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re-uniting my own soul to Him, from whom it came, and in whose image it was created.
Whatever bodily eyes can discern, whatever leaves impressions upon my imaginative faculty, shall be resolutely set out of the way, as a hin.drance to that more abstracted contemplation, which my mind is desirous to indulge. A pure and simple act of the understanding, is that which must carry me up, and boldly soar at once to the Creator of angels, and souls, and all things. And hap. py is that soul, which refusing to be detained by low and viler objects, directs its flight to the noblest and most exalted, and, like the eagle, builds its nest in the top of the rocks, and keeps its eye steady upon the Sun of Righteousness; for no beauty is so charming, no pleasure so transporting, as that with which our eyes and mind are feasted, when our greedy sight and eager affections are determined to our God and Saviour, as to their only proper centre; when, by a wondrous mystical, but true and spiritual act of vision, we see him who is invisible; behold a light far different from this, which cheers our senses, and taste a pleasure infinitely sweeter than any this world and its joys can afford : for this is a short and insincere pleasure; this is a dim and feeble light, confined to a narrow space, always in motion from us, and in a few hours put out by constant returns of darkness: these are enjoyments which the great Creator hath distributed to brutes, nay, to the vilest of insects, in common with mankind; and therefore let us thirst and aspire after such as are truly Divine; for what even swine and worms share with us, cannot deserve the name of light and pleasure, but, in comparison of those more refined, are to be esteemed no better than pain and night.
Vision and Enjoyment of God.
This supreme and immutable Being, this glorious sun that never sets, this true, unclouded, and eternal light, the light of angels and men, cannot indeed be seen with mortal eyes, nor must we hope in this life to approach it; that blessing is reserved for glorified saints in heaven; and therein chiefly does the excellence of their reward and happiness consist. But yet are we not even now shut out from all perception of it neither: for to believe in, to meditate upon, to understand, and ardently to thirst after God, to make him the sole object of our thoughts and desires; this is in some sense to see, and to possess him. And since our capacity extends thus far at present, let us exert those little powers we have; let our voices be lifted up on high, and our souls make God their study; and let us, to the best of our ability, entertain him with his own praises. For it is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that the creature should publish the goodness of the Creator; since he created us for the manifestation of his glory, though he stand in no need of any glory we can give him, nor can we add to what he hath already.
For he is power incomprehensible, possessing all things, and self-sufficient. Great is our Lord, and great is his power, yea, and his wisdom is infinite. Great is our Lord and marvellous, and worthy to be praised. Let this then be the object of my love;
this the subject of my song; this the ground of my labour and studies. And let my mind, and tongue, and hands, be continually exercised in desiring, speaking, singing, writing of him. Let the delights of this heavenly rhetoric be my daily food and feast, that, filled with this Divine nourishment, I may cry out with the most earnest contention of heart and voice, with joy and gladness, and most fervent zeal, and proclaim the excellences of my God.
Most great, most gracious, most mighty, most just, most merciful, omnipresent and incomprehensible Lord God! Thou art invisible and yet seest all things, unchangeable and changest all things; immortal, without bound, without end, unspeakable, unsearchable, unmoved, and giving motion to all things"; fearful and glorious; to be honoured and reverenced, and adored with the most profound humility; never new, never old; and yet making all things new, and consuming their gayest pride with age, though they regard it not.
Always in action, and yet always at rest: sustaining all things, and yet feeling no burthen ; creating, protecting, nourishing, maintaining, improving all things. Thou seekest, and yet thou lackest not; thou lovest without passion, art jealous without disturbance; thou repentest without remorse; art angry without perturbation; changest thy works, but not thy resolution; thou receivest what thou hadst never lost; art never poor, and yet rejoicest in the gaining of sinners; art not covetous, and yet expectest thy own with usury; and art pleased to account thyself a debtor to them who do good for thy sake.
But who, alas, can do, who is possessed of any good, which is not thine already? Thou payest debts, and yet owest nothing: Thou forgivest debts, and art no loser by thy mercy: Thou givest life and being to all; art every where, and all in all : Thou mayest be felt and perceived, but not seen; art distant from no place, and yet far from the ungodly! For where thou art not by thy grace and favour, thou still art present by thy observation and vengeance. Thou communicatest thyself to all, but not to all equally. To some things thou impartest being, but not life, or sense, or understanding. To some, being and life, but not sense and understanding. To some again, being, and life, and sense, but not understanding. To some, lastly, thy bounty extends so far, as to bestow all these. And though thou always art the same, perfectly consistent with thyself, yet nothing is more different than that vast variety, of gifts and dispensations, wherein thy different influences are shed abroad upon different sorts of creatures.
We are in continual pursuit of thee, and though thou move not away from us, yet can we not apprehend thee. Thou possessest all things, compassest all, surmountest all, upholdest all things.
Thou teachest the hearts of the faithful without the formality of words, and speakest to them without the noise of articulate sounds. Thy wisdom reacheth from one end to the other mightily, and sweetly doth she order all things. Thou art nei. ther enlarged by any addition of space, nor changed by any revolution of time. Thou inhabitest the light, which no man can approach; indivisible, because strictly and simply one, having no parts, filling all things with the whole of thyself.
Finite minds cannot distinctly conceive, nor artful expressions declare, nor whole volumes and libra. ries explain the depths and intricacies of this mystery. For what can describe that greatness which is above all quantity, and that transcendent goodness which is above all quality ? This is perfect goodness indeed; and therefore none is truly good but thou alone, with whom to intend is to finish, and to will is to be able to perform. .
Thou madest all things out of nothing, merely because it was thy good pleasure so to do. Thou possessest all things, not because thou needest any : Thou governest all without care or toil, and nothing in heaven above, or in earth, no not in hell beneath, hath power to countermand, or in any degree to disturb thy regular management, or break the beauteous order of thy universe.
Thou art not the author of any evil: this is what even that power, which can do all things, cannot do; for the being able to do this would argue a defect, and not a perfection of power. Nor canst thou repent of any thing thou hast done, because thy wisdom always does the best: nor canst thou be disordered with any tumultuous passions, for these are the tempests and commotions of weak minds: nor could the danger or ruin of the whole world be any detriment to thee, for that were to have a happiness depending on thy own creatures: nor canst thou approve or commend any wicked action, for that were a blemish to thy holiness, and would make thee cease to be God.
Thou never liest, because thou art eternal truth. By thy bounty alone we are created. By thy justice we are punished for our offences. And by thy clemency we are delivered from vengeance and destruction. No material being, whether earthly or heavenly body, no active principle which can affect