[Page] A DISCOURSE RELATING To the Much-lamented DEATH, AND Solemn Funeral, Of Our Incomparable and most Gracious Queen MARY, Of most Blessed Memory.

By JOHN HOWE, Minister of the Gospel.

LONDON: Printed for Brabazon Aylmer at the Three Pidgeons in Cornhill. MDCXCV.



I Can be at no loss for inducements to prefix Your Lady­ship's Name to this Discourse. I know the Subject is grateful to You: And if I only give you the occasion hereby, of revolving in Your mind this sublime con­text, You will entertain Your self from it, with more en­larged, and exalted thoughts, than this Discourse, especi­ally confined within so narrow Limits, can suggest.

And Your Ladyship knows so much of the incomparable Queen, that You can the more easily believe the rest. I reckon You, Madam, a great Frequenter of that Assembly above, to which She is now adjoyn'd. You have, besides the greater Attractives that are common to all serious Christians, a very peculiar One, to draw Your Mind often thither. A Joint-Root with You is there by Transplantation: And a Noble Branch, from You both, and in whom Two Illustri­ous Families meet, is, under Your Care, shooting upwards [Page] also. All indeed that have true honour for Him, will ear­nestly covet He may be long Serviceable to the most valu­able purposes, in this world; and that, by the Blessing of Heaven upon his approaching Nuptials, (with One from whom may be expected, all that so sweet and tender a Bud now beginning to open, can promise) He may, in due time, spread forth many Branches, that may flourish here: But it is to be hoped He will be found to have a Greater Mind, than can be confined to so low, and little a thing, as this Earth is.

The thought may much the better be digested, that Terre­strial Nuptials, will some time end in Funerals; if once, by God's prescribed methods, it can be made certain to us also, that those Funerals shall end in Celestial Triumphs.

Your Ladyship's Eyes (which better serve for Heaven than Earth) being, observably, much directed upward, will give aim and direction to theirs, who depend upon you, to look the same way; and withal, draw down from thence con­tinual Blessings upon Your self and them. Which is the se­rious Desire and Hope of,

Your Ladyship's, Most Obedient and Obliged Humble Servant, JOHN HOWE.
HEB. 12. 23. latter part.‘—And to the Spirits of Just Men made perfect.’

LET me invite back your Eye to the foregoing Words that are in nearer Connection with these.

Vers. 22. But ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the City of the living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable Company of Angels.

Vers. 23. To the general Assembly, and Church of the First-born, which are written in Heaven, and to God the Judg of all, and to the Spirits of Just Men made perfect.

We have had this last Week a publick Solemnity, that was becomingly Great and Magnificent, upon a sad and mournful Occasion, the last Act of a doleful Scene that hath lasted many Weeks. You know I have taken no­tice to you (my usual Hearers) of the first and saddest, the leading part in this Tragedy, once and again: Nor would I have this last to pass us, without some instru­ctive Observation and Remark. It will the more instruct us the less it detains us; or if only taking a due (not, I mean, a slight and too hasty, but yet a transient) notice of it, we be prompted by it to look forward, from what was in its own kind most deservedly Great, to what is in­comparably Greater in a more excellent kind.

[Page 2] In such a Funeral Solemnity, for so Great and Excellent a Personage, there is what may most fitly entertain a while, there is not that which ought finally to terminate, a Wise and a Judicious Eye.

Honours done to the Memory of Great Persons de­ceased, have by the Wisdom of all Nations been counted Decencies, and even Debts; when especially the deceased have been sometime, and might have been much longer, publick Blessings: Then indeed it is that such Rites are most fitly (as they are usually) called Justa.

But we are too prone to be taken only with the meer Pomp of such Spectacles, and which is the Infirmity of our too-degenerate Spirits, to be wholly possess'd with Phanciful Ideas; as those were intimated to be which Acts 25. 23. were from a Spectacle of the same common kind, tho on a very diverse Occasion, by that elegant Expression, [...], such as do but amuse our Imagina­tion a while, but must of course vanish, and cannot stay long with us. But we need that somewhat greater, and too latent to strike our Eye, should another way en­ter, and teach our Mind; making such Impressions there, as may claim an abode, and that ought to remain, and dwell with us.

You read of a very solemn Funeral, Gen. 50. The whole Countrey into which the March was made, was amus'd at the State and Greatness of that mournful Ca­valcade, wherein' is said, v. 9. there were Chariots and Horsemen, even a very great Company.

That which you have many of you so lately seen, and no doubt all of you heard of, was a most august Funeral Solemnity; such as whereof less concerned, foreign Specta­tors might say, as the Canaanites by mistake did of that, v. 11. This is a grievous Mourning to the Egyptians.

[Page 3] They were indeed antiently the most celebrated Mourners for such as died from amongst them, in all the World, in respect of their Funeral Rites, and of their Monuments for the Dead, of which they are said to Diod. Sic. l. 1. have taken more care than of the Habitations of the Living; accounting these they were to inhabit only a short time, but those they reckon'd their [...], their eternal Habitations. An Imagination, which how wild soever it were of the Habitations of Souls, (which only could be supposed capable of being pleased with them) yet imply'd their Belief of their Immortality, whereof some have (groundlesly) thought them the Herod. Euterp. first Assertors.

But the Canaanites were, as was intimated, mistaken in apprehending that to be chiefly an Egyptian Mourn­ing. The true Israelites (those that were such indeed) were the true, concerned Mourners. The Father of Is­rael was dead: As now with us, the Mother. A Politi­cal, tho not a Natural, nor merely an Oeconomical one. A Mother, not in the narrower and more minute, but in the larger and most noble Sense, not of a single Fami­ly only, but of Nations.

The Egyptians assisted to make up the Shew in that Mourning, but were probably the prepared (as their Po­sterity were the active) Instruments of the Slavery and Misery of that People, with whom they were now seeming Sharers in Lamentation.

Ours was a Mourning not less grievous than theirs: Nor more grievous than just to the English Nation, i. e. to whom the Soil and the Genius are together native; that are not of an Egyptian Spirit. Unto which, as things happen, (to its Power, or to its Impotency) there is a ra­dical, innate Disposition, either to make Slaves, or to be [Page 4] such. There is a sort of People (as was once said) born to Slavery, to whom it is a Birthright. They have it in their Natures, and no other State, as he most aptly spake, is agreeable (or becoming) to them. Quos non decet esse Plin. Pa­neg. nisi servos. They know not what to do with Liberty, any more than that silly Creature that us'd to haunt the Dunghil, with the Pearl. Therefore they can but su­tably value the Restorers and Assertors of it. No Irons can be heavier, or less tolerable to them, than a generous and a Christian State of Freedom. Therefore if none else will do them the kind Office, to put them into gentler Shackles, they grow so unnaturally cruel, as to shackle themselves in the ignoblest sort of Bondage: They are held in the Cords of their own Sins, and make the Chain Prov. 5. 22. Sen. Trag. whereby they are to be dragg'd.

Brutish Appetites and Inclinations are to them se­verer Taskmasters than it can ever be in their Power to become to others. They can themselves, at the utmost, but domineer over other Mens Externals; but these have subdu'd their Wills, and tyrannize in their very Minds.

Thus 'tis with them in relation to their Governing, and their being Governed: And their Policy and Religion come both out of the same Mint.

To them this Season of Sorrow is a time of Festivity and Laughter; who, when they have suffered a more monstrous Transformation themselves, can easily turn the House of Mourning into that of Mirth. The wise Eccl. 7. 4. Man tells us what sort of People they are whose Heart is in this latter House; and what is to be thought of such Mirth and Laughter. And indeed without a seri­ous Chap. 2. 2. Repentance (by which Men do resipiscere, or become wise) theirs is like to prove the Sardonick Laughter, a certain Prelude to Death and Ruine.

[Page 5] But 'tis to be hoped this sort of Men do dwindle into a not-much-regardable Paucity. The Current of the Nation runs against them, which must turn and con­strain them to fall in with it. For,

We had upon the late sad Occasion a Panegyris. We find that Word in the introductive Part of the Text; and tho it is more commonly apply'd to a Multitude ga­thered on other Occasions, it disagrees not to that order­ly great Concourse on that mournful Occasion, a Gene­ral Assembly, that is a National One, met, then, on pur­pose to mourn: a Nation assembled, and mourning in their Representative. It was decent it should be so. A Loss so National, so general a Sorrow, were with no Congruity, otherwise, to be resented and express'd. Our Mourning was therefore by all the Estates of the King­dom, the Head only mourning with greater and more decent Majesty in Retirement, or being (as is usual in solemn Mournings) hid, and covered on that Day. So was the whole Legislature concern'd in that Sorrow, as if it were ordained by Statute, or as if our Mourning were, as that for an excellent Prince also, (2 Chron. 35. 25.) by an Ordinance in our Israel: And as if our Tears and Lamentations were, as before they were, by Merit, to be also made due by Law! Death march'd in State and Triumph that Day: The King of Terrors took the Throne, and fill'd that Part which it had made vacant, having pluck'd away from thence not only so bright an Ornament, but so glorious an Instrument, in our Go­vernment: And all the Orders of the Realm, as Captives, attended the Chariot of the Conqueror. England had lost its Delight, its pleasant Comeliness, and even half its Soul. Nothing could correspond to such a Case, but a National Groan, as of an half-expiring Kingdom, ready, [Page 6] almost, to breath its last, and give up the Ghost.

It must be confess'd, our just Tribute to the Memory of our admirable Queen can never be said to be fully paid; nor can this Discourse leave out occasional Re­flections that may be of this Import. But my present Design is to endeavour our Minds may be drawn up­wards, and to make that Improvement of this most in­structive Providence unto which this chosen Text will direct. Not to entertain you with her Character and Praises, (for it is the same thing to characterize and to praise her) that Part is performed in divers excellent Discourses, which I have read, as I believe many of you have, and I hope with Fruit as well as Approbation, and (as there is Cause) with great Admiration of the Divine Goodness, that so illustriously shone forth in her, and that vouchsafed, so long, to entrust the People of England with so rare a Jewel, whose Lustre was yet ex­ceeded by its real Vertues. By which also we may make our Estimate of the Displeasure wherewith it is so soon withdrawn, and caught away from us, so as to enter­tain the Age (as our Divine Herbert) with

—A Mirth but open'd, and shut up again—

A burning and a shining Light, (for so she also was in a true Sense, and in her proper Sphere) in the Light where­of we rejoiced but a Season.

But every such Providence hath its dark Side, and its bright. View it downward, as it looks upon us who re­main beneath, and we behold Blackness, and Darkness, and an horrible Tempest. Such a State of things we may fear our Queen hath left unto us who stay below, while we do so. But look we upon it upwards, whither she is ascended, and whither we are professedly tending, and [Page 7] are in some sort come, if we be Followers of them, who thorow Faith and Patience have inherited the Promises; and we find 'tis to Mount Sion, and unto the City of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumera­ble Company of Angels, to the General Assembly, and Church of the First▪ born, which are written in Heaven, and to God the Judg of all, and to the Spirits of just Men made perfect. And hither, that we may fetch Instructi­on out of Terror, out of the Eater Meat, and Life out of Death, let us bend and apply our selves.

We have had a mournful sad Solemnity and Assem­bly, tho decently pompous and great: England's Glory clad in Sables, and glittering in a Cloud. But now let us lift up our Eye, and endeavour it may penetrate through this Darkness, and behold the glorious Specta­cle which this Context presents us with.

Funeral Solemnities, even for pious and holy Persons, and that were of greatest Use in the World, are dull and gloomy Spectacles, if they are only considered in their Retrospection, without Prospect, or if they only solem­nize their Exit, out of this World of ours, but be un­derstood to have no reference to their Ascent and En­trance into the Regions of Immortality and Bliss above. And, without this, we see our selves outdone by the Egyptians themselves, with whom their Funeral Appa­ratus had reference to a subsequent Immortality.

These Words are allusive, and promiscuously refer, partly to things known and famous among the Greeks, but are more principally accommodate to these Christian Israelites, or Hebrews, to whom they are writ, and (in a Scheme of Speech, familiar and well known to them) have Respect to their Passage out of Egypt (as the 3d and 4th Chapters of this Epistle also have) towards the [Page 8] Land of their promised Inheritance, whereof the Re­mains of their venerable Ancestor and Head, holy Ja­cob, or Israel, had, by Divine Instinct and Direction, in that mentioned solemn Funeral Procession, been con­vey'd before, to take a sort of Typical and Prophetical Prepossession of it for them.

They are in the whole a Figure, an Allegory, which is expounded, Gal. 3. In their way to their Terrestri­al Canaan, this People come to Mount Sinai. The Emblem of their Jewish Church-state, under rigorous Severities, which they were to pass from, and so shall we. The Text expresses what they were come, and were tending, to. The Representation whereof hath a double Reference intermediate to the State and Consti­tution of the Christian Church, and final to the Heavenly State: The former being both a Resemblance, and some Degree of the latter.

Ye are come (saith he) to Mount Sion] the Seat of the Sacred Temple, the Shechinah, the Habitation of the Divine Presence, not ambulatory, as the Tabernacle was, while they were journeying through the Wilder­ness, but the fixed Residence of the Eternal King, where the Order of Worship was to be continued, to the Ful­ness of time, as afterwards in the Christian Church it was to be permanent, and unchang'd to the end of time; and in the Heavenly State unalterable and eternal. And here in opposition to the case at Mount Sinai, where the People were to stay beneath the Mount, (whereas they [...] Chrys. in loc. were to go up to the House of God on Mount Sion) they are now to ascend, and be higher than Heaven; as their glorious Head and Lord is said to be. Heb. 7. 26.

To the City of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem] to signify the Vicinity wherein God will have his Peo­ple [Page 9] be to him, as Jerusalem was to Sion, their Houses and Dwellings being near to his own; the City to the Temple. [...]. Id. ibid. And this Passage may also look back upon their former State: whereas they had heretofore nothing but Wilder­ness, they had now a City. To which that also agrees, Heb. 10. 16. Their earlier Progenitors were Wanderers and Strangers even in Canaan it self, but now God had prepared for them a City in the Heavenly Canaan, as be­fore he did in the Earthly. But lest their Minds should stay in the external Sign, he lets them know he means the heavenly Jerusalem, i. e. the Christian Church, which was the Kingdom of Heaven begun; and Heaven it self, as being that Kingdom, in its final and consummate State.

To an innumerable Company of Angels] [...]; which tho in the singular it signifies a definite Number, being here put plurally may well be understood to signify inde­finitely a numberless Multitude: or whereas some select­ed Squadrons might only attend the Solemnity of giving the Law at Mount Sinai, here is the whole Heavenly Host, whose stated Office it is to guard the Church be­low, and worship the Majesty of Heaven above.

To the General Assembly] the [...], the glorious Consessus of all Orders of blessed Spirits; which, as it may be supposed constant, at all times, so is as supposable to be more frequented and solemn at some, and whither any may resort, as quick as the Glance of an Eye or a Thought; and perhaps do at appointed Seasons, so as to make more solemn Appearances before the Throne of God, as the Laws and Usages of that blessed World shall require. And we may well understand here an Allusion to the appointed times, at which there was a Resort from all Parts of Judaea to Jerusalem; and, as in the [Page 10] Christian Church, are, at set Seasons, more numerous and solemn Assemblies. Here may also be an Allusion to the Panathenaica, the more general Conventions of all the People of Athens, upon some solemn Occasions, which were wont to be called [...]. These can be referr'd to but as saint Resemblances and Shadows (whe­ther they were the Jewish or the Grecian Assemblies) of this Universal Convention, that fills the vast Expanse of Heaven; in comparison whereof not only this little Earth of ours, but the whole Vortice to which it be­longs, can be considered but as a very minute Spot or Point. The Inhabitants that people those immense, pure and bright Regions in their Grand stated solemn Assem­bly, make the Term to which Holy Souls, ascending from among us, are continually coming. And here with what ineffable Pleasure must these pure Celestial Intelligences, all fill'd with Light, Wisdom, Life, Be­nignity, Love and Joy, converse with one another, behold, reverence, love, worship, and enjoy their So­vereign Lord, displaying his Glory perpetually before them, and making his rich immense Goodness diffuse it self, and flow in Rivers of Pleasure most copiously among them!

The Church of the First-born written in Heaven.] These all constitute but one Church, of whatsoever Orders those blessed Spirits are. And they are all said to be First-born. The Church here meant consisting only of such, in whom the Divine Life, or the holy living Image of God hath Place, they having all the Privileges which did belong to the First-born; the Inheritance, the Principa­lity, and the Priesthood: For all God's Sons are also Heirs, Rom. 8. 17. And they are all made Kings and Priests, Rev. 1. 16. having, all, their Crowns, which they often [Page 11] cast down before the Supreme King: And their Employ­ment being perpetual Oblation of Praise, Adoration, and all possible Acknowledgments to him. They are all of excellent Dignity, and every one enroll'd, so that none have a Place there, by Over-sight, Casualty, or Intrusion. We must here understand an Allusion to what Citizens need not be told, the known Custom of registring such as were Civitate donati, or made Free.

And to God the Judg of all.] This may have reference to that Office of the Judg in the Olympick Concertations, to whom it belong'd to determine who were Victors, and to whom the Garlands or Crowns were justly due. Here the Privilege is, that they whose Cause is to be tried, are sure of righteous Judgment, and that they may approach the enthroned Majesty of Heaven it self. None of them are deny'd Liberty of Access to the Throne of Glory Above; as in the Christian Church none are to the Throne of Grace Below.

And to the Spirits of Just Men made perfect.] This shews they all make but one Church: Even such Spirits as have dwelt in Flesh being received into the Communion of those whose dwelling never was with Flesh. And, in the mean Time, those that yet continue in these low Earthly Stations, as soon as the Principles of the Divine Life have place in them, belong, and are related to that Glorious Community; for they are said to be already come thereto, and all together compose but One Family. For there is but one Paterfamilias, of whom the whole Fami­ly in Heaven and Earth is said to be named, Ephes. 3. 15.

Now for the Encouragement of Christians unto a faithful Perseverance through all the Difficulties of this their present conflicting, imperfect State, is this glori­ous Representation made of the blessed Issue their La­bours [Page 12] and Sufferings shall have at last. Whither they shall be gathered at the finishing of their Course, and how God like, how worthy of Himself the End shall be, into which he will run up all Things, when the State of Probation and Preparation is over with his intelligent Creatures, and the stable, permanent, eternal State comes to take place, which, because it is final, can admit no more Changes, and because it is perfect, can no more need any. Hither Christians are to come, and in some Sense, the Sincere are said to be come already.

And now upon this part of the Term of their Ac­cess, viz. that they are come to [the Spirits of the Just made perfect] we are to stay a while, and shall consider,

I. The Perfection the Spirits of the Just do finally arrive to in their future State.

II. In what Sense, Sincere Christians, in their present State, can be said to be come to them, who are so made perfect.

I. For the former of these, we may easily admit this being made perfect to be an Agonistical Phrase, as some of great Note and Worth have expounded it; and unto which that in the Beginning of this Chapter, of running the Race set before us (q. d. the Way laid out between the Lines on each Hand) doth plainly lead us. But it should hereupon be remote from us to think, that a meer relative Dignity, or any external Honours, are the Things we must principally understand to be conferr'd, or which these Adepti must be now thought to have ob­tain'd. 'Tis a real, inward, subjective Perfection, by [Page 13] which they all become most excellent Creatures, that must be chiefly meant.

Perfection taken in the Moral Sense, doth, in the Lan­guage of the Holy Scriptures, contain a threefold Gra­dation.

First, At the lowest, Sincerity; as when our Saviour proposes to that Querist, Mat. 19. 21. if he would be perfect, to sell all he had, and give to the Poor, following him, with the Expectation of no other Recompence but of a Treasure in Heaven. If a Man's Soul be not in a Disposition to comport with such Terms, upon a suffi­cient Signification of our Lord's Pleasure, that he shall now do so; or if at any Time this be the Case, that he must either forgo all this World, and even Life it self, or else renounce Christ and Christianity, he is not yet in a right Posture towards his last End. He hath not taken the Lord for his God and best Good, his Heart more strongly adheres to this present World. But if he have arrived hither, which is his first Step, resolving upon his true and right End, which he will supremely pursue, against whatsoever Competition of less valuable Things, he is now, in the lowest Sense, perfect, i. e. a resolved thorough Christian.

Secondly, An eminent Improvement; greater Maturity in Divine Knowledg and all other Christian Vertues. As when the Apostle blaming the slower Progress of the Christian Hebrews, chap. 5. 13, 14. that they were yet so unskilful in the Word of Righteousness, and only capa­ble of Milk, not the strong Meat fit for Persons come to a more grown Age, nor had their Senses as yet well exerci­sed, &c. he exhorts them, chap. 6. 1. leaving the first Principles of the Christian Doctrine, to go on to Per­fection.

[Page 14] The Third is the consummate State of a Christian; so is a perfect Man expounded by being come to the measure of the Stature of the fulness of Christ: That State to which all Gifts given by our ascended, conquering, crowned Redeemer; the whole Gospel, the Apostolate, the entire Ministry, the whole Frame and Constitution of the Christian Church, all Evangelical Truths and Institu­tions, with whatsoever Illuminations and Influences we can suppose superadded to all these, have ultimate and final Reference: and the State to which all shall come, Eph. 4. 8,—12, 13. is this most perfect State, in re­spect whereof the Apostle says of himself that he had not yet attained, nor was already perfect, Phil. 3. 12.

I do not reckon the meer natural Perfection, either of the Inner or Outer Man, to be here necessarily excluded; but that the moral is chiefly intended, and of that the ul­timate, consummative Degrees, still reserving room for such Additions as will follow the final Judgment.

And I doubt 'tis not enough considered how much the Felicity of the future State depends upon such Perfection of the Subject of it. Concerning the Object of Felicity, we are agreed it can be no other than the blessed God him­self, the all-comprehending Good, fully adequate to the highest and most enlarged reasonable Desires. But the Contemperation of our Faculties to the holy, blissful Ob­ject, is so necessary to our satisfying Fruition, that with­out that we are no more capable thereof, than a Brute of the Festivities of a quaint Oration, or a Stone of the Relishes of the most pleasant Meats and Drinks. That Meetness which the Apostle speaks of Col. 1. 12. To be Partakers of the Inheritance of the Saints in Light, is of no small Importance to our Participation, it self.

[Page 15] We are too apt to fill our Minds with Idea's of an Heaven made up of external, out-side Glories, forgetting we must have the Kingdom of God within us, hereafter, in its perfect, as well as here in its initial State. A King­dom that consists in Righteousness, first, an universal holy Rectitude of all our Powers, then consequently in Peace and Joy.

The perfect Cure of all the Distempers of our Spirits, and a confirmed most perfectly happy Temper, is of most absolute Necessity to the Blessedness of the heavenly State; and without it any imagined external Glory will signify no more to our Satisfaction, than rich and gorge­ous Apparel can give the desired Content and Ease to an ulcerous diseased Body; or (as the Moralist speaks) Plutar. a Diadem to an a king Head, a gay Slipper to a pained Foot, or a Gold Ring to a sore Finger.

Let a Soul be supposed actually adjoined to that glori­ous Assembly, and Church above, that is yet unacquainted with God, strange, and disaffected to him, alienated from the divine Life, still carnally minded, loving most, and looking back with a lingring Eye towards this pre­sent World and State of things; full of Pride, Haughti­ness, and self-magnifying Thoughts; of Envy, Wrath, Hatred, Contentiousness; of Deceit, Guilefulness and Dissimulation, fill'd with ravenous Lusts, and inordi­nate, insatiable Desires after impossible Things: Such a Soul will only seem to have mistaken its Way, Place, State and Company, and can only be a sit Associate for Devils and infernal Spirits. Its Condition would be equally uneasy to it self, and all about it; the Outrage of its own Lusts and Passions would create to it an Hell in the midst of Heaven, and be to it as a thousand De­vils, both for Wickedness and for Torment.

[Page 16] But to give you a Summary of this internal Perfection of the Spirits of just Men, in their most perfect State, I cannot give you a fuller and more comprehensive one than is express'd in those few Words, We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is: Where are two things conjoin­ed, 1 Joh. 3. 3. that together express the perfect State of these blessed Spirits;

  • Likeness to God; and the
  • Vision of him.

And these two are so connected, as to admit of a twofold Reference each to other: Either that this Likeness to God be considered as a Preparative for the Vision of him, and so that the latter Words be considered as an Argument of the former, viz. that because it is designed we shall live in the perpetual Vision of God, it is therefore ne­cessary we should be like him, without which we can be no way capable of such a Sight, or of beholding so bright a Glory. Or else, that the Vision of God be perpetually productive of this Likeness to him; and so that the latter Words be understood not only to contain an Argument, whence we may conclude this Likeness must be, but also to express the immediate Cause by which it is. As the Form of Expression will admit either of these References, so I doubt not the Nature of the Thing will require that we take them in both. There could be no such Vision of God as is here meant, if there were not some previous Likeness to him, in our former State. And when, in our fi­nal State, we are first admitted to that beatifick glorious Vi­sion, by that means, we may reasonably understand will ensue the Perfection of that Likeness.

Whereof also it is to be considered, that Vision (which spoken of the Mind is Knowledg) must not only be taken [Page 17] for a Cause, but a Part; for the Image of God is at first renewed (and with equal Reason must be supposed at Col. 3. 10. last perfected) in Knowledg.

This Image or Likeness of God therefore, if we consi­der the natural Order of working upon an intelligent Subject, must, as to that Part of it which hath its Seat in the Mind or understanding Faculty, be caused by the im­mediate Irradiation of the Divine Light and Glory up­on that, and be the Cause of the rest.

But both together are the inherent subjective Perfection of these blessed Spirits of the Just, and comprehend all that belongs to this their moral Perfection, the latter be­ing it self also virtually comprehended in the former.

The Vision of God therefore, or their perfect Know­ledg of him, with whom they must ever have most of all to do, as the principal Object of their Fruition and En­joyment, must be the primary and the leading thing in this their Perfection: For no doubt it is that Perfection which directly concerns their ultimate Satisfaction and Blessedness, which is here intended; with which their eternal Employment is most conjunct and complicated, as we shall after see: They enjoy and adore the same blessed Object at once, and in doing the one, do the other.

And besides the Knowledg of him, there must be by his Beams, and in his Light, (Ps. 36. 9.) the perfect Know­ledg of all that it is needful or requisite they should know, without which, since all their Enjoyments in the Hea­venly State must be in their first Rise intellectual, 'twould be impossible they should ever perfectly enjoy any thing at all. And that this Perfection of just Mens Spirits is intended to be summarily comprehended in the Per­fection of their Knowledg, is more than intimated by that Series of Discourse which we find, 1 Cor. 13. 9—12. [Page 18] The Apostle comparing the Imperfection of our pre­sent with the Perfection of our future State, sums up all in this, that we know now but in part, and that then we shall know as we are known: But the Perfection of this Knowledg he seems more to state in the manner of know­ing, than in the extent and compass of the things known. That in this latter Respect it may admit of Increase they cannot doubt, who consider the sinite Capacity of a crea­ted Mind, and the mighty Advantages we shall have for continual Improvement, both from the clear Discovery of things, in that bright and glorious Light, and from the Receptiveness of our enlarged and most apprehensive Minds. But that State can admit of no culpable Igno­rance, nor of any that shall more infer Infelicity, than include Sin.

Therefore now to speak more distinctly;

We take this Perfection of the Spirits of the Just to be principally meant of their moral Perfection, such as ex­cludes all Sin and all Misery; as Morality comprehends and connects together Sanctity, the Goodness of the Means, and Felicity the Goodness of the End: the for­mer most directly, but most certainly, inferring the latter. If therefore we say this is their sinless Perfection, we say all that the Case requires.

In that it is said to be the Perfection of Spirits, it must indeed suppose all that natural Perfection which be­longs to such a sort of Creatures, as such, in their own kind. But inasmuch as the Specification is added [of the Just], 'tis their moral Perfection, or most perfectly ho­ly Rectitude, from which their Blessedness is insepara­ble, that seems ultimately intended.

But now whereas this their ultimate Perfection hath been said to be virtually contained and summ'd up in [Page 19] Knowledg, we are hereupon to consider how this may appear to be a compleat Summary of all such Perfection: And nothing can more evidently appear if you join to­gether


  • true Matter or Object
  • right Manner or Nature

of this Knowledg.

1. The true and proper Object of it must be, not omne scibile, but whatsoever they can be obliged or con­cerned to know, or that is requisite to their Duty and Fe­licity; all that lies within their Compass, as they are Creatures, that in such a distinct Sphere, or in their own proper Order, are to correspond to the Ends of their Crea­tion, i. e. to glorify the Author of their Beings, and be happy in him. Infinite Knowledg belongs not to them, is not competent to their Nature, nor necessary either to their Employment or to their Blessedness in the heavenly State. Whatsoever Knowledg is requisite to these Ends, will be included in this their final Perfection.

It is, by the way, to be observ'd how this Matter is express'd, made perfect, which signifies our arriving to this Perfection out of an imperfect State. We were crea­ted with an original Perfection, sufficient to a State of Probation. By our Apostacy we became sinfully imper­fect: All have sinned, and come short of the Glory of God, Rom. 3. 23. We have been put upon a new Trial by our Redeemer. Their Perfection, who have run out their Course, is, by the Grace of God, and by his Methods, restored, and improv'd to its just Pitch. They are now, their Trial being over, set in a consummate Rectitude to­wards the Ends of their Creation, and herein are endow­ed with all the Knowledg they need, viz. of such things as in reference to those Ends they can any way be con­cern'd with.

[Page 20] With the blessed God himself they are most of all con­cerned: For him they are eternally to adore and enjoy: Therefore that their Perfection should be virtually in­cluded in Divine Knowledg, is congruous to the State of their Case, and to the Language of the Holy Scrip­tures, which expresses their most perfect State by the Vision of God, in the mention'd 1 John 3. 2. and Mat. 5. 8. Heb. 12. 14, &c. Which Phrase is not borrowed from the Sight of the Eye, and transferr'd to that of the Mind, at random, or without (most probable) Design. It most aptly signifies the great Facility of this Know­ledg; that it is not toilsom, there is little Labour in it; 'tis not such as requires great Pains: It is but Intuition, not a cautious, wary Ratiocination, wherein we use to be very solicitous, lest we draw any irregular or untrue Consequences. We do very easily, and on the sudden, without Suspicion, or Fear of Error, only behold what is offer'd to our View. This is a great Perfection of Mind with these blessed Spirits, to be capable of know­ing the greatest things so easily, and so soon, to know, by seeing. And their Aptness hereto is a moral Perfection; for the Clearness of the Discovery infers their greater Obligation to attend, and not to divert from what shall cost them so little. The blessed God's Manifestation of himself in that brightest and most glorious Light, is not only evidently supposed; for in his Light only can we see Light, Psal. 36. 9. but it is emphatically express'd in the before-mention'd Text, 1 Cor. 13. 12. of seeing Face to Face; which signifies, on his part, gracious Vouchsafe­ment, his offering his blessed Face to view; that he hides it not, nor turns it away, as here sometimes he doth, in just Displeasure. And his Face means even his most conspicuous Glory; such as, in this State of Mortality, [Page 21] 'twould be mortal to us to behold: For no Man, not so divine a Man as Moses himself, could see his Face and live. And it signifies, on their part, who are thus made per­fect, their applying and turning their Face towards his, viz. that they see not casually, or by fortuitous Glances, but Eye to Eye, by direct and most voluntary Intuition; which therefore, on their part, implies moral Perfection, the Will directing and commanding the Eye, and upon unexpressible Relishes of Joy and Pleasure forbidding its Diversion, holds it steady and intent. Here our Ig­norance of God is culpable, being voluntary, not liking to retain him in our Knowledg, Rom. 1. 28. There our Knowledg is inculpable and sinless, being chosen, pur­posed, and always, principally, for its most proper Ends, the perfect Adoration and Fruition of the blessed Object, we so fixedly behold, and so earnestly covet to know.

'Tis also fit to be noted, that the very Fruition of the blessed God it self, which the holy Scripture includes in our Vision of him, is not only our very Blessedness it self, but it is our Duty too. It is a thing enjoin'd us, and comprehended in that first and great Commandment; Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart, and Soul, and Might, and Mind; which, who can perfectly do, without a complacential Acquiescence, and final Rest of their Will in him, as the best, the most perfect, and all-comprehending Good? And hereupon, tho we are wont to distinguish our glorifying God, and enjoying him, they are most manifestly coincident, and but notionally distinct. For in this our fruitive Acquiescence of Will in him, stands our highest Veneration, our most practical, most significant Acknowledgment and Testimony concern­ing him, as the highest, the most compleat, and most absolutely perfect Good; in that we seek no further, but [Page 22] take up our final Rest in him. This is to give him the proper Glory of his Godhead, to glorify him as God. And therefore this being the fullest Sense of that great and summary Command, it is only a commanding us to be happy. As, on the other hand, the Misery of the in­telligent Creature is his greatest, and most injurious Ini­quity, an Aversion of Will from the blessed God, a Te­stimony against him, as none of the best Good, and the greatest Indignity which created Nature can put upon him, who is Goodness it self. Thus then is the Know­ledg or Vision of God, even as it is fruitive, a moral Per­fection. But the divine Knowledg, more at large of these Holy Spirits, though it be principally conversant about God, as its noblest Object, excludes not their ap­plying their Minds to other Objects too, according to their Concernment with them. And yet,

2. How aptly this Perfection is included in such Know­ledg will further appear, if you consider the manner of knowing, or the special nature and kind of this Vision or Knowledg, viz. that it is not that slight, ineffectual, meer­ly notional, insipid Knowledg, which unregenerate Minds are now wont to have of the most evident Truths, viz. that, for instance, that God is the most excellent, the most perfect, the most desirable, as well as the most adorable Good; which Knowledg, because it answers not the true End of divine Knowledg, is called Ignorance: Whereupon they are said to be alienated from the Life of God, through the Ignorance that is in them, Eph. 4. 18. But that Igno­rance is paraphras'd by Blindness of Heart, i. e. a most perfectly voluntary and chosen Ignorance, founded in Aversion of Will. And elsewhere, Jer. 9. 3▪—6. by a refusing to know God, a saying to him, Depart from us, we desire not the Knowledg of thy Ways, Job 21. 14. Where­upon [Page 23] the Light that is in such is said to be very Darkness, and then how great is that Darkness! Mat. 6. 23.

This Knowledg, or Vision, now in Perfection, is most deeply and inwardly penetrative, efficacious, and trans­forming, admits a Light, which spreads and transfuses it self through the whole Soul. So it is, at first, in eve­ry truly regenerate Spirit; whereby such an one is be­gotten into the Divine Likeness; his Image is impress'd upon it, which, as hath been noted, is said to be renew­ed in Knowledg, Col. 3. 10. So that, as by solemn Mes­sage to the Sons of Men, God is declared to be pure Light, 1 John 1. 5. (This then is the Message which we have heard of him, and declare to you, that God is Light, and with him is no Darkness at all.) And as he is the Ori­ginal, the paternal Light, the Father of Lights, Jam. 1. 17. so they that are born of him are said to be Light it self, and the Children of Light. Ye were Darkness, but now are you Light in the Lord, walk as Children of Light, Eph. 5. 8. And they are therefore said, as the Sons of God, to shine as Lights, Phil. 2. 15. (or required to do so; for the Words bear either Form.) This so energe­tical, efficacious Light, is, in the mentioned Texts, ma­nifestly intended to connote Holiness, as it doth also, Rom. 13. 12. which the Antithesis there shews, Works of Darkness, and Armour of Light; and in many other Places.

Accordingly the whole, even of Practical Religion and Godliness, is in the holy Scriptures express'd by the Knowledg of God, 2 Chron. 30. 22. 'Tis signified to be in its own Nature sanctifying, and inconsistent with pre­vailing Sin, 1 Cor. 15. 34. in which they that live are therefore said to be destitute of it, who are also upon the same Account said not to have had any Sight of God; [Page 24] 3 John v. 11. He that sinneth (the word is [...], a Doer, or Worker of Sin) hath not seen God. The Light which this Vision of God receives, must, much more in the perfected Spirits of the Just, be supposed so prevalent and victorious, as quite to have chas'd away and expell'd all Remainders of this impure Darkness. Every such Spirit is, therefore, become, as it were, an Orb of purest, most operative, and lively Light, an in­tellectual, and a self-actuating Sun, full of Fervour and motive Power, besides mere Light. Whereupon what­soever this Light and Knowledg discovers it is fit for such a Soul to be, it is, and fit for it to do, it can never fail to do it.

Therefore the making of such Spirits perfect, must be understood, in greatest part, to consist in restoring the Order of their Faculties towards each other; which was broken by the Apostacy to that degree, and they so debi­litated, and become so languid, so impotent, and enfee­bled, that neither could the one Faculty lead, nor the other follow. Whence Light, even about the most pra­ctical, and the most important Matters imaginable, true Notions, right Sentiments, signified no more to com­mand, to govern, to form and direct the Inclinations and Motions of the Soul, than if, as to all its Sentiments about these Matters, you did put false instead of true, wrong instead of right, most absurd, most impossible, in­stead of most congruous, most necessary. Take, for instance, the Idea of God. Let it be supposed to com­prehend (as every one grants it doth, whether he ac­knowledg his Existence or no) all conceivable, all possi­ble Excellencies; that it means an infinite, eternal, ever­living, self-subsisting Being, most perfectly intelligent, wise, true, holy, righteous, powerful, and blessed; the Original [Page 25] of Life, Being, and Blessedness to the Creation, according to the several Kinds, Natures, and Capacities of his Crea­tures; the Supreme and Sovereign Lord of all, to whom it be­longs to govern and dispose of what he hath made; of most immense and abounding Goodness and Benignity, most boun­tiful to the indigent, compassionate to the miserable, recon­cilable to the guilty, propitious to the penitent, most compla­centially kind, with highest delight, to the holy and the good, severe only to the obstinately impenitent and implaca­ble, that will by no means or methods be reclaimed.

Take we, again, from hence the Measures by which we are to judge what ought to be the dispositions and deport­ments of his reasonable Creatures towards him, That they be entirely compos'd, and made up of Love, Reverence, Humility, Dependance, Devotedness, Subjection, Grati­tude, and Adoration. And suppose we that, in the Theory, this be, as it generally is, admitted and acknowledg'd as the just and most regular Consequence of the former.

And let us again suppose, That we being made after his Image, which in the Natural Part remains, and is still common to Mankind; and as to the Moral Part is restor'd in all that are regenerate and born of God. And that therefore we ought to love universally all mankind, to wish and do well to them, as to our selves; and no more to injure any man, than we would destroy, pull in pieces, or offer violence to our own Life and Being. And that we ought, with a more peculiar delectation, to embrace and love all holy and good men, without other distincti­on, than as any appear more to excel in goodness.

Our Light about these things is so clear, they are so lit­tle disputable, and so difficult it is to form any argument to the contrary, that few ever set themselves, by any ex­plicite or formed thoughts, to oppose or contend against [Page 26] them. It is not (at least, not generally) so much as at­tempted to disprove them, or assert contrary Principles in opposition to them. Therefore that the dispositions and common Practice of men do so little agree with these Principles, is not that their Notions are herein doubtful, but spiritless; their Light is not uncertain, but weak and impotent. And hereupon their Knowledge signifies as lit­tle to its proper End, as if their apprehensions touching these things were none at all, or quite contrary to what they are.

They as much neglect and slight the Blessed God, or decline to be concern'd with him, as if they denied all the things of him which his Idea contains; or as if they af­firmed all the things of him which it most directly ex­cludes. They shun, they fly from him, as if they thought him the Worst of Beings, while they acknowledge him the Best and most Excellent Good: Disobey and affront him, as if they thought he had no Right to rule them; while they confess him the Sovereign Lord of all the World. And steer their course both towards him and one another, in as direct repugnancy to his Rules, as if they thought them all ranvers'd, and that the most oppo­site System of Laws and Precepts were given them by some undoubted Authority, to regulate all their Practice.

It would amaze a Thinking Man that all this should be so! That Intelligent Creatures, that the Reasonable, Li­ving, Immortal Spirits of men, should be sunk to so low a Pitch of Degeneracy and Vileness! But much more, that it being so apparently thus, it should be so seldom re­flected on! that men are not afraid of themselves! that they appear not as so many frightful Monsters, each in their own eyes! That they consider not, What are these Faculties for? Why have I such Notions of Truth in my [Page 27] mind? Why have I a Will whereby to chuse, resolve, act, and be accordingly? What a distorted, mishapen Crea­ture is this Soul of mine? Every thing in me running counter to right and fit! Whatever hath thus fatally per­verted all their Powers, hath stupify'd them too; so as not only not to find fault, but to applaud and be well pleased with themselves for all this.

But now shall we not take our advantage from hence, to conceive and be enamour'd of the Rectitude, the amia­bleness of this most excellent State of the Perfected Spi­rits of the Just! Now doth Comely Order succeed instead of the most Horrid Deformity; distorted Limbs are set right; the Ligaments and Connection of the dis-jointed Faculties to each other are restored; and whatsoever the enlightened Mind suggests as fit and due, presently obtains. No Complaint remains of seeing what is better, and doing what is worse; or that when good should be done, evil is pre­sent. There is nothing but perfect Regularity, Harmo­ny, and Agreement. All things move smoothly, and with constant Equability and Decorum. Right Dictates of the leading Faculty, and ready Compliance of such as are to follow, make with them a perpetual, even, and uninterrupted Course.

Likeness to God, therefore, in every other just respect, certainly ensues, upon such preceding knowledge of him; For the kind and nature of that knowledge being, as it ought to be, powerful, vigorous, transforming of the whole Soul, and the Will ductile and compliant; agreeable im­pressions do most certainly take place. As now, behold­ing—we are chang'd, 2 Cor. 3. 18. Much more in that State where the injected divine beams are so strong, and vivid, and the receptive disposition so prompt, free, apt and facile.

[Page 28] Therefore to be made like God, is to be made perfect, according to the ultimate intendment of these words. The vision, or knowledge of God in the heavenly state, being never intended for idle, ineffectual speculation; as this perfection is not otherwise to be understood, than with reference to the ends we were made for; that we may be immediately capable of, and apt for everlasting adoration and fruition of the blessed God, in a joint, and most full consent, and communion, with the General Assembly, the whole Community of all the blessed Spirits besides, whose eternal work and delight this will be.

This likeness to God must yet be understood with ex­ception to the Divine Peculiarities, as hath been elsewhere shewn, Blessed­ness of the Righteous p. 69▪ &c. (whither we now refer, only to save the la­bour of transcribing.) In respect of which Peculiarities also, there must be on our part, a correspondency, i. e. a likeness with allowance for necessary disagreement, as be­tween a Seal and the impression, where what is convex in the one, is hollow in the other, and yet otherwise like, i. e. correspondent to each other too. So the case is between the blessed God's All-sufficient fulness, and our receptive emptiness, between his Supremacy, and our Subjection. In respect to other things common to him and us, with the rest of those happy Spirits that inhabit the Regions of light and bliss, Spirituality it self, Life and Vigour, Know­ledge, Wisdom, Holiness, Love, Serenity, Benignity, Mercy, Peace, and Joy, there is a nearer resemblance; these things passing under the same name with him, and with us, but with the infinite inequality still, of God, and Creature.

Now if here we give our selves leave to pause a while, and contemplate those innumerable multitudes of pure and happy Creatures, perfected, or ever perfect Spirits, [Page 29] that inhabit and replenish those ample spacious Regions above, the vast (and to us, or to any thought of ours) immense and endless Tracts of Light and Glory. Consi­der them every one composed, and made up of lively Light, and Love, as we are told God is light, 1 John 1. 5. and God is love, chap. 4. vers. 16. Consider them all as most intelligent, and knowing Creatures, even of the most pro­found and hidden Mysteries, that here were wont to per­plex and puzzle the most inquisitive mind; ignorant of nothing, or apt to comprehend any thing, needful, and pleasant to be known, or lawful to be enquir'd into; curious to know nothing useless, or unlawful; most per­fectly wise Creatures, prudent Sages, endowed with a self-governing wisdom; so as easily, without a vexatious solicitude, and anxiety, but with a noble freedom, to order and command all their Thoughts, Appetitions, Actions, and Deportments towards God, themselves, and one another, so as never to be guilty of mistake or error in any motion of mind or will. Never to omit any thing in its season, or do any thing out of season. Consider them whether in solemn Assembly (which may be stated and per­petual by successively appointed numbers for ought we know) or diverting and retiring, or faring to and fro, as inclination, with allowance, or command, may direct. Yet all every where full of God, continually receiving the vi­tal, satisfying, glorious Communications of the every­where present, self-manifesting Deity, all full of reverence, and most dutiful love to the Eternal Father of Spirits, his Eternal Son, and Spirit, all form'd into perpetual, lowliest, and most grateful adoration, with highest de­light and pleasure, all apprehensive of their depending state, and that they owe their all to that Fulness which filleth all in all. Every one in his own eyes a self-nothing, [Page 30] having no separate, divided Interest, Sentiment, Will, or Inclination. Every one continually self-consistent, agree­ing with himself; ever free of all self-displeasure, never finding any cause, or shadow of a cause, for any angry self-reflection upon any undue thought or wish in that their present, perfect state, though not unmindful what they were, or might have been, and ascribing their present state, and stability, to the Grace of God, and dedicating their All to the praise and glory of that most Free and Un­accountable Grace; all well assured, and unsuspiciously conscious, with unexpressible satisfaction, of their accep­tance with God; and placing with the fullest sense and relish their very life in his favour. All full of the most complacential benignity towards one another, counting each one's felicity his own, and every one's enjoyments being accordingly multiply'd so many thousand-fold, as he apprehends every one as perfectly pleased and happy as himself.

Let but any one recount these things with himself, as he easily may with far greater enlargement of thoughts, many more such things as these, and he needs not be at a loss for a notion of this perfect state of the Spirits of the Just.

And for further confirmation, as well as for a some­what more distinct and explicite conception hereof, let it be moreover considered,

What was the undertaking and design of our Redeem­er; to whom the next words directs our eye; and to Jesus the Mediator of the new testament, and to the blood of sprinkling, &c. He was to be the Restorer of these (once) lost Apostate Spirits; and besides reconciling them to God by his blood, that speaks better things than that of Abel, was to impart his own Spirit to them; and by [Page 31] the Tenour of that New Testament, or Covenant, whereof he was Mediator, was not only to procure that their sins and iniquities should be remembred no more, but that the Divine Laws should be put in their minds, and written in their hearts, Chap 8. 10, 12. They are therefore, by the blood of the everlasting covenant to be made perfect, Chap. 13. 20, 21. in every good work to do his will, having all that wrought in them which is well-pleasing in his sight through Christ Jesus. Now when shall he be said to have accomplish'd his design? Not till every one be presented perfect (Col. 1. 28.) and faultless in the presence of the divine glory (Jude 24.) Do but consider what was a design worthy of so great an Undertaker, the Son of God; and of his being engaged so deeply, of his being so earnestly intent upon it, as to become first a Man, then a Sacrifice to effect it.

Consider his Death and Resurrection; wherein he will have all that belong to him have a (Consortium) a par­ticipation with him, and conformity to him; as is large­ly discoursed, Phil. 3. and hence we are to make our estimate what is the mark and price of the high calling of God in Christ, 12, 14. This can be no other than final consummate Christianity; the Christians high calling in termino; and which they that are inchoatively perfect (or sincere) must be so minded as to design it for themselves, verse 15.

Therefore let me but tell any man, so that he can un­derstand me, what true Christianity, now, is, and he can tell me what Heaven is. Let me tell him, what it is to be a sincere Christian in this present state, and he can tell me what it is to be perfect in the Heavenly state. The writing God's Law in the heart truly, and perfectly, goes far towards both.

[Page 32] The two great Commandments impress'd, that are both fulsill'd in Love, are of vast compass to this pur­pose, and with the certain connexa, comprehend all; Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, &c. And—thy Neighbour as thy self, &c. What an Heaven upon Earth, would these two create, reduc'd to practice! And when the impression is perfect, What needs there more?

But God knows, men too commonly measure their Heaven by their Christianity, on the wrong hand; a Christianity and an Heaven, both external and foreign to them. God deliver me from this so palpable and destru­ctive a delusion of a Christianity, and an Heaven foreign to my Soul! A Religion, and a Felicity that touch not our Minds, that never impress our Inner Man; What can we be the better for them? What to be impos'd upon by so absurd a misconceit, and so repugnant to Scripture? Which so expresly tells us that Glory we are finally to ex­pect, is a Glory whereby we are to be glorified, made glo­rious, and to be revealed in us, and wherein we are to partake with Christ, Rom. 8. 17, 18. Or did the Son of God put on Man, and suffer so deeply for us, with a de­sign upon us, less than this?

But now my work is done (nor do my limits allow me to enlarge) in reference to the

2d. Head of Discourse proposed, In what sense sin­cere Christians may be said to be already come to the Spi­rits of the Just made perfect. Enough may be collected from what hath been said.

'Tis to be understood

I. In a Relative sense, they are come, they already be­long [Page 33] to that General Assembly, that Church which the Myriads of Angels, and the perfected spirits of the just, are of. A Local coming none can pretend in this case to dream of: They are said to be come to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. Such were truly said to be come into the very Constitution of the Roman Polity, that were Civitate donati, admitted Freemen, though they lived a thousand Miles of.

IId. In a real sense, by a gradual, but true participation of (the primordia) the first, and most constituent Prin­ciples and Perfections of the Heavenly State.

And now, if that were the thing design'd, there is a most Adequate groundwork laid for a true, and the most ample Encomium of that rare Person, our never too deep­ly Lamented, nor too highly Renowned Queen, whose Funerals drew my thoughts to this Theme. View the Perfections of the Spirits of the Just as they were grow­ing, and more eminently grown towards their highest pitch; and here is our Ground. Do not wonder it is laid as high as Heaven; for thence they begin, as well as end there. By most benign influences from thence, tho the plant was set on Earth, they had an early bud, in conceal­ment; but we have seen them blossom in open view, still aspiring thitherward; as there they are fully blown. Her, otherwise, Royal Parentage was, thus, incomparably more Royal. The Lustre of Her excellent Vertues, had all the advantage, which they could have by dwelling well; as the Endowments (what they were) of a Great Prince heretofore, were noted to have had the contrary disadvantage. It was common Sense, not the Poets Au­thority, that could make the Apprehension take place, That Vertue is more grateful exerted from a Comely Body.

[Page 34] So illustrious an instance would give more countenance, than the most Argumentative Philosophy, to the Opinion, That Souls have a great (subordinate) Agency inform­ing their own Mansions. Which the more one apprehends, the less credulous he would be of their Original Equality. It must be a very peculiar Genius, that could stamp so inimitable and undeceiving Signatures, as appear'd in Her Majesty's most graceful Countenance, in Her comely Meen, and Looks, and all Her Deportments. Whoso­ever should behold the Fabrick She Inhabited, made up of Pulchritude and State, must conclude some very Lovely and Venerable Inhabitant dwelt there. But nearer ap­proaches, discover'd such Excellencies of the indwelling Mind, that Quickness of Apprehension, that Clearness and Strength of Reason, that Solidity of Judgment, that Complectionate Goodness; The [...], which that Noble Philosopher speaks of, as the seed-plot of Vertues; that must soon beget not Conviction only, but Admiration.

Such were the Bounties of Nature in the forming a rare and excellent Person; but how munificent were the Largesses of Grace! That Reverence of the Divine Majesty that appear'd in Her whole course, a Life transacted un­der the Government of Religion; Her constant care to avoid what She thought Sinful, and readiness to do what She judg'd might be Serviceable to the Interest of God; Her Detestation of the profligate Wickedness, that She knew to be Dishonourable and Offensive to Him and of all the Principles that any way tended thereto; Her con­tinued Conversation with God, in the constant Practice of Religious Duties, and in all the Exercises of Godliness that belonged to Her (most beloved and frequented) Closet, the Family, or more Solemn Assembly; Her most composed seriousness in attendance upon the Worship of God, [Page 35] in the way which She chose (and which that She chose no one could think strange); the natural, and most un­affected appearances hereof, the remotest from ostentation, but which could not quite be hid, nor ought, when in Religious Assemblies we are to testify we all Worship the same God, and that all our Applications, and Addresses, have one Center above, and are all to be directed to one and the same glorious Object; unless one would have the Religion of the Church be allowed the retiredness of a Closet, or reduce joynt, social Worship, wherein all are, some way or other, to express their Unanimity and Con­sent, unto that which is meerly Solitary and Single. Her Assiduity in Her Religious course, the Seasons, Order, and Constancy whereof, seemed to be Governed by the Ordinances of Heaven, that Ascertain the succession of day and night; so that what was said so long ago of that famed Person's Justice (and which equally may of Hers) might have a nobler application to Her Religion, That one might as soon divert the course of the Sun, as turn Her from Her daily course in Religious Duties. This argued a steady Principle, and of the highest excellency, that of Divine Love. Any other would have its more frequent qualmes and inequalities. The remark was wise and weighty, concerning the insincere man, Job 27. 10. Will he delight himself in the Almighty? will he always call upon God? That course is never like to be even, uniform, and continued, that springs not from Love, or is not sweetened by delight and Pleasure. All these are to us great Indications of a copi­ous Communication of Divine Grace, and that She re­ceived not the Grace of God in vain. I cannot here omit Her Reverential Regard for the Lord's-Day, which at the Hague I had a very particular Occasion to take notice [Page 36] of. On a Saturday a Vessel (the Pacquet-Boat) was stranded not far from thence, which lying very near the Shore, I view'd (happening to be thereabouts at that time) till the last Passengers were brought (as all were) safe off. Multitudes went to see it, and Her Highness being inform'd of it, said She was willing to see it too, but thought She should not, for it was then too late for that Evening, and She reckoned by Monday it would be shiver'd to Pieces, (tho it remaining entire till then, She was pleas'd to view it that day) but She resolved, She added, She would not give so ill an Example, as to go see it on the Lord's-Day.

Next to her exemplary Piety towards God, shone with a second Lustre her most amiable Benignity towards men; and peculiarly towards them whom she judg'd Pious, of whatsoever Persuasion in respect of the Circumstances of Religion. She opened not her mouth, but with Wisdom, and in her Tongue was the Law of Kindness. She hath divers times express'd her Acceptance, Value, and Desire of their Prayers, whom she knew in some Modes of Wor­ship to differ from her; as one that well understood, that the kingdom of God stands not in lesser things, but in righteousness, peace, &c and that they who in these things serve Christ, are acceptable to God, and are to be approved of men. She was not inaccessible to such of Her Sub­jects, whose dissentient Judgments in some such things, put them into lower Circumstances. Great She was in all valuable Excellencies, nor Greater in any, than in Her most Condescending Goodness. Her singular Humi­lity adorn'd all the rest. Speaking once of a good thing which She intended, She added, But of myself I can do nothing; and somewhat being by one (of two more on­ly) then present, interposed, She answered, She hoped God would help Her.

[Page 37] She is, as the Text speaks, gone to Mount Sion, in the highest Sense of that Phrase.

And to sum up all, he that will read the Character, Psal. 15, and 24. of an Inhabitant of that Holy Hill, will there read Her True and most Just Character. Wherein I cannot omit to take notice, how Sacred She reckoned Her Word. I know with whom She hath sometimes conferr'd, Whether, having given a Promise of such a seeming Import, She could consistently therewith do so or so, saying, That whatever Prejudice it were to Her, She would never depart from Her Word.

These Rich Endowments every way accomplish'd Her for all the Duties that belong'd to Her, whether in Her Christian, Conjugal, or Political Capacity. Which if we consider together, the World cannot give an In­stance for many By-past Ages, of so much lost out of it in One Person. When did Christianity lose so conspicu­ous an Ornament? A King so Delectable and Helpful a Consort? A Kingdom so Venerable and Belov'd a Sove­reign? For our King, how are we concern'd to pray, Lord, remember David, and all his Afflictions? And we are to hope he hath some such sincere Purposes and Vows deeply infix'd in his heart, as those subjoin'd in that Psalm; which will engage the Divine Presence with Psal. 132. him; by which, neither shall his Pressures be intolera­ble, nor his Difficulties insuperable; but his how shall abide in strength, and the arms of his hands be made strong, by Gen. 49. the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.

But England, England! How deplorable is thy case! In what Agonies should every concern'd heart be for thee, O England! In the latter days (and God grant they be not too late!) thou may'st consider, That after many former, defeated Methods, thou hadst a Prince (yea, [Page 38] Princes) studiously intent upon making thee a Reformed, Happy People. Is there now no Cause to fear, lest it be determined, Let him that is filthy be filthy still, and him that is unjust be unjust still.—

Few can be ignorant of the Endeavours of our most Gracious Queen to that purpose. And I am persuaded, nothing did more recommend our deceased, excellent Archbishop to Her Majesty, than that She knew His Heart to be as Hers, in that Design, viz. Of a General Reformation of Manners, that must have concern'd all Parties; and without which, (leading and preparing us thereto) Union, and the Cessation of Parties, was lit­tle to have been hoped for. And so far as I could under­stand, the Attempt of it was as little intended; being otherwise not likely to meet with either a Blessing from God, or any sufficient Disposition to it with Men. Great Dispositions must, with much Gratitude to God, be ac­knowledg'd in those who hold that Supreme, and this Subordinate Station. But such a Work is not likely to succeed, till (by whatsoever Means) Minds be brought to that Temper, that it will even do it self. And that Two such Persons should be remov'd out of them, within not much more than a Month's time, is an Awful Umbrage to us of a Divine determination, That less gentle Methods are fitter for us. And God's Holy Will be done!

It is now obvious to any considering Person, That ma­ny very useful Reflections might be made upon the Text, and the Occasion together. I shall shut up this present Discourse with these that follow:

1. It ought to be most remote from us to confine in our narrow thoughts, sincere Religion and Godliness to a [Page 39] Party distinguisht by little things; and most extra-essen­tial thereto. Take we that great Apostles Document, I perceive God is not respecter of persons; and what he said of Nations, may not we as aptly say that of all such Par­ties; They that fear God, and work righteousness, are ac­cepted of him, Act. 10.

Let us once learn to reckon substantial Godliness a greater thing, than the using, or not using this or that Ce­remony. And account, that Faith, Mercy, Judgment, and the love of God, are not to be past over for as little things, as the tything of mint, annise, and cummin. I believe there are few in the World, if they cast their Eyes about them, but might truly say (what I thank God, I have often thought) that of all our Parties that hold the Substantials of Religion, I have known some of far greater value than my self. Let the being a good Christian, signify more with us, than to belong to a so—or so—shap'd, or—figured Church.

A Noted Writer among the Ancients brings in one, saying, by way of exprobration to Christians, There is Min. Fel. Socrates the Prince of Wisdom, if any among you be so great, let them imitate him, if they can. What Persuasion among us, can produce a greater Example than we have been now considering, or more worthy the imitation even of Private Christians?

2. The Spirits of the Just on Earth are in a great pro­pinquity, and have a near alliance to Heaven. They are not there to have the first foundations laid of their blessed state, but are only to be made perfect. They have in them here the first Principles, the Elements of their final blessedness. Heaven in little. As the Acorn contains the Tree, or the Embrio the Man.

[Page 40] 3. The Just in this World are of the Church in Hea­ven. They are come to the General Assembly, the Church of the First-born, &c. All sincere Christians, whether in Heaven or Earth (as hath been noted) make but one Family, Ephes. 3. 15. Good God! Can our little diffe­rences, here, set us at greater distance than Heaven and Earth! The Observation is worth considering of that Lord Vis­count Ve­rul. Adv. of Learn. lib. 9. Wise and Noble Person. It will be found a matter of great moment and use, to define what, and of what latitude those points are, which discorporate men from the body of the Church—And if any think this hath been done, now, long ago, let them seriously consider with what sincerity, and moderation the same hath been performed—&c. And if it had not been done with due sincerity, and moderation in his days, it's much to be doubted whether it have, since. In the mean time it is to be consider'd, that what diffe­renceth any thing, constitutes it. And if a Church (of whatsoever denomination) be constituted in its superstru­cture (though its foundation be good) of Hay and Stubble, of things that can belong to no Church, as a Church, it must some time or other suffer loss. And though the Builders be saved, it must be by a more penetrative, than an imagined, Purgatory-fire.

4. Angels must have kind propensions towards men, especially good men, in this World, knowing these are of the same Society and Church with them, though the Di­vine Wisdom hath not judg'd it suitable to our present state of probation, there should be an open, and common, inter­course between them and us. 'Tis however, a great in­congruity, we should have strange, uncouth, shy, fright­ful, or unfrequent thoughts of them, in the mean time.

[Page 41] 5. When we find any excellent Persons in our World, attain far, and high towards the perfection of the Hea­venly State, it ought to be a great encouragement to us, and is an obligation, to aspire to some like pitch. We see, it is not an impossible, or an unpracticable thing; and should disdain to crawl, now, as Worms, when we are to soar as Angels.

6. We ought hereupon to acknowledge and adore, the Munificence, and Power of Divine Grace, that it should de­sign the making of such Abjects as we, fit to be associated with such an Assembly, the innumerable company of Angels, and the spirits of the just made perfect; and will not fail to effect it, if we comply with the apt methods, appointed for that blessed purpose.

7. When such ascend, and are taken up from us, that God had eminently prepared for translation, we should take great care lest we unduly regret it. That we do not envy Heaven its own. To which they are more a-kin, than to our Earth. And which had a greater right in them than we could pretend.

8. We should look upon Funeral Solemnities for such, with more prospect than retrospect, and consider them as directing our Eye less downward to our own forsaken World, than upwards to the Celestial Regions and Inhabi­tants. To such, to dye, is to be born. They dye only out of our mean World, and are born into a most glorious one. Their Funerals should be celebrations of their ascent; and an exulting Joy should, therefore, in that case, not be quite banisht from Funeral Sorrows, but be allow'd to min­gle therewith, as Sun-beams glittering in a Cloud. When the greatest Person was leaving this world, that even lived in it, He says, If you loved me, you would rejoice that I say, I go to the Father. We should bear our part in the joys of [Page 42] heaven, upon this Occasion, if we relate to it. And when we are told, there is joy there, among the Angels of God for the conversion of such, who are thereby but prepared to come to their Assembly, we may conclude there is much more, for their glorification, when they are fully come, and joined to it. Funeral Solemnities are very dull, me­lancholy, shews, without such references forwards, and upwards. With how different a temper of mind would two Persons have been the Spectators of Jacob's Fune­ral, The one of whom should have lookt no further than the Canaanites, or Egyptians did, who would only say some great Person is dead. But the other, by Di­vine Illumination is enabled to apprehend, This dust here mingles with the earth of this Land, to presignify this People, of whom he was the Head, must possess it. Yea, moreover, here the Great God will fix his Residence and Throne. Upon such a Mount shall be the Palace of the Supream King. Here, after great Mutations and Revolutions, and great Destructions, both of the Egyptians and Canaanites, shall this Peo­ple have a long succession of Princes and Rulers that shall be of themselves. And all this but as represent­ing a King and Kingdom that shall rule, and spread over all the Earth, and reach up, at length into Hea­ven. Canaan shall be an Holy Land. Unto Sion's King shall Tributary Princes bring their Gifts out of Egypt, and Ethiopia stretch out her hands; and all Nations serve him. His Empire shall con­fine with the Universe, and all Power be given him, both in Heaven and Earth. With what a large and raised mind, would such a One have beheld this Fune­ral! What better Canaan than we now behold, we shall have in this world God knows! And we should be [Page 43] the less solicitous to know intermediate things, when we are so fully ascertain'd of the glorious end of all things. And let us reflect upon the solemn Pomp of that late Mournful Assembly that lamented our Queen's departure out of our world, comparing it with the trans­cendent Magnificence of that Triumphant Assembly into which she is received above.


Some Books Printed for Brab. Aylmer.

  • THE Blessedness of the Righteous opened, and further Re­commended from the Consideration of the Vanity of this mortal Life.
  • Of Delighting in God.
  • The Reconcileableness of God's Prescience of the Sins of men, with the Wisdom and Sincerity of his Counsels, Exhortations, and whatsoever means he uses to prevent them. In a Letter to the Honourable Robert Boyle, Esq To which is added a Postscript in Defence of the said Letter.
  • Self-Dedication; Discoursed in the Anniversary Thanksgiving of a Person of Honour for a great Deliverance.
  • The right use of that Argument in Prayer, from the Name of God, on behalf of a People that profess it.
  • A Funeral Sermon on the Decease of that Worthy Gentlewoman, Mrs. Margaret Baxter (Wife of the Reverend Mr. Richard Baxter).
  • The above are by the Reverend Mr. John Howe.
  • A Discourse of the great Disingenuity and Unreasonableness of Repining at Afflicting Providences: And of the Influence which they ought to have upon us, on Job 2. 10. Published upon Occa­sion of the Death of Our Gracious Sovereign, Queen Mary, of most Blessed Memory. With a Preface containing some Observa­tions touching Her Excellent Endowments, and Exemplary Life. By Edward Lord Bishop of Gloucester.
  • The Holy Bible, containing the Old Testament and the New; with Annotations and Parallel Scriptures. To which is Annex'd the Harmony of the Gospels. As also the Reduction of the Jewish Weights, Coins and Measures, to our English Standard: And a Table of the Promises in Scripture By Samuel Clark, Minister of the Gospel. Printed in Folio of a very Fair Letter. The like ne­ver before in One Volume.
  • The Four last Things, viz. Of Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell. Practically Considered and Applied in several Discourses. By Wil­liam Bates. D. D.
  • A Sermon Preached upon the much Lamented Death of Our Late Gracious Sovereign Queen Mary. To which is added the Address of Condolence to His Majesty by the Dissenting Ministers. By W. Bates. D. D.

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