[Page] Select Discourses TREATING

  • 1. Of the true Way or Method of attaining to Divine Know­ledge.
  • 2. Of Superstition.
  • 3. Of Atheism.
  • 4. Of the Immortality of the Soul.
  • 5. Of the Existence and Nature of God.
  • 6. Of Prophecy.
  • 7. Of the Difference between the Legal and the Evangelical Righteousness, the Old and the New Covenant, &c.
  • 8. Of the Shortness and Vanity of a Pharisaick Righteousness.
  • 9. Of the Excellency and Noble­ness of True Religion.
  • 10. Of a Christians Conflicts with, and Conquests over, Sa­tan.

By JOHN SMITH, late Fellow of Queen's College in Cambridge.

As also a SERMON preached by SIMON PATRICK (then Fellow of the same College) at the AUTHOR's FUNERAL: WITH A brief Account of his LIFE and DEATH.

Hebrews 11. 4. [...].

LONDON, Printed by J. Flesher, for W. Morden Bookseller in Cambridg, Anno Domini M DC LX.

To the READER.

THE intendment of this Preface is not to court the Reader into an high esteem of either these Discourses or their Author, (the Discourses will best speak what they are, and for the Author, his own Works will praise him;) but only to give a clear and plain Ac­count of what concerns This Edition, and withall to observe Something concerning the Discourses them­selves and the Author of them, not unnecessary per­haps for the Reader to be acquainted with.

The Papers now published I received from the Au­thor's Of this Editi­on. Executor, Mr. Samuel Cradock (then Fellow of Emmanuel College, now Rector of North-Cadbury in So­merset-shire,) whose Beneficence to the publick in im­parting these Treasures I thought worthy to be here in the first place gratefully remembred.

Having taken a more general view of these, and some other, Papers (divers of which were loose and scat­tered, not being written by the Author in any Book,) my First care was to collect such as were Homogeneal and related to the same Discourse; as also to observe where any new additional Matter was to be inserted; (For the Author, whose Mind was a rich & fruitful soil, a bountiful & ever-bubling Fountain, sometimes would superadde upon further thoughts some other Con­siderations to what he had formerly delivered in pub­lick; and this he would doe sometimes after he had gone [Page iv] off from that Argument, and though Matter of a dif­ferent nature had come between.) This emploiment I found at first sufficiently perplex'd and toilsome; but through more then once reading over the Manuscripts, I got through those difficulties, and dispatch'd that First trouble. And I am well assured that the severed Parts, and also the additional Considerations, are brought to their due and proper places where the Au­thor himself would have disposed them, if he had tran­scribed his Papers.

And now I found that I stood in need of more Hands and Eyes then mine own for the fair transcribing of the Papers (otherwise impossible to be printed) as also for the examining of the material Quotations in this Vo­lume: and in this Labour I had the assistance of some Friends to whom the memory of the Author was very pretious. As for some short Allusions and Expressi­ons borrow'd out of ancient Authors, serving rather for Ornament then Support of the Matter in hand, there seem'd to be less need of being sollicitous about all of them: But for the other Testimonies, which are many and weighty, there were but Few (some possibly among such a number of Quotations might escape) that were not examin'd; and I am sure that this labour was not unnecessary and in vain, how wearisome soever it was, especially where the Authors, or the places in the Au­thors, were not mention'd.

And then for the sake of such Readers whose Edu­cation had not acquainted them with some of the Lan­guages wherein many of the Testimonies were represen­ted, (being otherwise men of good accomplishments, and capable to receive the designed benefit of these Papers) it seemed expedient to render the Latine, but especially the Hebrew and Greek, Quotations into En­glish; [Page v] (except in such places where, the substance and main importance of the Quotations being insinuated in the neighbouring words, a Translation was less needful.) For the Author seldom translated the Hebrew, and more seldom the Greek, but into Latine; as conside­ring that he delivered these Discourses in the College-Chappel before an Auditory not needing any such Con­descensions as are requisite in the publishing of these Papers for the benefit of some Readers.

To dispatch this First part of the Preface which concerns the Preparations to this Edition, I shall add only one thing more; That whereas the Papers now published (especially those that contain'd the Six first Discourses) were written in the Author's own Copy without any Distinction or Sections, (uno tenore & con­tinuâ serie, as the Jews observe of the ancient writing of the Law, [...], The whole Law was but as one Verse;) it seem'd expedient for the Reader's accomodation to distinguish them into several Discourses or Treatises (the Title-page to each Dis­course giving a General account of the Matter contain'd therein) and the Discourses themselves into Chapters and Sections (except the Discourses were short, as two or three of them are, which therefore have the Contents set in the Beginning) and before the Chapters to give a Particular account of the Chief matters therein con­tained; that so the Reader might have a clearer and fuller view (as of the strength and importance, so also) of the Contexture of the whole, and the Coherence of the several Parts of the respective Discourses: which otherwise would not be so easily discerned by every Reader, especially where there are some Excursions and Digressions in any of the Treatises, (things not unusual in the Writings or Discourses of other men, when the [Page vi] Notion does strongly affect and possess their Minds, and their Phansies are therefore more active and vigorous) and some such Digressions the Reader will meet with here more then once; though even therein he will see that the Author did still respicere titulum, and kept the main designe alwaies in his Eye. Nor does the Author in these Digressions lead the Reader a little out of the way, only to see a Reed shaken with the wind, an ordi­nary trifle, some slight and inconsiderable Object; but for better purposes; that he might the better present to the perspicacious Reader something which is worthy his Observation: and therefore these [...] being usually of such importance, need not be se­verely censured by rigid Methodists, if any such chance to read these Treatises.

This is a plain Account of some Instances of the care and labour preparatory to this Edition; of all which I accounted the Author of these Discourses to be most Of the Author. worthy: For I considered him as a Friend, one whom I knew for many years, not only when he was Fellow of Queen's Col. but when a Student in Emman. Col. where his early Piety and the remembring his Creator in those days of his youth, as also his excellent improve­ments in the choicest parts of Learning, endear'd him to many, particularly to his careful Tutor, then Fellow of Emman. Col. afterwards Provost of Kings College, Dr. Whichcote; to whom for his Directions and Encourage­ments of him in his Studies, his seasonable provision for his support and maintenance when he was a young Scho­lar, as also upon other obliging Considerations, our Au­thor did ever express a great and singular regard.

But besides I considered him (which was more) as a true Servant and Friend of God: and to such a one, and what relates to such, I thought that I owed no less care [Page vii] and diligence. The former Title [a Servant of God] is very often in Scripture given to that incomparable per­son Moses: incomparable for his Act. 7. 22. Philosophical ac­complishments and knowledg of Nature, as also for his Political Wisdom, and great abilities in the Conduct and managing of affairs; and in speaking excellent sense, strong and clear Reason in any business and Case that was before him; for he was mighty in words and in deeds, Acts 7. (and of both these kinds of Knowledge wherein Moses excell'd, as also in the more recondite and mysterious knowledge of the Egyptians, there are se­veral Instances and Proofs in the Pentateuch written by him:) incomparable as well for the loveliness of his Disposition and Temper, the inward ornament and beauty of a Num. 12. 3. meek and humble Spirit, as for the ex­traordinary amiableness of his outward person; and in­comparable for his unexampled Heb. 11. 24, &c. Self-denial in the midst of the greatest allurements and most tempting advan­tages of this world. And from all these great Accom­plishments and Perfections in Moses, it appears how ex­cellently he was qualified and enabled to answer that Title [The Servant of God] more frequently given to him in Scripture then unto any other.

The other Title [a Friend of God] is given to Abra­ham, the Father of the Faithful, an eminent Exemplar of Self-resignation and Obedience even in Rom. 4. Heb. 11. Jam. 2. Trials of the greatest difficulty: and it is given to him thrice in Scripture, 2 Chron. 20. 7. Esay 41. 8. James 2. 23. and plainly implied in Genes. 18. 17. Shall I hide from Abra­ham, &c. but express'd in the Jerusalem Targum there, [...], and in De Verbis, Resipuit Noe. Philo Jud. [...]. Nor is less in­sinuated concerning Moses, with whom God is said to have spoken, [...] Num. 12. 8. mouth to mouth, and [...] Exod. 33. 11. mouth to mouth, as a man speaketh unto his friend.

[Page viii] And how fitly and properly both these Titles were verified concerning our Author, who was a faith­ful, hearty and industrious Servant of God, counting it his Duty and Dignity, his Meat and Drink to doe the will of his Master in heaven, and that [...] and [...], from his very Soul, and with good will, (the Ephes. 6. 6, 7. characters of a good Servant) and who was dearly affected towards God, and treated by God as a Friend; may appear from that Account of him represented in the Sermon at his Funeral. I might easily fill much Paper, if I should particularly recount those many Ex­cellencies that shined forth in him: But I would study to be short. I might truly say, That he was not only Rom. 5. 7. [...], but [...], both a Righteous and truly Honest man, and also a Good man. He was a Follower and Imitator of God in Purity and Holiness, in Benignity, Goodness and Love, a Love enlarged as God's Love is, whose Goodness overflows and spreads it self to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works. He was a Ephes. 6. Lover of our Lord Jesus Christ in Sincerity, a Lover of his Spirit and of his Life, a Lover of his Excellent Laws and Rules of holy life, a serious Practiser of his Sermon in the Mount, that Best Sermon that ever was Mat. ch. 5, 6, 7. preach'd, and yet none more generally neglected by those that call themselves Christians; though the ob­servance of it be for the true Interest both of mens Souls and of Christian States and Common-wealths; and accordingly (as being the surest way to their true Settlement and Establishment) it is compared to the building upon a Rock, Matth. 7. 24. To be short, He was a Christian not only Act. 26. 29. [...], but [...], more then a little, even wholly and altogether such; a Chri­stian Rom. 2 29. [...], inwardly and in good earnest: Reli­gious he was, but without any Vaingloriousness and [Page ix] Ostentation; not so much a talking or a disputing, as a living, a doing and an obeying Christian; one inward­ly acquainted with the Simplicity and Power of Godli­ness, but no admirer of the Pharisaick forms and San­ctimonious shews (though never so goodly and specious) which cannot and do not affect the adult and strong Christians, though they may and doe those that are un­skillful and weak. For in this weak and low state of the divided Churches in Christendom weak and slight things (especially if they make a fair shew in the flesh, as the Apostle speaks,) are most esteemed; whereas in the mean time the weightier matters of the Law, the most concerning and Substantial parts of Religion are passed over & disregarded by them, as being grievous to them, & no way for their turns, no way for their corrupt inte­rests, fleshly ease, and worldly advantages. But God's thoughts are not as their thoughts: The Rom. 2. 29. Circumcision which is of the heart, and in the spirit, is that whose praise is of God, though not of men; and Luk. 16. 15. that which is highly esteemed amongst men, is abomination in the sight of God.

What I shall further observe concerning the Author, is only this,

That he was Eminent as well in those Perfections which have most of Divine worth and excellency in them, and rendred him a truly God-like man; as in those other Perfections and Accomplishments of the Mind, which rendred him a very Rational and Learned man: and withall, in the midst of all these great Ac­complishments, as Eminent and Exemplary in unaffe­cted Humility and true Lowliness of Mind. And here­in he was like to Moses that Servant and Friend of God, who was most meek and lowly in heart (as our Lord is also said to be, Mat. 11. in this, as in all other respects, greater then Moses who was vir mitissimus) above all the [Page x] men which were upon the face of the Earth, Num. 12. And thus he excell'd others as much in Humility as he did in Knowledg, in that thing which, though in a lesser degree in others, is apt to puff up and swell them with Pride and Self-conceit. But Moses was humble, though he was a Person of brave parts, [...] ▪ as Jo­sephus speaks of him, and having had the advantages of a most Acts 7. 21, 22. ingenuous Education was admirably, accom­plish'd in the choicest parts of Knowledg, and * learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians; whereby some of the Antients understood the Mysterious Hieroglyphical learning, Natural Philosophy, Musick, Physick, and Ma­thematicks. And for this last (to omit the rest) how ex­cellent this Humble man, the Author, was therein, did appear to those that heard him read a Mathematick Le­cture in the Schools for some years, & may appear here­after to the Reader, if those Lectures can be recovered. To conclude, He was a plain-hearted both Friend and Christian, one in whose Spirit and mouth there was no guile; a profitable Companion; nothing of vanity and trislingness in him, as there was nothing of sowrness & Stoicism. I can very well remember, when I have had pri­vate converse with him, how pertinently and freely he would speak to any Matter proposed, how weighty, sub­stantial and clearly expressive of his Sense his private Discourses would be, and both for Matter and Language much-what of the same importance & value with such Exercises as he studied for, and performed in publick.

I have intimated some things concerning the Author; much more might be added: but it needs not, there being (as I before insinuated) already drawn a fair and lively Character of him by a worthy Friend of his in the Sermon preached at his Funeral; for the publishing whereof and annexing it (as now it is) to these Dis­courses, [Page xi] he was importun'd by Letters from several hands, and prevail'd with: wherein if some part of the Character should seem to have in it any thing of Hy­perbolism and Strangeness, it must seem so to such on­ly who either were unacquainted with him & Strangers to his worth, or else find it an hard thing not to be En­vious, and a difficulty to be Humble. But those that had a more inward converse with him, knew him to be one of those Hebr. 11. of whom the world was not worthy, one of the Psal. 16. Excellent ones in the Earth; a person truly Ex­emplary in the temper and constitution of his Spirit, and in the well-ordered course of his life; a life unius quasi coloris, sine actionum dissensione (as I remember Seneca doth express it somewhere in his Epistles) all of one colour, everywhere like it self: and Eminent in those things that are worthy of Praise and Imitation. And certainly a just Representation of those Excellen­cies that shined in him (as also a faithful Celebration of the like Accomplishments in others) is a doing honour to God who is wonderful in his Saints, (if I may with some apply to this sense that in Psal. 68. [...]) and it may be also of great use to others, particularly for the awakening & obliging them to an earnest endeavouring after those heights and emi­nent degrees in Grace and Vertue and every worthy Accomplishment, which by such Examples they see to be possible & attainable through the assistances which the Divine Goodness is ready to afford those Souls which press toward the mark and reach forth to those things that are before. The Lives and Examples of men eminent­ly Holy and Useful in their generation, such as were [...], are ever to be valued by us as great Blessings and Favours from Heaven, and to be conside­red as excellent Helps to the Advancement of Religion [Page xii] in the World: and therefore there being before us these [...], (as S. Basil speaks in his first Epist. and a little afterwards in the same Ep.) [...], such living Pictures, moving and active Statues, fair Ideas and lively Patterns of what is most praise-worthy, lovely and excellent; it should be our serious care that we be not, through an unworthy and lazy Self-neglect, Ingentium Exemplorum parvi imita­tores, to use Salvian's expression; it should be our ho­ly ambition to transcribe their Vertues and Excellen­cies, [...], to make their noblest and best Accomplishments our own by a constant endeavour after the greatest resemblance of them, and by being followers of them, as they were also of Christ, who is the fair and bright Exemplar of all Purity and Holiness, the highest and most absolute Pattern of whatsoever is Lovely and Excellent and makes most for the accomplishing and perfecting of Hu­mane Nature.

Having observed Some things concerning This Edition Of the Dis­courses. and the Author of these Discourses, I proceed now (which was the Last thing intended in this Preface) to observe something concerning the several Discourses and Treatises in this Volume. And indeed some of these Observations I ought not in justice to the Author to pretermit: and all of them may be for the benefit of at least some Readers.

The First Discourse Concerning the true Way or Me­thod of attaining to Divine Knowledg, and an Encrease therein, was intended by the Author as a necessary In­troduction to the ensuing Treatises; and therefore is the shorter: yet it contains [...] (to use Plutarch's Expression) excellent Sense and so­lid Matter well beaten and compacted and lying close [Page xiii] together in a little room, many very seasonable Obser­vations for this Age, wherein there is so much of fruit­less Notionality, so little of the true Christian life and practice.

Shorter yet are the Two next Tracts Of Superstition and Atheism, which were also intended by the Author to prepare the way for some of the following Discour­ses upon which the Author purposed to enlarge his Thoughts.

Yet as for that Tract Of Superstition, some things that are but briefly intimated by the Author therein, may receive a further Explication from his other Dis­courses, more especially from the Eighth, viz. Of the Shortness and Vanity of a Pharisaick Righteousness, or Page 347. An Account of the false Grounds upon which men are apt vainly to conceit themselves to be Religious. And in­deed what the Author writes concerning that more refi­ned, that more close and subtile Superstition (by which he understands the formal and specious Sanctity and vain Religion of Pharisaick Christians, who yet would seem to be very abhorrent from Superstition, and are apt to call every thing Babylonish and Antichristian that is not of their way) I say what he writes concerning This in both these (or any other) Discourses, he would fre­quently speak of, and that with Authority and Power. For being possess'd of the inward life and power of true Holiness, he had a very strong and clear sense of what he spake, and therefore a great and just indignati­on (as against open and gross Irreligion, so also) against that vain-glorious, slight and empty Sanctity of the spiritual Pharisees, who would (as our Saviour speaks of the old Pharisees, Mark 7.) make void and very fairly disannul the Commandments of God, the weightier things of Religion, the indispensable concernments of [Page xiv] Christianity; while in stead of an inward living Righ­teousness and entire Obedience they would substitute some external Observances and a mere outward, liveless and slight Righteousness, and in the room of the New creature made after God set up some Creature of their own, made after their own image, a Self-framed Righ­teousness: they being strict in some things which have a shew of Wisdom and Sanctity, things less necessary and more doubtful, and where the H. Scripture hath not placed the Kingdom of God, but in the mean time loose and careless in their plain duty toward God and toward their Neighbour, in things holy and divine, un­questionably just and good; yet to make some com­pensation for their being deficient in things strictly and necessarily required, and primarily pleasing to God, and to excuse themselves, they would express a more then ordinary diligence and zeal in some easie and little things, as all the most specious observances of Formal Christians are, and not worthy to be named with those great Instances of the Power of Godliness, such as Hear­ty and Universal Obedience, Entire Self-resignation, a being crucified to the world, plucking out of the right eye, and cutting off of the right hand, Mortification of the more dear and beloved Sins, and the closer ten­dencies and inclinations to Sin and Vanity, and the like.

This is a short character of the Pharisaick and con­ceited Righteousness; and in our Author's plain disco­vering the thinness and slightness thereof, and free re­proving of these false Religionists, it appears that the same Nobleness of Mind and Spirit was in him which was also in Christ Jesus, who never express'd himself with so much vehemency and smartness, as when he was to reprove the Pharisees in his days, those Patterns of Matth. 23. Formal Christians in all ages. For there is nothing [Page xv] more grievous to the sincerely-religious Soul, then Af­fectation and Canting in Religion, empty (though spe­cious) shews of Sanctity, great pretendings to Spiritu­ality and higher degrees of Grace, when to the free­spirited and discerning Christian it clearly appears that such Boasters are but low and weak things, Heb. 5. unskillful and unexperienced in the word and way of Righteousness, and manifestly short of being plain Moral men; and that they are Sensual, having not the Spirit, nor bringing forth those lovely and well-relish'd fruits of the Spirit, mentioned Gal. 5. 22. but on the contrary the corrupt fruits of the Flesh grow out of their Hearts, and the works of the Flesh there mentioned are manifested in them: So far are they from being crucified (and not a­live) to the world and the world to them, so far are they from having crucified the Flesh with the affections and lusts, that they do * [...] and [...] Rom. 8. Col. 3. [...], mind and earnestly affect, favour and relish, the things of the Flesh, and of the Earth; aspiring as much after power and greatness, as self-seeking and self-pleasing, as great lovers of themselves, loving the world and the things in the world, making hast to be rich, thirsting still after more of this world, pursuing worldly advantages and interests, with as much craft and policy, as much sollicitude and eager­ness, with as unsatisfied desires, as those doe whom they call Worldly and Carnal. So of old the Gnosticks call'd all others but themselves Carnal and Animal men; they only were [...], others were [...] and [...] (as Irenaeus l. 1. tells us:) whereas in truth none were more Sensual, more unspiritual, then they who by their un­evangelical lives were the great spots and blemishes of the Christian profession.

But to let these alone, and to return to the former, [Page xvi] (with whom our Author had to doe in both these Trea­tises, and in the 2, 3, and 4. chapters of his seventh Treatise) I shall add this word of faithful Admonition; Be not deceived, God is not mocked: God will not be put off with empty pretences and Pharisaick appear­ances (how glorious and precious soever in the eyes of men.) God will not be flattered with goodly praises, nor satisfied with words and notions, when the Life and Practice is a real contradiction to them. God will not be satisfied with a specious Form of Godliness, when men under this Form are Lovers of themselves, cove­tous, 2 Tim. 3. proud, high-minded, fierce, lovers of pleasures more then lovers of God, and are manifestly under the power of these and the like Spiritual (if not also Fleshly) wickednesses. For the Power of sin within can (it seems) easily agree and consist with the Form of Godliness with­out: but two such contrary Powers as the Power of Godliness and the Power of Sin, two such contrary Kingdoms as the Kingdom of the Spirit and the King­dom of the Flesh, which is made up of many petty and lesser Principalities of Titus 3. 3. various Lusts and Pleasures, warring sometimes amongst themselves, but alwaies confederate in warring against the Soul; these so contra­ry Powers and Kingdoms cannot stand together nor be established in one Soul. Be wise now therefore and be ye instructed O ye sanctimonious Pharisees, ye blind leaders of the blind, and know the things that belong unto your peace: for the day of the Lord will come that shall burn as an oven, when all those fine coverings, wherewith men thought to hide their ungodlike dispo­sitions, shall be torn from them and cast into the Fire; and in this day shall even these weak and beggerly Elements melt with a fervent heat, and for Hypocrites, Gal. 4. all their paint shall then drop off, and their deformity [Page xvii] shall appear: in this day all affected modes of Religion shall be rendred despicable, and all disguises and artifi­cial dresses (whereby false Christians thought to hide their crookednesses) shall be pluck'd off, and all things shall appear as they are. Verily there is a God that judgeth in the Earth: he will judge of men by other measures and rules then they used here, whereby they deceived themselves and others. God is for Reality and Truth: He desires Truth in the inward parts, his de­light is in sincere and single minds. It will then appear That he that walks uprightly, walks surely; and That he that doth the will of God, abideth for ever, Prov. 10. 1 John 2.

If what the Author, out of great Charity to the Souls of men, has observed concerning these things were seri­ously considered and lai'd to heart, Christianity would then recover its reputation, and appear in its own primi­tive lustre and native loveliness, such as shined forth in the lives of those First and Best Christians, who were Christians in good earnest, [...], and were distinguished from all other men in excelling and out­shining them in whatsoever things were true, venerable, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. Then would the true Power of Godliness manifest it self; which signifies infinitely More then a Power to dispute with heat and ve­hemency about some Opinions, or to discourse volu­bly about some matters in Religion, and in such Forms of words as are taking with the weak and unskillful: More then a power to pray without a Form of words; (for these and the like may be, and frequently are, done by the formal and unspiritual Christian:) More then a Power to deny themselves in some things that are easie to part with, and do not much cross their inclina­tions, their self-will, their corrupt designs and inte­rests, [Page xviii] nor prejudice their dear and more beloved lusts and pleasures, their profitable and advantageous Sins: and More then a power to observe some lesser and easier Commands, or to perform an outward obedience ari­sing out of slavish Fear, void of inward Life and Love, and a Complacency in the Law of God (of which tem­per our Author discourses at large.) For concerning such cheap and little strictnesses as these it may be en­quired, What doe you more then others? Do not even Publicans and Pharisees the same? [...]; what excellent and extraordinary thing doe you? what hard or difficult thing do you perform, such as may de­serve to be thought a worthy Instance and real Manife­station of the Power of Godliness? except such things are to be accounted hard or extraordinary, which are common to the real and to the formal Christian, and are performable by unregenerate and natural men, and are no peculiar Characters of Regeneration. No, these and the like performances by which such Religionists would set off themselves, are but poor and inconside­rable things, if compared with the mighty acts and no­ble atchievements of the more excellent (though less ostentatious) Christians, who through Faith in the Goodness and Power of God have been enabled to doe all things through Christ, knowing both how to abound, and how to be abased, &c. Phil. 4. enabled to overcome the World without them, and the Love of the World within them; enabled to overcome themselves, (and for a man to rule his own Spirit is a greater instance of power and valour then to take a City, as Solomon judg­eth Prov. 16.) enabled to resist the powers of dark­ness, and to quit themselves like men and good Soul­diers of Jesus Christ, giving many signal overthrows to those Lusts that war against their Souls, and to the [Page xix] mightiest and strongest of them, the Sons of Anak: and by engaging in the hardest Services of this Spiritu­al warfare, wherein the Pharisaick boasters dare not fol­low them, they shew that there is a Spirit of power in them, and that they can doe more then others. These are some of the Exploits of strong and healthful Chri­stians; and for the encouraging of them in these Con­flicts which shall end in glorious Conquests and joyous Triumphs, the Author hath in the Tenth and last Dis­course suggested what is worthy our Consideration.

But I must not forget that there remains something to be observed concerning some other Treatises: and having been so large in the last Observation (which was not unnecessary, the world abounding, & ever having a­bounded, with spiritual Pharisees) I shall be shorter in the rest. And now to proceed to the next, which is of Atheism; This Discourse (being but Preparatory to the ensuing Tracts) is short: yet I would mind the Reader, that what is more briefly handled here, may be supplied and further clear'd out of the Fifth Dis­course, viz. Of the Existence and Nature of God, of which (if the former part seem more Speculative, Sub­tile and Metaphysical, yet) the Latter and Greater part, containing several Deductions and Inferences from the Consideration of the Divine Nature and Attributes, is less obscure, and more Practical, as it clearly directs us to the best (though not much observed) way of glo­rifying God, and being made happy and blessed by a Participation and Resemblance of him; & as it plainly directs a man to such Apprehensions of God as are apt and powerful to beget in him the Noblest and dearest Love to God, the sweetest Delight, and the most peace­ful Confidence in him.

One thing more I would observe to the Reader con­cerning [Page xx] the Discourse Of Atheism, and the same I would desire to be observed also concerning the next, that large Treatise Of the Immortality of the Soul, espe­cially of the former part thereof; and it is shortly this, That the Author in these Treatises pursues his dis­course with a particular reflexion on the Dogmata and Notions of Epicurus and his followers, especially that great admirer of him, Lucretius, whose Principles are here particularly examined and refuted. These were the men whose Opinions our Author had to combat with; He lived not to see Atheism so closely and craf­tily insinuated, nor lived he to see Sadduceism and Epi­curism so boldly owned and industriously propagated, as they have been of late, by some who being heartily desirous That there were no God, no Providence, no Reward nor Punishment after this life, take upon them to deride the Notion of Spirit or Incorporeal Substance, the Existence of Separate Souls, and the Life to come: and by infusing into mens Minds Opinions contrary to these Fundamental Principles of Religion, they have done that which manifestly tends to the This was of old confess'd, and boasted of by Lucretius more then once in his Poems. overthrow of all Religion, the destruction of Morality and Vertuous living, the debauching of Mankind, the consuming and eating out of any good Principle left in the Conscience which doth testifie for God and Goodness, and against Sin and Wickedness, and to the defacing and expun­ging of the Law written in mens hearts; and so the holy Apostle judges of the Epicurean Notions and dis­courses, (a taste of which he gives in that passage, 1 Cor. 15. Let us eat and drink, for to morrow we die, and then ther's an End of all, no other life or state,) and he ex­presseth his judgment concerning the evil and dange­rousness of these doctrines and their teachers, partly in a Verse out of Menander,

[Page xxi] [...], Evil commu­nications corrupt good manners, and in what he subjoins v. 34. besides many other passages in this Chapter in opposition to the doctrine of the Sadducees and Epicu­reans: and to the same purpose he speaks in 2. Tim. 2. 16, 17, 18. concerning those that denied the Doctrine of the Resurrection or any Future State and the Life to come. The sum and substance of the Apostles judg­ment concerning these Epicurean principles is plainly this, That these Principles properly and powerfully tend to the corrupting of mens Minds and Lives, to the advancement of Irreligion and Immorality in the world; That they are no benigne Principles to Piety and a Good life. 'Tis true that some of the more wary and considerate modern Epicureans, may express some care to live inoffensively, and to keep out of danger, and to maintain a reputation in the world as to their converse with others, (and herein they mind their worldly inte­rests and the advantages of this present life, the only life which they have in their eye) they may also express a care in avoiding what is prejudicial to health and a long life in this world: But all this is short of a true and noble Love of Goodness; and if in these men there be any appearance of what is Good and praise-worthy, they would have been really better, if they had been of other Principles, and had believed in their Hearts That there is a Providence, a Future state, and Life to come, and had lived agreeably to the Truths of the Christian Philosophy, which do more ennoble and accomplish and every way better a man, then the Principles of the Epicurean Sect. But to return, We have before observed. That our Author in these Two Treatises pursued his design in opposition to the Master-Notions and chief Principles of Epicurus [Page xxii] and Lucretius of old: I shall only adde this, That if any of this Sect in our daies has done more then revived and repeated those Principles, if any such has superad­ded any thing of any seeming force and moment to the pretensions of the old Epicureans mention'd in these Tracts, the Reader may find it particularly spoken to and fully answered by One whom our Author highly esteem'd, Mr. Henry More, in his late Treatise Of the Im­mortality of the Soul, and in another Discourse intituled An Antidote against Atheism, and in the Appendix there­unto annexed.

I pass on to the Discourse of Prophesie, which, as it cost the Author more pains (I believe) then any of the other, (it containing many considerable Enquiries in an Argument not commonly treated of, and more then vulgar Observations out of ancient Jewish writers,) so did it (together with the former part of the next Dis­course) require more labour to prepare it for the Press and the benefit of the Reader then any of the other Tracts, by reason of the many Quotations, especially the Hebrew ones, to be examin'd: in the perusing of which there would sometimes occurr a dubious and dark Ex­pression, and then I thought it safest to confer with our Hebrew Professor, Dr. Cudworth, for whom the Au­thor had alwaies a great affection and respect.

It's true, This Elaborate Treatise is of a more Spe­culative nature then any of the rest, yet is it also Use­full, and contains sundry Observations not only of Light and Knowledg but also of Use and Practice. For, besides that in this Treatise several Passages of Scri­pture are illustrated out of Jewish Monuments, (which is no small instance of its Usefulness,) there are Two Chapters (to name no more) viz. 4, and 8. (the lon­gest in this Treatise) which more particularly relate to [Page xxiii] Practice, and might be (if well considered) available to the bettering of some mens manners. The matter of the Fourth Chapter treating of the Difference between the true Prophetical Spirit and Enthusiastical impostures is seasonably usefull, and of no small importance. Not to mention any latter Experiments and Proofs how powerful such Enthusiastical impostures have been to disquiet and endanger several parts of Christendom, it appears by good History (and the Event is yet appa­rent) how strangely that Political Enthusiast, Maho­met, has befool'd a very great part of the world by his pretensions of being inspir'd and taught by the divine Spirit whispering in his ear, by his Epileptical fits, pretended Visions and Revelations. Thus Mahomet's Dove hath as wonderfully prevailed in the World as of old the Roman Eagles: although yet (which may abate our wondring at this success) this impostu­rous and pretendedly-inspired Doctrine was not propa­gated and promoted with a Dove-like Spirit, but with force of Arms; Mahumetanism cut out its way by the Sword, the worst instrument for propagating of Religi­gion; to say nothing of the advantages it had from its compliance with Flesh and blood and a Sensual life, and from the Ignorance, Rudeness and Barbarism of that people to whom that impure Prophet communicated his Alcoran, a people capable of any doctrine how ab­surd and irrational soever. Whereas Christianity was at first promoted and made its way in the world by me­thods more innocent and worthy of the Doctrine of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ that true and great Prophet, of whom the Voice from heaven was, Matthew 17. See also Acts 3. 22. Deut. 18. 15. Hear ye him: after whose revelation of the Counsel and Will of God to man, there is not to be expected any new (and by him unrevealed) Doctrine [Page xxiv] as pertaining to Life and Godliness and necessary to Salvation. Neither is the Eighth Chapter, treating of the Dispositions preparatory to Prophesy, without its Usefulness; there being an easie appliableness of what is contain'd therein to such as are pretenders to Prophe­sying, according to the more general importance of that Word; and it may be both a just Reproof and a sober Advice to those who being full of themselves, swell'd with Self-conceit, and pufft up with an opinion of their own Knowledg and Abilities (which yet is but [...], Job 15. a windy and vain knowledg, a knowledg falsely so called, 1 Tim. 6.) and being wise and righteous in their own eyes, take upon them to be most talkative & dogmatical, pert and magisterial, Desiring to be Teach­ers, although they understand neither what they say, nor 1 Tim. 1. whereof they affirm; and therefore Modesty and Spa­ringness of speech and Swiftness to hear would better become such then Empty Confidence and Talkative­ness, and a powring out words without knowledge, [...] for indeed this is the true account of these men and their performances, the weakness and insignificancy of which (notwithstan­ding the strong voice and loud noise of the speakers) are easily discerned by those who in understanding are men, and have put away childish things.

What I would further intimate concerning this Trea­tise Of Prophesy, is briefly this, That though it be one of the largest Treatises in this Volume, yet there are some parts and passages in it which I think the Author would have more enlarged and fill'd up, had he not ha­sten'd to that which according to the method design'd by him he calls The Third Great Principle of Religion. But of this I have given an account in an Page 280. Advertisement at the end of this Treatise, as also of the adjoining next to it.

[Page xxv] The Discourse Of the Legal and the Evangelical Righ­teousness, &c. which Discourse is a much Practical as the former was Speculative. Nor was the composure of that Treatise more painfull to the Author, then the elabora­ting of this, at least the former half of this, wherein the Author has travers'd—loca nullius ante Trita solo—the more unknown Records and Monuments of Jewish Au­thors, for the better stating the Jewish Notion of the Righteousness of the Law; the clearing of which in chap. 2, and 3. as also the settling the Difference be­tween That Righteousness which is of the Law, and That which is of Faith, between the Old and the New Cove­nant, and the Account of the Nature of Justification and Divine Acceptance, &c. are all of them of no small use and consequence, but together with the Appendix to this Tract (made up of certain brief but comprehen­sive Observations) they offer to the Reader what is not unworthy of his serious consideration.

Of the Eighth Discourse, shewing the Vanity of a Pharisaick Righteousness or Godliness falsly so call'd, I have spoken before.

The next Discourse, largely treating of the Excellency and Nobleness of True Religion and Holiness, shews the Author's Mind to have been not slightly tinctur'd and wash'd over with Religion, but rather to have been double-dyed, throughly imbued and coloured with that generosum honestum, as the Satyrist not unfitly styles it,—incoctum generoso pectus honesto. But the Au­thor's Life and Actions spake no less; and indeed there is no language so fully expressive of a man as the language of his Deeds. Those that were throughly acquainted with him, knew well That as there was in him [...] (as'twas said of Solomon) a largeness and 1 Kings 4. 29. vastness of Heart and Understanding, so there was also [Page xxvi] in him [...] Psal. 51. 12., a free, ingenuous, noble Spirit, most abhorrent of what was sordid and unworthy; and this [...] (as the Lxx. translate that Hebrew) is the genuine product of Religion in that Soul where it is suffer'd to rule, and (as S. James speaks of Patience) to have her perfect work. The Style in this Tract may seem more rais'd and sublime then in the other, (which might be perhaps from the Nature and quality of the subject matter, apt to heighten expressions;) but yet in this (as in the other Tracts) it is free from the Vanity of Affectation, which a Mind truly ennobled by Religion cannot stoop to, as counting it a Pe­dantick business, and a certain argument of a Poor­ness and Weakness of Spirit in the either Writer or Speaker.

But if in this Tract the Style seem more magnificent, yet in the Tenth and Last Discourse (viz. Of a Christi­an's Conflicts and Conquests) it is most familiar. The Matter of it is very Useful and Practical: for as it more fully and clearly acquaints a Christian with the more dangerous and unseen Methods of Satan's activity, (concerning which the Notions and Conceptions of many men are discovered here to be very short and im­perfect;) so it also acquaints him with such Principles as are available to beget in him the greatest Courage, Spirit and Resolution against the day of battel, chasing away all lazy faintheartedness and despair of Victory. This for the Matter. The Style is (as I said) most fami­liar. This Discourse was deliver'd in publick at Hun­tingdon, where one of Queen's College is every year on March 25. to preach a Sermon against Witchcraft, Diabolical Contracts, &c. I shall onely adde this, That when he preach'd in lesser Country-Auditories (parti­cularly at Achurch near Oundle in Northamptonshire, the [Page xxvii] place of his Nativity) as it was his care to preach upon arguments of most practical concernment, so was it al­so his Desire and Endeavour to accommodate his Ex­pressions to ordinary vulgar Capacities; being studi­ous to be understood, and not to be ignorantly won­dred at by amuzing the People either with high unne­cessary Speculations, or with hard Words and vain Ostentations of Scholastick Learning (the low design of some that by such arts would gain a poor respect to themselves, for such (and no better) is all that stupid respect which is not founded upon Knowledg and Judg­ment:) He was studious, I say, there to speak unto men [...] Edification, and [...] what was sig­nificant and easie to be understood, as the 1 Cor. [...]4. 3, & 9. Apostle doth phrase it, and to express his Mind in a way suita­ble to the apprehensions of Popular Auditories. And as for the Discourses now published, they also were de­livered (being College-Exercises) in a way not less suit­able to that Auditory: and therefore it may not be thought strange, if sometimes they seem for Matter and Style more remote from vulgar capacities. Yet even in these Discourses what is most Practical, is more easily intelligible by every honest-hearted Christian. And in­deed, that the whole might be made more familiar and easie, and more accommodate to the use of any such, I thought it would be very expedient (as to cast the Discourses into Chapters, so) before every Chapter to propose to the Readers view the full Scope, Sense and Strength of the principal Matters contained therein: & I could willingly have spared such a labour (the grea­ter, when busied about the Notions and Conceptions of another, and not our own,) if I had not conceived it to be greatly helpfull and beneficial to some Readers: besides another advantage to them hereby, viz. That [Page xxviii] they may the more easily find out and select any such particular Matters in these Discourses, as they shall think most fit or desireable for their perusal.

Thus have I given the Reader some account of what seem'd fit to be observ'd concerning these Ten Discour­ses, which now present themselves to his free and can­did Judgment. And now if in the reading of these Tracts enrich'd with Arguments of great variety there should occur any Passage wherein either He or I may [...], it need not be a matter of wonder; for what Book (besides that Book of Books, the Bible) has not something in it that speaks the Author Man? It would not have displeased our Author in his life-time to have been thought less then Infallible. He was not [...], he was no fond Self-admirer, nor was he desirous that others should have his person, his opinion and judg­ment, in admiration: he was far from the humour of Magisterial dictating to others, not ambitious to be cal­led of men, Rabbi, Rabbi, as were and are the old & the Matthew 23. modern Pharisees; nor of the number of those who are inwardly transported and tickled, when others applaud their judgment and receive their Dictates with the greatest veneration and respect; but very peevish and sowre, disturb'd and out of order, when any shall ex­press themselves dissatisfied and otherwise minded, or goe about modestly to discover their mistakes. No, he was truly [...], a lover of Truth, and of Peace and Charity. He loved an ingenuous and sober Free­dom of Spirit, the generous Berean-like temper and practice (agreeable to the * Apostle's prudent and faithful advice) of proving all things, and holding fast 1 Thess. 5. that which is good. But to return, Its possible that some Passages in these Tracts which seem dubious, may, upon a patient considering of them, if the Reader be unpre­judic'd [Page xxix] & one of a clear Mind & Heart, gain his assent; and what upon the first reading seems obscure and less grateful, may upon another view, and further thoughts, clear up and be thought worthy of all acceptation. It is not with the fair Representations and Pictures of the Mind as with other Pictures; these of the Mind shew best the nearer they are viewed, and the longer the In­tellectual Eye dwells upon them.

There is only one thing more which I ought not to forget to mind the Reader of, and it is shortly this, That he would please to remember that the now-pub­lished Tracts are Posthumous works; and then affording that charity, candour and fair respect which is common­ly allowed to such works of Worthy men, I nothing doubt but he will judge them too good to have been buried in obscurity; although its likely, if the Author himself had revis'd them in his life-time with an intent to present them to publick view, they would have re­ceived from his happy hand some further polishing and enlargements. He could have easily obliged the world with other Discourses of as valuable importance, if he had liv'd and been so minded. But it pleas'd the only­wise God (in whose hand our breath is) to call for him home to the Spirits of just men made perfect, after he had lent him to this unworthy world for about Five and thirty years. A short life his was if we measure it by so many years; but if we consider the great Ends of Life and Being in the world, which he fulfill'd in his gene­ration, his great Accomplishments qualifying him for eminent Service, and accompanied with as great a Readinesse to approve himself a good and faithful Servant to his gracious Lord and Master in heaven, his life was not to be accounted short, but long; and we may justly say of him what is said by the Author [Page xxx] of the Book of Wisdom concerning Enoch, that great Exemplar of holiness and the shortest-liv'd of the Pa­triarchs before the flood, (for he lived but 365 years, as many years as there are daies in one year,) Ch. 4. 13. [...], He being consum­mated in a short time, fulfilled a long time. For (as the same Author doth well express it in some * preceding verses) Ver. 8, 9. Honourable age is not that which standeth in length of time, nor that which is measured by number of years: But Wisdom is the gray hair unto men, and an unspotted life is old age.

Thus much for the Papers now published. There are some other pieces of this Author's (both English and Latine) which may make another considerable Vo­lume, especially if some papers of his (in other hands) can be retriv'd. For my particular, I shall wish and en­deavour that not the least Fragment of his may be con­ceal'd, which his Friends shall think worthy of pub­lishing: and I think all such Fragments being gathered up may fitly be brought together under the Title of Miscellanies. If others who have any of his Papers shall please to communicate them, I doubt not but that there will be found in some of his Friends a readiness to publish them with all due care and faithfulness. Or if they shall think good to doe it themselves and pub­lish them apart, I would desire and hope that they would bestow that labour and diligence about the pre­paring them for publick view and use, as may testi­fie their respect both to the Readers benefit and the ho­nour of the Author's memory.

And now that this Volume is finished through the good guidance and assistance of God, the Father of lights and the Father of mercies, (whose rich Goodness and Grace in enabling me both to will and to doe, and to [Page xxxi] continue patiently in so doing, notwithstanding the many tedious difficulties accompanying such kind of labour, I desire humbly to acknowledge;) now that the seve­red Papers are brought together in this Collection to their due and proper places, (as it was said of the Bones scattered in the vally, that they came together, bone to his bone, Ezek. 37.) what remains but that the Lord of life, he who giveth to all things life and breath, be with all earnestness and humility implor'd, That he would please to put breath into these (otherwise dry) Bones, that they may live; That besides this Paper-life (which is all that Man can give to these Writings) they may have a living Form and Vital Energy within us; That the Practical Truths contained in these Discourses may not be unto us a Dead letter, but Spirit and Life? That He who teacheth us to profit, would prosper these Papers for the attainment of all those good Ends to which they are designed; That it would please the God of all grace to remove all darkness and prejudice from the Mind and Heart of any Reader, and whatso­ever would hinder the fair reception of Truth; That the Reader may have an inward, Practical and feeling knowledge of the Doctrine which is according to Godli­ness, and live a life worthy of that Knowledge; is the Prayer of

His Servant in Christ Jesus, JOHN WORTHINGTON.
[In this Epistle pag. vii. lin. alt. for mouth to mouth, r. face to face.]

The CONTENTS of the several DISCOURSES in this Volume.

DISCOURSE I. Of the true WAY or METHOD of attaining to DIVINE KNOWLEDGE.

  • SEct. I. That Divine things are to be understood rather by a Spi­ritual Sensation then a Verbal Description, or mere Specula­tion. Sin and Wickedness prejudicial to True Knowledge. That Purity of Heart and Life, as also an Ingenuous Freedome of Judgment, are the best Grounds and Preparations for the Enter­tainment of Truth. Page. 1.
  • Sect. II. An Objection against the Method of Knowing laid down in the former Section, answered. That Men generally, not­withstanding their Apostasie, are furnished with the Radical Prin­ciples of True Knowledge. Men want not so much Means of knowing what they ought to doe, as Wills to doe what they know. Practical Knowledge differs from all other Knowledge, and ex­cells it. pag. 13.
  • Sect. III. Men may be considered in a Fourfold capacity in order to the perception of Divine things. That the Best and most excel­lent Knowledge of Divine things belongs only to the true and sober Christian; and that it is but in its infancy while he is in this Earth­ly Body. pag. 17.

DISCOURSE II. OF SUPERSTITION.

  • THE true Notion of Superstition well express'd by [...], i. e. an over-timorous and dreadfull apprehension of the Deity.
  • A false Opinion of the Deity the true Cause and Rise of Super­stition.
  • Superstition is most incident to such as Converse not with the Goodness of God, or are conscious to themselves of their own un­likeness to him.
  • Right apprehensions of God beget in man a Nobleness and Free­dome of Soul.
  • Superstition, though it looks upon God as an angry Deity, yet it counts him easily pleas'd with flattering Worship.
  • Apprehensions of a Deity and Guilt meeting together are apt to excite Fear.
  • Hypocrites to spare their Sins seek out waies to compound with God.
  • Servile and Superstitious Fear is encreased by Ignorance of the certain Causes of Terrible Effects in Nature &c. as also by fright­ful Apparitions of Ghosts and Spectres.
  • A further Consideration of Superstition as a Composition of Fear and Flattery.
  • A fuller Definition of Superstition, according to the Sense of the Ancients.
  • Superstition doth not alwaies appear in the same Form, but pas­ses from one Form to another, and sometimes shrouds it self un­der Forms seemingly Spiritual and more refined. pag. 25.

DISCOURSE III. OF ATHEISM.

  • THat there is a near Affinity between Atheism & Superstition.
  • That Superstition doth not only prepare the way for Atheism. but promotes and strengthens it.
  • That Epicurism is but Atheism under a mask.
  • A Confutation of Epicurus his Master-notion, together with some other pretences and Dogmata of his Sect.
  • The true Knowledge of Nature is advantageous to Religion.
  • That Superstition is more tolerable then Atheism.
  • That Atheism is both ignoble and uncomfortable.
  • What low and unworthy notions the Epicureans had concerning Man's Happiness: and what trouble they were put to How to de­fine, and Where to place true Happiness.
  • A true belief of a Deity supports the Soul with a present Tran­quillity and future Hopes.
  • Were it not for a Deity, the World would be unhabitable. p. 41.

DISCOURSE IV. OF THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL.

  • CHap. I. The First and main Principles of Religion, viz. 1. That God is. 2. That God is a rewarder of them that seek him: Wherein is included the Great Article of the Immortality of the Soul. These two Principles acknowledged by religious and serious persons in all Ages. 3. That God communicates himself to mankind by Christ. The Doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul discoursed of in the first place, and why? pag. 59.
  • [Page xxxvi] Chap. II. Some Considerations preparatory to the proof of the Souls Immortality. pag. 63.
  • Chap. III. The First Argument for the Immortality of the Soul. That the Soul of man is not Corporeal. The gross absurdities up­on the Supposition that the Soul is a Complex of fluid Atomes, or that it is made up by a fortuitous Concourse of Atomes, which is Epicurus his Notion concerning Body. The Principles and Dog­mata of the Epicurean Philosophy in opposition to the Immateriall and Incorporeall nature of the Soul, asserted by Lucretius, but dis­covered to be false and insufficient. That Motion cannot arise from Body or Matter. Nor can the power of Sensation arise from Matter: Much less can Reason. That all Humane know­ledge hath not its rise from Sense. The proper function of Sense, and that it is never deceived. An Addition of Three Considerati­ons for the enforcing of this first Argument, and further clearing the Immateriality of the Soul. That there is in man a Faculty which 1. controlls Sense: and 2. collects and unites all the Per­ceptions of our several Senses. 3. That Memory and Prevision are not explicable upon the supposition of Matter and Motion. pag. 68.
  • Chap. IV. The Second Argument for the Immortality of the Soul. Actions either Automatical or Spontaneous. That Sponta­neous and Elicite Actions evidence the distinction of the Soul from the Body. Lucretius his Evasion very slight and weak. That the Liberty of the Will is inconsistent with the Epicurean principles. That the Conflict of Reason against the Sensitive Appetite argues a Being in us superiour to Matter. pag. 85.
  • Chap. V. The Third Argument for the Immortality of the Soul. That Mathematical Notions argue the Soul to be of a true Spiri­tual and Immaterial Nature. pag. 93.
  • Chap. VI. The Fourth Argument for the Immortality of the Soul. That those clear and stable Ideas of Truth which are in Man's Mind evince an Immortal and Immaterial Substance resi­ding in us, distinct from the Body. The Soul more knowable then the Body. Some passages out of Plotinus and Proclus for the fur­ther confirming of this Argument. pag. 96.
  • Chap. VII. What it is that, beyond the Highest and most sub­tile Speculations whatsoever, does clear and evidence to a Good man the Immortality of his Soul. That True Goodness and Vertue begets the most raised Sense of this Immortality. Plotinus his excellent Dis­course to this purpose. pag. 101.
  • [Page xxxvii] Chap. VIII. An Appendix containing an Enquiry into the Sense and Opinion of Aristotle concerning the Immortality of the Soul. That according to him the Rational Soul is separable from the Body and Immortal The true meaning of his Intellectus A­gens and Patiens. pag. 106.
  • Chap. IX. A main Difficulty concerning the Immortality of the Soul [viz. The strong Sympathy of the Soul with the Body] answered. An Answer to another Enquiry, viz. Under what ac­count Impressions deriv'd from the Body do fall in Morality. p. 112.

DISCOURSE V. OF THE EXISTENCE & NATURE OF GOD.

  • CHap. I. That the Best way to know God is by an attentive re­flexion upon our own Souls. God more clearly and lively pictur'd upon the Souls of Men, then upon any part of the Sensi­ble World. pag 123.
  • Chap. II. How the Contemplation of our own Souls, and a right Reflexion upon the Operations thereof, may lead us into the know­ledge of 1. The Divine Unity and Omniscience, 2. God's Omni­potence, 3. The Divine Love and Goodness, 4. God's Eternity, 5. His Omnipresence, 6. The Divine Freedome and Liberty. p. 126.
  • Chap. III. How the Consideration of those restless motions of our Wills after some Supreme and Infinite Good, leads us into the know­ledge of a Deity. pag. 135.
  • Chap. IV. Deductions and Inferences from the Consi­deration of the Divine Nature and Attributes.
    • 1. That all Divine productions are the free Effluxes of Omni­potent Love and Goodness. The true Notion of God's glory what it is. Men very apt to mistake in this point. God needs not the Hap­piness [Page xxxviii] or Misery of his Creatures to make himself glorious by. God does most glorifie himself by communicating himself: we most glorifie God when we most partake of him, and resemble him most. pag. 140.
  • Chap. V. A second Deduction.
    • 2. That all things are supported and govern'd by an Almighty Wisdome and Goodness. An Answer to an Objection made against the Divine Providence from an unequal distribution of things here below. Such quarrelling with Providence ariseth from a Paedanti­call and Carnall notion of Good and Evil. pag. 144.
  • Chap. VI. A third Deduction.
    • 3. That all true Happiness consists in a participation of God ari­sing out of the assimilation and conformity of our Souls to him; and, That the most reall Misery ariseth out of the Apostasie of Souls from God. No enjoyment of God without our being made like to him. The Happiness and Misery of Man defin'd and sta­ted, with the Original and Foundation of both. pag. 147.
  • Chap. VII. A fourth Deduction.
    • 4. The fourth Deduction acquaints us with the true Notion of the Divine Justice, That the proper scope and design of it, is to pre­serve Righteousness, to promote & encourage true Goodness. That it does not primarily intend Punishment, but only takes it up as a mean to prevent Transgression. True Justice never supplants any that it self may appear glorious in their ruines. How Divine Justice is most advanced. pag. 151.
  • Chap. VIII. The fifth and last Deduction.
    • 5. That seeing there is such an Entercourse and Society as it were between God and Men, therefore there is also some Law be­tween them, which is the Bond of all Communion. The Primitive rules of God's Oeconomy in this world, not the sole Results of an Ab­solute Will, but the sacred Decrees of Reason and Goodness. God could not design to make us Sinfull or Miserable. Of the Law of Nature embosom'd in Man's Soul, how it obliges man to love and obey God, and to express a Godlike spirit and life in this world. All Souls the Off-spring of God; but Holy Souls manifest themselves to be, and are more peculiarly, the Children of God. pag. 154.
  • [Page xxxix] Chap. IX. An Appendix concerning the Reason of Positive Laws. pag. 158.
  • Chap. X. The Conclusion of this Treatise concerning the Exi­stence and Nature of God, shewing how our Knowledge of God comes to be so imperfect in this State, while we are here in this Terrestri­all Body. Two waies observed by Plotinus, whereby This Body does prejudice the Soul in her Operations. That the better Philosophers and more contemplative Jews did not deny the Existence of all kind of Body in the other state. What meant by Zoroaster's [...]. What kind of knowledge of God cannot be attain'd to in this life. What meant by Flesh and Blood, 1 Cor. 15. pag. 162.

DISCOURSE VI. OF PROPHESIE.

  • CHap. I. That Prophesie is the way whereby Revealed Truth is dispensed and conveighed to us. Man's Mind capable of con­versing and being acquainted as well with Revealed or Positive Truth, as with Naturall Truth. Truths of Natural inscription may be excited in us and cleared to us by means of Propheticall In­fluence. That the Scripture frequently accommodates it self to vulgar apprehension, and speaks of things in the greatest way of condescension. pag. 169.
  • Chap. II. That the Prophetical Spirit did not alwaies manifest it self with the same clearness and evidence. The Gradual diffe­rence of Divine illumination between Moses, the Prophets, and the Hagiographi. A general survey of the Nature of Prophesie pro­perly so called. Of the joint impressions and operations of the Un­derstanding and Phansie in Prophesie. Of the four degrees of Pro­phesie. The difference between a Vision and a Dream. pag. 176.
  • Chap. III. How the Prophetical Dreams did differ from all other kinds of Dreams recorded in Scripture. This further illu­strated out of several passages of Philo Judaeus pertinent to this purpose. pag. 183.
  • Ch. IV. A large account of the Difference between the true Pro­phetical [Page xl] Spirit and Enthusiastical impostures. That the Pseudo-Prophetical Spirit is seated only in the Imaginative Powers and Fa­culties inferior to reason. That Plato and other Wise men had a ve­ry low opinion of this Spirit, and of the Gift of Divination, and of Consulting the Oracles. That the True Prophetical Spirit seats it self as well in the Rational Powers as in the Sensitive, and that it never alienates the Mind, but informs and enlightens it. This further cleared by several Testimonies from Gentile and Christi­an Writers of old. An Account of those Fears and Consternatio­ons which often seized upon the Prophets. How the Prophets percei­ved when the Prophetical influx seized upon them. The different Evidence & Energy of the True & false Prophetical Spirit. p. 190.
  • Chap. V. An Enquiry concerning the Immediate Efficient that represented the Prophetical Visions to the Phansie of the Prophet. That these Representations were made in the Prophet's Phansie by some Angel. This cleared by several passages out of the Jewish Monuments, and by Testimonies of Scripture. pag. 210.
  • Chap. VI. The Second Enquiry, What the meaning of those Actions is that are frequently attributed to the Prophets, whether they were Real, or only Imaginary and Scenical. What Actions of the Prophets were only Imaginary and performed upon the Stage of Phansie. What we are to think of several Actions and res gestae recorded of Hosea, Jeremie & Ezekiel in their Prophesies. p. 220.
  • Chap. VII. Of that Degree of Divine inspiration properly call'd Ruach hakkodesh, i. e. The Holy Spirit. The Nature of it descri­bed out of Jewish Antiquities. Wherein this Spiritus Sanctus dif­fer'd from Prophesie strictly so call'd, and from the Spirit of Holi­ness in purified Souls. What Books of the Old Testament were ascri­bed by the Jews to Ruach hakkodesh. Of the Urim and Thummim. pag. 229.
  • Chap. VIII. Of the Dispositions antecedent and preparatory to Prophesie. That the Qualifications which did fit a man for the Pro­phetical Spirit were such as these, viz. Inward Piety, True Wis­dome, a Pacate and Serene temper of Mind, and a due chearful­ness of Spirit; in opposition to Vitiousness, Mental crazedness and inconsistency, unsubdued Passions, black Melancholy and dull Sadness. This illustrated by several Instances in Scripture. That Musick was greatly advantageous to the Prophets and Holy men of God, &c. What is meant by Saul's Evil Spirit. pag. 240.
  • [Page xli] Chap. IX. Of the Sons or Disciples of the Prophets. An Account of several Schools of Prophetical Education, as at Naioth in Ra­ma, at Jerusalem, Jericho, Gilgal, &c. Several passages in the Historical Books of Scripture pertinent to this Argument ex­plained. pag. 252.
  • Chap. X. Of Bath Kol, i. e. Filia Vocis: That it succeeded in the room of Prophesie: That it was by the Jews counted the Lowest degree of Revelation. What places in the New Testament are to be understood of it. pag. 257.
  • Chap. XI. Of the Highest Degree of Divine Inspiration, viz. the Mosaical. Four Differences between the Divine Revelations made to Moses, and to the rest of the Prophets. How the Doctrine of men Prophetically inspired is to approve it self by Miracles, or by it's Reasonableness. The Sympathy and Agreeableness between an Ho­ly Mind and Divine Truth. pag. 261.
  • Chap. XII. When the Prophetical Spirit ceased in the Jewish Church. The Cessation of Prophesie noted as a famous Epocha by the Jews. The restoring of the Prophetical Spirit by Christ. Some passages to this purpose in the New Testament explained. When the Prophetical Spirit ceased in the Christian Church. That it did not continue long, proved by several Testimonies of the Antient Wri­ters. pag. 267.
  • Chap. XIII. Some Rules and Observations concerning Prophe­tical Writ in general. pag. 272.

DISCOURSE VII. OF THE

RIGHTEOUSNESS
• Legal. , and • Evangelical. 
  • CHap. I. The Introduction, shewing What it is to have a right Knowledge of Divine Truth, and What it is that is either Available or Prejudicial to the true Christian Knowledge and Life. pag. 285.
  • [Page xlii] Chap. II. An Enquiry into that Jewish Notion of a Legal Righteousness, which is opposed by S. Paul. That their notion of it was such as this, viz. That the Law externally dispensed to them (though it were, as a Dead letter, merely without them) and conjoined with the power of their own Free-will, was sufficient to procure them Acceptance with God, and to acquire Merit enough to purchase Eternal Life, Perfection and Happiness. That this their Notion had these two Grounds; First, An Opinion of their own Self-sufficiency, and that their Free-will was so absolute and perfect, as that they needed not that God should doe any thing for them but only furnish them with some Laws to exercise this Innate power about. That they asserted such a Freedom of Will as might be to them a Foundation of Merit. pag. 288.
  • Chap. III. The Second ground of the Jewish Notion of a Legal Righteousness, viz. That the Law delivered to them on Mount Sinai was a sufficient Dispensation from God, and all that need­ed to be done by him to bring them to Perfection and Happiness: and That the Scope of their, Law was nothing but to afford them several ways and means of Merit. The Opinion of the Jewish Writers concerning Merit and the Reward due to the Works of the Law. Their distinguishing of men in order to Merit and Demerit into three sorts, viz. Perfectly righteous, Perfectly wicked, and a middle sort betwixt these. The Mercenary and Low Spirit of the Jewish Religion. An Account of what the Cabbalists held in this Point of Legal Righteousness. pag. 297.
  • Chap. IV. The Second Enquiry, Concerning the Evangelical Righteousness or the Righteousness of Faith, and the true diffe­rence between the Law and the Gospel, the Old and the New Cove­nant, as it is laid down by the Apostle Paul. A more General An­siver to this enquiry, together with a General observation of the Apostle's main End in opposing Faith to the Works of the Law, viz. To beat down the Jewish proud conceit of Merit. A more particular and Distinct answer to the Enquiry, viz. That the Law or Old Covenant is considered only as an External admini­stration, a dead thing in it self, a Dispensation consisting in an Out­ward and Written Law of Precepts: but the Gospel or New Covenant is an Internal thing, a Vital Form and Principle of [Page xliii] Righteousness in the Souls of men, an Inward manifestation of Divine Life, and a living Impression upon the Minds and Spirits of Men. This proved from several Testimonies of Scripture. pag. 308.
  • Chap. V. Two Propositions for the better understanding of the Doctrine of Justification and Divine Acceptance. 1. Prop. That the Divine judgment and estimation of every thing is according to the truth of the thing; and God's acceptance or disacceptance of things is suitable to his judgment. On what account S. James does attribute a kind of Justification to Good works. 2. Prop. God's justifying of Sinners in pardoning their Sins carries in it a necessa­ry reference to the sanctifying of their Natures. This abundantly proved from the Nature of the thing. pag. 325.
  • Chap. VI. How the Gospel-righteousness is conveighed to us by Faith, made to appear from these two Considerations. 1. The Gospel lays a strong foundation of a chearfull dependance upon the Grace and Love of God, and affiance in it. This confirmed by several Gospel-expressions containing plainly in them the most strong Motives and Encouragements to all ingenuous addresses to God, to all chearfull dependance on him, and confident expectation of all assistance from him. 2. A true Evangelical Faith is no lazy or languid thing, but an ardent breathing and thirsting after Divine grace and righteousness: it looks beyond a mere pardon of sin, and mainly pursues after an inward participation of the Divine nature. The mighty power of a living Faith in the Love and Goodness of God, discoursed of throughout the whole Chapter. pag. 332.
  • Chap. VII. An Appendix to the foregoing Discourse; How the whole business and Undertaking of Christ is eminently available both to give full relief and ease to our Minds and Hearts, and also to encourage us to Godliness or a God-like righteousness, briefly represented in sundry Particulars. pag. 343.

DISCOURSE VIII. OF THE SHORTNESS OF A Pharisaick Righteousness.

  • CHap. I. A General account of men's Mistakes about Religi­on. Men are no where more lazy and sluggish, and more apt to delude themselves, then in matters of Religion. The Religion of most men is but an Image and Resemblance of their own Fansies. The Method propounded for discoursing upon those words in S. Mat­thew. 1. To discover some of the Mistakes and False Notions about Religion. 2. To discover the Reason of these Mistakes. A brief Explication of the Words. pag. 349.
  • Chap. II. An Account of men's Mistakes about Religion in 4 Particulars. 1. A Partial obedience to some Particular Precepts. The False Spirit of Religion spends it self in some Particulars, is confin'd, is overswayed by some prevailing Lust. Men of this spirit may by some Book-skill, and a zeal about the Externals of Religion, loose the sense of their own Guiltiness, and of their defici­encies in the Essentials of Godliness, and fansy themselves nearly related to God. Where the true Spirit of Religion is it informs and actuates the whole man, it will not be confin'd, but will be absolute within us, and not suffer any corrupt Interest to grow by it. p. 353.
  • Chap. III. The Second Mistake about Religion, viz. A meer complyance of the Outward man with the Law of God. True Religion seats it self in the Centre of mens Souls, and first brings the Inward man into Obedience to the Law of God: the Superfici­all Religion intermeddles chiefly with the Circumference and Outside of men; or rests in an outward abstaining from some Sins. Of Speculative and the most close and Spiritual wickedness within. How apt men are to sink all Religion into Opinions and External Forms. pag. 357.
  • Chap. IV. The Third Mistake about Religion, viz. A constrai­ned and forc'd Obedience to God's Commandments. The Religi­on [Page xlv] of many (some of whom would seem most abhorrent from Super­stition) is nothing else but Superstition properly so called. False Religionists, having no inward sense of the Divine Goodness, cannot truly love God: Yet their sowre and dreadfull apprehensions of God compell them to serve him. A slavish spirit in Religion may be very prodigal in such kind of serving God as doth not pinch their Corruptions; but in the great and weightier matters of Religion, in such things as prejudice their beloved Lusts, it is very needy and sparing. This servile Spirit has low and mean thoughts of God, but an high opinion of its Outward services, as conceiting that by such cheap things God is gratified and becomes indebted to it. The different Effects of Love and Slavish fear in the truly, and in the falsly, Religious. pag. 361.
  • Chap. V. The Fourth and last Mistake about Religion, When a mere Mechanical and Artificial Religion is taken for that which is a true Impression of Heaven upon the Souls of men, and which moves like a new Nature. How Religion is by some made a piece of Art, and how there may be specious and plausible Imitations of the Internals of Religion as well as of the Externals. The Method and Power of Fansy in contriving such Artificial imitations. How apt men are in these to deceive both themselves and others. The Dif­ference between those that are govern'd in their Religion by Fansy, and those that are actuated by the Divine Spirit and in whom Reli­gion is a living Form. That True Religion is no Art, but a new Nature. Religion discovers it self best in a Serene and clear Tem­per of Mind, in deep Humility, Meekness, Self-denial, Universal love of God and all true Goodness. p. 366.

DISCOURSE IX. OF THE EXCELLENCY and NOBLENESS OF RELIGION.

  • CHap. I. 1. The Nobleness of Religion in regard of its Origi­nal and Fountain: it comes from Heaven and moves towards Heaven again. God the First Excellency and Primitive Perfection. All Perfections and Excellencies in any kind are to be measured by their approch to, and Participation of, the First Perfection. Re­ligion the greatest Participation of God: none capable of this Divine Communication but the Highest of created Beings: and consequently Religion is the greatest Excellency. A twofold Foun­tain in God whence Religion flows, viz. 1. His Nature. 2. His Will. Of Truth Natural and Revealed. Of an Outward and In­ward Revelation of God's Will. pag. 380.
  • Chap. II. 2. The Nobleness of Religion in respect of it's Na­ture, briefly discovered in some Particulars. How a man actuated by Religion 1. lives above the world; 2. converses with himself, and knows how to love, value and reverence himself, in the best sense; 3. lives above himself, not being content to enjoy himself, except he may enjoy God too, and himself in God. How he de­nyes himself for God. To deny a mans self, is not to deny Right Reason, for that were to deny God, in stead of denying himself for God. Self-love the only Principle that acts wicked men. The happy privileges of a Soul united to God. pag. 385.
  • Chap. III. 3. The Nobleness of Religion in regard of its Pro­perties, &c. of which this is one, 1. Religion enlarges all the Fa­culties of the Soul, and begets a true Ingenuity, Liberty and Am­plitude, the most Free and Generous Spirit in the Minds of Good men. The nearer any Being comes to God, the more large and free; the further is slides from God, the more streightened. Sin is [Page xlvii] the sinking of mans Soul from God into sensual Selfishness. An account when the most Generous freedom of the Soul is to be taken in its just proportions. How Mechanical and Formal Christians make an Art of Religion, set it such bounds as may not exceed the scant Measure of their Principles; and then fit their own No­tions as so many Examples to it. A Good man finds not his Religion without him, but as a living Principle within him. God's Immuta­ble and Eternal Goodness the Unchangeable Rule of his Will. Pec­vish, Self-will'd and Imperious men shape out such Notions of God as are agreeable to this Pattern of themselves. The Truly Religious have better apprehensions of God. pag. 392.
  • Chap. IV. The Second Property discovering the Nobleness of Religion, viz. That it restores man to a just power and dominion over himself, enables him to overcome his Self-will and Passions. Of Self-will, and the many Evils that flow from it. That Religi­on does nowhere discover its power and prowess so much, as in sub­duing this dangerous and potent Enemy. The Highest and No­blest Victories are those over our Self-will and Passions. Of Self-denial, and the having power over our Wills; the Happiness and the Privileges of such a State. How that Magnanimity and Pu­issance which Religion begets in Holy Souls differs from and ex­cells that Gallantry and Puissance which the great Nimrods of this world boast of. pag. 397.
  • Chap. V. The Third Property or Effect discovering the No­bleness of Religion, viz. That it directs and enables a man to pro­pound to himself the Best End, viz. The Glory of God, and his own becoming like unto God. Low and Particular Ends and Interests both debase and streighten a mans Spirit: The Univer­sal, Highest and Last End both ennobles and enlarges it. A man is such as the End is he aims at. The great power the End hath to mold and fashion man into its likeness. Religion obliges a man (not to seek himself, nor to drive a trade for himself; but) to seek the Glory of God, to live wholy to him; and guides him sted­dily and uniformly to the One Chief Good and Last End. Men are prone to flatter themselves with a pretended aiming at the Glory of God. A more full and distinct explication of what is meant by a mans directing all his actions to the Glory of God. What it is [Page xlviii] truly and really to glorifie God. God's seeking his Glory in respect of us is the flowing forth of his Goodness upon us: Our seeking the Glory of God is our endeavouring to partake more of God, and to resemble him (as much as we can) in true Holiness and every Divine Vertue. That we are not nicely to distinguish be­tween the Glory of God and our own Salvation. That Salvation is nothing else for the main but a true Participation of the Divine Nature. To love God above our selves, is not to love him above the Salvation of our Souls; but above our particular Beings and above our sinfull affections, &c. The Difference between Things that are Good relatively, and those that are Good absolutely and Essentially: That in our conformity to these God is most glorified, and we are made most Happy. pag. 403.
  • Chap. VI. The Fourth Property or Effect discovering the Ex­cellency of Religion, viz. That it begets the greatest Serenity and Composedness of Mind, and brings the truest Contentment, the purest and most satisfying Joy and Pleasure to every holy Soul. God, as being that Uniform chief Good, and the One last End, does attract and fix the Soul. Wicked men distracted through a Mul­tiplicity of Objects and Ends. How the restless Appetite of our Wills after some Supreme Good leads to the knowledge (as of a Deity, so) of the Unity of a Deity. How the Joys and Delights of Good men differ from and far excell those of the Wicked. The Constancy and Tranquillity of the Spirits of Good men in reference to External troubles. All Perturbations of the Mind arise from an Inward rather then an Outward Cause. The Stoicks Method for attaining [...] and true rest examined, and the Insufficien­cy of it discovered. A further Illustration of what has been said concerning the Peacefull and Happy State of Good men, from the contrary State of the Wicked. pag. 412.
  • Chap. VII. The Fifth Property or Effect discovering the Ex­cellency of Religion, viz. That it advanceth the Soul to an holy boldness and humble familiarity with God, and to a comfortable confidence concerning the Love of God towards it, and its own Sal­vation. Fearfulness, Consternation of Mind and frightfull passi­ons are consequent upon Sin and Guilt. These together with the most dismall deportments of Trembling and amazement are agreeable [Page xlix] to the nature of the Devil, who delights to be serv'd in this man­ner by his worshippers. Love, Joy and Hope are most agreeable to the nature of God, and most pleasing to him. The Right apprehen­sions of God are such as are apt to beget Love to God, Delight and Confidence in him. A true Christian is more for a solid and well-grounded Peace then for high raptures and feelings of joy. How a Christian should endeavour the Assurance of his Salvation. That he should not importunately expect or desire some extraordinary manifestations of God to him, but rather look after the manifesta­tion of the life of God within him, the foundation or beginning of Heaven and Salvation in his own Soul. That Self-resignation, and the subduing of our own Wills, are greatly available to obtain Assurance. The vanity and absurdity of that Opinion, viz. That in a perfect resignation of our Wills to God's will, a man should be content with his own Damnation and to be the subject of Eternal wrath in Hell, if it should so please God. pag. 423.
  • Chap. VIII, The Sixth Property or Effect discovering the Ex­cellency of Religion, viz. That it Spiritualizes Material things, and carries up the Souls of Good men from Sensible and Earthly things to things Intellectual and Divine. There are lesser and ful­ler representations of God in the Creatures. To converse with God in the Creation, and to pass out of the Sensible World into the In­tellectual, is most effectually taught by Religion. Wicked men converse not with God as shining out in the Creatures; they con­verse with them in a Sensual and Unspiritual manner. Religion does spiritualize the Creation to Good men: it teaches them to look at any Perfections or Excellencies in themselves and others, not so much as Theirs or That others, but as so many Beams flowing from One and the Same Fountain of Light; to love them all in God, and God in all; the Universal Goodness in a Particular Being. A Good man enjoys and delights in whatsoever Good he sees other­where, as if it were his own: he does not fondly love and esteem either himself or others. The Divine temper and strain of the an­tient Philosophy. pag. 429.
  • Chap. IX. The Seventh and last Property or Effect discove­ring the Excellency of Religion, viz. That it raiseth the Minds of Good men to a due observance of and attendance upon Divine [Page l] Providence, and enables them to serve the Will of God, and to acquiesce in it. For a man to serve Providence and the Will of God entirely, to work with God, and to bring himself and all his actions into a Compliance with God's Will, his Ends and Designs, is an argument of the truest Nobleness of Spirit; it is the most excellent and divine life; and it is most for mans advantage. How the Consideration of Divine Providence is the way to inward quiet­ness and establishment of Spirit. How wicked men carry them­selves unbecomingly through their impatience and fretfulness un­der the disposals of Providence. The beauty and harmony of the various Methods of Providence. pag. 435.
  • Chap. X. 4. The Excellencie of Religion in regard of its Pro­gress, as it is perpetually carrying on the Soul towards Perfection. Every Nature hath its proper Centre which it hastens to. Sin and Wickedness is within the attractive power of Hell, and hastens thi­ther: Grace and Holiness is within the Central force of Heaven, and moves thither. 'Tis not the Speculation of Heaven as a thing to come that satisfies the desires of Religious Souls, but the reall Possession of it even in this life. Men are apt to seek after Assu­rance of Heaven as a thing to come, rather then after Heaven it self and the inward possession of it here. How the Assurance of Heaven rises from the growth of Holiness and the powerfull Pro­gress of Religion in our Souls. That we are not hastily to believe that we are Christ's, or that Christ is in us. That the Works which Christ does in holy Souls testify of him, and best evidence Christ's spiritual appearance in them. pag. 439.
  • Chap. XI. 5. The Excellency of Religion in regard of its Term and End, viz. Perfect Blessedness. How unable we are in this state to comprehend and describe the Full and Perfect state of Happiness and Glory to come. The more Godlike a Christian is, the better may he understand that State. Holiness and Happiness not two distinct things, but two several Notions of one and the same thing. Hea­ven cannot so well be defined by any thing without us, as by some­thing within us. The great nearness and affinity between Sin and Hell. The Conclusion of this Treatise, containing a serious Exhor­tation to a diligent minding of Religion, with a Discovery of the Vanity of those Pretenses which keep men off from minding Religi­on. pag. 443.

DISCOURSE X. OF A CHRISTIANS CONFLICTS with, & CONQUESTS over, SATAN.

  • CHap. I. The Introduction, Summarily treating of the per­petual Enmity between God, the Principle of Good, and the Principle of Evil, the Devil: as also between Whatsoever is from God and that which is from the Devil. That Wicked men by destroying what there is from God within them, and devest­ing themselves of all that which hath any alliance to God or true Goodness, and transforming themselves into the Diabolical image, fit themselves for correspondence and converse with the Devil. The Fears and Horrors which infest both the Apostate Spirits and Wicked men. The weakness of the Devil's kingdom; Christ's success against it. pag. 455.
  • Chap. II. The First observable, That the Devil is continually busie with us. The Devil consider'd under a double notion. 1. As an Apostate Spirit which fell from God. The great danger of the Devils activity, not only when he presents himself in some corpo­real shape, but when he is unseen and appears not. The weakness and folly of those who are afraid of him only when he appears em­bodyed. That the Good Spirit of God is active for the Good of Souls. How regardless men are of the gentle motions of the Di­vine Spirit; and how unwatchfull and secure under the Suggesti­ons of the Evil Spirit. How we may discover the Devil in his Stratagems and under his several disguises and appearances. pag. 458.
  • Chap. III. 2. Of the activity of the Devil considered as a Spirit [Page lii] of Apostasie and as a Degenerate nature in men. That the Devil is not only the name of one Particular thing, but a Nature. The Difference between the Devil and Wicked men is rather the Diffe­rence of a Name then of Natures. The Kingdom and Tyranny of the Devil and Hell is chiefly within, in the Qualities and Dis­positions of mens Minds. Men are apt to quarrell with the Devil in the name and notion, and defie him with their Tongues, while they entertain him in their Hearts, and comply with all that which the Devil is. The vanity of their pretended Love to God, and Ha­tred of the Devil. That there is nothing Better then God himself, for which we should love him; and to love him for his own Beau­ty and Excellency is the best way of loving him. That there is nothing worse then Sin it self, for which we should hate it; and to hate it for its own deformity is the truest way of hating it. How Hell and Misery arises from within men. Why Wicked men are so insensible of their Misery in this life. pag. 462.
  • Chap. IV. The Second Observable, viz. The Warfare of a Christian life. True Religion consists not in a mere passive capacity and sluggish kind of doing nothing, nor in a melancholy sitting still or slothfull waiting, &c. but it consists in inward life and power, vigour and activity. A discovery of the dulness and er­roneousness of that Hypothesis, viz. That Good men are wholy Passive and unable at any time to move without some external im­petus, some impression and impulse from without upon them: or, That all Motions in Religion are from an External Principle. Of the Quality and Nature of the true Spiritual Warfare, and of the Manner and Method of it. That it is transacted upon the in­ner Stage of mens Souls, and managed without Noise or pompous Observation; and without any hindrance or prejudice to the most peacefull, sedate and composed temper of a religious Soul. This further illustrated from the consideration of the false and preten­ded Zeal for God and his Kingdome against the Devil; which though it be impetuous, and makes a great noise, and a fair shew in the world, is yet both impotent and ineffectual. pag. 469.
  • Chap. V. The Third Observable, viz. The Certainty of Suc­cess and victory to all those that resist the Devil. This grounded upon 1. The Weakness of the Devil and Sin considered in them­selves. [Page liii] 2. God's powerfull assisting all faithfull Christians in this warfare. The Devil may allure and tempt, but cannot prevaile, except men consent and yield to his suggestions. The Devil's strength lies in mens treachery and falseness to their own Souls. Sin is strong, because men oppose it weakly. The Error of the Manichees about a Principium mali defended by men in their lives and practices. Of God's readiness to assist Christians in their Spiritual Conflicts; his Compassionate regards and the more special respects of his Providence towards them in such occasions. The Conclusion, discovering the Evil and Horridness of Magick, Diabolical Contracts, &c. pag. 474.

[Page] A DISCOURSE Concerning The true WAY or METHOD of attaining to DIVINE KNOWLEDGE.

Psal. 3. 10. The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdome: a good Understanding have all they that doe his Command­ments.
John 7. 17. If any man will doe his Will, he shall know of the do­ctrine, whether it be of God

Clem. Alexandr. Strom. 3.

[...]

[...]

[...].

A PRAEFATORY DISCOURSE CONCERNING The true Way or Method of attaining to DIVINE KNOWLEDGE.

Section I. That Divine things are to be understood ra­ther by a Spiritual Sensation then a Verbal Descripti­on, or meer Speculation. Sin and Wickedness prejudi­cial to True Knowledge. That Purity of Heart and Life, as also an Ingenuous Freedome of Judgment, are the best Grounds and Preparations for the Entertain­ment of Truth.

Sect. II. An Objection against the Method of Knowing laid down in the former Section, answered. That Men generally, notwithstanding their Apostasie, are furni­shed with the Radical Principles of True Knowledge. Men want not so much Means of knowing what they ought to doe, as Wills to doe what they know. Practi­cal Knowledge differs from all other Knowledge, and excells it.

Sect. III. Men may be consider'd in a Fourfold capacity in order to the perception of Divine things. That the Best and most excellent Knowledge of Divine things belongs onely to the true and sober Christian; and That it is but in its infancy while he is in this Earthly Body.

SECT. I.

IT hath been long since well observed, That every Art & Science hath some certain Prin­ciples upon which the whole Frame and Body of it must depend; and he that will fully ac­quaint himself with the Mysteries thereof, must come furnisht with some Praecognita or [...], that I may speak in the language of the Stoicks. Were I indeed to [Page 2] define Divinity, I should rather call it a Divine life, then a Divine science; it being something rather to be understood by a Spiritual sensation, then by any Verbal description, as all things of Sense & Life are best known by Sentient and Vital faculties; [...], as the Greek Philosopher hath well ob­served, Every thing is best known by that which bears a just resemblance and analogie with it: and therefore the Scripture is wont to set forth a Good life as the Pro­lepsis and Fundamental principle of Divine Science; Wisdome hath built her an house, and hewen out her seven pillars: But the fear of the Lord is [...] the be­ginning of wisdome, the Foundation of the whole fa­brick.

We shall therefore, as a Prolegomenon or Preface to what we shall afterward discourse upon the Heads of Divinity, speake something of this True Method of Knowing, which is not so much by Notions as Actions; as Religion it self consists not so much in Words as Things. They are not alwaies the best skill'd in Divi­nity, that are the most studied in those Pandects which it is sometimes digested into, or that have erected the greatest Monopolies of Art and Science. He that is most Practical in Divine things, hath the purest and sincerest Knowledge of them, and not he that is most Dogmatical. Divinity indeed is a true Efflux from the Eternal light, which, like the Sun-beams, does not only enlighten, but heat and enliven; and therefore our Sa­viour hath in his Beatitudes connext Purity of heart with the Beatifical Vision. And as the Eye cannot be­hold the Sun, [...], unless it be Sun­like, Plotin. En. 1. l. 6. and hath the form and resemblance of the Sun drawn in it; so neither can the Soul of man behold God, [...], unless it be Godlike, hath [Page 3] God formed in it, and be made partaker of the Divine Nature. And the Apostle S. Paul, when he would lay open the right way of attaining to Divine Truth, he saith that Knowledge puffeth up, but it is Love that edi­fieth. The knowledge of Divinity that appears in Systems and Models is but a poor wan light, but the powerful energy of Divine knowledge displaies it self in purified Souls: here we shall finde the true [...], as the antient Philosophy speaks, the land of Truth.

To seek our Divinity meerly in Books and Wri­tings, is to seek the living among the dead: we doe but in vain seek God many times in these, where his Truth too often is not so much enshrin'd, as entomb'd: no; intrate quaere Deum, seek for God within thine own soul; he is best discern'd [...], as Plotinus phra­seth it, by an Intellectual touch of him: we must see with our eyes, and hear with our ears, and our hands must handle the word of life, that I may express it in S. John's words. [...]. The Soul it self hath its sense, as well as the Body: and therefore David, when he would teach us how to know what the Divine Goodness is, calls not for Speculation but Sensation, Tast and see how good the Lord is. That is not the best & truest knowledge of God which is wrought out by the labour and sweat of the Brain, but that which is kindled within us by an heavenly warmth in our Hearts. As in the natural Body it is the Heart that sends up good Blood and warm Spirits into the Head, whereby it is best enabled to its several functions; so that which enables us to know and understand aright in the things of God, must be a living principle of Ho­liness within us. When the Tree of Knowledge is not planted by the Tree of Life, and sucks not up sap from [Page 4] thence, it may be as well fruitful with evil as with good, and bring forth bitter fruit as well as sweet. If we would indeed have our Knowledge thrive and flou­rish, we must water the tender plants of it with Holi­ness. When Zoroaster's Scholars asked him what they should doe to get winged Souls, such as might soar aloft in the bright beams of Divine Truth, he bids them bathe themselves in the waters of Life: they asking what they were; he tells them, the four Cardinal Vertues, which are the four Rivers of Paradise. It is but a thin, aiery knowledge that is got by meer Spe­culation, which is usher'd in by Syllogisms and De­monstrations; but that which springs forth from true Goodness, is [...], as Origen speaks, it brings such a Divine light into the Soul, as is more clear and convincing then any Demonstration. The reason why, notwithstanding all our acute reasons and subtile disputes, Truth prevails no more in the world, is, we so often disjoyn Truth and true Goodness, which in themselves can never be disunited; they grow both from the same Root, and live in one ano­ther. We may, like those in Plato's deep pit with their faces bended downwards, converse with Sounds and Shadows; but not with the Life and Substance of Truth, while our Souls remain defiled with any vice or lusts. These are the black Lethe-lake which drench the Soules of men: he that wants true Vertue, in heavn's Logick is blind, and cannot see afar off. Those [...] Pet. [...]. filthy mists that arise from impure and terrene minds, like an Atmospheare, perpetually encompass them, that they cannot see that Sun of Divine Truth that shines about them, but never shines into any unpurged Souls; the darkness comprehends it not, the foolish man un­derstands it not. All the Light and Knowledge that [Page 5] may seem sometimes to rise up in unhallowed mindes, is but like those fuliginous flames that arise up from our culinary fire, that are soon quench'd in their own smoak; or like those foolish fires that fetch their birth from terrene exudations, that doe but hop up & down, and flit to and fro upon the surface of this earth where they were first brought forth; and serve not so much to enlighten, as to delude us; nor to direct the wan­dring traveller into his way, but to lead him farther out of it. While we lodge any filthy vice in us, this will be perpetually twisting up it self into the thread of our finest-spun Speculations; it will be continually climbing up into the [...], the Hegemonicall powers of the Soul, into the bed of Reason, and defile it: like the wanton Ivie twisting it self about the Oak, it will twine about our Judgments and Understandings, till it hath suck'd out the Life and Spirit of them. I cannot think such black oblivion should possess the Mindes of some as to make them question that Truth which to Good men shines as bright as the Sun at noon-day, had they not foully defil'd their own Souls with some hellish vice or other, how fairly soever it may be they may dissemble it. There is a benum­ming Spirit, a congealing Vapour that ariseth from Sin and Vice, that will stupifie the senses of the Soul; as the Naturalists say there is from the Torpedo that smites the senses of those that approach to it. This is that venemous Solanum, that deadly Nightshade, that derives its cold poyson into the Understandings of men.

Such as Men themselves are, such will God him­self seem to be. It is the Maxim of most wicked men, That the Deity is some way or other like themselves: their Souls doe more then whisper it, though their lips [Page 6] speak it not; and though their tongues be silent, yet their lives cry it upon the house-tops, & in the publick streets. That Idea which men generally have of God is nothing else but the picture of their own Complexi­on: that Archetypall notion of him which hath the supermacie in their mindes, is none else but such an one as hath been shap'd out according to some pattern of themselves; though they may so cloathe and disguise this Idol of their own, when they carry it about in a pompous Procession to expose it to the view of the world, that it may seem very beautiful, and indeed any thing else rather then what it is. Most men (though it may be they themselves take no great notice of it) like that dissembling Monk, doe aliter sentire in Scho­lis, aliter in Musaeis, are of a different judgment in the Schools from what they are in the retirements of their private closets. There is a double head, as well as a double heart. Mens corrupt hearts will not suffer their notions and conceptions of divine things to be cast in­to that form that an higher Reason, which may some­time work within them, would put them into.

I would not be thought all this while to banish the belief of all Innate notions of Divine Truth: but these are too often smother'd, or tainted with a deep dye of mens filthy lusts. It is but lux sepulta in opaci mate­ria, light buried and stifled in some dark body, from whence all those colour'd, or rather discolour'd, noti­ons and apprehensions of divine things are begotten. Though these Common notions may be very busie som­times in the vegetation of divine Knowledge; yet the corrupt vices of men may so clog, disturb and overrule them, (as the Naturalists say this unruly and masterless matter doth the natural forms in the formation of li­ving creatures) that they may produce nothing but [Page 7] Monsters miserably distorted & misshapen. This kind of Science, as Plotinus speaks, [...], companying too familiarly with Matter, and receiving and imbibing it into it selfe, changeth its shape by this incestuous mixture. At best, while any inward lust is harboured in the minds of men, it will so weaken them, that they can never bring forth any ma­sculine or generous knowledge; as Aelian observes of the Stork, that if the Night-owle chanceth to sit upon her eggs, they become presently as it were [...], and all incubation rendred impotent and ineffectual. Sin and lust are alway of an hungry nature, and suck up all those vital affections of mens Souls which should feed and nourish their Understandings.

What are all our most sublime Speculations of the Deity, that are not impregnated with true Goodness, but insipid things that have no tast nor life in them, that do but swell like empty froath in the souls of men? They doe not feed mens souls, but onely puffe them up & fill them with Pride, Arrogance and Contempt and Ty­rannie towards those that cannot well ken their subtile Curiosities: as those Philosophers that Tully complains of in his times, qui disciplinā suam ostentationē scientiae, non legem vitae, putabant, which made their know­ledge onely matter of ostentation, to venditate and set off themselves, but never caring to square and govern their lives by it. Such as these doe but Spider-like take a great deal of pains to spin a worthless web out of their own bowels, which will not keep them warm. These indeed are those silly Souls that are ever learn­ing, but never come to the knowledge of the Truth. They may, with Pharaoh's lean kine, eat up and devoure all Tongues and Sciences, and yet when they have done, [Page 8] still remain lean and ill-favour'd as they were at first-Jejune and barren Speculations may be hovering and fluttering up and down about Divinity, but they can­not settle or fix themselves upon it: they unfold the Plicatures of Truth's garment, but they cannot behold the lovely face of it. There are hidden Mysteries in Divine Truth, wrapt up one within another, which cannot be discern'd but onely by divine Epoptists.

We must not think we have then attained to the right knowledge of Truth, when we have broke through the outward Shell of words & phrases that house it up; or when by a Logical Analysis we have found out the dependencies and coherencies of them one with another; or when, like stout champions of it, having well guarded it with the invincible strength of our Demonstration, we dare stand out in the face of the world, and challenge the field of all those that would pretend to be our Rivalls.

We have many Grave and Reverend Idolaters that worship Truth onely in the Image of their own Wits; that could never adore it so much as they may seem to doe, were it any thing else but such a Form of Belief as their own wandring speculations had at last met toge­ther in, were it not that they find their own image and superscription upon it.

There is a knowing of the truth as it is in Jesus, as it is in a Christ-like nature, as it is in that sweet, mild, humble, and loving Spirit of Jesus, which spreads it­self like a Morning-Sun upon the Soules of good men, full of light and life. It profits litle to know Christ himself after the flesh; but he gives his Spirit to good men, that searcheth the deep things of God. There is an inward beauty, life and loveliness in Divine Truth, which cannot be known but onely then when it is di­gested [Page 9] into life and practice. The Greek Philosopher could tell those high-soaring Gnosticks that thought themselves no less then Jovis alites, that could (as he speaks in the Comedy) [...], and cried out so much [...], look upon God, that [...], Without Vertue and real Goodness God is but a name, a dry and empty Notion. The profane sort of men, like those old Gentile Greeks, may make many ruptures in the walls of God's Temple, and break into the holy ground, but yet may finde God no more there then they did.

Divine Truth is better understood, as it unfolds it­self in the purity of mens hearts and lives, then in all those subtil Niceties into which curious Wits may lay it forth. And therefore our Saviour, who is the great Master of it, would not, while he was here on earth, draw it up into any Systeme or Body, nor would his Disciples after him; He would not lay it out to us in any Canons or Articles of Belief, not being indeed so careful to stock and enrich the World with Opini­ons and Notions, as with true Piety, and a Godlike pattern of purity, as the best way to thrive in all spi­ritual understanding. His main scope was to promote an Holy life, as the best and most compendious way to a right Belief. He hangs all true acquaintance with Divinity upon the doing Gods will, If any man will doe his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God. This is that alone which will make us, as S. Pe­ter tells us, that we shall not be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour. There is an inward sweetness and deliciousness in divine Truth, which no sensual minde can tast or rellish: this is that [...], that natural man that savours not the [Page 10] things of God. Corrupt passions and terrene affecti­ons are apt of their own nature to disturb all serene thoughts, to precipitate our Judgments, and warp our Understandings. It was a good Maxime of the old Jewish Writers, [...] the Holy Spirit dwells not in terrene and earthly pas­sions. Divinity is not so well perceiv'd by a subtile wit, [...] as by a purified sense, as Plotinus phraseth it.

Neither was the antient Philosophy unacquainted with this Way and Method of attaining to the know­ledge of Divine things; and therefore Eth. Nicom. l. 1. Aristotle him­self thought a Young man unfit to meddle with the grave precepts of Morality, till the heat and violent precipitancy of his youthful affections was cool'd and moderated. And it is observed of Pythagoras, that he had several waies to try the capacity of his Scholars, and to prove the sedateness and Moral temper of their minds, before he would entrust them with the sublimer Mysteries of his Philosophy. The Platonists were herein so wary and solicitous, that they thought the Mindes of men could never be purg'd enough from those earthly dregs of Sense and Passion, in which they were so much steep'd, before they could be capable of their divine Metaphysicks: and therefore they so much solicite a [...], as they are wont to phrase it, a separation from the Body, in all those that would [...], as Socrates speaks, that is indeed, sincerely understand Divine Truth; for that was the scope of their Philosophy. This was also inti­mated by them in their defining Philosophy to be [...] a Meditation of Death; aiming herein at one­ly a Moral way of dying, by loosening the Soul from the Body and this Sensitive life; which they thought was [Page 11] necessary to a right Contemplation of Intelligible things: and therefore besides those [...] by which the Souls of men were to be separated from sensuality and purged from fleshly filth, they devised a further way of Separation more accommodated to the condition of Philosophers, which was their Mathe­mata, or Mathematical Contemplations, whereby the Souls of men might farther shake off their dependency upon Sense, and learn to go as it were alone, without the crutch of any Sensible or Material thing to support them; and so be a little inur'd, being once got up above the Body, to converse freely with Immaterial natures, without looking down again and falling back into Sense. Besides many other waies they had, whereby to rise out of this dark Body; [...], as they are wont to call them, several steps and ascents out of this miry cave of mortality, before they could set any sure footing with their Intellectual part in the land of Light and Immortal Being.

And thus we should pass from this Topick of our Discourse, upon which we have dwelt too long already, but that before we quite let it goe, I hope we may fairly make this use of it farther (besides what we have open­ly driven at all this while) which is, To learn not to devote or give up our selves to any private Opinions or Dictates of men in matters of Religion, nor too zealously to propugne the Dogmata of any Sect. As we should not like rigid Censurers arraign & condemn the Creeds of other men which we comply not with, before a full & mature understanding of them, ripened not onely by the natural sagacity of our own Reasons, but by the benign influence of holy and mortified Af­fection: so neither should we over-hastily credere in fi­dem alienam, subscribe to the Symbols and Articles of [Page 12] other men. They are not alwaies the Best men that blot most paper; Truth is not, I fear, so Voluminous, nor swells into such a mighty bulk as our Books doe. Those mindes are not alwaies the most chast that are most parturient with these learned Discourses, which too often bear upon them a foule stain of their unlaw­full propagation. A bitter juice of corrupt affections may sometimes be strain'd into the inke of our greatest Clerks, their Doctrines may tast too sowre of the cask they come through. We are not alwaies happy in meeting with that wholsome food (as some are wont to call the Doctrinal-part of Religion) which hath been dress'd out by the cleanest hands. Some men have too bad hearts to have good heads: they cannot be good at Theorie who have been so bad at the Practice, as we may justly fear too many of those from whom we are apt to take the Articles of our Belief have been. Whilst we plead so much our right to the patrimony of our Fathers, we may take too fast a possession of their Errors as well as of their sober opinions. There are Idola specûs, Innate Prejudices, and deceitfull Hy­potheses, that many times wander up and down in the Mindes of good men, that may flie out from them with their graver determinations. We can never be well assur'd what our Traditional Divinity is; nor can we securely enough addict our selves to any Sect of men. That which was the Philosopher's motto, [...], we may a little enlarge, and so fit it for an ingenuous pursuer after di­vine Truth: He that will finde Truth, must seek it with a free judgment, and a sanctified minde: he that thus seeks, shall finde; he shall live in Truth, and that shall live in him; it shall be like a stream of living waters issuing out of his own Soule; he shall drink of [Page 13] the waters of his own cisterne, and be satisfied; he shall every morning finde this Heavenly Manna lying upon the top of his own Soule, and be fed with it to eternal life; he will finde satisfaction within, feeling himself in conjunction with Truth, though all the World should dispute against him.

SECTION II.

AND thus I should again leave this Argument, but that perhaps we may all this while have seemed to undermine what we intend to build up. For if Divine Truth spring onely up from the Root of true Goodness; how shall we ever endeavour to be good, before we know what it is to be so? or how shall we convince the gainsaying world of Truth, un­less we could also inspire Vertue into it?

To both which we shall make this Reply, That there are some Radical Principles of Knowledge that are so deeply sunk into the Souls of men, as that the Impres­sion cannot easily be obliterated, though it may be much darkned. Sensual baseness doth not so grosly sully and bemire the Souls of all Wicked men at first, as to make them with Diagoras to deny the Deity, or with Protagoras to doubt of, or with Diodorus to que­stion the Immortality of Rational Souls. Neither are the Common Principles of Vertue so pull'd up by the roots in all, as to make them so dubious in stating the bounds of Vertue and Vice as Epicurus was, though he could not but sometime take notice of them. Neither is the Retentive power of Truth so weak and loose in all Sce­pticks, as it was in him, who being well scourg'd in the [Page 14] streets till the blood ran about him, question'd when he came home, whether he had been beaten or not. Arrianus hath well observed, That the Common Noti­ons of God and Vertue imprest upon the Souls of men, are more clear and perspicuous then any else; and that if they have not more certainty, yet have they more evidence, and display themselves with less difficulty to our Reflexive Faculty then any Geometrical De­monstrations: and these are both availeable to pre­scribe out waies of Vertue to mens own souls, and to force an acknowledgment of Truth from those that oppose, when they are well guided by a skilfull hand. Truth needs not any time flie from Reason, there be­ing an Eternal amitie between them. They are onely some private Dogmata, that may well be suspected as spurious and adulterate, that dare not abide the tryall thereof. And this Reason is not every where so ex­tinguish'd, as that we may not by that enter into the Souls of men. What the Magnetical virtue is in these earthly Bodies, that Reason is in mens Mindes, which when it is put forth, draws them one to another. Be­sides in wicked men there are sometimes Distasts of Vice, and Flashes of love to Vertue; which are the Motions which spring from a true Intellect, and the faint struglings of an Higher life within them, which they crucifie again by their wicked Sensuality. As Truth doth not alwaies act in good men, so neither doth Sense alwaies act in wicked men: they may sometimes have their lucida intervalla, their sober fits; and a Divine spirit blowing and breathing upon them may then blow up some live sparks of true Under­standing within them; though they may soon endea­vour to quench them again, and to rake them up in the ashes of their own earthly thoughts.

[Page 15] All this, and more that might be said upon this Ar­gument, may serve to point out the VVay of Vertue. We want not so much Means of knowing what we ought to doe, as Wills to doe that which we may know. But yet all that Knowledge which is separated from an inward acquaintance with Vertue and Goodness, is of a far different nature from that which ariseth out of a true living sense of them, which is the best discerner thereof, and by which alone we know the true Perfe­ction, Sweetness, Energie, and Loveliness of them, and all that which is [...], that which can no more be known by a naked Demonstration, then Colours can be perceived of a blinde man by any Defi­nition or Description which he can hear of them.

And further, the clearest and most distinct Notions of Truth that shine in the Souls of the common sort of men, may be extreamly clouded, if they be not ac­companied with that answerable practice that might preserve their integrity: These tender Plants may soon be spoyl'd by the continual droppings of our cor­rupt affections upon them; they are but of a weak and feminine nature, and so may be sooner deceived by that wily Serpent of Sensuality that harbours within us.

While the Soul is [...], full of the Body, while we suffer those Notions and Common Principles of Religion to lie asleep within us; that [...], the power of an Animal life, will be apt to in­corporate and mingle it self with them; and that Rea­son that is within us, as Plotinus hath well express'd it, becomes more and more [...], it will be infected with those evil Opini­ons that arise from our Corporeal life. The more deeply our Souls dive into our Bodies, the more will Reason and Sensuality run one into another, and make [Page 16] up a most dilute, unsavourie, and muddie kinde of Knowledge. We must therefore endeavour more and more to withdraw our selves from these Bodily things, to set our Souls as free as may be from its miserable slavery to this base Flesh: we must shut the Eyes of Sense, and open that brighter Eye of our Understand­ings, that other Eye of the Soul, as the Philosopher calls our Intellectual Faculty, [...], which indeed all have, but few make use of it. This is the way to see clearly; the light of the Divine World will then begin to fall upon us, and those sa­cred [...], those pure Coruscations of Immortal and Ever-living Truth will shine out into us, and in Gods own light shall we behold him. The fruit of this Knowledge will be sweet to our tast, and pleasant to our palates, sweeter then the hony or the hony-comb. The Priests of Mercury, as Plutarch tells us, in the eat­ing of their holy things, were wont to cry out [...], Sweet is Truth. But how sweet and delicious that Truth is which holy and heaven-born Souls feed upon in their mysterious converses with the Deity, who can tell but they that tast it? When Reason once is raised by the mighty force of the Divine Spirit into a converse with God, it is turn'd into Sense: That which before was onely Faith well built upon sure Principles, (for such our Science may be) now becomes Vision. We shall then converse with God [...], whereas before we convers'd with him onely [...] with our Discur­sive faculty, as the Platonists were wont to distinguish. Before we laid hold on him onely [...], with a strugling, Agonistical, and contentious Reason, hotly combating with difficulties and sharp contests of divers opinions, & labouring in it self, in its deductions of one thing from another; we shall then fasten our [Page 17] minds upon him [...], with such a serene Understanding, [...], such an Intellectual calm­ness and serenity as will present us with a blissful, steady, and invariable sight of him.

SECTION III.

AND now if you please, setting aside the Epicu­rean herd of Brutish men, who have drowned all their own sober Reason in the deepest Lethe of Sensuality, we shall divide the rest of Men into these Four ranks, according to that Method which Simpli­cius upon Epictetus hath already laid out to us, with a respect to a Fourfold kinde of Knowledge, which we have all this while glanced at.

The First whereof is [...] 1. [...], or, if you will, [...], that Complex and Multifarious man that is made up of Soul & Body, as it were by a just equality and Arithmetical propor­tion of Parts and Powers in each of them. The know­ledge of these men I should call [...] in Plu­tarch's phrase; a Knowledge wherein Sense and Rea­son are so twisted up together, that it cannot easily be unravel'd, and laid out into its first principles. Their highest Reason is [...] complying with their senses, and both conspire together in vulgar opi­nion. To these that Motto which the Storcks have made for them may very well agree, [...], their life being steer'd by nothing else but Opinion and Imagination. Their higher notions of God and Reli­gion are so entangled with the Birdlime of fleshly Pas­sions and mundane Vanity, that they cannot rise up [Page 18] above the surface of this dark earth, or easily entertain any but earthly conceptions of heavenly things. Such Souls as are here lodg'd, as Plato speaks, are [...] heavy behinde, and are continually pressing down to this world's centre: and though, like the Spider, they may appear sometime moving up and down aloft in the aire, yet they doe but sit in the loome, and move in that web of their own gross fansies, which they fasten and pin to some earthly thing or other.

The Second is [...], The man that looks at himself as being what he 2. is rather by his Soul then by his Body; that thinks not fit to view his own face in any other Glass but that of Reason and Understanding; that reckons upon his Soul as that which was made to rule, his Body as that which was born to obey, and like an handmaid perpetually to wait upon his higher and nobler part. And in such an one the Communes notitiae, or common Principles of Vertue and Goodness, are more clear and steady. To such an one we may allow [...], more clear and distinct Opinions, as being already [...], in a Method or course of Purgation, or at least fit to be initiated into the Mysteria minora the les­ser Mysteries of Religion. For though these Innate notions of Truth may be but poor, empty, and hungry things of themselves, before they be fed and fill'd with the practice of true Vertue; yet they are capable of being impregnated, and exalted with the Rules and Precepts of it. And therefore the Stoick suppos'd [...], that the doctrine of Political and Moral vertues was fit to be de­livered to such as these; and though they may not be so well prepared for Divine Vertue (which is of an higher Emanation) yet they are not immature for Hu­mane, [Page 19] as having the Seeds of it already within them­selves, which being water'd by answerable practice, may sprout up within them.

The Third is [...], He 3. whose Soule is already purg'd by this lower sort of Vertue, and so is continually flying off from the Body and Bodily passion, and returning into himself. Such in S. Peter's language are those who have escaped the pol­lutions which are in the world through lust. To these we may attribute a [...], a lower degree of Sci­ence, their inward sense of Vertue and moral Goodness being far transcendent to all meer Speculative opinions of it. But if this Knowledge settle here, it may be quickly apt to corrupt. Many of our most refined Moralists may be, in a worse sense then Plotinus means, [...], full with their own pre­gnancy; their Souls may too much heave and swell with the sense of their own Vertue and Knowledge: there may be an ill Ferment of Self-love lying at the bottome, which may puffe it up the more with Pride, Arrogance, and Self-conceit. These forces with which the Divine bounty supplies us to keep a stronger guard against the evil Spirit, may be abus'd by our own rebel­lious Pride, enticing of them from their allegiance to Heaven, to strengthen it self in our Souls, and fortifie them against Heaven: like that supercilious Stoick, who when he thought his Minde well arm'd and ap­pointed with Wisdome and Vertue, cry'd out, Sapiens contendet cum ipso Jove de felicitate. They may make an aiery heaven of these, and wall it about with their own Self-flattery, and then sit in it as Gods, as Cosroes the Persian king was sometime laughed at for enshri­ning himself in a Temple of his own. And therefore if this Knowledge be not attended with Humility and a [Page 20] deep sense of Self-penury and Self-emptiness, we may easily fall short of that True Knowledge of God which we seem to aspire after. We may carry such an Image and Species of our Selves constantly before us, as will make us lose the clear sight of the Divinity, and be too apt to rest in a meer Logical life (it's Simplicius his ex­pression) without any true participation of the Divine life, if we doe not (as many doe, if not all, who rise no higher) relapse and slide back by vain-glory, popula­rity, or such like vices, into some mundane and exter­nall Vanity or other.

The fourth is [...], The true Me­taphysical 4. and Contemplative man, [...], who running and shooting up above his own Logical or Self-rational life, pierceth into the Highest life: Such a one, who by Universal Love and Holy affection abstra­cting himself from himselfe, endeavours the nearest Union with the Divine Essence that may be, [...], as Plotinus speaks; knitting his owne centre, if he have any, unto the centre of Divine Being. To such an one the Platonists are wont to attribute [...] a true Divine wisedome, powerfully displaying it self [...] in an Intellectual life, as they phrase it. Such a Knowledge they say is alwaies pregnant with Divine Vertue, which ariseth out of an happy Union of Souls with God, and is nothing else but a living Imi­tation of a Godlike prefection drawn out by a strong servent love of it. This Divine Knowledge [...] &c. as Plotinus speaks, makes us amo­rous of Divine beauty, beautifull and lovely; and this Divine Love and Purity reciprocally exalts Divine Knowledge; both of them growing up together like that [...] and [...] that Pausanias sometimes speaks [Page 21] of. Though by the Platonists leave such a Life and Knowledge as this is, peculiarly belongs to the true and sober Christian who lives in Him who is Life it self, and is enlightned by Him who is the Truth it self, and is made partaker of the Divine Unction, and knoweth all things, as S. John speaks. This Life is nothing else but God's own breath within him, and an Infant-Christ (if I may use the expression) formed in his Soul, who is in a sense [...], the shining forth of the Father's glory. But yet we must not mistake, this Knowledge is but here in its Infancy; there is an high­er knowledge or an higher degree of this knowledge that doth not, that cannot, descend upon us in these earthly habitations. We cannot here see [...] in Speculo lucido; here we can see but in a glass, and that darkly too. Our own Imaginative Powers, which are perpetually attending the highest acts of our Souls, will be breathing a grosse dew upon the pure Glasse of our Understandings, and so fully and besmear it, that we cannot see the Image of the Divinity sin­cerely in it. But yet this Knowledge being a true hea­venly fire kindled from God's own Altar, begets an un­daunted Courage in the Souls of Good men, & ena­bles them to cast a holy Scorn upon the poor petty trash of this Life in comparison with Divine things, and to pitty those poor brutish Epicureans that have nothing but the meer husks of fleshly pleasure to feed themselves with. This Sight of God makes pious Souls breath after that blessed time when Mortality shall be swallowed up of Life, when they shall no more behold the Divinity through those dark Mediums that eclipse the blessed Sight of it.

[Page] A SHORT DISCOURSE OF SUPERSTITION.

Clem. Alexandr. in Admon. ad Graec.

[...].

Hierocles in Pythag.

[...].

Lactantius de Vero cultu.

Hic verus est cultus, in quo mens colentis seipsam Deo immaculatam victimam sistit.

Ibid.

Nihil Sancta & singularis illa Majestas aliud ab homine desiderat, quam solam innocentiam: quam siquis ob­tulerit Deo, satis piè, satis religiosè litavit.

The Contents of the ensuing Discourse.

The true Notion of Superstition well express'd by [...], i. e. an over-timorous and dreadful appre­hension of the Deity.

A false Opinion of the Deity the true Cause and Rise of Superstition.

Superstition is most incident to such as Converse not with the Goodness of God, or are conscious to themselves of their own unlikeness to him.

Right apprehensions of God beget in man a Nobleness and Freedome of Soul.

Superstition, though it looks upon God as an angry Deity, yet it counts him easily pleas'd with flattering Worship.

Apprehensions of a Deity and Guilt meeting together are apt to excite Fear.

Hypocrites to spare their Sins seek out waies to compound with God.

Servile and Superstitious Fear is encreased by Ignorance of the certain Causes of Terrible Effects in Nature, &c. as also by frightful Apparitions of Ghosts and Spectres.

A further Consideration of Superstition as a Composition of Fear and Flattery.

A fuller Definition of Superstition, according to the Sense of the Ancients.

Superstition doth not alwaies appear in the same Form, but passes from one Form to another, and sometimes shrouds it self under Forms seemingly Spiritual and more refined.

Of SUPERSTITION.

HAving now done with what we propounded as a Preface to our following Discourses, we should now come to treat of the main Heads and Principles of Religion. But before we doe that, per­haps it may not be amiss to inquire into some of those [Page 26] Anti-Deities that are set up against it, the chief where­of are ATHEISM and SUPERSTITION; which in­deed may seeme to comprehend in them all kind of Apostasy and Praevarication from Religion. We shall not be over-curious to pry into such foule and rotten carkasses as these are too narrowly, or to make any subtile Anatomy of them; but rather enquire a litle into the Original and Immediate Causes of them; be­cause it may be they may be nearer of kin then we ordi­narily are aware of, while we see their Complexions to be so vastly different the one from the other.

And first of all for SUPERSTITION (to lay aside our Vulgar notion of it which much mistakes it) it is the same with that Temper of Mind which the Greeks call [...], (for so Tully frequently translates that word, though not so fitly and emphatically as he hath done some others:) It imports an overtimorous and dreadfull apprehension of the Deity; and therefore with Hesychius [...] and [...] are all one, and [...] is by him expounded [...], an Idolater, and also one that is very prompt to For so that word [...] must here si­gnifie; if in­deed it be not corrupted, and to be read [...], a word which some o­ther Lexico­graphers use in this case. worship the Gods, but withall fear­full of them. And therefore the true Cause and Rise of Superstition is indeed nothing else but a false opinion of the Deity, that renders him dreadfull and terrible, as being rigorous and imperious; that which represents him as austere and apt to be angry, but yet impotent, and easy to be appeased again by some flattering de­votions, especially if performed with sanctimonious shewes and a solemn sadness of Mind. And I wish that that Picture of God which some Christians have drawn of him, wherein Sowreness and Arbitrariness appear so much, doth not too much resemble it. According to this sense Plutarch hath well defined it in his Book [...] [Page 27] [...] in this manner, [...], a strong passionate Opinion, and such a Supposition as is productive of a fear debasing and terrifying a man with the represen­tation of the Gods as grievous and hurtfull to Mankind.

Such men as these converse not with the Goodness of God, and therefore they are apt to attribute their im­potent passions and peevishness of Spirit to him. Or it may be because some secret advertisements of their Consciences tell them how unlike they themselves are to God, and how they have provoked him; they are apt to be as much displeased with him as too troublesome to them, as they think he is displeased with them. They are apt to count this Divine Supremacy as but a piece of Tyranny that by its Soveraign Will makes too great encroachments upon their Liberties, and that which will eat up all their Right and Property; and therefore are slavishly afraid of him, [...], fearing Heaven's Monarchy as a severe and churlish Ty­ranny from which they cannot absolve themselves, as the same Author speaks: and therefore he thus discloseth the private whisperings of their minds, [...], &c. the broad gates of hell are opened, the rivers of fire and Stygian inundations run down as a swelling flood, there is thick darkness crouded together, dreadfull and gastly Sights of Ghosts screeching and howling, Judges and tormentors, deep gulfes and Abysses full of infinite miseries. Thus he. The Prophet Esay gives us this Epitome of their thoughts, chap. 33. The Sinners in Zion are afraid, fearfullness hath surpri­zed the hypocrites: who shall dwell with the devouring [Page 28] fire? who shall dwell with everlasting burnings? Though I should not dislike these dreadful & astonishing thoughts of future torment, which I doubt even good men may have cause to press home upon their own spirits, while they find Ingenuity less active, the more to re­strain sinne; yet I think it litle commends God, and as little benefits us, to fetch all this horror & astonish­ment from the Contemplations of a Deity, which should alwayes be the most serene and lovely: our ap­prehensions of the Deity should be such as might en­noble our Spirits, and not debase them. A right know­ledge of God would beget a freedome & Liberty of Soul within us, and not servility; [...], as Plutarch hath well observ'd; our thoughts of a Deity should breed in us hopes of Vertue, and not gender to a spirit of bondage.

But that we may pass on. Because this unnaturall resemblance of God as an angry Deity in impure minds, should it blaze too furiously, like the Basilisk would kill with its looks; therefore these Painters use their best arts a little to sweeten it, and render it less unplea­sing. And those that fancy God to be most hasty and apt to be displeased, yet are ready also to imagine him so impotently mutable, that his favour may be won again with their uncouth devotions, that he will be taken with their formall praises, and being thirsty after glory and praise & solemn addresses, may, by their pompous furnishing out all these for him, be won to a good liking of them: and thus they represent him to themselves as Lusian in his De Sacrifi­ciis speaks too truly, though it may be too profanely. [...]. And therefore Superstition will alwaies a­bound in these things whereby this Deity of their own, made after the similitude of men, may be most gratified, slavishly crouching to it. We will take a view of it in [Page 29] the words of Plutarch, though what refers to the Jews, if it respects more their Rites then their Manners, may seem to contain too hasty a censure of them. Supersti­tion brings in [...] wallowings in the dust, tumblings in the mire, observations of Sabbaths, prosternations, uncouth gestures, & strange rites of worship. Superstition is very apt to think that Heaven may be bribed with such false-hear­ted devotions; as Porphyrie hath well explain'd it by this, that it is Lib. 2. [...]. [...], an apprehension that a man may corrupt and bribe the Deity: which (as he there observes) was the Cause of all those bloudy sacrifices, and of some inhumane ones among the Heathen, men imagining [...] like him in the Prophet that thought by the fruit of his body and the firstlings of his flock to expiate the sinne of his Soul. Micah 6.

But it may be we may seeme all this while to have made too Tragicall a Description of Superstition; and indeed our Author whom we have all this while had re­course to seemes to have set it forth, as anciently Pain­ters were wont to doe those pieces in which they would demonstrate most their own skill; they would not content themselves with the shape of one Body onely, but borrowed severall parts from severall Bodies as might most fit their design and fill up the picture of that they desired chiefly to represent. Superstition it may be looks not so foul and deformed in every Soul that is dyed with it, as he hath there set it forth, nor doth it every where spread it self alike: this [...] that shrowds it self under the name of Religion, wil variously discover it self as it is seated in Minds of a various tem­per, and meets with variety of matter to exercise it self about.

[Page 30] We shall therefore a little further inquire into it, and what the Judgments of the soberest men anciently were of it; the rather for that a learned Author of our own seems unwilling to own that Notion of it which we have hitherto out of Plutarch and others contended for; who though he hath freed it from that gloss which the late Ages have put upon it, yet he may seem to have too strictly confined it to a Cowardly Worship of the ancient Gentile Daemons, as if Superstition and Polytheism were indeed the same thing, whereas Poly­theism or Daemon-worship is but one branch of it: which was partly observed by the learned Casaubon in his Notes upon that Chapter of Theophrastus [...], where it is describ'd to be [...], which he thus interprets, Theophrastus voce [...] & Deos & Daemones complexus est, & quicquid di­vinitatis esse particeps malesana putavit antiquitas. And in this sense it was truly observed by Petronius Arbiter,

Primus in orbe Deos fecit Timor—

The whole progeny of the ancient Daemons, at least in the Minds of the Vulgar, sprung out of Fear, and were supported by it: though notwithstanding, this Fear, when in a Being void of all true sense of Divine goodness, hath not escaped the censure of Superstition in Varro's judgment, whose Maxim it was, as S. Austin tells us, Deum à religioso vereri, à superstitioso timeri: which distinction Servius seems to have made use of in his Comment upon Virgil, Aeneid. 6. where the Poet describing the torments of the wicked in hell, he runs out into an Allegorical exposition of all, it may be too much in favour of Lucretius whom he there magnifies. His words are these, Ipse etiam Lucretius dicit per eos super quos jamjam casurus imminet lapis, Superstitiosos [Page 31] significari, qui inaniter semper verentur, & de Diis & Coelo & locis superioribus malè opinantur; nam Reli­giosi sunt qui per reverentiam timent.

But that we may the more fully unfold the Nature of this [...], and the Effects of it, which are not alwaies of one sort, we shall first premise something concer­ning the Rise of it.

The Common Notions of a Deity, strongly rooted in Mens Souls, and meeting with the apprehensions of Guiltiness, are very apt to excite this Servile fear: and when men love their own filthy lusts, that they may spare them, they are presently apt to contrive some other waies of appeasing the Deity and compounding with it. Unhallowed minds, that have no inward foun­dations of true Holiness to fix themselves upon, are easily shaken and tossed from all inward peace and tran­quillity: and as the thoughts of some Supreme power above them seize upon them, so they are struck with the lightning thereof into inward affrightments, which are further encreas'd by a vulgar observation of those strange, stupendious and terrifying Effects in Nature, whereof they can give no certain reason, as Earth­quakes, Thundrings and Lightnings, blazing Comets and other Meteors of a like Nature, which are apt to terrifie those especially who are already unsetled and chased with an inward sense of guilt, and, as Seneca speaks, inevitabilem metum ut supra nos aliquid time­remus incutiunt. Petronius Arbiter hath well described this business for us,

Primus in orbe Deos fecit Timor, ardua coelo
Fulmina cum caderent, discussaque moenia flammis,
Atque ictus flagraret Athos—

From hence it was that the Libri fulgurales of the Ro­manes, and other such like Volumes of Superstition, [Page 32] swelled so much, and that the pulvinaria Deorum were so often frequented, as will easily appear to any one a li­tle conversant in Livy, who every where sets forth this Devotion so largely, as if he himself had been too passi­onately in love with it.

And though as the Events in Nature began some­times to be found out better by a discovery of their im­mediate Natural Causes, so some particular pieces of Superstitious Customs were antiquated and grown out of date, (as is well observ'd concerning those Charms and Februations anciently in use upon the appearing of an Eclipse, and some others) yet often affrights and horrours were not so easily abated, while they were unacquainted with the Deity, and with the other my­sterious Events in Nature, which begot those Furies & unlucky Empusas, [...], in the weak minds of men. To all which we may adde the frequent Spectres and frightfull Apparitions of Ghosts and Mormos: all which extorted such a kind of Wor­ship from them as was most correspondent to such Cau­ses of it. And those Rites and Ceremonies which were begotten by Superstition, were again the unhappy Nurses of it; such as are well described by Plutarch in his De defect, Oracul. [...], &c. Feasts and Sacrifices, as likewise observations of unlucky and fatall dayes, celebrated with eating of raw things, lacera­tions, fastings, and howlings, and many times filthy Spee­ches in their sacred rites, and frantick behaviour.

But as we insinuated before, This Root of Supersti­tion diversely branched forth it self, sometimes into Magick and Exorcismes, other times into Paedanticall Rites and idle observations of Things and Times, as Theophrastus hath largely set them forth in his Tract [Page 33] [...] in others it displayed itself in in­venting as many new Deities as there were severall Causes from whence their affrights proceeded, and fin­ding out many [...] appropriate to them, as supposing they ought to be worshipt cum sacro horrore. And hence it is that we hear of those inhumane and Diabolicall sacrifices called [...], frequent among the old Heathens (as among many others Por­phyry in his De abstinentia hath abundantly related) and of those dead mens bones which our Ecclesiastick Writers tell us were found in their Temples at the de­molishing of them. Sometimes it would express itself in a prodigall way of sacrificing, for which Ammianus Marcellinus (an heathen Writer, but yet one who seems to have been well pleased with the simplicity and inte­grity of Christian Religion) taxeth Julian the Empe­rour for Superstition. Julianus, Superstitiosus magis quam legitimus sacrorum observator, innumeras sine par­simonia pecudes mactans, ut aestimaretur, si revertisset de Parthis, boves jam defuturos: like that Marcus Caesar, of whom he relates this common proverb, [...]. Besides many other ways might be named wherein Su­perstition might occasionally shew it self.

All which may best be understood, if we consider it a little in that Composition of Fear and Flattery which before we intimated: and indeed Flattery is most inci­dent to base and slavish minds; and where the fear and jealousy of a Deity disquiet à wanton dalliance with sin, and disturb the filthy pleasure of Vice, there this faw­ning and crouching disposition will find out devices to quiet an angry conscience within, and an offended God without, (though as men grow more expert in this cunning, these fears may in some degree abate.) This [Page 34] the ancient Philosophy hath well taken notice of, and therefore well defin'd [...] by [...], and useth these terms promiscuously. Thus we find Max. Tyrius in his Dissert. 4. concerning the difference be­tween a Friend and a Flatterer. [...]. The sense whereof is this, The Pious man is God's friend, the Superstitious is a flatterer of God: and indeed most happy and blest is the condition of the Pious Man, God's friend; but right miserable & sad is the state of the Superstitious. The Pious man, emboldned by a good Conscience and encouraged by the sense of his integrity, comes to God without fear and dread: but the Supersti­tious being sunk and deprest through the sense of his own wickedness, comes not without much fear, being void of all hope and confidence, and dreading the Gods as so many Tyrants. Thus Plato also sets forth this Superstitious temper, though he mentions it not under that name, but we may know it by a property he gives of it, viz. to collogue with Heaven, Lib. 10. de Legibus; where he di­stinguisheth of Three kinds of Tempers in reference to the Deity, which he there calls [...], which are, Totall Atheism, which he saies never abides with any man till his Old age; and Partial Atheism, which is a Negation of Providence; and a Third, which is a perswasion concerning the Gods [...], that they are easily wone by sacrifices and prayers, which he after explaines thus, [...], &c. that with gifts unjust men may find acceptance with them. And this Discourse of Plato's upon these three kinds of Irreligious [...] [Page 35] Simplicius seems to have respect to in his Comment upon Epictetus, cap. 38. which treats about Right Opi­nions in Religion; & there having pursued the two for­mer of them, he thus states the latter, which he calls [...] as well as the other two, as a conceit [...], quòd muneribus & donariis & stipis distributione à sententia deducuntur: such men making account by their devotions to draw the Deity to themselves, and winning the favour of Heaven, to procure such an in­dulgence to their lusts as no sober man on earth would give them; they in the mean while not considering [...], that Repentance, Supplications and Prayers, &c. ought to draw us nearer to God, not God nearer to us; as in a ship, by fastning a Cable to a firm Rock, we intend not to draw the Rock to the Ship, but the Ship to the Rock. Which last passage of his is therefore the more worthy to be taken notice of, as holding out so large an Extent that this Irreligious temper is of, and of how subtil a Nature. This fond and gross dealing with the Dei­ty was that which made the scoffing Lucian so much sport, who in his Treatise De sacrificiis tells a number of stories how the Daemons loved to be feasted, and where and how they were entertained, with such devotions which are rather used Magically as Charms and Spells for such as use them, to defend themselves against those Evils which their own Fears are apt perpetually to mu­ster up, and to endeavour by bribery to purchase Hea­ven's favour and indulgence, as Juvenal speaks of the Satyr. 6. Superstitious Aegyptian,

Illius lacrymae mentitaque munera praestant
Ut veniam culpae non abnuat, ansere magno
Scilicet & tenui popano corruptus Osiris.

[Page 36] Though all this while I would not be understood to condemn too severely all servile fear of God, if it tend to make men avoid true wickedness, but that which settles upon these lees of Formality.

To conclude, Were I to define Superstition more generally according to the ancient sense of it, I would call it Such an apprehension of God in the thoughts of men, as renders him grievous and burdensome to them, and so destroys all free and cheerfull converse with him; beget­ting in the stead thereof a forc'd and jejune devotion, void of inward Life and Love. It is that which discovers it self Paedantically in the worship of the Deity, in any thing that makes up but onely the Body or outward Ve­sture of Religion; though there it may make a mighty bluster: and because it comprehends not the true Di­vine good that ariseth to the Souls of men from an in­ternall frame of Religion, it is therefore apt to think that all it's insipid devotions are as so many Presents of­fered to the Deity and gratifications of him. How va­riously Superstition can discover & manifest itself, we have intimated before: To which I shall onely adde this, That we are not so well rid of Superstition, as some imagine when they have expell'd it out of their Churches, expunged it out of their Books and Wri­tings, or cast it out of their Tongues, by making Inno­vations in names (wherein they sometimes imitate those old Caunii that Herodotus speaks of, who that they might banish all the forrein Gods that had stollen in among them, took their procession through all their Country, beating & scourging the Aire along as they went;) No, for all this, Superstition may enter into our chambers, and creep into our closets, it may twine about our secret Devotions, & actuate our Formes of belief and Orthodox opinions, when it hath no place [Page 37] else to shroud itself or hide its head in; we may think to flatter the Deity by these, and to bribe it with them, when we are grown weary of more pompous solemni­ties: nay it may mix it self with a seeming Faith in Christ; as I doubt it doth now in too many, who lay­ing aside all sober and serious care of true Piety, think it sufficient to offer up their Saviour, his Active and Passive Righteousness, to a severe and rigid Justice, to make expiation for those sins they can be willing to al­low themselves in.

[Page] A SHORT DISCOURSE OF ATHEISM.

Job 21. 14, 15.

They say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy waies. What is the Almighty that we should serve him? and what profit should we have if we pray unto him?

Plutarchus [...].

[...].

Plutarch. [...].

[...].

The Contents of the ensuing Discourse.

That there is a near Affinity between Atheism and Su­perstition.

That Superstition doth not onely prepare the way for Atheism, but promotes and strengthens it.

That Epicurism is but Atheism under a mask.

A Confutation of Epicurus his Master-notion, together with some other pretences and Dogmata of his Sect.

The true knowledge of Nature is advantageous to Re­ligion.

That Superstition is more tolerable then Atheism.

That Atheism is both ignoble and uncomfortable.

What low and unworthy Notions the Epicureans had con­cerning Man's Happiness: and What trouble they were put to How to define, and Where to place true Happi­nesse.

A true belief of a Deity supports the Soul with a present Tranquillity and future Hopes.

Were it not for a Deity, the World would be unhabitable.

A SHORT DISCOURSE OF ATHEISM.

WE have now done with what we intended concerning Superstition, and shall a little consider and search into the Pedigree of A­THEISM, which indeed hath so much af­finity with Superstition that it may seem to have the same Father with it. [...]. Superstition could be well con­tent [Page 42] there were no God to trouble or disquiet it, and Atheism thinks there is none. And as Superstition is engendred by a base opinion of the Deity as cruell and tyrannicall (though it be afterwards brooded and hatcht by a slavish fear and abject thoughts) so also is Atheism: and that sowre and ghastly apprehension of God, when it meets with more stout and surly Na­tures, is apt to enrage them, and cankering them with Malice against the Deity they so little brook, pro­vokes them to fight against it and undermine the No­tion of it; as this Plastick Nature which intends to form Living creatures, when it meets with stubborn and unruly Matter, is fain to yield to it, and to produce that which answers not her own Idea; whence the Si­gnatures and impressions of Nature sometimes vary so much from that Seal that Nature would have stamp'd upon them. [...]. If these Melancholick Opinions and disquieting Fears of the Deity mould not the Minds of men into Devotion, as finding them too churlish and untameable to receive any such impressions; they are then apt to exasperate men against it, and stir them up to contend with that Being which they cannot bear, and to destroy that which would deprive them of their own Liberty. These unreasonable fears of a Deity will alwaies be moving into Flattery or Wrath. Atheism could never have so easily crept into the world, had not Superstition made way and open'd a Back-door for it; it could not so ea­sily have banish'd the Belief of a Deity, had not that first accused and condemn'd it as destructive to the Peace of Mankind; and therefore it hath alwaies justi­fied and defended it self by Superstition: as Plutarch hath well exprest it, [...] [Page 43] [...], Superstition afforded the principle of Generation to Atheism, and afterwards furnish'd it with an Apology, which though it be neither true nor lovely, yet wants it not a specious pretence. And therefore Simplicius (as we heard before) calls the Notion of Superstition [...], as having an ill savour of Atheism in it, seeing (as he gives an account of it) it disrobes the Deity of true Majesty and Perfection, and represents it as weak and infirme, cloth'd with such fond, feeble and impotent passions as men themselves are. And Dionysius Longi­nus, that noble Rhetorician, fears not to challenge Homer as Atheisticall for his unsavoury language of the Gods, which indeed was only the Brat of his Supersti­tion. If the Superstitious man thinks that God is alto­gether like himself (which indeed is a character most proper to such) the Atheist will soon say in his heart, There is no God; and will judge it not without some appearance of Reason to be better there were none; as Plutarch hath discours'd it, [...]; Were it not better for the Gaules and Scythians, not to have had any Notion, fansy or History of the Gods, then to think them such as de­lighted in the Blood of men offered up in sacrifices upon their Altars, as reckoning this the most perfect kind of Sacrifice and consummate Devotion? For thus his words are to be translated in reference to those ancient Gauls and Scythians, whom almost all Histories testifie to have been [...] which horrid and monstrous Superstition was anciently very frequent among the [Page 45] Heathen, and was sharply taxed by Empedocles of old,

[...]
[...]

This made Lucretius cry out with so much indignation, when he took notice of Agamemnon's Diabolicall de­votion in sacrificing his Daughter Iphigenia to make expiation at his Trojan Expedition, Tantum Relligio po­tuit suadere malorum. And indeed what sober man could brook such an esteem of himself as this blinde Superstition (which overspread the Heathen world and (I doubt) is not sufficiently rooted out of the Christian) fastned upon God himself? which made Plutarch so much in defiance of it cry out, as willing almost to be an Atheist as to entertain the Vulgar Superstition, As for me (saith he) I had rather men should say that there is no such man nor ever was as Plutarch, then to say that he is or was [...], an inconstant fickle man, apt to be angry, and for every trifle revenge­full, &c. as he goes on farther to expresse this Blas­phemy of Superstition.

But it may not be amisse to learn from Atheists themselves what was the Impulsive cause that mov'd them to banish away all thoughts and sober fear of a Deity, what was the Principle upon which this black Opinion was built and by which it was sustein'd. And this we may have from the confessions of the Epicu­reans, who though they seemed to acknowledg a Dei­ty, yet I doubt not but those that search into their Writings will soon embrace Tully's censure of them, Verbis quidem ponunt, reipsa tollunt Deos. Indeed it was not safe for Epicurus (though he had a good mind to let the World know how little he cared for their Deities) [Page 46] to profess he believed there was none, lest he should have met with the same entertainment for it that Pro­tagoras did at Athens, who for declaring himself doubt­full [...], was himself put to Death, and his books burnt in the streets of Athens, [...] sub voce Praeconis, as Diogenes Laertius and others record: and indeed the world was never so degenera­ted any where as to suffer Atheism to appear in pub­lick View.

But that we may return, and take the Confessions a little of these secret Atheists of the Epicurean sect: and of these Tully gives us a large account in his Books de Finibus and other parts of his Philosophy. Torquatus the Epicurean in his first book de Finibus liberally spends his breath to cool that too-much heat of Re­ligion, as he thought, in those that could not apprehend God as any other then curiosum & plenum negotii Deum (as one of that Sect doth phrase it Lib. 1. de Nat. Deor.) and so he states this Maxim of the Religion that then was most in use, Superstitione qui est imbutus, quietus esse nunquam potest. By the way, it may be worth our observing, how this monstrous progeny of men, when they would seem to acknowledge a Deity, could not forget their own beloved Image which was always before their eyes; and therefore they would have it as careless of any thing but its own pleasure and idle life as they themselves were. So easy is it for all Sects some way or other to slide into a compliance with the Anthropomorphitae, and to bring down the Deity to a conformity to their own Image.

But we shall rather chuse a litle to examine Lucretius in this point, who hath in the name of all his Sect largely told us the Rise and Originall of this Design. After a short Ceremony to his following Discourse of [Page 46] Nature, he thus begins his Prologue in commendation of Epicurus his exploit, as he fancies it.

Humana ante oculos foedè cùm vita jaceret,
In terris oppressa gravi sub Relligione,
Quae caput è coeli regionibus ostendebat
Horribili aspectu semper mortalibus instans;
Primùm Graius homo mortales tendere contra
Est oculos ausus, primúsque obsistere contra:
Quem nec fama Deûm, nec Fulmina, nec minitanti
Murmure compressit Coelum—

And a little after in a sorry Ovation, proudly cries out,

Quare Relligio pedibus subjecta vicissim
Obteritur; nos exaequat victoria coelo.

But to proceed; Our Author observing the timorous minds of men to have been struck with this dreadful Superstition from the observation of some stupendious Effects and Events (as he pleaseth rather to call them) in Nature; he therefore, following herein the steps of his great Master Epicurus, undertakes so to solve all those knots which Superstition was tied up into, by unfolding the Secrets of Nature, as that men might find themselves loosned from those saevi Domini and crude­les Tyranni, as he calls the vulgar Creeds of the Deity. And so begins with a simple Confutation of the Opi­nion of the Creation, which he supposed to contein a sure and sensible Demonstration of a Deity, and to have sprung up from an admiring ignorance of Natural productions.

Quippe ità Formido mortales continet omnes,
Lib. 1.
Quod multa in terris fieri coelòque tuentur,
Quorum operum Causas nullâ ratione videre
Possunt, ac fieri Divino numine rentur.

And towards the end of this first Book,

[Page 47]
Primùm quòd magnis doceo de rebus, & arctis
Relligionum animos nodis exsolvere pergo.

But herein all the Epicureans (who are not the true, but foster-fathers of that Natural Philosophy they brag of, and which indeed Democritus was the first Author of) doe miserably blunder themselves. For though a lawful acquaintance with all the Events and Phaenomena that shew themselves upon this mundane stage would contri­bute much to free mens Minds from the slavery of dull Superstition: yet would it also breed a sober & amiable Belief of the Deity, as it did in all the Pythagoreans, Pla­tonists and other Sects of Philosophers, if we may be­lieve themselves; and an ingenuous knowledge hereof would be as fertile with Religion, as the ignorance thereof in affrighted and base Minds is with Superstition.

For which purpose I shall need onely to touch upon Epicurus his master-notion by which he undertakes to salve all difficulties that might hold our thoughts in suspence about a [...], or a Creator, which is that Plenum (which is all one with Corpus) and Inane, that this Body (which in his Philosophy is nothing else but an Infinity of Insensible Atomes moving to and fro in an Empty Space) is, together with that Space in which it is, sufficient to beget all those Phaenomena which we see in Nature. Which however it might be true, Motion being once granted, yet herein Tully hath well scotcht the wheel of this over-hasty Philosophy, Lib. 1. de Fi­nibus, Cùm in Rerum natura duo sint quaerenda, unum, quae Materia sit ex qua quaeque res efficiatur; alterum, quae Vis sit quae quidque efficiat: de Materia disseruerunt Epicurei; Vim & causam efficiendi reliquerunt. Which is as much as if some conceited piece of Sophistry should go about to prove that an Automaton had no dependen­cy upon the skill of an Artificer, by descanting upon [Page 48] the several parts of it, without taking notice in the mean-while of some external Weight or Spring that moves it: or, to use his own Similitude, as if one that undertakes to Analyse any Learned Book, should tell us how so many Letters meeting together in several Combinations, should beget all that sense that is con­teined therein, without minding that Wit that cast them all into their several Ranks. And this made A­ristotle, otherwise not over-zealous of Religion, soberly to acknowledge some First mover, [...].

And yet could we allow Epicurus this power of Mo­tion to be seated in Nature, yet that he might perform the true task of a Naturalist, he must also give us an ac­count how such a force and power in Nature should sub­sist: which indeed is easy to doe, if we call in [...], God himself as the Architect and mover of this Divine Artifice; but without some Infinite power, impossible.

And we should further inquire, How these moveable & rambling Atomes come to place themselves so orderly in the Universe, and observe that absolute Harmony & Decorum in all their Motions, as if they kept time with the Musical laws of some Almighty Mind that com­pos'd all their lessons & measured out their Dances up and down in the Universe; and also how it comes to pass, if they be only mov'd by Chance & Accident, that such Regular mutations and generations should be be­gotten by a fortuitous concurse of Atomes, as sometimes they speak of, they having no centre to seat themselves about in an infinite Vacuity, as Tully argues; and how these Bodies that are once mov'd by some impulse from their former station, return again, or at least come to stay themselves, and doe not rather move perpe­tually [Page 49] the same way the First impulse and direction carried them; or why they doe not there rest where their Motion first began to cease, if they were in­terrupted by any thing without them: or again, if the proper motion of these Atomes be alwaies toward some Centre, as Epicurus sometimes is pleased to state the business, Lineis Rectis, as he saith, then how comes there, as Tully replies, to be any Generation? or if there be a Motus declinationis joyn'd with this Motion of Gravity (which was one of Epicurus his [...] which he borrowed not from Democritus) then why should not all tend the same way? and so all those Motions, Generations and Appearances in Nature all vanish, seeing all Variety of Motion would be taken away which way soever this unhallowed Opinion be stated?

Thus we see, though we should allow Epicurus his Principle and fundamental absurdity in the frame of Nature, yet it is too aiery and weak a thing to support that massie bulk of Absurdities which he would build upon it. But it was not the lot of any of his stamp to be over-wise (however they did boast most in the title of Sophi) as is well observed of them; for then they might have been so happy too as to have dispelled these thick and filthy mists of Atheism, by those bright beams of Truth that shine in the frame of this inferiour world, wherein, as S. Paul speaks, the [...] is made manifest.

Atheism most commonly lurks in confinio scientiae & ignorantiae; when the Mindes of men begin to draw those gross, earthly vapours of sensuall and materiall Speculations by dark and cloudy disputes, they are then most in danger of being benighted in them. There is a Natural Sense of God that lodges in the [Page 50] minds of the lowest and dullest sort of vulgar men, which is alwaies roving after him, catching at him, though it cannot lay any sure hold on him; which works like a natural Instinct antecedent to any mature know­ledge, as being indeed the First principle of it: and if I were to speak precisely in the mode of the Stoicks, I would rather call it [...] then with Plu­tarch [...]. But when contentious disputes, and frothy reasonings, and contemplations informed by fleshly affections, conversant onely about the out-side of Nature, begin to rise up in mens Soules; they may then be in some danger of depressing all those In-bred notions of a Deity, and to reason themselves out of their own sense, as the old Scepticks did: and therefore it may be it might be wish'd that some men that have not Religion, had had more Superstition to accompany them in their passage from Ignorance to Know­ledge.

But we have run out too farre in this Digression: we shall now return, and observe how our former Author takes notice of another piece of Vulgar Superstition, which he thinks fit to be chas'd away by Atheism, and that is The terrours of the world to come, which he thus sets upon in his Third book,

—Animi natura videtur
Atque Animae claranda meis jam versibus esse,
Et metus ille for as praeceps Acheruntis agendus
Funditus, humanam vitam qui turbat ab imo,
Omnia suffundens mortis nigrore—

And afterwards he tells us how this Fear of the Gods thus proceeding from the former Causes, and from those Spectres and gastly Apparitions with which men were sometimes terrified, begat all those Fantastick rites and ceremonies in use amongst them, as their [Page 51] Temples, sacred Lakes and Pools, their Groves, Al­tars, Images, and other like Vanities, as so many idle toyes to please these Deities with; and at last con­cludes himself thus into Atheism, as a strong Fort to preserve himself from these cruel Deities that Super­stition had made, because he could not find the way to true Religion,

Nunc quae sausa Deûm per magnas numina gentes
Lib. 5.
Pervulgarit, & ararum compleverit urbes,
Suscipiendáque curarit solennia sacra,
Quae nunc in magnis florent rebúsque locìsque;
Unde etiam nunc est mortalibus insitus horror
Qui delubra Deûm nova toto suscitat orbi
Terrarum, & in festis cogit celebrare diebus;
Non ità difficile est rationem reddere verbis.

Thus we see how Superstition strengthened the wicked hands of Atheism; so far is a Formal and Ritual way of Religion proceeding from baseness and Servility of Mind (though back'd with never so much rigour and severity) from keeping it out. And I wish some of our Opinions in Religion in these dayes may not have the same evil influences as the notorious Gentile-Su­perstition of old had, as well for the begetting this brat of Atheism, as I doubt it is too manifest they have for some other.

Thus we should now leave this Argument; only be­fore we passe from it, we shall observe two things which Plutarch hath suggested to us. The first whereof is, That howsoever Superstition be never so unlovely a thing, yet it is more tolerable then Atheism: which I shall repeat in his words, Lib. [...]. [...], We should endeavor to take off Su­perstition [Page 52] from our Mindes, as a Film from our Eyes; but if that cannot be, we must not therefore pluck out our Eyes, and blind the faith that generally we have of the Deity. Superstition may keep men from the outward acts of sin sometimes, and so their future punishment may have some abatement. Besides that Atheism offers the greatest violence to mens Souls that may be, pulling up the Notions of a Deity, which have spread their Roots quite through all the Powers of mens Souls.

The second is this, That Atheism it self is a most ignoble and uncomfortable thing, as Tully hath largely discussed it, and especially Plutarch in the above-named Tractate of his, written by way of Confutation of Co­lotes the Epicurean, who writ a Book to prove That a man could not live quietly by following any other sects of Philosophers besides his owne; as if all true good were onely conversant [...], about the belly, and all the pores and passa­ges of the Body, and the way to true happinesse was [...], or else [...], as Plutarch hath not more wittily then judiciously replied upon him.

What is all that Happiness that arifeth from these bodily pleasures to any one that hath any high or noble sense within him? This gross, muddy, and stupid Opi­nion is nothing else but a Dehonestamentum humani generis, that casts as great a scorn and reproach upon the nature of mankind as may be, and sinks it into the deepest Abysse of Baseness. And certainly were the Highest happiness of mankind such a thing as might be felt by a corporeal touch, were it of so ignoble a birth as to spring out of this earth, and to grow up out of this mire and clay; we might well sit down, and be­wail our unhappy fates, that we should rather be born [Page 53] Men then Brute beasts, which enjoy more of this worlds happiness then we can doe, without any sin or guilt. How little of Pleasure these short lives tast here, which onely lasts so long as the Indigency of nature is in supplying, and after that, onely [...], a flying shadow, or flitting dreame of that pleasure (which is choak'd as soon as craving Nature is satis­fied) remains in the Fancy, [...], as Plutarch hath well observed in the same Dis­course!

And therefore Epicurus seeing how slippery the Soule was to all Sensual pleasure, which was apt to slide away perpetually from it, and again how little of it the Body was capable of where it had a shorter stay; he and his followers could not well tell where to place this beggarly guest: and therefore, as Plutarch speaks, [...], one while they would place it in the Body, and then lead it back again into the Soul, not knowing where to bestow it. And Diodorus, and the Cyreniaci, and the Epicureans, as Tully tells us, who all could fancy nothing but a Bodily happiness, yet could not agree whether it should be Voluptas, or Vacuitas doloris, or something else; it being ever found so hard a thing to define, like that base Matter of which it is begotten, which by reason of it's penurie & scantness of Beings as Philosophers tell us, doth effu­gere intellectum, and is nothing else but a shady kinde of Nothing, something that hath a name but nothing else. I dare say that all those that have any just esteem of humanity, cannot but with a noble scorn defy such a base-born Happiness as this is, generated onely out of the slime of this earth: and yet this is all the portion of Atheism, which teaches the entertainers of it to be­lieve [Page 54] themselves nothing else but so many Heapes of more refined dust, fortuitously gathered together, which at last must be all blown away again.

But a true Belief of a Deity is a sure Support to all serious minds, which besides the future hopes it is pre­gnant with, entertains them here with Tranquillity and inward serenity. What the Stoick said in his cool and mature thoughts, [...], it is not worth the while to live in a world empty of God and Providence, is the sense of all those that know what a Deity means. Indeed it were the grea­test unhappiness that might be, to have been born in­to such a world, where we should be perpetually tossed up and down by a rude and blind Fortune, and be per­petually liable to all those abuses which the savage Lusts and Passions of the world would put upon us. It is not possible for any thing well to bear up the spirit of that man that shall calmly meditate with him­self the true state and condition of this world, should that Mind and Wisedome be taken away from it which governs every part of it, and overrules all those disor­ders that at any time begin to break forth in it. Were there not an Omniscient skill to temper, and fitly to rank up in their due places all those quarrelsome and extravagant spirits that are in the world, it would soon prove an unhabitable place, and sink under the heavy weight of it's own confusion; which was wittily signi­fied in that Fable of Phaeton, who being admitted to drive the chariot of the Sun but for one day, by his rude and unskilful guidance of it made it fall down, and burn the world. Remove God and Providence out of the world, and then we have nothing to depend upon but Chance and Fortune, the Humours and Passions of men; and he that could then live in it, had need be as [Page 55] blind as these Lords would be, that he might not see his own misery alwaies staring upon him; and had need be more sensless and stupid, that he might not be affected with it.

Psal. 10. 4.‘The wicked through the pride of his countenance will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.’Ecclus 23. 4.‘O Lord, Father and God of my life, give me not a proud look; but turn away from thy servants a [...]. Sic Edit. Complut. Giant-like minde.’

[Page] A Discourse demonstrating THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL.

Phocylides.

[...].

Epicharmus apud Clem. Alex. Strom. 4.

[...].

Plotin. Ennead. 4. l. 4. c. 45.

[...].

Hierocl. in Pythag. aur. carm.

[...].

A DISCOURSE OF THE Immortality of the Soul.

CHAP. I.

The First and main Principles of Religion, viz. 1. That God is. 2. That God is a rewarder of them that seek him: Wherein is included the Great Article of the Immortality of the Soul. These two Principles ac­knowledged by religious and serious persons in all Ages. 3. That God communicates himself to mankind by Christ. The Doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul discoursed of in the first place, and why?

HAving finish'd our two short Discourses concerning those two Anti-Deities, viz. Superstition and Atheism; we shall now proceed to discourse more largely con­cerning the maine Heads and Principles of Religion.

And here we are to take Notice of those two Cardi­nal points which the Author of the Epistle to the He­brews makes the necessary Foundations of all Religion, viz. That God is, and That He is a rewarder of them that seek him. To which we should adde, The Immor­tality of the Reasonable Soul, but that that may seem in­cluded in the former: and indeed we can neither be­lieve any Invisible reward of which he there speaks, [Page 60] without a Prolepsis of the Soul's Immortality; neither can we entertain a serious belief of that, but the notions of Poena and Praemium will naturally follow from it; we never meet with any who were perswaded of the for­mer, that ever doubted of the latter: and therefore the former two have been usually taken alone for the First principles of Religion, and have been most insisted upon by the Platonists; and accordingly a novel Pla­tonist writing a Summary of Plato's Divinity, intitles his book, De Deo & Immortalitate Animae. And also the Stoical Philosophy requires a belief of these as the Prolepses of all Religion, of the one whereof Cap. 38. Epictetus himself assures us, [...], &c. Know that the main Foundation of Piety is this, to have [...] right opinions and apprehensions of God, viz. That he is, and that he governs all things [...]. And the other is sufficiently insinuated in that Cardi­nal distinction of their [...], and [...], and is more fully express'd by Simplicius. For however the Stoicks may seem to lay some ground of suspicion, as if they were dubious in this point, yet I think that which Tully and others deliver concerning their opinion herein, may fully answer all scruples, viz. That as they made certain Vicissitudes of Conflagrations and Inunda­tions whereby the World should perish in certain periods of time; so they thought the Souls of men should also be subject to these periodical revolutions; and therefore though they were of themselves immor­tal, should in these changes fall under the power of the common fate.

And indeed we scarce ever finde that any were deem'd Religious, that did not own these two Funda­mentals. For the Sadducees, the Jewish Writers are wont commonly to reckon them among the Epicure­ans, [Page 61] because though they held a God, yet they denied the Immortality of mens Souls, which the New Testa­ment seems to include, if not especially to aime at, in imputing to them a deniall of the Resurrection; which is therefore more fully explained in the Acts, Chap. 23. 8. where it is added that they held there was neither Angel nor Spirit. And these two Principles are chiefly aimed at in those two Inscriptions upon the Temple at Delphos, the one, EI, referring to God, by which Title those that came in to worship were supposed to invoke him, acknowledging his Immutable and Eternal nature; the other, [...], as the admoni­tion of the Deity again to all his worshippers, to take notice of the dignity and Immortality of their own Souls, as Plutarch and Tully, as also Clemens Alexandr. expound them.

But if we will have the Fundamental Articles of Christian Religion, we must adde to the former, The Communication of God to Mankind through Christ; which last the Scripture treats of at large, so far as concerns our practice, with that plainness and simplici­ty, that I cannot but think, that whosoever shall in­genuously and with humility of Spirit addressing him­self to God, converse therewith, will see the bright beams of Divinity shining forth in it, and it may be find the Text it self much plainer then all those Glos­ses that have been put upon it; though it may be it is not so clear in matters of Speculation, as some Magiste­rial men are apt to think it is.

Now for these three Articles of Faith and Practice, I think if we duly consider the Scriptures, or the Rea­son of the thing it self, we shall easily find all Practical Religion to be referr'd to them, and built upon them: The Nature of God and of our own Immortal Souls both [Page 62] shew us what our Religion should be, and also the Ne­cessity of it; and the Doctrine of Free grace in Christ, the sweet and comfortable means of attaining to that perfection and Blessedness which the other Belief tea­ches us to aime at.

In pursuing of these we shall first begin with The Im­mortality of the Soul, which if it be once cleared, we can neither leave any room for Atheism (which those I doubt are not ordinarily very free from that have gross material notions of their own Souls) not be wholly ignorant what God is: for indeed the chief natural way whereby we can climbe up to the understanding of the Deity is by a Contemplation of our own Souls. We cannot think of him but according to the measure and model of our own Intellect, or frame any other Idea of him then what the impressions of our own Souls will permit us: and therefore the best Philosophers have alwaies taught us to inquire for God within our selves; Reason in us, as Tully tells us, being participata simili­tudo rationis internae: and accordingly some good Ex­positours have interpreted that place in S. John's Go­spel chap. 1. He is that true light which enlightens every man that cometh into the world; which if I were to gloss upon in the language of the Platonists, I should doe it thus, [...], the Eternal VVord is the light of Souls, which the Vulgar Latine referr'd to in Signatum est supra nos lumen vultus tui, Domine, as A­quinas Psal. 4. 7. observes. But we shall not search into the full nature of the Soul, but rather make our inquiry into the Immortality of it, and endeavour to demonstrate that.

CHAP. II.

Some Considerations preparatory to the proof of the Soul's Immortality.

BUT before we fall more closely upon this, viz. the demonstrating the Soul's Immortality, we shall pre­mise three things.

1. That the Immortality of the Soul doth not absolutely need any Demonstration to clear it by, but might be assu­med rather as a Principle or Postulatum, seeing the no­tion of it is apt naturally to insinuate it self into the belief of the most vulgar sort of men. Mens understandings commonly lead them as readily to believe that their Souls are Immortal, as that they have any Existence at all. And though they be not all so wise and Logical, as to distinguish aright between their Souls and their Bodies, or tell what kind of thing that is that they com­monly call their Soul; yet they are strongly inclined to believe that some part of them shall survive another, and that that Soul, which it may be they conceive by a gross Phantasm, shall live, when the other more visible part of them shall moulder into dust. And therefore all Nations have consented in this belief, which hath almost been as vulgarly received as the belief of a Dei­ty; as a diligent converse with History will assure us, it having been never so much questioned by the Idiotical sort of men, as by some unskilful Philosophers, who have had Wit & Fancy enough to raise doubts, like E­vil Spirits, but not Judgement enough to send them down again.

This Consensus Gentium Tully thinks enough to con­clude a Law and Maxim of Nature by, which though [Page 64] I should not universally grant, seeing sometimes Errour and Superstition may strongly plead this Argument; yet I think for those things that are the matter of our first belief, that Notion may not be refused. For we cannot easily conceive how any Prime notion that hath no dependency on any other antecedent to it, should be generally entertain'd; did not the common dictate of Nature or Reason acting alike in all men move them to conspire together in the embracing of it, though they knew not one anothers minds. And this it may be might first perswade Averroes to think of a Common Intellect, because of the uniform judgments of men in some things. But indeed in those Notions which we may call notiones ortae, there a communis notitia is not so free from all suspicion; which may be cleared by ta­king an Instance from our present Argument. The notion of the Immortality of the Soul is such an one as is generally owned by all those that yet are not able to collect it by a long Series and concatenation of sensible observations, and by a Logical dependence of one thing upon another deduce it from sensible Experiments; a thing that it may be was scarce ever done by the wisest Philosophers, but is rather believed with a kind of re­pugnancy to Sense, which shews all things to be mor­tal, and which would have been too apt to have deluded the ruder sort of men, did not a more powerful impres­sion upon their own Souls forcibly urge them to believe their own Immortality. Though indeed if the common notions of men were well examined, it may be some common notion adherent to this of the Immortality may be as generally received, which yet in it self is false; and that by reason of a common prejudice which the earthly and Sensual part of man will equally possesse all men with, untill they come to be well acquainted with [Page 65] their own Souls; as namely a notion of the Souls Ma­teriality, and it may be it's Traduction too, which seems to be as generally received by the vulgar sort as the for­mer. But the reason of that is evident, for the Souls of men exercising themselves first of all [...], as the Greek Philosopher expresseth, meerly by a Progressive kind of motion, spending themselves about Bodily and Material acts, and conversing onely with Sensible things; they are apt to acquire such deep stamps of Material phantasms to themselves, that they cannot imagine their own Being to be any other then Material & Divisible, though of a fine Aethereal na­ture: which kind of conceit, though it be inconsistent with an Immortal and Incorruptible nature, yet hath had too much prevalencie in Philosophers themselves, their Minds not being sufficiently abstracted while they have contemplated the highest Being of all. And some think Aristotle himself cannot be excused in this point, who seems to have thought God himself to be nothing else but [...], as he styles him. But such Common Notions as these are, arising from the deceptions and hallucinations of Sense, ought not to prejudice those which not Sense, but some Higher power begets in all men. And so we have done with that.

The second thing I should premise should be in place of a Postulatum to our following Demonstrations, or rather a Caution about them, which is, That, to a right conceiving the force of any such Arguments as may prove the Souls Immortality, there must be an antecedent Con­verse with our own Souls. It is no hard matter to convince any one by clear and evident principles, fetch'd from his own sense of himself, who hath ever well meditated the Powers and Operations of his own Soul, that it is Immaterial and Immortal.

[Page 66] But those very Arguments that to such will be Demonstrative, to others will lose something of the strength of Probability: For indeed it is not possible for us well to know what our Souls are, but onely by their [...], their Circular and Reflex motions, and Converse with themselves, which onely can steal from them their own secrets. All those Discourses which have been written of the Soul's Heraldry, will not bla­zon it so well to us as it self will doe. When we turn our own eyes in upon it, it will soon tell us it's own royal pedigree and noble extraction, by those sacred Hieroglyphicks which it bears upon it self. We shall endeavour to interpret and unfold some of them in our following Discourse.

3. There is one thing more to be considered, which may serve as a common Basis or Principle to our following Arguments; and it is this Hypothe­sis, That no Substantial and Indivisible thing ever pe­risheth. And this Epicurus and all of his Sect must needs grant, as indeed they doe, and much more then it is lawful to plead for; and therefore they make this one of the first Principles of their Atheistical Philoso­phy, Ex nihilo fieri nil, & in nihilum nil posse reverti. But we shall here be content with that sober Thesis of Plato in his Timaeus, who attributes the Perpetuation of all Substances to the Benignity and Liberality of the Creatour, whom he therefore brings in thus speaking to the Angels, those [...], as he calls them, [...], &c. You are not of your selves immortal, nor indissoluble; but would relapse and slide back from that Being which I have given you, should I withdraw the influence of my own power from you: but yet you shall hold your Immortality by a Patent of meer grace from my self. But to return, Plato held that the [Page 67] whole world, howsoever it might meet with many Pe­riodicall mutations, should remain Eternally; which I think our Christian Divinity doth no where deny: and so Plotinus frames this general Axiom, [...], that no Substance shall ever perish. And indeed if we collate all our own Observations & Expe­rience with such as the History of former times hath delivered to us, we shall not find that ever any sub­stance was quite lost; but though this Proteus-like Matter may perpetually change its shape, yet it will constantly appear under one Form or another, what art soever we use to destroy it: as it seems to have been set forth in that old Gryphe or Riddle of the Peripatetick School, Aelia Laelia Crispis, nec mas, nec faemina, nec androgyna, nec casta, nec meretrix, nec pudica; sed omnia, &c. as Fortunius Licetus hath expounded it. Therfore it was never doubted whether ever any piece of Substance was lost, till of latter times some hot-brai­ned Peripateticks, who could not bring their fiery and subtile fancies to any cool judgement, began rashly to determine that all Material Forms (as they are pleas'd to call them) were lost. For having once jumbled and crouded in a new kind of Being, never anciently heard of, between the parts of a Contradiction, that is Matter and Spirit, which they call Material Forms, because they could not well tell whence these new upstarts should arise, nor how to dispose of them when Mat­ter began to shift herself into some new garb, they condemn'd them to utter destruction; and yet lest they should seem too rudely to controul all Sense and Reason, they found out this common tale which signi­fies nothing, that these Substantial Forms were educed ex potentia Materiae, whenever Matter began to ap­peare in any new disguise, and afterwards again retur­ned [Page 68] in gremium Materiae; & so they thought them not quite lost. But this Curiosity consisting onely of words fortuitously packt up together, being too subtile for any sober judgment to lay hold upon, and which they themselves could never yet tell how to define; we shall as carelesly lay it aside, as they boldly obtrude it upon us, and take the common distinction of all Substan­tiall Being for granted, viz. That it is either Body, and so Divisible, and of three Dimensions; or else it is something which is not properly a Body or Matter, & so hath no such Dimensions as that the Parts there­of should be crouding for place, and justling one with another, not being all able to couch together or run one into another: and this is nothing else but what is commonly called Spirit. Though yet we will not be too Critical in depriving every thing which is not gros­ly corporeal of all kind of Extension.

CHAP. III.

The First Argument for the Immortality of the Soul. That the Soul of man is not Corporeal. The gross absur­dities upon the Supposition that the Soul is a Complex of fluid Atomes, or that it is made up by a fortuitous Concourse of Atomes: which is Epicurus his Notion concerning Body. The Principles and Dogmata of the Epicurean Philosophy in opposition to the Immate­riall and Incorporeal nature of the Soul, asserted by Lucretius; but discover'd to be false and insufficient. That Motion cannot arise from Body or Matter. Nor can the power of Sensation arise from Matter: Much less can Reason. That all Humane knowledge hath [Page 69] not its rise from Sense. The proper function of Sense, and that it is never deceived. An Addition of Three Considerations for the enforcing of this first Argument, and further clearing the Immateriality of the Soul. That there is in man a Faculty which 1. controlls Sense: and 2. collects and unites all the Perceptions of our se­veral Senses. 3. That Memory and Prevision are not explicable upon the supposition of Matter and Motion.

WE shall therefore now endeavour to prove That the Soul of man is something really distinct from his Body, of an Indivisible nature, and so cannot be divided into such Parts as should flit one from another; and consequently is apt of it's own Nature to remain to Eternity, and so will doe, except the Decrees of Heaven should abandon it from Being.

And first, we shall prove it ab absurdo, and here doe as the Mathematicians use to doe in such kind of De­monstrations: we will suppose that if the Reasonable Soul be not of such an Immaterial Nature, then it must be a Body, and so suppose it to be made up as all Bodies are: where because the Opinions of Philosophers dif­fer, we shall only take one, viz. that of Epicurus, which supposeth it to be made up by a fortuitous Concourse of Atomes; and in that demonstrate against all the rest: (for indeed herein a particular Demonstration is an Uni­versal, as it is in all Mathematical Demonstrations of this kind.) For if all that which is the Basis of our Rea­sons and Understandings, which we here call the Sub­stance of the Soul, be nothing else but a meer Body, and therefore be infinitely divisible, as all Bodies are; it will be all one in effect whatsoever notion we have of the generation or production thereof. We may give it, if we please, finer words, and use more demure & smooth [Page 70] language about it then Epicurus did, as some that, lest they should speak too rudely and rustically of it by calling it Matter, will name it Efflorescentia Materiae; and yet lest that should not be enough, adde Aristotle's Quintessence to it too: they will be so trim and court­ly in defining of it, that they will not call it by the name of Aer, Ignis, or Flamma, as some of the ancient vulgar Philosophers did, but Flos flammae: and yet the Epicurean Poet could use as much Chymistry in exal­ting his fansy as these subtile Doctors doe; and when he would dress out the Notion of it more gaudily, he resembles it to Lucret. lib. 3. Flos Bacchi, and Spiritus unguenti suavis. But when we have taken away this disguise of wanton Wit, we shall find nothing better then meer Body, which will be recoiling back perpetually into it's own inert and sluggish Passiveness: though we may think we have quicken'd it never so much by this sub­tile artifice of Words and Phrases, a man's new-born Soul will for all this be but little better then his Body; and, as that is, be but a rasura corporis alieni, made up of some small and thin shavings pared off from the Bo­dies of the Parents by a continuall motion of the seve­ral parts of it; and must afterwards receive its aug­mentation from that food and nourishment which is taken in, as the Body doth. So that the very Grass we walk over in the fields, the Dust and Mire in the streets that we tread upon, may, according to the true meaning of this dull Philosophy, after many refinings, macerations and maturations, which Nature performs by the help of Motion, spring up into so many Rational Souls, and prove as wise as any Epicurean, and dis­course as subtily of what it once was, when it lay droo­ping in a sensless Passiveness. This conceit is so gross, that one would think it wanted nothing but that witty [Page 71] Sarcasm that Plutarch cast upon Nicocles the Epicurean, to confute it, [...].

But because the heavy minds of men are so frequently sinking into this earthly fancy, we shall further search into the entralls of this Philosophy; and see how like that is to a Rational Soul, which it pretends to declare the production of. Lucretius first of all taking notice of the mighty swiftness and celerity of the Soul in all its operations, lest his Matter should be too soon tired and not able to keep pace with it, he first casts the Atomes prepared for this purpose into such perfect Sphaerical & small figures as might be most capable of these swift impressions; for so he, lib. 3.

At, quod mobile tantopere est, constare rotundis
Perquam seminibus debet, perquámque minutis,
Momine uti parvo possint impulsa moveri.

But here before we goe any further, we might inquire what it should be that should move these small and in­sensible Globes of Matter. For Epicurus his two Prin­ciples, which he cals Plenum and Inane, will here by no means serve our turn to find out Motion by. For though our communes notitiae assure us that whereever there is a Multiplicity of parts, (as there is in every Quantita­tive Being) there may be a Variety of application in those parts one to another, and so a Mobility; yet Mo­tion it self will not so easily arise out of a Plenum, though we allow it an empty Space and room enough to play up and down in. For we may conceive a Body, which is his Plenum, onely as trinè dimensum, being longum, latum & profundum, without attributing any motion at all to it: and Aristotle in his De Coelo doubts not herein to speak plainly, [...], that Motion cannot arise from a Body. For in­deed [Page 72] this Power of motion must needs argue some Effi­cient cause, as Tully hath well observed, if we suppose any Rest antecedent; or if any Body be once moving, it must also find some potent Efficient to stay it & settle it in Rest, as Simplicius hath somewhere in his Com­ment upon Epictetus wisely determin'd. So that if we will suppose either Motion or Rest to be contein'd origi­nally in the nature of any Body; we must of necessity conclude some potent Efficient to produce the contra­ry, or else attribute this Power to Bodies themselves; which will at last grow unbounded and infinite, and in­deed altogether inconsistent with the nature of a Body.

But yet though we should grant all this which Lucre­tius contends for, how shall we force up these particles of Matter into any true and real Perceptions, and make them perceive their own or others motions, which he calls Motus sensiferi? For he having first laid down his Principles of all Being, as he supposeth, (neither is he willing to leave his Deities themselves out of the number) he onely requires these Postulata to unfold the nature of all by, Lib. 1. Concursus, motus, ordo, positura, figurae. But how any such thing as sensation, or much lesse Reason, should spring out of this barren soil, how well till'd soever, no composed mind can imagine. For indeed that infinite variety which is in the Magnitude of parts, their Positions, Figures and Motions, may easi­ly, and indeed must needs, produce an infinite variety of Phaenomena, which the Epicurean philosophy calls Even­ta. And accordingly where there is a Sentient faculty, it may receive the greatest variety of Impressions from them, by which the Perceptions, which are the imme­diate result of a Knowing faculty, will be distinguish'd: Yet cannot the Power it self of Sensation arise from them, no more then Vision can rise out of a Glasse, [Page 73] whereby it should be able to perceive these Idola that paint themseves upon it, though it were never so ex­actly polish'd, and they much finer then they are or can be.

Neither can those small corpuscula, which in them­selves have no power of sense, ever produce it by any kind of Concourse or Motion; for so a Cause might in its production rise up above the height of its own na­ture and virtue; which I think every calm contem­plator of Truth will judge impossible: for seeing what­soever any Effect hath, it must needs derive from its Causes, and can receive no other tincture and impressi­on then they can bestow upon it; that Signature must first be in the Cause it self, which is by it derived to the Effect. And therefore the wisest Philosophers a­mongst the Ancients universally concluded that there was some higher Principle then meer Matter, which was the Cause of all Life and Sense, and that to be Im­mortal: as the Platonists, who thought this reason suf­ficient to move them to assert a Mundane Soul. And Aristotle, though he talks much of Nature, yet he deli­vers his mind so cloudily, that all that he hath said of it may passe with that which himself said of his Acroa­tici Libri, or Physicks, that they were [...]. Nor is it likely that he who was so little satisfied with his own notion of Nature as being the Cause of all Motion and Rest, as seemingly to desert it while he placeth so many Intelligences about the Heavens, could much please himself with such a gross conceit of meer Matter, that that should be the true Moving and Sentient Entelech of some other Matter; as it is manifest he did not.

But indeed Lucretius himself, though he could in a jolly fit of his over-flush'd and fiery fansy tell us,

Et ridere potest non ex ridentibu' factus,
Et sapere, & doctis rationem reddere dictis,
Lib. [...].
Non ex seminibus sapientibus, atque disertis:

yet in more cool thoughts he found his own common notions too sturdy to be so easily silenc'd; and there­fore sets his wits a-work to find the most Quintessen­tial particles of Matter that may be, that might doe that feat, which those smooth Spherical bodies, Calor, Aer and Ventus (for all come into this composition) could not doe: and this was of such a subtile and exal­ted nature, that his earthly fansy could not compre­hend it, and therefore he confesses plainly he could not tell what name to give it, though for want of a better he calls it Mobilem vim, as neither his Master before him, who was pleased to compound the Soul (as Plu­tarch Lib. 4. de pla­citis Philoso­phorum. relates) of four ingredients, [...]. But because this Giant-like Proteus found himself here bound with such strong cords, that notwithstanding all his struggling he could by no means break them off from him, we shall relate his own words the more largely. I find them lib. 3.

Sic calor, atque aer, & venti caeca potestas
Mista creant unam naturam, & mobilis illa
Vis, initîum motus abs se quae dividit ollis:
Sensifer unde oritur primum per viscera motus.
Nam penitus prorsum latet haec natura, subéstque;
Nec magis hac infra quidquam est in corpore nostro;
Atque anima'st animae proporrò totius ipsa.
Quod genus in nostris membris & corpore toto
Mista latens animi vis est, animaeque potestas,
Corporibus quia de parvis paucisque creata est.
Sic tibi nominis haec expers vis, facta minutis
Corporibus, latet—

[Page 75] Thus we see how he found himself overmaster'd with difficulties, while he endeavoured to find the place of the Sensitive powers in Matter: & yet this is the high­est that he dares aim at, namely to prove that Sensa­tion might from thence derive its Original, as stiffly opposing any Higher power of Reason; which we shall in lucro ponere against another time.

But surely had not the Epicureans abandoned all Lo­gick together with some other Sciences (as Tully and Laertius tell us they did) they would here have found themselves too much prest with this Argument, (which yet some will think to be but levis armaturae in respect of some other) and have found it as little short of a De­monstration to prove the Soules Immortality as the Pla­tonists themselves did: But herein how they dealt, Enn. 4. l. 7. c. 4. Plotinus hath well observed of them all who denied Lives and Souls to be immortal, which he asserts, and make them nothing but Bodies, that when they were pinch'd with the strength of any Argument fetch'd frō the [...] of the Soul, it was usuall amongst them to call this Body [...], or Ventus certo quodam modo se habens; to which he well replies, [...]. Where by this [...] seems to be nothing meant but that same thing which Lucretius called vim mobilem, and he would not allow it to be any thing else but a Body, though what kind of Body he could not tell: yet by it he understands not meerly an Active power of motion, but a more subtile Energie, whereby the force and nature of any motion is perceived and insinuated by its own strength in the bodies moved; as if these sorry Bodies by their impetuous justling together could awa­ken one another out of their drowsie Lethargie, and [Page 76] make each other hear their mutuall impetuous knocks: which is as absurd as to think a Musical instrument should hear its own sounds, and take pleasure in those harmonious aires that are plai'd upon it. For that which we call Sensation, is not the Motion or Impression which one Body makes upon another, but a Recogni­tion of that Motion; and therefore to attribute that to a Body, is to make a Body privy to its own acts and passions, to act upon itself, and to have a true and pro­per self-feeling virtue; which in his Tract, [...]. Porphyrie hath ele­gantly expressed, [...], In the sensations of living creatures the Soul moves, as if unbodied Harmony her self should play upon an Instru­ment, and smartly touch the well-tuned strings: but the Body is like that Harmony which dwells inseparably in the strings themselves which have no perception of it.

Thus we should now leave this Topick of our De­monstration, onely we shall adde this as an Appendix to it, which will further manifest the Souls Incorporeal and Immaterial nature, that is, That there is a Higher Principle of knowledge in man then meer Sense, nei­ther is that the sole Original of all that Science that breaks forth in the minds of men; which yet Lucretius maintains, as being afraid lest he should be awaken'd out of this pleasant dreame of his, should any Higher power rouse his sleepy Soul: and therefore he thus layes down the opinion of his Sect, Lib. 4.

Invenies primis ab sensibus esse creatam
Notitiam veri, neque sensus posse refelli:
Nam majore fide debet reperirier illud,
Sponte sua veris quod possit vincere falsa.

But yet this goodly Champion doth but lay siege to [Page 77] his own Reason, and endeavour to storm the main fort thereof, which but just before he defended against the Scepticks who maintained that opinion, That nothing could be known; to which he having replied by that vulgar Argument, That if nothing can be known, then neither doe we know this That we know nothing; he pursues them more closely with another, That neither could they know what it is to know, or what it is to be igno­rant,

Quaeram, quom in rebus veri nil viderit ante;
Unde sciat, quid sit scire, & nescire vicissim:
Notitiam veri quae res falsique crearit.

But yet if our Senses were the onely Judges of things, this Reflex knowledge whereby we know what it is to know, would be as impossible as he makes it for Sense to have Innate Idea's of its own, antecedent to those stamps which the Radiations of external Objects im­print upon it. For this knowledge must be antecedent to all that judgment which we pass upon any Sensatum, seeing except we first know what it is to know, we could not judge or determine aright upon the approach of any of these Idola to our Senses.

But our Author may perhaps yet seem to make a more full confession for us in these two points.

First, That no sense can judge another's objects, nor convince it of any mistake,

Non possunt alios alii convincere sensus,
Nec porrò poterunt ipsi reprehendere sese.

If therefore there be any such thing within us as con­trolls our Senses, as all know there is; then must that be of an Higher nature then our Senses are.

But secondly, he grants further, That all our Sensa­tion is nothing else but Perception, and therefore where­soever there is any hallucination, that must arise from [Page 78] something else within us besides the power of sense,

—quoniam pars horum maxima fallit
Propter opinatus animi, quos addimus ipsi,
Pro visis ut sint, quae non sunt sensibu' visa.

In which words he hath very happily lighted upon the proper function of Sense, and the true reason of all those mistakes which we call the Deceptions of Sense, which indeed are not truely so, seeing they arise onely from a Higher Faculty, and consist not in Sensation it self, but in those deductions and Corollaries that our Judgments draw from it.

We shall here therefore grant that which the Epicu­rean philosophy, and the Peripatetick too, though not without much caution, pleads for universally, That our Senses are never deceived, whether they be sani or laesi, sound or distempered, or whatsoever proportion or di­stance the Object or medium bears to it: for if we well scan this business, we shall find that nothing of Judg­ment belongs to Sense, it consisting onely [...], in Perception; neither can it make any just ob­servation of those Objects that are without, but onely discerns its own passions, and is nothing else but [...], and tells how it finds it self affected, and not what is the true cause of those impressions which it finds within it self; (which seems to be the reason of that old Philosophical maxim recited by Aristotle l. 3. de Anima, cap. 2. [...], that these Simulachra were onely in our Senses; which notion a late Author hath pursued:) and therefore when the Eye finds the Sun's circle re­presented within it self of no greater a bigness then a foot-diameter, it is not at all herein mistaken; nor a distempered Palate, when it tasts a bitterness in the sweetest honey, as Proclus a famous Mathematician and [Page 79] Platonist hath well determined, in Plat. Tim. [...], The Senses in all things of this nature doe but declare their own passions or perceptions, which are alwaies such as they seem to be, whether there be any such par­allelum signaculum in the Object as bears a true ana­logie with them or not: and therefore in truth they are never deceived in the execution of their own fun­ctions. And so doth Aristotle l. 3 de Anima, c. 3. con­clude, That errour is neither in Sense nor Phansy, [...], it is in no Facultie but onely that in which is Reason. Though it be as true on the other side, that Epicurus & all his Sect were deceived, while they judged the Sun and Moon and all the Starrs to be no bigger then that Picture and Image which they found of them in their own Eyes; for which silly conceit though they had been for many Ages suffi­ciently laugh'd at by wise men, yet could not Lucretius tell how to enlarge his own fancy, but believes the Ido­lum in his own Visive organ to be adequate to the Sun it self, in despight of all Mathematicall demonstration; as indeed he must needs, if there were no Higher prin­ciple of knowledge then Sense is, which is the most in­disciplinable thing that may be, and can never be taught that Truth which Reason and Understanding might at­tempt to force into it. [...], &c. Though Rea­son inculcates this notion ten thousand times over, That the Sun is bigger then the Earth, yet will not the Eye be taught to see it any bigger then a foot breadth: and there­fore he rightly calls it, as all the Platonical and Stoical philosophie doth, [...], and it may well be put among the rest of the Stoicks [...].

Thus I hope by this time we have found out [...], [Page 80] some more noble Power in the Soul then that is by which it accommodates it self to the Body, and according to the measure and propor­tion thereof converseth with External Matter. And this is the true reason why we are so apt to be mistaken in Sensible objects, because our Souls sucking in the knowledge of external things thereby, and not minding the proportion that is between the Body and them, mindless of its own notions, collates their corporeal impressions with externall objects themselves, and judgeth of them one by another. But whensoever our Souls act in their own power and strength, untwi­sting themselves from all corporeal complications, they then can find confidence enough to judge of things in a seeming contradiction to all those other visa corporea.

And so I suppose this Argument will amount to no lesse then a Demonstration of the Soul's Immateriality, seeing to all sincere understanding it is necessary that it should thus abstract it self from all corporeal com­merce, and return from thence nearer into it self.

Now what we have to this purpose more generally intimated, we shall further branch out in these two or three Particulars.

First, That that Mental faculty and power whereby 1. we judge and discern things, is so far from being a Body, that it must retract and withdraw it self from all Bodily operation whensoever it will nakedly discern Truth. For should our Souls alwaies mould their judgment of things according to those [...] and impressions which seem to be framed thereof in the Body, they must then doe nothing else but chain up Errours and Delusions one with another in stead of Truth: as should the judgments of our Understandings wholly depend upon the sight of our Eyes, we should then conclude [Page 81] that our meer accesses and recesses from any Visible Object have such a Magical power to change the magni­tudes of Visible Objects, and to transform them into all varieties of figures & fashions; and so attribute all that variety to them which we find in our corporeal perceptions. Or should we judge of Gustables by our Tast, we should attribute to one and the self-same thing all that variety wch we find in our own Palates. Which is an unquestionable Argument That that Power where­by we discern of things and make judgments of them different and sometimes contrary to those perceptions that are the necessary results of all Organical functi­ons, is something distinct from the Body; and therefore though the Soul, as Plato hath well observed, be [...], various and divisible accidentally in these Sensations and Motions wherein it extends and spreads it self as it were upon the Body, and so accor­ding to the nature and measure thereof perceives its impressions; yet it is [...] indivisible, re­turning into it self. Whensoever it will speculate Truth it self, it will not then listen to the several clamours and votes of these rude Senses which alwaies speak with divided tongues; but it consults some clearer O­racle within it self: and therefore Plotinus, Enn. 4. l. 3. hath well concluded concerning the Body, [...], should a man make use of his Body in his Speculations, it will entangle his mind with so many contradictions, that it will be impossible to attain to any true knowledge of things. We shall conclude this therefore, as Tully doth his Contemplation of the Soules operations about the frame of Nature, the fabrick of the Heavens and mo­tions of the Stars, Animus qui haec intelligit, similis est ejus qui ea fabricatus in coelo est.

[Page 82] Secondly, We also find such a Faculty within our own 2. Souls as collects and unites all the Perceptions of our several Senses, and is able to compare them together; something in which they all meet as in one Centre: which [...]. 4. l. 7. [...]. 6. Plotinus hath well expressed, [...], That in which all those seve­ral Sensations meet as so many Lines drawn from seve­ral points in the Circumference, and which comprehends them all, must needs be One. For should that be vari­ous and consisting of several parts, which thus receives all these various impressions, then must the sentence and judgment passed upon them be various too. Ari­stotle in his de Anima, [...], That must be one that judgeth things to be diverse; and that must judge too [...], setting all before it at once. Besides we could not conceive how such an immense variety of impressions could be made upon any piece of Matter, which should not obliterate and defacē one another. And therefore Plotinus hath well disputed against them who make all Sensation [...] which brings me to the Third.

Thirdly, That Knowledge which the Soul retains in it self of things past, and in some sort Prevision of things 3. to come, whereby many grow so sagacious in fore-see­ing future Events, that they know how to deliberate and dispose of present affairs, so as to be ready furni­shed and prepared for such Emergencies as they see in a train and Series of Causes which sometimes work but contingently: I cannot think Epicurus himself could in his cool thoughts be so unreasonable as to perswade himself, that all the shuffling & cutting of Atomes could produce such a Divine piece of Wisdome as this is. [Page 83] What Matter can thus bind up Past, Present and Future time together? which while the Soul of man doth, it seems to imitate (as far as its own finite nature will permit it to strive after an imitation of) God's eternity: and grasping and gathering together a long Series of duration into it self, makes an essay to free it self from the rigid laws of it, and to purchase to it self the free­dome of a true Eternity. And as by its [...] (as the Platonists are wont to speak) its Chronical and successive operations, it unravels and unfolds the contexture of its own indefinite intellectual powers by degrees; so by this Memory and Prevision it recollects and twists them up all together again into it self. And though it seems to be continually sliding from it self in those several vicissitudes and changes which it runs through in the constant variety of its own Effluxes and Emanations; yet is it alwaies returning back again to its first Original by a swift remembrance of all those motions and multiplicity of operations which have be­got in it the first sense of this constant flux. As if we should see a Sun-beam perpetually flowing forth from the bright body of the Sun, and yet ever returning back to it again; it never loseth any part of its Being, because it never forgets what it self was: and though it may number out never so vast a length of its durati­on, yet it never comes nearer to its old age, but carrieth a lively sense of its youth and infancy, which it can at pleasure lay a fast hold on, along with it.

But if our Souls were nothing else but a Complex of fluid Atomes, how should we be continually roving and sliding from our selves, and soon forget what we once were? The new Matter that would come in to fill up that Vacuity which the Old had made by its departure, would never know what the Old were, nor what that [Page 84] should be that would succeed that: [...], that new pilgrim and stranger-like Soul would alwaies be ignorant of what the other before it knew, and we should be wholly some other bulk of Being then we were before, as Plotinus hath excellently ob­served Enn. 4. l. 7. c. 5. It was a famous speech of wise Heraclitus, [...], a man cannot enter twice into the same River: by which he was wont symbolically to express the constant flux of Mat­ter, which is the most unstable thing that may be. And if Epicurus his Philosophy could free this Heap of refined Atomes, which it makes the Soul to be, from this in­constant and flitting nature, and teach us how it could be [...] some stable and immutable thing, alwaies resting entire while it is in the Body; though we would thank him for such a goodly conceit as this is, yet we would make no doubt but it might as well be able to preserve it self from dissolution and dissipation out of this gross Body, as in it: seeing it is no more secured from the constant impulses of that more gross Matter which is restlesly moving up and down in the Body, then it is out of it: and yet for all that we should take the leave to ask Tully's question with his sober disdain; Quid, obsecro, terrâne tibi aut hoc nebuloso & ca­liginoso coeno aut sata aut concreta videtur tanta vis me­moriae? Such a jewel as this is too precious to be found in a dunghill: meer Matter could never thus stretch forth its feeble force, & spread it self over all its own former praeexistencies. We may as well suppose this dull and heavy Earth we tread upon to know how long it hath dwelt in this part of the Universe that now it doth, and what variety of Creatures have in all past Ages sprung forth from it, and all those occurrences & events which have all this time happened upon it.

CHAP. IV.

The second Argument for the Immortality of the Soul. Actions either Automatical or Spontaneous. That Spontaneous and Elicite Actions evidence the Distin­ction of the Soul from the Body. Lucretius his Eva­sion very slight and weak. That the Liberty of the Will is inconsistent with the Epicurean principles. That the Conflict of Reason against the Sensitive Ap­petite argues a Being in us superiour to Matter.

WE have done with that which we intended for the First part of our Discourse of the Soul's Immortality: we have hitherto look'd at it rather in Concreto then in Abstracto, rather as a Thing complica­ted with and united to the Body; and therefore con­sidered it in those Operations, which as they are not proper to the Body, so neither are they altogether in­dependent upon it, but are rather of a mixt nature.

We shall now take notice of it in those Properties, in the exercise whereof it hath less commerce with the Body, and more plainly declares its own high descent to us, That it is able to subsist and act without the aid and assistance of this Matter which it informes.

And here we shall take that course that Aristotle did in his Books de Anima, and first of all inquire, Whether it hath [...], some kind of Action so proper and pecu­liar to it self; as not to depend upon the Body. And this soon offers it self in the first place to us in those Elicite motions of it, as the Moralists are wont to name them, which though they may end in those they call Im­perate [Page 86] acts, yet have their first Emanation from no­thing else but the Soul it self.

For this purpose we shall take notice of Two sorts of Actions which are obvious to the experience of every one that observes himself, according to a double Source & emanation of them, which a late Philosopher hath very happily suggested to us. The first are those Actions which arise up within us without any Animad­version; the other are those that are consequent to it.

For we find frequently such Motions within our selves 1. which first are, before we take notice of them, and which by their own turbulency and impetuousness force us to an Advertency: as those Fiery spirits and that inflamed Blood which sometimes fly up into the head; or those gross and Earthly Fumes that disturb our brains; the stirring of many other Humours which beget within us Grief, Melancholy, Anger, or Mirth, or other Passions; which have their rise from such Causes as we were not aware of, nor gave no consent to create this trouble to us. Besides all those Passions and Perceptions which are begotten within us by some externall motions which derive themselves through our Senses, and fiercely knocking at the door of our Minds and Under­standings force them sometimes from their deepest de­bates & musings of some other thing, to open to them and give them an audience.

Now as to such Motions as these are, it being neces­sary for the preservation of our Bodies that our Souls should be acquainted with them, a mans Body was so contrived and his Soul so united to it, that they might have a speedy access to the Soul. Indeed some ancient Philosophers thought that the Soul descending more deeply into the Body, as they expresse it, first begot these corporeal motions unbeknown to it self by reason [Page 87] of its more deep immersion, which afterwards by their impetuousness excited its advertency. But whatsoever truth there is in that Assertion, we clearly find from the relation of our own Souls themselves, that our Soul disowns them, and acknowledgeth no such Motions to have been so busy by her commission; neither knows what they are, from whence they arise, or whither they tend, untill she hath duly examined them. But these Corporeal motions as they seem to arise from no­thing else but meerly from the Machina of the Body it self; so they could not at all be sensated but by the Soul.

Neither indeed are all our own Corporeal actions perceived by us, but only those that may serve to main­tain a good correspondence & intelligence between the Soul and Body, and so foment & cherish that Sympa­thy between them which is necessary for the subsistence and well-being of the whole man in this mundane state. And therefore there is very little of that which is com­monly done in our Body, which our Souls are infor­med at all of. The constant Circulation of Blood through all our Veins and Arteries; the common motions of our Animal spirits in our Nerves; the maceration of Food within our Stomachs, and the distribution of Chyle and nourishment to every part that wants the relief of it; the constant flux and reflux of more sedate Humours within us; the dissipations of our corporeal Matter by insensible Transpiration, and the accesses of new in the room of it; all this we are little acquainted with by any vital energie which ariseth from the union of Soul and Body: and therefore when we would acquaint our selves with the Anatomy and vital functions of our own Bodies, we are fain to use the same course and method that we would to find out the same things in any other [Page 88] kind of Animal, as if our Souls had as little to doe with any of these in our own Bodies, as they have in the Bodies of any other Brute creature.

But on the other side, we know as well, that many­things 2. that are done by us, are done at the dictate and by the commission of our own Wills; and therefore all such Actions as these are, we know, without any great store of Discoursive inquiry, to attribute to their own proper causes, as seeing the efflux and propagati­on of them. We doe not by a naked speculation know our Bodies first to have need of nourishment, and then by the Edict of our Wills injoyn our Spirits and Hu­mours to put themselves into an hungry and craving posture within us by corroding the Tunicles of the Stomach; but we first find our own Souls sollicited by these motions, which yet we are able to gainsay, and to deny those petitions which they offer up to us. We know we commonly meditate and discourse of such Arguments as we our selves please: we mould designs, and draw up a plot of means answerable thereto, ac­cording as the free vote of our own Souls determines; and use our own Bodies many times, notwithstanding all the reluctancies of their nature, onely as our Instru­ments to serve the will and pleasure of our Souls. All which as they evidently manifest a true Distinction be­tween the Soul and the Body, so they doe as evidently prove the Supremacy and dominion which the Soul hath over the Body. Our Moralists frequently dispute what kind of government that is whereby the Soul, or rather Will, rules over the Sensitive Appetite, which they ordinarily resolve to be Imperium politicum; though I should rather say, that all good men have rather a true despotical power over their Sensitive fa­culties, and over the whole Body, though they use it [Page 89] onely according to the laws of Reason and Discretion. And therefore the Platonists and Stoicks thought the Soul of man to be absolutely freed from all the power of Astral Necessity, and uncontroulable impressions ari­sing from the subordination and mutual Sympathie and Dependance of all mundane causes, which is their proper notion of Fate. Neither ever durst that bold Astrologie which presumes to tell the Fortunes of all corporeal Essences, attempt to enter into the secrets of man's Soul, or predict the destinies thereof. And indeed whatever the destinies thereof may be that are contained in the vast volume of an Infinite and Al­mighty Mind, yet we evidently find a [...], an [...], a liberty of Will within our selves, maugre the stubborn malice of all Second Causes. And Ari­stole, who seems to have disputed so much against that [...] of Souls which his Master before him had soberly maintained, does indeed but quarrel with that common sense and Experience which we have of our Souls; this [...] of the Soul being nothing else but that Innate force and power which it hath within it, to stir up such thoughts and motions within it self as it finds it self most free to. And therefore when we reflect upon the productions of our own Souls, we are soon able to find out the first Efficient cause of them. And though the subtilty of some Wits may have made it difficult to find out whether the Understanding or the Will or some other Facultie of the Soul be the First Mover, whence the motus primò primus (as they please to call it) proceeds; yet we know it is originally the Soul it self whose vital acts they all are: and although it be not [...] the First Cause as deriving all its virtue from it self, as Simplicius distinguisheth in 1. de An. cap. 1. yet it is [...], vitally [Page 90] co-working with the First Causes of all: But on the other side, when we come to examine those Motions which arise from the Body, this stream runs so far under ground, that we know not how to trace it to the head of it; but we are fain to analyse the whole arti­fice, looking from the Spirits to the Blood, from that to the Heart, viewing all along the Mechanical contrivance of Veins and Arteries: neither know we after all our search whether there be any Perpetuum mobile in our own Bodies, or whether all the motions thereof be onely by the redundancy of some external motions without us; nor how to find the First mover in na­ture; though could we find out that, yet we know that there is a Fatal determination which sits in all the wheels of meer Corporeal motion; neither can they exercise any such noble freedome as we constantly find in the Wills of men, which are as large and unbounded in all their Elections as Reason it self can represent Be­ing it self to be.

Lucretius, that he might avoid the dint of this Argu­ment, according to the Genius of his Sect feigns this Li­berty to arise from a Motion of declination, whereby his Atomes alwaies moving downwards by their own weight towards the Centre of the World, are carried a little obliquely, as if they tended toward some point different from it, which he calls clinamen principiorum. Which riddle though it be as good as any else which they, who held the Materiality and Mortality of Souls in their own nature, can frame to salve this difficulty; yet is of such a private interpretation, that I believe no Oedipus is able to expound it. But yet by what we may guesse at it, we shall easily find that this insolent con­ceit (and all else of this nature) destroys the Freedome of Will, more then any Fate which the severest cen­sours [Page 91] thereof, whom he sometimes taxeth, ever set o­ver it. For how can any thing be made subject to a free and impartial debate of Reason, or fall under the Level of Free-will, if all things be the meer result either of a Fortuitous or Fatal motion of Bodies, which can have no power or dominion over themselves? and why should he or his great Master find so much fault with the Superstition of the world, and condemn the Opini­ons of other men when they compare them with that transcendent sagacity they believe themselves to be the Lords of, if all was nothing else but the meer issue of Material motions; seeing that necessity which would arise from a different concourse and motion of several particles of Matter begetting that diversity of Opinions and Wills, would excuse them all from any blame?

Therefore to conclude this Argument, Whatsoever Essence finds this Freedome within it self, whereby it is absolved from the rigid laws of Matter, may know it self also to be Immaterial; and having dominion over its own actions, it will never desert it self: and be­cause it finds it self non vi alienâ sed suâ moveri, as Tully argues, it feels it self able to preserve it self from the forrein force of Matter, and can say of all those as­saults which are at any time made against those sorry mud-walls which in this life inclose it, [...], as the Stoick did, all this is nothing to me, who am yet free and can command within, when this feeble Car­kass is able no longer to obey me; and when that is shattered and broken down, I can live any where else without it; for I was not That, but had onely a com­mand over It, while I dwelt in it.

But before we wholly desert this Head, we may adde some further strength to it, from the Observation of that Conflict which the Reasons and Understan­dings [Page 92] of men maintain against the Sensitive appetite: and wheresoever the Higher powers of Reason in a man's Soul prevail not, but are vanquish'd by the im­petuousness of their Sensual affections through their own neglect of themselves; yet are they never so broken, but they may strengthen themselves again: and where they subdue not men's inordinate Passions and Affections, yet even there will they condemn them for them. Whereas were a Man all of one piece, and made up of nothing else but Matter; these Corporeal motions could never check or controul themselves, these Material dimensions could not struggle with themselves, or by their own strength render them­selves any thing else then what they are. But this [...], as the Greeks call it, this Self-potent Life which is in the Soul of man, acting upon it self and drawing forth its own latent Energie, finds it self able to tame the outward man, and bring under those rebel­lious motions that arise from the meer Animal powers, and to tame and appease all those seditions and muti­nies that it finds there. And if any can conceive all this to be nothing but a meer fighting of the male-con­tented pieces of Matter one against another, each stri­ving for superiority and preeminence; I should not think it worth the while to teach such an one any higher learning, as looking upon him to be indued with no higher a Soul then that which moves in Beasts or Plants.

CHAP. V.

The third Argument for the Immortality of the Soul. That Mathematical Notions argue the Soul to be of a true Spiritual and Immaterial Nature.

WE shall now consider the Soul awhile in a fur­ther degree of Abstraction, and look at it in those Actions which depend not at all upon the Body, wherein it doth [...], as the Greeks speak, and converseth onely with its own Be­ing. Which we shall first consider in those [...] or Mathematical notions which it conteins in it self, and sends forth from within it self; which as they are in themselves Indivisible, and of such a perfect nature as cannot be received or immersed into Matter; so they argue that Subject in which they are seated to be of a true Spiritual and Immaterial nature. Such as a pure Point, Linea [...], Latitude abstracted from all Profundity, the Perfection of Figures, Aequality, Proportion, Symmetry and Asymmetry of Magnitudes, the Rise and propagation of Dimensions, Infinite divisi­bility, and many such like things; which every inge­nuous Son of that Art cannot but acknowledge to be the true characters of some Immaterial Being, seeing they were never buried in Matter, nor extracted out of it: and yet these are transcendently more certain and infallible Principles of Demonstration then any Sen­sible thing can be. There is no Geometrician but will acknowledge Angular sections, or the cutting of an Arch into any number of parts required, to be most [Page 94] exact without any diminution of the whole; but yet no Mechanical art can possibly so perform either, but that the place of section will detract something from the whole. If any one should endeavour to double a Cube, as the Delian Oracle once commanded the A­thenians, requiring them to duplicate the dimensions of Apollo's Altar, by any Mechanicall subtilty; he would find it as impossible as they did, and be as much laugh'd at for his pains as some of their Mechanicks were. If therefore no Matter be capable of any Geo­metrical effections, and the Apodictical precepts of Geometry be altogether unimitable in the purest Mat­ter that Phansie can imagine; then must they needs depend upon something infinitly more pure then Mat­ter, which hath all that Stability and Certainty within it self which it gives to those infallible Demonstra­tions.

We need not here dispute with Empedocles,

[...], &c.

We know earth by earth, fire by fire, and water by water, that is, by the Archetypal Idea's of all things in our own Souls; though it may be it were no hard matter to prove that, as in this case S. Austin did, when in his Book de Quant, animae, he would prove the Immorta­lity of the Soul from these notions of Quantity, which come not by any possible Sense or Experience which we can make of bodily Being, and therefore concludes they must needs be immediately ingraven upon an Im­material Soul. For though we could suppose our Sen­ses to be the School-Dames that first taught us the Alphabet of this learning; yet nothing else but a true Mental Essence could be capable of it, or so much im­prove it as to unbody it all, and strip it naked of any Sensible garment, and then onely, when it hath done [Page 95] it, embrace it as its own, and commence a true and per­fect understanding of it. And as we all hold it impos­sible to shrink up any Material Quality, which will perpetually spread it self commensurably to the Matter it is in, into a Mathematical point: so is it much more impossible to extend and stretch forth any Immaterial and unbodied Quality or notion according to the di­mensions of Matter, and yet to preserve the integrity of its own nature.

Besides, in these Geometricall speculations we find that our Souls will not consult with our Bodies, or ask any leave of our Fansies how or how far they shall distribute their own notions by a continued progress of Invention; but spending upon their own stock, are most free and liberal, and make Fansie onely to serve their own purpose in painting out not what Matter will afford a copie of, but what they themselves will dictate to it; and if that should be too busie, silence and controul it by their own Imperial laws. They so little care for Matter in this kind of work, that they banish it as far as may be from themselves, or else cha­stise and tame the unruly and refractory nature of it, that it should yield it self pliable to their soveraign commands. These Embodied Bodies (for so this pre­sent Argument will allow me to call them) which our Senses converse with, are perpetually justling together, contending so irresistably each for its own room and space to be in, and will not admit of any other into it, preserving their own intervals: but when they are once in their Unbodied nature entertained into the Mind, they can easily penetrate one another [...]. The Soul can easily pyle the vastest number up together in her self, and by her own force sustain them all, and make them all couch together in the same space: [Page 96] she can easily pitch up all those Five Regular Bodies together in her own Imagination, and inscribe them one in another, and then entring into the very heart and centre of them, discern all their Properties and several Respects one to another; and thus easily find her self freed from all Material or Corporeal confine­ment; shewing how all that which we call Body, rather issued forth by an infinite projection from some Mind, then that it should exalt it self into the nature of any Mental Being; and, as the Platonists and Pythagoreans have long since well observed, how our Bodies should rather be in our Souls, then our Souls in them. And so I have done with that Particular.

CHAP. VI.

The Fourth Argument for the Immortality of the Soul. That those clear and stable Ideas of Truth which are in Man's Mind evince an Immortal and Immaterial Substance residing in us, distinct from the Body. The Soul more knowable then the Body. Some passages out of Plotinus and Proclus for the further confirming of this Argument.

AND now we have traced the Immortality of the Soul, before we were aware, through those Three Relations or [...], or (if you will) Degrees of know­ledge, which Proclus in his Comment upon Plato's Ti­maeus hath attributed to it, which he calls [...]. The First is [...], a naked perception of Sensible impressions, without any work of Reason. The Second, [...], a Miscella­neous [Page 97] kind of knowledge arising of a collation of its Sensations with its own more obscure and dark Idea's. The Third, [...], Discourse and Reason, which the Platonists describe Mathematical knowledge by, which, because it spins out its own notions by a constant series of Deduction, knitting up Consequen­ces one upon another by Demonstrations, is by him call'd [...], a Progressive kind of know­ledge; to which he addes a Fourth, which we shall now make use of for a further Proof of the Immortality of the Soul. There is therefore Fourthly [...], which is a naked Intuition of Eternal Truth which is alwaies the same, which never rises nor sets, but alwaies stands still in its Vertical, and fills the whole Horizon of the Soul with a mild and gentle light. There are such calm and serene Idea's of Truth, that shine onely in pacate Souls, and cannot be discer­ned by any troubled or fluid Fancy, that necessarily prove a [...], some Permanent & Stable Essence in the Soul of man, which (as Simplicius on Epictet well observes) ariseth onely [...], from some immoveable and unchange­able Cause which is alwaies the same. For these Opera­tions about Truth we now speak of, are not [...] any Chronical Energies, as he further expres­ses it, but the true badges of an Eternal nature, and speak a [...] and [...] (as Plato is wont to phrase it) in man's Soul. Such are the Archetypall Idea's of Justice, Wisdome, Goodness, Truth, Eternity, Omnipo­tency, and all those either Morall, Physicall, or Metaphy­sical notions, which are either the First Principles of Science, or the Ultimate complement and final perfe­ction of it. These we alwaies find to be the same, and [Page 98] know that no Exorcisms of Material mutations have any power over them: though we our selves are but of yesterday, and mutable every moment, yet these are Eternall, and depend not upon any mundane vicissi­tudes; neither could we ever gather them from our observation of any Material thing where they were ne­ver sown.

If we reflect but upon our own Souls, how mani­festly doe the Species of Reason, Freedome, Perception, and the like, offer themselves to us, whereby we may know a thousand times more distinctly what our Souls are then what our Bodies are? For the former we know by an immediate converse with our selves, and a di­stinct sense of their Operations; whereas all our know­ledge of the Body is little better then meerly Histori­call, which we gather up by scraps and piecemeals from more doubtfull and uncertain experiments which we make of them: but the notions which we have of a Mind, i. e. something within us that thinks, appre­hends, reasons, and discourses, are so clear and distinct from all those notions which we can fasten upon a Body, that we can easily conceive that if all Body-Being in the world were destroyed, yet we might then as well sub­sist as now we doe. For whensoever we take notice of those Immediate motions of our own Minds whereby they make themselves known to us, we find no such thing in them as Extension or Divisibility, which are contained in every Corporeal essence: and having no such thing discovered to us from our nearest familia­rity with our own Souls, we could never so easily know whether they had any such things as Bodies joyned to them or not, did not those extrinsecal im­pressions that their turbulent motions make upon them admonish them thereof.

[Page 99] But as the more we reflect upon our own Minds, we find all Intelligible things more clear, (as when we look up to the Heavens, we see all things more bright and radiant, then when we look down upon this dark Earth when the Sun-beams are drawn away from it:) so when we see all Intelligible Being concentring toge­ther in a greater Oneness, and all kind of Multiplicity running more and more into the strictest Unity, till at last we find all Variety and Division suck'd up into a perfect Simplicity, where all happily conspire together in the most undivided peace and friendship; we then easily perceive that the reason of all Diversity and Di­stinction is (that I may use Plotinus his words not much differently from his meaning) [...]. For though in our contentious pursuits after Science, we cast Wisdome, Power, Eternity, Goodness and the like into several formalities, that so we may trace down Science in a constant chain of Deductions; yet in our naked Intuitions and visions of them, we clearly discern that Goodness and Wisdome lodge together, Ju­stice and Mercy kiss each other: and all these and what­soever pieces else the crack'd glasses of our Reasons may sometime break Divine and Intelligible Being in­to, are fast knit up together in the invincible bonds of Eternity. And in this sense is that notion of Proclus descanting upon Plato's riddle of the Soul, [ [...], as if it were generated & yet not generated] to be understood; [...], the Soul partaking of Time in its broken and particular conceptions and apprehensions, and of Eternity in its comprehensive and stable contemplations. I need not say that when the Soul is once got up to the top of this bright Olympus, it will then no more doubt of its own Immortality, or fear any Dissipation, or doubt [Page 100] whether any drowsie Sleep shall hereafter seize upon it: no, it will then feel it self grasping fast and safely its own Immortality, and view it self in the Horizon of Eternity. In such sober kind of Ecstasies did Plotinus find his own Soul separated from his Body, as if it had divorc'd it for a time from it self: [...], &c. I be­ing often awakened into a sense of my self, and being se­questred from my body, and betaking my self from all things else into my self; what admirable beauty did I then behold, &c. as he himself tells us, En. 4. l. 8. c. 1. Thus is that Intelligence begotten which Proclus l. 2. in Plat. Tim. calls a Correction of Science: his notion is worth our taking notice of, and gives us in a manner a brief recapitulation of our former discourse, shewing how the higher we ascend in the contemplation of the Soul, the higher still we rise above this low sphear of Sense and Matter. His words are these, [...], &c. that is, Science as it is in the Soul (by which he means the Discoursive power of it) is blameless, but yet is cor­rected by the Mind; as resolving that which is Indivi­sible, and dividing Simple Being as if it were Compoun­ded: as Fansy corrects Sense for discerning with passion and material mixture, from which that purifies its ob­ject; Opinion corrects Fansie, because it apprehends things by forms and phantasms, which it self is above; and Science corrects Opinion, because it knows without discerning of causes; and the Mind (as was insinuated) or the Intuitive faculty corrects the Scientifical, because by a Progressive kind of Analysis it divides the Intelli­gible Object, where it self knows and sees things together in their undivided essence: wherefore this onely is Im­moveable, [Page 101] and Science or Scientifical reason is inferi­our to it in the knowledge of true Being. Thus he.

But here we must use some caution, lest we should arrogate too much to the power of our own Souls, which indeed cannot raise up themselves into that pure and steddy contemplation of true Being; but will rather act with some Multiplicity or [...] (as they speak) attending it. But thus much of its high original may appear to us, that it can (as our Author told us) correct it self, for dividing and disjoyning therein, as knowing all to be every way One most entire and simple: though yet all men cannot easily improve their own Under­standings to this High degree of Comprehension; and therefore all ancient Philosophers and Aristotle him­self made it the peculiar priviledge of some men more abstracted from themselves and all corporeall com­merce.

CHAP. VII.

What it is that, beyond the Highest and most subtile Spe­culations whatsoever, does clear and evidence to a Good man the Immortality of his Soul. That True Goodness and Vertue begets the most raised Sense of this Immortality. Plotinus his excellent Discourse to this purpose.

AND now that we may conclude the Argument in hand, we shall adde but this one thing further to clear the Soul's Immortality, and it is indeed that which breeds a true sense of it, viz. True and reall goodness. Our highest speculations of the Soul may beget a suffi­cient [Page 102] conviction thereof within us, but yet it is onely True Goodness and Vertue in the Souls of men that can make them both know and love, believe and delight themselves in their own Immortality. Though every good man is not so Logically subtile as to be able by fit mediums to demonstrate his own Immortality, yet he sees it in a higher light: His Soul being purged and enlightned by true Sanctity is more capable of those Divine irradiations, whereby it feels it self in conjun­ction with God, and by a [...] (as the Greeks speak) the Light of divine goodness mixing it self with the light of its own Reason, sees more clearly not onely that it may, if it please the supreme Deity, of its own nature exist eternally, but also that it shall doe so: it knows it shall never be deserted of that free Goodness that alwaies embraceth it: it knows that Almighty Love, which it lives by, to be stronger then death, and more powerful then the grave; it will not suffer those holy ones that are partakers of it to lie in hell, or their Souls to see corruption; and though worms may devour their flesh, and putrefaction enter into those bones that fence it, yet it knows that its Re­deemer lives, and that it shall at last see him with a pure Intellectual eye, which will then be clear and bright, when all that earthly dust, which converse with this mortal body filled it with, shall be wiped out: It knows that God will never forsake his own life which he hath quickned in it; he will never deny those ardent desires of a blissfull fruition of himself, which the lively sense of his own Goodness hath excited within it: those breathings and gaspings after an eternal participation of him are but the Energy of his own breath within us; if he had had any mind to destroy it, he would never have shewn it such things as he hath done; he would [Page 103] not raise it up to such Mounts of Vision, to shew it all the glory of that heavenly Canaan flowing with eternal and unbounded pleasures, and then tumble it down a­gain into that deep and darkest Abyss of Death and Non-entity. Divine goodness cannot, it will not, be so cruel to holy souls that are such ambitious suitors for his love. The more they contemplate the blissfull Effluxes of his divine love upon themselves, the more they find themselves strengthned with an undaunted confidence in him; and look not upon themselves in these poor bodily relations and dependences, but in their eternal alliances, [...], (as Ar­rianus sometimes speaks) as the Sons of God who is the Father of Souls, Souls that are able to live any where in this spacious Universe, and better out of this dark and lonesome Cell of Bodily matter, which is alwaies checking and clogging them in their noble motions, then in it: as knowing that when they leave this Body, they shall then be received into everlasting habitations, and converse freely and familiarly with that Source of Life and Spirit which they conversed with in this life in a poor disturbed and streightned manner. It is in­deed nothing else that makes men question the Immor­tality of their Souls, so much as their own base and earthly loves, which first makes them wish their Souls were not immortal, and then to think they are not: which Plotinus hath well observed, and accordingly hath soberly pursued this argument.

I cannot omit a large recital of his Discourse, which tends so much to disparage that flat and dull Philoso­phy which these later Ages have brought forth; as also those heavy-spirited Christians that find so little divine life and activity in their own Souls, as to ima­gine them to fall into such a dead sleep as soon as they [Page 104] leave this earthly tabernacle, that they cannot be a­wakened again, till that last Trumpet and the voice of an Archangel shall rouse them up. Our Authors dis­course is this, Enn. 4. lib. 7. c. 10. having first premised this Principle, That every Divine thing is immortall, [...], &c. Let us now consider a Soul (saith he) not such an one as is immerst into the Body, having contracted unreasonable Concu­piscence and Anger ( [...], according to which they were wont to distinguish between the Irascible and Concupiscible faculty) and other Passions; but such a one as hath cast away these, and as little as may be communicates with the Body: such a one as this will sufficiently manifest that all Vice is unnaturall to the Soul, and something acquired onely from abroad; and that the best Wisdome and all other Vertues lodge in a purged Soul, as being allyed to it. If therefore such a Soul shall reflect upon it self, how shall it not appear to it self to be of such a kind of nature as Divine and Eternall Essences are? For Wisdome and true Vertue being Divine Ef­fluxes can never enter into any unhallowed and mortall thing: it must therefore needs be Divine, seeing it is fill'd with a Divine nature [...] by its kindred and consanguinity therewith. Whoever therefore amongst us is such a one, differs but little in his Soul from Angelicall essences; and that little is the present inhabitation in the Body, in which he is inferiour to them. And if every man were of this raised temper, or any considerable number had but such holy Souls, there would be no such Infidels as would in any sort disbelieve the Soul's Immortality. But now the vulgar sort of men beholding the Souls of the generality so mutilated and de­form'd with Vice and Wickedness, they cannot think of the Soul as of any Divine and Immortall Being; though [Page 105] indeed they ought to judge of things as they are in their own naked essences, and not with respect to that which extraessentially adheres to them; which is the great pre­judice of knowledge. Contemplate therefore the Soul of man, denuding it of all that which it self is not, or let him that does this view his own Soul; then he will be­lieve it to be Immortall, when he shall behold it [...], fixt in an Intelligible and pure na­ture; he shall then behold his own Intellect contempla­ting not any Sensible thing, but Eternall things, with that which is Eternall, that is, with it self, looking into the Intellectuall world, being it self made all Lucid, In­tellectuall, and shining with the Sun-beams of eternall Truth, borrowed from the First Good, which perpetually rayeth forth his Truth upon all Intellectuall Beings. One thus qualified may seem without any arrogance to take up that saying of Empedocles, [...].—Farewell all earthly allies, I am henceforth no mortall wight, but an Immortall Angel, ascending up into Divinity, and reflecting upon that likeness of it which I find in my self. When true Sanctity and Purity shall ground him in the knowledge of divine things, then shall the inward Sciences, that arise from the bottome of his own Soul, display themselves; which indeed are the onely true Sciences: for the Soul runs not out of it self to behold Temperance and Justice abroad, but its own light sees them in the contemplation of its own Being, and that divine essence which was before enshrined within it self.

I might after all this adde many more Reasons for a further confirmation of this present Thesis, which are as numerous as the Soul's relations & productions them­selves are; but to every one who is willing to doe his own Soul right, this Evidence we have already brought in is more then sufficient.

CHAP. VIII.

An Appendix containing an Enquiry into the Sense and Opinion of Aristotle concerning the Immortality of the Soul. That according to him the Rational Soul is se­parable from the Body and Immortall. The true mea­ning of his Intellectus Agens and Patiens.

HAving done with the several Proofs of the Soul's Immortality (that great Principle of Naturall Theology, which if it be not entertain'd as a Communis Notitia, as I doubt not but that it is by the Vulgar sort of men, or as an Axiome, or, if you will, a Theo­reme of free and impartial Reason, all endeavours in Religion will be very cool and languid) it may not be amiss to enquire a little concerning His opinion whom so many take for the great Intelligencer of Nature and Omniscient Oracle of Truth; though it be too mani­fest that he hath so defaced the sacred Monuments of the ancient Metaphysical Theology by his profane hands, that it is hard to see that lovely face of Truth which was once engraven upon them (as some of his own Interpreters have long agoe observed) and so blurr'd those fair Copies of divine learning which he received from his Predecessours, that his late Interpre­ters (who make him their All) are as little sometime acquainted with his meaning and design, as they are with that Elder philosophy which he so corrupts: which indeed is the true reason they are so ambiguous in determining his Opinion of the Soul's immortality; which yet he often asserts and demonstrates in his [Page 107] Three Books de Anima. We shall not here traverse this Notion through them all, but onely briefly take notice of that which hath made his Expositours stumble so much in this point; the main whereof is that Defi­nition which he gives of the Soul, wherein he seems to make it nothing else for the Genus of it, but an Ente­lechia or Informative thing, which spends all its virtue upon that Matter which it informs, and cannot act any other way then meerly by information; being indeed nothing else but some Material [...], like an impres­sion in wax which cannot subsist without it, or else the result of it: whence it is that he calls onely either Ma­terial Forms, or the Functions and Operations of those Forms, by this name. But indeed he intended not this for a general Definition of the Soul of man, and there­fore after he had lai'd down this particular Definition of the Soul, lib. 2. cap. 1. he tells us expresly, That that which we call the Rational Soul is [...] or separable from the Body, [...], be­cause it is not the Entelech of any Body. Which he laies down the demonstration of in several places of all those Three books, by enquiring [...], as he speaks, lib. 1. cap. 1. whether the Soul hath any proper function or operation of its own, or whether all be compounded and result from the Soul and Body together: and in this inquirie finding that all Sensations and Passions arise as well from the Body as from the Soul, and spring out of the conjunction of both of them (which he therefore calls [...], as being begotten by the Soul upon the Body) he con­cludes that all this savours of nothing else but a Mate­terial nature, inseparable from the Body. But then fin­ding acts of Mind and Understanding, which cannot be propagated from Matter, or causally depend upon the [Page 108] Body, he resolves the Principles from whence they flow to be Immortal; which he thus sets down lib. 2. cap. 2. [...], &c. that is, Now as for the Mind and Theoreticall power, it appears not, viz. that they belong to that Soul which in the former Chapter was defined by [...], but it seems to be another kind of Soul, and that onely is separable from the Body, as that which is Eternal and Immortal from that which is Corruptible. But the other Powers or Parts of the Soul (viz. the Vegetative and Sensitive) are not se­parable, [...], as some think. Where by these [ [...] some] which he here refutes, he manifestly means the Platonists and Pythagoreans, who held that all kinds of Souls were immortal, as well the Souls of beasts as of men; whereas he upon that former en­quirie concluded that nothing was immortal, but that which is the Seat of Reason and Understanding: and so his meaning is, that this Rational Soul is altogether a distinct Essence from those other; or else that glory which he makes account he reaps from his supposed victory over the other Sects of Philosophers will be much eclipsed, seeing they themselves did not so much contend for that which he decries, viz. an exer­cise of any such Informative faculties in a state of Se­paration, neither doe we find them much more to re­ject one part of that complex Axiome of Lib. 3. c. 4. his, [...], That which is sensitive is not without the Body, but the Intellect or Mind is separable, then they doe the other.

The other difficulty which Aristotle's opinion seems to be clogg'd withall is that Conclusion which he laies down lib. 3. c. 5. [...], which is commonly thus expounded, Intellectus patiens est cor­ruptibilis. [Page 109] But all this difficulty will soon be cleared, if once it may appear how ridiculous their conceit is, that from that Chapter fetch that idle distinction of Intellectus Agens & Patiens; meaning by the Agens, that which prepares phantasmes, and exalts them into the nature of intelligible species; and then propounds them to the Patiens to judge thereof: whereas indeed he means nothing else by his [...], but onely the Understanding in potentia, and by his [...], the same in actu or in habitu, as the Schoolmen are wont to phrase it; and accordingly thus laies down his meaning and method of this notion. In the prece­ding Chapter of that Book, he disputes against Plato's Connate species, as being afraid, lest if the Soul should be prejudiced by any home-born notions, it would not be indifferent to the entertaining of any other Truth. Where, by the way, we may observe how unreasonable his Argument is: for if the Soul hath no such stock of principles to trade with, nor any proper notions of its own that might be a [...] of all Opinions, it would be so indifferent to any, that the foulest Errour might be as easily entertained by it as the fairest Truth; nei­ther could it ever know what guest it receives, whe­ther Truth, or Falshood. But yet our Author found himself able to swallow down this absurdity, though when he had done he could not well digest it. For he could not but take notice of that which was obvious for any one to reply, That [...], and so reflecting upon it self, may find matter within to work upon; and so laies down this scruple in a way not much different from his Masters, [...], &c. but the Soul it self is also intelli­gible, as well as all other intelligible natures are; and in those Beings which are purely abstracted from Matter, [Page 110] that which understands is the same with that which is un­derstood. Thus he. But not being Master of this no­tion, he finds it a little too unruly for him, and falls to enquire why the Soul should not then alwaies be in actu; quitting himself of the whole difficulty at once by telling us, that our souls are here clogg'd with a Hyle or Matter that cleaves to them, and so all the matter of their knowledge is contained in sensible ob­jects, which they must extract out of them, being themselves onely [...] or in potentia ad intelligen­dum. Just as in a like argument (Chap. 8.) he would needs perswade us, That the Understanding beholds all things in the glass of Phansie; and then questioning how our [...] or First principles of knowledge should be Phantasmes, he grants that they are not indeed phantasmes, [...], but yet they are not without phantasmes; which he thinks is enough to say, and so by his meer dictate without any further discussion to solve that knot: whereas in all Reflex acts, whereby the Soul reviews its own opinions, and finds out the nature of them, it makes neither use of Sense or Phantasmes; but acting immediately by its own power, finds it self [...], as Simplicius observes.

But to return, This Hyle or Matter which our Au­thor supposeth to hinder a free & uninterrupted exer­cise of Understanding, is indeed nothing else but the Souls potentiality; and not any kind of divisible or ex­tended nature. And therefore when he thus distingui­sheth between his Intellectus Agens and Patiens, he seems to mean almost nothing else but what our ordi­nary Metaphysitians doe in their distinction of Actus and Potentia, (as Simplicius hath truly observed) when they tell us, that the finest created nature is made up [Page 111] of these two compounded together. For we must know that the genius of his Philosophy led him to fancy an [...], a certain subject or obediential power in every thing that fell within the compass of Physical speculation, or that had any relation to any natural body; and some other power which was [...], that was of an active and operating nature: and conse­quently that both these Principles were in the Soul it self, which as it was capable of receiving impressions & species from the Phansie, and in a posse to understand, so it was Passive; but as it doth actually understand, so it is [...] or Active. And with this Notion he begins his 5. Chap. [...], &c. that is, Seeing that in every nature there is something which as a First subject is all things potentially, and some Active principle which pro­duceth all things, as Art doth in Matter; it is necessary that the Soul also partake of these differences. And this he illustrates by Light & Colours; resembling the Pas­sive power of the Intellect to Colours, the Active or Energetical to Light: and therefore he saies, it is [...], separable, unmixt, and im­passible; and so at last concludes, [...], in the state of Separation this Intellect is alwaies that which it is (that is, it is alwaies Active and Energetical, as he had told us before, [...], the essence of it being activity) [...], and this onely is immortal and eternal, but we doe not remember because it is impassible. In which last words he seems to disprove Plato's Reminiscentia, because the Soul in a state of Separation being alwaies in act, the Passive power of it, which then first begins to appear when it is embodied, could not represent or contain any such [Page 112] Traditionall species as the Energeticall faculty acted upon before; seeing there was then no Phansie to retain them in, as Simplicius expounds it, [...], because in all remembrance we must reflect upon our Phansie. And this our Author seems to glance at, it being indeed never out of his eye, in these words we have endeavoured to give an account of, [...], But the Passive intellect is corruptible, and without this we can understand nothing in this life. And thus our fore-named Commentator doubts not to glosse on them.

CHAP. IX.

A main Difficulty concerning the Immortality of the Soul [viz. The strong Sympathy of the Soul with the Body] answered. An Answer to another Enquiry, viz. Under what account Impressions deriv'd from the Body do fall in Morality.

WE have now done with the Confirmation of this Point, which is the main Basis of all Re­ligion, and shall not at present trouble our selves with those difficulties that may seem to incumber it; which indeed are onely such as beg for a Solution, but doe not, if they be impartially considered, proudly contest with it: and such of them which depend upon any hy­pothesis which we may apprehend to be lai'd down in Scripture, I cannot think them to be of any such mo­ment, but that any one who deals freely and ingenu­ously with this piece of God's truth, may from thence [Page 113] find a far better ansa of answering, then he can of mo­ving of any scruples against the Souls Immortality, which that most strongly every where supposes, & does not so positively & [...] lay down, as presume that we have an antecedent knowledge of it, & therefore prin­cipally teaches us the right Way & Method of provi­ding in this life for our happy subsistence in that eter­nal estate. And as for what pretends to Reason or Ex­perience, I think it may not be amiss briefly to search into one main difficulty concerning the Soul's Immor­tality: and that is, That strange kind of dependency which it seems to have on the Body, whereby it seems constantly to comply and sympathize therewith, and to assume to it self the frailties and infirmities thereof, to laugh and languish as it were together with that: and so when the Body is compos'd to rest, our Soul seems to sleep together with it; and as the Spring of bodily Motion seated in our Brains is more clear or muddy, so the conceptions of our Minds are more di­stinct or disturbed.

To answer this difficulty, it might be enough per­haps to say, That the Sympathy of things is no suffici­ent Argument to prove the Identity of their essences by, as I think all will grant; yet we shall endeavour more fully to solve it.

And for that purpose we must take notice, that though our Souls be of an Incorporeal nature, as we have already demonstrated, yet they are united to our Bodies, not as Assisting forms or Intelligences, as some have thought, but in some more immediate way; though we cannot tell what that is, it being the great arcanum in Man's nature, that which troubled Plotinus so much, when he had contemplated the Immortality of it, that, as he speaks of himself, Enn. 4. lib. 8. c. 1. [...] [Page 114] [...]. But indeed to make such a Complex thing as Man is, it was necessary that the Soul should be so united to the Body, as to share in its passions and infirmities so far as they are void of sinfulness. And as the Body alone could not perform any act of Sensation or Reason, and so it self become a [...], so neither would the Soul be capable of providing for the necessities of the Body, without some way whereby a feeling and sense of them might be conveyed to it; neither could it take sufficient care of this corporeal life, as nothing pertai­ning to it, were it not sollicited to a natural compuncti­on and compassion by the indigencies of our Bodies. It cannot be a meer Mental Speculation that would be so sensibly affected with hunger or cold or other griefs that our Bodies necessarily partake of, to move our Souls to take care for their relief: and were there not such a commerce between our Souls and Bodies, as that our Souls also might be made acquainted by a pleasurable and delightful sense of those things that most gratifie our Bodies, and tend most to the support of their Crasis and temperament; the Soul would be apt wholly to neglect the Body, and commit it wholly to all changes and casualties. Neither would it be any thing more to us then the body of a Plant or Star, which we contemplate sometimes with as much con­tentment as we do our own bodies, having as much of the Theory of the one as of the other. And the rela­tion that our Souls bear to such peculiar bodies as they inhabite, is one and the same in point of notion and speculation with that which they have to any other body: and therefore that which determines the Soul [Page 115] to this Body more then that, must be some subtile vin­culum that knits and unites it to it in a more Physical way, which therefore Proclus sometimes calls [...], a spiritual kind of vehicle, where­by corporeal impressions are transferr'd to the Mind, and the dictates and decrees of that are carried back again into the Body to act and move it. Heraclitus wittily glancing at these mutual aspects and entercour­ses, calls them Plotin. Enn. 4. l. 8. c. 1. [...], the Responsals or Antiphons wherein each of them cat­cheth at the others part & keeps time with it; and so he tells us that there is [...], a way that leads upwards and downwards between the Soul and Body, whereby their affairs are made known to one another. For as the Soul could not have a sufficient relation of the state and condition of our Bodies, except it recei­ved some impressions from them; so neither could our Souls make use of our Bodies, or derive their own vir­tue into them as they doe, without some intermediate motions. For as some motions may seem to have their beginning in our Bodies, or in some external mover, which are not known by our Souls till their advertency be awakened by the impetuousness of them: so some other motions are derived by our own Wills into our Bodies, but yet in such a way as they cannot be into any other body; for we cannot by the meer Magical virtue of our Wills move any thing else without our selves, nor follow any such virtue by a concurrent sense of those mutations that are made by it, as we doe in our own Bodies.

And as this Conjugal affection and sympathy be­tween Soul and Body are thus necessary to the Being of Mankind; so we may further take notice of some peculiar part within us where all this first begins: which [Page 116] a late fagacious Philosopher hath happily observed to be in that part of the Brain from whence all those Nerves that conduct the Animal spirits up and down the Body take their first Original; seeing we find all Motions that first arise in our Bodies, to direct their course straight up to that, as continually respecting it, and there onely to be sensated, and all the imperate motions of our Wills issuing forth from the same con­sistory. Therefore the Animal spirits, by reason of their constant mobility and swift motion, ascending to the place of our Nerves origination, move the Soul, which there sits enthron'd, in some mysterious way; and de­scending at the beck of our Wills from thence, move all the Muscles and joynts in such sort as they are gui­ded and directed by the Soul. And if we observe the subtile Mechanicks of our own Bodies, we may easily conceive how the least motion in these Animal Spi­rits will, by their relaxing or distending the Nerves, Membranes and Muscles, according to their different quantity or the celerity and quality of their motions, beget all kind of motions likewise in the Organical part of our Bodies. And therefore that our Souls may the better inform our Bodies, they must perceive all their varieties; and because they have such an im­mediate proximity to these Spirits, therefore also all the Motions of our Souls in the highest way of Reason and Understanding are apt to stir these quick and nimble spirits alwaies attending upon them, or else fix them too much. And thus we may easily see that should our Souls be alwaies acting and working within us, our Bodies could never take that rest and repose which is requisite for the conservation of Nature. As we may easily perceive in all our studies and meditati­ons that are most serious, our Spirits are the more [Page 117] fix'd, attending the beck of our Minds. And except this knot whereby our Souls are wedded to our Bodies were unloosed that our Souls were loose from them, they could not act, but presently some Motion or other would be imprest upon our Bodies: as every Motion in our Bodies that is extraordinary, when our Nerves are distended with the Animal spirits, by a continual communication of it self in these Nerves like so many intended Chords to their original, moves our Souls; and so though we alwaies perceive that one of them is primarily affected, yet we also find the other pre­sently by consent to be affected too.

And because the Soul hath all Corporeal passions and impressions thus conveyed to it, without which it could not expresse a due benevolence to that Body which peculiarly belongs to it; therefore as the Mo­tions of these Animal Spirits are more or less either disorderly and confus'd, or gentle and compos'd, so those Souls especially who have not by the exercise of true Vertue got the dominion over them, are also more or less affected proportionably in their operations. And therefore indeed to question whether the Soul, that is of an Immortal nature, should entertain these corporeal passions, is to doubt whether God could make a Man or not, and to question that which we find by experience in our selves; for we find both that it doth thus, and yet that the Original of these is some­times from Bodies, and sometimes again by the force of our Wills they are impress'd upon our Bodies.

Here by the way we may consider in a moral way what to judge of those Impressions that are derived from our Bodies to our Souls, which the Stoicks call [...] not because they are repugnant to Reason, or are aberrations from it; but because they derive not [Page 118] their original from Reason, but from the Body, which is [...] and are by Aristotle, more agreeably to the ancient Dialect, called [...] material or corporeal Idea's or impressions. And these we may safely reckon, I think, amongst our Adiaphora in Morality, as being in themselves neither good nor evil, (as all the antient Writers have done) but onely are form'd into either by that stamp that the Soul prints upon them, when they come to be entertain'd into it. And therefore whereas some are apt in the most severe way to cen­sure [...], all those Commoti­ons and Passions that first affect our Souls; they might doe well more cautelously to distinguish between such of these motions as have their origination in our Bo­dies, and such as immediately arise from our Souls: else may we not too hastily displace the antient termi­ni, and remove the land-marks of Vertue and Vice? For seeing the Soul could not descend into any corpo­real act, as it must doe while it is more present to one body then another, except it could partake of the griefs and pleasures of the Body; can it be any more sinful for it to sensate this, then it is for it to be united to the Body? If our Soul could not know what it is to eat or drink, but onely by a meer ratiocination, col­lecting by a drie syllogisticall discourse [That meats and drinks preserve the health and fabrick of the Body, repairing what daily exhales from it] without sensating any kind of grief in the want, or refreshment in the use, of them; it would soon suffer the Body to languish and decay. And therefore as these Bodily infirmities and passions are not evil in themselves; so neither are they evil as they first affect our Souls. When our Animal Spirits, begot of fine and good blood, gently and nimbly play up and down in our Brains, and swiftly [Page 119] flie up and down our whole Bodies, we presently find our Phansies raised with mirth and chearfulness: and as when our Phansies are thus exalted, we may not call this the Energy of Grace; so if our Spleen or Hypo­chondria, swelling with terrene and sluggish Vapours, send up such Melancholick fumes into our heads as move us to sadness and timorousness, we cannot justly call that Vice; nor when the Gall does degurgitate its bitter juyce into our Liver, which mingling it self with the blood, begets fiery Spirits that presently fly up into our Brain, and there beget impressions of Anger within us. The like we may say of those Corporeal passions which are not bred first of all by any Peccant humours or dis­temperatures in our own bodies, but are excited in us by any External objects which by those idola and ima­ges that they present to our Senses, or rather those Motions they make in them, may presently raise such commotions in our Spirits: For our Body maintains not onely a conspiration and consent of all its own parts, but also it bears a like relation to other mundane bodies with which it is conversant, as being a part of the whole Universe. But when our Soul, once mov'd by the undisciplin'd petulancy of our Animal spirits, shall foment and cherish that Irrational Grief, Fear, Anger, Love, or any other such like Passions contrary to the dictates of Reason; it then sets the stamp of sinfulness upon them. It is the consent of our own Wills that by brooding of them brings forth those hatefull Serpents. For though our Souls be espoused to these Earthly Bodies, and cannot but in some mea­sure sympathize with them, yet hath the Soul a true dominion of its own acts. It is not the meer passion, if we take it in a Physicall sense, but rather some inordi­nate action of our own Wills that entertain it: and [Page 120] these passions cannot force our Wills, but we may be able to chastise and allay all the inordinacy of them by the power of our Wills and Reasons: and therefore God hath not made us under the necessity of sin, by ma­king us men subject to such infirmities as these are which are meerly [...], as the Greek Philoso­pher hath well called them, the blossomings and shoo­tings forth of bodily life within us; which is but [...] or Humanity.

And, if I mistake not, our Divinity is wont some­times to acknowledge some such thing in our Saviour himself, who was in all things made like to us, our sin­fulness excepted. He was a man of sorrows and acquain­ted with griefs, as the Prophet Esay speaks of him: and when he was in bodily agonies and horrours, the powerfull assaults thereof upon his Soul moved him to petition his Father, that if it were possible, that bitter Cup might pass from him; and the sense of death so much afflicted him, that it bred in him the sad griefs which S. Peter expresseth by [...] Act. 2. the pangs or throes of death, and that fear that extorted a desire to be freed from it, as it is insinuated by that in Heb. 5. 7. he was delivered from what he feared; for so the words, being nothing else but an Hebraism, are to be rendred, [...]. And we are wont to call this the language and dictate of Nature which lawfully endeavours to preserve it self, though presently an higher principle must bring all these under a subjection to God, and a free submission to his good pleasure: as it was with our Saviour, who moderated all these passions by a ready resignment of himself and his own Will up to the Will of God; and though his Humanity crav'd for ease and relaxation, yet that Di­vine Nature that was within him would not have it with any repugnancy to the supreme Will of God.

A DISCOURSE Concerning THE EXISTENCE AND NATURE OF GOD

Agapetus ad Justinianum.

[...].

M. T. Cicero l. 1. De Legibus.

Ex tot generibus nullum est animal praeter hominem quod habeat notitiam aliquam Dei: ipsisque in hominibus nulla gens est neque tam immansueta, neque tam fera, quae non, etiamsi ignoret qualem habere Deum deceat, tamen habendum sciat.

OF THE EXISTENCE AND NATURE OF GOD.

CHAP. I.

That the Best way to know God is by an attentive reflexi­on upon our own Souls. God more clearly and lively pictur'd upon the Souls of Men, then upon any part of the Sensible World.

WE shall now come to the other Cardinal Prin­ciple of all Religion, & treat something con­cerning God. Where we shall not so much demonstrate That he is, as What he is.

Both which we may best learn from a Reflexion upon our own Souls, as Plotinus hath well taught us, [...], He which reflects upon himself, reflects upon his own Originall, and finds the clearest Impression of some Eternall Nature and Per­fect Being stamp'd upon his own Soul. And there­fore Plato seems sometimes to reprove the ruder sor [...] of men in his times for their contrivance of Pictures and Images to put themselves in mind of the [...] or Angelicall Beings, and exhorts them to look into their own Souls, which are the fairest Images not onely of [Page 124] the Lower divine Natures, but of the Deity it self; God having so copied forth himself into the whole life and energy of man's Soul, as that the lovely Characters of Divinity may be most easily seen and read of all men within themselves: as they say Phidias the famous Sta­tuary, after he had made the Statue of Minerva with the greatest exquisiteness of Art to be set up in the Acropolis at Athens, afterwards impress'd his own I­mage so deeply in her buckler, ut nemo delere possit aut divellere, qui totam statuam non imminueret. And if we would know what the Impresse of Souls is, it is no­thing but God himself, who could not write his own name so as that it might be read but onely in Rationall Natures. Neither could he make such without im­parting such an Imitation of his own Eternall Under­standing to them as might be a perpetual Memorial of himself within them. And whenever we look upon our own Soul in a right manner, we shall find an Urim and Thummim there, by which we may ask counsel of God himself, who will have this alway born upon its breast-plate.

There is nothing that so embases and enthralls the Souls of men, as the dismall and dreadfull thoughts of their own Mortality, which will not suffer them to look beyond this short span of Time, to see an houres length before them, or to look higher then these mate­riall Heavens; which though they could be stretch'd forth to infinity, yet would the space be too narrow for an enlightned mind, that will not be confined within the compass of corporeal dimensions. These black Opinions of Death and the Non-entity of Souls (darker then Hell it self) shrink up the free-born Spirit which is within us, which would otherwise be dilating and spreading it self boundlesly beyond all Finite Being: [Page 125] and when these sorry pinching mists are once blown away, it finds this narrow sphear of Being to give way before it; and having once seen beyond Time and Mat­ter, it finds then no more ends nor bounds to stop its swift and restless motion. It may then fly upwards from one heaven to another, till it be beyond all orbe of Fi­nite Being, swallowed up in the boundless Abyss of Divinity, [...], beyond all that which darker thoughts are wont to represent under the Idea of Essence. This is that [...] which the Areopa­gite speaks of, which the higher our Minds soare into, the more incomprehensible they find it. Those dismall apprehensions which pinion the Souls of men to mor­tality, churlishly check and starve that noble life there­of, which would alwaies be rising upwards, and spread it self in a free heaven: and when once the Soul hath shaken off these, when it is once able to look through a grave, and see beyond death, it finds a vast Immensity of Being opening it self more and more before it, and the ineffable light and beauty thereof shining more and more into it; when it can rest and bear up itself upon an Immaterial centre of Immortality within, it will then find it self able to bear it self away by a self-reflexion into the contemplation of an Eternall Deity.

For though God hath copied forth his own Perfe­ctions in this conspicable & sensible World, according as it is capable of entertaining them; yet the most clear and distinct copy of himself could be imparted to none else but to intelligible and inconspicable natures: and though the whole fabrick of this visible Universe be whispering out the notions of a Deity, and alway in­culcates this lesson to the contemplators of it, [...], as Plotinus expresseth it; yet we cannot understand it without some interpreter within. The [Page 126] Heavens indeed declare the glory of God, and the Firma­ment shews his handy-work, and the [...], that which may be known of God, even his eternal power and Godhead, as S. Paul tells us, is to be seen in these ex­ternall appearances: yet it must be something within that must instruct us in all these Mysteries, and we shall then best understand them, when we compare that co­pie which we find of them within our selves, with that which we see without us. The Schoolmen have well compared Sensible and Intelligible Beings in reference to the Deity, when they tell us that the one doe onely represent Vestigia Dei, the other Faciem Dei. We shall therefore here enquire what that Knowledge of a Deity is which a due converse with our own naked Understandings will lead us into.

CHAP. II.

How the Contemplation of our own Souls, and a right Re­flexion upon the Operations thereof, may lead us into the knowledge of 1. The Divine Unity and Omnisci­ence, 2. God's Omnipotence, 3. The Divine Love and Goodness, 4. God's Eternity, 5. His Omnipre­sence, 6. The Divine Freedome and Liberty.

IT being our design to discourse more particularly of that knowledge of the Deity that we may learn immediately from our selves, we shall observe,

First, There is nothing whereby our own Souls are 1. better known to us then by the Properties and Opera­tions of Reason: but when we reflect upon our own Idea of Pure and Perfect Reason, we know that our own [Page 127] Souls are not it, but onely partake of it; and that it is of such a Nature that we cannot denominate any other thing of the same rank with our selves by; and yet we know certainly that it is, as finding from an inward sense of it within our selves that both we and other things else beside our selves partake of it, and that we have it [...] and not [...] neither doe we or any Finite thing contain the source of it within our selves: and because we have a distinct Notion of the most Perfect Mind and Understanding, we own our defi­ciency therein. And as that Idea of Understanding which we have within us points not out to us This or That Particular, but something which is neither This nor That, but Totall, Understanding; so neither will any elevation of it serve every way to fit and an­swer that Idea. And therefore when we find that we cannot attain to Science but by a Discursive deduction of one thing from another, that our knowledge is con­fined, and is not fully adequate and commensurate to the largest Spheare of Being, it not running quite through it nor filling the whole area of it; or that our knowledge is Chronical and successive, and cannot grasp all things at once, but works by intervals, and runs out into Division and Multiplicity; we know all this is from want of Reason and Understanding, and that a Pure and Simple Mind and Intellect is free from all these restraints and imperfections, and therefore can be no less then Infinite. As this Idea which we have of it in our own Souls will not suffer us to rest in any conce­ption thereof which represents it less then Infinite: so neither will it suffer us to conceive of it any otherwise then as One Simple Being: and could we multiply Un­derstandings into never so vast a number, yet should we be again collecting and knitting them up together [Page 128] in some Universal one. So that if we rightly reflect upon our own Minds and the Method of their Energies, we shall find them to be so framed, as not to admit of any other then One Infinite source of all that Reason and Understanding which themselves partake of, in which they live, move and have their Being. And therefore in the old Metaphysical Theology, an Origi­nall and Uncreated [...] or Unity is made the Foun­tain of all Particularities and Numbers which have their Existence from the Efflux of its Almighty power.

And that is the next thing which our own Under­standings 2. will instruct us in concerning God, viz. His Eternall Power. For as we find a Will and Power with­in our selves to execute the Results of our own Reason and Judgment, so far as we are not hindred by some more potent Cause: so indeed we know it must be a mighty inward strength and force that must enable our Understandings to their proper functions, and that Life, Energy and Activity can never be separated from a Power of Understanding. The more unbodied any thing is, the more unbounded also is it in its Effective power: Body and Matter being the most sluggish, inert and unwieldy thing that may be, having no power from it self nor over it self: and therefore the Purest Mind must also needs be the most Almighty Life and Spirit; and as it comprehends all things and sums them up to­gether in its Infinite knowledge, so it must also com­prehend them all in its own life and power. Besides, when we review our own Immortal Souls and their dependency upon some Almighty Mind, we know that we neither did nor could produce our selves; and with­all know that all that Power which lies within the com­pass of our selves, will serve for no other purpose then to apply severall praeexistent things one to another, [Page 129] from whence all Generations and Mutations arise, which are nothing else but the Events of different applicati­ons and complications of Bodies that were existent be­fore: and therefore that which produced that Substan­tiall Life and Mind by which we know our selves, must be something much more Mighty then we are, and can be no less indeed then Omnipotent, and must also be the First architect and [...] of all other Beings, and the perpetuall Supporter of them.

We may also know from the same Principles, That 3. an Almighty Love, every way commensurate to that most Perfect Being, eternally rests in it, which is as strong as that is Infinite, and as full of Life and Vigour as that is of Perfection. And because it finds no Beau­ty nor Loveliness but onely in that and the issues there­of, therefore it never does nor can fasten upon any thing else. And therefore the Divinity alwaies en­joies it self and its own Infinite perfections, seeing it is that Eternall and stable Sun of goodness that neither rises nor sets, is neither eclipsed nor can receive any encrease of light and beauty. Hence the Divine Love is never attended with those turbulent passions, per­turbations, or wrestlings within it self, of Fear, Desire, Grief, Anger, or any such like, whereby our Love is wont to explicate and unfold its affection towards its Object. But as the Divine Love is perpetually most infinitely ardent and potent, so it is alwaies calm and serene, unchangeable, having no such ebbings and flow­ings, no such diversity of stations and retrogradations as that Love hath in us which ariseth from the weak­ness of our Understandings, that doe not present things to us alwaies in the same Orient lustre and beauty: neither we nor any other mundane thing (all which are in a perpetual flux) are alwaies the same. Besides, [Page 130] though our Love may sometimes transport us and vio­lently rend us from our selves and from all Self-enjoy­ment, yet the more forcible it is, by so much the more it will be apt to torment us, while it cannot centre it self in that which it so strongly endeavours to attract to it; and when it possesseth most, yet is it alwaies hungry and craving, as Plotinus hath well express'd it, [...], it may alwaies be fil­ling it self, but, like a leaking vessel, it will be alwaies emptying it self again. Whereas the Infinite ardour of the Divine Love arising from the unbounded per­fection of the Divine Being, alwaies rests satisfied within it self, and so may rather be defin'd by a [...] then a [...], and is wrapt up and rests in the same Centrall Unity in which it first begins. And there­fore I think some men of later times have much mis­taken the nature of the Divine Love, in imagining that Love is to be attributed to God, as all other Passions are, rather secundùm effectum then affectum: whereas S. John, who was well acquainted with this noble Spi­rit of Love, when he defin'd God by it, and calls him LOVE, meant not to signifie a bare nothing known by some Effects, but that which was infinitely such as it seems to be. And we might well spare our labour, when we so industriously endeavour to find something in God that might produce the Effects of some other Passions in us, which look rather like the Brats of Hell and Darkness then the lovely offspring of Heaven.

When we reflect upon all this which signifies some Perfect Essence, as a Mind, Wisdome, Understanding, 4. Omnipotency, Goodness, and the like, we can find no such thing as Time or Place, or any Corporeall or Fi­nite properties which arise indeed not ex plenitudine, but ex inopia entitatis; we may also know God to be [Page 131] Eternall and Omnipresent, not because he fills either Place or Time, but rather because he wanteth neither. That which first begets the Notion of Time in us, is nothing else but that Succession and Multiplicity which we find in our own Thoughts, which move from one thing to another, as the Sun in the Firmament is said to walk from one Planetary house to another, and to have his several Stages to pass by. And therefore where there is no such Vicissitude or Variety, as there can be no sense of Time, so there can be nothing of the thing. Proclus hath wittily observ'd that Saturne, or (as the Greeks call'd him) [...], was the first of the [...] or Mundane Gods, [...], because Time is necessarily presuppos'd to all Generation, which proceeds by certain motions and intervalls. This World is indeed a great Horologe to it self, and is continually numbring out its own age; but it cannot lay any sure hold upon its own past revo­lutions, nor can it gather up its infancy and old age, and couple them up together. Whereas an Infinitely­comprehensive Mind hath a Simultaneous possession of its own never-flitting life; and because it finds no Succes­sion in its own immutable Understanding, therefore it cannot find any thing to measure out its own duration. And as Time lies in the Basis of all Finite life, whereby it is enabled by degrees to display all the virtue of its own Essence, which it cannot doe at once: so such an Eternity lies at the foundation of the Divinity, where­by it becomes one without any shadow of turning, as S. James speaks, without any Variety or Multiplicity within himself, which all created Beings that are car­ried down in the current of Time partake of. And therefore the Platonists were wont to attribute [...] or Eternity to God, not so much because he had nei­ther [Page 132] beginning nor end of daies, but because of his Im­mutable and Uniform nature, which admits of no such variety of Conceptions as all Temporary things doe: And Time they attributed to all created Beings, because there is a [...] or constant generation both of and in their essence, by reason whereof we may call any of them, as Proclus tells us, by that borrowed expression, [...] old and new, being every moment as it were re-produced, and acting something which it did not in­dividually before. Though otherwise they supposed This World, constantly depending upon the Creatour's Omnipotency, might from all Eternity flow forth from the same Power that still sustains it, and which was ne­ver less potent to uphold it then now it is: notwith­standing this piece of it which is visible to us, or at least this Scheme or fashion of it, they acknowledged to have been but of a late date.

Now thus as we conceive of God's Eternity, we may 5. in a correspondent manner apprehend his Omnipresence; not so much by an Infinite Expanse or Extension of Essence, as by an unlimited power, as Plotinus hath fitly express'd it, [...]. For as nothing can ever stray out of the bounds or get out of the reach of an Almighty Mind and Power; so when we barely think of Mind or Power, or any thing else most peculiar to the Divine Essence, we cannot find any of the Properties of Quantity mixing themselves with it: and as we cannot confine it in re­gard thereof to any one point of the Universe, so nei­ther can we well conceive it extended through the whole, or excluded from any part of it. It is alwaies some Material Being that contends for Space: Bodily parts will not lodge together, and the more bulky they [Page 133] are, the more they justle for room one with another; as Plotinus tells us, [...], Bodily Beings are great onely in bulk, but Divine Essences in virtue and power.

We may in the next place consider that Freedome 6. and Liberty which we find in our own Souls, which is founded in our Reason and Understanding; and this is therefore-Infinite in God, because there is nothing that can bound the First Mind, or disobey an Almighty power. We must not conceive God to be the freest Agent, because he can doe and prescribe what he plea­seth, and so set up an Absolute will which shall make both Law and Reason, as some imagine. For as God cannot know himself to be any other then what indeed he is; so neither can he will himself to be any thing else then what he is, or that any thing else should swerve from those Laws which his own Eternall Nature and Understanding prescribes to it. For this were to make God free to dethrone himself, and set up a Liberty within him that should contend with the royall prero­gative of his own boundless Wisdome.

To be short; When we converse with our own Souls, we find the Spring of all Liberty to be nothing else but Reason; and therefore no Unreasonable creature can partake of it: and that it is not so much any In­differency in our Wills of determining without, much less against, Reason, as the liberall Election of, and Com­placency in, that which our Understandings propound to us as most expedient: And our Liberty most appears, when our Will most of all congratulates the results of our own Judgments; and then shews it self most vi­gorous, when either the Particularness of that Good which the Understanding converseth with, or the weak knowledge that it hath of it, restrains it not. Then is [Page 134] it most pregnant and flows forth in the fullest stream, when its Object is most full, and the acquaintance with it most ample: all Liberty in the Soul being a kind of Liberality in the bestowing of our affections, and the want or scarce measure of it Parsimoniousness and Niggardise. And therefore the more the Results of our Judgments tend to an Indifferency, the more we find our Wills dubious and in suspense what to chuse; contrary inclinations arising and falling within enter­changeably, as the Scales of a Ballance equally laden with weights; and all this while the Soul's Liberty is nothing else but a Fluctuation between uncertainties, and languisheth away in the impotency of our Under­standings. Whereas the Divine Understanding behol­ding all things most clearly, must needs beget the greatest Freedome that may be; which Freedome as it is bred in it, so it never moves without the Compass of it. And though the Divine Will be not determin'd alway to this or that particular, yet it is never bereft of Eternall Light and Truth to act by: and therefore though we cannot see a Reason for all Gods actions, yet we may know they were neither done against it nor without it.

CHAP. III.

How the Consideration of those restless motions of our Wills after some Supreme and Infinite Good, leads us into the knowledge of a Deity.

WE shall once more take a view of our own Souls, and observe how the Motions thereof lead us into the knowledge of a Deity. We alwaies find a restless appetite within our selves which craves for some Supreme and Chief good, and will not be satisfied with any thing less then Infinity it self; as if our own Penury and Indigency were commensurate to the Di­vine fulness: and therefore no Question has been more canvas'd by all Philosophy then this, De summo hominis bono, and all the Sects thereof were antiently distin­guish'd by those Opinions that they entertain'd De fi­nibus Boni & Mali, as Tully phraseth it. But of how weak and dilute a Nature soever some of them may have conceived that Summum Bonum, yet they could not so satisfie their own inflamed thirst after it. We find by Experience that our Souls cannot live upon that thin and spare diet which they are entertain'd with at their own home; neither can they be satiated with those jejune and insipid morsels which this Outward world furnisheth their Table with. I cannot think the most voluptuous Epicurean could ever satisfie the cra­vings of his Soul with Corporeal pleasure, though he might endeavour to perswade himself there was no better: nor the most Quintessential Stoicks find an [...] and [...] a Self-sufficiency and Tranquil­lity [Page 136] within their own Souls, arising out of the pregnan­cy of their own Mind and Reason; though their sullen thoughts would not suffer them to be beholden to an Higher Being for their Happiness. The more we en­deavour to extract an Autarchy out of our own Souls, the more we torment them, and force them to feel and sensate their own pinching poverty. Ever since our Minds became so dim-sighted as not to pierce into that Original and Primitive Blessedness which is above, our Wills are too big for our Understandings, and will be­lieve their beloved prey is to be found where Reason discovers it not: they will pursue it through all the vast Wilderness of this World, and force our Understan­dings to follow the chase with them: nor may we think to tame this violent appetite or allay the heat of it, except we can look upward to some Eternal and Al­mighty goodness which is alone able to master it.

It is not the nimbleness and agility of our own Reason which stirs up these hungry affections within us, (for then the most ignorant sort of men would never feel the sting thereof) but indeed some more Potent nature which hath planted a restless motion within us that might more forcibly carry us out to it self; and therefore it will never suffer it self to be controll'd by any of our thin Speculations, or satisfied with those aierie delights that our Fancies may offer to it: it doth not, it cannot, rest it self any where but upon the Centre of some Al­mighty good, some solid and substantial Happiness; like the hungry childe that will not be still'd by all the mother's musick, or change its sower and angry looks for her smiling countenance; nothing will satisfie it but the full breasts.

The whole work of this World is nothing but a perpetuall contention for True Happiness, and men are [Page 137] scatter'd up and down the world, moving to and fro therein, to seek it. Our Souls by a Naturall Science as it were feeling their own Originall, are perpetually travailing with new designs and contrivances whereby they may purchase the scope of their high ambitions. Happiness is that Pearl of price which all adventure for, though few find it. It is not Gold or Silver that the Earthlings of this world seek after, but some satisfying good which they think is there treasur'd up. Neither is it a little empty breath that Ambition and Popula­rity soars after, but some kind of Happiness that it thinks to catch and suck in with it.

And thus indeed when men most of all flie from God, they still seek after him. Wicked men pursue indeed after a Deity in their worldly lusts; wherein yet they most blaspheme; for God is not a meer empty Name or Title, but that Self-sufficient good which brings along that Rest and Peace with it which they so much seek after, though they doe most prodigiously conjoyn it with something which it is not, nor can it be, and in a true and reall strain of blasphemy, attribute all that which God is to something else which is most unlike him, and, as S. Paul speaks of those infatuated Gen­tiles, Rom. 1. turn the glory of the uncorruptible God into the image of corruptible man, of birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things.

God is not better defin'd to us by our Understan­dings then by our Wills and Affections: He is not onely the Eternal Reason, that Almighty Mind and Wisdome which our Understandings converse with; but he is also that unstained Beauty and Supreme Good which our Wills are perpetually catching after: and wheresoever we find true Beauty, Love and Goodness, we may say, Here or there is God. And as we cannot understand any thing [Page 138] of an Intelligible nature, but by some primitive Idea we have of God, whereby we are able to guess at the elevation of its Being and the pitch of its Perfection; so neither doe our Wills embrace any thing without some latent sense of Him, whereby they can tast and discern how near any thing comes to that Self-suffi­cient good they seek after: and indeed without such an internal sensating Faculty as this is we should never know when our Souls are in conjunction with the Dei­ty, or be able to relish the ineffable sweetness of true Happiness. Though here below we know but little what this is, because we are little acquainted with frui­tion and enjoyment; we know well what belongs to longings and languishment, but we know not so well what belongs to plenty and fulness; we are well ac­quainted with the griefs and sicknesses of this in-bred love, but we know not what its health and complacen­cies are.

To conclude this particular, [...], the Soul hath strong and weighty motions, and nothing else can bear it up but something permanent and immutable. Nothing can beget a constant sere­nity and composedness within, but something Supreme to its own Essence; as if having once departed from the primitive Fountain of its life, it were deprived of it self, perpetually contesting within it self and divi­ded against it self: and all this evidently proves to our inward sense and feeling, That there is some Higher Good then our selves, something that is much more amiable and desirable, and therefore must be loved and preferred before our selves, as Plotinus hath excel­lently observ'd, [...], &c. Every thing that desires the enjoyment of the First good, would rather be [Page 139] That then what it is, because indeed the nature of that is much more desirable then its own. And therefore the Platonists, when they contemplate the Deity under these three notions of [...] and [...], and que­stion which to place first in order of understanding, re­solve the preeminence to be due to the [...], as Simplicius tells us, because That is first known to us as the Architect of the world, and, we may adde, as that which begets in us this [...], these strong passionate desires whereby all sorts of men (even those that are rude and illiterate) are first known to them­selves, and by that knowledge may know what dimi­nutive, poor and helpless, things themselves are, who can never satiate themselves from themselves, and what an Excellent and Soveraign goodness there is above them which they ought to serve, and cannot but serve it, or some filthy idol in stead of it; though this men­tal Idolatry be like that gross and external in this also, that howsoever we attend it not (and so are never the more blameless) yet our worship of these images and pictures of Goodness rests not there, it being some all-sufficient Good that (as we observed before) calls forth and commands our adorations.

CHAP. IV.

Deductions and Inferences from the Consideration of the Divine Nature and Attributes.

1. That all Divine productions are the free Effluxes of Omnipotent Love and Goodness. The true Notion of God's glory what it is. Men very apt to mistake in this point. God needs not the Happiness or Misery of his Creatures to make himself glorious by. God does most glorifie himself by communicating himself: we most glorifie God when we most partake of him, and resemble him most.

WE have seen how we may rise up to the under­standing of the Deity by the contemplation of our own Souls: and now it may seem worthy of the best attention of our Minds to consider some Deducti­ons and Inferences which naturally flow from the true knowledge of the Divine Nature and Attributes.

And the First is this, That all Divine productions or operations that terminate in something without Him, are nothing else but the free Effluxes of his own Omnipotent Love and Goodness, which alwaies moves along with them, and never willingly departs from them. When God made the world, it was not out of a piece of Self-Interest, as if he had had any design to advance himself, or to enlarge his own stock of glory and happiness; for what Beauty or Perfection can be in this whole Crea­tion which was not before contained in himself as the free Fountain of all? or what could he see out of him­self [Page 141] that could adde any thing to his own stature, which he found not already in himself? He made not the World [...], It was not for any need, or that he might gain some honour to himself from Men, Archangels or Angels, as the Tribute or Rent to be paid to him from his Creation, as Clemens Alexandrinus observes out of Strom. 5. Plato. Though I know not how it comes about that some bring in God as it were casting about how he might erect a new Monopoly of glory to himself, and so to serve this purpose made the World, that he might have a stock of glory here going in it. And I doubt we are wont sometimes to paint him forth too much in the likeness of corrupt and impotent men, that by a fond ambition please themselves and feed their lustfull phansies with their own praises chanted out to them by their admirers, and another while as much sport themselves and applaud their own Greatness, to hear what hideous cries the Severity of their own Power can extort from those they have a mind to make miserable.

We all speak much of the Glory of God, and entertain a common belief that that's the onely End for which we were all made: and I wish we were all more inwardly moved with a true and lively sense of it. There can be nothing else that either God could propound to himself, or that we ought, if it be rightly understood. But we must not think that God, who is Infinite ful­ness, would seek for any thing without himself: he needs neither our Happiness nor our Misery to make himself more illustrious by; but being full in himself, it was his good pleasure to communicate of his own fulness: for, as Lib. 4. in Ti­maeum. Proclus hath well observ'd, [...] [Page 142] [...], &c. How can he look without himself, being he is a pure Mind alwaies encompass'd with its own glorious brightness? But the good pleasure of his Will be­ing fill'd with bounty, and the power of a most gracious Deity proceeding from it, liberally dispensed themselves, and distributed those gifts of grace that might make all created Being the more to resemble that Archetypall Idea of themselves. Accordingly Timaeus Locrus represents the Creatour of the World in the same strain that Mo­ses did, [...], delighted as it were in himself to see that all things that he had made were good, and some things exceeding good. God himself being infinitely full, and having enough and to spare, is alwaies overflowing; and Goodness and Love issue forth from him by way of redundancy. When he made the World, because there was nothing better then himself, he shadowed forth himself therein, and, as far as might be, was pleased to represent himself and manifest his own eternall glory and perfection in it. When he is said to seek his own glory, it is indeed no­thing else but to ray and beam forth, as it were, his own lustre; as R. Jehuda in his Book Cofri hath glanc'd at it, [...] Gloria haec scintilla est lucis divinae, cedens in utilitatem populi ejus in terra ejus.

God does then most glorifie and exalt himself in the most triumphant way that may be ad extra or out of himself, if I may so phrase it, when he most of all com­municates himself, and when he erects such Monu­ments of his own Majesty wherein his own Love and Goodness may live and reign.

And we then most of all glorifie him, when we par­take most of him, when our serious endeavours of a true assimilation to him and conformity to his Image [Page 143] declare that we think nothing Better then He is, and are therefore most ambitious of being one with him by an Universall Resignation of our selves unto him.

This is his Glory in its lowest Humiliation, while it beams forth out of himself; and our Happiness in its Exaltation, which Heaven never separates nor divides though Earth doth. His Honour is His Love and Goodness in paraphrase, spreading it self over all those that can or doe receive it; and this he loves and che­rishes wheresoever he finds it, as something of himself therein.

Thus I should leave this particular, but that being gone so far in it, it may be worth the while to take no­tice of Three things wherein God most of all glories and takes the greatest complacency, in reference to Creatures, as they are laid down by Proclus l. 4. in Tim. 1. [...], The First, and chiefest, is concurrent with his own internall vision of all things in that simple, expedite and simultaneous comprehension of all things intelligible, pier­cing through all their essences, and viewing them all in himself, he is delighted therein, as seeing how his own Glory can display and imitate it self in outward Matter. 2. The second is, [...], in the aptness and capacity of those things which he hath made to receive a further influence of good ready to stream forth from himself into them. 3. The last is, [...], in the sweet symmetry of his own forms with this capacity, and as it were the harmonious conspiration and symphony of them, when his own light pleasantly plaies upon those well-tuned instruments which he hath fitted to run the [Page 144] descants of his own Goodness upon. And therefore it becomes us whom he hath endued with vitall power of action, and in some sense a Self-moving life, to stir up his good gifts within our selves; and, if we would have him take pleasure in us, to prepare our own Souls more and more to receive of his Liberality, [...], that that stock which he is pleased to impart to us may not lie dead within us. And this is the Application which he makes of this Particular.

CHAP. V.

A second Deduction.

2. That all things are supported and govern'd by an Almighty Wisdome and Goodness. An Answer to an Objection made against the Divine Providence from an unequall distribution of things here below. Such quarrelling with Providence ariseth from a Pae­danticall and Carnall notion of Good and Evil.

IN the next place we may by way of further Deducti­on gather, That that Almighty Wisdome and Goodness which first made all things, doth also perpetually conserve and govern them; deriving themselves through the whole Fabrick, and seating themselves in every Finite Essence, [...], (as the same Philosopher expresseth it) lest stragling & fal­ling off from the Deity, they should become altogether disorderly, relapsing and sliding back into their first Chaos. As in all Motion there must be some First Mo­ver, [Page 145] from whence the beginning and perpetuation of all Motion is deduced: so in Beings there must be some First Essence upon which all other must constantly de­pend. And therefore the Pythagorean philosophy was wont to look upon these [...], as they call this production of every thing that is not truly divine, [...], as being alwaies in fieri. For as no Fi­nite thing can subsist by its own strength, or take its place upon the stage of Space without the leave of an Almighty and Supreme power: so neither can it re­main here without licence and assistance from it. The Deity indeed is the Centre of all finite Being, and En­tity it self, which is Self-sufficient, must of necessity be the Foundation and Basis of every one of these weak Essences, which cannot bear up themselves by any Cen­trall power of their own; as we may also be almost as­sured of from a sensible feeling of all the constant mu­tations and impotency which we find both in our selves and all other things.

And as God thus preserves all things, so he is con­tinually ordering & disposing all things in the best way, and providing so as may be best for them. He did not make the World as a meer Exercise of his Almighty power, or to trie his own strength, and then throw it away from himself without any more minding of it; for he is that Omnipresent Life that penetrates and runs through all things, containing and holding all fast together within himself; and therefore the antient Phi­losophy was wont rather to say, that the World was in God, then that God was in the World. He did not look without himself to search for some solid founda­tion that might bear up this weighty building, but in­deed rear'd it up within him, and spread his own Om­nipotency under it and through it: and being cen­trally [Page 146] in every part of it, he governs it according to the prescript of his own unsearchable Wisedome and Good­ness, and orders all things for the best. And this is one principall Orthodox point the Stoicks would have us to believe concerning Providence, [...], that all things are here done in this World by the appointment of the Best Mind.

And now if any should quarrel with the unequall dis­tribution of things here, as if rather some blind For­tune had bestow'd her blessings carelesly till she had no more left, and thereby made so many starvelings, ra­ther then some All-knowing Mind that deals forth its bounty in due proportions; I should send them to Plu­tarch and Plotinus to have their Reasons fully satisfied in this point, (for we here deal with the Principles of Naturall light) all these debates arising from nothing but Paedanticall and Carnall notions of Good and Evil: as if it were so gallant a thing to be dealing with Crowns and Scepters, to be bravely arrayed, and wal­low in that which is call'd the Wealth of this World. God indeed never took any such notice of Good men as to make them all Rulers, as the Plotin. Enn. 3. l. 2. c. 9. last of those fore­cited Authors tells us; neither was it worth the while, [...], neither is it fit for good men that partake of an higher life then the most Princely is, to trouble themselves about lording & ru­ling over other men; as if such a splendid kind of nothing as this is were of so much worth. It may be generally much better for us, while we are so apt to magnifie & court any Mundane beauty and glory, as we are, that Providence should disorder and deface these things, that we might all be weaned from the love of them, then that their lovely looks should so bewitch and enchant [Page 147] our Souls as to draw them off from Better things. And I dare say that a sober mind that shall contemplate the state and temper of mens minds, and the confused frame of this outward world, will rather admire at the Infinite Wisdome of a gracious Providence in permit­ting and ordering that Ataxy which is in it, then he would were it to be beheld in a more comely frame and order.

CHAP. VI.

A third Deduction.

3. That all true Happiness consists in a participation of God arising out of the assimilation and conformi­ty of our Souls to him; and, That the most reall Misery ariseth out of the Apostasie of Souls from God. No enjoyment of God without our being made like to Him. The Happiness and Misery of Man defin'd and stated, with the Originall and Foundation of both.

WE proceed now to another Deduction or Infe­rence, viz. That all True Happiness consists in a participation of God arising out of the assimilation and conformity of our Souls to him, and the most reall Misery ariseth out of the Apostasie of Souls from God. And so we are led to speak of the Rewards and Punishments of the Life to come, Praemium and Poena, [...] as the Jewish Writers are wont to express them: and it will not be any hard labour from what hath been said to find out the Originall and Nature of both of them; and though perhaps we cannot dive into the bottome [Page 148] of them, yet we may go about them, and tell how in a general way to define and distinguish them.

Happiness is nothing else, as we usually describe it to our selves, but the Enjoyment of some Chief good: and therefore the Deity is so boundlesly Happy, be­cause it is every way one with its own Immense per­fection; and every thing so much the more feelingly lives upon Happiness, by how much the more it comes to partake of God and to be made like to him: And there­fore the Platonists well defin'd it to consist in idea Boni. And as it is impossible to enjoy Happiness without a fruition of God; so it is impossible to enjoy him with­out an assimilation and conformity of our Natures to him in a way of true goodness and Godlike perfection. It is a common Maxim of Socrates, [...], it is not lawfull for any impure nature to touch pure Divinity. For we cannot enjoy God by any Externall conjunction with him: Divine fruition is not by a meer kind of Apposition or Conti­guity of our Natures with the Divine, but it is an In­ternall Union, whereby a Divine Spirit informing our Souls, derives the strength of a Divine life through them; and as this is more strong and active, so is Hap­piness it self more Energeticall within us. It must be some Divine Efflux running quite through our Souls, awakening and exalting all the vitall powers of them into an active Sympathy with some Absolute good, that renders us compleatly blessed. It is not to sit gazing upon a Deity by some thin speculations; but it is an inward feeling and sensation of this Mighty Good­ness displaying it self within us, melting our fierce and furious natures, that would fain be something in con­tradiction to God, into an Universall complyance with it self, and wrapping up our amorous Minds wholly [Page 149] into it self, whereby God comes to be all in all to us. And therefore so long as our Wills and Affections en­deavour to fix upon any thing but God & true Good­ness, we doe but indeed anxiously endeavour to wring Happiness out of something that will yeeld no more then a flinty Rock to all our pressing and forcing of it. The more we endeavour to force out our Affections to stay and rest themselves upon any Finite thing, the more violently will they recoil back again upon us. It is onely a true sense and relish of God that can tame and master that rage of our insatiable and restless de­sires which is still forcing us out of our selves to seek some Perfect Good, that which from a latent sense of our own Souls we feel our selves to want.

The Foundation of Heaven and Hell is laid in mens own Souls, in an ardent and vehement appetite after Happiness, which can neither attain to it, nor miss fi­nally of it and of all appearances of it, without a quick and piercing sense. Our Souls are not like so ma­ny lumps of dead and sensless Matter to a true living Happiness, they are not like these dull clods of Earth which sent not the good or ill savour of those Plants that grow upon them. Gain and Loss are very sensibly felt by greedy minds. The Soul of man was made with such a large capacity as it is, that so it might be better fitted to entertain a full and liberall Happiness, that the Divine Love and Goodness might more freely spread it self in it, and unite it to it self. And accordingly when it misseth of God, it must feel so much the more the fury and pangs of Misery, and find a severe Nemesis arising out of its guilty conscience, which like a fiery Scorpion will fasten its stings within it. And thus as Heaven, Love, Joy, Peace, Serenity, and all that which Happiness is, buds and blossoms out of holy and God-like [Page 150] spirits: so also Hell and Misery will perpetually spring out of impure Minds, distracted with Envy, Ma­lice, Ambition, Self-will or any inordinate loves to any particular thing.

This is that [...] that Plato speaks of, that fatal Law that is first made in Heaven's Consisto­ry, That Purity and Holiness shall be happy, and all Vice and Sin miserable. Holiness of Mind will be more and more attracting God to it self, as all Vice will lapse and slide more and more from him. The more pure our Souls are and abstracted from all mundane things, the more sincerely will they endeavour the nearest uni­on that may be with God, the more they will pant and breathe after him alone, leaving the chase of any other delight. There is such a noble and free-born spirit in true Goodness seated in Immortall natures, as will not be satisfied meerly with Innocency, nor rest it self in this mix'd Bodily state, though it could converse with Bodily things without sinking to a vitious love of them; but would alwaies be returning to a more inti­mate union with that Being from whence it came, and which will be drawing it more and more to it self: and therefore it seems very reasonable to believe that if A­dam had continued in a state of Innocency, he should have been raised by God to a greater fruition of him, and his nature should have been elevated to a more transcendent condition. And if there was any Covenant made with Adam in Paradise, I think we cannot under­stand it in any other sense but this: the Scripture speaks not of any other terms between God and Man. And this Law of life, which we have spoken of, is Eternall and Immutable; nor does the Dispensation of Grace by Christ Jesus at all abrogate or disannull, but rather enforce, it: for so we find that the Law of Christ, that [Page 151] which he gave out to all his Disciples, was this Law of perfection that carries true Happiness along in the Sense of it, which, as the great Prince of Souls, he dispenseth by his Eternall Spirit in a vitall way unto the Minds of men.

CHAP. VII.

A Fourth Deduction.

4. The Fourth Deduction acquaints us with the true Noti­on of the Divine Justice, That the proper scope and design of it, is to preserve Righteousness, to promote and encourage true Goodness. That it does not primarily intend Punishment, but onely takes it up as a mean to prevent Transgression. True Justice never supplants any that it self may appear more glorious in their ruines. How Divine Justice is most advanced.

IN the fourth place, we may further collect How rightly to state the Notion of the Divine Justice, the scope whereof is nothing else but to assert and esta­blish Eternall Law and Right, and to preserve the in­tegrity thereof; it is no design of Vengeance, which though God takes on wicked men, yet he delights not in it. The Divine Justice first prescribes that which is most conformable to the Divine Nature, and mainly pursues the conservation of Righteousness. We would not think him a good Ruler that should give out Laws to ensnare his Subjects, with an even indifferency of Mind whether his Laws be kept, or Punishments suf­fered; but such a one who would make the best secu­rity [Page 152] for Right and Equity by wholsome Laws, and an­nexing Punishments as a mean to prevent transgression, and not to manifest Severity. The proper scope of Justice seems to be nothing else but the preserving and maintaining of that which is Just and Right: the scope of that Justice which is in any Righteous Law, is properly to provide for a righteous execution of that which is just and fit to be, without intending punish­ment; for to intend that properly and directly, might rather seem Cruelty then Justice: and therefore Ju­stice takes not up Punishment, but onely for a security of performance of Righteous Laws, viz. either for the amendment of the person transgressing, or a due ex­ample to others to keep them off from transgression. For I would here suppose a Good and Righteous man, who in some desolate place of the World should have the command of a 100 more, and himself be Supreme & under no command. He prescribes Laws to this com­pany, makes it death for any one to take away ano­ther's life. But now one proves a Murtherer, kills one of his fellows; afterwards repents heartily, and is like to prove usefull among the rest of his fellows: they all are so heartily affected one to another, that there is no danger, upon sparing this Penitent's life, that any one of them should be encouraged to commit the like evil. The Case being thus stated, it will not seem difficult to conclude that the Justice of this Righteous and Good Commander would spare this poor Penitent: for his Justice would have preserved that life which is lost, and seeing there is nothing further that it can obtain in taking away this, it will save this which may be saved; for it affects not any blood; and when it destroies, it is out of necessity, to take away a destructive person, and to give example, which in the Case stated falls not out.

[Page 153] Again, Justice is the Justice of Goodness, and so can­not delight to punish; it aimes at nothing more then the maintaining and promoting the Laws of Goodness, and hath alwaies some good end before it, and therefore would never punish except some further good were in view.

True Justice never supplants any that it self might appear more glorious in their ruines; for this would be to make Justice love something better then Righte­ousness, and to advance and magnifie it self in something which is not it self, but rather an aberration from it self: and therefore God himself so earnestly contends with the Jews about the Equity of his own waies, with frequent asseverations that his Justice is thirsty after no man's blood, but rather that Sinners would repent, turn from their evil waies, and live. And then Justice is most advanced, when the contents of it are fulfill'd; and though it does not, and will not, acquit the guilty without Repentance, yet the design of it is to encou­rage Innocency and promote true Goodness.

CHAP. VIII.

The Fifth and last Deduction.

5. That seeing there is such an Entercourse and Society as it were between God and Men, therefore there is also some Law between them, which is the Bond of all Communion. The Primitive rules of God's Oeco­nomy in this world, not the sole Results of an Absolute Will, but the sacred Decrees of Reason and Goodness, God could not design to make us Sinfull or Miserable. Of the Law of Nature embosom'd in Man's Soul, how it obliges man to love and obey God, and to express a Godlike spirit and life in this world. All Souls the Off-spring of God; but Holy Souls manifest themselves to be, and are more peculiarly, the Children of God.

THE former Deduction leads me to another a-kin to it, which shall be my last, and it is that which Tully intimates in his De legibus, viz. That seeing there is such an Entercourse and Society as it were between God and Men, therefore there is also some Law between them, which is the Bond of all Communion. God himself, from whom all Law takes its rise and emanation, is not Ex­lex and without all Law, nor, in a sober sense, above it. Neither are the Primitive rules of his Oeconomy in this world the sole Results of an Absolute will, but the Sacred Decrees of Reason and Goodness. I cannot think God to be so unbounded in his Legislative power, that he can make any thing Law, both for his own Dispen­sations and our Observance, that we may sometime [Page 155] imagine. We cannot say indeed that God was ab­solutely determin'd from some Law within himself to make us; but I think we may safely say, when he had once determin'd to make us, he could neither make us sinfull, seeing he had no Idea nor shadow of Evil with­in himself, nor lap us those dreadfull fates within our Natures, or set them over us, that might arcanâ inspi­ratione (as some are pleas'd to phrase it) secretly work our ruine, and silently carry us on, making use of our own naturall infirmity, to eternall misery. Neither could he design to make his creatures miserable, that so he might shew himself Just. These are rather the by-waies of Cruell and Ambitious men, that seek their own advantage in the mischiefs of other men, and con­trive their own Rise by their Ruines: this is not Di­vine Justice, but the Cruelty of degenerated men.

But as the Divinity could propound nothing to it self in the making of the World but the Communica­tion of its own Love and Goodness; so it can never swerve from the same Scope and End in the dispensa­tion of it self to it. Neither did God so boundlesly enlarge the appetite of Souls after some All-sufficient Good, that so they might be the more unspeakably tortur'd in the missing of it; but that they might more certainly return to the Originall of their Beings. And such busie-working Essences as the Souls of men are, could neither be made as dull and sensless of true Happiness as Stocks and Stones are, neither could they contain the whole summe and perfection of it within themselves: therefore they must also be inform'd with such Principles as might conduct them back again to Him from whom they first came. God does not make Creatures for the meer sport of his Almighty arm, to raise and ruine and toss up and down at meer pleasure. [Page 156] No, that [...] or good pleasure of that Will that made them is the same still, it changes not, though we may change, and make our selves uncapable of par­taking the blissfull fruits and effects of it.

And so we come to consider that Law embosom'd in the Souls of men which ties them again to their Creatour, and this is called The Law of Nature; which indeed is nothing else but a Paraphrase or Comment upon the Nature of God as it copies forth it self in the Soul of Man.

Because God is the First Mind and the First Good, propagating an Imitation of himself in such Immortall Natures as the Souls of Men are, therefore ought the Soul to renounce all mortall and mundane things, and preserve its Affections chast and pure for God himself; to love him with a most Universall and Unbounded Love; to trust in him and reverence him; to converse with him in a free & chearful manner, as One in whom we live and move and have our Beings, being perpe­tually encompassed by him, and never moving out of him; to resign all our Waies and Wills up to him with an equall and indifferent mind, as knowing that he guides and governs all things in the Best way; to sink our selves as low in Humility, as we are in Self-no­thingness.

And because all those scatter'd Raies of Beauty and Loveliness which we behold spread up and down all the World over, are onely the Emanations of that in­exhausted Light which is above; therefore should we love them all in that, and climb up alwaies by those Sun-beams unto the Eternall Father of Lights: we should look upon him and take from him the pattern of our lives, and alwaies eying of him should [...], &c. (as Hierocles speaks) polish and [Page 157] shape our Souls into the clearest resemblance of him; and in all our behaviour in this World (that Great Temple of his) deport our selves decently and reve­rently, with that humility, meekness and modesty that becomes his house. We should endeavour more and more to be perfect, as he is; in all our dealing with men, doing good, shewing mercy and compassion, ad­vancing justice and righteousness, being alwaies full of charity and good works; and look upon our selves as having nothing to doe here but to display & blazon the glory of our heavenly Father, and frame our hearts and lives according to that Pattern which we behold in the Mount of a holy Contemplation of him. Thus we should endeavour to preserve that Heavenly fire of the Divine Love and Goodness (which issuing forth from God centres it self within us, and is the Protopla­stick virtue of our Beings) alwaies alive and burning in the Temple of our Souls, and to sacrifice our selves back again to him. And when we fulfill this Royall Law arising out of the heart of Eternity, then shall we here appear to be the Children of God, when he thus lives in us, as our Saviour speaks Matth. 5. And so we shall close up this Particular with that High privilege which Immortall Souls are invested with: they are all the Off-spring of God, for so S. Paul allows the Heathen Poet to call them: they are all royally descended, and have no Father but God himself, being originally for­med into his image and likeness; and when they ex­press the purity and holiness of the Divine Life in be­ing perfect as God is perfect, then they manifest them­selves to be his Children, Matth. 5. And in Matth. 7. Christ encourageth men to seek and pray for the Spi­rit, (which is the best gift that God can give to men) because he is their Heavenly Father, much more boun­tifull [Page 158] and tender to all helpless Souls that seek to him, then any earthly parent, whose Nature is degenerated from that primitive goodness, can be to his children. But those Apostate Spirits that know not to return to the Originall of their Beings, but implant themselves into some other stock, and seek to incorporate and u­nite themselves to another line by sin and wickedness, cut themselves off from this divine priviledge, and lose their own birth-right; they doe [...] (if I may borrow that phrase) and lapse into ano­ther nature. All this was well express'd by Proclus, [...] Lib. 4. in Ti­naeum. [...], All Souls are the Children of God, but all of them know not their God; but such as know him and live like to him, are called the Children of God.

CHAP. IX.

An APPENDIX concerning the Reason of Positive Laws.

BUT here, as an Appendix to the two former De­ductions, it may be of good use to enquire into the Reason of such Laws as we call Positive, which God hath in all times, as is commonly suppos'd, enjoyn'd obedience to; which are not the Eternall dictates and Decretals of the Divine Nature communicating it self to Immortall Spirits, but rather deduce their Originall from the free will and pleasure of God.

To solve this Difficulty, that of S. Paul may seem a fit Medium, who tells us, Gal. 3. The Law was added because [Page 159] of transgression; though I doubt not but he means thereby the Morall Law as well as any other. The true intent and scope of these Positive laws, (and it may be of such an externall promulgation of the Morall) seems to be nothing else but this, to secure the Eternall Law of Righteousness from transgression. As the Jews say of their decreta sapientum, that they were [...], an hedge to the Law; so we may say of these Divine Decretals, they were but cautionary and preventive of disobedience to that Higher Law: and therefore Saint Paul tells us why the Morall Law was made such a Po­litical business by an external promulgation, &c. 1 Tim. 1. 9. not so much because of righteous men, in whom the Law of Nature lives, who perform the [...] without any outward Law, but it was given for the lawless and disobedient, &c. And therefore I doubt not but we may safely conclude, that God gave not those Positive Laws meerly pro imperio, if I may use that ex­pression; it was not meerly to manifest his Absolute Dominion & Soveraignty, as some think, but for the good of those that were enjoyned to obey; and this belief Moses endeavours almost throughout the whole Book of Deuteronomy to strengthen the Israelites in: and therefore God was so ready upon all occasions to dispense with these Laws, and requires the Jews to omit the observance of them, when they might seem to justle with any other Law of Morall duty or Humane necessity, as may be observ'd in many Instances in Scri­pture.

But for a more distinct unfolding of this point, we may take notice of this difference in the notion of Good and Evil, as we are to converse with them. Some things are so absolutely, and somethings are so onely re­latively. That which is absolutely good, is every way [Page 160] Superiour to us, and we ought alwaies to be commanded by it, because we are made under it: But that which is relatively good to us, may sometime be commanded by us. Eternall Truth and Righteousness are in them­selves perfectly & absolutely good, and the more we con­form our selves to them, the better we are. But those things that are onely good relatively and in order to us, we may say of them, that they are so much the better, by how much the more they are conform'd to us, I mean, by how much the more they are accommodated and fitted to our estate and condition, and may be fit means to help and promote us in our pursuit of some Higher good: and such indeed is the matter of all Positive Laws, and the Symbolicall or Rituall part of Religion. And as we are made for the former, viz. what is abso­lutely good, to serve that; so are these latter made for us, as our Saviour hath taught us when he tells us that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath: and as sincere and reall Christians grow up towards true perfection, the lesse need have they of Positive precepts or Externall helps. Yet I doubt it is nothing else but a wanton fastus and proud temper of spirit in our times that makes so many talk of being above Ordinances, who, if their own arrogance and pre­sumption would give them leave to lay aside the flat­tering glasse of their own Self-love, would find them­selves to have most need of them.

What I have observ'd concerning the Things abso­lutely good, I conceive to be included in that [...] mention'd Dan. 9. everlasting righteousness, which the Prophet there saith should be brought in and advanced by Messiah: this [...] is the Righteous­ness which is of an eternall and immutable nature, as being a conformity with Eternall and Unchangeable [Page 161] Truth: For there is a Righteousness which thus is not Eternall, but Positive and at the pleasure of God that dictates it: and such was the Righteousness which Christ said it became him to fulfill when he was baptiz'd; there Matth. 3. was no necessity that any such thing should become due. But the Foundation of this Everlasting righteous­ness is something unalterable. To speak more parti­cularly, That the Highest good should be loved in the Highest degree; That dependant creatures, that borrow all they have from God, should never glory in themselves, or admire themselves, but ever admire and adore that un­bounded Goodness which is the Source of their Beings and all the Good they partake of; That we should alwaies doe that which is just and right, according to the measure we would others should doe with us: these, and some other things which a rectified Reason will easily supply, are immutably true and righteous; so that it never was nor can be true, that they are unnecessary. And whoso hath his Heart molded into a delight in such a Righte­ousness and the practise thereof, hath this Eternall righ­teousness brought into his Soul, which Righteousness is also true and reall, not like that imaginary Externall righteousness of the Law which the Pharisees boasted in.

CHAP. X.

The Conclusion of this Treatise concerning the Existence and Nature of God, shewing how our Knowledge of God comes to be so imperfect in this State, while we are here in this Terrestriall Body. Two waies observ'd by Plotinus, whereby This Body does prejudice the Soul in her Operations. That the Better Philosophers and more Contemplative Jewes did not deny the Existence of all kind of Body in the other state. What meant by Zo­roaster's [...]. What kind of knowledge of God cannot be attain'd to in this life. What meant by Flesh and Blood, 1 Cor. 15.

FOR the concluding of this Discourse, as a Mantissa to what hath been said, we shall a little consider how inconsistent a thing a Perfect knowledge of God is with this Mundane and Corporeall state which we are in here. While we are in the Body, we are absent from the Lord, as S. Paul speaks, and that (I think) without a mysterie: Such Bodies as ours are being fitted for an Animal state, and pieces of this whole Machina of Sen­sible Matter, are perpetually drawing down our Souls, when they would raise up themselves by Contempla­tior of the Deity; and the caring more or less for the things of this Body, so exercises the Soul in this state, that it cannot attend upon God [...] without distraction. In the antient Metaphysicks such a Body as this is we carry about us, is call'd [...], &c. the dark Den and Sepulchre in which Souls are impri­son'd and entomb'd, with many other expressions of [Page 163] the like importance; and Proclus tells us that the Com­moration of the Soul in such a Body as this, is, accor­ding to the common vote of Antiquity, nothing else but [...], a dwelling or pitching its Tabernacle in the Valley of Oblivion and Death. But Enn. 4. l. 8. Plotinus, in his [...], seems not to be easily satisfied with Allegoricall de­scriptions, and therefore searching more strictly into this business, tells his own and their meaning in plainer terms, that This Body is an occasion of Evil to the Soul two waies; 1. [...], as it hinders its Mentall operations, presenting its Idola specûs continually to it: 2. [...], as it calls forth its advertency to its own Passions, which while it exerciseth it self a­bout too earnestly, it falls into a sinfull inordinacy.

Yet did not the Platonists nor the more Contempla­tive Jews deny the Existence of all kind of Body in the other State, as if there should be nothing residing there but naked Souls totally devested of all Corporeall Es­sence; for they held that the Soul should in the other World be united with a Body, not such a one as it did act in here, (which was not without disturbance) but such as should be most agreeable to the Soul, which they call'd [...] the Spirituall Vehicle of the Soul, and by Zoroaster it was call'd [...], a kind of Umbra or Aereal Mantle in which the Soul wraps her self, which, he said, remain'd with her in the state of glory, [...] and in the Jewish language it is [...] indumentum quoddam interius, as Gaulmin hath observed in his De vita & morte Mosis.

But to return; the Platonists have pointed out a threefold knowledge of God, 1. one [...], [Page 164] 2. the second [...], 3. the last [...] and this last they affirm'd to be unattainable by us, it be­ing that ineffable Light whereby the Divinity com­prehends its own Essence penetrating all that Immen­sity of Being which it self is. The First may be attain'd to in this life; but the Second in its full perfection we cannot reach here in this life, because this knowledge ariseth out of a blissfull Union with God himself, which therefore they are wont to call [...] a Con­tact of Intellectuall Being, and sometimes [...] or [...], that is, that I may phrase it in the Scripture words, a beholding of God face to face, which is that [...] Arcanum facierum the Jewish writers speak of, which we cannot attain to while we continue in this concrete and bodily state. And so when Moses desir'd to behold the face of God, that is, as the Maimon. de fundam. legis, cap. 1. Jewes understand it, that a distinct Idea of the Di­vine Essence might be imprinted upon his Mind, God told him, Exod. 33. 20. No man can see me, and live; that is, no man in this corruptible state is capable of attaining to this [...] or visio facierum, as Maimonides ex­pounds it, [...], The Understanding of the living man, who is compounded of Body and Soul, is utterly unable clearly to apprehend the Divine Essence, to see it as it is. And so S. Paul distinguisheth the knowledge of this life as taken in this complex sense, and of the life to come: that now we see [...] in a glass, which is continually sullied and darkened, while we look into it, by the breathing of our Animal fansies, passions and imaginations upon it; and [...] darkly: but we shall see then [...] face to face; which is the translation of that Hebrew phrase [...]. And in the like manner does a Greek Philosopher com­pare [Page 165] these two sorts of Knowledge which the Soul hath of God in this life and in that to come, [...], The Soul will reckon all this knowledge of God which we have here by way of Science but like a fable or parable, when once it is in conjunction with the Father, feasting upon Truth it self, and beholding God in the pure raies of his own Divi­nity. I shall conclude all with that which S. Paul ex­presly tells us, 1 Cor. 15. 50. Flesh and blood cannot in­herit the kingdome of God; where, by Flesh and Blood he seems to mean nothing else but Man in this com­plex and compounded state of Soul and Body, I mean corruptible, earthy Body: and it was a common Peri­phrasis of this [...] amongst the Jews, [...]: in the like sense is [...], Flesh & Blood, in those and other places in the New Testament used, where this phrase occurs, viz. Matth. 16. 17. Gal. 1. 16. Ephes. 6. 12. Heb. 2. 14. But in opposition to this gross earthy Body, the Apostle speaks of [...], a Spirituall Body, v. 44. such as shall put on incorruption and immortality, v. 53. and consequently differing from that Body which here makes up this compounded ani­mall Being: and accordingly our Saviour speaks of the children of the Resurrection, that they Luk. 20. neither marry nor are given in marriage, nor can they die any more, but are [...], or, as it is in S. Matthew and Mark, [...], as the Angels of God; and so the Jewish writers are wont to use the same phrase to ex­press the state of Glory by, viz. that then good men shall be [...] sicut Angeli ministerii.

[Page] OF PROPHESIE: OR, A DISCOURSE Treating of

  • The Nature of Prophesie.
  • The Different degrees of the Propheticall Spirit.
  • The Difference of Propheticall Dreams from all other Dreams recorded in Scripture.
  • The Difference of the True Propheticall Spirit from Enthusiasticall Imposture.
  • What the meaning of those Actions is that are fre­quently in Scripture attributed to the Prophets, whether they were Reall or onely Imaginary.
  • The Schools of the Prophets.
  • The Sons, or Disciples of the Prophets.
  • The Dispositions antecedent and preparatory to Pro­phesie.
  • The Periods of Time when the Propheticall Spirit ceased in the Jewish and Christian Churches.
  • Rules for the better understanding of Propheticall Writ.
2 Pet. 1. 21.

For Prophesie came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake being moved by the Holy Ghost.

Philo Jud. [...].

[...].

OF PROPHESIE.

CHAP. I.

That Prophesie is the way whereby Revealed Truth is dispensed and conveighed to us. Man's Mind capable of conversing and being acquainted as well with Re­vealed or Positive Truth, as with Naturall Truth. Truths of Naturall inscription may be excited in us and cleared to us by means of Propheticall Influence. That the Scripture frequently accommodates it self to vulgar apprehension, and speaks of things in the grea­test way of condescension.

HAving spoken to those Principles of Naturall Theologie which have the most proper and necessary influence into Life and Practise, and are most pregnant with morall good­ness; we come now to consider Those pieces of Re­vealed Truth which tend most of all to foment and che­rish true and reall Piety.

But before we fall pressly into any strict Enquiry concerning them, it may not be amiss to examine How and in what manner This kind of Truth, which depends solely upon the Free will of God, is manifested unto man­kind; and so treat a little concerning Prophesie, which indeed is the onely way whereby This kind of Truth can be dispensed to us. For though our own Reason and [Page 170] Understanding carry all Natural Truth necessary for Practice in any sort, engraven upon themselves, and folded up in their own Essences more immediatly, as being the first participations of the Divine Minde con­sidered in its own Eternal nature: yet Positive Truth can only be made known to us by a free influx of the Divine Mind upon our Minds and Understandings. And as it ariseth out of nothing else but the free plea­sure of the Divinity, so without any natural determi­nation it freely shines upon the Souls of men where and when it lifteth, hiding its light from them or dis­playing it forth upon them, as it pleaseth.

Yet the souls of men are as capable of conversing with it, though it doe not naturally arise out of the fe­cundity of their own Understandings, as they are with any Sensible and External Objects. And as our Sensations carry the notions of Material things to our Understandings which before were unacquainted with them; so there is some Analogical way whereby the knowledge of Divine Truth may also be revealed to us. For so we may call as well that Historical Truth of Corporeal and Material things, which we are infor­med of by our Senses, Truth of Revelation, as that Di­vine Truth which we now speak of: and therefore we may have as certain and infallible a way of being ac­quainted with the one, as with the other. And God having so contrived the nature of our Souls, that we may converse one with another, and inform one ano­ther of things we knew not before, would not make us so deaf to his Divine voice that breaks the rocks, and rends the mountains asunder; He would not make us so undisciplinable in Divine things, as that we should not be capable of receiving any Impressi­ons from himself of those things which we were before [Page 171] unacquainted with. And this way of communicating Truth to the Souls of men is originally nothing else but Prophetical or Enthusiastical; and so we may take notice of the General nature of Prophesie.

Though I would not all this while be mistaken, as if I thought no Natural Truth might be by the means of Prophetical influence awakened within us, and clea­red up to us, or that we could not lumine prophetico behold the Truths of Naturall inscription; for indeed one main end and scope of the Prophetical Spirit seems to be the quickning up of our Minds to a more lively converse with those Eternal Truths of Reason, which commonly lie buried in so much fleshly obscurity with­in us, that we discern them not. And therefore the Scripture treats not only of those Pieces of Truth which are the Results of God's free Counsells, but also of those which are most a-kin and allied to our own Understandings, and that in the greatest way of Con­descention that may be, speaking to the weakest sort of men in the most vulgar sort of dialect: which it may not be amiss to take a little notice of.

Divine Truth hath its Humiliation and Exinanition, as well as its Exaltation. Divine Truth becomes ma­ny times in Scripture incarnate, debasing it self to as­sume our rude conceptions, that so it might converse more freely with us, and infuse its own Divinity into us. God having been pleased herein to manifest him­self not more jealous of his own Glory, then he is (as I may say) zealous of our good. Nos non habemus au­res, sicut Deus habet linguam. If he should speak in the language of Eternity, who could understand him, or interpret his meaning? or if he should have declared his Truth to us only in a way of the purest abstraction that Humane Souls are capable of, how should then [Page 172] the more rude and illiterate sort of men have been a­ble to apprehend it? Truth is content, when it comes into the world, to wear our mantles, to learn our lan­guage, to conform it self as it were to our dress and fashions: it affects not that State or Fastus which the disdainfull Rhetorician sets out his style withall, Non Tarentinis aut Siculis haec scribimus; but it speaks with the most Idiotical sort of men in the most Idiotical way, and becomes all things to all men, as every sonne of Truth should doe, for their good. Which was well observed in that old Cabbalistical Axiome among the Jewes, Lumen supernum nunquam descendit sine indu­mento. And therefore (it may be) the best way to un­derstand the true sense and meaning of the Scripture is not rigidly to examine it upon Philosophical Inter­rogatories, or to bring it under the scrutiny of School-Definitions and Distinctions. It speaks not to us so much in the tongue of the learned Sophies of the world, as in the plainest and most vulgar dialect that may be. Which the Jews constantly observed and took notice of, and therefore it was one common Rule among them for a true understanding of the Scripture, [...], Lex loquitur linguâ filorum hominum. Which Maimonides expounds thus, in More Nevoch. Par. 1. C. 26. Quicquid homines ab initio cogitatio­nis suae intelligentiâ & imaginatione suâ possunt assequi, id in Scriptura attribuitur Creatori. And therefore we find almost all Corporeal properties attributed to God in Scripture, quia vulgus hominum ab initio cogitationis Entitatem non apprehendunt, nisi in rebus corporeis, as the same Author observes. But such of them as sound Imperfection in vulgar eares, as Eating and Drinking, & the like, these (saith he) the Scripture no where attri­butes to him. The reason of this plain and Idiotical [Page 173] style of Scripture it may be worth our farther taking notice of, as it is laid down by the forenamed Author C. 33. Haec causa est propter quam Lex loquitur linguâ filiorum hominum, &c. For this reason the Law speaks according to the language of the sons of men, because it is the most commodious and easie way of initiating and teaching Children, Women, and the Common people, who have not ability to apprehend things according to the very nature and essence of them. And in C. 34. Et si per Ex­empla & Similitudines non deduceremur, &c. And if we were not led to the knowledge of things by Examples and Similitudes, but were put to learn and understand all things in their Formal notions and Essential definitions, and were to believe nothing but upon preceding Demon­strations; then we may well think that (seeing this can­not be done but after long preparations) the greater part of men would be at the conclusion of their daies, before they could know whether there be a God or no, &c. Hence is that Axiome so frequent among the Jewish Doctors, Magna est virtus vel fortitudo Prophetarum, qui assimi­lant formam cum formante eam, i. e. Great is the pow­er of the Prophets, who while they looked down upon these Sensible and Conspicable things, were able to furnish out the notion of Intelligible and Inconspica­ble Beings thereby to the rude Senses of Illiterate people.

The Scripture was not writ only for Sagacious and Abstracted minds, or Philosophical heads; for then how few are there that should have been taught the true Knowledge of God thereby? Vidi filios coenaculi, & erant pauci, was an antient Jewish proverb. We are not alwaies rigidly to adhere to the very Letter of the Text. There is a [...] and a [...] in the Scripture, as the Jewish interpreters observe. We must not think [Page 174] that it alwaies gives us Formal Definitions of things, for it speaks commonly according to Vulgar apprehen­sion: as when it tells of the Ends of the heaven, which now almost every Idiot knows hath no ends at all. So Psal. 19. Mat. 24. when it tells us Gen. 2. 7. that God breathed into man the breath of life, and man became a living soul; the expression is very Idiotical as may be, and seems to comply with that vulgar conceit, that the Soul of Man is nothing else but a kind of Vital breath or Aire: and yet the Immortality thereof is evidently insinuated in setting forth a double Original of the two parts of Man, his Body and his Soul; the one of which is brought in as arising up out of the Dust of the earth, the other as proceeding from the Breath of God him­self.

So we find very Vulgar expressions concerning God himself, besides those which attribute Sensation and Motion to him, as when he is set forth as riding upon the wings of the Wind, riding upon the Clouds, sitting in Heaven, and the like, which seem to determine his in­different Omnipresence to some peculiar place: where­as indeed such passages as these are can be fetch'd from nothing else but those crass apprehensions which the generalitie of men have of God, as being most there, from whence the objects of dread and admiration most of all smite and insinuate themselves into their Senses, as they doe from the Aire, Clouds, Winds or Heaven. So the state of Hell and Miserie is set forth by such de­nominations as were most apt to strike a terror into the minds of men, and accordingly it is called Coe­tus Gigantum, the place where all those old Giants, whom divine vengeance pursued in the general Deluge, were assembled together, as it is well observed by a late Author of our own upon Proverbs 21. 16. The Mr. Mede in Diatrib. first part. [Page 175] man that wandreth out of the way of understanding, in coe­tu Gigantum commorabitur. And accordingly we find the state and condition of these expressed Job 26. 5. Gi­gantes gemunt sub aquis; & qui habitant cum iis. Nudus est infernus coram illo, & nullum est operimentum perdi­tioni, as the Vulgar Latin renders it, The Giants groan under the waters, and they that dwell with them. Hell is naked before him, (that is, God,) and destruction hath no covering. In like manner our Saviour sets forth Hell as a great valley of fire like that of Hinnom, which was prepared with a great deal of skill, to torture and torment the Devils in. Again we find Heaven set forth sometimes as a place of continual banquet­ing, where, according to the Jewish customes, they should lye down in one anothers bosomes at a perpetu­all Feast: Sometimes as a Paradise furnished with all kinds of delight and pleasure. Again, when the Scri­pture would infinuate God's seriousness and realitie in any thing, it brings him in as ordering it a great while agoe before the foundation of the world was laid, as if he more regarded that then the building of the world.

I might instance in many more things of this nature, wherein the Philosophical or Physical nature and Literal veritie of things cannot so reasonably be supposed to be set forth to us, as the Moral and Theological. But I shall leave this Argument, and now come more precise­ly to consider of the nature of Prophesie, by which God flows in upon the Minds of men extrinfecally to their own proper operations, and converghs truth im­mediately from himself into them.

CHAP. II.

That the Prophetical Spirit did not alwaies manifest it self with the same clearnesse and evidence. The Gra­dual difference of Divine illumination between Mo­ses, the Prophets, and the Hagiographi. A general survey of the Nature of Prophesie properly so called. Of the joint impressions and operations of the Under­standing and Phansie in Prophesie. Of the four degrees of Prophesie. The difference between a Vision and a Dream.

BUT before we doe this, we shall briefly premise something in general concerning that Gradual varie­ty whereby these Divine Enthusiasms were discover'd to the Prophets of old. The Prophetical Spirit did not alwaies manifest it self eodem vigore luminis, with the same clearness and evidence, in the same exaltation of its light: But sometimes that light was more strong and vivid, sometimes more wan and obscure; which seems to be insinuated in that passage, Heb. 1. 1. God who in time past spake unto the Fathers by the Prophets [...]. So we find an evident difference of Prophetical illumination asserted in Scripture between Moses and the rest of the Prophets, Deut. 34. 10. And there arose not a Prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face: which words have a manifest reference to that which God himself in a more publick and open way declared concerning Moses, upon occasion of some arrogant speeches of Aaron and Miriam, who would equalize their own Degree of Prophesie to that [Page 177] of Moses, Numb. 12. 5, 6, 7, 8. And the Lord came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the Tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam; and they both came forth: And he said, Hear my words; If there be a Prophet among you, I the Lord will make my self known unto him in a Vision, and will speak unto him in a Dream: My servant Moses is not so, who is faithfull in all mine house; with him will I speak mouth to mouth, even appa­rently, and not in dark speeches, and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold. Wherefore then were ye not a­fraid to speak against my servant Moses? In which words that degree of Divine illumination whereby God made himself known to Moses seems to be set forth as something transcendent to the Prophetical illuminati­on: and so the phrase of the New Testament is wont to distinguish between Moses and the Prophets, as if in­deed Moses had been greater then any Prophet. But be­sides this Gradual difference between Moses and the Pro­phets, there is another difference very famous amongst the Jewish Writers between the Prophets and the Hagi­ographi, which Hagiographi were suppos'd by them to be much inferior to the Prophets. But what this diffe­rence between them was, we shall endeavour to shew more fully hereafter.

Having briefly premised this, and glanced at a Threefold Inspiration relating to Moses, the Prophets, and the Hagiographi; we shall first of all enquire into the Nature of that which is peculiarly amongst the Jews called Prophetical. And this is thus defined to us by Maimonides in Par. 2. c. 36. of his More Nevochim, Ve­ritas & quidditas Prophetiae nihil aliud est quàm Influ­entia à Deo Optimo Maximo, mediante intellectu Agente, super facultatem Rationalem primò, deinde super facul­tatem Imaginatricem influens. i. e. The true essence of [Page 178] Prophesie is nothing else but an Influence from the Deitie upon the Rational first, and afterwards the Imagina­tive Facultie, by the mediation of the Active intellect. Which Definition belongs indeed to Prophesie as it is Technicallie so called, and distinguished by Maimoni­des both from that degree of Divine illumination which was above it, which the Masters constantly attribute to Moses, and from that other degree inferior to it, which they call [...], Spiritus Sanctus, that Ho­ly Spirit that moved in the Souls of the Hagiographi.

But Rabbi Joseph Albo in Maam 3. c. 8. De funda­mentis fidei, hath given us a more large description, so as to take in also the gradus Mosaicus, [...], i. e. Pro­phesie is an influence from God upon the Rational facul­tie, either by the Mediation of the Fansie or otherwise: and this influence, whether by the ministry of an Angel or otherwise, makes a man to know such things as by his Na­tural abilities he could not attain to the knowledg of. Though here our Author seems too much to have streightned the latitude of Prophetical influence, where­by (as we intimated before) not only those pieces of Divine truth may be communicated to the Souls of men which are not contained within their own Ideas, but also those may be excited which have a necessarie connexion with and dependence upon Reason.

But the main thing that we shall observe in this descri­ption is, that Facultie or Power of the Soul upon which these Extraordinarie impressions of Divine light or in­fluence are made; which in all proper Prophesie is both the Rational and Imaginative power. For in this Case they supposed the Imaginative power to be set forth as a Stage upon which certain Visa and Simulacra were represented to their Understandings, just indeed as [Page 179] they are to us in our common Dreams; only that the Understandings of the Prophets were alwaies kept a­wake and strongly acted by God in the midst of these apparitions, to see the intelligible Mysteries in them, and so in these Types and Shadows, which were Sym­bols of some spiritual things, to behold the Antitypes themselves: which is the meaning of that old Maxime of the Jews which we formerly cited out of Maimoni­des, Magna est virtus seu fortitudo Prophetarum qui assi­milant formam cum formante eam. But in case the Ima­ginative facultie be not thus set forth as the Scene of all Prophetical illumination, but that the Impressions of things nakedly without any Schemes or Pictures be made immediately upon the Understanding it self, then is it reckoned to be the gradus Mosaicus, wherein God speaks as it were face to face; of which more hereafter.

Accordingly R. Albo, in the Book before cited and 10th Chapter, hath distinguished Prophesie into these four degrees. The first and lowest of all is, when the Ima­ginative power is most predominant, so that the impres­sions made upon it are too busie, & the Scene becomes too turbulent for the Rational facultie to discern the true Mystical and Anagogical sense of them clearly; and in this case the Enthusiasms spend themselves ex­treamly in Parables, Similitudes and Allegories, in a dark and obscure manner, as is very manifest in Zacha­ry, and many of Ezechiel his Prophesies, as also those of Daniel: where though we have first the outward frame of things Dramatically set forth so potently in the Prophet's phansie, as that his Mind was not at the same time capable of the mystical meaning, yet that was afterward made known to him, but yet with much obscuritie still attending it.

This declining state of Prophesie the Jews supposed [Page 180] then principally to have been, and this Divine illumi­nation to have been then setting in the Horizon of the Jewish Church, when they were carried captive into Babylon. All which we may take a little more fully from our Author himself in his 3. Book and 17. Chap­ter, [...], i. e. Every Prophet that is of a strong, fagacious and piercing Understanding, will apprehend the thing nakedly without any Similitude, whence it comes to pass that all his sayings prove distinct and clear, and free from all obscuritie, having a literal truth in them: But a Prophet of an inferior rank or de­gree, his words are obscure, enwrapp'd in Riddles and Pa­rables, and therefore have not a Literal but Allegorical truth contained in them. Thus he. And so afterwards, according to the general opinion of the Jewish Ma­sters, he tells us that after the Captivity, in the twilight of Prophesie, Ezekiel began to speak altogether in Riddles and Parables; and so he himself complains to God, Chap. 20. 49. Ah Lord God, they say of me, Doth he not speak Parables?

The second degree which our forementioned Au­thor makes of Prophesie is, when the strength of the Imaginative and Rational powers equally ballance one another.

The third is, when the Rational power is most pre­dominant; in which case (as we heard before) the Minde of the Prophet is able to strip those things that are represented to it in the glass of Phansie of all their materiality and sensible nature, and apprehend them more distinctly in their own naked Essence.

The last and Highest is the gradus Mosaicus, in which all Imagination ceaseth, & the Representation of Truth descends not so low as the Imaginative part, but is made in the highest stage of Reason and Understanding.

[Page 181] But we shall hereafter speak more fully concerning the several degrees of Prophetical Inspiration, and dis­course more particularly of the Ruach hakkodesh, the highest degree of Prophesie or gradus Mosaicus, and Bath col or the lowest degree of Prophesie.

Seeing then that generally all Prophesie or Prophetical Enthusiasm lies in the joint-impressions and operations of both these forementioned faculties, the Jews were wont to understand that place Numb. 12. 6, &c. as ge­nerally decyphering that State or Degree of Prophe­sie by which God would discover himselfe to all those Prophets that ever should arise up amongst them, or ever had been, except Moses and the Messiah. And there are only these In ist is dua­bus partibus, Somnio & Vi­sione, continen­tur omnes Pro­phetiae gradus. Maimon. in More Nev. p. 2. c. 36. Two waies declared whereby God would reveal himself to every other Prophet, either in a Vision or a Dream; both which are perpetually attended with those Visa and Simulacra sensibilia as must needs be impressed upon Common sense or Fan­sie, whereby the Prophets seemed to have all their Sen­ses waking and exercising their several functions, though indeed all was but Scenicall or Dramatical. Ac­cording to this Twofold way of Divine inspiration, the Chap. 2. 28. Prophet Joel foretells the Nature of that Prophe­tical Spirit that should be powred out in the latter times; and in Jeremy 14. 14. we have the false pro­phets brought in as endeavouring apishly to imitate the true Prophets of God, in fortifying their Fansies by the power of Divination, that they might talk of Dreams and Visions when they came among the people.

Now for the Difference of these two, a Dream and a Vision, it seems rather to lie in Circumstantials then in any thing Essential; & therefore Maim. part. 2. More Nev. cap. 45. tells us that in a Dream a voice was frequent­ly heard, which was not usual in a Vision. But the re­presentation [Page 182] of Divine things by some Sensible images or some Narrative voice must needs be in both of them. But yet the Jews are wont to make a Vision superiour to a Dream, as representing things more to the life, which indeed seizeth upon the Prophet while he is a­wake, but it no sooner surpriseth him but that all his external senses are bound; and so it often declines into a true Dream, as Maimon. in the place forenam'd proves by the example of Abraham, Gen. 15. 12. where the Vision in which God had appeared to him (as it is rela­ted ver. 1.) passed into a Sleep. And when the Sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abraham, and loe an horror of great darkness fell upon him. Which words seem to be nothing else but a description of that passage which he had by Sleep out of his Vision into a Dream.

Now these Ecstatical impressions whereby the Ima­gination and Mind of the Prophet was thus ravish'd from it self, and was made subject wholy to some A­gent intellect informing it and shining upon it, I sup­pose S. Paul had respect to 1 Cor. 13. Now we see [...], by a glass, in riddles or parables; for so he seems to compare the Highest illuminations which we have here, with that constant Irradiation of the Divinity upon the Souls of men in the life to come: and this glassing of Divine things by Hiero­glyphicks and Emblems in the Fansie which he speaks of, was the proper way of Prophetical inspiration.

For the further clearing of which I shall take notice of one passage more out of a Jewish writer, that is, R. Bechai, concerning this present argument, which I find Com. in Num. 12. 6. [...], Voluit Deus assimilare Prophetiam reliquorum Pro­phetarum homini speculum inspicienti, prout innuunt Rabbini nostri illo axiomate proverbiali, Nemo inspiciat [Page 183] speculum Sabbato: illud speculum est vitreum, in quo re­flectitur homini sua ipsius forma & imago per vim re­flexivam speculi, cum revera nihil ejusmodi in speculo realiter existat. Talis erat Prophetia reliquorum Prophe­tarum, eo quòd contuebantur sacras & puras imagines & lumina superna, ex medio splendoris & puritatis istorum luminum realium, visae sunt illis similitudines, visae sunt illis tales formae quales sunt formae humanae. By which he seems to referre to those images of the living Creatures represented in a Prophetical vision to Esay and EZekiel; but generally intimates thus much to us, That the light and splendor of Prophetical illuminati­on was not so triumphant over the Prophets fansie, but that he viewed his own Image, and saw like a man, and understood things after the manner of men in all these Prophetical visions.

CHAP. III.

How the Prophetical Dreams did differ from all other kinds of Dreams recorded in Scripture. This further illustrated out of several passages of Philo Judaeus per­tinent to this purpose.

WE have now taken a General survey of the Na­ture of Prophesie, which is alwaies attended (as we have shewed) with a Vision or a Dream, though in­deed there is no Dream properly without a Vision. And here before we pass from hence, it will be necessarie to take notice of a man Distinction the Hebrew Doctors are wont to make of Dreams, lest we mistake all those Dreams wch we meet with in Scripture, & take them all [Page 184] for Prophetical, whereas many of them were not such. For though indeed they were all [...] sent by God, yet many were sent as Monitions and Instructions, and had not the true force and vigor of Propheti­cal Dreams in them; and so they are wont commonly to distinguish between [...] and [...]. There are somnia vera▪ and somnia Prophetica: and these Maimonides in More Nev▪ Par. 2. Cap. 41. hath thus generally characterized, Quando dicitur, Deus venit ad N, in somnio noctis, id Prophetia minimè nuncupari potest, neque vir talis, Propheta, &c. When it is said in Holy writ, That God came to such a man in a Dream of the night, that cannot be called a Prophesie, nor such a man a Prophet; for the meaning is no more then this, That some Admonition or Instruction was given by God to such a man, and that it was in a Dream. Of this sort He and the rest of the Hebrew Writers hold those Dreams to be which were sent to Pharaoh, Nebuchad­nezzar, Abimelech and Laban; upon which two last our Author observes the great Caution of Onkelos the Proselyte (who was instructed in the Jewish learning by R. Eleazar and R. Joshua, the most famous Doctors of that age) that in his Preface to those Dreams of Laban and Abimelech he saies, Et venit verbum à Domino: but doth not say (as when the Dreams were Prophetical) Et revelavit se Dominus. Besides, a main reason for which they deny those Dreams to be Prophetical is, for that they that were made partakers of them were un­sanctified men; whereas it is a tradition amongst them, that the Spirit of Prophesie was not communicated to any but good men.

But indeed the main difference between these two sorts of Dreams seems to consist in this, That such as were not Prophetical were much weaker in their Energy [Page 185] upon the Imagination then the Other were, in so much that they wanted the strength and force of a Divine evidence, so as to give a plenary assurance to the Mind of him who was the subject of them, of their Divine original; as we see in those Dreams of Solomon, 1 Kings 3. v. 5; 15. and ch. 9. 2. where it is said of him, when he awaked he said, Behold it was a Dream; as if he had not been effectually confirmed from the Energy of the Dream it self that it was a true Prophetical influx.

But there is yet another difference they are wont to make between them, which is, That these somnia vera or [...] ordinarily contained in them [...], something that was [...] or void of reality: as in that Dream of Joseph concerning the Sun, the Moon, and the eleven Stars bowing down to him; whereas his Mo­ther, which should there have been signified by the Moon, was dead and buried before, and so uncapable of performing that respect to him which the other at last did. Upon occasion of which Dream the Gemarist. Do­ctors in Berachoth c. 9. have framed this Axiom, [...], As there is no corn without straw, so nei­ther is there any meer Dream without something that is [...], void of reality, & insignificant. Accordingly Rab. Albo in Maam. 3. c. 9. hath framed this distinction be­tween them, [...], There is no meer Dream without some­thing in it that is [...], but Prophesie is a thing wholy and most exactly true.

The general difference between Prophetical Dreams and those that are meerly Nouthetical or Monitorie, and all else which we find recorded in Scripture, Philo Jud. in his Tract [...], and elsewhere, hath at large laid down. The proper character of those that [Page 186] were Prophetical he clearly insinuates to be that Ecstatical rapture whereby in all Prophetical Dreams some more potent cause, acting upon the Mind and Imagination of the Prophets, snatch'd them from themselves, and so left more potent and evident impressions upon them.

I shall the more largely set down his Notion, because it tends to the clearing of this business in hand, and is, I think, much obscured, if not totally corrupted by his translator Gelenius. His design is indeed to shew that Moses taught these several waies whereby Dreams are conveyed from Heaven, that so his sublime and recon­dite doctrine might be the better hid up therein; and therefore sailing between Cabbalisme and Platonisme he gropes after an Allegorical and Mystical meaning in them all. His first sort of Divine Dreams he thus de­fines, [...], The first kind was when God himself did begin the mo­tion in the Phansie, and secretly whispered such things as are unknown indeed to us, but perfectly known to him­self. And of this sort he makes Joseph's dreams, the sense whereof was unknown to Joseph himself at first, and then runs out into an Allegorical exposition of them in the Book intituled Joseph.

The second kind is this, [...] [...]. [...], &c. When our Rational facultie being moved together with the Soul of the World, and filled with a di­vinely-inspired fury, doth predict those things that are to come. In which words by his [...] he means the same thing with that which in a former Book about the same Argument he had called [...] the Mind of the Universe, which mingling its influence with our Minds begets these [...] or previsions. [Page 187] And this is nothing else but that which others of his tribe call [...] or Intellectus agens, which it seems he understood to be the same with Anima Mundi or Universal Soul, as it is described by the Pythagore­ans and Platonists. Of this sort of Dreams he makes those of Jacob's Ladder and of Laban's Sheep. And these kinds of Dreams, viz. that wherein the Intelle­ctus agens doth simply act upon our Minds as patients to it, and that wherein our Minds do cooperate with the Universal Soul, and so understand the meaning of the influx, he thus compares together; [...], &c. In which words it is to be observed that he calls the matter of the first sort of Dreams [...], which Gelenius hath mistook whilst he translates it Dei oraculis certis convenientia. With his leave therefore I should thus interpret that whole passage, Quare Moses sacer Antistes indigitans illas phantasias quae oboriuntur secundùm primam speciem, eas perspicuè & admodum manifestè indicavit; (i. e. by adding an Explication of those aenigmata of Joseph's Sun, Moon, Stars and Sheaves, which he himself in his Dream un­derstood not; which Explication is not made in the examples of the second sort) quippe Deus subjecit illas phantasias per somnia quae similes sunt veris Prophetiis, (i. e. [...], perfectae Prophetiae, sive [...], somniis Propheticis, uti loqui amant Magistri.) Secundi verò generis somnia nec planè dilucidè nec val­de obscurè indigitavit; qualia erant Somnia de Scala coelesti, &c. Now these Dreams of Joseph though they contained matter of a like nature to Prophetical inspira­tion, [Page 188] yet were they indeed not such, and therefore are accounted of by all the Jewish writers only as Somnia vera; and so our Author endeavours to prove very fitly to our purpose, though indeed upon a mistake which he took out of the Version of the Though he was a Jew, yet was he trained up amongst the Greeks, and not well acquainted with the He­brew language. Seventy, Gen. 37. 7. [...], &c. Joseph said, [Which word is not in the Hebrew. Me-thought we were binding sheaves] That word [Me-thought] is the language of one that is uncertain, dubious, and obscurely surmising; not of one that is firmly assured, and plainly sees things: indeed it very well befits those who are new­ly awaked out of a sound sleep, and have scarce ceased to dream, to say [Me-thought;] not those who are fully awake, and behold all things clearly. But Jacob, who was more exercised in divine things, hath no such word as [Me-thought] when he speaks of his Dream, but, saies he, Behold, a ladder set upon the earth, and the top of it reached up to heaven, &c. After the same manner al­most doth Maimonides in his More Nev. distinguish be­tween Somnia vera & Prophetica, making Jacobs Dreams (as all the Jewish writers doe) to be Prophe­tical.

The third kind of Dreams mentioned by Philo is thus laid down by him, [...], i. e. The third kind is, when in sleep the Soul being moved of it self, and agi­tating it self, is in a kind of rapturous rage, and in a divine fury doth foretell future things by a prophetick facultie. And then, which is more to our purpose, he thus sets forth the nature of those fansies which dis­cover [Page 189] themselves in these kind of Dreams. [...], i. e. The phantasms which belong to the third kind are more plainly declared by Moses then the former; for they containing a very profound and dark meaning, they required to the explaining of them a knowledge of the Art of interpreting Dreams: as those Dreams of Pharaoh and his Butler and Baker, and of Nebuchadnezzar, who were only amazed and dazled with those strange Apparitions that were made to them, but not at all enlightned by them. These are of that kind which Plato sometimes speaks of, that can­not be understood without a Prophet; and therefore he would have some Prophet or Wise man alway set over this [...]. Thus we have seen these Three sorts of Dreams according to Philo, the First and Last where­of the Jewish Doctors conjoin together, and constant­ly prefer the Oneirocriticks of them to the Dreamers themselves: and therefore whereas they depress the notion of them considered in themselves below any Degree of Prophesie, yet the Interpretation of them they attribute to the [...] or Holy Spirit; except there be an Interpretation of the Dream in the Dream it self, so as that the Mind of the Dreamer be fully sa­tisfied both in the meaning and divinity thereof; for then it is truly Prophetical. And thus much for this Particular.

CHAP. IV.

A large Account of the Difference between the true Pro­phetical Spirit and Enthusiastical impostures. That the Pseudo-Prophetical Spirit is seated only in the Ima­ginative Powers and Faculties inferior to Reason. That Plato and other Wise men had a very low opinion of this Spirit, and of the Gift of Divination, and of Consulting the Oracles. That the True Prophetical Spirit seats it self as well in the Rational Powers as in the Sensitive, and that it never alienates the Mind, but informs and enlightens it. This further cleared by several Testimonies from Gentile and Christian Writers of old. An Account of those Fears and Con­sternations which often seized upon the Prophets. How the Prophets perceived when the Prophetical influx sei­zed upon them. The different Evidence and Energy of the True and false Prophetical Spirit.

FRom what we have formerly discoursed concer­ning the Stage of Phansie and Imagination upon which those Visa presented themselves to the Mind of the Prophet, in which he beheld the real objects of Divine truth in which he was inspired by this means; it may be easily apprehended how easie a matter it might be for the Devils Prophets many times, by an apish imitation, to counterfeit the True Prophets of God, and how sometimes Melancholy and turgent Phan­sies, fortified with a strong power of Divination, might unfold themselves in a semblance of true Enthusiasms. For indeed herein the Prophetical influx seems to agree [Page 191] with a mistaken Enthusiasm, that both of them make strong impressions upon the Imaginative powers, and require the Imaginative facultie to be vigorous and potent: and therefore Maimonides tells us that the gift of Divination, which consisted in a mighty force of Imagination, was alwaies given to the Prophets, and that This and a Spirit of Fortitude were the main Bases of Prophesie; More Nev. part. 2. c. 38. Duas istas faculta­tes, Fortitudinis scilicet & Divinationis, in Prophetis fortissimas & vehementissmas esse necesse est, &c. i. e. It is necessary that these two Faculties of Fortitude and Divination should be most strong and vehement in the Prophets: whereunto if at any time there was an accessi­on of the influence of the Intellect, they were then beyond measure corroborated; in so much that (as it is well known) it hath come to this, that one man by a naked Staffe did prevail over a potent King, and most manfully delivered a whole Nation from bondage, viz. after it was said to him Exod. 3. 12. I will be with thee. And though there be different Degrees of these in men, yet none can be altogether without that Fortitude and Magnanimi­tie. So it was said to Jeremy Chap. 17. 18. Be not dismaied at their faces, &c. Behold I have made thee this day a defenced City; and so to Ezek. Ch. 2. 6. Be not afraid of them nor their words: and generally in all the Prophets we shall find a great Fortitude and Magnanimi­ty of Spirit. But by the excellency of the gift of Divi­ning they could on a sudden and in a moment foretell fu­ture things; in which Facultie notwithstanding there was great diversitie. Thus he.

It will not be therefore any great Digression here, awhile to examine the Nature of this False light which pretends to Prophesie, but is not; as being seated only in the Imaginative power, from whence the first occa­sion [Page 192] of this delusion ariseth, seeing that Power is also the Seat of all Prophetical vision. For this purpose it will not be amiss to premise that Threefold degree of Cognitive influence pointed out by Maimonides, part. 2. cap. 37. More Nev. The first is wholly Intelle­ctual, descending only into the Rational facultie, by which that is extreamly fortified and strengthened in the distinct apprehension of Metaphysicall Truths, from whence, as he tells us, ariseth the Sect of Philoso­phers, and Contemplative persons. The second is joint­ly into the Rational and Imaginative facultie together, and from thence springs the Sect of Prophets. The third into the Imaginative only, from whence proceeds the Sect of Polititians, Lawyers and Law-givers (whose Conceptions only run in a secular channel,) as also the Sect of Diviners, Inchanters, Dreamers and Sooth­sayers.

We shall coppy out of him a Character of some of this Third sort, the rather because it so graphically delineates to us many Enthusiastical Impostors of our Age. His words are these, Hic verò monendus es, ex tertio genere esse quasdam, quibus Phantasiae, Somnia & Ecstases, quales in Prophetiae Visione esse solent, ita mi­rabiles obveniunt, ut planè sibi persuadeant se Prophe­tas esse, &c. i. e. But here I must advertise thee, that there are some of this Third sort who have some­times such strange Phansies, Dreams and Ecstasies, that they take themselves for Prophets, and much marvel that they have such Phansies and Imaginations; concei­ting at last that all Sciences and Faculties are without any pains or study infused into them. And hence it is that they fall into great confusions in many Theoretical matters of no small moment, and do so mix true notions with such as are meerly seeming, and imaginary, as if [Page 193] Heaven and Earth were jumbled together. All which proceeds from the too-great force of the Imaginative fa­culty and the imbecillity of the Rational, whence it is that nothing in it can pass forth into act. Thus he. This delusion then in his sense of those [...] which pretend to Revelations, ariseth from hence, that all this forrain force that is upon them serves only to vi­gorate & impregnate their Phansies and Imaginations, but does not inform their Reasons, nor elevate them to a true understanding of things in their coherence and contexture; and therefore they can so easily imbrace things absurd to all true and sober Reason: Whereas the Prophetical Spirit acting principally upon the Reason and Understanding of the Prophets, guided them con­sistently and intelligibly into the understanding of things. But this Pseudo-prophetical Spirit being not a­ble to rise up above this low and dark Region of Sense or Matter, or to soar aloft into a clear Heaven of Vi­sion, endeavoured alway as much as might be to strengthen it self in the Imaginative part: and there­fore the Wizzards and false prophets of old and later times have been wont alway to heighten their Phan­sies and Imaginations by all means possible; which R. Albo insinuates Maam. 3. cap. 10. [...]. There are some men whose Imaginative faculty is strong, either by Nature, or by some Artifice which they use to fortifie this Imaginative facultie with; and for such purpose are the artifices which Witches and such as have familiar Spirits do use, by the help whereof the similitudes of things are more easily excited in the Imagination. Accordingly Wierus Lib. 3. Cap. 17. de Praestigiis Daemonum (who was a man (as some think) too well acquainted with these mysteries, though he himself seems to defie them) [Page 194] speaks to the same purpose concerning Witches, how that, so they may have more pregnant Phansies, they anoint themselves, and diet themselves with some such food as they understand from the Devil is very fit for that purpose. And for further proof hereof he there quotes Baptista Porta, Lib. 2. and Cardan de Subtil. Cap. 18. But we shall not over-curiously any further pry into these Arts.

This kind of Divination resting meerly in the Ima­ginative faculty seemed so exactly to imitate the Pro­phetical Energy in this part of it, that indeed it hath been by weaker minds mistaken for it, though the Wi­ser sort of the Heathens have happily found out the lameness and delusiveness of it. We have it excellently set forth by Plato in his Timaeus, where speaking of God's liberality in constituting of Man, he thus speaks of this Divination, [...], &c. i. e. As for our worser part, that it might in some sort par­take of Truth, God hath seated in it the power of Divi­ning: and it is a sufficient signe that God has indulged this faculty of Divining to the foolishness of men; for there is no sober man that is touch'd with this Power of Divination, unless in Sleep, when his Reason is bound, or when by Sickness or Enthusiasm he suffers some aliena­tion of Mind. But it is then for the Wise and Sober to understand what is spoken or represented in this Fatidical passion. And so it seems Plato, who was no careless ob­server of these matters, could no where find this Divi­ning spirit in his time, except it were joined some way or other cum mentis alienatione; and therefore he looks upon it as that which is inferior to Wisdome, and to be regulated by it: for so he further declares his [Page 195] mind to the same purpose, [...], &c. that is, Where­fore it is a law that Prophets should be set as it were Judges over these Enthusiastick Divinations, which Prophets some ignorantly and falsly call Diviners. For indeed these Prophets in his sense to whom he gives the preeminence, are none else but Wise and prudent men, who by reason of the sagacitie of their Understandings were able to judge of those things which were uttered by this dull Spirit of Divination, which resided only in Faculties inferior to Reason. So in his Charmides, [...], &c. i. e. But, if you will, we will grant the Gift of Divination to be a knowledge of what is to come: but withall that it is fit that Wisdome and Sobrietie should be Judge and Interpreter. But fur­ther, that his age was acquainted with no other Divina­tions then that which ariseth from a troubled Phansie, and is conceived in a dark Melancholy imagination, he confirms to us in his Phaedrus, where he rightly gives us the true Etymon of this [...], that it was called so [...], from rage and furie, and therefore saies it was antiently called [...]. However he grants that it happened to many [...] by Divine allotment; yet it was most vulgarly incident to Sick and Melan­choly men, who oftentimes by the power thereof were able to presage by what Medicines their own distem­pers might be best cured, as if it were nothing else but a discerning of that sympathizing & symbolizing com­plexion of their own Bodies with some other Bodies without them. And elsewhere he tells us that these [...] never, or verie rarely, understood the meaning and nature of their own Visa.

[Page 196] And therefore indeed the Platonists generally seem'd to reject or very much to slight all this kind of Re­velation, and to acknowledge nothing transcendent to the naked Reason and Understanding of Man. So Maximus Tyrius in Dissert. 3. [...], It's a bold assertion, yet I shall not doubt to say, that God's Oracles and Men's Understandings are of a near al­liance. And so according to Porphyrius, lib. 2. §. 52. [...], a Good man is [...], one that needs not soothsaying, being familiarly and inti­mately acquainted with God himself.

Likewise the Stoicks will scarce allow their Wise man at any time to consult an Oracle, as we may learn from Arrian, l. 2. c. 7. and Epictetus, c. 39. and Simplicius his Comment thereupon: where that great Philosopher making a scrupulous search what those things were which it might be fit to consult the Oracle about, at last brings them into so narrow a compass, that a Wise man should never find occasion to honour the Oracle with his presence. A famous instance whereof we have in Lucan lib. 9. where Cato being advised to consult Ju­piter Hammon his Oracle after Pompey's death, answers,

Estnè Dei sedes nisi Terra & Pontus & Aer
Et Coelum & Virtus? Superos quid quaerimus ultra?
Jupiter est quodcunque vides, quocunque moveris.
Sortilegis egeant dubii sempérque futuris
Casibus ancipites; me non Oracula certum,
Sed mors certa facit—

But enough of this Particular; and I hope by this time I have sufficiently unfolded the true Seat of Prophesie, and shewed the right Stage thereof: as also how lame and delusive the Spirit of Divination was, which endea­voured to imitate it.

[Page 197] Now from what hath been said ariseth one main Characteristical distinction between the Prophetical and Pseudo-prophetical spirit, viz. That the Prophetical spirit doth never alienate the Mind, (seeing it seats it self as well in the Rational powers as in the Sensitive,) but alwaies maintains a consistency and clearness of Reason, strength and soliditie of Judgment, where it comes; it doth not ravish the Mind, but inform and en­lighten it: But the Pseudo-prophetical spirit, if indeed without any kind of dissimulation it enters into any one, because it can rise no higher then the Middle region of Man, which is his Phansy, it there dwells as in storms and tempests, and being [...] in it self, is also con­joined with alienations and abreptions of mind. For whensoever the Phantasms come to be disordered and to be presented tumultuously to the Soul, as it is ei­ther in a [...] Furie, or in Melancholy, (both which Kinds of alienation are commonly observed by Physi­cians) or else by the Energy of this Spirit of Divina­tion, the Mind can pass no true Judgment upon them; but its light and influence becomes eclipsed. But of this alienation we have already discoursed out of Pla­to and others. And thus the Pythian Prophetess is de­scribed by the Scholiast upon Aristophanes his Plutus, and by Lucan, lib. 5. as being filled with inward furie, while she was inspired by the Fatidical spirit, and utte­ring her Oracles in a strange disguise with many An­tick gestures, her hair torn, and foaming at her Mouth. As also Cassandra is brought in prophesying in the like manner by Lycophron. So the Sibyll was noted by Heraclitus [...], as one speaking ridiculous and unseemly speeches with her furious mouth. And Ammianus Mar­cellinus in the beginning of his 21th book hath told us [Page 198] an old Observation concerning the Sibylls, Sibyllae cre­bro se dicunt ardere, torrente vi magnâ flammarum.

This was cautelously observed by the Primitive Fa­thers, who hereby detected the Impostures of the Montanists that pretended much to Prophesie, but in­deed were acquainted with nothing more of it then Ec­stasies or abreptions of mind: For that is it which they mean by Ecstasies. I shall first mention that of Strom. 1. Clem. Alexandr. [...], that is, The false pro­phets mingled Truth sometimes with Falshood: and in­deed when they were in an Ecstasie, they prophesied, as being servants to that grand Apostate the Devil. Eusebius mentions in Histor. Eccles. lib. 5. c. 17. a Discourse of Miltiades to this purpose, [...]. Tertullian, who was a great Friend to Montanus and his prophetical Sisters Maximilla and Priscilla, speaking of them endeavours to alleviate this business: and though he grants they were Ecstati­cal in their Prophesies, that is, only transported by the power of a Spirit more potent then their own, as he would seem to implie; yet he denies that they used to fall into any rage or fury, which he saies is the Character of every false Prophet; and so Montanus ex­cused himself. But yet for all this, they could not avoid the lash of Jerome, who thought he saw through this Ecstasie, and that indeed it was a true alienation, seeing they understood not what they spoke. Neque verò (ut Montanus cum insanis foeminis somniat) Prophetae in Ec­stasi locuti sunt, ut nescirent quid loquerentur; & cùm alios erudirent, ipsi ignorarent quid dicerent, The Pro­phets did not (as Montanus together with some mad wo­men dreams) speak in Ecstasies, nor did they speak they [Page 199] knew not what; nor were they, when they went about to instruct others, ignorant of what they said themselves. So he in his Preface to Esay. This also he otherwhere brands the Montanists withall; as in his Praoemium to Nahum, Non loquitur Propheta [...], ut Montanus & Prisca Maximilláque delirant; sed quod prophetat, liber est intelligentis quae loquitur. And in his Preface to Habakuk,—Prophetae visio est, & adversum Montani dogma perversum intelligit quod videt, nec ut amens lo­quitur, nec in morem insanientium foeminarum dat sine mente sonum. I shall add but one Author more, and that is Chrysostome, who hath very fully and excellently laid down this difference between the true and false Pro­phets, Hom. 29. on the first Epistle to the Corinthians. [...], It's the propertie of a Diviner to be Ecstaticall, to undergoe some violence, to be tossed and hurried about like a mad man: [...], But it's otherwise with a Prophet, whose understanding is awake, and his mind in a sober and orderly temper, and he knows every thing that he saith.

But here we must not mistake the business, as if there were nothing but the most absolute Clearness and Serenitie of thoughts lodging in the Soul of the Pro­phet amidst all his Visions: And therefore we shall fur­ther take notice of that Observation of the Jews, which is vulgarly known by all acquainted with their Writings, which is concerning those Panick fears, Con­sternations and Affrightments and Tremblings, which frequently seized upon them together with the Pro­phetical influx. And indeed by how much stronger and more vehement those Impressions were which were [Page 200] made by those unwonted Visa which came in to act upon their Imaginative facultie, by so much the grea­ter was this Perturbation and Trouble: and by how much the more the Prophets Imagination was exerci­sed by the laboriousness of these Phantasms, the more were his natural strength and Spirits exhausted, as in­deed it must needs be. Therefore Daniel being wearied with the toilsome work of his Phansie about those Visi­ons that were presented to him, Chap. 10. 8. &c. com­plains that there was no strength left in him; that his comeliness was turned into corruption, and he retained no strength; that when he heard the voice, he was in a deep sleep, and his face toward the ground; that his sorrows were turned upon him, and no breath was left in him. So Gen. 15. 12. when the Vision presented to Abraham passed into a Prophetical Dream, it is said, a deep sleep fell upon Abraham, and a horror of great darkness fell upon him. Upon which passage Maimonides, in the 2d Part, & 41. Ch. of his More Nevochim, thus discourseth; Quandoque autem Prophetia incipit in Visione Prophe­tica, & postea multiplicatur terror & passio illa vehemens, quae sequitur perfectionem operationum facultatis Imagi­natricis, & tum demum venit Prophetia, sicuti contigit Abrahamo. In principio enim Prophetiae illius dicitur, (Gen. 15. 1.) Et fuit verbum Domini ad Abrahamum in Visione; et in fine ejusdem (vers. 12.) Et sopor ir­ruit in Abrahamum, &c. And in like manner he speaks of those Fatigations that Daniel complains of, Est au­tem terror quidam Panicus qui occupat Prophetam inter vigilandum, ficut ex Daniele patet, quando ait, Et vidi Visionem magnam hanc, neque remansit in me ulla fortitudo, & vis mea mutata est in corruptionem, nec retinui fortitudinem ullam. Et fui lethargo oppressus super faciem meam; & facies mea ad terram. And [Page 201] thus this whole business is excellently decyphered un­to us by R. Albo in his Third book and tenth chap­ter, [...], Behold, by reason of the strength of the Imaginative facultie and the precedencie of the Influence upon that to the in­fluence upon the Rational, the Influx doth not remain up­on the Prophet without Terrour and Consternation; inso­much that his members shake and his joints are loosned, and he seems like one that is readie to give up the ghost by reason of his great astonishment: After all which per­turbation the Prophetical influx settles it self upon the Rational Facultie.

From this Notion perhaps we may borrow some light for the clearing of Jeremie 23. 9. Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets, all my bones shake: I am like a drunken man (and like a man whom Wine hath overcome) because of the Lord, and because of the words of his Holiness. The importance of which words is, That the Energy of Prophetical vision wrought thus potently upon his Animal part. Though I know R. Solomon seems to look at another mea­ning: But Abarbanel is here full for our present purpose, [...], When Jeremy saw those false prophets eating and drinking and faring deli­ciouslie, he cried out and said, My heart is broken with­in me because of the Prophets; For while I behold their works, my heart is rent asunder with the extremi­ty of my Sorrow, and because of the Prophetical influx residing upon me, my bones are all rotten, and I am like a drunken man that neither sees nor hears. And all this hath befell me because of the Lord, that is, because of the divine influx that seized upon me, and because of the words of his Holinesse, which have [Page 202] wrought such a conturbation within me, that all my senses are stupified thereby. And thus I suppose is also that passage in Ezechiel 3. 14. to be expounded, where the Prophet describes the Energie and dominion which the Prophetical spirit had over him, when in a Pro­phetical Vision he was carried by way of Imagination a tedious journey to those of the Captivitie that dwelt by the river Chebar. The Spirit of the Lord lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, and in the heat (or hot chafing and anger) of my spirit; but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me. So Habak. 3. 2. O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was affraid; that is, the Prophetical voice heard by him, and represen­ted in his Imagination, was so strong that it struck a Panick fear (as Maimon. expresseth it) into him. And it may be the same thing is meant Esay 21. 3. where the Prophet describes that inward conturbation and con­sternation that his Vision of Babylon's ruine was ac­companied withall. Therefore are my loins fill'd with pain, pangs have taken hold upon me as the pangs of a woman that travaileth: I was bowed down at the hearing of it, I was dismaied at the seeing of it. Though I know there may be another meaning of that place not improper, viz. that the Prophet personates Babylon in the horrour of that anguish that should come upon them, whereby he sets it forth the more to the Life, as Jonathan the Targumist and others would have it; though yet I cannot think this the most congruous meaning.

But I have now done with this Particular, and I hope by this time have gain'd a fair advantage of sol­ving one Difficultie, which though it be not so much observ'd by our own as it is by the Jewish writers, yet it is worth our scanning, viz. How the Prophets per­ceived [Page 203] when the Prophetical inspiration first seized upon them. For (as we have before shewed) there may be such Dreams and Visions which are meerly delusive, and such as the false prophets were often partakers of; and besides the true Prophets might have often such Dreams as were meerly vera somnia, True dreams, but not Prophetical.

For the full Solution of this knot we have before shewed how this Pseudo-prophetical Spirit only flutters below upon the more terrene parts of mans Soul, his Passions and Phansie. The Prince of darkness comes not within the Sphere of Light and Reason to order affairs there, but that is left to the sole Oeconomy and Soveraignty of the Father of Lights. There is a clear and bright heaven in mans Soul, in which Lucifer himself cannot subsist, but is tumbled down from thence as often as he assayes to climbe up into it.

But to come more pressely to the business; The He­brew Masters here tell us that in the beginning of Pro­phetical inspiration the Prophets use to have some Ap­parition or Image of a Man or Angel presenting itself to their Imagination. Sometimes it began with a Voice, and that either strong and vehement, or else soft and familiar. And so God is said first of all to appear to Samuel, 1 Sam. 3. 7. who is said not yet to have known the Lord, that is, as Maimon. in Part. 2. c. 44. of his More Nevochim expounds it, Ignoravit adhuc tunc tem­poris Deum hoc modo cum Prophet is loqui solere, & quod hoc mysterium nondū fuit ei revelatum. In the same man­ner R. Albo, Maam. 3. cap. 11. For otherwise we must not think that Samuel was then ignorant of the true God, but that he knew not the manner of that Voice by which the Prophetical spirit was wont to awaken the attention of the Prophets.

[Page 204] And that this was the antient opinion of the Jews R. Solomon tells us out of the Massecheth Tamid, where the Doctors thus gloss upon this place, [...], i. e. as yet he knew not the Lord, that is, he knew not the manner of the Prophetical voice. This is that soft and gentle voice whereby the Sense of the Prophet is sometimes at­tempted, but sometimes this Voice is more vehement. It will not be amiss to hear Maimonides his words, Part. 2. c. 44. of his More Nev. Nonnunquam fit ut Verbum illud quod Propheta audit in Visione Prophetiae, ei videatur fieri voce robustissimâ, &c. i. e. It sometims happens that the Word which the Prophet hears in a Pro­phetical Vision, seems to strike him with a more vehe­ment noise; and accordingly some dream that they hear Thunder and Earthquake or some great Clashing; and sometimes again with an ordinarie and familiar noise, as if it was close by him. We have a famous Instance of the last in that Voice whereby God appeared unto Adam after he had sinned, and of the former in Job and Elijah. That instance of Adam is set down Gen. 3. 8, 9. And they heard the voice of the Lord walking in the Garden in the coole of the day, and Adam hid him­self from the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden: and the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? Where those words [...], which we render the coole of the day, the Jews expound of a gentle vocal air, such an one as breathed in the day-time more pacately. For this appearance of God to him they suppose to be in a Prophetical Vision; and so Nachmanides comments upon those words, [...] The sense of this [ [...] in the gale of the day] is, that ordinarily in the manifestation of the Shechina or [Page 205] divine presence, there comes a great and mighty wind to usher it in, according to what we read of Elijah, 1 Kings 19. 11. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the Mountains, and brake in pieces the Rocks before the Lord: and in Psalme 18. and elsewhere, He flew upon the wings of the wind: Accordingly it is written concerning Job, c. 38. v. 1. that the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind. Wherefore by way of distinction it is said in this place, that they heard the voice of the Lord, that is, that the Divine Majestie was revealed to them in the garden, as approaching to them, in the gale of the day. For the wind of the day blew according to the manner of the day-time in the garden; not as a great and strong wind in this Vision (as it was in other Prophetical approaches) lest they should fear and be dismaied. This mightie voice we also find recorded as rowzing up the attenti­on of Ezechiel, chap. 9. 1. He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, &c. So that all these Schemes are meerly Prophetical, and import nothing else but the strong awakening and quickning of the Prophets mind into a lively sense of the Divine majesty appearing to him.

And of these the Apocalypse is full, there being in­deed no Prophetical writ, where the whole Dramatical series of things, as they were acted over in the Mind of the Prophet, are more graphicallie and to the Life set forth. So we have this Vox praecentrix to the whole Scene sometimes sounding like a Trumpet, Rev. 1. 10. I was in the Spirit on the Lords day, and heard behind me a great voice as of a trumpet. And chap. 4. up­on the beginning of a new Vision we find this Pro­logue, I looked, and behold a door was opened in hea­ven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were the [Page 206] sound of a Trumpet, talking with me, which said, Come up hither, &c. And when a new Act of opening the Seals begins, chap. 6. 1. he is excited by another voice sounding like Thunder. And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the Seals, and I heard as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four Beasts saying, Come and see. And chap. 8. ver. 5. voices and thunders and lightnings and an earthquake are the Prooemium to the Vision of the Seven Angels with seven trumpets. Lastly, to name no more, sometimes it is brought in sounding like the roaring of a Lion. So when he was to receive the little Book of Prophesie chap. 10. 3. An Angel cryed with a loud voice, as when a Lion roareth; and when he had cry­ed, seven thunders uttered their voices. Hence it is that we find the Prophets ordinarily prefacing to their Visions in this manner, The hand of the Lord was upon me; that is indeed some potent force rouzing them up to a lively sense of the Divine majesty, or some hea­venly Embassador speaking with them. And that the sense hereof might be the more Energetical, sometimes in a Prophetical Vision they are commanded to eat those Prophetick rolls given them, which are descri­bed with the greatest contrarietie of tast that may be, sweet as hony in their mouths, and in their bellies as bitter as gall, Rev. 10. 9. Ezek. 2. 8.

Thus we have seen in part how those Impressions, by which the Prophets were made partakers of Divine inspiration, carried a strong evidence of their Original along with them, whereby they might be able to di­stinguish them both from any hallucination, as also from their own True dreams, which might be [...] sent by God, but not Propheticall: which yet I think is more universally unfolded Jeremie 23. where the difference between true Divine inspiration and such false Dreams [Page 207] and Visions as sometimes a lying Spirit breathed into the false prophets is on set purpose described to us from their different Evidence and Energy. The Pseu­do-prophetical spirit being but Ver. 28. chaff▪ as vain as vanity it self, subject to every wind: the matter it self indeed which was suggested in such tending to nourish immo­rality and prophaneness; and besides for the manner of inspiration, it was more dilute and languid. Whereas true Prophesie entred upon the Mind as a Ver. 29. fire, and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces: and there­fore the true Prophets might know themselves to have received command from heaven, when the false might, if they would have laid aside their own fond self-con­ceit, have known as easilie that God sent them not. For so I think those words are spoken by way of con­viction, and to provoke a self-condemnation, verse 32. Behold I am against those that prophesie false dreams, saith the Lord, and doe tell them, and cause my people to erre by their lies and by their lightness, yet I sent them not, neither commanded them. And this might be evi­dent to them from the feeble nature of those Inspirati­ons which they boasted of, as it is insinuated verse 28, 29. The prophet that hath a dream, &c. And thus Abar­banel expounds this place, whose sense I shall a little the more pursue, because he from hence undertakes to solve the difficultie of that Question which we are now upon, and thus speaks of it as a Question of verie great moment. [...] i. e. Certainly it is one of the profoundest questions that are made concerning Prophesie, and I have enquired af­ter the opinion of the wise men of our Nation about it. What answer they gave to this Question which he anx­iously enquired after, it seems he tells us not, but his own answer which he adheres to he founds upon those [Page 208] words, verse 28. [...], What is the chaffe to the wheat? And upon this occasion he saies that old Rule of the Jews was framed which we formerly spoke of, As there is no Wheat without chaffe, so neither is there any Dream without something that is [...], void of reality and insignificant. Maimonides here in a ge­neral way resolves the business, [...], i. e. All Prophesie makes it self known to the Prophet that it is Prophesie indeed. Which general so­lution Abarbanel having a little examined, thus collects the sense of it, [...], i. e. A Prophet when he is a­sleep may distinguish between a Prophetical Dream and that which is not such, by the vigour and liveliness of the perception whereby he apprehends the thing propoun­ded, or else by the imbecillitie and weakness thereof. And therefore Maimon. hath said well, All Prophesie makes it self known to the Prophet that it is Prophesie in­deed, that is, it makes it self known to the Prophet by the strength and vigour of the perception, so that his Mind is freed from all scruple whatsoever about it. And this he concludes to be the true meaning of Jer. 23. 29. Is not my word like a fire, saith the Lord, and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? which he thus glosses upon, [...], Such a thing is the Prophetical Spirit, by reason of the strength of its impression and the forcibleness of its operation upon the heart of the Pro­phet; it is even like a thing that burns and tears him: and this happens to him either amidst the Dream it self, or afterwards when he is fully awaken and roused out of that Prophetical dream. But those Dreams which are not Pro­phetical, although they be True, are weak and languid [Page 209] things, easily blasted as it were with the East wind: And, as he further goes on by way of allusion, like those Dreams that the Prophet Esay speaks of, when a hun­grie man dreams he eats, but when he awakes, be­hold he is still hungrie; and as when a thirstie man dreams he drinks, but when he is awake he is still thirstie. And thus also the Chaldee Paraphrast Jeremy 23. 29. [...], Nonne omnia verba mea sunt fortia sicut ignis, &c. But we have yet another evident demonstration of this Notion which may not be omitted, which is Jer. 20. 9. Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his Name: But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up within my bones, and I was wearie with forbear­ing, and I could not stay. And verse 11. The Lord is with me as a mightie terrible one. With reference to which Paragraph, R. Solomon thus glosseth on the for­merly-quoted Chap. 23. 29. [...], The word of Prophesie when it enters into the Mouth of the Prophet in its strength, it comes upon him like a fire that burneth, according to what is said [in Jer. 20. 9.] And it was in my heart as a burning fire; [and in Ezek. 3. 14.] And the hand of the Lord was strong upon me.

I have now done with the main Characteristical Na­ture of Prophesie, and given those [...] of it which most properly belong to True Prophesie; though yet the other Two degrees of Divine influx (of which hereafter) may also have their share in them.

CHAP. V.

An Enquiry concerning the Immediate Efficient that represented the Prophetical Visions to the Phansie of the Prophet. That these Representations were made in the Prophet's Phansie by some Angel. This cleared by several passages out of the Jewish Monuments, and by Testimonies of Scripture.

BEfore I conclude this present Discourse concerning Prophesie properly so called, I think it may be use­full to treat a little of Two things more that most commonly are to be considered in this Degree of Di­vine Inspiration, which we call Prophesie.

The First whereof is to enquire what that Intellectus 1. agens was, or, if you will, that Immediate Efficient that represented the Prophetical Visions to the Phansie of the Prophet.

Secondly, What the meaning of those Actions is that 2. are frequently attributed to the Prophets, whether they were Real, or only Imaginary and Scenical.

I shall begin with the First, and enquire By whom these Representations were made in the Prophet's Imagi­nation, or who ordered the Prophetical scene, and brought up all those Idolums that therein appeared upon the Stage. For though there be no question but that it was God himself by whom the whole Frame of Prophesie was disposed and originally dispensed, seeing the scope thereof was to reveal his Mind and Will; yet the Im­mediate Efficient seems not to be God himself, as per­haps [Page 211] some may think, but indeed an Angel: And so the generalitie of all the Jewish Writers determin. Maimon. his sense is full for this purpose, both in his De Fundament is Legis and his More Nevochim. And per­haps he hath too universally determined that every Apparition of Angels imports presentlie some Pro­phetical dispensation: which hath made some of his Country-men by an [...] to fall too much off from him into a contrarie assertion. His words are these, More Nev. Part. 2. c. 41. Scito quòd omnium eo­rum Prophetarum qui Prophetiam sibi factam esse dicunt, quidam eam Angelo alicui, quidam verò Deo Opt. Max▪ ascribant & attribuant, licèt per Angeli ministerium quoque ipsis obtigerit: de quo Sapientes nostri nos erudie­runt quando aiunt, Et dixit Dominus ad eam (scilicet [...], h. e. per manus Angeli) Gen. 25. 23. For so it seems the Masters expounded this place (where God reveals to Rebekah her future conception and progenie) of a Propheticall apparition by some Angel; though yet all agree not in it. But it may be worth our while to hear out Maimon. who pleads the authoritie of all Jewish antiquitie for this opinion that we have now laid down. Insuper, de quocunque scriptum occurrit, quòd Angelus cum eo locutus, aut quod aliquid ipsi à Deo revelatum sit, id nullo alio modo quàm in Somnio aut Visione Prophetica factum esse noveris, &c. Moreover, of whomsoever you read that an Angel spoke with him, or that something was revealed to him by God, you are to understand that it was performed no other way then by a Dream or a Prophetical Vision. Our Wise men have a discourse about the Word that came to the Prophets, according to what the Prophets themselves have declared (that is, concerning the several waies (as Buxtorf expounds it) by which the Prophets say [Page 212] the Word of God came to them.) Now this was (say they) four waies. The first is, when the Prophet declares he received the word from an Angel in a Dream or in a Vision. Secondly, when he only mentions the words of the Angel, without declaring that they came to him in a Dream or in a Vision; relying upon this known Fun­damental, viz. That there is no Prophesie revealed but by one of these two waies, whereof God makes mention, saying, I will make my self known in a Vision, and speak to him in a Dream. Thirdly, when he makes no mention of the Angel, but ascribes all to God, as if he alone had conveyed it; yet with this addition, that it came in a Vision or in a Dream. Fourthly, when the Prophet saies absolutelie, that God speak with him, or said unto him, Doe this, or, Speak this, making no men­tion at all either of Angel, or Vision, or Dream; and that because of this known Principle and Fundamental truth, That there is no Prophesie but either in a Dream or Vision, or by the ministrie of an Angel. Thus Mai­monides, who, as we see, pretends this to be a known thing and generallie agreed upon by all Jewish anti­quitie.

But before we goe on to any Confirmation of it, it will be requisite a little to see what Nachmanides, his great adversarie in this business, alledgeth against him, which I find in his Comment upon Genesis 18. which Chap. Maimonides makes to relate nothing else but a Prophetical apparition of three Angels to Abraham which promised a Son: they are said to eat and drink with him, and two of them to depart from him to So­dom, to be there entertained by Lot, whom they rescu­ed from the violence of his neighbour-Citizens, and led him the next day out of the Citie, before they brought down fire and brimstone from heaven upon it. [Page 213] All which passages seem to make it evident that this Apparition of Angels was Real and Historical, and not meerly Prophetical and Imaginarie. Wherefore Nach­manides having got this unhappy advantage of his ad­versarie, pursues this mistake of his with another of his own as gross in an opposite way. His words are these, [...] He that beholds an Angel, or hath any conference with one, is not a Prophet: For the business is not so as Mai­monides hath determined it, namely, That everie Pro­phet receives his Prophesie by the ministrie of an Angel, our Master Moses only excepted: for our Rabbins have told us concerning Daniel and his companions, that they were upon this account more excellent then he, because they were Prophets, and he none. And therefore his Book is not reckoned amongst the Prophets, because he had to doe with the Angel Gabriel, although he both beheld him, and had conference with him when he was awake. Thus we see Nachman. as clearly expungeth all those out of his Catalogue of the Prophets to whom any Apparition of Angels was made, as Maimon. had put them in: and pretends for this the Authoritie of the Talmudists; who for this cause exclude Daniel from the number of the Prophets, and, as he would have us be­lieve, reckoned his Book among the Hagiographa, because of his converse with the Angel Gabriel: But all this is gratis dictum, and scarce bonâ fide; for it is manifest that all Antiquitie reckoned upon Zacharie as a Prophet, notwithstanding all his Visions are perpetu­ally represented by Angels.

But we shall a little examine that sentence of the Talmudists which Nachman. founds his Opinion upon, which I find set down Massecheth Megillah, cap. 1. in the Gemara, where the Masters gloss on that Dan. 10. 7. [Page 214] And I Daniel alone saw the Vision: for the men that were with me saw not the Vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Here they enquire who those Companions of Daniel were, and then pass their Verdict upon him and them. [...], What are those men that were with Daniel? R. Jeremie said, They were Haggai, Zacharie and Malachie. They excelled Daniel, and he also excelled them. Herein they excelled him, because they were Prophets, and he none; and in this he excelled them, that he beheld a Vision, and they none. Thus those Masters; who indeed denie Daniel to be a Prophet, and accordingly his Book was by them reckoned among the Hagiographa, yet they here give no reason at all for it. But whereas Nachman, saies that the Visions of Angels which Daniel conversed with were Real, and not Imaginarie or Pro­phetical, it is a manifest Elusion, and contrarie to the ex­press words of the Text, which relates these Appa­ritions to have been in his sleep, Chap. 10. verse 9. And when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep upon my face, and my face towards the ground. And Chap. 8. 18. Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep. This sleep was upon the Verse 15. Exit of his Vision: For so (as we have shewed before) there was a frequent [...] from a Vision which be­gun upon the Prophets while they were awake into a Prophetical Dream. So Chap. 7. verse 1. In the first year of Belshazzar King of Babylon, Daniel had a Dream, and Visions of his head upon his bed; and in this Dream and night-Vision, as in the other before mentioned, a Man or Angel comes in to expound the matter, verse 15, 16. I Daniel was grieved in my Spirit in the midst of my body, and the Visions of my head troubled me. [Page 215] I came near to one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this: so he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.

But that the Talmudists do maintain True Prophesie to have been communicated by Angels, we shall further confirm from one place which is in Gemara Beracoth cap. 9. where the Doctors are brought in comparing Two places of Scripture, which seem contradictory. One of them is Numb. 12. 6. In a Dream will I speak unto him; the other is Zech. 10. 2. They have told false dreams: which they solve thus. R. Rami said, It is writ­ten, [...]. I will speak to him in a dream, and again, They have told false dreams. Now there is no difficultie at all in this: For the first sort of Dreams came [...] by the hand of an Angel; and the other [...] by an evil Genius. And this Opinion is generally followed by the rest of the Jewish writers, Commentators and others, who thus com­pound the difference between those two famous adver­saries Nachman. and Maimon. by granting a twofold appearance of Angels, the one Real, and the other Ima­narie. And so they say this Real vision of Angels is a Degree inferior to the Prophetical vision of them. As we are told by R. Jehudah in the Book Cosri; where having disputed, Maam. 3. what hallowed minds they ought to have who maintain commerce with the Deitie, he thus goes on, [...], If a man be very pious, and be in those places where the Di­vine influence uses to manifest it self, the Angels will accompanie him with their Real presence, and he shall see them face to face; yet in an inferiour way to that Vision of Angels which accompanies the Prophetical degree. Under the Second temple, according as men were more en­dowed with wisdom, they beheld Apparitions and heard [Page 216] the Bath Col, which is a degree of Sanctitie, but yet in­ferior to the Prophetical. To conclude, R. Bechai makes it an Article of faith to believe the Existence of An­gels for this reason, that Angels were the furnishers of the Prophetical scene, and therefore to denie them was to denie all Prophesie; so he in Parasha Terumah [...], because (saith he) the Divine influx comes by the ministrie of Angels, who order and dispose the word in the mouth of the Prophet according to the mind of God: And if [...] were not so, there would be no Prophesie; and if no Prophesie, no Law. So Jos. Albo, we may remember, defin'd Prophesie by the immediate orderers of it, the Angels.

But it is best to consult the Scripture it self in this bu­siness, which declares all that way by which it descen­ded from God to the sons of men. The first place which Maimon. in More Nev. Part. 2. cap. 42. brings for confirmation of this opinion is that of Genesis 18. v. [...]. with the exposition of R. Chija, which he leaves as a great secret. But that which is more for his and our purpose, is Gen. 32. 24. where Jacob wrestled all night with the Angel; for so that man was, as Hosea tells us; and verse 1. The Angels of God met Jacob. Neither doth this Interpretation of that Lucta between the Angel and Jacob to have been only in a Prophetical Vision, at all prejudice the Historical truth of that Event of it, which was Jacobs halting upon his thigh: For that is no very unusual thing at other times to have some Real passions in our bodies represented to us in our dreams then when they first begin. Another place is Jos. 5. 13. Joshua lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold a man stood over against him. Again, Judges 5. 23. Deborah attributes the command she had to [Page 217] curse Meroz, to an Angel. Curse ye Meroz, said the An­gel of the Lord: which words Kimchi would have to be understood in a literal sense, [...], for Deborah was a Prophe­tess, and so spake according to Prophetical inspiration; and so Rabbi Levi Ben Gersom also expounds it: On­kelos and Rasi, with less reason I think, make this Angel to be none else but Baruch. Though I am not ignorant that sometimes the Prophets themselves are called An­gels of God, and thence Malachie the last of them had his Name; yet we have no such testimonie concerning Baruch, that ever he was any Prophet, but only a Judge or Commander of the militarie forces. In the first Book of Kings chap. 19. ver. 11, 12. we have a large description of this Imaginarie appearance of An­gels in the several modes of it; Behold the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the Mountains, and brake in pieces the Rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake, and after the earthquake a fire, &c. All which Appearances Jonathan the Targumist expounds by [...] Armies of Angels, which were attended with those ter­rible Phaenomena. And the still voice in which the Lord was, he renders answerably to the rest by [...], the voice of Angels praising God in a gentle kind of Harmonie. For though it be there said that the Lord was in the soft voice, yet that Paraphrast seems to understand it only of his Embassador: which in some other places of Scripture is very manifest; as in 2 Kings chap. 1. ver. 3, 15, 16. where verse 3. we find the Angel delivered to Elijah the Message to Ahaziah King of Israel, who sent to Baal-Zebub the God of Ekron to enquire about his disease; But the Angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, goe up to [Page 218] meet the messengers of the King of Samaria, and say un­to them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye goe to enquire of Baal-Zebub. And verse the 16, we have all this message attributed to God himself by the Prophet, as if he had received the dictate immediately from God himself? And in Daniel, the Apocalypse, and Zacharie, we find all things perpetually represented and interpreted by Angels. And Abarbanel upon Za­charie 2. tells us that several Prophets had several An­gels that delivered the heavenly Embassie to them, for that every Prophet was not so well fitted to converse with any kind of Angel: [...], Every Prophet was not in a fit capacity of re­ceiving Prophetical influence from any Angel indiffe­rentlie; but according to the disposition of the Receiver the degree and quality of the Angel was accommodated. But I shall not further pursue this Argument. In the general, that the Prophetical scene was perpetuallie orde­red by some Angel, I think it is evident from what hath been already said, which I might further confirm from Ezekiel, all whose Prophesies about the Temple are expresly attributed to a man as the Actor of them, that is indeed an Angel; for so they used constantly to appear to the Prophets in an humane shape. And likewise Gen. 28. 18. in Jacob's Vision of a Ladder that reached up to heaven we find the Angels ascending and descen­ding, to intimate that this Scala prophetica whereby Di­vine influence descended upon the Mind of the Pro­phet is alwaies filled with Angels. From this place compared with Gen. 31. 11. Jacob's Vision of Laban's sheep presented to him by an Angel, Philo thus deter­mines in his book [...], [Page 219] [...], You see how the Scripture represents such Dreams as sent of God, not only those that proceed from the first Cause [God,] but such also as come by his Ministers, the An­gels. But S. Jerome hath given us a more full and am­ple Testimonie in this matter, in his Comment on Gal. 3. 19. The Law was ordained by Angels in the hand of a Mediator. His words are these; Quod autem ait, Lex ordinata per Angelos, hoc vult intelligi, quòd in omni Veteri Testamento, ubi Angelus primùm visus re­fertur, & postea quasi Deus loquens inducitur, Angelus quidem verè ex ministris pluribus quicumque sit visus, sed in illo Mediator [Christus] loquatur qui dicat, Ego sum Deus Abraham, Deus Isaac, & Deus Jacob. Nec mirum si Deus loquatur in Angelis, cum etiam per An­gelos qui in hominibus sunt loquatur Deus in Prophetis; dicente Zacharia, Et ait Angelus qui loquebatur in me, ac deinceps inferente, Haec dicit Dominus Omnipotens.

We might further add to all this those Visions which we meet with in the New Testament, which, as a thing vulgarlie known, were attributed to Angels. So Acts 27. 23. There stood by me the Angel of God this night, that is, in a Prophetical dream. And Acts 12. when the Angel of God did reallie appear to Peter, and bring him out of prison, he could scarce be perswaded of a long time but that all this was a Vision, this indeed being the common manner of all Prophetical Vision. And Acts 23. when the Pharisees would describe S. Paul as a Prophet that had received some Vision or Revelation from heaven, they phrase it by the speak­ing of an Angel or Spirit unto him, ver. 9. We find no evil in this man; but if an Angel or Spirit hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.

CHAP. VI.

The Second Enquiry, What the meaning of those Acti­ons is that are frequently attributed to the Pro­phets, whether they were Real, or only Imaginary and Scenical. What Actions of the Prophets were only Imaginarie and performed upon the Stage of Phansie. What we are to think of several Actions and res gestae recorded of Hosea, Jeremie and Ezekiel in their Prophesies.

THus we have done with our first Enquiry concer­ning the Contriver and Orderer of the Prophetical Stage: That which was acted upon it, no doubt, every one will grant to have been a Masking or Imaginarie business. But there are many times in the midst of Prophetical Narrations some things related to be done by the Prophets themselves upon the command of the Prophetick Voice, which have been generally concei­ved to have been acted really, the grossest of all not ex­cepted, as Hosea his taking a harlot for his Wife and begetting Children, &c. Which conceit Mr. Calvin hath in part happily undermined. But we shall not here doubt to conclude both of That and all other acti­ons of the Prophets which they were enjoined upon the Stage of Prophesie, that they were only Scenical & Ima­ginarie; except indeed they were such as of their own Nature must have an Historical meaning, in which an Imaginarie performance would not serve the turn. For this purpose it may be worth our while to take no­tice of what Maimonides hath well determined in this [Page 221] Case, More Nev. Part. 2. cap. 46. Scias ergo, quemad­modum in somnio accidit, &c. Know therefore, that as it is in a Dream, a man thinks that he hath been in this or that Countrie, that he has married a Wife there, and con­tinued there for some certain time, that by this Wife he has had a Son of such a name, of such a disposition, and the like; Know (saith he) that even just so it is with the Prophetical Parables as to what the Prophets see or doe in a Prophetical Vision. For whatsoever those Parables in­form us concerning any Action the Prophet doth, or con­cerning the space of time between one Action and ano­ther, or going from one place to another; all this is in a Prophetical Vision: neither are these Actions real to sense, although some particularities may be precisely recko­ned up in the writings of the Prophets. For because it was well known that it was all done in a Prophetical Visi­on; it was not necessarie in the rehearsing of every parti­cularitie to reiterate that it was in a Prophetical Visi­on; as it was also needless to inculcate that it was in a Dream. But now the Vulgar sort of men think that all such Actions, Journies, Questions and Answers were re­ally and sensibly performed, and not in a Prophetical Vi­sion. And therefore I have an intention to make plain this business, and shall bring such things as no man shall be able to doubt of; adding thereunto some Examples, by which you may be able to judge of the rest which I shall not for the present mention. Thus we see how Maimon. rejects it as a vulgar error to conceive that those Acti­ons which are commonlie attributed to the Prophets in the current of their Prophesie, their travailing from place to place, their propounding questions and receiving answers, &c. were real things to sense; whereas they were only Imaginarie, represented meer­ly to the Phansie.

[Page 222] But for a more distinct understanding of this business, we must remember what hath been often suggested, That the Prophetical scene or Stage upon which all apparitions were made to the Prophet, was his Imagination; and that there all those things which God would have revealed unto him were acted over Symbolicallie, as in a Masque, in which divers persons are brought in, amongst which the Prophet himself bears a part: And therefore he, ac­cording to the exigencie of this Dramatical apparatus, must, as the other Actors, perform his part, sometimes by speaking and reciting things done, propounding que­stions, sometimes by acting that part which in the Dra­ma he was appointed to act by some others; and so not only by Speaking, but by Gestures and Actions come in in his due place among the rest; as it is in our ordinarie Dreams, to use Maimonides his expression of it. And therefore it is no wonder to hear of those things done which indeed have no Historical or Real veritie; the scope of all being to represent something strongly to the Prophets Understanding, and sufficient­ly to inform it in the Substance of those things which he was to instruct that People in to whom he was sent. And so sometimes we have only the Intelligible mat­ter of Prophesies delivered to us nakedly without the Imaginarie Ceremonies or Solemnities. And as this Notion of those Actions of the Prophet that are inter­weav'd with their Prophesies is most genuine and a­greeable to the general nature of Prophesie, so we shall further clear and confirm it in some Particulars.

We shall begin with that of Hosea his marrying of Gomer a common harlot, and taking to himself chil­dren of whoredomes, which he is said to doe a first and second time, Chap. 1. and Chap. 3. Which kind of Action however it might be void of true Vice, yet it [Page 223] would not have been void of all Offence, for a Prophet to have thus unequally yoaked himself (to use S. Paul's expression) with any such Infamous persons, though by way of lawful wedlock, if it had been done really. I know that this way of interpreting both This and o­ther Prophetical actions displeaseth Abarbanel, who thinks the Literal sense & Historical verity of all ought to be entertained, except it be [...] expressed to have been done in a Vision; and the general current of our Christian writers till Calvin's time have gone the same way. And to make the Literal interpretation here good, R. Solomon and our former Author both tell us, that the antient Rabbins have determined those Pro­phetical narrations of Hosea to be understood [...] literally. The place they refer to is Gem. Pesac. cap. 8. where yet I find no such thing positively concluded by the Talmudists. Indeed they there, after their fashi­on, expound the place by inserting a long dialogue be­tween God and the Prophet about this matter, but so as that without R. Sol. or Abarbanel's gloss we could no more think their scope was to establish the Literal sense, then I think that the Prophet himself intended to insinuate the same to us. We shall therefore chuse to follow Abenezra as a more genuine Commentator, who in this place and others of the like nature follows Maimonides [...], making all those Transactions to have been only Imaginarie. For though it be not al­waies positively lay'd down in these Narrations, that the Res gesta was in a Vision; yet the Nature and Scope of Prophesie so requiring that things should thus be acted in Imagination, we should rather expect some Positive declaration to assure us that they were perfor­med in the History, if indeed it were so.

And therefore in these recitals of Prophetical Visions, [Page 224] we find many times things less coherent then can agree to a true History; as in the narrative of Abraham's Vi­sion, Gen. 15. (for so the Rabbins in Pirke R. Eliezer expound that whole Chapter to be nothing else) we find v. 1. that God appeared to Abraham in a Vision, and v. 5. God brings him into the field as if it were af­ter the shutting up of evening, and shews him the Stars of Heaven: and yet for all this ver. 12. it was yet day-time, and the Sun not gone down: And when the Sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abraham; and verse 17. And it came to pass that when the Sun went down and it was dark, behold a smoaking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. From whence it is manifest that Abraham's going out into the field before to take a view of the Stars of Heaven, and his ordering of those several living Crea­tures, ver. 9, 10. for a Sacrifice, was all performed in a Prophetical Vision, and upon the Stage of his Imagina­tion: It being no strange thing to have incoherent junctures of time made in such a way.

So Jeremie 13. we have there a very precise Narra­tive of Jeremiah's getting a linen girdle, and putting it upon his loines; and after a while he must needs take a long journey to Euphrates, to hide it there in a hole of the rock; and then returning, after many days makes another weary journie to the same place to take it out again after it was all corrupted: all which could manifestly be nothing else but meerly Imaginarie; the scope thereof being to imprint this more deeply upon the Understanding of the Prophet, That the House of Judah and Israel, which was nearly knit and united to God, should be destroied and ruined.

The same Prophet Chap. 18. is brought in going to the house of a Potter, to take notice how he wrought [Page 225] a piece of work upon the wheel; and when the Ves­sel he intended was all marred, that then he made of his clay another Vessel. And Chap. 19. he is brought in as taking the Ancients of the people and the Anci­ents of the Priests along with him into the valley of the Son of Hinnom, with a Potter's earthen bottle under his arm, and there breaking it in pieces in the midst of them.

In this last Chapter it's very observable how the Scheme of speech is altered, when the Prophet relates a Real History concerning himself, ver. 14. speaking of himself in the Third person, as if now he were to speak of some body else, and not of a Prophet or his Actions; for so we read ver. 14. Then came Jeremiah from Tophet, &c. The like change of the person we find Chap. 28. ver. 10. where a formal storie is told of some things that passed between Jeremiah and Ha­naniah the false prophet, who in the presence of all the people broke Jeremiah's yoke from off his neck: For it seems to have been a wonted thing for the Prophets by Bonds and Yokes to type out unto the people Victorie or Captivitie in war. Not unlike is that we read of Zedekiah the false prophet, 1 Kings 22. who made himself horns of iron, when he prophesied to Ahab his prosperitie against the Syrians at Ramoth-Gilead, vul­garly to represent to him the success he should have a­gainst his Enemies. But in all this business the Mode of Jeremiah's language insinuates a Literal sense, by speaking altogether in the Third person, as if the re­lation concerned some body else, and not himself, and so must be of some real thing, and that which to Sense and Observation had it's realitie, and not only a rea­litie in Apprehension or Imagination. So Chap. 32. we seem to have an insinuation of a real History in [Page 226] Jeremiah's purchase of a Field of Hanameel his Uncles Son, from the Mode of expression which is there ob­servable.

But other-times we meet with things graphically described with all the Circumstantial pomp of the business, when yet it could be nothing else but a Dra­matical thing; as Chap. 35. where the Prophet goes and finds out the chief of the Rechabites particularly described, and brings them into such a particular cham­ber as is there set forth by all it's bounds, and there sets pots and cups full of wine before them, and bids them drink wine. Just in the same mode with this we have another story told, Chap. 25. 15, and 17, &c. of his taking a wine-cup from God, and his carrying it up and down to all nations far and near, Jerusalem and the Cities of Judah, and the Kings and Princes thereof; to Pharaoh King of Egypt, and his Servants, Princes, People; to all the Arabians, and Kings of the Land of UZ; to the Kings of the Land of the Philistines, Edom, Moab, Ammon; the Kings of Tyre and Sidon and of the Isles beyond the Sea, Dedan, Tema, Buz; the Kings of Zimri, of the Medes and Persians, and all the Kings of the North: and all these he said he made to drink of this Cup. And in this fashion Chap. 27. he is sent up & down with Yokes, to put upon the necks of several Kings: all which can have no other sense then that which is meerly Imaginarie, though we be not told that all this was acted only in a Vision, for the na­ture of the thing would not permit any real perfor­mance thereof.

The like we must say of Ezekiel's res gestae, his eat­ing a roll given him of God, Chap. 3. And Chap. 4. it's especially remarkable how ceremoniously all things are related concerning his taking a Tile, and pourtray­ing [Page 227] the City of Jerusalem upon it, his laying siege to it; all which I suppose will be evident to have been meerly Dramatical, if we carefully examine all things in it, notwithstanding that God tells him he should in all this be a Signe to the people. Which is not so to be understood, as if they were to observe in such real a­ctions in a sensible way what their own Fates should be: for he is here commanded to lie continually before a Tile 390 days, which is full 13 Months, upon his left side, and after that 40 more upon his right, and to bake his bread that he should eat all this while with dung, &c.

So Chap. 5. he is commanded to take a Barbers rasour, and to shave his head and beard, then to weigh his hair in a pair of Scales, and divide it into three parts; and after the days of his Siege should be fulfilled, spo­ken of before, then to burn a third part of it in the midst of the City, and to smite about the other third with a knife, and to scatter the other third to the wind. All which as it is most unlikely in it self ever to have been really done, so was it against the Law of the Priests to shave the corners of their heads and the cor­ners of their beards, as Maimonides observes. But that Ezekiel himself was a Priest, is manifest from Chap. 1. ver. 3. Upon these passages of Ezekiel Mai­monides hath thus soberly given his judgment, More Nev. Part. 2. c. 46. Absit ut Deus Prophetas suos stul­tis vel ebriis similes reddat, eósque stultorum aut furi­osorum actiones facere jubeat: praeterquam quòd praece­ptum illud ultimum Legi repugnasset, &c. Far be it from God to render his Prophets like to fools and drunken men, and to prescribe them the actions of fools and mad men: besides that this last injunction would have been incon­sistent with the Law; for Ezekiel was a great Priest, and [Page 228] therefore oblig'd to the observation of those two Ne­gative precepts, viz. of not shaving the corners of his head and corners of his beard: And therefore this was done only in a Prophetical Vision. The same sentence likewise he passeth upon that story of Esaiah, Chap. 20. 3. his walking naked and bare-foot, wherein Esai­ah was no otherwise a Signe to Aegypt and Aethiopia, or rather Arabia, where he dwelt not, and so could not more literally be a Type therein, then Ezekiel was here to the Jews.

Again Chap. 12. we read of Ezekiel's removing his houshold-stuff in the night, as a Type of the Captivi­tie, and of his digging with his hands through the wall of his house, and of the peoples coming to take notice of this strange action, with many other uncouth ceremonies of the whole business which carry no shew of probabilitie: and yet ver. 6. God declares upon this to him, I have set thee for a signe to the house of Isra­el; and ver. 9. Son of man, hath not the house of Isra­el, the rebellions house, said unto thee, What doest thou? As if all this had been done really; which indeed seems to be nothing else but a Prophetical Scheme. Neither was the Prophet any real Signe, but only Ima­ginary, as having the Type of all those Fates symbo­lically represented in his phansie which were to befall the Jews: which sense Kimchi, a genuine Commenta­tor, follows, with the others mentioned. And it may be according to this same notion is that in Chap. 24. to be understood of the death of the Prophet's Wife, with the manner of those funeral solemnities and obse­quies which he performed for her.

But we shall proceed no farther in this Argument, which I hope is by this time sufficiently cleared, That we are not in any Prophetical narratives of this kind [Page 229] to understand any thing else but the History of the Vi­sions themselves which appeared to them, except we be led by some farther argument of the realitie of the thing in a way of sensible appearance to determine it to have been any sensible thing.

CHAP. VII.

Of that Degree of Divine inspiration properly call'd Ruach hakkodesh, i. e. The Holy Spirit. The Nature of it described out of Jewish Antiquities. Wherein this Spiritus Sanctus differ'd from Prophesie strictly so call'd, and from the Spirit of Holiness in purified Souls. What Books of the Old Testament were ascri­bed by the Jews to Ruach hakkodesh. Of the Urim and Thummim.

THus we have done with that part of Divine inspi­ration which was more Technically and properly by the Jews called Prophesie. We shall now a little search into that which is Hagiographical, or, as they call it, The Dictate of the Holy Spirit; in which the Book of Psalms, Job, the works of Solomon and others are com­prised. This we find very appositely thus defined by Maimonides, More Nev. Part. 2. c. 45. Cùm homo in se sentit rem vel facultatem quampiam exoriri, & super se quiescere, quae eum impellit ad loquendum, &c. When a man perceives some Power to arise within him, and rest upon him, which urgeth him to speak, so that he discourse con­cerning the Sciences or Arts, and utter Psalms or Hymns, or profitable and wholesome Rules of good living, or matters Political and Civil, or such as are Divine; [Page 230] and that whilst he is waking, and hath the ordinarie vi­gour and use of his Senses; this is such a one of whom it's said, that He speaks by the Holy Spirit. In this Definition we may seem to have the strain of the Book of Psalms, Proverbs and Ecolesiastes fully decy­phered to us. In like manner we find this Degree of Inspiration described by R. Albo, Maam. 3. c. 10. after he had set down the other Degrees superiour to it, [...], Now to explain to you what is that other Doore of Divine influx, through which none can en­ter by his own natural abilitie; it is when a man utters words of Wisdome, or Song, or Divine praise, in pure and elegant language, besides his wont: so that every one that knows him admires him for this excellent knowledge and composure of words; but yet he himself knows not from whence this facultie came to him, but is as a child that learns a tongue, & knows not from whence he had this facultie. Now the excellence of this Degree of Divine inspiration is well known to all, for it is the same with that which is call'd The Holy Spirit. Or, if you please, we shall render these Definitions of our former Jewish Doctors in the words of Proclus, who hath very hap­pily set forth the nature of this piece of Divine inspi­ration, according to their mind, in these words, lib. 5. in Plat. Tim. [...], This degree or Enthusia­stical character, shining so bright with the Intellectual influences, is pure and venerable, receiving it's perfection from the Father of the Gods, being distinct from hu­mane [Page 231] conceptions, and far transcending them, alwaies conjoined with delightfulness and amazement, full of beautie and comeliness, concise, yet withall exceeding ac­curate.

This kind therefore of Divine inspiration was al­waies more pacate and serene then the other of Prophesie, neither did it so much fatigate and act upon the Ima­gination. For though these Hagiographi or Holy wri­ters ordinarily expressed themselves in Parables and Similitudes, which is the proper work of Phansie; yet they seem only to have made use of such a dress of language to set off their own sense of Divine things, which in it self was more naked and simple, the more advantagiously, as we see commonly in all other kind of Writings. And seeing there was no labour of the Imagination in this way of Revelation, therefore it was not communicated to them by any Dreams or Visions, but while they were waking, and their Senses were in their full vigour, their Minds calme; it breathing upon them [...], as Plotinus describes his pious En­thusiast, Enn. 6. l. 9. c. 11. [...]. For indeed this Enthusiastical Spirit seated it self prin­cipally in the Higher and Purer faculties of the Soul, which were [...], that I may allude to the antient opinion of Empedo [...]les, who held there were two Suns, the one Archetypal, which was alwaies in the inconspicable Hemisphear of the World, but the beams thereof shining upon this World's Sun were reflected to us, and so further enlightned us.

Now this kind of Inspiration as it alwaies acted pi­ous Souls into strains of Devotion, or moved them strongly to dictate matters of true piety and goodness, did manifest it self to be of a Divine nature; and as [Page 232] it came in abruptly upon the Minds of those holy men without courting their private thoughts, but transpor­ted them from that Temper of Mind they were in be­fore, so that they perceived themselves captivated by the power of some Higher light then that which their own understanding commonly poured out upon them, they might know it to be more immediately from God.

For indeed that seems to be the main thing wherein this Holy Spirit differed from that constant Spirit and frame of Holiness and Goodness dwelling in hallowed minds, that it was too quick, potent and transporting a thing, and was a kind of vital Form to that Light of divine Reason which they were perpetually pos­sess'd of. And therefore sometimes it runs out into a Foresight or Prediction of things to come, though it may be those Previsions were less understood by the Prophet himself; as (if it were needfull) we might in­stance in some of David's prophesies, which seem to have been revealed to him not so much for himself (as the Apostle speaks) as for us. But it did not al­waies spend it self in Strains of Devotion or Dictates of Vertue, Wisdom and Prudence; and therefore (if I may take leave here to express my conjecture) I should think the antient Jews called this Degree Spiritus San­ctus, not because it flows from the Third Person in the Trinity (which I doubt they thought not of in this business) but because of the near affinitie and alliance it hath with that Spirit of Holiness and true Goodness that alwaies lodgeth in the breasts of Good men. And this seems to be insinuated in an old proverbial speech of the Jewish Masters, quoted by Maimonides in the fore-quoted place, Majestas Divina habitat super eum, & loquitur per Spiritum Sanctum. Though some think it might be so called as being the lowest Degree of [Page 233] Divine Inspiration: for sometimes the ancientest Mo­numents of Jewish learning call all Prophesie by the name of Spiritus Sanctus. So in Pirke R. Eliezer c. 39. R. Phineas inquit, Requievit Spiritus Sanctus super Jo­sephum ab ipsius juventute usque ad diem obitûs ejus, atque direxit eum in omnem sapientiam, &c. The Holy Spirit rested upon Joseph from his youth till the day of his death, and guided him into all wisdome, &c. Though it may be all that might be but an Hagiographical Spi­rit: For indeed the Jews are wont, as we shew'd be­fore, to distinguish Joseph's dreams from Prophetical. But this Spiritus Sanctus in the same chap. (to put all out of doubt) is attributed to Esaiah and Ezekiel, which were known Prophets: and chap. 33. R. Phineas ait, Postquam omnes illi interfecti fuerant, viginti annis in Babel requievit Spiritus Sanctus super Ezekielem, & eduxit eum ex convalle Dora, & ostendit ei multa ossa, &c. And among those five things that the Jews alwaies supposed the Second Temple to be inferior to the First in, one was the want of the [...] Spiritus San­ctus, or Spirit of Prophesie.

But we are here to consider this Spiritus Sanctus more strictly, and as we have formerly defin'd it out of Jewish antiquity. And here we shall first shew what Books of the Old Testament were ascribed to this Degree by the Jews. The Old Testament was by the Jews divided into [...], the Law, the Prophets, and the [...]. And this division is insinuated in Luke 24. 44. And Jesus said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written concerning me in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms: where by the Psalms may seem to be meant the Hagiographa; for the Writers of [Page 234] these Hagiographa might be termed Psalmodists for some Reasons which we shall touch upon hereafter in this Discourse. But to return; the Old Testament being antiently divided into these parts, it may not be amiss to consider the Order of these parts as it is laid down by the Talmudical Doctors in Gemara Bava Ba­thra, c. 1. towards the end, [...] Our Doctors have delivered unto us this Order of the Prophets, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah and the Twelve Prophets, the First of which is Hosea, for so they understand those words in Hos. 1. 2. [...], Deus inprimis locutus est per Hoseam. The same Gemarists go on to lay down the Order of the [...] thus; Ruth, the Book of Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, Lamen­tations, Daniel, Esther, Ezra, the Chronicles: And these the Jews did ascribe to the Ruach hakkodesh. But why Daniel should be reckoned amongst the [...], and not amongst [...] the Prophets, I can see no rea­son, seeing the strain of it wholy argues the nature of a Prophetical degree spending it self in Dreams and Vi­sions, though those were joined with more obscurity (it being then the Crepusculum of the Prophetical day, which had long been upon the Horizon of the Jewish Church) then in the other Prophets. And therefore whatever the latter Jews here urge, for thus ranking up Daniel's books with the other [...], yet seeing they give us no Traditional reason which their Ance­stors had for so doing, I should rather think it to have been first of all some fortuitous thing which gave an occasion to this after-mistake, as I think it is.

But to pass on, besides those Books mentioned, there were some things else among the Jews usually attribu­ted to this Spiritus Sanctus: And so Maimonides in the [Page 235] fore-mentioned place tells us that Eldad & Medad, and all the High Priests who asked counsel by Urim and Thummim, spake per Spiritum Sanctum, so that it was a Character Enthusiastical whereby they gave judicial answers, by looking upon the Stones of the High Priests breast-plate, to those that came to enquire of God by them. And so R. Bechai in Parash [...] speaks of one of the Degrees of the Holy Spirit which was superior to Bath Kol (i. Filia Vocis) and inferior to Prophesie. [...]. It will not be amiss by a short digression to shew what this Urim and Thum­mim was: And we may take it out of our former Au­thor R. Bechai, who for the substance agrees with the generalitie and best of the Jewish writers herein. It was, as he there tells us, done in this manner. The High Priest stood before the Ark, and he that came to enquire of the Urim and Thummim stood behind him, enquiring with a submisse voice, as if he had been at his private prayers, Shall I doe so, or so? Then the High Priest looked upon the Letters which were en­graven upon the Stones of the Breast-plate, and by the concurrence of an Enthusiastical Spirit of Divina­tion of his own (if I may add thus much upon the for­mer reasons to that which he there speaks) with some modes whereby those letters appeared, he shaped out his answer. But for those that were allowed to en­quire at this Oracle, they were none else but either the King or the whole Congregation, as we are told in Massec. Sotah, [...], None may enquire of it but the congregation of the people, or the King; by which it seems it was a Political oracle.

But to return to our Argument in hand, viz. What pieces of Divine writt are ascribed to the [...] [Page 236] or Spiritus Sanctus; we must further know that the Jews were wont to reckon all those Psalms or Songs which we any where meet with in the Old Testament among the [...]. For though they were penned by the Prophets, yet because they were not the proper results of a Visum Propheticum, therefore they were not true Prophesie: For they have a common Tradition, that the Prophets did not alwaies prophesie eodem gra­du, but sometime in a higher, sometime in a lower de­gree, as among others we are fully taught by Abarbinel in Es. 4. upon occasion of that Song of Esay, [...], The same Prophet prophe­sies sometime in the form of the supreme Prophetical Degree, and sometime in a lower Degree, [...] or by the Holy Spirit only. And thus having made his way, he tells us that common notion they had a­mongst them, that all Songs were dictated by this Spi­ritus Sanctus, [...] Every Song that is found in the Writings of the Pro­phets, it was such a thing as was ordered or dictated by the Pen-men themselves together with the superintenden­cy of the Holy Spirit: forasmuch as they received them not in that higher way which is called Prophesie, as all Visions were received, for all Visions were perfect Prophe­sie. But the Author goes on further to declare his, and indeed the common opinion, concerning any such Song, that it was not the proper work of God himself, but the work of the Prophet's own Spirit, [...]. Yet we must suppose the Prophet's Spirit enabled by the conjuncti­on of divine help with it, as he puts in the caution, [...], the Spirit of God and his divine assistance did still cleave unto the Prophet, and was present with him. For, as he tells us, the Prophets, [Page 237] being so much accustomed to divine Visions as they were, might be able sometime per vigiliam, without any Prophetical Vision, to speak excellently by the Holy Ghost, [...], with very elegant language, and admirable similitudes. And this he there proves from hence, that these Songs are commonly at­tributed to the Prophet himself, and not to God, there being so much of the work of the Prophet's own Spi­rit in them, [...] Wherefore the Scripture commonly attributes these Songs to the Prophets themselves, and not unto God; and accor­dingly speaks of the Song at the Red sea, Exod. 15. Then Mo­ses and the people of Israel sang this Song, that is, Mo­ses and the children of Israel did compose and order it. So in the Song at Beer-Elim Num. 21. 17., Then sang Israel this Song. So in Moses his Song in the later end of Deute­ronomy, which was to to be preserved as a Memorial, the Conclusion runs, Deut. 32. 46. Set your hearts upon all those words, [...], which I testifie to you this day. So all those Psalms which are supposed to have been composed by David, are perpetually ascri­bed unto him, and the rest of them that were composed by others are in like manner ascribed unto them; where­as the Prophetick strain is very different, alwaies inti­tling God to it, and so is brought in with such kind of Prologues [The word of the Lord] or [The hand of the Lord] or the like.

But enough of that: yet seeing we are fallen now upon the Original Author of these Divine Songs and Hymns, it will not be amiss to take a little notice of the frequency of this Degree of Prophesie, which is by Songs and Hymns composed by an Enthusiastical Spirit, a­mong the Jews. We find many of these Prophets be­sides [Page 238] David, who were Authors of sundry Psalms bound up together with his; for we must not think all are his: as after the 72 Psalm we have eleven together which are ascribed to Asaph, the 88 to Heman, the 89 to Ethan, some to Jeduthun, and very many are incerti Authoris, as it seems, being anonymous. Thus Kimchi in his Preface to the Psalms, and the rest of the Hebrew Scholiasts, suppose divers Authors to have come in for their particular Songs in that Book.

And these divine Enthusiasts were commonly wont to compose their Songs and Hymns at the sounding of some one Musical instrument or other, as we find it of­ten suggested in the Psalms. So Plutarch, lib. [...], describes the Dictate of the Oracle antiently, [...], how that it was uttered in verse, in pomp of words, Similitudes and Metaphors, at the sound of a Pipe. Thus we have Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun set forth in this Prophetical preparation, 1 Chron. 25. 1. Moreover David and the Captain of the h [...]ast separated to the service of the Sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesie with harps, &c. Thus R. Sal. expounds the place, [...], When they play'd upon their Musical instruments they prophesied, after the manner of Elisha, who said, Bring me a Minstrel, 2 Kings 3. And in the fore-mentioned place ver. 3. upon those words [who prophesied with a harp] he thus glosseth, [...] As they sounded upon the harp the Psalms of praise and the Hallelujahs, Jeduthun their Father prophesied. And this sense of this place I think is much more genuine then that which a late Author of our own would fasten [Page 239] upon it, viz. that this Prophesying was nothing but singing of Psalms. For it is manifest that these Pro­phets were not meer Singers, but Composers, and such as were truly called Prophets or Enthusiasts: So ver. 5. Heman is expresly called the Kings Seer; the like in 2 Chron. 29. 30. & ch. 35. 15. of Asaph, Heman & Jedu­thun, [...], upon which our former Commenta­tor glosseth thus, [...], unusquis­que eorum erat Propheta. 'Tis true, the Poets are ancient­ly called Vates, but that is no good argument why a Sin­ger should be called a Prophet: for it is to be considered that a Poet was a Composer, and upon that account by the Ancients called Vates or a Prophet, and that because they generally thought all true Poets were transported. So Plato in his Phaedrus makes Three kinds of Fury, viz. Enthusiastical, Amatorious, and Poetical. But of this matter we shall speak more under the next head, which we are in a manner unawares fallen upon, which is to enquire in general into the qualification of all kind of Prophets.

CHAP. VIII.

Of the Dispositions antecedent and preparatory to Prophe­sie. That the Qualifications which did fit a man for the Prophetical Spirit were such as these, viz. Inward Piety, True Wisdome, a Pacate and Serene temper of Mind, and a due cheerfulness of Spirit; in oppo­sition to Vitiousness, Mental crazedness and inconsi­stency, unsubdued Passions, black Melancholy and dull Sadness. This illustrated by several Instances in Scripture. That Musick was greatly advantageous to the Prophets and Holy men of God, &c. What is meant by Saul's Evil Spirit.

OUR next business is to discourse of those several Qualifications that were to render a man fit for the Spirit of Prophesie: for we must not think that any man might suddenly be made a Prophet: This gift was not so fortuitously dispensed as to be communicated without any discrimination of persons. And this in­deed all sorts of men have generally concluded upon; and therefore the old Heathens themselves, that only sought after a Spirit of Divination, were wont in a solemn manner to prepare and fit themselves for re­ceiving the influx thereof, as R. Albo hath truly obser­ved, Maam. 3. c. 8. [...] The ancient Gentiles made themselves Images, and offered prayers and frankincense to the Stars, that by this means they might draw down a spiritual influence from some cer­tain Stars upon their Image. For this influence slides down from the body of the Star upon the man himself, who is [Page 241] also corporeal, and by this means he foretells what shall come to pass. And thus, as he further observes, the Ne­cromancers themselves were wont to use many solemn Rites and Ceremonies to call forth the Souls of any dead men into themselves, whereby they might be a­ble to presage future things. But to come more close­ly to our present Argument.

The Qualifications which the Jewish Doctors sup­pose necessarily antecedent to render any one habilem ad prophetandum are true Probity and Piety; and this was the constant sense and opinion of all of them univer­sally, not excluding the vulgar themselves. Thus Abarbanel in praefat. in 12 Proph. [...], Pietas inducit Spiritum Sanctum. The like we find in Maimonid. More Nev. par. 2. cap. 32. who yet thinks this was not enough; and therefore he reckons up this as a vulgar error, which yet he saies some of their Doctors were carried away withall, Quod Deus aliquem eligat & mittat, nullâ habitâ ratione an sit sa­piens, &c. That God may chuse of men whom he pleaseth, and send him, it matters not whether he be wise and lear­ned, or unlearned and unskilfull, old or young; only that this is required, that he be a vertuous, good and honest man: For hitherto there was never any that could say that God did cause the divine Majestie to dwell in a viti­ous person, unless he had first reformed himself.

But Maimonid. himself rather preferrs the opinion of the wise Sages and Philosophers of the Heathen then of these vulgar Masters, which required also some Perfection in the nature of him that should be set a­part for Prophesie, augmented with study and industry; Whence it cannot be that a man should goe to bed no Pro­phet, and rise the next day a Prophet (as he there speaks) quemadmodum homo qui inopinatò aliquid invenit. And [Page 242] a little after he adds, Fatuos & hujus terrae filios quod at­tinet, non magis, nostro judicio, prophetare possunt, quàm Asinus aut Rana.

These Perfections then which Maimonides requires as Preparaterie Dispositions to render a man a Prophet, are of Three sorts, viz. 1. Acquisite or Rational; 2. Na­tural or Animal; lastly, Moral. And according to the difference of these he distinguisheth the Degrees of Pro­phesie, c. 36. Has autem Tres perfectiones &c. As to these Three Perfections which we have here compriz'd, viz. the Perfection of the Rational facultie acquired by study, the Perfection of the Imaginative facultie by birth, and the Perfection of Manners or vertuous Qualities by puri­fying and freeing the Heart and affections from all sen­sual pleasures, from all pride, and from all foolish and pestilent desire of glory; As to these, I say, It's evident that they are differently, and not in the same degree par­ticipated by men: And according to such different mea­sures of participation the degrees of the Prophets are also to be distinguished.

Thus Maimonides, who indeed in all this did but aim at this Technical notion of his, That all Prophesie is the proper result of these Perfections, as a Form ari­sing out of them all as out of its elements compoun­ded together. For it is plain that he thought there was a kind of Prognostick virtue in Souls themselves, which was in this manner to be excited; which was the opinion of some Philosophers, among which Plutarch laies down his sense in this manner, according to the minds of many others; Lib. [...]. [...], The Soul doth not then first of all attain a Prophetical energie when it leaves the Body as a [Page 243] cloud; but it now hath it already; only she is blind of this Eye, because of her concretion with this mortal body. This Philosopher's opinion Maimonides was more then prone to, however he would dissemble it, and there­fore he speaks of an impotency to Prophesie, suppo­sing all those Three qualifications named before, as of the suspension of the act of some natural Facultie. So Chap. 32. Meo judicio res hîc se habet sicut in Mi­raculis, &c. (i.) In my judgment (saith he) the matter here is just so as it is in Miracles, and bears proportion with them. For natural Reason requires, that he who by his nature is apt to prophesie, and is diligently taught and in­structed, and of fit age, that such a one should prophesie; but he that notwithstanding cannot doe so, is like to one that cannot move his hand, as Jeroboam, or one that cannot see, as those that could not see the Tents of the King of Syria (as it is in the Story of Elisha.) And again Chap. 36. he further beats upon this String, Si vir quidam ita comparatus fuerit, nullum dubium est, si fa­cultas ejus Imaginatrix (quae in summo gradu perfecta est, & Influentiam ab Intellectu secundùm perfectionem su­am speculativam accipit) laboraverit & in operatione fuerit, illum non nisi res divinas & admirandas appre­hensurum, nihil praeter Deum & ejus Angelos visurum, nullius denique rei scientiam habiturum & curaturum, nisi earum quae verae sunt & quae ad communem hominum spectant utilitatem. This Opinion of Maimonides I find not any where entertained, but only by the Author of the Book Cozri. That which seems to have led him in­to this conceit was his mistaken sense (it may be) of some Passages in the story of the Kings that speak of the Schools of the Prophets, and the like, of which more hereafter.

But I know no Reason sufficient to infer any such [Page 244] thing as the Prophetical Spirit from the highest im­provement of Natural or Moral endowments. And I cannot but wonder how Maimonides could reconcile all this with the right Notion of Prophesie, which must of necessity include a Divine inspiration, and therefore may freely be bestowed by God where and upon whom he pleaseth. Though indeed common Reason will teach us, that it is not likely that God would extraor­dinarily inspire any men, and send them thus specially authorized by himself to declare his mind authentical­ly to them, and dictate what his Truth was, who were themselves vitious and of unhallowed lives; and so indeed the Apostle Peter 2 Epist. Chap. I. tells us plainly, They were holy men of God who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Neither is it probable that those who were any way of crazed Minds, or who were inwardly of inconsistent tempers by reason of any perturbation, could be very fit for these Serene impres­sions. A troubled Phansie could no more receive these Ideas of Divine Truth to be imprest upon it, and clearly reflect them to the Understanding, then a crack'd glass or troubled water can reflect sincerely any image to be made upon them. And therefore the He­brew Doctors universally agree in this Rule, That the Spirit of Prophesie never rests upon any but a Holy and Wise man, one whose passions are allay'd. So the Talmud Masses, Sanhedrin, as it is quoted by R. Albo, Maam. 3. c. 10. [...] (i.) The Spirit of prophesie never resides but upon a Man of Wisdome and Fortitude, as also upon a rich and great man.

The two last qualifications in this rule Maimonides in his Fundamenta legis hath left out, and indeed it is full enough without them. But those other two qua­lifications [Page 245] of Wisdome and Fortitude are constantly lay'd down by them in this argument. And so we find it ascribed to the Author of this Canon, who is said to be R. Jochanan, c. 4. Gem. Nedar. [...], (i.) R. Jochanan saies, God doth not make his Shechina to reside upon any but a rich and humble man, a man of fortitude, all which we learn from the example of Moses our Master. Where by For­titude they mean nothing else but that Power whereby a good man subdues his Animal part; for so I suppose I may safely translate that solution of theirs which I have sometime met with, and I think in Pirke Avoth, [...], Who is the man of fortitude? It is he that subdues his figmentum malum, by which they meant nothing else but the Sensual or Animal part: of which more in another Discourse. And thus they give us another Rule as it were paraphrastical upon the for­mer, which I find Gem. Schab. c. 2. where glancing at that contempt which the Wise man in Ecclesiastes cast upon Mirth and Laughter, they distinguish of a two­fold Mirth, the one Divine, the other Mundane, and then sum up many of these Mundane and Terrene af­fections which this Holy Spirit will not reside with, [...], The Divine presence or Spiritus Sanctus doth not reside where there is grief and dull sad­ness, laughter and lightness of behaviour, impertinent talk or idle discourse; but with due and innocuous chear­fulness it loves to reside, according to that which is written concerning Elisha, Bring me now a Minstrel: and it came to pass when the Minstrel played, the hand of the Lord was upon him, 2 Kings 3. Where we see that tem­per of Mind principally required by them is a free Chearfulness, in opposition to all Griefs, Anger, or any [Page 246] other sad and Melancholy passions. So Gem. Pesac. c. 6. [...], Every man when he is in passion, if he be a wise man, his wisdom is taken from him; if a Prophet, his prophesie.

The first part of this Aphorism they there declare by the example of Moses, who they say prophesied not in the wilderness after the return of the Spies that brought an ill report of the land of Canaan, by reason of his Indignation against them: And the last part from the example of the Prophet Elisha, 2 Kings 3. 15. of which more hereafter. Thus in the Book Zohar, wherein most of the ancient Jewish Traditions are re­corded, col. 408. [...], Behold, we plainly see that the divine presence doth not reside with Sadness, but with Chearful­ness: If there be no Chearfulness, it will not abide there; as it is written concerning Elisha, who said, Give me now a Minstrell. But from whence learn we that the Spi­rit of God will not reside with Heaviness? From the ex­ample of Jacob, for that all that while he grieved for Jo­seph, the Shechinah or the Holy Spirit did forsake him. For so they had also a common Tradition, that Jacob prophesied not that time while his grief for the loss of his son Joseph remained with him. So L. Tosiphta, [...], The Spirit of Prophesie dwells not with Sadness, but with Chearfulness. I will not here dispute the Punctual­ness of these Traditions concerning Moses and Jacob, though I doubt not but the main Scope of them is true, viz. that the Spirit of Prophesie used not to re­side with any black or Melancholy passions, but requi­red a serene and pacate temper of Mind, it being it self of a mild and gentle nature; as it was well observed con­cerning [Page 247] the Holy Ghost in another notion by Tertulli­an in his de Spectaculis, Deus praecepit Spiritum San­ctum, utpote pro naturae suae bono tenerum & delicatum, tranquillitate & lenitate, & quiete & pace tractare; non furore, non bile, non irâ, non dolore inquietare.

Now according to this notion I think we have gai­ned some light for the further understanding of some Passages in Psalm 51. which the Chaldee Paraphrast and Hebrew Commentators also understand of the Spirit of Prophesie which was taken from David in that time of his sorrow and grief of Mind, upon the reflection of his shameful miscarriage in the matter of Uriah; and this is called ver. 12. [...] a free Spirit, or a Spirit of alacritie and libertie of mind, acting by gene­rous and noble and free impulses upon it: and ver. 8. it is paraphrased by Joy and Gladness, as being that Tem­per of Mind which it most liberally moved upon and acted; as likewise ver. 12. a like Periphrasis is used of it, the joy of God's salvation; and ver. 10. David thus prayeth for the restauration of it to him, and the establishing him in the firm possession of it, Create in me a clean heart, O God, [...], and renew a fix'd Spirit within me. As if he had said, Thy Holy Spirit of Prophesie dwells in no unhallowed Minds, hut with puritie and holiness; and when these are violated, that presently departs; the holy and the impure Spirit can­not converse together: therefore cleanse my heart of all pollution, that this divine guest being restored to me, may find a constant habitation within me. And thus both Rasi and Abenezra gloss on this place, but especially R. Kimchi, who pursues this sense very largely: and so before them the Talmudists had expounded it, Gem. Joma. c. 2. where they thus descant upon those words, ver. 11. Take not thy Holy Spirit from me, and tell us [Page 248] how David was punish'd by Leprosie and double Ex­communication; one from this Spirit, [...], which words I find most corruptly translated by Vorstius in his Comment upon Maimon. his Fundamen­ta legis. I should therefore thus render them in their native and genuine sense, Per sex menses erat David le­prosus (viz. propter peccatum in negotio Uriae admissum,) & separabant se ab eo viri Synagogae magnae, atque ab­lata est ab eo Shechinah (i. Spiritus Propheticus.) Primum constat ex Psalm. 119. ubi dicitur, Revertantur ad me timentes te, & scientes testimonia tua: alterum ex Psalm. 51. ubi dicitur, Fac revertatur ad me laetitia sa­lutis tuae.

But its now time to look a little into that place which the Masters constantly refer to in this notion, viz. 1 Kings 3. where when the Kings of Israel and Judah and E­dom in their distress for water, upon their warlike ex­pedition against the King of Moab, came to Elisha to enquire of God by him, the Prophet Elisha (ver. 14.) seems to have been moved with indignation against the King of Israel, and so makes a very unwelcome address to him, Surely were it not that I regard the presence of Jehosaphat the King of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee: and then it follows ver. 15. But now bring me a Minstrell: and it came to pass when the Min­strell play'd, that the hand of the Lord came upon him. Which words are thus expounded by R. D. Kimchi, out of the Rabbines, (with which R. S. Jarchi & R. L. Ben Gersom agree for the substance of his meaning) [...], Our Doctors tell us, that from that day wherein his Master Elijah was took up into hea­ven, the Spirit of Prophesie remained not with him for a certain time; for, for this cause he was very sorrowful, [Page 249] and the divine Spirit doth not reside with heaviness. Others say that by reason of the indignation he concei­ved against the King of Israel, he was disquieted in his mind; and touching this they say, That whensoever a Pro­phet is disturbed through anger or passion, the Holy Spirit forsakes him. From whence learn we this? From the example of Elisha, who said, Give me a Minstrel.

Thus we may by this time see the Reason why Musi­cal instruments were so frequently used by the Prophets, especially the Hagiographi; which indeed seems to be nothing else but that their Minds might be thereby put into a more composed, liberal and chearful temper, and so the better disposed and fitted for the transporta­tion of the Prophetical Spirit. So we have heard be­fore out of the 1 Chron. 25. how Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun composed their rapt and Divine Poems at the sound of the Quire-Musick of the Temple. Another famous place we find for this purpose 1 Sam. 10. which place (as well as the former) hath been (I think) much mistaken and misinterpreted by some of Singing; whereas certainly it cannot be meant of any thing less then Divine Poetrie, and a Composure of Hymns ex­cited by a Divine Energy inwardly moving the Mind. In that place Samuel having anointed Saul King of Israel, to assure him that it was so ordained of God, he tells him of some Events that should occur to him a little after his departure from him; whereof this is one, that meeting with some Prophets, he himself should find the Impulses of a Prophetical Spirit also moving in him, ver. 5. These Prophets are thus descri­bed, After that, thou shalt come to the hill of God, &c. and it shall come to pass when thou art come thither to the City, that thou shalt meet a company of Prophets coming down from the high place, with a Psaltery, and a Tabret, [Page 250] and a Pipe, and an Harp before them; and they shall pro­phesie. And the Spirit of the Lord shall come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesie with them, and shalt be turned into another man. Where this Musick which they were accompanied with, was to vigorate and compose their Minds, as Kimchi comments upon the place, [...], And before them was a Psalterie (or Lute) and a Tabret, and a Pipe, and an Harp: for asmuch as the holy Spirit dwells no where but with alacritie and chearfulness: And they prophesied, that is, as Jonath the Targumist expounds it, they praised God: As if he had said, Their Prophesies were Songs and Praises to God, ut­tered by the Holy Ghost. Thus he.

Now as this Divine Spirit thus acted free and chear­ful Souls, so the Evil Spirit actuated sad, Melancholy Minds, as we heard before, and as we may see in the Example of Saul. And indeed that Evil Spirit which is said to have possessed him, seems to be nothing else originally but Anguish and grief of Mind, however wrought upon by some tempting insinuations of an Evil Spirit. And this sometime instigated him to prophesie after the fashion of such Melancholy furie, 1 Sam. 18. 10. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the Evil Spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house; which Jonathan renders by [...], insanivit in medio domûs, or, as Kimchi expounds the Paraphrast, [...], locutus est verba stultitiae. So also R. Solom. upon the place expounds it to the same purpose.

So that according to the strain of all the Jewish Scholiasts, by this Evil Spirit of Saul nothing else is here meant but a Melancholy kind of madness, which made him prophesie or speak distractedly and incon­sistently. [Page 251] To these we may adde R. L. B. Gersom, [...], He spake in the midst of the house very con­fusedly, by reason of that Evil Spirit. Now as this Evil Spirit was indeed fundamentally, as I said, nothing else but a Soure and Distracted Temper of Mind arising from the Terrene dregs of Melancholy, Grief and Ma­lice, whereby Saul was at that time vexed; so the proper Cure of it was the Harmony and Melody of Da­vid's Musick, which was therefore made use of to com­pose his Mind, and to allay these turbulent passions. And that was the reason (as I hope by this time it ap­pears) why this Musick was so frequently used, viz. to compose the Animal part, that all kind of Pertur­bations being dispell'd, and a fine gentle [...] or Tranquillitie ushered in, the Soul might be the better disposed for the Divine breathings of the Prophetical Spirit, which enter not at randome into any sort of Men. [...], as Philo hath well express'd it upon this occasion; These Divine breathings enter only into those Minds that were fitly disposed for them by Moral and Acquisite qualificati­ons.

CHAP. IX.

Of the Sons or Disciples of the Prophets. An Account of several Schools of Prophetical Education, as at Nai­oth in Rama, at Jerusalem, Bethel, Jericho, Gilgal, &c. Several passages in the Historical Books of Scri­pture pertinent to this Argument explained.

AND therefore we find also frequently such Pas­sages in Scripture as strongly insinuate to us that anciently many were trained so up in a way of School­discipline, that they might become Candidati Prophe­tiae, and were as Probationers to these Degrees which none but God himself conferr'd upon them. Yet while they heard others prophesie, there was some­time an afflatus upon them also, their Souls as it were sympathizing (like Unisons in Musick) with the Souls of those which were touched by the Spirit. And this seems to be the meaning of that story 1 Sam. 19. where all Saul's messengers sent to Naioth in Rama to appre­hend David (and at last he himself) are said to fall a prophesying. For it is probable that the Prophesies there spoken of were Anthems divinely dictated, or Doxologies with such elegant strains of Devotion and Phansie as might also excite and stir up the Spirits of the Auditors: As often we find that any admirable Discourses, in which there is a chearful and free flowing forth of a rich Phansie in an intelligible, and yet extra­ordinary, way, are apt to beget a symbolizing qualitie of Mind in a stander-by.

And this notion we now drive is clearly suggested [Page 253] by the Jewish writers, who tell us that this Naioth in Rama was indeed a School of Prophetical education, and so the Targum expounds the word Naioth, [...], Domus doctrinae, i. e. Prophetiae. And R. Levi B. G. [...], Our Masters say That there was a School for the Prophets near the City of Ramah, to which the Pro­phets congregated: And to the like purpose R. Solomon. And it's further insinuated that Samuel was the Presi­dent of this School or Colledge; as disciplining those young Scholars, and training them up to those prepara­tory qualifications which might more dispose them for Prophesie; and also prophesying to them in sacred Hymns, or otherwise, whereby their Spirits might receive some Tincture of a like kind. For so we find it verse 20. And when they saw the company of the Prophets prophe­sying, and Samuel standing as appointed over them, the Spirit of God was upon the Messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied. Where the Chaldee Paraphrast trans­lates [...] or prophesying, by [...] praising God with sacred Hymns and Hallelujahs, according to the com­mon strain of the Prophetical degree which was called Spiritus Sanctus. And so R. Kimchi and R. Levi B. G. here ascribe it [...] to the Holy Spirit. Among these Prophets it's said Samuel stood as appointed over them, that is, [...], He stood as a Teacher or Master over them, as the Chaldee Paraphrast reads it. But R. Levi B. G. strains a little higher, and per­haps too high, [...], He derived forth from himself, of his own Prophetical Spi­rit, by way of Emanation, upon them. Though this kind of language be very suitable to the Notions of those Masters who will needs perswade us that almost all the Prophets prophesied by virtue of some influ­ence [Page 254] raying forth from the Spirit of some other Pro­phet into them: And Moses himself they make the Common conduit through whom all Prophetical influ­ence was conveighed to the rest of the Prophets. A conceit, I think, a little too nice and subtile to be under­stood.

But to return, Upon this Ground we have sugge­sted, these Disciples of the Prophets are called [...], Sons of the Prophets: and these are they which are meant 1 Sam. 10. 5. (the place we named be­fore) in those words, [...] a Company of the Pro­phets, that is, as the Targum renders it, [...] Coetus Scribarum, a Company of Scribes, (for so these young Scholars were anciently called;) or if you please rather in Kimchi's language, [...], A company of Scribes, that is, Scholars: For the Scholars of the Wise men were called Scribes: For they were the Scholars of the greater Pro­phets, and these Scholars were called the Sons of the Pro­phets. Now the greater Prophets which lived in that time from Eli to David were Samuel, Gad, Nathan, Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun.

And thus we must understand the meaning of that Question ver. 12. Who is their Father? which gave oc­casion to that Proverbial speech afterwards used com­monly amongst the Jews [Is Saul also amongst the Pro­phets?] used of one that was suddenly raised up to some dignitie or perfection which by his education he was not fitted for. And therefore the Chaldee Para­phrast minding the Scope of the place renders [...] who is their Father, by [...] who is their Ma­ster? which Kimchi approves, and accordingly ex­pounds that Proverb in this manner, [...] [Page 255] [...], When any one was mounted from a low state to any dignity, they used to say, Is Saul also among the Prophets? But R. Solom. would rather keep the Literal sense of those words, Who is their Father? and therefore supposeth some­thing more then we here contend for, viz. That Pro­phesie was a kind of Hereditary thing. For so he speaks, Don't wonder for that he is called the Father of them, [...], that is, For Prophesie is an hereditary thing. But I think we may content our selves with what our former Authors have told us, to which we may adde the testimony of R. Levi B. Gersom, who tells us that these Prophets here spo­ken of were the Scholars of Samuel who trained them up to a degree of Prophetical perfection, and so is called their Father, [...], because that Samuel instructed them, and trai­ned them up by his discipline to a degree of Prophetical perfection.

Of these Disciples we find very frequent mention in Scripture; So 2 Kings 4. we read of the Sons or Disciples of the Prophets in Gilgal. And chap. 6. Elisha is there brought in as their Master, at whose command they were, and therefore they ask leave to enlarge their dwellings. And Elisha himself was trained up by Eli­jah, as his Disciple; and therefore in 2 Kings 3. it was thought a reason good enough to prove that he was a Prophet, for that he had been Elijah's Disciple, and powred water upon his hands, as all the Jewish Scho­liasts observe. And 2 Kings 9. 1. Elisha sends one of these his ministring Disciples to anoint Jehu to be King of Israel. And 1 Kings 20. 35. The young Pro­phet there sent to reprove Ahab for sparing Ben-hadad King of Syria is called by the Chaldee Paraphrast [...] [Page 256] [...], One of the Sons, the Disciples of the Prophets. And hence it was that Amos urgeth the ex­traordinariness of his commission from God, Ch. 7. 14. I was no Prophet, nor was I a Prophets Son. [...], He was not prepar'd for Pro­phesie, or trained up so as to be fitted for a Prophetical function by his discipleship, as Abarbanel glosseth upon the place. And therefore Divine inspiration found him out of the ordinary road of Prophets, among his Heards of cattel, and in an extraordinary way moved him to goe to Bethel, there to declare God's judg­ments against King and people, even in the King's Chappel. To conclude, In the New Testament, when John Baptist and our Saviour called Disciples to at­tend upon them and to learn divine Oracles from them, it seems to have been no new thing, but that which was the common custome of the old Prophets.

Now of these Prophets there were several Schools or Colledges, as the Jews observe, in several Cities, ac­cording as occasion was to employ them. So we read of a Colledge in Jerusalem 2 Kings 22. 14. where Huldah the Prophetess lived, which is called [...] in the Original, and by the Chaldee Paraphrast translated [...], Domus Doctrinae; by Kimchi [...] a School. So 2 Kings ch. 2, & 4. we meet with divers places set down as those where the residence of those young Prophets was, as Bethel and Jericho and Gilgal, &c. So Kimchi observes upon the place [...], As the Sons of the Prophets were in Bethel and Jericho, so were there also of them in several other places. And the main reason why they were thus dispersed in many of the Cities of Israel was this, that they might reprove the Israelites that were there: and their Prophesie was wholly according [Page 257] to the exigencie of those times; and therefore it was that their Prophesie was not committed to writing. From hence some of the Jewish writers tell us of a certain [...] of Prophesie, one continually like an Even­ing-star shining upon the conspicable Hemisphere, when another was set. Kimchi tells us of this Mystical gloss upon those words 1 Sam. 3. 3. Ere the Lamp of God went out, [...], This is spo­ken Mystically concerning the light of Prophesie, accor­ding to that saying amongst our Doctors [the Sun riseth and the Sun setteth,] that is, Ere God makes the Sun of one righteous man to set, he makes the Sun of another righteous man to rise.

CHAP. X.

Of Bath Kol, i. e. Filia Vocis: That it succeeded in the room of Prophesie: That it was by the Jews count­ed the Lowest degree of Revelation. What places in the New Testament are to be understood of it.

WE should come now briefly to speak of the High­est degree of Divine Inspiration or Prophesie taken in a general sense, which was the Mosaical. But before we doe that, it may not be amiss to take notice of the Lowest degree of Revelation among the Jews, which was inferiour to all that which they call by the name of Prophesie: and This was their [...], Bath Ko [...], Filia vocis, which was nothing else but some Voice which was heard as descending from Heaven, [Page 258] directing them in any affair as occasion served: which kind of Revelation might be made to one (as Maimon. par. 2. c. 42. More Nevoch. tells us) that was no way prepared for Prophesie.

Of this Filia Vocis we have mention made in one of the Ancientest monuments of Jewish learning, which is Pirke R. Eliezer c. 44. and otherwhere very frequent­ly among the Jewish writers, as that which was a fre­quent thing after the ceasing of Prophesie among the Jews; of which more afterward. Josephus Archaeol. lib. 13. c. 18. tells a story of Hircanus the High-Priest, how he heard this Voice from Heaven, which told him of the victory which his Sons had got at Cyzicum against Antiochus the same day the battel was fought; and this (he saies) while he was offering up incense in the Temple, [...], he was made par­taker of a vocal converse with God, that is by a [...].

This R. Isaac Angarensis L. Cosri strongly urgeth a­gainst the Karraei or Scripturarii, (a sort of Jews that reject all Talmudical Traditions) that the grand Do­ctors of the Jews received such Traditions from the Lxxii Senators, who were guided either by a [...], or something answerable to it, in the truth of things, after all Prophesie was ceased, Maam. 3. §. 41. [...], (i.) There is a Tradition that the men of the great Sanhedrim were bound to be skill'd in the knowledge of all Sciences, and therefore it is much more necessary that Prophesie should not be taken from them, or that which should supplie its room, viz. the Daughter of Voice, and the like. Thus he, according to the Genius of Talmudical learning, is pleased to ex­pound [Page 259] the place Esay 2. where it is said, that a law shall goe forth out of Sion, of the Consistorial De­crees of the Judges, Rulers and Priests of the Jews, and the great Senate of Lxxii Elders, whom he would needs perswade us to be guided infallibly by this [...], or in some other way [...] by some divine vir­tue, power or assistance alwaies communicated to them, as supposed at least that such an Heroical Spirit as that Spirit of Fortitude which belonged to the Judg­es and Kings of Israel, and is called the Spirit of God, (as Maimonides in More Nev. tells us) had perpetually cleaved to them.

But we shall here leave our Author to his Judaical superstition, and take notice of Two or Three places in the New Testament which seem to be understood perfectly of this Filia vocis, which the constant Tradi­tion of the Jews assures us to have succeeded in the room of Prophesie. The first is John 12. where this Heavenly voice was conveighed to our Saviour as if it had been the noise of Thunder, but was not well un­derstood by all those that stood by, who therefore thought that either it thundred, or that it was a migh­ty voice of some Angel that spake to him: ver. 28, 29. Then came there a voice from Heaven, saying, I have both glorified my name, and will glorifie it again. The people therefore that stood by and heard it, said it thun­dered: others said that an Angel spake to him. So Matt. 3. 17. after our Saviours Baptisme, upon his coming out of the water, the Evangelist tells us that the Hea­vens were opened, and that the Spirit of God descended up­on him in the shape of a Dove, and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. And last of all we meet with this kind of Voice upon our Saviour's Transfiguration, Matth. 17. 5, 6. which [Page 260] is there so described as coming out of a Cloud, as if it had been loud like the noise of Thunder, Behold a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold a Voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased: which Voice it is said the three Disciples that were then with him in the Mount heard, as we are told in the following verse, and also 2 Pet. 1. 17, 18. From whence we are fully informed, that it was this Filia Vocis we speak of which came for the Apostles sakes that were with him, as a Testimonie of that glorie and honour with which God magnified his Son; which Apo­stles were not yet raised up to the Degree of Prophesie, but only made partakers of a Voice inferior to it. The words are these, He received from God the Father ho­nour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent Glory, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from Hea­ven we heard when we were with him in the holy mount. Now that this was that very [...] we speak of, which was inferior to Prophesie, we may sufficiently learn from the next verse, We have also a more sure word of Prophesie: For indeed true Prophesie was counted much more Authentical then this [...], as being a Divine Inspiration into the Mind of the Prophet; which this was not, but only a Voice that moved their Exteriour Senses; and by the mediation thereof informed their Minds. And thus we have done with this Argument.

CHAP. XI.

Of the Highest Degree of Divine Inspiration, viz. the Mosaical. Four Differences between the Divine Re­velations made to Moses, and to the rest of the Pro­phets. How the Doctrine of men Prophetically inspi­red is to approve it self by Miracles, or by it's Reaso­nableness. The Sympathy and Agreeableness between an Holy Mind and Divine Truth.

WE now come briefly to enquire into the Highest degree of Divine Inspiration, which was the Mosaical, that by which the Law was given; and this we may best doe by searching out the Characteristical differences of Moses's Inspiration from that which was Technically called Prophesie. And these we shall take out of Maimon. his De Fund. Legis, c. 7. where they are fully described according to the general strain of all the Rabbinical Doctrine delivered upon this Argu­ment.

The first is, That Moses was made partaker of these 1. Divine Revelations per vigiliam, whereas God mani­fested himself to all the other Prophets in a Dream or Vision when their Senses were [...], What is the difference between the Prophesie of Mo­ses and the Prophesie of all other Prophets? All other Prophets did prophesie in a Dream or Vision: but Moses our Master when he was waking and standing, according to what is written (Num. 7. 89.) And when Moses [Page 262] was gone into the Tabernacle of the Congregation to speak with him, (i. e. God) then he heard the voice of one speaking unto him. By which place in Numb. it ap­pears he had free recourse to this Heavenly Oracle at any time. And therefore the Talmudists have a Rule, [...] That Moses had never any Prophesie in the night-time, (i.) in a Dream or Vision of the night, as the other Prophets had.

The second difference is, That Moses prophesied 2. without the mediation of any Angelical power, by an influence derived immediately from God; whereas in all other Prophesies (as we have shewed heretofore) some Angel still appeared to the Prophet, [...], All Prophets did prophesie by the help or ministery of an Angel, and therefore they did see that which they saw in parables or under some dark representa­tion; but Moses prophesied without the ministery of an Angel. This he proves from Numbers 12. 8. where God saies of Moses, I will speak with him mouth to mouth; and so Exod. 33. 11. The Lord spake unto Mo­ses face to face.

But we must not here so much adhere to that Expo­sition which Maimonides and the rest of his Country-men give us of this place, as to forget what we are told in the New Testament concerning the Ministerie of Angels which God used in giving the Law it self: And so S. Stephen discourseth of it, Acts 7. 53. and S. Paul to the Galatians ch. 3. tells us, the Law was given by the disposition of Angels in the hands of a Medi­ator, that is, Moses, the Mediator then between God and the people. And therefore I should rather think the meaning of those words [Face to face] to import the clearness and evidence of the Intellectual light wherein [Page 263] God appeared to Moses, which was greater then any of the Prophets were made partakers of. And therefore the old tradition goes of them, that they saw [...] in Speculo non lucido, whereas Moses saw in Speculo lucido, [...], as Philo tells us (to­gether with Maimonides) in his Book, Quis Rerum divin. haeres sit, that is, without any impressions or Images of things in his Imagination in an Hierogly­phical way, as was wont to be in all Dreams and Visions; but by characterizing all immediately upon his Under­standing: though otherwise much of the Law was in­deed almost little more for the main scope and aim of it but an Emblem or Allegory.

But there may be yet a farther meaning of those words [Face to face,] and that is the friendly and amica­ble way whereby all divine Revelations were made to Moses; for so it is added in the Text, As a man speak­eth unto his friend.

And this is the third difference which Maimonides as­signs, 3. viz. [...], All the other Prophets were afraid and troubled and fainted; but Moses was not so: for the Scripture saith, God spake to him as a man speaks to his friend; that is to say, As a man is not afraid to hear the words of his friend, so was Moses able to understand the words of Prophesie without any disturbance and astonishment of Mind.

The fourth and last difference is the Libertie of Mo­ses's 4. Spirit to prophesie at all times, as we heard before out of Numb. 7. 89. He might have recourse at any time to the sacred Oracle (in the Tabernacle) which spake from between the Cherubins: and so Maimoni­des lays down this difference, [...], None of the Prophets did prophesie at what time they would, save Moses, who was clothed with [Page 264] the Holy Spirit when he would, and the Spirit of Pro­phesie did abide upon him: neither had he need to predis­pose his Mind or prepare himself for it, for he was alwaies disposed and in readiness as a ministring Angel; and therefore could he prophesie at what time he would, accor­ding to that which is spoken in Numb. 9. 8. Tarry you here a little, and I will hear what the Lord will com­mand concerning you. Thus Maimonides, who, I think, here somewhat hyperbolizeth, and scarce speaks consi­stently with the rest of the Hebrew Masters. For we may remember what we heard before concerning the Talmudical Tradition, that Moses's mind was indis­posed for Prophesie when he was transported with in­dignation against the Spies; though I think it is most probable that he had a greater libertie of prophesying then any other of the Prophets had.

Now this clear distinct kind of Inspiration made im­mediately upon an Intellectual facultie in a familiar way, which we see was the gradus Mosaicus, was most fit and proper for Laws to be administred in: which was excellently took notice of by Plutarch in that Discourse of his, [...], where he tells us the Poetrie that was usually interlaced with Riddles and Parables was taken away in his time, and a more familiar way of Prophesie brought in; though he by a Gentile superstition applies that to his Pythia; [...], &c. God hath now taken away from his Oracles Po­etrie, and the varietie of dialect, and circumlocution, and obscuritie; and hath so ordered them to speak to those that consult them, as the Laws doe to the Cities under their subjection, and Kings to their people, and Masters to their Scholars, in the most intelligible and porswasive [Page 265] language. But by Plutarch's leave this character agrees neither to his Pythia, nor indeed to Moses himself (who put a veil upon his face in giving the Law it self to the people) but to our Saviour alone, the Dispenser of the true Law of God inwardly to the Souls of Men; and therein conversing with them, not so much [...], not so much Face to Face as Mind to Mind.

We have now seen what is this gradus Propheticus Mosaicus, which indeed was necessarie should be tran­scendent and extraordinary, because it was the Basis of all future Prophesie among the Jews: For all the Prophets mainly aim at that to establish and confirm the Law of Moses, as to the practical observation of it; and therefore it was also so strongly manifested to the Israelites by Signs and Miracles done in the sight of all the people, and his familiaritie and acquaintance with Heaven testified to them all, the divine voice be­ing heard by them all at Mount Sinai; which dispensa­tion amounted at least to as much as a [...] to the very lowest of the people. All which Considerations put R. Phineas into such an admiration of this [...] or Statio montis Sinai, (as the Doctors are wont to call it) that he determines in Pirke Eliezer, That all this Generation that heard the voice of the Holy Blessed God, was worthie to be accounted as the ministring Angels. But what That Voice was which they heard, the later Jews are scarce well agreed: but Maimoni­des, according to the most received opinion, in More Nev. p. 2. c. 33. tells that they only heard those first words of the Law distinctly, viz. I am the Lord thy God, and, Thou shalt have none other gods, &c. and but only the sound of all the rest of the words in which the remainder of the Law was given: and this, as he saies, [Page 266] was the great Mysterie of that Station, so much spoken of by the Ancients.

And here by the way we may take notice, That that divine Inspiration which is conveighed to any one man, primarily benefits none but himself; and therefore many times, as Maimonides tells us, it rested in this private use, not profiting any else but those to whom it came. And the reason of this is manifest, for that an Inspiration abstractly considered can only satisfie the mind of him to whom it is made, of its own Au­thoritie and Authenticalness (as we have shewed be­fore:) And therefore that one man may know that a­nother hath that Doctrine revealed to him by a Pro­phetical spirit which he delivers, he must also either be inspired, and so be in gradu Prophetico in a true sense, or be confirmed in the belief of it by some Miracle, whereby it may appear that God hath committed his Truth to such an one, by giving him some signal pow­er in altering the course of Nature; which indeed was the way by which the Prophets of old ordinarily con­firmed their Doctrine, when they delivered any thing new to the people; which course our Saviour himself and his Disciples also took to confirm the Truth of the Gospel: Or else there must be so much Reasonable­ness in the thing it self, as that by Moral arguments it may be sufficient to beget a belief in the Minds of sober and good men.

And I wish this last way of becoming acquainted with Divine Truth were better known amongst us: For when we have once attained to a true sanctified frame of Mind, we have then attained to the End of all Prophesie, and see all divine Truth that tends to the salvation of our Souls in the Divine light, which al­waies shines in the Puritie & Holiness of the New Crea­ture, [Page 267] and so need no further Miracle to confirm us in it. And indeed that God-like glory and majesty which appears in the naked simplicitie of true Goodness, will by its own Connateness and Sympathy with all saving Truth friendly entertain and embrace it.

CHAP. XII.

When the Prophetical Spirit ceased in the Jewish Church. The Cessation of Prophesie noted as a famous Epocha by the Jews. The restoring of the Prophetical Spirit by Christ. Some passages to this purpose in the New Testament explained. When the Prophetical Spirit ceased in the Christian Church. That it did not con­tinue long, proved by several Testimonies of the An­tient Writers.

THus we have now done with all those sorts of Pro­phesie which we find any mention of: And as a Co­ronis to this Discourse we shall farther enquire a little what Period of time it was in which this Prophetical Spi­rit ceased both in the Jewish and Christian Church. In which business because the Scripture it self is in a man­ner silent, we must appeal to such Histories as are like to be most Authentical in this business.

And first for the Period of time when it ceased in the Jewish, I find our Christian writers differing. Justin Martyr would needs perswade us that it was not till the Aera Christiana. This he inculcates often in his Dia­logue with Trypho the Jew, [...], There [Page 268] never ceased in your Nation either Prophet or Prince, till Jesus Christ was both born and had suffered. And so he often there tells us that John the Baptist was the last Prophet of the Jewish Church; which conceit he seems to have made so much of, as thinking to bring in our Saviour lumine Prophetico, with the greater evi­dence of Divine authoritie, as the promised Messiah into the world. But Clemens Alexandrinus hath much trulier, with the consent of all Jewish Antiquity, resol­ved us, that all Prophesie determin'd in Malachy, in his Strom. lib. 1. where he numbers up all the Prophets of the Jews, Thirty five in all, and Malachy as the last. Though indeed the Talmudists reckon up Fifty five Prophets and Prophetesses together, Gem. Mass. Megil. [...], The Rabbins say that there were 48 Prophets and 7 Prophe­tesses that did prophesie to the Iraelites: Which after they had reckoned almost up, they tell us that Malachy was the last of them, and that he was contemporary with Mordecai, Daniel, Haggai, Zacharie, and some o­thers (whose Prophesies are not extant) whom for their number sake they there reckon up, who all pro­phesied in the second year of Darius. But commonly they make only these Three, Haggai, Zacharie and Malachy, to be the last of the Prophets, and so call them [...]; so Massec. Sotah ch. last, where the Misnical Doctors tell us, that from the time in which all the first Prophets expired, the Urim and Thummim ceased; and the Gemarists say that they are call'd [...], the First Prophets, [...], in opposition to Haggai, Zacharie and Malachy, which are the Last. And so Maimon. and Bartenor. tell us that the Prophetae pri­ores were so called, because they prophesied in the [Page 269] times [...] of the first Temple, and the Posteri­ores, because they prophesied in the time of the second Temple: and when these later Prophets died, then all Prophesie expired, and there was left, as they say, only a Bath Kol to succeed some time in the room of it. So we are told Gem. Sanhedrim c. 1. §. 13. [...] Our Rabbins say, that from that time the later Prophets died, the Holy Spirit was taken away from Israel; never­theless they enjoyed the Filia vocis: and this is repeated Massec. Joma c. 1. Now all that time which the Spirit of Prophesie lasted among the Jews under the second Temple, their Chronologie makes to be but Forty years. So the Author of the Book Cosri, Maam. 3. §. 39. [...], (i.) The continuance of Prophesie under the time of the second Temple was almost forty years. And this R. Jehuda his Scholiast confirms out of an Historico-Cabbalistical Treatise of R. Abraham Ben Dior. and a little after he tells us, that after forty years their Sapientes were cal­led Senators, [...], after forty years were pass'd, all the Wise-men were called The Men of the great Synagogue. And therefore the Author of that Book useth this Aera of the Cessation of Prophesie; and so this is commonly noted as a famous Epocha among all their Chronologers, as the Book Juchasin, the Seder Olam Zuta, as R. David Gantz hath summ'd them all up in his chronological History put forth lately by Vorstius. The like may be observed from 1 Maccab. 9. 27. and chap. 4. 46. and chap. 14. 41.

This Cessation of Prophesie determined as it were all that old Dispensation wherein God hath manifested [Page 270] himself to the Jews under the Law, that so that grow­ing old and thus wearing away, they might expect that new Dispensation of the Messiah which had been pro­mised so long before, and which should again restore this Prophetical Spirit more abundantly. And so this Interstitium of Prophesie is insinuated by Joel 2. in those words concerning the later times; In those days shall your Sons and Daughters Prophesie, &c. And so S. Pe­ter Acts 2. makes use of the place to take off that ad­miration which the Jews were possess'd withall to see so plentiful an effusion of the Prophetical Spirit again: And therefore this Spirit of Prophesie is called the Te­stimonie of Jesus in the Apocalypse, ch. 19.

According to this notion we must understand that passage in John 7. 39. The Holy Ghost was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. To which that in Ephes. 4. He ascended up on high, and gave gifts unto men, plainly answers: As likewise the Answer which the Christians at Ephesus made to Paul, Acts 19. when he asked them whether they had received the Holy ghost, That they knew not whether there was a Holy ghost (that is) whether there were any Extraordinary Spirit, or Spirit of Prophesie restored again to the Church or not, as hath been well observed of late by some learned men. But enough of this.

We come now briefly to dispatch the second Enqui­ry, viz. What time the Spirit of Prophesie, which was again restored by our Saviour, ceased in the Christian Church. It may be thought that S. John was the last of Christian Prophets, for that the Apocalypse is the latest dated of any Book which is received into the Canon of the New Testament. But I know no place of Scripture that intimates any such thing, as if the Spirit of Prophesie was so soon to expire. And indeed if [Page 271] we may believe the Primitive Fathers, it did not; though it overliv'd S. John's time but a little. Hist. Eccles. lib. 3. §. 37. Eusebi­us tells us of one Quadratus [...], who to­gether with the daughters of Philip had the gift of Prophe­sie. So the report was. This Quadratus, as he tells us, lived in Trajan's time, which was but at the beginning of the second Century. And a little after, speaking of good men in that age, he adds, [...], Many strange and admirable virtues of the Divine Spirit as yet shew­ed forth themselves by them. And the same Author lib. 4. §. 18. tells us out of Justin Martyr, who lived in the middle of the second Century, and then writ his Apologie for the Christians, That the Gift of Prophesie was still to be seen in the Church, [...] Vide Justin. Martyr. in Dial. cum Tryphone Judaeo, [...].. Yet not long afterward there is little or no remembrance of the Prophetical spirit remaining in the Church. Hence the Montanists are by some of the Fathers proved to be no better then Dissemblers when they pretended to the Gift of Prophesie, for that it was then ceased in the Church. And so Eusebius tells us lib. 5. §. 3. and withall that Montanus and his Com­plices only took advantage of that Virtue of working wonders which yet appeared (as was reported, though doubtfully) in some places, to make a semblance of the Spirit of Prophesie; [...]. But then [Page 272] especially did Montanus, Alcibiades and Theodotus raise up in many an opinion that they prophesied: And this be­lief was so much the more increased concerning their prophesying, for that as yet in several Churches were wrought many Miraculous and Stupendious effects of the Holy Spirit; though yet there was no perfect agreement in their opinion about this.

To conclude this, (and to hasten to an End of this Discourse of Prophesie,) There is indeed in Antiquity more frequent mention of some And that the Gift of working Miracles was ceased in his time, S. Chry­sostome doth more then once affirm, [...], l. 4. de Sacerdotio, &c. The like is affirmed by S. Austin. Miracles wrought in the name of Christ; but less is said concerning the Pro­phetical Virtue, especially after the second Century. That it was rare, and to be seen but sometimes, and more obscurely in some few Christians only who had attained to a good degree of Self-purification, is inti­mated by that of Origen in his 7th Book against Celsus. [...].

CHAP. XIII.

Some Rules and Observations concerning Prophetical Writ in general.

WE should now shut up all this Discourse about Prophesie; only before we conclude, it may not be amiss to add a few Rules for the better understan­ding of Prophetical Writ in general.

1. The First, (which yet we shall rather put under debate,) is concerning the Style and Manner of lan­guaging [Page 273] all pieces of Prophesie; whether that was not peculiarly the work of the Prophet himself; whether it does not seem that the Prophetical Spirit dictated the Matter only or principally, yet did leave the words to the Prophet himself. It may be considered that God made not use of Idiots or Fools to reveal his Will by, but such whose Intellectuals were entire and perfect; and that he imprinted such a clear copy of his Truth upon them, as that it became their own Sense, being di­gested fully into their Understandings; so as they were able to deliver and represent it to others as truly as any can paint forth his own Thoughts. If the Matter and Substance of things be once lively in the Mind, verba non invita sequentur: And according as that Matter operates upon the Mind and Phantasie, so will the Phrase and Language be in which it is express'd. And there­fore I think to doubt whether the Prophets might not mistake in representing the Mind of God in their Pro­phetical Inspirations, except all their Words had been also dictated to them, is to question whether they could speak Sense as wise men, and tell their own Thoughts and Experiences truly or not. And indeed it seems most agreeable to the nature of all these Prophetical Visions and Dreams we have discoursed of, wherein the nature of the Enthusiasme consisted in a Symbolical and Hieroglyphical shaping forth of Intelligible things in their Imaginations, and enlightning the Understan­ding of the Prophets to discern the scope and mea­ning of these Visa or Phantasmata; that those Words and Phrases in which they were audibly express'd to the Hearers afterwards or penned down, should be the Prophets own: For the Matter was not (as seems evi­dent from what hath been said) represented alwaies by Words, but by Things. Though I know that some­time [Page 274] in these Visions they had a Voice speaking to them; yet it is not likely that Voice should so dilate and comment so largely upon things, as it was fit the Prophet should doe when he repeated the same things to vulgar ears.

It may also further be considered That our Saviour and his Apostles generally quote Passages out of the Old Testament as they were translated by the Lxx, and that where the Lxx have not rendered them verbatim, but have much varied the manner of phrasing things from the Original; as hath been abundantly observed by Philologers: Which it is not likely they would have done, had the Original words been the very Dictate of the Spirit; for certainly that would seem not to need any such Paraphrastical variations, as being of them­selves full and clear enough; besides herein they might seem to weaken the Authenticalness of the Divine Oracles. And indeed hath not the swerving from this Notion made some of late conceit (though erroneous­ly) the Translation of the Lxx to be more Authen­tical then the Hebrew, which they would needs per­swade us had been corrupted by the Jews, our Saviour declining the Phraseologie thereof?

Besides, we find the Prophets speaking every one of them in his own Dialect; and such a Varietie of Style and Phraseologie appears in their Writings, as may ar­gue them to have spoken according to their own pro­per Genius: which is observed by the Jews themselves (who are most zealously, as is well known, devoted to the very Letter of the Text) in all the Prophets ex­cept Moses, and that part of Moses only which contains the Decalogue. And hence we have that Rule Gem. Sanhedr. [...], The same form doth not ascend [Page 275] upon two Prophets, neither doe both of them prophesie in the same form. Which Rule Cocceius confesseth he knows not the meaning of: But Abarbanel, who better understood the Mind of his own Compatriots, in his Comment upon Jeremy ch. 49. gives us a full account of it, upon occasion of some Phrases in that Prophe­sie concerning Edom, parallel to what we find in Oba­diah. From this congruencie of the Style in both he thus takes occasion to lay down our present Notion as the Sense of that former Theorem, [...], The Prophets did not prophesie in the same manner as Moses did: For he prophesied from God immediately, from whom he recei­ved not only the Prophesie, but also the very Words and Phrases; and accordingly as he heard them, so he wrote them in the Book of the Law, in the very same words which he heard from God: but as for the rest of the Pro­phets, they beheld in their Visions the things themselves which God made known to them, and both declared and expressed them in their own Phraseologie.

Thus we see he ascribes the Phrase and Style every where to the Prophet himself, except only in the Law, which he supposeth to have been dictated totidem ver­bis: which is probable enough, if he means the Law strictly so taken, viz. for the Decalogue, as it is most likely he doth. And again a little after, [...] The things themselves they saw in Prophesie, but they themselves did explain and interpret them in that Dia­lect which was most familiar to them. And this, as he there tells, was the reason why the same kind of Phra­seologie occurred not among the Prophets, according to the sense of the Talmudists Maxime we mentioned. The like the Jewish Scholiasts observe upon those [Page 276] false Prophets who did all uno ore bid Ahab ascend up to Ramoth-Gilead and prosper, [...], U­nus idemque loquendi modus nunquam reperitur in duo­bus Prophetis: And therefore they made it an argu­ment that these were false Prophets, because they did idem Canticum canere, for they all said, Goe up and prosper. And thus the Heathenish Philosopher Plu­tarch, in his [...], thought likewise concerning his Oracle, telling us, That all Enthusiasme is a mixture of two Motions, the one is impress'd upon the Soul which is Gods Organ, the other ariseth from it; and therefore he saies, [...], All Prophetical Enthusiasme, like as also that which is Amatorious, doth make use of the subject facul­tie, and moves every Recipient according to it's dispositi­on and nature. And thence he thus excuseth the rough and unpolish'd language in which the Oracles were sometime deliver'd, most fitly to our purpose descri­bing Prophetical Inspiration, [...], For neither the voice, nor sound, nor phrase, nor metre is from God, but from Pythia her self; God on­ly suppeditates the phantasms, and kindles a light in the Soul to signifie future things: For all Enthusiasme is after this manner. Hence was that old saying of Hera­clitus, [...], That the King whose Oracle is at Delphi, neither plainly expresses, nor con­ceals, but only obscurely intimates by signs. But to con­clude this first Particular, I shall add by way of caution, [Page 277] We must not think that we can vary Scripture-expressi­on so securely with retaining the true meaning, except we likewise had as real an understanding of the Sense it self as the Prophets had, over whom God also did so far superintend in their copying forth his Truth, as not to suffer them to swerve from his meaning. And so we have done with that Particular.

2. In the next place, for the better understanding all Prophetical writ, we must observe That there is sometimes a seeming inconsistence in things spoken of, if we shall come to examine them by the strict Logical rules of Method: we must not therefore in the matter of any Prophetical Vision look for a constant Methodi­cal contexture of things carried on in a perpetual cohe­rence. The Prophetical Spirit doth not tie it self to these Rules of Art, or thus knit up its Dictates Syste­matically, fitly framing one piece or member into a combination with the rest, as it were with the joints and sinews of Method: For this indeed would rather argue an humane and artificial contrivance then any In­spiration, which as it must beget a Transportation in the Mind, so it must spend it self in such Abrupt kind of Revelations as may argue indeed the Prophet to have been inspired. And therefore Tully lib. 2. de Di­vinat. judiciously excepts against the Authenticalness of those Verses of the Sibylls which he met with in his time, (and which were the same perhaps with those we now have) because of those Acrosticks and some other things which argued an elaborate artifice, and an af­fected diligence of the Writer, and so indeed non fu­rentis erant, sed adhibentis diligentiam, as he speaks. Lumen Propheticum est lumen abruptum, as was well noted anciently by the Jews. And therefore the Ma­sters of Jewish Tradition have laid down this Maxime, [Page 278] [...], Non est prius & posterius in Lege, We must not seek for any Methodical conca­tenation of things in the Law, or indeed in any other part of Prophetical writ; it being a most usual thing with them many times [...] to knit the Beginning and End of Time together. Nescit tarda molimina Spiritûs Sancti gratia, is true also of the Grace or Gift of Prophesie. We find no curious Transitions, nor true dependence many times of one thing upon another; but things of very different na­tures, and that were cast into periods of time secluded one from another by vast intervals, all couched toge­ther in the same Vision; as Jerome hath observed in many places, and therefore tells us, Non curae fuit Spi­ritui prophetali historiae ordinem sequi. And thus he takes notice in Daniel 11. 2. that whereas there were Thirteen Kings between Cyrus and Alexander the Great, the Prophet speaks of but Four, skipping over the rest, as if the other Nine had fill'd up no part of the in­terval. The like he observes upon Jeremy 21. 1. and otherwhere; as likewise sudden and abrupt Introdu­ctions of persons, Mutations of persons, (Exits and Intrats upon this Prophetical stage being made as it were in an invisible manner) and Transitions from the voice of one person to another. The Prophetical Spi­rit though it make no noise and tumult in its motions, yet it is most quick, spanning as it were from the Cen­tre to the Circumference; it moves most swiftly, though most gently. And thus Philo's observation is true, [...]. There must be some kind of [...] in all Prophesie, as In his Quis rerum Divina­rum haeres sit. Philo tells us, [...], When di­vine light ariseth upon the Horizon of the Soul of Man, his own humane light sets: It must at least hide it self [Page 279] as a lesser light, as it were by an Occasus Heliacus, un­der the beams of the greater, and be wholly subject to the irradiations and influences of it. [...], as he goes on, Therefore the setting of a mans own Discursive facultie and the eclips­ing thereof begets an Ecstasis and a divine kind of Mania.

3. The last Rule we shall observe is, That no piece of Prophesie is to be understood of the state of the World to come or the Mundus animarum: For indeed it is altogether impossible to describe that, or to com­prehend it in this life. And therefore all divine Reve­lation in Scripture must concern some state in this world. And so we must understand all those places that treat of a new Heaven and a new Earth, and such like. And so we must understand the new Jerusalem mentioned in the New Testament, in that Prophetical book of the Apocalypse, ch. 21. And thus the Jews were wont universally to understand them, according to that Maxime we now speak of ascribed to R. Jochanan in Massec. Berac. c. 5. [...] All the Prophets prophesied to the daies of the Messi­ah; but as for the world to come, Eye hath not seen it. So they constantly expound that passage in Esay 64. 4. Since the beginning of the world Men have not heard, nor perceived by the Eare, neither hath the Eye seen, O God, besides thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him. And according to this Aphorisme our Saviour seems to speak, when he saies, All the Pro­phets and the Law prophesied until John, Mat. 11. 13. [...], i. e. They prophesied to or for that Dispen­sation which was to begin with John, who lived in the time of the twilight as it were between the Law and [Page 280] the Gospel. They prophesied of those things which should be accomplished within the period of Gospel-Dispensation which was usher'd in by John.

As for the state of Blessedness in Heaven, it is ma­jor Mente humanâ, much more is it major Phantasia. But of this in part heretofore.

An Advertisement.

THE Reader may remember That our Au­thor in the beginning of his Treatise of the Immortality of the Soul, propounded these Three great Principles of Religion to be discoursed of; 1. The Immortalitie of the Soul, 2. The Existence and Nature of God, 3. The Communication of God to Mankind through Christ. And having spoken largely to the Two former Principles of Natu­ral Theology, he thought it fit (as a Preparati­on to the Third, which imports the Revelation of the Gospel) to speak something concerning Prophesie, the way whereby Revealed Truth is dispensed to us. Of this he intended to treat but a little (they are his words in the beginning of the Treatise of Prophesie) and then pass on to the Third and Last part, viz. Those Principles of Revealed Truth which tend most of all to advance and cherish true and real Piety. But in his discoursing of Prophesie so many considerable Enquiries of­fered [Page 281] themselves to his thoughts, that by that time he had finished this Discourse (designed at first only as a Preface) his Office of being Dean and Catechist in the Colledge did ex­pire. Thus far had the Author proceeded in that year of his Office: and it was not long after that Bodily distempers and weaknesses be­gan more violently to seize upon him, which the Summer following put a Period to his life here; (a life so every way beneficial to those who had the happiness to converse with him.) Sic multis ille bonis flebilis occidit. Thus he who de­signed to speak of God's Communication of Him­self to Mankind through Christ, was taken up by God into a more inward and immediate partici­pation of Himself in Blessedness. Had he liv'd and had health to have finish'd the remaining part of his designed Method, the Reader may easily conceive what a Valuable piece that Dis­course would have been. Yet that he may not altogether want the Authors labours upon such an Argument, I thought good in the next place to adjoine a Discourse of the like importance and nature, (delivered heretofore by the Author in some Chappel-Exercises) from which I shall not detain the Reader by any more of Preface.

[Page] A DISCOURSE Treating Of LEGAL Righteousness, EVANGELICAL Righteousness, Or The Righteousness of FAITH; The Difference between the LAW and the GOSPEL, OLD and NEW COVENANT; JUSTIFICATION and DIVINE ACCEPTANCE; The CONVEIGHANCE of the EVANGELICAL Righteousness to us by FAITH.

Except your Righteousness exceed the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdome of heaven. Matth. 5. 20.
Having a form of Godliness, but denying the Power there­of. 2 Tim. 3. 5.
For the Law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did. Heb. 7. 19.
B. Macarius in Homil. 15.

[...].

A Discourse Of LEGAL Righteousness, and of The Righteousness of FAITH, &c.

Rom. 9. 31, 32.‘But Israel which followed after the Law of righteous­ness, hath not attained to the Law of righteousness: Wherefore? Because they sought it not by Faith, but as it were by the works of the Law.’

CHAP. I.

The Introduction, shewing What it is to have a right Know­ledge of Divine Truth, and What it is that is either Availeable or Prejudicial to the true Christian Know­ledge and Life.

THE Doctrine of Christian Religion propounded to us by our Saviour and his Apostles, is set forth with so much simplicity, and yet with so much repug­nancy to that degenerate Genius and Spirit that rules in the hearts and lives of Men, that we may truly say of it, it is both the Easiest and the Hardest thing: it is a Revelation wrapt up in a Complication of mysteries, like that Book of the Apocalypse, which both unfolds and hides those great Arcana that it treats of; or as [Page 286] Plato sometimes chose so to explain the secrets of his Metaphysical or Theological Philosophy, [...], that he that read might not be able to under­stand, except he were a Son of Wisdome, and had been train'd up in the knowledge of it. The Principles of True Religion are all in themselves plain and easie, deliver'd in the most familiar way, so that he that runs may read them; they are all so clear and perspicuous, that they need no Key of Analytical demonstration to unlock them: the Scripture being written doctis pari­ter & indoctis, and yet it is Wisdome in a mystery which the Princes of this world understand not; a sealed Book which the greatest Sophies may be most unacquainted with: it is like that Pillar of Fire and of a Cloud that parted between the Israelites and the Egyptians, giving a clear and comfortable light to all those that are under the manuduction and guidance thereof, but being full of darkness and obscurity to those that rebell against it. Divine Truth is not to be discerned so much in a mans Brain, as in his Heart. Divine wisdome is a Tree of life to them that find her, and it is only Life that can feelingly converse with Life. All the thin Speculati­ons and subtilest Discourses of Philosophy cannot so well unfold or define any Sensible Object, nor tell any one so well what it is, as his own naked Sense will doe. There is a Divine and Spiritual sense which only is able to converse internally with the life and soul of Divine Truth, as mixing and uniting it self with it; while vulgar Minds behold only the body and out-side of it. Though in it self it be most intelligible, and such that mans Mind may most easily apprehend; yet there is a [...] (as the Hebrew writers call that [...]) incrustamentum immunditiei upon all corrupt Minds, which hinders the lively taste and relish of it. [Page 287] This is that thick and palpable Darkness which cannot comprehend that divine Light that shines in the Minds and Understandings of all men, but makes them to de­ny that very Truth which they seem to entertain. The World through wisdome (as the Apostle speaks) knew not God. Those great Disputers of this world were too full of nice and empty Speculations to know him who is only to be discerned by a pacate, humble and self-de­nying mind: their Curiosity served rather to dazzle their Eyes then to enlighten them; while they rather proudly braved themselves in their knowledge of the Deity, then humbly subjected their own Souls to a complyance with it; making the Divinity nothing else but as it were a flattering Glass that might reflect and set off to them the beauty of their own Wit and Parts the better: and while they seemed to converse with God himself, they rather amorously courted their own Image in him, and fell into love with their own Shape. Therefore the best acquaintance with Religi­on is [...], a knowledge taught by God: it is a Light that descends from Heaven which is only able to guide and conduct the souls of men to Heaven from whence it comes. The Jewish Doctors use to put it among the fundamental Articles of their Religi­on, That their Law was from heaven, [...]: I am sure we may much rather reckon it amongst the Principles of our Christian Religion in an higher way, That it is an Influx from God upon the Minds of good men. And this is the great designe and plot of the Gospel, to open and unfold to us the true way of re­course to God; a Contrivance for the uniting the Souls of men to him, and the deriving a participation of God to men, to bring in Everlasting righteousness, and to establish the true Tabernacle of God in the [Page 288] Spirits of men, which was done in a Typical and Em­blematical way under the Law. And herein consists the main preeminence which the Gospel hath above the Law, in that it so clearly unfolds the Way and Me­thod of Uniting humane nature to Divinity; which the Apostle seems mainly to aim at in these words, But Israel which followed after the Law of righteousness, &c.

CHAP. II.

An Enquiry into that Jewish Notion of a Legal Righte­ousness, which is opposed by S. Paul. That their noti­on of it was such as this, viz. That the Law externally dispensed to them (though it were, as a Dead letter, merely without them) and conjoined with the power of their own Free-will, was sufficient to procure them Acceptance with God, and to acquire Merit enough to purchase Eternal Life, Perfection and Happiness. That this their Notion had these two Grounds; First, An Opinion of their own Self-sufficiency, and that their Free-will was so absolute and perfect, as that they needed not that God should doe any thing for them but only furnish them with some Law to exercise this Innate power about. That they asserted such a Freedom of Will as might be to them a Foundation of Merit.

FOR the unfolding whereof, we shall endeavour to search out, First, What the Jewish Notion of a Legal righteousness was, which the Apostle here condemns. 1.

Secondly, What that Evangelical righteousness, or Righteousness of Faith, is, which he endeavours to establish 2. in the room of it.

[Page 289] For the First, That which the Apostle here blames the Jews for, seems to be indeed nothing else but an E­pitome or Compendium of all that which he otherwhere disputes against them for: which is not merely and barely concerning the Formal notion of Justification, as some may think, viz. Whether the Formal notion of it respects only Faith, or Works in the Person justi­fied, (though there may be a respect to that also) it is not merely a subtile School-controversie which he seems to handle; but it is of a greater latitude; It is indeed concerning the whole Way of Life and Hap­piness, and the proper scope of restoring Mankind to Perfection and Union with the Deity, which the Jews expected by virtue of that Systeme and Pandect of Laws which were delivered upon Mount Sinai, aug­mented and enlarged by the Gemara of their own Tra­ditions.

Which that we may the better understand, perhaps it may not be amiss a little to traverse the Writings of their most approved ancient Authors, that so finding out their constant received opinions concerning their Law and the Works thereof, we may the better and more fully understand what S. Paul and the other Apostles aim at in their disputes against them.

The Jewish notion generally of the Law is this; ‘That in that Model of life contained in that Body of Laws, distinguished ordinarily into Moral, Judicial & Ceremonial, was comprised the whole Method of raising Man to his perfection; and that they having only this Book of Laws without them, to converse with, needed nothing else to procure Eternal life, Perfection and Happiness: as if this had been the only means God had for the saving of Men and ma­king them happy, to set before them in an External [Page 290] way a Volume of Laws, Statutes and Ordinances, and so to leave them to work out and purchase to themselves Eternal life in the observance of them.’

Now this General notion of theirs we shall unfold in 2 Particulars.

First, as a Foundation of all the rest, They took up this as an Hypothesis or common Principle, ‘That Mankind had such an absolute and perfect Free-will, and such a sufficient power from within himself to determine himself to Vertue and Goodness, as that he only needed some Law as the Matter or Object to ex­ercise this Innate power about; and therefore needed not that God should doe any thing more for him then merely to acquaint him with his Divine will and pleasure.’

And for this we have Maimonides speaking very fully and magisterially, That this was one of their Radices fidei or Articles of their Faith, and one main Founda­tion upon which the Law stood. His words are these in Halacah teshubah or Treatise of Repentance, Chap. 5. [...], The Power of Free-will is given to every man to determine himself (if he will) to that which is good, and to be good; or to determine himself to that which is evil, and to be wicked, (if he will.) Both are in his power, according to what is written in the Law, Behold, Man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: that is to say, Behold this sort of Creature, Man, is alone (and there is not a Second like to Man) in this, viz. That Man from himself by his own proper knowledge and power knowes good and evil, and does what pleaseth him in an uncontrollable way, so as none can hinder him as to the doing of either good or evil.

And a little after he thus interprets those words in [Page 291] the Lamentations, of the repenting Church, ch. 3. 40. Let us search and try our waies, and turn unto the Lord, [...], Seeing that we who are endu­ed with the power of Free-will, have most wittingly and freely committed all our transgressions; it is meet and be­coming that we should convert our selves by repentance, and forsake all our iniquities, forasmuch as this also is in our power: This is the importance of those words, Let us search and try our ways, and turn unto the Lord. And this is a great Fundamental, the very Pillar of the Law and Precept, according to what is written Deuter. 30. See, I have set before thee this day life and death, good and evil.

Thus we see Maimonides, who was well vers'd in the ancientest Jewish learning, and in high esteem a­mong all the Jews, is pleased to reckon this as a main Principle and Foundation upon which that Law stood; as indeed it must needs be, if Life and Perfection might be acquired by virtue of those Legal precepts which had only an External administration, being set before their External Senses, and promulged to their Eares as the Statute-laws of any other Common-wealth use to be. Which was the very notion that they them­selves had of these Laws. And therefore in Breshith Rabba (a very ancient Writing) the Jewish Doctors ta­king notice of that passage in the Canticles, Let him kiss m with the kisses of his mouth, they thus gloss upon it; At the time of the giving of the Law, the Congre­gation of Israel desired that Moses might speak to them, they being not able to heare the words of God himself: and while he spake, they heard, and hearing forgat; and thereupon moved this debate among themselves, What is this Moses, a man of flesh and blood? and what is his law, that we so soon learn, and so soon forget it? O that [Page 292] God would kiss us with the kisses of his mouth! that is, in their sense, that God would teach them in a more vital and internal way. And then (as they goe on) Mo­ses makes this answer, [...] That this could not be then: But it should so come to pass in the time to come, in the daies of the Messiah, when the Law should be written in their hearts, as it is said, Jer. 31. I will write it in their hearts.

By this we may see how necessarie it was for the Jews, that they might be consistent to their grand Principle of obtaining Life and Perfection by this dead letter and a thing merely without themselves, (as not being radicated in the vital powers of their own Souls) to establish such a power of Free-will as might be able uncontrollably to entertain it, and so readily by its own Strength perform all the dictates of it.

And that Maimonides was not the first of the Jewish writers who expound that passage Gen. 3. [Behold, man is become like one of us, to know good and evil] of Free-will, may appear from the several Chaldee Paraphrasts upon it, which seem very much to intimate that Sense. Which by the way, (though I cannot allow all that which the Jews deduce from it) I think is not without something of Truth, viz. That that Liberty which is founded in Reason, and which Mankind only in this lower world hath above other Creatures, may be there also meant. But whatever it is, I am sure the Jewish Commentators upon that place generally follow the rigid sense of Maimonides.

To this purpose R. Bechai, a man of no small lear­ning both in the Talmudick and Cabalistical doctrine of the Jews, tells us, That upon Adam's first transgression, that grand Liberty of Indifferency equally to Good or [Page 293] Evil began first to discover it self; whereas before that he was [...] all Intellect and wholy Spiritual, (as that common Cabalistical Notion was) being from within only determined to that which was Good. But I shall at large relate his words, because of their pertinency and usefulness in the Matter now in hand. [...], that is, Adam before his sin, acted from a necessity of Nature, and all his actions were nothing else but the issues of pure and perfect Understanding. Even as the Angels of God, being no­thing else but Intelligences, put forth nothing else but acts of intelligence; just so was Man before he sinned, and did eat of the Tree of Knowledg of good and evil: But af­ter this transgression, he had the power of Election and Free-will, whereby he was able to will good or evil. And a little after glossing on those words Gen. 3. 7. [And the eyes of them both were opened] he addeth, [...], They derived the power of Free-will from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil: And now they became endued with this power of determining themselves to Good or Evil; and this Pro­perty is divine, and in some respect a good Property. So that according to the mind of our Author, the First original & pedigree of Free-will is to be derived not so much from the Aera of Creation, as from that after-E­pocha of Mans transgression or Eating of the forbidden fruit: so that the Indifferency of mans Will to Good or Evil, and a Power to determine himself freely to either, did then first of all unfold it self; whereas before he conversed like a pure Intelligence with its First cause, without any propension at all to Material things, be­ing determined like a proper natural Agent solely to that which is good: and these Propensions arising upon the First transgression to Material things (which they [Page 294] supposed to be in mens power either so to correct and castigate as to prevent any sin in them, or else to pur­sue in a way of vice) are, if not the Form and Essence, yet at least the Original and Root of that [...] which they speak so much of. But of this in another place.

All this we have further confirmed out of Nach­manides, an Author sufficiently versed in all Matters concerning the Jewish Religion. His words are these in his Comment upon Deut. 30. 13. [...] From the time of the Creation Man had a power of Free-Will within him to do Good or Evil according to his own choice, as also through the whole time of the Law; that so he might be capable of Merit in freely chusing what is Good, and of Punishment in electing what is Evil. Where­in that he tells us that this Free-will hath continued e­ver since the Creation, we must not understand rigidly the very moment of mans Creation, but that Epocha taken with some latitude, so that it may include the time of mans First transgression: for he after suggests thus much, That before the First Sin Adam's power to Good was a mere Natural power without any such In­differency to Evil; and therefore he makes that State of Adam the Model and platform of future perfection which the most ancient Jewish Authors seem to ex­pect in the time of their Messiah, which he expresseth in this manner, [...], He shall not covet nor desire (after a Sensitive manner,) but Man shall return in the times of the Messiah to that Primitive State he was in before the sin of the First man, who natu­rally did whatsoever was good, neither was there any thing and its contrary then in his choice. Upon which Ground he afterwards concludes, That in those times of the Messiah there shall neither be Merit nor Demerit, [Page 295] because there shall be no Free-will, which is the alone Mother and Nurse of both of them: But in the mean while, That Good or Evil are to men (that I may phrase it in the language of the Stoick) [...]. none prejudicing or in the least degree hindering the exercise of this Liberty, neither from within nor from without, none either in Heaven or in Earth [...]. And thus the same Nachmanides expounds that solemn At­testation, Deut. 30. 19. wherein Heaven and Earth are called to witness That that day Life and Death were set before them; as if God himself had now established such a Monarchical power in man which Heaven and Earth should be in league withall and faithfull to.

Hereupon R. Saadia Gaon (so call'd by way of Emi­nency) doubts not to tell us that the common sense of all the Jewish Doctors was, That this Liberty to good or evil was such an Absolute kind of authority establish­ed in a mans soul, that it was in a sort Independent upon God himself; this being, as he saith (in the book call'd Sepher emunah) the meaning of that old and vulgar Maxime amongst the Jews, sometimes mentioned in the Talmud, [...] Omnia sunt in manu Coeli (i. Dei) excepto timore Dei.

I am not ignorant there is another Axiome of the Jews as common, which may seem partly to cross this and what hitherto hath been spoken, viz. [...], the meaning of which is this, That assistence is perpetually afforded to all endeavours both of Sanctity and Impiety. But Mai­monides hath somewhere told us (and, as I remember, in his Sepher Hamedang) how they mince the matter, and mean nothing else by it but this, That when men endeavour after the performance of the Law, God in a [Page 296] way of providence furnisheth them with External mat­ter and means, giving them peace and riches and other outward accommodations, whereby they might have advantage and opportunity to perform all that good which their own Free-will determines them to: where­as Wicked men find the like help of External matter and means for promoting and accomplishing their wick­ed and ungodly designes.

Thus we see how the Jews, that they might lay a Foundation of Merit, and build up the stately and magnificent fabrick of their Happiness upon the sandy Foundation of a dead Letter without them, endeavour to strengthen it by as weak a Rampart of their own Self-sufficiency and the Power of their own Free-will able (as they vainly imagined) to perform all Righte­ousness, as being adequate and commensurate to the whole Law of God in its most Extensive and Compre­hensive sense and meaning; rather looking upon the Fall of man as the Rise of that Giant-like Free-will whereby they were enabled to bear up themselves a­gainst Heaven it self, as being a great Accessory to their happiness (rather then prejudicial to it) through the access of that multitude of divine Laws which were given to them; as we shall see afterwards. And so they reckoned upon a more Triumphant and Illustrious kind of Happiness victoriously to be atchieved by the Merit of their own works, then that Beggerly kind of Hap­piness (as they seem to look upon it) which cometh like an Alms from Divine bounty. Accordingly they af­firm That Happiness [...] by way of Reward is farr greater and much more magnificent then that which is [...] by way of Mercy.

CHAP. III.

The Second ground of the Jewish Notion of a Legal Righteousness, viz. That the Law deliver'd to them on Mount Sinai was a sufficient Dispensation from God, and all that needed to be done by him to bring them to Perfection and Happiness: and That the Scope of their Law was nothing but to afford them several ways and means of Merit. The Opinion of the Jewish Wri­ters concerning Merit and the Reward due to the Works of the Law. Their distinguishing of men in order to Merit and Demerit into three sorts, viz. Perfectly righteous, Perfectly wicked, and a Middle sort be­twixt these. The Mercenary and Low Spirit of the Jewish Religion. An account of what the Cabbalists held in this Point of Legal Righteousness.

THE Second Ground of that Jewish Notion of a Legal Righteousness is this, ‘That the Law deli­vered to them upon Mount Sinai was a sufficient Dispensation from God, and all that needed to be done by him for the advancing of them to a State of Perfection and Blessedness; and That the proper Scope and End of their Law was nothing but to af­ford them several waies and means of Merit. Which’ is expresly delivered in the lib. Maccoth sect. ult. Mishnah, [...]. The meaning whereof is this, That therefore the precepts of the Law were so many in number, that so they might single out where they pleased, and in exercising themselves therein procure Eternal life; as Obadias de Bartenora expounds it, That [Page 298] whosoever shall perform any one of the 613 Precepts of the Law (for so many they make in number) without any worldly respects, for love of the Precept, [...], behold, this man shall merit thereby everlasting life. For indeed they supposed a Reward due to the performance of every Precept, which Re­ward they supposed to be encreased according to the secret estimation which God himself hath of any Pre­cept, as we find suggested in the Mishnah, in the Book Pirke avoth, in the words of the famous R. Jehuda, [...], Be carefull to observe the lesser Precept as well as the greater, because thou knowest not the Reward that shall be given to the observation of the Precepts.

Here we must take notice that this was a great de­bate among the Jews, which Precepts they were that had the greatest Reward due to the performance of them; in which controversie Maimonides in his Com­ment upon this place thus resolves us, That the mea­sure of the Reward that was annex'd to the Negative Precepts might be collected from the measure of the Punishments that were consequent upon the breach of them. But this knot could not be so well solved in re­ference to the Affirmative Precepts, because the Punish­ments annex'd to the breach of them were more rarely defined in the Law: accordingly he expresseth himself to this sense, As for the Affirmative Precepts [...], it is not express'd what Reward is due to every one of them; and all for this end, that we may not know which Precept is most necessary to be observed, and which Pre­cept is of less necessity and importance. And a little af­ter he tells us that for this reason their Wise men said, [...], Qui operam dat prae­cepto, liber est à praecepto; which he expounds to this [Page 299] sense, That whosoever shall exercise himself about any one Precept, ought without haesitation or dispute to continue in the performance of it, as being in the mean while freed from minding any other. For if God had declared which Precepts himself had most valued and settled the greatest revenue of happiness upon, then other Precepts would have been less minded; and any one that should have busied himself in a Precept of a lower nature, would presently have left that, when opportunity should have been offered of performing a higher. And hence we have also another Talmudical Canon for the performing of Precepts, of the same na­ture with the former quoted by our foresaid Author, [...], It is not lawfull to skip over Precepts, that is, as he expounds it, When a man is a­bout to observe one Precept, he may not skip over and re­linquish that, that so he might apply himself to the obser­vation of another. And thus, as the performance of any Precept hath a certain Reward annex'd to it; so the Measure of the Reward they suppose to be encreased ac­cording to the Number of those Precepts which they observe, as it is defined by R. Tarphon in the foresaid Mishnah, c. 2. [...], If thou hast been much in the study of the Law, thou shalt be rewarded much: For faithfull is thy Lord & Master, who will render to thee a Reward proporti­onable to thy Work. And a little before we have the same thing in the words of another of their Masters, [...], Qui multiplicat legem, multiplicat vitam. And lest they should not yet be liberal enough of God's cost, they are also pleased to distribute Re­wards to any Israelite that shall abstain from the breach of a Precept; for so we find it in the Mishnah l. Kiddu­shin Whosoever keeps himself from the breach of a Pre­cept, [Page 300] [...], shall receive the Reward as if he had kept the Precept.

But this which hath been said concerning the perfor­mance of any one Precept, must be understood with this Caution, That the performance of such a Precept be a continued thing, so as that it may compound and collect the performance of many good works into it self; otherwise the single performance of any one Precept is only available, according to the sense of the Talmudical Masters, to cast the scale, when a mans Good works and Evil works equally balance one ano­ther, as Maimonides telleth us in his Comment upon the forenamed Mishnah l. Kidd. cap. 1. Sect. 10. where the words of the Jewish Doctors are these, [...], He that observes any one Precept, it shall be well with him, and his days shall be prolonged, and he shall possess the Earth: But he that observes not any one Precept, it shall not be well with him, nor shall his days be prolonged, nor shall he inherit the Earth. Which words are thus expounded by Maimonides, He that ob­serves any one Precept, &c. that is, so as that by the additi­on of this work to his other good works, his good works over­weigh his evil works, and his merits preponderate his de­merits.

For the better understanding whereof we must know, That the Jewish Doctors are wont to distin­guish of Three sorts of Men, which are thus ranked by them, [...] men perfectly righteous, [...] men perfectly wicked, and [...], a middle sort of men betwixt them. Those they are wont to call perfectly righteous, who had no transgression or demerits that might be counted fit to be put into the balance against their Merits; and those they call'd simply [...] righteous, whose Merits outweighed their [Page 301] demerits: Whereas on the other side the perfectly wick­ed in their sense were such as had no Merits at all; and those simply [...] wicked, whose demerits made the weightiest scale: And the Middle sort were such as their good deeds and evil deeds equally balanced one ano­ther. Of this First sort of Men, viz. the perfectly righ­teous, they supposed there might be many; and such the Pharisees seem to have been in their own esteem, in our Saviours time. And according to this Notion our Saviour may seem to have shaped his answer to that Young man in the Gospel, who asked him, What shall I doe to inherit eternal life? To which our Saviour an­swers, Keep the Commandements: which our Saviour propounds to him in so great a latitude, as thereby to take him off from his self-conceit, and that he might be convinced upon reflexion on himself, that he had fallen short of Eternal life, in failing of a due perform­ance of the Divine law. But he insisting upon his own Merit in this respect, enquires of our Saviour whether there be yet any thing wanting to make him a [...] one perfectly righteous. To this our Saviour replies, Matt. 19. 21. If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, &c. The meaning of which Reply may, as I conceive, be this, to convince him of his imperfect Obedience to, and compliance with, the law of God, from his over-eager love of this world. But secondly, for the Medii, or those that were in the middle rank of men, the Jewish Doctors had divers Rules, as, 1. In case a mans Evil works and Good were equal, the addition of one ei­ther way might determine them to Eternal life or mise­ry. 2. That in case a mans Evil works should prepon­derate and weigh down his Good, yet he may cast the scale by Repentance, if he will; or in the other world by chastisements and punishments he may make expi­ation [Page 302] for them. These & the like ways they have found out, lest any of their fraternity should miscarry. To all which we must take in this Caution which they are pleased to deliver to us, viz. That Mens Works have their different weight; some Good works being so weighty that they may weigh in the balance against many Evil works, and vice versâ.

All which we shall find largely set down by R. Al­bo, l. de fundament is fidei; and partly by R. Saadia: but especially by Maimonides in his Treatise of Repentance, chap. 3. who also tells us of other Expedients provi­ded by their Law for the securing of Merit and Happi­ness, which I shall not here mention. And indeed in fine they have found out so many artifices to entail a Legal righteousness and Eternal happiness upon all the Israelites, that (if it be possible) none might be left out of Heaven: as may partly appear by that Questi­on captiously proposed to our Saviour, Master, are there few that shall be saved? whereby they expected to ensnare him, they themselves holding a General Salvation of all the Jews by virtue of the Law, how­ever their wickedness might abound. Which we find expresly set down by Maimonides in the fore-named place, [...], All wick­ed ones whose Evil deeds exceed their Good deeds, shall be judged according to the Measure of their Evil deeds so exceeding; and afterwards they shall have a portion in the World to come; [...], for that all Israelites have a portion in the World to come, [...], and this nowithstanding their Sins. Now that Maxime of theirs, All Israelites have a por­tion in the world to come, is taken out of the Mishnah l. Sanhedr. c. 11. where it is put down as the most Au­thentick opinion of the Jewish Doctors; only some Few [Page 303] there are there recited who are excepted from this hap­piness; otherwise their greatest Malefactors are not excepted from it: for so Obadias de Bartenora unfold­eth their meaning, [...], even such as are judged by the great Synedrium wor­thy of death for their wickednesse, these have a portion [...] in the world to come. I know here that the Notion of The World to come is differently repre­sented by Nachmanides and Maimonides, and their fol­lowers. But whether Maimonides his sect or the other prevail in this point, it is not much material as to our present business, seeing both sides conclude that this Se­culum futurum, or World to come, points out such a state of happiness, as should not revolve or slide back again into Misery.

And by the way we may observe what a Lean and Spiritless Religion this of the Jews was, and how it was nothing else but a Souleless and Liveless form of External performances, which did little or nothing at all reach the Inward man, being nothing but a mere Bodily kind of drudgery and servility: and therefore our Saviour when he modells out Religion to them Matth. 5. he points them out to Something fuller of in­ward life and spirit, and such a one as might make them Perfect, as their Father in heaven is Perfect. Such dull heavy-spirited Principles as this Talmudical doctrine we have quoted affordeth us, is very like began to possess the Chair in Antigonus his time, who therefore put in this Caution against part of it, That God was not to be served so much upon the account of Merit and for hope of Wages, as out of Love; though his Disciples Sadoc and Baithus, the founders of the sect of the Sadducees, straining that sober Principle too far, might more strengthen that Mercenary belief a­mongst [Page 304] the other Doctors which they had before en­tertained.

But before I leave this Argument, it may not be amiss to examine also what the Cabbalistical Jewes thought concerning this matter in hand; which in summe is this, That the Law delivered upon Mount Si­nai was a Device God had to knit and unite the Jews and the Shechinah or Divine presence together. Therefore they are pleased to stile it in the Book Zohar (which is one of the ancientest monuments we have of the Jew­ish learning) [...] the Treasures of life. And as if the living God could be united to the Souls of men by such a dead letter as this was, (as it is stiled by the Apostle, 2 Cor. 3.) they are pleased to make this Ex­ternal administration the great Vinculum Dei & homi­nis. And to this purpose R. Simeon ben Jochai (the Compiler of the fore-quoted Book, which is a mysti­cal Comment upon the Pentateuch) discourseth upon those words Deut. 30. 20. He is thy life, and the length of thy days, upon which he grounds this Observation, [...], The Shechi­nah or Divine Presence is no where established but by the Mediation of the Law: and a little after he thus magni­fies the study of the Law, [...], Whosoever doth exercise himself in the Law, doth merit the possession of the upper inheritance which is in the holy kingdome above; and doth also merit the posses­sion of an inheritance here below in this World. Where by the way we may take notice that the ancient Jews looked upon the Inheritances of the land of Canaan as being Typical and significative of an higher inheritance in the kingdome of heaven; both which they suppo­sed to be the due rewards of mens works: and there­fore they talk so much in the same place of Guardian [Page 305] Angels which are continually passing to and fro be­tween Heaven and Earth, as the Heralds and Messen­gers of Mens good works to God in Heaven. And fur­ther upon those words in Levit. 18. 5. Ye shall keep my statutes and judgments; which if a man doe, he shall live in them, he tells us, That the portion of Israel is meri­torious, because that the Holy Blessed One delighteth in them above all the Idolatrous Nations; and out of his fa­vour and goodness to them gave them [...], the laws of Truth, and planted amongst them the Tree of life; and the Schechinah was with them. Now what doth all this signifie? Thus much, That since the Israelites are signed with the Holy seale in their flesh, they are thereby acknowledged for the Sons of God: as on the contrary, They that are not sealed with this mark in their flesh, are not the Sons of God, but are the children of uncleanness: Wherefore it is not lawful to contract familiarity with them, or to teach them the Words of the Law. Which afterwards is urged further by another of their Masters, Whosoever instructeth any uncircumcised person [...] though but in the least precepts of the Law, doth the same as if he should destroy the World, and deny the name of the Holy Blessed One.

All which plainly amounts to thus much (as we had before out of the Talmudists,) That the Law was given unto the Israelites for this purpose, To enrich them with good works, and to augment their Merits, & so to establish the foundations of Life & Blessedness amongst them; and to make it a Medium of the Union betwixt God and Men, as R. Eliezer in the same Book speak­eth of the near Union between these Three, the Holy Blessed One, the Law, and Israel.

There is one Passage more in our fore-named Au­thor R. Simeon ben Jochai, at the end of Parashah [Page 306] Jethro, which (though it be more Mystical then the rest, yet) may be well worth our observing, as more fully hinting the Perfection of the Law, & setting that forth as an absolute and complete Medium of rendring a man Perfect; upon which R. Jos. Albo in his third Book de fundament is hath spent two or three Chapters. Thus therefore, as if the Law was the great Magazine and Store-house of Perfection, our foresaid Author there telleth us, That when the Israelites stood upon Mount Sinai, they saw God [...], eye to eye, or face to face, and understood all Secrets of the Law, and all the arcana superna & inferna, &c. and then he adds, That the same day in which the Israelites stood upon Mount Sinai, [...], all uncleanness passed away from them, and all their Bodies did shine in bright­ness like to the Angels of heaven when they put on their bright shining Robes to fit themselves for the Embassy upon which they are sent by God their Lord. And a little after, thus; And when their uncleanness passed away from them, the bodies of the Israelites became shining and clear without any defilement; and their Bodies did shine [...] as the brightness of the Firmament. And then thus concludeth all, When the Israelites received the Law upon Mount Sinai, [...] the world was then perfum'd with a most aromatick smell, and Heaven and Earth were established, and the Holy Blessed One was known above and below, and he ascended in his glory a­bove all things.

By all which Mystical and Allegorical Expressions our Author seems to aim at this main Scope, viz. To set forth the Law as that which of it self was sufficient, without any other Dispensation from God, for the perfecting of those to whom it was dispensed; and to make them Comprehensours of all Righteousness here [Page 307] and Glory hereafter: Which they are wont to set forth in that transcendent state of Perfection which the Isra­elites were in at the receiving of the Law; whence it hath been an ancient Maxime amongst them, In Statione montis Sinai Israelitae erant sicut Angeli ministerii.

And thus we have endeavoured to make good that which we first propounded, namely, to shew That the grand Opinion of the Jews concerning the way to Life and Happiness was this, viz.

That the Law of God externally dispensed, and only furnished out to them in Tables of Stone and a Parchment­roll, conjoined with the power of their own Free-will, was sufficient both to procure them acceptance with God, and to acquire Merit enough to carry them with spread sails into the Harbour of Eternal rest and blessedness.

So that by this time we may see that those Dis­putes which S. Paul and other Apostles maintain against the Jews touching the Law and Faith, were not merely about that one Question, Whether Justification formally and precisely respects Faith alone; but were of a much greater latitude.

CHAP. IV.

The Second Enquiry, Concerning the Evangelical Righ­teousness or the Righteousness of Faith, and the true difference between the Law and the Gospel, the Old and the New Covenant, as it is laid down by the Apostle Paul. A more General Answer to this enqui­ry, together with a General observation of the Apostle's main End in opposing Faith to the Works of the Law, viz. To beat down the Jewish proud conceit of Merit. A more particular and Distinct answer to the Enquiry, viz. That the Law or Old Covenant is considered only as an External administration, a dead thing in it self, a Dispensation consisting in an Outward and Written Law of Precepts: But the Gospel or New Covenant is an Internal thing, a Vi­tal Form and Principle of Righteousness in the Souls of men, an Inward manifestation of Divine life, and a living Impression upon the Minds and Spirits of Men. This proved from several Testimonies of Scripture.

HAving done with the First Enquiry, we now come to the Second, which was this, What the Evan­gelical Righteousness or the Righteousness of Faith is which the Apostle sets up against that of the Law, and in what Notion the Law is considered by the Apostle: Which in summe was this, viz. That the Law was the Ministery of death, and in it self an External and Live­less thing, neither could it procure or beget that Divine life and spiritual Form of Godliness in the Souls of [Page 309] men, which God expects from all the heirs of Glory, nor that Glory which is only consequent upon a true Divine life. Whereas on the other side the Gospel is set forth as a mighty Efflux and Emanation of life and spirit freely issuing forth from an Omnipotent source of Grace and Love, as that true God-like vital influ­ence whereby the Divinity derives it self into the Souls of men, enlivening and transforming them into its own likeness, and strongly imprinting upon them a Copy of its own Beauty and Goodness: Like the Spermatical virtue of the Heavens, which spreads it self freely upon this Lower world, and subtily insinuating it self into this benummed feeble earthly Matter, be­gets life and motion in it. Briefly, It is that whereby God comes to dwell in us, and we in him.

But that we may the more distinctly unfold the Dif­ference between That Righteousness which is of the Law, & That which is of Faith, & so the better shew how the Apostle undermines that fabrick of Happiness which the Jews had built up for themselves; we shall observe First in general, That the main thing which the Apo­stle 1. endeavours to beat down was, that proud and ar­rogant conceit which they had of Merit, and to advance against it the notion of the Divine grace and bounty as the only Fountain of all Righteousness and Happiness. For indeed that which all those Jewish notions, which we have before taken notice of, aim principally at, was the advancing of the weakened Powers of Nature in­to such an height of Perfection as might render them capable of Meriting at Gods hands: and that Perfection which they speak so much of (as is clear from what hath been said) was nothing else but a mere sublima­tion of their own Natural Powers and Principles, per­formed by the strength of their own Fancies. And [Page 310] therefore these Contractors with Heaven were so plea­sed to look upon Eternal life as a fair Purchase which they might make for themselves at their own charge; as if the spring and rise of all were in themselves: their eyes were so much dazled with those foolish fires of Merit and Reward kindled in their own Fancies, that they could not see that light of Divine grace and boun­ty which shone about them.

And this Fastus and swelling pride of theirs (if I mistake not) is that which S. Paul principally endea­vours to chastise in advancing Faith so much as he doth in opposition to the works of the Law. For which pur­pose he spends the First and Second Chapters of this Epistle to the Romans in drawing up a charge of such a nature both against Gentiles and Jews, but principal­ly against the Jews, who were the grand Justitiaries, that might make them bethink themselves of implo­ring Mercy, and of laying aside all plea of Law and Justice; and so chap. 3. 27. he shuts up all with a se­vere check to such presumptuous arrogance, [...]; Where then is boasting? This seems then to be the main End which S. Paul every where aims at in opposing Faith to the works of the Law, namely to e­stablish the Foundation of Righteousness and Happi­ness upon the Free mercy and grace of God: the glo­rifying and magnifying of which in the real manifesta­tions of it he holds forth upon all occasions, as the de­signe & plot of the Gospel-administration; seeing it is impossible for men by any Works which they can per­form to satisfie God's Justice for those Sins which they have committed against him, or truly to comply with his Divine will, without his Divine assistance. So that the Method of reconciling men to God, and reducing of straying Souls back again to him, was to be attri­buted [Page 311] wholy to another Original then that which the Jews imagined. But

Secondly, That Righteousness of Faith which the 2. Apostle sets up against the Law, and compares with it, is indeed in its own nature a Vital and Spiritual admini­stration, wherein God converseth with Man; whereas the Law was merely an External or Dead thing in it self, not able to beget any true Divine life in the Souls of Men. All that Legal Righteousness which the Jews boasted so much of, was but from the Earth, earthly; consisting merely in External performances, & so falling extremely short of that Internal & God-like frame of Spirit which is necessary for a true conjunction and union of the Souls of Men with God, and making of them capable of true Blessedness.

But that we may the more distinctly handle this Ar­gument, we shall endeavour to unfold the true Diffe­rence between the Law and the Gospel, as it seems evi­dently to be laid down every where by S. Paul in his Epistles: and the Difference between them is clearly this, viz. That the Law was merely an External thing, consisting in such Precepts which had only an Outward administration; but the Gospel is an Internal thing, a Vital Form and Principle seating it self in the Minds and Spirits of Men. And this is the most proper and formal Difference between the Law and Gospel, that the one is considered only as an External administration, and the other as an Internal. And therefore the Apo­stle 2 Cor. 3. 6, 7. calls the Law [...] and [...], the ministration of the letter and of death, it being in it self but a dead letter; as all that which is without a mans Soul must needs be. But on the other side he calls the Gospel (because of the Intrinsecal and Vital administration thereof in living impressions upon [Page 312] the Souls of men) [...], the Ministra­tion of the Spirit, and [...], the Ministration of righteousness. By which he cannot mean the History of the Gospel, or those Credenda propoun­ded to us to believe; for this would make the Gospel it self as much an External thing as the Law was, and according to the External administration as much a kil­ling or dead letter as the Law was: and so we see that the preaching of Christ crucified was to the Jews a Stumbling-block, and to the Greeks Foolishness. But in­deed he means a Vital efflux from God upon the Souls of men, whereby they are made partakers of Life and Strength from him: and therefore (ver. 7.) he thus Ex­egetically expounds his own meaning of that short de­scription of the Law, namely, that it was [...] which, I think, may be fitly thus translated, it was a dead (or liveless) administration (for so sometimes by an He­braisme the Genitive case in regimine is put for the Ad­jective) or else an administration of death exhibited in letters, and engraven in tables of Stone: and therefore he tells us (ver. 6.) what the Effect of it was in those words, [...], The letter killeth, as in­deed all External precepts which have not a proper vi­tal radication in the Souls of men, whereby they are able to secure them from the transgression of them, must needs doe. Now to this dead or killing letter he oppo­ses (ver. 8.) a quickning Spirit, or the [...], the ministration of the Spirit, which afterwards (v. 9.) he expounds by [...], the mi­nistration of righteousness, that is, the Evangelical admi­nistration. So that the Gospel or Evangelical admini­stration must be an Internal impression, a vivacious and Energetical Spirit and Principle of Righteousness in [Page 313] the Souls of men, whereby they are inwardly ena­bled to express a real conformity thereto. Upon this Ground the Apostle further pursues the Effects of both these from the 14. verse to the end.

By all which the Apostle means to set forth to us How vast a Difference there is between the External manifestations of God in a Law of Commandements, and those Internal appearances of God whereby he dis­covers the mighty power of his Goodness to the Souls of men.

Though the History and outward Communication of the Gospel to us in scriptis, is to be always acknow­ledged as a special mercy & advantage, and certainly no less Privilege to Christians then it was to the Jews to be the Rom. 3. 2. Depositaries of the Oracles of God: yet it is plain that the Apostle, where he compares the Law and the Gospel, and in other places, doth by the Gospel mean something which is more then a piece of Book-learning, or an Historical Narration of the free love of God in the several contrivances of it for the Redemption of mankind. For if this were all that is meant properly by the Gospel, I see no reason why it should not be coun­ted as weak and impotent a thing, as dead a letter as the Law was, (as we intimated before;) and so there would be no such vast Difference between them as the Apostle asserts there is; the one being properly an External declaration of Gods will, the other an Internal manife­station of Divine life upon mens Souls: and therefore Gal. 3. 21. he so distinguisheth between this double Dispensation of God, that this Evangelical dispensati­on is a vital and quickening thing, able to beget a Soul and Form of Divine goodness upon the Souls of men; which because the Law could not doe, it was laid aside, as being insufficient to restore man to the favour of [Page 314] God, or to make him partaker of his righteousness. If there had been a Law which could have given life, [...], verily Righteousness should have been by the Law; where by [...] he seems to mean the same thing which he meant by it when in his Epistle to the Corinthians he calls the Oe­conomy of the Gospel [...], the mini­stration of righteousness, or as [...] is taken among the Jewish writers for acceptance with God, and that Inter­nal form of Righteousness that qualifies the Soul for Eternal life: and so he takes it in a far more large and ample sense then that External righteousness of Justi­fication is: and indeed it seems to express the Just state of those who are renewed by the Spirit of God, and made partakers of that Divine life which is emphati­cally called the Seed of God. For this [...] Righ­teousness, which he here speaks of, is the proper result of an enlivening and quickening Law, which is this New Law of the Gospel in opposition to that Old Law which was administred only in scriptis: and therefore this New Law is called in the Epistle to the Hebrews, chap. 8. 6. &c. [...] the better Covenant, whereas the Old was faulty. In which place this is put down as the Formal difference between the Legal and Evangeli­cal administration, or the Old and New Covenant, That the Old Covenant was only externally promulged and wrapt up as it were in Ink and Parchment, or, as best, engraven upon tables of Stone; whereas this New Co­venant is set forth in living characters imprinted upon the Vital powers of mens Souls, as we have ver. 10, 11. This is the Covenant that I will make, &c. I will put my Laws into their Minds, and write them in their Hearts: and therefore the Old Covenant is v. 7. said not to be [...] an unblamable or faultless thing, because it was [Page 315] not able to keep off trangressions, or hinder the violati­on of it self, no more then an Inscription upon some Pillar or Monument is able to inspire life into those that read it and converse with it: the Old Law or Co­venant being in this respect no other then all other Ci­vil Constitutions are, which receive their efficacy mere­ly from the willing compliance of mens Minds with them, so that they must be enlivened by the Subject that receivs them, being dead things in themselves. But the Evangelical or New Law is such a thing as is an Efflux of life and power from God himself the Original thereof, & produceth life wheresoever it comes. And to this double Dispensation, viz. of Law and Gospel, doth S. Paul clear­ly refer 2 Cor. 3. 3. You are the Epistle of Christ, mini­stred by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not in tables of Stone: which last words are a plain Gloss upon that mundane kind of administring the Law in a mere External way, to which he opposeth the Gospel. And this Argument he further pursues in the 7 and 8 chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, in which last chap. v. 2. he stiles the Gospel [...] the Law of the spirit of life, which was able to de­stroy the power of Sin, and to introduce such a spiri­tual and heavenly frame of Soul into men, as whereby they might be enabled to express a chearfull compliance with the Law of God, and demonstrate a true heaven­ly conversation and God-like life in this world.

We read in Iamblichus and others, of the many pre­paratory Experiments used by Pythagoras to try his Scholars whether they were fit to receive the more sublime and sacred pieces of his Philosophy; and that he was wont to communicate these only to Souls in a due degree purified and prepared for such doctrine, [...] and what did all this [Page 316] signifie but only this, that he might by all these Me­thods work and mold the Minds of his Hearers into such a fit Temper, as that he might the better stamp the Seal of his more Divine Doctrine upon them, and that his Discourses to them [...], of things just and lovely and good, might be written [...] truly and really in the Soul, that I may use Plato's words in his Phaedrus, where he com­mends the Impressions of Truth which are made upon mens Souls above all outward Writings, which he there­fore compares to dead pictures. By this we see what the wisest and best Philosophers thought of this Internal writing; But it peculiarly belongs to God to write the Laws of Goodness in the Tables of mens hearts. All the outward Teachings of men are but dead things in themselves. But God's imprinting his Mind and Will upon mens hearts is properly that which is called the Teaching of God, and then they become living Laws written in the living Tables of mens Hearts fitted to receive and retain Divine impressions. I shall only adde that speech of a Crollius Chymist not impertinent in this place, Non tam discendo quàm patiendo divina per­ficitur Mens humana.

And that we may come a little nearer to these words upon which all this present Discourse is built, this seems to be the Scope of his argument in this place, where this [...] Law of righteousness may fairly be parallel'd with that which before he called [...] the law of the spirit, and which he there­fore calls [...] the righteousness of faith, because it is received from God in a way of believing. For I cannot easily think that he should mean nothing else in this place but merely the Righteousness of Justification, as some would perswade us, but rather [Page 317] that his Sense is much more comprehensive, so as to include the state of Gospel-dispensation, which in­cludes not only Pardon of sins, but an Inward spirit of Love, Power, and of a sound Mind, as he expresseth it 2 Tim. 1. 7. And this he thus opposeth to the Law, Rom. 10. 6, &c. But the Righteousness of Faith speak­eth on this wise; Say not in thy heart, Who shall ascend in­to heaven? &c. or, Who shall descend into the deep? But what saith it? The Word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that is, the word of faith which we preach. In which words Cunaeus in his De Repub. Hebr. would have us to understand some Cabbala or Tradition amongst the Jews for this meaning of that place, Deut. 30. 12. from which these words are borrowed, which as they there stand, seem not to carry that Evangelical sense which here S. Paul expounds them into; though yet Cunaeus hath not given us any reason for this opi­nion of his. But indeed the Jewish writers general­ly, who were acquainted with the principles of the Cabbala, commenting upon that place do wholly refer it to the Times of the Messiah, making it parallel with that place of Jeremy which defines the New Covenant to be a writing of the Law of God in mens hearts. And thus that Life and Salvation that results from the Righteousness of Faith is all, as Faith it self is, deriving from God gratuitously dispensing himself to the Minds of men: Whereas if Life could have been by the Law, its Original and Principal must have been resolved into men themselves who must have acted that dead matter without them, and have produced that Virtue and En­ergy in it, by their exercising themselves therein, which of it self it had not; as the Observance of any Law ena­bles that Law it self to dispense that Reward which is due to the observance of it: and therefore the Righteous­ness [Page 318] of the Law was so defin'd, that he that did those things should live in them. And thus the New Testament every where seems to present to us this twofold Dis­pensation or Oeconomy, the one consisting in an Exter­nal and written law of Precepts, the other in Inward life and power. Which S. Austin hath well pursued in his Book de Litera & Spiritu, from whom Aquinas (who endeavours to tread in his foot-steps) seems to have ta­ken first of all an occasion of moving that Question, Utrum Lex nova sit lex scripta, vel lex indita; and thus resolves it, That the New Law or Gospel is not properly lex scripta, as the Old was, but Lex indita: and that the Old Law is foris scripta, the other intus scri­pta, written in the tables of the Heart.

Now from all this we may easily apprehend how much the Righteousness of the Gospel transcends that of the Law, in that it hath indeed a true command over the inward man which it acts and informs; whereas the Law by all its menaces and punishments could only com­pell men to an External observance of it in the outward man; as the Schoolmen have well observed, Lex ve­tus ligat manum, Lex nova ligat animum.

And herein S. Paul every where magnifies this Dis­pensation of the free mercy & grace of God, as being the only soveraign remedy against all the inward radicated maladies of sin and corruption, as that Panacea or Bal­samum vitae which is the universal restaurative of decay­ed & impotent Nature. So he tells us Rom. 6. Sin shall not have dominion, because we are not under the law, but under grace. And this is that which made him so much ex­tol his acquaintance with Christ in the Dispensation of grace, and to despise all things as loss, Philip. 3. where among his other Jewish privileges having reck­oned up his blamelesness in all points touching the [Page 319] Law, he undervalues them all, and counts all but loss [...], for the excellency of the knowledg of Christ Jesus. In which place the Apostle doth not mean to disparage a real inward righteousness and the strict observance of the Law; but his meaning is to shew how poor and worthless a thing all Outward observances of the Law are in comparison of a true In­ternal conformity to Christ in the renovation of the Mind and Soul according to his Image and likeness; as is manifest from v. 9, 10. &c. in which he thus delivers his own meaning of that knowledge of Christ which he so much extoll'd, very emphatically, That I may be found in him, not having mine own righteousness which is of the Law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. Where by the way we may further take notice what this [...] and [...], the righteousness of faith and the righteousness of God (which we have already spoke much of) is according to his own true meaning, as he expounds himself, viz. a Christ-like Nature in a mans Soul, or Christ appearing in the Minds of men by the mighty power of his Divine Spi­rit, and thereby deriving a true participation of him­self to them: so we have it v. 10. That I may know the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his suffe­rings, being made conformable unto his death. And thus Christ and Moses are opposed, as Christ is the Dispen­ser of Grace and Truth, of Gods free and gratuitous bounty, of Life and Substance: whereas Moses was but the Minister of the Law, of Rites and Shadows.

But it may perhaps be questioned whether the same Internal dispensation of God was not as well under the Law, as since our Saviour's coming, and so consequently that the Jews were equally parta­kers [Page 320] thereof; and so it could be no new thing to them.

To all which I might reply, That this Dispensation of grace was then a more Mystical thing, and not so manifested to the world as it hath been since our Sa­viours coming. Secondly, This dispensation of Free grace was not that which properly belonged to the Na­tion of the Jews, but only a Type and shadow of it.

For the fuller understanding of which and all that hath been spoken, we must know, That before our Saviour's coming the great Mysteries of Religion be­ing wrapt up in Hieroglyphicks and Symbolical rites, (the unfolding of all which was reserved for him who is the great Interpreter of Heaven and Master of Truth) God was pleased to draw forth a Scheme or Copy of all that divine Oeconomy and Method of his commerce with mankind, and to make a draught of the whole artifice thereof in External matter: and therefore he singled out a Company and Society of men of the same common Extraction, marked out from all other sorts of men by a character of Genea­logical Sanctity (for so Circumcision was) collected and united together by a common band of Brother­hood; and this he set up as an Emblem of a divine and holy seed or society of men which are all by way of Spiritual generation descended from himself. And hence it is that the Jews (the whole Jewish nation uni­versally considered) who were but a mere Representa­tive of this Spiritual fraternity & congregation, are cal­led the Holy seed or the Holy people. Then afterwards a­mongst these he erects a Government & Politie, & rules over them in the way & manner of a Political prince, as hath been long since well observed by Josephus, who therefore properly calls the Jewish government [...], a Theocracy, or the Government of God himself.

[Page 321] And thus in a Scheme or Figure he shadows forth that Spiritual kingdome and government which he would establish amongst that Divine society of men, in reference to which we have so much mention made of the Kingdome of heaven in the Gospel, which is not generally and solely meant of the State of glory, much less of any outward Church-rites, but mainly of that Idea and Exemplar of which the Jewish Theocracy was an imitation. Lastly, as a Political Prince God draws forth a Body of laws as the Political Constitutions and Rules of this Government which he had set up, chu­sing Mount Sinai for the Theatre whereon he would promulge those Laws by which all his Subjects should be governed. And so I doubt not but that Preface by which the Law is usher'd in, Exod. 20. which speaks of God's mercy in delivering them from the Egyptian thraldome, may very well be allegorized and mystical­ly expounded. And all this was to signifie and set forth that Law which was to goe forth from mount Sion, the promulgation whereof was to be in a Vital and Spiri­tual way among the Subjects of this Spiritual King­dom. To all which we may add those Temporal inhe­ritances which he distributed to the Jewish families, in imitation of that Eternal blessedness and those Im­mortal inheritances which he shares out amongst his Spiritual Sons and Subjects in Heaven. And this I the rather add, because here the Jews are much perplex'd about untying this knot, namely, what the Reason should be that their Law speaks so sparingly of any Eter­nal reward, but runs out generally in promises of Mun­dane and Earthly blessings in the land of Canaan. But by this we may see the true Reason of that which the Apostle speaks concerning them, 2 Cor. 3. 14. Until this day [...] the same vail in the reading of [Page 322] the Old Testament [...] remaineth untaken away. That Vail which was on Moses his face was an Emblem of all this great Mystery: and this Vail was upon the face of the Jews in their reading the Old Testament; they dwelling so much in a carnal converse with these Sacramental Symbols which were offered to them in the reading of the Law, that they could not see through them into the thing signified thereby, and so embraced Shadows in stead of Substance, and made account to build up Happiness and Heaven upon that Earthly Law to which properly the Land of Canaan was annex'd: whereas indeed this Law should have been their School-master to have led them to Christ whose Law it prefigured; which that it might doe the more effectually, God had annexed to the breach of any one part of it such severe Curses, that they might from thence perceive how much need they had of some fur­ther Dispensation. And therefore this state of theirs is set forth by a State of bondage or [...]. For all External precepts carry perpetually an aspect of au­sterity and rigour to those Minds that are not informed by the internal sweetness of them. And this is it only which makes the Gospel or the New Law to be a Free, Noble and Generous thing, because it is seated in the Souls of men: and therefore Aquinas out of Austin hath well observed another difference between the Law and Gospel, Brevis differentia inter Legem & Evangeli­um est Timor & Amor. This I the rather observe, be­cause the true meaning of that Spirit of Bondage which the Apostle speaks of is frequently mistaken. We might further (if need were) for a confirmation of this which we have spoken concerning the Typicalness of the whole Jewish Oeconomy appeal to the third and fourth chapters of the Epistle to the Galatians, which cannot [Page 323] well be understood without this Notion, where we have the Jewish Church, as a Type of the true Evange­lical Church, brought in as a Child in it's Minority in servitude under Tutors and Governours, shut up un­der the Law till the time of that Emphatical revelati­on of the great Mysterie of God should come, till the Day should break, and all the shadows of the Night flee away.

That I may return from this Digression to the Ar­gument we before pursued, this briefly may be added, That under the Old Covenant and in the time of the Law there were amongst the Jews some that were E­vangelized, that were re, non nomine Christiani; as under the Gospel there are many that do Judaize, are of as Legal and Servile Spirits as the Jews, children of the Bond-woman, resting in mere External observances of Religion, in an outward seeming Purity, in a Form of Godliness, as did the Scribes and Pharisees of old.

From what hath hitherto been discoursed, I hope the Difference between both Covenants clearly ap­pears, and that the Gospel was not brought in only to hold forth a new Platform and Model of Religion; it was not brought in only to refine some Notions of Truth, that might formerly seem discoloured and dis­figured by a multitude of Legal rites and ceremonies; it was not to cast our Opinions concerning the Way of Life and Happiness only into a New mould and shape in a Pedagogical kind of way: it is not so much a System and Body of saving Divinity, but the Spirit and vital Influx of it spreading it self over all the Powers of mens Souls, and quickening them into a Divine life: it is not so properly a Doctrine that is wrapt up in ink and paper, as it is Vitalis Scientia, a living impressi­on made upon the Soul and Spirit. We may in a true [Page 324] sense be as Legal as ever the Jews were, if we converse with the Gospel as a thing only without us; and be as far short of the Righteousness of God as they were, if we make the Righteousness which is of Christ by Faith to serve us only as an Outward Covering, and endeavour not after an Internal transformation of our Minds and Souls into it. The Gospel does not so much consist in Verbis as in Virtute: Neither doth Evangelical dispen­sation therefore please God so much more then the Legal did, because, as a finer contrivance of his In­finite understanding, it more clearly discovers the Way of Salvation to the Minds of men; but chiefly be­cause it is a more Powerful Efflux of his Divine good­ness upon them, as being the true Seed of a happy Im­mortality continually thriving and growing on to per­fection. I shall adde further, The Gospel does not therefore hold forth such a transcendent priviledge and advantage above what the Law did, only because it ac­quaints us that Christ our true High priest is ascended up into the Holy of holies, and there in stead of the bloud of Bulls and Goats hath sprinkled the Ark and Mercy-seat above with his own bloud: but also be­cause it conveys that bloud of sprinkling into our defiled Consciences, to purge them from dead works. Farr be it from me to disparage in the least the Merit of Christ's bloud, his becoming obedient unto death, whereby we are justified. But I doubt sometimes some of our Dogmata and Notions about Justification may puff us up in far higher and goodlier conceits of our selves then God hath of us; and that we profanely make the unspotted righteousness of Christ to serve only as a Covering to wrap up our foul deformities and filthy vices in; and when we have done, think our selvs in as good credit and repute with God as we are with our [Page 325] selves, and that we are become Heaven's darlings as much as we are our own. I doubt not but the Merit and Obedience of our Saviour gain us favour with God, and potently move down the benign influences of Heaven upon us: But yet I think we may some­times be too lavish and wanton in our imaginations, in fondly conceiting a greater change in the Esteem which God hath of us then becomes us, & too little reckon up­on the Real and Vital Emanations of his favour upon us.

Therefore for the further clearing of what hath been already said, and laying a ground upon which the next part of our Discourse (viz. Concerning the Con­veiance of this God-like righteousness to us by Faith) is to proceed, We shall here speak something more to the business of Justification and Divine Acceptance, which we shall dispatch in two Particulars.

CHAP. V.

Two Propositions for the better understanding of the Doctrine of Justification and Divine Acceptance. 1. Prop. That the Divine judgment and estimation of every thing is according to the truth of the thing; and God's acceptance or disacceptance of things is suitable to his judgment. On what account S. James does attribute a kind of Justification to Good works. 2. Prop. Gods justifying of Sinners in pardoning their Sins carries in it a necessary reference to the sanctifying of their Natures. This abundantly pro­ved from the Nature of the thing.

OUR first Proposition is this, The Divine judg­ment 1. and estimation of every thing is according to [Page 326] the truth of the thing; and Gods acceptance or disacceptance of things is suitable and proportionable to his judgment. Thus S. Peter plainly tells us Act. 10. God is no respecter of persons; But every one that worketh righteousness is ac­cepted of him. And God himself posed Cain (who had entertained those unworthy and ungrounded suspitions of his partiality) with that Question, If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? Wheresoever God finds any stamps and impressions of Goodness, he likes and approves them, knowing them well to be what they in­deed are, nothing else but his own Image and Superscri­ption. Whereever he sees his own Image shining in the Souls of men, and a conformity of life to that Eternal Idea of Goodness which is himself, he loves it and takes a complacency in it, as that which is from him­self, and is a true Imitation of himself. And as his own unbounded Being & Goodness is the Primary and Ori­ginal object of his Immense and Almighty Love: so also every thing that partakes of him, partakes pro­portionably of his Love; all Imitations of him and Participations of his Love and Goodness are perpetu­ally adequate and commensurate the one to the other. By so much the more acceptable any one is to God, by how much the more he comes to resemble God. It was a common Notion in the old Pythagorean and Platonick Theology, [...], &c. as Proclus phraseth it, That the Divinity transformed in­to Love, and enamour'd with it's own unlimited Per­fections and spotless Beauty, delighted to copy forth and shadow out it self as it were in created Beings, which are perpetually embraced in the warm bosome of the same Love, which they can never swerve nor a­postatize from, till they also prove apostate to the estate of their Creation. And certainly it is true in our [Page 327] Christian divinity, that that Divine light and good­ness which flows forth from God, the Original of all, upon the Souls of men, never goes solitary and desti­tute of Love, Complacency and Acceptation, which is al­waies lodg'd together with it in the Divine Essence. And as the Divine Complacency thus dearly and tender­ly entertains all those which beare a similitude of true Goodness upon them; so it alwaies abandons from its embraces all Evil, which never doth nor can mix it self with it: The Holy Spirit can never suffer any unhal­lowed or defiled thing to enter into it or to unite it self with it. Therefore in a sober sense I hope I may truly say, There is no perfect or through-reconciliation wrought between God and the Souls of men, while any defiled and impure thing dwells within the Soul, which cannot truly close with God, nor God with that. The Divine Love according to those degrees by which it works upon the Souls of men in transforming them into its own likeness, by the same it renders them more acceptable to it self, mingleth it self with and uniteth it self to them: as the Spirit of any thing mixeth it self more or less with any Matter it acts upon, according as it works it self into it, and so makes a way and pas­sage open for it self.

Upon this account I suppose it may be that S. James attributes a kind of Justification to Good works, which unquestionably are things that God approves and ac­cepts, and all those in whom he finds them, as seeing there a true conformity to his own Goodness and Holiness. Whereas on the other side he disparageth that barren, sluggish and drowsie Belief, that a lazy Lethargy in Re­ligion began in his times to hugg so dearly, in reference to acceptation with God. I suppose I may fairly thus gloss at his whole Discourse upon this Argument: [Page 328] God respects not a bold, confident and audacious Faith, that is big with nothing but its own Presumptions. It is not because our Brains swim with a strong Conceit of God's Eternal love to us, or because we grow big and swell into a mighty bulk with airy fancies and presum­ptions of our acceptance with God, that makes us ere the more acceptable to him: It is not all our strong Dreams of being in favour with Heaven that fills our hungry souls ere the more with it: It is not a pertina­cious Imagination of our Names being enrolled in the Book of life, or of the Debt-books of Heaven being crossed, or of Christ being ours, while we find him not living within us, or of the washing away of our sins in his bloud, while the foul and filthy stains thereof are deep­ly sunk in our own Souls; it is not, I say, a pertinacious Imagination of any of these that can make us ere the better: And a mere Conceit or Opinion as it makes us never the better in reality within our selves; so it cannot render us ere the more acceptable to God who judges of all things as they are. No, it must be a true Compliance with the Divine will, which must render us such as the Divinity may take pleasure in. In Christ Jesus neither Circumcision nor Uncircumcision availeth any thing (nor 1 Cor. 7. 19. any Fancy built upon any other External privilege) but the keeping of the Commandments of God. No, but If any man does the will of God, him will both the Father John 14. and the Son love; they will come in to him and make their abode with him. This is the Scope and Mark which a true Heaven-born Faith aims at; and when it hath at­tain'd this End, then is it indeed perfect and compleat in its last accomplishment. And by how much the more ardency and intention Faith levels at this mark of in­ward goodness and divine activity, by so much the more perfect and sincere it is. This is that which God justi­fies, [Page 329] it being just and correspondent to his own good pleasure: and in whomsoever he finds this, both it and they are accepted of him. And so I come to the second Particular.

God's justifying of Sinners in pardoning and remitting 2. their sins carries in it a necessary reference to the sancti­fying of their Natures; without which Justification would rather be a glorious name then a real privilege to the Souls of men. While men continue in their wick­edness, they do but vainly dream of a device to tie the hands of an Almighty Vengeance from seizing on them: No, their own Sins, like so many armed Gy­ants, would first or last set upon them, and rend them with inward torment. There needs no angry Cherub with a flaming Sword drawn out every way to keep their unhallowed hands off from the Tree of life: No, their own prodigious Lusts, like so many arrows in their sides, would chase them, their own Hellish na­tures would sink them low enough into eternal death, and chain them up fast enough in fetters of darkness among the filthy fiends of Hell. Sin will alwaies be miserable; and the Sinner at last, when the empty blad­ders of all those hopes and expectations of an aiery mun­dane Happiness, that did here bear him up in this life, shall be cut, will find it like a Talent of Lead weighing him down into the bottomless gulf of Misery. If all were clear towards Heaven, we should find Sin raising up storms in our own Souls. We cannot carry Fire in our own bosoms, and yet not be burnt. Though we could suppose the greatest Serenity without us, if we could suppose our selves nere so much to be at truce with Heaven, and all divine displeasure laid asleep; yet would our own Sins, if they continue unmortified, first or last make an Aetna or Vesuvius within us. Nay those [Page 330] Sun-beams of Eternal Truth, that by us are detained in unrighteousness, would at last in those hellish vaults of vice and darkness that are within us kindle into an unquenchable fire. It would be of small benefit to us, That Christ hath triumph'd over the principalities and powers of darkness without us, while Hell and Death, strongly immur'd in a Fort of our own Sins and Cor­ruptions, should tyrannize within us: That his Blood should speak peace in heaven, if in the mean while our own Lusts were perpetually warring and fighting in and against our own Souls: That he hath taken off our guilt and cancell'd that hand-writing that was against us, which bound us over to Eternal condemnation; if for all this we continue fast sealed up in the Hellish dun­geon of our own filthy Lusts. Indeed we could not ex­pect any relief from Heaven out of that misery under which we lie, were not Gods displeasure against us first pacified and our Sins remitted: But should the Divine Clemency stoop no lower to us then to a mere pardon of our sins and an abstract Justification, we should ne­ver rise out of that Misery under which we lie. This is the Signal and Transcendent benefit of our free Justifi­cation through the Bloud of Christ, that God's offence justly conceived against us for our sins (which would have been an eternal bar and restraint to the Efflux of his Grace upon us) being taken off, the Divine grace and bounty may freely flow forth upon us. The Foun­tain of the Divine grace and love is now unlock'd and opened, which our Sins had shut up; and now the Streams of holiness and true goodness from thence free­ly flow forth into all gasping Souls that thirst after them. The warm Sun of the Divine love, whenever it breaks through and scatters the thick Cloud of our ini­quities that had formerly separated between God & us, [Page 331] it immediately breaks forth upon us with healing in its wings; it exerciseth the mighty force of its own light and heat upon our dark and benummed Souls, be­getting in them a lively sense of God, and kindling into sparks of Divine goodness within us. This Love, when once it hath chased away the thick Mist of our Sins, it will be as strong as Death upon us, as potent as the Grave: many Waters will not quench it, nor the Floods drown it. If we shut not the windows of our Souls against it, it will at last enlighten all those Regions of darkness that are within us, and lead our Souls to the Light of Life, Blessedness and Immortality. God par­dons mens Sins out of an Eternal designe of destroy­ing them; and whenever the sentence of death is ta­ken off from a Sinner, it is at the same time denoun­ced against his Sins. God does not bid us be warm'd and be fill'd, and deny us those necessaries which our starving and hungry Souls call for. Christ having made peace through the bloud of his cross, the Heavens shall be no more as Iron above us: but we shall receive freely the vital dew of them, the former and the later Rain in their season, those Influences from above, which Souls truly sensible of their own Misery and Imperfection uncessantly gaspe after, that Righteousness of God which drops from above, from the unsealed Spring of Free goodness which makes glad the city of God. This is that Free Love and Grace which the Souls of Good men so much triumph in; This is that Justifi­cation which begets in them lively Hopes of an happy Immortality in the present Anticipations thereof which spring forth from it in this life. And all this is that which we have called sometimes the Righteousness of Christ, sometimes the Righteousness of God; and here, the Righteousness which is of Faith. In Heaven it is a [Page 332] not-imputing of sin; in the Souls of men it is a re­conciliation of rebellious Natures to Truth and Good­ness. In Heaven it is the lifting up the light of God's countenance upon us, which begets a gladsome enter­tainment in the Souls of men, holy and dear reflections and reciprocations of Love: Divine Love to us, as it were by a natural emanation, begetting a Reflex love in us towards God, which, like that [...] and [...] spoken of by the Ancients, live and thrive together.

CHAP. VI.

How the Gospel-righteousness is conveighed to us by Faith, made to appear from these two Considerations. 1. The Gospel lays a strong foundation of a chear­ful dependance upon the Grace and Love of God, & affiance in it. This confirmed by several Gospel-expres­sions containing plainly in them the most strong Mo­tives and Encouragements to all ingenuous addresses to God, to all chearfull dependance on him, and confi­dent expectation of all assistance from him. 2. A true Evangelical Faith is no lazy or languid thing, but an ardent breathing and thirsting after Divine grace and righteousness: it looks beyond a mere par­don of sin, and mainly pursues after an inward parti­cipation of the Divine nature. The mighty power of a living Faith in the Love and Goddness of God, dis­coursed of throughout the whole Chapter.

WE come now to the last part of our Discourse, viz. To shew the Way by which this God-like and Gospel-righteousness is conveighed to us; and that is by [Page 333] Faith. This is that powerful Attractive which by a strong and divine Sympathy draws down the virtue of Heaven into the Souls of men, which strongly and forcibly moves the Souls of good men into a con­junction with that Divine goodness by which it lives and grows: This is that Divine Impress that invincibly draws and sucks them in by degrees into the Divinity, and so unites them more and more to the Centre of Life and Love: It is something in the hearts of men which, feeling by an Occult and inward sensation the mighty insinuations of the Divine goodness, immedi­ately complies with it, and with the greatest ardency that may be is perpetually rising up into conjuncti­on with it; and being first begotten and enlivened by the warm Beams of that Goodness, it alwaies breaths and gasps after it for its constant growth and nourish­ment. It is then fullest of life and vivacity, when it partakes most freely of it; and perpetually languisheth when it is in any measure deprived of that sweet and pure nourishment it derives from it.

But that we may the more clearly unfold this busi­ness, How Gospel-righteousness comes to be communicated through Faith, we shall lay it forth in 2 Particulars.

First, The Gospel lays a strong foundation of a chear­full 1. dependance upon the Grace and Love of God, and af­fianee in it. We have the greatest security and assu­rance that may be given us of God's readiness to relieve such forlorn and desolate Creatures as we are: That there are no such dreadful Fates in Heaven as are conti­nually thirsting after the bloud of sinners, insatiably greedy after their prey, never satisfied till they have devoured the Souls of men. Lest we should by such dreadful apprehensions be driven from God, we are told of the Bloud of sprinkling that speaks better things [Page 334] for us; of a mighty Favourite solliciting our Cause with perpetual intercessions in the Court of heaven; of a new and living way to the Throne of grace and to the Holy of holies which our Saviour hath consecrated through his flesh: We are told of a great and mighty Saviour able to save to the utmost all that come to God by him: We heare of the most compassionate and ten­der Promises that may be from the Truth it self, that Whosoever comes to him he will in no wise cast out; that They that believe on him, out of them should flow streams of living water: We hear of the most gracious invi­tations that Heaven can make to all weary and heavy­laden sinners to come to Christ, that they may find rest: The great Secrets of Heaven and the Arcana of Divine Counsells are revealed, whereby we are acquainted that Glory to God in the highest, Peace on earth, Good will to­wards men, are sweetly joined together in Heavens harmony, and happily combin'd together in the com­posure of it's Ditties: That the Glory of the Deity and Salvation of men are not allaied by their union one with another, but both exalted together in the most tran­scendent way, that Divine love and bounty are the supreme rulers in Heaven and Earth, [...], There is no such thing as sowre De­spight and Envy lodged in the bosome of that ever-blessed Being above, whose name is LOVE, and all whose Dispensations to the Sons of men are but the dispreadings and distended radiations of his Love, as freely flowing forth from it through the whole orbe and sphear of its creation as the bright light from the Sun in the firmament, of whose benign influences we are then only deprived when we hide and withdraw our selves from them. We are taught that the mild and gentle breathings of the Divine Spirit are moving [Page 335] up and down in the World to produce life, and to re­vive and quicken the Souls of men into a feeling sense of a blessed Immortality. This is that mighty Spirit that will, if we comply with it, teach us all things, e­ven the hidden things of God; mortifie all the lusts of rebellious Flesh, and seal us up to the day of redem­ption. We are taught that with all holy boldness we may in all places lift up holy hands to God, without wrath or doubting, without any sowre thoughts of God, or fretfull jealousies, or harsh surmises. We can never distrust enough in our selves, nor ever trust too much in God. This is the great Plerophory, and that full Confidence which the Gospel every where seems to promote: and should I run through all the Arguments and Solicitations that are there laid down, to provoke us to an entertainment hereof, I should then run quite through it from one end to another: it containing almost nothing else in the whole Complex and Body of it but strong and forcible Motives to all Ingenuous addresses to God, and the most effectual Encouragement that may be to all chearfull dependance on him, and confident ex­pectation of all assistance from him to carry on our poor endeavours to the atchievment of Blessedness, and that in the most plain and simple way that may be, sine fraude & fuco, without any double mind or mental re­servation; Heaven is not acquainted so feelingly with our wicked arts and devices. But it is very strange that where God writes Life so plainly in fair Capital letters, we are so often apt to read Death; that when he tells us over and over, that Hell & destruction arise from our selves, that they are the workmanship of our own hands, we will needs understand their Pedegree to be from Heaven, and that they were conceived in the Womb of Life and Blessedness. No, but the Go­spel [Page 336] tells us we are not come to Mounts of burning, nor unto blackness and darkness and tempest, &c. Hebr. 12. v. 18. Certainly a lively Faith in this Love of God, and a sober converse with his Goodness by a cordial enter­tainment and through perswasion of it, would warm and chafe our benummed Minds, and thaw our Hearts frozen with Self-love; it would make us melt and dissolve out of all Self-consistencie, and by a free and noble Sympa­thie with the Divine love to yield up our selves to it, and dilate and spread our selves more fully in it. This would banish away all Atheisme and ireful slavish Super­stition; it would cast down every high thought and proud imagination that swells within us and exalts it self against this soveraign Deity; it would free us from all those poor, sorry, pinching and particular Loves that here inthrall the Souls of men to Vanity and Baseness; it would lead us into the true liberty of the sons of God, filling our Hearts once enlarged with the sense of it with a more generous and universal love, as unlimited and unbounded as true Goodness it self is. Thus Moses-like conversing with God in the Mount, and there beholding his glory shining thus out upon us in the face of Christ, we should be deriving a Copy of that Eternal beauty upon our own Souls, and our thirstie and hungry spirits would be perpetually suck­ing in a true participation and image of his glory. A true divine Love would wing our Souls, and make them take their flight swiftly towards Heaven and Im­mortality. Could we once be throughly possess'd and mastered with a full confidence of the Divine love, and God's readiness to assist such feeble, languishing crea­tures as we are, in our assays after Heaven and Blessed­ness, we should then, finding our selves borne up by an Eternal and Almighty strength, dare to adven­ture [Page 337] courageously and confidently upon the highest de­signes of Happiness, to assail the kingdome of heaven with a holy gallantry and violence, to pursue a course of well-doing without weariness; knowing that our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord, and that we shall receive our Reward, if we faint not: We should work out our salvation in the most industrious manner, trust­ing in God as one ready to instill strength and power in­to all the vital faculties of our Souls: We should press towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, that we may apprehend that for which also we are apprehended of Christ Jesus. If we suf­fer not our selves to be robb'd of this Confidence and Hope in God as ready to accomplish the desires of those that seek after him, we may then walk on strong­ly in the way to Heaven and not be weary; we may run and not faint. And the more the Souls of men grow in this blissfull perswasion, the more they shall mount up like Eagles into a clear Heaven, finding themselvs rising higher and higher above all those fil­thy mists, those clouds and tempests of a slavish Fear, Despair, Fretfulness against God, pale Jealousies, wrathfull and embittered Thoughts of him, or any struglings or contests to get from within the verge of his Power and Omnisciency, which would mantle up their Souls in black and horrid Night.

I mean not all this while by this holy Boldness and Confidence and Presence of Mind in a Believer's con­verse with the Deitie, that high pitch of Assurance that wafts the Souls of good men over the Stygian lake of Death, and brings them to the borders of life; that here puts them into an actual possession of Bliss, and reestates and reestablishes them in Paradise: No, That more general acquaintance which we may have [Page 338] with God's Philanthropy and Bounty, ready to relieve with the bowells of his tender compassions all those starving Souls that call upon him, (for surely he will never doe less for fainting and drooping Souls then he doth for the young Ravens that cry unto him;) that converse which we are provoked by the Gospel to maintain with God's unconfined love, if we understand it aright, will awaken us out of our drowsie Lethargy, and make us aske of him the way to Sion with our faces thitherward: This will be digging up fresh fountains for us while we goe through the valley of Baca, where­by refreshing our weary Souls we shall goe on from strength to strength until we see the face of our loving, and ever-to-be-loved, God in Sion. And so I come to the next Particular wherein we shall further unfold how this God-like righteousness, we have spoken of, is con­veighed to us by Faith: and that is this,

A true Gospel-faith is no lazie or languid thing, but a 2. strong ardent breathing for and thirsting after divine Grace and Righteousness: it doth not only pursue an ambitious project of raising the Soul immaturely to the condition of a darling Favourite with Heaven, while it is unripe for it, by procuring a mere empty Pardon of sin; it desires not only to stand upon clear terms with Hea­ven by procuring the crossing of all the Debt-books of our sins there; but it rather pursues after an Internal participation of the Divine nature. We often hear of a Saving Faith; and that, where it is, is not content to wait for Salvation till the world to come; it is not pa­tient of being an Expectant in a Probationership for it untill this Earthly body resignes up all it's worldly interest, that so the Soul might then come into its room: No, but it is here perpetually gasping after it, and effecting of it in a way of serious Mortification [Page 339] and Self-denial: it enlarges and dilates it self as much as may be according to the vast dimensions of the Di­vine love, that it may comprehend the height and depth, the length and breadth thereof, and fill the Soul, where it is seated, with all the fullness of God: it breeds a strong and unsatiable appetite where it comes after true Goodness. Were I to describe it, I should doe it no otherwise then in the language of the Apostle; It is that whereby we live in Christ, and whereby he lives in us; or, in the dialect of our Saviour himself, Something so powerfully sucking in the precious influences of the Divine Spirit, that the Soul where it is, is continually flowing with living waters issuing out of it self. A John 7. 38. truely-believing Soul by an ingenuous affiance in God and an eager thirst after him is alwaies sucking from the full breasts of the Divine love; thence it will not part, for there, and there only, is its life and nourishment; it starves and faints away with grief and hunger, when­soever it is pull'd away from thence; it is perpetually hanging upon the arms of Immortal Goodness, for there it finds its great strength lies; and as much as may be armes it self with the mighty Power of God, by which it goes forth like a Gyant refreshed with wine to run that race of Grace & Holiness that leads to the true Elysium of Glory, and that heavenly Canaan which is above. And whensoever it finds it self enfeebled in its difficult Conflict with those fierce and furious Cor­ruptions, those tall sons of Anak, which arising from our terrene and sensual affections doe here encounter it in the Wilderness of this world; then turning it self to God, and putting it self under the conduct of the Angel of his presence, it finds it self presently out of weakness to become strong, enabled from above to put to flight those mighty armies of the aliens. True [Page 340] Faith, (if you would know its rise and pedegree) it is begotten of the Divine bounty and fulness manifesting it self to the Spirits of men, and it is conceived and brought forth by a deep and humble sense of Self-indi­gency and Poverty. Faith arises out of Self-examina­tion, seating and placing it self in view of the Divine plenitude and Allsufficiency; and thus (that I may bor­row those words of S. Paul) we received the sentence of death in our selves, that we should not trust in our selves but in him. The more this Sensual, Brutish and Self-Central life thrives and prospers, the more divine Faith languisheth; and the more that decays, and all Self-feeling, Self-love, and Self-sufficiency pine away, the more is true Faith fed and nourished, it grows more vigorous: and as Carnal life wasts and consumes, so the more does Faith suck in a true divine and spiritual life from the true [...] who hath life in himself, and freely bestowes it to all those that heartily seek for it. When the Divinity united it self to Humane nature in the person of our Saviour, he then gave mankind a pledge and earnest of what he would further doe there­in, in assuring of it into as near a conjunction as might be with Himself, and in dispensing and communicating himself to Man in a way as far correspondent and a­greeable as might be to that first Copy. And there­fore we are told of Christ being formed in us, and the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us; of our being made con­formable to him, of having fellowship with him, of being as he was in this world, of living in him and his living in us, of dying, and rising again, and ascending with him into Heaven, and the like: because indeed the same Spirit that dwelt in him, derives it self in its mighty Virtue and Energy through all believing Souls, shaping them more and more into a just resemblance and con­formitie [Page 341] to him as the first Copy & Pattern: Whence it is that we have so many waies of unfolding the Union between Christ and all Believers set forth in the Go­spel. And all this is done for us by degrees through the efficacy of the Eternal spirit, when by a true Faith we deny our selves and our own Wills, submit our seves in a deep sense of our own folly and weakness to his Wisdome and Power, comply with his Will, and by a holy affiance in him subordinate our selves to his pleasure: for these are the Vital acts of a Gospel-Faith.

And according to this which hath been said I suppose we may fairly gloss upon S. Paul's Discourses which so much prefer Faith above Works. We must not think in a Gyant-like pride to scale the walls of Heaven by our own Works, and by force thereof to take the strong Fort of Blessedness, and wrest the Crown of Glory out of God's hands whether he will or no. We must not think to commence a suit in Heaven for Happiness upon such a poor and weak plea as our own External compliance with the Old Law is. We must not think to deal with God in the Method of Commutative Justice, and to challenge Eternal life as the just Reward of our great Merits, and the hire due to us for our labour and toil we have took in God's Vineyard. No, God re­sists the proud, but gives grace to the humble: it must be an humble and Self-denying address of a Soul dissol­ved into a deep and piercing sense of its own Nothing­ness and unprofitableness, that can be capable of the Divine bounty: he fills the hungry with good things, but the rich he sends empty away. They are the hun­gry and thirsty Souls, alwaies gasping after the living springs of Divine grace, as the parched ground in the desert doth for the dew of Heaven, ready to drink [Page 342] them in by a constant dependance upon God; Souls that by a living, watchfull and diligent Faith spreading forth themselves in all obsequious reverence and love of him, wait upon him as the Eyes of an handmaid wait on the hand of her Mistress: These are they that he delights to satiate with his goodness. Those that being master'd by a strong sense of their own indigen­cy, their pinching and pressing povertie, and his All-sufficient fulness, trust in him as an Almighty Saviour, and in the most ardent manner pursue after that Per­fection which his grace is leading them to; those that cannot satisfie themselves in a bare performance of some External acts of righteousness, or an External observance of a Law without them, but with the most greedy and fervent ambition pursue after such an ac­quaintance with his Divine Spirit as may breath an in­ward life through all the powers of their Souls, and beget in them a vital form and soul of Divine good­ness; These are the spiritual seed of faithful Abraham, the sons of the Free-woman and heirs of the promises, to whom all are made Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus; These are they which shall abide in the house for ever, when the sons of the Bond-woman, those that are only Arabian proselytes, shall be cast out.

CHAP. VII.

An Appendix to the foregoing Discourse; How the whole business and Undertaking of Christ is emi­nently available both to give full relief and ease to our Minds and Hearts, and also to encourage us to Godliness or a God-like righteousness, briefly re­presented in sundry Particulars.

FOR the further illustration of some things especi­ally in the latter part of this Discourse, it may not be amiss in some Particulars (which might easily be en­larged) to shew How the Undertaking of Christ (that Great Object of Faith) is greatly advantageous and available to the giving full relief and ease to our Minds and Hearts, and also to the encouraging us to Godliness, or a true God-like righteousness.

In the General therefore we may consider, That full and evident assurance is given hereby to the world, That God doth indeed seek the saving of that which is lost; and men are no longer to make any doubt or scruple of it. Now what can we imagine more avail­able to carry on a Designe of Godliness, and to rouze dul and languid Souls to an effectual minding of their own Salvation, then to have this News sounding in their Ears by men that (at the first promulgation there­of) durst tell them roundly in the Name of God, that God required them every where to repent, for that his Kingdome of grace was now apparent; and that he was not only willing, but it was his gracious designe to save & recover lost Sinners who had forsaken his Goodness?

[Page 344] Particularly, That the whole business of Christ is very advantageous for this purpose, and highly ac­commodate thereto, may appear thus:

We are fully assured that God hath this forementi­oned 1. designe upon lost men, because here is one (viz. Christ) that partakes every way of Humane Nature, whom the Divinity magnifies it self in, and carries through this world in Humane infirmities and Suffe­rings to Eternal glory: a clear manifestation to the World that God had not cast off Humane Nature, but had a real mind to exalt and dignifie it again.

The way into the Holy of holies or to Eternal hap­piness 2. is laid as open as may be by Christ, in his Do­ctrine, Life, and Death: in all which we may see with open face what Humane Nature may attain to, and how it may by Humility, Self-denial and divine Love, a Christ-like life, rise up above all visible heavens into a state of Immortal glory and bliss.

Here is a manifestation of Love given, enough to thaw all the iciness of mens hearts which Self-love had 3. quite frozen up: For here is One who in Humane Na­ture most heartily every where denying himself, is rea­dy to doe any thing for the good of Mankind, and at last gives up his life for the same pupose; and that ac­cording to the good will and pleasure of that Eternal love which so loved the World, that he gave this belo­ved and his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Whereas every Penitent Sinner carries a sense of Guilt upon his own Conscience, is apt to shrink with 4. cold chill fears of offended Majesty, and to dread the thoughts of violated Justice: He is assured that Christ hath laid down his life, and thereby made propitiation & atonement for sin; That He hath laid down his life for [Page 345] the Redemption of him; and so in Christ we have Re­demption through his bloud, even the forgiveness of sins. Thus may the Hearts of all Penitents, troubled at first with sense of their own guilt, be quieted, and fully establisht in a living Faith and Hope in an Eternal good­ness; seeing how their Sins are remitted through the bloud of Jesus that came to die for them and save them, and through his bloud they may have free ac­cess unto God.

Seeing Sin and Guilt are apt continually to beget a 5. jealousie of God's Majesty and Greatness, from whom the Sinner finds himself at a vast distance, he is made ac­quainted with a Mediator through whom he may ad­dress himself to God without this jealousie or doubting; for that this Mediator likewise is one of Humane Na­ture, that is highly beloved and accepted of God, he having so highly pleased God by performing his Will in all things. Certainly it is very decorous and much for the Ease of a Penitent's mind, (as it makes also for the disparagement of Sin) that our Addresses to God should be through a Mediator. The Platonists wisely observ'd that between the Pure Divinity and Impure Sinners as there is no Union, so no Communion: it is very agreeable every way and upon all accounts, that they who in themselves are altogether unworthy and under demerit, should come to God by a Mediator.

Thus the Scripture every where seems to represent and hold forth Christ in the forenamed Particulars, (without descending into Niceties and Subtilties, such as the School-men and others from them have trou­bled the World with) in a very full and ample manner, that so the Minds of true Believers (that are willing to comply with the Purpose of God for their own E­ternal peace) might in all Cases find something in [Page 346] Christ for their relief, and make use of him as much as may be to encourage and help on Godliness: for by this whole Undertaking of Christ manifested in the Gospel God would have to be understood Full relief of Mind and Ease of Conscience, as also all Encouragement to Godliness, and Disparagement of Sin. And indeed the whole business of Christ is the greatest Blow to Sin that may be; For the World is taught hereby, that there is no Sinning upon cheap and easie terms: men may see that God will not return so easily into favour with Sin­ners; but he will have his Righteousness acknowledg­ed, and likewise their own Demerit. And this Ac­knowledgment he is once indeed pleased to accept of in the person of our Saviour: yet if men will not now turn to him, and accept his favour, they must know that there is no other Sacrifice for Sin.

By these Particulars we have briefly touch'd upon (to name no more) it may appear, That when we look into the Gospel, we are taught to believe that Christ hath done, according to the good pleasure of God, every thing for us that may truly relieve our Minds, and encourage us to Godliness, a God-like Righteousness far exceeding the righteousness of the Scribes and Pha­risees.

A Discovery of The SHORTNESS and VANITY Of A Pharisaick Righteousness: OR, An Account of the False Grounds upon which Men are apt vainly to conceit themselves to be Righteous.

Luke 16. 15.

And he said unto the Pharisees, Ye are they which justifie your selves before men; but God knoweth your Hearts: for that which is highly esteemed amongst men, is abomination in the sight of God.

Epiphanius in Haeres. 59. [...].

[...].

Renatus Des Cartes in Epistol. ad Princ. Elizabetham.

Nulli facilius ad magnam Pietatis famam perveniunt, quàm Superstitiosi vel Hypocritae.

THE SHORTNESS and VANITY OF A Pharisaick Righteousness, Discovered in a Discourse upon

MATTHEW 19. 20, 21.

The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

Jesus saith unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give it to the Poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven: and come and follow me.

CHAP. I.

A General account of men's Mistakes about Religion. Men are no where more lazy and sluggish, and more apt to delude themselves, then in matters of Religion. The Religion of most men is but an Image and Resem­blance of their own Fansies. The Method propounded for discoursing upon those words in S. Matthew. 1. To discover some of the Mistakes and False Notions about Religion. 2. To discover the Reason of these Mistakes. A brief Explication of the Words.

AS there is no kind of Excellency more gene­rally pretended to then Religion, so there is none less known, or wherein men are more apt to delude themselves. Every one is ready to lay [Page 350] claim, and to plead a Right in it; (like the Bat in the Jewish fable, that pretended the Light was hers, and complain'd of the unjust detainment thereof from her;) but few there are that understand the true worth and pretiousness of it. There are some Common Notions and a Natural instinct of Devotion seated in the Minds of men, which are ever and anon roving after Religion; and as they casually and fortuitously start up any Mo­dels and Ideas of it, they are presently prone to be­lieve themselves to have found out this only Pearl of price: the Religion of most men being indeed nothing else but such a Strain and Scheme of Thoughts and Acti­ons, as their Natural propensions, sway'd by nothing else but an Inbred belief of a Deity, accidentaily run into; nothing else but an Image and Resemblance of their own Fansies which are ever busie in painting out themselves; which is the reason why there are as ma­ny Shapes and Features of Religion painted forth in the Minds of men, as there are various Shapes of Faces and Fansies. Thus men are wont to fashion and limne out their Religion to themselves in a strange and uncouth manner, as the Imaginations of men in their Dreams are wont to represent monstrous and hideous shapes of things that no where else appear but there. And though some may seem to themselves to have ascended up above this Low region, this Vulgar state of Religion; yet I doubt they may still be wrap'd up in Clouds and darkness, they may still be but in a Middle region, like wandring Meteors that have not yet shak'd off that gross and earthly Nature which will at last force them again downwards. There may be some who may arrive at that Book-skill and learning in Divine Mysteries, that with a Pharisaick pride looking down upon the rude and vulgar sort of men, may say, [Page 351] John 7. This people that knows not the Law are cursed; who themselves yet converse only with an aiery Ghost and shadow of Religion: though the Light of divine truth may seem to shine upon them, yet by reason of their dark and opacous hearts, it shines not into them: They may, like this dark and dull Earth, be superficially guilded, and warmed too, with its beams, and yet the impressions thereof doe not pierce quite through them. There may be many fair Semblances of Reli­gion where the Substance and Power of it is not. We shall here endeavour to discover some of them which may seem most specious, and with which the weak Un­derstandings of men (which are no where more lazy and sluggish then in matters of Religion) are most apt to be deluded; and then discover the Reason of these Mistakes.

For which purpose we have made choice of these Words, wherein we find a young Pharisee beginning to swell with a vain conceit of his good estate towards God, looking upon himself as being already upon the Borders of Perfection, having from his youth up kept on a constant course in the way of God's Commande­ments; he could not now be many miles from the land of Canaan, if he were not already passed over Jordan; he thought himself to be already in a state of Perfecti­on, or at least within sight of it: and therefore ma­king account he was as lovely in our Saviours eyes as he was in his own, asks him, What lack I yet?

For the understanding of which we must know the Jewes were wont to distinguish Righteous men into two sorts, [...] and [...], to which this Quère of his seems to refer, as if he had said, Having kept all God's commandements, sure my Good deeds cannot only over-ballance my Evil, no, but they rather [Page 352] fill both the scales of the Divine ballance; I have no Evil deeds to weigh against them: what therefore can I want of the end and scope of the Divine Law, which is to make men perfect, seeing I have guided my whole life from my youth up by the Precepts of it? To which our Saviour replies; If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. Which words I can neither think to be spoken as Con­silium perfectionis in the Papal sense, nor yet only as a particular and special Precept; but rather by way of Conviction: So that the full sense and importance of our Saviours speech seems to be this, viz. A mere Con­formity of the Outward man to the Law of God is not sufficient to bring a man to Eternal life; but the In­ward man also must deeply receive in the stamp and im­pression of the Divine Law, so as to be made like to God. True Perfection is not consistent with any Ter­rene loves or Worldly affections: This Mundane life and spirit which acts so strongly and impetuously in this lower world, must be crucified: The Soul must be wholly dissolved from this Earthy body which it is so deeply immerst in, while it endeavours to enlarge its sorry Tabernacle upon this material Globe, and by a holy abstraction from all things that pinion it to Mortality, withdraw it self and retire into a Divine so­litude. If thou therefore wert in a state of Perfection, thou wouldest be able at the first call from God to re­signe up all Interest here below, to quitt all claim, and to dispose of thy self and all worldly enjoyments according to his pleasure without any reluctancy; and come and follow me. And this I think was the true Scope of our Saviours answer; which proved a real De­monstration, as it appears in the sequel of the Story, [Page 353] that this confident Pharisee had not yet attained to those mortified affections which are requisite in all the Candidates of true Blessedness; but only cheated his own Soul with a bare External appearance of Religion, which was not truly seated in his Heart: and I doubt not but many are ready upon as slight Grounds, and with as much confidence, to take up his Quere, What lack I yet?

We shall therefore in the first place, according to what we promised, inquire into some of those false Pre­tences which men are apt to make to Happiness, and shew in four Particulars how Religion is mistaken.

CHAP. II.

An Account of mens Mistakes about Religion in 4 Parti­culars. 1. A Partial obedience to some Particular Precepts. The False Spirit of Religion spends it self in some Particulars, is confin'd, is overswayed by some prevailing Lust. Men of this spirit may by some Book-skill, and a zeal about the Externals of Religion, loose the sense of their own Guiltiness, and of their defici­encies in the Essentials of Godliness, and fansy them­selves nearly related to God. Where the true Spirit of Religion is it informs and actuates the whole man, it will not be confin'd, but will be absolute within us, and not suffer any corrupt Interest to grow by it.

THE First is, A Partial obedience to some Particular 1. Precepts of Gods law. That arrogant Pharisee that could lift up a bold face to heaven, and thank God he was no Extortioner, nor unjust, nor guilty of any Publican-sins, found it easie to perswade himself [Page 354] that God justified him as much as he did himself.

It was a vulgar Rule given by the Jewish Doctors, which I fear too many live by, That men should single out some one Commandement out of Gods law, and there­in especially exercise themselves, that so they might make God their friend by that, lest in others they should too much displease him. Thus men are content [...], to pay God their Decimae, and Septimae of their lives too, if need be, so that they may without fear of sa­criledge, or purloining, as they suppose, from him, en­joy all the rest to themselves: But they are not will­ing to consecrate their whole lives to him, they are a­fraid lest Religion should incroach too much upon them, and too busily invade their own rights and li­berties, as their Selfish Spirit calls them.

There are such that it may be think themselves will­ing that God should have his due, so be it he will also let them enjoy their own without any lett or molestation; but they are very jealous lest he should incroach too much upon them, and are carefull to maintain a Meum and Tuum with Heaven it self, and to set bounds to God's prerogative over them, lest it should swell too much, and grow too mighty for them to maintain their own Priviledges under it. They would fain un­derstand themselves to be free-born under the domini­on of God himself, and therefore ought not to be compelled to yield obedience to any such laws of his as their own private seditious Lusts and Passions will not suffer them to give their consent unto.

There be such who perswade themselves they are well-affected to God, and willing to obey his Com­mandements, but yet think they must not be uncivil to the World; nor so base and cowardly as not to main­tain their own credit and reputation, with a due re­venge [Page 355] upon those that seem to impair it; or so much forget themselves, as not to comply with the guise and fashion of this world so far as it may make for their own emolument or preferment. Such as these, that are no fast friends to Religion, can easily find some Postern­dore to slip out by into this World: and while they either doe some constant homage to Heaven in the ex­ercise and performance of some Duties of Religion, or abstain from such Vices as the common opinions of men brand with infamie, or can fansie themselves to be marked out with some of those Characters which they have learned from Books or Pulpit-discourses to be the Notes of God's Children and justified persons; they grow big with Self-conceit, and can easily find out some handsome piece of Sophistry and cunning Topick to delude themselves by, in indulging some beloved Lust or other: They can sometimes beat down the price of other mens religion, to inhance the value of their own; or it may be by a burning and fiery zeal against the Opi­nions and deportments of others that are not of their own Sect, they may loose the sense of all their own guiltiness. The Disciples themselves had almost for­gotten the mild and gentle Spirit of Religion, in an over-hasty heat calling for Fire down from heaven upon those whom they deemed their Master's enemies.

Sometimes a Partial spirit in Religion, that spends it self only in some Particulars, mistakes the fair com­plexions of Good nature for the true face of Vertue; and a good Bodily temperament will serve it, as a flat­tering glass, to bestow beauty upon a deformed and mis­shapen Mind, that it may seem vertuous. But it is not a true Spirit of Religion, whatsoever those wanton wits may call it, that is thus Particular and confin'd. No, that is of a subtile and working nature, it will be search­ing [Page 356] through the whole man, and leave nothing unin­formed by it self: as it is with the Soul that runs through all the portions of Matter and every member of the Body. Sin and Grace cannot lodge together, they can­not divide and share out between them two several Do­minions in one Soul.

What is commonly said of Truth in general, we may say more especially of true Goodness, magna est, & prae­valebit: it will lodge in the Souls of men, like that mighty, though gentle, Heat which is entertained in the Heart, that alwaies dispenseth warm Bloud and Spirits to all the members in the Body: it will not suffer any other Interest to grow by it: it will be so absolute as to swallow up all our carnal freedom, and crush down all our fleshly liberty: as Moses his Serpent did eate up all the Serpents of the Egyptian Magicians, so will it devour all that viperous brood of iniquity, which our Magical Self-will by her witchcraft and en­chantments begets within us: like a strong and vehe­ment Flame within us, it will not only singe the hair, or scorch and blister the skin, but it will go on to con­sume this whole Body of death: it is compared by our Saviour to Leaven that will ferment the whole mass in which it is wrap'd up: it will enter into us like the Re­finer's fire, and the Fuller's Soape: like the Angel of God's presence that he promised to send along with the Israelites in their journy to Canaan, it will not pardon our iniquities, nor indulge any darling lust whatsoever: it will narrowly pry into all our actions, and be spying out all those back-waies and dores whereby Sin and Vice may enter.

That Religion that runs out only in Particularities, and is overswayed by the prevailing power of any Lust, is but only a dead carkass, and not indeed that [Page 357] true living Religion which comes from Heaven, and which will not suffer it self to be confin'd; that will not indent with us, or article upon our tearms and conditi­ons, but Sampson like will break all those bonds which our fleshly and harlot-like wills would tie it with, and become every way absolute within us. And so I pass to the Second thing wherein men are apt to delude themselves in taking an Estimate of their own Religi­on, viz.

CHAP. III.

The Second Mistake about Religion, viz. A meer com­plyance of the Outward man with the Law of God. True Religion seats it self in the Centre of mens Souls, and first brings the Inward man into Obedience to the Law of God: the Superficial Religion inter­meddles chiefly with the Circumference and Outside of men; or rests in an outward abstaining from some Sins. Of Speculative and the most close and Spiritu­al wickedness within. How apt men are to sink all Re­ligion into Opinions and External Forms.

A Mere compliance of the Outward man with the Law 2. of God. There is an [...] and an [...] that Philosophy hath acknowledged as well as our Christian Divinity: and when Religion seats it self in the Centre of mens Souls, it acts there most strong­ly upon the Vital powers of it, and first brings the Inward man into a true and chearfull obedience to the law of God, before all the seditious and rebellious motives of the External or Animal man be quite sub­dued. But a Superficial Religion many times inter­meddles [Page 358] only with the Circumference and Outside of men, it only lodges in the suburbs and storms the out­works, but enters not the main Fort of mens Souls, which is strongly defended by inward Pride, Self-will, particular and mundane Loves, fretting and self-consu­ming Envy, Popularity and Vain-glory, and such other Mental vices, that when they are beaten out of the visi­ble behaviours and conversations of men by Divine threats or promises (which may be too potent to be controll'd) retreat and secure themselves here as in a strong Castle. There may be many who dare not pur­sue Revenge, and yet are not willing to forgive inju­ries; who dare not murther their enemy, that yet can­not love him; who dare not seek for preferment by Bri­bery, who yet are not mortified to these and many other mundane and base-born affections: they are not wil­ling that the Divine prerogative should extend it self beyond the Outward man, and that Religion should be too busie with their Inward thoughts and passions: if they may not by proud boasting set off their own sorry commodities upon the publick stage, and there read out their own Panegyricks; yet they will inwardly applaud themselves, and commit wanton dalliance with their own Parts and Perfections; and not feeling the migh­ty power of any Higher good, they will endeavour to preserve an unhallowed Autaesthesie and feeling sense of themselves; and by a sullen melancholy Stoicisme, when Religion would deprive and bereave them of the sinfull glory and pleasures of this Outward world, they then retire and shrink themselves up into a Cen­tre of their own, they collect and contract themselves into themselves. Thus when this low life of mens Souls is chased out of the External vices and vanities of this World by the chastisements of their own Con­sciences, [Page 359] or many times by bodily oppressions, it pre­sently retires into it self, and by a Self-feeling begins more to grasp and dearly embrace it self. When these External loves begin to be starved and cooled, yet men may then fall into love with and courting of them­selves by Arrogancy, Self-confidence and dependence, Self-applause and gratulations, Admiration of their own perfections; and so feed that dying life of theirs with this Speculative wantonness, that it may as strongly express it self within them, as before it did without themselves. Men may by inward braving of themselves sacrilegiously steal God's glory from him, and erect a Self-supremacy within, exerting it self in Self-will and particular loves, and so become Corrivals with God for the Crown of Blessedness and Self-sufficiency, as I doubt many of the Stoicks endeavoured with a Giant-like ambition to doe.

But alas, I doubt we generally arrive not to this pitch of Religion, to deny the world, and all the pomp and glory of this largely-extended train of Vanity; but we easily content our selves with some External forms of Religion. We are too apt to look at a garish dress and attire of Religion, or to be enamoured rather with some more specious and seemingly-spiritual Forms, then with the true Spirit & Power of Godliness & Re­ligion it self. We are more taken commonly with the several new fashions that the luxuriant Fancies of men are apt to contrive for it, then with the real power and simplicity thereof: and while we think our selves to be growing in our knowledge, and moving on towards a state of Perfection, we do but turn up and down from one kind of Form to another; we are as apt still to draw it down into as low, worldly and mundane Rites and Ordinances, as ever it was before our Saviour made [Page 360] that glorious Reformation therein, which took away these Material crutches made up of carnal Observances which Earthly minds lean so much upon, and are fain to underprop their Religion with, which else would tumble down and fall to nothing: except we can cast it into such a certain Set of duties and System of Opini­ons, that we may see it altogether from one end to ano­ther, we are afraid lest it should become too abstruse a thing and vanish away from us.

I would not be misunderstood to speak against those Duties & Ordinances which are necessary means appoin­ted by God to promote us in the waies of Piety: But I fear we are too apt to sink all our Religion into these, and so to embody it, that we may as it were touch and feel it, because we are so little acquainted with the high and spiritual nature of it, which is too subtile for gross and carnal minds to converse with. I fear our vulgar sort of Christians are wont so to look upon such kind of Models of Divinity and Religious per­formances, which were intended to help our dul minds to a more lively sense of God and true Goodness, as those things that claim the whole of their Religion: and therefore are too apt to think themselves absolved from it, except at some solemn times of more especial addresses to God; and that this wedding garment of holy Thoughts and divine Affections is not for every days wearing, but only then to be put on when we come to the Marriage-feast and Festivals of Heaven; as if Religion were fast lock'd and bound up in some sacred Solemnities, and so incarcerated and incorpora­ted into some divine Mysteries, as the superstitious Heathen of old thought, that it might not stir abroad and wander too far out of these hallowed Cloisters, and grow too busie with us in our Secular imploiments. [Page 361] We have learned to distinguish too subtily I doubt in our lives and conversations inter sacrum & profanum, our Religious approaches to God and our Worldly af­fairs. I know our conversation and demeanour in this world is not, nor can well be, all of a piece, and there will be several degrees of Sanctity in the lives of the best men, as there were once in the land of Canaan; but yet I think a Good man should alwaies find him­self upon Holy ground, and never depart so far into the affairs of this life, as to be without either the call or compass of Religion; he should alwaies think where­soever he is, etiam ibi Dii sunt, that God and the bles­sed Angels are there, with whom he should converse in a way of Puritie. We must not think that Religion serves to paint our Faces, to reform our Looks, or only to inform our Heads, or instruct and tune our Tongues; no, nor only to tie our Hands, and make our Outward man more demure, and bring our Bodies and bodily actions into a better decorum: But its main business is to purge and reform our Hearts and all the Elicit actions and motions thereof. And so I come to a Third particu­lar wherein we are apt to misjudge our selves in mat­ters of Religion.

CHAP. IV.

The Third Mistake about Religion, viz. A constrain'd and forc'd Obedience to God's Commandments. The Religion of many (some of whom would seem most abhorrent from Superstition) is nothing else but Superstition properly so called. False Religionists, having no inward sense of the Divine Goodness, can­not [Page 362] truly love God: Yet their sowre and dreadfull ap­prehensions of God compell them to serve him. A slavish spirit in Religion may be very prodigal in such kind of serving God as doth not pinch their Corrupti­ons; but in the great and weightier matters of Reli­gion, in such things as prejudice their beloved Lusts, it is very needy and sparing. This servile Spirit has low and mean thoughts of God, but an high opinion of its Outward services, as conceiting that by such cheap things God is gratified and becomes indebted to it. The different Effects of Love and Slavish fear in the truly, and in the falsly, Religious.

ANother Particular wherein men mistake Religion, is A constrained and forced obedience to God's Com­mandments. 3. That which many men (amongst whom some would seem to be most abhorrent from Superstiti­on) call their Religion, is indeed nothing else but a [...] See the Tract of Superstition., that I may use the word in its ancient and proper sense, as it imports such an apprehension of God as renders him grievous to men; and so destroys all free and chearfull converse with him, and begets in stead thereof a forc'd and dry devotion, void of inward Life and Love. Those Servile spirits which are not acquainted with God and his Goodnesse, may be so haunted by the frightfull thoughts of a Deity, as to scare and terrifie them into some worship and observance of him. They are apt to look upon him as one clothed with austerity, or, as the Epicurean Poet hath too truly painted out their thoughts, as a savus Dominus, that is, in the language of the unprofitable servant in the Gospel, an hard Ma­ster; and therefore they think something must be done to please him, and to mitigate his severity to­wards them: and though they cannot truly love him, [Page 363] having no inward sense of his Loveliness, yet they can­not but serve him so far as these rigorous apprehensi­ons lie upon them; though notwithstanding such as these are very apt to perswade themselves that they may pacifie him and purchase his favour with some cheap services, as if Heaven it self could become guil­ty of Bribery, and an Immutable Justice be flattered into Partiality and Respect of persons. Because they are not acquainted with God, and know him not as he is in himself, therefore they are ready to paint him forth to themselves in their own shape: and because they themselves are full of Peevishness and Self-will, arbi­trarily imposing and prescribing to others without suf­ficient evidence of Reason, and are easily inticed by Flatteries; they are apt to represent the Divinity also to themselves in the same form, and think they view the true pourtraiture and draught of their own Genius in it; and therefore that they might please this angry Deity of their own making, they care not sometimes to be lavish in such a kind of Service of him as doth not much pinch their own corruptions; nay and it may be too, will seem to part with them sometimes, and give them a weeping farewel, if God and their own a­wakened Consciences seem to frown upon them; though all their Obedience arise from nothing else but the Compulsions and necessities which their own sowre and dreadfull apprehensions of God lay upon them: and therefore in those things which more nearly touch their own beloved Lusts, they will be as scant and sparing as may be; here they will be as strict with God as may be, that he may have no more then his due, as they think, like that Unprofitable servant in the Gospel, that, because his Master was an austere man, reaping where he had not sown, and gathering where he had [Page 364] not scattered, was content and willing he should have his own again, but would not suffer him to have any more.

This Servile spirit in Religion is alwaies illiberal and needy in the Magnalia Legis, the great and weightier matters of Religion, and here weighs out Obedience by drams and scruples: it never finds it self more shri­vell'd and shrunk up, then when it is to converse with God; like those creatures that are generated of slime and mud, the more the Summer-sun shines upon them, and the nearer it comes to them, the more is all their vital strength dried up and spent away: their dreadfull thoughts of God, like a cold Eastern wind, blasts all their blossoming affections, and nips them in the bud: these exhaust their native vigour, and make them weak and sluggish in all their motions toward God. Their Religion is rather a Prison or a piece of Penance to them, then any voluntary and free compliance of their Souls with the Divine will: and yet because they bear the burden and heat of the day, they think, when the evening comes, they ought to be more liberally re­warded; such slavish spirits being ever apt inwardly to conceit that Heaven receives some emolument or other by their hard labours, and so becomes indebted to them, because they see no true gain and comfort accruing from them to their own Souls; and so because they doe God's work and not their own, they think they may reasonably expect a fair compensation, as having been profitable to him. And this I doubt was the first and vulgar foundation of Merit: though now the world is ashamed to own it.

But alas, such an ungodlike Religion as this can ne­ver be owned by God: the Bond-woman and her son must be cast out. The Spirit of true Religion is of [Page 365] a more free, noble, ingenuous and generous nature, arising out of the warm beams of the Divine love which first hatch'd it and brought it forth, and therefore is it af­terwards perpetually bathing it self in that sweetest love that first begot it, and is alwaies refresh'd and nourish'd by it. This Love casteth out fear, fear which hath torment in it, and is therefore more apt to chase away Souls once wounded with it from God, rather then to allure them to God. Such fear of God alwaies carries in it a secret Antipathy against him, as being [...], as Plutarch speaks, one that is so troublesome that there is no quiet or peaceable living with him. Whereas Love by a strong Sympathy draws the Souls of men, when it hath once laid hold upon them by its powerfull insinuation, into the nearest conjunction that may be with the Divinity; it thaws all those frozen affections which a Slavish fear had con­gealed and lock'd up, and makes the Soul most chear­full, free, and nobly resolved in all its motions after God. It was well observed of old by Pythagoras, [...], we are never so well as when we approach to God; when in a way of Re­ligion we make our addresses to God, then are our Souls most chearfull. True Religion and an Inward acquaintance with God discovers nothing in him but pure and sincere Goodness, nothing that might breed the least distaste or disaffection, or carry in it any sem­blance of displeasingness; and therefore the Souls of good men are never pinching and sparing in their affe­ctions: then the Torrent is most full and swells high­est, when it empties it self into this unbounded Ocean of the Divine Being. This makes all the Commande­ments of God light and easie and far from being grie­vous. There needs no Quis legem det amantibus? Major Lex A­mor est sibi. Boetius l. 3. de Consol. Philos. Law to compel a Mind acted by [Page 366] the true spirit of divine love to serve God or to com­ply with his Will. It is the choice of such a Soul to endeavour to conform it self to him, and draw from him as much as may be an Imitation of that Goodness and Perfection which it finds in him. Such a Christi­an does not therefore obey his Commands only because it is God's Will he should doe so, but because he sees the Law of God to be truly perfect, as David speaks: his nature being reconciled to God finds it all holy, just and good, as S. Paul speaks, and such a thing as his Soul loves, sweeter then the honey or the honey-combe; and he makes it his meat and drink to doe the Will of God, as our Lord and Saviour did. And so I pass to the Fourth and last Particular wherein Religion is sometimes mis­taken.

CHAP. V.

The Fourth and last Mistake about Religion, When a mere Mechanical and Artificial Religion is taken for that which is a true Impression of Heaven upon the Souls of men, and which moves like a new Nature. How Religion is by some made a piece of Art, and how there may be specious and plausible Imitations of the Internals of Religion as well as of the Externals. The Method and Power of Fancy in contriving such Arti­ficial imitations. How apt men are in these to deceive both themselves and others. The Difference between those that are govern'd in their Religion by Fancy, and those that are actuated by the Divine Spirit and in whom Religion is a Living Form. That True Reli­gion is no Art, but a new Nature. Religion discovers [Page 367] it self best in a Serene and clear Temper of Mind, in deep Humility, Meekness, Self-denial, Universal love of God and all true Goodness.

THE Fourth and last Particular wherein men mis­judge 4. themselves, is, When a mere Mechanical and Artificial Religion is taken for that which is a true Im­pression of Heaven upon the Souls of men, and which moves like an Inward nature. True Religion will not stoop to Rules of Art, nor be confin'd within the narrow compass thereof: No, where it is, we may cry out with the Greek Philosopher, [...] God hath there kindled as it were his own Life which will move and act only according to the Laws of Heaven. But there are some Mechanical Christians that can frame and fashion out Religion so cunningly in their own Souls by that Book-skill they have got of it, that it may many times deceive themselves, as if it were a true living thing. We often hear that mere Preten­ders to Religion may go as far in all the External acts of it as those that are best acquainted with it: I doubt not also but many times there may be Artificial imitations drawn of that which only lives in the Souls of good Men, by the powerful and wily Magick of exalted Fancies; as we read of some Artificers that have made such Images of living creatures, wherein they have not only drawn forth the outward shape, but seem almost to have copied out the life too in them. Men may make an Imitation as well of those things which we call the Internals of Religion, as of the Externals. There may be a Semblance of inward Joy in God, of Love to him and his Precepts, of Dependance upon him, and a filial Reverence of him; which by the contrivance and power of Fancie may be represented in a Masque [Page 368] upon the Stage of the Animal part of a mans Soul. Those Christians that fetch all their Religion from pi­ous Books and Discourses, hearing of such and such Signs of Grace and Evidences of Salvation, and being taught to believe they must get those, that so they may go to Heaven; may presently begin to set themselves on work, and in an Apish imitation cause their Animal Powers and Passions to represent all these; and Fancie being well acquainted with all those several Affections in the Soul that at any time express themselves to­wards Outward things, may, by the power it hath over the Passions, call them all forth in the same Mode and fashion, & then conjoin with them some Thoughts of God and Divine things, which may serve thus put together for a handsome Artifice of Religion wherein these Mechanicks may much applaud themselves.

I doubt not but there may be such who to gain cre­dit with themselves, and that glorious name of being the Children of God (though they know nothing more of it but that it is a Title that sounds well) would use their best skill to appear such to themselves, so qualified and molded as they are told they must be. And as many times Credit and Reputation among men may make them pare off the Ruggedness of their Out­ward man, and polish that; so to gain their own good opinion, and a reputation with their own Consciences which look more inwardly, they may also endeavour to make their Inward man look at some times more smooth and comely: and it is no hard matter for such Chamaeleon-like Christians to turn even their insides in­to whatsoever hue and colour shall best please them, and then Narcissus-like to fall in love with themselves: a strong and nimble Fancie having such command over the Animal spirits, that it can send them forth in full [Page 369] troops which way soever it pleaseth, and by their aide call forth and raise any kind of Passion it listeth, and when it listeth allay it again, as the Poets say Aeolus can doe with the Winds. As they say of the force of Imagination, that Vis Imaginativa signat foetum; so Imagination may stamp any Idea that it finds within it­self upon the Passions, and turn them as it pleases to what Seal it will set upon them, and mold them into any likeness; and a man looking down and taking a view of the Plot as it is acted upon the Stage of the Animal powers, may like and approve it as a true Plat­form of Religion. Thus may they easily deceive them­selves, and think their Religion to be some Mighty thing within them, that runs quite through them and makes all these transformations within them; whereas the Rise and Motion of it may be all in the Animal and Sensitive powers of the Soul; and a wise observer of it may see whence it comes and whither it goes: it be­ing indeed a thing which is from the earth, earthy, and not like that true Spirit of Regeneration which comes from Heaven, and begets a Divine life in the Souls of good men, and is not under the command of any such Charms as these are, neither will it move according to those Laws, and Times, and Measures that we please to set to it: but we shall find it manifesting its mighty su­premacy over the Highest powers of our Souls. Whereas we may truly say of all Mechanicks in Religion, and our Mimical Christians, that they are not so much actuated and informed by their Religion, as they inform that; the power of their own Imagination deriving that Force to it which bears it up and guides all its motions and ope­rations. And therefore they themselves having the power over it, can new mold it as themselves, please, according to any new Pattern which shall like them [Page 370] better then the former: they can furnish this dome­stick Scene of theirs with any kind of matter which the history of other mens religion may afford them; and if need be, act over all the Experiences of that sect of men to which they most addict themselves so to the life, that they may seem to themselves as well experienc'd Christians as any others; and so, it may be, soar so aloft in Self-conceit, as if they had already made their nests amongst the stars, and had viewed their own mansion in Heaven. What was observed by the Stoick concerning the vulgar sort of men, [...], may as truly be said of this sort of Christians, their life is nothing else but a strong Energy of Fancy and Opinion.

But besides, lest their Religion might too grosly dis­cover it self to be nothing else but a piece of Art, there may be sometimes such Extraordinary motions stirred up within them which may prevent all their own Thoughts, that they may seem to be a true operation of the Divine life; when yet all this is nothing else but the Energy of their own Self-love touch'd with some Fleshly apprehensions of Divine things, and excited by them. There are such things in our Christian Religi­on that, when a Carnal and unhallowed mind takes the Chair and gets the expounding of them, may seem ve­ry delicious to the fleshly appetites of men: Some do­ctrines and notions of Free-Grace and Justification; the magnificent Titles of Sons of God and Heirs of Heaven; ever-flowing streams of Joy and Pleasure that blessed Souls shall swim in to all eternity; a glo­rious Paradise in the world to come, alway springing up with well-sented and fragrant Beauties; a New Je­rusalem paved with Gold and bespangled with Stars, comprehending in its vast circuit such numberless vari­eties, [Page 371] that a busie curiosity may spend it self about to all eternity. I doubt not but that sometimes the most flesh­ly & earthly men, that fly their ambition to the pomp of this world, may be so ravish'd with the conceits of such things as these, that they may seem to be made parta­kers of the powers of the world to come; I doubt not but that they may be as much exalted with them, as the Souls of crazed and distracted persons seem to be some­times, when their Fancies play with those quick and nimble Spirits which a distempered frame of Body and unnatural heat in their Heads beget within them. Thus may these blazing Comets rise up above the Moon, and climbe higher then the Sun; which yet, because they have no solid consistencie of their own, and are of a base and earthly allay, will soon vanish and fall down again, being only born up by an External force. They may seem to themselves to have attain'd higher then those noble Christians that are gently mov'd by the na­tural force of true Goodness; they may seem to be ple­niores Deo then those that are really inform'd and actu­ated by the Divine Spirit, and do move on steddily and constantly in the way towards Heaven; as the Seed that was sown in the thorny ground, grew up and lengthened out its blade faster then that which was sown in the good and fruitfull soil. And as the Motions of our Sense, Fancy and Passions, while our Souls are in this mortal condition sunk down deeply into the Body, are many times more vigorous and make stronger impres­sions upon us then those of the Higher powers of the Soul, which are more subtile and remote from these mixt and Animal perceptions; that Devotion which is there seated may seem to have more Energy and life in it then that which gently and with a more delicate kind of touch spreads it self upon the Understanding, and [Page 372] from thence mildly derives it self through our Wills & Affections. But howsoever the Former may be more boisterous for a time, yet This is of a more consistent, sper­matical and thriving nature: For that proceeding indeed from nothing else but a Sensual and Fleshly apprehensi­on of God and true Happiness, is but of a flitting and fading nature; and as the Sensible powers and facul­ties grow more languid, or the Sun of Divine light shines more brightly upon us, these earthly devotions like our Culinary fires will abate their heat and ser­vour. But a true Celestial warmth will never be extin­guish'd, because it is of an Immortal nature; and be­ing once seated vitally in the Souls of men, it will regu­late and order all the motions of it in a due manner, as the natural Heat radicated in the Hearts of living crea­tures hath the dominion and Oeconomy of the whole Body under it, and sends forth warm Bloud and Spi­rits and Vital nourishment to every part and member of it. True Religion is no piece of artifice; it is no boi­ling up of our Imaginative powers nor the glowing heats of Passion; though these are too often mistaken for it, when in our juglings in Religion we cast a mist before our own eyes: But it is a new Nature informing the Souls of men; it is a God-like frame of Spirit, dis­covering it self most of all in Serene and Clear minds, in deep Humility, Meekness, Self-denial, Universal love of God and all true Goodness, without Partiality and with­out Hypocrisie; whereby we are taught to know God, and knowing him to love him, and conform our selves as much as may be to all that Perfection which shines forth in him.

THUS far the First part of this Discourse, which was designed (according to the Method propoun­ded) to give a particular account of mens Mis­takes about Religion. The other part was intended to discover the reason of these Mistakes. But whether the Author did finish that Part, it appears not by any Papers of his which yet came to my hands. If he did, and the Papers should be in others hands (for the Author was communicative) if they (or any other Papers of the Authors) be sent to Mr William Morden, Bookseller in Cambridge, the like care shall be taken for the publishing of them as hath been for this Collection.

[Page] THE EXCELLENCY and NOBLENESS OF TRUE RELIGION,

  • 1. In its Rise and Original.
  • 2. In its Nature and Essence.
  • 3. In its Properties and Operations.
  • 4 In its Progress.
  • 5. In its Term and End.
Psalm 16. 3.

To the Saints that are in the earth, and to the excel­lent, in whom is all my delight.

Greg. Nazianzenus in Orat. 11.

[...] Divinae ima­ginis. [...].

Idem in Orat. 23.

[...].

Hieronymus ad Celantiam Ep. 14.

Nescit Religio nostra personas accipere, nec conditiones hominum sed animos inspicit singulorum; Servum & Nobilem de moribus pronunciat. Sola apud Deum Li­bertas est non servire peccatis: Summa apud Deum est Nobilitas clarum esse virtutibus.

THE EXCELLENCY and NOBLENESS OF TRUE RELIGION.
The Introduction.

Proverbs 15. 24.‘The Way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.’

IN this whole Book of the Proverbs we find So­lomon, one of the Eldest Sons of Wisdom, alwaies standing up and calling her blessed: his Heart was both enlarged and fill'd with the pure influences of her beams, and therefore was perpetually adoring that Sun which gave him light. Wisdome is justified of all her Children; though the brats of darkness and children of folly see no beau­ty nor comeliness in her, that they should desire her, as they said of Christ, Esay 53. [...]; That Mind which is not touch'd with an inward sense of Divine Wisdom, cannot estimate the true Worth of it. But when Wisdom once displays its own excellencies and glories in a purified Soul, it is en­tertained there with the greatest love and delight, and receives its own image reflected back to it self in sweet­est returns of Love and Praise. We have a clear mani­festation [Page 378] of this sacred Sympathy in Solomon, whom we may not unfitly call Sapientiae Organum, an Instrument which Wisdom herself had tuned to play her divine Lessons upon: his words were Eccles. 12. [...], every where full of Divine sweetness matched with strength and beauty, [...] or, as himself phra­seth it, like apples of gold in pictures of Silver. The Proverbs 25. mind of a Proverb is to utter Wisdom in a Mystery, as the Apostle sometime speaks, and to wrap up Divine Truth in a kind of Aenigmatical way, though in vulgar expressions. Which method of delivering Divine doctrine (not to mention the Writings of the ancient Philosophers) we find frequently pursued in the Holy Scripture, thereby both opening and hiding at once the Truth which is offered to us. A Proverb or Parable be­ing once unfolded, by reason of its affinity with the Phancy, the more sweetly insinuates it self into that, and is from thence with the greater advantage transmit­ted to the Understanding. In this state we are not able to behold Truth in its own Native beauty and lustre; but while we are vail'd with mortality, Truth must vail it self too, that it may the more freely converse with us. S. Austin hath well assign'd the reason why we are so much delighted with Metaphors, Allegories, &c. be­cause they are so much proportioned to our Senses, with which our Reason hath contracted an intimacy and fami­liarity. And therefore God to accommodate his Truth to our weak capacities, does as it were embody it in Earthly expressions; according to that ancient Maxim of the Cabbalists, Lumen Supernum nunquam descen­dit fine indumento; agreeable to which is that of Dio­nysius Areop. not seldom quoted by the School-men, Impossibile est nobis aliter lucere radium Divinum, nisi varietate sacrorum velaminum circumvelatum. His [Page 379] words in the Greek are these, In lib. de Caelest. Hicrar. cap. 1. [...].

Thus much by way of Preface or Introduction to these words, being one of Solomon's excellent Proverbs, viz. The way of life is above to the wise. Without any mincing or mangling of the Words, or running out into any Critical curiosities about them, I shall from these Words take occasion to set forth The Nobleness and Ge­nerous Spirit of True Religion, which I suppose to be meant here by [The way of life.] The word [...] here rendred [above] may signifie that which is divine and heavenly, high and excellent, as the word [...] does in the New Testament, [...], Phil. 3. 14. [...], Col. 3. 2. S. Austin supposeth the things of Religion to be meant by the [...], superna, for this reason, quòd merito excellentiae longè superant res ter­renas. And in this sense I shall consider it, my pur­pose being from hence to discourse of the Excellent and Noble spirit of true Religion (whether it be taken in abs­tracto, as it is in it self; or in concreto, as it becomes an inward Form and Soul to the Minds and Spirits of Good men;) and this in opposition to that low and base-born spirit of Irreligion, which is perpetually sin­king from God, till it couches to the very Centre of misery, [...], the lowermost Hell.

In discoursing upon this Argument, I shall observe this Method; viz. I shall consider the Excellency and Nobleness of True Religion

  • 1. In its Rise and Original.
  • 2. In its Nature and Essence.
  • 3. In its Properties and Operations.
  • 4. In its Progress.
  • 5. In its Term and End.

CHAP. I.

1. The Nobleness of Religion in regard of its Original and Fountain: it comes from Heaven and moves towards Heaven again. God the First Excellency and Primitive Perfection. All Perfections and Excellencies in any kind are to be measured by their approach to, and Par­ticipation of, the First Perfection. Religion the great­est Participation of God: none capable of this Divine Communication but the Highest of created Beings: and consequently Religion is the greatest Excellency. A twofold Fountain in God whence Religion flowes, viz. 1. His Nature. 2. His Will. Of Truth Natural and Revealed. Of an Outward and Inward Revelation of God's Will.

WE begin with the First, viz. True Religion is a 1. Noble thing in its Rise and Original, and in re­gard of its Descent. True Religion derives its pedigree from Heaven, is [...] it comes from Heaven, and constantly moves toward Heaven again: it's a Beam from God, as every good and perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness nor shadow of turning, as S. James speaks. God is the First Truth and Primitive Goodness: True Religion is a vigorous Efflux and Ema­nation of Both upon the Spirits of men, and therefore is called 2 Peter 1. a participation of the divine Nature. Indeed God hath copyed out himself in all created Being, ha­ving no other Pattern to frame any thing by but his own Essence; so that all created Being is umbratilis similitudo entis increati, and is, by some stamp or other [Page 381] of God upon it, at least remotely allied to him: But True Religion is such a Communication of the Divini­ty, as none but the Highest of created Beings are ca­pable of. On the other side Sin and Wickedness is of the basest and lowest Original, as being nothing else but a perfect degeneration from God and those Eternal Rules of Goodness which are derived from him. Reli­gion is an Heaven-born thing, the Seed of God in the Spirits of men, whereby they are formed to a similitude & likeness of himself. A true Christian is every way of a most noble Extraction, of an heavenly and divine pe­digree, being born [...] from above, as it is express'd Joh. 3. The line of all earthly Nobility, if it were fol­lowed to the beginning, would lead to Adam, where all the lines of descent meet in One; and the Root of all Extractions would be found planted in nothing else but Genesis 2. Adamah, red Earth: But a Christian derives his line from Christ, who is the Only-begotten Son of God, the shining forth of his glory, and the Character of his per­son, as he is stiled Heb. 1. We may truly say of Christ and Christians, as Zebah and Zalmunna said of Gide­on's brethren, As he is, so are they (according to their Judges 8. capacity,) each one resembling the children of a king. Titles of Worldly honour in Heavens heraldry are but only Tituli nominales; but Titles of Divine dignity signify some Real thing, some Real and Divine Com­munications to the Spirits and Minds of men. All Perfections and Excellencies in any kind are to be mea­sured by their approach to that Primitive Perfection of all, God himself; and therefore Participation of the Divine nature cannot but entitle a Christian to the highest degree of dignity: Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be cal­led the Sons of God, 1 Jo. 3. 1.

[Page 382] Thus much for a more general discovery of the No­bleness of Religion as to its Fountain and Original; We may further and more particularly take notice of this in reference to that Twofold fountain in God, from whence all true Religion flows and issues forth, viz. 1. His Immutable Nature. 2. His Will.

1. The Immutable Nature of God. From thence a­rise all those Eternal Rules of Truth and Goodness which are the Foundation of all Religion, and which God at the first Creation folded up in the Soul of man. These we may call the Truths of Natural inscription; understanding hereby either those Fundamental princi­ples of Truth which Reason by a naked intuition may behold in God, or those necessary Corollaries and De­ductions that may be drawn from thence. I cannot think it so proper to say, That God ought infinitely to be loved because he commands it, as because he is indeed an Infinite and Unchangeable Goodness. God hath stamp'd a Copy of his own Archetypal Loveli­ness upon the Soul, that man by reflecting into himself might behold there the glory of God, intra se videre De­um, see within his Soul all those Ideas of Truth which concern the Nature and Essence of God, by reason of its own resemblance of God; and so beget within him­self the most free and generous motions of Love to God. Reason in man being Lumen de Lumine, a Light flowing from the Fountain and Father of Lights, and being, as Tully phraseth it, participata similitudo Ratio­nis aternae (as the Law of Nature, the [...], the Law written in mans Heart, is participatio Legis aternae in Rationali creatura) it was to enable Man to work out of himself all those Notions of God which are the true Ground-work of Love and Obedience to God, and conformity to him: and in modling the in­ward [Page 383] man into the greatest conformity to the Nature of God was the Perfection and Efficacy of the Religion of Nature. But since Mans fall from God, the inward virtue and vigour of Reason is much abated, the Soul having suffered a [...], as Plato speaks, a defluvi­um pennarum: those Principles of Divine truth which were first engraven upon mans Heart with the finger of God are now, as the Characters of some ancient Mo­numents, less clear and legible then at first. And therefore besides the Truth of Natural inscription

2. God hath provided the Truth of Divine Revela­tion, which issues forth from his own free Will, and clearly discovers the way of our return to God, from whom we are fallen. And this Truth, with the Effects and Productions of it in the Minds of men, the Scri­pture is wont to set forth under the name of Grace, as proceeding merely from the free bounty and overflow­ings of the Divine Love. Of this Revealed Will is that of the Apostle to be understood, [...], 1 Cor. 2. 11. None hath known the things of God; [...], None, neither Angel nor Man, could know the Mind of God, could unlock the Breast of God, or search out the Counsels of his Will. But God out of the infinite riches of his Compassions toward mankind is pleas'd to unbo­som his Secrets, and most clearly to manifest the way Hebrews 9. 2 Timothy 1. into the Holiest of all, and bring to light life and immor­tality, and in these last ages to send his Son, who lay in his bosom from all Eternity, to teach us his Will and declare his Mind to us. When we look unto the Earth, then behold darkness and dimness of anguish, that I may use those words of the Prophet Esay: But when we look towards Heaven, then behold light breaking forth up­on us, like the Eye-lids of the Morning, and sprea­ding its wings over the Horizon of mankind sitting in [Page 384] darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet in­to the way of peace.

But besides this Outward revelation of God's will to men, there is also an Inward impression of it on their Minds and Spirits, which is in a more special manner attributed to God. We cannot see divine things but in a divine light: God only, who is the true light, and in whom there is no darkness at all, can so shine out of himself upon our glassy Understandings, as to beget in them a picture of himself, his own Will and Pleasure, and turn the Soul (as the phrase is in Job 38.) [...] like wax or clay to the Seal of his own light and love. He that made our Souls in his own image and likeness, can easily find a way into them. The Word that God speaks having found a way into the Soul, im­prints it self there as with the point of a diamond, and becomes [...], that I may borrow Plato's expression. Men may teach the Grammar and Rhetorick, but God teaches the Divinity. Thus it is God alone that acquaints the Soul with the Truths of Revelation: and he also it is that does strengthen and raise the Soul to better apprehen­sions even of Natural Truth: God being that in the Intellectual world which the Sun is in the Sensible, ( [...]) as some of the ancient Fathers love to speak, and the ancient Philosophers too, who meant God by their In­tellectus Agens, whose proper work they supposed to be not so much to enlighten the Object, as the Faculty.

CHAP. II.

2. The Nobleness of Religion in respect of its Nature, briefly discovered in some Particulars. How a man actuated by Religion 1. lives above the world; 2. con­verses with himself, and knows how to love, value and reverence himself, in the best sense; 3. lives above himself, not being content to enjoy himself, except he may enjoy God too, and himself in God. How he de­nyes himself for God. To deny a mans self, is not to deny Right Reason, for that were to deny God, in stead of denying himself for God. Self-love the only Prin­ciple that acts wicked men. The happy privileges of a Soul united to God.

WE have done with the first Head, and come now 2. to discourse with the like brevity on another (our purpose being to insist most upon the third Par­ticular, viz. The Nobleness of Religion in its Proper­ties, after we have handled the Second) which is The Excellency and Nobleness of Religion in regard of its Na­ture, whether it be taken in abstracto or in concreto; which we shall treat of promiscuously, without any ri­gid tying of our selves to exact Rules of Art: and so we shall glance at it in these following Notions, rising as it were step by step.

1. A Good man, that is actuated by Religion, lives a­bove the World and all Mundane delights and excellencies. The Soul is a more vigorous and puissant thing, when it is once restored to the possession of its own Being, then to be bounded within the narrow Sphere of Mor­tality, [Page 386] or to be streightned within the narrow prison of Sensual and Corporeal delights; but it will break forth with the greatest vehemency, and ascend upwards towards Immortality: and when it converses more in­timately with Religion, it can scarce look back upon its own converses (though in a lawfull way) with Earthly things, without a being touch'd with an holy Shame fac'd­ness & a modest Blushing; and, as Porphyry speaks of Plo­tinus, [...], it seems to be ashamed that it should be in the Body. It is only True Religion that teaches and enables men to dye to this world and to all Earthly things, and to rise above that vaporous Sphere of Sensual and Earthly pleasures, which darken the Mind and hinder it from enjoying the brightness of Divine light; the proper motion of Religion is still upwards to its first Original. Where­as on the contrary the Souls of wicked men [...], as Plato somewhere speaks, be­ing moistned with the Exudations of their Sensual parts become heavy and sink down into Earthly things, and couch as near as may be to the Centre. Wicked men bury their Souls in their Bodies: all their projects and designes are bounded within the compass of this Earth which they tread upon. The Fleshly mind never minds any thing but Flesh, and never rises above the Outward Matter, but alwaies creeps up and down like Shadows upon the Surface of the Earth: and if it be­gins at any time to make any faint assays upwards, it presently finds it self laden with a weight of Sensuali­ty which draws it down again. It was the Opinion of the Academicks that the Souls of wicked men after their death could not of a long season depart from the Graves and Sepulchers where their Mates were buri­ed; but there wandred up and down in a desolate man­ner, [Page 387] as not being able to leave those Bodies which they were so much wedded to in this life.

2. A Good man, one that is actuated by Religion, lives in converse with his own Reason; he lives at the height of his own Being. This a great Philosopher makes the Property of a Good man, [...]. He knows how to converse with himself, and truly to love and va­lue himself: he measures not himself, like the Epicure, by his inferior and Earthly part, but by an Immortal Essence and that of him which is from above; and so does [...], climbe up to the height of that Immortal principle which is within him. The Stoicks thought no man a fit Auditor of their Ethicks, till he were dispossess'd of that Opinion, That Man was nothing but [...], as professing to teach men how to live only [...], as they speak. Perhaps their Divinity was in some things too rigid; but I am sure a Good man acts the best of this their doctrine in the best sense, and knows better how to reverence himself, without any Self-flattery or admiration, then ever any Stoick did. He principally looks upon himself [...], Simplic. in Epict. as being what he is rather by his Soul then by his Body: he values him­self by his Soul, that Being which hath the greatest af­finity with God; and so does not seek himself in the fading Vanities of this life, nor in those poor and low delights of his Senses, as wicked men doe; but as the Philosopher doth well express it, [...] and when the Soul thus retires into it self, and views its own worth and Excellency, it presently finds a chast and Virgin-love stirr'd up within it self towards it self, and is from within the more excited and obliged [Page 388] [...], as Simplicius speaks, to mind the preserving of its own dignity and glory. To conclude this Particular, A Good man endeavours to walk by Eternal and Unchangeable Rules of Reason; Reason in a Good man sits in the Throne, & governs all the Powers of his Soul in a sweet harmony and agree­ment with it self: whereas Wicked men live only [...], being led up and down by the foolish fires of their own Sensual apprehensions. In wicked men there is a Democracy of wild Lusts and Passions, which violently hurry the Soul up and down with restless mo­tions. All Sin and Wickedness is [...], a Sedition stirred up in the Soul by the Sensitive Powers against Reason. It was one of the great Evils that Solomon saw under the Sun, Servants on horseback, Eccles. 10. and Princes going as servants upon the ground. We may find the Moral of it in every wicked man, whose Souls are only as Servants to wait upon their Senses. In all such men the whole Course of Nature is turned upside down, and the Cardinal points of Motion in this little world are changed to contrary positions: But the Motions of a Good man are Methodical, Regu­lar and Concentrical to Reason. It's a fond imagina­tion that Religion should extinguish Reason; whenas Religion makes it more illustrious and vigorous; and they that live most in the exercise of Religion, shall find their Reason most enlarged. I might adde, that Rea­son in relation to the capacitating of Man for converse with God was thought by some to be the Formal Diffe­rence of Man. Plutarch after a large debate whether Brutes had not Reason in them as well as Man, concludes it negatively upon this ground, Because they had no knowledge and sense of the Deity, [...]. In Tully's account this Capableness of Religion [Page 389] seem'd to be nothing different from Rationality, and therefore he doubts not to give this for the most pro­per Characterism of Reason, That it is Vinculum Dei & Hominis. And so with them (not to name others of the same apprehensions) animal Rationale & animal ca­pax Religionis seem'd to be of the like importance; Rea­son as enabling and fitting Man to converse with God by knowing him and loving him, being a character most un­questionably differencing Man from Brute creatures.

3. A Good man, one that is informed by True Religi­on, lives above himself, and is raised to an intimate Con­verse with the Divinity. He moves in a larger Sphere then his own Being, and cannot be content to enjoy himself, except he may enjoy God too, and himself in God.

This we shall consider two ways.

1. In the Self-denial of Good men; they are con­tent and ready to deny themselves for God. I mean not that they should deny their own Reason, as some would have it; for that were to deny a Beam of Di­vine light, and so to deny God, in stead of denying our selves for him. It is better resolved by some Philo­sophers in this point, that [...] to follow Reason is [...] to follow God; and again, [...]. But by Self-denial I mean, the Soul's quitting all its own interest in it self, and an entire Resignation of it self to him as to all points of service and duty: and thus the Soul loves it self in God, and lives in the possession not so much of its own Being as of the Divinity; desiring only to be great in God, to glory in his Light, and spread it self in his Fulness; to be fill'd alwaies by him, and to empty it self again in­to him; to receive all from him, and to expend all for him; and so to live not as its own, but as God's. The [Page 390] highest ambition of a Good man is to serve the Will of God: he takes no pleasure in himself nor in any thing within himself further then he sees a stamp of God upon it. Whereas wicked men are imprisoned within the narrow circumference of their own Beings, and per­petually frozen into a cold Self-love which binds up all the Innate vigour of their Souls, that it cannot break forth or express it self in any noble way. The Soul in which Religion rules, saies as S. Paul did, I live; and yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. On the contrary, a Wick­ed man swells in his own thoughts, and pleaseth him­self more or less with the imagination of a Self-suffici­ency. The Stoicks, seeing they could not raise them­selves up to God, endeavour to bring down God to their own Model, imagining the Deity to be nothing else but some greater kind of Animal, and a Wise man to be almost one of his Sapiens cum Diis ex pari vi­vit, Deorum so­cius, non sup­plex, Sen. in Ep. 52, & 31. Peers. And this is more or less the Genius of Wicked men, they will be something in themselves, they wrap up themselves in their own Being, move up and down in a Sphere of Self-love, live a professed Independency upon God, and maintain a Meum & Tuum between God and themselves. It's the Character only of a Good man to be able to deny and disown himself, and to make a full surrender of himself unto God; forgetting himself, and minding no­thing but the Will of his Creator; triumphing in no­thing more then in his own Nothingness, and in the All­ness of the Divinity. But indeed this his being No­thing is the only way to be all things; this his having nothing the truest way of possessing all things.

2. As a Good man lives above himself in a way of Self-denial, so he lives also above himself as he lives in the Enjoyment of God: and this is the very Soul and Es­sence of True Religion, to unite the Soul in the nearest [Page 391] intimacy and conjunction with God, who is [...], as Plotinus speaks. Then indeed the Soul lives most nobly, when it feels it self to live and move and have its Being in God; which though the Law of Nature makes the Common condition of all created Being, yet it is only True Religion that can give us a more feeling and comfortable sense of it. God is not present to Wicked men, when his Almigh­ty Essence supports them and maintains them in Being; Plotin. in En. 6. l. 9. c 7. [...], but he is present to him that can touch him, hath an inward feeling know­ledge of God and is intimately united to him; [...], but to him that cannot thus touch him he is not present.

Religion is Life and Spirit, which flowing out from God who is that [...] that hath life in himself, re­turns to him again as into its own Original, carrying the Souls of Good men up with it. The Spirit of Religion is alwaies ascending upwards, and spreading it self through the whole Essence of the Soul, loosens it from a Self-confinement and narrowness, and so renders it more capacious of Divine Enjoyment. God envies not his people any good, but being infinitely bountifull is pleased to impart himself to them in this life, so far as they are capable of his Communications: they stay not for all their happiness till they come to heaven. Religion alwaies carries its reward along with it, and when it acts most vigorously upon the Mind and Spirit of man, it then most of all fills it with an inward sense of Divine sweetness. To conclude, To walk with God is in Scripture made the Character of a Good man, and it's the highest perfection and privilege of Created Na­ture to converse with the Divinity. Whereas on the contrary Wicked men converse with nothing but their [Page 392] Lusts and the Vanities of this fading life, which here flatter them for a while with unhallowed delights and a mere Shadow of Contentment; and when these are gone, they find both Substance and Shadow too to be lost Eternally. But true Goodness brings in a constant re­venue of solid and substantial Satisfaction to the Spirit of a good man, delighting alwaies to sit by those Eter­nal Springs that feed and maintain it: the Spirit of a Good man (as it is well express'd by the Philosopher) [...], & is al­waies drinking in Fountain-Goodness, and fills it self more and more, till it be filled with all the fulness of God.

CHAP. III.

3. The Nobleness of Religion in regard of its Proper­ties, &c. of which this is one, 1. Religion enlarges all the Faculties of the Soul, and begets a true Inge­nuity, Liberty and Amplitude, the most Free and Generous Spirit in the Minds of Good men. The nearer any Being comes to God, the more large & free; the further it slides from God, the more streightned. Sin is the sinking of mans Soul from God into sensual Self­ishness. An account when the most Generous freedom of the Soul is to be taken in its just proportions. How Mechanical and Formal Christians make an Art of Re­ligion, set it such Bounds as may not exceed the scant Measure of their Principles; and then fit their own Notions as so many Examples to it. A Good man finds not his Religion without him, but as a living Princi­ple within him. God's Immutable and Eternal Good­ness the Unchangeable Rule of his Will. Peevish, [Page 393] Self-will'd and Imperious men shape out such Notions of God as are agreeable to this Pattern of themselves. The Truly Religious have better apprehensions of God.

HAving discoursed the Nobleness of Religion in its O­riginal and Nature; we come now to consider the Excellency of Religion in its Properties, its proper Ef­fects and vital Operations. In treating of this Third Particular we shall, (as formerly we have done) without tying our selves precisely to any strict Rules of Art and Method, confound the Notions of Religion in abstra­cto and in concreto together, handling them promiscu­ously. As Religion is a noble thing, 1. in respect of its Original, 2. in respect of its Nature; so also 3. in respect of its Properties and Effects.

The First Propertie and Effect of True Religion 1. whereby it expresseth its own Nobleness is this, That it widens and enlarges all the Faculties of the Soul, and begets a true Ingenuity, Liberty and Amplitude, the most free and Generous Spirit, in the Minds of Good men. Those in whom Religion rules are [...], there is a true Generous Spirit within them, which shews the Noble­ness of their Extraction. The Jewes have a good Maxime to this purpose, [...] Pirke Avoth cap. 6. [...], None truly Noble, but he that applies himself to Religion and a faithfull observance of the Divine Law. Tully could see so much in his Natural Philosophy as made him say, Scientia Naturae ampliat animum, & ad divina attollit: But this is most true of Religion, that in an higher sense it does work the Soul into a true & divine amplitude. There is a living Soul of Religion in Good men which, spreading it self through all their Fa­culties, spirits all the Wheels of motion, and enables them to dilate and extend themselves more fully upon [Page 394] God and all Divine things, without being pinched or streightened within themselves. Whereas wicked men are of most narrow and confined Spirits, they are so con­tracted by the pinching particularities of Earthly and created things, so imprisoned in a dark dungeon of Sen­suality and Selfishness, so streightned through their Car­nal designs and Ends, that they cannot stretch them­selves nor look beyond the Horizon of Time and Sense.

The nearer any Being comes to God, who is that In­finite fullness that fills all in all, the more vast and large and unbounded it is; as the further it slides from him, the more it is streightned & confined; as Plato hath long since concluded concerning the condition of Sen­sual men, that they live [...], like a Shel-fish, and can never move up and down but in their own prison, which they ever carry about with them. Were I to de­fine Sin, I would call it The sinking of a Mans Soul from God into a Sensual Selfishness. All the Freedom that wicked men have, is but (like that of banished men) to wander up and down in the wilderness of this world from one den and cave to another.

The more high and Noble any Being is, so much the deeper radication have all its Innate vertues and Proper­ties within it, and are by so much the more Universal in their issues and actings upon other things: and such an inward living principle of virtue and activity further heightned and united and informed with Light and Truth, we may call Liberty. Of this truly-noble and di­vine Liberty Religion is the Mother and Nurse, leading the Soul to God, and so impregnating that inward vital principle of activity and vigour that is embosom'd in it, that it is able without any inward disturbance and resist­ance from any controlling Lusts to exercise it self, and act with the greatest complacency in the most full and [Page 395] ample manner upon that First, Universal and Un­bounded Essence which is God himself. The most ge­nerous Freedom can never be took in its full and just dimensions and proportion, but then when all the Powers of the Soul exercise and spend themselves in the most large and ample manner upon the Infinite and Essential Goodness, as upon their own most proper Object. If we should ask a Good man, when he finds himself best at ease, when he finds himself most free; his answer would be, When he is under the most pow­erfull constraints of divine Love. There are a sort of Mechanical Christians in the world, that not finding Religion acting like a living form within them, satisfie themselves only to make an Art of it, and rather in­form and actuate it, then are informed by it; and setting it such bounds and limits as may not exceed the short and scant measures of their own home born Principles, then they endeavour to fit the Notions of their own Minds as so many Examples to it: and it being a Cir­cle of their own making, they can either ampliateor con­tract it accordingly as they can force their own Minds and Dispositions to agree and suit with it. But true Religion indeed is no Art, but an inward Nature that conteins all the laws and measures of its motion with­in it self. A Good man finds not his Religion without him, but as a living Principle within him; and all his Faculties are still endeavouring to unite themselves more and more in the nearest intimacy with it as with their proper Perfection. There is that amiableness in Religion, that strong Sympathy between the Soul and it, that it needs carry no Testimonials or Commenda­tions along with it. If it could be supposed that God should plant a Religion in the Soul that had no affinity or alliance with it, it would grow there but as a strange [Page 396] slip. But God when he gives his Laws to men, does not by virtue of his Absolute dominion dictate any thing at randome, and in such an arbitrarious way as some imagine; but he measures all by his own Eternal Good­ness. Had God himself been any thing else then the First and Greatest Good of man, then to have loved him with the full strength of all our Faculties should not have been the First and Greatest Commandment, as our Saviour tells us it is. Some are apt to look upon God as some Peevish and Self-will'd thing, because them­selves are such: and seeing that their own Absolute and naked Wills are for the most part the Rules of all their actions and the impositions which they lay upon o­thers; they think that Heaven's Monarchy is such an arbitrary thing too, as being govern'd by nothing else but by an Almighty Absolute Will. But the Soul that is acquainted most intimately with the Divine Will, would more certainly resolve us, That God's Un­changeable Goodness (which makes the Divinity an Uni­form thing and to settle together upon its own Centre, as I may speak with reverence) is also the Unchangeable Rule of his Will; neither can he any more swerve from it, then he can swerve from himself. Nor does he charge any Duty upon man without consulting first of all with his Goodness: which being the Original and ad­equate Object of a Good man's Will and affections, it must needs be that all the issues and effluxes of it be en­tertain'd with an answerable complacency & chearful­ness. This is the hinge upon which all true Religion turns, the proper Centre about which it moves; which taking a fast & sure hold of an innate and correspondent Principle in the Soul of man, raiseth it up above the con­fines of Mortality, and in the day of its mighty power makes it become a free-will-Offering unto God.

CHAP. IV.

The Second Property discovering the Nobleness of Reli­on, viz. That it restores man to a just power and do­minion over himself, enables him to overcome his Self-will and Passions. Of Self-will, and the many Evils that flow from it. That Religion does nowhere discover its power and prowess so much, as in subdu­ing this dangerous and potent Enemy. The Highest and Noblest Victories are those over our Self-will and Pas­sions. Of Self-denial, and the having power over our Wills; the Happiness and the Privileges of such a State. How that Magnanimity and Puissance which Religion begets in Holy Souls differs from and excells that Gallantry and Puissance which the great Nimrods of this world boast of.

THE Second Property or Effect of Religion, where­by 2. it discovers its own Nobleness (and it is some­what a-kin to the former Particular, and will help fur­ther to illustrate and enforce it) is this, That it restores a Good man to a just power and dominion over himself and his own Will, enables him to overcome himself, his own Self-will and Passions, and to command himself & all his Powers for God. 'Tis only Religion that restores that [...] which the Stoical Philosophy so impotently pretended to; it is this only that enthrones man's de­posed Reason, and establisheth within him a just Em­pire over all those blind Powers and Passions which so impetuously rend a man from the possession and enjoi­ment of himself. Those turbulent and unruly, uncer­tain and unconstant Motions of Passion and Self-will [Page 398] that dwell in degenerate Minds, divide them perpetu­ally from themselves, and are alwaies molding several factions and tumultuous combinations within them a­gainst the dominion of Reason. And the only way to unite man firmly to himself is by uniting him to God, and establishing in him a firm amity and agreement with the First and Primitive Being.

There is nothing in the World so boisterous as a man's own Self-will, which is never guided by any fixt or steddy Rules, but is perpetually hurried to and fro by a blind and furious impetus of Pride and Passions issuing from within it self. This is the true source and Spring of all that Envy, Malice, Bitterness of Spirit, Male­contentedness and Impatiency, of all those black and dark Passions, those inordinate desires and lusts, that reign in the hearts and lives of wicked men. A man's own Self-will throws him out of all true enjoyment of his own Being: therefore it was our Saviours counsell to his disciples, In patience possess your Souls. We may say of that Self-will which is lodg'd in the heart of a wicked man, as the Jews speak of the [...] figmen­tum malum so often mention'd in their Writings, that it is [...], the Prince of death and darkness which is at continual enmity with Heaven, and [...] the filthiness and poison of the Serpent. This is the Seed of the Evil Spirit which is perpetually at enmity with the Seed of God and the Heaven-born Nature: It's design and scope is with a Giant-like pride to climb up into the Throne of the Almighty, and to establish an un­bounded Tyranny in contradiction to the Will of God, which is nothing else but the Issue and Efflux of his E­ternal and Unbounded Goodness. This is the very Heart of the old Adam that is within men. This is the Hellish Spirit of Self-will: it would solely prescribe [Page 399] laws to all things; it would fain be the source and foun­tain of all affaires and events; it would judge all things at its own Tribunal. They in whose Spirits this Prin­ciple rules, would have their own Fancies and Opini­ons, their perverse and boisterous Wills to be the just Square and Measure of all Good and Evil; these are the Plumb-lines they applie to all things to find out their Rectitude or Obliquity. He that will not submit himself to nor comply with the Eternal and Uncreated Will, but in stead of it endeavours to set up his own will, makes himself the most real Idol in the world, and exalts him­self against all that is called God and ought to be wor­shipp'd. To worship a graven Image, or to make cakes & burn incense to the Queen of heaven, is not a worse Ido­latry then it is for a man to set up Self-will, to devote himself to the serving of it, and to give up himself to a complyance with his own will as contrary to the Di­vine and Eternal Will. When God made the World, he did not make it merely for the exercise of his Al­mighty power, and then throw it out of his hands, and leave it alone to subsist by it self as a thing that had no further relation to him: But he derived himself through the whole Creation, so gathering and knitting up all the several pieces of it again; that as the first produ­ction and the continued Subsistence of all things is from himself, so the ultimate resolution and tendency of all things might be to him. Now that which first endea­voured a Divorce between God and his Creation, and to make a Conquest of it, was that Diabolical Arro­gancy and Self-will that crept up and wound it self Ser­pent-like into apostate Minds and Spirits. This is the true strain of that Hellish nature, to live independently of God, and to derive the Principles from another Be­ginning, and carry on the line of all motions and ope­rations [Page 400] to another End, then God himself, by whom and to whom and for whom all things subsist.

From what hath been said concerning this powerful and dangerous Enemy that wars against our Souls and against the Divine Will, may the Excellency and No­ble Spirit of True Religion appear, in that it tames the impetuousness and turbulency of this Self-will. Then indeed does Religion perform the highest and bravest conquests, then does it display the greatness of its strength and the excellency of its power, when it over­comes this great Arimanius, that hath so firmly seated himself in the very Centre of the Soul. Pirke Avoth cap. 4. [...], Who is the man of Courage and Valour? [...], it is he that subdues his Concupiscence, his own Will; it is a Jewish Maxime attributed to Ben Zoma, and a most undoubted truth. This was the grand Lesson that our great Lord & Master came to teach us, viz. To deny our own Wils; neither was there any thing that he endeavor'd more to promote by his own Example, as he tells us of himself, John 6. 38. I came down from heaven, not to doe mine own will, but the will of him that sent me; and again, Lo, I Psalm 40. Hebrews 10. come (in the volume of the Book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God, yea thy Law is within my heart: and in his greatest agonies, with a clear and chearful submissi­on to the Divine will, he often repeats it, Not my will, Luke 22. Mark 14. 36. but thy will be done: and so he hath taught us to pray and so to live. This indeed is the true life and spirit of Religion, this is Religion in its Meridian altitude, its just dimensions. A true Christian that hath power over his own Will, may live nobly and happily, and enjoy a perpetually-clear heaven within the Serenity of his own Mind. When the Sea of this World is most rough and tempestuous about him, then can he ride safely at Anchor within the haven, by a sweet comply­ance [Page 401] of his will with God's Will. He can look about him, and with an even and indifferent Mind behold the World either to smile or frown upon him; neither will he abate of the least of his Contentment, for all the ill and unkind usage he meets withall in this life. He that hath got the Mastery over his own Will, feels no violence from without, finds no contests within; and like a strong man, keeping his house, he preserves all his Goods in safety: and when God calls for him out of this state of Mortality, he finds in himself a power to lay down his own life; neither is it so much taken from him, as quietly and freely surrendred up by him. This is the highest piece of prowess, the noblest atchievement, by which a man becomes Lord over him­self, and the Master of his own Thoughts, Motions and Purposes. This is the Royal prerogative, the high dignity conferred upon Good men by our Lord and Sa­viour, whereby they overcoming this both His and their Enemy, their Self-will and Passions, are enabled to sit down with him in his Throne, as he overcoming in another way, is set down with his Father in his Throne; as the phrase is Revelat. 3.

Religion begets the most Heroick, Free and Gene­rous motions in the Minds of Good men. There is no where so much of a truly Magnanimous and raised Spi­rit as in those who are best acquainted with the power of Religion. Other men are Slaves and Captives to one Vanity or other: but the truly Religious is above them all, and able to command himself and all his Powers for God. That bravery and gallantness which seems to be in the great Nimrods of this world is no­thing else but the swelling of their own unbounded pride and vain-glory. It hath been observed of the greatest Monarchs of the world, that in the midst of [Page 402] their Triumphs they themselves have been led Captives to one Vice or another. All the Gallantry and Puissance which the Bravest Spirits of the world boast of, is but a poor confined thing, and extends it self only to some Particular Cases and Circumstances: But the Valour and Puissance of a Soul impregnated by Religion hath in a sort an Universal Extent, as S. Paul speaks of himself, I can doe all things through Christ which strengtheneth me; it is not determined to this or that Particular Object or Time or Place, but [...] all things whatsoever belong to a Creature fall under the level thereof. Religion is by S. Paul described to be [...] the Spirit of power in opposition to the Spirit of fear, 2 Tim. 1. as all Sin is by Simplicius wel de­scribed to be [...] impotency & weakness. Sin by its deadly infusions into the Soul of man wasts and eats out the innate vigour of the Soul, and casts it into such a deep Lethargy, as that it is not able to recover it self: But Religion, like that Balsamum vitae, being once con­veighed into the Soul, awakens and enlivens it, and makes it renew its strength like an Eagle, and mount strongly upwards towards Heaven; and so uniting the Soul to God, the Centre of life and strength, it ren­ders it undaunted and invincible. Who can tell the in­ward life and vigour that the Soul may be fill'd with, when once it is in conjunction with an Almighty Es­sence? There is a latent and hidden virtue in the Soul of man which then begins to discover it self when the Divine Spirit spreads forth its influences upon it. Eve­ry thing the more Spiritual it is, and the higher and no­bler it is in its Being, the more active and vigorous it is; as the more any thing falls and sinks into Matter, the more dull and sluggish & unwieldy it is. The Plato­nists were wont to call all things that participated most [Page 403] of Matter [...] Now nothing doth more pu­rifie, more sublimate and exalt the Soul then Religion, when the Soul suffers God to sit within it as a refiner and purifier of Silver, and when it abides the day of his co­ming; for he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers sope, Mal. 3. Thus the Soul being purified and spiritualliz'd, and changed more and more into the glorious Image of God, is able to doe all things, out of weakness is made strong, gives proof of its Divine vigour and activity, and shews it self to be a Noble and Puissant Spirit, such as God did at first create it.

CHAP. V.

The Third Property or Effect discovering the Nobleness of Religion, viz. That it directs and enables a man to propound to himself the Best End, viz. The Glo­ry of God, and his own becoming like unto God. Low and Particular Ends and Interests both debase and streighten a mans Spirit: The Universal, Highest and Last End both ennobles and enlarges it. A man is such as the End is he aims at. The great power the End hath to mold and fashion man into its likeness. Religion ob­liges a man (not to seek himself, nor to drive a trade for himself; but) to seek the Glory of God, to live wholy to him; and guides him steddily and uniform­ly to the One Chief Good and Last End. Men are prone to flatter themselves with a pretended aiming at the Glory of God. A more full and distinct explication of what is meant by a mans directing all his actions to the Glory of God. What it is truly and really to glorifie God. God's seeking his Glory in respect of us is the [Page 404] flowing forth of his Goodness upon us: Our seeking the Glory of God is our endeavouring to partake more of God, and to resemble him (as much as we can) in true Holiness and every Divine Vertue. That we are not nicely to distinguish between the Glory of God and our own Salvation. That Salvation is nothing else for the main but a true Participation of the Divine Nature. To love God above our selves, is not to love him above the Salvation of our Souls; but above our particular Beings and above our sinfull affections, &c. The Dif­ference between Things that are Good relatively, and those that are Good absolutely and Essentially: That in our conformity to these God is most glorified, and we are made most Happy.

THE Third Property or Effect whereby Religion discovers its own Excellency, is this, That it di­rects 3. and enables a man to propound to himself the Best End and Scope of life, viz. The Glory of God the Highest Being, and his own assimilation or becoming like unto God.

That Christian in whom Religion rules powerfully, is not so low in his ambitions as to pursue any of the things of this world as his Ultimate End: his Soul is too big for earthly designes and interests; but under­standing himself to come from God, he is continually returning to him again. It is not worth the while for the Mind of Man to pursue any Perfection lower then its own, or to aim at any End more ignoble then it self is. There is nothing that more streightens and confines the free-born Soul then the particularity, indigency and penury of that End which it pursues: when it complies most of all with this lower world, [...], as is well observed by an ex­cellent [Page 405] Philosopher, the true Nobleness and Freedome of it is then most disputable, and the Title it holds to true Liberty becomes most litigious. It never more slides and degenerates from it self, then when it becomes enthrall'd to some Particular interest: as on the other side it never acts more freely or fully, then when it extends it self upon the most Universal End. Every thing is so much the more Noble, quò longiores habet fines, as was well observ'd by Tully. As low Ends debase a mans spirit, supplant & rob it of its birth-right; so the Highest and Last End raises and ennobles it, and enlarges it into a more Universal and comprehensive Capacity of enjoying that one Unbounded Goodness which is God himself: it makes it spread and dilate it self in the Infinite Sphere of the Divine Being and Blessedness, it makes it live in the Fulness of Him that fills all in all.

Every thing is most properly such as the End is which is aim'd at: the Mind of man is alwaies shaping it self into a conformity as much as may be to that which is his End; and the nearer it draws to it in the atchievement thereof, the greater likeness it bears to it. There is a Plastick Virtue, a Secret Energy issu­ing forth from that which the Mind propounds to it­self as its End, to mold and fashion it according to its own Model. The Soul is alwaies stamp'd with the same Characters that are engraven upon the End it aims at; and while it converses with it, and sets it self before it, it is turned as Wax to the Seal, to use that phrase in Job. Man's Soul conceives all its Thoughts and Imaginations before his End, as Laban's Ewes did Genesis 30. their young before the Rods in the watering troughs. He that pursues any worldly interest or earthly thing as his End, becomes himself also [...] Earthly: & the more [Page 406] the Soul directs it self to God, the more it becomes [...] God-like, deriving a print of that glory and beauty upon it self which it converseth with, as it is excellently set forth by the Apostle, But we all with 2 Corinth. 3. open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory. That Spirit of Ambition and Popularity that so violent­ly transports the Minds of men into a pursuit of Vain-glory, makes them as vain as that Popular air they live upon: the Spirit of this world that draws forth a mans designes after worldly interests, makes him as unstable, unconstant, tumultuous and perplex'd a thing as the world is. On the contrary, the Spirit of true Religion steering and directing the Mind and Life to God, makes it an Uniform, Stable and quiet thing, as God himself is: it is only true Goodness in the Soul of man guiding it steddily and uniformly towards God, directing it and all its actions to the one Last End and Chief Good, that can give it a true consistency and composedness within it self.

All Self-seeking and Self-love do but imprison the Soul, and confine it to its own home: the Mind of a Good man is too Noble, too Big for such a Particular life; he hath learn'd to despise his own Being in com­parison of that Uncreated Beauty and Goodness which is so infinitely transcendent to himself or any created thing; he reckons upon his choice and best affections and designes as too choice and precious a treasure to be spent upon such a poor sorry thing as himself, or upon any thing else but God himself.

This was the life of Christ, and is in some degree the life of every one that partakes of the Spirit of Christ. Such Christians seek not their own glory, but the glory of him that sent them into this world: [Page 407] they know they were brought forth into this world, not to set up or drive a trade for themselves, but to serve the will & pleasure of him that made them, & to finish that work he hath appointed them. It were not worth the while to have been born or to live, had it been only for such a penurious End as our selves are: it is most God-like and best suits with the Spirit of Reli­gion, for a Christian to live wholy to God, to live the life of God, having his own life hid with Christ in God; and thus in a sober sense he becomes Deified. This in­deed is such a [...] Deification as is not transacted merely upon the Stage of Fancy by Arrogance and Presumption, but in the highest Powers of the Soul by a living and quickning Spirit of true Religion there uniting God and the Soul together in the Unity of Af­fections, Will and End.

I should now pass from this to another Particular; but because many are apt to misapprehend the Notion of God's glory, and flatter themselves with their pre­tended and imaginary aiming at the Glory of God, I think it may be of good use, a little further and more di­stinctly to unfold the Designe that a Religious mind drives on in directing it self and all its actions to God. We are therefore to consider, that this doth not consist in some Transient thoughts of God and his Glory as the End we propound to our selves in any Undertakings: a man does not direct all his actions to the Glory of God by forming a Conception in his Mind, or stirring up a strong Imagination upon any Action, That that must be for the Glory of God: it is not the thinking of God's glory that is glorifying of him. As all other parts of Religion may be apishly acted over by Fancy and Imagi­nation, so also may the Internal parts of Religion ma­ny times be acted over with much seeming grace by [Page 408] our Fancy and Passions; these often love to be drawing the pictures of Religion, and use their best arts to ren­der them more beautifull and pleasing. But though true Practical Religion derives its force and beauty through all the Lower Powers of a mans Soul, yet it hath not its rise nor throne there: as Religion consists not in a Form of Words which signifie nothing, so neither doth it consist in a Set of Fancies or Internal apprehen­sions. Our Joh. 15. 8. Herein is my Father glorifi­ed, that ye bear much fruit. Saviour hath best taught what it is to live to God's glory, or to glorifie God, viz. to be fruitfull in all holiness, and to live so as that our lives may shine with his grace spreading it self through our whole man.

We rather glorifie God by entertaining the Impressi­ons of his Glory upon us, then by communicating any kind of Glory to him. Then does a Good man become the Tabernacle of God wherein the Divine Shechinah does rest, and which the Divine glory fills, when the frame of his Mind and Life is wholy according to that Idea and As it is said of the Material Tabernacle, Exodus 25. Pattern which he receives from the Mount. We best glorifie him when we grow most like to him: and we then act most for his glory, when a true Spirit of Sanctity, Justice, Meekness, &c. runs through all our actions; when we so live in the World as becomes those that converse with the great Mind and Wisdom of the whole World, with that Almighty Spirit that made, supports and governs all things, with that Be­ing from whence all good flows, and in which there is no Spot, Stain or Shadow of Evil; and so being cap­tivated and overcome by the sense of the Divine love­liness and goodness, endeavour to be like him, and con­form our selves as much as may be to him.

When God seeks his own Glory, he does not so much endeavour any thing without himself. He did not bring [Page 409] this stately fabrick of the Universe into Being, that he might for such a Monument of his mighty Power and Beneficence gain some Panegyricks or Applause from a little of that fading breath which he had made. Nei­ther was that gracious contrivance of restoring lapsed men to himself a Plot to get himself some Eternal Hallelujahs, as if he had so ardently thirsted after the layes of glorified spirits, or desired a Quire of Souls to sing forth his praises. Neither was it to let the World see how Magnificent he was. No, it is his own Internal Glory that he most loves, and the Communication thereof which he seeks: as Plato sometimes speaks of the Divine love, it arises not out of Indigency, as cre­ated love does, but out of Fulness and Redundancy; it is an overflowing fountain, and that love which de­scends upon created Being is a free Efflux from the Al­mighty Source of love: and it is well pleasing to him that those Creatures which he hath made should par­take of it. Though God cannot seek his own Glory so as if he might acquire any addition to himself, yet he may seek it so as to communicate it out of himself. It was a good Maxim