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world, and every part thereof; and yet how little more miserable than the vegetatives and brutes? is God known? All men may easily know that Neither they nor I do grieve that my flowers there is a God, who is almighty, omniscient, must fade and die, and that my sweet and pleagoodness itself, eternal, omnipresent, the maker, sant fruits must fall, and the trees be unclothed preserver, and governor of all, who should have of their beauteous leaves, until the spring. Birds, our whole trust, love, and obedience ; and yet beasts, fishes, and worms, have all a self-preservhow little of this knowledge is to be perceived ing fear of death, which urges them to iy from in men's hearts to themselves, or in their lives danger. But few, if any of them, have a torto others ? All men know that the world is menting fear arising from the fore-thoughts that vanity, that men must die, that riches then profit they must die. To the body, death is less not, that time is precious, and that we have only troublesome than sleep; for in sleep I may have this little time to prepare for that which we must disquieting pains or dreams ; and yet I fear not receive hereafter; and yet how little do men going to my bed. But of this before. seem to know, indeed, of all such things as no If it be the misery after death that is feared, man doubts of ? When God doth come in with what have I now to do, but to receive the free his powerful awakening light and love, then all reconciling grace that is offered me from heaven, these things have another appearance of affecting to save me from such misery, and to devote myreality, than they had before ; as if but now we self totally to him, who hath promised, that those began to know them : words, doctrines, persons, who come to him he will in no wise cast out. things, seem as newly known to us.
But this comes by my selfishness. Had I All my best reasons for our immortality and studied my duty, and then remembered that I future life, are but as the new-formed body of am not mine own, and that it is God's part, and Adam before God breathed into him the breath not mine, to determine of the duration of my of life : it is he that must make them living rea- life, I had been quiet from these fruitless fears. sons. To the Father of lights therefore I must But when I fell to myself from God, I am fallen still look up, and for his light and love I must to care for myself, as if it were my work to meastill wait ; as for his blessing on the food which sure out my days, and now I trust not God, as I have eaten, which must concoct it into my I should do with his own. Had my resignation living substance. Arguments will be but undi- and devotedness to him been more absolute, my gested food, till God's effectual influx do digest trust in him would have been more easy. But, them. I must learn both as a student and a Lord, thou knowest that I would fain be thine, beggar. When I have thought and thought a and wholly thine ; and it is to thee that I desire thousand times, I must beg thy blessing, Lord, to live. Therefore let me quietly die to thee, upon my thoughts, or they will all be but dulness and wholly trust thee with my soul. or self-distraction. If there be no motion, light, II. Why should my want of formal concepand life here without the influx of the sun, what tions of the future state of separated souls, and can souls do, or receive, or feel, without thy in my strangeness to the manner of their subsisAux? This world will be to us, without thy tence and operations, induce me to doubt of those grace, as a grave or dungeon, where we shall lie generals, which are evident, and beyond all rain death and darkness. The eye of my under- tional doubting ? That souls are substances, standing, and all its thoughts, will be useless or and not annihilated, and essentially the same vexatious to me, without thine illuminating beams. when they forsake the body as before, I doubt O shine the soul of thy servant into a clearer not. Otherwise neither the Christians' resurknowledge of thyself and kingdom, and love him rection, nor the Pythagoreans' transmigration, into more divine and heavenly love, and then he were a possible thing. For if the soul cease will willingly coine to thee!
to be, it cannot pass into another body, nor I. Why should I strive by the fears of death, can it re-enter into this. If God raise this against the common course of nature, and against body, then it must be by another soul : for the my only hopes of happiness ? Is it not appointed same soul to be annihilated, and yet to begin for all men once to die? Would I have God to again to be, is a contradiction. For the second alter this determinate course, and make sinful beginning would be by creation, which makes man immortal upon earth ? When we are sinless a new soul, and not the same that was before. we shall be immortal. The love of life was given It is the invisible things that are excellent, acto teach me to preserve it carefully, and use it tive, operative, and permanent: the visible, ex. well
, and not to torment me with the continual cepting light which makes all things else visible, troubling foresight of death. Shall I make myself are of themselves but lifeless dross. It is the unseen part of plants and flowers which causes all the right ? If virtue and piety are faults or their growth and beauty, their fruit and sweet- follies, and brutish sensuality be best, then why ness. Passive matter is but moved up and down are not laws made to command sensuality, and by the invisible active powers, as chess-men are forbid piety and virtue ? To say this, is to deny moved from place to place by the gamester's humanity, and the wisdom of our Creator, and hands. What a lothesome corpse were the world to feign the world to be governed by a lie, and without the invisible spirits and natures that to take the perfection of our nature for its disanimate, actuate, or move it? To doubt of the ease, and our greatest disease for our perfection. being or continuation of the most excellent spi- But if piety and virtue be better than impiety ritual parts of the creation, when we live in a and vice, the principles and necessary motives world that is actuated by them, and where every of them are certainly true, and the exercise of thing demonstrates them, as their effects, is more them is not in vain. What abominable folly foolish than to doubt of the being of these gross and wickedness were it to say that the wicked materials which we see.
only attain their ends, and that they all lose How often have I been convinced that there are their labour, and live and die in miserable degood spirits with whom our souls have as certain ceit, who seek to please God in hope of a better communion, though not so sensible, as our life life to come, believing that God is the rewarder hath with the sun, and as we have with one of them that diligently seek him? Would not another ? That there are evil and envious spirits this justify the foolish Manichees that thought a that fight against our holiness and peace, the bad God made this world ; yea, and would infer authority of the scriptures, and too sad experi- that he not only made us for a mischief, but ence of temptations, do surely evince. The mar- rules us to our deceit and hurt, and gives us both vellous diversity of creatures on earth, for kind natural and supernatural laws, in ill will to us, and number ; yea, the diversity of stars in hea- to mislead us to our misery, and to fill our lives ven, as well as the diversities of angels and de- with needless troubles ? Shall I not abhor
every vils, partly tell me, that though all be of one, suggestion that contains such inhuman absurdiand through one, and to one, yet absolute unity ties as these? Wonderful! that Satan can keep is the divine prerogative, and we must not pre- up so much unbelief in the world, while he must sume to expect such perfection as to lose our make men such fools, that he may make them specific or numerical diversity, by any union unbelievers and ungodly. which shall befall our souls. Nor can I reason- That my soul is no more heavenly, and my ably doubt that so noble and active a nature as foretaste of future blessedness is so small, is souls, dwelling above in the lucid regions, in partly the fruit of those many wilful sins by communion with their like, and with their bet- which I have quenched the Spirit that should be ters, shall be without the activity, the pleasure my comforter. It is partly from our common and felicity which is suitable to their nature, state of darkness and strangeness, while the soul their region, and their company. My Saviour is in flesh, and operates as the body forms, achath entered into the holiest, and hath assured cording to its interest and capacity. Affections me that there are many mansions in his Father's are more easily stirred up to things seen, than house, and that when we are absent from the to things that are both unseen, and known only body, we shall be present with the Lord. very defectively, by general, and not by clear,
Organical sight is given me for my use here distinct apprehensions. And yet this, O this is in the body; a serpent or hawk hath as much the misery and burden of my soul! Though I or more of this than I have. Mental knowledge can say that I love God's truth and graces, his reaches further than sight, and is the act of a work, and his servants, and whatever of God I nobler faculty, and for a higher use. Though it see in the world, and that this is a love of God be the soul itself embodied in the spirits that in his creatures, word, and works; yet that I sees, yet it is by a higher and more useful fa- have no more desiring and delightful love of culty that it understands. Faith is not an under- heaven, where his loveliness will be more fully standing act: it knows things unseen because opened to my soul, and that the thoughts of my they are revealed. Who can think that all be- speedy appearing there are no more joyful to lieving, holy souls, that have passed hence from me than they are, is my sin, and my calamity, the beginning of the world, have been deceived and my shame: and if I did not see that it is so in their faith and hope ? That all the wicked with other of the servants of Christ, as well as worldly infidels, whose hope was only in this with me, I should doubt whether affections so dislife, have been the wisest men, and have been in proportionable to my profession, did not siguify unsoundness in my belief. It is strange and or print of God's creation ; not so much as an shaineful, that one that expects quickly to see ant hillock to a kingdom, or perhaps to all the the glorious world, and to enter the holy, celes - earth ; and who is scandalized because the world tial society, should be no more joyfully affected hath an heap of ants in it, yea, or a nest of snakes with these hopes ; and that I should make any that are not men ? The vast unmeasurable great matter of the pain, languishing, and perish- worlds of light which are above us, are possessed ing of the flesh, when it is the common way to by inhabitants suitable to their glory. A casesuch an end. O hateful sin ! that hath so dark-ment or crevice of light, or a candle, in this ened and corrupted souls, as to estrange and in- darksome world, is an unspeakable mercy ; yea, dispose them to the only state of their hoped that we may hear of a better world, and may happiness. Alas, what did man when he forsook seek it in hope. We must not grudge that in the love and obedience of his God ? How just our prison we have not that presence of our king, it is that this flesh and world should become our and pleasures of the kingdoin, as innocent and prison, which we would make our home, and free subjects have. Hope of pardon, and a speedy would not use as our Lord appointed us, as our deliverance, are great mercies to malefactors. servant and way to our better state. Though If my want of the knowledge and love of God, our way must not be our home, our Father would and joyful communion with the heavenly society, not have been so strange to us in the way if we be my prison, and as the suburbs of hell, should had not unthankfully turned away from his grace it not make me long for the day of my redempand love.
tion, and the glorious liberty of the sons of God? It is to us that know not the mysteries of in- My true desires of deliverance, and of boliness finite wisdom, the saddest thought that ever pos- and perfection, are my evidences that I shall sessed our minds, to consider that there is no obtain them. As the will is the sinner, so it is more grace and holiness, knowledge of God, and the obstinate continuance of a will to sin which communion with him in this world. That so few is the bondage, and the cause of continued sin ; are saints, and those few so lamentably defective and a continued hell is continued sin, as to the and imperfect. That when the sun shines on first part at least. Therefore they that continue all the earth, the Sun of righteousness shines on in hell, continue in a sinning will, and so con50 small a part of it, and so few live in the love tinue in a love and willingness of so much of hell. of God, and the joyful hopes of future blessed- So far as God makes us willing to be delivered ness ; and those few have so low a measure of it, from sin, so far we are delivered ; and our initial and are corrupted and troubled with so many imperfect deliverance is the way to more. If contrary affections. Infinite goodness is not in- pains then make me groan for ease, and sickness disposed to do good: he that made us capable make me wish for health, why should not my of holy and heavenly affections, gave us not that remnants of ignorance, unbelief, and strangeness capacity in vain. Yet, alas, how little of God to God, occasion me to long for the day of my and glory takes up the hearts of men !
salvation ? This is the greatest of all my troubles: But man hath no cause to grudge at God: the and should it not then be the greatest burden devils before their fall were not made indefec- from which I should earnestly desire to be eased? tible. Divine wisdom is delighted in the diver- As grace never doth hurt efficiently, and yet sity of his works, and makes them not all of equal may be ill used, and do hurt objectively, (as to excellency. Free-will was to act its part : hell them that are proud of it) so sin never doth good is not to be as good as heaven ; and sin hath efficiently, and of itself, and yet objectively may made earth to be next to hell : so much sin, so do good: for sin may be the object of grace, and much hell. What is sin but a wilful forsaking so to use it is not sin. My unbelief, darkness, of God? Can we forsake him, and yet love disaffection, and inordinate love of this life, him and enjoy his love: God's kingdom is not do of themselves most hinder my desires of to be judged of by his jail or gibbets. We wil deliverance, and of a better life; bat objectively fully forsook the light, and made the world a what more fit to make me weary of such a dungeon to ourselves; and when recovering grievous state? Were my unbelief, and earthly light doth shine unto us, how unthankfully do we mind, predominant, they would chain my afusually entertain it ? We cannot have the con- fections to this world; or if I were constrainduct and comfort of it while we shut our eyes edly weary of a miserable life, I should have and turn away. What though God give not all no comfortable hopes of a better. But as it men an overcoming measure, nor to the best so is the nature of my sin to draw down my much as they desire ? The earth is but a spot heart from God and glory, it is the nature of my faith, hope, and love to carry it upward, and | For to serve thee, is but to receive thy grace, to desire the heavenly perfection : not to love and to use it for my own, and others' good, and death, but to love that which is beyond it. Have so to glorify thee, and please thy will, which I been so many years in the school of Christ, being love itself, is best pleased when we receive learning both how to live and die, begging and and do most good. studying for this grace, and exercising it against • I have not loved thee as infinite goodness, this sinful flesh, and shall I now, after all, find love itself, and fatherly bounty, should have been flesh more powerful to draw me downward, than loved ; but yet I would not forsake thy family: faith, hope, and love, to carry my desires up to nothing in this world is more my grief, than that God?
I love thee no more ; forsake not then a sinner "O God, forbid ! O thou that freely gavest me that would not forsake thee, that looks every thy grace, maintain it to the last against its hour towards thee, that feels it as a piece of hell enemies, and make it finally victorious ! It came to be so dark and strange unto thee, that gropes, from thee; it hath been preserved by thee ; it is groans, and presses after thee; feeling, to his on thy side, and wholly for thee? O let it not greatest sorrow, though thou art every where, now fail, and be conquered by blind and base that while he is present in the body, he is absent carnality, or by the temptations of a hellish con- from the Lord. My Lord, I have nothing to do quered enemy; without it I had lived as a beast, in this world, but to seek and serve thee ; I have and without it I should die more miserably than nothing to do with a heart and its affections, but a beast : it is thine image which thou lovest ; it to breathe after thee ; I have nothing to do with is a divine nature, and heavenly beam ; what will my tongue and pen, but to speak to thee, and a soul be without it, but a dungeon of darkness, for thee, and to publish thy glory and thy will: a devil for malignity, and dead to holiness and what have I to do with all my reputation, and heaven ? Without it, who shall plead thy cause interest in my friends, but to increase thy against the devil, world, and flesh? Without church, and propagate thy holy truth and serthy glory, earth is but earth : without thy natural vice? What have I to do with my remaining efficacy it would be nothing : without thy wise time, even these last and languishing hours, but and potent ordination it would be but a chaos: to look up unto thee, and wait for thy grace, without thy grace it would be a hell. O rather and thy salvation ? O pardon all my carnal deny me the light of the sun, than the light of thoughts, and all my unthankful neglects of thy thy countenance ! Less miserable had I been precious grace, and love, and all my wilful sin without life or being, than without thy grace. against thy truth and thee? Let the fuller comWithout thee, and my Saviour's help, I can do munications of thy forfeited grace, now tell me nothing ; I did not live without thee; I could by experience that thou dost forgive me: even not pray or learn without thee; I never could under the terrible law thou didst tell man thy conquer a temptation without thee. Can I die, very nature, by proclaiming thy name,
“ The or be prepared to die, without thee? Alas! I Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, shall but say as Philip of Christ, I know not long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and whither my soul is going, and how then shall I truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving know the way ? My Lord, having “ loved his iniquity, transgression, and sin.” Is not the own in the world, did love them to the end." grace of our Lord Jesus Christ revealed in the Thou lovest fidelity and perseverance in thy gospel for our more abundant faith and consolaservants, even those that in his sufferings forsook tion? My God, I know, as I cannot love thee him and fled, yet are commended and rewarded according to thy loveliness, so I cannot trust by Christ, for continuing with him in his temp- thee according to thy faithfulness. I can never tations. Wilt thou forsake a sinner in his ex- be sufficiently confident of thy all-sufficient tremity, who consents to thy covenant, and would power, thy wisdom, and thy goodness. When not forsake thee? My God, I have often sinned I have said, “ Will the Lord cast off for ever? against thee, but yet thou knowest I would de- Will he be favourable no more? Is his mercy sire to be thine. I have not served thee with the clean gone for ever? Doth his promise fail to resolution, fidelity, and delight, as such a master generations ? Hath God forgotten to be grashould have been served, but yet I would not cious ? Hath he in anger shut up his tender forsake thy service, nor change my master or mercies ?” conscience hath replied, that this is my work ; I can say with thy servant Paul, that my infirmity: I never wanted comfort because thou art the God “whose I am, and whom I thou wantedst mercy, but because I wanted faith serve;" and O that I could serve thee better!) and fitness to receive it and perceive it. But hast thou not mercy also to give me, even that suitable to their present state and use. When fitness, and that faith? My God, all is of thee, thou art possessed of a better state, thou shalt and through thee, and all is to thee, and when I know it as a possessor ought to do. For such a have the felicity, the glory of all for ever will be knowledge as thou lookest after, is part of the posthine. None that trusts in thee, according to session ; and to long, to know, and love in clearthy nature and promise, shall be ashamed. If I ness and perfection, is to long to possess. It is thy can live and die in trusting in thee, surely I shall Saviour, and his glorified ones, that are comprenot be confounded.'*
hensors and possessors: and it is his knowledge Why then should it seem a difficult question, which must now be most of thy satisfaction. To how I may willingly leave this world, and my seek his prerogative to thyself, is vain, usurping soul depart to Christ in peace ? The same grace arrogance ; wouldst thou be a God and Saviour which regenerated me, must bring me to my to thyself? O consider how much of the fall is desired end, as the same principle of vegetation in this selfish care and desire to be as God, in which causes the end, must bring the fruit to knowing that of good and evil which belongs pot sweet maturity. I. Believe and trust thy Father, to thee, but to God, to know. Thou knowest, thy Saviour, and thy Comforter. II. Hope for past doubt, that there is a God of infinite perthe joyful entertainments of his love, and for the fection, who is the rewarder of them that diliblessed state which he hath promised. III. And gently seek him. Labour more to know thy long by love for nearer union and communion duty to this God, and absolutely trust him as to with him: and thus, O my soul, thou mayest the particularities of thy felicity and reward. depart in peace.
Thou didst trust thy parents to provide thee 1. How sure is the promise of God! How food and raiment, when thou didst but dutifully suitable to his love, and to the nature of our obey them: though they could have forsaken souls, and to the operations of every grace! It thee or killed thee every hour, thou didst never is initially performed here, whilst our desires are fear it. Thou hast trusted physicians to give turned towards him, and the heavenly seed and thee even ungrateful medicines, without inquirspark is here ingenerated in a soul that was dead, ing after every ingredient, or fearing lest thev and dark, and disaffected. Is it any strange should wilfully give thee poison. I trust a barber thing for fire to ascend ? Yea, or the fiery prin- with my throat. I trust a boat-man or ship-master ciple of vegetation in a tree, to carry up the with my life : yea, my horse that might cast me: earthy matter to a great height? Is it strange because I have no reason to distrust them, (savthat rivers should hasten to the sea ? Whithering their insufficiency and uncertainty as creashould spirits go but to the region or world of tures.) If a pilot undertake to bring thee to the spirits ? And whither should Christ's members, Indies, thou canst trust his conduct, though thou and holy spirits go, but to himself, and the hea- know thyself neither the ship, nor how to govern venly society? Is not that a more holy and it, neither the way, nor the place to which thou glorious place and state, than this below ? Earth art conveyed. Must not thy God and Saviour is between heaven and hell ; a place of gross and be trusted to bring thee safe to heaven, unless passive matter, where spirits may indeed operate he will satisfy all thy inquiries of the individuupon that which needs them, and where they ality and operation of spirits ? Leave unsearchmay be detained a while in such operation, or able and useless questions to him that can easily as incorporated forms, if not incarcerated delin- resolve them, and to those to whom the knowquents; but it is not their centre, end, or home. ledge of them doth belong. Even sight and reason might persuade me, that Thou dost but entangle thyself in sin and all the noble invisible powers that operate on self-vexation, while thou wouldst take God's this lower world, principally belong unto work upon thee, and wouldst know that for thy. higher; and what can earth add to their essence, self, which he must know for thee. Thy knowdignity, or perfection ?
ledge and care for it did not precede nor prepare But why, O my soul, art thou so vainly solici- for thy generation, nor for the motion of one tous to have formal
, clear, distinct conceptions pulse or breath, or for the concoction of one of the celestial world, and the individuality, and bit of all thy food, or the continuance of thy life operations of separated souls, any more than of one hour ; supposing but thy care to use the the angels ? While thou art the formal principle means which God appointed thee, and to avoid of an animated body, thy conceptions must be things hurtful, and to beg his blessing. The * There is a noble pathos, eloquence, and majesty, in the above apos.
command of being careful for nothing, and trophe. There is a vast deal of soul thrown into it.--Ed.
casting all thy care on God, who cares for us,