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know, even as I am known; not as God knoweth us:" for our knowledge and his must not be so comparatively likened; but as holy spirits know us both now and for ever, we shall both know and be known by immediate intuition.
If a physician be to describe the parts of a man, and the latent diseases of his patient, he is fain to search hard, and bestow many thoughts of it, besides his long reading and converse, to make him capable of knowing: and when all is done, he goeth much upon conjectures, and his knowledge is mixed with many uncertainties, yea, and mistakes; but when he openeth the corpse, he seeth all, and his knowledge is more full, more true, and more certain ; besides that, it is easily and quickly attained, even by a present look. A countryman knoweth the town, the fields, and rivers, where he dwelleth, yea, and the plants and animals, with ease and certain clearness, when he that must know the same things by the study of geographical writings and tables, must know them but with a general, an unsatisfactory, and oft a much mistaking kind of knowledge. Alas! when our present knowledge hath cost a man the study of forty, or fifty, or sixty years, how lean and poor, how doubtful and unsatisfactory is it after all! But when God will show us himself, and all things, and when heaven is known as the sun by its own light, this will be the clear, sure, and satisfactory knowledge: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God;” (Matt. v.;).“ And without holiness none can see him.” (Heb. xii. 14.) This sight will be worthy the name of wisdom, when our present glimpse is but philosophy, a love and desire of wisdom. So far should we be from fearing death, through the fear of losing our knowledge, or any of the means of knowledge, that it should make us rather long for the world of glorious light, that we might get out of this darkness, and know all that with an easy look, to our joy and satisfaction, which here we know with troublesome doubtings, or not at all. Shall we be afraid of darkness in the heavenly light, or of ignorance, when we see the Lord of glory?
Sect. 6. And as for the loss of sermons, books, and other means, surely it is no loss to cease the means when we have attained the end. Cannot we spare our winter clothes, as troublesome, in the heat of summer, and sit by the hot fire without our gloves? Cannot we sit at home without a horse or a coach, or set them by at our journey's end? Cannot we lie in bed without boots and spurs ? Is it grievous to us to cease our
physic when we are well. Even here, he is happier that hath least of the creature, and needeth least, than he that hath much and needeth much; because all creature commodities and helps have also their discommodities and troublesomeness; and the very applying and using so many remedies of our want is tedious of itself: and as God only needeth nothing, but is selfsufficient, and therefore only perfectly and essentially happy, so those are likest God that need least from without, and have the greatest plenitude of internal goodness. What need we to preach, hear, read, pray, to bring us to heaven, when we are there?
Sect. 7. And as for our friends, and our converse with them, as relations, or as wise, religious, and faithful to us, he that believeth not that there are far more, and far better, in heaven, than are on earth, doth not believe, as he ought, that there is a heaven. Our friends here are wise, but they are unwise also ; they are faithful, but partly unfaithful; they are holy, but also, alas ! too sinful; they have the image of God, but blotted and dishonoured by their faults; they do God and his church much service, but they also do too much against him, and too much for Satan, even when they intend the honour of God; they promote the gospel, but they also hinder it: their weakness, ignorance, error, selfishness, pride, passion, division, contention, scandals, and remissness, do oft so much hurt, that it is hard to discern, whether it be not greater than their good to the church, or to their neighbours. Our friends are our helpers and comforters; but how oft also are they our hinderers, troubles, and grief? But in heaven they are altogether wise, and holy, and faithful, and concordant, and have nothing in them, nor there done by them, but what is amiable to God and man.
And, with our faithful friends, we have here a mixture, partly of useless and burdensome persons, and partly of unfaithful hypocrites, and partly of self-conceited factious wranglers, and partly of malicious, envious underminers, and partly by implacable enemies; and how many of all these, set together is there for one worthy, faithful friend! And how great a number is there to trouble you, for one that will indeed comfort you! But in heaven there are none but the wise and holy; no hypocrites, no burdensome neighbours, no treacherous, or oppressing, or persecuting enemies are there. And is not all good and amiable better than a little good, with so troublesome a mixture of noisome evils ?
Christ loved his disciples, his kindred; yea, and all mankind, and took pleasure in doing good to all, and so did his apostles; but how poor a requital had he or they from any but from God? Christ's own brethren believed not in him, but wrangled with him, almost like those that said to him
“ If thou be the Son of God, come down, and we will believe.” Peter himself was once a Satan to him; (Matt. xvi. ;) and after, with cursing and swearing, denied him: and all his disciples forsook him, and fled; and what, then, could be expected from others ?
No friends have a perfect suitableness to each other; and roughness and inequalities that are nearest us are most troublesome. The wonderful variety and contrariety of apprehensions, interest, educations, temperaments, and occasions, and temptations, &c., are such, that while we are scandalised, at the discord and confusions of the world, we must recall ourselves, and admire that all-ruling providence, which keepeth up so much order and concord as there is: we are, indeed, like people in crowded streets, who, going several ways, molest each other with their jostling oppositions ; or, like boys at football, striving to overthrow each other for the ball; but it is a wonder of divine power and wisdom, that all the world is not continually in mortal war.
If I do men no harm, yet if I do but cross their wills, it goeth for a provoking injury; and when there are as many persons, who is it that can please them all? Who hath money enough to please all the poor that need it, or the covetous that desire it? Or, who can live with displeased men, and not feel some of the fruits of their displeasure? What day goeth over my head, in which abundance desire not, or expect not, impossibilities from me? And how great is the number of them that expect unrighteous things ! By nothing do I displease so many, as by not displeasing God and my conscience; and for nothing am I so deeply accused of sin as for not sinning. And the world will not think well of any thing that crosseth their opinion and carnal interest, be it never so conform to God's commands; I must confess, that while I suffer from all sides, few men have more common and open praises from their persecutors, than I: but while they praise me in general, and for other particulars, they aggravate my non-conformity to their opinions and wills, and take me to be so much the more hurtful to them. The greatest crimes that have been charged on me, have been for
the things which I thought to be my greatest duties; and for those parts of my obedience, to my conscience and God, which cost me dearest; and where I pleased my flesh least, I pleased the world least. At how cheap a rate to my flesh could I have got the applause of factious men, if that had been my end and business. Would I have conformed to their wills, and taken a bishopric, and the honours and riches of the world, how good a man had I been called by the diocesan party. And oh, what praise I should have with the papists, could I turn papist; and all the backbiting and bitter censures of the antinomians, anabaptists, and separatists, had been turned into praise, could I have said as they, or not contradicted them. But otherwise there is no escaping their accusations; and is this tumultuous, militant, yea, malignant world, a place that I should be loth to leave?
Alas! our darkness, and weakness, and passions are such, that it is hard for a family, or a few faithful friends, to live so evenly in the exercise of love, as not to have oft unpleasant jars. What, then, is to be expected from strangers, and from enemies? Ten thousand persons will judge of abundance of my words and actions, who never knew the reasons of them. Every one's conceptions are as the report and conveyance of the matter to them is; and while they have a various light, and false reports, (and defectiveness will make them false,) what can be expected, but false injurious censures ?
Sect. 8. And though no outward thing on earth is more precious than the holy word, and worship, and ordinances of God, yet even here I see that which pointeth me up higher, and telleth me it is much better to be with Christ. 1. Shall I love the name of heaven better than heaven itself?
The holy Scriptures are precious, because I have there the promise of glory; but is not the possession better than the promise ? light and guide thither through this wilderness be good, surely the end must needs be better. And it hath pleased God, that all things on earth, and therefore, even the sacred Scriptures should bear the marks of our state of imperfection: imperfect persons were the permen; and imperfect human language is the conveying, signal, organical part of the matter; and the method and phrase (though true and blameless) are far short of the heavenly perfection. Else so many commentators had not found so hard a task of it to expound innumerable difficulties, and reconcile so many seeming contradictions; nor would in
fidels find matter of so strong temptation, and so much eayil as they do ; nor would Peter have told us of the difficulties of Paul's epistles, and such occasions of men's wresting them to their own destruction. Heaven will not be made, to perfeet spirits, the occasion of so many errors, and controversies, and quarrels, as the Scriptures are to us imperfect men on earth; yea, heaven is the more desirable, because there I shall better understand the Scriptures, than here I can ever hope to do. All the hard passages, now misunderstood, will be there made plain, and all the seeming contradictions reconciled; and, which is much more, that God, that Christ, that new Jerusalem, that glory, and that felicity of souls, which are now known but darkly and enigmatically in the glass, will then be known intuitively as we see the face itself, whose image only the glass first showed us. To leave my bible, and go to the God and the heaven that is revealed, will be no otherwise a loss to me, than to lay by my erutches, or spectacles, when I need them not, or to leave his image for the presence of my friend.
2. Much less do I need to fear the loss of all other books, or sermons, or other verbal informations, Much reading hath oft been a weariness to my flesh; and the pleasure of my mind is much abated by the great imperfection of the means. Many books must be partly read, that I may know that they are scarce worth the reading; and many must be read, to enable us to satisfy other men's expectations, and to confute those who abuse the authority of the authors against the truth : and many good books must be read, that have little to add to what we have read in many others before ; and many that are blotted with ensnaring errors; which, if we detect not, we leave snares for such as see them not; and if we detect them, (never so tenderly, if truly,) we are taken to be injurious to the honour of of the learned, godly authors, and proudly to overvalue our own conceits. And so lamentable is the case of al! mankind, by the imperfections of human language, that those words which are invented for communication of conceptions, are so little fitted to their use, as rather to occasion misunderstanding and contentions; there being searce a word that hath not many significations, and that needeth not many more words to bring us to the true notice of the speaker's mind; and when every word is a signum, that hath three relations, l. To the matter spoken of. 2. To the mind of the speaker, as signifying his conceptions of that matter. 3. And to the mind of the hearer, or reader,