« PreviousContinue »
house of clay, and to operate on so mean a thing as flesh, how greatly will it please my glorified Lord, to dwell with his glorified body, the triumphant church, and to cherish and bless each member of it! It would be a kind of death to Christ to be separated from his body, and to have it die. Whether Augustine, and the rest of the fathers, were in the right or no, who thought, that as our bodies do not only shed their hairs, but, by sicknesses and waste, lose much of their very flesh; so Christ's militant body doth not only lose hypocrites, but also some living, justified members; yet, certain it is, that confirmed members, and most certain, that glorified members, shall not be lost: heaven is not a place for Christ or us to suffer such loss in. And will Christ love me better than I love my body? Will he be more loth to lose me than I am to lose a member, or to die? Will he not take incomparably greater pleasure in animating and actuating me for ever, than my soul doth in animating and actuating this body? O, then, let me long to be with him! And though I am naturally loth to be absent from the body, let me be by his Spirit more unwilling to be absent from the Lord; and though I would not be unclothed, had not sin made it necessary, let me not groan to be clothed upon with my heavenly habitation, and to become the delight of my Redeemer, and to be perfectly loved, by love itself.
Sect. 10. And even this blessed receptivity of my soul, in terminating the love and delight of my glorified Head, must needs be a felicity to me.
The insensible creatures are but beautified by the sun's communication of its light and heat; but the sensitives have also the pleasure of it. Shall my soul be senseless? Will it be a clod or stone? Shall that, which is now the form of man, be then more lifeless, senseless, or uncapable, than the form of brutes is now? Doubtless, it will be a living, perceiving, sensible recipient of the felicitating love of God, and my Redeemer; I shall be loved as a living spirit, and not as a dead and senseless thing, that doth not comfortably perceive it.
Sect. 11. And if I must rejoice with my fellow-servants that rejoice, shall I not be glad to think that my blessed Lord will rejoice in me, and in all his glorified ones Union will make his pleasure to be much mine; and it will be aptly said by him to the faithful soul, “ Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matt. xxv. 21.) His own active joy will objectively be ours, as ours will be efficiently his, or from him. Can that be an ill condition to me, in which my Lord will most rejoice? it is best to him, and, therefore, best to me.
Sect. 12. And the heavenly society will joyfully welcome a holy soul. If there be now “Joy in heaven among the angels, for one sinner that repenteth,” (Luke xv. 10,) who hath yet so little holiness, and so much sin; what joy will there be over a perfected, glorified soul? Surely, if our angels there behold our Father's face, they will be glad, in season, of our company. The angels that carried Lazarus to Abraham's bosom, no doubt rejoiced in their work, and their success. And is the joy of angels, and the heavenly host, as nothing to me? Will not love and union make their joy to be my own; if love here must make all my friends and neighbours comforts to become my own? And as their joy, according to their perfection, is greater than any that I am now capable of, so the participation of so great a joy of theirs will be far better than to have my little separated apartment. Surely, that will be my best condition, which angels and blessed spirits will be best pleased in, and I shall rejoice most in that which they most rejoice in.
III. The constitutive Reasons from the intellective State.
III. Sect. 1. Though the tempter would persuade men, because of the case of infants in the womb, apoplectics, &c., that the understanding will be but an unactive power, when separated from these corporeal organs, I have seen before sufficient reasons to repel this temptation. I will suppose, that it will not have such a mode of conception, as it hath now by these organs; but, 1. The soul will be still essentially a vital, intellective substance, disposed to act naturally; and that is to those acts which it is formally inclined to, as fire to illuminate and heat. And as it cannot die, (while it is what it is in essence,) because it is life itself, that is, the vital substance; so it cannot but be intellective, (as to an inclined power,) because it is such essentially; though God can change, or annihilate any thing, if he would. 2. And it will be among a world of objects. 3. And it will still have its dependence on the first cause, and receive his continual, actuating influx. 4. And no man can give the least show of true reason, to prove that it shall cease sensation, (whether the sensitive faculties be in the same substance which is intellective, which is most probable, or in one conjunct, as some imagine,) though the species and modes of sensation cease, which are denominated from the various organs. 5. Yea, no man can prove that the departing soul doth not carry with it its igneous spirits, which, in the body, it did immediately actuate.
If it were
ever so certain that those Greek fathers were mistaken, (as well as hypocrites,) who took the soul itself to be a sublime, intellectual fire.
And as to the objection some hold, that the soul pre-existed before it was in the body; others, and most, that it then received its first being: if the first were true, it would be true that the soul had its intellectual activity before, though the soul itself, incorporate, remember it not, because it operateth but ut forma hominis, (and its oblivion they take to be part of its penalty,) and they that think it a radius of the anima mundi vel systematis, must think that then it did intellectually animate hunc mundum, vel mundi partem: and to do so again, is the worst they can conjecture of it. As the rays of the sun, which heat a burning glass, and by it set a candle on fire, are the same rays still diffused in the air, and illuminating, heating, and moving it, and terminated on some other body, and not annihilated, or debilitated, when their contracted operation ceáseth by breaking the glass, or putting out the candle; and as the spirit of a tree still animateth the tree, when it retires from the leaves, and lets them fall. But this being an unproved imagination of men's own brains, we have no further use of it, than to confute themselves. But if the soul existed not till its incorporation, what wonder if it operate but ut forma, when it is united to the body for that use? What wonder if its initial operations, like a spark of fire in tinder, or the first lighting of a candle, be weak, and scarce by us perceptible? What wonder if it operate but to the uses that the creation did appoint it; and first, as vegetative, fabricate its own body, as the maker's instrument, and then feel, and then understand? And what wonder if it operate no further than objects are admitted ? And, therefore, what wonder if, in apoplexies, &c., such operations are intercepted? But the departing soul is, 1. In its maturity. 2. No more united to this body, and so not confined to sense and imagination in its operations, and the admission of its objects. 3. And it is sub ratione, meriti, and as a governed subject is ordinate to its reward; which it was not capable of receiving in the womb, or in an apoplexy. And as we have the reasons before alleged to hold, 1. That it shall not be annihilated. 2. Nor dissolved. 3. Nor lose its essential faculties or powers. 4. Nor those essential powers be con
tinued useless by the wise and merciful Creator, though, by natural revelation, we know not in what manner they shall act; whether on any other body, and by what conjunction, and how far; so by supernatural revelation we are assured, that there is a reward for the righteous, and that holy souls are still members of Christ, and live because he liveth, and that in the day of their departure they shall be with him in Paradise, and being absent from the body, shall be present with the Lord; and that Christ, therefore, died, rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living, that is, of those that, being dead, hence do live with him, and of those that yet live in the body; for he that said, “ God is not the God of the dead, but of the living,” that is, stands not related to them as his people, as a king to his subjects, is not himself the Lord of the absolute dead, but of the living.
Therefore, (as Contarenus against Pomponatius de Immortal. Anim. saith,) the immortality of the soul is proveable by the light of nature, but the manner of its future operation must be known by faith. And blessed be the Father of spirits, and our Redeemer, who hath sent and set up this excellent light, by which we see further than purblind infidels can do!
Sect. 2. But I deny not but even the Scripture itself doth tell us but little of the manner of our intellection when we are out of the body; and it is not improbable that there is more imperfection in this mode of notional, organical, abstractive knowledge which the soul exerciseth in the body, than most consider of. And that as the eye hath the visive faculty in sleep, and when we wink, and an internal action of the visive spirits, (no doubt,) and yet seeth not any thing without till the eyelids are opened, (and was not made to see its own sight, so the soul in the body is as a winking eye to all things that are not, by the sense and imagination, intromitted, or brought within its reach. And whether (sicut non video visum, neque facultatem neque substantiam videntem, videndo tamen certo percipio me videre, so it may be said, Non intelligo immediate ipsam intellectionem, neque facultatem, aut substantiam intelligentem. Intelligendo tamen certo percipio me intelligere, quia actus intellectus in spiritus sensitivos operans sentitur ; or whether we must further say, with Ockam, that Intellectus tum intuitivè tum abstractivè se intelligit, I leave to wiser men to judge, but I am very suspicious that the body is more a lantern to the soul than some will admit; and that this Lusus notionum secundarum, or abstractive
knowledge of things by organical images, names, and notions, is occasioned by the union of the soul with the body ut forme, and is that childish knowledge which the apostle saith shall be done away. And how much of man's fall might consist in such a knowing of good and evil, I cannot tell, or in the overvaluing such a knowledge. And I think that when vain philosophy at Athens had called the thoughts and desires of mankind from great realities to the logical and philological game at words and notions, it was Socrates' wisdom to call them to more concerning studies, and Paul's greater wisdom to warn men to take heed of such vain philosophy, and to labour to know God and Jesus Christ, and the things of the Spirit, and not to over-value this ludicrous, dreaming, worldly wisdom. And if I have none of this kind of notional, childish knowledge when I am absent from the body, the glass and spectacles may then be spared, when I come to see with open face, or as face to face. Our future knowledge is usually, in Scripture, called seeing. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matt. v. 8.) “ We shall see face to face.” (1 Cor. xiii. 12.) 66 We shall see him as he is.” (1 John iii. 2.) “Father, I will that those which thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me,” &c. (John xvii. 24.) An intuitive knowledge of all things, as in themselves immediately, is a more excellent sort of knowledge than this, by similitudes, names, and notions, which our learning now consisteth in, and is but an art acquired by many acts and use.
Sect. 3. If the sun were, as the heathens thought it, an intellective animal, and its emitted rays were vitally visive, and when one of those rays were received by prepared seminal matter (as in insects) it became the soul of an inferior animal, in this case, the said ray would operate in that insect, or animal, but according to the capacity of the recipient matter ; whereas the sun itself, by all its emitted rays, would see all things intellectually, and with delight, and when that insect were dead, that ray would be what it was, an intellective, intuitive emanation. And though the soul in flesh do not know itself how it shall be united to Christ, and to all other holy souls, and to God himself, nor how near, or just of what sort that union will be, yet united it will be, and therefore will participate accordingly of the universal light or understanding to which it is united. The soul now, as it is, or operateth, in the foot or hand, doth not understand, but only as it is, and operateth, in the heail. And