience, the clear beams of Gospel-light, the amiable appearances of his Grace, give gro [...]nd for no better, no kinder thoughts of him? yea, hath he not expresly stiled himself the God hearing prayers, taken a name on purpose to en­courage [Page 288] all flesh to come to him. Wilt thou dare then to adopt those profane words,Psal. 65. 2. what profit is it to pray to him? Job 21. 15. and say, 'tis better sit still, resolving to perish, then address to him, or seek his favour, because he hath not by promise assured thee of the issue, and that, if he suspends his grace, all thou dost, will be in vain?

‘How would'st thou judge of the like reso­lution? If the Husbandman should say, when I have spent my pains, and cost in breaking up, and preparing the Earth, and casting in my Seed; if the Sun shine not, and the rain fall not in season; if the influ­ences of Heaven be suspended, if God with­hold his blessing: or if an evading enemy anticipate my Harvest; all I do, and expend, is to no purpose; and God hath not ascertain'd me of the contrarie, by expresse promise; 'tis as good therefore sit still. Censure, and answer him, and thy self both together.’

But thou wilt yet,4. Doubt. it may be, say, that though all this may be possibly true; yet thou canst not, all this while, be convinc't of any need, so earnestly to [...]u [...]ie thy self about this affair. For God is wont to surprise soule by preventing acts of Grace, to be found of them that sought him not, to break in by an irristible power, which he least thought of. And to goal to anticipate his grace, were to detract from the [...], and so from the glory of it.

But art thou not in all this afraid of charging God foolishly?Reply. When the merciful God, in compassion to the souls o [...] men, hath given his [Page 289] Gospel, constituted, and settled a standing Of­fice to be perpetuated through all ages for the publication of it; Invited the world therein to a treaty with him, touching the concernments of their eternal peace; required so strictly their attendance to, and most serious conside­ration of his proposals, and offers; encouraged, and commanded their addresses to him, set up a Throne of Grace on purpose, wilt thou dare to say all this is needless?

When God speaks to thee, is it needless for thee to hear him? or regard what he saith? or when he commannds thee to pour forth thy soul to him, wilt thou say, 'tis a needlesse thing?

Dost thou not plainly see, that the peculiar, appropriate aptitude of the things prest upon thee,Necessitas me­dii. speaks them necessary as means to their de­signed end; whence also they are sitly called, means of Grace? Is not the Word of God the Immortal Seed? 1 Pet. 1. 23. are not Souls begotten by that Word to be the first fruits of his creatures? Jam. 1▪ 18. Is it not the Type,Rom. 6. 17. the Mould, or Print, by which Di­vine Impressions are put upon the Soul.Joh. 17. 17. The Instrument by which he sanctifies. Are not the exceeding great and precious promises the Ve­ [...]icula, 2 Pet. 1. the conveighances of the Divine Nature. And what can be the means to mollifie, and melt the obdurate heart of a sinner, to asswage its enmity, to overcome it into the love of God, to transform it into his image, but the Gospel-discovery of Gods own gracious, and holy nature? and can it operate to this pur­pose, without being heard, or read, and under­stood, [Page 290] and considered, and taken to heart? Do but compare this means God works by, with the Subject to be wrought upon, and the Effect to be wrought, and nothing can be conceived more adequate, and sitly correspond­ing.

But in as much as there hath been an enmi­ty between God and sinners, and that there­fore the whole entire means of reconciliation must be a Treaty. And that a Treaty cannot be ma­naged, or conceived without mutual interlocu­ti [...]n; therefore must the sinner have a way of expressing its own sense to God; as well as he speaks his mind to it; which shews the necessity of Pr [...]yer too; and therefore, because the Peace begins on his part (though the War began on ours) he calls upon sinners to open them­selves to him;Is [...]. 1 Chap. 55 Come now, let us reason together▪ he invites and addresses; Seek the Lord, while he may be f [...]und, and call upon him, while he is nigh, &c. And doth not the natural relation it self betwen the Creatour and a Creature, re­quire this besides the exigencie of our present case? Every Creature is a supplicant; Its ne­cessary dependence, is a natural Prayer. The eyes of all things look up, &c. 'Tis the proper glo­ry of a Deity to be depended on, and addrest to. [...] Should n [...]t a people seek unto their God? 'tis an appeal to reason, is it not a congruous thing!

Further, [...] dost thou not know thy Makers will made kn [...], in [...]ers upon thee a necessitie of obeying; unless thou think the [...]re [...]ch be­tween God and thee, is better to be healed [Page 291] by Rebellion: And that the onely way to expi­ate wickedness, were to continue, and multi­ply them. Is it a needless thing to comply with the will of him that gave thee breath and being? and whose power is so absolute over thee, as to all thy concernments, both of time, and eternity?

Again, while thou pretendest these things are needless; come now, speak out freely; what are the more necessary affairs wherein thou art so deeply ingaged, that thou can'st not suffer a diversion? what is the service, and gra­tification of thy flesh and sense so important a business? that thou can'st be at no leasure for that more needless work of saving thy soul? where is thy reason and thy modesty; Dost thou mind none other from day to day, but necessa­ry affairs? Dost thou use when thou art tempt­ed to vain dalliances, empty discourses, intem­perate indulgence to thy appetite, so to an­swer the temptation. It is not necessary? or art thou so destitute of all Conscience, and shame, to think it unnecessary to work out thy salvation, to strive to enter in at the strait gate that leads to life? but most indispensably necessary to be very critically curious, about what thou shalt eat, and drink, and put on; and how to spend thy time with greatest ease and pleasure to thy flesh, that it may not have the least cause to complain it is neglected?

Thy pretence, That God is wont to be found of them that sought him not; Isa. 65. 1. to the purpose thou intendest it, is a most ignorant, or malicious abuse of Scripture. The Prophet is in that [Page 292] Text foretelling the calling of the Gentiles; who, while they remained such, did not ('tis true) enquire after God, but then he ex­presly first tells us (personating God) I am sought of them that asked not for me (that is af­ter the Gospel came among them) and then 'tis added I am found (upon this seeking, plain­ly) of [...] that sought me not (i. e. who once in their former darkness, before I revealed my self in the Gospel-dispensation, to them that sought me not) q. d. I am now sought of a peo­ple, that lately sought me not, nor asked after me, and I am found of them. But whats this to thy case? whom God hath been in Gospel ear­nestly inviting to seek after him, and thou all this while refusest to comply with the invitation?

And suppose thou hear of some rare in­stances of persons, suddenly snatch't by the hand of Grace, out of the mid'st of their wickedness, as fire-brands out of the fire. Is it therefore the safest course to go on in a manifest rebel­lion against God, till possibly he may do so by thee also? how many thousand may have dropt into Hell since thou heard'st of such an in­stance (as a worthy person speaks to that pur­pose Mr. Baxter.) If thou hast heard of one Elijah fed by Ravens, and of some thousands by our Sa­viours miracles, canst thou thence plead a re­peal of that law to the world; they that will not labour, shall not eat; or is it a safer or wiser course to wait till food drop into thy mouth from Heaven, then to use a prudent care for the maintenance of thy life? If thou say thou hearest but of few that are wrought upon in this [Page 293] way, of their own foregoing expectation and in­deavour; Remember (and let the thought of [...]t startle thee) that there are but few that are [...]aved. And therefore are so few wrought up­on in this way, because so few will be perswa­ded to it. But can'st thou say (though God hath not bound himself to the meer natural endeavours of his creature neither) that ever any took this course, and persisted with faith­ful diligence, but they suceeded in it?

What thou talkest of the freeness of Gods grace, looks like an hypocritical pretence. Is there no way to honour his grace, but by affront­ing his authourity? but to sin, that grace may a­bound? Sure grace will be better pleased by obedience, than by such sacrifice. For a mi­serable perishing wretch to use Gods means to help it self, doth that look like merit? Is the Beggar afraid thou should'st interpret his coming to thy door, and seeking thy alms, to signifie, as if he thought he had deserved them? I hope thou wilt acknowledge thy self less then the least of all Gods mercies, and that thou canst not deserve from him a morsel of bread, may'st thou not therefore, in thy necessity, la­bour for thy living? least thou should'st in­trench upon the freeness of Divine bounty? With as much wisdome, and reason, mightest thou decline the use of all other means, to pre­serve thy life (which thou must owe always to free mercy) to eat when thou art hungry, to take physick when thou art sick, least thou should'st intimate thy self to have merited the strength, and health sought thereby.

[Page 294] Nor can I think of any rational pretence that can more plausibly be insisted on, then these that have been thus briefly discust. And it must needs be difficult to bring any appearance of reason for the patronage of so ill a cause, as the care­less giving up of a mans soul to perish eternal­ly, that is visibly capable of eternal blessed­ness. And certainly were we once apprehen­sive of the case, the attempt of disputing a man into such a resolution, would appear much more ridiculous, then, if one should gravely urge arguments to all the neighbour­hood, to perswade them to burn their houses, to put out their eyes, to kill their children, or cut their own Throats. And sure, let all ima­ginable pretences be debated to the uttermost, and it will appear that nothing with-holds men from putting forth all their might in the indeavour of getting a Spirit Suitable to this blessedness, but an obstinately perverse, and sluggish heart, dispoil'd, and naked of all shew of reason, and excuse. And though that be a hard task to reason against meer will, yet that being the way to make men willing: and the lat­ter part of the work proposed, in pursuance of this direction: I shall recommend only some such considerations as the Text it self will suggest, for the stirring up, and perswading of slothful reluctant hearts (chusing those as the most proper limits, and not being willing to be infinite, herein, as amidst so great a variety of considerations to that purpose, one might.)

That, in general, which I shall propose, shall be onely the misery of the unrighteous? where­of [Page 295] we may take a view in the opposite blessed­ness here described.Poena Damni.Sensus. The contradictories where­to will afford a Negative. The Contraries apo­sitive description of this misery. So that each consideration will be double, which I shall now (rather glance at then) insist upon.

1. Consider then; if thou be found at last 1 unqualified for this blessedness; How wilt thou bear it to be banish't eternally from the bles­sed face of God? There will be those that shall behold that face in righteousness, so shalt not thou. The wicked is driven away in his wickedness, with a never more see my face.

Again, what amazing Visions wilt thou have? what gashly, frightful objects to converse with, amidst those horrours of eternal darkness: when the Devil, and his Angels shall be thy everlasting associates! What direful images shall those accursed, enraged Spirits, and thy own fruitful parturient imagination for ever entertain thee with, and present to thy view?

2. Is it a small thing with thee, to be desti­tute of all those inherent excellencies, which the perfected Image of God, whereof thou wast ca­pable, comprehends? view them over in that (too defective) account, some of the former pages gave thee of them. Thou art none of those bright stars, those sons of the morning, those blessed glorified Spirits: Thou might'st have been. But

Consider, what art thou? what shalt thou for ever be? what image or likeness shalt thou [Page 296] bear; alas! poor wretch thou art now a Fiend! conformed to thy hellish partners; thou bear­est their accursed likenesse. Death is now finish­ed in thee, and as thou sowedst to the flesh, thou reapest corruption. Thou art become a loath­some Carcass; the Worms that never die, a­bound in thy putrified, filthy soul. Thou hast an Hell in thee. Thy venomous lusts are now mature, are in their full grown state. If a world of iniquity, a fulness of deadly poyson, tempered by Hell fire, is here sometimes, to be found in a little member, Jam. 3. 6. what will there then be in all thy parts and powers;

3. Consider, how blessed a satisfaction dost thou lose? how pleasant, and delightful a rest, arising both from the sight of so much glory, and so peaceful a temper, and constitution of Spirit? Here thou might'st have injoyed an e­ternal undisturbed rest.

But for rest, and satisfaction thou hast vexa­tion; and endless torment, both by what thou beholdest, and what thou feelest within thee. Thy dreadful visions will not let thee rest; but the chief matter of thy disquiet, and torment, is in the very temper, and composition of thy soul. Thy horrid lusts are fuller of poysonous energie, and are destitute of their wonted objects, whence they turn all their power, and fury up­on thy miserable self. Thy inraged passions would fly in the face of God, but they spend themselves in tormenting the soul that bred them. Thy curses, and blasphemies, the in­venom'd Darts, pointed at Heaven, are rever­berated, and driven back into thy own heart. And therefore,

[Page 297] 4. Consider what awaking hast thou? Thou awakest not into the mild, and chearful light of that blessed day, wherein the Saints of the most High, hold their solemn, joyful triumph.

But thou awakest into that great and terrible day of the Lord (dost thou desire it for what end is it to thee?) a day of darkness, and not light; a gloomy, and a stormy day. The day of thy birth is not a more hateful▪ then this is a dreadful day. Thou awakest, and art beset with terrours, presently apprehended, and drag'd before thy glorious, severe Judge: and thence into eternal torments. O happy thou, might'st thou never awake, might the grave conceale, and its more silent darkness cover thee for ever. But since thou must awake, then, how much more happy wert thou, if thou would'st suffer thy self to be awaken'd now. What, to lose, and endure so much, because thou wilt not now a little bestir thy self, and look about thee? Sure thy Conscience tells thee, thou art urg'd but to what is possible, and lawful, and hopeful, and necessary, methinks, if thou be a man, and not a stone; if thou hast a reasonable Soul about thee, thou shalt pre­sently fall to work, and rather spend thy days in serious thoughts, and prayers, and tears, than run the hazard of losing sotranscendent a glory, and of suffering misery, which, as now thou art little able to conceive, thou wilt then be less able to endure.

CHAP. XVIII.

Rule 4. Directing to the endeavour of a gradual improvement in such a disposed­ness of Spirit (as shall be found in any measure already attained) towards this blessedness. That 'tis blessedness begun which disposes to the Consummate state of it. That we are therefore to endeavour the daily encrease of our present know­ledge of God, conformity to him, and the satisfiednesse of our spirits therein.

THat when we find our selves in any dispo­sition towards this blessedness;4. Rule. we endea­vour a gradual improvement therein; to get the habitual temper of our spirits made daily more suitable to it.

We must still remember, we have not yet attained, and must therefore continue pressing forward to this mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Phil. 3. 14. That prize (not price, [...]. as we commonly misread it in our Bibles) of which the Apostle here speaks is (as may be seen by looking back to v. 8, 9, &c.) the same with the blessedness in the Text. Such a know­ledge of Christ, as should infer at last his par­ticipation with him in his state of glory, or of the resurrection of the dead. This is the ultimate term, the scope or end, of that high calling of God in Christ,1▪ Pet. 5 10. so 'tis also stated elsewhere, [Page 299] who hath called us into his eternal glory by Christ Jesus.

Now we should therefore frequently re­count how far short we are of this glory, and stir up our souls to more vigorous indeavours in order to it.

Our suitableness to this blessedness stands in our having the elements and first principles of it in us; 'tis glory onely that fits for glory, some previous sights, and impressions of it, and a pleasant complacential relish thereof, that frame and attemper us, by degrees, to the full consummate state of it. This is that therefore we must endeavour.

A growing

  • Knowledge of God,
  • Conformity to him, and
  • Satisfiedness of Spirit therein.

What we expect should be one day perfect, we must labour may be, in the mean time, al­wayes growing.

1. Our knowledge of God. The knowledge of him I here principally intend is not notional, and speculative, but (which is more ingredient to our blessedness, both inchoate and perfect) that of converse, that familiar knowledge, which we usually express by the name of acquaintance. See that this knowledge of him be encreased daily; Let us now use our selves much with God: Our knowledge of him must aim at conformity to him, and how powerful a thing is converse in order hereto? How insensibly is it wont to transform men, and mould anew their Spirits, Language, Garbe, Deportment? To be remov'd from the solitude, or rudeness [Page 300] of the Country, to a City, or University; What an alteration doth it make? How is such a person devested by degrees of his rusticitio of his more uncomely and agrest manners? Ob­jects we converse with beget their Image upon us.Jer. 2. 5. They walked after vanity, and became vain, saith Jeremiah.Prov. 13▪ 20. And Solomon, He that walketh with the wise shall be wise. Walking is an usual expression of converse. So to converse with the holy, is the way to be holy, with heaven the way to be heavenly, with God the way to be God-like.

Let us therefore make this our present busi­ness much to acquaint our selves with God. We count upon seeing him face to face, of being alwayes in his presence, beholding his glory that speaketh very intimate acquaintance in­deed. How shall we reach that pitch? what to live now as strangers to him? Is that the way?Prov. 4. 18. The path of the righteous is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto perfect day. The text shews us the righteous mans end, to behold the glory of Gods face, &c. 'tis easie to apprehend, then his way must needs have in it a growing brightness, as he comes still nearer this end. Every nearer approach to a lucid thing infers (to us) an increase of light from it. We should therefore be following on to know the Lord; and we shall see his going forth will [...]e before us as the morning. Hos. 6. 3. He will be still visiting us with re­newed increasing light, (for such is morning light, fresh and growing light) and ere long it will be perfect da [...]. Labour we to improve our knowledge of God to such a degree of ac­quaintance, [Page 301] as our present state can admit of. To be as inward with him as we can, to familia­rzie our selves to him. His Gospel aims at this to make those that were afar off nigh. Far-distant objects we can have no distinct view of. He can give us little account of a person that hath only seen him afar off; so God beholds the proud afar off. That is, he will have no ac­quaintance with them. Whereas with the humble he will be familiar,Isa. 57. 1 [...]. he will dwell, (as in a family) with them. So the ungodly behold God till he brings them in, and make them nigh: then they are no longer strangers but of his family, and houshold, now throughly acquainted. Several notes there are of a through acquaintance which we should endeavour may concur, in our acquaintance with God, in that analogy which the case will bear.

To know his nature, or (as we would speak of a man) what will please and displease him, so as to be able in the whole course of our daily conversation to approve our selves to him. To have the skill so to manage our conversa­tion, as to continue a correspondence, not interrupted by an [...] of our offensive unpleasing demeanours: To walk worthy of God unto all well-pleasing. It concerns us most to study and indeavour this practical knowledge of the nature of God; what trust, and love, and fear, and purity, &c. his faithfulness, and greatness, his goodness, and holiness, &c. do challenge from us; What may in our daily walking be ag [...]eeable, what repugnant to the several At­tributes of his being.

[Page 302] To know his secrets; to be as it were of the Cabinet-councelPsal. 25 14. [...] (the word used by the Psal­mist hath a peculiar significancy to that pur­pose; to signifie, not only counsel, but a coun­cil, or the concessus of persons that consult to­gether.) This is his gracious vouchsafement, to humble, reverential souls. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; such ac­quaintance with him is to be sought to know the (communicable) secrets both of his mind and heart. Of his mind, his truths, Gospel-mysteries, that were kept secret from ages, and generations. We have the mind of Christ. This is great inwardness of his heart. His love his good will, his kind bosome-thoughts to­wards our souls.

To know his methods, and the course of his dispensations towards the World, his Church, and specially our own Spirits. This is great knowledge of God, to have the skill to trace his footsteps, and observe by comparing times with times, that such a course he more usually holds; and accordingly, with great probability, collect, from what we have seen, and obser­ved, what we may expect. What order and succession there is of storms of wrath, to clouds of sin, and again of peaceful, lucid intervals, when such storms have infer'd penitential tears. In what exigences, and distresses hum­ble mourners may expect Gods visits, and con­solations. To recount in how great extremi­ties, former experience hath taught us not to despair, and from such experiences still to argue our selves into fresh reviving hopes when [Page 303] the state of things (whether publick or pri­vate, outward or spiritual) seems forlorn.

To know the proper seasons of address to him; and how to behave our selves most acceptably in his presence. In what dispositions and po­stures of Spirit, we are fittest for his converse, so as to be able to come to him in a good hour, in a time when he may be found. Psal. 32. 6.

To know his voice: This discovers acquain­tance.Job 14 35. The ear trieth words, as the mouth tasteth meats. Gods righteous ones that are filled with the fruits of righteousness, do propor­tionably abound in knowledge and in all sense. Phil. 1. 9. They have quick, [...]. naked, unvitiated senses to discern between good and evil;Heb. 5. [...]l. Yea and can have the suffrage of several senses concerning the same Object.Heb. 6. They have a kind of taste in their ear. They taste the good word of God even in his previous workings on them. Be­ing-born they are intimated to have tasted in the word how gracious the Lord is. As they grow up thereby they have still a more judici­ous sense,1 Pet. 1. 2, 3. and can more certainly distinguish, when God speaks to them,John 10. and when a stranger goes about to counterfeit his voice. They can tell, at first hearing, what is grateful, and nu­tritive, what offensive, and hurtful to the di­vine life: what is harmonious and agreeable, what dissonant to the Gospel already receiv [...]d, so that an Angel from heaven must expect no wel­come if he bring another.

To know his inward in [...]ti [...]ns and impulses; When his hand toucheth our hearts, to be able to say, this is the [...]i [...]ge of God, there is [Page 304] something divine in this touch. My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, Cant. 5. 3. and my bowels were moved. This speaks acquaintance when the soul can say, I know his very touch, the least impression from him, I can distinguish it from thousands of objects that daily beat up­on my heart.

To understand his looks; So we appre­hend God pro­portionably more clearly as the Idea we have of a per­son is more distinct that we have of him by the sight of his picture or face through a glass, beyond that which we have by hear­ing a reported description of him though by himself un­seen. This is acquaintance with God. to know the mean­ing of his aspects, and glances, of the various casts, as it were of his eye. Such things inti­mate friends can, in a sort, talk by with one another; I will guide thee by mine eye; that im­plyes an intelligent teachable subject. We have now no full-ey'd appearances of God; he shews himself, looks in upon us through the lattess, through a vail, or shadow, or a glass, That measure of acquaintance with him to be able to discern and own him in his ap­pearances, is a great participation of heaven. Utter unacquaintance with God is exprest by the denyal of these two, ye have neither heard his voice, nor seen his shape, John 5.

Finally which brings us home to the text, to keep our eye intentively fixed on him not to un­derstand his looks only as before but to return our own intimate acquaintance; when such friends meet, it is much exprest, and improv'd by the eye, by a reciprocation of glances, or (which speaks more inwardness) more fixed views; when their eyes do even feed and feast upon each other. This we should endeavour to be as in a continual interview with God.

How frequent mention have we of the fixed posture of his eye towards Saints. To [Page 305] this man will I look; I have found out, q. d. that which shall be ever the delight of mine eye, do not divert me. Towards him I will look. What he speaks of the material Temple is ul­timately to be refer'd to that which is typified, his Church, 1 King. 9. 3 [...] his Saints, united with his Christ, mine eys and my heart shall be there perpetually, Job 6. 37. and elsewhere,Psal. 33. 18▪ 34. 15. He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous, He cannot (admirable grace) allow himself to look off, to turn aside his eye. And he seems impatient of the aversion of theirs,Cant. Let me see thy countenance (saith he) for it is comely.

Is it not much more reasonable it should be thus with us towards him? that we should be more delighted to behold real comelinesse than he with what is so only by his gracious vouchsafement and estimation? how careful should we be that our eye may at every turn meet his? that he never look towards us, and find it in the ends of the earth, carelesly wan­dring from him?Psal. 16. 8 How well doth it become us to set the Lord alwayes before us?Psal. 25. to have our eye ever towards the Lord?

This you see is the initial leading thing in this blessedness of heaven. So it must have al­so a prime ingrediency into our heaven on earth. It is a part of celestial blessedness; but it is not peculiar to it. The present bles­sedness the righteous injoy here is a partici­pation of heaven. It hath something in it of every thing that is ingredient into that perfect blessedness. Our present knowledge of God is often exprest by vision, or sight, as we have [Page 306] had occasion to observe in many passages of Scripture. He hath given us such a visive power and made it connatural to that heaven­ly creature begotten of him in all the true sub­jects of this blessedness.1 John 5. 19, 20. We know that we are of God, and presently it follows, he hath g [...]ven us an understanding to know him, that is true. This new man is not born blind. The blessed God himself is become liable to the view of his regenerate intellectual eye, clarify'd and fill'd with vigour and Spirit from himself. He therefore that hath made (that hath new formed) this eye shall not he be seen by it? shall not we turn it upon him? Why do we not more frequently bless our eye, with that sight? This Object (though of so high excellency and glory) will not hurt but perfect, and strengthen it. They are refreshing vital beams that issue from it. Sure we have no excuse that we eye God so little, i. e. that we mind him no more. Why have we so few thoughts of him in a day? What, to let so much time pass, and not spare him a look? a thought? Do we intend to imploy our selves on eternity in the visions of God, and is our present a­version from him, and intention upon vanity, our best preparation thereto? This loudly calls for redress. Shall God be waiting all the day as on purpose to catch our eye? to inter­cept a look? and we studiously decline him, and still look another way, as of choice? and what is it but choice? can we pretend a ne­cessity to forget him all the day? How cheap is the expence of a look? how little would it [Page 307] cost us, and yet how much of duty might it ex­press, how much of comfort and joy might it bring into us?

How great is our offence and loss that we live not in such more constant views of God? Herein we sin and suffer both at once (things both very unsuitable to heaven.) Mindfulness of God is the living Spring of all holy and pleasant affections and deportments towards him; sets all the wheels agoing, makes the soul as the Chariots of Aminadab. These wheels have their eyes also, are guided by a mind, by an intellectual principle. Knowing intelligent beings (as we also are by partici­pation, and according to our measure) so act mutually towards one another. We cannot move towards God but with an open eye seeing him, and our way towards him. If we close our eyes, we stand still, or blindly run another course, we know not whither. All sin is dark­ness, whether it be neglect of good, or doing of evil. Its way is a way of darkness; as a course of holy motion is walking in the light. Our shutting our eyes towards God creates that darkness; surrounds us with a darkness com­prehensive of all sin. Now is every thing of enjoyned duty waved, and any evil done, that sinful nature prompts us to. Well might it be said,John 3. 11. He that sinneth hath not seen God. When we have made our selves this darkness, we fall of course under Sathans Empire, and are pre­sently within his Dominions. He is the Prince of darkness; and can rule us now at his will. Perishing lost souls are such as in them the God [Page 308] of this world hath blinded their minds.—To open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, is to turn them also from the power of Sathan unto God. What an hell of wicked­ness are we brought into in the twinkling of an eye! We are without God▪ in the world, as if a man wink, though at noon-day, he hath as it were put out the Sun, 'tis with him as if there were no such thing. When we have banished God out of our sight, and forgotten him, 'tis with us as if there were no God. If such a state grow habitual to us, (as we know every sinful aversion of our eye from God tends thereto) what wickedness is there that will not lurk in this darkness? How often in Scripture is forgetting God used as a character, yea as paraphrase, a full (though summary) expression of sin in general? As if the wicked­ness, the malignity, the very hell it self of sin, were wholly included (and not connated only) here. Now consider this (after so dreadful an ennumeration, so black a Catalogue) all that forget God. Psal. 50. And (as deep calleth to deep, one hell to another) The wicked shall be turned into hell, Psal. 9. and all the people that forget God. That keep that mass of wickedness, of pride, of persecu­tion, cursing, blasphemy, deceit, and mis­chief, all meet with one that hath not God in all his thoughts.

But who is so hardy to look the holy God in the face and sin against him? what an astonish­ment is it when he watches over present sin; or brings forth former sins out of secret darkness and sets them in the light of his countenance? [Page 309] Who that understands any thing of the Nature, and Majesty of God, dare call him for a witness of his sinning? The worst of men would find themselves under some restraint, could they but abtain of themselves to sit down sometimes and solemnly think of God. Much more would it prove an advantage, (them whom I most in­tend) to such as sin within the nearer call, and reach of mercy; that sin not to the utmost lati­tude. Even such as lead the strictest lives, and are seldom found to transgress, are not their sins found to begin with forgetting God? Did they eye God more, would they not sin lesse fre­quently and with greater regret? You his Saints that have made a Covenant with him by Sacrifice, that profess the greatest love and de­votedness to him, and seem willing your selves to become sacrifices, and lay down your lives for his sake; what is it a harder thing to give him a look, a thought? or is it not too com­mon a thing, without necessity (and then not without injury) to withhold these from him? Let us bethink our selves, are not the princi­pal distempers of our Spirits, and disorders yet observable in our lives to be refer'd hither? As to enjoyned services, what; should we venture on omissions, if we had God in our eye? or serve him with so declining backward hearts? Should we dare to let pass a day, in the Even whereof we might write down nothing done for God this day? Or should we serve him as an hard Master, with sluggish, despondent Spirits? The Apostle forbids servants to serve with eye [...] service, as men-pleasers, meaning they should [Page 310] eye men less, and God more. Sure, as to him, our service is not enough eye-service. We pro­bably, eye men more than we should, but we do not eye Him enough. Hence such hang­ing of hands, such feebleness of knees, such laziness, and indifferency, so little of an active zeal, and laborious diligence, so little fer­vency of Spirit in serving the Lord. Hence also such an aversion to hazardous services, such fear of attempting any thing (though never so apparent important Duty) that may prove costly, or hath danger in it. We look not to him that is invisible.

And as to forbidden things, should we be so proud, so passionate, so earthly, so sensual, if we had God more in view? Should we so much seek our selves, and indulge our own wills, and humors, drive a design with such solicitude, and intention of mind, for our private interests? should we walk at such a la­titude, and more consult our own inclination than our rule, allow our selves in so much vanity of conversation, did we mind God as we ought?

And do we not sensibly punish our selves in this neglect? what a dismal Chaos is this world while we see not God in it. To live destitute of a divine presence, to discern no beam of the heavenly glory. To go up and down day by day, and perceive nothing of God, no glimmering, no appearance; this is disconsolate, as well as sinful darkness. What can we make of Creatures, what of the daily events of Providence, if we see not in them the [Page 311] glory of a Deity; if we do not contemplate, and adore the divine wisedom, power, and goodness, diffused every where. Our practical Atheism, and inobservance of God makes the World become to us the region and shadow of death, states us as among Ghosts, and Spectres, makes all things look with a ghastly face, im­prints death upon every thing we see, encircles us with gloomy dreadful shades, and with un­comfortable apparitions. To behold the tra­gical Spectacles alwayes in view, the violent lusts, the rapine and rage of some, the cala­mitous suffrings, the miseries, and ruines of others, to hear every corner resounding with the insultations of the Oppressor, and the mournful groans of the oppressed, what a pain­ful continuing death were it to be in the world without God! At the best all things were but a vanishing scheme, an Image seen in the dark. The Creation, a thing, the fashion whereof were passing away. The whole Contexture, and System of Providence were meer confusion, without the least concinnity or order. Religi­on an acknowledged tri [...]le, a meer mockery? What, to wink our selves into so much dark­ness, and desolation? And by sealing up our eyes against the divine light and glory, to con­firm so formidable miseries upon our own souls? how dreadfully, shall we, herein, revenge our own folly in nullifying him to our selves, who is the All in All? Sure there is little of Heaven in all this?

But if now we open our eyes upon that all-comprehending glory, apply them to a steady [Page 312] intuition of God; how heavenly a life shall we then live in the world! To have God al­wayes in view as the director and end of all our actions. To make our eye crave leave of God; to consult him ere we adventure upon any thing, and implore his guidance, and blessing. Upon all occasions to direct our prayers to him and look up. To make our eye await his com­manding look, ready to receive all intimations of his will; this is an angelical life. To be as those ministers of his that are alwayes ready to do his pleasure. To make our eye do him ho­mage and expresse our dependence, and trust. To approve our selves in every thing to him, and act as alwayes in his presence, observing still how his eye observes us; and exposing our selves willingly to its inspection and search; contented alwayes he should see through and through us. Surely there is much of heaven in this life, so we should endeavour to live here: (I cannot omit to give you this instru­ction in the words of an Heathen) ‘we ought (saith he) so to live as alwayes within view,Sic certe [...] ­vendum est tanqua [...] [...] consp ciu viv [...] ­mus, &c. Sen. Epist. 83. order our cogitations as if some one might, or can look into the very inwards of our breast. For, to what purpose is it to hide any thing from man? from God nothing can be hid, he is continually present to our Spirits, and comes amidst our inmost thoughts, &c.’

This is to walk in the light amidst a serene placid mild light, that infuses no unquiet thoughts, amidst no guilty fears, nothing that can disturb or annoy us.

[Page 313] To eye God in all our comforts and observe the smiling aspect of his face, when he dispen­ses them to us.

To eye Him in all our afflictions, and con­sider the paternal wisdom that instructs us in them; how would this increase our mercies, and mitigate our troubles?

To eye Him in all his Creatures, and observe the various prints of the Creators glory in­stampt upon them. With how lively a lustre would it cloath the world? and make every thing look with a pleasant face! what an hea­ven were it to look upon God, as filling all in all, and how sweetly would it, ere-while, raise our souls into some such sweet seraphick strains holy, Isa. 6. 2, 3. holy,—the whole earth is full of his glory.

To eye Him in his Providences, and consi­der how all events are with infinite wisdom disposed into an apt subserviency to his holy Will, and Ends. What difficulties would hence be solved? what seeming inconsistencies recon­cil'd? and how much would it contribute to the ease and quiet of our minds?

To eye Him in his Christ, the expresse Image of his person, the brightness of his glory, and in the Christian Oeconomy the Gospel-reve­lation and Ordinances through which he mani­fest himself.

To behold Him in the posture wherein he saves souls, clad with the garments of Salvation, girt with power and apparell'd with love, tra­velling in the greatness of his strength, mighty to save.

To view Him addressing himself to allure [Page 314] and win to him the hearts of sinners, when he discovers himself in Christ, upon that recon­ciling design, make grace that brings salvation appear, teaching to deny ungodliness, &c.

To behold Him entring into humane flesh, pitching his Tabernacle among men, hanging out his Ensignes of peace, laying his trains, spreading his nets, the cords of a man, the bands of love.

To see Him in his Christ-ascending the Cross, lifted up to draw all men to him; and consider that mighty love, of justice and of souls, both so eminently conspicuous in that stupendious sacrifice. Here to fix our eyes looking to Jesus and behold him whom we have pierced.

To see His power and glory, as they are wont t [...] be seen in his sanctuaries; to observe him in the solemnities of his worship, and the graceful [...] postures, wherein he holds communion with his Saints, when he seats himself amidst them on the Throne of grace, receives their ad­dresses, dispenses the tokens and pledges of his love. Into what transports might these visions put us every day!

Let us then stir up our drowsie souls, open our heavy eyes, and turn them upon God, inure [...] and habituate them to a constant view of his (yet vailed) face, that we may not see him onely by casual glances, but as those that see [...] his face, and make it our business to gain [...] thorough knowledge of him.

But let us remember that all our present Visions of God, must aim at a further Confor­mity [Page 315] to him, they must design imitation, not the satisfying of curiosity, our looking must not therefore be an inquisitive busie prying into the unrevealed things of God. Carefully ab­stain from such over-bold, presumptuous looks▪ But remember we are to eye God as our pat­tern. Wherein he is to be so, he hath plainly enough reveal'd and propos'd himself to us. And consider this in the pattern both to which we ought, and to which we shall be conformed (if we make it our business) so will sense of du­ty, and hope of success concur to fix our eye and keep it steady.

Especially let us endeavour to manage and guide our eye aright, in beholding him, that our sight of him may most effectually subserve this design of being like him, and herein no­thing will be more conducible than that our looks be qualified with Reverence and Love.

1. Let them be reverential looks. We shall never be careful to imitate a despised pattern; or that we think meanly of, when this is the intimate sense of our souls; Who is a God like unto thee glorious in holiness! There is none holy as the lord; this will set all our powers on work, such sights will command, and over­awe our souls into a conformity to him. Sub­jects have sometimes affected to imitate the very imperfections and deformities of their adored Prince. Let us greaten our thoughts of God. Look to him with a submissive adoring eye. Let every look import worship and sub­jection. Who can stand before apprehended so­vereign [Page 316] Majesty, with such a temper of soul [...] shall signifie an affront to it? This will mak [...] every thing in us unsutable to God, yield, an [...] vanish, and render our souls susceptible of al [...] divine and holy impressions.

2. Let them be friendly, and (as far as may consist with that reverence) amorous look [...] 'Tis natural to affect and endeavour likeness t [...] them we love. Let love alwayes sit in our eye and inspirit it; this will represent God alway [...] amiable, will infinitely commend to us his na­ture, and attributes, and even ravish us into his li [...]eness. The loving Spouse often glorie [...] to wear her beloved Husbands picture on her breast. The love of God will much more make [...] us affect to bear his image in our hearts. His Law is a true representation of him, and Love is the fulfilling of that Law, an exemplificati­on of it in our selves. Love will never enter a quarrel, nor admit of any disagreement with God. His more terrible appearances will be commendable in the eye of Love. It thinks no evil. But so interprets and comments upon his severer aspects, whether through his Law or Providence, as judge all amiable, and frame the soul to an answerable deportment.

2 2. In this way then let us endeavour a growing conformity unto God. It hath been much (and not unnecessarily) inculcated already, that the blessedness of the righteous hereafter, doth not consist▪ meerly, in beholding an external ob­jective glory, but in being also glorified. They are happy by a participated glory, by being made like God, as well as seeing his glorious likeness, [Page 317] whereby the constitution of their Spirits, is changed, and reduced to that excellent har­monious agreeable temper, that holy compo­sure, and peaceful state from which blessedness is inseparable.

As far as we are capable of blessedness in this world, it must be so with us here. Glory without us will not make us happy in Heaven, much less will any thing without us make us happy on earth. 'Tis an idle dream of sickly cra­zie minds, that their blessedness consists in some external good, that is separable, and distant from them; which therefore as they blindly guesse, they uncertainly pursue; never aiming to become good, without which they can never know what it is to be blessed. What [...]elicity are men wont to imagine to themselves in this or that change of their outward condition? were their state such, or such, then they were happy, and should desire no more. As the childs phansie suggests to it, if it were on the top of such a Hill, it could touch the Hea­vens, but when with much toil it hath got thi­ther, it finds it self as far off as before. We have a shorter, and more compendious way to it, would we allow our selves to understand it. A right temper of mind involves blessedness in it self; 'tis this only change we need to endea­vour. We wear out our days in vanity, and misery, while we neglect this work, and busie our selves to catch a fugitive shadow, that ho­vers about us. It can never be well till our own souls be an Heaven to us, and blessedness be a domestique, an home-dwelling inhabitant [Page 318] there. 'Till we get a settled principle of holy qui­etude into our own breasts; & become the son [...] of peace, with whom the peace of God may find entrance and abode: Till we have that treasure within us, that may render us in sensible of any dependence on a forraign good, or fear of a for­raign evil▪ Shall that be the boast and glory of [...] Phylosopher onely? I carry all my goods with [...] where ever I go. And that a vertuous good man i [...] liable to no hurt? Seneca thinks they discove [...] a low Spirit, that say, externals can adde any thing (though but a very little) to the feli­city of an honest mind,Epist. 92. as if (saith he) me [...] could not be content with the light of the Sun without the help of a candle, or a spark▪’ and speaking of the constancy of the vertuous man (saith he) ‘They do ill that say, such an evil i [...] tolerable to him, such a one intolerable, an [...] that confine the greatness of his mind within certain bounds and limits. Adversity (he tells us) overcomes us, if it be not wholly overcome. Epicurus (saith he) the very patron of your sloth, acknowledges yet, thi [...] unhappy events can seldom disturb the min [...] of a vertuous person (and he adds) how ha [...] he almost uttered the voice of a man! pray saith he, [...]. T [...]r. dis. [...]. 2. who [...], For a [...]. speak out a little mor [...] boldly, and say he is above them altogether’ Such apprehensions the more vertuous Heathen have had of the efficacy and defensative powe [...] of Moral goodness (however defective thei [...] notion might be of the thing it self.) Henc [...] S [...]crates the P [...]gan Martyr is reported to hav [...] cryed out (when those persons were perse [...]cuting [Page 319] him to death) Anytus and Meletus can kill me, but they cannot hurt me. And Anax­archus the Phylosopher having sharply repro­ved Nicoerean, and being by him ordered to be beaten to death with iron Malets,Diogen L [...]ert. bq. Anaxar­chus. bids strike on, strike on, thou may'st (saith he) break in pieces this vessel of Anaxarchus, but Anaxar­chus himself thou canst not touch.

Shall Christianity here confess it self out­vy'd? shall we to the reproach of our Religi­on yield the day to Pagan-morality, and renew the occasion of the ancient complaint, That the Faith of Christians is out-done by the Heathen in­fidelity? Non prae [...]a [...] fi­des quod prae­stitit infidelitas. It is, I remember the challenge of Ce­cilius in Minucius. ‘There is Socrates (saith he) the Prince of Wisdom, whoso­ever of you Christians is great enough to at­tempt it, let him imitate him if he can.’ Me­thinks we should be ambitious to tell the world in our lives (for Christians should live great things, not speakAs this Au­thours expres­sion is. them) that a greater then Socrates is here; to let them see in us, our repre­sented pattern; to shew forth higher vertues then those of Socrates; even his, who hath called us out of darkness, into his glorious and marvellous light.

Certain it is, that the Sacred Oracles of the Gospel set before us a more excellent pattern, and speak things not less magnificent, but much more modest, and perspicuous. With less pomp of words, they give us a much clearer account of a far more excellent temper of mind, and prescribe the direct, and certain way of attaining it (Do but view over the many passages of Scripture occasionally glanc't at Chap. 7.)

[Page 320] But we grope as in the dark for blessedness, we stumble at noon day, as in the night, and wander as if we had no eyes; we mistake our business, and lay the Scene of an happy state at a great distance from us, in things which we cannot reach, and which if we could, it were to little purpose.

Not to speak of grosser sensualists (whom at present I have less in my eye.) Is there not a more refined sort of persons, that neglecting the great business of inspecting, and labouring to better, and improve their spirits; are wholly taken up about the affairs of another Sphere? that are more solicitous for better times, for a better world, then better spirits. That seem to think all the happiness they are capable of on earth, is bound up in this, or that exter­nal state of things. Not that the care of all publique concernments should be laid aside. Least of all a just solicitude for the Churches welfare; but that should not be pretended, when our own interest is the one thing with us. And when we are really solicitous about the Churches interests, we should state them aright. God designs the afflictions of his peo­ple for their Spiritual good, therefore that is a much greater good, then their exemption from suffering these evils; otherwise, his means should eat up his end, and be more ex­pensive then that will countervail; which were an imprudence, no man of tolerable dis­cretion would be guilty of. We should desire the outward prosperity of Sion for, it is a real good; but in as much as it hath in it the good­ness, [Page 321] not of an end, but onely (and that but sometimes neither) of a means; not a constant, but a mutable goodness; not a principal, but a lesser subordinate goodness; we must not de­sire it absolutely, nor chiefly, but with submis­sive, limited desires. If our hearts are grie­ved to hear of the sufferings of the Church of God in the world, but not of their sins; If we more sensibly regret at any time, the persecutions, and opressions they undergo, than their spiritual distempers, their earthli­ness, pride, cold love to God, fervent animo­sities towards each other; It speaks an unin­structed carnal mind. We take no right mea­sure of the interests of Religion, or the Churches welfare, and do most probably mi­stake our selves, as much in judging of our own; and measure theirs by our own mistaken model.

And this is the mischievous cheat many put upon their own souls, and would obtrude (too often) upon others too; that overlooking the great design of the Gospel to transform mens spirits, and change them into the Divine like­ness, they think 'tis Religion enough to espouse a party, and adopt an Opinion; and then vogue themselves friends to Religion, ac­cording to the measure of their zeal for their own party or Opinion. And give a very pregnant proof of that zeal by magnifying, or inveigh­ing against the times, according as they fa­vour, or frown upon their empty, unspirited Religion. It being indeed such (a secret con­sciousness whereof they herein bewray) as [Page 322] hath no other life in it, then what it owes to external favour, and countenance. And there­fore all publique rebukes are justly apprehen­ded mortal to it: whereas that substantial Re­ligion that adequately answers the design, and is animated by the Spirit of the Gospel, pos­sesses the Souls of them that own it, with a se­cure confidence that it can live in any times, and hold their Souls in life also. Hence they go on their way with a free, unsolicitous chear­fulness; enjoying silently in their own bosomes that repose, and rest which naturally results from a sound, and well composed temper of Spirit. They know their happiness depends upon nothing without them [...]. Epict.. That they hold it by a better tenure then that of the worlds courtesie. They can be quiet in the midst of storms, and abound in the want of all things. They can, in patience possess their own sou [...], and in them a vital spring of true pleasure, when they are driven out of all other possessions. They know the living sense of these words; that the good man is satisfied from himself; that to be Spiritually minded is life and peace; that nothing can harm them that are followers of the good. That the way to see good dayes, is to keep their tongue from evil, and their lips from speaking g [...]le, to depart from evil, and do good, to seek peace, and pursue it.

They cannot live in bad times. They car­ry that about them that will make the worst days good to them. Surely they can never be happy in the best times, that cannot be so in any. Outward prosperity is quite besides the [Page 323] purpose to a distempered Soul, when nothing else troubles, it will torment it self. Besides, we cannot command at pleasure, the benigne aspects of the world, the smiles of the times; we may wait a lifes time, and still find the same adverse posture of things towards us from with­out. What dotage is it to place our blessed­ness in something to us impossible, that lies wholly out of our power: nd in order whereto we have nothing to do, but sit down and wish; and either faintly hope, or ragingly despair! We cannot change times, and seasons; nor al­ter the course of the world, create new Hea­vens, and new Earth. Would we not think our selves mock't, if God should command us these things, in order to our being happy? 'Tis not our business, these are not the affairs of our own Province (blessed be God 'tis not so large) further then as our bettering our selves may conduce thereto; and this is that which we may do, and ought 'tis our proper work, in obedience, and subordination to God, as his instruments, to govern, and cultivate our own spirits, to intend the affairs of that his Kingdom in us (where we are his Authoriz'd Vice-Royes) that consists in righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. We can be benigne to our selves, if the world be not so to us; cherish, and adorn our inward man; that though the outward man be exposed daily to perish (which we cannot help, and there­fore it concerns us not to take thought about it) the inward may be renewed day by day. We can take care that our souls may prosper, [Page 324] that, through our o [...]citant neglect, they be not left to languish, and pine away in their own ini­quities. They may be daily fed with the Hea­venly hidden Manna, and with the Fruits of the Paradise of God, they may enjoy at home a continual feast, and with an holy freedom luxuriate in Divine Pleasures, the joyes where­with the strangers intermeddles not, if we be not unpropitious, and unkind to our selves.

And would we know wherein that sound, and happy complexion of Spirit lies, that hath so much of Heaven in it. 'Tis a present gradual participation of the Divine likeness. It consists in being conformed to God; 'tis (as the Mo­ralists tells us) [...] S [...]n. Epist. If one would give a short compendious Module of it, Such a temper of mind as becomes God; or to give an account of it, in his own words, who prescribes it, and who is himself the highest Pattern of this blessed Frame.Rom. 12 2 'Tis to be transformed in the renewing of our minds, so as to be able to prove what is the good, and perfect, and acceptable will of God; That is experimentally to find it in our selves, imprest, and wrought into our own spirits, so as to have the complacential rellish, and savour of its Goodness, Excellency, and Pleasantness diffu­sed thorow our souls. Where, remember, this was written to such as were supposed Saints; whence it must be understood of a continued, progressive transformation, a renewing of the inward man day by day (as is the Apostles ex­pression elsewhere.) 'Tis a more perfect re­ception of the impress of God, revealing him­self [Page 325] in the Gospel; the growth and tendency of the New Creature, begotten unto the eter­nal blessedness, towards its mature, and most perfect state, and stature in the fruition thereof.

And 'tis this I am now pressing, in as much as some account hath been already given (ac­cording as we can now imperfectly guesse at it, and spell it out) what the constitution of the holy soul is, in its glorified state, when it per­fectly partakes the Divine likeness; that when we find in our selves any principles, and first elements of that blessed frame, we would en­deavour the gradual improvement thereof; and be making towards that perfection. This therefore being our present work; let it be remembred wherein that participated likeness of God hath been said to consist; and labour now the nearest approach to that pitch and state. Your measures must be taken from what is most perfect, come now as near it as you can,Epictet. and as that Pagans advice is; ‘If yet thou art not Socrates, however, live as one that would fain be Socrates. Though yet thou art not perfect, live as one that aims at it, and would be so.

Onely, it must be considered, that the con­formity to God, of our present state, is in extent larger, and more comprehensive, then that of our future; though it be unspeakably less per­fect in degree. For there is no Moral Excel­lency (that we have any present knowledge of) belonging to our glorified state, which is not in some degree, necessarily, to be found [Page 326] in Saints on earth; But there are some things which the exigency of our present state makes necessary to us, here, which will not be so in the state of glory. Repentance, Faith, as it re­spects the Mediatour; patience of injuries, pity to the distressed, &c. These things, and whatsoever else, whose objects cease, must be understood to cease with them. In short, here is requisite all that Moral good, which con­cerns both our end, and way; there, what con­cerns our end onely.

Yet is the whole compass of that gracious frame of spirit, requisite in this our present state, all comprehended in conformity to God. Partly, in as much as some of these graces which will cease hereafter, in their exercise, as not having objects to draw them forth into act; have their pattern in some communicable At­tributes of God, which will cease also, as to their denomination and exercise; their objects then ceasing too; as his patience towards sin­ners; his mercy to the miserable: Partly, in as much as other of those graces now required in us, though they correspond to nothing in God that is capable of the same name, as Faith in a Saviour, Repentance of sin (which can have no place in God.) They yet answer to something in this nature, that goes under other names; and is the reason wherefore he re­quires such things in us. He hath in his na­ture that faithfulness, and All sufficient fulness that challenges our faith; and that hatred of sin, which challenges our repentance for it, having been guilty of it. His very nature ob­liges [Page 327] him to require those things from us, the state of our case being considered. So that the summe even of our present duty lies in recei­ving this entire impression of the Divine like­ness (in some part invariably, and eternally necessary to us, in some part necessary with respect to our present state) And herein is our present blessedness also involved. If therefore we have any design to better our condition in point of blessedness, it must be our business to endeavour after a fuller participation of all that likeness, in all the particulars it compre­hends. You can pitch your thoughts upon no part of it, which hath not an evident, di­rect tendency to the repose and rest of your spirits. I shall recommend onely some few instances; that you may see how little reason, or inducement a soul conformed to the holy will of God, hath to seek its comforts and content elsewhere.

Faith corresponds to the Truth of God; as it respects Divine Revelations: How pleasant is to give up our understandings to the conduct of so safe a guide! to the view of so admirable things as he reveals.

It corresponds to his goodnesse; as it re­spects his offers; How delectible is it to be filling an empty Soul from the Divine fulnesse! What pleasure attends the exer­cise of this Faith towards the Person of the Mediatour, viewing him in all his Glorious Excellencies, receiving him in all his gra­cious Communications by this Eye, and Hand.

[Page 328] How pleasant is it to exercife it in reference to another world! living, by it, in a daily pro­spect of eternity; in reference to this world, to live without care in a chearful dependence on him, that hath undertaken to care for us!

Repentance is that by which we become like the holy God; to whom our sin had made us most unlike before; how sweet are kindly relentings? penetential tears? and the re­turn of the Soul to its God? and to a right mind!

And who can conceive the Ravishing Pleasures of love to God! wherein we not onely imitate, but intimately unite with him, who is Love it self. How pleasant to let our Souls dissolve here! and slow into the Ocean, the element of love!

Our Fear corresponds to his Excellent Greatnesse; and is not (as it is a part of the New Creature in us) a tormenting servile passion; but a due respectfulness, and ob­servance of God; and there is no mean pleasure in that holy, awful seriousness, un­to which it composes, and formes our Spi­rits.

Our Humility, as it respects him, an­swers his high excellency, as it respects our own inferiours, his gracious condescention. How pleasant is it to fall before him! And how connatural, and agreable to a good Spirit to stoop low, upon any occasion, to do good!

[Page 329] Sincerity is a most Godlike excellency; an imitation of his Truth, as grounded in his All-sufficiency; which sets him above the necessity, or possibility of any advantage by collusion, or deceit; and corresponds to his Omnisciency, and heart-searching eye. It heightens a mans spirit to a holy, and ge­nerous boldness; makes him apprehend it beneath him to do an unworthy, disho­nest action that should need a palliation, or a concealment.As that noble Roman whom his ar­chitect (about to build him an house) pro­mised to con­trive it free from all his neighbours inspection, he replyes, nay if thou have any art in thee, build my house so that all may see what I do. Vell. Pat▪ p. 3 [...] And gives him the continual pleasure of self approbation to God, whom he chiefly studies, and desires to please.

Patience, a prime Glory of the Divine Majestie continues a mans possession of his own Soul, his Liberty, his Dominion of himself. He is (if he can suffer nothing) a Slave to his vilest and most sordid passions at home; his own base fear, and bruitish anger, and effeminate grief, and to any mans lusts, and humours besides, that he apprehends▪ can do him hurt. It keeps a mans Soul in a peaceful calm, delivers him from (that most unnatural) self-torment, defeats the impotent malice of his most implacable enemy, who fain would vex him but cannot.

Justice, the Great Attribute of the Judge of all the Earth, as such; so farre as the imppression of it takes place among men▪ preserves the Common Peace of [...] World, and the Private Peace of each [...] in his own bosome, so that the for­mer [Page 330] be not disturbed by doing of mutual inju­ries, nor the latter by the conscience of having done them.

The brotherly love of fellow Christians, the im­pression of that special love, which God bears to them all; admits them into one anothers bo­somes, and to all the indearments, and pleasures of a mutual communion.

Love to enemies, the expresse image of our hea­venly Father, by which we appear his children, begotten of him; overcomes evil by goodness, blunts the double edge of revenge; at least, the sharper edge, (which is alwayes towards the Author of it) secures our selves from wounding impressions, and resentments; turns keen anger, into gentle pity; and substitutes mild, pleasant forgiveness, in the room of the much uneasier thoughts, and study of retalia­tion.

Mercifulnesse towards the distressed, as our Father in Heaven is merciful, heaps blessings upon our Souls, and evidences our Title to what we are to live by the Di­vine mercy.

An universal benignity, and propension to d [...] good to all; in imitation of the immense, diffusive goodnesse of God; is but kind­nesse to our selves: Rewards it self by that greater pleasure is in giving, then in re­ceiving; and associates us with God in the blessedness of this work, as well as in the dis­position to it; who exercises loving kind­nesse in the Earth, because delighteth there­in.

[Page 331] Here are some of (the [...], or) the things wherein consists that our conformity to the divine Nature and Will which is proper to our present state. And now, who can estimate the blessedness of such a soul? Can (in a word) the state of that soul be un­happy? that is full of the Holy Gost, full of Love, Joy, Peace, Long-suffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness, Temperance, those blessed fruits of that blessed Spirit. Blessedness is connaturalized unto this soul: Every thing doth its part, and all conspire to make it hap­py. This soul is a Temple an habitation of ho­liness: here dwells a Deity in his glory. 'Tis a Paradise, a Garden of God. Here he walks and converses daily, delighted with its fra­grant fruitfulness. He that hath those things and aboundeth is not barren or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus: he is the Sun, and the knowledge of him, the quickening beams that cherish and ripen these fruits.

But the soul that lacketh these things is a Desart, a habitation of Devils. Here is stupid, disconsolate infidelity, inflexible obstinacy, and resolvedness for Hell; Hatred and con­tempt of the Sovereign Majesty; whom yet, its secret misgiving thoughts tell it, will be too hard for it at last. Here is swoln pride, and giddy vain-glory, disguised hypocrisie, and pining envy, raging wrath, and ravenous avarice, with what you can imagine besides, leading to misery and desolation.

You have then some prospect of a happy [Page 332] temper of Spirit.Philosophia di­viditur in haec Scientiam, & habitum ani­mi, unam illam qui didicit & facienda ac vi­tanda percepit nondum sapiens est, nisi in ea quae didicit ani­mus ejus trans­figuratus est. Sen. (ex A­grippâ) Ep. 94. It can now be no difficulty to you, to frame an Idea of it in your thoughts, to get a notional image, (or this likeness, in the notion of it) into your minds: but that will avail you little, if you have not the real image also: that is, your Spirits really fashioned and formed according thereto. If having the knowledge of these things (as the Pagan mo­rallists expression before mentioned is of ver­tuous Rules and Precepts) they become not habitual to you, and your Spirits be not transfigured into them.

But now, I treat with such as are supposed to have some such real impressions, that they may be stir'd up to endeavour a further perfecting of them. In order whereto I shall adde but this two-fold advice.

1. Be very careful that this living Image (such you have been formerly told it is) may grow equally, in every part. See that the im­pression of this likeness be entire; that it be not a maimed thing, if it be, God will never own it as his production. Integrity is the glory of a Christian: To be entire lacking nothing. This is the soundness of heart that excludes a blush­ing consciousness, and misgiving; exempts it from the fear of a shameful discovery. Psal. 119. 6. 80. Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; is paraphrased, by having respect to all Gods commandments; To which is opposite, that being partial in the Law spoken of by the ProphetMal. 2. 9. by way of com­plaint concerning the Priests of that time. A thing hateful in the eye of God; and as un­comfortable to our selves, as to be without a leg, or an Arm.

[Page 333] And see that it be preserved entire by a pro­portional, and uniform growth, that fresh life and motion may daily appear in every Limb of this heavenly new Creature. How odious a deformity is it, when a shew of moral vertues ex­cludes Godliness? And how much more odious (in as much as there is more impudent fals­hood in it, and more of dishonourable reflexion upon God) when under an high pre [...]ence of Godliness, any shall allow themselves in visible immorality? What, to be oppressive, envious, contentious, deceitful, proud, turbulent, wrathful, morose, malicious, fretful, and peevish, and yet a Christian? What serious Person, that shall have no fairer representation of Christianity, than such do give, would not be ready to say rather, Sit anima mea cum Phi­losophis; If this be Christian Religion, give me honest Paganism. A Christian that hath re­ceived the proper, uniform, entire impresse of the Gospel of Christ, is the most meek, mild, calm, harmless, quiet thing in the world. Ne­ver mention so venerable a name, if you will not be very jealous of the honour of it; will you give God occasion to charge you? Wretch I never had had this dishonour, if thou h [...]dst never been call'd a Christian; thou art a Christian to no purpose, or to very bad; it does thee no good, and it injures me?

But (which is more directly considerable as to our present purpose) the neglect and con­sequent decay, of any gracious principle, in­fers a languor, a consumption, and enfeeble­ment of all. Any such perverse disposition [Page 334] doth not affect that part only; is not onely an impairment to the contrary gracious principle, but (as a Cancer in some exteriour part of the body) it gradually creeps up till it invade vi­tals. Can the love of God live and grow in an unquiet, angry, uncharitable breast? Consider Jam. 1. 26. 1 John 3. 17.

2. Be constantly intent upon this business of spiritual growth. Mind it as a design, make a solemn purposed business of it, your great daily business; you do not till your ground by chance, as a casual thing; but you do it in­dustriously, and of set purpose. The Apostle speaking of his own method of pursuing con­formity to Christ,Phil. 3. tells us, he did first, in compa­rison, count all things else loss and dogs meat; he threw every thing else aside.8, 9, 10. Then next he recounts with himself how far short he was. N [...]t as if I had already attained, &c. (where, by the way he intimates, that to stand still and give over further endeavours, implyes that gross absurdity, as if we thought our selves to have attained already, to be already perfect; are we not ashamed to seem so conceited of our selves?)V. 12, 13. and then still, as he did attain in this pursuit, he forgot it not; but held on his course with fresh and constant vigor, still reaching forth, and pressing onwards towards his de­signed mark.

In this great business we (alas) seem to dream. He that hath been observed ten or twenty years ago to be proud, and covetous, or passionate, still remains so, and we appre­hend not the incongruity of it. What alwayes [Page 335] learning, and yet never come to the know­ledge of the truth? as it is in Jesus to the put­ting off the old man, and putting on the new? who would meddle with any profession upon such tearms to be alwayes doing, and yet to do nothing? Surely it must be imputed to this, we design not; we do not seriously intend the perfecting of holiness, to make a real progress in our way and work, and to get still nearer heaven, as we draw nearer to the end of our dayes here on earth. We too contentedly confine our selves within certain limits, and aim not as we should, at a spiritual excellency. This is the temper of many that have long troden the path of (at least an external) Re­ligion; they will go but their own pace, and that within a self-prescribed round or circle. They perform their stated task of Religious ex­ercises, and shun the grosser vices of the time: and resolve never to go higher: Much like the character that was once given of a great manTiberius Neque enim e­minentes virtu­tes seclabatur, & rursum vitiae oderat. Tacit. Annal. that he followed not the more eminent ver­tues, and yet that he hated vice. And tis a true censure that a BarbarianT [...]sp [...]cion. [...]. Phi­lostr. in vit. Apollon. Tyan. is said to have gi­ven of that middle temper, that dull indiffe­rency. What is equally distant from being the matter, either of praise or punishments is upon no tearms to be accounted Vertue.

At least we drive not on a design of growth, and self improvement in our spiritual states with that constancy we ought; we are off, and on; our Spirits are not steadily intent. We are unstable as water, Gen. 49. 4. how can we excel? God hath not put us, sure, upon so fruitless a task, [Page 336] wherein our utmost labour and diligence shall profit nothing. Therefore strive more vigo­rously, and pray with more earnest importu­nity. Consider, and plead it with God, that he hath set before thee the hope of such a state, when thou art to be perfectly like him; and shalt thou (that must hereafter be like God) be now like a clod of earth. Thou art now a Child begotten of him, and though thou art yet in thy minority, yet may not somewhat be spared out of so fair an estate, hereafter design­ed for thee; as that thou mayest now live worthy of such a Father, and suitably to thy expected inheritance?

3. And now, a contented satisfied temper of Spirit, as I have told you, results from the other two; and will therefore follow of course, upon growing knowledge of God, and conformity to Him, as the latter of these also doth, upon the former. Yea, 'tis a part of our conformity to God; but a part consequent to the impression of the things mentioned under the former head (as knowledge also is a part previous and antecedent thereto) Tis in the state of glory, we see something superadded. The likeness imprest, is presupposed; Satisfa­ction follows thereupon. The case is so too in our present state, Contentment is spoken of as a thing consequent and superadded. Godliness with Contentment; a satisfied, contented Spirit, when 'tis the result of Godliness (of the divine image imprest) is indeed great gain. Yet

As to this I shall only say these two things.

1. Be distinct and explicite in the proposal [Page 337] of it as an end. Religion doth not brutify men but make them more rational. Its business is to guide them to blessedness. It must there­fore pitch their eyes upon it, as the mark and [...] they are to aim at, and hold them intent there. 'Tis ingenuous, and honourable to God that we should expresly avow it, we come to Him for satisfaction to our Spirits, not know­ing whether else to apply our selves. We turn our eyes upon Him, we lay open our souls to receive impressions from Him, for this very end. This is an explicit acknowledment of Him as God; our highest, Soveraign good.

2. Actually apply and accommodate divine visions and communications to this purpose. ‘Say, O my Soul; now come solace thy self in this appearance of God; come take thy allowed pleasure in such exertions of God as thou dost now experience in thy self.’ Re­count thy happiness; think how great it is; how rich thou art, on purpose that thy Spirit may grow more, daily, into a satisfied contented frame. Often bethink thy self, What is the great God doing for me! that he thus reveals, and imparts himself to my soul; O how great things do those present pledges presignisie to me! That thou may'st still more and more like thy portion, and account it faln in pleasant places, so as never to seek satisfaction in things of another kind; though thou must still continue expecting and desiring more of the same kind.

And remember to this purpose there cannot be a greater participation of the misery of hell before-hand, than a discontented Spirit [Page 338] perpetually restless, and weary of it self; nor of the blessedness of heaven, than in a well-pleased, satisfied, contented frame of Spirit.

CHAP. XIX.

Rule 5. Directing to raise our desires above the actual or possible attainments of this our present; and terminate them upon the future consummate state of Blessedness. The Rule explained and pressed by sundry considerations. Rule 6. That we add to a desirous pursuit, a joyful expectation of this blessedness; which is pursued in cer­tain subordinate directions.

5. THat notwithstanding all our present or possible attainments in this imperfect state on earth;Rule 5. We direct fervent vigorous de­sires towards the perfect, and consummate state of glory it self; Not designing to our selves a plenary satisfaction, and rest in any thing on this side of it.

That is; that forgetting what is behind, we reach forth not only to what is immediately be­fore us; the next step to be taken; but that our eye and desire, aim forward at the ultimate period of our race terminate upon the eternal glory it self; and that not only as a measure; according to which we would some way pro­portion our present attainments, but at the very mark, which (it self) we would fain hit and reach home to.

[Page 339] And that this be not only the habitual bent, and tendency of our Spirits; but that we keep up such desires, in frequent (and as much as is possible) continual exercise.

Yea, and that such actual desires be not only faint, and sluggish wishes, but full of lively efficacy, and vigour; in some measure propor­tionable to our last end, and highest good; beyond, and above which we neither esteem, nor expect any other enjoyment.

Whatsoever we may possibly attain to here, we should still be far from projecting to our selves a state of rest on this side consummate glo­ry; but still urge our selves to a continual as­cent; so as to mount above, not onely all en­joyments of any other kind, but all degrees of enjoyment in this kind, that are beneath perfection.

Still it must be remembred, this is not the state of our final rest. The Mass of Glory is yet in reserve, we are not yet so high as the highest Heavens.

If we gain but the top of Mount Tabor, we are apt to say, 'tis good to be here, and forget the longer journey yet before us; loath to think of a further advance; when, were our spirits right, how far so ever we may suppose our selves to have attained, it would be mat­ter of continual joy to us to think high perfe­ctions are still attainable; that we are yet ca­pable of greater things, then what we have hitherto compast; our souls can yet compre­hend more. Nature intends what is most per­fect in every Creature; methinks the Divine [Page 340] Nature in the New Creature, should not de­sign lower, or cease aspiring, till it have at­tained its ultimate perfection, its culmi­nating point; till Grace turn into Glo­ry.

Let us therefore Christians bestir our selves, let us open, and turn our eyes upon the eter­nal glory. Lets view it well, and then de­mand of our own souls, why are our desires so faint and slothful? why do they so seldom pierce through the interveining distance, and reach home to what they prefessedly level at? so rarely touch this blessed mark? How can we forbear to be angry with our selves, that so glorious an end should not more powerfully attract? that our hearts should not more sen­sibly find themselves drawn? and all the powers of the soul beset on work, by the at­tractive power of that glory?

It certainly concerns us not to sit still, un­der so manifest a distemper. But if the pro­posal of the object; the discourse (all this while) of this blessed state, do not move us to make some further trials with our selves, see what urging and reasoning with our souls; what rubbing and chasing our hearts will do. And there is a two fold trial we may in this kind make upon our spirits. What the sense of shame will work with us, whether our hearts cannot be made sensible to suppose how vile, and wretched a temper it is to be undesirous of glory. And then what sense of praise can effect, or what impression it may make upon us to consi­der the excellency, and worth, the high reason­ableness [Page 341] of that temper, & posture of soul, which I am now perswading to [a continual desirous­ness of that blessed glorious state.]

1. As to the former. Let us bethink our selves, can we answer it to God, or to our own souls; that we should indulge our selves in a continual negligence of our eternal blessed­ness? A blessedness, consisting in the Visi­on, and Participation of the Divine Glo­ry?

Have we been dreaming all this while, that God hath been revealing to us this glorious state? and setting this lovely prospect before our eyes? Did it become us not to open our eyes, while he was opening Heaven to us, and representing the state which he designed to bring us to? or will we say we have seen it, and yet desire it not? Have we been deaf and dead, while he hath been calling us into eter­nal glory? have all our senses been bound up all this while? Hath he been speaking all a­long to sensless Statues, to Stocks, and Stones, while he expected reasonable, living souls should have received the voice, and have re­turned an obedient, complying answer? And what answer could be expected to such a call, (a call to his Glory) below this. We desire it Lord, we would fain be there.

And if, we say we have not been all this while a sleep, we saw the light that shone up­on us, we heard the voice that called to us; wherewith shall we then excuse our selves, that our desires were not mov'd? that our Souls were not presently in a flame? was it then that [Page 342] we thought all a meer fixion? that we durst not give credit to his word, when it brought us the report of the everlasting Glory? will we avow this? Is this that we will stand by? or what else have we left to say? have we a more plausible reason to alledge, that the discove­ry of such a glory mov'd us not to desire it; then that we believed it not? sure this is the truth of our case. We should feel this hea­venly fire alwayes burning in our breasts, If our Infidelity did not quench the coal. If we did believe, we could not but desire. But doth not the thoughts of this shake our very souls, and fill us with horrour, and trembling? We that should be turn'd into indignation, and ready to burn our selves with our own flame, and all about us, if one should give us the lie; that we should dare to put the lye upon the E­ternal Truth! upon him whose Word gave sta­bility, and being to the world, who made and sustains all things by it. That awful Word! That Word that shivers Rocks, and melts down Mountains, that make the inanimate Creation tremble, that cna in a moment blast all things, and dissolve the frame of Heaven and Earth, (which in the mean time it upholds) is that become with us fabulous, lying breath? Those God-breath'd Oracles, those Heavenly Re­cords, which discover, and describe this bles­sed state, are they false and foolish Legends; must that be pretended at last (if men durst) that is so totally void of all pretence? what should be the gain or advantage accrewing to that Eternal, All-sufficient being. What [Page 343] accession should be made to that infinite self-fulness by deluding a Worm? Were it con­sistent with his Nature, what could be his de­sign to put a cheat upon poor mortal dust? If thou dare not impute it to him; such a de­ception had a beginning, but what Author canst thou imagine of it? or what end? did it proceed from a good mind, or a bad? could a good and honest mind form so horribly wick­ed a design, to impose an universal delusion, and lye upon the world, in the name of the true and holy God? or could a wicked mind frame a design so directly level'd against wick­edness? or is there any thing so aptly and na­turally tending to form the World to sobriety, holiness, purity of conversation, as the disco­very of this future state of glory? and since the belief of future felicity, is known to ob­tain universally among men; who could be the Author of so common a deception. If thou had'st the mind to impose a lie upon all the world, what course would'st thou take? how would'st thou lay the design? or why dost thou in this case imagine, what thou knowest not how to imagine? And dost thou not without scruple believe many things of which thou never had'st so unquestionable evidence? or must that Faith which is the foundation of thy Religion, and eternal hopes be the most suspected sha­king thing with thee? and have of all other the least stability, and rootedness in thy soul; If thou can'st not excuse thy infidelity, be ashamed of thy so cold, and sluggish desires of this glo­rious state.

[Page 344] And doth it not argue a low, sordid Spirit▪ not to desire and aim at the perfection thou art capable of? not to desire that blessedness which alone is suitable and satisfying to a reasonable and spiritual being? Bethink thy▪ self a little, how low art thou sunk into the dirt of the earth? how art thou plunged into the mity Ditch? that even thine own clothes might ad­hor thee? Is the Father of Spirits thy Father▪ Is the world of Spirits thy Country? Hast thou any relation to that Heavenly Progeny? Art thou ally'd to that blessed Family? and yet undesirous of the same blessedness? Can'st thou savour nothing, but what smells of the Earth? Is nothing grateful to thy Soul, but what is corrupted by so vicious, and impure a tincture? are all thy delights centred in a Dunghill? and the polluted pleasures of a fil­thy world better to thee then the eternal vi­sions and enjoyments of Heaven? what, art thou all made of Earth? Is thy soul stupifi'd into a Clod? hast thou no sense with thee of any thing better and more excellent? can'st thou look upon no glorious thing with a plea­sed eye? Are things onely desirable and love­ly to thee, as they are deformed? O consider the corrupted distempered state of thy Spirit; and how vile a disposition it hath contracted to it self. Thine looks too like the Mundan [...] Spirit. 1 Cor. 2. 12. [...]. The Spirit of the World. The Apostle speaks of it ( [...]) by way of distinction; we have not received the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, that we might know, or see (and no doubt 'tis desire that [Page 345] animates that eye; 'tis not bare speculative intuition, and no more) the things freely gi­ven us of God. Surely he whose desire doth not guide his eye to the beholding of those things, hath received the Spirit of the world onely. A Spirit that conforms him to this world, makes him think onely thoughts of this world, and drive the designs of this world, and speak the language of this world. A Spi­rit that connaturalizes him to the world, makes him of a temper suitable to it. He breathes onely worldly breath, carries a worldly aspect, is of a worldly conversation. O poor low spi­rit! that such a world should with-hold thee from the desire, and pursuit of such glory! Art thou not ashamed to think what thy desires are wont to pitch upon, while they decline and wave this blessedness? Methinks thy very shame should compel thee to quit the name of a Saint, or a Man. To forbear numbring thy self with any that pretend to immortality; and go seek Pasture among the Beasts of the Field, with them that live that low animal life, that thou dost, and expect no other.

And while thou so fallest in with the world, how highly dost thou gratifie the pretend­ing, and usurping God of it? The great fo­mentor of the sensual worldy genius; The Spirit it self that works in the children of disobe­dienence, Ephes. 2. 2, 3. and makes them follow the course of the world; hold them fast bound in worldly lusts, and leaves them captive at his will; causes them (after his own Serpentine manner) to creep, and crawl in the dust of the Earth. He is most [Page 346] intimate to this apostate world, informs it (as it were) and actuates it in every part;1 Joh. 5. 19. i [...] even one great soul to it. The whole world lies in that wicked one (as the body, by best Phi­losophers, is said to be in the Soul.) The world is said to be convicted, Joh. 16. when he is judged. He having fall'n from a state of blessedness in God, hath involv'd the world with himself in the same Apostacy and Condemnation; and labours to keep them fast in the bands of death. The great Redeemer of Souls makes this his business,1 Joh. 3. 8. to lose, and dissolve the work of the De­vil. With that wicked one thou complyest a­gainst thy own Soul, and the Redeemer of it; while thou neglectest to desire and pursue this blessedness. This is thy debasement, and his triumph; thy vile succumbency gives him the day, and his will upon thee. He desires no more, then that he may suppress in thee all heavenly desires; and keep thee thus a slave, and a prisoner (confin'd in thy Spirit to this low, dark dungeon) by thy own con­sent. While thou remainest without desire after Heaven, he is secure of thee, as know­ing then thou wilt take no other way, but what will bring thee unto the same eternal state with himself in the end. He is jealous over thee, that thou direct not a desire, nor glance an eye Heaven-ward: while thou dost not so, thou art entirely subject, and givest as full o­bedience to him; as thy God requires to him­self, in order to thy blessedness. But is it a thing tollerable to thy thoughts, that thou should'st yeild that heart obedience to the Devil against God?

[Page 347] And this being the state of thy case, what more significant expression canst thou make of thy contempt of Divine goodness? O the love that thou neglectest, while the most glorious issue, and product of it, is with thee an undesi­red thing! Yea, this the thing it self speaks, were there no such competition. What? that when eternal love have conceived, and is tra­velling to bring forth such a birth? that when it invites thee to an expectation of such glory shortly to be reveal'd, the result of so deep counsels, and wonderful works, this should be the return from thee, I desire it not? Is this thy gratitude to the Father of Glory? the re­quital of the kindness, yea, and of the blood of thy Redeemer? If this blessedness were not desirable for it self; methinks the offerers hand should be a sufficient endearment. But thou can'st not so deride or abstract, it consists in beholding, and bearing his Glorious like­ness, who invites thee to it, and therefore in the neglect of it, thou most highly affront­est him.

Yea further, is it not a monstrous unnatu­ralness towards thy self, as well as impiety to­wards God, not to desire that perfect, final blessedness? Doth not every thing naturally tend to its ultimate perfection and proper end? what creature would not witness against thee, if thou neglect, in thy own capacity and kind, to aim at thine? Surely thou canst not allow thy self to think any thing beneath this, worthy to be owned by thee, under that notion, of thy highest good, and thy last end. But that thy [Page 348] Spirit should labour under an aversion towards thy highest good, towards thy blessedness it self, is not that a dismal token upon thee? If thou did'st disaffect, and nauseate the things in which thy present life is bound up, and with­out which thou can'st not live, would'st thou not think thy case deplorate? what dost thou think will become of thy soul? whose everlast­ing life is bound up in that very good, which thou desirest not. Which cannot live that life without that good, nor with it, if thou hast no desire to it. O the Eternal Resentments, thy Soul will have of this cruelty. To be with­held from that, wherein its life lies? would'st thou not judge him unnatural, that should kill his Brother, assassine his Father, starve his Child? what shall be said of him that destroys himself? How may that soul lament, that ever it was thine; and say, O that I had rather been of any such lower kind, to have animated a Fly, to have inspirited a vile Worm, rather then to have serv'd a reasonable beast, that, by me, knew the good it would never follow, and did not desire! But if thou hast any such desires, in a low degree, after this blessedness; as thou thinkest may intitle thee to the name thou bear­est, of a Saint, a Christian. Is it not still very unnatural to pursue a good approved, by thy sta­ted judgment, as [...]ast in it self, and for thee, with so unproportionable, so slothful desires? For the same reason thou dost desire it at all; thou should'st desire it much, yea, and still more, and more, till thou attain it, and be swallowed up into it. Thy best, and last good, thou canst ne­ver desire too much.

[Page 349] And let it be considered by thee, that the temper thou thinkest thy self innocent of [an habitual prevalent disaffection to the true ble­sedness of Saints] may, for ought thou knowest, be upon thee; while it appears, thou art so ve­ry near the borders of it; and it appears not, with such certainty, that thou partakest not in it. It is not so easie a matter, critically to distinguish, and conclude of the lowest degree (in Hypo­thesi, or with application to thy own case) of that desire, which is necessary to qualifie thee for the enjoyment of this blessedness. And is it not a matter both of shame, and terrour, that thou should'st desire thy blessedness so faintly, as not to know, whether thou truly desire it at all? 'Tis true, that a certainty, amongst such as may be sincere, is very little common; but whence proceeds it, but from their too common indul­dulged sloth; out of which all this is designed to awaken thee. And the commonness where­of doth as little detract from the reproach, and sinfulness, as from the danger of it? 'tis but a poor defence, for what is intrinsically evil in it self, that it is common.

But further, as the case is, this is so re­proachful a thing, even in common estimate, [not to desire Heaven, and Eternal Glory, or to desire it with very cold and careless desires] that there are few will profess it, or own it to be their temper, much fewer that will under­take to excuse, or justifie it. 'Tis so evilly thought of, that among meerly sober & rational men, it can never find an advocate, or any that will afford it Patronage. The generality pre­tend [Page 350] a desire of going to Heaven, and being with God. If any be so observant of them­selves, as to know, and so ingenious, as to con­fess it, otherwise with them, they complain of it as their fault, and say, they would fain have it redrest, but are far from assuming that confi­dence to defend, or plead for it. Consider then, wilt thou persist in such a temper and disposition of mind, as all men condemn? and be guilty of so odious a thing, as shall be censu­red & blamed by the common concurrent vote and judgment of mankind? Thou would'st be ashamed to stand forth, and profess openly to men, that thou desirest an earthly felicity more then a blessedness in Heaven: or at least, that thou art so indifferent, and the scales hang even with thee, that thou canst hardly tell which way they incline most. And art thou not ashamed that this should be thy usual temper, how much soever thou conceal it from the no­tice, and observation of the world?

Moreover, how can it escape thy serious re­flection? that if thou pretend it otherwise with thee, 'tis but to adde one sin to another, and cover thy Carnality with Hypocrisie, and Dis­simulation? yea, while thou continuest in that temper of Spirit, not to desire this blessedness as thy Supreme end, the whole of thy Reli­gion is but an empty shew, an artificial disguise; it carries an appearance and pretence, as if thou wast aiming at God and Glory, while thy heart is set another way, and the bent of thy soul secretly carries thee a counter-course. Hath not Religion an aspect towards Blessedness? [Page 351] what mean thy Praying, thy Hearing, thy Sa­cramental Communion; if thou have not a de­sign for Eternal Glory? what makest thou in this way, if thou have not thy heart set towards this end?

Nor is it more dishonest and unjust; then it is foolish and absurd, that the disposition, and tendency of thy soul, should be directly con­trary to the only design of the Religion thou professest, and doest externally practice. Thy profession and practice are nothing but self-con­tradiction. Thou art continually running counter to thy self; outwardly pursuing what thou inwardly declinest. Thy real end (which can be no other then what thou really desirest, and settest thy heart upon) and thy vi­sibly way are quite contrary. So that while thou continuest the course of Religion, in which thou art engaged, having taken down from before thine eyes, the end which thou should'st be aiming at, and which alone Religion can aptly subserve; Thy Religion hath no design, or end at all (none at least which thou would'st not be ashamed to profess and own.) Indeed this temper of heart I am now pleading against, an undesirousness, or indifferencie of Spirit towards the eternal glory, renders Religion the vainest thing in the world. For whereas all the other actions of our lives have their stated proper ends; Religion hath in this case none at all; none to which it hath any designation in its na­ture, or any aptness to subserve. This mon­strous absurdity it infers (and how strange is it, that it should not be reflected on?) That, [Page 352] whereas, if you ask any man of common under­standing what he doth this or that action for? especially, if they be stated actions done by him in an ordinary course, he can readily tell you for such and such an end. But ask him why he continues any practice of Religion; he can­not say (in this case) for what.

For can any man imagine what other end Religion naturally serves for, but to bring men to blessedness? which being no other thing then what hath been here described, such, as are found not to desire it really, and Supremely, as their end, can have no real at­tainable end of their being religious at all. To drive on a continued course, and series of acti­ons, in a visible pursuit of that which they de­sire not; and have no mind to, is such a piece of folly, so fond and vain a trifling; that, as I remember, Cicero reports, Cato to have said con­cerning the South-sayers of his time, he did wonder they could look in one anothers faces, and not laugh (being conscious to each others im­postures, and the vanity of their profession) so one would as justly wander, that the gene­rality of carnal men (who may shrewdly guess at the temper of one anothers minds) do not laugh at each other, that they are joynt­ly engaged in such exercises of Religion, to the design whereof the common and agreed temper of their Spirits do so little corres­pond. As if all were in very good earnest for Heaven, when each one knows for himself, and may (possibly with more Truth then Cha­rity) suppose of the rest, that if they might [Page 353] alwayes continue in their earthly stations, they had rather never come there. And there­fore that they desire it not Supremely, and so not as their end at all; consider it then, that thy no-desire of this blessed state quite dispirits thy Religion, utterly ravishes away its Soul, leaves it a dead, foolish, vain thing, renders it an idle impertinency, not a mean to a valuable end. This desire is that life of Religion, all du­ties and exercises of piety are without it, but empty Formalities, Solemn pieces of Pagean­trie. Every service done to God, but the Sacrifice of a Fool, if not animated by the desire of final blessedness in him and be not part of our way thither, a means designed to the attainment of it. Which nothing can be, that we are not put upon by the vertue of the de­sired end. Without this, Religion is not it self. A continuance in well doing, is as it were the body of it; and therein, a seeking honor, glory, and immortality, the Soul and Spirit. The de­sire of an Heavenly Country, must run through the whole course of our Earthly Pilgrimage: It were otherwise a continued errour, an un­certain wandring; no steady tending towards our end. So that thou art a meer Vagrant, if this desire do not direct thy course towards thy Fathers house▪ And methinks all this should make thee even ashamed of thy self, if thou canst not find this desire to have a settled residence and a ruling power in thy Soul. then.

2. Sense of praise should signifie something too, as the Apostle, Whatsoever things are— [Page 354] pure, lovely, &c. if there be any vertue,—any praise, think of these things. And hath not the eternal glory those characters upon it of purity, and loveliness beyond all things? Is it not a laudable, and praise-worthy thing to have a mind and heart set upon that?

The blessed God puts a note of excellency upon this temper of Spirit.Heb. 11. 16. But they desire a better Country, that is, an Heavenly, Where­fore God is not ashamed to be called their God, &c. This renders them a people worthy of him, 1 Thes. 2. 12. who hath called them to his kingdom and glory; fit for him to own a relation to. Had they been of low, terrene Spirits, he would have accounted it a shame to him, to have gone under the name and cognisance of their God. But in as much as they desire the Hea­venly Country, have learned to trample this terrestrial world, cannot be contained within this lower Sphere; nor satisfie them­selves in earthly things; they now discover a certain excellency of Spirit, in respect whereof God is not ashamed to own a relation to them before all the world to be called their God; to let men see what account he makes of such a Spirit.

Yea, this is the proper genuine Spirit, and temper of a Saint, which agrees to him as he is such. He is begotten to the eternal inhe­ritance. A disposition (and therein a desire) to it, is in his very nature (the new nature he hath received) implanted there, from his ori­ginal. He is born Spirit of Spirit, and by that birth, is not intituled onely, but adopted, and [Page 355] suited also to that pure and Spiritual state of blessedness. That grace by the appearance whereof men are made Christians teaches, also instructs, unto this very thing, to look for this blessed hope the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.. That which you know consummates that bles­sedness. For when Christ, who i [...] their life shall appear then shall they also appear with him in glory, by the participation of the divine nature their Spirits escape and get up above this corrupt impure world. That new nature is a holy flame that carries the [...]r hearts upwards towards heaven.

Further such desires appear hence to be of divine originall an infusion from the blessed God himself.2 Cor. 5▪ 4▪ That nature is from him imme­diately in which they are implanted. The Apostle speaking of his earnest panting desire to have mortality swallowed up of life pre­sently add's. He that wrought us to the self same thing is God.

They are obedient desires, Heb. 31. The souls present answere to the heavenly call,1 Thes. 7. 12. by which God calls it to his kingdom and glory. This glory is (as hath been formerly noted) the very term of that calling.1 Pet. 5. 1 [...] The God of all grace hath called us into his eternal glory by Christ Jesus.Phil. 3▪ 14. The glori [...]ied state is the marke,2 Thes. 2. 14▪ the price of the high calling of God in Christ. Tis the matter of the Apostles thanksgiving unto God, on the behalf of the Thessalonians, that they were called by his Gospel, to the ob­taining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ [Page 356] when the soul desires this glory, it obedient­ly answers this call. This is a complyance and subjection of heart to it. How Lovely and becoming a thing is this, when God touches the heart with a stamp and impress of glory, and it forthwith turnes it self to that very point, and stands directly bent towards the state of glory, if not wayward or perverse, but here in yield it self to God, and complyes with the divine pleasure.

Such desires have much in them of a child­like ingenuity. To desire the sight of a Fa­thers face; when this is this intimate sense of the soul show me the Father and it suffices; To desire the fullest conformity to his nature and will, to be perfect as that heavenly Fa­ther is perfect, what doth better become a child?

They are generous desires, they aim at perfection, the highest that created nature is capable of, not contented to have had some glances of divine glory, some stroaks and lines of his image, but aspiring to full-eyd visions a perfect likeness.

They are victorious desires, they (as it were) ride in triumph over the world and every sub­lunarie thing, they must be supposed to have conquered sensual inclinations to have got the mastery over terrene dispositions and affections. With what holy contempt and scorn of every earthly thing doth that loftie soul quit thi [...] dirty world and ascend, that is powerfully carryed by its own desire towards the blessed state? The desire of such a knowledge of [Page 357] Christ, as might transform into his Likeness; and pass the soul through all degrees of con­formity to him, till it attain the resurrection of the dead, and become like a risen glorified Jesus; Such a desire I say, if it make all things seem as loss and dung in comparison (even a formal Spirit less religion it self) will it not render this world the most despicable dung­hill of all the rest. Try such a soul if you can, tempt it down to injoy a flattering kind world, or to please it when angry and unkind. When desires after this glory are once a­wakn'd, into an active lively vigour, when the fire is kindled, and the flame ascends and this refined Spirit is joyfully ascending therein; see if you can draw it back and make it believe this world a more regardable thing. Why should not all those considera­tions make thee in love with this blessed frame of Spirit, and restless till thou find thy self un­capable of being satisfied with any thing but divine likeness,

6. That while we cannot as yet attain the mark and end of our desires,Rule 6. we yeild not to a comfortless despondency in the way, but maintain in our hearts a lively joy, in the hope that here­after we shall attain it.

We are not all this while perswading to the desire and pursuit of an unattainable good. Spiritual desires are also rational and do there­fore involve hope with them; and that hope ought to infer and cherish joy. Hopeless desire is full of torment, and must needs banish joy from that breast which it hath not the pos­session [Page 358] of. Tis a disconsolate thing to desire what we must never expect to enjoy, and are utterly unlikely ever to compass. But these desires are part of the new creature, which is not of such a composition, as to have a principle of endless trouble, and disquiet in it self, The Father of mercies is not so little merciful to his own child; to lay it under a necessity from its very natural constitution, of being for ever miserable by the desire of that which it can never have. It had been very unlike the workmanship of God, to make a creature to which it should be necessarie to desire, and em­possible to enjoy the same thing.

Not but as he hath given holy souls (as to the present case) great incentives of desire, so doth he afford them proportionable encou­ragements of hope also, and that hope inter­vening, can very well reconcile desire and joy and lodge them together in the same bosome. So that as it is a thing capable of no excuse, to hear of this blessedness, and not desire it, so it would be to desire, and not expect it, to expect it, and not rejoyce in it, even while we are under that expectation. And it must be a very raised joy that shall answer to the ex­pectation of so great things. If one should give a stranger to Christianity an account of the Christian hopes, and tell him what they expect to be and enjoy erelong; he would sure promise himself to find so many angells dwel­ling in humane flesh, and reckon, when he came among them, he should be as amidst heavenly Quire: every one ful of joy and praise. He [Page 359] would expect to find us living on earth, as the inhabitants of heaven, also many pieces of im­mortal glory lately dropt down from above, and shortly again returning thither. He would look to find, every where, in the Christian world incarnate glory, sparkling through the over­shaddowing vail, and wonder how this earthly sphere should be able to contain so many great souls.

But when he draws nearer to us, and observs the course and carriage of our lives; when he sees us walk as other men, and considers the strange disagreement of our daily conversation, to our so great avowed hopes, and how little sense of joy, and pleasure we discover our selves to conceive in them: would he not be ready to say, sure some or other ‘(willing only to amuse the world with the noise of strange things) have composed a Religion for these men, which they themselves understand no­thing of. If they do adopt, and own it for theirs, they understand not their own pre­tences; they are taught to speak som big words, or to give a faint, or seeming assent to such as speak them in the names; but tis im­possible they should be in good earnest, or believe themselves in what they say, and profess.’

And what reply then should we be able to make? for who can think that any who ac­knowledge a God; and understand at all what that name imports, should value at so low a rate, as we (visibly) do; the eternal fru­ition of his glory, and a present Sonship [Page 360] to him, the pledge of so great an hope.

He that is born Heir to great Honours, and Possessions, though he be upon great uncer­tainties, as to the enjoyment of them (for how many interveniencies may prevent him?) yet when he comes to understand his possibili­ties, and expectancies; how big doth he look and speak? what grandieur doth he put on? His hopes form his Spirit and Deportment; But is it Proportionably so with us? Do our hopes fill our hearts with joy, our mouths with praise, and clothe our faces with a cheerful aspect, and make an holy alacrity appear in all our conversations?

But let not the design of this discourse be mistaken. 'Tis [...]o [...] a presumptuous confidence I would encourage, nor a vain ostentation, nor a disdainful overlooking of others when we fan­cie our selves to excel. Such things hold no pro­portion with a Christian Spirit. His is a mo­dest, humble exaltation, a serious severe joy; suitable to his solid, stable hope. His Spirit is not puft up, and swol'n with air, 'tis not big by an inflation, or a light and windy humour; but 'tis really fill'd with effectual pre-apprehensi­ons of a weighty glory. His joy accordingly exerts it self with a steady lively vigour, equal­ly removed from vain lightness, and stupidity from conceitedness, and insensibleness of his blessed state. He forgets not that he is less then the least of Gods mercies, but disowns not his title to the greatest of them. He abases himself to the dust, in the sense of his own vile­ness; but in the admiration of Divine Grace, [Page 361] he rises as high as Heaven. In his humiliati­on he affects to equal himself with worms, in his joy and praise with angels. He is never un­willing to diminish himself, but affraid of de­tracting any thing from the love of God, or the issues of that love.

But most of all he magnifies (as he hath cause) this its last and most perfect issue. And by how much he apprehends his own un­worthiness, he is the more rapt up into a wondering joy; that such blessedness should be his designed portion.

But now how little do we find in our selves of this blessed frame of spirit? How remote are we from it? Let us but enquire a little into our own Souls. Are there not too apparent Symptomes with us of the little joy we take in the forethoughts of future blessedness? For,

First, How few thoughts have we of it? what any delight in, they remember often. 'Tis said of the same person,Psal. 1. 2. that his delight is in the Law of the Lord, and that in his Law he doth me­ditate day and night. And when the Psalmist professes his own delight in Gods statutes, Psal. 119. 16. he adds, I will not forget thy Word. Should we not be as unapt to forget Heaven, if our delight were there? But do not dayes pass with us, wherein we can allow our selves no leasure to mind the eternal glory? when yet vanities throng in upon us, without any ob­struction, or check?

And (what is consequent hereupon) How seldom is this blessed state the subject of our discourse? How often do Christians meet, [Page 362] and not a word of Heaven? O heavy carnal hearts! Our home and eternal blessedness, in this, appears to be forgotten among us. How often may a person converse with us e're he un­derstand our relation to the Heavenly Coun­try? If Exiles meet in a Forraign Land, what pleasant discourse have they of home? They suffer not one another to forget it. Such was their remembrance of Sion, who sate together be­moaning themselves by the Rivers of Baby­lon, a making mention of it (as the Phrase is often used.) And methinks (even as to this remembrance) it should be our common re­solution too, If we forget thee, O Jerusalem; If we forget to make mention of thee, O thou City of the living God; Let our right hand forget her cunning, our tongue shall sooner cleave to the roof of our mouth; and so it would be, did we prefer that Heavenly Jerusalem above our chief joy.

Again, how little doth it weigh with us? It serves not to out-weigh the smallest trouble, if we have not our eternal desire in every thing gratified, if any thing fall out cross to our incli­nations, this glory goes for nothing with us. Our discontents swallow up our hopes, and joyes, and heaven is reckon'd as a thing of naught. If when outward troubles afflict, or threaten us, we could have the certain prospect of better dayes; that would sensibly revive, and please us. Yea, can we not please our selves with ve­ry uncertain groundless hopes of this kind, without promise or valuable reason? But to be told of a recompense, at the resurrection of the just, of a day when we shall see the face of [Page 363] God, and be satisfied, with his Likeness; this is insipid and without favor to us; and affords us but cold comfort. The uncertain things of time signifie more with us, then the certain things of eternity. Can we think tis all this while well with us? can we think this a tolle­rable evil, or suffer, with patience, such a di­stemper of Spirit? Methinks it should make us ever weary of our selves, and solicitous for an effectual speedy redress.

The redress must be more in our own doing (striving with our souls and with God for them) then in what any man can say. Most of the considerations under the foregoing rule are with little variation applicable to this pre­sent purpose. I shall here annex only some few subordinate directions; which may lead us into this blessed state of life, and give us some joyful foretasts of the future blessedness, ac­cording as our spirits shall comply with them. But expect not to be cured by prescriptions without using them: or that heavenly joy can be the creature of mortal unregarded breath; we can onely prescribe means, and methods through which God may be pleased to de­scend, and in which thou art diligently to in­sist and wait. And because I cannot well sup­pose the ignorant where much is said to this purpose; I shall therefore say little.

1. Possess thy soul with the apprehension that thou art not at liberty in this matter; but that there is a certain spiritual delectation, which is incumbent on thee as indispensable duty. Some whose moroser tempers do more estrange [Page 364] them from delights, think themselves more especially concern'd, to banish every thing of that kind from their religion and phansie it onely to consist in sowr and rigorous severities. Others seem to think it arbitrary and indiffe­rent; or that, if they live in a continual sadness and dejection of spirit, 'tis only their infeli­city not their fault, and apprehend not the ob­ligation that is upon them, by a divine Law o­therwise to mannage and order their spirits. But what then? are such words thought to be spoken at random,Prov. 3. 17. Her ways are ways of plea­santness. The Lord is the portion of mine Inheritance. The Lines are fal'n to me in pleasant places (or in the midst of pleasantnesses, as the expression hath been noted to signifie) Do such precepts carry no sense with them; Delight thy self in the Lord.—Rejoyce in the Lord always and again I say rejoyce, Psal. 34. 7. with many more? Do all passa­ges of this kind in Scripture stand for cyphers or were they put in them by chance?Phil. 4 4. Is there such a thing as an aptitude to delectation in our natures, Sal. 5. 22. and doth the Sanctification thereof in­title the joy of Saints to a place among the fruits of the Spirit, and yet is the exercise of it to have no place in their hearts and pra­ctise? Do not think you are permitted so to extinguish or frustrate so considerable a prin­ciple of the Divine Life. Know that the due exercise of it, is a part of the order and dis­cipline of Gods Family. That it is a constitu­tion of the divine Goodness and Wisdom both to cherish his own, and invite in strangers to him, yea that is the scope and aim of the whole [Page 365] Gospel-revelation, that the word of life was purposely written to draw souls into fellowship with the Father and the Son that their joy might be full. 2 Cor. 4. That the M [...]nisters of this Gospel are therefore stiled the helpers of their joy. Therefore though here it be not required nor allowed, that you should indulge a vain trifling levity or a sensual joy, or that you should rejoyce you know not why (imi­tating the laughter of a fool) or inoppor­tunely, why your State admits it not, or when the Lord calls to mourning; yet settle however this perswasion in your hearts, that the serious, rational, regular, seasonable ex­ercise of delight and joy is matter of duty, to be charged upon conscience, from the au­thority of God; and is an integral part in the religion of Christians. And then sure you will not think any object more proper and suitable for it to be exercised upon, than the foreseen state of blessedness,Psalm. 16. which is, in it self,Mat. 25. a fulness of joy; The joy of our Lord. and is in the pre-apprehensions of it a more con­siderable matter of joy than our present state affords us besides; and without relation whereto we have no matter of rational joy at all.

2. Keep Faith in exercise; Both in that act of it, which p [...]rswades the soul of the truth of the Gospel-revelation, and that act of it which unites it to God, through the me­diator. The Apostle prays on the behalf of his Roman Christians that they might be filled with joy and peace,Rom. [...]5 1 [...]. in believing; and we [Page 366] are told how effectually (as to this) it supply'd the place of sight. Such as had not seen Christ (which was the priviledge of many other Christians of that time) yet believing did rejoyce,1 Pet. 1. 8. with joy unspeakable and glori­ous.

Faith directly tends, in that double office before mentioned, to excite and foment this joy. As it assents to the truth of the Gospel-revelation it reallizes the object,Heb. 11. 1. is the sub­stance and evidence of the invisible glory. As it unites the soul with God through Christ in a siducial and obediential closure, it ascertains our interest therein, and is our actual accep­tance of our blessedness it self; for when we take God through Christ to be our God, what is it? but to accept him as our eternal and satis­fying portion, whom we are after fully to enjoy in the vision and participation of his glorious excellencies, and infinite fulness. Which two acts of faith we have mentioned together in one text.—They were perswaded of the promises and embraced them; the former re­specting the truth of the promise, the latter the goodness of the thing promised. And here­upon they confessed themselves (as it follows) Pilgrims and Strangers on earth which abdicati­on of the earth, as none of their country could not be, but that, through their faith, they had a joyous pre-apprehension of that better state. That confession did manifestly involve in it a lively joy, springing from the sight and em­brace of that more taking distant good; which the promise presented them with; whence [Page 367] they could not think it enough to be such to themselves in their own thoughts, and the tem­per of their minds; but they cannot forbear (so overcoming were their sights and tasts) to give it out, to speak, and look, and live, as those that were carried up in their spirits a­bove this earth; and who did even disdain to own themselves in any other relation to it, then that of Forraigners and Strangers.

Set thy Faith on work Soul, and keep it a work, and thou wilt find this no riddle; it will be so with thee too, we have much talk of Faith among us, and have the name often in our mouths, but how few are the real lively belie­vers? Is it to be thought that such blessedness should not more affect our hearts, nay would it not ravish away our very souls, did we throughly believe it? And were it our present daily work to renew the bonds of a vital union with the blessed God, in whom we expect to be blessed forever, could that be without previous gusts of pleasure? Tis not talking of faith but living by it, that will give us the experience of heavenly delights and joyes.

3. Take heed of going, in thy practice, a­gainst thy light, of persisting in a course of known, or suspected sin, that states thee in a direct hostility and rebellion against heaven; and can never suffer thee to think of eternity and the other world with comfort, will fill thy mind with frightful apprehensions of God, render the sight of his face, the most terrible thing to thy thoughts, thou canst imagine; and satisfaction with his likeness the most im­possible [Page 368] thing. Let a good understanding and correspondence be continued between God and thee (which is not possible, if thou diso­beyest the dictates of thy conscience and takest the liberty to do what thou judgest God hath forbidden thee) that this may be thy rejoycing the testimony of a good conscience; that in sim­plicity, 2 Cor. 1. 12. and godly sincerity, not according to fleshly wisdom, but the grace of God thou hast had thy con­versation—. Take God for a witness of thy ways and walking; approve thy self to his jealous eye, study to carry thy self acceptably towards him; and unto all well pleasing. Let that be thy ambition to stand right in his thoughts to appear gracious in his eyes. Hold fast thine in­tegrity, that thy heart may not reproach thee as long as thou livest, If iniquity be in thy hand put it away, then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot and without fear. Be a faithful subject of that kingdom of God (and here conscience rules under him) which con­sists first in righteousness, and then in peace, and joy in the holy Ghost. Thou wilt so daily be­hold the face of God in righteousness, and with pleasure, but wilt most of all please thy self to think of thy final appearance before him, and the blessedness that shall ensue.

4. Watch and arm thy self against the too forcible strokes and impressions of sensible objects Let not the favor of such low vile things corrupt the pallate of thy soul. A sensual earthly mind, and heart, cannot tast. heavenly delights. They that are after the flesh do savor the things of the Flesh, they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. Labor to be [Page 469] throughly mortified towards this world,1 Cor. 73 1. and the present state of things.1 Joh. 2. 17. Look upon this scheme & pageant as passing away, keep natural appetites under restraint (the world and the lusts of it pass away together) sensuality is an impure thing. Heavenly refined joy cannot live a­mid'st so much filth. Yea, and if thou give thy flesh liberty too far in things that are (in specie;) lawful; it will soon get advantage to domineer, and keep thy soul in a depres­sing servitude. Abridge it then, and cut it short; That thy mind may be enlarged, and at liberty; may not be throng'd, and pre­possest with carnal imaginations and affecti­ons. ‘Let thy soul (if thou wilt take this instruction from a Heathen) look with a constant erect mind into the undefiled light,Max. Tyr. in dissert. neither darkened, [...]. nor born down towards the Earth; but stopping its Ears, and turning its Eyes, and all other Senses back upon it self; and quite abolishing out of it self, all Earthly Sighs, and Groans, and Pleasures, and Glories, and Honours, and disgrace; and having forsaken all these; choose for the Guides of its way, true Reason, and strong Love, the one whereof will shew it the way, the other make it easie, and pleasant.’

5. Having voided thy mind of what is earthly, and carnal, apply and turn it to this blessed Theam. The most excellent and the vilest objects are alike to thee, while thou mindest them not. Thy thoughts possibly bring thee in nothing but vexation and trouble, which would bring in [Page 370] assoon joy, and pleasure, didst thou turn them to proper objects. A thought, of the heavenly glory is assoon thought as of an earthly Cross. We complain the world troubles us, then what do we there? why get we not up in our spirits into the quieter Region? what trouble would the thoughts of future glory be to us? How are the thoughts and wits set on work for this flesh? but we would have our Souls flourish, as the Lilies, without any thing of their own care. Yea, we make them toyl for torture, and not for joy, revolve an affliction a thousand times, before, and after it comes; and have never done with it, when eternal blessedness gains not a thought.

6. Plead earnestly with God for his Spirit. This is joy in the Holy Ghost; or whereof he is the Author. Many Christians (as they must be called) are such strangers to this work of im­ploring, and calling in the blessed Spirit, as if they were capable of adopting these words, We have not so much as heard whether there be an Holy Ghost. That name is with them as an empty sound. How hardly are we convinc't of our necessary dependance, on that free Spirit, as to all our truly Spiritual operations? This Spi­rit is the very earnest of our inheritance. The foretasts, and first fruits we have here of the future blessedness; The joy and pleasure, the complacential relishes, we have of it before hand, are by the gracious vouchsafement and work of this blessed Spirit. The things that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, and which have not entred into the heart of man, are revealed by [Page 371] this Spirit. Therefore doth the Apostle di­rect his Prayer on the behalf of the Ephesi­ans, to the Father of this glory, that he would give them this Spirit of wisdom and revelation,— to enlighten the eyes of their understanding, that they might know the hope of his calling, and the riches of the glory of his inheritance in (or a­mong) the Saints. And its revelation is such as begets an impression; in respect whereof 'tis said also to seal up to the day of redemption. Therefore pray earnestly for this Spirit; not in idle dreaming words of course, but as being really apprehensive of the necessitie of prevailing. And give not over till thou find that sacred fire diffusing it self through thy mind and heart, to enlighten the one, and re­fine the other, and so prepossess both, of this glory; that thy soul may be all turned into joy and praise. And then let me adde here (without the formality of a distinct head.) That it con­cerns thee to take heed of quenching that Spirit, by either resisting, or neglecting its holy dictates, or as the same precept is other­wise given of grieving the Spirit; he is, by Name and Office, the Comforter. The Pri­mitive Christians, 'tis said, walked in the fear of God, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost. Is it equal dealing to grieve him, whose business it is to comfort thee? or canst thou expect joy, where thou causest grief? Walk in the Spirit, adore its power. Let thy Soul do it homage within thee. Wait for its holy in­fluences, & yield thy self to its ducture and gui­dance; so wilt thou go as the redeemed of the [Page 372] Lord, with everlasting joy upon thy head, till thou enter that presence, where is fulness of joy, and pleasures for evermore.

Nor do thou think it improper, or strange, that thou should'st be called upon to rejoyce in what thou dost not yet possess. Thy hope is in stead of fruition; 'tis an anticipated enjoy­ment.Rom. 1 [...]. 12. We are commanded to rejoyce in hope, and Saints have profest to do so; to rejoyce even in the hope, Rom. 5. 2. the hope of the glory of God. Nor is it unreasonable that should be thy present highest joy. For though yet it be a distinct thing, and indistinctly revealed, the excel­lency of the object makes compensation for both, with an abundant surplusage. As any one would much more rejoyce to be assured by a great person, of ample possessions, he would make him his heir to, (though he knew not distinctly what they should be) then to see a shilling, already his own, with his own eyes.

CHAP. XXX.

The addition of two Rules that more spe­cially respect the yet future season of this blessedness; after this life, viz. Rule 7. That we patiently wait for it until death. Rule 8. That we love not too much this present life.

THere are yet two more Rules to be superadded, that respect the season of this blessedness: [when we awake] i. e. not till we go out of time, into e­ternity; not till we pass out of the drowsie darkness of our present state, till the night be over with us, and the vigorous light of the everlasting day do shine upon us. Hence therefore it will be further necessary.

7. That while the appointed proper season of this blessedness is not yet come (i. e. till God shall vouchsafe to translate us from our present earth­ly state) we compose our Spirits to a patient expecta­tion of it.Rule 7.

Upon a twofold account, the exercise of pa­tience is very requite in the present case, viz. both in respect of this very expectation it self, and also in respect of the concomitant miseries of this expecting state. In the former respect, an absent good, is the matter of our patience; in the latter, present and incumbent evil. It falls more directly, in our way to speak to the ex­ercise [Page 374] of patience upon the former account, yet as to the latter (though it be more collateral as to our present purpose) it cannot be un­seasonable, briefly to consider that also.

First, Therefore, the very expectation it self of this blessedness, renders patience very requisite to our present state. Patience hath as proper and necessary an exercise, in expecting the good we want and desire, as in enduring the evil, that is actually upon us. The direction (it must be remembred) intends such onely, as apprehend, and desire this blessedness as their greatest good, whose souls are transported with earnest longings, fully to enjoy what they have foretasted. I am apprehensive enough that others need it not. There is no use of patience in expecting what we desire not.

But as to those who desire it most, and who therefore are most concerned in this ad­vice; It may possibly become a doubt; how, since there is sin in our present ignorance of God, and unlikeness to him, this can be the matter of any patience.

We must therefore know, that as our know­ledge of God, and conformity to him are both our duty, and blessedness; the matter both of our endeavour, and of Gods vouchsafement. So our ignorance of him, and unlikeness to him, are both our sin, and our misery; which misery, though God have graciously removed it in part, yet also he continues it upon us in part (as our sad experience tells us) by his just, and wise dispensation, which we cannot except against.

[Page 375] Now therefore, looking upon the defect of our knowledge of God, and likeness to him, under the former notion; Though we are to re­flect upon our selves with greater displeasure and indignation; yet looking on them, in the latter notion, we are to submit to the righte­ous dispensation of God, with a meek, unrepi­ning patience.

By this patience, therefore, I mean; not a stupid succumbencie under the remaining di­sease, and distemper of our Spirits, in this our present state; a sensless indifferency, and osci­tant cessation from continual endeavours of fur­ther redress; but a silent and submissive vene­ration of Divine Wisdom, and Justice, and Goodness, that are sweetly complicated in this procedure with us; with a quiet peaceful expectation of the blessed issue of it.

This being premised, I shall briely shew.

  • That we have need of patience
  • That we have reason for it

in this pre­sent case.

1. That we have need of it (supposing our souls are intent upon glory; that we are in earn­est in this pursuit) will appear upon sundry accounts.

First, The greatness of the thing we expect. To behold the face of God, to be satisfied with his likeness. What serious heart, apprehensive of its own concerns, can without much pati­ence, hold out under such an expectation? How do Lovers, that expect the marriage day, tell the hours, and chide the Sun that it makes no more hast? But how can that soul contain [Page 376] it self, that expects the most intimate fruiti­on of the Lord of glory!

Again, consider, the continued representation, and frequent inculcations of this glory. Its vigo­rous powerful beams are, by often repealed pulsations, continually beating upon such souls, as are intent towards it. Life and Immortality are brought to light in the Gospel; and they are obliged, by command, and inclination, to attend its discoveries. The eye that's once smitten, looks again, and again, 'tis not sa­tisfied with seeing; and every renewed look meets with, still, fresh raies of glory; They have frequent foretasts, and prelivations, which still give life to new desires. To lie under the di­rect stroke of the power of the world to come, this requires much patience, to sustain the burden of such an expectation. Life it self were other­wise a bitter, and a wearisome thing.Canerem ti­bi angelicâ vo­ce throno [...]um quàm mi [...]ificâ, semper in pa­triâ dulcedi­ne reple [...]mur; nisi vererer, ne fortè, posthâ [...] tantae d [...]lcedi­nis hujus com­paratione; tota tibi in terris vi­ta non solum amarissima ve­rum etiam ama­ritudo ipso penitus vide [...]tur. M. Ficin. Epist. And the want of such foretasts (for alass they are not constant) makes desire sometimes more restless, and expectation more bitter and grievous.

Moreover consider the nature and Spring of these desires, that work in heavenly souls to­wards this glory. They are of a Divine Na­ture, and Original; He that hath wrought us to this self same thing is God, 2 Cor. 5. 5.

Observe the tenour of this Proposition, God is not the subject of predication, but the predi­cate. The action is not predicated of God; as it would in this form of words, God hath wrought us, &c. but God is predicated of this agent, q. d. This is the work of a Deity; none [Page 377] but God could be the Author of such desires. That a Soul should be acted towards glory by the alone power of an Almighty hand! here needs a Divine Patience to sustain it, and make it strong, and able to endure such a motion; where there is Divine Power to act and move it forward. The Frame could not hold it else, it must desolve. The Apostle therefore pray­ing for the Thessalonians, 2 Thes. 3. 5. That God would direct their hearts into the love of himself (which could not but enflame their souls with a de­sire of a perfect vision, and injoyment) pre­sently adds, and into the patient waiting for of Christ. Where we cannot by the way but re­flect upon the admirable constitution, and equal temper of the new Creature, as to the principles, that are ingredient into the compo­sition of it, fervent desire; allayed with meek submission, mighty love, with strong patience. If we consider it in actu signato, or in its abstract, Idea, this is its temperament; and of these there is a gradual participation, where ever you find it actually existing. God had otherwise formed a creature (the prime of his creatures) so as by its most intrinsecal constituent principles to be a torment to it self.

Lastly, The tires [...]me nature of expectation in it self, is not least considerable. It carries ('tis true) pleasure (if it be hoping expecta­tion) with it; but not without a great ad­mixture of pain. It brings a kind of tor­ture to the mind, as a continued exertion or stretching forth of the neck (by which it [Page 378] is exprest) doth to the body.Rom. 8. 19. Therefore it [...] most significantly said by the wise man,Prov. 12. 12. Hope deferr'd, makes the heart sick. All these, I say, together discover the truth of what the Apostle tells us.Heb. 10. We have need of patience, that when we &c. we may inherit the Pro­mise.

2. And as we have need of it, so we have also reason for it, upon many accounts. 'Tis no piece of rigorous severity to be put upon the exercise of some patience, to be kept a­while in a waiting posture for the completion of this blessedness. For

First, The thing you expect is sure. You have not to do in this matter with one who is inconstant, or likely to change. If such a one should make us large promises, we should have some cause, never to think our selves se­cure, till we had them made good to us. But since we live in the hope of eternal life, Tit. 1. 2. which God who cannot lie, Heb. 10. 23. and who, we know, is faithful, hath promised, we may be confident, and this confi­dence should quiet our hearts. What a faith­ful friend keeps for us, we reckon as safe in his hands, as in our own. He that believes makes not hast. And impatient haste argues an unbelieving jealousie and distrust. Surely, there is an end, and thy expectation will be cut off.

And then, 'tis an happiness that will recompense the most wearisome expectation. 'Twere good sometimes to consider with our selves, what's the object of our hope? are our expectations pitc [...]'t upon a valuable good? that will be [Page 379] worth while to expect, so the Psalmist, what wait I for? Ps. 39. 7. and he answers himself, my hope is in thee, Sure then that hope will not make ashamed. Twere a confounding thing to have been a long time full of great hopes, that at last dwindle into some pettie trifle; but when we know before hand the business is such as will defray it self, bear its own charges, who would not be contented to wait?

Nor will the time of expectation be long, when I shall aw [...]ke, when he shall appear. Put it to the longest term, 'twas said, 1600 years ago, to be but a little while, three times over in the shutting up of the Bible, he tells us I come quickly. He seems to foresee he should be something impatiently expected:Jame [...] 5. And at last Surely I come quickly. q. d. What will you not believe me? Be patient saith the Apostle to the coming of the Lord; and presently he adds be patient stablish your hearts for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

Yea, and amidst the many troubles of that short time of expectation, many present comforts are in­termixt. Heaven is open to us. We have constant liberty of access to God. He disdains not our present converse; We may have the constant pleasure of the exercise of grace, the heavenly delights of meditation. The joy of the publique Solemnities, of worship. The communion, and encouragement of fellow Christians. The light of that countenance whereof we expect the eternal vision. The comforts of the Holy Ghost. The continual prospect of glory all the way thither. [Page 380] What cause have we of impatience or com­plaint?

Further, Saints of all ages have had their expecting time. We are required to be fol­lowers of them, who through faith and pati­ence have inherited the promises. Our Sa­viour himself waited a lifes time for his glo­rification. I have (saith he) glorify'd thee on earth; I have finished the work thou gavest me to do. And now further glorifie me with thine own self &c.

And while we are waiting (if it be not our fault) our glory will be encreasing; we may be glorifying God in the mean time, which is the end of our beings, we need not live here to no purpose.

Again, We were well enough content till God more clearly revealed that other state to live always as we do. Tis not now ingenuous to be impati­ently querulous about the time of our entring into it. Tis his free vouchsafement we never merited such a thing at his hands. Tis not commendable among men, to be over quick in exacting doubts; even where there was an antecedent right, much less where the right onely shall accrue by promise, not yet suitable, would it not shame us to have God say to us. Have patience with me and I will pay you all?

And our former state should be often refle­cted on. If you had promised great things to a wretch lately taken off the dunghil, and he is every day impatiently urging you [...]o an untimely accomplisheut, would you not [Page 381] check his over bold hast, by minding him of his original? It becomes not base and low born persons to be transported with a prepo­sterous over hasty expectation of high and and great things.

And if God bear with the sinfulness of our present state,James 1. 4. is it not reasonable we should bear with the infelicitie of it to his appointed time?

Besides that, we should much injure our selvs by our impatiency; imbitter our present condition, increase our own burthen, dissipate our strength, retard our progresse towards the perfection we profess to aim at; for patience must have its perfect work, that we may be perfect.

And others that have had as clear appre­hensions and vigorous desires (at least) of the future state of glory as we can (with mo­desty) pretend to; have yet herein moderated themselves so, as to intend their present worke with composed spirits. Take that one instance of the blessed Apostle; who, whilest, in this earthly tabernacle, he groaned, being bur­then'd to be cloth'd, with glory, and to have mortality swallowed up of life being sensible enough, that during his abode, or presence in the body, he was absent from the Lord; yet notwithstanding the fervor and vehemen­cy of these longings, with the greatest calm­ness, and resignation imaginable, (as to the termination,2 Cor. 1. 9. [...]. or continuance of his present state) he adds, that (though he had rather be absent from the body to be present with the [Page 382] Lord) it was yet his chief ambition (as the word, he uses signifies) whether present or absent (as, if in comparison of that, to be present, or absent were indifferent though otherwise out of that comparison, [...] he had told us he would be absent rather) to be accepted to appear grateful, and well pleasing in the eye of God; such that he might delight, and take content in (as his expression imports.) As if he had said; though I am not unapprehensive of the state of my case, I know well, I am kept out of a far more desirable condition, while I remain in this tabernacle; yet, may I but please and ap­pear acceptable in the sight of God, whether I be sooner dismist from this thraldom, or lon­ger, continued in it, I contend not. His burden here, that so sensibly prest him, was not a present evil so much as an a [...]sent good. He was not so burden'd by what he felt, and could not remove, as by what he saw, and could not enjoy. His groans accordingly were not brutal; as those of a beast under a too heavy load; but rational, the groans of an apprehen­sive spirit panting after an alluring, inviting glory; which he had got the prospect of, but could not yet attain. And hence the same spiritual reason which did exercise, did also at once moderate his desires, so that as he saw there was reason to desire, so he saw there was reason his desi [...]es should be allayd by a submissive in­gen [...]ous patience, till they might have a due [...] seasonable accomplishment. And that s [...]e emper of mind we find him in, when he professes to be in a strait [...]etween two, having a [Page 383] desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ, which he thought to be far better, Phil. and yet apprehended his longer abode in the world, to be needful for the service of the Church; whereupon he expresses his confidence, that he should abide longer, and therein discovers how well contented he was, it should be so.

Therefore, as in reference to this very expe­ctation it self, there is great need of patience; so the exercise of it in this case hath nothing harsh, or unreasonable in it, or which the spirit of a Saint may not well comport with.

And for the exercise of patience upon the 2 latter account; the concomitant miseries of this our present expecting state. I need not insist to shew how needfull it is, this being that which our own sense will sufficiently instruct us in. We are not to expect the future state of bles­sedness in a state of present ease and rest, in a quiet friendly world; in a calm and peaceful region under placide and benigne insluences from men, and times; but amidst storms, and tempests, and trouble on every side, under frowns and displeasures, threats and dangers, harsh and rough severities, ill and ungentle usages, flouts and scornes, wrongs and injuri­ous dealings, wants and pressures in many kinds. When the world is once forsaken by us, it grows angry; If we disclaim it, and avow our selves not to be of it, becomes confessed strange and pilgrims in it, set our selves seri­ously, and visibly to mind and design some­thing above and beyond it, discover our selves to be of them, that are called out of it, from [Page 384] the same principle that it loves its own, it will hate us; 1 John. 3. 1. when once God calls us his sons, the world well not know us. We see in this context we are discoursing from what the Psal mist con­dition was, whilst, as yet he remained under this blessed expectation. He found the men of time, whose portion was in this life, to be deadly enemies, wicked oppressors, proud insulters? They were to him as greedy lions, as a blood thirsty sword. His cryes to be delivered from them, shew what he met with at their hands, or thought he had reason to fear. Nor can so raging enmity and hate ever cease to meditate mischiefs and cruelties. The same principle still remains in all the Serpents brood, and will still be putting forth it self in suitable practises, which cannot but infer to the contrary Seed, continual trouble and mat­ter of complaint.

And (in short) whatever is here the matter of your complaint, ought to be the matter of your patience. Whence it cannot be doubted the matter of it will be very copious;Col 1. 11. so as to re­quire the Fall of patience (as the Apostle speaks) which his addressing this solemn re­quest to God on the behalfe of these Colossian Christians plainly intimates. He prays that they may be strengthened with all might accor­ding to the glorious power of God unto all pati­ence, &c. Patience is the Christians suffering [...]wer, 'tis Passive fortitude, an ability to suffer; and so apprehensive he is of their great need of a full, and ample supply of this power; that▪ he prayes, that they might be [Page 385] strengthened in this kind with might, with all might, that they might be even almighty suf­ferers; strengthed with a might according and corresponding to the glorious power of God him­self; Such as might appear the proper im­press and image of divine power, whereof the divine power mightbe both the principle, and the pattern (for the patience whereby God bears the wrongs done to him is called power too; Let the power of the Lord be great as thou hast spo­ken, saying, the Lord is long suffering forgiving &c.) And this unto all patience, where patience is put for an act of this power, or must be understood of patience in exercise, actual bearing.

Nor are we to look upon the expressions of this prayer as so many hyperbolical strains, or Rhetorical schemes of Speech. He prays ac­cording to the apprehension he had of the ne­cessity of suffering Christians.

And yet how much soever the need is, the reason is not less, Tis a thing as possible as it is necessary; yea there is a deal more in the power of the cause; then to work this single effect. I mean it not onely of the efficient cause mentioned before, but of the objection, or final (as having such a superabundant sufficiencie in its kind also) hinted in the close of the following verse. He doth not utter vain and groundless wishes, when he prays, that to that all of patience they might add joyfulness too, and giving of thank; no the matter (as if he had said) will bear it, even the inheritance of the Saints in light (the very expectation objective, I am speaking of) [Page 386] It hath enough in it to induce, not onely pati­tience, but joy, not a contented bearing onely, but giving of thanks too,V [...]r. 12. to him that hath made you meet for that inheritance.

True it is indeed, that the very need we have of patience, and the gain that would ac­crue by it, is it self a reason, why we should labour to frame our spirits to it, for if such evils must be undergone, how much better is it to bear th [...]m alone, then to have the disease of a wounded impatient spirit, to bear also, as an additional burden. The law of patience, is, certainly, a most indulgent, merciful Law, a gracious provision (as much as can be made by a Law, for the quiet, and ease of our spi­rits, under the sharpest, and most affl [...]ctive sufferings. As might at large be shewn, were it suitable to fall into a discourse of patience in it self considered; and to treat of that rest, and pleasure, that liberty of Spirit, that pos­session and dominion of ones own soul, which it carries in it. But that were two much a digres­sion. It onely falls directly here in out way to consider, that as we have many grievances and pressures to undergo, while we are expecting the future blessedness, which render the ex­ercise of patience very requisite, so that there is enough of weight, and worth, in that very ex­pectation (i. e. in what we expect) to out­weigh them all; and to render the exercise thereof highly reasonable upon that acount. I reckon (saith the Apostle) that the sufferings of this present time, are not worthy to be comp [...]red with the glory that shall be revealed in us. Ro [...] 8 18. Thus [Page 387] (saith he) I reckon, i. e. it is my stated, setled judgment, not a suddain rash thought. When I have reason'd the matter with my self, weigh'd it well, consider'd the case, turn'd it round, view'd it exactly on every side; bal­lanc'd advantages, and disadvantages, ponder'd all things, which are fit to come into considera­tion about it; this is the result, the final deter­mination; that which I conclude and judge at last (judgment is the last product, and issue of the most exquisite enquiry, and debate; the ultimate, and most perfect act of reason) that the sufferings of this now of time are of no va­lue; things not fit, as it were, to be mentioned the same day, with the glory to be revealed, &c. It can therefore be no hard Law, no unreason­able imposition, that shall oblige us to the ex­ercise of patience, under such sufferings, in the expectation of so transcendent glory. For, consider,

First, These sufferings are but from men; (For the sufferings, of which the Apostle here speaks, are such as wherein we suffer together with Christ, i. e. for his Name, and Interest, on behalf of the Christian cause.) But this glory is from God. How disproportionable must the effects be of a created, and increated cause.

Again, These sufferings reach no further then the bone and flesh. (Fear not them that kill the body, and, after they have done that, can do no more, &c.) But this glory reaches un­to, and transforms the soul. How little can a [Page 388] clod of earth suffer, in comparison of what an immortal Spirit may enjoy?

And further, There is much mixture in our present sufferings. The present state of suffer­ing Saints is not a state of total misery. There are, as it were Raies of Glory interlac't with their present afflictions; but there will be nothing of Affliction mingled with their future Glo­ry.

Yea, and (what may not only convince, but even transport us too) these sufferings are but temporary (nay, but momentary.) This glory eternal. 2 Cor 4. 17. What heart is big enough to compre­hend the full sense of these words. Our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. How might I dwell here upon every sillable, light affliction, weighty glory [exceeding weight] affliction for a moment, eternal weight of glory▪

O then, how unworthy is it of the Christian name, and hopes, that we should have an im­patient resentment of this Method God fol­lows with us (as he did with our great Re­deemer, and Lord) that we should suffer first, and then enter into glory! Heaven were a poor Heaven, if it would not make us savers. It were high time for us to give over the Christi­an profession, if we do not really account that it [...] reward, and hope do surmount its reproach, and trouble; or do think its Cross more weighty, then its Crown. Is the price, and worth of eternal glory fal'n? It hath been counted worth suffering for. There have been [Page 389] those in the world, that would not accept deli­verance from these sufferings, that they might obtain the better resurrection. Are we grown wiser? or would we indeed wish God should turn the Tables, and assign us our good things here, and hereafter evil things? ungrateful souls! How severe should we be to our selves? that we should be so apt to complain, for what we should admire and give thanks. What be­cause purer, and more refined Christianity in our time, and in this part of the world, hath had publick favour and countenance, can we therefore not tell how to frame our minds to the thoughts of suffering? Are Tribulation & Pa­tience antiquated names? quite out of date, and use with us? and more ungrateful to our ears and hearts, then heaven and eternal glory are acceptable? And had we rather (if we were in danger of suffering on the Christian ac­count) run a hazard, as to the latter, then adven­ture on the former? Or do we think it impos­sible, we should ever come to the trial, or be concern'd to busie our selves with such thoughts? Is the world become so stable, and so unacquainted with vicissitudes, that a state of things less favourable to our profession can never revolve upon us? It were however not unuseful to put such a case by way of suppositi­on to our selves. For every sincere Christian is in affection, and preparation of his mind a Martyr. He that loves not Christ better then his own life, cannot be his Disciple. We should, at least inure our thoughts more to a suffering state; that we may thence take some occasion to [Page 390] reflect, and judge of the temper of our hearts towards the Name and Cause of Christ. 'Tis easie suffering indeed, in Idaea, and contem­plation, but something may be collected from the observation, how we can relish and comport with such thoughts. 'Tis as training in order to sight; which is done, often, upon every re­mote supposition, that such occasions may pos­sible fall out.

Therefore what now do we think of it? If our way, into the Kingdom of God, shall be through many tribulations. If, before we be­hold the smiles of [...]is blessed [...]ace, we must be entertained with the less pleasing sight of the frowning aspect, and visage of an angry world. If we first bear the image of a crucified Christ, e're we partake of the likeness of a glorious God? what, do we regret the thoughts of it? Do we account we shall be ill dealt with, and have an hard bargain of it? O how tender are we grown in comparison of the hardiness and magnanimity of Primitive Christians? we have not the patience to think of what they had the patience to endure. We should not yet forget our selves, that such a thing belongs to our profession, even in this way to testifie our fidelity to Christ, and our value of the inheri­tance, purchased by his blood, if he call us thereunto. We must know it is a thing insert­ed into the Religion of Christians; and with respect to their condition in this world) made an essential thereto. He cannot be a Christian, that d [...]th not deny himself, and take up the Cross. How, often, when the active part of a Christians [Page 391] duty is spoken of, is the passive part studi­ously,H [...]b. 12. 1. and expresly annexed? Let us run [with patience] the race that is set before us. The good ground brought forth fruit [with patience] eternal life is for them that by [a patient] con­tinuance in well doing, Mar. seek after it. Rom Yea,Rev. and hence the Word of Christ is called the Word of his [patience.Chap] And the stile wherein the beloved Disciple speaks of himself, and his profession is this; I John, a companion in tribu­lation, and in the Kingdom and [patience] of Jesus Christ. Do we mean to plead the prescrip­tion against all this? or have we got an express exemption? Have we a discharge to shew? a manumission from all the suffering part of a Christians duty? and is it not a discharge also from being Christians as much? Will we dis­avow our selves to belong to that noble Society of them that through Faith and Patience in­herit the promises? Surely we are highly con­ceited of our selves, if we think we are too good to be numbred among them, of whom the world was not worthy. Or we design to our selves along abode here, while we so much va­lue the Wor [...]ds favour, and a freedom from worldly trouble: Or Eternity is with us an empty sound, and the future blessedness of Saints, an aiery thing, that we should rec­kon it insufficient to counterpoise the suffer­ings of a few hasty days, that will so soon have an end. 'Tis a sad Symptom of the declining state of Religion, when the powers of the world to come are so overmastered, by the powers of this pre­sent world; and objects of sense so much out­weigh [Page 392] those of Faith. And is not this appa­rently the case with the Christians of the pre­sent age. Do not your thoughts run the same course with theirs, that meditated nothing but sitting on the right and left hand of Christ, in an earthly dominion? while they never dream't of drinking of his Cup, or being bap­tized, with his Baptism? How many vain dreamers have we of golden mountains and (I know not what) earthly felicity? whose pre­tended Prophesies about a (supposed) near approaching prosperity to the Church on earth, gain easier belief, or are more savory, and taking with too many; then all that the Sacred Oracles discover about its glorious state in heaven? Hence are our shoulders so unfitted to Christs yoke (like the unaccustom­ed Heifer) and the business of suffering will not enter into our hearts. Methinks the be­lief, and expectation of such a state hereafter, should make us even regardless of what we see, or suffer here; and render the good, or evil things of time, as indifferent to us. Yet neither plead I for an absolute Stoical Apathy, but for patience. S [...]n. le Con­stant. sapientis. A great follower of that Sect acknowledges, ‘It is not a vertue to bear what we feel not, or have no sense of. Stu­pidity under Providence is not a Christian temper;’ as that Moralist sayes of the wise man. ‘'Tis not the hardness of stone or iron that is to be ascribed to him.’

But least any should run into that more dan­gerous mistake, to think, that by the patience we have been all this while perswading to (in the [Page 393] expectation of the blessedness yet to come) is meant a love of this present world, and a com­placential adherence of heart to the earth, (which extream the terrene temper of many souls, may much encline them to.) It will be necessary upon that account to adde (in re­ference also to the yet future expected season of this blessedness (this further, and concluding instruction, viz.

That (however we are not to repine at our being held so long in this world in an expect­ing state: Rule 8. yet) we let not our souls cleave too close to their terrestrial stations, nor be too much in love with the body, and this present, low state of life on earth.

For evident it is, that notwithstanding all the miseries of this expecting state; the most are yet loath to leave the world, and have hearts sordidly hankering after present things. And surely there is much difference between being patient of an abode on earth, and being fond of it. Therefore since the true blessed­ness of Saints consists in such things as we have shewn, and cannot be enjoy'd till we awake, not within the compass of time, and this lower world. It will be very requisite to insist here a while in the prosecution of this last Rule. And what I shall say to it, shall be by way of

  • Caution.
  • Inforcement.

1. For Caution [...]s; that we misapprehend not that temper and disposition of Spirit, we are in this thing to endeavour and aim at. And [Page 394] it especially concerns us to be cautious a­bout the

  • Inducements.
  • Degree.

Of that desire of leaving this world, or con­contempt of this present life, which we ei­ther aspire to, or allow our selves in.

First, Inducements. Some are desirous, o­thers at least content, to quit the world upon very insufficient, or indeed, wicked conside­rations.

1. There are, who desire it, meerly to be out of the way of present troubles, whereof they have either too impatient a sense, or an un­worthy, and impotent fear.

Many times the urgency and anguish of in­cumbent trouble impresses such a sense, and ut­ters it self in such a language as that, John 4. 3. Now, O Lord, Joh. 7. 15. take, I beseech thee, my life from me. for it is better for me to die, then to live; Or that, My soul chuseth strangling and death rather then life: Makes men long for death, and dig for it, as for hid treasures; rejoyce and be exceeding glad when they can find the grave.

Yea, and the very fear of troubles that are but impendent, and threatning, make some wish the Grave a Sanctuary, and render the Clods of the Valley sweet unto their thoughts. They lay possibly so humoursom and phansiful stress, upon the meer circumstances of dying, that they are earnest to dye out of hand, De [...]ite [...] to avoid dy­ing so, and so; as the Poet would fain perswade himself it was not Death he feared, but Ship­wrack. It would not trouble them to dye, but [Page 395] to dye by a violent hand, or to be made a publick spectacle; they cannot endure the thoughts of dying so. Here is nothing commendable or worthy of a Christian in all this. It were a piece of Christian bravery to dare to live in such a case, even when there is a visible like­lihood, of dying, a sacrifice in the midst of flames. How much this glory was affected in the earlier days of Christianity is sufficiently known. Though, I confess, there were excesses in that kind altogether unimitable. But if God call a man forth to be his Champion, and wit­ness, to lay down a life, in it self little desirable, in a truly, worthy cause; The call of his Providence, should be as the sound of the Trumpet, to a truly Martial Spirit; it should fill his soul with a joyful courage, and sense of honour; and be comply'd with cheerfully, with that apprehension, and resentment, a stout Souldier would have of his Generals putting him upon some very hazardous piece of service, viz. Imperator de me non mali meruit sed benè judi­c [...]rit, S [...]nec. he would say, My General hath not (as the Morallist expresses his sense for him) de­served ill of me, but it appears he judged well. It should be counted all joy to [fall into] such tryals; that is, when they become our lot by a providential disposition;Jam. 1. 2. not by a rash pre­cipitation of our selves. And as it is a wicked­ness inconsistent with Christianity, to be of that habitual temper, to chuse to desert such a cause for the saving of life; so it is a weakness very reproachful to it; to lay down ones life in such a case, with regret as unwilling in this kind, to glorifie him who laid down his for us. [Page 396] we are no more to dye to our selves; then to live to our selves▪ Our Lord Jesus hath purchased to himself a Dominion over both states of the li­ving and dead, Rom. 15. 7, 8. and whether we live we must live to him, or dye we must dye to him. Tis the glory of a Christian to live so much above the world,9. that nothing in it may make him either fond of life, or weary of it.

2. There are others who are (at least) in­different, and careless how soon they dye, out of either a worse than paganish infidelity, disbelieving the concernments of another world, or a bruitish stupidity not apprehen­ding them, or a gross conceited ignorance, misunderdanding the terms of the Gospel, and thinking themselves to be in a good con­dition, as to eternity when the case is much otherwise with them.

Take heed thy willingness to dye be from no such inducements; but a meer desire of being with God, and of attaining his perfection and blessedness, which he hath ingaged thee in the pursuit and expectation of. And then, having made sure it be right as to the rise and principle. Be careful, It be not under in point of degree. i. e. a cold intermittent vel­leity is too little on the one hand. And a pe­remptory precipitant hasting is too much on the other. The middle and desirable temper here is a complacential submission to the Divine will in that affair, with a preponderating inclination on our part, towards our eternal home, if the Lord see good. For we have two things to attend in this business, and by which our Spirits may be [Page 397] sway'd this way or that. i. e. the goodnss of the object to be chosen, and the will of God which must guide and over-rule our choice; the former whereof we are permitted to eye in subordi­nation to the Latter, and not other­wise.

Now our apprehension of the desirableness and intrinsique goodness of the object ought to be such (we are Infidels else, if we have not that account of it) that nothing we can eye under the notion of a good to us, may be reckon'd so eligible as that. viz. our final and compleat blessedness in the other world, which because, we know, we cannot enjoy without dying, death also must be judged more eli­gible then Life, that is, Our Blessedness must be judged, eligible for it self, and Death as requisite to make it present. So that the en­tire object we are discoursing of, being pre­sent Blessedness, Consider it in comparison with any thing else, that can be lookt upon by us, as a good which we our selves are to enj [...]y, it ought to be preferr'd and chosen out of hand, in as much as nothing can be so great a present good to us, as that. And this ought to be the proper habitual inclination of our Spirits, their constant frame and bent, as they respect onely our own interest and welfare.

But considering Gods Dominion over us, and interest in our Lives and Beings; and that as well ingenuity, as necessity binds us to be Subject to his pleasure, we should here­in patiently suffer our selves to be over-ruled thereby, and not so abstractly mind our own in­terest [Page 398] and contentment in this matter; as if we were altogether our own; and had no Lord over us. Plato who abounds in discourses of the desirableness of dying, and of the bles­sed change it makes with them that are good. Yet hath this apt expression of the subjection we [...]ght to be into the Divine pleasure as to this matter. ‘That the soul is in the body as soul­diers in a garrison,In Phaedone. Vid. & N [...]lin. [...]. Aenead. 1. from whence they may not withdraw themselves without his order and direction who placed them there?’ And expostulates thus. ‘If (saith he) a slave of yours should destroy his own Life, without your consent would you not be displeas'd; and, if there had been any place left for re­venge been apt enough to that too?’ So he brings in Socrates discoursing, and discovers himself, herein to have had more Light in this matter touching that subordinate interest only, men have in their own lives, and the unlawful­ness of self murther (as he had in other things too) then most heathens of the more refined Sect ever arrived to.

If therefore God would give us leave to dye, we should, upon our own account, be much more enclin'd to chuse it; but, while he thinks fit to have it defer'd, should yeild to his will, with an unrepining submission. Onely it ought not to rest at all, on our part, or that, as to our selves we find any thing more grateful to us in this world, that we are willing to stay a day longer in it. That for our own sakes, we should affect a continuance here; would argue a ter­rene sordid Spirit. But then such should be [Page 399] our dutiful filial Love to the Father of our Spirits, that in pure devotedness to his inte­rests; we would be content to dwel (if he would have it so) a Methuselahs age in an earthly tabernacle for his service; that is, that we may help to preserve his memorial in a e­lapsed world (over-run with Atheisme, and ig­norance of its Maker) and win him hearts and love (to our uttermost) among his a­postate disloyal creatures; and in our capaci­ties be helpful to the encouragement of such as he continues in the world, for the same purpo­ses. This is the very temper the Apostle ex­presses, when in that strait,Phil. 1. which way the poise of his own Spirit enclin'd him, in the consideration of his own interest; and what was simply more eligible to him. He expresses with High Emphasis; to be with Christ, saith, he is more desirable to me (for there are two comparatives in the Greek Text) and there­fore he professes his own desire in order there­to, to be dissolved; but that private desire was not so peremptory, and absolute, but he could make it yeild, and give place to his duty to­wards God, and his Church, as it follows. So we know 'tis possible that, respects to a friend may oversway a mans own particular inclina­tion; and the inclination remain notwithstan­ding; but is subdued onely; otherwise had any reason or argument, that did respect my self perswaded me to change it; I should then fol­low but my own proper inclination still; and so my friend hath nothing to thank me for.

[Page 400] So it ought to be with us here; our inclina­tion should preponderate towards a present change of our state, onely our devotedness to his interest and pleasure, whose we are, should easily over-rule it. This is the Lovely temper of a gracious Spirit, as to this thing, that to dye might be our choice, and to live, in the mean time, submitted to as our duty.

As an ingenuous son whom his father hath employ'd abroad in a forrain Country, though duty did bind him cheerfully therein, to com­ply with his fathers will and the necessity of his affairs, yet, when his Father shall signifie to him, that now he understands no necessity of his longer continuance there, and therefore he may, if he please, return but he shall have leave to follow his own inclination, Tis not hard to conjecture that the desire of seeing a Fathers face, would soon determine the choice of such a son that way.

But how remote are the generality of them that profess themselves God's Children from that pious ingenuity. We have taken root in the earth and forgotten our heavenly originals and alliances. We are as inhabitants here, not pilgrims; hardly perswaded to entertain with any patience the thoughts of leaving our places on earth; which yet, do we what we can, shall shortly know us no more.

In short then; that vile temper of Spirit against which I professedly bend my self in the following discourse is; when men, not out of any sense of duty towards God, or sollici­tude for their own Souls, but of a meer sor­did [Page 401] love to the body, and affixedness of heart to the Earth, and terrene things, cannot en­dure the thoughts of dying. And that, which I perswade to, is, That having the true pros­pect of the future blessedness before our eyes, and our hearts possest with the comfortable hope of attaining to it, we shake off our earthly inclinations; and expect with desire and joy the time of our dismissi­on hence, that we may enjoy it, which is the design of what was promised in the next place. Viz.

2. The inforcement of this instruction; Suffer we therefore our selves to be reason'd with a­bout this matter. And let us consider whether we can in good earnest think such an aversati­on, as we discover, to our blessed translation hence, an excusable, a tolerable temper; or whether it be not highly reasonable, that we should entertain the thoughts, at least, with more content, and patience (if not with more fervent desire) of our departure hence, and introduction into that other state.

Let me demand of thee; dost thou this regret the thoughts of death, as being unwilling to dye at all, or as being unwilling to dye as yet? is it the thing it self, or only the circumstance of time, that thou exceptest against? 'Tis like­ly thou wilt say that which will seem more plausible, and so fix only on the latter; and that thou wilt not profess to desire an eternity on earth, but only more time. Well, let that for present be supposed as it is a more modest, so to be a true account of thy desires; Yet [Page 402] what is the reason of this moderation with thee herein? and that thou so limitest thy self? Is it that thou believest the blessedness of the other state will prove better then any thing thou canst enjoy here? and that thou art not willing eternally to be deprived of? but dost thou not think it is now better also? And what canst thou pretend, why, what is now the best, and most desirable good, should not be now cho­sen, and desired out of hand? or is it that thou thinkest it unbecomes thee to cross the Supreme will of him that made thee, who hath deter­mined, that all men once shall die? And then, how knowest thou but he hath also determined concerning thee, that thou shalt die the next day or hour? and 'tis only a present willingness to die in subordination to the Divine Will, or upon supposition of it, thou art perswaded to. Why art thou not affraid, lest thy present unwilling­ness, should cross his present will? Dost thou not think that Soveraign power is as sufficient to determine of the circumstance, as the thing it self? And art thou not ashamed to pretend an agreement with God about the thing it self, and yet d [...]ffer with him about a circumstance? shall that be a ground of quarrel between him and thee?

But while thou onely professest that more modest desire of more time in the world, what security can'st thou give that when that desire hath been liberally gratified, it shall at length be laid down, and tumultuate no more? What bo [...]nds wilt thou fix to it, which thou darest undertake it shall not pass? Art thou sure [Page 403] when thou shalt have lain at the Worlds Breast ten or twenty years longer, thou wilt then ima­gine thy self to have drawn it dry? or that then thou shalt begin to nauseate the World, and wish for Heaven? Or hast thou not reason from thy former experience to suspect that the longer thou dwellest on Earth, the more ter­rene thou wilt grow; and that if thou be in­disposed to leave it this day, or year, thou wilt be more so the next; and so thy desire be-become boundless and infinite, which is to desire to be here alwayes, the thing which thou seem'dst so unwilling to own.

And if that prove at last, the true state of thy case, art thou then a Christian, or art thou a Man, that thou harbourest in thy breast so irreligious, and irrational, yea, so sordid a wish?

What, wish eternally to be affixt to a Clod of Earth? Is that at length become thy God? Or wilt thou say he is thy God, whom thou never desirest to enjoy? or that thou hast alrea­dy enough of him, but not of the world? And yet that he is thy God? or would'st thou over­turn the Laws of Nature; and subvert the most Sacred, Divine Constitutions, abortive the designes of Eternal Wisdom, and Love, evacuate, and nullifie the great Atchieve­ments of thy merciful, and mighty Redeemer? onely to gratifie a Sensual, Bruitish Hu­mour?

But evident it is, thou dost onely in vain dis­quiet thy self▪ thou canst not disturb the set­led order of things. Eternal Laws are not re­pealable [Page 404] by a fond wish. Thou set'st that dreadful thing Death, at nothing the further distance, by thine abhorrency of it. It will overtake thee whether thou wilt or no; and methinks thine own reason should instruct thee to a temper and forme thy self to what thou can'st not avoid, and possess thee with such thoughts and desires, as those of that discreet Pagan, ‘Lead me, O God, (saith he) whe­ther thou wilt,Epictet and I will follow thee willingly, but, if I be rebellious, & refuse, I shall follow thee notwithstanding.’ What we cannot de­cline, 'tis better to bear willingly, then with a regret, that shall be both vain, and affli­ctive.

And what hast thou hitherto met with in the world, that should so highly endear it to thee? Examine, and search more narrowly in­to thy earthly comforts, what is there in them to make them self-desirable, or to be so for their own sakes? what is it to have thy flesh indulged and pleased; to have thy sense gra­tified? thy phansie tickled? what so great good, worthy of an immortal reasonable Spirit, canst thou find in Meats, and Drinks, in full Barns, and Coffers, in vulgar Fame, and Applause, that should render these things desireable for themselves?

And if there were any real felicity in these things for the present, whil'st thou art permitted enjoy them, yet dost thou not know that what thou enjoyest to day, thou mayst lose to mor­row, and that such other unthought of evils may be [...]all thee; as may infuse a bitterness [Page 405] into all thou enjoyest, which causes, immedi­ately, the injoyment to cease, while the things themselves remain, and will be equal to a total loss of all?

‘And thus (as the Morallist ingeniously speaks) thou wilt continually need ano­ther happiness to defend the former,Sen. de brev­vit. and new wishes must still be made on the behalf of those which have already succeeded.’

But canst thou indeed think it worth the while, that the Maker of the Universe should create a Soul, and send it down into the world on purpose, to superintend these trivial affairs, to keep alive a silly piece of well figured earth, while it eats, and drinks; to move it to and fro in chase of shadows; to hold it up, while o­thers bow the knee, and do it homage, if it had not some higher work to mind in reference to another state? Art thou contented to live long in the world, to such purposes? what low worthless Spirit is this, that had rather be so imploy'd, then in the visions of this Makers face? that chuses thus to entertain it self on earth, rather then partake the effusions of Divine glory above. That had rather creep with Worms, then soar with Angels, associate with Bruits, then with the Spirits of just men made perfect, who can solve the Phaenomenon, or give a rational account why there should be such a Creature as man upon the Earth, abstructing from the hopes of another world? who can think it the effect of an infinite wisdom? or ac­count it a more worthy design, then the re­presenting of such a Scene of actions and af­fairs [Page 406] by Puppets on a Stage? for my part, up­on the strictest enquiry; I see nothing in the life of man upon earth, that should render it for it self, more the matter of a rational ele­ction (supposing the free option given him in the first moment of his being) then presently again to cease to be the next mo­ment.

Yea, and is there not enough obvious in every mans experience, to incline him ra­ther to the contrary choice; and, supposing a future blessedness in another world, to make him passionately desirous (with submis­sion to the Divine pleasure) of a speedy dis­mission into it? Do not the burdens that press us in this earthly ta [...]ernacle, teach our very sense, and urge opprest nature, into involun­tary groans, while as yet our consideration doth intervene? And if we do consider, is not every thought, a sting? making a much deeper impres­sion, then what only toucheth our flesh and bones? Who can reflect upon his present state, and not presently be in pangs? The troubles that follow humanity are many and great; those that follow Christianity, more numerous, and grievous. The sickness, pains, losses, dis­appointments, and whatsoever afflictions that are in the Apostles language, humane, or com­mon to men (as are all the external sufferings of Christians in nature, 1 Cor. 10. and kind, though they are liable to them upon an account peculiar to themselves, which there the Apostle inti­mates) are none of our greatest evils; yet even upon the account of them; have we any [Page 407] reason to be so much in love with so unkind [...] world? Is it not strange our very Bridewel, should be such a Heaven to us? But these things are little considerable in comparison of the more Spiritual grievances of Christians as such, that is, those that afflict our Souls, while we are (under the conduct of Christ) designing for a blessed eternity; if we indeed make that our business, and do seriously intend our spirits in order thereto. The dark­ness of our beclouded minds! The glimmer­ing, ineffectual apprehension we have of the most important things! the inconsistency of our shattered thoughts, when we would apply them to Spiritual Objects. The great diffi­culty of working off an ill frame of heart, and the no less difficulty of retaining a good! our being so frequently tost as between Heaven and Hell; when we sometimes think our selves to have even attained, and hope to des­cend no more; and are, all on a suddain plung'd in the Ditch, so as that our own Clothes might abhor us, fall so low into an earthly temper that we can like nothing Heavenly, or Divine; and because we can­not, are enforced justly, most of all to dislike our selves. Are these things little with us? How can we forbear to cry out of the depths, to the Father of our Spirits, that he would pity, and relieve his own Off-spring? yea are we not weary of our crying? and yet more weary of holding in? How do re­pell'd Temptations return again? and van­quished Corruptions, recover strength? [Page 408] We know not when our work is done. We are miserable that we need to be always watching, and more miserable, that we cannot watch, but are so often sur­prized and overcome of evil. We say some­times with our selves we will seek relief in re­tirement; but we cannot retire from our selves, or in converse with Godly friends, but they sometimes prove snares to us, and we to them. Or we hear, but our own mise­ries repeated in their complaints, would we pray? How faint is the breath we utter? How long is it ere we can get our Souls pos­sest, with any becoming apprehensions of God, or lively sense of our own concern­ments? Would we meditate? We sometimes go about to compose our thoughts, but we may as well assay to hold the Windes in our fist. If we venture forth into the world, how do our Senses betray us? How are we mockt with their impostures? Their neerer objects become with us, the onely realities, and eternal things are all vanisht into airie shadowes. Reason and Faith are laid asleep, and our Sense di­ctates to us what we are to believe, and do, as if it were our only guide, and Lord. And what are we not yet wearie? Is it reasonable to continue in this State of our own choice? Is misery become so natural to us, so much our element, that we cannot affect to live out of it? Is the darkness and dirt of a dungeon more grateful to us then a free open air and sun. Is this Flesh of ours so lovely a thing that we had rather suffer so many [Page 409] deaths in it; then one in putting it off and mor­tality with it? While we carry it about us, our Souls impart a kind of life to it, and it gives them death in exchange. Why do we not cry out more feelingly, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this Body of Death? Is it not grievous to us to have so cumbersome a yoke-fellow, to be tied (as Mezentius is said to have done) the living and the dead together.

Do not we find the Distempers of our Spirits are mostly from these bodies we are so in love with, either as the proper Springs, or as the oc­casion of them. From what cause is our drowsy sloth, our eager passions, our aversion to Spiritual objects but from this impure Flesh, or what else is the Subject about which our vexatious cares, or torturing fears, our bitter griefs are taken up day by day.

And why do we not consider that 'tis onely our love to it that gives strength and vigour to the most of our temptations as wherein it is more immediately concern'd, and which makes them so often victorious, & thence to become our after-afflictions. He that hath learn'd to mortifie the inordinate love of the Body, will he make it the business of his life to purvey for it? Will he offer violence to his own Soul, to secure it from violence? will he comply with mens Lusts and humors for its advantage, and accommoda­tion? or yeild himself to the tyranny of his own avarice for its future, or of his more-sen­sual Lusts? for its present content? Will it not rather be pleasing to him that his outward man [Page 410] be exposed to perish while his inward man is renewed day by day? He to whom the thoughts are grateful of laying it down, will not (though he neglect not duty towards it) spend his days in its continual Service, and make his Soul an hell, by a continual provision for the flesh, and the Lusts of it. That is cruel Love that shall enslave a man and subject him to so vile and ig­noble a servitude. And it discovers a sordid temper to be so imposed upon. How low are our Spirits sunk that we disdain not so base a vassalage? God and nature have obliged us to live in bodies for a time, but they have not obliged us to measure our selves by them, to confine our desires and designs to their compass, to look no further then their concernments, to entertain no previous joyes in the hope of being one day delivered from them. No such hard law is laid upon us. But how apt are we to become herein, a most oppressive Law to our selves; and not only to lodge in filthy earthen cottage but to love them, and confine our selves to them, loath so much as to peep out. Tis the apt expression of a Philosopher upbrai­ding hat base low temper. [...], &c. M [...]x. Tyr. Diss. 41. ‘The degenerous Soul (saith he) buried in the Body is as a slothful creeping thing, that loves its hole, and is loath to come forth.’

And, methinks if we have no love for our better and more noble self, we should not be altogether unapprehensive of an obligation upon us, to express a dutiful love to the Au­thor of our beings doth it consist with the love we owe to him, to desire always to lurk [Page 411] in the dark, and never come into his blessed presence? Is that our love that we never care to come nigh him? Do we not know that while we are present in the body, we are ab­sent from the Lord? should we not there­fore be willing rather to be present with the Lord, and absent from the body? should we not put on a confidence, an holy fortitude (as 'tis there exprest we are confident, or of good courage, and thence willing, &c.) that might carry us through the Grave to him. As is the brave Speech of that last mentioned Philoso­pher.2 Cor. 5. 6, 8. ‘God will call thee ere long, expect his call. [...], &c. Old age will come upon thee, and shew thee the way thither, and death which he that is possest with a base fear,Item. diss. 1. laments and dreads as it draws on; but he that is a lover of God, expects it with joy, and with cou­rage, meets it when it comes.’

Is our love to God so faint and weak, that it dares not encounter Death, nor venture upon the imaginary terrours of the Grave to go to him?Can. 8. How unsuitable is this to the character which is given of a Saints love? And how ex­presly are we told, that he who loves his life better then Christ, or that even hates it not for his sake (as certainly he cannot be said to do, that is not willing to part with it to enjoy him) cannot be his Disciple? If our love to God be not Supreme, 'tis none; or not such as can denominate us lovers of him; and will we pretend to be so, when we love a putide flesh, and this base earth better then him? And have we not professedly, as a fruit of our avowed [Page 412] love to him, surrendred our selves? Are we not his devoted ones? will we be his, and yet our own? or pretend our selves dedicated to his holy pleasure,M. Aurel. Aut. de vit. su [...]. 1. 12. and will yet be at our own dis­pose, and so dispose of our selves too, as that we may be most ungrateful to him? and most uncapable of converse with him? [...]. How doth this love of a perishing life and of a little a­nimated clay stop all the effusions of the Love of God, suspends its sweet and pleasant fruits, which should be always exerting themselves towards him? Where is their fear, obedience joy, and praise, who are through the fear of death all their lives subject to bondage? And kept under a continual dismal expectati­on of an unavoidable dissolution! But must the great God lose his due acknowledgements be­cause we will not understand wherein he deals well with us? Is his mercy therefore no mer­cy? As we cannot nullify his truth by our un­belief, so nor his goodness by our disesteem. But yet consider doth it not better become thee to be grateful, then repine that God will one day unbind thy Soul and set thee free? Knock of thy Letters and deliver thee out of the house of thy bondage? Couldst thou upon deliberate thoughts judge it tollerable, should he doom thee to this earth forever? He hath however judged otherwise (as the Pagan Emperour and and Philosopher excellently speaks) who is the Author both of the first composition of thy pre­sent being, and now of the dissolution of it; thou wert the cause of neither, therefore depart and be thankful for he that dismisseth thee, dealeth kindly [Page 413] with thee. If yet thou understandest it not yet remember. It is thy Father that disposes thus of thee, how unworthy is it to distrust his Love? What child would be afraid to com­pose it self to sleep in the Parents bosom? It expresses nothing of the duty and ingenuity, but much of the frowardness and folly of a child. They sometimes cry vehemently in the undressing; but should their cryes be regar­ded by the most indulgent Parent? or are they fit to be imitated by us?

We have no excuse for this our frowardness. The Blessed God hath told us his gracious pur­pose concerning us; and we are capable of understanding him. What if he had totally hidden from us our future state; and that we know nothing, but of going into an eternal si­lent-darkness? The Authority of a Creator ought to have awed us into a silent submission; But when we are told of such a glory; that 'tis but drawing aside this fleshly vaile, and we presently behold it, methinks the Blessed hour should be expected not with patience only but with ravishing joy.

Did we hear of a country in this world, where we might live in continual felicity, without toyl, or sickness, or grief, or fear, who would not wish to be there; though the passage were troublesome? have we not heard enough of Heaven to allure us thither? Or is the eternal truth of suspected credit with us? Are Gods own reports of the future glory un­worthy our belief or regard?

How many, upon the credit of his word [Page 414] are gone already triumphantly into glory? That only seeing the promises afar off, were per­swaded of them, and embraced them, and never after owned themselves under any other notion, then of Pilgrims on earth, Heb. 12 13, 16. longing to be at home in their most desirable Heavenly Coun­try. We are not the first that are to open Heaven. The main Body of Saints is already there, 'tis in comparison of their number, but a scattering remnant, that are now alive u­pon the earth. How should we long to be associated to that glorious Assembly? Me­thinks we should much more regret our be­ing so long left behind.

But if we should desire still to be so, why may not all others as well as we? And as much expect to be gratified as we? And then we should agree in desiring, that our Redeemers triumph might be defer'd, that his Body might yet remain incompleat, that he might still be debarr'd of the long expected fruit of the travail of his Soul. that the name of God might be still subjected to the blasphemy and and reproach of an Atheistical world, who have long ago said, with derision, where is the promise of his coming? Would we have all his Designs to be still unfinisht? and so mighty wheeles stand still for us? while we sport our selves in the dust of the earth? And indulge our sensual inclination; which sure this bold desire must argue to be very predo­minant in us, and take heed it argue not its ha­bitual prevalency.

At least if it discover not our present sen­suality, [Page 315] it discovers our former Sloth, and I­dleness. It may be, we may excuse our a­versness to dye, by our unpreparedness, that is one fault with another (though that be be­sides the case I am speaking of) what then have we been doing all this while? What were the affairs of thy Soul not thought of till now? Take then thy repro of from a Heathen, that it may convince thee the more. ‘No one, saith he divides away his money from himself, but yet men divide away their very life— but doth it not shame thee (he after adds) to reserve only the reliques of thy life to thy self, and to devote that time only to a good mind, which thou canst employ upon no o­ther thing? How late is it to begin to live when we should make an end? and deser all good thoughts to such an Age as possible few do ever reach to. The truth is (as he speaks) we have not little time but we lose much we have time enough were it well employ'd therefore we cannot say we receive a short life but we make it so, we are not indigent of time, but prodigal, what a pretty contradi­ction is it to complain of the shortness of time, and yet do what we can to precipitate its course? to hasten it by that we call pa­stime. If it have been so with thee art thou to be trusted with more time?’

But as thy case is I cannot wonder that the thoughts of death be most unwellcome to thee, who art thou that thou shouldst desire the day of the Lord? I can onely say to thee hasten thy preparation, have recourse to Rule 2. [Page 416] and 3d. and accordingly guide thy self till thou find thy Spirit made more suitable to this blessedness; that it become savory and grate­ful to thy soul, and thy heart be set upon it. Hence thou may'st be reconciled to the grave, and the thoughts of death may cease to be a terror to thee.

And when thou art attained so far, consider thy great advantage in being willing and desi­rous to dye upon this further account, that thy desire shall now be pitch't upon a thing so certain. Thine other desires have met with many a disappointment. Thou hast set thy heart upon other things, and they have de­ceived thy most earnest, thirsty expectations. Death will not do so. Thou wilt now have one certain hope. One thing in reference whereto thou may'st say, I am sure. Wait a while, this peaceful sleep will shortly seize thy body, and awaken thy soul. It will calm­ly period all thy troubles, and bring thee to a blessed rest.

But now, if onely the meer terrour and gloominess of dying, trouble thy thoughts, this of all other, seems the most inconsiderable pretence against a willing surrender of our selves to death. Reason hath overcome it, na­tural courage, yea, some mens Atheism, shall not Faith? Are we not ashamed to consider what confidence, and desire of death, some Heathens have exprest? some that have had no preapprehension, or belief of another state, (though there were very few of them) and so no hope of a consequent blessedness to re­lieve [Page 417] them, have yet thought it unreasonable to disgust the thoughts of death. What would'st thou think if thou had'st nothing but the Sophisms of such to oppose to all thy dis­mal thoughts? I have met withEpicurus in Gassend. Syn­tag. one arguing thus;—‘Death which is accounted the most dreadful of all evils, is nothing to us (saith he) because while we are in being, Death is not yet present, and when Death is pre­sent, we are not in being; so that it neither concerns us, as living, nor dead; for while we are alive, it hath not touch't us, when we are dead, we are not—. Moreover (saith he) the exquisite knowledge of this, that Death belongs not to us, makes us injoy this mortal life with comfort, not by adding any thing to our uncertain time, but by taking away the desire of immortality.’ Shall they com­fort themselves upon so wretched a ground, with a little Sophistry, and the hope of extin­guishing all desire of immortality? and shall not we, by cherishing the blessed hope of in­joying shortly an immortal glory?

Others of them have spoken magnificently of a certain contempt of this bodily life, and a not onely not fearing, but desiring to dye, upon a sixed apprehension of the distinct, and, purer and immortal nature of the soul; and the precon­cieved hope of a consequent felicity. I shall set down some of their words, added to what have been occasionally mentioned (amongst that plentiful variety wherewith one might fill a volume) purposely to shame the more ter­rene temper of many Christians.

[Page 418] The Soul, (saith one of themPlato in Phae [...]one, [...] whom I adjoy [...] what (to them that under­stand it) is more elegant in his [...] language, [...]. Ibid.) is an in­visible thing, and is going into another place, suitable to it self, that is noble, and pure, and invisible, even into Hades, indeed to the good and wise God, whether also my Soul shall shortly go if he see good. But this (he saith in what follows) belongs on­ly to such a Soul as goes out of the body pure, that draws nothing corporal along with it, did not willingly communicate with the bo­dy in life, but did even fly from it, and ga­ther up it self into it self, always meditating this one thing.

A soul so affected, shall it not go to something like it self, divine, (and what is divine, is im­mo [...]tal and wise) whether, [...]. when it comes, it becomes blessed, free from errour, ig­norance, fears, and wild (or enormous) loves, and all other evils incident to men.

Porphyrius. Plotinus En­nead. 7. Lib. 6. (whom though a just admire [...] of him would fain have men r [...]ckon to have been a Christian, b [...] ­cause he writes much against the Pseudo Christi­an, Gno [...]icks, nothing against Christiani [...]y, yet it appears n [...]t he ever made pro­f [...]ssion of it. En­nead. 1. l. b. 7. One writing the life of that rare person Plotinus sayes, that he seemed, as if he were in some sort ashamed, that he was in body, which (however it would less become a Christian; yet) in one that knew nothing of an incarnate Re­deemer, it discovered a refined, noble Spi­rit.

The same person speaks almost the language of the Apostle, concerning his being rapt up into the third heaven, and tells of such an alie­nation of the soul from the body.

That when once it finds God (whom he had before been speaking of under the name of the [...] or the beauty) shining in upon it, it now no [Page 419] longer feels its body, or takes notice of its be­ing in the body, but even forgets its own being, that it is a man, or a living creature, or any thing else whatsoever, for it is not at leisure to mind any thing else, nor doth it desire to be: Yea, and having sought him out, he im­mediately meets it, presenting its self to him. It onely views him instead of it self,—and would not now change its state for any thing, not if one could give it the whole heaven in exchange.

‘And, else where, discussing, whether life in the body be good and desirable yea or no, he concludes it to be good, not as it is an union of the soul and body; but as it may have that vertue annex't to it, by which, what is really evil may be kept off. But yet, that that death is a greater good. That life in the body is in it self evil, but the soul is by vertue stated in goodness; not as enlivening the body, with which it is compounded, but as it severs, and so joyns it self from it; meaning so, as to have as little communion as possible it can with it.’ To which purpose is the expression of another; ‘That the soul of an happy man so collects and gathers up it self out from all things into it self, that it hath as it were, se­parated it self from the body, while it is yet contained in it—And that it was possest of that fortitude,In his Marin. Proclus. as not to dread its departure from it.’

‘Another gives this character of a good man, that as he liv'd in simplicity, tranqui­lity, purity, not being offended at any that [Page 420] they believed him not to live so, he also comes to the end of his life, pure, quiet, and easie [...] M. A [...]r. A [...]t. to be dissolved, disposing himself, with­out any constraint to his lot.’

‘Another is brought in, speaking thus. If God should grant me to become a Child a­gain,Cato in Cice­rone de Senect. to send forth my renewed infant-cries from my Cradle, and, having even run out my race, to begin it again; I should most earnestly refuse it; for what profit hath this life? and how much toil?—Yet I do not repent that I have lived, because, I hope, I have not liv'd in vain. And I now go out of this life, not as out of my dwelling house, but my Inn. O blessed day, when I shall enter into that Council and As­sembly of souls, and depart from this rude, and disorderly rout, and crew, &c.’

I shall adde another (of a not much unlike strainPhilo Judae­us. and rank) that discoursing who is the Heir of Divine things, (as being either not an open or no constant friend to Christianity) ‘Saith, he cannot be, who is in love with this animal, sensitive life; but only that purest mind, that is inspired from above, that partake of an Heavenly, and Divine portion; that onely despises the body, &c. with much more of like import.’

Yea, so have some been transported with the desire of immortality, that (being wholly igno­rant of the sin of self-murder) they could not forbear doing violence to themselves.

Among the Indians, C [...]t. lib. 8. two thousand years ago, were a sort of wise men, as they were called, that held it a reproach to dye of age, or a di­sease, [Page 421] and were wont to burn themselves alive, thinking the flames were polluted, if they came amidst them dead.

The story of Cleombrotus is famous,Cicer. Quae Tuscul. who hear­ing Plato discourse of the immortality of the soul, by the Sea side, leapt from him into the Sea, that he might presently be in that state. And 'tis storied thatScil. Domiti­anus aliquoties sic dictas. Nero refused to put Apollonius to death, though he were very much incenst against him,Philostr. in vit. Apoll. Tyanaei. only upon the ap­prehension he had, that he was very desirous to dye, because he would not so far gratifie him.

I onely make this improvement of all this, Christian Principles, Rule do neither hurry, nor misguide men; but the end (as we have it revealed) should much more powerfully, and constantly attract us. Nothing is more unsuit­able to Christianity our way, nor to that blessed­ness, the end of it, then a terrene Spirit. They have nothing of the true light, and impress of the Gospel, now; nor are they ever like to attain the Vision of the blessed face of God, and the impress of his likeness hereafter, that desire it not above all things; and are not wil­ling to quit all things else for it.

And is it not a just exprobration of our earth­liness, and carnality, if meer Philosophers, and Pagans, shall give better proof then we, of a spirit erected above the world, and aliena­ted from what is temporary, and terrene? Shall their Gentilism outvy our Christianity? Me­thinks a generous indignation of this reproach should inflame our souls, and contribute some­what [Page 422] to the refining of them to a better and more Spiritual temper.

Now therefore, O all you that name your selves by that worthy name of Christians; that profess the Religion taught by him, that was not of the earth, earthly, but the Lord from heaven; you that are partakers of the hea­venly calling. Consider the great Apostle and High-priest of your profession; who only took our flesh, that we might partake of his Spirit; bare our earthly, that we might bare his heavenly Image; descended, that he might cause us to ascend. Seriously bethink your selves of the Scope and end of his Apostleship and Priesthood. He was sent out from God to invite and conduct you to him, to bring you into the Communion of his glory and blessed­ness. He came upon a Message and Treaty of peace. To discover his Fathers love and win yours. To let you know how kind thoughts the God of love had conceived to you-wards. And that, however you had hated him with­out cause, and were bent to do so without end; he was not so affected towards you. To settle a friendship and to admit you to the participati­on of his eternal glory. Yea he came to give an instance, and exemplifie to the world in his own Person how much of heaven he could make to dwell in mortal flesh: how possible he could render it to live in this world, as unrela­ted to it, How gloriously the divine life could triumph over all the infirmities of frail huma­nity. And so leave men a certain proof and pledge, to what perfections humane nature [Page 423] should be improv'd by his grace and Spirit, in all them that should resign themselves to his conduct, and follow his steps. That hea­ven and earth were not so far asunder, but he knew how to settle a commerce and inter­course between them. That an heavenly life was possible to be transacted here, and certain to be gloriously rewarded hereafter.

And having testifi'd these things, he seals the Testimony; and opens the way for the ac­complishment of all by his death. Your hea­venly Apostle, becomes a Priest, and a Sacrifice at once. That no doubt might remain among men of his sincerity, in what, even dying he ceased not to profess, and avow. And that by his own propitiatory bloud a mutual reconcili­ation might be wrought between God and you; that your hearts might be won to him, and possest with an ingenuous shame of your ever having been his enemies. And that his dis­pleasure might for ever cease towards you, and be turned into everlasting friendship and love. That eternal redemption being obtained, hea­ven might be opened to you, and you finally, be received to the glory of God. Your hearts being bent thitherward and made willing to run through whatsoever difficulties of life or death to attain it. Do not think that Christ came into the world, and dyed to procure the pardon of your sins; and so translate you to heaven; while your hearts should still re­main cleaving to the earth. He came, and re­turned to prepare a way for you? and then call, not drag you thither. That by his Precepts, [Page 424] and Promises, and Example and Spirit, he might form and fashion your Souls to that glo­rious state. And make you willing to abandon all things for it. And low now the God of all grace is calling you by Jesus Christ unto his eternal Glory. Direct then your eyes and hearts to that marke, the Prise of the High calling of God in Christ Jesus. 'Tis ignomi­nious by the common suffrage of the civiliz'd world not to intend the proper business of our Callings. To your Calling to forsake this world, and mind the other, make hast then to quit your selves of your entanglements, of all earthly dispositions and affections. Learn to live in this world as those that are not of it; that expect, every day and wish to leave it whose hearts are gone already.

'Tis dreadful to dye with pain and regret; To be forced out of the Body; To dye a vio­lent death and go away with an unwilling re­fluctant heart. The wicked is driven away in his wickedness. Fain he would stay longer, but cannot. He hath not power over the Spirit, to retain the Spirit nor hath he power in death. He must away whether he will or no. And indeed much against his will. So it cannot but be where there is not a previous knowledge and love of a better state, where the Soul understands it not, and is not effectually at­tempered and framed to it.

O get then the lovely Image of the future glory into your minds, keep it ever before your eyes. Make it familiar to your thoughts. Imprint daily there these words. I shall behold [Page 425] thy face, I shall be satisfied with thy likeness. And see that your souls be inrich't with that righteousness, Have inwrought into them that holy rectitude, that may dispose them to that blessed state. Then will you dye with your own consent, and go away, not driven, but allur'd, and drawn. You will go, as the redeem­ed of the Lord, with everlasting joy upon their heads. As those that know whether you go, even to a state infinitely worthy of your desires, and choice, and where 'tis best for you to be. You will part with your souls, not by a forcible separation, but a joyful surrender and re­signation. They will dislodge from this earth­ly Tabernnacle, rather as putting it off, then having it rent and torn away.

Loosen your selves from this body by de­grees, as we do any thing we would remove from a place where it sticks fast. Gather up your spirits into themselves. Teach them to look upon themselves, as distinct thing. Inure them to the thoughts of a dissolution. Be con­tinually as taking leave. Cross, and disprove the common maxime; and let your hearts, which they use to say, are wont to dye last, dye first. Prevent death, and be mortifi'd towards every earthly thing beforehand; that death mave have nothing to kill but your body. And that you may not die a double death in one hour; and suffer the death of your body, and of your love to it, both at once. Much less that this should survive, to your greater (and even incurable) misery.

Shake off your Bands and Fetters, the ter­rene [Page 426] affections, that so closely confine you to the house of your bondage. And lift up your heads in expectation of the approaching Ju­bilee, the day of your redemption; when you are to go out free, and enter into the glorious liberty of the Sons of God. When you shall serve, and groan, and complain no longer. Let it be your continual song, and the matter of your daily praise; that the time of your hap­py deliverance is hastening on; that ete long you shall be absent from the body, and pre­sent with the Lord. That he hath not doom'd you to an everlasting imprisonment within those closs and clayie walls; wherein you have been so long shut up from the beholding of his sight and glory. In the thoughts of this, while the outward man is sensibly perishing, let the inward revive, and be renewed day by day.Max. Tyr. D [...]s­sert. 41. ‘What Prisoner would be sorry to see the walls of his Prison House (so an Hea­then speaks) mouldering down, and the hopes arriving to him of being delivered out of that darkness that had buried him, of re­covering his liberty, and injoying the free air, and light. What Champion inur'd to hardship, would stick to throw off rotten rags? & rather expose a naked, placid, free bo­dy, to naked, placid, free air? The truly generous soul (to be a little above) ne­ver leaves the body against its will.’

Rejoyce that it is the gracious pleasure of thy good God, thou shalt not always inhabit a Dungeon, nor lie amid'st so impure and dis­consolate darkness; that he will shortly ex­change [Page 427] thy filthy Garments, for those of Sal­vation and Praise. The end approaches. As you turn over these leaves, so are your days turned over. And as you are now arri­ved to the end of this Book, God will shortly write Finis, to the Book of your Life on Earth; and shew you your names written in Heaven, in the Book of that Life which shall never end.

FINIS.

This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. This Phase I text is available for reuse, according to the terms of Creative Commons 0 1.0 Universal. The text can be copied, modified, distributed and performed, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.