Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

SECT. XI.
A RECAPITULATION OF THE WHOLE DISCOURSE.

AND now, what is to be done? Surely, as some traveller, that hath, with many weary steps, passed through divers kingdoms and countries, being now returned to his quiet home, is wont to solace his leisure, by recalling to his thoughts a short mental landscape of those regions, through which he hath journeyed; here conceiving a large plain, there a lake; here a track of mountains, there a wood; here a fen, there a city; here a sea, there a desert; so do thou, O my soul, upon this voyage of thine through the great Invisible World, £ thyself of : thou hast seen; and so abridge this large prospect to thyself, as that it may never be out of thine eye. 'hin', first, that, whatsoever thou seest, thou canst not look beside the Invisible Majesty of thy God. All this material world is his; he is in all; rather, all is in him; who, so comprehends this universe, that he is infinitely without it. Thisk of him, as with thee; as in thee; as every where. Do thou, therefore, ever acknowledge him, ever adore him, ever enjoy him, ever be approved of him. See him; from whom, thou canst not be hid: rely on him; without whom, thou canst not subsist: glorify him; without whom, thou canst not be happy. Next, as those, that have their celestial life and being, by, from, and in him, wonder at the glorious Hierarchy of the heavenly Angels: bless him, in their pure and spiritual nature, in their innumerable numbers, in their mighty power, in their excellent knowledge: bless him, in their comely orders, in their divine offices, in their beneficial employments, in their gracious care and love of mankind. And, so far as weak flesh and blood may with pure and majestical spirits, converse with them daily: entertain them, for thou knowest they are present, with awful observances, with spiritual allocutions: ask of thyself, how pleasing thine actions are to them: receive from them their holy injections; return to them, under thy God, thy thankful acknowledgments: expect from them a gracious tuition here, and a happy transportation to thy glory. After these, represent to thyself the blessed society of the late charge, and now partners, of those heavenly angels, the Glorified Spirits of the Just. See the certainty of their immortal being, in the state of their separation. See them, in the very instant of their parting, blessed with the vision, with the fruition, of their God. See how they now bathe themselves in that celestial bliss; as being so fully sated with joy and happiness, that they cannot so much as desire more. See, them, in a mutual interknowledge, enjoying each others’ blessedness. . See the happy communion, which they hold with their warfaring brotherhood, here upon earth; whose victory and consummation they do, in a generality, sue for to the Throne of Grace. Foresee them, lastly, after a longing desire of meeting with their old and never forgotten partner, joyfully reunited to their now-glorified bodies; and employing their eternity of life, in continual hallelujahs to him, that sits upon the Throne. Take up thy rest here, O my soul, for ever.

But do not, as yet, thus end thy prospect: it is good for thee, to know worse things. If, in paradise, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil were forbidden to our first parents, the act of the knowledge of both is not forbidden to us: even to know evil in speculation, may avoid the knowledge of it in a woeful experience. See, then, 8 my soul, the best creature falleth from good into evil. In choosing it, see him, by mis-inclining his own will, apostatizing from his Infinite Creator; and hurled down headlong, from the height of heavenly glory, to the bottom of the nethermost hell.

See the irrecoverable condition and dreadful numbers of those Precipitated Angels: see their formidable power; their implacable malice; their marvellous knowledge, craft, skill to do mischief; their perpetual machinations of our destruction, especially in their last assaults: see their counterfeisance, in their glorious and seemingly-holy apparitions, for a spiritual advantage.

And, when thou hast recollected thyself to a resolution of defiance and unweariable resistance, cast thine eye upon the deplorable condition of those Damned Souls, whom they have either betrayed by their fraud, or by their violence mastered; and, whilst thou dost bless and magnify the divine justice in their deserved torment, spend thy tears upon those, who would needs spend their eternity of being, in weeping, wailing, and gnashing: and, lastly, rouze up thyself, in the moment of thy ' life, unto all careful and fervent endeavours, to save thyself, and to rescue others from this fearful damnation.

SECT. XII.

THE COMPARISON OF BOTH WORLDS : AND HOW OUR THOUGHTS AND AFFECTIONS SHOULD BE TAKEN UP WITH THE INVISIBLE WORLD.

Now, then, having taken a view of both worlds; of the material world, by the eyes of sense and reason; of the invisible, by the eyes of reason and faith; I cannot but admire God in both, and both of them in God; but the invisible so much more, as it is infinitely beyond the other: for, God himself is the world of this world: whom, while in the material world we admire in his creatures, in this immaterial we admire in himself. Now himself must needs be infinitely more wonderful, than many worlds, if such there were, of those creations, that should proceed from him. As for the parts of the created, but Invisible World, it must needs be said, the lightsome part of it hath more glory, than any piece of the material world can be capable of: on the contrary, the dark and privative region of the Invisible World, hath infinitely more horror than the other. For, what is the worst and most disconsolate darkness of this visible world, but a privation of the light of the sun; which yet can never be so absolute as to exclude all im

perfect diffusion of those insensible glimmerings: whereas the darkness of this spiritual world is an utter privation of the sight of God, joined with an unconceivable anguish. Even in nature, spiritual essences must needs be more excellent than bodily; and of only spirits it is, that the Invisible World consisteth. Besides, what vanit and inconstancy do we find every where, in this material and elementary world! what creature is there, which doth not exchange life, for death; being, for dissolution; sanity, for corruption ? What uproars do we ind in the airl what commotions and turbulencies upon earth! The best state of things is an uncertain vicissitude; the worst, certain desolation and destruction: whereas, the Invisible World is settled in a firm and steady immutability; the blessed angels and souls of the saints being so fixed in their glory, that they are now no more capable of alteration. Shortly, he, that saw both worlds, shuts up all in one word: The things, that are seen, are temporal; the things, that are not seen, eternal, 2 Cor. 1W. 18. As, then, I can never open my bodily eyes, but I shall see the material world; and I hope I shall never see it, but I shall praise the power, and wisdom, and goodness of the Infinite Creator of it: so shall it be one of the main cares of my life, to bless the eyes of my soul, with the perpetual view of the Spiritual and Invisible World. Every action, every occurrent shall mind me of those hidden and better things: and I shall so admit of all material objects, as if they were altogether transparent; that through them I might see wonderful prospects of another world. And, certainly, if we shall be able so to withdraw ourselves from our senses, that we shall see, not what we see, but what we think, as it uses to be in the strong intentions of the mind; and shall make earthly things, not as iunets to shut up our sight, but spectacles to transmit it to spiritual objects; we shall lead a life as far removed from those beasts which we see, as near approaching to those angels whom we converse with and see not. Neither shall it be enough for us to know an Invisible World, and to consider that all we see is the least part of what we see not; unless we be so affected to the unseen world, as we ought. It is not knowledge, that must shew us how to be Christians; but it is our affection, that must make us so. In the acknowledgment therefore, of an invisible Glory and Infiniteness, our hearts must be ever taken up with a continual awe and reverence. If some great prince shall vouchsafe to let me be seen of him, although he please to keep himself unseen of me; and shall only, according to the state of some great eastern monarchs, speak to me behind a vail or traverse; or, as the great Prete of the South had wont to grace ambassadors, shew me only some part of his leg *, so as that I may understand him to be present; I should think it concerned me, to carry myself in no less seemly fashion to494

* Jo. Leo Afric. descr. Afr.

DEVOTIONAL WORKS. out of carnal affections, he would make us the panders of others' vices.

One while, he sets on the tongue to an inordinate motion ; that many words may let fall some sin: another while, he restrains it in a sullen silence; out of an affectation of a commendable modesty.

One while, out of a pretended honest desire to know some secret and useful truth, he hooks a man into a busy curiosity, and unawares entangles the heart in unclean affections : another while, he brooks many a sin, with only the bashfulness of enquiry.

One while, he injects such pleasing thoughts of fleshly delights, as may at the first seem safe and inoffensive; which, by a delayed entertainment, prove dangerous and inflaming : another while, he overlays the heart with such swarms of obscene suggestions, that, when it should be taken up with holy devotion, it hath work enough to repel and answer those sinful importunities.

One while, he moves us to an ungrounded confidence in God, for a condescent or deliverance; that, upon our disappointment, he may work us to impatience; or, upon our prevailing, to a proud and over-weening opinion of our mistaken faith: another while, he casts into us glances of distrust, where we have sure ground of belief.

One while, he throws many needless scruples into the conscience ; for a causeless perplexing of it, a righting it even from lawful actions : another while, he labours so to widen the conscience, that even gross sins inay pass down unfelt.

One while, he will seem friendly in suggesting advice to listen unto good counsel, which yet he more strongly keeps us off from taking; for a further obduration : another while, he moves us to slight all the good advice of others, out of a persuasion of our own self-sufficiency, that we may be sure to fall into evil.

One while, he smooths us up in the good opinion of our own gracious disposition, that we may rest in our measure: another while, he beats us down with a disparagement of our true graces ; that we may be heartless and unthankful.

One while, he feeds us with a sweet contentment, in a colourable devotion ; that we may not care to work our hearts to a solid piety: another while, he endeavours to freeze up our hearts, with a dulness and sadness of spirit, in our holy services; that they may prove irksome, and we negligent.

One while, he injects lawful, but unseasonable motions of requisite employments; to cast off our minds from due intention in prayers, hearing, meditation : another while, he is content we should over-weary ourselves with holy tasks; that they may grow tediously distasteful.

One while, he woos a man, to glut himself with some pleasurable sin ; upon pretence that this satiety may breed a loathing of that whereof he surfeits : another while, he makes this spiritual çlrunkenness but an occasion of further thirst.

Dae wbile, he suggests to a man the duty he owes to the mains

arung

tenance of his honour and reputation, though unto blood : another while, he bids him be tongue-proof; that he may render the party shamelessly desperate in evil doing.

One while, he allows us to pray long; that we may love to hear ourselves speak, and may languish in our devotion : ánother while, he tells us there is no need of vocal prayers, since God hears our thoughts,

One while, he urgeth us to a busy search and strong conclusion of the unfailable assurance of our election to glory, upon slippery and unsure grounds : another while, to a careless indifferency and stupid neglect of our future estate ; that we may perish through security.

One while, slighting the measure of contrition, as unsufficient ; another while, working the heart to take up with the least velleity of penitent sorrow, without straining it to any further afflictive degrees of true penance.

One while, suggesting such dangerous points of our self-examination, that the resolution is every way unsafe ; so as we must presume upon our strength, if we determine affirmatively; if negatively, decline towards despair : another while, encouraging a man, by the prosperous event of his sin, to re-act it; and, by the hard successes of good actions, to forbear them.

One while, under pretence of giving glory to God for his graces, stirring up the heart to a proud over-valuing our own virtues and abilities : another while, stripping God of the honour of his gifts ; by a causeless pusillanimity.

One while, aggravating our unworthiness to be sons, servants, subjects, guests, alms-men of the holy and great God: another while, upon some poor works of piety or charity, raising our conceits to a secret gloriation of our worthiness, both of acceptance and reward, and God's beholdingness to us.

Shortly, for it were easy to exceed in instances, one while, casting undue fears into the tender hearts of weak regenerates, of God's just desertions, and of their own sinful deficiencies : another while, puffing them up, with ungrounded presumptions of present safety and future glory.

These, and a thousand more such arts of deceit, do the evil spirits practise upon the poor soul of wretched man, to betray it to everlasting destruction. And if, at any time, they shall pretend fair respects, it is a true observation of a strict votary, That the Devils of Consolation are worse than the Alictive. O my soul, what vigilance can be sufficient for thee, while thou art so beset with variety of contrary temptations ?

SECT. VI. OF THE APPARITIONS AND ASSUMED SHAPES OF EVIL SPIRITS. Besides these mental and ordinary onsets, we find when these malignant spirits have not stuck, for a further advantage, to clothe themselves with the appearances of visible shapes; not of meaner

« AnteriorContinuar »