By John Norris M. A. and Fellow of All-Souls College in Oxford.

——Diram qui contudit Hydram, Notaque Fatali Portenta labore subegit, Comperit Invidiam supremo fine domari.
Hor. Epist. Lib. 2. Epist. 1.

OXFORD, Printed at the THEATER For John Crosley Bookseller, 1687.


JOH. V-ENN Vice-Cancel. Oxon.



THE greatness of your Qua­lity and Personal worth, consider'd with that Hap­py Relation which has further en­dear'd you to us, gives you so just a Title to these Performances, that I could not without an hei­nous Alienation devote them to any other Patron. And therefore, however my boldness may be tax'd for making you so dispropor­tionable [Page] a Present, yet certainly I should have incurr'd more disho­nour by witholding a Debt, and Presumption is a less Crime than Injustice.

Sir, 'tis by your kind Patron­age and Protection (next to the favourable influences of a good Prince) that our Studies prosper, and our Laurels thrive and flou­rish, and that any of us are in a capacity to throw in the least Sym­bol into the Muses Exchequer. To whom then should the Fruits of this Sacred ground be offer'd, but to that Sun by whose genial influence they grow and ripen?

To you therefore I humbly present this Collection of Miscel­lanies for the entertainment of [Page] your leisure hours, which were composed at some of mine. I shall not beg your Protection any far­ther than you shall find it worthy of it. I am only concern'd that you should hence conclude how well your (now more than ever fortunate) Society stands affect­ed towards you, particularly how much you are honour'd and e­steem'd by

Your humble and most devoted Servant John. Norris.


OF all the tedious things in the world I was ever the least Friend to long Pre­faces, and therefore I shall only commend to your hands this Collection of Miscel­lanies occasionally composed at several times, as my Humour and Leasure serv'd me, with a brief ac­count of my Design as to both Parts of the Col­lection.

Not to trouble you with a Pompous discourse of the nature of Poetry, its Measures of Criticism, its Variety, Antiquity, its great use and excellence and the like, which have been at large set forth by many curious Pens, I have only leasure at present to observe, that Poetry is of late mightily fall'n from the Beauty of its Idea, and from its ancient Majesty and grandeur, as well as Credit and Re­putation.

It may appear strange indeed that in such a Re­fining Age as this, wherein all things seem ready to receive their last turn and finishing stroke, Poe­try should be the only thing that remains unim­prov'd. And yet so it happens, that which we gene­rally have now adays is no more like the thing it was formerly, than Modern Religion is like Pri­mitive Christianity.

'Tis with this as with our Music. From grave, majestic, solemn strains, where deep instructive sense [Page] is sweetly convey'd in charming numbers, where e­qual address is made to the Judgment and the Imagination, and where Beauty and Strength go hand in hand, 'tis now for the most part dwindled down to light, frothy stuff, consisting either of mad extravagant Rants, or slight Witticisms, and lit­tle amorous Conceits, fit only for a Tavern enter­tainment, and that too among Readers of a Dutch palate.

The truth is, this most excellent and Divine Art has of late been so cheapned and depretiated by the bungling performances of some who thought themselves inspired, and whose Readers too have been more kind to them than their Planets, that Poetry is grown almost out of Repute, and men come strongly prejudiced against any thing of this kind, as expecting nothing but Froth and Empti­ness, and to be a Poet goes for little more than a Country Fidler.

But certainly he had once another Character, and that in as nice and wise an Age as this. If we may believe the great Horace he was one

——Cui mens Divinior, atque Os
Magna locuturum————

He had then his Temples surrounded with a Di­vine glory, spoke like the Oracle of the God of wis­dom, and could describe no Hero greater than himself. Poetry was once the Mistress of all the Arts in the Circle, that which held the Rains of the world in her hand, and which gave the first, and (if we may judge by the effects) perhaps the best In­stitutes for the moralizing and governing the Pas­sions of mankind.

[Page]The Design therefore of the present undertaking is to restore the declining genius of Poetry to its Primitive and genuin greatness, to wind up the strings of the Muses Lyre, and to shew that sense and gracefulness are as consistent in these as in a­ny other Compositions. I design here all the Mascu­line sense and Argument of a Dissertation, with the advantage of Poetic Fineness, Beauty and Spirit, and accordingly I have made choice for the most part of Divine and Moral Subjects, and if I meddle with any other sort, I commonly turn the stream another way, as particularly in those two Poems call'd Beauty and Love, which I have res­cued from those sordid abuses they have hitherto suffer'd.

I confess 'tis a difficult Province to make sub­stantial massy Sense yield to the softnesses of Poe­try, and accordingly we find there are few Poems after the Divine and Moral way but what are stiff, flat and insipid; but without this Mixture Poetry is nothing worth, and when it has it, it has all it can have, and is withall so Divine a thing, that even Plato I fancy would give it entertain­ment in his Common-wealth.

I need not make any other Apology for my con­versing with the Muses, for I do not think it an em­ployment beneath the Character of a Scholar, and tho I have now set up my outmost Pillar, yet I can't find in my heart to repent me of those few Blank hours bestow'd in this Exercise. For I have the example of some of the greatest and wisest in all Ages to warrant me, and the greatness of Solomon [Page] is seen as much in his Divine Pastoral, the Canti­cles, as in his Proverbs or Sermons, and the wise Ben-Sirach among other Characters of his Heroes puts in this among the rest, that they were such as found out Musical tunes, and recited Verses in writing. Eccl. 44. 5.

And thus much for the Verse-part. Concerning the Essays and Discourses I have only this to say, that I design'd in them as much Brevity and Clear­ness as are consistent with each other, and to abound in sense rather than words. I wish all men would observe this in their writings more than they do. I'm sure the multitude of Books and the short­ness of Life require it, and sense will lye in a lit­tle compass if men would be perswaded to vent no Notions but what they are Masters of, and were Angels to write, I fancy we should have but few Folio's.

This is what I design'd and endeavour'd in the whole. Whether I have attain'd it or no, I sub­mit to Judgment.

J. Norris.


  • Of the advantages of Thinking. Page 145.
  • Of the Care and Improvement of Time. 153.
  • Of Solitude. 158.
  • Of Courage. 165.
  • Of Seriousness. 170.
  • Of the slightness of all Secular, and the im­portance of minding our Eternal, Interest. 175.
  • A Metaphysical Essay toward the Demonstra­tion of a God, from the steddy and immu­table Nature of Truth. 193.
  • The Christian Law Asserted and Vindicated: Or, a general Apology for the Christian Religion, both as to the Obligativeness, and Reasonableness of the Institution. 211.
  • A Discourse concerning Perseverance in Ho­liness. 249.
  • A Discourse coucerning Heroic Piety, where­in its Notion is stated, and its Practise re­commended. 275.
  • Contemplation and Love: Or, the Methodical Ascent of the Soul to God, by steps of Me­ditation. 295.
  • A Discourse upon Romans 12. 3. Not to [Page] think of himself more highly than he ought to think; But to think soberly, ac­cording as God has dealt to every man the measure of Faith. 333.
  • Considerations upon the Nature of Sin, accom­modated to the Ends both of Speculation and Practise. 361.
  • An Idea of Happiness in a Letter to a Friend, Enquiring wherein the greatest Happiness attainable by man in this Life does consist. 393.
  • A Letter of Resolution concerning some Pas­sages in the foregoing Treatise. 431.
  • Another Letter concerning the true Notion of Plato's Ideas, and of Platonic Love. 435.
  • A Letter concerning Love and Music. 446.
  • A Letter concerning Friendship. 450.
  • A Letter of Self-Consolation occasion'd by the Death of a Friend. 455.


Page 164. for ingeniously read ingenuously. Page 170. for gaiety read gait. Page 281. for [...] read [...]

The Passion of our B. Saviour re­presented in a Pindarique Ode.

Quis talia fando
Temperet à Lachrymis?
SAY bold Licentious Muse,
What Noble Subject wilt thou chuse,
Of what great Hero, of what mighty thing,
Wilt thou in boundless numbers sing?
Sing the unfathom'd Depths of Love,
(For who the Wonders done by Love can tell,
By Love, which is it self all Miracle?)
Here in vast endless Circles mayst thou rove,
And like the travelling Planet of the day
In an Orb unbounded stray.
Sing the great Miracle of Love Divine,
Great be thy Genius, sparkling every Line,
Love's greatest Mystery reherse,
Greater then that
Which on the tee [...]ing Chaos brooding sate,
And hatch'd, with kindly heat, the Universe.
How God in Mercy chose to bleed, and dye
To rescue Man from Misery,
Man, not his Creature only, but his Enemy,
Lo, in Gethsemane, I see him prostrate lye,
Press'd with the weight of his great Agony.
[Page 2]The common Sluces of the Eyes
To vent his mighty Passion won't suffice,
His tortured Body weeps all-o're,
And out of every Pore
Buds forth a pretious Gem of Purple Gore.
How strange the Power of afflictions rod
When in the Hand of an incensed God!
Like the commanding Wand
In Moses Hand
It▪ works a Miracle, and turns the Flood
Of Tears into a Sea of Blood
See with what Pomp Sorrow does now appear!
How proud She is of being seated here!
She never wore
So rich a Dye before.
Long was he willing to decline
Th' Encounter of the Wrath Divine.
Thrice he sent for his Release
Pathetic Embassies of Peace,
At length his Courage overcame his Doubt,
Resolved he was, and so the bloody Flagg hung out.
And now the Tragic Scene's displai'd,
Where drawn in full Battalia are laid
Before his Eyes
That numerous Host of Miseries
He must withstand, that Map of Woe
Which he must undergo.
That heavy Wine-press which must by him be trod,
The whole Artillery of God.
He saw that Face whose very Sight
Chears Angels with its Beatific Light,
[Page 3]Contracted now into a dreadful frown,
All cloath'd with Thunder, big with death
And Showers of hot burning Wrath,
Which shortly must be poured down.
He saw a black and dismal Scroll
Of Sins past, present, and to come,
With their intolerable Doom
Which would the more oppress his spotless Soul;
As th' Elements are weighty proved
When from their Native Station they'r removed.
He saw the foul Ingratitude of those
Who would the Labours of his Love oppose,
And reap no benefit by all his Agonys.
He saw all this,
And as he saw to Waver he began,
And almost to repent of his great Love for Man.
When lo, a heavenly Form all bright and fair,
Swifter then Thought shot through th' enlight'ned Air.
He who sat next th' imperial Throne,
And read the Councels of the Great Three-One,
Who in Eternity's Misterious Glass
Saw both what was, what is, and what must come to pass;
He came with Reverence profound,
And rais'd his prostrate Maker from the Ground;
Wiped off the bloody Sweat
With which his Face and Garments too were wet,
And comforted his dark benighted Mind
With sovereign Cordials of Light refin'd.
This done, in soft addresses he began
To fortifie his kind Designs for Man,
Ʋnseal'd to him the Book of Gods Decree:
And shew'd him what must be,
[Page 4]Alledg'd the Truth of Prophecies,
Types, Figures, and Mysteries,
How needful it was to supply
With humane Race the ruins of the Skie.
How this would new accession bring
To the Coelestial Quire,
And how withall it would inspire
New Matter for the Praise of the great King.
How he should see the travail of his Soul, and bless
Those Sufferings which had so good Success.
How great the Triumphs of his Victory,
How glorious his Ascent would be,
What weighty Bliss in Heaven he should obtain
By a few Hours of Pain,
Where to Eternal Ages he should Reign.
He spake, confirm'd in mind the Champion stood,
A Spirit divine
Through the thick Veil of Flesh did shine,
All over Powerful he was, all over Good.
Pleas'd with his successful Flight,
The Officious Angel posts away
To the bright Regions of Eternal Day,
Departing in a track of Light.
In haste for News the heavenly People ran,
And joy'd to hear the hopeful State of Man.
And now that strange prodigious hour,
When God must subject be to humane Power,
That Hour is come,
The unerring Clock of Fate has struck,
'Twas heard below down to Hells lowest Room,
And strait th Infernal Powers th appointed signal took.
Open the Scene my Muse, and see
Wonders of Impudence and Villany;
[Page 5]How wicked Mercenary hands
Dare to invade him whom they should adore,
With Swords and Staves incompass'd round he stands,
Who knew no other Guards but those of Heaven be­fore.
Once with his powerful breath he did repell
The rude assaults of Hell.
A ray of his Divinity
Shot forth with that bold Answer, I am He,
They reel and stagger, and fall to the Ground,
For God was in the Sound.
The Voice of God was once again
Walking in the Garden heard,
And once again was by the guilty Hearers fear'd,
Trembling seiz'd every joynt, and chilness every Vein.
This little Victory he won.
Shew'd what he could have done.
But he to whom as chief was given
The whole Militia of Heaven,
That Mighty He
Declines all Guards for his defence
But that of his inseparable Innocence;
And quietly gives up his Liberty.
He's seiz'd on by the Military bands,
With Cords they bind his sacred hands,
But ah! how weak, what nothings would they prove,
Were he not held by stronger ones of Love.
Once more, my weary'd Muse, thy Pinions try,
And reach the top of Calvary.
A steep Ascent: But most to him who bore
The Burthen of a Cross this way before.
(The Cross ascends, there's something in it sure
That Moral is and mystical,
No Heights of Fortune are from thee secure,
Afflictions sometimes Climb, as well as fall)
[Page 6]Here breath a while, and view
The dolefull st Picture Sorrow ever drew,
The Lord of Life, Heavens darling Son,
The Great, th' Almighty one,
With out-stretch'd Arms, nail'd to a cursed Tree,
Crown'd with sharp Thorns, cover'd with Infamy;
He who before
So many Miracles had done,
The Lives of others to restore,
Does with a greater, lose his own.
Full three long hours his tender body did sustain
Most exquisite and poignant pain.
So long the Sympathizing Sun his light withdrew,
And wonder'd how the Stars their dying Lord could view.
This strange defect of light
Does all the Sages in Astronomy affright
With fears of an Eternal Night.
Th' Intelligences in their Courses stray,
And Travellers below mistake their way,
Wondring to be benighted in the midst of Day.
Each mind is seiz'd with Horror and Despair,
And more o respread with darkness than the air.
Fear on, tis wondrous all and new,
'Tis what past Ages never knew.
Fear on, but yet you'll find
The great Eclipse is still behind.
The lustre of the face Divine
Does on the Mighty Sufferer no longer shine.
God hides his Glories from his sight
With a thick Skreen made of Hells grossest night.
Close-wrought it was, and Solid all,
Compacted and Substantial,
Impenetrable to the Beatifick light
[Page 7]Without Complaint he bore
The tortures he endur'd before;
But now no longer able to contain
Under the great Hyperbole of pain,
He mourns, and with a strong Pathetick cry,
Laments the sad Desertion of the Diety.
Here stop my Muse, stop and admire,
The Breather of all Life does now expire;
His Milder Father Summons him away,
His Breath obediently he does resign;
Angels to Paradice his Soul convey,
And Calm the Relicts of his grief with Hymns divine.


THis Ode is after the Pindaric way; which is the highest and most magni­ficent kind of writing in Verse, and con­sequently fit only for great and noble Sub­jects, such as are as boundless as its own Num­bers. The nature of which is to be loose and free, and not to keep one settled pace, but sometimes like a gentle stream to glide along peaceably within its own Channel, and some­times, like an impetuous Torrent, to roul on extravagantly, and carry all before it. Agree­able to that description of Horace:

Nunc pace delabentis Hetruscum
In mare, nunc lapides adesos
Stirpesque raptas & pecus & domos
Volventis una non sine montium,
Clamore vicinaeque Sylvae.

And this may serve to explain the Introduction of the Poem:

And hatch'd with kindly heat the Ʋniverse.

Love in the Gentile Theology, is made the most ancient of the Gods, and the Sire of all things. [...] says Plutarch. [Page 9] And it is described by Simmias Rhodius, in a pair of Wings, which suited well with the Sym­bolical representation of the Chaos by an Egg, which was brooded and hatch'd under these Wings of Love. This whole matter is rarely well, and at large express'd by Aristophanes in Avibus. The plain and undisguised meaning of it is this, That the Creation of the World was the effect of the Divine Love, God having no other end in it besides the Communication of his own Happiness.

As th' Elements are weighty proved,
When from their Native Station they're removed.

This is according to the Aristotelean Hypothe­sis, that the Elements are not heavy in their own places, which whether it be true or no, I shall not now dispute. However, it serves for an Illustration, which is sufficient for my present purpose.

He saw the foul Ingratitude of those, &c.

The bitter Ingredients of our Lord's Cup men­tion'd hitherto, were taken from things relat­ing to his own personal concern. But this last motive of his Sorrow proceeds wholly on the behalf of others, of whose final Impenitence he is suppos'd to have a foresight. This I take to be a good and proper insinuation of the excellency of our Blessed Lord's temper, his ex­ceeding great Love and Philanthropy, when [Page 10] among the other Ingredients of his Passion this is supposed to be one, that there would be some, who, by their own default, would re­ceive no benefit from it.

Ʋnseal'd to him the Book of Gods decree, &c.

Whether the Angel used these topicks of Con­solation or no, is a thing as indifferent to my purpose, as 'tis uncertain. In the Scripture it is only said in general, that there appear'd an An­gel from Heaven strengthning him. However, these Arguments are such as are probable and pertinent, and that's sufficient.

In haste for news the heavenly people ran,
And joy'd to hear the hopeful state of man.

It is highly reasonable to believe that those blessed and excellent Spirits, who out of their compassionate love and concern for mankind, usher'd in the news of our Saviour's Nativity with Anthems of Praise and Thanksgiving; and are said likewise to rejoice at the Conversion of a Sinner, were also mightily transported with joy, when they understood that our Saviour, notwithstanding the reluctancy of innocent Na­ture, was at length fully resolv'd to undertake the Price of our Redemption.

Full three long hours his Tender Body did sustain
Most exquisite and poignant pain.

It is supposed by the Ancient Fathers, that the [Page 11] Sufferings which our B. Saviour underwent in his Body, were more afflictive to him than the same would have been to another man, upon the account of the excellency and quickness of his sense of feeling: And this opinion I take to be as reasonable, as 'tis pious. For since, ac­cording to the Principles of Philosophy, the sense of feeling arises from the proportion of the first Qualities, it follows, that the better the complexion or temperament of any man is, the better his Feeling must needs be. Now 'tis very reasonable to believe, that that man who was to be substantially united to the God­head, and who was begotten by the miracu­lous overshadowings of the holy Spirit, should have a Body endow'd with the best Comple­xion, and most noble Harmony of Qualities that could be, that so it might be a suitable Or­gan for his excellent Soul. And if so, then it follows that the flesh of our Lord's Body was so soft and render, and his feeling so exquisitely quick and sensible, as never any man's was be­fore: And consequently the severe usages which he underwent, not only at his Passion, but throughout his whole Life, must needs be in a Singular manner afflictive to him. And hence appears the vanity of their opinion, who are little or nothing affected with the considera­tion of our Lords Passion, because they think it was made light to him, by reason of his uni­on with the God-head. 'Twas easie for him (some [Page 12] inconsiderate Persons are ready to say) to suf­fer this or this, for he was God, and not meer man, as we are. True, he was so, but his be­ing God did no way lessen the punishment he underwent as man, but only supported him in his existence under it, in the same manner as God is supposed, by an act of his Almighty Power, to preserve the bodies of the Damn'd, incorruptible among the everlasting burnings. But this I think is no kindness to them. Neither did the Society of the Divine Nature any more diminish the Sufferings of our dearest Lord; nay, in one respect it proved an accidental ag­gravation to them, because upon the account of this Noble Union he had given him a Bo­dy of a most admirable Complexion and Har­monious Temperature, and consequently of a Flesh exceeding tender, and most exquisitely perceptive of the least impressions.

So long the Sympathizing Sun his light withdrew,
And wonder'd how the Stars their dying Lord could view.

The Eclipse which accompany'd the Passion of our Saviour was so remarkable and mi­raculous, that 'twas taken notice of by many of the Gentile Historians. There are three things which made this Eclipse so very re­markable, the time of its Appearance, the time of its Duration, and the Degree of it. 1. For the time of its Appearance, it was at [Page 13] full Moon, when the Moon was not in Conjun­ction with, but in opposition to the Sun. And this appears not only from the testimony. of Dionysius, who affirms that he saw it at that time, but also from the time of our Lord's Passion, which, according to the relation of the Evan­gelist, was at the Celebration of the Passeover. Now the Iews were bound to celebrate the Pas­chal Solemnity always at full Moon, as is to be seen in the twelfth of Exodus. This was no time therefore for a Natural Eclipse, because 'twas impossible that the Moon should then inter­pose betwixt us and the Sun. 2. For the time of its Duration, it was full three hours, which is another evidence that this was no Natural Eclipse: For the Natural Eclipse of the Sun can never last so long, both because of the great disproportion between the Suns Magni­tude, and that of the Moon, and because of the swift motion of the latter. 3. For the de­gree of it, it was a total Eclipse. The Sun was so darkned, that (as Historians report, who write of that Eclipse) the Stars appear'd. And this is another Argument that it was no Natural Phoenomenon, it being impossible that the Body of the Moon, which is so infinitely less than that of the Sun, should totally eclipse it. Now all these three Remarkables are comprized in the compass of these two Verses. For in that it is said that the Sun withdrew his light, it is in­timated that the light of the Sun was not in­tercepted [Page 14] by the ordinary conjunction of the Moon, but that by an Extraordinary Commission from the God of Nature, the Sun rein'd in his light, and suspended the emission of his Beams. And this denotes the time of its appearance, (viz.) when the Moon was not in Conjunction. The time of its duration is implied by the words, So long. And lastly, the Degree of it is implied in the last Verse,

And wonder'd how the Stars their dying Lord could view.

Where the appearance of the Stars is not di­rectly express'd, but only insinuated and couch'd, for the more elegancy of the thought.

And calm the Relicts of his grief with Hymns divine.

It is here supposed that the Passion of our Sa­viour was now over, and his Father's wrath wholly appeas'd. For I can by no means ap­prove the opinion of those who fancy that our Saviour, in the interim betwixt his Death and Resurrection, descended locally into Hell, there to suffer the torments of the damn'd. His own words upon the Cross, It is finish'd; His pro­mise to the penitent Thief, that he should be with him that day in Paradice, and his last re­signation of his Spirit into the hands of his Fa­ther, do all of them apparently contradict it. But yet, though the bitter Cup was wholly [Page 15] drank off upon the Cross, 'tis natural to ima­gine some little relish of it to remain behind for a time. Though all his sufferings and penal inflictions were ended before his death, yet, I suppose (and I think very naturally) some little discomposures of mind, remaining like the after-droppings of a shower, which his Soul could not immediately shake off, upon her release from the Body. In allusion to that of Virgil,

Inter quas Phoenissa recens a vulnere Dido
Errabat Sylva in Magna—

Where the Poet fancies the Ghost of Dido be­ing newly releas'd from the pains of Love, could not presently forget her shady walks and melancholy retirements. Now these Remains of Sorrow and after-disturbances of mind which cleav'd to the Soul of the Holy Iesus, I suppose here to be allay''d by the Musick of Angels in his passage to Paradice.

An Hymn upon the Trans­figuration.

HAil King of Glory, clad in Robes of Light,
Out-shining all we here call bright:
Hail Light's divinest Galaxy,
Hail Express Image of the Deity.
Could now thy Amorous Spouse thy Beauties view,
How would her wounds all bleed anew!
Lovely thou art all o're and bright,
Thou Israel's Glory, and thou Gentile's Light.
But whence this brightness, whence this suddain day?
Who did thee thus with light array?
Did thy Divinity dispence
T'its Consort a more liberal influence?
Or did some Curious Angel's Chymick Art
The Spirits of purest light impart,
Drawn from the Native Spring of day,
And wrought into an Organized ray?
Howe're twas done, 'tis Glorious and Divine,
Thou dost with radiant wonders shine.
The Sun with his bright Company,
Are all gross Meteors if compar'd to thee.
Thou art the fountain whence their Light does flow,
But to thy will thine own dost owe.
For (as at first) thou didst but say,
Let there be light, and strait sprang forth this wondrous day.
Let now the Eastern Princes come and bring
Their Tributary Offering.
There needs no Star to guide their flight,
They'll find thee now, great King, by thine own light.
And thou, my Soul, adore, love, and admire,
And follow this bright Guide of Fire.
Do thou thy Hymns and Praises bring,
Whil'st Angels with Veil'd Faces, Anthems sing.

The Parting.

DEpart! The Sentence of the Damn'd I hear;
Compendious grief, and black despair.
I now believe the Schools with ease,
(Tho once an happy Infidel)
That should the sense no torment seize,
Yet Pain of Loss alone would make a Hell.
Take all, since me of this you Gods deprive,
'Tis hardly now worth while to live.
Nought in exchange can grateful prove,
No Second Friendship can be found
To match my mourning Widow'd Love;
Eden is lost, the rest's but common ground.
Why are the greatest Blessings sent in vain,
Which must be lost with greater pain?
[Page 18]Or why do we fondly admire
The greatest good which life can boast?
When Fate will have the Bliss expire,
Like Life, with painful Agonies 'tis lost.
How fading are the Joves we dote upon,
Like Apparitions seen and gone:
But those which soonest take their flight,
Are the most exquisite and strong.
Like Angels visits, short and bright;
Mortality's too weak to bear them long.
No pleasure certainly is so divine
As when two Souls in Love combine:
He has the substance of all bliss,
To whom a Vertuous Friend is given,
So sweet harmonious Friendship is,
Add but Eternity, you'll make it Heaven.
The Minutes in your conversation spent
Were Festivals of true content.
Here, here, an Ark of pleasing rest,
My Soul had found that restless Dove,
My present State methought was best,
I envy'd none below, scarce those above.
But now the better part of me is gone,
My Sun is set, my Turtle flown.
Tho here and there of lesser bliss
Some twinkling Stars give feeble light,
Still there a mournful darkness is,
They shine but just enough to shew 'tis night.
Fatal divorce! What have I done amiss,
To bear such misery as this?
The World yields now no real good,
All happiness is now become
But painted and deluding food:
As meer a Fiction as Elysium.
Well then, since nothing else can please my taste,
I'll ruminate on pleasures past.
So when with glorious Visions blest,
The waking Hermit finds no theme
That's grateful to his thoughtful breast,
He sweetly recollects his pleasing Dream.

To a Lady, who asked him, What Life was?

'TIs not because I breathe and eat,
'Tis not because a vigorous heat
Drives round my Blood, and does impart
Motion to my Pulse and Heart:
'Tis not such proofs as these can give
Any assurance that I Live.
No, no, to Live is to enjoy;
What marrs our bliss does Life destroy:
The days which pass without Content,
Are not liv'd properly, but spent.
Who says the Damn'd in Hell do Live?
That word we to the Blessed give:
[Page 20]The Sum of all whose happiness
We by the name of Life express.
Well then, if this account be true,
To Live is still to Live with You.

The third Chapter of Job Paraphrased.

CUrs'd, ever curs'd be that unhappy day,
When first the Suns unwelcome ray
I saw with trembling eyes, being newly come
From the dark Prison of the womb.
When first to me my vital breath was lent,
That breath which now must all in sighs be spent.
Let not the Sun his chearing Beams display
Upon that wretched, wretched day;
But mourn in Sables, and all over shroud
His glories in a sullen cloud.
Let light to upper Regions be confin'd,
And all below as black as is my mind.
Curs'd be the night which first began to lay
The ground work of this house of Clay:
Let it not have the honour to appear
In the Retinue of the year.
Let all the days shun its society,
Hate, curse, abandon it as much as I.
Let Melancholy call that Night her own,
Then let her sigh, then let her groan:
A general grief throughout all Nature spread,
With folded arms, and drooping head.
All Harps be still, or tun'd to such a strain
As Fiends might hear, and yet not ease their pain.
Let neither Moon nor Stars, with borrow'd light,
Checquer the blackness of that Night:
But let a pure unquestion'd darkness rear
Her Sooty Wings all o're the Air;
Such as once on th' Abyss of Chaos lay,
Not to be piere'd by Stars, scarce by the edge of Day.
Why was there then, ah, why a passage free
At once for life and misery?
Why did I not uncloister'd from the Womb
Take my next lodging in a Tomb?
Why with such cruel tenderness and care
Was I nurs'd up to Sorrow and Despair?
For now in sweet repose might I have lain
Secure from any grief or pain:
Untouch'd with care, my Bed I should have made
In Death's cool and refreshing shade.
I should have slept now in a happy place,
All calm and silent as the Empty space.
There where great Emperours their heads lay down,
Tir'd with the burthen of a Crown.
[Page 22]There where the Mighty, Popular and Great,
Are happy in a dear retreat;
Enjoy that solid Peace which here in vain
In Grotts and shady walks they sought t' obtain.
None of Hells Agents can or dare molest
This awful Sanctuary of rest.
No Prisoners sighs, no groanings of the Slave,
Disturb the quiet of the Grave.
From toil and labour here they ever cease,
And keep a Sabbath of sweet rest and peace.
Why then does Heaven on Mortals Life bestow
When 'tis thus overtax'd with woe?
Why am I forc'd to live against my will,
When all the good is lost in ill?
My sighs flow thick, my groans sound from afar,
Like falling waters to the traveller.

Seraphic Love.

'TIs true, Frail Beauty, I did once resign
To thy imperious Charms this Heart of mine:
There didst thou undisturb'd thy Scepter sway,
And I methought was pleas'd t' obey.
Thou seem'st so lovely, so divine,
With such sweet Graces didst thou shine,
Thou entertain'st my Amorous sense
With such Harmonious excellence,
[Page 23]That, Credulous and Silly I,
With vain, with impious Idolatry,
Ador'd that Star which was to lead me to the Deity.
But now, thou soft Enchantress of the mind,
Farewel, a change, a mighty change I find;
The Empire of my Heart thou must resign,
For I can be no longer thine.
A Nobler, a Diviner Guest,
Has took possession of my Breast,
He has, and must engross it all,
And yet the room is still too small.
In vain you tempt my Heart to rove,
A fairer object now my Soul does move,
It must be all Devotion, what before was Love.
Through Contemplation's Optics I have seen
Him who is Fairer than the Sons of men:
The Source of good, the light Archetypall,
Beauty in the Original.
The fairest of ten thousand, He,
Proportion all and Harmony.
All Mortal Beauty's but a ray
Of his bright ever-shining day;
A little feeble twinkling Star,
Which now the Sun's in place must disappear;
There is but One that's Good, there is but One that's Fair.
To thee, thou only Fair, my Soul aspires
With Holy Breathings, languishing desires.
To thee m' inamour'd, panting Heart does move
By Efforts of Ecstatic Love.
[Page 24]How do thy glorious streams of Light
Refresh my intellectual sight!
Tho broken, and strain'd through a Skreen
Of envious Flesh that stands between!
When shall m' imprison'd Soul be free,
That she thy Native uncorrected Light may see,
And gaze upon thy Beatific Face to all Eternity?

The Retirement.

WEll, I have thought on't, and I find
This busie World is Non-sense all,
I here despair to please my mind,
Her sweetest Honey is so mix'd with Gall.
Come then, I ll try how 'tis to be alone,
Live to my self a while, and be my own.
I've try'd, and bless the happy change;
So happy, I could almost vow
Never from this Retreat to range,
For sure I nor can be so blest as now.
From all th' allays of bliss I here am free,
I pitty others, and none envy me.
Here in this shady lonely Grove
I sweetly think my hours away,
Neither with Business vex'd, nor Love,
Which in the World bear such Tyrannic sway:
No Tumults can my close Apartment find,
Calm as those Seats above, which know no Storm nor Wind.
Let Plots and News embroil the State,
Pray what's that to my Books and Me?
Whatever be the Kingdom's Fate,
Here I am sure t' enjoy a Monarchy.
Lord of my self, accountable to none,
Like the first Man in Paradice, alone.
While the Ambitious vainly sue,
And of the partial Stars complain,
I stand upon the Shore and view
The mighty Labours of the distant Ma [...]n.
I'm flush'd with silent joy, and smile to see
The Shafts of Fortune still drop short of me.
Th' uneasie Pageantry of State,
And all the plagues to Thought and Sense
Are far remov'd; I'm plac'd by Fate
Out of the Road of all Impertinence.
Thus, tho my fleeting Life runs swiftly on,
'Twill not be short, because 'tis all my own.

The Infidel.

FArewel Fruition, thou grand Cruel Cheat,
Which first our hopes dost raise and then defeat.
Farewel thou Midwife to Abortive Bliss,
Thou Mystery of fallacies.
Distance presents the Object fair,
With Charming features and a graceful air,
But when we come to seize th' inviting prey,
Like a Shy Ghost, it vanishes away.
So to th' unthinking Boy the distant Sky
Seems on some Mountain's Surface to relie;
He with ambitious haste climbs the ascent,
Curious to touch the Firmament:
But when with an unweari'd pace
Arriv'd he is at the long-wish'd-for place,
With Sighs the sad defeat he does deplore,
His Heaven is still as distant as before.
And yet 'twas long e're I could throughly see
This grand Impostor's frequent Treachery.
Tho often Fool'd, yet I should still dream on
Of Pleasure in Reversion.
Tho still he did my hopes deceive,
His fair Pretensions I would still believe.
Such was my Charity, that tho I knew
And found him false, yet I would think him true.
But now he shall no more with shews deceive,
I will no more enjoy, no more believe.
Th' unwary Jugler has so often shewn
His Fallacies, that now they'r known.
Shall I trust on? the Cheat is plain,
I will not be impos'd upon again.
I'll view the Bright appearance from afar,
But never try to catch the falling Star.

On a Musician, supposed to be mad with Musick.

POOR dull mistake of low Mortality,
To call that Madness, which is Ecstacy.
'Tis no disorder of the Brain,
His Soul is only set t' an higher strain.
Out-soar he does the Sphere of Common sense,
Rais'd to Diviner Excellence;
But when at highest pitch, his Soul out-flies
Not Reason's Bounds, but those of vulgar Eyes.
So when the Mystic Sibyl's Sacred Breast
Was with Divine Infusions possest,
'Twas Rage and Madness thought to be,
Which was all Oracle and Mystery.
And so the Soul that's shortly to Commence
A Spirit free from dregs of Sense,
Is thought to rave, when She discourses high,
And breathes the lofty strains of Immortality.
Music, thou Generous Ferment of the Soul,
Thou universal Cement of the whole,
Thou Spring of Passion, that dost inspire
Religious Ardours, and Poetic Fire,
Who'd think that Madness should b' ascrib'd to thee
That mighty Discord to thy Harmony?
But 'twas such ignorance that call'd the Gift Divine
Of various Tongues, Rage, and th' effects of Wine.
But thou, Seraphic Soul, do thou advance
In thy sweet Ecstacy, thy pleasing Trance:
Let thy brisk passions mount still higher,
Till they joyn to the Element of Fire.
Soar higher yet, till thou shalt calmly hear
The Music of a well-tun'd Sphere:
Then on the lumpish mass look down, and thou shalt know
The Madness of the World, for groveling still below.

The Consolation.

I Grant 'tis bad, but there is some relief
In the Society of Grief.
'Tis sweet to him that mourns to see
A whole house clad in Sorrow's Livery.
Grief in Communion does remiss appear,
Like harsher sounds in Consort, which less grate the Ear.
Men would not Curse the Stars, did they dispence
In common their ill Influence.
[Page 29]Let none be rich, and Poverty
Would not be thought so great a Misery.
Our discontent is from comparison;
Were better states unseen, each man would like his own.
Should partial Seas wreck my poor Ship alone,
I might with cause my Fate bemoan.
But since before I sink, I see
A Numerous Fleet of Ships descend with me,
Why don't I with content my breath resign?
I will, and in the greater ruine bury mine.

The Choice.

Stet quicunque volet potens
Aulae culmine lubrico, &c.
NO, I shan't envy him whoe're he be
That stands upon the Battlements of State,
Stand there who will for me,
I'd rather be secure than great.
Of being so high the pleasure is but small,
But long the Ruine if I chance to fall.
Let me in some sweet shade serenely lye,
Happy in leisure and obscurity;
Whilst others place their joys
In popularity and noise.
Let my soft minutes glide obscurely on
Like subterraneous streams, unheard, unknown.
Thus when my days are all in silence past,
A good plain Country-man I'll dye at last.
Death cannot chuse but be
To him a mighty misery,
Who to the World was popularly known,
And dies a Stranger to himself alone.

The Meditation.

IT must be done (my Soul) but 'tis a strange,
A dismal and Mysterious Change,
When thou shalt leave this Tenement of Clay,
And to an unknown somewhere Wing away;
When Time shall be Eternity, and thou
Shalt be thou know'st not what, and live▪ thou know'st not how.
Amazing State! no wonder that we dread
To think of Death, or view the Dead.
Thou'rt all wrapt up in Clouds, as if to thee
Our very Knowledge had Antipathy.
Death could not a more Sad Retinue find,
Sickness and Pain before, and Darkness all behind.
Some Courteous Ghost, tell this great Secrecy,
What 'tis you are, and we must be.
You warn us of approaching Death, and why
May we not know from you what 'tis to Dye?
But you, having shot the Gulph, delight to see
Succeeding Souls plunge in with like uncertainty.
When Life's close Knot by Writ from Destiny,
Disease shall cut, or Age unty;
When after some Delays, some dying Strife,
The Soul stands shivering on the Ridge of Life;
With what a dreadful Curiosity
Does she launch out into the Sea of vast Eternity.
So when the Spatious Globe was delug'd o're,
And lower holds could save no more,
On th' utmost Bough th' astonish'd Sinners stood,
And view'd th' advances of th' encroaching Flood.
O're-topp'd at length by th' Element's encrease,
With horrour they resign'd to the untry'd Abyss.

The Irreconcilable.

I Little thought (my Damon) once, that you
Could prove, and what is more, to me, untrue.
Can I forget such Treachery, and Live?
Mercy it self would not this Crime forgive.
Heaven's Gates refuse to let Apostates in,
No, that's the Great unpardonable Sin.
Did you not vow by all the Powers above,
That you could none but dear Orinda love?
Did you not swear by all that is Divine,
That you would only be and ever mine?
You did, and yet you live securely too,
And think that Heaven's false as well as you.
Believe me, Love's a thing much too divine
Thus to be Ape'd, and made a mere design.
'Tis no less Crime than Treason here to feign,
'Tis Counterfeiting of a Royal Coin.
But ah! Hypocrisy's no where so common grown.
As in Most Sacred things, Love and Religion.
Go seek new Conquests, go, you have my leave,
You shall not Grieve her whom you could deceive.
I don't lament, but pitty what you do,
Nor take that Love as lost, which ne'r was true.
The way that's left you to befriend my Fate,
Is now to prove more constant in your Hate.

The Advice.

Prudens futuri temporis exitum
Caliginosa nocte premit Deus.
WHat's forming in the Womb of fate
Why art thou so Concern'd to know?
Dost think 'twou'd be advantage to thy state?
But Wiser Heaven does not think it so.
With thy Content thou would'st this Knowledge buy,
No part of life thou'dst pleasant find
For dread of what thou see st behind,
Tho would'st but tast of the inlightning fruit and Dye.
Well then has Heaven events to Come
Hid with the blackest Veil of night;
But still in vain if we forestall our doom
And with Prophetic fears our selves affright,
Grand folly! whether thus 'twill be or no
We Know not, and yet silly Man
Secures his evills what he can,
And stabbs himself with Grief, lest Fate should miss the Blow.
Be wise, and let it be thy Care
To manage well the present hour,
Call home thy ranging thoughts and fix them here,
This only mind, this only's in thy power.
The rest no settled, Steddy course maintain,
Like Rivers, which now gently slide
Within their bounds, now with full Tide
O'reflow, whom houses, cattle, trees resist in vain.
'Tis He that's happy, He alone
Lives free and pleasant that can say
With every period of the setting Sun,
I've lived, and run my race like him to day.
To Morrow let the angry Heavens frown,
Or Smile with influence more kind,
On Chance depends what's yet behind,
But sure what I have seiz'd already's all my own.
Fortune who no diversion knows
Like disappointment, laughs to see
How Variously she can her gifts Transpose,
Sometimes to one, sometimes t' another free.
Be sure t' enjoy her while she's pleas'd to stay.
But if for flight she does prepare,
Don't you at parting drop a tear,
But hold your Vertue fast, for that alone you may.

To himself.

NOt yet Convinc'd? why wilt thou still pursue
Through natures field delusive Bliss?
'Tis false, or else too fugitive if true,
Thou may'st assoon thy Shadow overtake as this.
The gaudy Light still dances in thy eye,
Thou hot and eager in the Chase
Art drawn through many a thorny rugged place,
Still languishing and sighing, but can'st ne re come nigh.
Give o're my Soul, give o're, nor strive again
This treacherous Chymic gold to find.
Tell me, why should'st thou fancy there remain
Days yet to come more sweet, than those thou'st left behind.
A wiser Chymist far then thou, t' obtain
This Jewell all his treasures spent,
But yet he fail'd in's grand Experiment,
And all he gain'd was this, to know that all was vain.
Forbear, and at another's Cost be wise,
Nor longer this Coy Mistress woo.
He's mad that runs where none can win the prize,
Why should'st thou lose thy Mistress and thy labour too?
Heaven does but sport with our Simplicity
By laying Jewells in our way,
For when we stoop to seize the glittering prey,
They'r snatch't away again, and baulk our greedy eye.
'Tis so, the Choicest good this world can give
Will never stand Fruition's Test.
This all by experience find, yet few believe,
And in the midst of Cheats hope they shall once be blest.
Strange Magic this. So Witches tho they find
No Comfort from their airy meat,
Forget at next Cabal their slender treat,
And greedily again fall to their feast of Wind.
But thou my Soul thy strong Conviction shew,
And never reach at Bliss again.
Our best good here is Nature's bounds to know
And those attempts to spare, which else would be in vain.
[Page 36]Here then Contain thy self, nor higher good
In this inchanted place pursue.
And pitty those shortsighted Souls that do,
This World is best enjoy'd, when 'tis best understood.

The Refusal.

THink not to Court me from my dear Retreat
No, I protest 'tis all in vain.
My Stars did never mean I should be great,
And I the very thought disdain.
Or if they did, their will I'le disobey,
And in my little Orb remain as Fix'd as they.
Honour, that Idol which the Most adore
Receives no Homage from my Knee.
Content in privacy I value more
Than all uneasy Dignity.
How should that Empty thing deserve my Care,
Which Vertue does not need, and Vice can never bear?
Shall I change solid and unenvy'd joys
Of a Serene tho humble state
For splendid trouble, pomp and senseless noise?
This I despise as well as hate.
Poor gain of that Condition, which will be
Envy'd by others, and as much dislik'd by me.

Hymn to Darkness.

HAil thou most sacred Venerable thing,
What Muse is worthy thee to sing?
Thee, from whose pregnant universal womb
All things, even Light thy Rival first did Come.
What dares he not attempt that sings of thee
Thou First and greatest Mystery.
Who can the Secrets of thy essence tell?
Thou like the light of God art inaccessible.
Before Great Love this Monument did raise
This ample Theater of Praise.
Before the folding Circles of the Skie
Were tuned by him who is all Harmony.
Before the Morning Stars their Hymn began
Before the Councel held for Man.
Before the birth of either Time or Place
Thou reign▪st unquestion'd Monarch in the empty Space.
Thy native lot thou didst to light resign,
But still half of the Globe is thine.
Here with a quiet but yet awefull hand
Like the best Emperours thou dost command.
To thee the Stars above their brightness owe
And mortals their repose below.
To thy protection Fear and Sorrow [...]lee,
And those that weary are of light, find rest in thee.
Tho Light and Glory be th' Almighty's Throne,
Darkness is his Pavilion.
From that his radiant Beauty, but from thee
He has his Terrour and his Majesty.
Thus when he first proclaim'd his sacred Law
And would his Rebel subjects awe,
Like Princes on some great solemnity
H' appear'd in's Robes of State, and Clad himself with (thee.
The Blest above do thy sweet umbrage prize,
When Cloy'd with light, they veil their eyes.
The Vision of the Deity is made
More sweet and Beatific by thy Shade.
But we poor Tenants of this Orb below
Don't here thy excellency's know,
Till Death our understandings does improve,
And then our Wiser ghosts thy silent night-walks love.
But thee I now admire, thee would I chuse
For my Religion, or my Muse.
'Tis hard to tell whether thy reverend shade
Has more good Votarys or Poets made.
From thy dark Caves were Inspirations given
And from thick groves went vows to Heaven.
Hail then thou Muse's & Devotion's Spring,
'Tis just we should adore, 'tis just we should thee sing.

The Invitation.

‘Come my Beloved let us go forth into the Field, let us lodge in the Villages.’Cantic. 7. 11.
COme thou divinest object of my love
This Noisy Region don't with us agree,
Come let us hence remove,
I cannot here enjoy my self or thee.
Here Vice and Folly keep their Court
Hither their chiefest Favourites resort,
Debauchery has here her Royal Chair,
This is her great Metropolis,
What e're we see or hear Contagion is
Their Manners are polluted like the air.
From both unwholsom vapours rise
And blacken with ungrateful steams the neighboring skies.
Come we'l e'n to our Country Seat repair
The Native home of Innocence and Love.
There we'l draw purer air
And pitty Monarchs, sitting in our grove.
Here Vertue has her safe retreat
Abandon'd by the Many and the great.
Content does here her peacefull Scepter sway
Here Faithfulness and Friendship dwell
And Modesty has here her humble Cell,
Come my Beloved, Come, and let's away.
Be thou My Angel good and kind,
And I'l ne'r look at Sodom which we leave behind.
In fields and flow'ry meadows, woods and groves
The first and best delights of humane kind,
There we'l enjoy our loves
All free, and only to our selves confin'd.
Here shall my eyes be fixt on thee
'Till every Passion be an extasy.
Each hour to thee shall be Canonical,
The Sweets of Nature shall not stay
My Soul, but only shew to thee the way,
To thee. Thou Beauty's great Original.
Come My Beloved let's go prove
These sweet Advantages of Peace, Content and Love▪

Sitting in an Arbour.

THus ye good Powers, thus let me ever be
Serene, retir'd, from Love and Business free;
The rest of your great World I here resign
To the Contentions of the great,
I only ask that this Retreat
This little Tenement be mine.
All my Ambition's to this point confin'd,
Others inlarge their fortunes, I my mind.
How Calm, how happy how serene am I!
How satisfy'd with my own Company!
To few things forreign my Content I owe
But in my self have almost all
Which I dare good or pleasing call,
Or (what's as well) I fancy so.
[Page 41]Thus I come near my great Creator's state,
Whose whole Bliss in himself does terminate.
Pleas'd with a various Scene of thought I lie,
Whil'st an Obliging Stream slides gently by
Silent and Deep as is the Bliss I chuse,
All round the little winged Quire
Pathetic, tender thoughts inspire
And with their strains provoke my Muse.
With ease the Inspiration I obey
And Sing as unconcern'd and as well pleas'd as they.
If ought below deserve the name of Bliss,
It must (what e're the great ones think) be this.
So once the travelling Patriarch doubly blest
With dreams divine from Heaven sent,
And his own Heaven of Content,
On's rocky pillow took his rest.
Angels stood smiling by and said, were we our Bliss
To change, it should be for a state like his.
'Tis strange so cheap and yet so great a good
Should by so very Few be understood.
That Bliss which Others seek with toil and sweat
For which they prodigally wast
Their treasures, and yet miss at last,
Here I have at an easy rate.
So those that Costly Physic use in vain,
Somtimes by some Cheap by Receipt their health obtain.

The Complaint.

WEll 'tis a dull perpetual Round
Which here we silly mortals tread,
Here's nought I'l▪ swear worth living to be found,
I wonder how 'tis with the Dead.
Better I hope, or else ye Powers divine
Ʋnmake me, I my immortality resign.
Still to be Vex'd by joys delai'd
Or by Fruition to be Cloy'd?
Still to be wearied in a fruitless Chase,
Yet still to run, and lose the race?
Still our departed pleasures to lament
Which yet when present gave us no Content?
Is this the thing we so extoll,
For which we would prolong our breath?
Do we for this long life a Blessing Call
And tremble at the name of Death?
Sotts that we are to think by that we gain
Which is as well retain'd as lost with pain.
Is it for this that we adore
Physitians, and their art implore?
Do we bless Nature's liberal supply
Of Helps against Mortality?
Sure 'tis but Vain the Tree of Life to boast
When Paradise wherein it grew is lost.
Ye Powers, why did you man create
With such insatiable desire?
If you'd endow him with no more estate
You should have made him less aspire.
But now our appetites you Vex and Cheat
With reall Hunger, and Phantastic meat.

A Pastoral

Ʋpon the B. Virgin gon from Nazareth to visit Eli­zabeth. Wherein the sadness of the Country Naza­reth is described during the absence of the Virgin.

Translated out of Rapin.

The speakers are Asor, Alphaeus and Zebede.

ANd why Alphaeus, in this sweet shade dost thou
Make songs, which are not seasonable now,
Since we of fair Parthenia are bereft;
Parthenia has our fields and mountains left.
Ay something 'twas my Pipe was t'other day
So strangely out of tune, and in so hoarse a Key.
And I too this misfortune might have known
By some late signs, had my thoughts been my own.
My little Goats as I to Pasture led
When the grass rises from its dewy bed.
I wonder'd why the new born flowers hung down
Their languid heads, as if scorch'd by the Sun.
[Page 44]The Lilly and the Rose to droop were seen,
And so did the immortal Evergreen,
Parthenia (alas) was gon—
For thee sweet Maid Lilly and Rose did grieve
The Evergreen thy absence did perceive.
There grows a shady Elm in our yon grove
Where Philomel would constantly repair,
Sweet Philomel of all the Joy and Love
And with melodious Accents fill the air.
When Parthenis was here, this shady tree
Was never, never from her Music free.
But now divine Parthenia is gon
Silent and sad she wanders up and down
And among thorns and lonely hedges makes her moan.
Whil'st thou fair Nimph didst bless us with thy stay
Each grove was sprightly, every wood was gay.
The boughs with birds, the caves with Swains did ring,
And the shrill grashopper about the fields did sing.
But now each wood is silent as the grave,
Nor does the Shepherd whistle in his cave,
Nor does the Bird sit Chirping on the bough,
Nor is the grashopper to be heard now.
The Fields with living Springs were fruitful made,
And every Spring had his refreshing shade.
Sweet flowers to the Bees were ne're deny'd,
The Fold with grass was constantly supplied.
Now Parthenis is gon th' industrious Bee
Can't flowers procure with all his industry,
The Folds want grass, the Fields their living Springs,
Nor have the Fountains now their shady coverings.
Divine Parthenia! with thee we've lost
All the delights our Rural life could boast.
My little Goats were boldly wont to go
And climbe the desert hills, my Sheep would do so too.
Then happy Sheep, the Wolf the Fold did spare,
The Heat the infant trees, the Rain the ripen dear.
[Page 45]
Thou now perhaps sweet Nymph art trave'ling o▪re
Some Craggie hills, unknown to thee before,
Whilest we sitt here among the shady trees,
And swallow down each Cool refreshing breese.
Say you sweet Western blasts that gently blow
And you fair Rivers that as swiftly flow,
You who so often have been vocal made
By Swains that pipe and sing under the shade,
Say, now while Phoebus holds the middle Skie
Under what Rock does sweet Par heniae ly?
Or through what Coasts may I her wandrings trace?
Or in what fountain sees she now her lovely face?
Ah! tho our way of life be plain and course
Yet don't thou like thy Country e're the worse
Since 't 'as thy happy Parent been and Nurse.
Ah! where's that sweet retreat can thee detain
If thou thy native Country dost disdain?
Here are pure springs, and o're the springs are bowres,
Fine woods and fruit-trees, and a world of flowers.
But why fair Nymph would'st thou be absent now.
When the sweet Strawberry raises up his head
Like Morning Sun all delicately red,
And Odorous blossoms spring from every bough.
Don't you my Sheep that yonder bank come near
'Tis to Parthenia sacred all that's there,
Nor wou'd the grass be toucht by any but by Her.
Before fierce Boreas blow with▪s boisterous mouth,
Or rainy weather come on from the South
Be sure Parthenia to return again
Lest by the Cold thou suffer or the rain.
In a choice Garden is reserv'd for thee
Sweet Marioram, and a large Myrtle tree,
Myrtles thou always lov'st, come then if now
Thou still lov'st flowers as thou wer't wont to do.
Ripe apples now hang dangling on the tree
Ready to drop, and only stay for thee.
[Page 46]The Fig of thy delay too does complain
The tender Fig, but let them both remain
'Till thou to thy dear Nazareth return again.
Return sweet Nymph, and with thee thou shalt bring
All the delights and beautys of the Spring.
Fresh grass again shall on the mountains grow,
The Rivers shall with milk and nectar flow.
The woods shall put on their green Livery,
And Nature in her pomp shall wait on thee.
The Country Swains shall flowers and Presents bring,
And I a Violet garland for my Offering.
With me shall Azarias come along
Who with a smooth-wrought Pipe shall play the Song,
The Song that Israel's shepherd as he stood
By Jordan's bank, playd to the listning flood.
But if thou longer should'st our hopes deceive,
With rushes I'l a basket for thee weave,
Here thy own Nazareth I'l represent,
How all things here thy absence do lament,
The little goats thou wandring here shalt see
Mournful and sad, and all for want of thee.
The Rivers which before flow'd swift and clear
As glad the image of thy face to bear,
Shall move benumm'd and slow, whilest on each hand
Appears the thirsty and forsaken sand.
The Corn shall droop and languish in the field,
The Meadows no fresh grass or herb shall yield,
The Fir-tree which with stately pride before
Her curious shady locks towards heaven spread
Shall now with downcast boughs, and pensive head
Thy absence mourn and thy return implore.
Thou round about shalt all things weeping see,
If tears in rush-work may decipher'd be.
Preserve ye Powers, if you don't us disdain
The Nymph, whilest she runs panting o're the plain.
[Page 47]And while she's absent since she once had love
For these our fields, take care ye powers above
That neither rivers do their banks o'reflow
Nor Storms the pastures spoil, or ripen'd corn o're­throw.
From night-fires let our stalls (sweet Nymph) be free
Defend from heat the Rose, from cold the Myrtle-tree,
While Rose and Myrtle are belov'd by thee.
That if you chance to cast a longing eye
Back on these fields, now naked and forlorn,
We may have still some flowers left to supply
Garlands t' express our Joy, and Dresses you t' adorn.
Haste not, if through rough ways thy journy lye,
Hast not, the Heat will prove an injury.
Let not the Sun thy brighter Beautys spoil.
Ah! why wilt thou undoe thy self with too much toil?
Take pleasing shelter in some gentle shade
Till the day slacken, and the heat b'allayd.
Parthenia why dost thou our hopes prolong?
Perhaps too some ill Pipe, and worser song
Now grate thy ears, whil'st thy poor Country swain
On the deaf winds bestows sweet lays in vain.
Hang there my Pipe till she return, and be
A silent Monument of my Misery.
For what are songs or mirth without her Company?
Our hills shall mourn while distant coasts you bless
Anamis shall not dance nor Sabaris.
The fields, the naked fields no songs shall know,
And Brooks their discontent by murmuring streams shall shew.
Thus did the Swains the absent Nymph lament,
The neighboring woods to Heav'n the doleful Accents sent.

The tenth Ode of the second Book of Horace translated.

'TIs much the better way, believe me 'tis,
Not far to venture on the great Abysse,
Nor yet from storms thy Vessel to secure,
To touch too nigh upon the dangerous shore.
The Golden Mean, as she's too nice to dwell
Among the ruins of a filthy Cell,
So is her Modesty withall as great
To baulk the envy of a Princely seat.
Th' ambitions Winds with greater spite Combine
To shock the grandeur of the stately Pine.
The height of structures makes the ruin large,
And Clouds against high hills their hottest bolts dis­charge.
An even well-pois'd mind an evil state
With Hope, a good with Fear does moderate.
The Summers pride by Winter is brought down,
And flowers again the Conquering season Crown.
Take heart, nor of the laws of fate Complain,
Tho now 'tis Cloudy, 'twill Clear up again.
The bow Apollo does not always use
But with his milder lyre sometimes awakes the Muse.
Be life and spirit, when fortune proves unkind,
And summon up the vigour of thy mind.
But when thou'rt driven by too officious gales,
Be wise, and gather in the swelling sails.

The Discouragement.

WHat wou'd the wise men's Censure be
I wonder, should they hear me say
I was resolv'd to throw my Books away,
How wou'd some scorn, and others pitty me!
Sure he's in love, 'tis for some Charming Eve
That he like Adam Paradise does leave.
This only difference would be
Between my great grandsire and me,
That I my Paradise forgo
For want of appetite to know.
'Tis not that Knowledge I despise
No, you misconstrue my design,
Or that to Enthusiasm I incline
And hope by Inspiration to be wise.
'Tis not for this I bid my Books adiew
No, I love Learning full as well as you.
And have the Arts great Circle run
With as much Vigour as the Sun
His Zodiac treads, till t'other day
A thought surprised me in my way.
Thought I, for any thing I know
What we have stamp'd for science here,
Does only the Appearance of it wear
And will not pass above, tho Current here below.
Perhaps they've other rules to reason by,
And what's Truth here, with them's Absurdity.
We Truth by a Refracted ray
View, like the Sun at Ebb of day.
Whom the gross treacherous Atmosphere
Makes where it is not, to appear.
Why then shall I with sweat and pain
Digg Mines of disputable oare?
My labour's certain, so is not my store,
I may hereafter unlearn all again.
Why then for Truth do I my spirits wast,
When after all I may be gull'd at last?
So when the honest Patriarch thought
With seven years labour he had bought
His Rachels love, by morning light
He found the errour of the night.
O [...] grant some Knowledge dwells below,
'Tis but for some few years to stay
Till I'm set loose from this dark house of Clay,
And in an Instant I shall all things know.
Then shall I learn t' Accumulate Degrees
And be at once made Master of all Sciences.
What need I then great summs lay out,
And that Estate with care forestall,
Which when few years are come about
Into my hands of Course will fall?

The 63 Chap. of Isaiah Para­phrased to the 6 Verse.
A Pindarique Ode.

STrange Scene of glory! am I well awake?
Or is't my Fancy's wild mistake?
It cannot be a dream, bright beams of light
Flow from the Vision's face, and pierce my tender sight.
No Common Vision this, I see
Some Marks of more than Human Majesty.
Who is this mighty Hero, who,
With glorys round his head, and terrour in his brow?
From Bozrah lo he Comes, a scarlet die
O'respreads his cloaths, and does out-vy
The Blushes of the Morning Sky.
Triumphant and Victorious he appears
And Honour in his looks and habit wears.
How strong he treads, how stately does he go!
Pompous and solemn is his pace
And full of Majesty as is his face,
Who is this mighty Hero, who?
'Tis I who to my promise faithful stand,
I who the Powers of Death Hell and the Grave
Have foil'd with this all-conquering hand,
I who most ready am, and mighty too to save.
Why wear'st thou then this scarlet die
Say mighty Hero, why?
[Page 52]Why do thy garments look all red
Like them that in the winefat tread?
The wine-press I alone have trod
That vast unweildy frame, which long did stand
Unmov'd, and which no mortal force cou'd e're com­mand,
That ponderous Masse I ply'd alone
And with me to assist were none,
A mighty task it was, worthy the Son of God.
Angels stood trembling at the dreadful sight
Concern'd with what success I should go through
The work I undertook to do,
Inraged I put forth all my might
And down the Engine press'd, the violent force
Disturb'd the universe, put nature out of Course.
The blood gush'd out in streams, and checquer'd o're
My garments with its deepest gore,
With Ornamental drops bedeck'd I stood
And writ my Victory with my Enemy's Blood.
The day, the Signal day is come
When of my Enemys I must vengeance take,
The day when Death shall have its doom
And the Dark Kingdom with its Powers shall shake.
Fate in her Kalendar mark'd out this day with red
She folded down the iron leaf, and thus she said,
This day, if ought I can divine be true,
Shall for a signal Victory
Be Celebrated to Posterity,
Then shall the Prince of light descend
And rescue Mortals from th' Infernal Fiend
Break through his strongest Forts, and all his Host sub­due.
This said, she shut the Adamantin Volumn Close
And wish'd she might the Crouding years transpose;
So much she long'd to have the Scene display.
And see the vast event of this important day.
[Page 53]And now in midst of the revolving years
This great this mighty one appears,
The faithful Traveller the Sun
Has number'd out the days, and the set Periods run.
I lookt, and to assist was none,
My Angelic guards stood trembling by,
But durst not venture nigh,
In vain too from my Father did I look
For help, my Father me forsook.
Amaz'd I was to see
How all deserted me.
I took my fury for my sole support
And with my single arm the Conquest won,
Loud Acclamations fill'd all Heavens Court,
The Hymning guards above
Strain'd to an higher pitch of Joy and Love
The great Iehavah prais'd, and his Victorious son.

The Elevation.

TAke wing (my Soul) and upwards bend thy flight
To thy Originary Fields of Light.
Here's nothing, nothing here below
That can deserve thy longer stay,
A secret whisper bids thee go
To purer air, and beams of native Day.
Th' ambition of the towring Lark outvy,
And like him sing as thou dost upward fly.
How all things lessen which my Soul before
Did with the groveling Multitude adore!
[Page 54]Those Pageant Glorys disappear
Which charm and dazle mortals eyes.
How do I in this higher Sphere,
How do I mortals, with their joys despise!
Pure, uncorrupted Element I breathe,
And pitty their gross Atmosphere beneath.
How vile how sordid here those Trifles shew▪
That please the Tenants of that ball below!
But ha, I've lost the little sight,
The Scene's removed, and all I see
Is one confused dark mass of night.
What nothing was, now nothing seems to be.
How calm this Region, how serene, how clear!
Sure I some strains of Heavenly music hear.
On, on, the task is easy now and light,
No steams of Earth can here retard thy flight.
Thou needst not now thy strokes renew,
'Tis but to spread thy Pinions wide
And thou with ease thy seat wilt view
Drawn by the Bent of the Ethereal tide.
'Tis so I find; How sweetly on I move
Not let by things below, and help'd by those above!
But see, to what new Region am I come?
I know it well, it is my native home.
Here led I once a life divine
Which did all good, no evil know,
Ah who wou'd such sweet bliss resign
For those vain shews which Fools admire below?
'Tis true, but don't of Folly past complain,
But joy to see these blest abodes again.
A good retrieve: But lo while thus I speak
With piercing rays th' eternal day does break.
The Beautys of the face divine
Strike strongly on my feeble sight,
With what bright glorys does it shine!
'Tis one immense and everflowing Light.
Stop here my Soul; thou canst not bear more Bliss,
Nor can thy now rais'd palate ever relish less.


THe general Design of the precedent Poem is to represent the gradual Ascent of the Soul by Contemplation to the Supreme Good, together with its firm adherency to it, and its full acquiescence in it. All which is done figu­ratively, under the Allegory of a Local Ele­vation from the feculent Regions of this low­er World.

Pure uncorrupted Element I breathe
And pitty their gross Atmosphere beneath.

By pure uncorrupted Element is meant the re­fined intellectual entertainments of the Divine life, which are abstracted from all Corporeal allays. [...] as the divine Plato calls them, those Pleasures which are proper to man as such. By gross Atmosphere is meant the more drossy gratifications of the Animal life, which comes as short in purity of the Divine, as the thick Atmosphere does of the pure Aether.

No steams of Earth can here retard thy flight &c.

The thing intended in this whole Stanza is to insinuate the great facility and pleasure of the Divine life to one that is arrived to an habit of it. For as the Magnetic influence of the earth [Page 57] can have no force upon him that is placed in the upper Regions beyond the Sphere of its Activity, so (which is the Counterpart of the Allegory) the inclinations of the Animal na­ture have little or no power over him who has advanc'd to the Heights of habitual Contem­plation. He looks down upon and observes the tumults of his sensitive appetite, but no way sympathizes with it; He views the trou­bled Sea, but with the unconcernedness of a stander by, not as one that sails in it. His Soul tho in Conjunction with his body is yet above the reach of its gusts and relishes, and from her serene station at once sees and smiles at its little complacencies. As Lucan says of the Soul of Pompey when advanced to the Ethereal Regions,▪

—Illic postquam se lumine vero
Implevit, stellasque vagas miratur, & astr [...]
Fixa polis, vidit quanta sub nocte jaceret
Nostra dies, risitque sui▪ ludibria trunci.

And here I cannot chuse but take notice of a Difficulty which is very incident to the busi­ness in hand, and wherewith I my self was once very much perplex'd when I first applyed my thoughts to Moral Contemplations. 'Tis in short this, we have a receiv'd Axiom that the Difficulty of the performance Commends the merit of a good Action. Now if so, it seems to follow that he who by a long habitual course of Piety and Vertue has made his duty easy [Page 58] and natural to himself, will be less perfect than another who does hardly abstain from vice, or than himself before the acquisition of that ha­bit. And then that [...] which Aristotle in the 7th of his Ethics makes only a Semi-vertue because of the difficulty of its performance, will for that very reason become Virtus Heroi­ca, and if so, to make a progress in vertue will involve a contradiction. This I confess appear'd to me no inconsiderable intricacy when it first occurr'd to my thoughts, and I could not pre­sently unwind my self from it.

But in answer to it I consider, I. That when the Difficulty of the performance is sayd to commend the Action, 'tis not so to be under­stood as if Difficulty did in it self as an ingre­dient add any moment to the excellency of a mans vertue, but only that 'tis a sign of it a Posteriori. Because were not a man endow'd with such a degree of vertue he would not be able to conquer the suppos'd Difficulty. So that if a man has a stock of Resolution sufficient to conquer such a difficulty, his vertue is the same tho he never be ingaged in it. For all the ver­tue is absolv'd in the degree of resolution, the difficulty is only a sign or indication of it. And upon this consideration 'tis that those whom nature has befriended with such an [...] or happy constitution as carries with it little or no temptation to vice may yet be accounted ver­tuous, because their Resolution to vertue may [Page 59] be so firm and peremptory, that they would adhere to it notwithstanding any Opposition.

2ly. I consider that we are to distinguish of a twofold difficulty. I. There is a difficulty which arises from the nature of the work it self. And 2ly there is a Difficulty which arises from the Disposition of the Agent. Now 'tis not this latter Difficulty that commends the excellency of vertue, but only the former, which is no way diminish'd by the habit. For after the induction of the habit the work re­mains the same in its own nature which it was before, the only change is in the Agent, who by his habit is render'd more expedite and rea­dy for the performance of what is good. But as for the latter difficulty which proceeds from the Agent himself, that is so far from com­mending the worth of any good action, that it derogates much from its commendation. 'Tis easiness of performance that here gives the value. He that abstains from sensual pleasures with great abhorrency, and has set himself at a wide distance from it, discovers more and has more of a vertuous resolution than he whose mind stands almost in an equipoise, and does but just abstain. For since we become vertuous by a right application of our wills, the excel­lency of our vertues must be measured by the greater or less strength of our resolutions. And consequently he who by a strong habit has made his vertue most natural and easy to [Page 60] him is arrived to the greatest Perfection.

Drawn by the bent of the Aethereal Tide;

This is in Allusion to the Cartesian Hypothesis of Vortices or whirl-pools of subtile matter. The Mystic sense is this, that the higher a Se­raphic Soul advances in the Contemplation of the supreme good, the stronger he will find its Attractions.

I know it well, it is my native home.

This Verse with the whole Stanza proceeds up­on the Platonic Hypothesis of Prae-existence. I shall not here dispute the Problem. Those that desire to be satisfied concerning it, I refer to the works of that Oracle of profound Wisedom and Learning, the excellent Dr. More, to an ingenious Treatise call'd Lux Orientalis, and to the Account of Origen. In the mean while I hope the most rigid maintainer of Orthodoxy will allow me the liberty of alluding to it as an Hypothesis, if not, I'm sure the laws of Poetry will. My Business here was to imitate nature, and to represent how a Soul would be affected in such a case, supposing it true: which I think I have not done amiss. For so the Ingenious Platonist Boethius,

Huc te si reducem referat via,
Quam nunc requiris immemor,
Haec dices, memini, patria est mihi,
Hinc ortus hic sistam gradum.
[Page 61]'Tis one immense and everflowing light.

My business was here to give a Compendious description of God. Now among all the re­presentations we have of him I thought none so agreeable to the Genius of Poetry as a sen­sible one, and of all those I could not find a better in all the Inventory of the Creation than this of Light. I shall not here endeavour a Pa­rallel; It may suffice to say, that the Repre­sentation is warranted by Authority both hu­man and Divine. The School of Plato describes the nature of God by an immense light or Lu­cid Fountain ever flowing and diffusing its re­freshing beams. And Holy Scripture goes fur­ther, and says in express terms that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. John I. 5.

The Curiosity.

UNhappy state of mortals here below,
Whom unkind Heaven does inspire
With such a constant, strong desire
And with such slender facultys to know!
And yet we not content to bear the pain
Of thirst unquencht and fruitless love,
With one more curse our ills improve,
And toil and drudge for what we ne're can gain.
With what strange Frenzy are we all possest
Contented Ignorance to refuse,
And by laborious search to lose
Not the enjoyment only but our Rest!
Something like Oar does on the surface shine,
We taken with the specious shew,
With pains dig in the flattering Mine
But all alas in vain, Truth lies more low.
The greatest Knowledge we can ever gain
From studying Nature, Books or men
Serves just t' employ dull hours, but then
It yields less Pleasure than it costs us pain.
Besides, so short and treacherous is our age,
No sooner are we counted Wise
But envious Death shuts up our eyes,
Just our part is learnt; we quit the Stage.
Could I among the nobler spirits find
One that would lay aside his State
And be my kind confederate
That suddainly I might inrich my mind!
'Twould be some pleasure this, if happy I
Could once at ease sit and survey
And my great victory enjoy,
And not (as now) still labour on and dye.

The 114 Psalm Paraphrased.

WHen conquer'd by the Plagues of Moses Rod
Th' Egyptian Tyrant gave command
That Israel should depart his Land
Israel the chosen Family of God.
Among them dwelt the Holy One,
Juda his Sanctuary, and Israel was his Throne.
The Sea beheld this Scene, and did admire,
Each wave stood silently to see
The Power of the Divinity,
They saw, and fled the dreadful guide of Fire.
Aud Jordan too divided stood,
The Priests the sacred Ark bore through the yielding Flood.
Mount Sinai with great Horrour struck and dread
Forgot her weight, and in a trance
Like a light Ram did skip and dance,
She fear'd, and fain would hide her Palsy Head.
[Page 64]The Hills their Mother Mountain saw,
The little Hills, and like young sheep they stood in awe.
What made thee to retreat thou Mighty Sea
Tell me, for never any shore
Knew such a wondrous Tide before,
And thou great Jordan say, what ailed thee?
Say sacred Mount what meant thy trance,
And you small under-hills why did you skip and dance?
You need not think it shame to own your fear,
What you dismaid the same would make
The universal Fabrick shake,
The cause was great, for Jacob's God was there.
That God who did the Rock subdue,
And made it melt in tears tho harder far than you.

The 148 Psalm Paraphrased.

O Come let all created force conspire
A general Hymn of Praise to sing,
Join all ye Creatures in one solemn Quire,
And let your Theme be Heaven's Almighty King.
Begin ye blest Attendants of his Seat,
Begin your high Seraphic lays,
'Tis just you should, your Happiness is great,
And all you are to give again, is Praise.
Ye glorious Lamps that rule both night and day
Bring you your Allelujahs too,
To him that Tribute of Devotion pay
Which once blind superstition gave to you.
Thou first and fairest of material kind
By whom his other works we see
Subtile and active as pure thought and mind,
Praise him that's Elder and more fair than thee.
Ye Regions of the Air his praises sing,
And all ye Virgin waters there
Do you advantage to the Consort bring
And down to us the Allelujah bear.
In chaunting forth the great Jehovah's Praise
Let these the upper Consort fill,
He spake, and did you all from nothing raise,
As you did then so now obey his will.
His will, that fix'd you in a constant state
And out a track for Natures wheel,
Here let it run sayd he, and made it fate,
And where's that Power which can this Law repeal?
Ye Powers that to th' inferiour world retain,
Join you now with the Quire above.
And first ye Dragons try an higher strain,
And turn your angry hissings into Praise and Love.
Let fire, hail, snow and vapours that ascend
Unlock'd by Phoebus searching rays
Let Stormy winds ambitiously contend
And all their wonted force imploy in Praise.
Ye sacred tops which seem to brave the skies,
Rise higher, and when men on you
Religious rites perform and Sacrifice
With their Oblations send your Praises too.
Ye Trees whose fruits both men and beasts consume
Be you in Praises fruitful too;
Ye Cedars, why have you such choice perfume
But that sweet Incense should be made of you?
Ye Beasts with all the humble Creeping train
Praise him that made your lot so high.
Ye Birds who in a nobler Province reign
Send up your Praises higher than you [...]ly.
Ye sacred heads that wear Imperial gold
Praise him that you with power arrays,
And you whose hands the Scale of Justice hold
Be Just in this, and pay your Debt of Praise.
Let sprightly youth give vigour to the Quire,
Each Sex with one another vie,
Let feeble Age dissolv'd in Praise expire,
And Infants too in Hymns their tender voices try.
Praise him ye Saints who Piety profess
And at his Altar spend your days,
Ye seed of Israel your great Patron ble [...]s,
'Tis Manna this, for Angels food is Praise.

A Pastoral
On the death of his Sacred Majesty King CHARLES the Second.

Menalcas, Thyrsis and Daphnis.

WHat, sad? Menalcas, Sure this pleasant shade
Was ne're for such a mournful Tenant made.
All things smile round thee, and throughout the Grove
Nature displays a Scene of Joy and Love.
But Shepherd where's thy flock?—
Sure they in some forbidden pastures stray
Whilest here in sighs thou number'st out the day.
Ah Thyrsis, thou could'st witness heretofore
What strange Affection to my flock I bore.
Thou know'st my Thyrsis, the Arcadian Plain
Could not afford a more industrious Swain.
But I no longer now that mind retain.
What change so great but what Love's power can make?
Menalcas does his kids, and tender lambs forsake.
So I, when slave to Galatea's eyes
Did neither City nor the Country prize,
But all their sports, and my flock too despise.
Hang thou my Pipe (sayd I) on yonder tree,
For then (alas) I had no tast for melody.
[Page 68]Obscurely in thick woods I sate alone
And sigh'd in consort to the Turtle's moan.
'Tis not fond love that causes my distress
No Thyrsis, you'r mistaken in your guess.
The glorious Prize I have in Triumph born,
I am no longer now Alexis scorn.
Or if I were, I now could be unmoved
At every scornful glance, nor care where e're he loved.
A nearer grief preys on my spirits now,
And I beneath a heavier burthen bow.
The gentle god of the Arcadian plains
Pan that regards the sheep, Pan that regards the Swains
Great Pan is dead—
Throughout the fields the doleful tidings ran,
A swoon seiz'd all the Shepherds at the death of Pan.
Of Pan—But see the rest that Tree will shew
Which wears the sad inscription of my woe,
Where, with the bark my sorrows too will grow.
How Shepherd, is it by Fames trumpet said
That Pan the best of all the gods, is dead?
Whom oft w'adored, and whom because we knew
As good as they, we thought him as immortal too?
'Tis strange; but Omens now I find are true.
In yonder Copse a shady Oak there stood,
Stately, well rooted, and it self a wood,
Her branches o're the inferiour trees were spread.
Who all adored her as their soveraign head,
Hither, when heated by the guide of Day
While their young wanton goats did skip amd play
Hither the Swains would constantly repair,
Here sing, and in the ample shade drink fresher air.
This Tree when I my goats to pasture drove
While all was clear above, and still throughout the grove.
Struck by some secret force fall down I saw,
The wood-Nymphs all were seiz'd with wonder, grief (& awe.
[Page 69]Nor had I left this ruin far behind
When lo (strange sight) a Nightingal I find
Which from brisk airs enlivening all the grove
Coo'd on a suddain like the mournful dove.
Amazed I stand, and on my pipe estay
With some brisk song her sorrows to allay.
But all in vain. She from the lofty tree
Kept on her sad complaint, and mourn'd and droop'd (like thee.
And why these slighter things dost thou relate?
Nature her self perceiv'd Pan's mighty fate.
She fainted, when he drew his latest breath,
And almost sympathized with him to death.
Each Field put on a languid dying face,
The sheep not minding food, with tears bedew'd the (grass.
The Lions too in tears their grief confest
And savage Bears, ꝑan's enemys profest.
The Nymphs all wept, and all the noble train
Of Deitys that frequent the Court of Pan.
Eccho that long by nought but voice was known
In sounds repeated others woes, but wept her own.
Th' Arcadians mourn'd, and press'd beneath the weighty care
With cruelty they charg'd the gods and every star.
And well they might; Heaven could not shew a Deity
More mild, more good t'his Votarys than he.
He was all Love, all Peace, all Clemency.
H' allur'd the Love, and melted down the hate
Of all, he had no enemy but Fate.
Pan kept the Fields, from wolves secured the Stall,
He guarded both the humble Shrubs, and Cedars tall.
The Summers heat obey'd Pan's gentle hand,
And Winter winds blew soft at his command,
He blest the Swains with sneep, and fruitful made their land.
Weep Shepherds, and in pomp your grief express,
The ground with flowers, your selves with Cypress (dress.
[Page 70]Let the Arcadians in a solemn train
March slowly on, let mournful accents fill the plain,
Do this at least in Memory of Pan.
But why this vain expence of tears & breath?
D' ye think Pan lost and swallow'd up in death?
He lives, and with a pleas'd and wondring eye
Contemplates the new beautys of the sky.
Whence on these Fields he casts propitious rays,
Now greater than our Sorrow, greater than our Praise.
I saw (for why mayn't I rehearse the sight)
Just as the Stars were kindled by the Queen of night
Another new-made milky way appear,
I saw, and wonder'd what event it might prepare.
When lo great Pan amazed my trembling sight,
As through th' Aethereal plains he took his flight
Deck'd round with rays, and darting streams of light.
Triumphant was his March, a sacred throng
Of gods inclosed him, Pan was all their song,
The sky still brighten'd as they went along.
Thy vision be all truth—
But who shall now the royal sheep-crook hold,
Who patronize the fields, who now secure the fold?
Discharge that care, the royal stock does yield
Another Pan to patronize the field.
An Heir of equal conduct does the Scepter sway,
One who long nurtured in the Pastoral way,
In peace will govern the Arcadian plains,
Defend the tender flocks, and chear the drooping Swains.
Come then, let's tune the pipe t' a brisker Key,
Let's with a dance our sorrows chase away
And to new Pan in sports devote the day.


HAst on dull Time thy winged minutes hast,
I care not now how soon thou bring'st my last.
By what I've liv'd I plainly know
The total Sum of all below.
The days to come, altho they promise more,
I know will be as false as those that went before.
The best of life tho once enjoy'd, is vain,
And why ye Powers the self same o're again?
The Comedy's so dull, I fear
'Twill not a second acting bear.
No, I've enough; I cannot like the Sun
Each day the self same stage, and still unwearied, run.
What cruel laws are these that me confine
Thus still to dig in a deceitful Mine?
Be just ye Powers, my Soul set free,
Give her her native liberty.
'Tis 'gainst the Stage's law to force my stay,
I've seen an Act or two, and do not like the Play.

The Reply.

SInce you desire of me to know
Who's the Wise man, I'll tell you who.
Not he whose rich and fertile mind
Is by the Culture of the Arts refin'd,
Who has the Chaos of disorder'd thought
By Reason's Light to Form and method brought.
Who with a clear and piercing sight
Can see through nicetys as dark as night.
You err, if you think this is He,
Tho seated on the top of the Porphyrian tree.
Nor is it He to whom kind Heaven
A secret Cabala has given
T' unriddle the mysterious Text
Of Nature, with dark Comments more perplext.
Or to decypher her clean-writ and fair
But most confounding puzling character.
That can through all her windings trace
This slippery wanderer, and unveil her face.
Her inmost Mechanism view,
Anatomize each part, and see her through and through.
Nor he that does the Science know,
Our only Certainty below,
That can from Problems dark and nice
Deduce Truths worthy of a Sacrifice.
Nor he that can confess the stars, and see
What's writ in the black leaves of Destiny.
[Page 73]That knows their laws, and how the Sun
His dayly and his annual stage does run.
As if he did to them dispense
Their Motions, and there sate supream Intelligence.
Nor is it he (altho he boast
Of wisdom, and seem wise to most)
Yet 'tis not he, whose busy pate
Can dive into the deep intrigues of State.
That can the great Leviathan controul,
Menage and rule't, as if he were its soul.
The wisest King thus gifted was
And yet did not in these true Wisdom place.
Who then is by the Wise man meant?
He that can want all this, and yet can be content.

My Estate.

HOw do I pity that proud wealthy Clown
That does with scorn on my low state look down!
Thy vain contempt dull Earth-worm cease,
I won't for refuge-fly to this
That none of fortune's Blessings can
Add any value to the man,
This all the wise acknowledge to be true;
But know I am as rich, more rich than you.
While you a spot of earth possess with care
Below the notice of the Geographer,
I by the freedom of my Soul
Possess, nay more, enjoy the whole,
[Page 74]To th' universe a claim I lay;
Your writings shew perhaps you'l say,
That's your dull way, my title runs more high,
'Tis by the Charter of Philosophy.
From that a firmer title I derive
Than all your Courts of Law could ever give.
A title that more firm does stand
Than does even your very Land.
And yet so generous and free
That none will e're bethink it me,
Since my possessions tend to no man's loss,
I all enjoy, yet nothing I ingross.
Throughout the works divine I cast my eye,
Admire their Beauty and their Harmony.
I view the glorious Host above
And him that made them Praise and Love.
The flowry meads and fields beneath
Delight me with their odorous breath.
Thus is my joy by you not understood
Like that of God, when he said all was good.
Nay (what you'd think less likely to be true)
I can enjoy what's yours much more than you.
Your meadow's beauty I survey
Which you prize only for its hay.
There can I sit beneath a tree
And write an Ode or Elegy.
What to you care, does to me pleasure bring,
You own the Cage, I in it sit and sing.

The Conquest.

IN Power or Wisdom to contend with thee
Great God, who but a Lucifer would dare;
Our strength is but infirmity,
And when we this perceive our sight's most clear
But yet I will not be excell'd thought I
In Love, in Love I'll with my Maker vy.
I view'd the glorys of thy Seat above
And thought of every Grace and Charm divine,
And further to encrease my love
I measured all the Heights and Depths of thine.
Thus there broke forth a Strong and Vigorous flame
And almost melted down my mortal frame.
But when thy Bloudy Sweat and Death I view
I own (Dear Lord) the conquest of thy love,
Thou dost my highest flights outdo,
I in a lower orb, and slower move.
Thus in this strife's a double weakness shewn,
Thy Love I cannot equal, nor yet bear my own.

The Impatient.

WHat envious laws are those of Fate
Which fix a gulph (Blest Souls) 'twixt us and you!
How 'twou'd refresh and chear our Mortal state
When our dejected looks confess
The emptiness of earthly bliss,
Could we in this black night your brighter glorys view!
Vain comfort when I thus complain
To hear the Wise and Solemn gravely say,
Your grief and curiosity restrain,
Death will e're long this Bar remove,
And bring you to the Blest above,
Till then with this great Prospect all your longings stay.
But ah the joy peculiar here
Does from the greater excellence arise
'Twill be worth nothing in an equal Sphere.
Let me your noble converse have
Blest Spirits, on this side the grave,
I shall hereafter be as great as you, as wise.
Besides when plung'd in bliss divine
I shall not tast, or need this lesser joy.
What comfort then does from this Prospect shine?
'Tis just as if in depth of night
You robb a Traveller of his light
And promise to restore't when 'tis clear day.


I Bless my stars I envy none
Not great, nor wealthy, no nor yet the Wise,
I've learnt the Art to like my own,
And what I can't attain to, not to prize.
Vast Tracts of Learning I descry
Beyond the Sphere perhaps of my Activity,
And yet I'm ne're the more concern'd at this,
Than for the Gems that lye in the profound Abyss.
Should I my proper lot disdain
As long as further good eclipses mine,
I may t' eternity complain,
And in the Mansions of the Blest repine.
There shall I numbers vast espy▪
Of Forms more excellent, more wise, more Blest than I.
I shall not then lament my unequal fate,
And why should larger Prospects now molest my state?
Where all in equal stations move
What place for Harmony can there be found?
The lower Spheres with those above
Agree, and dance as free and briskly round▪
Degrees of Essences conspire
As well as various notes▪ t' accomplish heaven's Quire.
Thus would I have't below, nor will I care
So the Result be Harmony, what part I bear.

Against Knowledge.

WEll, let it be the Censure of the Wise
That Wisdom none but Fools despise,
I like not what they gravely preach
And must another Doctrin teach.
Since all's so false and vain below
There's nought so indiscreet as this, to know.
The thoughtless, dull and less discerning mind
No flaws in earthly joys can find,
He Closes with what Courts his sight,
All Coin will pass by his dim light.
Though often baulkt, he hopes for rest,
Sleeps on and dreams, and is in Errour Blest.
But he that has refin'd and high-rais'd sense
Can nothing tast but excellence.
Nor can he nature's faults supply
By Fancy's happy Imag'ry.
He sees that all Fruition's vain,
Can't tast the present, nor yet trust again.
Our Joys like Tricks, do all on cheats depend,
And when once known are at an end.
Happy and Wise two Blessings are
Which meet not in this mortal Sphere,
Let me be ignorant below,
And when I've Solid good, then let me Know.

Seeing a great Person lying in State.

WEll now I needs must own
That I hate greatness more and more,
'Tis now a just abhorrence grown
What was Antipathy before,
With other ills I could dispence,
And acquiesce in Providence.
But let not Heaven my patience try
With this one Plague, left I repine and dye.
I knew indeed before
That 'twas the great man's wretched fate
While with the living to endure
The vain impertinence of State.
But sure thought I, in death he'll be
From that and other troubles free.
What e're his life, he then will lye
As free, as undisturb'd, as calm as I.
But 'twas a gross mistake,
Honour that too officious ill,
Won't even his breathless corps forsake,
But haunts and waits about him still.
Strange persecution, when the grave
Can't the distressed Martyr save!
What Remedy can there avail
Where Death the great Catholicon does fail?
Thanks to my stars that I
Am with so low a fortune blest
That what e're Blessings fate deny,
I'm sure of privacy and rest.
'Tis well; thus long I am content,
And rest as in my Element.
Then Fate, if you'l appear my friend,
Force me not 'gainst my nature to ascend.
No, I would still be low,
Or else I would be very high,
Beyond the state which mortals know,
A kind of Semi-deity.
So of the Regions of the air
The High'st and Lowest quiet are,
But 'tis this middle Height I fear,
For storms and thunder are ingender'd there.

Second Chap. of the Cant. from the 10. verse, to the 13.

'T Was my Beloved spake,
I know his charming voice, I heard him say,
Rise up my Love, my fairest one awake,
Awake and come away.
The Winter all is past
And stormy winds that with such rudeness blew,
The heavens are no longer overcast,
But try to look like you.
The flowers their sweets display,
The Birds in short praeludiums tune their throat,
The Turtle in low murmurs does essay
Her melancholy note.
The fruitful Vineyards make
An odorous smell, the Fig looks fresh and gay,
Arise my Love, my fairest one awake,
Awake and come away.

To a Friend in Honour.

SOme thoughtless heads perhaps admire to see
That I so little to your titles bow,
But wonder not my Friend, I swear to me
You were as great before as now.
Honour to you does nothing give,
Tho from your worth much lustre she receive.
Your native glory does so far outdo
That of the Sphere wherein you move,
That I can nothing but your self in you
Observe, admire, esteem or love.
You are a Diamond set in gold,
The Curious the rich stone, not this behold.
All that to your late honour you can owe
Is only that you're brought in view,
You don't begin to have, but men to know,
Your Votarys are increas'd, not you.
So the Sun's height adds not t'his light,
But only does expose him more to sight.
To some whose native worth more dimly shin'd
Honour might some improvement give,
As metals which the Sun has less refined
A value from their Stamp receive.
But you like gold, pass for no more
Tho Stamp'd, than for your weight you wou'd before.

A divine Hymn on the Creation.

AWake my Lyre, and thy sweet forces joyn
With me to sing an Hymn divine,
Let both our Strains in pleasing numbers flow,
But see, thy strings with tediousness and pain
Arise into a tuneful strain,
How can'st thou silently?
The universe is Harmony,
Awake, and move by sympathy,
My heart's already tuned, O why art thou so slow.
Jehovah is our Theme, th' eternal King,
Whose Praise admiring Angels sing,
They see with steddy and attentive eyes
His naked Beautys, and from Vision raise
To wondrous heights their Love and Praise.
We mortals only view
His Back-parts, and that darkly too,
We must fall short, what shall we do,
But neither too can they up to his grandeur rise.
No power can justly praise him but must be
As great, as infinite as he,
He comprehends his boundless self alone,
Created minds too shallow are and dim
His works to fathom, much more him.
Our Praise at height will be
Short by a whole Infinity,
Of his all glorious Deity,
He cannot have the full, and stands in need of none.
He can't be less, nor can he more receive
But stands one fix'd Superlative.
He's in himself compendiously blest,
We acted by the weights of strong desire
To good without our selves aspire,
We're always moving hence
Like lines from the Circumference
To some more in-lodg'd excellence,
But he is one unmov'd self-center'd Point of Rest.
Why then, if full of bliss that ne're could cloy,
Would he do ought but still enjoy.
Why not indulge his self-sufficing state,
Live to himself at large, calm and secure,
A wise eternal Epicure?
Why six days work, to frame
A monument of Praise and Fame
To him whose bliss is still the same?
What need the wealthy coyne, or he that's Blest Create?
Almighty Love the fairest gem that shone
All-round, and half made up his throne,
His Favorite and darling excellence,
Whom oft he would his Royal vertue stile,
And view with a peculiar smile,
Love moved him to create
Beings that might participate
Of their Creator's happy state,
And that good which he could not heighten, to dispence.
How large thy empire, Love, how great thy sway!
Omnipotence does thee obey.
What complicated wonders in thee shine!
He that t' infinity it self is great
Has one way to be greater yet,
Love will the method shew,
'Tis to impart; what is't that thou
O soveraign Passion can'st not do?
Thou mak'st Divinity it self much more divine.
With pregnant love full-fraught, the great Three-one
Would now no longer be alone.
Love, gentle love unlockt his fruitful breast
And 'woke th' Ideas which there dormant lay,
Awak'd their Beautys they display,
Th' Almighty smil'd to see
The comely form and harmony
Of his eternal Imag'ry,
He saw 'twas good and fair, and th' infant platform blest.
Ye seeds of Being in whose fair bosoms dwell
The Forms of all things possible,
Arise, and your Prolific force display,
Let a fair issue in your moulds be cast
To fill in part this empty wast.
He spake. The Empty space
Immediatly in travel was
And soon brought forth a formless mass,
First matter came undress'd, she made such hast t' obey.
But soon a Plastic spirit did ferment
The liquid dusky element.
The Masse harmoniously begins to move
Let there be Light said God, 'twas said, and done,
The Masse dipt through with brightness shone.
Nature was pleas'd to see
This feature of Divinity,
Th' Almighty smiled as well as she,
He own'd his likeness there, and did his First-born love.
But lo, I see a goodly frame arise,
Vast folding Orbs, and azure skies,
With lucid whirle-pools the vast Arch does shine,
The Sun by day shews to each world his light
The stars stand sentinel by night.
In midst of all is spread
That ponderous bulk whereon we tread,
But where is its foundation laid?
'Tis pompous all and great, and worthy hands divine.
Thy Temple's built great God, but where is he
That must admire both it and thee?
Ope one Scene more my Muse, bless and adore,
See there in solemn Councel and debate
The great divine Triumvirate.
The rest one Word obey'd,
'Twas done almost before 'twas said,
But Man was not so cheaply made,
To make the world was great, but t' epitomize it more.
Th' accomplish'd work stands his severe review
Whose judgment's most exactly ture.
In natures Book were no Errata's found,
All things are good, said God, they answer well
Th' Ideas which within me dwell;
Th' Angelic voices join
Their Praise to the Applause divine,
The Morning stars in Hymns combine,
And as they sung & play'd, the jocant Orbs danc't round.
With this thy Quire divine, great God I bring
My Eucharistic Offering.
I cannot here sing more exalted layes,
But what's defective now I will supply
When I enjoy thy Deity.
Then may'st thou sleep my Lyre,
I shall not then thy help require,
Diviner thoughts will then me fire
Than thou tho playd on by an Angels hand, canst raise.

Plato's two Cupids.

THe heart of man's a living Butt,
At which two different Archers shoot,
Their Shafts are pointed both with fire,
Both wound our hearts with hot desire.
In this they differ, he that lyes
A sacrifice t' his Mistress eyes,
[Page 88]In pain does live, in pain expire,
And melts and drops before the fire.
But he that flame's with love divine
Does not in th' heat consume, but shine.
H' enjoys the fire that round him lyes,
Serenely lives, serenely dyes.
So Devils and damned Souls in hell
Fry in the fire with which they dwell,
But Angels suffer not the same,
Altho their Vehicles be flame.
The heart whose fire's divine and chast
Is like the Bush that did not wast.
Moses beheld the flame with fear,
That wasted not, for God was there.

A Wish..

WHatever Blessing you my Life deny
Grant me kind Heaven this one thing when I dye.
I charge thee guardian Spirit hear,
And as thou lov'st me, further this my Prayer.
When I'm to leave this grosser Sphere, and try
Death, that amazing Curiosity,
When just about to breathe my last,
Then when no Mortal joy can strike my tast,
Let me soft melting strains of Music hear
Whose Dying sounds may speak Death to my ear,
Gently the Bands of life unty,
Till in sweet raptures I dissolve and dye.
How soft and easy my new Birth will be
Help'd on by Music▪s gentle Midwifery!
And I who 'midst these charms expire
Shall bring a Soul well tuned to Heaven's Quire.

To Dr. More.

GO Muse, go hasten to the Cell of Fame
(Thou kow'st her reverend aweful seat,
It stands hard by your blest retreat)
Go with a brisk alarm assault her ear,
Bid her her loudest Trump prepare
To sound a more than Human name,
A name more excellent and great
Than she could ever publish yet,
Tell her she need not stay till Fate shall give
A License to his Works, and bid them live,
His Worth now shines through Envys base Alloy,
'Twill fill her widest Trump, and all her Breath employ.
Learning which long like an inchanted Land
Did Human force and Art defy
And stood the Vertuoso's best Artillery,
Which nothing mortal could subdue,
Has yielded to this Hero's Fatal hand,
By him is conquer'd, held, and peopled too.
Like Seas that border on the shore
The Muses Suburbs some possession knew,
But like the deep Abyss their iuner store
Lay unpossess'd, till seiz'd and own'd by you▪
Truth's outer Courts were trod before,
Sacred was her recess, that Fate reserv'd for More.
Others in Learning's Chorus bear their part
And the great Work distinctly share,
Thou our great Catholic Professour art,
All Science is annex'd to thy unerring Chair.
Some lesser Synods of the Wise
The Muses kept in Universitys,
But never yet till in thy Soul
Had they a Councel Oecumenical.
An Abstract they'd a mind to see
Of all their scatter'd gifts, and summ'd them up in thee▪
Thou hast the Arts whole Zodiac run
And fathom'st all that here is known.
Strange restless Curiosity;
Adam himself came short of thee,
He tasted of the Fruit, thou bear'st away the Tree.
Whilest to be great the most aspire
Or with low Souls to raise their fortunes higher,
[Page 91]Knowledg the chiefest Treasure of the Blest
Knowledg the Wise man's best Request
Was made thy choice, for this thou hast declin'd
A life of noise, impertinence and State
And what e're else the Muses hate
And mad'st it thy one business to inrich thy mind.
How calm thy life, how easy, how secure
Thou Intellectual Epicure.
Thou as another Solomon hast try'd
All Nature through, and nothing to thy Soul deny'd.
Who can two such examples shew?
He all things try'd t' enjoy, and you all things to know.
By Babel's Curse, and our Contracted span
Heaven thought to check the swift career of man.
And so it prov'd till now, our age
Is much too short to run so long a Stage.
And to learn words is such a vast delay
That we're benighted e're we come half way.
Thou with unusual hast driv'st on
And dost even Time it self out-run.
No hindrance can retard thy Course▪
Thou rid'st the Muses winged horse,
Thy Stage of Learning ends e're that of Life be done.
There's now no work left for thy accomplish'd mind
But to Survey thy Conquests, and inform mankind.

The Passion of the Virgin Mother Beholding the Crucifixion of her divine Son.

NIgh to the Fatal and yet Soveraign wood
Which crouds of wondring Angels did surround
Devoutly sad the Holy Mother stood,
And view'd her Son, & sympathized with every wound.
Angelic piety in her mournful face
Like rays of light through a watry cloud, did shine,
Two mighty Passions in her breast took place
And like her Son sh' appear'd, half human, half divine.
She saw a blacker and more tragic Scene
Than e're the Sun before or then would see,
In vain did nature draw her dusky Skreen,
She saw, and wept, and felt the dreadful Agony.
Grief in the abstract sure can rise no higher
Than that which this deep Tragedy did move,
She saw in tortures and in shame expire
Her Son, her God, her worship and her Love.
That sacred head which all divine and bright
Struck with deep awe the Votarys of the East,
To which a Star paid Tributary light,
Which the (then joyful) mother kiss'd, adored and blest,
That head which Angels with pure light had crown'd
Where Wisdom's Seat and Oracle was plac'd,
Whose air divine threw his Traitours to the ground,
She saw with pointed circles of rude thorns embrac'd.
Those hands whose soveraign touch were wont to heal
All wounds and hurts that others did endure
Did now the peircings of rough iron feel,
Nor could the wounded heart of his sad mother cure.
No, No it bled to see his body torn
With nails, and deck'd with gems of purple gore,
On four great wounds to see him rudely born,
Whom oft her arms a happy burthen found before.
It bled to hear that voice of grief and dread
Which the Earths pillars and foundations shook,
Which rent the Rocks, and 'woke the sleeping dead,
My God, my God O why, why hast thou me forsook?
And can the tide of Sorrow rise more high?
Her melting face stood thick with tears to view
Like those of heaven his setting glorys dye,
As flowers left by the Sun are charged with evening dew.
But see grief spreads her empire still more wide,
Another Spring of tears begins to flow,
A barbarous hand wounds his now senseless side,
And death that ends the Son's, renews the Mother's woe.
She sees now by the rude inhuman stroke
The Mystic river flow, and in her breast
Wonders by what strange figure th' Angel spoke
When amongst all the Daughters he pronounc'd her Blest.
Thus far did Nature, pity, grief and love
And all the Passions their strong efforts try,
But still tho dark below, 'twas clear above,
She had (as once her Son) her strengthning Angel by.
Gabriel the chiefest of th' Almighty's train
That first with happy tidings blest her ear,
Th' Archangel Gabriel was sent again,
To stem the tide of grief, and qualify her fear.
A large Perspective wrought by hands divine
He set before her first enlightned eye,
''Twas hewn out of the heaven Christalline,
One of whose ends did lessen, th' other magnify.
With that his sufferings he exposed to sight
With this his Glorys he did represent,
The weight of this made th' other seem but light,
She saw the mighty odds, adored, and was content.

Damon and Pythias. Or, Friendship in perfection.

'TIs true (my Damon) we as yet have been
Patterns of constant love I know,
We have stuck so close, no third could come between,
But will it (Damon) will it still be so?
Keep your love true, I dare engage that mine
Shall like my Soul immortal prove.
In friendship's Orb how brightly shall we shine
Where all shall envy, none divide our love!
Death will; when once (as 'tis by fate design'd)
T' Elysium you shall be remov'd,
Such sweet Companions there no doubt you'l find
That you'l forget that Pythias e're you lov'd.
No, banish all such fears, I then will be
Your Friend and guardian Angel too.
And tho with more refined Society
I'l leave Elysium to converse with you.
But grant that after fate you still are kind,
You cannot long continue so,
When I like you become all thought and mind
By what mark then shall we each other know?
[Page 96]
With care on your last hour I will attend,
And lest like Souls should me deceive
I closely will embrace my new-born friend,
And never after my dear Pythias leave.

The Indifferency.

WHether 'tis from stupidity or no
I know not, but I ne'r could find
Why I one Thought or Passion should bestow
On Fame, that gaudy Idol of mankind.
Call me not Stoic, no I can pursue
Things excellent with as much zeal as you,
But here I own my self to be
A very luke-warm Votary.
Should thousand excellencys in me meet
And one bright Constellation frame
'Tis still as men's phantastic humours hit
Whether I'm written in the book of Fame.
So tho the Sun be ne're so fair and bright
And shine with free, uninterrupted light,
'Tis as the Clouds disposed are,
E're he can paint his image there.
The world is seldom to true merit just
Through Envy or through Ignorance.
True worth like Valour oft lies hid in dust,
While some false Hero's graced with a Romance.
[Page 97]The true God's Altar oft neglected lies
When Idols have Perfumes and Sacrifice.
And tho the true one some adore
Yet those that do blaspheme are more.
Yet grant that merit were of fame secure,
What's Reputation, what is Praise?
Who'd one day's toil, or sleepless night endure
Such a vain Babel of esteem to raise?
Pleas'd with his hidden worth the great and wise
Can like his God this forreign good despise,
Whose happiness would ne're be less
Tho none were made to praise o [...] bless.
Even I who dare not rank my self with those
Who pleas'd into themselves retire,
Find yet in great Applauses less repose,
And do Fame less, less than my self admire.
Let her loud trumpet sound me far and near,
Th' Antipodes will never of me hear.
Or were I known throughout this ball▪
I've but a Point, when I have All.
Then as for glory which comes after Fate,
All that can then of me be said
I value least of all, it comes too late,
'Tis like th' embalming of the sensless dead.
Others with pleasure, what me labour cost
May read, and praise, but to me all is lost.
Just as the Sun no joy does find
In that his light which chears mankind.
Or should I after Fate has closed my eyes
Should I my living glorys know,
My wiser, improved Soul will then despise
All that poor Mortals say or think below.
Even they who of mens ignorance before
Complain'd, because few did their works adore,
Will then the self same Censure raise
Not from their silence, but their praise.
Or grant 'twou'd pleasure bring to know that I
After my death live still in Fame,
Those that admire me too must shortly dye,
And then where's my Memorial, where my name?
My Fame tho longer-lived, yet once shall have
Like me its Death, its Funeral, its Grave.
This only difference will remain,
I shall, that never rise again.
Death and Destruction shall e're long deface
The World, the work of hands divine,
What Pillars then or Monuments of brass
Shall from the general ruin rescue mine?
All then shall equal be; I care not then
To be a while the talk and boast of men.
This only grant, that I may be
Prais'd by thy Angels, Lord, and thee.

The Infirmity.

IN other things I ne'r admired to see
Men injured by extremity.
But little thought in Happiness
There might be danger of excess.
At least I thought there was no fear
Of ever meeting with too much on't here.
But now these melting sounds strike on my sense
With such a powerful excellence,
I find that Happiness may be
Screw'd up to such extremity,
That our too Feeble facultys
May not be said t' enjoy, but suffer Bliss.
So frail's our mortal state, we can sustain
A mighty bliss no more than pain.
We lose our weak precarious breath
Tortured or tickled unto death.
As sprights and Angels alike fright
With too much Horrour, or with too much light.
Alas; I'm over-pleas'd; what shall I do
The painful joy to undergo?
Temper your too melodious song,
Your dose of bliss is much too strong,
Like those that too rich Cordials have,
It don't so much revive, as make me rave.
What Cruelty 'twou'd be still to confine
A mortal ear to Airs divine?
The Curse of Cain you have on me
Inverted by your Harmony,
For since with that you charm'd my ear
My Bliss is much too great for me to bear.
Relieve this Paroxysm of delight,
And let it be less exquisite.
Let down my Soul; 'tis too high set,
I am not ripe for Heaven yet.
Give me a Region more beneath,
This Element's too fine for me to breath.

The Arrest.

WHither so fast fond Passion dost thou rove,
Licentious and unconfined?
Sure this is not the proper Sphere of Love,
Obey; and be not deaf, as thou art blind.
All is so false and treacherous here
That I must love with Caution, and enjoy with fear.
Contract thy Sails, lest a too gusty blast
Make thee from shore launch out too far,
Weigh well this Ocean, e're thou make such hast,
It has a nature very singular.
Men of the treacherous shore complain
In other Seas, but here most danger's in the Main.
Should'st thou my Soul indulge thy forward love,
▪And not controul its headlong course,
The Object in th' enjoyment vain will prove,
And thou on Nothing fall with all thy force.
So th' eager Hawk makes sure of's prize,
Strikes with full might, but overshoots himself and dyes.
Or should'st thou with long search on something light
That might content and stay thy mind,
All good's here wing'd, and stands prepared for flight,
'Twill leave thee reaching out in vain, behind.
Then when unconstant fate thou'st proved,
Thou'lt sigh, and say with tears, I wish I ne re had loved.
Well then ye softer Powers that love Command
And wound our breasts with pleasing smart,
Gage well your Launce, and bear a steddy hand,
Lest it run in too deep into my heart.
Or if you're fix'd in your design
Deeply to wound my heart, wound it with love divine.

To the Memory of my dear Neece M. C.

BY tears to ease my grief I've try'd,
And Philosophic med'cins have applied,
From Books and Company I've sought relief,
I've used all spells and charms of Art
To Lay this Troubler of my heart,
I have, yet I'm still haunted by my grief.
These give some ease, but yet I find
'Tis Poetry at last must cure my mind.
Come then, t' asswage my pain I'l try
By the sweet magic of thy Harmony.
Begin my Muse, but 'twill be hard I know
For thee my Genius to screw
To heights that to my Theme are due,
The weight of grief has set my Soul so low.
To grace her death my strains should be
As far above Mortality as she.
Is she then dead, and can it be
That I can live to write her Elegy?
I hoped, since 'twas not to my Soul deny'd
To sympathize in all the pain
Which she tho long, did well sustain,
T' have carry'd on the sympathy, and dy'd.
But Death was so o'rpleas'd I see
At this rich spoil, that she neglected me.
Yet has sh' of all things made me bare
But Life, nor was it kindness here to spare.
So when th' Almighty would t' inform mankind
His Eastern Hero's patience try
With the Extreams of misery,
He gave this Charge to the malicious Fiend;
Of all Life's Blessings him deprive,
Vex him with all thy Plagues, but let him live.
Yet I will live (sweet Soul) to save
Thy name, since thee I cannot, from the grave.
I will not of this burthen Life complain
Tho tears than verses faster flow,
Tho I am plung'd in grief and woe,
And like th' inspired Sibylls write in pain.
To dye for Friends is thought to be
Heroic, but I'll Life endure for thee.
'Tis just, since I in thee did live
That thou should'st Life and Fame from me receive.
But how shall I this Debt of Justice pay?
The Colours of my Poetry
Are all too dead to Copy thee,
'Twill be Abuse the best that I can say.
Nature that wrought thy curious frame
Will find it hard to draw again the same.
In Council the Almighty sate
When he did man his Master-piece create.
[Page 104]His Agent Nature did the same for thee,
In making thee she wrought for Fame,
And with slow progress drew thy frame,
As he that painted for Eternity.
In her best Mould she did thee cast,
But thou wast over-wrought, and made too fine to last.
Thy Soul the Saint of this fair Shrine
Was pure without Alloy, and all divine.
Active and nimble as Aethereal light,
Kind as the Angels are above
Who live on Harmony and Love,
The Rays thou shott'st were warm, as well as bright.
So mild so pleasing was thy fire,
That none could envy, and all must admire.
Sickness to whose strong siege resign
The best of natures, did but set forth thine.
Wisely thou did'st thy passions all Controul,
And like a Martyr in the fire
Devout and patient did'st expire,
Pains could expel, but not untune thy Soul.
Thou bore'st them all so Moderately
As if thou mean'st to teach how I should mourn for thee.
No wonder such a noble mind
Her way again to Heaven so soon could find.
Angels, as 'tis but seldom they appear
So neither do they make long stay,
They do but visit, and away,
Tis pain for them t' endure our too gross Sphere.
We could not hope for a Reprieve,
She must dye soon, that made such hast to live.
Heaven did thy lovely presence want
And therefore did so early thee transplant.
Not'cause he dar'd not trust thee longer here,
No, such sweet Innocence as thine
To take a Stain was too divine,
But sure he Coveted to have thee there▪
For meaner Souls he could delay,
Impatient for thine, he would not stay.
The Angels too did covet thee
T' advance their Love, their Bliss, their Harmony.
They'd lately made an Anthem to their King,
An Anthem which contain'd a part
All sweet, and full of Heavenly Art,
Which none but thy Harmonious Soul could sing.
'Twas all Heaven's Vote thou should'st be gone
To fill th' Almighty's Quire, and to adorn his Throne.
Others when gone t' eternal rest
Are said t' augment the number of the Blest.
Thou dost their very Happiness improve,
Out of the Croud they single thee,
Fond of thy sweet society,
Thou wast our Darling, and art so above.
Why should we of thy loss Complain
Which is not only thine, but Heaven's gain?
There dost thou sit in Bliss and light,
Whilest I thy praise in mournful numbers write.
[Page 106]There dost thou drink at pleasures virgin Spring,
And find'st no leisure in thy Bliss
Ought to admire below, but this
How I can mourn, when thou dost Anthems sing▪
Thy pardon my sweet Saint I implore,
My Soul ne'r disconform'd from thine before.
Nor will I now; My tears shall flow
No more, I will be blest 'cause thou art so.
I'll borrow Comfort from thy happy state,
In Bliss I'll sympathize with thee
As once I did in misery,
And by Reflection will be Fortunate.
I'll practise now, what's done above,
And by thy happy state my own improve.

The Resignation.

LOng have I view'd, long have I thought,
And held with trembling hand this bitter Draught,
'Twas now just to my lips applied,
Nature shrank in, and all my Courage dy'd.
But now Resolv'd, and firm I'll be,
Since Lord, 'tis mingled, and reach'd out by thee.
I'll trust my great Physitian's skill,
I know what he prescribes can ne'r be ill,
To each disease he knows what's fit,
I own him wise and good, and do submit.
[Page 107]I'll now no longer grieve or pine,
Since 'tis thy pleasure Lord, it shall be mine.
Thy Med'cine put's me to great smart,
Thou'st wounded me in my most tender part,
But 'tis with a design to cure,
I must and will thy Soveraign touch endure.
All that I prized below is gone,
But yet I still will pray, thy will be done.
Since 'tis thy sentence I should part
With the most pretious treasure of my heart,
I freely that and more resign,
My heart it self, as its Delight, is thine,
My little All I give to thee,
Thou gav'st a greater gift, thy Son, to me.
He left true Bliss and Joys above,
Himself he emptied of all good, but love.
For me he freely did forsake
More good, than he from me can ever take.
A mortal life for a divine
He took, and did at last even that resign.
Take all great God, I will not grieve,
But still will wish, that I had still to give.
I hear thy voice, thou bid'st me quit
My Paradise, I bless and do submit.
I will not murmur at thy word.
Nor beg thy Angel to sheath up his sword.

To my guardian Angel.

I Own (my gentle guide) that much I owe
For all thy tutelary care and love,
Through life's wild maze thou'st led me hitherto,
Nor ever wilt (I hope) thy tent remove,
But yet t' have been completely true,
Thou should'st have guarded her life too.
Thou know'st my Soul did most inhabit there,
I could have spared thee, to have guarded her.
But since by thy neglect, or heavens decree,
She's gone to increase the pleasures of the Blest,
Since in this Sphere my Sun I ne're shall see,
Grant me (kind Spirit) grant me this request.
When I shall ease thy Charge and dye,
(For sure I think thou wilt be by)
Lead me through all the numerous host above,
And bring my new-flown Soul to her I love.
With what high passion shall we then embrace!
What pleasure will she take t' impart to me
The Rites and Methods of that sacred place,
And what a Heaven 'twill be to learn from thee!
That pleasure I shall then I fear
As ill as now my sorrow bear;
And could then any Chance my life destroy,
I should I fear then dye again with Joy.

The Defiance.

WEll Fortune, now (if e're you've shewn
What you had in your power to do,
My wandring love at length had fix'd on one,
One who might please even unconstant you.
Me of this one you have deprived
On whom I stay'd my Soul, in whom I lived,
You've shewn your power, and I resign,
But now I'll shew thee Fortune, what's in mine.
I will not, no I will not grieve,
My tears within their banks shall stand,
Do what thou wilt, I am resolv'd to Live,
Since thee I can't, I will my self command.
I will my passions so controul
That neither they, nor thou shalt hurt my Soul,
I'll run so counter to thy will,
Thy good I'll relish, but not feel thy Ill.
I felt the shaft that last was sent,
But now thy Quiver I desy.
I fear no Pain from thee or Discontent,
Clad in the Armour of Philosophy.
Thy last seiz'd on me out of guard,
Ʋnarm'd too far within thy reach I dar'd,
But now the field I'll dearly sell,
I'm now (at least by thee) Impassible.
My Soul now soars high and sublime
Beyond the Spring of thy best bow,
Like those who so long on high mountains climb
Till they see rain, and thunder hear below.
In vain thou'lt spend thy darts on me,
My Fort's too strong for thy Artillery,
Thy closest aim won't touch my mind,
Here's all thy gain, still to be thought more blind.


I Care not tho it be
By the preciser sort thought Popery,
We Poets, can a Licence shew
For every thing we do,
Hear then my little Saint, I'll pray to thee.
If now thy happy mind
Amidst its various joys can leasure find
T' attend to any thing so low
As what I say or do,
Regard, and be what thou wast ever, kind.
Let not the Blest above
Engross thee quite, but sometimes hither rove,
Fain would I thy sweet image see
And sit, and talk with thee,
Nor is it Curiosity but Love.
Ah what delight 'twou'd be
Would'st thou sometimes by stealth converse with me!
How should I thy sweet commerce prize
And other joys despise!
Come then, I ne'r was yet denyed by thee.
I would not long detain
Thy Soul from Bliss, nor keep thee here in pain.
Nor should thy fellow-Saints ere know
Of thy escape below,
Before thou'rt miss'd, thou should'st return again.
Sure heaven must needs thy love
As well as other qualitys improve.
Come then and recreate my sight
With rays of thy pure light,
'Twill chear my eyes more than the lamps above.
But if Fate's so severe
As to confine thee to thy blissfull Sphere,
(And by thy absence I shall know
Whether thy state be so)
Live happy, but be mindful of me there.

The complaint of Adam turn'd out of Paradise.

ANd must I go, and must I be no more
The Tenant of this happy ground?
Can no reserves of pity me restore,
Can no attonement for my stay compound?
All the rich Odours that here grow I'd give
To Heaven in incense, might I here but live.
Or if it be a grace too high
To live in Eden, let me there but dye.
Fair place, thy sweets I just began to know,
And must I leave thee now again?
Ah why does Heaven such short-lived Bliss bestow?
A tast of pleasure, but full draught of pain.
I ask not to be chief in this blest state,
Let Heaven some other for that place create.
So 'tis in Eden, let me but have
An under-gardener's place, 'tis all I crave.
But 'twill not do I see, I must away,
My feet profane this sacred ground;
Stay then bright Minister, one minute stay,
Let me in Eden take one farewell round.
Let me go gather but one fragrant bough
Which as a Relique I may keep and shew,
[Page 113]Fear not the Tree of Life; it were
A Curse to be immortal, and not here.
'Tis done; Now farewell thou most happy place,
Farewell ye streams that softly creep,
I ne'r again in you shall view my face,
Farewell ye Bowers, in you I ne'r shall sleep.
Farewell ye trees, ye flow'ry beds farewell,
You ne'r will bless my tast, nor you my smell.
Farewell thou Guardian divine,
To thee my happy Rival I resign.
O whither now, whither shall I repair
Exil'd from this Angelic coast?
There's nothing left that's pleasant, good or fair,
The world can't recompence for Eden lost.
'Tis true I've here a universal sway,
The Creatures me as their chief Lord obey,
But yet the world tho all my Seat,
Can't make me happy, tho it make me great.
Had I lost lesser and but seeming Bliss,
Reason my sorrows might relieve.
But when the loss great and substantial is,
To think is but to see good cause to grieve.
'Tis well I'm mortal, 'tis well I shortly must
Lose all the thoughts of Eden in the dust.
Senseless and thoughtless now I'd be,
I'd lose even my self, since I've lost thee.

To Sleep.

BReak off thy slumber gentle god
And hither bring thy charming rod
The rod that weeping eyes does close
And gives to melancholy hearts repose,
With that my temples stroke, and let me be
Held by thy soft Captivity.
But do not all my senses bind,
Nor fetter up too close my mind,
Let mimic Fancy wake, and freely rove,
And bring th' Idea of the Saint I love.
Her lovely image has been brought
So often to my waking thought
That 'tis at length worn out and dead,
And with its fair Original is fled.
Or else my working overthoughtful mind
With much intention is made blind,
Like those who look on Objects bright
So long till they quite lose their sight.
Ah Cruel Fates, is't not enough for you
To take my Saint, but I must lose her Image too?
Thee gentle Charmer I implore
This my lost Treasure to restore,
Thy magic vertues all apply,
Set up again my Bank-rupt memory.
Search every Cell and corner of my brain,
And bring my Fugitive again.
[Page 115]To thy dark cave thy self betake
And 'mong thy Dreams enquiry make,
Summon thy best Ideas to appear
And bring that Form which most resembles her.
But if in all thy store there be
None (as I fear) so fair as she,
Then let thy Painter Fancy limn
Her Form anew, and send it by a Dream.
Thou can'st him all her lively Features tell
For sure I think thou knew'st her well.
But if description wont suffice
For him to draw a Piece so nice,
Then let him to my Breast and Heart repair,
For sure her Image is not worn out there.

The Grant.

'T Was when the Tide of the returning day
Began to chase ill forms away,
When pious dreams the sense imploy,
And all within is Innocence and Joy,
My melancholy, thoughtful mind
O'recome at length to sleep resign'd;
Not common sleep, for I was blest
With something more divine, more sweet than rest.
She who her fine-wrought clay had lately left,
Of whose sweet form I was bereft,
Was by kind Fancy to me brought,
And made the Object of my happy thought.
[Page 116]Clad she was all in virgin white,
And shone with Empyreal light,
A radiant glory crown'd her head,
She stream'd with Light and Love, and thus she said,
And why this grief and Passion for the Blest?
Let all your sorrows with me rest.
My state is Bliss, but I should live
Yet much more happy, would you cease to grieve.
Dry up your tears (Dear Friend) and be
Happy in my Felicity.
By this your wisdom you'l approve,
Nay (what you'd most of all commend) your Love.
She spake, dissolv'd I lay and overcome,
And was with extasy struck dumb,
But ah the fierce tumultuous joy
Its own weak being hastned to destroy.
To see that lovely Form appear
My spirits in such commotion were,
Sleep could no more their force controul,
They shook their fetters off, & free'd my unwilling Soul.
What Bliss do we oft to Deluston owe!
Who would not still be cheated so?
Opinion's an Ingredient
That goes so far to make up true content,
That even a Dream of Happiness
With real joy the Soul does bless,
Let me but always dream of this,
And I will envy none their waking Bliss.

The Aspiration.

HOw long great God, how long must I
Immured in this dark Prison lye?
Where at the Grates and Avenues of sense
My Soul must watch to have intelligence.
Where but faint gleams of thee salute my sight,
Like doubtful Moonshine in a Cloudy night.
When shall I leave this magic Sphere,
And be all mind, all eye, all ear!
How Cold this Clime I and yet my sense
Perceives even here thy influence.
Even here thy strong Magnetic charms I feel,
And pant and tremble like the Amorous steel.
To lower good and Beautys less Divine
Sometimes my erroneous Needle does decline
But yet (so strong the sympathy)
It turns, and points again to thee.
I long to see this Excellence
Which at such distance strikes my sense.
My impatient Soul struggles to disengage
Her wings from the confinement of her cage.
Wouldst thou great Love this Prisoner once set free
How would she hasten to be linkt to thee!
She'd for no Angels conduct stay,
But fly, and love on all the way.

The Defence.

THat I am colder in my Friendship grown
My Faith and Constancy you blame,
But sure th' inconstancy is all your own,
I am, but you are not the same.
The flame of love must needs expire
If you substract what should maintain the fire.
While to the Laws of Vertue you were true
You had, and might retain my heart,
Now give me leave to turn Apostate too,
Since you do from your self depart.
Thus the Reform'd are counted free
From Schism, tho they desert the Roman See.
The strictest union to be found below
Is that which Soul and Body tyes,
They all the Mysterys of Friendship know
And with each other sympathize.
And yet the Soul will bid adieu
T' her much distemper'd mate, as I leave you.

The Retractation.

I'Ve often charg'd all sublunary bliss
With vanity and emptiness.
You woods and streams have heard me oft complain
How all things, how even your delights were vain.
Methought I could with one short simple view
Glance o're all human joys, and see them through.
But now great Preacher pardon me,
I cannot wholly to thy charge agree,
For Music sure and Friendship have no vanity.
No, each of these is a firm massy joy
Which tho eternal will not cloy.
Here may the Venturous Soul love on, and find.
Grasp what she can, that more remains behind.
Such Depths of joy these living springs contain
As man t' eternity can never drain.
These Sweets the truth of Heaven prove,
Only there's greater Bliss with Saints above
Because they've better Music there, and firmer love.

The Prospect.

WHat a strange moment will that be
My Soul, how full of Curiosity,
When winged, and ready for thy eternal flight
To th' utmost edges of thy tottering Clay
Hovering and wishing longer stay
Thou shalt advance, and have Eternity in sight!
When just about to try that unknown Sea,
What a strange moment will that be!
But yet how much more strange that state
When loosen'd from th' embrace of this close mate
Thou shalt at once be plunged in liberty,
And move as swift and active as a Ray
Shot from the lucid spring of day,
Thou who just now wast clogg'd with dull mortality,
How wilt thou bear the mighty change, how know
Whether thou'rt then the same or no!
Then to strange Mansions of the air
And stranger Company must thou repair:
What a new Scene of things will then appear!
This world thou by degrees wast taught to know
Which lessen'd thy surprise below,
But Knowledge all at once will overflow thee there.
That world as the first man did this, thou'lt see,
Ripe-grown, in full maturity.
There with bright Splendours must thou dwell,
And be—what onely those pure Forms can tell.
There must thou live a while, gaze and admire,
Till the great Angel's Trump this fabric shike
And all the slumbering Dead awake,
Then to thy old, forgotten state must thou retire.
This union then will seem as strange or more
Than thy new Liberty before.
Now for the greatest Change prepare,
To see the only Great, the only Fair.
Veil now thy feeble eyes, gaze and be blest;
Here all thy turns and Revolutions cease,
Here's all serenity and peace,
Thou'rt to the Center come, the native seat of rest.
There's now no further change, nor need there be,
When One shall be Variety.

The Return.

DEar Contemplation my divinest Joy,
When I thy sacred Mount ascend
What Heavenly sweets my Soul employ▪
Why can't I there my days for ever spend?
When I have conquer'd thy steep Heights with Pain
What pity 'tis that I must down again.
And yet I must; my Passions would rebel
Should I too long continue here,
No, here I must not think to dwell,
But mind the Dutys of my proper Sphere.
So Angels, tho they Heaven's glorys know,
Forget not to attend their Charge below.

The 137 Psalm Paraphrased to the 7 Verse.

BEneath a reverend gloomy shade
Where Tigris and Euphrates cut their way,
With folded arms and heads supinely laid
We sate, and wept out all the tedious day,
Within its Banks grief could not be
Contain'd, when, Sion, we remember'd thee.
Our Harps with which we oft had sung
In solemn strains the great Jehovah's praise,
Our warbling Harps upon the Trees we hung,
Too deep our grief to hear their pleasing Layes.
Our Harps were sad, as well as we
And tho by Angels toucht would yield no Harmony.
But they who forc'd us from our seat
The Happy Land, and sweet abode of Rest,
Had one way left to be more cruel yet
And ask'd a Song from hearts with grief opprest.
[Page 123]Let's hear, say they, upon the Lyre
One of the Anthems of your Hebrew Quire.
How can we frame our voice to sing
The Hymns of Joy, Festivity and Praise
To those who're aliens to our Heavenly king,
And want a tast for such exalted Layes.
Our Harps will here refuse to sound,
An Holy Song is due to Holy ground.
No, dearest Sion, if we can
So far forget thy melancholy state
As now thou mourn'st, to sing one chearful strain,
This ill be added to our Ebb of Fate.
Let neither Harp nor Voice e're try
One Hallelujah more, but ever silent lye.

The 139 Psalm Paraphrased to the 14 Verse.

IN vain, great God, in vain I try
T' escape thy quick all-searching eye.
Thou with one undivided view
Dost look the whole Creation through.
The unshap'd Embryo's of my mind
Not yet to Form or likeness wrought,
The tender rudiments of thought
Thou see'st, before she can her own Conception find.
My Private walks to thee are known,
In Solitude I'm not alone;
Thou round my bed a guard dost keep,
Thy eyes are open, while mine sleep.
My softest whispers reach thy ear.
'Tis vain to fancy secrecy;
Which way so e're I turn thou'rt there,
I am all round beset with thy Immensity.
I can't wade through this Depth, I find,
It drowns and swallows up my mind.
'Tis like thy immense Deity,
I cannot fathom that, or thee.
Where then shall I a refuge find
From thy bright comprehensive eye?
Whither, O whither shall I fly,
What place is not possest by thy all-filling mind?
If to the heavenly Orbs I fly,
There is thy Seat of Majesty.
If down to Hell's Abyss I go
There I am sure to meet thee too.
Should I with the swift wings of Light
Seek some remote and unknown land,
Thou soon wouldst overtake my flight,
And all my Motions rule with thy long-reaching hand.
Should I t' avoid thy piercing sight,
Retire behind the skreen of night,
Thou canst with one celestial ray
Dispel the shades, and make it day.
[Page 125]Nor need'st thou by such Mediums see,
The force of thy clear, radiant sight
Depends not on our grosser light,
On Light thou sitt'st enthroned, 'tis ever Day with thee.
The Springs which Life and Motion give
Are thine, by thee I move and live.
My Frame has nothing hid from thee,
Thou know'st my whole Anatomy.
T' an Hymn of Praise I'l tune my Lyre;
How amazing is this work of thine!
With dread I into my self retire,
For tho the Metal's base, the Stamp is all divine.

To Dr. Plot on his Natural History of Stafford-shire.

WHat strange Perversity is this of Man!
When 'twas a Crime to tast th' inlightning Tree
He could not then his hand refrain
None then so inquisitive, so Curious as He.
But now he has Liberty to try and know
God's whole Plantation below,
Now the Angelic fruit may be
Tasted by all whose arms can reach the Tree,
H'is now by Licence careless made,
The Tree neglects to climb, and sleeps beneath the shade.
Such drowsy sedentary Souls have they
Who could to Patriarchal years live on
Fix'd to Hereditary Clay
And know no Climate but their own.
[Page 126]Contracted to their narrow Sphere
Rest before Knowledg they prefer,
And of this globe wherein they dwell
No more than of the Heavenly Orbs can tell.
As if by Nature plac'd below
Not on this Earth to dwell, but to take root and grow.
Dull Souls, why did great Nature take such care
To write in such a Splendid character.
If Man the only thing below
That can pretend her hand to know
Her fair-writ Volumn does despise,
And tho design'd for Wisdom won't be wise?
Th' Almighty gets no Praise from this dull kind,
The Sun was never worship'd by the Blind.
Such Ignorance can ne'r Devotion raise,
They will want Wisdom, and their Maker Praise.
They only can this Tribute duely yield
Whose active Spirits range abroad
Who traverse o're all Natures field
And view the great Magnificence of God.
They see the hidden wealth of Nature's store
Fall down, and Learnedly adore,
But They most justly yet this Tribute pay
Who don't Contemplate only, but display
Comment on Nature's Text, and to the sense
Expose her latent excellence,
Who like the Sun not only travel o're
The world, but give it light that others may adore.
In th' Head of these Heroic Few
Our Learned Author first appears in view,
[Page 127]Whose searching genius like the Lamp of day
Does the Earth's Furniture display,
Nor suffers to lye bury'd and unknown
Nature's rich Talent or his own.
Drake and Columbus do in thee revive,
And we from thy Research as much receive.
Thou art as great as they, for 'tis all one
New Worlds to find, or nicely to describe the known.
On Mighty Hero, our whole Isle survey,
Advance thy Standard, conquer all the way.
Let nothing but the Sea controul
The progress of thy active Soul.
Act like a pious Courteous ghost
And to mankind retrieve what's lost.
With thy victorious charitable hand
Point out the hidden Treasures of our Land.
Envy or Ignorance do what they will,
Thou hast a Blessing from the Muses Hill.
Great be thy Spirit as thy Work's divine,
Shew thou thy Maker's Praise, we Poets will sing thine.

The Exchange.

WHen Corydon had lost his Liberty
And felt the Tyrant's heavy chain;
He swore, could he but once get free
He'd never, no, he'd never love again.
But stay dull shepherd, if you quench your fire,
Too dear you'l buy your Liberty:
Let not such vigorous heats expire,
I'l teach thee how to love, and yet be free,
Take bright Ʋrania to thy Amorous breast,
To her thy flaming heart resign;
Void not the room, but change the guest,
And let thy sensual love commence Divine.
The Swain obey'd, and when he once had known
This fore-tast of the joys above,
He vow'd, tho he might be his own,
Yet he would ever, yes, he'd ever love.

The Refinement.

WEll, 'twas a hard Decree of Fate,
My Soul, to Clip thy pinions so,
To make thee leave thy pure Ethereal state
And breathe the Vapours of this Sphere below,
Where he that can pretend to have
Most Freedom, 's still his body's slave.
Was e're a Substance so divine
With such an unlike Consort joyn'd?
Did ever things so wide, so close combine
As massy Clods and Sun-beams, Earth and mind?
When yet two Souls can ne'r agree
In Friendship, but by parity.
Unequal match! what wilt thou do,
My Soul, to raise thy Plumes again?
How wilt thou this gross vehicle subdue,
And thy first Bliss, first Purity obtain?
Thy Consort how wilt thou refine,
And be again all o're divine?
Fix on the Soveraign Fair thy eye,
And kindle in thy breast a flame,
Wind up thy Passions to a pitch so high
Till they melt down, and rarify thy frame.
Like the great Prophet then aspire,
Thy Chariot will like his, be Fire.

To Melancholy.

Mysterious Passion, dearest Pain,
Tell me, what wondrous Charms are these
With which thou dost torment and please,
I grieve to be thy slave, yet would not Freedom gain.
No Tyranny like thine we know,
That half so cruel e're appeard,
And yet thou'rt Loved as well as Fear'd,
Perhaps the only Tyrant that is so.
Long have I been thy Votary,
Thou'st led me out to woods and groves,
Made'st me despise all other Loves,
And give up all my Passions, all my Soul to thee.
Thee for my first Companion did I chuse
First, even before my darling Muse,
And yet I know of thee no more
Than those who never did thy shrine adore.
Thou'rt Mystery and Riddle all,
Like those thou inspirest, thou lov'st to be
In darkness and obscurity,
Even learned Athens thee an unknown God might call.
Strange contrarys in thee combine,
Both Hell and Heaven in thee meet
Thou greatest bitter, greetest sweet,
No Pain is like thy Pain, no Pleasure too like thine.
'Tis the grave doctrine of the Schools
That Contrarys can never be
Consistent in the high'st degree,
But thou must stand exempt from their dull narrow Rules.
And yet 'tis said the brightest mind
Is that which is by thee refined.
See here a greater Mystery;
Thou makest us wise, yet ruin'st our Philosophy.

The Discontent.

NOt that it is not made my Fate
To stand upon the dangerous heights of state,
Nor that I cannot be possest
Of th' hidden treasures of the East,
Nor that I cannot bathe in Pleasures Spring
And rifle all the sweets which Natures gardens bring
Do I repine, my Destiny,
I can all these despise as well as you deny.
It shall not discompose my mind
Though not one star above to me prove kind.
Their influence may sway the Sea,
But make not the least change in me.
They neither can afflict my state, nor bless,
Their greatest gifts are small, and my desires are less.
My Vessel bears but little sail,
What need I then a full and swelling gale.
And yet I'm discontented too,
Perhaps ye aspiring Souls as much as you,
We both in equal trouble live,
But for much different Causes grieve.
You, that these gilded joys you can't obtain,
And I, because I know they're empty all and vain.
You still pursue in hopes to find,
I stand, and dare not flatter on my mind.
This Tree of Knowledg is, I see,
Still fatal to poor man's felicity.
That which yields others great repast,
Can't please my now enlightn'd tast.
Before, tho I could nothing solid find,
Yet still with specious Prospects I could please my mind.
Now all at farthest I can see
Is one perpetual Round of Vanity.


BEst Object of the Passion most divine
What excellence can Nature shew
In all her various store below
Whose Charms may be compar'd to thine?
Even Light it self is therefore fair
Only because it makes thy Sweets appear.
Thou streaming Splendour of the face diviue
What in the Regions above
Do Saints like thee adore or love,
What excellence is there like thine?
I except not the Divinity
That great and Soveraign good, for thou art He.
He's Beauty's vast Abyss and boundless Sea,
The Primitive and greatest Fair,
All his Perfections Beauty's are,
Beauty is all the Deity.
Some streams from this vast Ocean flow,
And that is all that pleases, all that's Fair below.
Divine Perfection who alone art all
That various Scene of Excellence
Which pleases either mind or sense,
Tho thee by different names we call!
[Page 134]Search Nature through, thou still wilt be
The Sum of all that's good in her Variety.
Love that most active Passion of the mind,
Whose roving Flame does traverse o're
All Nature's good, and reach for more,
Still to thy magic Sphere's confined.
'Tis Beauty all we can desire,
Beauty's the native Mansion of Love's Fire.
Those Finer Spirits who from the Croud retire
To study Nature's artful Scheme,
Or speculate a Theorem,
What is't but Beauty they admire?
And they too who enamour'd are
Of Vertues face, love her because she's Fair.
No empire, Soveraign Beauty, is like thine,
Thou reign'st unrivall'd and alone,
And universal is thy throne,
Stoics themselves to thee resign.
From Passions be they ne're so free
Something they needs must love, and that is Thee.
He whom we all adore, that mighty He,
Owns thy supream dominion,
And happy lives in thee alone,
We're blest in him, and He in thee;
In thee he's infinitely blest,
Thou art the inmost Center of his Rest.
Pleas'd with thy Form which in his essence shin'd
Th' Almighty chose to multiply
This Flower of his Divinity
And lesser Beautys soon design'd.
The unform'd Chaos he remov'd,
Tinctured the Masse with thee, and then it lov'd.
But do not thou My Soul, fixt here remain,
All Streams of Beauty here below
Do from that immense Ocean flow,
And thither they should lead again.
Trace then these Streams, till thou shall be
At length o'rewhelm'd in Beauty's boundless Sea.


IMperial Passion! Sacred fire!
When we of meaner Subjects sing,
Thou tune'st our Harps, thou dost our Souls inspire,
'Tis Love directs the Quill, 'tis Love strikes every string.
But where's another Deity
T' inspire the man that sings of thee?
W' are by mistaken Chymists told
That the most active part of all
The various Compound cast in nature's mould
Is that which they Mercurial spirit call.
But sure 'tis Love they should have said,
Without this even their Spirit is Dead.
Love's the great Spring of Nature's wheel,
Love does the Masse pervade and move,
What 'scapes the Sun's, does thy warm influence feel,
The Universe is kept in tune by Love.
Thou Nature giv'st her Sympathy,
The Center has its Charm from thee.
Love did great Nothing's barren womb
Impregnate with his genial fire,
From this first Parent did all creatures come,
Th' Almighty will'd, and made all by Desire.
[Page 137]Nay more, among the Sacred Three,
The third subsistence is from thee.
The Happiest Order of the Blest
Are those whose Tide of Love's most high,
The bright Seraphic Host; who're more possest
Of good, because more like the Deity.
T' him they advance as they improve
Their noble heat, for God is love.
Shall then a Passion so Divine
Stoop down and Mortal Beautys know?
Nature's great Statute Law did ne're design
That Heavenly fire should kindle here below.
Let it ascend and dwell above,
The proper Element of Love.

The Consummation. A Pindarique Ode.

THe rise of Monarchys, and their long, weighty fall
My Muse outsoars; she proudly leaves behind
The Pomps of Courts, she leaves our little All,
To be the humble Song of a less reaching Mind.
In vain I curb her tow'ring flight;
All I can here present's too small.
She presses on, and now has lost their sight,
She flies, and hastens to relate
The last and dreadful Scene of Fate,
Nature's great solemn Funeral.
I see the mighty Angel stand
Cloath'd with a Cloud, and Rain-bow round his head,
His right foot on the Sea, his other on the Land,
He lifted up his dreadful arm, and thus he said:
By the mysterious great Three-one
Whose Power we fear, and Truth adore
I swear the Fatal Thred is spun,
Nature shall breath her last, and Time shall be no more.
The Ancient Stager of the Day
Has run his minutes out, and number'd all his way.
The parting Isthmus is thrown down
And all shall now be overflown.
Time shall no more her under-current know
But one with great Eternity shall grow,
Their streams shall mix, and in one Circling chanel flow.
He spake. Fate writ the Sentence with her Iron pen,
And mighty Thunderings said, Amen.
What dreadful sound's this strikes my ear?
'Tis sure th' Arch-angel's trump I hear
Nature's great Passing-bell, the only Call
Of God's that will be heard by all.
The Universe takes the alarm, the Sea
Trembles at the great Angel's sound
And roars almost as loud as he,
Seeks a new channel, and would fain run under-ground.
The Earth it self does no less quake
And all throughout, down to the Center shake,
The Graves unclose, and the deep sleepers there awake.
The Sun's arrested in his way,
He dares not forward go,
But wondring stands at the great hurry here below.
The Stars forget their laws, and like loose Planets stray.
See how the Elements resign
Their numerous charge, the scatter'd Atoms home repair
Some from the Earth, some from the Sea, some from the Air:
They know the great alarm,
And in confus'd mixt numbers swarm,
Till rang'd, and sever'd by the Chymistry divine.
The Father of Mankind's amaz'd to see
The Globe too narrow for his Progeny.
But 'tis the closing of the Age,
And all the Actors now at once must grace the Stage.
Now Muse exalt thy wing, be bold and dare,
Fate does a wondrous Scene prepare,
The Central fire which hitherto did burn
Dull like a Lamp in a moist clammy Urn,
[Page 140]Fann'd by the breath divine begins to glow,
The Fiends are all amaz'd below.
But that will no confinement know
Breaks through its Sacred Fence, and plays more free
Than thou with all thy vast Pindarique Liberty.
Nature does sick of a strong Fever lye.
The fire the subterraneous Vaults does spoil;
The Mountains sweat, the Sea does boil;
The Sea, her mighty Pulse, beats high.
The waves of fire more proudly rowl;
The Fiends in their deep Caverns howl,
And with the frightful Trumpet mix their hideous cry.
Now is the Tragic Scene begun;
The Fire in triumph marches on;
The Earth's girt round with flames, and seems another Sun.
But whither does this lawless Judgment roam?
Must all promiscuously expire
A Sacrifice in Sodom's fire?
Read thy Commission, Fate; sure all are not thy due,
No, thou must save the vertuous Few.
But where's the Angel guardian to avert the doom?
Lo, with a mighty Host he's come.
I see the parted Clouds give way.
I see the Banner of the Cross display.
Death's Conquerour in pomp appears,
In his right hand a Palm he bears,
And in his looks Redemption wears,
Th' illustrious glory of this Scene
Does the despairing Saints inspire
With Joy, with Rapture and desire;
Kindles the higher life that dormant lay within.
Th' awaken'd vertue does its strength display
Melts and refines their dros [...]y Clay;
[Page 141] New-cast into a pure Aethereal frame
They fly and mount aloft in vehicles of flame.
Slack here my Muse thy roving wing
And now the world's untuned, let down thy high-set string.


I Do not ask thee Fate to give
This little span a long reprieve.
Thy pleasures here are all so poor and vain,
I care not hence how soon I'm gone.
Date as thou wilt my time, I shan't complain;
May I but still live free, and call it all my own.
Let my sand slide away apace,
I care not, so I hold the glass.
Let me my Time, my Books, my Self enjoy,
Give me from cares a sure retreat;
Let no impertinence my hours employ,
That's in one word, kind Heaven, [...]et me ne're be great.
In vain from chains and fetters free
The great man boasts of Liberty.
He's pinnion'd up by formal rules of state;
Can ne're from noise and dust retire;
He's haunted still by Crouds that round him wait,
His lot's to be in Pain, as that of Fools t' admire.
Mean while the Swain has calm repose,
Freely he comes and freely goes.
[Page 142]Thus the bright Stars whose station is more high
Are fix'd, and by strict measures move,
While lower Planets wanton in the sky,
Are bound to no set laws, but humoursomly rove.

To his Muse.

COme Muse, let's cast up our Accounts, and see
How much you are in Debt to me;
You've reign'd thus long the Mistress of my heart
You've been the ruling Planet of my days,
In my spare-hours you've had your part,
Ev'n now my servile hand your soveraign will obeys.
Too great such service to be Free,
Tell me what I'm to have for being thy Votary,
You have Preferments in your gift you say,
You can with gold my service pay;
I fear thy boast, your sacred Hill I'm told
In a ▪poor, curs'd, and barren Country lies,
Besides what's state to me, or gold,
These you long since have taught me to despise.
To put me off with this would be
Not to reward, but tax my ill Proficiency.
But Fame you say will make amends for all,
This you your soveraign Blessing call,
The only lasting good that never dies,
A good which never can be bought too dear,
Which all the wise and vertuous prize,
The gods too with delight their Praises hear.
[Page 143]This shall my Portion be you say,
You'l crown my head with an immortal Bay.
Give me a place less high, and more secure,
This dangerous good I can't endure.
The peaceful banks which profound silence keep
The little Boat securely passes by,
But where with noise the waters creep
Turn off with Care, for treacherous rocks are nigh.
Then Muse farewell, I see your store
Can't pay for what is past, and I can trust no more.

Of the advantages of Thinking.

MAN being the only Creature here be­low design'd for a sociable life, has two facultys to distinguish him from other Créatures, Thinking and Speaking. The one, to fit him for the society of others; and the other, to qualify him also for his own. As to the latter of these Facultys, there's no fear of its gathering rust for want of use. We are rather apt to speak too much; and the most Reserv'd have reason to pray with the Psalmist, Set a watch O Lord before my mouth, and keep the door of my lips.

But the former, is that which generally lies fallow and neglected; as may be guess'd from the intemperate use of the other. There are few indeed, that are capable of thinking to any great purpose: but among those that are, there are fewer that employ this excellent Ta­lent. And for ought I know, however strange it may seem, among the Ingenious and well educated there are as few Thinkers as among the Herd of the vulgar and illiterate. For ei­ther they live a Popular life; and then what for business, pleasures, Company, visits, with a world of other impertinencys, there's scarce [Page 146] room for so much as a Morning reflexion. Or else, they live retir'd, and then either they doze away their time in drowsiness and brown stu­dys; or, if brisk and active, they lay them­selves out wholely upon devouring books and making Common places, and scarce entertain their Solitude with a Meditation once in a Moon.

But 'tis merely for want of Thinking that they can allow themselves in doing so. For by a little of this, they would soon discover that of all the Methods of improvement that can be used, there is none so advantagious as Thinking; either for our Intellectuals or our Morals; to make us wiser, or to make us better. And first, for our Intellectuals. 'Tis the per­fection of our Rational part to know; that is, to be able to frame clear and distinct conce­ptions, to form right Judgments, and to draw true consequences from one thing to another. Now besides that the Powers of the mind are made more bright, vigorous, and active by use, as all other facultys are; there is this further advantage, that by habitual thinking the ob­ject is made more familiar to the understand­ing, the Habitudes and relations of Ideas one towards another, by frequent comparing, be­come more visible and apparent; and conse­quently, 'tis more easy to divide what ought to be divided, and to compound what ought to be compounded; wherein consists the [Page 147] sum of all Truth and Science.

Reading is indeed very excellent and useful to this purpose; but Thinking is necessary. This may do without the other, as appears in the first Inventors of Arts and Sciences; who were fain to think out their way to the Recesses of Truth; but the other can never do, without this. Reading without thinking, may indeed make a rich Common place, but twill never make a rich head; it may, indeed, bring in a great store of Hyle, but 'tis yet without form and void, till Thinking, like the Seminal spirit, agitates the dead shapeless lump, and works it up into figure and symmetry.

But of what advantage Thinking is to the advancement of Knowledge, will further ap­pear by considering some of the chief impedi­ments of it; and how they are removed by Thinking. And the first that I shall mention, is the Prejudice of Infancy. We form infinite rash judgments of things, before we duly un­derstand any thing; and these grow up with us, take root, spread and multiply; till, after long use and custom, we mistake them for com­mon notions and dictates of nature; and then we think it a crime to go about to unlearn or eradicate them. And as long as we stand thus affected, we are condemn'd to errours and per­petual wandrings. So great reason had the excellent Des-Cartes to lay the foundation of his Philosophy in an Equipoise of mind; and [Page 148] to make the removal of these Prejudices the very entrance and beginning of wisdom.

But now when a man sets upon a course of Thinking, nothing will be so obvious as to consider, that since we come so late to the per­fect use of our reason; among those many judg­ments we have made, 'tis very likely the major part are false and erroneous. And this is a fair step to the shaking off those infant-Prejudices; at least he will be thereby induc'd not to be­lieve any thing the rather, because he had given it such early entertainment. From this gene­ral reflexion he proceeds to examin the things themselves. And now he is a capable Judge, can hear both sides with an indifferent ear, is determin'd only by the moments of truth▪ and so retracts his past errours, and has the best Mo­ral security against any for the future.

Another great hindrance to knowledg is the wrong perception of things. When the simple Ideas of our minds are confus'd, our Judg­ments can never proceed without errour. 'Tis like a fault in the first concoction, which is ne­ver corrected in either of the other. For how can I judge whether the Attribute agree to the subject, it my notion of both be confus'd and obscure? But now, the only cause of the con­fusedness of our notions, next to the natural inability of our faculties, is want of Attention and close application of mind. We don't dwell enough upon the object; but speculate it tran­siently [Page 149] and in hast; and then, no wonder that we conceive it by halves. Thinking therefore is a proper Remedy for this defect also.

Another great hindrance to knowledg is am­biguity of Terms and Phrases. This has bred a world of confusion and misunderstanding, e­specially in controversys of Religion; a great many of which, if thoroughly sifted and well compared, will be found to be mere verbal con­tentions. As may appear from what the ex­cellent Monsieur Le Blanc has perform'd in this kind. But now, this is owing merely to want of thinking. There is a latitude in the Phrase; and one writer not sufficiently attending to that determinate sense of it which his Adver­sary intends, very hastily and furiously denys what the other does not affirm; and he again as furiously affirms what this does not deny. So that they are really agreed all along, and yet fight on like Fools in the dark. And there is no hopes they will ever be reconciled, till ei­ther they will take the pains to think them­selves, or some body else will be so kind, as to think for 'em.

Another great hindrance to knowledg is an over-fond and superstitious deference to Authori­ty, especially that of Antiquity. There is no­thing that cramps the Parts, and fetters the understandings of men like this strait-lac'd hu­mour. Men are resolv'd never to outshoot their forefathers mark; but write one after another, [Page 150] and so the dance goes round in a circle; and the world is never the wiser for being older. Take an instance of this in the School-men, and in the best of them, Aquinas. 'Tis pleasant to see how that great Wit is oftentimes put to't to maintain some unlucky Authorities, for the salving of which he is forced to such shifts and expedients which he must needs (should he dare to think freely) see through and discern to be false; and yet such a slave was he, that he would rather lose truth, than go out of the Road to find it. This also makes men, other­wise senseful and Ingenious, quote such things many times out of an old dull Author, and with a peculiar emphasis of commendation too, as would never pass even in ordinary con­versation; and which they themselves would never have took notice of, had not such an Au­thor said it. But now, no sooner does a man give himself leave to think, but he perceives how abusurd and unreasonable 'tis, that one man should prescribe to all Posterity: that men, like beasts, should follow the foremost of the Herd; and that venerable non-sense should be prefer'd before new-sense: He considers, that that which we call Antiquity, is properly the nonage of the world; that the sagest of his Authoritys were once new; and that there is no other difference between an antient Author and himself, but only that of time; which, if of any advantage, 'tis rather on his side, as living in a more re­fined [Page 151] and mature age of the world. And thus having cast off this Intellectual slavery, like one of the brave [...] mention'd by Laertius, he addicts himself to no Author, Sect or Party▪ but freely picks up Truth where-ever he can find it; puts to Sea upon his own bottom; holds the Stern himself; and now, if ever, we may expect new discoverys.

There are other notable impediments to the improvement of knowledg, such as Passion, In­terest, fear of being tax'd with inconstancy, scorn of being inform'd by another, Envy, the humour of Contradiction, and sometimes Flat­tery in applauding every thing we hear, and the like. Now as to the manner how all these are remov'd by thinking, it may suffice to sav in general, that they are all obviously absurd and ridiculous; and however unthinking men may be abused by them, yet a free and close Thinker must needs quickly perceive that they are so: and there is no better Moral way that I know of to be quit of ill habits, than the be­ing convinc'd of their Folly and Mischief.

But the greatest advantage of thinking is yet behind, that it improves our Morals as well as our Intellectuals; and serves to make us Bet­ter, as well as Wiser. This is in a great mea­sure included in the other. All therefore that I shall further remark concerning it is this, that considering the great influence the under­standing has upon the will, there are but two [Page 152] things necessary to preserve us in our duty. First an habitual Theory of what we ought and ought not to do; and of all the motives and engagements to the one and to the other. Se­condly an actual and clear presence of all this to the mind, in every Instant of action. And this is for the most part the thinking man's con­dition. He does not only Habitually know, but actually attends both to his Duty, and to all the engagements for its performance. He has those Considerations almost always present with him which to others are the Principles of Repentance; and this keeps him in his Duty, which brings others to it; and makes him live like those Righteous persons of whom our Sa­viour says, that they need no Repentance.

Of the Care and Improvement of Time.

TO be careful how we manage and em­ploy our Time, is one of the first Precepts that is taught in the School of Wisdom, and one of the last that is learn'd. The first and leading dictate of Prudence is, That a Man pro­pose to himself his true and best interest for his End; and the next is, That he make use of all those means and opportunities whereby that end is to be attain'd. And betwixt these two there is such a close connexion, that he who does not do the latter, cannot be supposed to intend the former. He that is not careful of his actions, shall never perswade me that he se­riously proposes to himself his best interest, as his end, for if he did, he would as seriously ap­ply himself to the regulation of the other as the means. And so he that is not careful of his Time, cannot in reason be supposed to be care­ful of his Actions; for if he were, he would certainly have a special regard to the opportu­nity of their performance.

But, as I observ'd in the beginning, though this Precept be one of the Elementary dictates of Prudence, and stands written in the first page [Page 154] of the Book of Wisdom; yet such is the sottish­ness and stupidity of the World, that there is none that is more slowly learn'd. And 'tis a pro­digious thing to consider, that, although a­mong all the Talents which are committed to our Stewardship, Time upon several accounts is the most precious, yet there is not any one of which the generality of men are more pro­fuse and regardless. Tho it be a thing of that inestimable value, that 'tis not distributed to us intirely, and at once, like other Blessings, but is dealt out in minutes and little parcels, as if man were not fit to be trusted with the intire possession of such a choice Treasure, yet there are very many that think themselves so overstock'd with it, that instead of husbanding it to advantage, the main business of their thoughts is how to rid their hands of it, and accordingly they catch at every shadow and opportunity of relief; strike in at a venture with the next Companion, and so the dead Com­modity be taken off, care not who be the Chap­man. Nay, 'tis obvious to observe, that even those persons who are frugal and thrifty in eve­ry thing else, are yet extremely prodigal of their best Revenue, Time; Of which alone (as Seneca neatly observes) 'tis a Vertue to be Co­vetous.

Neither may this Censure be fastned only upon the unthinking multitude, the Sphere of whose Consideration is supposed to be very nar­row, [Page 155] and their Apprehension short-sighted; but I observe that many of those who set up for Wits, and pretend to a more than ordinary sagacity, and delicacy of Sense, do notwith­standing spend their Time very unaccountably, and live away whole days, weeks, and some­times months together, to as little purpose (tho it may be not so innocently) as if they had been asleep all the while. And this they are so far from being ashamed to own, that they freely boast of it, and pride themselves in it, thinking that it tends to their Reputation, and commends the greatness of their Parts, that they can support themselves upon the Natural stock, without being beholden to the Interest that is brought in by Study and Industry.

But if their Parts be so good as they would have others believe, sure they are worth im­proving; if not, they have the more need of it. And tho it be an Argument of a rich mind, to be able to maintain it self without labour, and subsist without the advantages of Study, yet there is no man that has such a portion of Sense, but will understand the use of his Time better than to put it to the trial. Greatness of Parts is so far from being a discharge from Industry, that I find Men of the most exquisite Sense in all Ages were always most curious of their Time: Nay, the most Intelligent of all Created Beings (who may be allow'd to pass a truer estimate upon things than the finest [Page 156] Mortal Wit) value Time at a high rate. Let me go (says the Angel to the importunate Pa­triarch) for the day breaketh. And therefore I very much suspect the excellency of those mens Parts, who are dissolute and careless mis-spend­ers of their Time: For if they were men of any thoughts, how is it possible but these should be some in the number? (viz.) ‘That this Life is wholly in order to another, and that Time is that sole opportunity that God has given us for transacting the great business of Eternity: That our work is great, and our day of work­ing short, much of which also is lost and ren­der'd useless, through the cloudiness and dark­ness of the Morning, and the thick vapours and unwholesome foggs of the Evening; the ignorance and inadvertency of Youth, and the Diseases and Infirmities of Old Age: That our portion of Time is not only short, as to its du­ration, but also uncertain in the possession: That the loss of it is irreparable to the loser, and profitable to no body else: That it shall be severely accounted for at the great Judg­ment, and lamented in a sad Eternity.’

He that considers these things (and sure he must needs be a very unthinking man that does not) will certainly be choice of his Time, and look upon it no longer as a bare state of dura­tion, but as an Opportunity; and consequently will let no part of it (no considerable part at least) slip away either unobserv'd or unimprov'd. This [Page 157] is the most effectual way that I know of to se­cure to ones self the Character of a Wise-man here, and the reward of one hereafter. Where­as the vain Enthusiastic Pretenders to the Gift of Wit, that trifle away their Time, betray the shallowness and poverty of their Sense to the dis­cerning few; or whatever they may pass for here among their fellow Mortals, do most in­fallibly make themselves cheap in the sight of Angels.

Of Solitude.

IT has been urg'd as an Objection, by some Atheistical Persons, against the existence of a God, that if there had been such a perfect Being, who was compleatly happy in the enjoy­ment of himself, he would never have gone a­bout to make a World. Now, tho this Obje­ction contributes nothing to the support of A­theism (the design of God in Creating the World being not to increase his happiness, but to Communicate it) yet it proceeds upon this true supposition, That Society is a Blessing. It is so, and that not only respectively, and in re­ference to the present circumstances of the World, and the Necessities of this Life, but al­so simply, and in its own Nature; since it shall be an Accessory to our bliss in Heaven, and add many moments to the weight of Glory. Neither will the truth of this assertion be at all weaken'd by alledging that no benefit or advantage ac­crues to God by it, for that it becomes unbene­ficial to him (tho a Blessing in its own nature) is purely by accident, because God eminently containing in himself all possible good, is un­capable of any New Accession.

And as Society is in its own nature an instru­ment of Happiness, so is it made much more so [Page 159] by the indigencies and infirmities of Men. Man, of all Creatures in the World, is least qualify'd to live alone, because there is no Creature that has so many necessities to be reliev'd. And this I take to be one of the great Arts of Pro­vidence, to secure mutual amity and the reci­procation of good turns in the World, it being the Nature of Indigency, like common dan­ger, to indear men to one another, and make them herd together, like Fellow-Sailors in a Storm. And this indeed is the true case of Mankind, we all Sail in one bottom, and in a rough Sea, and stand in need of one anothers help at every turn, both for the Necessities and Refreshments of Life. And therefore I am ve­ry far from commending the undertaking of those Ascetics, that our of a pretence of keep­ing themselves unspotted from the World, take up their quarters in Desarts, and utterly aban­don all Human Society. This is in short (to say no more of it) to put themselves into an incapacity either of doing any good to the World, or of receiving any from it: and cer­tainly that can be no desirable state. No, this Eremetical way of Living is utterly incon­sistent with the Circumstances and Inclinations of Human Nature; he must be a God, Self­sufficient and Independent that is fit for this state of absolute and perfect Solitude, and in this rigorous sense, It is not good for man (tho in Pa­radice it self) to be alone.

[Page 160]But tho Society, as 'tis opposed to a state of perfect and perpetual Solitude, be a Blessing, yet considering how little of it there is in the World that is good, I think it advisable for eve­ry man that has sense and thoughts enough, to be his own Companion, (for certainly there is more required to qualifie a man for his own company than for other men's) to be as fre­quent in his Retirements as he can, and to communicate as little with the World as is con­sistent with the duty of doing good, and the discharge of the common offices of Humanity. 'Tis true indeed (as Seneca says) Miscendae & al­ternandae sunt Solitudo & frequentia: Solitude and Company are to have their turns, and to be interplaced. But Wise-men use to dedicate the largest share of their Lives to the former, and let the best and most of their Time go to make up the Canonical Hours of Study, Meditation and Devotion. And for this, besides the pra­ctice of Wise-men, we have the Authentic exam­ple of our B. Lord himself, Who, as 'tis rea­sonably supposed (for he had pass'd the thirtieth year of his Life before he enter'd upon the stage of Action, and then also sought all opportuni­ties to be alone, and oftentimes purchas'd Re­tirement at the expence of Night-watches) al­lotted the greatest part of his little Time here on Earth to Privacy and Retirement; and 'tis highly probable, would have liv'd much more reservedly, had not the peculiar business of his [Page 161] function made it necessary for him to be con­versant in the World. The inclination of our Lord lay more toward the Contemplative way of Life, tho the interest of Mankind engaged him oftentimes upon the Active. And 'tis ve­ry observable, that there is scarce any one thing which he vouchsafed to grace with so many marks and instances of favour and respect as he did Solitude. Which are thus summ'd up by the excellent Pen of a very great Ma­sterThe Great Exem­plar. of Learning and Language; It was Solitude and Retirement in which Jesus kept his Vigils; the desart places heard him pray, in a privacy he was born, in the Wilderness he fed his thousands, upon a Mountain apart he was transfigured, upon a Mountain he died, and from a Mountain he ascended to his Father. In which Retirements his Devotion certainly did receive the advantage of convenient circumstances, and himself in such dispositions twice had the opportu­nities of Glory.

Indeed, the Satisfactions and Advantages of Solitude (to a person that knows how to im­prove it) are very great, and far transcending those of a Secular and Popular Life. First, as to Pleasure and Satisfaction, whosoever consi­ders the great variety of mens humours, the peevishness of some, the pride and conceited­ness of others, and the impertinence of most; he that considers what unreasonable terms of Communion some persons impose upon those [Page 162] that partake of their Society; how rare 'tis for a man to light upon a Company, where, as his first Salutation, he shall not presently have a Bottle thrust to his Nose; he, I say, that considers these and a thousand more grievances, wherewith the folly and ill nature of men have conspired to burthen Society, will find, take one time with another, Company is an occa­sion of almost as much displeasure as pleasure. Whereas in the mean time the Solitary and Contemplative man sits as safe in his Retire­ment as one of Homer's Heroes in a Cloud, and has this only trouble from the follies and ex­travagancies of men, that he pitties them. He does not, it may be, laugh so loud, but he is better pleas'd: He is not perhaps so often merry, but neither is he so often disgusted; he lives to himself and God, full of Serenity and Con­tent.

And as the Pleasures and Satisfactions of So­litude exceed those of a Popular Life, so also do the Advantages. Of these there are two sorts, Moral and Intellectual; to both which So­litude is a particular friend. As to the first, it is plain that Solitude is the proper opportunity of Contemplation, which is both the Founda­tion and the Perfection of a Religious Life. It is (as the same excellent Person forecited says elsewhere of a single Life) the huge advantage of Religion, the great opportunity for the Retire­ments of Devotion, which being empty of Cares is [Page 163] full of Prayers, being unmingled with the World is apt to converse with God, and by not feeling the warmth of a too forward and indulgent Nature, flames▪ out with holy Fires, till it be burning like the Cherubim and the most extasy'd Order of holy and unpolluted Spirits. And for this reason 'twas that the Anciente chose to build their Al­tars and Temples in Groves and Solitary▪ Re­cesses, thereby intimating▪ that Solitude was the best opportunity of Religion.

Neither are our intellectual advantages less indebted to Solitude. And here, tho I have in a great measure anticipated this consideration (there being nothing necessarily required to compleat the Character of a Wise-man, besides the knowledg of God and himself) yet I shall not confine my self to this instance, but deduce the matter further, and venture to affirm that all kinds of Speculative knowledg as well as practical, are best improved by Solitude. In­deed there is much talk about the great bene­fit of keeping Great men company, and there­upon 'tis usually reckon'd among the disadvan­tages of a Country life, that those of that con­dition want the opportunities of a Learned Con­versation. But to confess the truth, I think there is not so much in it as people generally imagine. Indeed, were the Souls of men lodg'd in transparent cases, that we might read their thoughts; would they communicate what they know, were it the fashion to discourse learned­ly, [Page 164] 'twere worth while to frequent the Cabals of Great men: But when it shall be counted a piece of errant Pedantry, and defect of good breeding to start any Question of Learning in Company; when every man is as shy of his Notions as of a Fairy-treasure; and makes his Head not a Repository or Exchequer of Know­ledg, but a Grave to bury it in: A man may be a constant attendant at the Conclaves of Learned men all his life long, and yet be no more the wiser for't than a Book-worm is for dwelling in Libraries. And therefore, to speak ingeniously, I don't see for my part wherein the great advantage of great Conversation lies, as the humours of men are pleas'd to order it. Were I to inform my self in business, and the management of affairs, I would sooner talk with a plain illiterate Farmer or Trades-man than the greatest Vertuoso of The Society; and as for Learning (which is the only thing they are supposed able to discourse well of) that in point of Civility they decline: So that I find I must take refuge at my Study at last, and there redeem the Time that I have lost among the Learned.

Of Courage.

A Ristotle in his Morals begins the Doctrine of Vertues with Courage; which has found work for his Interpreters to assign the reason of his method. But, methinks, there is no great need they should either study or differ much about it. For certainly, among all the Ver­tues this will justly challenge the Precedency, and is the most Cardinal and fundamental part of Morality. This Vertue is pre-required to the susception of all the rest. For the very en­trance into the School of wisdom and a ver­tuous course is a state of Discipline, Difficulty and Hardship. And therefore 'tis sapere aude, a great piece of daring and boldness to set up for a good man: especially, if to the proper difficulties and Agonies of a Vertuous engage­ment, we add those calamities and straits it oftentimes exposes us to, through the malice and folly of the world. So that as Plato writ upon his School [...] Let none enter here that understands not Mathematics, it may be set as a Motto upon the School of Ver­tue, Let none enter here that wants Courage.

And as 'tis necessarily requisite to the susce­ption of all other vertues, so is it their main support, guardian and establishment. Without [Page 166] this, every other Vertue is precarious, and lies at the mercy of every cross accident. Without this, let but a Pistol be held to the breast, and the severest Chastity will be frighted into com­pliance, the most Heroic Friendship into trea­chery, and the most ardent Piety into renun­ciation of God and Religion. There is nothing among all the frailnesses and uncertaintys of this sublunary world so tottering and unstable, as the vertue of a Coward. He has that within him that upon occasion will infallibly betray every vertue he has; and to secure him from sin, you must keep him from Temptation. This was the Principle the Devil went upon in his en­counter with Job, Do but put forth thy hand, (says he to God) and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. He was right e­nough in the Proposition, tho mistaken in the application.

Having now seen the usefulness of this great Vertue, 'twill be worth while to enquire a lit­tle into its Nature. And that the rather, be­cause 'tis not only variously and falsly appre­hended by the many, but too confusedly and darkly deliver'd even by Moralists themselves.

That which with the Vulgar passes for Cou­rage, is certainly nothing else but stupidity, desperateness or fool-hardiness; a brutish sort of Knight-errantry in seeking out needless en­counters, and running into dangers without fear or wit; which is so far from having the [Page 167] fore-mention'd property of Courage, of being a guardian, and security of our Vertues, that 'tis in it self a sin.

But are we like to have a better account of it from the Moralists? why they tell you that it is a Mediocrity between Fear and Boldness; So Aristotle in his Ethics. But then as for de­fining what this Mediocrity is (wherein the ve­ry point of the business lies) you are as much to seek as ever.

Others will tell you that 'tis a firmness of mind in sustaining evils, and undertaking dangers. Accordingly they assign two parts of Courage Sustinere & Aggredi. Thus Epictetus and the School of the Stoics. But what it is thus firm­ly to sustain or undertake an evil, and what evils are to be thus sustain'd or undertaken, they either could not, or have not thought fit to ac­quaint us.

In order therefore to the settling the Point in hand, I consider 1st in general, that Cou­rage has evil of Pain for its object, which in some circumstances is to be chosen or submit­ted to. Whence I form this general Idea of Courage that 'tis a firm and peremptory reso­lution of Mind to chuse evil of Pain in right circumstances, or when 'tis truly eligible. This Definition I confess runs in general Terms, much like one of Aristotles, but I intended it for no other. Only it has this advantage above his, that it lays a Foundation for one that is more particular.

[Page 168]For 'tis but here to subjoin when an evil is truly eligible, and the Idea of Courage will be sufficiently determinate and express. Now to make a thing eligible 'tis necessary that some way or other it appear good; evil being no way eligible under its own formality. And to make an evil put on the nature and appearance of good, two things are necessary. 1st that it be a lesser evil than some other, and 2ly that the chusing of it be a necessary Medium for the preventing of that other. Then, and in no o­ther case, is evil truly eligible: and consequent­ly, we shall not be mistaken in the Idea of Cou­rage, if we define it to be such a firm and con­stant [...] or disposition of mind, whereby a man is fix'd and determin'd never to dread any evil, so far as to decline it when the chusing it is the only remedy against a greater. And this is most eminently signalized in the case of Mar­tyrdom, when a man submits to the greatest evils of Pain to avoid that much greater one of Sin. This is the very summity and perfection of Courage, that which an Hannibal or a Sci­pio could never equal in all their gallantry and feats of war: and I dare venture to pronounce, that he who would rather dye or part with any worldly interest than commit a sin, can never be a Coward.

And here I cannot but take notice of a false notion of Honour and Courage whereby the world has been generally abused; especially [Page 169] those men that make the highest pretensions to both. According to these mens Measures of things, 'tis sufficient reason to post a man up for a Coward if he refuse a Duell; And to merit a badge of Honour from the Herald's Office if he accept it. These men would be ready to laugh at me, I know, as a lover of Paradoxes, should I tell them that their characters must be quite transposed to make them true. And yet I can­not help it, so it falls out that he who declines the Duell is indeed the man of Honour and Courage, and he who accepts it is the Coward. For he who declines it, despises the obloquy and scorn of the world that he may approve himself to God and his own Conscience, would rather be pointed and hiss'd at, than be damn'd; and so chuses a lesser evil to avoid a greater. But he that accepts the Duel, so dreads the loss of his credit among those whose good opinion is of no value, that to avoid it he chuses to incur sin and damnation; and so chuses a greater evil to avoid a less. And if this be Courage, we must strike it out of the Catalogue of the Vertues, for nothing is so, that is not under the direction of Prudence; much less what is down-right Folly and the very exaltation of Madness.

Of Seriousness.

SInce I began to consider so far as to make Reflections upon my self, the most early and prevailing▪ disposition which I observ'd was an Inclination to Seriousness, and since I con­sider'd the nature of things and the circum­stances of Human life, I found I had reason to thank the kind influence of my birth for mak­ing that my Temper, which otherwise I must have been at more cost to acquire.

For tho it be generally reckon'd only as a Semi-vertue, and by some as no vertue at all, yet certainly nothing is of greater advantage both as to Intellectual and Moral attainments than to be of a serious, composed and recollect­ed spirit. If it be not it self a vertue, 'tis at least the Soil wherein it naturally grows, and the most visible mark whereby to know those that have it. This is that whereby a Man is chiefly distinguish'd from a Child, and a Wise man from a Fool. For (as the Son of Si­rac observes) a man may be known by his Eccles. 19. look, and one that has understanding by his countenance when thou meet'st him. And again speaking of levity and dissoluteness of behavi­our, A man's attire, excess of laughter and gaiety shew what he is, that is, it shews he is none of [Page 171] the wisest. And that this was his true meaning we may be assured from another Character of his, where he expresly makes the signs of wis­dom and folly to consist in these two propertys, (viz.) that a Fool lifts up his voice with Ecclus. 21. laughter, but a Wise man does scarce smile a little.

There is indeed a near Relation between Se­riousness and Wisdom, and one is a most excel­lent Friend to the other. A man of a serious sedate and considerate temper as he is always in a ready disposition for Meditation (the best improvement both of knowledg and manners) so he thinks without disturbance, enters not upon another Notion till he is master of the first, and so makes clean work with it. Where­as a man of a loose, volatile and shatter'd hu­mour thinks only by fits, and starts now and then in a Morning interval, when the serious mood comes upon him, and even then too let but the least trifle cross his way, and his desul­torious fancy presently takes the Scent, leaves the unfinish'd and half-mangled notion, and skips away in pursuit of the new game. So that altho he conceives often, yet by some chance or other he always miscarrys, and the issue proves Abortive.

Indeed nothing excellent can be done with­out Seriousness, and he that courts wisdom must be in earnest. St James assures us that 'tiscap. 1. v. 7. to no purpose for a wavering and unstable man [Page 172] to pray, because he shall be sure not to speed. And as 'tis in vain for such a one to Pray, so is it in vain for him to study. For a man to pre­tend to work out a neat scheme of thoughts with a magotty unsettled head, is as ridiculous and non-sensical as to think to write streight in a jumbling Coach, or to draw an exact Picture with a Palsy hand. No, he that will hit what he aims at must have a steddy hand as well as a quick eye, and he that will think to any pur­pose, must have fix'dness and composedness of humour, as well as smartness of parts.

And accordingly we find that those among the Philosophic Sects that profess'd more than ordinary eminency in wisdom or vertue, as­sumed also a peculiar gravity of Habit, and solemnity of Behaviour, and the most sacred and mysterious rites of Religion were usually perform'd with silence; and that not only for decency, but for advantage. Thus the Italians who are the gravest are also the most ingenious people under heaven, and 'tis a known obser­vation of Aristotle's concerning melancholy, that it furthers Contemplation and makes great Wits. Thus again the Discipline of Silence was a considerable part of the Pythagoric institu­tion, and we have it storied of our B. Lord him­self who was the wisdom of his father, that he never laugh'd.

But because a solemn deportment may som­times disguise an unthinking mind, and grave [Page 173] in some men's Dictionarys signifies the same as Dull, I shall put the Character a little more home, and define more closely wherein the true Idea of Seriousness consists, or what it is to be in good earnest a serious man.

And 1st I shall remove it from the neighbor­hood of those things which by their symboli­zing with it in outward appearance prove often­times the occasion of mistake and confusion. It does not therefore consist in the morosity of a Cynic, nor in the severity of an Ascetic, nor in the demureness of a Precisian, nor in the deadness and sullenness of a Quaker, nor in the solemn meen of an Italian, nor in the slow pace of a Spaniard; 'Tis neither in a drooping head, nor a mortify'd face, nor a Primitive Beard.

'Tis somthing very different and much more excellent than all this that must make up a serious man. And I believe I shall not misre­present him if I say he is one that duly and im­partially weighs the moments of things so as neither to value Trifles, nor despise things re­ally excellent. That dwells much at home and studys to know himself as well as Books or men; ‘that considers why he came into the world, how great his business and how short his stay in it, how uncertain 'tis when he shall leave it, and whither a sinner shall then betake him­self when both Heaven and Earth shallRev. 20. fly from the presence of the Judg. That con­siders God as always present, and the Folly [Page 174] of doing what must be repented of, and of go­ing to Hell when a man may go to Heaven. In one word, that knows how to distinguish be­tween a moment and eternity.’

This is to be truly serious, and however the Pretenders to gaiety and lightsomness of Hu­mour may miscall and ridicule it by the names of Melancholy, dullness and stupidity &c. He that is thus affected cannot miss of being wise and good here, and happy hereafter. And then 'twill be his turn to laugh, when the others shall mourn and weep.

Of the slightness of all Secular, and the importance of minding our Eternal, Interest.

IDleness and Impertinence, a doing of no­thing or of nothing to the purpose, are always signs of a vain, loose, and inconsiderate spirit, but they are never more so, than when there is some very momentous and weighty business to be done. The man that sleeps away his happy Retirements, or with the Roman Emperor spends them in killing flies, betrays a great deal of weakness and incogitancy, but should he do the same at the Bar, when he's to plead for his life, he would certainly be thought a mere change­ling or mad-man.

And yet this I fear will prove the case of the most of those who stile themselves Rational. For besides that the generality of men live at random, without any aim or design at all, and those that propose some ends seldom take up with any that are important and material, or if they do, they seldom proportion their care to the weight of things, but are serious in trifles, and trifling in things serious, I say besides all this, there is nothing relating purely to this [Page 176] world that can deserve the name of Business, or be worth the serious thoughts of him who has an immortal Soul, and a Salvation to work out with fear and trembling. The greatest secu­lar affairs and interests are but Specious Trifles, and all our designs and emploiments about em Excentrical Motions, and solemn impertinen­cies.

And yet this is made the Center of all our stu­dys and endeavours, the great Bent of the world points this way, hence are taken the measures of Wisdom and Prudence, and Religion it self is forced to truckle to worldly Policy. Whereas in the mean time there is an Affair of grand importance, and wherein all mankind are deeply concern'd, and such as really deserves all that care and solicitude, which we lavish a­way upon other things, and infinitely more (tho perhaps it might be secured with less) and yet this is the thing which by many is utterly neg­lected, by the most is least cared for, and by none sufficiently regarded. So that considering the general practice of the world, I think there are very few in it to whom that will not be a very proper and seasonable admonition, which our B. Lord gave to his sollicitous and overbusy Disciple, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things, but one thing is needful.

To cure therefore (if possible) this great fol­ly, I have two Propositions to offer; 1st that no [Page 177] interest relating purely to this present world is of any great moment or concern to man, 2ly that to be very careful of our final interest, and to make sure to our selves a happy eternity is indeed a thing of vast moment and impor­tance.

The first of these I know will seem very strange and paradoxical to one that takes a prospect of mankind, and contemplates the great stirr and hurry of the world, the Plottings of Statesmen, the Emulations of Courtiers, and the Ambition of Princes, how busy men are in their several concerns, what variety of designs are on foot, with what trembling eagerness they are prosecuted, and what grief attends our dis­appointments. Sure after such a Scene as this one would be tempted to think, that there must be somthing very considerable in Human life, and that men had notable interests here at stake, it being a reproach to human nature that the world should so generally combine to make such ado about nothing.

But yet that this is their folly, not to insist upon ‘that universal vanity which the wise and great Trier of the world has charged upon it, that Hope defer'd makes the heart sick, Prov. 13. and yet Fruition does not cure it, that we are disappointed in our enjoyments as well as in our losses, and yet that 'tis our hard fate to weep at the Funeral of our departed Pleasures, tho we were little the happier for them when [Page 178] we had them; that our greatest pleasures are most transient, and great mirth always ends in heaviness and demission of spirit, that the more we love or enjoy the more we venture, and put our selves further within the reach of Fortune; that the greatest men are not always the most contented, and that they who are most envy'd by others think themselves more fit for their Pity; not to insist I say on these or the like considerations, I shall fix only upon one, whereby I think twill plainly appear that there can be no interest relating purely to this world, that is of any great moment or concern to man. And that is the shortness and uncer­tainty of our abode here.

The life of man in the Book of Wisdom is com­pared to a shadow. Now besides that the re­semblance holds in many considerable respects, as in that it is partly Life and partly Death, as the other is partly Light and partly Dark­ness, in that like a shadow whereever it passes it leaves no track behind it, in that it seems to be somthing when indeed it is nothing, in that 'tis always altering and ends on a suddain, and when at its full height and prime is often near­est to Declension, as a shadow is to disappear when at full length, there is yet another in­stance of resemblance, which has a more parti­cular aptness to our present purpose. The sha­dow can continue no longer at the utmost than the light of the Sun keeps its residence above [Page 179] the Horizontal line, which is but a little portion of time, but it may fall much short of that pe­riod by the interposition of a cloud, and when that may be is as uncertain as the weather, and depends upon a thousand accidents.

And thus 'tis with our lives. No man can lengthen out his days beyond that natural Term which is set him by the temperament of the first Qualitys, which yet are of such jarring and unsociable natures that they can't dwell long together in a vital amity. But then how far, and how many ways, he may fall short of that compass, depends upon so many hidden causes, and so many little accidents that it may be rec­kon'd among the greatest of uncertaintys. So that there is nothing in all human life so frail and uncertain as life it self.

A consideration sufficient to depretiate and vilify all the entertainments and interests of the Animal life, and to call off our care from the objects of secular Happiness tho there were no other vanity in them. For were they never so good and solid in themselves, yet the Foun­dation on which they stand is so weak and rot­ten, that 'tis dangerous leaning hard upon them. They would be even upon this supposi­tion like Nebuchadnezzar's statue, made up in­deed of rich metal, but founded upon feet of clay. And upon this account they are to be e­steem'd as vile and contemptible as they are ruinous.

[Page 180]This is a consideration indeed that has but little effect in the world, and the reason is be­cause few give any serious heed and attention to it. They know it indeed habitually, and must confess it if put to the question, but it lies Dor­mant in 'em, and they seldom actually attend to it. And therefore 'tis that the voice bids the Prophet Isaiah, Cry and proclaim it aloud that all flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof as the flower of the field. He is bid to cry aloud, thereby intimating both the importance of the thing, and the general stupidity of men in not considering it.

But if men would but often and seriously me­ditate upon the shortness and uncertainty of life, I perswade my self they would not set their hearts much upon any thing in it, but would look upon all its Pleasures, Honours and Profits with the same indifferency that the hasty Tra­veller does upon the specious fields and mea­dows which he passes by. For to what purpose I pray, should man who holds his Tenement here by such a short and unstable Tenure, that can't live long and may dye presently, be so busy and thoughtful about worldly concerns? The ancient Patriarchs, tho their span was so very much longer than ours, thought it hardly worth while to build houses, but contented themselves to grow gray in Tents; and what do we mean who in comparison to them are but [...] (as Pindar calls us) people for a day, by plunging [Page 181] our selves so deeply into care and trouble? Is there any thing among the actions of either Brutes or Mad-men so silly and irrational as this?

But to be a little particular, to what purpose should man who walketh in a vain shadow, dif­quiet himself also thus in vain, and be so gree­dy in heaping up riches when he can't tell who shall gather them? To what purpose should a man trouble both the world's and his own rest to make himself great? For besides the empti­ness of the thing, the Play will quickly be done, and the Actors must all retire into a state of e­quality, and then it matters not who personat­ed the Emperor, or who the Slave. To what purpose should a man be very earnest in the per­suit of Fame? He must shortly dye, and so must those too who admire him. Nay I could al­most say, to what purpose should a man lay himself out upon study, and drudge so labo­riously in the Mines of Learning? He's no sooner a little wiser than his Brethren, but Death thinks him ripe for his sickle, and for ought we know after all his pains and industry, in the next world an Ideot or a Mechanic will be as forward as he. To what purpose lastly does a Tyrant oppress his people, transgress those bounds which wise Nature has set him, invade his neighbor's Countrys, deprive the innocent and peaceable of their Liberty, sack Cities, plunder Provinces, depopulate Kingdoms and [Page 182] almost put the foundations of the Earth out of course, to what purpose is all this? Thou Fool, says our B. Saviour, this night thy Soul shall be re­quired of thee, and then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?

There is certainly nothing in all Nature so strange and unaccountable as the actions of some men. They see, as the Psalmist speaks, that wise men also dye and perish together as well as the ignorant and foolish, and leave their riches for others, and yet they think (at least act as if they did) that their houses shall continue for ever, and that their dwelling places shall endure from one generation to another, and call their lands after their own names.

This they think is their wisdom, but the Psal­mist assures them 'tis their foolishness, and such a foolishness too as makes them comparable to the Beasts that perish, however their Posterity may praise their saying. And certainly the Learned Apostle was of the same mind, when from this Principle, The time is short, he dedu­ces the very same conclusion we have hitherto pleaded for, that we should be very indifferent and unconcern'd about any worldly good or e­vil, that they that have wives should be as tho they had none, and they that weep as the they wept not, they that rejoice as tho they rejoiced not, they that buy as tho they possest not, and they that use this world as not abusing it, for the fashion of this world passes away. It does so, and for that reason [Page 183] there is nothing in this life to be very much lov'd, or very much fear'd, especially if we con­sider what a grand interest we have all of us at stake in the other world. For as 'tis▪ with the suf­ferings so is it with the enjoyments of this pre­sent time, they are neither of them worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed.

We have seen how frivolous and unconcern­ing the greatest affairs of this world are, how unworthy to be made the objects of our solici­tude, much more to be the Business of our lives, we have weigh'd them in the Ballance, and they are found wanting. But man is a Creature of brisk and active facultys, and is there no em­ployment for him? yes, as God has furnish'd him with Powers, so also has he assign'd him a work, and such a one too as is to be perform'd with Fear and Trembling. There is a good fight to be fought, there is a whole Body of sin to be destroy'd, there are Passions to be mortify'd, Habits to be unlearnt, Affections to be purify'd, Vertuous and holy dispositions to be acquired, Acts of vertue to be opposed against Acts of sin, and Habits against Habits, in a word there is a Heaven to be obtain'd, and a Hell to be avoid­ed. This indeed is a great work, and of great concernment to be done, and such as calls for our principal, (I could almost say our whole) care and diligence. The great necessity of which for more distinctness sake, I shall represent in a few Considerations.

[Page 184]And Ist, it highly concerns us to be very careful concerning our final interest, because of the vast, the infinite Moment of the thing. For certainly it can be no less whether a man shall be Damn'd or Saved, eternally Happy, or eter­nally Miserable. No man certainly that thinks at all, can think this an indifferent matter, or if he does he will one day be sadly convinc'd of the contrary, when he shall curse the day of his Birth, and wish for the Mercy of Annihilation. The lowest conception we can frame of the condition of the Damn'd, is an utter exclusion from the Beatific presence of God. And tho the non-enjoyment of this be no great punish­ment to sensual men in this state and Region of exile, who perhaps would be content that God should keep Heaven to himself, so he would let them have the free use of the Earth, yet hereafter when the Powers of their Souls shall be awaken'd to their full vigour and acti­vity, when they shall have a lively and thorough apprehension of true Happiness, and of the in­finite Beautys of the Supreme good, there will arise such a vehement Thirst, such an intense longing in the Soul, as will infinitely exceed the most exalted languishments of Love, the high­est Droughts of a Fever. The Soul will then point to the Center of Happiness with her full bent and verticity, which yet she shall find ut­terly out of her reach, and so full of Desire and full of Despair she shall lament both her Folly [Page 185] and her Misery to eternal ages. And who is able to dwell even with these everlasting Burnings?

But 2ly as an Argument for our great Care we may consider, that as the interest is great, so a more than ordinary care is necessary to secure it. And that upon several accounts. Ist because our Redemption by Christ is not our immediat and actual discharge from sin, (as the Antinomians would have it) but only an in­stating us into a Capacity of Pardon and Recon­ciliation, which is to be actually obtain'd by the performance of Conditions, without which we shall be so far from being the better for what has been done and suffer'd for us, that our Con­demnation will be so much the heavier for neg­lecting to finish so great Salvation.

2ly, Because the Conditions of our Salvation tho temper'd with much mercy and accommo­dation to human infirmity, are yet so difficult as to engage us to put forth our whole might to the work. A great part of Christianity is ve­ry harsh to Flesh and Blood, however to the Habituated Disciple Christ's yoke may be easy and his burthen light. And accordingly the Path that leads to life is call'd narrow, and the gate (tho open'd by our Saviour) is yet so strait that we are bid to strive to enter in at it. And the Righteous scarcely are sav'd.

Again, because there is a strong confederacy against us among the Powers of darkness. We have a very potent and malicious enemy, who [Page 186] envys man should arrive to those happy man­sions from whence himself by transgression fell; And accordingly, there is a great woe pro­nounc'd by the Angel against the inhabitants of the earth, because the Devil is come down among them having great wrath. And this is made by the Apostle himself an Argument for more than ordinary care and circumspection. Be sober, says he, be vigilant, because your ad­versary the Devil walks about as a roaring Lion seeking whom he may devour.

Again, because we have but a little time for this our great work, and that too very preca­rious and uncertain. Our glass holds but very little sand tho 'twere to be all spent, and drawn out in the running. But there are also several accidental impediments that may intercept its passage; And therefore as this was alledg'd as an argument for indifferency about the things of this world, so for the same reason, it con­cerns us to be eminently careful in the grand business of the next. He that duly considers how many persons dye suddainly, how many more may, and that none can engage for it that he himself shall not, must needs confess himself ex­tremely concern'd to improve this short, this uncertain opportunity, this only time of Proba­tion, and to work with all his might while 'tis day, before the night come, when no man can work.

Lastly, it concerns us to use a more than or­dinary care and diligence in securing this our [Page 187] great interest, because after all our Care and Vigilancy, all our strictnesses and severitys, we don't know the just and precise measures of Qualification, and how much Trimming of our Lamps is requisite to fit 'em for the Sanctuary of God. For tho we are well assured in general from the terms of the Evangelical Covenant, that if we repent we shall be forgiven, yet there is a great Latitude in Repentance, and what degree in some cases will be available, is a se­cret God has kept to himself. For we don't know the full heinousness of our Sins, nor how far God was provoked by 'em, nor consequent­ly by what degrees of sorrow and amendment he will be appeas'd. And 'tis most certain there is a mighty difference. To Simon Magus 'twas almost a desperate case: If peradventure Act. 8. 22. the thoughts of thy heart may be forgiven thee. And some are said to be sav'd with fear, &Jud. 22. as it were pull'd out of the fire. And we know what the great Apostle has said, I know nothing by my self, yet am I not thereby justify'd. All which argues a great latitude and variety even in necessary preparations, and how to state the matter exactly we don't know, and therefore as far as we are able should be sure to do enough, for we may easily do too little, and can never do too much in a matter of such high impor­tance.

From all which I conclude, Ist that those who withdraw themselves (as far as is consistent [Page 188] with charity and the prosecution of the public good) from the noise, hurry and business of the world, that they may apply themselves more serenely and entirely to a life of Devotion and Religion, and more freely and undistractedly attend upon the grand concern of another world, act very wisely and prudently. For this is wisdom, to take a right estimate of things, to proportion our care to their value, and to mind that most which is most concerning. This is what the Apostle commends, to lay aside every weight, that we may be the surer to win the great prize, and so to run as to obtain. This lastly is the very part which Mary chose, and which our Lord assures us shall never be taken away from her.

Again I conclude, that all those who are ei­ther wholly negligent of this their grand inte­rest, or that do not principally regard it, and as our Saviour speaks, in the first place seek the kingdom of God, that are more intent upon this world than the next, that will venture to play the knave for a little preferment, that make use of Religion as an instrument for secular designs, in one word, that in any kind forfeit their great interest in the other world, for a little in this, are the greatest Fools in nature. This Measure I confess will take in a great many, and some perhaps who would think it a great affront to be reckon'd of the number. But it can't be help'd, the charge is most unquestionably true, [Page 189] and they themselves however conceited of their wit and parts now, will once be of the same opinion, when they shall say, we Fools thought his life madness.

God grant we may all so number our days, and so compare our two interests, as to apply our hearts to greater wisdom.

A METAPHYSICAL ESSAY TOWARD THE Demonstration of a GOD, From the Steddy and Immutable nature of Truth.
[Page] [Page 193]A Metaphysical Essay &c.

SECT. I. How difficult a thing 'tis to demonstrate a God by any new medium, and how far the present Essay may pretend to do so.

1. IT has been the curious emploiment of so many and so excellent Pens to demon­strate the Existence of a God, and this they have done with such variety of Arguments, Moral, Physical and Metaphysical, that howe­ver easy it may be to contrive new Postures, and ring other Changes upon the same Bells, 'tis yet almost as difficult to find out an Argu­ment for the proof of a God that has not been used already, as to resist the Cogency of those that have. So that here if any where, that of Solomon is more than ordinarily verify'd, The thing that has been it is that which shall Eccles. 1. 9. be, and that which is done is that which shall be done, and there is no new thing under the Sun.

2. The newest indeed that has of late years appear'd to the world is that of the celebrated Des-Cartes, taken from the Idea of God con­sider'd both absolutely in its self, as including all kinds and degrees of Perfection and conse­quently [Page 194] Existence, and as 'tis subjected in the mind of man, which (as he contends) could never have had such an Idea, were there not somthing which had all that Perfection in it Formally or eminently, which is in the Idea ob­jectively.

3. Now tho this Procedure of his be extra­ordinarily fine and subtile, and such as (to the first part at least) will appear no less strong and concluding to any capable and indifferent Person, that considers it as 'tis managed at large by its ingenious Author, yet this was not a No­tion newly excogitated but only revived by him. For Aquinas had before lighted upon the former and refused it, and he is beholding to St. Austin and the School of the Platonists for the latter.

4. I speak not this to diminish one ray from the glory of that incomparable Speculatist. That which I remark here is not the Barren­ness of his Invention, but that of the exhausted Subject. The matter had been squeez'd before to the last drop, and his only fault was that he was not born sooner. Which might be a suffi­cient Apology if this Procedure of mine prove not entirely new and unblown upon. Whether it be or no 'tis not possible (without examining all the books in the world) absolutely to deter­min. This much I believe I may venture to say, that 'tis no where universally receiv'd, nor by any that I know of industriously and pro­fessedly [Page 195] managed, and that lastly 'tis as new as the matter will now afford, and consequent­ly as any man in reason ought to expect.

SECT. II. The various acceptations of Truth, and which that is which is made the ground of the present Demonstration.

1. HAving undertaken to demonstrate the Existence of God from the steddy and immutable nature of Truth, I am first to distin­guish the Equivocalness or latitude of the word, and then to point out to that determinate part, which I intend for the ground of my Demon­stration.

2. The most general Partition of Truth is into Truth of the Thing and Truth of the under­standing, or (according to the language of the Schools) Truth of the Object and Truth of the Subject. Both of these again have a double sub­division. For by Truth of the Object may be understood either that Transcendental verity which is convertible with Ens, and runs through the whole Circle of Being whereby every thing is really what it is, which is simple Truth. Or else certain Relations and Habitudes of things one towards another whether Affirmatively or Negatively, which is Complex Truth.

[Page 196]3. And so again by Truth of the Subject may be understood either a due conformity between the understanding and the Object, when I com­pound what is compounded, and divide what is divided, which is Logical Truth. Or else a due conformity between the words and the un­derstanding, when I speak as I think, which is Moral Truth or Veracity.

4. Now the Truth, upon whose immutable Nature I build the Demonstration of a God, is not that of the Subject, but that of the Object. Nor that neither according to its simple and Transcendental acceptation, but as it signifies certain immutable relations and habitudes of things one towards another by way of Affirma­tion and Negation, which is Truth of the Object Complex.

SECT. III. That there are such Relations and Habitudes of things to­ward one another, and that they are steddy and immutable.

1. TWo things are here asserted, 1st that there are Relations and Habitudes of things towards one another, and 2ly that they are steddy and immutable. First I say, there are certain relations and habitudes betwixt thing and thing. Thus there is a certain habi­tude between some Premises and some Conclu­sions, [Page 197] for any thing will not follow from any thing; between some Objects and some Facul­tys; between some ends and some means; be­tween some Subjects and some Predicates, and the like.

2. This is as true as that there is any such thing as Truth. For Truth is nothing else, but the Composition or Division of Ideas according to their respective Habitudes and Relations. And without Truth there can be no such thing as Knowledg, for knowledg is Truth of the Sub­ject; 'tis a man's thinking of things as they are; and that supposes Truth of the Object. Which whosoever denies, contradicts himself, and establishes the Proposition which he de­sign'd to overthrow; and consequently, uni­versal Scepticism is the very extremity of non­sense and inconsistency.

3. And as there are certain habitudes and relations between things; so aly some of them are steddy and immutable, that never were made by any understanding or will, nor can ever be unmade or null'd by them; but have a fixt and unalterable [...] from everlasting to everlasting. And consequently there are not only Truths, but eternal Truths.

4. As first in general, 'tis a Proposition of ne­cessary and eternal Truth, that there must be ever such a thing as Truth, or that somthing must be True, for let it be affirm'd or denyed, Truth thrusts in upon us either way. And so 2ly [Page 198] there are many particular Propositions of eter­nal and unchangeable Verity, as in Logic, that the Cause is always before the Effect in order of Nature; in Physics, that all local motion is by succession; in Metaphysics, that nothing can be and not be at once; in Mathematics, that all right Angles are equal, that those lines which are parallel to the same Right line are also pa­rallel to each other, &c. These and such like are standing and irrepealable Truths, such as have no precarious existence, or arbitrarious de­pendence upon any will or understanding what­soever; and such as all Intellectual operations do not make, but suppose; it being as much a­gainst the nature of understanding to make that Truth which it speculates, as 'tis against the nature of the eye to create that light by which it sees, or of an Image to make that Ob­ject which it represents.

SECT. IV. That since there are Eternal and immutable Veritys or Ha­bitudes of things, the simple essences of things must be also, eternal and immutable.

1. HAving gain'd this Point that there are eternal and immutable Veritys or Ha­bitudes of things, the next will be, that upon this Postulatum it necessarily follows that the Simple Essences of things must be also eternal and immutable. For as there can be no Truth of the Subject without Truth of the Object to which it may be conformable (as was before observ'd) so neither can there be Truth of the Object Complex without Truth of the Object Simple.

2. This will appear undeniably true to any one that attends to the Idea of Objective Truth Complex, which is nothing else but certain Ha­bitudes or Respects betwixt thing and thing as to Composition or Division. For how can there be any such Habitudes or Relations without the Simple Essences themselves from which they re­sult? As for instance, how can any Mathema­tical Proposition, suppose that of Euclid, that if two Circles touch one another inwardly they have not the same common Center, have this habitude, unless there be two such distinct sim­ple Essences as Circle and Center? These Habi­tudes [Page 200] can no more subsist by themselves than any other Relations can, they must have their Simple Essences as the other have their Subject and Term, upon the position of which they im­mediatly result.

3. If therefore there can be no Truth of the Object Complex without Truth of the Object Simple, and there can be no Habitudes and Re­lations of Composition and Division without the simple Essences themselves, it follows that whensoever the one does exist the other must exist also, and consequently if the one be eter­nal the other must be eternal also, and so (to recur to the former instance) if it be a Proposi­tion of eternal Truth that if two Circles touch one another inwardly they have not the same Common Center, the two distinct simple Es­sences of Circle and Center must be from Eterni­ty also, and consequently the simple Essences of things are eternal and immutable, which was the point to be here demonstrated.

SECT. V. That the Simple Essences of things being not Eternal in their Natural subsistences, must be so in their Ideal sub­sistences or realitys.

1. FRom the eternity of essential Habitudes we have demonstrated the necessity that the simple essences of things should be eter­nal. And now since they are not eternal (as is too plain to need Proof) in their natural sub­sistencys, it follows that they must be eternal in their Ideal subsistencys or realitys.

2. For there are but two conceivable ways how any thing may exist, either out of all un­derstanding, or within some understanding. If therefore the simple Essences of things are eter­nal but not out of all understanding, it remains they must have an eternal existence in some un­derstanding, or rather they are the same with that understanding it self, consider'd as va­riously exhibitive or representative according to the various modes of Imitability or Participa­tion, which is the true Notion of Ideas as 'tis ge­nerally express'd both by Platonists and School­men, and as I have more at large explain'd it in my Letter of Ideas, to which for brevitys sake I refer.

SECT. VI. That there is therefore an Eternal Mind or understanding, Omniscient, Immutable and endow'd with all possible Perfection, the same which we call God.

1. THis evidently follows from the Conclu­sion of the foregoing Section, for if the simple Essences of things have a real and eternal existence in some understanding, what consequence can be more plain than that there is a Mind or understanding eternally existing? An Essence can no more eternally exist in a Tem­porary understanding, than a Body can be in­finitely extended in a finite space. The mind therefore wherein it does exist must be eternal; there is therefore in the first place an Eternal Mind.

2. 'Twill follow also in the next place that this Mind is Omniscient as well as Eternal. For that Mind which is eternally fraught with the simple Essences of things, must needs contain al­so in it self all the several Habitudes and Re­spects of them, these necessarily arising from the other by way of Natural result. For as be­fore, the Argument was good from the Habi­tudes of things to their simple Essences, so is it as good backwards from the simple Essences of things to their Habitudes. But these are the same with Truths. That Mind therefore which [Page 203] has all these has all Truths, which is the same as to be Omniscient.

3. 'Twill follow hence also in the next place, that this Mind is Immutable as well as Omnisci­ent and Eternal. For if that Mind which has existing in it self from all eternity, all the sim­ple Essences of things and consequently all their possible Scheses or Habitudes should ever change, there would arise a new Schesis in this Mind that was not before, which is contrary to the supposition. 'Tis impossible therefore that this Mind should ever undergo any muta­tion, especially if these eternal Ideas and Ha­bitudes be one and the same with this Mind, as I have already hinted and elsewhereSee my Letter of Ideas. proved.

4. Lastly 'twill follow that this Mind is not only Eternal, Immutable and Omniscient, but that in a word 'tis endow'd with all possible per­fection. For to have, and it self to be all the Essences and Habitudes of things is to have and to be all that can possibly be, to be the rule and measure of all perfection, to be supreme in the Scale of Being, and to be the Root, and Spring of all Entity, which is the same as to be God. This Mind therefore so accomplish'd is no other than God, and consequently there is a God, which was the thing I undertook to demonstrate.


THis Essay has lain by me a considerable time, and I have lately review'd it with all the coldness and indifferency of a Stranger, and with more severity perhaps than I am like to meet with from the most Prejudiced Reader. I have turn'd it and view'd it on all sides, and, after the most deliberate and impartial scruti­ny that I could make, I must needs own, that I am not conscious of the least flaw in the whole Procedure.

I know but of one place that is liable to any reasonable exception, and that is in the fourth Section. The Proposition there maintain'd is this, that since there are eternal and immutable Veritys or Habitudes of things, the simple Essences of things must be also eternal and immutable. Here it may be objected, that these Habitudes are not attributed absolutely to the simple Es­sences as actually existing, but only Hypotheti­cally, that whensoever they shall exist, they shall also carry such Relations to one another. There is you'l say only an Hypothetical Connexion between the Subject and the Predicate, not an absolute Position of either.

But in answer to this I say first, that these Habitudes are not (as is supposed) only by way [Page 205] of Hypothesis, but absolutely attributed to the simple Essences as actually existing. For when I say, for instance, that every part of a Circle is equally distant from the Center, this Propo­sition does not hang in suspence, then to be ve­rify'd when the things shall exist in Nature, but is at present actually true, as true as it ever will or can be; and consequently, I may thence in­fer that the things themselves already are. There is no necessity, I confess, they should exist in Nature, (which is all that the Objection proves) but exist they must. For of Nothing there can be no Affections.

But 2ly, suppose I grant what the Objector would have, that these Habitudes are not ab­solutely attributed to the simple Essences, but only by way of Hypothesis; yet I don't see what he can gain by this concession. For thus much at least is attributed to the simple Essences at present, that whensoever they shall exist, such and such Habitudes will attend them. I say, thus much is attributed actually, and at present: But now how can any thing be said of that which is not? There is therefore another way of existing besides that in rerum Natura; name­ly, in the Mundus Archetypus or the Ideal world, where all the Rationes rerum or simple Essences of things whereof there are standing and immu­table Affirmations and Negations, have an eter­nal and immutable Existence, before ever they enter upon the stage of Nature.

[Page 206]Nor ought this Ideal way of subsisting to seem strange, when even while things have a Natural subsistence, the Propositions concern­ing them are not verify'd according to their Natural, but according to their Ideal subsist­ences. Thus we demonstrate several Proposi­tions concerning a right line, a Circle &c. and yet 'tis most certain that none of these are to be found in Nature according to that exactness supposed in the Demonstration. Such and such Attributes therefore belong to them not as they are in Nature, but as they are in their Ideas. This is a Notion very frequently glanc'd at by Saint Austin, and 'tis the Conclusion of Aquinas, that the Soul Omnia vera cognoscit in rationibus aeternis, Part. 1. Qu. 84. Art. 5. And of late years this Notion has been much im­prov'd by the ingenious Philosopher Du Hamel in his book De Mente humana. And if this be true in Propositions whose Subjects are in Na­ture, much more is it in eternal Propositions, whose simple Essences have not always a natu­ral existence. These can no otherwise be veri­fy'd but by the coeternal Existence of simple Es­sences in the Ideal world.

One thing I have more to add in the vindi­cation of this Essay; Whereas in the 3d Section it was asserted that the nature of Truth is sted­dy and immutable, and such as has no preca­rious existence or arbitrarious dependénce up­on any understanding whatever, and yet in the [Page 207] 5th Section 'tis affirm'd that it owes its exi­stence to some mind or other; lest one part of this Meditation should be thought to clash a­gainst another, I thought it requisite to adjust this seeming contradiction. For the clearing of which, we must be beholding to that cele­brated Distinction of the Platonic School, of the Divine Mind into [...] and [...] Con­ceptive and Exhibitive. Truth does by no means depend upon any mind as Conceptive, whether Human or Divine, but is supposed by it, which is the sense of the 3d Section. But upon mind as Exhibitive it may and does ultimately de­pend; so that if there were no God or Eternal Mind, there could be no Truth, which is the sense of the 5th Section. So that here is no con­tradiction, but all Harmony and Agreement. See more of this in my Letter of Ideas.

THE CHRISTIAN LAW Asserted and Vindicated. OR, A general Apology for the Christian Religion, both as to the Obligativeness and Reasonableness of the Institution.
[Page] [Page 211] THE CHRISTIAN LAW Asserted and Vindicated, &c.

1. I Design here to consider two things con­cerning Christianity:

  • 1st, That it is a state of Service,
  • 2ly, That it is a Reasonable Service.

The eviction of these two Propositions will con­tain both the Assertion of the Christian Law and its Vindication, and be a plenary justifica­tion of its Divine Author from the imputation of two sorts of Adversarys, those that reflect upon his Wisdom, by supposing that he requires nothing to be done by his servants, and those that reflect upon his goodness, by supposing him a Hard Master, and that he requires unreason­able performances.

2. I begin therefore with the 1st Proposition concerning the Christian Institution, that it is a service. It is most certain that the Christian Religion according to the genuine sense and design of its Divine Author, is the most wise and excellent Institution that could possibly be framed, both for the glory of the Divine At­tributes, [Page 212] and the best Interests of Mankind. And without Controversy (if we take it as 'tis exhi­bited to us in the inspired writings)1 Tim. 5. 16. great is the Mystery of Godliness. But if we consult the perverse glosses and Comments of some of our Christian Rabbins, and take our measures of the Christian Religion from those ill-favour'd Schemes and Draughts of it we meet with in Dutch Systemes, as some Christians are the worst of men, so will their Religion ap­pear to be the worst of Religions, a senseless and ridiculous Institution, not worthy the Con­trivance of a wise Politician, much less of him who is the Wisdom of the Father. It fares here with Christianity as with a Picture, that is drawn at so many remote hands, till at length it de­generates from the Original Truth, and wants an under-title to discover whose it is. And in­deed whatever Declamations are made against Judaism and Paganism, the worst enemys of the Christian Religion are some of those that pro­fess and teach it. For if it be in reality as some (who call themselves Orthodox) describe it, I may boldly say, that 'tis neither for the reputa­tion of God to be the Author of such a Reli­gion, nor for the interest of men to be guided by it, and that as sin took occasion by Rom. 7. 11. the Law, so may it (and that more justly) by the Gospel too, to deceive and ruin the world; by that Gospel which was intended as the Instrument both of its temporal and eter­nal welfare▪

[Page 213]3. For if you look upon Christianity as some men are pleas'd to hold the Perspective, it is no way accommodated for the promotion of Ho­liness and Vertue, but is rather a perfect Dis­charge from all duty, and a Charter of Licen­tiousness. For among other misrepresentations of the Gospel this is one, (and I think the most pernicious one that the Sophistry of Hell could ever suggest) that it requires nothing to be done by its Proselytes. A Notion so ridiculous and mischievous as is fit for none but a profane Epicure to embrace, who may be allow'd to make his Religion as idle and Sedentary as he does his God. Nay, 'tis not only ridiculous and mischievous, but in the highest measure Anti­christian. For what greater Antichristianism can there be than that, which strikes not only at some of the main branches, but at the very Root of Christianity, and at once evacuates the entire purpose and aim of the Gospel.

4. But to set this mark upon the right fore­head, there are three sorts of men that come in some measure or other under this Charge. The first are the Antinomians, who are impu­dent and ignorant enough in express terms to assert, that the Sacrifice and Satisfaction of Christ does wholly excuse us from all manner of Duty and Obedience, as if we Libertins of the Gospel were so far from being bound to work out our Salvation with fear and trembling, that we are not to work at all; and as if the [Page 214] Design of Christ's coming were only to satisfy for the transgressions committed against the old Covenant, and not at all to introduce a new one, and to discharge us from the Obliga­tion of the Moral as well as Ceremonial Law.

5. Nay some there are among them that carry the business yet higher, and exclude not only the Repentance and good works of men, but even the Mediation of Christ himself, at least the necessity of it, by supposing an Anti­cipating Justification or Pardon from all eter­nity, which they found upon the secret decree and Counsel of God.

6. The next that have a share in the fore­mention'd Charge are those, who make Chri­stianity a matter of bare speculation, and think all Religion absolv'd in Orthodoxy of Opinion; that care not how men live but only how they teach, and are so over intent upon the Creed, that they neglect the Commandments. Little considering that Opinion is purely in order to Practise, and that Orthodoxy of judgment is necessary only in such matters, where a mistake would be of dangerous influence to our actions, that is in Fundamentals. So that the necessity of thinking rightly is derived from the necessity of doing rightly, and consequently the latter is the more necessary of the two.

7. I am as ready to grant as the most zealous stickler for Orthodoxy can desire, that our under­standings are under obligation in Divine mat­ters, [Page 215] but withall I think it absurd that the Ob­ligation should terminate there, since then 'twould follow, 1st that all Theological Science were merely speculative, 2ly that we are bound to exact Orthodoxy in all speculations, (there being then no reason why in one and not in an­other) and 3ly, (which is the greatest absurdity of all) that we are obliged and tied up to no purpose, because nothing is effected by it. When­ever therefore we are obliged to soundness of Judgment, 'tis purely in order to the regula­tion of our Practise, and consequently solitary Orthodoxy does not satisfy its own end, much less that of Christianity. For to what purpose serves the Direction of the Compass, if there be neither wind nor sail to carry on the vessel to the Haven.

8. But there are yet another sort of men who are justly chargeable with expunging all Duty from the Christian Institution; I mean the Solifidians, who under a pretence of ad­vancing the merits of the Cross, and the free­ness of the Divine Grace, require nothing of a Christian in order to his Justification and acce­ptance before God, but firmly to rely on the satisfaction and merits of Christ, and without any more ado to apply all to himself. And here­in, they do not only contradict the general de­sign and particular expresses of the Gospel, but trespass against all Logic and common sense. They contradict the Gospel, in requiring no­thing [Page 216] but faith, whereas that (as we shall see anon) equally requires obedience. And they con­tradict common sense in requiring such a Faith. For they put the Conclusion before the Premi­ses, and make that the first act of faith which supposes others, and in due order ought to be the last. And besides, they make that act of Faith contribute instrumentally towards the ef­fecting of Justification, which in order of na­ture is consequent to it, and supposes it already effected. For I must be first Justify'd before I can rightly believe that I am so, otherwise I shall believe a false Proposition, since (as the most elementary Logician well knows) the certitude of the subject does not make but suppose that of the object.

9. But I could dispense with the unphilosophi­calness of this their Hypothesis were it not with­all unchristian, and utterly destructive of all Pie­ty and Vertue. The great mischief is, they un­ty the cords of Duty, and exclude the necessity of Obedience as really and effectually, tho not so formally and expresly as the Antinomians do. For they require nothing but Faith to qualify a man for Pardon, and tho afterwards for mo­desty's sake they come in halting with good works, yet 'tis at such a time when they might as well have left them out. 'Tis when the grand business (for which alone they could be neces­sary) is over, when the man is number'd among the children of God, and his lot is among the Saints. [Page 217] And to say here that good works are necessary to Salvation tho not to Justification, is a Myste­ry above my conception, or rather an absur­dity below my further notice. Nor will it salve the matter to say that they are necessary to de­clare our Justification before men, or to ascer­tain it to our selves and the like, for alas what does such a necessity amount to? No more than this, that they are necessary for such ends which themselves are not necessary. And besides, how can they declare or ascertain our Justification when they are not the conditions of it? So that 'tis plain both from the lateness of the time when, and from the incompetency of the grounds for which they insert good works, that they put them merely out of Complaisance, not be­cause they think them necessary, but because they are ashamed to declare expresly that they are not. Which appears yet further from the nature of those works they are at length pleas'd to insert. They are such (for there is nothing that these men are so much affraid of as me­riting) as are much short of that sincerity and perfection which is required by the Gospel. For 'tis notorious that they set the state of Re­generation so low that 'tis consistent with the dominion and prevalency of sin. A bare relu­ctancy of the Spirit (tho foil'd in the conflict) against the flesh, is esteem'd a sufficient mark of a Regenerate person; and this every sinner that has the least Remains of Conscience, the [Page 218] least Twilight of natural light left him must needs have; for no man loves sin for it self, nay he hates it as 'tis in it self absolutely an evil, only he chuses and wills it Comparatively to a­void (as he then thinks) a greater evil.

10. Thus as the Jewish Doctors didMat. 15. 6. the Law, do these men make the Go­spel, of none effect by their Traditions, and would questionless, were our Lord now on earth, have a severer woe pronounc'd against them as Perverters of a more excellent, a more perfect Institution. Strange, that men should corrupt and ridicule so admirable a Dispensation, and turn so great a grace of God into wantonness! That there should be some [...] in the Go­spel which unlearn'd and unstable men might wrest to their own destruction is no very hard matter to imagine, but that men should at once pervert the whole scope and design of it is prodigious as well as Antichristian, a Myste­ry of wonder as of Iniquity. And have these men the face to declaim against the Papists for leav­ing out one of the Commandments, when as they draw a black stroke over the whole Table? Nay further, have they the face to call them­selves Christians, and that of the Purer sort too, who thus evacuate the Mystery of Godliness? By the same figure of speech might the Heathen Emperours assume that sacred name, when they endeavour'd to persecute it out of the world. Nay much more plausibly, for they on­ly [Page 219] lopt off the Branches, but these strike at the very Root of Christianity, they applied their forces against the Professours of the Christian Religion, these against the Religion it self, and (what aggravates the malice) not as open ene­mys, but as Treacherous Friends, under the de­mure pretence of Purity, Orthodoxy and Saint­ship. They cancel the laws of Christ and at the same time pretend to advance his kingdom, call him Master, kiss and betray him. And how can it now be expected that these men should be more forward than they are to yield obedi­ence to the King, who have found out an Expe­dient to slip their necks out of Christ's yoke, and have made the Gospel in a worse sense, a Dead letter than the Law?

11. But certainly the gate that leads to Hea­ven is much straiter than these men are pleas'd to make it, otherwise there would beLuke 13. 24. no need of striving to enter in at it. There are things to be done, as well as to be believ'd and understood under the Evangelical dispensation, and Christianity is a Service as well as a Profession. To the clearing and esta­blishing of which Proposition I shall consider the Gospel under a double Capacity, 1st as a Law, and 2ly as a Covenant. And first as a Law. 'Tis most certain that Christ was a Law­giver as well as Moses, only as he wasHeb. 7. 19. an Introducer of a better Hope, so he re­quired better and sublimer Services. The ad­vantage [Page 220] of Christianity does not consist in hav­ing any abatements of Duty, for Christ was so far from diminishing or retrenching the Moral Law (for 'tis of that I speak) that he improv'd every part of it to higher senses than the most exquisite of the Jewish Doctors understood, or at least conceiv'd themselves obliged to; As is evi­dent from his divine Sermon on the Mount, which for the Perfection and Sublimity of its Precepts St. Chrysostom calls [...] the Top and Height of Philosophy.

12. And that he thus improv'd the Law of Moses, besides the evidence of Comparison, we have his own express word for it: I came Mat. 5. 17. not to destroy the Law but to perfect, com­pleat or fill it up. For so the word ( [...]) properly signifies. The [...] or rude draught was Moses his part, but the [...] or the painting to the life was Christ's. Moses drew out the main lineaments, the Ske­leton of the Picture (which was thereforeJud. 9. call'd the Body of Moses) but 'twas Christ that fill'd up all its intervals and vacuitys, and gave it all its graces, Air and Life-touches. And this is no more than what the Analogy of the Christian dispensation required. The great end and design of God incarnate was to perfect Ho­liness, as well as to retrieve Happiness, to ad­vance the Interests of the divine life, and make us Partakers of the Divine nature, and2 Pet. 1. 4. accordingly as he himself was the express Heb. 1. 3. [Page 221] image of his Fathers Person, so 'twas requisite he should consign to us an express image, a cor­rect Copy of his Fathers will. He was to make us better men, and accordingly, 'twas fit he should give us a better law, a Law that could not be satisfy'd but by such a Righteousness, as should exceed even the strictest among the Jews, that of the Pharisees. So that we are by no means releas'd, but rather more deeply enga­ged in Duty by the Gospel, as 'tis a Law.

13. Nor 2ly are we releas'd by it as 'tis a Co­venant. Here indeed begin the Abatements of the Gospel, not as to Duty and Obligation, for the Gospel makes all that our Duty which the Law did and more only (which in short is the true difference between the two Covenants) it does not make the strict and exact performance of it the Measure, the ultimate Measure where­by we are to stand or fall, but admits of Pardon which the Law knew nothing of. Not of ab­solute Pardon, for then the Gospel would be a Covenant without a Condition, nor of Pardon without Repentance and actual reformation of Manners, for then the Gospel as a Covenant would interfere with it self as a Law, but upon the sole Conditions of Faith and Repentance. For 'tis a great mistake to think that we are a­ctually Justify'd or pardon'd by the satisfaction of Christ; this wou'd be the most ready expe­dient to verify the false charge of the Scribes and Pharisees, and make him in their sense a [Page 222] Friend to Publicans and Sinners, to encourage all manner of vice and immorality, and to turn the Mystery of Godliness into a Mystery of Iniqui­ty. No, Christ in this sense has redeem'd no man. All that he either did or could in wis­dom do for us as satisfying, was in short to in­state us in a Capacity and Possibility of Par­don and Reconciliation, by procuring a grant from his Father, that Faith and Repentance should now be available to Justification, which without his satisfaction would not have been accepted to that purpose. Whereby it appears that he was so far from superseding the necessi­ty of Repentance and good works, that he de­sign'd only to make way for the success of them; He did so much that Repentance might not be in vain, and he did no more that it might not be needless. And thus does the wisdom as well as the goodness of God lead us to Repentance, by so ordering the matter, that we may obtain Pardon with it, and not without it, which are the two strongest engagements to action in any concern, that our Reason either demands, or our deliberation can suggest.

14. This I conceive to be the true Hypothe­sis and state of Christianity, which I might yet further confirm by infinite Authoritys from Scripture, which every where presses the neces­sity of good works as Conditions to our Justifica­tion and acceptance before God, but I think the more rational and unprejudiced part of the [Page 223] world are pretty well satisfy'd in that Point, and know how to accommodate St. James and St Paul better then some late Reconcilers. And besides, the wisdom of the Hypothesis sufficient­ly approves it self; 'Tis such as becomes the Perfections of the Divine Nature to exhibit to the world, and which the Angels may1 Pet. 1. 12. well desire to look into. For 'tis at once fitted to the necessitys of man, and to the Honour of God, to the infirmitys of the Animal life, and to the advancement of the Divine, to the relief of the Sinner and to the suppression of sin. Here Mercy and Truth meet together, righ­teousness and peace kiss each other. The Sacrifice of the Altar does not prejudice the Ballance of the Sanctuary, and the Divine Justice is so sa­tisfy'd that the necessity of Holiness and Obe­dience remains secured. Much is forgiven, and much is to be done, Duty continues as fast as e­ver, and even the Law of Liberty is a Service.

15. And now that this may not be thought a Hard saying, and make some of Jesus his Dis­ciples to go back (as once they did) and walk no more with him when they hear of Duty and somthing to be done, I shall now proceed to de­monstrate the Reasonableness of that Service which Christianity requires of us, which was the 2d general Proposition I proposed to speak to.

16. Religion is so very agreeable both to the Inclinations and Discoursings of Human Na­ture, [Page 224] that as none is capable of being Religious but a rational creature, so 'tis almost impossi­ble for a creature to be indued with Reason and not to be Religious. Hence 'tis that there is no Nation so barbarous and degenerate but what has some Religion or other, and tho ignorant of the true Object as well as manner of wor­ship, yet rather than wholly abstain from Re­ligious applications will adore implicitely, and erect an altar [...] to the unknown God.

17. Nay so great a congruity is there be­tween Religion and the radical notices and sentiments of a human Soul, that all mankind except only some few distorted and Anomalous heads (for there are monstrositys in the Soul as well as in the Body) are unanimously agreed up­on the fundamental and substantial Maxims of it, which for their correspondency to our ratio­nal Natures are usually distinguish'd by the name of Natural Religion. For there are Pra­ctical as well as Speculative Principles, and that he who does no hurt is to receive none is as evi­dent a Proposition in Morality, as that the whole is greater than its part is in the Mathe­matics, or that nothing can be and not be at once, is in the Metaphysics.

18. And as Religion and Natural Religion carry such a strict conformity to our Rational facultys, so does Reveal'd Religion too. All the lines of this as well as of the other point all the way at, and at last concentre in the Happi­ness [Page 225] and welfare of mankind. 'Tis a persuance of the same excellent end, only by more close and direct means. For God in all his intercour­ses with us does accommodate himself to our natures, and as he will not forcibly determin us to good because he has made us free, so neither does he require any thing from us but what is good and consistent with Reason, because he has made us Rational. And altho we cannot by this Candle of the Lord find out some ofProv. 20. 27. Hos. 8. 12. the great and wonderful things of his Law (for herein consists the formal difference between Natural and Reveal'd Re­ligion) yet when they are once proposed to us, they are highly approv'd by our Intellectual re­lish, and strike perfect unisons to the voice of our Reason, so that even the Animal man (for 'tis of him the Apostle there speaks) consents to the Law that it is good. Rom. 7. 16.

19. And indeed were it not so, it would be as unfit for God to propose, as hard for man to receive, since even the Prudence of a Nation is by no one thing either more justify'd or con­demn'd, than by the good or ill contrivance of its Laws. Shall not then the law-giver of the whole world enact that which is right, Gen. 1 [...]. 25. as well as the Judge of all the Earth do right? Shall he not be as wise in the framing of his law, as he is Just in the Execution of it? God in contriving the Mechanism of the material world displaid the excellency of his Divine Geo­metry, [Page 226] and made all things in Number, Weight and Measure. He establish'd the world Jer. 10. 12. by his wisdom, and stretch'd out the hea­vens by his discretion. And shall he not govern the Intellectual world with as much wisdom as he made the Natural one? Questionless he does, and the law, which he has prescrib'd to us, is as perfect and excellent, as that whereby he wrought the Beauty and Order of the universe. For the Lord is righteous in all his ways, Psal. 145. and holy in all his works. He has accom­modated his Statutes and Judgments both to the infinite perfection of his own Nature, and both to the actual perfection and capacity of ours. God is a spirit and accordinglyRom. 7. 14. (as the Apostle tells us) the Law is Spi­ritual. Man is Rational, and accordingly the Homage he is to pay to him that made him so, is no other than a. Reasonable Service.

20. But to be as compendious, and yet with­all as just and distinct as may be in so copious and plentiful a Subject, I consider, that as the whole rational nature of man consists of two facultys, understanding and will (whether re­ally or notionally distinct I shall not now di­spute.) So Christianity, whose end is to perfect the whole man and give the last accomplish­ment both to our Intellectual and Moral pow­ers, will be wholly absolv'd in these two parts, things to be believ'd and things to be done. If therefore in both these it can acquit it self at [Page 227] the Bar of Reason, the Conclusion is evident that it is a Reasonable Service.

21. First then as to the things which are to be believ'd. Now these are either the Autho­rity and Truth of the whole Christian Institu­tion, or the Truth of particular Mysterys con­tain'd in it. The Ist of these will appear to be a reasonable Object of faith two ways, Ist from the nature of its Design and its excellent apt­ness to compass it, and 2ly from extrinsic Argu­ments and collateral circumstances. And Ist, 'tis recommended to us by the nature of its De­sign, and its excellent aptness to compass it. It is (according to the precedent representa­tion) a very wise and rational Hypothesis, above the reason of man indeed at first to contrive, but such as when proposed it must needs ap­prove and acquiesce in, as at once the1 Cor. 1. 24. Power and Wisdom of God, because (as I first observ'd, and shall hereafter more plainly demonstrate) 'tis so admirably fitted to the Honor of God, and to the necessitys of man, thereby verifying that double part of the An­gelical anthem at the appearance of its Divine Author, and at once bringing glory to Luke 2. [...]4. God on high, and on earth Peace to men of good will.

22. And as it appears thus rational in its ge­neral Idea or Structure, and thereby speaks it self worthy of God, so 2ly that it came actually from him no Rational person can doubt, that [Page 228] considers that conjugation of Arguments, that cloud of witnesses whereby its divine Original stands attested. Such as are the variety of Pro­phecys and Prefigurations, their punctual and exact accomplishment in the Author of this In­stitution, his Birth, Life, Miracles and Do­ctrine, his Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension, with all the wonderful Arrear and train of Accidents that ensued for the Confir­mation of Christianity, such as the wonderful Sustentation, Protection, increase and Conti­nuation of Christs little flock the Christian Church, the miraculous assistances and miracu­lous actions of the Apostles, the Harmony of the Evangelists, the Constancy and Courage of his first Witnesses and Martyrs, the defeat of the Infernal Powers in the silencing of Oracles, the just punishment that lighted upon his ene­mies, and lastly the completion of all Prophe­cies that proceeded out of his divine mouth while on earth, which I shall here only point at in general, and leave to the inlargement of e­very man's private meditation.

23. Then as for the particular mysterys con­tain'd in Christianity, I know but of three that threaten any distarbance to our Philosophy, and those are the three Catholic ones mention'd by St. Athanasius, the Trinity, the Hypostatic union and the Resurrection. Now concerning the two first I observe, that they are indeed above the adequate comprehension of our Reason, but [Page 229] not contrary or repugnant to it. For as we can­not conceive how these things can be, so neither do we positively and clearly perceive that they cannot be, as we do in contradictions and things contrary to reason. But as to the last, I don't in the least understand why it should be Acts▪ 26. 8. thought a thing incredible that God (whose very notion involves Omnipotence) should raise the Dead. 'Tis true, we are as ignorant how this can be as in either of the former Articles, but that it absolutely may be there is much plainer evidence, especially to those who think it reasonable to believe a Creation. Which if taken according to strictness of notion, for a Production of somthing out of nothing, is most confessedly a greater and more difficult per­formance (as to the nature of the work) than the Raising of the Dead can be. Or if more largely for producing somthing out of prae­existent but naturally unapt matter, yet 'tis still at least equal with it. He that with the bare energy of his omnipotent word could inspirit the dead, stupid, void and formless masse, and make it move into a frame so elegant and har­monious, that the mere Contemplation of its Beauty and Order has by many Philosophers been thought a sufficient entertainment of life, may easily be presumed to be able to do the same in the lesser world, and with effect to say to a rude and disorder'd heap of dust, the Chaos of a human body, stand up and live.

[Page 230]24. But after all, were this Article of the Resurrection much more thickset with difficul­ties than it is, yet would we, before we venture to determine against its possibility, sit a while and consider, that we are nonplus'd at a thou­sand Phaenomenas in nature, which if they were not done, we should have thought them abso­lutely impossible (as for instance to go no fur­ther, the Central libration of the Earth) and now they are, we cannot comprehendEccles. 43. 'em, that we have seen but a few of Gods works and understand yet fewer, and lastly that as the possibility of the effect is above the com­prehension of our Reason, so the Power of the Agent is much more so, we should discern great reason to be cautious how we set limits to the Divine Omnipotence, and should rather sup­port our Faith against all Objections with that universal Salvo of the Apostle, I know 2 Tim. 1. 12. whom I have believ'd.

25. I descend now from the things that are to be believ'd to the things that are to be done in the Christian Religion. And that those may appear to be a Reasonable Service, I consider first in general, that the Christian Law is no­thing else but the Law of Nature retriev'd, ex­plain'd and set in a clearer light. Christ indeed added some new Precepts that were not in the Law of Moses, but not any that were not in the Law of Nature. That he only restored and rescued from the Sophistications of ill Princi­ples, [Page 231] and the corruptions of degenerate man­ners. For the clearer understanding of which Proposition 'tis to be observ'd, that the Law of Nature was twice retriev'd, by Moses and by Christ. Moses did it imperfectly, with a shaking hand, and with a rude Pencil; He adopted 'tis true, into his Table as many of Natures Laws as were necessary to the present state and ca­pacity of the Jewish people, but he did not ex­haust the whole Code and Digest of Nature. For there are many Instances and Branches of the Natural Law which are no way reducible to the Mosaic Tables, unless hook'd in by long tedious consequences, which as the Law never intended, so neither is one of a thousand able to deduce them from it, as appears in the in­stances of Gratitude to Benefactors, Love to Enemys, Forgiveness of Injurys, Humility and the like, which are excellences of the first Ma­gnitude in the Imperial constitutions of Nature, but not transcribed in the Copy and Extract of Moses, as too refined for the grossness of that Age, for the hardness of the Jewish people, and for the Infancy of that Dispensation.

26. This therefore was reserv'd for the work of a Diviner Prophet, who should retrieve the Law of Nature to the full, and restore it as at the Beginning. For he came (as he te­stifysMat. 5. 17. of himself, and as was before ob­serv'd to another purpose) to fill up Moses his Law, which implies that it was imperfect and [Page 232] deficient; and wherein should its defectiveness consist, but in wanting somthing of the Natu­ral Law. The Christian Law therefore is only the Law of Nature retriev'd.

27. This being premised, 'tis but now to con­sider what the formal notion of the Law of Nature is, and we have found out one general measure whereby to judge of the Reasonable­ness of the Christian Law. Now by the Law of Nature I suppose we all understand certain Practical Maxims or Dictates, the observing or transgressing of which, considering the present system of the universe, have a natural conne­xion with the well or ill being of man, either as to his private or political capacity. I say, considering the present system of the universe. For no question, God might have so contrived the Order and Scheme of the Creation, as that many of those things which are now for the in­terest, might have been for the disinterest of mankind, as he might have so framed the tex­ture of a human body, that what is now whol­some and soveraign, might have been poison­ous and pernicious; and in this respect I con­ceive the Law of Nature may be said to de­pend upon the arbitrary will of God, and to be mutable at his pleasure. But yet it still remains immutably true in the general, that whatsoe­ver has such a natural ordination to or conne­xion with the well or ill being of mankind, is good or evil respectively. This is the standard [Page 233] of morality and immorality, and the essential difference between Vertue and Vice. And 'tis as immutably true that some particular instan­ces should have such a natural connexion, stante rerum Hypothesi, during the present state and order of things. Now whatever has so, is an essential branch of the Law of Nature, and obliges us to act or not to act respectively to the Term of its Ordination. So that Bonum hone­stum is that which in the order of things is Bo­num utile, and conduces as a Natural Medium to Felicity, which is the End of man.

28. Hence then it follows, that the Christian Law which is nothing else but the Law of Na­ture retriev'd, consists only of such practical maxims, which carry a natural relation to the true interest and well being of mankind, and consequently contains nothing in it but what is reasonable, very reasonable to be done. But to evince this more particulary 'twill be requi­site to take a cursory view of the Christian Law. And this I shall consider first, as I find it summ'd up in general by our B. Saviour in answer to the Lawyers Question, what he should do to inherit eternal life, and secondly, in some of those par­ticular instances of it which seem most to cross the present interest of mankind.

29. As to the Ist, the summe which our B. Saviour gave of it was this: Thou shalt Mat. 22. 37. Mark 12. 30. Luke 10. 27. love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy Soul, and with all thy mind, [Page 234] and thy Neighbor as thy self. These he told him were the two great Commandments, and that there were none greater than these: and cer­tainly none more reasonable. For since man is not his own end, but has an Amorous Principle within him which transports him to good with­out himself, since he is not a Central and self­terminating Being, but by the weight of his af­fections gravitates and inclines to somthing further, what is more Reasonable than that he fix upon God as his Center, who is as well the End as the Author of his Being? And since what­ever portion of his love is not directed hither, will necessarily light (for it cannot be idle, and must fix somwhere) upon disproportionate and vain Objects, which neither deserve it nor can satisfy it, and consequently will but vex and torment him, what can be more Reasonable than that he unite and concenter all the rays of his affection both Intellectual and sensitive up­on God, and according to the strictest sense of this great Commandment love him with all his heart, Soul and mind? Vision and Love make up the full composition of our Celestial Happi­ness hereafter, and they are the nearest ap­proach we can make to it here.

30. Nor is the 2d great Commandment less reasonable than the first. The truest and most effectual way a man can take to love himself, is to love his neighbor as himself. For since man is a necessitous and indigent Creature (of all [Page 235] Creatures the most indigent) and since he can­not upon his own solitary stock supply the ne­cessitys of his nature (the want of Society be­ing one of them) and since of all Creatures here below none is capable of doing him either so much good or so much harm as those of his own species, as 'twill be his best security to have as many Friends and as few Enemys as he can, so, as a means to this, to hate and injure none, but to love and oblige all, will be his best Poli­cy. So far is the state of Nature from being (ac­cording to the Elements of the Leviathan) a state of Hostility and war, that there is no one thing that makes more apparently for the inte­rest of mankind than universal Charity and Benevolence. And indeed, would all men but once agree to espouse one anothers interests and prosecute the public good truly and faith­fully, nothing would be wanting to verify and realize the Dreams of the Golden Age, to anti­cipate the Millennial Happiness, and bring down Heaven upon Earth. Society would stand firm and compact, like a Mathematical frame of Ar­chitecture, supported by mutual dependencys and coherences, and every man's kindnesses would return again upon himself in the Circle and Reciprocation of Love.

31. But besides this Consideration of Interest, there is another which equally contributes to recommend this Law of universal Benevolence, and perhaps with more sweetness of insinua­tion [Page 236] than the former, and that is Pleasure. These two are put together by the Psalmist,Psal. 133. 1. who tells us, that 'tis both good and pleasant for Brethren to dwell together in unity. There is certainly a most Divine pleasure in the acts and expresses of Benevolence, so that if God may be said to take pleasure in any one thing besides the richness of his own infinity, it must be in the Communication of it. Sure I am, no man can do good to another without recreating and feasting his own spirit; nay, even the most happy and self-sufficient man who as to his interest has the least need to be kind and obliging, yet as to his Pleasure has the greatest. For he enjoys his happy state most when he communicates it, and takes a Partner with him into his Paradise, and receives a more vigorous joy from the Reflexion, than from the Direct incidency of his Happiness.

32. I might here take occasion to shew the Reasonableness of Justice and Honesty, with other particular Branches of this great Law, but the necessity of these is so notorious (no So­ciety being able to subsist without them) and withall so attested by the common vote and ex­perience of the world (it being the business of all human Laws, and the end of all Civil Go­vernment, to engage men to the observance of them) that I shall not need to make any Plea in their behalf. Instead therefore of lend­ing any further light to what shines already so [Page 237] conspicuously by its own, I shall now proceed to justify the Christian Law in some of those in­stances which seem most to cross the present in­terest of mankind.

33. There are some Precepts of the Christian Law which seem directly and in their whole kind to be against the interest of man. (For as for those which may accidentally and in some junctures of Circumstances, I shall consider them afterwards.) Now these I shall derive from that Abstract of Christian Philosophy the di­vine Sermon on the Mount. The 1st instance shall be in the Precept of Meekness, which our Divine Lawgiver has extended so far asMat. 5. 39. [...] that we resist not evil; which is not to be understood in Prejudice either of the Civil sword, or of legal Prosecu­tions for the reparation of injurys (for this would be to give the worst of men a continual advantage against the best) nor of public wars between distinct kingdoms (for they being un­der no common jurisdiction, have no other ex­pedient whereby to right themselves when in­jured) but only as to Private persons, who by vertue of this Precept are not permitted (un­less in apparent danger of life, for then the Law of self-preservation takes place, the Bene­fit of other laws being not at hand) I say are not permitted to retaliate evil, but obliged ra­ther with their Divine Master to give Isai. 50. 6. their backs to the smiters, and their [Page 238] cheeks to them that pluck off the hair.

34. Now this may seem a very disadvanta­gious and inconvenient command, in as much as it may be said by tying up our hands, to ex­pose us to all manner of contumelies and af­fronts, and invite the ill treatments of rude and disingenious spirits. But whoever seriously con­siders the matter will find, that pure and sim­ple revenge is a thing very absurd, and very productive of ill consequences, and in some re­spects, worse than the first injury. For that may have some ends of profit and advantage in it, but to do another man a diskindness merely because he has done me one, serves to no good purpose, and to many ill ones. For it contri­butes nothing to the reparation of the first in­jury (it being impossible that the Act of any wrong should be rescinded, tho the permanent effect may) but instead of making up the breach of my Happiness, it increases the objects of my Pity, by bringing in a new misery into the world more than was before, and occasions fresh re­turns of malice, one begetting another like the encirclings of disturb'd water, till the evil becomes fruitful and multiplies into a long suc­cession, a Genealogy of mischiefs. And by this time I think the man has reason to repent him of his Revenge, and to be convinc'd of the E­quity of the Law which forbids it.

35. The next instance I shall mention, is that of loving enemies. This runs higher than the [Page 239] former, that being only negative, not to re­turn evil, but this positive to do good. A strange precept one would think, and highly contra­dictory to Reason as well as Nature. But whoe­ver considers the great usefulness of Love and Benevolence to the interest of Society, will quickly perceive, that he ought not to be dis­ingaged from the observance of so necessary a Duty upon so slight a ground as anothers de­fault in it. I grant 'tis neither Reasonable nor possible to love an enemy for being so, (that is no proper motive of love) but yet 'tis very rea­sonable to love the man notwithstanding his enmity. Because the necessity of Charity is so indispensable, that it ought to oblige in all ca­fes. And besides, as by this means all enmity is certainly prevented on one side (which is of very great consideration to the public peace) so is it the likelyest method to bring over the other. Kindnesses will at length prevail upon him, who is proof against all the sense of Duty and Conscience, and the coals of fire which are heap'd upon his head (when nothing else will do it) will melt him down into Love and Sweetness.

36. There is one instance more, wherein the Christian Law seems not to consult the interest of human life, and that is in the matter of Di­vorce, which our Saviour allows in no case but that of Adultery. Now this also seems to be one of the hard sayings. For the natural propen­sion [Page 240] to procreation is not to be satisfy'd out of marriage, and marriage by this appendage seems to be such a Burthen, that theMat. 19. 10. Disciples might well say, if the case of a man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. But yet upon consideration, this also will ap­pear to be a very Reasonable confinement. For 1st, all the supposable inconveniences of this restraint may be in a great measure prevented by prudent and wise Choice. But suppose they cannot, yet 2ly, as 'twould be most advisable for some men to marry tho with this restraint, so is marriage with this restraint better for So­ciety than without it. For were there liberty of divorce upon other grounds, every petty dis­like would never want a pretence for a Dissolu­tion, and then the same inconveniences would ensue as if there were no such thing as the ma­trimonial Institution, such as diminution of af­fection to children, neglect of their education and the like; besides the perpetual quarrels and animositys between the parties themselves so divided, and their respective relatives, all which would bring more inconveniencys upon Socie­ty, than those which are pretended to be avoid­ed by distending and enlarging the licence of Divorce.

37. Now if to this Apology for the reason­ableness of Christianity taken from its condu­civeness and natural tendency to the interest of Human life, we further add, the Dominion [Page 241] and Right that God has over us, the great Be­nefits wherewith he has already prevented us, and the exceeding weight of glory laid up in Reversion for us; And would we further consi­der, that Holiness has a natural Ordination to the Happiness. of Heaven as well as of Earth, that 'tis among the [...],Heb. 6. 9. the things that accompany or are essen­tially retaining to Salvation, so that would God in mercy dispense with it as a Conditionary, yet we could not be happy without it as a natural Qualification for Heaven; Further yet, would we consider the great easiness as well as mani­fold advantage of Christianity, that many in­stances of Duty are agreeable to the inclina­tions of Nature, and that where there is a Law in our members that runs▪ counter to that of the mind, we have the aids and assistances of grace; that God has required nothing of us but what is substantially within the verge and compass of Human nature; For to believe, re­pent and love, are all natural acts, we believe some storys, we repent of some follys, we love some men, and God obliges us but to believe him, to repent of follys against him, and to love him. The Acts are the same for their substance, tho not in their determination. Lastly, would we consider how much all this is confirm'd by the Argument of Practice and Experience, that the Devil has more Apostates than Christ, that the number of those who leave sin, and come [Page 242] over to vertue, is much greater than of those that leave vertue and come over to sin, (which is the Apology that the Platonist Simplicius makes for vertue) the Conclusion would be pla­ced beyond the reach of controversy that Chri­stianity is a Reasonable Service, and that the Precepts of our excellent Lawgiver both begin, continue and end with a Beatitude.

38. I can now foresee but one Objection of any moment which the Argument of this Dis­course is liable to, which is, that altho vertue and vice have a natural ordination to the Hap­piness and Misery of life respectively, yet it may so happen by the intervening of some ac­cidents, that this connexion of things may be broken off, and that a man may be a loser by vertue, and a gainer by vice, as in the instan­ces of martyrdom and secure theft. And here the Question will be, whether it be then reasonable to act vertuously and unreasonable to do the contrary. To this I answer, 1st that it may be justly question'd (notwithstanding the inter­vention of any accidents) whether a man may be vertuous to his disadvantage, or vicious to his advantage, even as to this present state, con­sidering the internal satisfaction and ácquies­cence, or dissatisfaction and molestation of spi­rit that attend the practice of vertue and vice respectively. But supposing he may, then 2ly I reply, that here come in the rewards and pu­nishments of another life to supply the natural [Page 243] sanction of the law. Then 3ly, to the second instance I offer this in peculiar, that altho in some circumstances I might be dishonest to my present gain, yet 'tis very reasonable that all should be obliged to the law of Justice. Because if every one should be permitted to use secret Frauds (and all may as well as one) the evil would come about again, even to him whom we just now supposed a gainer by his theft, and as to the public 'twould be all one as if there were no Property, and then for want of encou­ragement and security, the final issue of the matter would be an utter neglect and disim­provement of the Earth, and a continual di­sturbance of the public peace. So that when all's done Honesty is the best Policy, and to live most happily is to live most vertuously and re­ligiously. So true is that of the Psalmist, I see that all things come to an end, but thy Psal. 119. Commandment is exceeding broad.

39. From what has been hitherto discours'd, I shall now briefly deduce some practical infe­rences and conclude. Since then our Religion is so Reasonable a Service, 'twill follow hence in the first place, that there may be a due exer­cise and use of Reason in divine matters, and that whatsoever is apparently contrary to Rea­son ought not to be obtruded as of Divine Au­thority, nor be accounted as any part of the Chri­stian Religion. An Inference wherein the Faith of the Church of Rome is not a little concern'd.

[Page 244]40. 'Twill follow 2ly, that no man ought to be persecuted, or have any external violence done him for his Religion, supposing that by overt acts he give no disturbance to the Public. For since God has required nothing of us but what is agreeable to our Reason, why should man?

41. 'Twill follow 3ly, that sin is the very Height and Extremity of Folly and Disingenuity. Of Folly, because it crosses and defeats the ex­cellent end of Man, which is to live happily and commodiously. And of Disingenuity, be­cause 'tis committed against him, who when he might by vertue of his supream Dominion have imposed upon us arbitrary Laws, (as that given to Adam) or hard and severe ones (as that to Abraham) has been graciously pleas'd to make nothing the Condition of our Happi­ness, but what upon other accounts would have been most advisable to be done. This certain­ly will render sin exceeding sinful, and leave the sinner without the least shadow of an excuse. We commonly derive the aggravations of sin from the greatness of God, but without question his goodness will supply us with as many, and in this sense also 'twill be true to say, as is his Majesty, so is his Mercy.

42. Lastly hence 'twill follow, that we ought to perform this Rational will of God with An­gelical alacrity and constancy, partly for its own excellency as 'tis a persuance of our interest, [Page 245] and partly out of gratitude and generosity to God, for giving us such excellent Laws, in keep­ing of which there is so great Reward. For not only the End of our Religion is Happiness, but even her very ways are ways of pleasantness, and Prov. 3. 17. all her paths are peace. Quintilian I remember, inquiring why former ages afforded better O­ratours than the latter, resolves the Problem into this, because there were then greater en­couragements and rewards. And if great en­couragements will make good Orators, why should they not make good men? Let us then make it our daily endeavour as we do our dai­ly Prayer, that this excellent will of God may be done here on Earth as it is in Heaven, and the more we do so, the more we shall still be convinc'd that it is our Reasonable Service.

[Page] [Page 249]A DISCOURSE CONCERNING Perseverance in Holiness.

1. ALL that is of any moment for the full Discharging of this Subject, will be absolv'd in these three Considera­tions. 1st, that man has one way or other suffi­cient power to persevere in a course of Holiness if he will; otherwise all exhortations would be in vain. 2ly, that 'tis also possible for him to fall from a state of Holiness; otherwise they would all be superfluous. And lastly, by shewing him what vast encouragements, what infinite engagements he has to stand.

2. I begin with the first, that man has one way or other sufficient power to persevere in a course of Holiness if he will. Where by Perse­verance, I do not understand a continuedly uni­form, equal course of obedience, and such as is not interrupted with the least act of sin, (for this is a perfection not to be hoped for, under the disadvantages of mortality) but only such a constancy of obedience as excludes all contrary Habits, and likewise all such acts of sin as are [Page 250] said directly to wast the Conscience, those I mean, which are committed against the clear and express Dictate either of natural Reason, or supernatural Revelation. And withall (to compleat the Character) such an Obedience as is attended with a sedulous care and hearty en­deavour to correct and subdue even those pit­tiable infirmitys, which can never be wholly put off in this state, but will always adhere like spots to the brightest Star in the Firmament. This I conceive to be all one with that disposition of Soul which with more compendiousness we u­sually call sincerity, in opposition to a perfect and sinless obedience. Now that man has suffi­cient power to persevere in such a course of life as is here described, (not to call in the assistance of any other Argument) seems to me evident­ly demonstrable from this single consideration, that to be found in the state above mention'd is the condition of the New-Covenant, upon the fulfilling of which, all our hopes of Pardon and Salvation depend. I do not say 'tis the indi­spensable Condition of our Salvation, that we persevere uninterruptedly even in this state of E­vangelical Righteousness (it being possible for a man after an interruption of a salvable state to recover into it again, as is plain from the case of David, St. Peter and many others) but that we be found finally in this state is the Con­dition of our Salvation. For if the Righteous man turneth away from his Righteousness, and [Page 251] committeth iniquitys and dies in them, the righ­teousness that he hath done shall not be mention'd, in the sin that he hath sinn'd shall he dye. Well then, if Salvation be not to be had out of this state, then it follows, that it must never become impossible to a man without his own fault to be found in it, since 'tis repugnant to the very na­ture of a Covenant (much more of this great Covenant of mercy) to have a condition an­nex'd to it, which in some circumstances, and that without our fault may prove impossible.

3. The Condition then of this new Covenant must be as possible to man in this state of dege­neracy, now his locks are shaven and his great strength is departed from him, as the Condition of the first Covenant was to him in his primi­tive might and vigour. Do this and live, is equal­ly common to both, the only difference lies in the This that is to be done, not in the possibility of the performance. Or if there are degrees of possibility, the advantage ought to lie on this side, this being (as was hinted before) a Cove­nant of Grace and Mercy.

4. Well then, if to be found finally in the state above describ'd be the indispensable con­dition of our Salvation, and if for that very reason (as it has been prov'd) it must not in any circumstance become impossible without our fault, it unavoidably follows, that 'tis also pos­sible to persevere in it without interruption, be­cause otherwise we having not the disposal of [Page 252] our own lives, it will oftentimes prove impos­sible for us (and that without our own fault) to be found finally in that state which is the Con­dition of Salvation; which is contrary to the supposition. The short is (to speak all in a word) the possibility of being found in a salvable state cannot be sufficiently secured, without a possi­bility of always persevering in it, and therefore I conclude it possible for a man to do so, which was the thing I undertook to prove.

5. But now lest man upon a survey of his na­tural strength, and of the Auxiliarys of the Di­vine grace, should pronounce himself absolute­ly impregnable, and should begin to say in his heart (as the Psalmist did in another case) I shall never be remov'd, thou Lord of thy goodness hast made my hill so strong, 'tis high time to turn the Perspective, and give him a more near, full and distinct view of his Condition, that instead of stretching himself upon the [...]ed of security, he may learn to work out his Salvation with fear and trembling. Which we shall do, by ad­vancing to the 2d thing proposed, which is, that altho man has sufficient power to perse­vere if he will, yet 'tis also possible for him to fall from a state of Holiness. Navigat enim ad­huc, for he is still upon the waters, and tho with the use of diligence and prudent conduct he may decline both rocks and shallows, yet if he venture to sleep within the vessel which he should govern, upon a groundless presumption that an [Page 253] Angel will be his Pilot, and that he shall be in­fallibly steer'd to the right Point by the arm of Omnipotence, he may notwithstanding the past success of his voyage, and his confidence of the future, be shipwrackt even within sight of the Haven.

6. I confess, when I consider with what strength and combination of Argument Chri­stianity both as to Faith and Practice does ap­prove it self to be the most Rational thing in the world, when I consider the nobleness of its Original (God being its Author) the excellency of its nature (it being most agreeable to, and perfective of our best facultys) its wholsome ef­fects and operations (the interests of Kingdoms and States as well as of private persons depend­ing upon it) and lastly, the greatness of its End, which is no less than everlasting Bliss and Hap­piness, I say when I consider all this, I am rea­dy to conclude it the most prodigious thing in nature that so very few should be in love with the Beauty of Holiness, were I not immediatly surprised with a greater Miracle, which is, that many of those few after some considerable pro­gress in vertue retract their best choice, and af­ter the good Angel has brought them within sight of the Mountain of Safety, look back upon the Region of wickedness.

7. This certainly is a Condition no less strange than deplorable, and calls for our wonder as well as our Pity. 'Tis true indeed, ignorance of the [Page 254] sweets of Religion may something lessen the wonder of not embracing it, and the Food of Angels may lye neglected on the ground so long as men wist not what it is, but for those who are once enlightned, and have tasted of the Heavenly gift, and are made partakers of the Ho­ly Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, one would think it as difficult for such to fall away, as the Apostle assures us 'tis to renew them again to Re­pentance.

8. But such is the imperfection and unsted­diness of Human Nature that from the begin­ning of things there have been instances of this kind. Paradise could not preserve man in his innocence, and the Garden of the Lord degene­rated into a Wilderness. Neither is this to be ob­serv'd only in man, who sits in the lowest form of Intellectual Beings, but the very Angels also, who are greater in power and mightJob 4. 18. are charged with Folly for leaving their own habitation. Those bright sons of the morn­ing could not long endure to be Happy, but grew giddy with the sublimity of their station and fell from the Heights of Glory. And altho the blessed inhabitants of that serene and peaceful mansion are now (as 'tis piously be­liev'd) fully confirm'd in Holiness and Happi­ness, yet man like this sublunary Region which falls to his lot to inherit, is still nothing else but a Scene of Changes and Revolutions, but in no­thing [Page 255] so changeable, as in that wherein he ought to be most fixt, the practice of Vertue and Religion. 'Tis a narrow and a rugged path, and he that treads surest is not secure from falling.

9. This will plainly appear to him that con­siders, that no Habit tho contracted by never so great a repetition of acts does necessitate the faculty, but only disposes it to act with greater facility, and consequently leaves it still indiffe­rent to opposite operations. Whence 'tis easy to conceive, that an Habit of Holiness may by degrees be abolish'd by contrary actions. For as this Habit was at first begotten by frequent acts, so may it be destroy'd by opposite ones, and (what is more) a contrary Habit may be at length produced.

10. This I say is very possible in the ordinary course of things, and that God should inter­pose here with an irresistible power to prevent it, we have no grounds from Scripture or reason to expect, and therefore 'twou'd be a most intole­rable presumption to rely upon it. My grace is sufficient for thee was the utmost degree of con­solation vouchsafed to the chosen Vessel; He had God's faithfulness engaged for it, that he should not be tempted above his strength, but yet notwithstanding this sufficiency, it must have been possible for him to have fall'n from his own stedfastness, otherwise I cannot imagine to what purpose he should [...] keep under his body, and bring it into subjection, and [Page 256] all for this reason, lest that by any means when he had preacht to others, he himself should be a cast-away.

11. What, did the Angels let fall their Crowns of glory, and shall man pretend to Indefectibili­ty? Indeed the Platonists tell us of an order of Beings call'd [...] and [...] minds, units and self-goodnesses, whom they suppose to be the closest draught of their Maker, and the Master-piece of the whole Creation. And these they say are essentially and in their own nature immutable, and the reason that they assign for it is, because they are pure, uncompounded spirits, and utterly abstract from matter. And altho these are the only Creatures which they affirm to be essentially immutable, yet they al­low a gift or Priviledge of Perseverance to cer­tain men. But then they are such as (according to their Hypothesis of Pre-existence) were not sent down into these bodys for any faults com­mitted in another state, but who came hither either out of generosity, or by divine dispen­sation to be guides and examples of Heroic ver­tue in the world. And these they say are secure of remaining good and vertuous, and of return­ing to their native Country again.

12. Now as to the first opinion of theirs, I can by no means make it part of my Creed. For to be essentially immutable, I take to be the in­communicable property of the Father of Lights with whom is no variableness or shadow of turn­ing, [Page 257] and who is the same yesterday, to day and for ever. No Creature how excellent soever can lay claim to this divine prerogative. And this I find acknowledg'd by a Person of great worth, and one who in other points was very Platoni­cally given; But here he has deserted his Ma­ster, as is to be seen in his Book [...] lib. 1. c. 8. And the generality of Christian writers seem to conspire with Origen in this, in­asmuch as they hold not only a Lapse of An­gels in general, but withall suppose him who is now the Prince of Devils, to have been once an Angel of the highest Order.

13. As to their latter opinion (not to med­dle with the Hypothesis upon which 'tis found­ed) I do not absolutely deny but that to some men who have for a long time given excellent proof of their obedience, and with unwearied resolution fought the Lord's Battels, God may at length vouchsafe such a plentiful portion of grace and so stablish them with his Free Spi­rit, that they shall never depart from him, partly to reward their past fidelity, and partly, that they may become burning lamps to give constant light in the Temple of God. For since 'tis confess'd on all hands, that God by way of punishment does withdraw his grace from some obstinate sinners, and give them up after a long abuse of his mercy to the fulfilling of their own lusts, 'tis but what the Analogy of reason re­quires, to suppose on the other hand that God [Page 258] may be so favourable to some of his most emi­nent servants, who have for a long time well acquitted themselves in the severest trials, as at length to give his Angels a peculiar charge over them to keep them in all their ways. And this sup­position seems not a little countenanc'd from what the Spirit says to the Church of Philadel­phia, Because thou hast kept the word of Rev. 3. 10. my Patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

14. But altho this be granted, yet it makes nothing against our present assertion, as every one must acknowledg that attends to these two Considerations. 1st, that these are extraordi­nary instances of the Divine favour, vouchsafed only to extraordinary persons, and to extraordi­nary purposes, and consequently when we treat of Gods ordinary dealings with the sons of men, must not come into computation. And 2ly, that even these extraordinary persons whom we suppose to be at length thus highly favour'd, were notwithstanding for a great part of their lives in a defectible condition, and that they are now no longer so, is supposed to be the reward of their past fidelity, so that they may say with the Psalmist, This I had because I kept Psal. 119. thy Commandments.

15. What hinders then, but that it be con­cluded possible for t [...] generality of men at all times, and for all men at some times to fall from [Page 259] a state of Holiness, and after they have tasted the liberty of the sons of God, to become again the servants of corruption? And sure those that assert the contrary destroy not only the excel­lency, but the nature of obedience, defeat and evacuate the design of all Scripture exhorta­tions, which would be as impertinent upon their supposition, as to exhort him to continue to live who is Immortal, pervert the order of things, arrogating to themselves in this state of Proba­tion the portion of confirm'd Saints, and lastly assume to themselves more, than many of the great Masters of Theology will allow to our B. Saviour himself in the days of his flesh. Did our Saviour seem to shrink at the apprehension of his sad hour, and to be at a stand whether he should drink off his bitter cup? Did his danger seem so considerable, that he was fain to betake himself to his great Antidote Prayer, and bor­row courage from the consolation of an Angel? And does mere man sit careless and uncon­cern'd, secure of the issues of eternity? See the indecorum, the Lord is in his Agony, & the Disci­ples sleep on and take their rest. But I think I have said enough to awaken them out of their dan­gerous slumber, and to convince them that all is not so safe as they dream, and that notwith­standing the present firmness of their station, there is still left a possibility of falling.

16. But now lest this possibility of falling be reduced to act, I proceed to consider the vast [Page 260] encouragements, the infinite engagements that he who is Holy has to be holy still. And these I shall chuse to represent to him in these two general Considerations. 1st, that he has made the best choice that he could possibly have made, and consequently, 'tis against all the reason in the world that he should rescind it. And 2ly, that if notwithstanding he does rescind it, he will not only lose the advantage of his best choice, but incur an opposite portion of mise­ry, and that in a greater measure than other sin­ners. These I take to be the most proper Con­siderations to inforce the grand Duty of Perse­verance.

17. The consequence of the first Argument proceeds upon this Principle, that that choice which is best is not to be rescinded. This Pro­position is so evident that it can hardly admit, much less need any proof, and 'tis practically confess'd by every man throughout the whole tenour of his life. For no man retracts his choice 'till he has alter'd the Dictate of his understan­ding (for otherwise he would chuse evil under the very Formality of evil) and has entertain'd other apprehensions of the object than he had when he first chose it. And this is that which makes up the entire notion of Repentance, which is nothing else in its precise Idea, when abstract­ed from particular matter, but a Retractation of a former choice, proceeding from the altera­tion of the Practical Dictate, disallowing that [Page 261] now, which was before approv'd. For this a man never does 'till he thinks he has reason to do so. And upon this account 'tis, that God is [...] and cannot properly repent, be­cause his understanding being infinite and rea­ching out to all the possibilitys of things, must needs dictate to his will after one uniform and constant manner, it being impossible he should either discover somthing afterward which he did not comprehend at first, or lose the appre­hension of somthing which he did. But the un­derstanding of man being finite and imper­fect at the best, and oftentimes corrupted and biass'd by the Passions, has at several times dif­ferent apprehensions of things, and being som­times under and somtimes out of the cloud, di­ctates to the will as the Sun shines upon the Earth, with a disuniform and unequal light. Whereupon (as it frequently happens in Courts and Senates) many Decrees are enacted, which at the next Session are repeal'd again, tho with this unhappiness, that somtimes her second thoughts are worse than her first, and that she somtimes retracts that which she should perse­vere in, as well as perseveres in that which she should retract. But whatever the Retraction really be, 'twas always thought for the best when made, so that he that repents him of his Holi­ness, as well as he that repents him of his sin, does it upon the change of his Practical Dictate, judging that not to be best now, which before [Page 262] was so pronounc'd, and consequently, they both own the Truth of the foremention'd Principle, that that choice which is best is not to be re­scinded.

18. This being firm, all the business in que­stion now will be, whether he that is Holy has made the best choice or no. And if it shall ap­pear that he has, then by the Principle just now laid down he ought not, nay he cannot be so much a Contradiction to himself as to rescind it. Now to convince him that he has made the best choice, I desire him to consider, 1st that he has chosen that which God had chosen for him before, so that his choice stands recom­mended to him by the Authority of infinite and unerring wisdom. And this is foundation e­nough to warrant a certain (tho implicit) per­swasion that it must needs be best for him. I say best for him, for God being already possess'd of all possible perfection, cannot act any thing for any self-advantage, and therefore whatsoever he does is for the good of his Creatures. For there is this difference (as Divine Plato excel­lently well observes) between the Divine love and created love, that the one springs from In­digency, and the other from fullness and redun­dancy. And therefore as God did not at first speak this world into being, to raise himself a monument of Power and divine Architecture, so neither does he govern the Rational part of it by the Precepts of Religion out of any self-design, [Page 263] as if he feasted his nostrils with the perfumes of the Altar, or his ears with the accents of an Hal­lelujah. For can a man be profitable to Job. 22. God, as he that is wise may be profitable to himself? Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that thou art righteous? or is it gain to him that thou makest thy way perfect? No certainly, and there­fore when he chalk'd out the ways of Righteous­ness and Holiness for man to walk in, it could not be for any self end, but purely for the good of man, and consequently (if infinite wisdom be to be trusted) it must be his best choice to be Holy.

19. Secondly let him consider, that the Pra­ctice of Religion consults a man's whole interest, and partly of its own nature and partly by di­vine constitution, tends to make him happy in all his capacitys, and consequently must needs be his best choice. As for impious and unjust Practises, if they do at any time promote a man's private and secular interest, yet 'tis always both at the expence of the public, and of his own e­ternal welfare, and then, what will it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own Soul? But now this is the peculiar gain of godliness, that it has the promise both of this life and of that which is to come, that it conduces to our advantage both here and hereafter. Interest and Duty are immediatly link'd together in this life, and every Vertue has a natural Sanction of Reward and Punishment respectively attending [Page 264] it, as I could easily demonstrate, but that it has been already done by many excellent hands, and particularly with Mathema­tic Dr. Cum­berland. evidence by a late writer of our own. And altho it happen somtimes through the unreasonableness and injustice of men that Duty and Interest interfere, and that Vertue be defeated of the Portion she is naturally endow'd with, yet she shall recover her own again at the great Assize, at the day of the revelation of the righteous Judgments of God. And altho instead of being rewarded it be our fortune to suffer for righteousness sake, yet we Christians know that it entitles us to one of our Saviours Beatitudes, and we are also well assured from one whose case it was to be so dealt with, that the suffer­ings of the present time are not worthy to be com­pared with the glory that shall be reveal [...]d, and that our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for us [...], a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. So that whatever difficultys and hardships Religion may somtimes engage a man in, yet when the whole account is cast up, he will find the Practise of Religion as gainful, as the belief of it is rational, that to be Holy is his best choice, and that he has infinite reason to pray in the words of Balaam, Let me die the death of the Righteous, and let my last end be like his.

[Page 265]20. And now one would think, that one who has so great and so apparent reason for his choice as the Religious man has, should not ea­sily be brought to retract it, and say with those in Malachi, it is vain to serve God, and what pro­fit is it that I have kept his ordinances? But because 'tis observ'd to be the Nature of Man to be more strongly affected with Punishments than Rewards, I shall for his better establishment in the purposes of Holiness present him with the 2d general Consideration, which is, that if not­withstanding the excellency of his choice he does retract it, he will not only lose the advan­tages of it, but also incur an opposite portion of misery, and that in greater measures than other sinners.

21. That he will lose the advantages of his first and best choice, is plain from the whole te­nour of the Gospel, Perseverance to the end be­ing the express condition of Salvation. And that he will incur an opposite portion of mise­ry, is plain from the double Sanction of Re­wards and Punishments wherewith God has bound us to the observance of his otherwise suf­ficiently profitable Laws. And altho this be sufficient in the severest trials to preserve us from Apostasy, and when flames of fire surround us to secure our footing in the Holy ground, yet thus far is but to dye the common death of sin­ners, and to be visited after the visitation of the Impenitent. But now if the Lord make a new [Page 266] thing, and the Desertor of Piety be punish'd in a greater measure than other sinners, then shall ye understand that this man has provoked the Lord.

22. And that he shall be so punish'd is the peculiar consideration which I shall now insist upon, and which I prove from the heinousness of his crime, Apostasy having in it many de­grees of evil beyond the common state of sin. For if after they have escaped the Pollutions of the world through the knowledg of the Lord and Sa­viour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled there­in and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have kuown the way of Righteousness, than after they have known it to turn from the Holy Commandment deliver'd unto them.

23. But to represent the heinousness of Apo­stasy a little more particularly, and that this sin above all others may appear to be exceeding sin­ful, let me desire the unthinking man to con­sider, 1st, that he that falls back from a course of holy living, does in a special manner grieve the holy Spirit of God. He sacrilegiously takes that from him which he had once most solemn­ly consecrated to his service, he defiles the seat of his residence, alienates it to profane uses, blots out the Tetragrammaton of the Temple, and suffers it to be no longer Holiness to the Lord. He disinherits his God, disturbs his rest, and forces him to leave the habitation whereof he had once said, This shall be my rest for ever, [Page 267] here will I dwell for I have a delight therein. Add to this affront of the H. Spirit that resided in him, that he grieves the Angels that attended him, and with much concern and hopes mini­ster'd to his Salvation. Those disappointed and unsuccessfull Guardians with sorrow cry out to one another as the Angels did in the Jewish Temple, when through many profanations it was no longer fit for their charge, [...] Josephus de Bell. Jud. lib. 7. let us depart hence. Neither does he disappoint the Tute­lar Ministers of his Salvation only, but causes universal grief in Heaven. Those kind and compassionate Spirits who before rejoyc'd at his Repentance and Conversion, and began to reckon upon the new accession they should have to the Quire of Heaven, now tune their Harps to the strains of sorrow and lament the disappoint­ment of their hopes.

24. Consider secondly, that to the sin of Apostasy is added the circumstance of inexcu­sableness. The man has enter'd within the veil, has seen the inner Beautys of the Holy place, and has been taught the secrets of the king­dom, his understanding has been instructed, and his will has been entertain'd, he has given proof of his Powers and abilitys and has con­quer'd the steepest part of the Mount his diffi­cultys lessen and his strength encreases; so that if now he retreat and slide back to the bottom of the hill, he has nothing whereby to excuse [Page 268] himself either before God or man, but stands in the highest sense of the phrase [...] self-condemn'd. We generally make some al­lowances for the miscarriages of those who were never enlightned, and have had no acquain­tance with the substantial delights of Religion, and the satisfaction of sober counsels, because indeed they knew no better, but when we are told that the wisest of men after a censure of Va­nity pass'd upon the whole Creation, and a long application of his mind to the excellent Theo­ries of Moral and Divine Knowledg, was yet to­ward the evening of his life when the Sun drove hard and the shadows encreas'd, drawn aside by strange women, and that his wisdom departed from him like the Dream wherein it was given him, this indeed we may lament, but cannot excuse.

25. Consider thirdly, that he who falls from a state of Holiness must needs do strange vio­lence to his Reason. If he be a new Convert he cannot sure without great reluctancy defile that Temple which he has so lately swept and garnish'd. And if he be a Saint of some consi­derable standing, sure he must be the more un­willing to break off a long-dated innocence for the unsatisfying pleasure of a moment. For tho (as 'tis well observ'd by Plutarch) men of despe­rate and bankrupt fortunes have little regard to their expences, because should they save them the tide of their estates wont rise much the [Page 269] higher, and so they think it impertinent to be frugal, when there's no hopes of being rich. Yet they that see their heaps begin to swell, and that they are within the neighborhood of wealth, think it worth while to be saving and improve their growing stock. But then after a long thrift and sparing, to throw away the hard purchase of many years in one nights gaming, is one of the Prodigys of Folly and Indiscre­tion. And yet this is the very case of him that lets go his integrity.

26. Consider fourthly and lastly, that the A­postate has the greatest ingratitude imaginable to aggravate his folly. Indeed every sinner is a very ungrateful person, because he trespasses against his best Friend and Benefactor, against him that made him, against him that died for him, and against him that follows him with the daily offers of his grace and lays stratagems of mercy for his reformation. But the Back sliding man sins against greater mercys, endearments and obligations yet. He has liv'd in the service of his Lord, has receiv'd the earnest of his Spi­rit, he has been of his Family, nay more, he has been call'd his Friend, he has eaten with him at his Table, he has dwelt under the en­dearments of familiar converse, he has been with him in his Banquetting house where the Banner that was over him was Love, he has pligh­ted his faith, given his heart and said with Pas­sion, My Beloved is mine and I am his, so that to [Page 270] turn Renegade now is the greatest beseness and ingratitude conceivable, 'tis to betray his Lord and Master after the obligations of Intimacy and Discipleship, 'tis to break the tables of his law after he has been with him on the Mount, and seen the back parts of his glory.

27. Since therefore the Apostate has so ma­ny peculiar circumstances to aggravate his crime beyond the guilt of common sinners, of how much sorer punishment suppose ye shall he be thought worthy who has thus trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the Covenant wherewith he was sanctify'd an unholy thing, and has done despite to the Spirit of Grace? which was the last general consideration.

28. What now remains, but that upon a se­rious consideration of the Premises, He that is Holy think himself highly concern'd to be Ho­ly still. That he lift up the hands that hang down; and sstrengthen the feeble knees, that he hold fast that which he has, that no man take his Crown, that he unravel not his holy vows, nor put him­self back in the accounts of eternity, that he be not frighted or laught out of his Religion, since 'tis his best and wisest choice, and will be found to be so in spite of all the profane drol­lery of supposed wits, in the day when wisdom shall be justify'd of all her wisdom. For then shall the Righteous man stand in great boldness before the face of such as have afflicted him and made no account of his labours. And they shall say within [Page 271] themselves, this was he whom we had somtimes in derision and a proverb of reproach; we fools count­ed his life madness, and his end to be without ho­nour. How is he number'd among the children of God, and his lot is among the Saints! Wherefore again, let him that is Holy be Holy still. Let him but maintain his station during his short warfare here on earth, and he shall be hereafter confirm'd both in holiness and happiness, and be fix'd in that Center where he shall for ever rest. For so says the Spirit to the Chur­ches,Rev. 3. 1 [...]. Him that overcometh will I make a Pillar in the Temple of my God, and he shall go no more out.

A DISCOURSE CONCERNING HEROIC PIETY, Wherein its Notion is stated and its Practice recommended.

1. SInce the Practice of Religion in general is not only the Natural Instrument of our present Happiness, but also the only and indi­spensable condition of our Future, one would think there were but little left for the Orator to do here, the naked efficacy of Self-love, and a serious consideration of our true and main In­terest, being sufficient to engage us upon Re­ligious performances. But he that shall under­take to recommend the Practice of Heroic Pie­ty, has a much heavier task, not only because he perswades to higher degrees of Vertue, but because he is to address himself wholly to a weaker Principle. For since our interest is se­cured by the performance of necessary Duty, there remains nothing but a Principle of Gene­rosity to carry us on to the higher advances, the more glorious Atchievements in Religion. And what small probability there is that it will of­ten do so, may appear from the ill success of the former and more prevailing Principle. For if [Page 276] the greatest interest imaginable can prevail with so very few to perform what is indispensa­bly necessary to secure it, sure there is little hopes that Generosity, which is a much weaker Principle, should engage many upon greater performances.

2. But yet, notwithstanding these discou­ragements, since our Blessed Saviour has taught us to pray, not only for the performance of God's will in general, but that it be done on Earth as it is in Heaven; that is, with the greatest zeal, readiness and alacrity, with all the degrees of Seraphic ardency that frail Mortality is capable of, I think a Perswasive to Heroic Piety may be a proper and useful undertaking; it being very reasonable we should make that the object of our endeavours, which our Saviour thought fit to make the matter of our Prayers.

3. In discoursing upon this subject, I shall proceed in this Method. 1. I shall state the no­tion of Heroic Piety, and shew what I mean by it. 2. I shall demonstrate that there is such a thing. And 3. I shall offer some Perswasives to recommend the practice of it.

4. The Notion of Heroic Piety will be best understood by considering what the Moralists mean by Heroic Vertue. For the one carries the same proportion in Religion that the other does in Morality. But before I proceed to explain the Thing, I suppose it will not be amiss to give some short account of the Name. That it is de­rived [Page 277] from the Greek word [...], is very obvious, all the difficulty is concerning the derivation of the Greek word it self. And here I find the Grammarians are very much divided; some de­rive it [...], but that seems somwhat hard; others derive it from [...], because 'twas supposed by the Ancients that the Souls of the Heroes had their abode in the Air, where they had a near prospect of human affairs; and ac­cordingly Xenon in Laertius, lib. 7. calls Heroes the Souls of wise men separated from their Bo­dies, and ranging about in the Air; others de­rive it from [...], because the Heroes are a kind of terrestrial Gods, according to that definition which Lucian gives of an Hero, [...], one that is neither God nor man, but a compound of both. Others derive it from [...], the name of Juno, who was the President Goddess of the Air, intimating thereby either the Habitation, or the light ae­real Nature of the Heroes. And this Etymolo­gy I remember is approv'd of by St. Austin, lib. 10. de Civ. Dei, cap. 21. But methinks the most natural and significant one is that of Plato, who derives it from [...], because of that ardent and passionate Love which the Heroes are supposed to have for God. And as the word Hero is very doubtful as to its Etymology, so is it also various in its acceptation. Somtimes it is attributed to illustrious and eminent Personages while living, such as act and live above the ordinary strain of [Page 278] Mortality, and render it a very disputable Point whether they are Gods or men. A Character which Homer gives of the great Hector, Iliad [...].


And in this sense the word Hero is used by He­siod,


Somtimes by Heroes are meant the Souls of wise and good men departed, as is evident from the fore-cited testimony in Laertius. But in the Platonic Philosophy by Heroes is understood a middle sort of Being, inferiour to those whom they stile the Immortal Gods, and superiour to Man; as is to be seen at large in Hierocles.

5. Beyond these three acceptations of the word, I do not know of any other. But this is certain, that in whatsoever sense it is used, it always denotes somthing great and extraordi­nary. So that from hence 'tis easie to collect what is meant by Heroic Vertue, (viz.) Such a ve­hement and intense pursuance of a mans last and best end, as engages him upon such excel­lent and highly commendable actions, which advance him much above the ordinary level of human Nature, and which he might wholly o­mit, and yet still maintain the Character of a [Page 279] good man. Aristotle in his Ethics l. 7. c. 1. calls it [...], that Vertue that is above us. By which, I suppose, he does not mean that it is above our reach and unattainable, but that it is above our obligation, and that when it is attain'd, it will elevate us above our selves.

6. In proportion to this Notion of Heroic Vertue, I understand by Heroic Piety those ex­cellent degrees and eminences of Religion, which, tho to arrive at be extremely laudable, yet we may fall short of them without Sin, God having not bound them upon us as parts of Du­ty, or made them the Conditions of our Salva­tion, but only recommended them by way of Counsel, and left them as instances of Generosity. Of this sort are those high and singular Exer­cises of Religion which are the fruits and effects of a profound and steady contemplation of God: Such as are the passionate applications of Seraphic Love, acts of ecstatic joy and compla­cency in the Perfections of the Divine Nature, holy transports of Zeal and Devotion, Praise and Adoration: earnest contentions and very numerous returns of Prayer, actual references of our most natural and indifferent actions to Gods glory, extraordinary works of Charity, great severities of Mortification and Self-deni­al, abstemiousness from many lawful Pleasures, perpetual Celebacy, and whatsoever else are the excellent products of a contemplative and affe­ctionate Religion.

[Page 280]7. Thus far of the Notion of Heroic Piety. I come now to my second Undertaking, which was to shew that there is such a thing. Tho uni­versality and sincerity of Obedience be indi­spensably required of every Christian, and con­sequently every part of Religion obliges under the penalty of Damnation as to its kind, yet that there may be some degrees to the attain­ment of which we are not so obliged, will evi­dently appear from the proof of this one single Proposition, That every one is not bound to do what is best. The reasonableness of which Pro­position appears from the very nature of the thing; for since that which is Best is a Superla­tive, it necessarily supposes the Positive to be good: And if so, then we are not bound to that which is best, for if we were, then that which is only good would be evil, (it being short of what we are bound to) which is contrary to the sup­position.

8. This Argument I take to be Demonstra­tive, and therefore 'twould be a kind of Super­erogation in me to alledge any more. But how­ever, for the clearer eviction and stronger con­firmation of this Assertion, I farther consider, that the Scripture consists of Counsels asMatt. 19. 20. and 21. 1 Cor. 7. 1, 6, 7, 25, 38. 2 Cor. 8. 10. and 9. 6. well as Commands. Now if some things are matter of Counsel onely, 'tis obvi­ous to conclude two things. 1. From their being counsell'd, that they are good (no­thing being matter of Counsel but what is so) [Page 281] and secondly, from their being only counsell'd, that they do not oblige, and consequently, that there are some degrees of good that we are not obliged to.

9. It is farther observable, that in Scripture there is mention made of a threefold Will of God. Rom. 12. 2. [...], That Will which is good, that which is well­pleasing, and that which is perfect. The first of these denotes absolute Duty, the two last the various degrees of Perfection and Heroic Excel­lence. Thus for St. Paul to preach the Gospel to the Corinthians, was an Act of strict Duty which he could not leave undone without in­curring that woe which he annexes to the omis­sion of it, 1 Cor. 9. 16. [...]. But to preach without charging them was an instance of Theophylact. Generosity, and in that respect there was room for boasting. Thus again, for a Jew to al­lot the tenth part of his Revenue every third year toward the relief of the Poor, was an act of express Duty, and in doing of that, he would but satisfie the obligation of the Law; But now if in his charitable contributions he should ex­ceed that proportion, according to the degrees of the excess, so would the degrees of his Perfe­ction be. Thus again in the matter of Devo­tion, daily Prayer is generally concluded to be a Duty, and by some Criticks that it be twice perform'd, in proportion to the returns of the [Page 282] Jewish Sacrifices, Morning and Evening; But now if a more generously disposed Christian should add a third time, or out of abundance of zeal should come up to the Psalmist's resolution of (Seven times a day will I praise thee) this would be a free-will Offering, well pleasing and of sweet savour, but not commanded.

10. From these and many other instances, which, if necessary, I could easily produce, it plainly appears that Religion does not consist in an indivisible point, but has a Latitude, and is capable of more and less, and consequently there is room for voluntary Oblations and Acts of Heroic Piety.

11. I know it is usually objected here, that what is supposed to be thus Heroically perform'd, is inclusively enjoyn'd by vertue of those compre­hensive words, (Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy Soul, &c.) But, I conceive, that all which is intended by that phrase, will amount to no more than, First, a sincere love of God, as 'tis opposed to that which is partial and divided; and secondly, such a de­gree of loving him, as admits of nothing into Competition with him. And thus far reach the Boundaries of indispensable Duty, it being im­possible that he who does not love God in this sense and degree, should keep his Command­ments. But beyond this, there are higher de­grees, which, because we may fall short of with­out sin, are the more excellent when attain'd. [Page 283] So that in this Precept of loving God, as in all other instances of Religion, there is a great la­titude, it being very possible for two Persons to love God sincerely and with their whole Soul, and yet in different measures (which is observ'd even among the Angels, the Seraphins having their name from their excess of Love) nay, for the same Person always to love God sincerely, and yet at some times to exceed himself, and with his Saviour (who to be sure never fail'd of ne­cessary Duty) to pray yet more earnestly.

12. There is another Objection yet behind, which I think my self concern'd to answer, as well in my own defence as that of my Argument. Some perhaps may be so weak to imagine, that by asserting such a thing as Heroic Piety, and that a Christian may do more than he is com­manded, I too much favour the Doctrine of Supererogation. But I consider, that for a Man to do more than he is commanded, is an ambigu­ous expression, and may denote either that he can perform the whole Law of God and more, or that, tho he fail of his Duty in many Instan­ces, and consequently with the rest of Mankind, is concluded under Sin; Yet in some others he may exceed it, by pressing forward to some de­grees of excellency he is not obliged to. I do not assert the former of these, but the latter. And I think I have sufficiently proved, that there are certain degrees in Religion, which we are not obliged to under Pain of Sin, and con­sequently [Page 284] that he who arrives so far, does (ac­cording to the latter notion of the Phrase) do more then he is commanded.

13. Having in the foregoing Periods stated the Notion of Heroic Piety, and demonstrated that there is such a thing, I proceed now to my third and last undertaking, which was to offer some Perswasives to recommend the Practise of it. First then, I consider that Religion is the Perfection of a Man, the improvement and ac­complishment of that part of him wherein he resembles his Maker, the pursuance of his best and last end, and consequently his Happiness. And will a man set bounds to his Happiness? Will he be no more happy than he is command­ed, no more than what will just serve to secure him from a miserable Eternity? Is not Happi­ness desirable for it self, as well as for the avoid­ing of Misery? Why then do we deal with it as with dangerous Physic, weighing it by Grains and Scruples and nice Proportions? Why do we drink so moderately of the River of Paradise, so sparingly of the Well of Life? Are we afraid of making too nigh advances to the State of An­gels, of becoming too like God, of antedating Heaven? Are we affraid our Happiness will flow in too thick upon us, that we shall not bear up against the Tide, but sink under the too power­ful enjoyment? Hereafter indeed, when we are blest with the Beatific Vision, and the Glories of the Divine Brightness shall flash too strong upon [Page 285] our Souls, so that our Happiness begins to be lessen'd by its greatness; We may then with the Angels that attend the Throne, veil our Faces, and divert some of the too exuberant blessed­ness: But now in this Region we are far enough from being under the Line, there is no danger of such Extremity, but rather the contrary, and therefore it would be now most advisable for us to be as Happy, and to that end, as Religious as we can.

14. Secondly, I consider, that since God, out of the abundance of his overflowing and commu­nicative Goodness, was pleas'd to create and design man for the best of Ends, the fruition of himself in endless Happiness, and since he has prescribed no other Conditions for the attain­ment of this Happiness; but that we would live happily here in this State of Probation, having made nothing our Duty but what would have been best for us to do whether he had comman­ded it or no, and has thereby declared, that he is so far only pleas'd with our Services to him as they are beneficial to our selves; this must needs be a most endearing engagement to one that has the least spark of Generosity or Ingenuity, to do somthing for the sake of so good a God, beyond the Measures of Necessity, and the re­gards of his main and final Interest. This is the only Tribute of Gratitude we are capable of paying God for giving us such good, such rea­sonable, and righteous Laws. Had the condi­tions [Page 286] of our eternal welfare been never so hard, arbitrary, and contradictory to our present Happiness, yet mere interest would engage us to perform necessary Duty, and shall we do no more out of a principle of Love to our excellent Lawgiver, for making our present Happiness the Condition of our future? Shall the Love of God constrain us to do no more then what we would do merely for the Love of our selves? shall we stint our Performances to him, who sets no Measures to his Love of us? Can our Generosi­ty be ever more seasonably employ'd than in endeavouring to please him in extraordinary Measures, whose Pleasure is to see us happy even while we please him? For so is the will of the wise and good Governour of the World, that in serving him we should serve our selves, and like Adam in his dressing and cultivation of Para­dise, at the same time discharge the Employ­ment which God sets us about, and consult our own Convenience: So that it fares with us in our religious Exercises as with the Votary that sacrifices at the Altar, who all the while he pleases and serves his God, enjoys the perfumes of his own Incense.

15. Thirdly, I consider, that every man has a restless Principle of Love implanted in his Nature, a certain Magnetism of Passion, where­by (according to the Platonic and true notion of Love) he continually aspires to somthing more excellent than himself, either really or [Page 287] apparently, with a design and inclination to perfect his Being. This affection and disposition of Mind all Men have, and at all times. Our o­ther Passions ebb and flow like the Tide, have their Seasons and Periods like intermitting Fea­vers. But this of Love is as constant as our Ra­dical heat, as inseparable as thought, as even and equal as the Motions of Time. For no man does or can desire to be happy more at one time than at another, because he desires it always in the highest degree possible. 'Tis true, his Love, as to particular objects, may increase or decrease, according to the various apprehensions he has of their excellencies; but then, like Motion in the Universe, what it loses in one part it gains in another; so that in the whole it remains al­ways alike, and the same. Now this Amorous Principle which every man receives with his Soul, and which is breath'd into him with the breath of Life, must necessarily have an object about which it may exercise it self, there being no such thing in Love (if in Nature) as an Ele­ment of Self-sufficient Fire. For tho we may ea­sily and truly frame an abstract notion of Love or Desire in general, yet if we respect its real existence, we shall as soon find First Matter without Form, as Love without a particular Ob­ject. And, as 'tis necessary to the very being of Love that it have an object, so is it to our con­tent and happiness, that it be a proportionate and satisfying one; for otherwise that passion [Page 288] which was intended as an instrument of happi­ness, will prove an affliction and torment to us. Now there is but one such object to be found, and that is God. In the application of our Pas­sions to other things, the advice of the Poet is exceeding necessary,

Quicquid amas cupias non placuisse nimis. Martial.

That we should be very cautious how far we suffer our selves to be engaged in the love of any thing, because there is nothing but disappointment in the enjoyment, and uncertainty in the possession. We must needs therefore be miserable in our Love, unless God be the object of it. But nei­ther is our happiness sufficiently secured by mak­ing God the object of our Love, unless we con­center our whole affections upon him, and (in the strictest sense of the Phrase) love him with all our Heart and with all our Soul. For otherwise, whatever portion of our Love does not run in this Channel, must necessarily fix upon dispro­portionate and unsatisfying objects, and conse­quently be an instrument of discontent to us. 'Tis necessary therefore to the compleating of our happiness, that that object should engross all our affections to it self, which only can satis­fie them; and (according to theMarsilius Ficinus, Tom. 2. pag. 315. comparison of an ingenious Plato­nist) that our minds should have the same habi­tude [Page 289] to God that the Eye has to Light. Now the Eye does not only love Light above other things, but delights in nothing else. I confess, such an absolute and entire Dedication of our love to God as this, is not always practicable in this Life. It is the priviledg and happiness of those confirm'd Spirits who are so swallow'd up in the Comprehensions of Eternity, and so perpe­tually ravish'd with the Glories of the Divine Beauty, that they have not the power to turn a­side to any other object. But tho this Superla­tive Excellency of Divine Love be not attaina­ble on this side of the thick darkness, it being the proper effect of open Vision, and not of Con­templation; yet however, by the help of this latter, we may arrive to many degrees of it, and the more entire and undivided our love is to God, the fewer disappointments and dissatisfa­ctions we shall meet with in the World, which is a very strong engagement to Heroie Piety.

16. Fourthly, I consider, that the degrees of our Reward shall be proportionable to the de­grees of our Piety: We shall reap as plentifully as we sow, and at the great day of Retribution, we shall find, that besides the general Collation of Happiness, peculiar Coronets of Glory are prepared for Eminent Saints. Indeed, all hearty and sincere lovers of God and Religion shall partake of the glories of the Kingdom; but some shall sit nearer the Throne than others, and en­joy a more intimate perception of the Divine [Page 290] Beauty. All the true Followers of Jesus shall in­deed feast with him at the great Supper, but some shall be placed nearer to him than others, and still there shall be a Beloved Disciple that shall lean on his Bosom. I know this Doctrine concerning different degrees of Glory, is (and indeed what is there that is not) very much que­stion'd by some, and peremptorily deny'd by o­thers; but since it is so highly agreeable to the goodness and bounty of God, and to the Catho­lic Measures of Sense and Reason; and is so mightily-favour'd, if not expresly asserted in many places of Scripture, I shall not here go a­bout to establish the truth of it, but taking it for granted, do urge this as another considera­tion of great moment, toward encouraging the practice of Heroic Piety.

17. Fifthly, and lastly, I consider, that We have indeed but very little time to serve God in. The Life of man at longest is but short, and considering how small a part of it we live, much shorter. If we deduct from the Computation of our Years (as we must do, if we will take a true estimate of our Life) that part of our time which is spent in the incogitancy of Infancy and Childhood, the impertinence and heedlesness of Youth, in the necessities of Nature, Eating, Drinking, Sleeping, and other Refreshments; in business and worldly Concerns, engagements with Friends and Relations, in the offices of Ci­vility and mutual intercourse; besides a thou­sand [Page 291] other unnecessary avocations: we shall find that there is but a small portion left even for the Retirements of Study, for our improvement in Arts and Sciences, and other intellectual ac­complishments. But then if we consider what great disbursements of our time are made upon them also, we shall find that Religion is crowded up into a very narrow compass; so narrow, that were not the rewards of Heaven matter of ex­press Revelation, 'twould be the greatest Presum­ption imaginable to hope for them upon the condition of such inconsiderable Services. Since then our time of serving God is so very short, so infinitely disproportionate to the rewards we expect from him, 'tis but a reasonable piece of ingenuity to work with all our might, and do as much in it as we can: to supply the poverty of Time by frugal management and intenseness of affection, to serve God earnestly, vigorously, and zealously; and in one days Devotion to abbre­viate the ordinary Piety of many years. 'Tis said of the Devil, that he prosecuted his malicious designs against the Church with greaterRev. 12. 12. earnestness and vigour, because he knew he had but a short time. And shall not the same consideration prevail with a generous Soul to do as much for God and Religion, as the Devil did against them? 'Tis a shame for him that has but a short part to act upon the Stage, not to perform it well, especially when he is to act it but once. Man has but one state of Probation, [Page 292] and that of an exceeding short continuance, and therefore, since he cannot serve God long, he should serve him much, employ every minute of his life to the best advantage, thicken his De­votions, hallow every day in his Kalendar by Re­ligious exercises, and every action in his Life by holy references and designments; for let him make what haste he can to be wise, Time will out-run him. This is a Consideration of infinite moment to him that duly weighs it; and he that thus numbers his days, will find great reason to apply his heart to more than ordinary degrees of Wisdom.

CONTEMPLATION AND LOVE. OR, The Methodical Ascent of the Soul to God, by steps of Meditation.

—Nisi ad haec admitterer,
Non fuerat operae pretium nasci.
Senec. Nat. Quaest. l. 1.

Contemplation the First.
That 'tis necessary Man should have some end.

1. IN the Depth of Solitude and Silence, hav­ing withdrawn my self not only from all worldly Commerce, but from all thoughts con­cerning any thing without my own Sphere; I retire wholly into my self, and there speculate the Composition of my Intellectual nature.

2. And here besides that faculty of Perception whereby I apprehend objects, whether Material or Immaterial, without any Material species; (which in the Cartesian Dialect I call Pure Intel­lect) and that other of apprehending objects as present, under a corporeal image or represen­tation; (which I distinguish from the other power of Perception by the name of Imagina­tion) I say, besides these two, I observe an Ap­petitive Faculty, whereby I incline to Apparent good; and that either by a bare act of Propen­sion, or endeavour to unite with the agreeable object; which answers to Pure Intellect, and may be call'd Will or rather Volition) or by such a propension of the Soul as is also accompany'd with a Commotion of the Blood and Spirits; which answers to Imagination, and is the same with the Passion of Love.

[Page 296]3. And of this I further meditate, and by self reflexion experiment, that altho the Perceptive Faculty be not always in actual exercise, or at least not in the same degree of it. (For, if ac­cording to the Cartesian Hypothesis there be no intermission of Cogitation, yet 'tis most certain that its applications are not always equal and uniform) tho this I say be true as to the Perce­ptive; yet, I find by attending to the opera­tions of my nature, that the Appetitive faculty is not only always in Act, but in the same de­gree of intension and Application. As it never has any total intermission, so neither is it sub­ject (as indeed every thing else in man is) to ebbs and flows, but acts uniformly as well as con­stantly. This Amorous Biass and Endeavour of the Soul is like that stock of Motion which the French Philosopher supposes the Universe at first endow'd with, which continues always at the same rate, not to be abated or increas'd. Not that this equality of Love is to be understood in reference to particular objects, any more than that of Motion in reference to particular Bodyes; but only, that it gains in one part, as much as it loses in another, so as in the whole to remain equal and uniform.

4. For however various and inconstant I may be in my love of particular objects, accord­ing to the various apprehension I have of their respective excellencyes; yet certainly I persue Happiness in general with the same earnestness [Page 297] and vigour, and do not love or wish well to my self more at one time, than at another.

5. And indeed since all my inconstancy in the prosecution of particular objects proceeds from the variety of my Apprehensions concern­ing their Excellency; and the only reason why I withdraw my Affection from this or that thing is, because I discern or suspect that Happiness not to be there which I expected, it is hence plainly argued à posteriori, that I stand at all times equally affected towards Happiness it self. As he that is therefore only variously affected toward the means according as he variously ap­prehends their serviceableness to the End, may be truly said to affect the End it self always alike.

6. Nor can it possibly be otherwise than that I should thus point at Happiness with an equal Verticity; because I always affect it in the high­est degree that is possible, which admits of no Latitude. For I consider my self here as a neces­sary Agent, and accordingly as such can nei­ther suspend the whole Act, nor any one degree of it, but must needs operate to the utmost stretch of my Power. This Spring of my Soul (my Appetitive Faculty) is always at its full bent, and accordingly presses and endeavours with its whole Elasticity.

7. For since Good or Happiness is the utmost object of my Appetitive, it must needs employ its whole Power, otherwise so much of it as is [Page 298] not in act will be for ever uncapable of being so; (there being nothing left beyond that to bring it into act) and consequently will be planted in me in vain, which I think absurd to admit; and therefore find it necessary to con­clude that my Appetitive is wholly employ'd in the love of Happiness; or that I always love it to the utmost capacity of my faculty.

8. Since therefore I find in my self an Appe­titive Faculty which is always in actual exercise, and that after an even and equal measure; and not only so, but also in the very Height of acti­vity and Invigoration; I am by the clue of Me­ditation further led to conclude, that there must be some Center for this Weight; some ob­ject or other, either within or without me, of such ample, copious and solid excellence as may answer to the full extent of my desires, bear the whole stress of my inclining Soul, and such as may well deserve to be call'd the End of man.

9. For I cannot think it any way consistent with the goodness of that great Being which call'd me out of the womb of Nothing to what I am, to plant in me such an Amorous Principle which at no time lies Dormant, but is always e­qually awake, and acting with the utmost ple­nitude of its vigour, supposing there were no proportionable object in the whole Latitude of Entity for it to fix and bottom upon. It being only a greater preparation and qualification for misery to have inlarged Faculties and Ap­petites [Page 299] when there is nothing to afford them a­greeable satisfaction. Which however some may be justly subjected to for their after-deme­rit, can yet never be reasonably suppos'd to be the Antecedent will of God.

10. And this I am further induced to believe, when I consider how the great Author of Na­ture has made provision for the entertainment of our animal Faculties and particular Appe­tites: All our senses, Seeing, Hearing, Tasting, Smelling and Touching, have their proper ob­jects and opportunities of pleasure respectively. Which makes it very unlikely that our great and general Appetite of being Happy, should be the only one that is disinherited and unpro­vided for. Especially considering that the en­joyment and indulgence of any of the rest is then only and in such instances and circumstan­ces restrain'd, when the greater interests of Hap­piness are thereby cross'd and defeated. Which argues, that the true Happiness of Man is the thing chiefly regarded by God; and conse­quently, that there is a Provision for that great Appetite of his of being Happy, as well as for any of the rest.

11. Which is yet further confirm'd to me, when I consider, that there is an exemplification of it in the material part of the universe. The most ponderous Body that is has its Center to­wards which it always presses, and in which it settles with full acquiescence. Now since there [Page 300] is somthing in Spiritual Beings which corre­sponds to weight in Bodies, (according to that of St. Austin, Amor tuus est Pondus tuum) the Analogy of the thing perswades me to think that there is also somthing which shall be to them in the nature of a Center.

12. And as the contrary is inconsistent with the Divine goodness, so neither can I reconcile it to the Wisdom of him who made all things in Number, Weight and Measure, to be so much out in his Proportions as to create an Appetite too high, vigorous, and craving, for the excel­lency and fullness of any object. This would be like making a Body too heavy for the Cen­tral Poise; or as if the Spring of a Watch should be made too strong for the wheel, or any other such disproportionate operations: which nei­ther comports with the Geometry of the Divine Mind, nor with the exact Harmony of his other works.

13. The Conclusion therefore from these Pre­mises is, that Man is not as a Body for ever, roll­ing on in an Infinite vacuity; or as a Needle continually trembling for an embrace: but that he has his proper end and Center; to which 'tis possible for him to arrive, and in which as im­possible for him when once arrived, not fully to Acquiesce.

The Prayer.

MY God, My Creator, who by that active Principle of Love and immense Desire thou hast interwoven with my Nature, hast given me fair grounds to conclude that there must be some End on which I may fix and Cen­ter with the full stress of my Faculties; point out to me by the guidance of thy Spirit this my true End, direct me in the persuance, and bring me to the attainment of it. Let me nei­ther mistake my true Center, nor by any irre­gular or oblique motion decline from it. But as thou hast appointed me for Happiness, and fur­nish'd me with natural Capacitys of receiving it, so let it be thy good pleasure to possess my Soul with such a serious and diligent Concern for my great interest, that I may not by any de­fault of mine fail of that excellent good which will fill all the emptinesses of my Soul, leave no desire unsatisfy'd, and no trouble I can under­go in the quest of it unrewarded. O suffer me not to be disappointed of that excellent, that only good: but as thou hast made me aspire towards it infinitely, so grant I may enjoy it eternally, for thy great love and goodness sake,


Contemplation the Second.
That 'tis impossible Man should be his own end.

1. BEing from my yesterdays Contempla­tion of my Intellectual Nature, and the stock of desires therein implanted, led to this Conclusion, that 'tis necessary man should have some end; I now consider that 'tis but to carry on the thred of the same Contemplation a little further, and 'twill as evidently appear, that 'tis impossible man should be his own end.

2. For while I stand fix'd in the Contempla­tion of my self, I observe that I have this Ap­petitive Principle, not only in such a manner as answers to Weight in Bodies, but also so as to be analogous to gravitation, that is, to Weight not only in actu primo, but in actu secundo, as it denotes such an inclination of Body whereby not only one part presses against another, but whereby the whole leans and endeavours to somthing beyond the bounds of its own circum­ference.

3. For besides Acts of self-complacency, where­by I delight and please my self in the perfe­ctions of my Nature, and turn as it were upon my own Axis; I find in me a great deal of Ex­tatical Love, which continually carryes me out [Page 303] to good without my self; which I endeavour to close and unite with, in hopes of bettering my present state, and of supplying from without what I seek, but cannot find within.

4. Hence therefore I conclude that I am not (whatever complacencies I may somtimes take in my self) a Central or self-terminative Being, it being as impossible that what is so should love any thing without, (as love is taken for Desire or Aspiring to good) as that a Body should gravitate in the Center. That which loves any thing without, wants somthing within. If therefore I gravitate I am off from the Center, consequently not my own Center.

5. And that I cannot ever Center in my self and be my own End, is yet further evidenc'd to me, when I contemplate the great Disproportion between my Appetitive and all my other Perfe­ctions whether of Body or of Mind. I desire both more kinds of pleasure than they all can afford, and more Degrees of pleasure in the same kind. Which must necessarily be, because my Desires are extended to all possible good, but my reall endowments and perfections are infi­nitely short of that extent. And by conse­quence, my Desires cannot be cramp'd within the narrow bounds of my own Sphere, but will of necessity run out farther, even as far as there is good without it.

6. And as there is a manifest disproportion between my stock of self-perfection and my Ap­petitive, [Page 304] as to its objective Latitude (viz.) the kinds and degrees of Happiness; so is there no less as to the intenseness of its Acts. This Appe­titive of mine (as was remark'd in the preceding Contemplation) is always in an equal invigo­ration, and burns with an even and uniform heat; but I have not within my self fuel enough to maintain this flame in an equal height. I always equally desire, but I am not always e­qually desirable: partly because I am somtimes (even in my own partial judgment) in a Con­dition of less excellence both as to my Morals and Intellectuals than at other times; and part­ly, because the stock of my Perfections tho 'twere possible they could be always alike as my Desires are, yet being both Finite in Nature; and Few in Number, cannot bear a long and unin­terrupted enjoyment, and appear still equally grateful under it, any more than a short Poem tho in it self equally excellent, can please equal­ly after a Million of Repetitions.

7. Hence it comes to pass, that I do not al­ways take an equal Complacency in my self, but am oftentimes (especially after long retire­ments) apt to be melancholy and to grow wea­ry of my own company; so that I am fain to lay aside my self (as it were) for a while, and relieve the penury of Solitude with the variety of Company, and so whet my appetite toward my self as I do toward my meat, by Fasting and abstemiousness.

[Page 305]8. Since therefore I always desire equally, but not my self; (being not upon the two ac­counts before mention'd always equally de­sirable) it follows, that the steddiness and even­ness of this my Flame must depend upon some other Fuel, good which is without me. And con­sequently, I do not terminate in my self, and so am not my own End.

The Prayer.

MY God, my Creator, who hast in thy great wisdom furnish'd me with Desires too large and vehement for the other Perfections of my Nature, and hast thereby made it impossi­ble that I should ever be my own End; grant me effectually to consider the Barrenness and insufficiency of my own Nature, and how un­able I am upon my own solitary stock to satisfy the importunity of my Soul: that so I may not be transported with vain complacencies▪ nor endeavour to bottom my self upon such a Cen­ter as will moulder away under me and deceive me. Let me ever weigh my self in a true Bal­lance, and be as observant of my imperfections as of my excellencies. Let me be ever thank­full for the one, and humble for the other. What ever else I am ignorant of, O grant me [Page 306] a true understanding of my self; that I may not to the vanity of my Nature add levity of Spirit, nor become despicable in thy eyes by being too pretious in my own.

Amen, Amen.

Contemplation the Third.
That 'tis impossible that any other Created good should be the end of man.

1. HAving by the light of Contemplation discover'd the necessity of man's hav­ing some end, and the utter impossibility of his ever being his own End; I am now concern'd to look beyond the Orb of my own Perfections, and to consider, whether the whole Latitude of the Creation can afford any good that will ter­minate the Amorous Bent of my Soul, and where­in I may sweetly and securely rest as in my end or Center.

2. And this I am the more induced to en­quire into, first, because I observe that the ge­nerality of men and those some of the most sa­gacious, thinking, and inquisitive, do persue many interests in this visible and sublunary world (which yet is the most cheap and incon­siderable part of the Creation) with as much fervency, vigour and assiduity, as they could possibly do were it the true End of man. So that [Page 307] one would think by the quickness of their motion they were nigh the Center.

3. Secondly, because I observe concerning my self, that there are some few things in the world which I love with great passion, and de­light in with somthing like satisfaction and ac­quiescence. Such as are Conversation with select Friends, or men of harmonical and tunable dis­positions; reading of close and fine-wrought Discourses, solitary walks and Gardens, the magnificence of the Heavens, the Beauty of the Spring; and above all, majestic and well com­posed Music. Which last, could I enjoy it in its highest perfection and without interruption, would, I am apt to fancy, terminate my desires and make me happy; at least I am well assured I should pity more than I should envy.

4. Thirdly, because I consider that the great Author of Nature is brought in by Moses com­mending upon a deliberate review all the works of his hands. That which before the divine In­cubation was [...] Solitude and inanity, af­ter the Spirit had moved upon the waters he pronounc'd [...] Superlatively good. So very Superlatively good, that even the glory of Solo­mon, in the judgment of him who was both greater and wiser than he, was not comparable to one of Nature's meanest flowers. And if the Beauty and variety of the Creature was so con­siderable as to merit approbation from him that made it, what is there of our Love and Com­placency [Page 308] that it may not challenge? That which can but please God, may well be sup­pos'd able to satisfy man: That wherein the Creator delights, the Creature one would think might fully rest and acquiesce in.

5. By such considerations as these when sole­ly attended to, I have been somtimes almost prevail'd upon to think that there is good e­nough in the Creation of God, if amass'd toge­ther and fully enjoy'd, to employ the whole activity of my Love, and fix the entire weight of my Soul. But yet when I consider experience, and compare the Aspirations of my Nature with the goodness of the Creation, I am driven to conclude, that altho the Creatures of God (whatever the Manichees say to the contrary) are all good enough to afford matter for enter­tainment and praise, yet they cannot detain and give Anchorage to the Soul of man. The mo­tion of the Appetite may be somwhat resisted by created good, and its force a little broken, but it will soon sink through, like a stone through a watery medium. Some repast may be found in the Creature; but as for complete satisfaction and termination of desires the Sea saith it is not in me, and the Depth saith it is not in me. All that God ever did or ever can make will prove insufficient for this purpose, and come under that decretory Sentence of the wise Preacher, Vanity of Vanitys, all is Vanity.

[Page 309]6. And this is first confirm'd to me from ex­perience, and that not my own only, but of all mankind. For as the weight of my affections (as was observ'd in yesterdays Contemplation) is extatical and inclines to good without my self; so does it press beyond that which is created too; and consequently argues, that the Creation without me can no more be my Center, than I can be to my self.

7. For not to insist upon the great Emptiness of Fruition, that every flower in this Paradise of God shrinks assoon as touch'd; that whatever Reversions and Prospects of happiness we may have, 'tis yet seldom known that any man pro­nounces himself tolerably happy in the present; that men are not pleas'd with that themselves, for which they envy another: not to insist, I say, on these and the like, did every any man, tho never so fortunate in his designs and never so well pleas'd in his attainments, find himself able to confine his desires within the sphere of that good he was possess'd of? 'Tis true indeed, he may desire no more of the same, he may have so much of Riches as to desire no more Riches, so much of Honour as to desire no more Honour; but he cannot have so much of any thing as not simply to desire on further. That is in short, he may be satiated, but not satisfy'd.

8. And this we have confirm'd by the inge­nuous confession of one, who dug as low for this Treasure as ever man did or could, that ran­sack'd [Page 310] the whole Creation, and seem'd to make it his profess'd business to extract if possible this divine Elixir, not as a Voluptuary but as a Phi­losopher, for Experiment and Curiosity more than for sensuality and pleasure. But what was the issue? Why, after the chargeable Operation the deluded Chymist sits down, recounts his gains, and finds this to be the sum of them, that his judgment indeed was inform'd, but not that his desires were satisfy'd; that he had with all his cost bought only this piece of wisdom, to know the vanity of the Creation so far as to give o're all further search, and lose no more time, cost and labour in a fruitless experiment.

9. And that what this great Enquirer after Happiness experimented is every mans case, I am further assured, when I contemplate that the greatest Favorites of Fortune, those who have had the world at command, and could en­joy all that is good in it with almost as little trouble as 'twas created, at a words speaking, have yet all along been subject to melancholy, especially after some notable enjoyment, as the Grecian Hero wept when he had conquer'd the world. Now what should the cause of this be, but that they find themselves empty in the midst of their fullness; that they Desire further than they enjoy; that however every sense about them be feasted to the Height, yet their remains a ge­neral Appetite, that of being Happy, which is not satisfy'd; and not only so, but because they [Page 311] suspect withall (as indeed they have very good reason, having tasted the utmost of Natures en­tertainment) that it never shall be. And from this Desire and Despair proceeds their melan­choly and dejection of Spirit. And to this pur­pose I call to mind a very remarkable story recorded by Eusebius Nierembergius, in his book De Arte Voluntatis, concerning an East­ernlib. 6. p. 537. Emperour, who was minded to try the same experiment upon his son as Solomon did upon himself, and to see how far the accom­modations of Life might go towards true Feli­city. He accordingly train'd him up from his infancy in magnificent Apartments, studiously remov'd from him all pitiable objects that he might not have so much as a Notion of misery, humour'd him in every Punctilio, and furnish'd him with whatsoever he either did wish for, or might be suppos'd to take pleasure in; till at length the unfortunately Happy young man ob­serving himself to be still in Desires, and that in a state of all possible worldly affluence, could no longer flatter himself with imaginary Pro­spects, but concluded that no condition would ever mend the matter, and so fell into extreme Melancholy and Despair.

10. Now I consider, that if mean Persons on­ly were subject to Melancholy, the Desire from whence it proceeded might be accounted for another way; namely, from their not having so much of created good as if possess'd might be [Page 312] thought sufficient to satisfy. But when men that sit on the top of Fortune's wheel, and drink at the head fountains of Nature, are yet liable to melancholy dejections, 'tis to me a plain ar­gument that the cause of this melancholy, their Desires, proceeds from a Deficiency in the things themselves; not that they are straitned in their possessions, but that the things which they pos­sess are weigh'd in the Ballance and found wanting.

11. Thus far is this Truth attested to by Ex­perience. But I am yet further assured of it when I compare the Aspirations of my Nature with the goodness of the Creation; for when I do so, I find they are very disproportionate. 'Twas a Celebrated Problem among the ancient Mytho­logists, what was the strongest thing, what the wisest, and what the greatest? Concerning which 'twas thus determin'd, that the strongest thing was Necessity, the wisest was Time, and the great­est was the Heart of Man. And well may that be call'd the greatest thing whose capacity can take in the whole Creation, and yet like the immense space, remain still an unreplenish'd Em­ptiness.

12. For my Desires are circumscribed with no limits, but run on indefinitely to all possible good. But now the good of the Creation, like the Creation it self, is bounded; the very notion of a Creature involving imperfection, as much as Body does Circumscription and termination. Hence therefore I conclude, that not only all [Page 313] the good of the Creation tho collected toge­ther into Extract and Spirit by the Chymistry of its great Author, would be insufficient to afford me perfect Satisfaction; but that 'tis not in the Power of him that is Omnipotent to Create any good that can satisfy my Desires, any more than to create a Body that shall fill Immense space. And consequently, that 'tis impossible that any created good should be the end of man.

The Prayer.

MY God, My Creator, who hast made all things for the present Entertainment, but nothing for the End of Man; grant I may ever justly discern between the goodness and the vanity of thy Creatures, that I may not either by not heeding to the former become unthank­ful, or by not heeding to the latter, become I­dolatrous. O keep this Conviction still awake in me how insufficient all created good is to­wards true Felicity; that I may not any longer with the mistaken Votaries of thy Son's Sepul­cher, seek the Living among the Dead, Light in the Regions of Darkness; and that I may no longer labour for that which is not bread. Let me not add care, labour and toil to the misery of unquench'd Thirst and unsatisfy'd Desires: [Page 314] but since I am certain never to find Rest in the bosom of thy Creation, grant I may be so wise at least, as not to weary my self more in the fruitless persuit of it. Withdraw, I beseech thee, my expectations of Happiness from all the works of thy hands: and fix them there on­ly, where there is no disappointment or delu­sion, even in the true Center of all Desire: for the sake of thy tender compassions,


Contemplation the Fourth.
That God who is the Author of man, is likewise his true End and Center.

1. WHen I Contemplate the Nature of man, and consider how the Desire of Happiness is interwoven with it; that Love is strong as Death and im­portunate as the Grave; that there is a vehement and constant Verticity in the Soul towards per­fect good, which begins assoon, and is as im­mortal as her self; and withall, how dispropor­tionately this Amorous disposition of the Soul is gratify'd by any entertainment whether do­mestic or forreign she can meet with in the Cir­cle of created good: I find it necessary to con­clude, that the great Being who commanded me to exist, is so every way perfect and all-suf­ficient as to answer that vast stock of desires our Natures come fraught withall into the world; since otherwise (which is absurd to sup­pose) of all the Creatures in it Man would be the most miserable.

2. For what man of thoughts is there, who af­ter a thorough Conviction that he can neither get rid of his desires, nor among the Provisions of Nature have them fully gratify'd, would not [Page 316] immediatly throw up his Title to Immortality, if he thought himself arriv'd to the Meridian of his Happiness, and that he must never expect to be in a better Condition than he is? For to have enlarg'd desires and nothing to satisfy them, is such a contrivance for misery, that 'tis thought by some to be the Portion of Hell, and to make up the very Formality of Damnation.

3. But to our great Consolation 'tis wholly in our own power whether it shall be always so with us, or no. There is a Being whose perfe­ctions are answerable to our Desires. He that made us can satisfy every Appetite he has plan­ted in us, and he that is Happy in reflecting up­on himself can make us so too, by the direct view of his Glory. He can entertain all our facultys; our understandings as he is Truth, and our wills as he is goodness; and that in the Highest de­gree, because he is infinite in both. He can more than employ all our Powers in their utmost Ele­vation, for he is every way Perfect and all-suf­ficient, yea he is altogether Lovely.

4. But to evince more particularly and di­stinctly that God is the true End of man, I shall consider, whether the conditions requisite to his being so are found in him. Now these can be no other than these two in general, 1st, that he be absolutely good and perfect in himself, so as to be able to fill and satisfy the whole ca­pacity of our Desires; and 2ly, that he be wil­ling that man shall partake of this his Tran­scendent [Page 317] Fullness, so as actually one time or other to fix the weight of his Appetite and be­come his Center. If therefore these two con­ditions are found in God, he has all that is re­quisite to make him our End. And that they are, is now to be made appear.

5. First then, that God is absolutely good and perfect in himself, so as to be able to fill and satisfy the whole capacity of our desires. There are several Topics in the Metaphysics from whence I might infer this, but I shall con­fine my present speculation to this one, that God is the First Being. This is a very reasona­ble Postulatum; it being too obvious to need any proof, that there is a First Being, or, that by the First Being is meant God. It remains therefore, that we try what advantage may be made of it.

6. When therefore I consider God as the First Being, I am from thence in the first place led to conclude, that he has eminently and in a most excellent manner in himself all kinds and degrees of perfection, that exist loosely and se­perately in all second Beings. And that, not only because the Effect cannot possibly exceed the vertue of the cause, any more than it can proceed from no cause: (which is the ground Cartesius builds upon, when he proves the exi­stence of God from the objective reality of his Idea) but because I further observe that in the Scale of Being all ascension is by addition, and, [Page 318] that what is dispers'd in the Inferiour, is collect­ed, and that after a more excellent manner, in the Superiour. Thus in Vegetables there is bare life, in Sensitives Vegetative life and sense, in Rationals Vegetative life sense and reason: and all this either formally or eminently with In­telligence in Angels. And since there is such an Harmonical Subordination among second Be­ings, so that the Superiour contains all the per­fection of the Inferiour, with a peculiar excel­lence of its own superadded; I think I have fair grounds to conclude, that the absolutely First Being has in his rich Essence all the scatter'd excellencies of the subordinate ones in a more perfect manner than they themselves have, with some peculiar excellence of his own besides.

Now tho a Being thus accumulatively per­fect and excellent, would be beyond all Con­ception, great and glorious, and would employ an Eternity in Contemplation and Love; we have yet seen but an Arme of this Sea of Beauty, and been enlightned only with the Back-parts of his Glory. For if God be the First Being, as is here supposed, I may further conclude that he is also the First Good: (Good and Being being convertible, and every thing having so much Good in it as it has of Entity and no more) and if he be the First Good, I cannot see how this Conclusion can be avoided, that he is Infinitely Good.

[Page 319]8. For I consider, that the First Good can have no Cause of that Goodness which it has: otherwise, it being necessary that the Cause of Good should be Good, it would not be the First. And if the First Good can have no cause of its Goodness, it can likewise have no cause of the Termination of it, since what has no cause abso­lutely and simply, cannot have a cause in any particular respect; and if it has no cause of its Termination it must necessarily be interminate or infinite, and Consequently God, who is the First Good, is infinitely Good.

9. And now breath a while my Soul; and consider what a rich Mine of Good thou hast Sprung. Thou hast found out a Being, who is not only the Ideal as well as Efficient cause of all created excellence; but who is Infinitely Good and excellent. This is he whose great Perfe­ction not only contains and infinitely exceeds, but Eclipses and quite Extinguishes all the Beau­ty of the Creature; so that (as the express Image of this great Excellence informs us) there is none Good, but one, which is God. This is he whose Good is incomprehensible by the understand­ing, and inexhaustible by the will and affecti­ons of man. This is the celebrated [...] of Aristotle, the [...] of Plato, and the El Shaddai of the Hebrews. This is the great [...] the universal Plenitude, whose Hap­piness is consummated within his own Circle; who supports himself upon the Basis of his own [Page 320] All-Sufficiency, and is his own End and Center.

10. And now what is there more requisite to qualify him for being mine also but this only; that he be willing that man shall partake of this his transcendent fullness, so as actually one time or other to fix the Weight of his Appetite; which was the second Condition.

11. And that this is also found in God, I think I have sufficient assurance from these two things; the Absolute Perfection of his Nature; and those express Revelations he has made of his Will, as to this particular. As for the Na­ture of God, it involves, as in Notion and Con­ception, so likewise in Truth and reality, (as was above demonstrated) absolute and infinite Perfection; and consequently, includes a Be­neficent and Communicative disposition; this be­ing a Perfection.

12. Nor does the Superlative eminency of the Divine nature only argue him to be Com­municative, but to be the Most Communica­tive and Selfdiffusive of all Beings. For, as all Kinds, so all degrees of excellency must of necessity be included in a Being absolutely and infinitely perfect, such as God is. Whence it will also follow, that he is not only the most Communicative of all Beings, but that he will also Communicate himself: and not only so, but in such an ample and liberal measure too, as entirely to satisfy the most aspiring & reach­ing Appetite of man; Since Otherwise some [Page 321] degrees of Communicativeness & consequent­ly of Excellence would be wanting; which is absurd to suppose in a Being absolutely perfect. Especially considering, that those importunate desires of Human nature are of his own plant­ing, which as it firmly assures us of his being able, so is it no less cogent an Argument for his being willing to be our Center; it being incre­dible that so infinite an Excellence should plant in man such desires, as either he could not or would not satisfy.

13. And of this willingness of God that man should partake of his fullness, so far as to bot­tom upon it, and acquiesce in it, there is yet further assurance from many express Revela­tions of his good pleasure to that purpose. Which consist of two kinds, express words, wherein he professes himself passionately desirous of the Salvation and happiness of man; and two very notable and signal Acts; namely, the consign­ing to the world a copy of his Will, as a Chart to direct us to the true Haven of Rest and An­chorage; and the sending his Beloved Son from the mansions of glory to dislodge the angry Guardian of Paradise, and re-open for us an Entrance into the joy of our Lord. By both which kinds of revelation he has given us the highest assurance imaginable, that he designs not to engross and monopolize the Perfections of his rich essence, but that he is heartily willing to admit man to a participation of that excellent [Page 322] good, wherein he himself is Happy; to give him (as the Psalmist expresses it) everlasting fe­licity, and make him glad with the joy of his coun­tenance.

14. To which Considerations I might fur­ther add, that this excellent communicative­ness of the Divine nature is typically represent­ed and mysteriously exemplify'd by the Porphy­rian Scale of Being. For as there the lower de­grees are determin'd and contracted, but the Higher more common and extensive, so is it in the real Scale of Being. The inferiour, which are either matter, or complicated and twisted with matter, are more contracted, narrow, selfish and illiberal; but the superiour as they are less immers'd in and allay'd with matter, so are they more open, diffusive and free. For indeed all contraction and consinement is from mat­ter, but 'tis Form and Spirit that is the Root of all freeness and inlargement. And thus we see in bodys; the more of kin they are to Spirit in subtilty and refinement, the more spreading are they and self-diffusive. Whereupon Light, which of all Bodys is nearest ally'd to Spirit, is also most diffusive and self-communicative. God therefore, who is at the very top of all Being, who is an absolute, mere and Spiritual Act, and who lastly is such a pure Light as in which there is no darkness at all, must needs be infinitely self­imparting and Communicative; & consequent­ly, wants nothing to qualify him to be the true End and Center of Man.

The Prayer.

MY God, my Happiness, who art as well the End as the Author of my Being; who hast more perfection than I have desire, and art also seriously willing to quench my great Thirst in the Ocean of thy Perfection; I beseech thee shew me thy Glory. Withdraw thy hand from the Clift of the rock, and remove the bounds from the Mount of thy Presence, that I may see thee as thou art, face to face, and ever dwell in the light of thy Beauty. I have long dwelt with Vanity and Emptiness, and have made my self weary in the persuit of Rest. O let me not fail at last, after my many wandrings and dis­appointments, to be taken up into this true and only Ark of repose and security, where I may for ever rest, and for ever bless the Author of my Happiness. In the mean time strike, I be­seech thee, my Soul with such lively and ravish­ing apprehensions of thy excellencies, such bright irradiations of thy divine light, that I may see enough to love thee infinitely, to de­pend on thee for my happiness entirely, to live upon holy hopes and comfortable expectations, and to bear up my Spirit under the greatest Ari­ditys and dejections with the delightfull pro­spect of thy Glorys. O let me sit down under [Page 324] this thy shadow with great delight, till the fruit of thy Tree of life shall be sweet to my tast. Let me stay and entertain my longing Soul with the Contemplation of thy Beauty, till thou shalt condescend to kiss me with the kisses of thy mouth, till thou shalt bring me into thy banquet­ting house, where Vision shall be the support of my Spirit, and thy Banner over me shall be Love. Grant this O my God, my Happiness, for the sake of thy great love, and of the Son of thy love, Christ Jesus.


Contemplation the Fifth.
Two Corollaries hence deduc'd: the first whereof is, that God is therefore to be loved with all possible application and ele­vation of Spirit, with all the heart, soul and mind.

1. AMong the Perfections of human nature the faculty of desiring or reaching out after agreeable Objects is not the least consider­able, and 'tis the peculiar glory of man to be an Amorous, as well as a Rational Being. For by this he supplies the defects of his nature, not only enjoys the good he unites with, but digests it as it were into himself and makes it his own, and relieves his domestic poverty by forreign ne­gotiation.

2. But tho the Pathetic part of man be one of the noblest perfections he is furnish'd with, yet so generally faulty are we in the due appli­cation and direction of this noble faculty, that to be pathetically and amorously dispos'd is lookt upon by some not as a Perfection but as a Disease of the Soul, and is condemn'd by a whole order of men as inconsistent with the Character of wisdom, according to that Stoical Apho­rism, Amare simul & sapere ipsi Jovi non datur.

3. But certainly, Eve was intended as a Help for Adam, tho in the event she prov'd the in­strument [Page 326] of his seduction; and our Passions were given us to perfect and accomplish our natures, tho by accidental misapplications to unworthy objects they may turn to our degradation and dishonour. We may indeed be debased as well as innobled by them, but then the fault is not in the large Sails, but in the ill conduct of the Pilot, if our Vessel miss the Haven. The Tide of our love can never run too high, provided it take a right Channel; our Passion then will be our highest Wisdom: and he was no Stoic that said, as the Hart panteth after the water Psal. 42. brooks, so panteth my Soul after thee O God. And again, my Soul is athirst for God. And a­gain, my Soul breaketh out for fervent de­sire. Psal. 119. Psal. 73. 24. And again, whom have I in Hea­ven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of thee.

4. Being therefore from the foregoing Pe­riods arrived to this Conclusion, that God is the true End and Center of man, I think I ought now to let loose the reins of my affections, to unbay the current of my Passion, and love on without any other boundary or measure than what is set me by the finiteness of my natural powers.

5. 'Tis true indeed, whenever we turn the Edge of our desire towards any Created good, 'tis Prudence as well as Religion to use caution and moderation, to gage the Point of our affe­ctions lest it run in too far; there being so much [Page 327] emptiness in the enjoyment, and so much hazard in the Possession. When we venture to lean up­on such objects we are like men that walk upon a Quagmire, and therefore should tread as light­ly as we can, lest it give way and sink under us.

6. But how excellent a Vertue soever Mode­ration may be in our concernments with other objects, we have nothing to do with it in the love of that Being who is our End and Center. There is here danger but of one Extreme, and that is of the defect. We can love but finitely when we have lov'd our utmost; and what is that to him who is infinitely lovely? Since there­fore our most liberal proportions will be infi­nitely short and scanty, we ought not sure to give new retrenchments to our love, and cut it yet shorter by frugal limitations.

7. For if God be our End and Center he must necessarily have all that good in him which we can possibly desire; and if so, then he is able to stay and satisfy all our Love; and if so, then nothing so reasonable as that he should have it all. We are therefore to love him with all pos­sible application and elevation of Spirit, with all the heart, Soul and mind. We should collect and concenter all the rays of our love into this one Point, and lean towards God with the whole weight of our Soul, as all that is ponder­ous in nature tends with its whole weight toward the Center. And this we should do as directly as may be, with as little warping and declension [Page 328] the Creature as is possible. For so also 'tis to be observ'd in nature, that not only all weight or Pondus tends toward the Center, but that also it moves thither as nigh as it can in a direct and perpendicular line.

The Prayer.

MY God, my Happiness, who art fairer than the Children of men, and who thy self art very Love as well as altogether lovely, draw me and I will run after thee. O wind up my Soul to the highest pitch of Love that my facultys will bear, and let me never alienate any degree of that noble Passion from thee its only due ob­ject. Quench in me all terrene fires and sensual relishes, and do thou wound me deep, and strike me through with the arrows of a divine Passion, that as thou art all Beauty and Perfection, so I may be all Love and Devotion. My heart is rea­dy O God, my heart is ready for a Burnt offer­ing; send down then an holy fire from above to kindle the Sacrifice, and do thou continual­ly fan and keep alive, and clarify the flame, that I may be ever ascending up to thee in de­vout breathings, and pious Aspirations, till at length I ascend in Spirit to the Element of Love, where I shall know thee more clearly [Page 329] and love thee more Seraphically, and receive those peculiar coronets of glory thou hast re­serv'd for those that eminently love thee,


Contemplation the Sixth.
The second Corollarŷ: that therefore God is ultimately to be refer'd to in all our actions, and that he is not to be used by us, but enjoyed.

1. AS there is nothing of greater and more universal moment to the regular ordi­nation of human life, than rightly to accom­modate the Means and the End, and to make them uniform and Symbolical; so is there no­thing wherein men are more universally pec­cant and defective, and that not only in Pra­ctice, but also in Notion and Theory.

2. For altho to do an ill action for a good End, and to do a good action for an ill End, are generally acknowledg'd alike criminal, yet concerning this latter 'tis observable, that men usually think the morality of their actions suf­ficiently secured, if the End proposed be not in its own nature specifically evil. Whereas in­deed there is yet another way whereby an End may become evil, namely, by being rested in when 'tis not the last, without any further re­spect or reference. By this undue and ill-plac'd [Page 330] Acquiescence, an End that is otherwise in its own intrinsic nature good, upon the whole com­mences evil. For tho it be good to be chosen, it is yet ill to be rested in.

3. For indeed 'tis against the order and oe­conomy of things as well as against the perfe­ction of Religion, that any End should be ulti­mately rested in but what is truly the last. Now the last end of action can be no other than that which is the last end of the will which is, the Spring of action. This therefore being God (as appears from what I have already contempla­ted) it follows, that he ought to be the ultimate End of all our actions, that we ought not in any of our motions to stop short of this Center, but in all our actions to make a further reference either actual or habitual, and according to that of the Apostle, whether we eat or drink to do all to the glory of God.

4. For what can be more absurd and incon­gruous than to turn the Means into the End, and the End into the Means, to enjoy what ought to be only used, and to use what ought to be enjoyed? God is our last End, and therefore must not be desired for any thing but himself, nor used as a means to accomplish any other Design. Which also concludes against all those who make Religion a Point of Secular interest, and a tool of State-policy, whereas that ought to prescribe, and not receive measures from any Human affairs.

The Prayer.

MY God, my Happiness, who art the last end of my Desires, the very utmost of all Perfection, and beyond whom there is no good, be thou the last end of my Actions too, and let them all meet and unite in thee as lines in their Center. Grant I may set thee before me in all my thoughts, words and actions, let my eye of Contemplation be always open, and what­ever intermedial designs I may have, let my last aim be thy glory. And O let me never be so low sunk, base and wicked, as to make Religion an instrument of worldly policy, nor to dishonour thee and my own Soul by such a mercenary Pie­ty. But do thou always possess my mind with such a due value for thy infinite excellency, that I may refer all things to thee, and thee and thine to nothing, but love and embrace thee for thy own self, who in thy self alone art alto­gether lovely,

Amen, Amen.


‘—Not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; But to think soberly according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of Faith.

1. THERE is nothing wherein men are so much divided from one another as in Opinions, and nothing where­in they more unanimously conspire than in thinking well of themselves. This is a Humour of so Catholic a Stamp, and universal Empire, that it may seem to challenge a place among those Elements of our Constitution, those Essentials of our nature which run throughout the whole Kind, and are partici­pated by every Individual. For should a man take the Wings of the Morning, and travel with the Sun round the Terrestrial Globe, he would hardly find a man either of a Judgment so dif­ficult to be pleas'd, or of accomplishment so lit­tle [Page 334] to recommend him, that was not notwith­standing sufficiently in love with himself, how­ever he might dislike every thing else about him; And without question that arrogant and peevish Mathematician who charged the grand Architect with want of skill in the Mechanism of the World, thought he had play'd the Artist well enough in himself, and as to the Harmony of his own frame acquitted the Geometry of his Maker.

2. And as men are thus naturally apt to think well of themselves in general, so there is no­thing wherein they indulge this Humour more than in the Opinion they have of the Goods of the Mind, and among these there is none which has so great a share of their Partiality, as their Intellectual faculty. The Desire of Knowledg is not more natural then the Conceit that we are already furnish'd with a considerable Measure of it, and tho a particular Sect were Characte­riz'd by that Appellation, yet all mankind are in reality, Gnostics. For as tis (ingeniously ob­serv'd by the excellent Cartesius) nothingDisser [...]. [...]e Method. p. 1. is more equally distributed among men than the Intellectual Talent, wherewith every one fancies himself so abundantly stockt, that even those who have the most unsatiable De­sires, and whom Providence could not satisfy in any one thing else, are notwithstanding as to this Dispensation of Heaven well enough con­tent, complain not of the dull Planet that in­fluenc'd [Page 335] their Nativity, or wish their minds more richly endow'd than they are. And altho there are a generation of men who use to be very elo­quent in setting out the degeneracy of human nature in general, and particularly in decy­phering the Shortness of our Intellectual Sight, and the defects of our now diminish'd under­standing, yet should a man take them at their word, and apply that Verdict to themselves in particular which they so freely bestow upon the whole Species, no men in the world so full of re­sentment and impatience as they; and I dare affirm notwithstanding their Harangues upon the Corruption of Human Nature, could all mankind lay a true claim to that Estimate which they pass upon themselves, there would be little or no difference betwixt laps'd and per­fect Humanity, and God might again review his image with paternal Complacency, and still pronounce it good.

3. Nor is it at all to be wonder'd that Self-Conceitedness should be of such an unlimited and Transcendental Nature as to run through all Sorts and Classes of men, since the cause of it, Self-love, has such an universal Jurisdiction in our hearts. 'Tis most natural and necessary for every man (and indeed for every Intelligent Being) to be a Lover of himself, and to covet whatsoever any way tends to the perfection of his Nature. And as 'tis necessary for every man to be thus affected towards himself, so is this [Page 336] the only Disposition of mind wherein Man acts with Constancy and Ʋniformity. Our other Pas­sions have somtimes their total intermissions, and at best their increases and decreases, but this is always at Full, and stands drawn out to the ut­most Stretch of its Capacity. No man loves him­self more at one time than at another, and that because he always loves himself in the highest Degree that is possible. More than all good he cannot wish to himself, and less than all he will not, nay I had almost pronounc'd it impossible for Omnipotence it self which stays the proud waves of the Ocean, and blocks up itsJob 38. 10. violent efforts with barrs and doors, to say unto this Passion, hitherto shalt thou come but no further, or to set any other bounds to it besides those of all possible good.

4. Now Man being such an infinite Lover of himself, is easily brought to believe that he is really Master of many of those excellencies and perfections, which he so passionately wishes a­mong the inventory of his possessions. For there is this notorious difference betwixt Self-love and the Love of others, that whereas the Love of others supposes an opinion of their excellency, the love of our selves begets it. We love others because we think well of them, but (so prepo­sterous is the method of Self-love) we think well of our selves because we first love our selves. So that now upon the whole, considering how ne­cessarily and vehemently every man is carried [Page 337] on to the love of himself, and what a natural product Self-conceit is of Self-love, 'tis much to be fear'd, that as we cannot set any bounds to the love of our selves, so we shall hardly set due ones to our Opinions of our selves, and con­sequently the most mortify'd and resign'd Man of us all, has no reason to think himself uncon­cern'd in this Admonition of the Apostle.—Not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of Faith.

5. 'Tis supposed that the Apostle in these words had respect to the then prevailing Here­sy of the Gnostics, a sort of men that pretended to great Heights of divine Knowledg, to close intimacies and familiarities with God, and up­on that presumption grew so haughty and inso­lent as to despise dominions, and speak evil of dig­nities, and withall so careless and secure, as to defile the flesh, and indulge themselves all man­ner of Sensuality, as you may see their Chara­cter in the Epistle of St. Jude. Nay of such tur­bulent ungovernable Principles and profligate manners were these men, that some of the Lear­ned (and particularly an eminent Di­vineDr. Hammond. of our own Church) have adven­tured to write upon their Fore-heads, Mystery, and to place them in the Chair of Anti-Christ. As an Antidote therefore against this2 Cor. 12. 7. Poison, the Apostle who through the A­bundance of Revelation had himself been in dan­ger [Page 338] of being exalted above Measure, and expe­rimentally knew how prone human nature is to swell and plume upon a Conceit of its own excellencies, thought it expedient to advise his Charge at Rome (the place which Simon Magus the Author of that proud Sect had (as Hist. Eccles. l. 2. cap. 13. Eusebius tells us) made choice of to be the Scene of his Magical Operations) to mode­rate and sober thoughts of themselves, and be­ing to teach them a Lesson of Humility, he modestly ushers it in with a Preface of his Com­mission and Authority. For I say (says he) through the grace given unto me to every man that is a­mong you not to think of himself more highly, &c.

6. The Discourse which I design upon these words shall be comprized within these limits.

First, I observe that we are not at our own liberty to entertain what Opinions we please concerning our selves, but that we ought to regulate them by some Standard. Which I col­lect from the former part of the Text, Not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly.

7. Secondly, I observe that the Standard whereby we are to regulate our Opinions con­cerning our selves are those excellencies and perfections which we are really indow'd with, which I collect from the latter part of the Text, according as God has dealt to every man the mea­sure of Faith.

[Page 339]8. And in the third place I shall consider the Absurdities and ill Consequences of trans­gressing this Standard, whereby it shall appear how highly reasonable this Admonition of the Apostle is, and so conclude with a practical Ap­plication of the whole in relation to our selves, and the present occasion.

9. I begin with the first Proposition, That we are not at our own liberty to entertain what Opi­nions we please concerning our selves, but that we ought to regulate them by some Standard.

10. The Acts of the understanding are by some men thought as free from all Law as the Acts of the will are from all necessity, and according­ly they give every one a Toleration to abound in his own sense and (provided his actions be con­formable to the Rule) to think what he please. Now since a Man cannot be accountable for an Opinion of himself in particular, unless it be first granted that he is under a Law as to the Acts of his understanding in general, before I can proceed any farther I find it necessary to lay down this Preparatory Position, That we are under an Obligation as to the Acts of our understanding, or (which is all one) that we are accountable for them. Nay I believe I may venture higher, and affirm that the understand­ing is not only under Obligation, but that 'tis the Primary and immediat Subject of it. For the proof of which Paradox, I desire the Patrons of the Intellectual Libertinism to consider, that [Page 340] that must be the Primary and immediat sub­ject of all Obligation which is so of Liberty. Now that this cannot be the Will, I suppose will be acknowledg'd a clear consequence, if the Will necessarily follows the Practical Dictate of the Understanding. And that it does so, I think there is Demonstration.

11. 'Tis an unquestionable Axiom in all the Schools of Learning in the world, that the Ob­ject of the Will is apparent good; Now appa­rent good in other words, is that which is ap­prehended or judg'd to be good, and if so, then it follows that the Will cannot but conform to the Dictate of the Understanding, because otherwise somthing might be the object of the Will that is not apprehended good, which is contrary to the supposition. In short, the Will (as Aquinas has well expressed it) is the Conclu­sion of an Operative Syllogism, and follows as necessarily from the Dictate of the Understand­ing as any other Conclusion does from its Pre­mises, and consequently cannot be the imme­diat subject of Liberty, and consequently not of Obligation.

12. But then are we not involv'd in the same difficulty as to the understanding? Does not that act with equal (if not more) necessity than the Will? So I know it is ordinarily taught. But if this be absolutely and universally true, I must confess it above the reach of my Capacity to salve the Notion of Morality, or Religion, or [Page 341] to find out an expedient how the Foundations of the Intellectual world should not be out of course. For since 'tis evident both from the preceding Demonstration, and from experi­mental Reflection, that the Will necessarily acts in Conformity to the Dictates of the Un­derstanding, if those very Dictates are also wholly and altogether necessary, there can be no such thing as a [...], the man is bound hand and foot, has nothing left whereby to ren­der him a Moral Agent, to qualify him for Law or Obligation, Vertue or Vice, Reward or Punishment. But these are Absurdities not to be indured, and therefore I conclude ac­cording to the Rules of right Reasoning, the Principle from which they flow to be so too.

13. To clear up then the whole Difficulty with as much Brevity and Perspicuity as in a matter of this intricacy is possible, I shall no longer consider the Understanding and Will as Faculties really distinct either from the Soul it self, or from one another, but that the Soul does immediatly understand and will by it self, without the intervention of any Faculty what­soever. And that for this demonstrative reason in short, because in the contrary Hypothesis, either Judgment must be ascribed to the Will, and then the will immediatly commences Un­derstanding, or the Assent of the will must be blind, brutish, and unaccountable, both which are as great Absurdities as they are true Conse­quences. [Page 342] This being premised, I grant that as the Soul necessarily wills as she understands, so likewise does she necessarily understand as the Object appears. And thus far our sight termi­nates in Fatality, and Necessity bounds our Ho­rizon. That then that must give us a Prospect beyond it, must be this, that altho the Soul ne­cessarily understands or judges according to the Appearance of things, yet that things should so appear (unless it be in Propositions that are self-evident, as that the whole is greater than any one part, or the like) is not alike necessa­ry, but depends upon the degrees of Adverten­cy or Attention which the Soul uses, and which to use either more or less is fully and imme­diatly in her own power. And this indifferency of the Soul as to attending or not attending I take to be the only [...] the bottom and foundation into which the Morality of every action must be at length resolv'd. For a farther proof as well as Illustration of which Hypothe­sis let us apply it to a particular case and try how well it will answer the Phaenomena. In the case then of Martyrdom, I look upon sin as an evil, and not only so but (while I attend fully to its Nature) the greatest of evils. And as long as I continue this Judgment 'tis utterly impos­sible I should commit it, there being according to my present apprehension no greater evil for the declining of which I should think it eligi­ble. But now the evil of Pain being presented [Page 343] before me, and I not sufficiently attending to the evil of Sin, this latter appears to be the les­ser evil of the two, and I accordingly pro hic & nunc so pronounce it, and in Conformity to that judgment necessarily chuse it. But because 'twas absolutely in my power to have attended more heedfully there was Liberty in the Principle, the mistake which influenc'd the action was vincible, and consequently the action it self im­putable. This Hypothesis however strange it may seem to those that have sworn Faith and Alle­giance to the Dictates of the Schools, I believe will be the more approv'd the more it is exa­min'd, and that not only as rational and con­sistent in it self, but also as a refuge from those Absurdities which attend the ordinary Solu­tions. Neither is this account wholly unlicens'd by Authority, for I find some hints and intimations of it in the See Hie­rocles upon the Golden Verses of Py­thagoras. School of Pla­to, where the reason why those middle sort of Beings call'd Heroes are not so uniformly pure as the [...] or [...], is as­sign'd to be because they do not so equally at­tend to the Beauty of the Supream Good.

14. From what has been said it appears plain­ly that the Morality of every human action must be at length resolv'd into an immediat in­difference that the Soul has of attending or not attending, and consequently that we are not only under Obligation as to the acts of the Un­derstanding, but that all Obligation begins there.

[Page 344]15. Having thus clear'd the way by the Proof of this Preparatory Position, that we are under Obligation as to the acts of the Understanding in general, I may now proceed to consider that our opinion of our selves is one of those acts of the Understanding which are subject to Law, or in other terms, that we are not at our own li­berty to entertain what Opinions we please con­cerning our selves, but that we ought to regulate them by some Standard. Now the general rea­son of this is, because 'tis of great moment and influence in relation to our Practice, what Opi­nion we entertain concerning our selves. In­deed there are many acts of the Understand­ing which tho originally free, yet fall under no Obligation by reason of the Indifferency of the Matter, as in things of pure and naked Specu­lation. These are the unforbidden Trees of the Garden, and here we may let loose the Reins and indulge our thoughts the full Scope. Thus there is no danger of Heresy in asserting or de­nying the Antipodes, nor is Orthodoxy concern'd whether the Moon be habitable. But altho to mistake a Star be of no consequence to the Theorist that sits immured in his Study, yet it may be to the Pilot that is to Steer his Course by it. There are other things which have a practi­cal Aspect, and here 'tis not indifferent what we think, because 'tis not indifferent what we do. Now among these the Opinion of our selves is to be reckon'd, as having a great influence up­on [Page 345] our well or ill demeaning our selves respe­ctively, as will more minutely and particularly appear when we come in the third and last place to consider the absurdities and ill consequences of transgressing the Standard prescribed, and therefore I shall defer the farther prosecution of it till then, and in the mean while proceed to the second Observable, Namely,

That the Standard whereby we are to regulate our Opinions concerning our selves, are those ex­cellencies and perfections which we are really en­dow'd with. Which is collected from these words, according as God has dealt to every man the mea­sure of Faith.

16. In the former part of the Text there was indeed a Restraint laid upon our Opinions con­cerning our selves, but it was general only and indefinite. But here the ground is measured out, and the Boundaries precisely set. [...] that's the great Ecliptic Line which is to bound the Career of our most forward and Self­indulging Opinions. If we keep within this com­pass our motion is natural and regular, but if we slide never so little out of it, 'tis unnatural and portentous. Or to speak with greater Sim­plicity, he that judges of himself according to those excellencies, whether Moral or Intelle­ctual, which he really has, does [...] thinks soberly, and he that thinks him­self indow'd with any Kind or Degree of Excel­lence which really he has not, does [...] [Page 346] [...], thinks of himself more highly than he ought to think.

17. Here then are Two things to be consi­dered.

  • First that we may proceed so far as this Stan­dard.
  • And Secondly, That we may not go beyond it. First, That we may proceed so far.

18. It has been taught by some of the severe Masters of Spiritual Mortification, That we ought to take up the most low and abject thoughts of our selves that are possible, to be conscious of no manner of excellency in our selves, and con­sequently not to be affected with the least Self­complacency; That we ought to account our selves to be Nothing, to have nothing, to be worth nothing, but to be very refuse and 1 Cor. 4. 13. off-scouring of all things. And this they call the Mystical Death, or the Spiritual Anni­hilation. Now whatever degrees of excellency this may have (which I shall not now dispute) 'tis most certain it can have nothing of Duty. For tho it may, and oftentimes is required of a man to think the Truth, yet he can never be under an Obligation to be mistaken. Besides, 'Tis hard to conceive how any man (especially one that dwells much with himself, and heed­fully reflects upon the actings of his own mind) should be master of any considerable excellen­cy, and yet not be conscious of it. And besides, That very degree of Attention which is required [Page 347] that a man should not think himself more ac­complish'd than indeed he is, will also infal­libly hinder him from thinking he is less. 'Tis true indeed Moses knew not that his Face shone, after he had been conversing with God on the Mount. He saw not the Orb of glory that stream'd from him, and wondred what it was that made him so dreadful to the people. But 'tis not so with the Soul, whose reflexive faculty will not fail to give her information of her most retir'd and reserv'd accomplishments. 'Tis not with the Lesser, as with the Greater World, where whole Tracts and Regions (and those some of the best too) lye undiscover'd. No, Man can­not be such a Stranger to his own Perfections, such an America to himself. For who can know the things of a man, if not the Spirit of man which is in him. And accordingly we find that the ig­norance of our selves with which Mankind has been hitherto so universally tax'd, runs quite in another Channel, and does not consist in overlooking any of those indowments which we have, but in assuming to our selves those which we have not.

19. I confess (were it possible) I should think it advisable for some persons to be ignorant of some of their excellencies, and like the Sun not to reflect home to their own Sphere of light; Not that I think in the least unlawful to be fully con­scious of ones own worth, but only I consider that some men have not heads strong enough [Page 348] to endure Heights, and walk upon Spires and Pinnacles. But if they can stand there without growing vertiginous, they need not question the lawfulness of the station, they are still within the Region of Humility. For 'tis not every think­ing well of ones self that falls in with the notion of Pride, but only when there is more of Opinion than there is of Worth. 'Twas this that was the Condemnation of the Apostate Angel, not that he took a just complacency in the eminency of his Station, but that he vainly arrogated to himself what was not his due, in that he said, I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my Isai. 14. 13. throne above the Stars of God, I will sit upon the sides of the North, I will ascend above the heights of the Clouds, I will be like the most High. 'Twas for this that the Angel of Death drew upon Herod, not because he was pleas'd with the sineness and success of his Oratory, but because he was not so just to God as the People were to him, but lookt upon himself as the Head­fountain of his own perfections, and soActs 12. 23. gave not God the glory.

20. But now if we take care to proportion our estimation of, and our Complacencies in our selves to the measure of our endowments, and if we look upon those very endowments not as originary and independent but as derivative from the Father of lights from whom James 1. 17. every good and perfect gift descends, and accordingly refer all to Gods glory, and with [Page 349] the Elders in the Revelations take off our Crowns from our Heads and cast themRev. 4. 10. at the foot of the Throne, we have not only the express words of the Text, but likewise all the reason in the world to warrant the So­briety of our Opinions. For, this is but to have a right and exact understanding of ones self. And why may not a man be allow'd to take a true Estimate of himself as well as of another man? Or why should a man think an excellen­cy less valuable because 'tis in himself? The Happiness of God consists in seeing himself as he is; he reflects upon the Beauty of his Essence, and rejoyces with an infinite Complacency. Now certainly that wherein consists the Happiness of the Creator, cannot be a Sin in the Creature. Be­sides, I would fain know why a man may not as lawfully think well of himself upon the Score of his real worth, as desire that others should think well of him for the same reason? And that he may do the latter is confess'd as well by the Practice, as by the common Suffrage of Mankind. For otherwise what becomes of that good Reputation which Solomon says is rather to be chosen than great Riches, and of whichProv. 22. 1. the Best and Wisest men of all ages had ever such a tender, such a passionate Regard? Nay 'tis lookt upon as a very Commendable thing to be so affected, and the contrary is censured as the mark of a dissolute and unmoraliz'd tem­per. Only there is a [...] to2 Cor. 10. 13. [Page 350] be observ'd in this as well as in the former, and as we are not to stretch out our selves 2 Cor. 10. 13. beyond our measure, so must we take care with the great Apostle, not to give others occasion to think of us above that which 2 Cor. 12. 6. they see us to be. Besides, if we may not be allow'd to take the full Height of our own Excellencies, how shall we be able to give God thanks for them? The Elders must know they wear Crowns before they can use them as Instruments of Adoration, and Herod must be conscious of the right Genius of his Oratory, before he can give God the Glory. Again in the last place, if a man may not have leave to take Cognisance of his own Deserts and to value himself accordingly, what will become of that [...] which the A­postle speaks of, the answer of a good 1 Pet. 3. 21. Conscience towards God, which is nothing else but a Sentence of Approbation, which a man passes upon himself for the well managing of that Talent of Liberty which God has en­trusted him with? Now this is the Reward of Vertue, and therefore certainly not contrary to it.

21. Neither is this Self-esteem only the Re­ward of Vertue but also the Cause of it too, and consequently 'tis not only allowable, but also highly needful that we should think Honorably of our selves. 'Tis a frequent Observation among Moral and Divine Writers, That most if not all [Page 351] the Sins which men commit, proceed from want of a due sense of the Dignity of their Nature. And consequently a due reflection upon a man's own Worth, must needs be a strong Preserva­tive against whatsoever would stain its Glory. Shall such a man as I flee? was the pow­erfulNeh. 6. 11. consideration that buoy'd up the sinking Spirits of Nehemiah. And 'tis one of the Capital Precepts of Pythagoras's Morals (and perhaps one of the best too that was ever given to the World)— [...] Above all things reverence thy self. And 'twas the Saying of another of the Sons of Wisdom, Let not the Reverence of any man cause thee to sin. Which it certainly will do, unless we ob­serve the former Rule, and reflect with due Re­verence upon our own Worth and Dignity.

22. From these Considerations (not to urge any more) it seems to me very evident, that 'tis not only lawful but in some respects highly Expedient, that our Opinions of our selves should rise up so as to be of a Level with our Excel­lencies, whatsoever they are. Let one of the Scales be mounted never so high, yet if there be a proportionable Weight in the Other, the Ballance moves regularly, and as it should do. VVe may then proceed so far as this Standard.

23. But Secondly, VVe must not go beyond it. For all beyond this is Pride. Pride, that turn'd the Angels out of Heaven, Adam out of Paradice, and levell'd the great King of Baby­lon [Page 352] with the Beasts that perish; and whichD [...]. 4. 33. is nothing else but an Intemperate Opi­nion of our selves, which consists either in as­suming to our selves any Excellency which we have not, or in Over-rating what we have. Tho indeed in Strictness of Notion this latter falls in with the former, For to Over-rate what we have, is indeed to assume some Degree of good which we have not. Here then begins our Re­straint, the Reasonableness of which will appear from the Absurdities and ill Consequences which attend the transgressing of this Standard, and which in the third and last place I come now to consider.

24. I shall observe only the most notorious; and these I shall reduce to these Three general Heads.

First, That it unqualifies us for the perform­ance of many Duties.

Secondly, That it betrays us into many sins.

And Thirdly, That it frustrates all methods of Reformation. Of these very briefly.

25. First an excessive opinion of our selves (and that is so which surpasses the measure of our real worth) unqualifies us for the perform­ance of many Duties; and that both in relation to God, our Neighbour and our Selves.

First in relation to God.

26. As Folly leads to Atheism, so does an over­weening opinion of our own Wisdom or any o­ther excellency to Profaneness. For as the Fool [Page 353] has said in his heart there is no God, so it is said in another place That the ungodly is so Psal. 10. 4. Proud that he careth not for him. Pride then is altogether inconsistent with that Subje­ction, Honour and Veneration which we owe to God. For how can he submit his passions to the Authority of the Divine Will who has made a Law of his own? And as it indisposes us for all active, so likewise for all passive Obedience, for how can he suffer that with Patience, which he thinks he does not deserve in Justice? Or how can he submit with resignation to the seeming unevennesses of Providential Dispensations, the equality of which because he cannot discern, he must in honour to his own understanding deny? And upon the same ground it unqualifies us for Faith in many of the Divine Revelations. For how can he Captivate his understanding to My­steries, who thinks it a dishonour to own any, and is resolv'd to believe no farther than he can comprehend?

27. Lastly, It unqualifies us for Gratitude towards God, and consequently puts a Bar to all those good actions which we would other­wise perform upon that Principle. And by this it becomes a Multiplied, a Legion evil. For how can he acknowledg an Obligation pass'd upon him by Gods Favours, who calls them not by that name, but esteems them as Rewards and Payments, and inverting the Protesta­tionGen. 22. 10. of the good Patriarch, thinks him­self [Page 354] worthy of the greatest of his mercies.

28. Then Secondly, In relation to our Neigh­bour, it unqualifies us for Obedience to Civil Government. For how can he submit to the Wisdom of his Superiours, and pay an impli­cite deference to the Occult reasons of State, who thinks himself wiser than a whole Senate, and disputes even the ways of Providence? Pride was ever observed to be the Mother of Faction and Rebellion, and accordingly St. Jude makes it part of the Character of the Proud Gnostics, To despise Dominions and speak evil of Dignities.

29. Again, It unqualifies us for those acts of Justice which consist in a due observation of our Neighbours Merits, and a deference of exter­nal Respect proportionable to that observation. For how can he be at leasure to take notice of anothers worth, who is so wholly taken up in the contemplation of his own? Let the Reputa­tion of his best Friends (if it be possible for a Proud man to have any) be in never so great danger, he like Archimedes, is so overbusie in admiring the Creatures of his own brain, those Draughts and Ideas which he has form'd of him­self there, that he regards not the Ruin that is about him. Or if he does, he is so far from ap­pearing in their defence (as in Justice he ought) that he rather rejoyces at their Spots as Acces­sions to his own brightness.

30. Again, It unqualifies us for the Offices of Humanity, and Civil Behaviour, and all [Page 355] kinds of Homilitical virtue: for how can he treat those with any tolerable Civility, whom he looks down upon as a whole Species below him?

31. Lastly, it unqualifies us for Gratitude toward our Benefactors. For how can he think himself obliged by man, who counts God his Debtor?

32. Then Thirdly, In relation to our Selves, here is this grand ill consequence of an immo­derate self-esteem, that it unqualifies us not on­ly for higher attainments, but even for the ve­ry endeavours of improvement, and so cuts short and bedmarfs all our excellencies. 'Tis the Ob­servation of Cicero, Multi ad scientiam perve­nissent nisi se jam pervenisse credidissent, The Opinion of the Proud man has so far got the start of the real worth, that the latter will never overtake the former.

33. And as the immoderate esteem of our Selves unqualifies us for the performance of ma­ny Duties, so does it also in the second place Betray us into many Sins.

34. First, Into all those sins which are con­trary to the foremention'd Vertues respective­ly. And besides them into many more, such as are presumption and security, vexation and discontent, contempt of others (tho at the same time it exposes us to theirs) Anger and Conten­tion, Malice and Revenge. For the Proud man is not content to be his own private Admirer, [Page 356] but quarrels with all others that are not of his perswasion, and with the Tyrant of Babylon kindles a fire for those who will not fall down and worship the Image which he has set up.

35. Neither does the Leprosy stop here. But as it betrays us into many sins, so in the Third and last place (which is the most dismal Con­sequence of all) It frustrates all Methods of Re­formation. Gods judgments will but exaspe­rate and inrage him, because he thinks he does not deserve them, and his Mercies will not in­dear him, because he thinks he does. Advice he thinks he does not need, and Reproof he cannot bear. Besides he thinks so well of himself al­ready, that he wonders what you mean by ad­vising him to become better, and therefore as he does not endeavour after any of those excel­lencies which he thinks he has, so neither can he dream of mending those faults which he thinks he is not guilty of: Thus is the man Seal'd up to iniquity, and deeply lodg'd in the strong holds of sin, where nothing that has a Salutary Influence can come nigh him. And in this he resembles the first Presidents of his Folly, who from Angels transform'd themselves into De­vils, and fell beyond the possibilities of reco­very.

36. These are some of the fruits of this Root of Bitterness, and tho more might be named, yet these I think sufficient to justify this Admo­nition of the Apostle to every man, not to think [Page 357] of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to eve­ry man the measure of faith. Let us then all en­deavour to conform our opinions concerning our selves to this Standard. Let us not stretch our selves beyond our natural dimensions, but learn to entertain modest and sober thoughts of our own excellencies and endowments, and mortify our understandings as well as our sensi­tive affections. And thus shall we compleat our Lent Exercise by joyning the mortification of the Spirit to that of the flesh, without which the greatest Austerities wherewith we can afflict the latter, will not be such a Fast as God has cho­sen. For what will it avail to macerate the Bo­dy, while the principal part the Soul remains unmortify'd? The Humility of Moses must con­spire with his Forty days Fasting to qualify a man for Divine Intercourses, to make him the Joy of Angels, the Friend of God. Thus then let us accomplish the Refinings of our Souls, and fill up the Measure of our Mortifications. To which end let us add this one further Consi­deration to what has been already said, that Humility in the Judgment even of the High and Lofty one that inhabits Eternity, is a Vertue of such great Excellency, and singular advan­tage to the happiness of Mankind, that our Blessed Saviour came down from Heaven to teach it, that his whole life was one continu'd Exercise of it, and that he has dignify'd it with [Page 358] the first place among his Beatitudes. Let us then, as many as profess the Religion of the Hum­ble and Crucify'd JESUS, make it our strict Care that we neglect not this his great Com­mandment, nor omit to Copy out this Princi­pal Line, this main stroke of the Pattern he has set us. Especially let us of this place who are set among the greater Lights of the Firma­ment, and whose profession and business is to contemplate Truth, and to think of things as God made them, in Number, Weight and Mea­sure, labour in the first place to take just and true Measures of our Selves, that our Knowledg puff us not up, nor our Height become our Ruin.

CONSIDERATIONS UPON THE NATURE OF SIN. Accommodated to the ends both of Speculation and Practise.
[Page] [Page 361] Considerations upon the Nature of Sin, &c.

SECT. I. Of the division of Sin into Material and Formal, and of the reality and necessity of that Distinction.

1. TO make this our Discourse about Sin more clear and distinct, before we enter upon its Nature 'twill be requisite to premise somthing con­cerning the double acceptation of the word. For nothing can be defined before it be distin­guish'd.

2. I observe therefore, that Sin may be con­sider'd either abstractedly, for the bare act of Obliquity, or concretely with such a special de­pendence of it upon the will as renders the A­gent guilty, or obnoxious to punishment. I say with such a special dependence of it upon the will; for not every dependence of an action upon the will is sufficient to make it imputable, as shall be shewn hereafter. The former of these, by those that distinguish more nicely, is call'd transgressio voluntatis, the latter transgressio vo­luntaria, or according to the more ordinary distinction the former is the material, the lat­ter the formal part of Sin.

[Page 362]3. This distinction is both real and necessa­ry. 1. it is real, because the Idea or conception of material sin is not only distinct from the Idea of formal sin (as it may be in things really the same) but when consider'd as alone does posi­tively exclude the other. For this notion, a bare act of Obliquity, does not only prescind from, but also positively deny such a special depen­dence of it upon the will as makes it imputa­ble for punishment.

4. Now as it is a certain sign of Identity when the Idea of one thing necessarily includes the Idea of another, so is it of real distinction when the Idea of one thing in any case positively ex­cludes the Idea of the other. There may in­deed be distinct conceptions of one and the same thing, whereof there are different Pro­pertys or Degrees, but then one does only ab­stract from, and not in any case positively exclude the other. Which when it does it is an evident sign of real distinction.

5. But the greatest Argument of real distin­ction is separability and actual separation. For nothing can be separated from it self. And this also has place here. For the material part of sin may actually exist without the formal. That is, there may be an act of obliquity, or an irre­gular act without any guilt deriv'd upon the Agent, or to speak more strictly, without that special dependence of the act upon the will which is the foundation of that guilt. This is [Page 363] evident in the case of fools and mad men.

6. And as this Distinction is real, so also is it very useful and necessary. 1st in the notion, to prevent ambiguitys and fallacys, that might a­rise from the use of the word (sin). As when St. John says, he that commits sin is of the John 3. 8. Devil, certainly 'twould be a fallacy to argue hence that every mere act of obliquity is Diabolical, because a sin, since not material but formal sin was the thing intended in Saint John's Proposition.

7. 2ly in the thing, for the honour and vin­dication of the Divine Attributes. Particular­ly from the damning of Infants merely for the corruption of nature, commonly call'd Origi­nal sin; It being repugnant to the measures of Justice and the Dictates of Common Sense, that the bare doing an irregular act, or the bare hav­ing an irregular propension should be punish­able at all, much more with eternal damnation, as it must be if every dependence of an action upon the will be enough to render it imputable, that is, if every material be also a formal sin. This I say would be very unjust, because such irregular acts are no more a man's own than those committed by another man.

8. But it is certain that God does not proceed by such measures; as may be gather'd from the Oeconomy of his severest dispensation, the Law. For when he forbad murther with such strictness and severity, as to order the murtherer [...]

SECT. II. A more particular and explicit consideration of Material sin, and what it adds to the general nature of evil.

1. AFter our Distinction of sin into Material and Formal, and our justification of that distinction, it follows that in the next place we give some more particular and explicit ac­count of the nature of Material sin. That it is an irregular act in general, was intimated be­fore, but to speculate its nature more thorough­ly we must set it in a clearer light, and define what it is that makes an action irregular. And the account which I shall give of this, I shall ground upon that Definition of St. John, who tells us that sin is a transgression of the Law. So that transgression of the Law is the irregularity of an action, and is more explicitly the Mate­rial part of sin.

2. Thus far in general. But now to make Transgression of the Law fully adequate and commensurate to Material sin, so as to extend to all kinds of it, it concerns us in the next place to enquire, what is here to be understood by (Law) and upon the right stating of this, will depend the whole Theory of Material sin.

[Page 367]3. By Law therefore in the first place, is to be understood that which is Positive, that is, any rule of action prescribed to us by God, consi­der'd only as prescribed. Any action so prescri­bed, be it otherwise never so indifferent for the matter, puts on the force of a Law from the Au­thority of the Prescriber, and every transgres­sion of such a Rule is Sin.

4. But the Transgression of Law in this nar­row sense of the word will not comprehend all the kinds of Material sin. For altho Positive Law creates the first difference in some things, yet it does not in all. For had God never made any Positive Law yet the doing of some actions would have been sin, nay there was sin where there was no Positive Law, as may be probably collected from the fall of Angels. But where there is no Law there is no Transgression. There must be therefore some other law besides Posi­tive Law.

5. By Law therefore 2ly is to be understood the Law of Reason, that Candle of the Lord that lights every man that comes into the world in his passage through it. This is twofold. For 1st, by the Law of Reason may be under­stood that Original stock of rational Tendencys or practical sentiments which prevent all Dis­course and reasonings about what is to be done, and answer to Speculative Principles. For as the Animal and sensitive Nature is not only fur­nish'd with Sense and Perception, but also with [Page 368] certain connatural instincts and impressions, whereby Animals are directed and inclined to sensitive good, so for the guardianship and se­curity of Vertue, against the danger either of ignorance or inadvertence▪ God has furnish'd the Rational nature not only with the faculty of reasoning, but with certain common Principles and Notions, whereby 'tis inclined to the good of the Reasonable life. This is the [...] so much talkt of, and that which men ge­nerally mean by the Law of Nature.

6. Or else 2ly, by the Law of Reason may be understood a Power, which a Rational Crea­ture has of finding out by discoursing from first Principles what is fit to be done, and of reflect­ing upon the reasonableness of those Moral Anticipations and impressions, which he before entertain'd, tho he knew not upon what ground.

7. These two make up the adequate notion of the Law of Reason, but we are not yet come to the adequate notion of Law. For if the Law of Reason be taken in the first sense for a stock of Moral Anticipations implanted by God in the Soul, this will be but another branch of Po­sitive Law. For Light of Nature and Light of Scripture are but different modes of Divine re­velation, and neither of these can be the ulti­mate Reason, into which the Morality of every action is to be resolv'd.

8. But if the Law of Reason be taken in the latter sense, for a Power which a Rational [Page 369] Creature has of finding out by discourse what is reasonable to be done, this will of necessity lead us higher, namely to consider that there are certain antecedent and independent apt­nesses or qualitys in things, with respect to which they are fit to be commanded or forbidden by the wise governour of the world in some posi­tive Law, whether that of internal or external Revelation, or both.

9. We are therefore in the next place to re­solve these antecedent aptnesses of things into their proper ground, or to assign what that is which makes an action fit to be commanded or forbidden. Which when we have done we are advanced as high as we can go, and have found out that supreme, eternal and irreversible Law, which prescribes measures to all the rest, and is the last Reason of good and evil.

10. That therefore which makes an action fit to be commanded or forbidden by the wise governour of the world, can be nothing else in general, but its respective tendency to prompt or hinder the attainment of some certain end or other, which that governour proposes. For all action being for some end, and not the End it self, its aptness to be commanded or forbid­den must be founded upon its serviceableness or disserviceableness to some end. So much in general.

11. I further consider, that this end must be that which is simply and absolutely the best and [Page 370] greatest. For no other is worthy of God. Now certainly there is none better or greater than the universal good of the whole Sisteme of things, which is therefore to be regarded and prose­cuted to the utmost both by God and all other Intelligent Beings.

12. And hence arises this first and great Ca­non or Law, that whatever naturally tends to the promotion of the common interest is good and apt to be commanded, and whatever natu­rally tends to the disinterest of the public, is evil and apt to be forbidden. This is the great Basis of Morality, the fixt and immutable stan­dard of good and evil, and the fundamental Law of Nature.

13. And because there are some actions in spe­cie, which with relation to the present systeme both of the Material and Intellectual world, have such a natural connexion with the further­ance or prejudice of this great end, therefore these by way of Assumption under the two gene­ral Propositions are intrinsecally and naturally good or bad, and are thereby differenc'd from those that are made so only by arbitrary Consti­tution. Tho yet in one respect these are arbi­trāry too, in as much as they depend upon such a particular Hypothesis of the world which was it self arbitrary, and which if God should at any time change, the relations of actions to the great end might change too; that which now naturally makes for the common advantage, [Page 371] might as naturally make against it, and conse­quently, that which is now good might have been then evil. But still the two great Hinges of Morality stand as fixt and as unvariable as the two Poles; whatever is naturally conducive to the common interest is good, and whatever has a contrary influence is evil. These are pro­positions of eternal and unchangeable verity, and which God can no more cancel or disanull than he can deny himself.

14. So that now to analyze the immorality of any action into its last Principles; If it be en­quired why such an action is to be avoided, the immediat answer is, because 'tis sin: if it be ask'd why 'tis sin, the immediat answer is, because 'tis forbidden, if why forbidden, because 'twas in it self fit to be forbidden, if why fit, because na­turally apt to prejudice the common interest: if it be ask'd why the natural aptness of a thing to prejudice the common interest should make it fit to be forbidden, the answer is, because the common interest is above all things to be regarded and prosecuted: if farther a reason be demanded of this, there can no other be given but because 'tis the best and greatest end, and consequently, is to be desired and prosecuted not for the sake of any thing else, but purely for it self.

15. So that now the last Law whereof sin is a Transgression, is this great and Supream Law concerning the prosecution of the common in­terest. And every sin is some way or other, di­rectly [Page 372] or indirectly a transgression of this Law. Those against any Moral Precept, directly, and those against a Precept merely Positive, indirect­ly, because 'tis for the common good that the Supreme Authority be acknowledg'd and sub­mitted to, let the instance wherein Obedience is required, be in it self never so indifferent.

16. If it be now objected that according to these measures there will be no difference be­tween Moral and Physical evil, contrary to the common distinction between malum Turpe and malum Noxium, the one as opposed to bonum utile, and the other as opposed to bonum hone­stum; I answer, that I know of no good or evil but of the end and of the means. Good of the end is what we call bonum jucundum, good of the means is what we call utile. Evil of the end there is properly none, but that only is evil which is prejudicial to it. Indeed the old ma­sters of Morality discours'd of moral good and evil as of absolute natures, and accordingly, nothing so common among them as to talk of Essential Rectitudes, and Essential Turpitudes. But I think it greater accuracy to say, that Moral good and evil are Relative things, that bonum honestum is one and the same with that which is truly utile, and that Malum Turpe is that which is naturally against the profit of the Community. And herein I assert no more than what the great master of the Latin Philosophy and Eloquence professedly contends for through­out [Page 373] the whole third book of his Offices. And therefore instead of evading the Objection, I freely own its charge, and affirm that there is no difference between Moral and Physical evil, any otherwise than that Physical evil extends to all things in nature which obstruct Happi­ness, whereas Moral evil is appropriated to A­ctions that do so.

SECT. III. The second part of the Discourse, which briefly treats of Formal sin, with the requisites▪ necessary to its consti­tution. Where also 'tis enquired, whether the Nature of sin be positive or privative.

1. WE are now come to the second part of our Discourse, where we are to treat of the nature of Formal Sin, that is, of Sin consider'd not abstra­ctedly for the mere act of Obliquity, but Con­cretely with such a special dependence of it up­on the will as serves to render the Agent guilty, or obnoxious to punishment.

2. And here the first thing to be observ'd is, that altho material sin does neither in its notion nor in its existence include formal sin, yet for­mal sin does always include the other. Tho there may be a transgression of the Law with­out formal sin, yet the latter always supposes the former, and as St. John says, whoso­ever John 3. 4. committeth sin, transgresses also the Law.

3. But that which formal sin adds over and above to material, and under whose respect we are now to consider it, is the connotation of that special dependence of it upon the will which [Page 375] derives guilt upon the Agent. So that for a De­finition of formal sin we may say, that it is an irregular action, or a transgression of the law, so depending upon the will, as to make the A­gent liable to punishment. This is in the Phrase of St. John [...] to have sin, thatJohn 1. [...]. is, so as to be accountable for it, for he speaks of that sin which upon confession God is faithful and just to forgive, and consequently not of material, (for where there is no guilt there can be no Remission) but of formal sin.

4. From this general notion of formal sin, proceed we to enquire what that special depen­dence is that makes an irregular action formal­ly a sin. And here 'tis in the first place supposed, that not every dependence of an action upon the will is sufficient to make it imputable. And with very good reason. For otherwise the a­ctions of Infants, Fools and Madmen would be imputable, for these (as indeed all actions) have some dependence upon the will, at least as a Physical Principle.

5. To be positive therefore, that an irregular action may so depend upon the will as to de­rive guilt upon the Agent, 'tis necessary first, that it proceed from the will as from a free Principle; Free not only in opposition to coa­ction (for so all the actions of the will are free) but in opposition to necessity or determination to one part of the contradiction. That is in one word, 'tis necessary to the imputableness [Page 376] of an action that it be avoidable. To this pur­pose is that common saying of St. Austin, Nemo peccat (that is formaliter) in eo quod vitare non potest. And great reason the Father had to say so, for he that cannot avoid transgressing the Law is not so much as capable of being obliged by it (because no man can be obliged to what is impossible) and if he be not obliged by it, certainly he cannot Morally and Formally break it. A thing which the Patrons of Physical Predetermination would do well to consider.

6. But when I make it necessary to the im­putableness of an action that it be freely exert­ed, I would not be understood of an immediat Freeness. For certainly those rooted and con­firm'd sinners, who have by long use reduced themselves under a necessity of sinning, are ne­ver the more excusable for the impotence they have contracted. If there was Liberty in the Principle 'tis sufficient.

7. The next requisite, and that which gives the last and finishing stroke to Formal sin is, that it proceeds from the will sufficiently instruct­ed by the understanding. That is, to make a man sin formally 'tis requisite that he has not only a Power of avoiding that action, which is a transgression of the Law, but that he also know it to be a Transgression of the Law, at least that he be in a capacity so to do, that so he may be induced to exert that Power. And 'tis also necessary that he know that he commits it, that [Page 377] is, he must have or at least be in a capacity of having, both notitia Juris and notitia Facti.

8. The former of these depends upon that common Principle that Laws do not oblige till they are publish'd, according to that known Ma­xime of the Canon Law, Leges constituuntur cum promulgantur, and that of the Civilians, Leges quae constringunt hominum vitas intelligi ab omni­bus debent. And the latter also depends upon the equity of the same Principle, tho somewhat more remotely, for without this the Law, with relation to that particular instance, cannot be said to be properly known. For altho I know such a species of action (suppose Adultery) to be a transgression of the Law, yet if I know not that by such a particular instance I commit it, I cannot be said to know that this my action is a Transgression of the Law; and consequently (supposing this my ignorance invincible) am wholly excusable; as appears in the caseGen. 20. of Abimelech when he took Abraham's wife.

9. So that to the Constitution of Formal sin these two things are required, 1st, that the Transgressor have a Power either immediatly, or at least in the Principle of not doing that action which is a Transgression: 2ly, that he either do or may know that act to be a Transgression of the Law, and likewise, that he know when he commits it. And thus have I shewn the rise, pro­gress and maturity of sin; I have presented to [Page 378] view both the imperfect Embryo and the full pro­portion'd and animated Monster. All which I shall briefly comprize in that compendious de­scription of St. James, Lust when it is con­ceiv'd James 1. 15. bringeth forth sin, and sin when it is finish'd, bringeth forth death.

10. There is one thing behind relating to the nature of sin in common, which I shall brief­ly consider, and that is, whether its nature be Positive or Privative. The latter is generally held both by Metaphysitians, Moralists and Di­vines, but upon what sufficient grounds I could never yet understand. The Formal part of sin without all Question is Positive, as is plain from the very notion of it. For it denotes only that special Dependence which an irregular act has upon the will, which is the same (as well as the common substance of the act) both in good and bad actions, and consequently alike Positive.

11. All the controversy therefore remains concerning the Material part of sin, whether that be Positive or Privative. And this too, not with respect to the mere Act (for that without question is positive) but with respect to the irre­gularity of it.

12. Here then I consider, that according to the foregoing measures the irregularity of an action is not only its aberration from the Rule, but its crossing or going contrary to it. For 'tis not only its not promoting, but its opposing, or at least its natural aptness to oppose the greatest [Page 379] and best of ends. So that 'tis not so properly an irregularity, as a contra-regularity. And therefore good and bad actions are not priva­tively but contrarily opposed, and consequently both positive, for contrarys are always so.

13. For as to be in pain is not Privatively but contrarily opposed to being Happy (for Pain is something more than want of Happiness) so that action which causes Pain or misery is not Pri­vatively but contrarily opposed to that which is effective of Happiness, and consequently is as Positive as the other.

14. Those sins which bid the fairest for Pri­vation are sins of Omission. But even these, if we consider their Nature, will appear to be al­so Positive. For to speak properly, their irre­gularity does not lye in the not doing or the not willing to do what ought to be done, but in the willing not to do it. But to will the not doing of a thing is as positive as the willing to do it, as being not contradictorily or privatively, but con­trarily opposed to it. The sins therefore of O­mission are as Positive as those of Commission. The only difference is, that the Positiveness of sins of Commission lies both in the Habitude of the will, and in the executed act too, whereas the Positiveness of sins of Omission is in the Habitude of the will only.

15. And what is here determin'd concerning Moral evil, will, I suppose, hold equally true in all evil, except only that which is Absolute, that [Page 380] is, whose evil is not its noxiousness to any thing else, but only the want of some constituent Per­fection due to its self, according to that distin­ction mention'd by Suarez in his Disputation de Malo, of Malum in se and malum alteri. This in­deed does import no more than a Privation. And this I suppose might be the occasion of mi­stake to those who first thought Moral evil to consist in a Privation only; for Absolute evil does so, and they (as I intimated above) took Moral evil to be a kind of absolute Nature.

16. Many things I know might be and are commonly objected against the Positiveness of sin, but I can think but of one that's worth con­sidering, which is, that if Sin be positive it will be a real Entity, and if so, then we are press'd with a double absurdity, 1st that God will be the Author of it, as being the efficient cause of all Entity. 2ly, that it will be good, goodness being a necessary Affection of Ens.

17. To this I answer, 1st that I not only freely acknowledg, but contend that sin is a real Entity. But then I distingush of Entity. There are Physical, and there are Moral Entitys. By the latter (which alone needs explication) I understand certain modes of determination, superadded to Physical things or motions by intelligent Beings, in order either to the inte­rest or disinterest of the universe.

18. This being premised, I answer to the first part of the objection by denying that it [Page 381] hence follows that God is the Author of sin. God indeed is the Author of all Physical Beings and Motions, but not of those modes of determi­nation superadded by Intelligent Beings, which I call Moral Entitys. As to the second, I grant the consequence, but deny the absurdity of it. For it is no absurdity that Moral evil should be Metaphysically good. For this Metaphysical, tran­scendental goodness, which is the affection of Ens, is nothing else but a Being's having that essence whereof it is capable, or (as Suarez ex­presses it) its having that perfection which is convenient to it. But this is very consistent with the nature of Moral evil, for this may have what belongs to its Idea as well as good, and 'tis the Perfection of sin to be exceeding sinful.

SECT. IV. Corollarys deduced from the whole. The foulness and defor­mity of sin represented. That it is the greatest of evils. That no Formal sin can be in its self Venial. That in all probability Vindicative Justice is essential to God, hence deduced. A new Hypothesis for the reconciling of eter­nal Punishments with the Divine Justice. That he who thoroughly understands and actually attends to the Na­ture of sin cannot possibly commit it.

1. HAving thus far carried on the Theory of sin, we may now sit down, and take an estimate of its Foulness and Deformity. And methinks I am affrighted at the ugliness of the face which I have unmask'd, and am rea­dy to start back from the distorted and ill­boding monster. For however the magic of Self-love may reconcile men to their own faults, yet if we set the object at a more conve­nient distance from the eye, and consider the Nature of sin irrespectively to our selves, 'twill certainly appear according to the precedent measures, to be the most deform'd, monstrous thing, that can either be found or conceiv'd in Nature.

2. For if we consider it in its full latitude, it is the highest [...] or Habitude of the will to the worst of objects; than which what can be [Page 383] imagin'd more monstrous and absurd? If we consider it as a violation of Positive Law, what can be more indecorous than for a Creature to violate the commands, and trample upon the Authority of that awful excellence to whom he owes his life, his motion and his very being? If we consider it as a violation of the Law of Rea­son, what can be more monstrous and unnatu­ral than for a man to rebel against the vicarious power of God in his Soul, to refuse to live accord­ing to that part of him whereby he is a man, to suffer the ferine and brutish part to get the As­cendent over that which is rational and Divine, to refuse to be govern'd by those sacred Digests which are the Transcripts of the Moral Nature of God, and to act against the very frame and contexture of his being. Lastly, if we consider it as a Transgression against that great and So­veraign Law of promoting the common Happi­ness, what a monstrous evil must that be which crosses and opposes the best of ends, and which is also proposed by the best of Beings; that for the interest of an inconsiderable part (com­monly ones self) justles the great wheel of So­ciety out of its proper track, that by persuing a lesser in prejudice to a greater good, disturbs the order of things, dislocates the frame, and untunes the Harmony of the universe!

3. We may also hence conclude, that sin is the greatest evil that is, or that can possibly be. For it is contrarily opposed to the greatest pos­sible [Page 384] good, and consequently, must needs be the greatest evil. And besides, 'tis that which in no case or juncture whatsoever is to be commit­ted, and therefore must be the greatest evil; be­cause otherwise it might happen to come into competition with a greater, and so commence eligible, which is contrary to the supposition. Moreover, the greatness of this evil above all others is à posteriori further confirm'd from the greatness of the Sacrifice required for its attone­ment. God could not, or at least thought not fit to remit it without the shedding of blood, and that too of the blood of God. So great a Fool is he, so little does he consider, that makes a mock at sin.

4. Again it may be hence collected, that no Formal sin can be in its own nature venial. For according to the former measures every For­mal sin tho never so small, is a sin against the greatest Charity imaginable. For 'tis against that Charity whereby I ought to promote the ends of God, and prosecute the great interest of the universe. And consequently, cannot be in its own Nature venial, or pardonable without Re­pentance.

5. Nay may I not further conclude accord­ing to the preceding measures, that 'tis very probable that no sin could have been pardon'd even with Repentance, had there not been al­so satisfaction made for it, and that vindicative Justice is essential to the nature of God? For [Page 385] when I consider sin, I find it so diametrically contrary to the essential sanctity of God, and so destructive of that great End which he can­not but propose, that he must needs hate it with an infinite hatred. But how he should do so, and yet not punish for it, is hard to under­stand.

6. Upon these measures we may also find out a way of reconciling eternal punishments with Divine Justice. The great Objection is, what Proportion is there between a transient act of sin and eternal misery? And if there be none, how is it consistent with divine Justice to inflict the one for the other? This has been a great diffi­culty, and has for a long time stood proof a­gainst all solutions. But now if we consider sin as contrarily opposed to the greatest possible good, the good of the universe, and consequently as the greatest possible evil, its demerit will be such that we need not fear 'twill be over-punish'd e­ven with eternal misery. For if any misery is to be endured rather than one sin to be com­mitted, 'tis also just that any may be, when it is committed. For the equity of both depends upon sin's being the greatest evil.

7. The last Deduction which I shall make from the Premises is this, that he who thorough­ly understands and actually attends to the nature of sin, cannot possibly commit it. For as long as he does so, he must look upon it as the great­est evil, otherwise he cannot be said rightly to [Page 386] understand it. And if he look upon it as the greatest evil he cannot chuse it, so long as he continues in that judgment, because the then chusing it would be the chusing of all that where­by it exceeds other evils, gratis, which is the chusing of evil as evil, which is impossible.

8. Whosoever therefore consents to the com­mission of sin passes first a wrong judgment upon it, has the light of his understanding darkned, and intercepted by a cloud of Passion, loses the pre­sent Conviction of sin's being the greatest evil, and so commits it to avoid (as he then foolishly thinks) a greater. So that the cause and ori­gine of all sin is ignorance, folly and inadvertence: there is a false Proposition in the understanding before there is any misapplication in the will, and 'tis through the swimming of the head that the feet slip and lose their station. And yet the sinner is no way excusable for this his decep­tion, because 'tis the ignorance of that which he habitually knows, and he might have attend­ed better, and 'twas his fault that he did not.

9. And 'tis the recovering and awaking up into this Conviction, that is the Principle of Repen­tance and reformation of life. When a man by the aid of grace and the use of due attention, resumes his interrupted Judgment of Sins being the greatest evil, he then comes again to him­self, forms new resolutions never to commit it, and returns to the wisdom of the just. Psal. 119. So great reason had the Psalmist to [Page 387] pray, O grant me understanding and I shall live.


O My God, who art pure light and in whom there is no darkness at all, who art pure Love, and hatest nothing but sin, and hatest that infinitely, give me an heart after thine own heart, that I may also abhor it without mea­sure, and without end. Open thou mine eyes that I may see those two wondrous things of thy Law, the Beauty of Holiness, and the deformity of sin. Inspire me with that Charity which seek­eth not her own, that I may ever propose and follow that great and excellent end which thou proposest, that I may ever adhere to that which is simply and absolutely best, and never for any self-advantage disturb the order of thy Creation. O let me never so far abuse those facultys thou hast given me, as to thwart the designs of thy goodness and wisdom, and to interrupt that Harmony wherein thou so delightest. But let all my designs be generous, unselvish and sin­cere, so as chiefly to rejoyce at the good of thy Creation, at whose very material Beauty the [Page 388] Morning Stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy. Holy Father, 'tis thy will that this thy great Family should be prosper­ous and happy, and the better part of it thy Angels, strictly conform to it; O let this thy will be done here on Earth as it is in Heaven, and grant that every member of this great Body may so study the good of the whole, that thou may'st once more review the works of thy hands, and with a Fatherly complacency pronounce them good. Grant this for the sake of him who gave his life for the Happiness of the world, thy Son Jesus,



GIve me wisdom that sitteth by thy throne, and reject me not from among thy chil­dren. That wisdom which was with thee from the Beginning, which knoweth all thy works and was present when thou madest the world, and knew what was acceptable in thy sight and right in thy Commandments. O send her out of thy holy Heavens and from the throne of thy glory, that being present she may labour with me, that I may know and thoroughly con­sider what an evil it is to affront thy Authority, to break through the bounds which thou hast set, to rebel against the most excellent and di­vine part of my nature, and to oppose that [Page 389] which thou lov'st, and which is of all things the most lovely. O let thy wisdom dwell with me, let my loins be always girt, and this my Light al­ways burning, that I may never be deceiv'd through the deceitfulness of sin, nor seek death in the errour of my life. Thy words have I hid with­in my heart that I might not sin against thee, O grant me understanding and I shall live. Keep I beseech thee this conviction still fresh and ful­ly awake in me that Sin is the greatest of all evils, that so the fear of none may ever drive me to do the thing which thy Soul hates. Consi­der and hear me O Lord my God, lighten mine eyes that I sleep not in death.

Amen, Amen.


AN IDEA OF HAPPINESS, IN A LETTER to a FRIEND: ENQUIRING Wherein the greatest Happiness attainable by Man in this Life does consist.

—Sollicitis vitam consumimus annis,
Torquemurque metu caecaque cupidine rerum,
Aeternisque Senes curis dum quaerimus aevum,
Perdimus, & nullo votorum fine beati,
Victuros agimus semper, nec vivimus unquam.
Manilius lib. 4.

OXFORD, Printed at the THEATER 1687.

An Idea of Happiness, &c.


1. THO you have been pleas'd to assign me the Task of an Angel, and in that Respect have warranted me to disobey you; yet, since a considerable part of that experimental Knowledg which I have of Happiness is owing to the Delight, which I take in your vertuous and endearing Friendship, I think 'tis but reasonable I should endeavour to give you an Idea of that, whereof you have given me the Possession.

2. You desire to know of me wherein the greatest Happiness attainable by man in this Life does consist. And here, tho I see my self engaged in a work already too difficult for me, yet I find it necessary to enlarge it: For, since the greatest Happiness, or Summum Bonum of this Life is a Species of Happiness in general, and since it is call'd (Greatest) not because ab­solutely perfect and compleat; but inasmuch as it comes nearest to that which indeed is so, it will be necessary first to state the Notion of Happiness in General, and then to define where­in that Happiness does consist which is perfect and compleat, before I can proceed to a Reso­lution of your Question.

[Page 394]3. By Happiness, in the most general Sense of the word, I understand nothing else but an Enjoyment of any Good. The least Degree of Good has the same Proportion to the least De­gree of Happiness as the greatest has to the greatest, and consequently as many ways as a man enjoys any Good, so many ways he may be said to be happy: neither will the Mixture of Evil make him forfeit his Right to this Ti­tle, unless it either equals the Good he enjoys, or exceeds it: And then indeed it does; but the Reason is, because in strictness of Speaking, upon the whole Account the man enjoys no Good at all: For if the Good and the Evil be equal-balanc'd, it must needs be indifferent to that man either to be or not to be, there being not the least Grain of good to determine his Choice: So that he can no more be said to be happy in that Condition, than he could before he was born. And much less, if the Evil exceeds the Good: For then he is not only not happy, but absolutely and purely miserable: For after an exact Commensuration supposed between the Good and the Evil, all that remains over of the Evil is pure and simple Misery; which is the Case of the Damn'd: And when 'tis once come to this (whatever some Mens Metaphysics may perswade them) I am very well satisfied, that 'tis better not to be than to be. But now on the other side, if the Good does never so little out-weigh the Evil, that Overplus of Good [Page 395] is as pure and unallay'd in its Proportion, as if there were no such Mixture at all; and conse­quently the Possession of it may properly be call'd Happiness.

4. I know the Masters of Moral Philosophy do not treat of Happiness in this Latitude; nei­ther is it fit they should: For their Business be­ing to point out the ultimate End of Human Actions, it would be an impertinent thing for them to give any other Idea of Happiness than the highest: But however this does not hinder but that the General Idea of Happiness may be extended farther, even to the Fruition of any Good whatsoever: Neither is there any reason to find Fault with the Latitude of this Notion, since we acknowledg Degrees even in Glory.

5. In this General Idea of Happiness two things are contain'd. One is, some Good, ei­ther real or apparent, in the Fruition of which we are said to be in some measure or other hap­py. The other is the very Fruition it self. The first of these is usually called Objective Happi­ness, and the latter Formal. Some I know di­vide Happiness into these as distinct Species; but I think not so artificially: For they are both but constituent Parts, which joyntly make up one and the same Happiness: Neither of them are sufficient alone, but they are both equally necessary. That the last of these is a necessary Ingredient, I think no doubt can reasonably be made: For what would the greatest Good [Page 396] imaginable signifie without Fruition? And that the former is likewise necessary is no less certain: For how can there be such a thing as Fruition without an Object? I grant 'tis not at all necessary that the Object be a real substan­tial Good; if it appear so, 'tis sufficient.

6. From this Distinction of real and appa­rent Good, some have taken occasion to distin­guish of Happiness likewise into two sorts, real and imaginary: But I believe, upon a more nar­row Scrutiny into the matter, 'twill be found, that all Happiness, according to its Propor­tion, is equally real; and that that which they term Imaginary, too well deserves the Name, there being no such thing in Nature: For let the Object of it be never so Phantastic, yet it must still carry the Semblance and Appearance of Good (otherwise it can neither move the Ap­petite nor please it, and consequently be nei­ther an Object of Desire nor of Fruition;) and if so, the Happiness must needs be real, because the Formality of the Object, tho 'twere never so true and real a good, would notwithstanding lie in the Appearance, not in the Reality: Whe­ther it be real or no is purely accidental: For, since to be happy can be nothing else but to en­joy somthing which I desire, the Object of my Happiness must needs be enjoy'd under the same Formality as 'tis desired. Now since 'tis desired only as apparently good, it must needs please me when obtained under the same Notion. So [Page 397] that it matters not to the Reality of my Happi­ness, whether the Object of it be really good, or only apprehended so, since if it were never so real, it pleases only as apparent. The Fool has his Paradise as well as the Wise-man, and for the time is as happy in it; and a kind Delu­sion will make a Cloud as pleasing as the Queen of Heaven. And therefore I think it impossi­ble for a man to think himself happy, and (du­ring that Perswasion) not really to be so. He enjoys the Creature of his own Fancy, worships the Idol of his Imagination, and the happiest man upon Earth does no more: For let the Cir­cumstances of his Life be what they will, 'tis his Opinion only that must give the Relish. With­out this, Heaven it self would afford him no Content, nor the Vision of God prove Beatific. 'Tis true, the man is seated at the Spring-Head of Happiness, is surrounded with excellent Ob­jects; but alas, it appears not so to him; he is not at all affected with his Condition, but, like Adam, lies fast in a dead Sleep in the midst of Paradise.

7. The Sum of this Argument is this; Good is in the same manner the Object of Fruition, as 'tis of Desire; and that is not as really good in its own Nature, but as 'tis judged so by the Understanding: And consequently, tho it be only apparent, it must needs be as effectual to gratifie the Appetite as it was at first to excite it during that Appearance. So long as it keeps [Page 398] on its Vizor and imposes upon the Understand­ing, what is wanting in the thing, is made up by an obliging Imposture, and Ignorance becomes here the Mother of Happiness as well as of De­votion: But if the man will dare to be wise, and too curiously examine the superficial Tinsel-Good, he undeceives himself to his own Cost, and, like Adam, adventuring to eat of the Tree of Knowledg, sees himself naked, and is ashamed. And for this reason I think it impossible for any man to love to be flatter'd: 'Tis true, he may delight to hear himself commended by those who indeed do flatter him; but the true reason of that is, because he does not apprehend that to be Flattery which indeed is so; but when he once throughly knows it, 'tis impossible he should be any longer delighted with it. I shall conclude this Point with this useful Reflection, That since every Man's Happiness depends wholly upon his own opinion, the foundatiou upon which all envious men proceed, must needs be either false or very uncertain. False, if they think that outward Circumstances and States of life are all the Ingredients of Happi­ness; but uncertain however: For since they measure the Happiness of other Men by their own Opinion, 'tis mere Chance if they do not misplace their Envy, unless they were sure the other Person was of the like opinion with themselves. And now what a vain irrational thing is it to disquiet our selves into a dislike [Page 399] of our own Condition, merely because we mi­stake another Man's?

8. Thus fa [...] of the Notion of Happiness in General; I now proceed to consider that Hap­piness which is [...] (as Plato speaks) sound and entire, perfect and compleat. Con­cerning the general Notion of which, all men, I suppose, are as much agreed as they are in the Idea of a Triangle. That 'tis such a State than which a better cannot be conceiv'd: In which there is no Evil you can fear, no Good which you desire and have not; That which fully and constantly satisfies the Demand of every Appetite, and leaves no possibility for a desire of Change; or to summ it up in that com­prehensive Expression of the Poet, ‘Quod sis esse velis, nihilque malis.’ When you would always be what you are, and (as the Earl of Roscommon very significantly ren­ders it) do Rather nothing.

9. This I suppose is the utmost that can be said or conceiv'd of it, and less than this will not be e­nough. And thus far we are all agreed. For I sup­pose, the many various Disputes maintained by Philosophers concerning Happiness, could not respect this general Notion of it, but only the particular causes or means whereby it might be acquired. And I find Tully concurringlib. 3. de Fin. with me in the same Observation, Ea est beata vita (says he) quaerimus autem non quae [Page 400] sit, sed unde. The difficulty is not to frame a conception of a perfectly happy State in the general, but to define in particular wherein it confists.

10. But before I undertake this Province, I think it might not be amiss to remove one Pre­judice, which, because it has gain'd upon my self sometimes in my Melancholy Retirements, I am apt to think it may be incident to other men also. It is this, Whether after so many Disputes about, so many restless endeavours af­ter this state of perfect Happiness, there be any such thing or no. Whether it be not a mere Idea, as imaginary as Plato's Common-wealth, as fictious as the Groves of Elysium. I confess, this suspicion has oftentimes overcast my mind with black thoughts, damp'd my Devotion, and as it were, clipp'd the Wings of my Aspi [...]ing Soul. And I happened to fall into it upon a serious reflection on the nature of Fruition in the seve­ral Periods and Circumstances of my Life. For I observ'd according to my Narrow experience, that I never had in all my Life the same thoughts of any good in the very time of the enjoying it as I had before. I have known when I have promised my self vast Satisfactions, and my imagination has presented me at a di­stance with a fair Landskip of Delights, yet when I drew nigh to grasp the alluring Happi­ness, like the Sensitive Plant it contracted it self at the touch, and shrink'd almost to nothing in [Page 401] the Fruition. And though after the Enjoyment is past, it seems great again upon Reflection as it did before in Expectation, yet should a Plato­nical Revolution make the same Circumstances recur, I should not think so. I found 'twas ever with me as with the Traveller, to whom the Ground which is before him, and that which he has left behind him seems always more curious­ly embroider'd and delightsome, than that which he stands upon. So that my Happiness, like the time wherein I thought to enjoy it, was always either past or to come, never present. Methought I could often say upon a Recollection, How happy was I at such a time! Or when I was in expectation. How happy shall I be if I compass such a design! But scarce ever, I am so. I was pretty well pleas'd methought while I expected, while I hoped, till Fruition jogg'd me out of my pleasing slumber and I knew it was but a Dream. And this single Considera­tion has often made me even in the very pursuit after Happiness, and full career of my Passions, to stop short on this side of Fruition, and to chuse rather with Moses upon Mount Nebo to entertain my fancy with a remote Prospect of the Happy Land, than to go in, and Possess it, and then Repine. How then shall Man be hap­py, when setting aside all the Crosses of For­tune, he will complain even of Success, and Fruition it self shall disappoint him!

[Page 402]11. And this melancholy reflection bred in me a kind of Suspicion, that for all that I knew it might be so in Heaven too. That although at this distance I might frame to my self bright Ideas of that Region of Bliss; yet when I came to the Possession of it, I should not find that perfect Happiness there which I expected, but that it would be always to come as 'tis now, and that I should seek for Heaven even in Heaven it self. That I should not fully acquiesce in my condition there, but at length desire a Change. And that which confirm'd me the more in this unhappy Scepticism, was, because I consider'd that a great number of excellent Beings who enjoyed the very Quintessence of Bliss, who were as happy as God and Heaven could make them, grew soon uneasy and weary of their State and left their own Habitation. Which argues that their Happiness was not perfect and compleat, because otherwise they would not have desired a Change, since that very desire is an Imper­fection. And if Happiness be not compleat in Heaven, sure 'tis impossible to be found any where else.

12. Before therefore I proceed to define wherein perfect Happiness does consist, I think it necessary to endeavour the removal of this Scruple, which, like the flaming Sword, forbids entrance into Paradice. In order to which, I shall enquire into the true Reason why these Sublunary good things when enjoyed do neither [Page 403] answer our expectations, nor satisfy our Appe­tites. Now this must proceed either from the nature of Fruition it self, or from the Imper­fection of it, or from the Object of it, or from our selves. I confess, did this defect proceed from the very nature of Fruition (as is supposed in the Objection) 'tis impossible there should be any such thing as perfect Happiness, since 'twould faint away while enjoy'd, and expire in our embraces. But that it cannot proceed thence, I have this to offer, Because Fruition being no­thing else but an Application or Union of the Soul to some good or agreeable Object, it is im­possible that should lessen the good enjoyed. In­deed it may lessen our estimation of it, but that is because we do not rightly consider the nature of things, but promise our selves infinite Satis­factions in the enjoyment of finite Objects. We look upon things through a false Glass, which Magnifies the Object at a distance much be­yond its just Dimensions. We represent our fu­ture enjoyments to our selves in such favourable and partial Ideas which abstract from all the inconveniencies and allays which will really in the Event accompany them. And if we thus o­ver-rate our Felicities before-hand, 'tis no won­der if they baulk our Expectations in the Frui­tion. But then it must be observed, that the Fruition does not cause this Deficiency in the Ob­ject, but only discover it. We have a better in­sight into the Nature of things near at hand, [Page 404] than when we stood afar off, and consequently discern those defects and imperfections, which, like the qualities of an ill Mistriss, lay hid all the time of Courtship, and now begin to betray themselves, when 'tis come to enjoyment. But this can never happen but where the Object is finite. An infinite Object can never be over­valued, and consequenty cannot frustrate our Expectations.

13. And as we are not to charge Fruition with our disappointments but our selves (because we are accessory to our own delusion by taking false measures of things) so neither is the Ʋnsatis­factoriness of any condition to be imputed to the Nature of Fruition it self, but either to the imperfection of it or to the finiteness of the Ob­ject. Let the Object be never so perfect, yet if the Fruition of it be in an imperfect measure there will still be room for Ʋnsatisfactoriness, as it appears in our enjoyment of God in this Life. Neither can a finite Object fully satisfy us though we enjoy it never so thoroughly. For since to a full satisfaction and acquiescence of Mind 'tis required that our Faculties be always entertained and we ever enjoying: it is impossi­ble a finite Object should afford this Satisfaction, because all the good that is in it (being finite) is at length run over, and then the enjoyment is at an end, The flower is suck'd dry, and we ne­cessarily desire a Change. Whenever therefore our enjoyment proves unsatisfying, we may con­clude, [Page 405] that either the Object is finite, or the Fruition imperfect. But then how came the Angels to be dissatisfy'd with their Condition in the Regions of light and immortality, when they drank freely of the Fountain of Life Revel. 26. proceeding out of the Throne of God, with whom is fulness of Joy, and at whose Right hand are Pleasures for evermore. Here certain­ly there is no room either for the finiteness of the Object, or the imperfection of Fruition. And therefore their dissatisfaction can be imputed to no other Cause, than the Nature of Fruition in general, which is to lessen the good enjoyed, as was supposed in the Objection. This I confess presses hard, and indeed, I have but one way to extricate my self from this difficulty, and that is by supposing a State of Probation in the Angels. That they did not immediatly upon their Creation enjoy an infinite Object, or if they did, yet that 'twas in an imperfect measure. For should it be granted that they were at first con­firmed in Bliss and compleatly happy both in re­spect of Fruition and Object, as we suppose they are now, I cannot conceive it possible they should be dissatisfy'd with their Condition. This being repugnant to the Idea of Perfect Happiness.

14. Since then this dissatisfaction must be de­rived either from the imperfection of the Frui­tion, or the finiteness of the Object, and not from the Nature of Fruition in the general, to infer the possibility of perfect Happiness, there [Page 406] needs no more to be supposed than the existence of a Being full fraught with infinite inexhausti­ble good, and that he is able to Communicate to the full. There may be then such a thing as Perfect Happiness. The possibility of which may also be further proved (tho not explicated) from those boundless Desires, that immortal Thirst every man has after it by Nature: Con­cerning which I observe, that nothing does more constantly, more inseparably cleave to our Minds than this Desire of perfect and con­summated Happiness: This, as Plato patheti­cally expresses it, is, [...], the most excellent end of all our Endeavours, the great Prize, the great Hope. This is the Mark every Man shoots at, and tho we miss our Aim never so often, yet we will not, cannot give over; but, like passio­nate Lovers, take Resolution from a Repulse. The rest of our Passions are much at our own Disposal; yield either to Reason or Time; we either Argue our selves out of them, or at least out-live them. We are not always in Love with Pomp and Grandeur, nor always dazzled with the glittering of Riches; and there is a Season when Pleasure it self shall Court in vain: But the desire of perfect Happiness has no Intervals, no Vicissitudes, it out-lasts the Motion of the Pulse, and survives the Ruins of the Grave. Many Waters cannot quench it, neither can the Floods Drown it: And now certainly God would [Page 407] never have planted such an Ardent, such an im­portunate Appetite in our Souls, and as it were interwoven it with our very Natures, had he not been able to satisfie it.

15. I come now to shew wherein this perfect Happiness does consist, concerning which, I affirm in the first place, that it is not to be found in any thing we can enjoy in this Life. The greatest Fruition we have of God here, is imperfect, and consequently unsatisfactory. And as for all other Objects they are finite, and consequently, though never so fully enjoy'd, cannot afford us perfect Satisfaction. No; Man knoweth not the price thereof: Neither is it Job 28. to be found in the Land of the Living. The Depth saith, it is not in me, and the Sea saith, it is not in me. The Vanity of the Creature has been so copiously discoursed upon, both by Philosophers and Divines, and is withall so ob­vious to every thinking man's Experience, that I need not here take an Inventory of the Crea­tion, nor turn Ecclesiastes after Solomon. And besides, I have already anticipated this Argu­ment in what I have said concerning Fruition. I shall only add one or two Remarks concern­ing the Objects of Secular Happiness, which are not so commonly insisted upon, to what has been there said. The first is this, that the Ob­jects wherein Men generally seek for Happiness here, are not only finite in their Nature, but al­so few in number. Indeed, could a Man's Life [Page 408] be so contrived, that he should have a new Plea­sure still ready at hand assoon as he was grown weary of the Old, and every day enjoy a Virgin Delight, he might then perhaps like Mr. Hobbs his Notion, and for a while think himself hap­py in this continued Succession of new Acquisitions. But alas, Nature does not treat us with this Va­riety. The compass of our enjoyments is much shorter than that of our Lives, and there is a Periodical Circulation of our Pleasures as well as of our Blood.

—Versamur ibidem atque insumus usque.
Nec nova vivendo procuditur ulla voluptas.


The Enjoyments of our Lives run in a perpe­tual Round like the Months in the Kalendar, but with a quicker Revolution; we dance like Fairies in a Circle, and our whole Life is but a nauseous Tautology: We rise like the Sun, and run the same Course we did the day before, and to morrow is but the same over again: So that the greatest Favourite of Fortune will have Reason often enough to cry out with him in Seneca, Quousque eadem? But there is another Grievance which contributes to defeat our En­deavours after perfect Happiness in the Enjoy­ments of this Life; Which is, that the Objects wherein we seek it, are not only finite and few; but that they commonly prove occasions of [Page 409] greater Sorrow to us than ever they afforded us Content. This may be made out several ways, as from the Labour of Getting, the Care of Keeping, the fear of Losing, and the like To­picks, commonly insisted on by others; but I wave these, and fix upon another Account less blown upon, and I think more material than any of the rest. It is this, that altho the Ob­ject loses that great appearance in the Fruition which it had in the expectation, yet after it is gone it Resumes it again. Now we, when we lament the loss, do not take our measures from that appearance which the Object had in the Enjoyment (as we should do to make our sor­row not exceed our Happiness) but from that which it has in the reflexion, and consequently we must needs be more miserable in the loss then we were happy in the enjoyment.

16. From these and the like Considerations, I think it will evidently appear, that this perfect Happiness is not to be found in any thing we can enjoy in this Life. Wherein then does it consist? I answer positively, in the full and en­tire Fruition of God. He (as Plato speaks) is [...], the Proper and Prin­cipal end of Man, the Center of our Tendency, the Ark of our Rest. He is the Object which a­lone can satisfy the appetite of the most Capa­cious Soul, and stand the Test of Fruition to E­ternity. And to enjoy him fully is perfect Fe­licity. This in general, is no more than what [Page 410] is deliver'd to us in Scripture, and was believ'd by many of the Heathen Philosophers. But the manner of this Fruition requires a more parti­cular Consideration. Much is said by the School­men upon this Subject, whereof, in the first place, I shall give a short and methodical ac­count, and then fix upon the Opinion which I best approve of. The first thing that I ob­serve, is, that 'tis generally agreed upon among them, that this Fruition of God consists in some Operation; and I think with very good Reason. For as by the Objective part of perfect Happiness we understand that which is best and last, and to which all other things are to be referr'd; So by the Formal part of it must be understood the best and last Habitude of Man toward that best Object, so that the Happiness may both ways satisfy the Appetite, that is, as 'tis the best thing, and as 'tis the Possession, Use, or Fruition of that best thing: Now this habitude whereby the best thing is perfectly possess'd, must needs be some Operation, because Operation is the ul­timate perfection of every Being. Which Axion (as Cajetan well observes) must not be so under­stood as if Operation taken by it self were more perfect than the thing which tends to it, but that every thing with its Operation is more perfect than without it.

17. The next thing which I observe, is, that 'tis also farther agreed upon among them, that this Operation wherein our Fruition of God [Page 411] does consist, is an Operation of the Intellectual part, and not of the Sensitive. And this also I take to be very reasonable. First, because 'tis generally receiv'd, that the Essence of God cannot be the Object of any of our Senses. But Secondly, Suppose it could, yet since this Ope­ration; wherein our perfect Happiness does con­sist must be the perfectest Operation, and since that of the Intellectual part is more perfect than that of the Sensitive, it follows that the Opera­tion whereby we enjoy God must be that of the Intellectual part only.

18. But now whereas the Intellectual part of man (as 'tis opposed to the Sensitive) is double, viz. That of the Ʋnderstanding, and that of the Will, there has commenced a great Controver­sy between the Thomists and the Scotists, in which Act or Operation of the Rational Soul the Fruition of God does consist, whether in an Act of the Ʋnderstanding, or in an Act of the Will. The Thomists will have it consist purely in an Act of the Ʋnderstanding, which is Vision. The Scotists in the Act of the Will, which is Love. I intend not here to launch out into those Volu­minous Intricacies and Abstrusities, occasioned by the management of this Argument: It may suffice to tell you, that I think they are both in the extream, and therefore I shall take the mid­dle way and resolve the perfect Fruition of God partly into Vision and partly into Love. These are the two arms with which we embrace the [Page 412] Divinity, and unite our Souls to the fair one and the good. These I conceive are both so essential to the perfect Fruition of God, that the Idea of it can by no means be maintained if ei­ther of them be wanting. For, since God is both Supream Truth and infinite Goodness, he cannot be entirely possess'd but by the most clear knowledg and the most ardent love. And besides, since the Soul is happy by her Facul­ties, her Happiness must consist in the most perfect Operation of each Faculty. For if Hap­piness did consist formally in the sole Opera­tion of the Ʋnderstanding (as most say) or in the sole Operation of the Will (as others) the Man would not be compleatly and in all respects Happy. For how is it possible a Man should be perfectly Happy in loving the greatest good if he did not know it, or in knowing it if he did not love it? And moreover, these two Ope­rations do so mutually tend to the promotion and conservation of one another, that upon this depends the perpetuity and the constancy of our Happiness. For while the Blessed do [...], Face to Face contemplate the Supream Truth and the infinite Goodness, they cannot chuse but love perpetually; and while they perpetually love, they cannot chuse but perpetually contemplate. And in this mu­tual reciprocation of the Actions of the Soul consists the perpetuity of Heaven, the Circle of Felicity.

[Page 413]19. Besides this way of resolving our fruition of God into Vision and Love, there is a famous Opinion said to be broacht by Henricus Ganda­vensis, who, upon a Supposition that God could not be so fully enjoy'd as is required to perfect Happiness, only by the Operations or Powers of the Soul, fancied a certain Illapse whereby the Divine Essence did fall in with, and as it were penetrate the Essence of the Blessed. Which Opinion he endeavours to illustrate by this Si­militude. That as a piece of Iron, red hot by reason of the Illapse of the fire into it, appears all over like fire, so the Souls of the Blessed by this Illapse of the Divine Essence into them, shall be all over Divine.

20. I think he has scarce any followers in this Opinion, but I am sure he had a leader. For this is no more than what Plato taught before him, as is to be seen in his Discourses about the refusion of the Souls of good men into the Ani­ma Mundi, which is the self-same in other terms with this Opinion. And the Truth of what I affirm may farther appear from an expression of that great Platonist Plotinus, (viz.) that the Soul will then be Happy when it shall de­part Enn. 6. lib. 9. cap. 10. hence to God, and as another and no longer her self shall become wholly his, [...], having joyn'd her self to him as a Center to a Center.

21. That such an intimate Conjunction with God as is here described is possible, seems to [Page 414] me more than credible from the Nature of the Hypostatic Union, but whether our Fruition of God after this Life shall consist in it, none know but those happy Souls who enjoy him, and therefore I shall determine nothing before the time. This only I observe, that should our Fruition of God consist in such an Union or rather Penetration of Essences, that would not exclude but rather infer those Operations of Vision and Love as necessary to Fruition; but on the other hand, there seems no such necessity of this Union to the Fruition, but that it may be conceiv'd entire without it. And therefore why we should multiply difficulties without cause, I see no reason. For my part I should think my self sufficiently happy in the clear Vi­sion of my Maker, nor should I desireExod. 33. 18. any thing beyond the Prayer of Moses, I beseech thee shew me thy Glory.

22. For what an infinite Satisfaction, Hap­piness and Delight must it needs be to have a clear and intimate perception of that Primitive and Original Beauty, Perfection and Harmo­ny, whereof all that appears fair and excellent either to our Senses or Ʋnderstandings in this Life is but a faint imitation, a pale Reflection! To see him who is the Fountain of all Being, containing in himself the perfection, not on­ly of all that is, but of all that is possible to be, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and Rev. 1. 8. the ending, the first and the last, which is, [Page 415] and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty! To see him of whom all Nature is the Image, of whom all the Harmony both of the visible and invisible World is but the Eccho! To see him, who (as Plato divinely and magnificent­ly expresses it) is [...]. The immense Ocean of Beauty, which is it self by it self, with it self, uniform, always existing! This certainly will affect the Soul with all the pleasing and ravish­ing Transports of Love and Desire, Joy and De­light, Wonder and Amazement, together with a settled Acquiescence and Complacency of Spirit only less infinite than the Loveliness that causes it, and the peculiar Complacency of him who rejoyces in his own fulness, and the Compre­hensions of Eternity. We see how strangely our Sense of Seeing is affected with the Harmony of Colours, and our sense of Hearing with the Har­mony of Sounds, insomuch that some have been too weak for the enjoyment, and have grown mad with the Sublimate of Pleasure. And if so, what then shall we think of the Beatific Vi­sion, the pleasure of which will so far transcend that of the other, as God who is all over Har­mony and Proportion exceeds the sweetest Me­lody of Sounds and Colours, and the perception of the Mind is more vigorous, quick and pier­cing than that of the Senses? This is perfect Happiness, this is the Tree of Life which grows in the midst of the Paradise of God, this is Hea­ven, [Page 416] which while the Learned dispute about, the Good only enjoy. But I shall not venture to Soar any longer in these Heights, I find the Aether too thin here to breath in long, and the Brightness of the Region flashes too strong up­on my tender Sense; I shall therefore hasten to descend from the Mount of God, lest I grow giddy with speculation, and lose those Secrets which I have learnt there, the Cabala of Feli­city.

23. And now, (Sir) I come to consider your Question (viz.) Wherein the greatest Happi­ness attainable by Man in this Life does consist. Concerning which, there is as great variety of Opinions among Philosophers, as there is among Geographers about the Seat of Paradise. The Learned Varro reckons up no less than 288 se­veral Opinions about it, and yet notwithstand­ing the number of Writers who have bequeath'd Volumes upon this Subject to Posterity, they seem to have been in the dark in nothing more than in this, and (excepting only a few Plato­nists, who placed Man's greatest End in the Contemplation of Truth) they seem to have un­dertaken nothing so unhappily, as when they essay'd to write of Happiness. Some measure their Happiness by the high-tide of their Ri­ches, as the Egyptians did the Fertility of the Year by the increase of the River Nile. Others place it in the Pleasures of Sense, others in Ho­nour and Greatness. But these and the like [Page 417] were Men of the common Herd, low groveling Souls, that either understood not the Dignity of Human Nature, or else forgot that they were Men. But there were others of a Diviner Genius and Sublimer Spirit,

Queis meliore luto finxit praecordia Titan.

Who had a more generous blood running in their Veins, which made them put a just value upon themselves, and scorn to place their great­est Happiness in that which they should blush to enjoy. And those were the Stoics and the Peri­patetics, who both place the greatest Happiness of this Life in the Actions of Vertue, with this only difference, that whereas the former are contented with Naked Vertue, the latter require some other Collateral things to the farther ac­complishment of Happiness, such as are Health and Strength of Body, a Competent Lively­hood, and the like.

24. And this Opinion has been subscribed to by the hands of eminent Moralists in all Ages. And as it is Venerable for its Antiquity, so has it gain'd no small Authority from the Pen of a great Modern Writer (Descartes) who resolves the greatest Happiness of this Life into the right use of the Will, which consists in this, that a Man have a firm and constant purpose always to do that which he shall judge to be best.

25. I confess, the Practice of Vertue is a very [Page 418] great instrument of Happiness, and that there is a great deal more true satisfaction and solid content to be found in a constant course of well living than in all the soft Caresses of the most studied Luxury, or the Voluptuousness of a Se­raglio. And therefore I have oftentimes been exceedingly pleased in the reading of a certain Passage in that Divine Moralist Hierocles, where he tells you, that the Vertuous Man lives much more pleasantly than the Vicious Man. For (says he) all Pleasure is the Companion of Action, it has no Subsistence of its own, but accompanies us in our doing such and such things. Hence 'tis that the worser. Actions are accompanied with the mean­er Pleasures. So that the good Man does not only excell the wicked Man in what is good, but has also the advantage of him even in Pleasure, for whose sake alone he is wicked. For he that chuses Pleasure with Filthiness, altho for a while he be sweetly and deliciously entertain'd, yet at last through the Eil­thiness annexed to his Enjoyment, he is brought to a painful Repentance. But now he that prefers Vertue with all her Labours and Difficulties, though at first for want of use it sits heavy upon him, yet by the Conjunction of good be alleviates the Labour, and at last enjoys pare and unallay'd Pleasure with his Vertue. So that of necessity that Life is most unhappy, which is most wicked, and that most plea­sant which is most vertuous.

26. Now this I readily submit to as a great truth, that the degrees of Happiness vary ac­cording [Page 419] to the degrees of Vertue, and conse­quently that that Life which is most Vertuous is most Happy, with reference to those that are Vicious or less Vertuous, every degree of Ver­tue having a proportionate degree of Happiness accompanying it, (which is all, I suppose, that excellent Author intends.) But I do not think the most Vertuous Life so the most Happy, but that it may become Happier, unless somthing more be comprehended in the Word (Vertue) then the Stoics, Peripatetics, and the generali­ty of other Moralists understand by it. For with them it signifies no more but only such a firm [...] or habitude of the Will to good, where­by we are constantly disposed, notwithstanding the contrary tendency of our Passions, to per­form the necessary Offices of Life. This they call Moral or Civil Vertue, and although this brings always Happiness enough with it to make ample amends for all the difficulties which at­tend the practise of it: Yet I am not of Opi­nion that the greatest Happiness attainable by Man in this Life consists in it. But there is ano­ther and a higher Sense of the Word, which frequently occurs in the Pythagorean and Pla­tonic Writings, (viz.) Contemplation and the Ʋ ­nitive way of Religion. And this they call Divine Vertue. I allow of the distinction, but I would not be thought to derive it from the Principle, as if Moral Vertue were acquired, and this infused (for to speak ingeniously, infused [Page 420] Vertue seem'd ever to me as great a Paradox in Divinity, as Occult qualities in Philosophy) but from the nobleness of the Object, the Object of the former being Moral good, and the Object of the latter God himself. The former is a State of Proficiency, the latter of Perfection. The former is a State of difficulty and contention, the latter of ease and ferenity. The former is employ'd in mastering the Passions, and regu­lating the actions of common Life, the latter in Divine Meditation and the extasies of Sera­phic Love. He that has only the former, is like Moses with much difficulty climbing up to the Holy Mount, but he that has the latter, is like the same Person conversing with God on the serene top of it, and shining with the Rays of anticipated Glory. So that this latter supposes the acquisition of the former, and consequent­ly has all the Happiness retaining to the other, besides what it adds of its own. This is the last Stage of Human Perfection, the utmost round of the Ladder whereby we ascend to Heaven, one Step higher is Glory. Here then will I build my Tabernacle, for it is good to be here. Here will I set up my Pillar of Rest, here will I fix, for why should I travel on farther in pursuit of any greater Happiness, since Man in this Station is but a little lower than the Angels, one remove from Heaven. Here certainly is the greatest happiness, as well as Perfection attainable by Man in this State of imperfection. For since [Page 421] that Happiness which is absolutely perfect and compleat consists in the clear and intimate Vi­sion and most ardent Love of God, hence we ought to take our Measures, and conclude that to be the greatest Happiness attainable in this State, which is the greatest participation of the other. And that can be nothing else but the Ʋnitive way of Religion, which consists of the Contemplation and Love of God. I shall say somthing of each of these severally, and som­thing of the Ʋnitive way of Religion, which is the result of both, and so shut up this Dis­course.

27. By Contemplation in general ( [...]) we understand, an application of the Understanding to some truth. But here in this place we take the word in a more peculiar sense, as it signifies an habitual, attentive, steddy application or conversion of the Spirit to God and his Divine Perfections. Of this the Masters of Mystic Theo­logy commonly make fifteen Degrees. The first is Intuition of Truth, the second is a Retire­ment of all the Vigour and Strength of the Fa­culties into the innermost parts of the Soul, the third is Spiritual Silence, the fourth is Rest, the fifth is Union, the sixth is the Hearing of the still Voice of God, the seventh is Spiritual Slumber, the eighth is Ecstacy, the ninth is Rapture, the tenth is the Corporeal Appear­ance of Christ and the Saints, the eleventh is the Imaginary Appearance of the Same, the [Page 422] twelfth is the Intellectual Vision of God, the thirteenth is the Vision of God in Obscurity, the fourteenth is an admirable Manifestation of God, the fifteenth is a clear and intuitive Vision of him, such as St. Austin and Tho. Aqui­nas attribute to St. Paul, when he was wrapt up into the third Heaven. Others of them reckon seven degrees only, (viz.) Taste, Desire, Satie­ty, Ebriety, Security, Tranquility, but the name of the seventh (they say) is known only to God.

28. I shall not stand to examine the Scale of this Division, perhaps there may be a kind of a Pythagoric Superstition in the number. But this I think I may affirm in general, that the Soul may be wound up to a most strange degree of Abstraction by a silent and steddy Contempla­tion of God. Plato defines Contemplation to be [...] a Solu­tion and a Separation of the Soul from the Bo­dy. And some of the severer Platonists have been of Opinion, that 'tis possible for a Man by mere intention of thought not only to with­draw the Soul from all commerce with the Senses, but even really to separate it from the Body, to untwist the Ligaments of his Frame, and by degrees to resolve himself into the State of the Dead. And thus the Jews express the manner of the Death of Moses, calling it Os­culum Oris Dei, the Kiss of God's Mouth. That is, that he breath'd out his Soul by the mere [Page 423] Strength and Energy of Contemplation, and ex­pired in the Embraces of his Maker. A Hap­py way of Dying! How ambitious should I be of such a conveyance, were it practicable? How passionately should I joyn with the Church in the Canticles? [...] Let him Kiss me with the Kisses of his Mouth. Cant. 1. 2.

29. But however this be determin'd, certain it is, that there are exceeding great Measures of Abstraction in Contemplation, so great, that somtimes whether a Man be in the Body or out of the Body, he himsel can hardly tell. And consequently the Soul in these Praeludiums of Death, these Neighbourhoods of Separation, must needs have brighter glimpses, and more Beati­fic Ideas of God, than in a state void of these Elevations, and consequently must love him with greater Ardency. Which is the next thing I am to consider.

30. The love of God in general may be con­sidered either as it is purely intellectual, or as it is a Passion. The first is, when the Soul, upon an apprehension of God as a good, delectable, and agreeable Object, joyns her self to him by the Will. The latter is, when the motion of the Will is accompany'd with a sensible Com­motion of the Spirits, and an estuation of the Blood. Some I know are of Opinion, that 'tis not possible for a man to be affected with this sensitive Love of God, which is a Passion, be­cause [Page 424] there is nothing in God which falls under our imagination, and consequently (the imagi­nation being the only Medium of conveyance) it cannot be propagated from the Intellectual part to the Sensitive. Whereupon they affirm, that none are capable of this sensitive passion­ate Love of God but Christians, who enjoy the Mystery of the Incarnation, whereby they know God has condescended so far as to cloath him­self with Flesh, and to become like one of us. But 'tis not all the Sophistry of the cold Logi­cians that shall work me out of the belief of what I feel and know, and rob me of the sweet­est entertainment of my Life, the Passionate Love of God. Whatever some Men pretend, who are Strangers to all the affectionate heats of Religion, and therefore make their Philosophy a Plea for their indevotion, and extinguish all Holy Ardours with a Syllogism; yet I am firm­ly persuaded, that our love of God may be not only passionate, but even Wonderfully so, and exceeding the Love of Women. 'Tis an Experi­mental and therefore undeniable Truth, that Passion is a great Instrument of Devotion, and accordingly we find, that Men of the most warm and pathetick Tempers and Amorous Com­plexions (Provided they have but Consideration enough withall to fix upon the right Object) prove the greatest Votaries in Religion. And upon this account it is, that to heighten our Love of God in our Religious Addresses, we en­deavour [Page 425] to excite our Passions by Music, which would be to as little purpose as the Fanatic thinks 'tis, if there were not such a thing as the Passionate Love of God. But then as to the Ob­jection, I Answer with the excellent Descartes, that although in God who is the Object of our Love, we can imagine nothing, yet we can ima­gine that our Love, which consists in this, that we would unite our selves to the Object beloved, and consider our selves as it were a part of it. And the sole Idea of this very Conjunction is e­nough to stir up a heat about the Heart, and so kindle a very vehement Passion. To which I add, that although the Beauty or Amiableness of God be not the same with that which we see in Corporeal Beings, and consequently cannot di­rectly fall within the Sphere of the imagination, yet it is somthing Analogous to it, and that ve­ry Analogy is enough to excite a Passion. And this I think sufficient to warrant my general division of the Love of God into Intellectual and Sensitive.

31. But there is a more peculiar Acceptation of the Love of God proper to this place. And it is that which we call Seraphic. By which I understand in short, that Love of God which is the effect of an intense Contemplation of him. This differs not from the other in kind, but on­ly in degree, and that it does exceedingly, in as much as the thoughtful Contemplative Man (as I hinted before) has clearer Perceptions and live­lier [Page 426] Impressions of the Divine Beauty, the lovely Attributes and Perfection of God, than he whose Soul is more deeply set in the Flesh, and lies groveling in the bottom of the Dungeon.

32. That the nature of this Seraphic Love may be the better understood, I shall consider how many degrees there may be in the Love of God. And I think the Computation of Bellarmin, lib. 2. de monachis, cap. 2. is accurate enough. He makes four. The first is to love God propor­tionably to his Loveliness, that is, with an infi­nite Love; and this degree is peculiar to God himself. The second is to Love him, not pro­portionably to his Loveliness, but to the utmost Capacity of a Creature, and this degree is pecu­liar to Saints and Angels in Heaven. The third is to love him not proportionably to his Loveli­ness, nor to the utmost capacity of a Creature, absolutely consider'd; but to the utmost capa­city of a Mortal Creature in this Life. And this (he says) is proper to the Religious. The fourth is to love him not proportionably to his Loveliness, nor to the utmost capacity of a Crea­ture, consider'd either absolutely or with respect to this Life, but only so as to love nothing e­qually with him or above him. That is, not to do any thing contrary to the Divine Love. And this is absolute indispensable duty, less than which will not qualify us for the enjoyment of God hereafter.

[Page 427]33. Now this Seraphic Love which we here discourse of is in the third degree: When a Man, after many degrees of Abstraction from the Animal Life, many a profound and steddy Meditation upon the Excellencies of God, sees such a vast Ocean of Beauty and Perfection in him, that he loves him to the utmost stretch of his Power; When he sits under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit is sweet to his Tast. Cant. 2. 3. When he Consecrates and Devotes him­self whollly to him, and has no Passion for In­feriour Objects. When he is ravished with the delights of his Service, and breaths out some of his Soul to him in every Prayer. When he is delighted with Anthems of Praise and Adora­tion more than with Marrow and Fatness, and Feasts upon Alleluiah. When he melts in a Ca­lenture of Devotion, and his Soul breaketh out with fervent Desire, Psal. 119. When the one thing he delights in is to converse with God in the Beauty of Holiness, and the one thing he desires to see him as he is in Heaven. This is Se­raphic Love, and this with Contemplation makes up that which the Mystic Divines stile the Ʋni­tive way of Religion: It is called so because it Unites us to God in the most excellent manner that we are capable of in this Life. By Union here I do not understand that which is local or presential, because I consider God as Omnipre­sent. Neither do I mean a Union of Grace (as they call it) whereby we are reconciled to [Page 428] God, or a Union of Charity, whereof it is said, he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God and God in him, Jo. 4. 16. The first of these being as common to the inanimate things as to the most Extasi'd Soul upon Earth. And the two last be­ing common to all good men, who indeed love God, but yet want the excellency of Contempla­tion and the Mystic Union. The Union then which I here speak of, is that which is between the Faculty and the Object. Which consists in some Habitude or Operation of one toward the other. The Faculties here are the Ʋnder­standing and Will, the Object God, and the O­perations Contemplation and Love. The result of which two is the Mystic Ʋnion. Which, ac­cording to this complex Notion of it that I have here delivered, is thus most admirably represented by the excellent Bishop Taylour. It is (says he) a Prayer of quietness and silence, and a Meditation extraordinary, The Great Exemplar, pag. 60. a Discourse without variety, a Vision and Intuition of Divine Excellencies, an im­mediat entry into an Orb of light, and a resolu­lution of all our Faculties into Sweetness, Affe­ctions, and Starings upon the Divine Beauty. And is carried on to Extasies, Raptures, Suspen­sions, Elevations, Abstractions and Apprehensions beatifical.

34. I make no doubt but that many an ho­nest Pious Soul arrives to the heavenly Canaan, who is not fed with this Manna in the Wilder­ness. [Page 429] But though every one must not expect these Antepasts of Felicity that is vertuous, yet none else must. Paradise was never open but to a State of Innocence. But neither is that enough. No, this Mount of God's Presence is fenced not only from the profane, but also from the moderately vertuous. 'Tis the Privi­ledge of Angelical Dispositions, and the Re­ward of eminent Piety and an excellent Re­ligion, to be admitted to these Divine Repasts, these Feasts of love. And here I place the greatest Happiness attainable by Man in this Life, as being the nearest Approach to the State of the Blessed above, the outer Court of Heaven.

35. These (Sir) are my thoughts concern­ing Happiness. I might have spun them out into a greater length, but I think a little Plot of ground thick-sown is better than a great Field which for the most part of it lies Fallow. I have endeavour'd to deliver my Notions with as much Perspicuity and in as good Me­thod as I could, and so to answer all the ends of Copiousness, with the advantage of a short­er Cut. If I appear singular in any of my No­tions, 'tis not out of an industrious affectation of Novelty, but because in the composing of this discourse (the Meditation of a few broken hours in a Garden) I consulted more my own experimental Notices of things and private Reflections than the Writings of others. So [Page 430] that if somtimes I happen to be in the Road, and somtimes in a way by my self, 'tis no won­der. I affect neither the one nor the other, but write as I think. Which as I do at other times, so more especially when I subscribe my self

Yours most affectionately, J. N.

A Letter of Resolution concerning some Passages in the foregoing Treatise, to the same Person.


1. THE kind Entertainment which you gave my Idea of Happiness, does not only incourage, but oblige me to endeavour the satisfaction of that Scruple, which the Perusal of it has occasion'd. I cannot but highly com­mend your searching Curiosity, in desiring far­ther satisfaction concerning a matter of so sub­lime and excellent a Nature (for the Tree of Paradise is good for food, pleasant to the Eye, and a Tree to be desired to make one wise) tho you must give me leave to wonder that you would not enquire at a better Oracle. But since you are pleas'd to be of the Opinion, that few have made this Subject so familiar to their Medita­tion as I have, I cannot with any pretence de­cline your Request, tho perhaps by my perform­ing it I shall work you into a contrary persua­sion.

2. Sir, You say you should like my Notion concerning the r [...]ality of that which is usually [Page 432] call'd Imaginary Happiness, that is, (as you well explain both your own and my meaning) that although the Object may be an Imaginary Good, yet the Happiness which consists in the Fruition of that Object, will not be Imaginary too, but real, and consequently, that 'tis impossible for a man to seem to himself to be happy, and not to be really so, all Happiness consisting in Opi­nion. This Notion, you say, you should like rarely well, could you free your self from one difficulty which it engages you upon; (viz.) That hereafter, in the state of Glory, either one Saint shall think himself as happy as ano­ther, or not; if not, this must needs occasion Envy or Discontent, but if one shall think him­self as happy as another, then, according to my Hypothesis, that Opinion is the Measure of Hap­piness, 'twill follow that he will really be so; and this brings in Equality of Happiness, which you look upon (and I think justly too) as another absurdity.

3. I confess, Sir, this Argument is pretty sub­tle and surprizing, but I conceive the Knots of it may be untied by this Answer. First, it may be justly question'd, whether the first part of your Dilemma be necessarily attended with the appendant absurdity. 'Tis true indeed, not to think ones self as happy as another, is the Spring of Envy or Discontent among Men in this World, but whether this be he genuin and con­stant effect of that Consideration, or whether it [Page 433] ought not rather to be ascribed to the present Infirmities and Imperfections of Human Na­ture, may admit Dispute. But in case this ab­surdity does inseparably cleave to the first part, then I be take my self to the latter, and affirm, that in Heaven one Saint shall think himself as happy as another. Then, according to my own Notion (say you) it will follow that he is really so. No, I deny the consequence, the in­validity of which will plainly appear by distin­guishing the ambiguity of the Phrase. For this Expression, One Saint thinks himself as happy as another, may be taken in a double sense, ei­ther that he thinks himself as happy as he him­self thinks that other, or that he thinks himself as happy as that other thinks himself. I grant, should one Saint think himself as happy as ano­ther in this latter sense of the Phrase, he would, according to my Hypothesis, really be so; so that this would bring in equality. And there­fore in this Sense I deny the Proposition, and that without the least danger of splitting upon the first absurdity. But for the former Sense, that has no such levelling quality, for to say that I think my self as happy as I think another, a­mounts to no more than this, that in my ap­prehension another does not exceed me in Hap­piness: but tho he does not in my apprehension, yet he may in reality, for tho my Opinion gives measures to my own Happiness, yet it does not to another Mans. So that one Saint may be [Page 434] said to think himself as happy as another in the former sense, without equalling the Happiness of the Blessed, tho, I confess, I should much rather adhere to the contrary proposition, (viz.) that one shall not think himself as happy as ano­ther, in case such an Opinion be not necessa­rily attended with Envy or Discontent. Because it seems unreasonable to make them ignorant of the degrees of one▪ anothers Bliss, unless that ignorance be necessarily required to prevent the alledg'd absurdities. But I determin nothing in this point, my business was only to break the force of your Dilemma, and to shew that my Notion does not involve you in the difficulty supposed. This, Sir, is all that I think neces­sary to say to a Person of your apprehension, and therefore I end these nice Speculations with this profitable reflection, that altho the Notion of Happiness be intricate and obscure, yet the means of attaining it are plain, and therefore 'twould be most advisable both for you and me chiefly to apply our selves to the lat­ter here, and we shall understand the former with the best sort of Knowledge, that of Expe­rience, hereafter.

Yours J. N.

Another Letter to the same Person, concerning the true Notion of Pla­to's Ideas, and of Platonic Love.

‘Tanta vis in Ideis constituitur, ut nisi his intellectis, sapiens esse nemo possit.’Augustinus Tom. 4. Pag. 548. Q. 46.

1. WERE I not as well acquainted with your singular modesty, as I am with your intellectual accomplishments, I should readily conclude, that your directing your enquiries to me proceeded not so much from a Curiosity to improve your own Know­ledge, as to try mine. But when I consider that you are ignorant of nothing so much as of your own Worth and Abilities, I begin to think it possible that you may propose these Questions even to me out of a desire to be inform'd. Which way soever it is, I acknowledge my self to be obliged to you for affording me an opportuni­ty of serving you, especially in such an Instance, where I cannot gratify your Request without [Page 436] humouring my own Genius at the same time. For indeed to my apprehension, there is not a finer or more Sublime piece of Speculation in all Plato's Philosophy, than that of his Ideas▪ and that of his Love, tho it has undergone the same hard Fate with many other excellent Theories, first, to be either ignorantly misunderstood, or maliciously misrepresented, and then popularly vilify'd and decry'd.

2. To do right therefore to the name of this great Man, as well as to satisfy your Demands, I shall first propose the general mistake, and then rectify it, first present you with the suppos'd Opinion of Plato, and then with the true and genuin one. I begin with his Ideas, by which 'tis taken for granted by the generality of Wri­ters, especially those of the Peripatetic Order, that he understood universal Natures or ab­stract Essences subsisting eternally by them­selves, Separate both from the mind of God and all singular Beings, according to which, as so many patterns, all Singulars are form'd. As for instance, that a Man, not this or that in particular, but a universal Man, or a Man in general, should exist by it self eternally, ac­cording to which all particular Men were made. Sir, I suppose you can hardly forbear smiling at the odness of the Conceit, but as ridiculous as you may think it, 'tis said to be maintained by no less a Man than Plato, and has been thought of that moment too, that Multitudes of [Page 437] great Men have set themselves very seriously to confute it as a dangerous Heresy, and have op­posed it with as much zeal as ever St. Austin did the Manichees or the Pelagians.

3. But now, that this Opinion was not only for its Absurdity and Contradictiousness unwor­thy of the contemplative and refin'd Spirit of Plato; but was also apparently none of his, I dare say any capable Person will be convinc'd that shall heedfully and impartially examine and compare the Works of Plato; And this A­ristotle himself must needs have known (he having been his constant Auditour for twenty years together) but only he wanted a Shadow to fight with, and so father'd this monstrous Opinion upon his Master. And of this disinge­nuity of Aristotle, together with other abuses, Plato himself complain'd, while alive, in these words; [...] as is recorded by Laertius in the Life of Aristotle.

4. And now, that the grossness of this Abuse may the more fully appear, I will in the next place present you with another Sense of Plato's Ideas, and such as by a more than ordinary ac­quaintance with his Works, I know to be the true and genuin one. Know then that Plato considering the World as an effect of an intel­lectual Agent, and that in the Operations of all other Artificers or rational Efficients there must be some form in the Mind of the Artificer pre­supposed [Page 438] to the VVork (for otherwise what dif­ference will there be between a fortuitous effect and an intended one, and how comes the effect to be of this Species rather than another?) thought it necessary to suppose [...] Eternal Forms, Models or Patterns, of all the Species of being in Nature existing in the Mind of God. And these he calls Ideas. I say existing in the Mind of God, for there is not the least Intimation in all Plato's VVorks of any such Ideas existing separately from the Di­vine intellect, nor do the great Masters of Pla­tonic Philosophy, Plotinus, Porphyrius, Procles, or any other that I know of make mention of any such Spectres and Ghosts of Entity. No, this Monster was hatch'd in Aristotle's Brain, and I believe did never enter Plato's Head so much as in a Dream. For he is not only silent about it, but does in several places expresly assert the contrary; Particularly in his Timaeus, where, of set purpose, he describes the Origin of the VVorld, he says that God made the VVorld according to that Pattern or Idea which he had in his Mind. The same you will find more am­ply confirm'd in his Hippias, his Parmenides, and his sixth Book of Repub. and many other places. And these Ideas he calls [...], the first Intelligibles, and [...], the Mea­sures of the things that are, implying, that as all things were form'd according to these specifical Platforms; so their truth must be measured [Page 439] from their Conformity to them. And in this Sense must be taken that Common Axiom of the Schools, that the Truth of a thing is its Con­formity with the Divine Intellect, for it is in no other Sense Intelligible, as you will discern in the Process.

5. But now, lest you should imagine, that this Platonic Hypothesis of Ideas existing in the Divine Mind should ill comport with the Sim­plicity of God, or clash with that approved Doctrine of the Schools, Nihil est in Deo quod non sit Deus, (which is another cavil of the Anti­platonists) you are to understand that Plato by his Ideas does not mean any real Essence distinct from the Divine Essence, but only the Divine Essence it self with this Connotation, as it is va­riously imitable or participable by created Be­ings, and consequently, according to the mul­tifariousness of this imitability, so are the possi­bilities of Being. Which is as fine a Notion as was ever framed by the Mind of Man, and that it is his, you will find, if you consult his Par­menides. And this will serve to help us out with another difficulty, for whereas Plato makes his Divine Ideas not only the exemplary causes of things, but also (which is a consequent to the former) the measure of their Truth, this may seem to fall in with their Opinion who make all Truth dependent upon the Speculative un­derstanding of God, that is, that God does not understand a thing so because it is so in its own [Page 440] Nature, but that a thing is therefore so because God is pleas'd so to understood it. Which is an Opinion full of mischief and absurdity, as you may see compendiously, and yet evidently demonstrated, in Dr. Rust's little Discourse of Truth. Now for the clearing this Difficulty, 'tis to be observed, that the Essence of God, ac­cording to Plato, is distinguished into [...] and [...] the Counterpart whereof in English is Conceptive and Exhibitive. By the Mind of God Exhibitive is meant the Essence of God as thus or thus imitable or participable by any Creature, and this is the same with an Idea. By the Mind of God Conceptive is meant a reflex act of God's Understanding upon his own Es­sence as Exhibitive, or as thus and thus imita­ble. Now if you consider the Divine Under­standing as Conceptive or Speculative, it does not make its Object but suppose it, (as all Specula­tive Understanding does) neither is the Truth of the Object to be measured from its Confor­mity with that, but the Truth of that from its Conformity with its Object. But if you consi­der the Divine Understanding as Exhibitive, then its Truth does not depend upon its Con­formity with the Nature of things, but on the contrary, the Truth of the Nature of things depends upon its Conformity with it. For the Divine Essence is not thus or thus imitable, be­cause such and such things are in being, but such and such things are in being, because the [Page 441] Divine Essence is thus and thus imitable, for had not the Divine Essence been thus imitable, such and such Beings would not have been pos­sible. And thus is Plato to be understood when he founds the Truth of things upon their Con­formity with the Divine Ideas, and thus must the Schools mean too by that foremention'd Axiom concerning Transcendental Truth, if they will speak Sense, as I noted above.

6. And now, Sir, from Plato's Ideas thus ami­ably set forth, the Transition methinks is very natural to Love. And concerning this I shall account in the same Method, first, by pointing out the popular Misapprehensions about it, and then by exhibiting a true Notion of it. Pla­tonic Love is a thing in every bodies Mouth, but I find scarce any that think or speak accurately of it. The mistakes which I observe are chiefly these. Some of the grosser Understanders sup­pose that Plato by his Love meant [...], the Love of Males, but the Occasion of this Con­ceit was from a passage in his Convivium, where he brings in Aristophanes speaking favourably that way. But he that shall from hence con­clude Plato a prostitute to that vile Passion, may as well conclude a Dramatic Poet to be an A­theist or a Whore-master, because he represents those of that Character. But that Divine Pla­to intended nothing less than to countenance any such thing, is evident from the whole scope and purport of that Dialogue, and from other [Page 442] places where he expresly condemns it, and re­jects it with great abhorrence; particularly in the first of his de legibus, where he calls it [...], an unnatural attempt. Others by Platonic Love understand the Love of Souls, and this indeed has somthing of truth in it, only it is much too narrow and particular.

7. Others take Platonic Love to be a desire of imprinting any excellency, whether moral or intellectual, in the Minds of beautiful young men by Instruction, and so likewise of enjoy­ing your own Perfections reflected from the Mind of another, mix'd with and recommend­ed by the Beauty of the Body. According to the usual saying, Gratior è Pulchro, &c. And thus Socrates was said to love his beautiful Pu­pils Phaedrus and Alcibiades. Others measure the Nature of Platonic Love, not from the Ob­ject (to which they suppose it indifferent) but from the manner of the Act. And according to these, that man is said to love Platonically, that does Casso delectamine amare, love at a di­stance, that never designs a close fruition of the Object what ever it be, whether Sensual or In­tellectual, but chooses to dwell in the Suburbs, pleasing himself with remote Prospects, and makes a Mistress of his own Desire. And this is the receiv'd Notion, and that which Peo­ple generally mean when they talk of Platonic Love. But this too is far enough from the right, for tho Platonic Love does not aim at [Page 443] the fruition of sensual Objects, yet it designs the fruition of its own Object as much as a­ny other Love does. That therefore which distinguishes Platonic Love, is not the manner of the act above-mention'd, but the peculia­rity of the Object. And what that is must be collected from the Design of Plato in that Dialogue, where he treats purposely of it, his Convivium. Which is briefly to shew the man­ner of the Souls ascent to God by love. For Plato makes the Happiness of Man to consist in the Contemplation and Love of God, whom he calls the Idea of Beauty. But now be­cause this Idea of Beauty (God) is of too sub­lime and refined excellency to be immediat­ly fastned upon by our Love, he recommends to us [...], a Method of Ascent, which is from loving the Beauty we see in Bodies, to pass on to the Love of the Beauty of the Soul, from the Beauty of the Soul to the Beauty of Vertue, and lastly from the Beau­ty of Vertue, [...], to the immense O­cean of Beauty, &c. For so have I observ'd a tender Infants Eye not enduring to gaze directly upon the too powerful Excellence of the Meridian Sun, chuse to entertain it self with the abatements of corrected and re­flected Light, and take up with the feebler refreshments of lesser Beauties for a while, till at length the faculty grows more con­firm'd, [Page 444] and dares encounter the Sun in his Strength. And these are the Steps of the San­ctuary. So that Platonic Love is the Love of Beauty abstracted from all sensual Appli­cations, and desire of corporal contract, as it leads us on to the Love of the first origi­nal Beauty, God; or more plainly thus, The Ascent of the Soul to the Love of the Di­vine Beauty, by the Love of abstracted Beau­ty in Bodies. This Love of abstracted Beau­ty in Bodies he calls [...], Celestial Love, in opposition to that which he calls [...], which is the same with that Pas­sion commonly signify'd by the name of Love, (viz.) a desire of corporal contact a­rising from the sight of Beauty. This last indeed is a very vile, brutish, unmanly af­fection, and such as considering the vileness of our Bodies, one would think a man could never be charm'd into without the Magic of a Love-potion. But the former is an Angeli­cal Affection, for certainly Beauty is a Di­vine thing; It is (as the Platonic Author says of Wisdom) the pure Influence flowing from the Glory of the Almighty, and the Bright­ness of the Everlasting Light: or in Plato's own Words, A Ray of God. And therefore the Love of abstract Beauty must needs be a very generous and divine Affection. Sir, I could be more large in my account, but I consider what 'tis I write, and to whom, and there­fore [Page 445] I think it high time to remit you to your own Thoughts, some of which I hope will be, that I am in a very eminent degree of Friendship,

Yours J. Norris.

A Letter concerning Love and Music.


TO the first of your Enquiries concerning the true Idea of Love, and particularly that between Man and Woman, and wherein it stands distinguish'd from Lust, my Answer in short is this. That Love may be consider'd ei­ther barely as a Tendency toward good, or as a willing this good to somthing capable of it. If Love be taken in the first Sense 'tis what we call Desire, if in the second, 'tis what we call Cha­rity or Benevolence.

2. Then as to Desire, there is either an Intel­lectual or a sensual desire, which denomination is not here taken from the Faculty, but from the Quality of the Object. That I call here an In­tellectual Desire whose object is an Intellectual good, and that a sensual desire whose object is a sensual good. And this is that which Plato meant by his two Cupids. The latter of these is what we call Lust.

3. But then this again signifies either abstract­ly and indifferently (viz.) a bare desire of Cor­poreal pleasure, or else concretely and immo­rally (viz.) a desire or longing after corporeal pleasure in forbidden and unlawful instances.

[Page 447]4. These things being thus briefly premised my next Resolution is this. That the Ordina­ry Passion of Love, that which we mean when we say such a man or such a woman is in Love, is no other than plain Lust, if Lust be taken ac­cording to the first signification, namely, for a sensual Desire, or a Tendency toward a sen­sual good. But if Lust be taken in the latter sense, as a Tendency to corporeal pleasure in unlawful instances, that which our Saviour meant when he said He that looks upon a woman to lust after her, &c. then 'tis not necessary that the Passion we here speak of should be Lust, be­cause then 'twould be a sin to be in Love, and consequently, there would be a necessity of sin­ning in order to Marriage, because no man is supposed to marry but whom he thus Loves.

5. And now to your 2d Enquiry, whether Music be a Sensual or Intellectual pleasure, be­fore this can be determin'd, the Idea of a Sen­sual and Intellectual pleasure must be stated.

6. And 1st I observe that the precise diffe­rence of a sensual pleasure cannot consist in this, that the Body be pleased or gratefully affected, nor of an Intellectual that the Mind be pleased. For by reason of the strict union of Soul and Body, one so sympathizes with the other, that these pleasures are always Mutual and compli­cated. So that there is no pleasure of mind that does not also recreate the Body, and no pleasure of Body but whereof the Mind has its [Page 448] share. And thus far there is agreement and re­ciprocation. That then which is peculiar and discriminative must be taken from the Primary­ness or Secondaryness of the Perception. That Pleasure therefore is an Intellectual Pleasure when the Soul is primarily and immediatly af­fected, and the Body only secondarily and by participation. And that is a sensual pleasure when the Body is primarily and immediatly af­fected, and the Soul only secondarily and by participation.

7. Now according to this Measure we must of necessity define the pleasure of hearing Mu­sic to be properly Intellectual. Because the Soul is the part that is then primarily and imme­diatly affected, and the Body only by result. And that for this evident Reason, because Mu­sic consisting formally in Proportion, and Pro­portion pleasing only as understood, that part must be primarily and directly pleased which is capable of understandiug. But this is not the Body but the Soul. 'Tis true indeed the ear may be directly pleased by a single sound, as the eye is recreated by a single Colour (suppose green) and this I grant to be a pleasure of sense as much as smelling or tasting, tho not so gross. But the Ear may no more properly be said to be pleased with the Proportion of sounds, or with sounds as proportionate, than the eye is with a Picture.

8. If it be here objected, that Music is a plea­sure [Page 449] of Sense because 'tis convey'd by the Ear, I reply that if this be sufficient to make a Plea­sure Sensual, the most Intellectual pleasures we are here capable of may be call'd Sensual, as reading fine discourses, contemplating the Beauty of the Creation, attending to Mathe­matical Diagrams and the like, because all these as well as Music are enjoy'd by the Mediation of the Senses.

9. But it matters not tho the Senses be the Instruments of conveyance, so the Soul be the part directly and primarily affected, which is the case here. For tho the Ear may be pleased with those single sounds which with relation to each other are really Harmonical, yet it is not, it cannot be pleased with them as such, or in that Formality. This is the sole Priviledge of the Mind, which as it can only judge of, so is it on­ly capable of being pleas'd with Harmony.

10. And thus Sir you have my sentiments with as much Brevity and Clearness as I could use, and it may be, as the Matters would bear. I have now nothing further to add, but to re­new the assurances of my being

Your Friend and Servant J. N.

A Letter concerning Friendship.


1. TO your Question whether in propriety of speaking there may be strict Friend­ship between a man and his wife, I answer first that the solution of this Question depends upon another, (viz.) what are the Requisites essen­tially necessary to the Exercise of Friendship, and this Question likewise depends upon ano­ther, (viz.) what is the true Notion or Idea of Friendship. This being rightly stated, 'twill be easy to discern what are the essential Requi­sites, and consequently whether Man and Wife are capable Terms in this Relation or no.

2. Now as to the Idea of Friendship, I answer first in general, that Friendship is nothing else but Benevolence or Charity under some certain Modifications or accidental circumstances. Ac­cidental I mean as to Charity, tho necessary and essential to Friendship. And thus far I think all Moralists are agreed. But now what these cer­tain Modifications are, here they begin to be divided. 'Twould be too tedious a work to in­sist here upon the variety of other mens Opi­nions, and therefore I shall only briefly deli­ver my own, which is, that all the Modifica­tions of Charity necessary to the constitution of [Page 451] Friendship may be well enough reduced to these three. 1. That it be in a special manner in­tense, 2ly, that it be mutual, and 3ly that it be manifest or mutually known. Charity when cloth­ed with these three Modifications immediatly commences Friendship. More than these it need not have, but of these not one may be spared, as will easily appear if you examine them se­verally.

3. Now from this Idea of Friendship 'tis very obvious to deduce what are the Requisites ne­cessary to Friendship, not in reference to its Idea (for that's already stated) but in reference to its Existence or actual Exercise, that is in one word, what are those Dispositions or Aptnesses in the Subject whether as to person, state or con­dition, which may render it capable of Friend­ship according to the foremention'd Idea. Now I say what these are may be easily collected from the Idea it self, as will appear if we consi­der it distinctly according to those three Mo­difications, and by applying the genus to each of them. For 1st whereas Friendship is said to be Charity in a special manner intense, hence I collect 1st, that it cannot be but between good men, because an ill man cannot have any true Charity, much less such an intense degree of it as is requisite to Friendship. So that Vertue in general is one Requisite. 2ly, hence I collect that a Friend must not be only according to the Character Lucan gives of Cato—rigidi ser­vator [Page 452] honesti, rigidly vertuous and honest, but he must be also [...], a man of a liberal, sweet, obliging temper, one of those good men of whom 'tis said in Scripture (by way of con­tradistinction to the Righteous or rigidly honest) that some would even dare to dye for them. For tho I may have common Charity, nay more, a great Esteem for a man of plain honesty and in­tegrity, yet I can never love him with that spe­cial intenseness of Affection which belongs to Friendship, unless he be also of a beneficent, kind and obsequious temper. So that good na­ture is another requisite. 3ly, hence I collect that there must be also (at least in a competent proportion) an agreeableness of humours and manners, for unless the materials be of an apt and correspondent figure, the building can nei­ther be compact nor lasting, so that likeness of disposition is another Requisite. 4. hence I col­lect that true Friendship cannot be among ma­ny. For since our faculties are of a finite ener­gy, 'tis impossible our love can be very intense when divided among many. No, the rays must be contracted to make them burn. So that ano­ther Requisite is, that the Terms of▪ this Rela­tion be few in Number.

4. These are all the Requisites that I can think of at present deducible from the first part of the Idea (viz. Charity in a special manner intense) As for fidelity in retaining secrets, con­stancy of Adherence and the like, I think they [Page 453] are vertually included in the first Requisite, it being hardly conceivable how a man can be good and vertuous that wants them. But if you think the Reduction not so obvious, you may if you please add them here in the fifth place as distinct Requisites, 'twill be all one. Thus far of the Requisites deducible from the first part.

5. To proceed. Whereas it is further said that Friendship is a Benevolence that's Mutual, there is but one general Requisite deducible from this, which is, that all the other be found in both (or if more) in all the persons supposed to be Friends. The third of which importing Relation will of necessity be so, for all Similitude is mutual. Lastly, whereas 'tis said that Friend­ship is a Benevolence mutually known, all that will be Requisite upon this head is, that the Persons who are to be confederated in this u­nion, have such opportunities of Converse or Correspondence, that they may be satisfy'd of the Degree and Reality of each others love.

6. Having thus stated the Idea of Friendship, and from thence deduced all the necessary qua­lifications in the subject for its entertainment, I think I may now from the Premises venture to affirm that there may be strict Friendship be­tween Man and Wife. For which of these Re­quisites is it that they must necessarily want? As for your Objection taken from their inequa­lity, I grant Equality is wanting both as to Sex [Page 454] and as to Conjugal Relation, but neither is all Equality necessary. 'Tis not absolutely neces­sary that Friends should stand upon a Level, either in respect of Fortune, State or Condition. This sort of Equality I grant is a good Prepa­rative for a more easy Introduction of Friend­ship, and 'tis also advantagious to the lasting­ness of it, but yet 'tis dispensable. 'Tis like levelling the ground betwixt two rivers, it makes way for a more easy union, but yet 'tis possible from Earthquakes, Floods or other con­tingencies they may be united without it. The only equality that is necessary is an equality of dispositions, an harmony of affections, but this may be in persons of unequal fortunes and con­ditions. I confess, there can be no such thing as Friendship between persons of different qua­lity if the Superiour takes advantage of his pre­heminence or Authority, for then 'tis true what the Poet says, Si vis Sexte coli, non amabo.

7. But then 'tis not the being invested with superiority that is inconsistent with Friendship (for then Kings who have no equals but those of other Kingdom's with whom they cannot inti­mately converse, would be the miserablest Crea­tures alive) but the habitual use and exercise of it, and the standing upon its priviledges.

8. But there is no necessity that it should be so. Friendship may level those whom Fortune has made unequal, and the greatest Monarch in the world may find Opportunities to descend [Page 455] from the throne of majesty to the familiar Ca­resses of a dear Favorite, and unking himself a while for the more glorious title of Friend. 'Tis but to apply this to the particular case in hand, and you have a Solution to your Que­stion. And now Sir from the Theory of Friend­ship I shall most readily descend to the Practise of it when ever you please to employ the ser­vice of

(Dear Sir)
Your most real Friend and Servant J. Norris.

The Copy of a Letter written to my Friend F. B. concerning the death of my dear Neece M. C.

My dear Friend,

1. SInce 'tis one of the happinesses of Friend­ship to Communicate sorrow as well as to share in joy, that the one may be increas'd and the other diminish'd, I cannot but betake my self to this easy refuge, being at present in such a condition, as will need more relief and sup­port than I can either give to my self, or receive from others.

2. The truth is, should I indulge my passion, I might find perhaps as much cause as he that did it, to curse the day of my Nativity. My pretty little dear Neece and Scholar, she whom I loved, admired and delighted in, she for whose sake I once thought life, as now I think death a Blessing, she (how shall I bring out that dismal word)—is dead.

3. She is, and has left a strange emptiness in my Soul (so large was the room she took up there) which nothing of this world's good can ever fill. I must needs own that I never was so deeply affected with any trouble in my life, nor did I ever think that it could be in the power of any temporal loss so much to discompose and unspirit my Soul. It is not a transient gust of pas­sion, which like a little cloud would either soon [Page 457] blow over, or spend it self in a momentary shower, but 'tis with my mind as with the face of the sky when 'tis all set to rain. Were it only an affe­ction of the sensitive and Animal part, it would soon vanish like the phantastic colours of the Rain-bow, but my grief is of a more malignant kind, and penetrates even into the very Center of my Soul. 'Tis lodg'd (as Lipsius I remember emphatically phrases it) in ipsa animi mente, 'tis an ingrain'd, rational and Judicious sorrow.

4. I lament not on her account (for I cannot, without reflecting upon the divine goodness, question the happy state of one who was nothing but innocence and sweetness) but purely upon my own. And that I do in such a measure that—but 'tis in vain to go about to express it, for I lov'd her as I lov'd my own Soul, and however my sorrow may be blam'd for her now, yet I'm sure my love for her could not.

5. For she was a person (and you know I am not over-prone to admire) so peculiarly accom­plish'd, as if Nature had design'd nothing else in her composition but to make one on purpose to be belov'd. As for her outward form, she was one of the studied and elaborate pieces of Na­ture, and by the very air of her Countenance was markt out for an extraordinary Soul to in­habit in. Nor was the Jewel unworthy of the case, for certainly she had as excellent a Spirit (one only excepted) as ever condescended to wear human flesh. Her parts were miraculous [Page 458] and extraordinary, so extraordinary, that had not the youth and verdancy of her face contra­dicted the ripeness of her discoursings, you would have thought her well in years.

6. And tho Art had little more to do where Nature had been so eminently liberal, yet so Co­vetuous was she as well as Capable of improve­ment, as if she meant to grasp all manner of knowledge, and leave nothing to a future state to add to her accomplish'd Soul. And indeed 'tis too incredible to be related, considering the shortness of the time (for her pulse had not beat thirteen years) what a wondrous progress her active Soul had made. Thus far only I shall ven­ture in general, that had she lived to be as ripe in years as she was in parts and ingenious attain­ments, she would have been the envy of her Sex, and the wonder of Mankind.

7. But yet the former of these would have been much abated by her admirable sweetness and good nature. A Quality as of it self most excellent, so that wherein she most excell'd. And here I must beg leave of all that I ever convers'd with to declare, that I never observ'd in any, such a free, generous, obliging and disinteress'd temper, which mightily sweetned and recom­mended her parts, and made her not only ad­mirable, but lovely.

8. And besides all this there were in her (as in Poetry) many errantes abditaeque veneres, wan­dring and hidden graces that want a name, and [Page 459] unexpressible Prettinesses, which yet were strangely moving, and of a charming influence. I am not conscious to my self of any partial fondness, or Rhetorical affectation in any one part of this Character, but as near as I can do speak the genuin, unprejudiced sense of my Soul. I hate to flatter the living, much more the dead, whose names are as sacred to me as their sepulchers. My only fault here (if any) is in the defect, for she was as much too good to be suffi­ciently commended, as to be long enjoy'd.

9. And now (setting aside that particular re­spect which she ever blest and honour'd me with) how can I chuse but be very passionately concern'd for the loss of such a rare and every way accomplish'd person! I cannot, and me­thinks when I survey the suddain ruin of my pleasant, but shortliv'd gourd, I can hardly for­bear justifying my grief as the inraged Prophet did his Anger, and like him am tempted to say, I do well to be sorrowful.

10. But I must not be so ill a Pilot as now the floods of Passion arise to throw away my tack­ling, commit my Vessel to the winds, and run along with the tempest; satis naturae datum est, jam & Ratio suum asserat Principatum. For my ship begins to be cover'd with the waves, and therefore 'tis now high time to awake Reason from her dead sleep, that she may rebuke the winds and the Sea, that they may be calm and still. 'Tis dangerous to indulge any longer, the tumult of [Page 460] the Passions runs high, and the unruly Faction presses hard upon the gate of the Palace, 'tis therefore time for the Soveraign Faculty to come forth in her imperial robes, & suppress the mu­tiny.

11. In order therefore to the quieting of my passions, and the resettlement of my discom­pos'd Soul, I consider, First, that grief is the most absurd and senseless of all the Passions, yea of all the things in the world, and utterly un­becoming a Creature that makes the least pre­tension to Reason. Because 'tis resolvable into no rational Principle; for whatever is so must be, or at least appear to be either an End or a Means. But this can pretend to neither. Not to be end, for nothing is so but what is good, but this is in no respect good, and in many respects evil. Not to be a Means, because it effects nothing, but is altogether vain and fruitless. And indeed it cannot but be so, because 'tis of a thing past, which even to Omnipotence it self is impossible to be alter'd. Our other Passions are to some pur­pose, and aim at some end. Love to enjoy, An­ger to revenge, Fear to avoid, and the like; But this Passion, grief, serves to no end or purpose in the world, and it cannot be its own end be­cause (as I said before) it is in no respect good. It is therefore utterly absurd and unreasonable.

12. Again I consider, that suppose grief were not so vain and ineffective a thing as 'tis, but that it could make some alteration in things, [Page 461] yet it cannot alter any one event for the bet­ter, and therefore to what purpose should I in­dulge it? For since we acknowledg a Being of an infinite Wisdom, Power and Goodness to sit at the Helm of the universe, it must be conse­q̄uently acknowledg'd that the course of this world is steer'd to the best advantage of the whole, and however ignorant we may be how to justify particular Phenomena's, yet we must (if we will be consistent with our former conces­sion) at least implicitly believe that all things are as well as they can possibly be. Certain it is (whatever some Male-contents may think) the world is govern'd with as much wisdom as 'twas made, and as the natural world stood the test of the divine Criticism, so will the Moral one too. God upon review would pronounce this as good as he did the other, and why should not we? yea we should, if we could see this excellent Drama from end to end as he does; we should then dis­cern that all those dispensations which sepa­rately taken appear harsh and unequal, yet in Concatenation and together conspire to the Beau­ty and Interest of the whole. This will be our portion hereafter, in the mean time 'twill be our greatest wisdom to trust that of God, and believe that implicitly as to the thing, which we cannot discern as to the manner. And this I take to be the most rational foundation of Re­signation and Acquiescence in the divine pleasure, which is grounded upon a Consideration of his [Page 462] infinite Wisdom and Goodness. When we resolve our wills into his merely for this reason, because we pay so much deference to his perfections, as to think, that if we knew as much as he, we should not wish things to be otherwise than they are. And this is highly specify'd in the Saints in Heaven, who through that near and intimate view which they have of God's perfections are so intirely conformable to his will, that they can dispense not only with the eternal loss but dam­nation of their friends without the least grief or resentment. I confess, this eminency of resig­nation is no more attainable in this life than any other part of Celestial happiness, but yet an heedful and attentive meditation of this Ar­gument may do much towards it; And howe­ver difficult it be to reduce it to Practise, yet 'tis most certain in the Theory that granting the superintendency of an infinite and unpreju­dic'd understanding, and that every calamity is (as Euripides somwhere calls it) [...] sent from God, to grieve at any misfor­tune is to grieve that things are as they should be. Which is one would think, too absurd for him to be guilty of who is defined to be a Ra­tional Creature.

13. Again I consider, that as that which I call an affliction is (as certainly as God is Wise and Good) for the best in reference to the whole Systeme of things, so for all that I know it may be most conducive to my interest in particular. [Page 463] In as much as by it I may either obtain a great­er good, or avoid a greater evil. Thus a Ship­wreck made Zeno a Philosopher, and the Mes­senger of Satan proved and Antidote to the great Apostle against pride and vanity of Spirit. And perhaps there was in me some evil and un­mortify'd quality or other of so malignant a nature that it could not be cured by a less se­vere Application. For certainly God is not so ill a Physitian as not to weigh the Ingredients of his bitter Cup, before he mingles it into a draught, that it may be proportionable to the strength of the disease as well as of the Patient.

14. Again I consider, that as this affliction may be one of the Arrows of love, and in the de­signation of God be intended for my particular good, so 'tis most certain that by wise conduct I may extract good out of it if I will, and turn it to my greater advantage. Plato I remember somwhere compares the life of man to a game at Tables. And indeed the comparison is wor­thy the wisdom of its Author, and full of my­stic and important truth. For as there what Cast we shall have is not in our power, but to ma­nage it well, that is. So is it with man in the concerns of life. 'Twas not in my power whe­ther this Affliction should befall me or not, but 'tis in my power to manage it for my advantage now it has befall'n me. I can use it as an Op­portunity of shewing my Vertue, as an Occa­sion of withdrawing my affections from the [Page 464] world confidering the uncertainty of the best objects in it, of increasing my love to God, and his love to me here, and his rewards to me here­after. And to this purpose I consider the story of Abraham, who for his readiness to part with his beloved Son at the demand of God, became the Favorite and Friend of his maker, and ob­tain'd this emphatical promise from him, In blessing I will bless thee.

15. Again I consider, that altho by the loss of this excellent Creature a great breach be made upon my happiness, yet the remainder of what I enjoy is much greater than the evil which I suffer, so that upon the whole the Scale weighs down for happiness. My Condition is still better than that of many others, who yet think them­selves happy. And therefore for me to pine and lament because I am not so happy as I was, or may be, becomes neither the Philosophy of a Scholar, nor the Humility of a Christian, and up­on the same Principle I may continue to lament even when I am in Heaven. Rather let me a­dore the bounty of God for filling my Cup so full, than be discontented because it does not run over.

16. Again I consider with the great Apostle that the time is short, and that therefore I should weep as if I wept not. 'Twill not be long e're I shall enjoy the Beatific Vision of God and (if af­ter that the fruition of any Creature can be of any moment) the Society of even this dear per­son. [Page 465] In the mean while I have one Artifice more whereby to solace my self, and that is, by entertaining the same apprehension of what I enjoy as I should do if I did not enjoy it. I think with my self, how miserable I should be if I wanted several of those Blessings which I have, particularly if I had not been bred a Scholar, and thereby been qualify'd to be my own Com­forter. And by vertue of this Consideration I set a higher value upon what I enjoy, and conse­quently find the less miss of what I do not.

17. This is my Consolatio Philosophica, where­by I allay and fix the violent fermentation of my Passions. To which I might add many po­pular Arguments, as that 'tis as natural to dye as to be born, that 'tis incident not only to man but to the whole Creation, the fashion of this world passes away, that 'tis envious to think that our loss which is our friend's gain, that occasions of grief in this world are many, and therefore not singly to be much lamented, that 'tis a shame for Reason not to be able to conquer that which must at length yield to time, and the like. But these I shall be content only to mention, part­ly because I don't fancy much to be Topical, and partly because I think my other supports strong enough to bear the stress of the most weighty sorrow.

18. And now the result of all these conside­rations is this. I am fully and intirely satisfy'd with the accomplishment of the divine plea­sure, [Page 466] and tho before 'twas my hearty prayer that (if possible) this Cup might pass from me, yet I now as chearfully subscribe to the other clause, Nevertheless not as I will but as thou wilt. I am thoroughly convinc'd both of the absur­dity and undecency of my former sorrow, and tho not so much a Stoic as to condemn all the passions, yet I do this of grief as freely as any of that rigid School, and therefore will no longer defile my self for the Dead. Lev. 21. 1. If any grief can be now reasonable, it must be because I have griev'd so much, for I am conscious that I have thereby exceedingly betrayd the great­ness of my Soul. Homer indeed thought it not unworthy the Character of his great Hero A­chilles to bring him in passionately bewailing the death of Patrōclus. His expression (as I re­member) is [...] he wept hideously. But certainly our Saviour was of another mind, when he said to his Disciples upon the occasion of his own death (and certainly if any thing could justify sorrow that would) Let not your hearts be troubled.

19. But yet after all I must needs say, tho I have pretty well by this time argued my passions into a Calm, that 'tis a great venture to love any thing well in this world, and that I am resolv'd for the sake of this dear person never to ingage my passions very far in the love of any thing again. ‘Quicquid amas cupias non placuisse nimis’ [Page 467] shall be my Motto as long as I live, and I will follow the excellent rule of the Royal Philoso­pher M. Antoninus, [...], and reduce my self as near as I can to a simplicity, and de­light in as few things as may be. So shall I more undividedly adhere to my last and best end, and lye less at the mercy of fortune.

20. But (Sir) however I contract my love, you may assure your self of the same room you ever had in the affections of

Your true Friend J. Norris.

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