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with a deep anguish of spirit; false hopes, shutting up in a heartbreaking disappointment; windy proffers, mocking thee with sudden retractions ; bitter piils, in sugar; poison, in a golden cup? It shewed thee, perhaps, stately palaces, but stuffed with cares; fair and populous cities, but full of toil and tumult; flourishing churches, but annoyed with schism and sacrilege; rich treasures, but kept by ill spirits; pleasing beauties, but baited with temptation; glorious titles, but surcharged with pride; goodly semblances, with rotten insides; in short, Death, disguised with pleasures and
If, therefore, heretofore thy unexperience have suffered thy feathers to be belimed with these earthly entanglements; yet, now, that thou hast happily cast those plumes and quit thyself of these miserable incumbrances, thou mayest soar aloft above the sphere of mortality, and be still towering up towards thy heaven: and, as those, that have ascended to the top of some Athos or Teneriff, see all things below them, in the valleys, small, and scarce, in their diminution, discernible; so shall ali earthly objects, in thy spiritual exaltation, seem unto thee: either, thou shalt not see them at all; or, at least so lessened, as that they have to thee quite lost all the proportion of their former dimensions.
SECT. II. It will not be long, () my soul, ere thou shalt absolutely leave the world, in the place of thy habitation; being carried up, by the blessed angels, to thy rest and glory: but, in the mean time, thou must resolve to leave it, in thy thoughts and affections. Thou mayest have power over these, even before the hour of thy separation; and these, rightly disposed, have power to exempt thee, beforehand, from the interest of this inferior world, and to advance thine approaches to that world of the blessed. While thou art confined to this clay, there is naturally a luggage of carnality, that hangs heavy upon thee, and sways thee down to the earth ; not suffering thee to mount upward to that bliss, whereunto thou aspirest : this must be shaken off, if thou wouldest attain to any capacity of happiness: even in this sense, Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. It behoves thee to be, so far as this composition will admit, spiritualized; ere thou canst hope to attain to any degree of blessedness.
Thy conjunction with the body doth necessarily clog thee with an irrational part, which will unavoidably force upon thee some operations of its own; and thy senses will be interposing themselves in all thy intellectual employments, proffering thee the service of their guidance in all thy proceedings: but, if thou lovest eternity of blessedness, shake them off as importunate suitors; gather up thyself into thy own regenerated powers, and do thy work without and above them. It is enough, that thou hast, at first, taken some hint from them, of what concerns thee: as for the rest, cast them off as unnecessary and impertinent; the prosecution whereof is too high and too internal, for them to intermeddle with. Thou hast now
divine and heavenly things in chase, whereof there cannot be the least scent in any of these carthly faculties. Divest thyself, therefore, what thou possibly mayest, of all materiality, both of objects and apprehensions; and let thy pure, renewed, and illuminated intellect work only upon matter spiritual and celestial.
And, above all, propose untu thyself and dwell upon that purest, perfectest, simplest, blessedest object, the Glorious and Incomprehensible Deity: there, thou shalt find more than enough, to take up thy thoughts to all eternity. Be thou, O my soul, ever swallowed up in the consideration of that Infinite Self-being Essence, whom all created spirits are not capable sufficiently to admire. Behold, and never cease wondering at, the Majesty of his Glory. The bodily eyes dazzle at the sight of the sun; but, if there were as many suns as there are stars in the firmament of heaven, their united splendor were but darkness to their All-glorious Creator. Thou canst not yet hope to see him, as he is : but, lo, thou beholdest where he dwells, in light inaccessible; the sight of whose very outward verge, is enough to put thee into a perpetual ecstasy. It is not for thee, as yet, to strive to enter within the vail : thine eyes may not be free, where the angels hide their faces. What thou wantest in sight, O my soul, supply in wonder. Never any mortal man, O God, durstsue to see thy face, save that one entire servant of thine, whose face thy conference had made shining and radiant; but even he, though inured to thy presence, was not capable to behold such glory, and live. Far be it from me, O Lord, to presume so high. Only let me see thee as thou hast bidden me; and but so, as not to behold thee, after thy gracious revelation, were iny sin. Let me see, even in this distance, some glimmering of thy divine Power, Wisdom, Justice, Mercy, Truth, Providence; and let me bless and adore thee, in what I see.
SECT. II. OH, the infiniteness of thine Almighty Power, which thou not bast, but art, beyond the possibility of all limitations of objects or thoughts. În us, poor finite creatures, our power comes short of our will: many things we fain would do, but cannot; and great pity it were, that there should not be such a restraint upon our unruly appetites, which would otherwise work out the destruction both of others and ourselves. But, () God, thy power is beyond thy will: thou canst do more than thou wilt: thou couldest have made more worlds, when thou madest th's one; and even this one, which thou hast made, Lord, how glorious a one it is ! Lo, there needs no other demonstration of thine Omnipotence.
Oh, what a heaven is this, which thou hast canopied over our heads! how immensely capacious! how admirably beautiful! how bestudded with goodly globes of light! some one whereof hath in it such unspeakable glory, as that there have not wanted nations, and those not of the savagest, which have mis-worshipped it for their God: and, if thou hadst made but one of these in thy firmament, thy workmanship had been above our wonder; for even
this had surpassed the whole frame of this lower world. But now, as their Quality strives with their Greatness, so their magnitude strives with their Number, which of them shall more magnify the praise of their Almighty Creator: and these three are no less than matched, by the constant Regularity of the perpetual motion of those mighty bodies ; which having walked their daily rounds about the world above this five thousand six hundred and sixty years, yet are so ordered by thy inviolable decree, that they have not varied one inch from their appointed line, but keep their due course and just distance each from other; although not fixed in any solid orb, but moving singly in a thin and yielding sky, to the very same point whence they set forth.
And, if the bodily and visible part of thy heavenly host, O God, be thus uncovceivably glorious, where shall we find room to wonder at those spiritual and living powers, which inhabit those celestial mansions, and attend upon the Throne of thy Majesty; the thousand thousands of thy blessed Angels, Archangels, Cherubim, Seraphim, Thrones, Principalities, Dominions, which in thy presence enjoy a bliss next to infinite; any one of which, if we could see him, were enough to kill us with his glory? Not one of those millions of mighty spirits, but were able to destroy a world. Oh, then, how infinitely transcendent is that power of thine, which hast both created all this heavenly Hierarchy; and so movest in them, that only in and by thee they are thus potent!
Yea, Lord, let me but cast mine eyes down to this earth I tread upon, and view thy wonders in the deep, how manifestly do these proclaim thy divine Omnipotence! When I see this vast globe of earth and waters, dreadfully hanging in the midst of a liquid air, upheld by nothing but by thy powerful word; when I see the rage of the swelling waves, naturally higher than the shores they beat upon, restrained to their bounds by thine over-ruling command ; when I see the earth beautifully garnished with marvellous variety of trees, herbs, flowers, richly stuffed with precious metals, stones, minerals; when I see, besides a world of men, the numberless choice and differences of the substance, forms, colours, dispositions, of beasts, fowls, fishes, wherewith these lower elements are peopled; how can I be but dissolved into wonder of thine almighty
SECT. IV. Neither is thy power, O God, either more, or more thyself, than thy Wisdom; which is no less essential to thee, than infinite. What have we to do, silly and shallow wretches, with that incomprehensible wisdom, which is intrinsical to thy Divine Nature? The body of that sun is not for our weak eyes to behold: it is enough for me, if I can but see some rays of that heavenly light, which shines forth so gloriously upon thy creature; in the framing and governing whereof, whether thy power or wisdom did and do more exhibit itself, thou only canst judge.
Oh, the divine architecture of this goodly fabric of heaven and earth, raised out of nothing to this admirable perfection! what stupendous artifice of composition is here! what exquisite symmetry of parts! what exact order of degrees ! what marvellous analogy betwixt beasts, fishes, plants, the natives of both elements !
Oh, what a comprehensive reach is this of thine omniscience; which, at once, in one act, beholdest all the actions and events of all the creatures, that were, are, or shall be in this large universe! What a contrivance of thine eternal counsel, which hast most wisely and holily ordered how to dispose of every creature thou hast made, according to the pleasure of thy most just will! What a sway of Providence is this, that governs the world: over-ruling the highest, and stooping to the meanest piece, of thy creation; concurring with and actuating the motions and operations of all second causes of whatsoever is done in heaven or in earth!
Yea, Lord, how wonderful are those irradiations of knowledge and wisdom, which thou hast beamed forth upon thine intelligent creatures, both angels and men ! As for those celestial spirits, which see thy face continually, it is po marvel if they be illuminated in a degree far above human apprehension : but, that the rational soul of man, even in this woeful pilgrimage below, notwithstanding the opacity of that earth wherewith it is encompassed, should be so far enlightened, as that it is able to know all the motions of the heavens, the magnitudes and distances of stars, the natures, properties, influences of the planets, the instant of the eclipses, conjunctions, and several aspects of those celestial bodies; that it can discover the secret treasures of earth and sea; and knows how to unJock all the close cabinets both of art and nature : 0 God, what is this, but some little gleam of that pure and glorious light, which breaks forth from thine infiniteness upon thy creature?
Yet, were the knowledge of all men on earth, and all the angels in heaven, multiplied a thousand fold, how unable were it, being united together, to reach unto the height of thy divine counsels; to fathom the bottom of thy most wise and holy decrees ! so as they must be forced to cry out, with that Saint of thine, who was rapt into the third heaven, oh, the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unseurchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! Rom. xi. 33.
SECT. V. But with what a trembling adoration, O my soul, must thou needs look upon the infinite Justice of thy God; whose inviolable rule is to render to every man according to his works ! Alas, the little good, thon wert able to do, hath been allayed with so many and great imperfections, that it can expect no retribution but displeasure: and, for the many evils whereof thou art guilty, what canst thou look for but the wages of sin, death ? not temporary, and natural only, which is but a separation of thee, awhile, from thy load of earth; but the spiritual and eternal separation from the presence of thy God, whose very want is the height of torments. Lo, whatever become of thee, God must be himself. In vain shouldst thou hope, that for thyself he will abate ought of his blessed essence, of the sa
cred attributes. That righteous doom must stand, The soul, that sins, shall die. Hell claims his due : justice must be satisfied : where art thou now, () my soul ? what canst thou now make account of, but to despair and die ? surely, in thyself, thou art lost : there is no way with thee, but utter perdition.
But look up, O my soul, look up above the hills, whence cometh thy salvation : see the heavens opening upon thee: see what reviving and comfortable rays of Grace and Mercy shine forth unto thee, from that excellent glory; and, out of that heavenly light, hear the voice of thy Blessed Saviour, saying to thee, O Israel, ihou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help; Hos. xiii. 9. Even so, O Jesu, in thee, only in thee, is my help. Wretched man that I am, in myself I stand utterly forfeited to death and hell: it is thou, that hast" redeemed me, with no less ransom, than thy precious blood. Death was owing by me; by thee it was paid for me: so as now, my debt is tully discharged, and my soul clearly acquitted. Who'shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God, that justifieth : who is he that condemneth? It is Christ, that died; yea, rather that is risen again; Rom. viii. 33, 34. Lo now, the rigour of thine inviolable justice is taken off, by thine infinite mercy : the sum, that I could never pay, is, by the power of that faith which thou hast wrought in me, set off to my all-sufficient Surety; and, by thy divine goodness, graciously accepted as mine: I have paid it in him; he hath paid it for me. Thy justice is satisfied; thy debtor freed; and thy mercy magnified.
SECT. VI. There are no bounds to be set unto thy thoughts, O my soul : since, whatsoever thy God either is, or hath done, comes within thy prospect. There, besides the great work of his creation, thou mayest dwell upon the no less almighty work of his administration, of this universal world; whereof the preservation and government is no less wonderful than the frame: there, thou shalt see the marvellous subordination of creatures, some made to rule, others to obey; the powerful influence of the celestial bodies upon the inferior; the continual transmutation of elements, forsaking their own places and natures to serve the whole; forms dying, matter perpetual; all things maintained by a friendly discord of humours, out of which they are raised; the circular revolution of fashions, occurrents, events; the different and opposite dispositions of men, overruled to such a temper, that yet government is continued in the hands of few, society and commerce with all; shortly, all creatures, while they do either naturally or voluntarily act their own part, doing unawares the will of their Creator.
But, that, which may justly challenge thy longer stay and greater wonder, is the more-than-transcendent work of man's redemption; the mysteries whereof the holy angels have desired to look into; 1 Pet. i. 12. but could never yet sufficiently conceive or admire. That the Son of God, the Lord of Glory, Coeternal, Coequal to his Father, God blessed for ever, should take upon him an estate lower than their own: should clothe his Deity, with the rags of our flesh;