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vi. In a word, nothing can render the most important truth powerful and operative in us, but such a digestion of them by serious and devout meditation, as may in a manner incorporate them with us. And this the scripture plainly teaches, when to signify the force and virtue of the gospel above that of the law, it uses these words: For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their minds, and write them in their hearts, Heb. viii. 10. intimating, that no laws, no principles can ever influence us, till they be deeply imprinted in our hearts.
To wind up all. There arejeveral kinds of knowledge of the same truths: there is a knowledge, which serves us only as Pi/go's top did Moses; to shew us Canaan, but not to bring us into it. There is again a knowledge, which serves us only as the talent did the wickedJervants; not to procure rewards, but punishments. And finally, there is a knowledge, which like the talents in the hand of the faithful and good fieward, inrich es w<i strst, and recommends \}& afterwards to higher trusts and dignities ; which improves and perfects our nature first, and then puts us into poffc/Jion of such blessings, as only nature thus improved and perfected is capable of. And this knowledge must not be a slight, superficial, and undigested one;
it must not be a confused and obscure, a weak and imperfect one: this is not the knowledge which will bring forth those excellent fruits, which we have reason to expect from true illumination. But it must be a knowledge that has all the quite contrary characters: even such as I have before described at large. That this is an observation of the greatest weight and moment, is evident to any one who will give himself leave to make any reflection on the present state of Christianity. For how does the power of darkness prevail amidst the light of the gospel? How has the devil erected his throne in the midst of that Church, which should be the kingdom of God? and sin and death reign where life and immortality are preached? Whence is this? Are men ignorant of those truths which make up the system of true wisdom f This is not easy to be imagined; scarcely of the darkest corners of the popi/h churches, much less of ours. And therefore we must conclude, that this is because our knowledge is not such as it ought to be, with respect to its clearness, certainty, and digestion.
N 2 CHAP.
Of the fruits and attainment of illumination. That illumination does not depend Jo much upon a man's outward fortune, extraordinary/rtrfr, acquired learning, &c. as upon his moral qualifications, such as humility, impartiality, and love of the truth. 4. Directions for the attainment of illumination. I. That we do not suffer our minds to be engaged in quest of knowledge foreign to our purpose. 2. That we apply our selves with a very tender andfenJible concern to the study of illuminating truths. 3. That we aSl conformable to those measures of light which we have attained. 4. That we frequently address our selves to God by prayer for the illumination of his grace. The chapter concluded with a prayer of Fulgentius.
HAvirig dispatched the notion of illumination in the foregoing chapter, and shewed both what truths, and what sort of knowledge of them is requisite to it; I am next to treat,
1. Of the fruits: and,
2. Of the attainment of it.
§. 1. As to the fruits of illumination I have the less need to insist upon them because whatever can be said on this head, has
been been in a manner anticipated: all the characters of illuminating truths and illuminating knowledge being such as sufficiently declare the blessed effecls o£ true illumination. I will therefore be very short on this head; and only just mention two advantages of illumination. As the use of light is especially twofold, to delight and guide us; so do we reap two benefits from illumination.
i. The^/fry?and most immediate one is, that hfits the whole man, and the whole life right; that it fixes our affections on their proper and natural objects and directs all our aiiions to their true end. I do not mean, that the understanding constantly and necessarily influences and determines the will. Experience tells us, that we have a fatal liberty: that our aff'eBions are too often independant of our reason; that wefin against the dictates of conscience; that we pursue false pleasure, and z sals interest, in opposition to the true, and in plain oppofition to aav judgment too; at least to a sedate and ftz//» one. And the mz/o» of all this is, because we consist of two different and repugnant principles, a body and a soul: and are sollicited by two different worlds, a temporal and an eternal oo&. But all this notwithstanding, 'tis certain that illumination in the mind has a mighty influence upon us: for it is continually exciting in us wife defires and excellent purposes: Tis always N 3 alluring
alluring and inviting us towards our soveraign good, and restraining and deterring us from fin and death: it alarms, disquiets, disturbs, and persecutes us as oiten as we err and wander from the path of life. Ifi one word, the great work of illumination is, to be always representing the beauties and pleasures, and the beatitude and glory of virtue; and remonstrating the evils ancf dishonours, the deformities and dangers of .vice: so that a man will never be at rest, who has this light wiphin him, till it be either extinguished or obeyed.
2. This light within us, if it be fol- lowed and complied with, not muddied, and disturbed; if it be not quenched and extinguished by wilful sin, or unpardonable oscitancy and remisness; if, in a word, its influence be not interrupted, disperses all our fears as well as errors, creates an unspeakable tranquillity. in the soul; spreads over us a calm and glorious sky, and makes every thing in us and about us look gay, an4 .verdant, and beautiful. The dissipationof Pagan darkness, and all participation or resemblances of it; deliverance from a state of bondage and wrath, the peace of God, the love of Jesus, the fellowship of■ the Holy Ghost, the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, the perfection and blefj'edness of eternity. Good God! what surprizing, what ravishing. *&/»« are these for the