صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

they have espoused, and be very desirous that others should submit unto their judgment, and approve the choice of religion which they themselves have made. It may make them delight to hear and compose excellent discourses about the matters of religion; for eloquence is very pleasant whatever be the subject. Nay, some it may dispose to no small height of sensible devotion. The glorious things that are spoken of heaven, may make even a carnal heart in love with it; the metaphors and similitudes made use of in scripture, of crowns and sceptres, and rivers of pleasure, &c. will easily affect a man’s fancy, and make him wish to be there, though he neither understand nor desire those spiritual pleasures which are described and shadowed forth by them: and when such a person comes to believe that Christ has purchased those glorious things for him, he may feel a kind of tenderness and affection towards so great a benefactor, and imagine that he is mightily enamoured with him, and yet all the while continue a stranger to the holy temper and spirit of the blessed Jesus. And what hand the natural constitution may have in the rapturous devotions of some melancholy persons, hath been excellently discovered of late by several learned and judi

cious pens.

To conclude: there is nothing proper to make a man's life pleasant, or himself eminent and conspicuous in the world, but this natural principle, assisted by wit and reason, may prompt him to it. And though I do not condemn these things in themselves, yet it concerns us nearly to know and consider their nature, both that we may keep within due bounds, and also that we may learn never to value ourselves on the account of such attainments, nor lay the stress of religion upon our natural appetites or performances.

Wherein the divine life doth consist. It is now time to return to the consideration of that divine life whereof I was discoursing before; that life which is hid with Christ in God, and therefore hath no glorious show or appearance in the world, and to

s mitte ini te pertes pleasure in the

Se me the wel complacency tres mi e nating me thas to have every

en faits well that nature hath as wissem sendes to supply the deSTT E A ad to incline men to

ir mic's resir. Again, in reI. sm here me ba tanght to folEthn I passere or advantage: De 3 - SE I ne she trietest rules

of r. En su ans ef virtue, that -Pe de ang ay which they

- sumei zina mea a base and unIstisse small cente in the deportment

me that are som the strength

the wise judgment, and from their se i smeshem Intemperance and SMS ant these other impie

the made its miserthere, the effect of the anithe ened by religion,

But it once take a majutament od wit to be of its tmr sme uscan the greaser sort of

muito formations of virtue and

There has mach reason as to mempenace and inordi

are that is fortune, and the is a majestice

[graphic]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

they have espoused, and be very desirous that others should submit unto their judgment, and approve the choice of religion which they themselves have made. It may make them delight to hear and compose excellent discourses about the matters of religion; for eloquence is very pleasant whatever be the subject. Nay, some it may dispose to no small height of sensible devotion. The glorious things that are spoken of heaven, may make even a carnal heart in love with it; the metaphors and similitudes made use of in scripture, of crowns and sceptres, and rivers of pleasure, &c. will easily affect a man's fancy, and make him wish to be there, though he neither understand nor desire those spiritual pleasures which are described and shadowed forth by them: and when such a person comes to believe that Christ has purchased those glorious things for him, he may feel a kind of tenderness and affection towards so great a benefactor, and imagine that he is mightily enamoured with him, and yet all the while continue a stranger to the holy temn- and spirit of the blessed Jesus. And what hand

constitution may have in the rapturous devo

melancholy persons, hath been excellen

of late by several learned and jodicic

proper to make a man's
t and conspicaces in the
le, assisted by w and

And though I do not
ees, yet it concerns as

bé mature, both that we ease

the account of such =ózge per

[graphic]

are,

the natural man will seem a mean and insipid notion As the animal life consisteth in that narrow and contined love which is terminated on a man's self, and in his propension towards those things that are pleasing to nature; so the divine life stands in an universal and unbounded affection, and in the mastery over our natural inclinations, that they may never be able to betray us to those things which we know to be blameable. The root of the divine life is faith; the chief branches love to God, charity to man, purity and humility: for (as an excellent person hath well observed) however these names be common and vulgar, and make no extraordinary sound; yet do they carry such a mighty sense, that the tongue of man or angel can pronounce nothing more weighty or excellent. Faith hath the same place in the divine life which sense hath in the natural, being indeed nothing else but a kind of sense, or feeling persuasion of spiritual things. It extends itself unto ali divine truths: but, in our lapsed estate, it hath a peculiar relation to the declarations of God's mercy and rem concilableness to sinners through a Mediator; and therefore, receiving its denomination from that principal object, is ordinarily termed faith in Jesus Christ.

The love of God is a delightful and affectionate sense of the divine perfections, which makes the soul resign and sacrifice itself wholly unto him, desiring above all things to please him, and delighting in nothing so much as in fellowship and communion with him, and being ready to do or suffer any thing for his sake, or at his pleasure. Though this affection may have its first rise from the favours and mercies of God towards ourselves, yet doth it in its growth and progress transcend such particular considerations, and ground itself on his infinite goodness manifested in all the works of creation and providence. A soul thus possessed with divine love, must needs be enlarged towards all mankind in a sincere and unbounded affection, because of the relation they have to God, being his creatures, and having something of his image stamped upon them. And this is that charity I named as the second branch of religion, and under

which all the parts of justice, all the duties we owe to our neighbour, are eminently comprehended: for he who doth truly love all the world, will be nearly concerned in the interest of every one; and so far from wronging or injuring any person, that he will resent any evil that befalls others, as if it happened to himself.

By purity, I understand a due abstractedness from the body, and mastery over the inferior appetites; or such a temper and disposition of mind, as makes a man despise, and abstain from all pleasures and delights of sense or fancy which are sinful in themselves or tend to extinguish or lessen our relish of more divine and intellectual pleasures; which doth also infer a resoluteness to undergo all those hardships he may meet with in the performance of his duty. So that not only chastity and temperance, but also Christian courage and magnanimity may come under this head.

Humility imports a deep sense of our own weakness, with a hearty and affectionate acknowledgement of our owing all that we are to the divine bounty; which is always accompanied with a profound submission to the will of God, and great deadness towards the glory of the world, and applause of men.

These are the highest perfections that either men or angels are capable of; the very foundation of heaven laid in the soul. And he who hath attained them, needs not desire to pry into the hidden rolls of God's decrees, or search the volumes of leaven, to know what is determined about his everlasting condition; but he may find A copy of God's thoughts concerning him written in his own breast. His love to God may give him assurance of God's favour to him; and those beginnings of happiness which he feels in the conformity of the powers of his soul to the nature of God, and compliance with his will, are a sure pledge that his felicity shall be perfected, and continued to all eternity. And it is not without reason that one said, “ I had rather see the real impressions of a God-like nature upon my own soul, than have a vision from heaven, or an angel sent to tell mo that my name was enrolled in the book of life.”

« السابقةمتابعة »