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Sect. 16. 8. That is like to be our best which is our maturest state. Nature carrieth all things towards their perfection: our apples, pears, grapes, and every fruit, are best when they are ripe ; and though they then hasten to corruption, that is, through the incapacity of the corporeal materials, any longer to retain the vegetative spirit, which is not annihilated at its separation; and being not made for its own felicity, but for man's, its ripeness is the state in which man useth it, before it doth corrupt of itself, and that its corruption may be for his nutriment; and the spirits and best matter of his said food doth become his very substance. And doth God cause saints to grow up unto ripeness, only to perish and drop down unto useless rottenness? It is not credible. Though our bodies become but like our filthiest excrements, our souls return to God that gave them: and though he need them not, he useth them in their separated state; and that to such heavenly uses as the heavenly maturity and mellowness hath disposed them to. Seeing, then, love hath ripened me for itself, shall I not willingly drop into its hand?
Sect. 17. 9. That is like to be the best which the wisest and holiest, in all ages of the world, have preferred before all, and have most desired: and which also almost all mankind do acknowledge to be best at last. It is not like that all the best men in the world should be most deceived, and be put upon fruitless labours and sufferings by this deceit, and be undone by their duty; and that God should, by such deceits, rule all (or almost all) mankind: and also that the common notices of human nature, and conscience's last and closest documents, should be all in vain. But it is past all doubt, that no men usually are worse than those that have no belief or hopes of any life but this: and that none are so holy, just, and sober, so charitable to others, and so useful to mankind, as those that firmliest believe and hope for the state of immortality: and shall I fear that state which all that were wise and holy, in all ages, have preferred and desired?
Sect. 18. 10. And it is not unlike that my best state is that which my greatest enemies are most against: and how much Satan doth to keep me and other men from heaven; and how much worldly honour, and pleasure, and wealth, he could afford us to accomplish it, I need not here again be copious in reciting, having said so much of it in the Treatise of Infidelity.' And shall I be, towards myself, so much of Satan's mind? He would not have me come to heaven: and shall I also be
unwilling? All these things tell me that it is best to be with Christ.
II. The Final Reasons.
Sect. 1. II. 1. Is it not far better to dwell with God in glory, than with sinful men, in such a world as this? Though he be every where, his glory, which we must behold to our felicity, and the perfecting operations and communications of his love are in the glorious world, and not on earth. As the eye is made to see the light, and then to see other things by the light, so is man's mind made to see God, and to love him; and other things, as in, by, and for him. He that is our beginning is our end; and our end is the first motive of all moral action, and for it it is that all means are used: and the end attained is the rest of souls. How oft hath my soul groaned under the sense of distance, and darkness, and estrangedness from God! How oft hath it looked up, and gasped after him, and said, 'Oh! when shall I be nearer and better acquainted with my God?' "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God: my soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?" (Psalm xlii. 1.) And would I not have my prayers heard, and my desires granted? What else is the sum of lawful prayers, but God himself? If I desire any thing more than God, what sinfulness is in those desires, and how sad is their signification. How oft have I said, "Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none on earth that I desire besides thee? It is good for me to draw near to God." (Psalm lxxiii. 25, 28.) Wo to me, if I did dissemble! If not, why should my soul draw back? Is it because that death stands in the way? Do not my fellow-creatures die for my daily food; and is not my passage secured by the love of my Father, and the resurrection and intercession of my Lord? Can I see the light of heavenly glory in this darksome shell and womb of flesh?
Sect. 2. All creatures are more or less excellent and glorious, as God is more or less operative and refulgent in them, and, by that operation, communicateth most of himself unto them. Though he be immense and indivisible, his operations and communications are not equal: and that is said to be nearest to him which hath most of those operations on it; and that without the intervenient causality of any second, created cause; and so all those are in their order near unto him, as they have noblest natures, and fewest intervenient causes. Far am I from pre
suming to think that I am, or shall be, the best and noblest of God's creatures, and so that I shall be so near him as to be under the influx of no second or created causes, of which more anon. But to be as near as my nature was ordained to approach, is but to attain the end and perfection of my nature.
Sect. 3. And as I must not look to be the nearest to him, as he is the first efficient, no more must I, as he is the first dirigent, or governing cause. As now I am under the government of his officers on earth, I look for ever to be under sub-governors in heaven. My glorified Saviour must be my Lord and ruler, and who else under him I know not. If angels are not equal in perfection, nor, as is commonly supposed, equal in power, nor without some regimental order among themselves, I must not conclude that no created angel or spirit shall have any government over me, but it will be so pure and divine, as that the blessed effects of God's own government will be sweetly powerful therein. If the law was given by angels, and the angel of God was in the burning bush, and the angel conducted the people through the wilderness, and yet all these things are ascribed to God, much more near and glorious will the divine regiment there be, whoever are the administrators.
Sect. 4. And as I must expect to be under some created, efficient and dirigent causes there, so must I expect to have some subordinate ends: else there would not be a proportion and harmony in causalities. Whatever nobler creatures are above me, and have their causalities upon me, I must look to be finally for these nobler creatures. When I look up and think what a world of glorious beings are now over me, I dare not presume to think that I shall finally, any more than receptively, be the nearest unto God, and that I am made for none but him. I find here that I am made, and ruled, and sanctified, for the public or common good of many as above my own, of which I am past doubt; and I am sure that I must be, finally, for my glorified Redeemer; and for what other spiritual beings, or intelligences, that are above me, little do I know: and God hath so ordered all his creatures, as that they are mutually ends and means for and to one another, though not in an equality, nor in the same respects. But whatever nearer ends there will be, I am sure that he who is the first efficient, and dirigent, will be the ultimate, final cause: and I shall be, in this respect, as near him as is due to the rank and order of my nature. I shall be useful to the ends which are answerable to my perfection.
Sect. 5. And if it be the honour of a servant to have an honourable master, and to be appointed to the most honourable work; if it be some honour to a horse above swine, or a worm, or fly, that he serveth more nearly for the use of man, yea, for a prince, will it not be also my advancement to be ultimately for God, and subordinately for the highest created natures, and this in such services as are suitable to my spiritual and heavenly state?
Sect. 6. For I am far from thinking that I shall be above service, and have none to do, for activity will be my perfection and my rest and all such activity must be regular in harmony, and order of causes, and for its proper use; and what, though I know not now fully what service it is that I must do, I know it will be good and suitable to the blessed state which I shall be in; and it is enough that God and my Redeemer know it; and that I shall know it in due time, when I come to practise it; of which more afterward.
Sect. 7. The inordinate love of this body and present composition seduceth souls to think that all their use and work is for its maintenance and prosperity, and when the soul hath done that, and is separated from flesh, it hath nothing to do, but must lie idle, or be as nothing, or have no considerable work or pleasure. As if there were nothing in the whole world, but this little fluid mass of matter, for a soul to work upon; as if itself, and all the creatures, and God, were nothing, or no fit objects for a soul: and why not hereafter, as well as now: or, as if that which, in our compounded state, doth operate on and by its organs, had no other way of operation without them; as if the musician lost all his power, or were dead, when his intrument is out of tune, or broken, and could do nothing else but play on that: as if the fiery part of the candle were annihilated, or transmutate, as some philosophers imagine, when the candle goeth out, and were not fire, and in action still: or as if that sunbeam which I shut out, or which passeth from our horizon, were annihilated, or did nothing, when it shineth not with us. Had it no other individual to illuminate, or to terminate its beams or action, were it nothing to illuminate the common air? Though I shall not always have a body to operate in and upon, I shall always have God, and a Saviour, and a world of fellow-creatures; and when I shine not in this lantern, and see not by these spectacles, nor imaginarily in a glass, I shall yet see things suitable intuitively, and as face to face. That which
is essentially life, as a living principle, will live; and that which is essentially an active, intellective, volitive principle, force, and virtue, will still be such while it is itself, and is not annihilated, or changed into another thing (which is not to be feared); and that which is such can never want an object till all things be annihilated.
Sect. 8. Reason assureth me, that were my will now what it should be, and fully obsequious herein to my understanding, to fulfil God's will would be the fulfilling my own will, for my will should perfectly comply with his, and to please him perfectly would be my perfect pleasure: and it is the unreasonable adhesion to this body, and sinful selfishness, which maketh any one think otherwise now. I am sure that my soul shall live, for it is life itself; and I am sure that I shall live to God, and that I shall fulfil and please his blessed will; and this is, as such, incomparably better than my felicity, as such and yet so far as I am pleased in so doing, it will be my felicity.
Sect. 9. I begin now to think, that the strange love which the soul hath to this body (so far as it is not inordinate) is put into us of God, partly to signify to us the great love which Christ hath to his mystical, political body, and to every member of it, even the least: he will gather all his elect out of the world, and none that come to him shall be shut out, and none that are given him shall be lost: as his flesh is to them meat indeed, and his blood is to them drink indeed, and he nourisheth them for life eternal: (his Spirit in them, turning the sacrament, the word, and Christ himself, in esse objectivo, as believed in, into spirit and life to us, as the soul and our natural spirits turn our food into flesh, and blood, and spirits, which, in a dead body, or any lifeless repository, it would never be:) so as we delight in the ease and prosperity of our body, and each member, and have pleasure in the pleasant food that nourisheth it, and other pleasant objects which accommodate it; Christ also delighteth in the welfare of his church, and of all the faithful, and is pleased when they are fed with good and pleasant food, and when hereby they prosper: Christ loveth the church, not only as a man must love his wife, but as we love our bodies; and man ever hated his own flesh. (Eph. v. 27, And &c.) herein I must allow my Saviour the pre-eminence, to overgo me in powerful, faithful love: he will save me better from pain and death than I can save my body: and will more inseparably hold me to himself. If it please my soul to dwell in such a