CENTURIES OF MEDITATIONS
edited by Bertram Dobell
THE SECOND CENTURY
THE Services which the world doth you, are transcendent to all imagination. Did it only sustain your body and preserve your life and comfort your senses, you were bound to value it as much as those services were worth: but it discovers the being of God unto you, it opens His nature, and shews you His wisdom, goodness and power, it magnifies His love unto you, it serves Angels and men for you, it entertains you with many lovely and glorious objects, it feeds you with joys, and becomes a theme that furnishes you with perpetual praises and thanksgivings, it enflameth you with the love of God, and in the link of your union and communion with Him. It is the temple wherein you are exalted to glory and honour, and the visible porch or gate of Eternity: a sure pledge of Eternal joys, to all them that walk before God and are perfect in it.
If you desire directions how to enjoy it, place yourself in it as if no one were created besides yourself, and consider all the services it doth even to you alone. Prize those services with a joy answerable to the value of them, be truly thankful, and as grateful for them, as their merit deserves. And remember always how great soever the world is, it is the beginning of Gifts, the first thing which God bestows to every infant, by the very right of his nativity. Which because men are blind, they cannot see, and therefore know not that God is bountiful. From that first error they proceed and multiply their mistaking all along. They know not themselves or their own glory, they understand not His commandments, they see not the sublimity of righteous actions, they know not the beauty of Truth, nor are acquainted with the glory of the Holy Scriptures.
Till you see that the world is yours, you cannot weigh the greatness of sin, nor the misery of your fall, nor prize your redeemer's love. One would think these should be motives sufficient to stir us up to the contemplation of God's works, wherein all the riches of His Kingdom will appear. For the greatness of sin proceedeth from the greatness of His love whom we have offended, from the greatness of those obligations which were laid upon us, from the great blessedness and glory of the estate wherein we were placed, none of which can be seen, till Truth is seen, a great part of which is, that the World is ours. So that indeed the knowledge of this is the very real light, wherein all mysteries are evidenced to us.
The misery of your fall ariseth naturally from the greatness of your sin. For to sin against infinite love; is to make oneself infinitely deformed: to be infinitely deformed, is to be infinitely odious in His eyes who once loved us with infinite love: to have sinned against all obligations, and to have fallen from infinite glory and blessedness is infinite misery: but cannot be seen, till the glory of the estate from which we are fallen is discerned. To be infinitely odious in His eyes who infinitely loved us, maketh us unavoidably miserable: because it bereaveth us of the end for which we were created, which was to enjoy His love: and of the end also of all the creatures which were made only to manifest the same. For when we are bereaved of these, we live to no purpose; and having lost the end to which we were created, our life is cumbersome and irksome to us.
The counsel which our Saviour giveth in the Revelation to the Church of Ephesus, is by all churches, and by every Soul diligently to be observed: Remember from whence thou art fallen, and repent. Which intimates our duty of remembering our happiness in the estate o! innocence. For without this we can never prize our Redeemer's love: He that knows not to what he is redeemed cannot prize the work of redemption. The means cannot there be valued, where the end is despised. Since therefore by the Second Adam, we are restored to that we lost in the first: unless we value that we lost in the first, we cannot truly rejoice in the second. But when we do, then all things receive an infinite esteem, and an augmentation infinitely infinite, that follows after. Our Saviour's love, His incarnation, His life and death, His resurrection, His ascension into Heaven, His intercession for us being then seen, and infinitely prized, in a glorious light: as also our deliverance from Hell, and our reconciliation unto God.
The consideration also of this truth, that the world is mine, confirmeth my faith. God having placed the evidences of Religion in the greatest and highest joys. For as long as I am ignorant that the World is mine, the love of God is defective to me. How can I believe that He gave His Son to die for me, who having power to do otherwise gave me nothing but rags and cottages? But when I see once that He gave Heaven and Earth to me, and made me in His image to enjoy them in His similitude, I can easily believe that He gave His Son also for me. Especially since He commanded all. Angels and Men to love me as Himself: and so highly honoreth me, that whatsoever is done unto me, He accounteth done unto Him.
Place yourself therefore in the midst of the world. as if you were alone, and meditate upon all the services which it doth unto you. Suppose the Sun were absent; and conceive the world to be a dungeon of darkness and death about you: you will then find his beams more delightful than the approach of Angels: and loath the abomination of that sinful blindness, whereby you see not the glory of so great and bright a creature, because the air is filled with its beams. Then you will think that all its light shineth for you, and confess that God hath manifested Himself indeed, in the preparation of so divine a creature. You will abhor the madness of those who esteem a purse of gold more than it. Alas, what could a man do with a purse of gold in an everlasting dungeon? And shall we prize the sun less than it, which is the light and fountain of all our pleasures? You will then abhor the preposterous method of those, who in an evil sense are blinded with its beams, and to whom the presence of the light is the greatest darkness. For they who would repine at God without the sun, are unthankful, having it: and therefore only despise it, because it is created.
It raiseth corn to supply you with food, it melteth waters to quench your thirst, it infuseth sense into all your members, it illuminates the world to entertain you with prospects, it surroundeth you with the beauty of hills and valleys. It moveth and laboureth night and day for your comfort and service; it sprinkleth flowers upon the ground for your pleasure; and in all these things sheweth you the goodness and wisdom of a God that can make one thing so beautiful, delightful and serviceable, having ordained the same to innumerable ends. It concocteth minerals, raiseth exhalations, begetteth clouds, sendeth down the dew and rain and snow, that refresheth and repaireth all the earth. And is far more glorious in its diurnal motion, than if there were two suns to make on either side a perpetual day: the swiftness whereby it moves in twenty-four hours about so vast an universe manifesteth the power and care of a Creator, more than any station or quiet could do. And producing innumerable effects it is more glorious, than if millions of Angels diversly did do them.
Did the Sun stand still that you might have perpetual day, you would not know the sweetness of repose: the delightful vicissitudes of night and day, the early sweetness and spring of the morning, the perfume and beauty in the cool of the evening, would all be swallowed up in meridian splendour: all which now entertain you with delights. The antipodes would be empty, perpetual darkness and horror there, and the Works of God on the other side of the world in vain.
Were there two suns, that day might be alike in both places, standing still, there would be nothing but meridian splendour under them, and nothing but continual morning in other places; they would absume and dry up all the moisture of the earth, which now is repaired as fast as it decayeth: and perhaps when the nature of the sun is known, it is impossible there should be two: At least it is impossible they should be more excellent than this one; that we might magnify the Deity and rest satisfied in Him, for making the best of all possible works for our enjoyment.
Had the Sun been made one infinite flame it had been worse than it is, for there had been no living; it had filled all space, and devoured all other things. So that it is far better being finite, than if it were infinite.
Even as the sea within a finite shore
Is far the better 'cause it is no more.
Whence we may easily perceive the Divine Wisdom hath achieved things more than infinite in goodness and beauty, as a sure token of their perfect excellency.
Entering thus far into the nature of the sun, we may see a little Heaven in the creatures. And yet we shall say less of the rest in particular: tho' every one in its place be as excellent as it: and this without these cannot be sustained. Were all the earth filthy mires, or devouring quicksands, firm land would be an unspeakable treasure. Were it all beaten gold it would be of no value. It is a treasure therefore of far greater value to a noble spirit than if the globe of the earth were all gold. A noble spirit being only that which can survey it all, and comprehend its uses. The air is better being a living miracle as it now is than if it were crammed and filled with crowns and sceptres. The mountains are better than solid diamonds, and those things which scarcity maketh jewels (when you enjoy these) are yours in their places. Why should you not render thanks to God for them all? You are the Adam or the Eve that enjoy them. Why should you not exult and triumph in His love who hath done so great things for you? Why should you not rejoice and sing His praises? Learn to enjoy what you have first, and covet more if you can afterwards.
Could the seas serve you were you alone more than now they do? Why do you not render thanks for them? They serve you better than if you were in them: everything serving you best in its proper place Alone you were lord over all: bound to admire His eternal love who raised you out of nothing into this glorious world which He created for you. To see infinite wisdom goodness and power making the heavens and the earth, the seas, the air, the sun and stars! What wonder, what joy, what glory, what triumph, what delight should this afford! It is more yours than if you had been made alone.
The Sun is but a little spark of His infinite love: the Sea is but one drop of His goodness. But what flames of love ought that spark to kindle in your soul: what seas of affection ought to flow for that drop in your bosom! The heavens are the canopy, and the earth is the footstool of your throne: who reign in communion with God: or at least are called so to do. How lively should His divine goodness appear unto you; how continually should it rest upon you; how deeply should it be impressed in you! Verily its impressions ought to be so deep, as to be always remaining, always felt, always admired, always seen and rejoiced in. You are never truly great till all the world is yours: and the goodness of your Donor so much your joy, that you think upon it all day long. Which King David the Royal Man well understood, when he said: My lips shall de filled with Thy praise, and Thy honor all the day. I will make mention of Thy loving kindness in Thy Holy Temple.
The world serves you, as in serving those cattle which you feed upon, so in serving those men, that build and plough, and plant, and govern for you. It serves you in those that pray and adore, and praise for you, that fill the world with beauty and virtue; that are made to love and honour you, to please and advance you with all the services that the art of man can devise. So that you are alone in the world, though there are millions in it beside. You are alone to enjoy and rejoice in all, being the adequate object of His eternal love, and the end of all. Thus the world serves to promote and advance you.
Those services are so great, that when you enter into them, they are ample fields and territories of joy though on the outside they seem so contemptible, that they promise nothing. The magnified pleasures of this corrupted world, are like the Egyptian Temples in old time, that were Magnifica in frontispicio Ridicula in penetrali: They have a Royal frontispiece, but are ridiculous when you come in. These hidden pleasures, because they are great, common, and simple, are not understood.
Besides these immediate pleasures here beneath, there are many sublime and celestial services which the world doth do. It is a glorious mirror wherein you may see the verity of all religion: enjoy the remainders of Paradise, and talk with the Deity. Apply yourself vigorously to the enjoyment of it, for in it you shall see the face of God, and by enjoying it, be wholly converted to Him.
You shall be glorified, you shall live in communion with Him, you shall ascend into the Throne of the highest Heavens; you shall be satisfied, you shall be made greater than the Heavens, you shall be like Him, when you enjoy the world as He doth; you shall converse with His wisdom, goodness, and power above all worlds, and therefore shall know Him. To know Whom is a sublime thing; for it is Life Eternal.
They that quarrel at the manner of God's revealing Himself are troubled because He is invisible. Yet is it expedient that He should be so: for whatsoever is visible is a body; whatsoever is a body excludeth other things out of the place where itself is. If God therefore being infinite were visible He would make it impossible for anything to have a being. Besides, bulk as such in itself is dead. Whatsoever is visible is so in like manner. That which inspireth bulk with motion, life, and sense is invisible; and in itself distinct from the bulk which it inspireth. Were God therefore pure bulk, He could neither move, nor will, nor desire anything; but being invisible; He leaveth room for and effecteth all things. He filleth nothing with a bodily presence, but includeth all. He is pure Life, Knowledge, and Desire, from which all things flow: pure Wisdom, Goodness, and Love to which all things return.
Hence we may know why God appeareth not in a visible manner, is because He is invisible. Those who are angry with the Deity for not showing Himself to their bodily eyes are not displeased with the manner of revelation, but that He is such a God as He is. But though He is invisible, yet say they, He may assume a body, and make Himself visible therein. We ask them therefore what kind of body they desire, for if He should take upon Himself a visible body, that body must represent some of His perfections. What perfections then would they have that body to express? If His infinity, that body then must be infinite. Upon which the same absurdity would follow as before, for being infinite it would exclude all Being beside out of place. If His Eternity, that cannot by a body be represented. Neither is any sense able to judge of infinity or eternity. For if He should represent Himself by an infinite wall; sight being too short might apprehend itself defective, and be assured that it could not apprehend the ends of that wall; but whether it had ends, which itself was not able to discern, it could not be satisfied, Would. you therefore have it to express some other of His perfections; as particularly that of His beauty? Beauty being a thing consisting of variety, that body could not be one simple being, but must be sweetly tempered of a manifold and delightful mixture of figures and colours: and be some such thing as Ezekiel saw in his vision. For uniform beauty the Sun is the most delightful, yet is not that Sun the most delightful thing that is possible. A body more beautiful than it may be made. Suppose therefore the most beautiful that is possible were created. What would follow? Being a silent and quiet object of the eye, would be no more noted than if it had not a being, The most beautiful object being always present, grows common and despised. Even as a picture is at first admired, but at length no more regarded than the bare wall. Since therefore the most beautiful thing that is possible, being always continued, would grow into contempt; how do we know, but the world is that body, which the Deity bath assumed to manifest His Beauty and by which He maketh Himself as visible, as it is possible He should?
When Amasis the King of Egypt sent to the wise men of Greece, to know, Quid Pulcherrimum? upon due and mature consideration they answered, The World. The world certainly being so beautiful that nothing visible is capable of more. Were we to see it only once, the first appearance would amaze us. But being daily seen, we observe it not. Ancient philosophers have thought God to be the Soul of the World. Since therefore this visible World is the body of God, not His natural body, but which He hath assumed; let us see how glorious His wisdom is in manifesting Himself thereby. It hath not only represented His infinity and eternity which we thought impossible to, be represented by a body, but His beauty also, His wisdom, goodness, power, life and glory, His righteousness, love, and blessedness: all which as out of a plentiful treasury, may be taken and collected out of this world.
First, His infinity; for the dimensions of the world are unsearchable. An infinite wall is a poor thing to express His infinity. A narrow endless length is nothing: might be, and if it were, were unprofitable. But the world is round, and endlessly unsearchable every way. What astronomer, what mathematician, what philosopher did ever comprehend the measures of the world? The very Earth alone being round and globous, is illimited. It hath neither walls nor precipices, nor bounds, nor borders. A man may lose himself in the midst of nations and kingdoms. And yet it is but a centre compared to the universe. The distance of the sun, the altitude of the stars, the wideness of the heavens on every side passeth the reach of sight, and search of the understanding. And whether it be infinite or no, we cannot tell. The Eternity of God is so apparent in it, that the wisest of philosophers thought the world eternal. We come into it, leave it, as if it had neither beginning nor ending. Concerning its beauty I need say nothing. No man can turn unto it, but must be ravished with its appearance. Only thus much, since these things are so beautiful, how much more beautiful is the author of them? Which was the note and observation of the wise man in the Book of*___. But the beauty of God is invisible, it is all Wisdom, Goodness, Life and Love, Power, Glory, Blessedness &c. How therefore shall these be expressed in a material world? His wisdom is expressed in manifesting His infinity in such a commodious manner. He hath made a penetrable body in which we may stand, to wit the air, and see the Heavens and the regions of the Earth, at wonderful distances. His goodness is manifest in making that beauty so delightful, and its varieties so profitable. The air to breathe in, the sea for moisture, the earth for fertility, the heavens for influences, the Sun for productions, the stars and trees wherewith it is adorned for innumerable uses. Again His goodness is seen, in the end to which He guideth all this profitableness, in making it serviceable to supply our wants, and delight our senses: to enflame us with His love, and make us amiable before Him, and delighters in His blessedness. God having not only shewed us His simple infinity in an endless wall, but in such an illustrious manner, by an infinite: variety, that He hath drowned our understanding in a multitude of wonders: transported us with delights and enriched us with innumerable diversities of joys and pleasures. The very greatness of our felicity convinceth us that there is a God.
*There is a blank here in the original MS.
His power is evident by upholding it all. But how shall His life appear in that which is dead? Life is the root of activity and motion: Did I see a man sitting in a chair, as long as he was quiet, I could not tell but his body was inanimate: but if he stirred, if he moved his legs, or stretched forth his arms, if he breathed or twinkled with his eyes, I could easily tell he had a soul within him. Motion being a far greater evidence of life, than all lineaments whatsoever. Colours and features may be in a dead picture, but motion is always attended with life. What shall I think therefore when the winds blow, the seas roar, the waters flow, the vapours ascend, the clouds fly, the drops of rain fall, the stars march forth in armies, the sun runneth swiftly round about the world? Can all these things move so without a life, or spring of motion? But the wheels in watches move, and so doth the hand that pointeth out the figures: this being a motion of dead things. Therefore hath God created living ones: that by lively motions, and sensible desires, we might be sensible of a Deity. They breathe, they see, they feel, they grow, they flourish, they know, they love. O what a world of evidences! We are lost in abysses, we now are absorpt in wonders, and swallowed up of demonstrations. Beasts, fowls, and fishes teaching and evidencing the glory of their creator. But these by an endless generation might succeed each other from everlasting. Let us therefore survey their order, and see by that whether we cannot discern their governor. The sun, and moon, and stars shine, and by shining minister influences to herbs and flowers. These grow and feed the cattle: the seas also and springs minister unto them, as they do unto fowls and fishes. All which are subservient unto man, a more noble creature endued with understanding to admire his Creator. Who being king and lord of this world, is able to prize all in a reflexive manner, and render praises for all with joy, living blessedly in the fruition of them. None can question the being of a Deity but one that is ignorant of man's excellencies, and the glory of his dominion over all the creatures.
Above all, man discovereth the glory of God; who being himself Immortal, is the divinest creature. He hath a dominion over all the rest, and God over him: By him, the fountain of all these things is the end of them: for he can return to their Author deserved praises. Senses cannot resemble that which they cannot apprehend; nor express that which they, cannot resemble, but in a shady manner. But man is made in the Image of God, and therefore is a mirror and representative of Him. And therefore in himself he may see God, which is his glory and felicity. His thoughts and desires can run out to everlasting. His love can extend to all objects, his understanding is an endless light, and can infinitely be present in all places, and see and examine all beings, survey the reasons, surmount the greatness, exceed the strength, contemplate the beauty, enjoy the benefit, and reign over all it sees and enjoys like the Eternal Godhead. Here is an invisible power, an indivisible omnipresence, a spiritual supremacy, an inward, hidden, unknown being greater than all, a sublime and sovereign creature meet to live in communion with God, in the fruition of them.
That you are a man should fill you with joys, and make you to overflow with praises. The privilege of your nature being infinitely infinite. And that the world serves you in this fathomless manner, exhibiting the Deity, and ministering to your blessedness, ought daily to transport you with a blessed vision, into ravishments and ecstasies. What knowledge could you have had of God by an unprofitable wall though endless and infinite? For though as things now are, nothing can be, but it exhibits a Deity; as the Apostle saith, By things that are seen the invisible things of God are manifested, even His power and Godhead, because everything is a demonstration of His goodness and power; by its existence and the end to which it is guided: yet an endless wall could never manifest His being, were it present with you alone: for it would deny that infinity by its unprofitableness, which it showeth by its endlessness. The true exemplar of God's infinity is that of your understanding, which is a lively pattern and idea of it. It excludeth nothing, and containeth all things, being a power that permitteth all objects to be, and is able to enjoy them. Here is a profitable endlessness of infinite value, because without it infinite joys and blessings would be lost, which by it are enjoyed. How great doth God appear, in wisely preparing such an understanding to enjoy His creatures; such an endless, invisible, and mysterious receiver! And how blessed and divine are you, to whom God hath not only simply appeared, but whom He hath exalted as an Immortal King among all His creatures!
You are able to see His righteousness, and blessedness, and glory, which are invisible. Yea, which is infinitely more, to resemble and attain them, to express them in yourself, enjoying them and the similitude of them. No beast can see what righteousness is: nor is any brute capable of imitating it. You are: being admitted into the fellowship and order of Angels. Which have neither eyes nor ears, and yet see and understand things, which are infinitely higher than the sphere of senses. You are able to discern, that in all these things He is Love to you; and that Love is a fountain of infinite benefits, and doth all that is possible for its beloved object. It endlessly desireth to delight itself, and its delight is to magnify its beloved. You are able to see the righteousness of Love in this. For in doing the best of all possible things it is right wise to itself and to all other beings. Right wise to itself in glorifying itself in the best of manners, and to all other things in making them most excellent. Right wise to itself in preparing for itself the best of treasures, and to its object in like manner, in making its beloved the most blessed. Right wise unto itself, in satisfying itself in its infinite desire of becoming delightful to its object, in preparing for itself infinite pleasures, and in making for itself the most delightful object that can possibly be made. Right wise unto you, in making you that object: and providing all the treasures of itself for you, and making itself infinitely joyous and delightful to you.—Nothing is so righteous, or right wise as Love. For by making itself glorious it becometh infinite: and by loving its object infinitely it enableth itself to delight infinitely in its object's happiness: and wisely prepareth infinite treasures. Right wisely thereby at once enriching itself and its object. So that you are able evidently to discern that God is Love, and therein to contemplate all His perfections.
You are able therein to see the infinite glory of your high estate. For if God is Love, and Love be so restless a principle in exalting its object: and so secure that it always promoteth, and glorifieth and exalteth itself thereby, where will there be any bounds in your exaltation? How dreadful, how amiable, how blessed, how great, how unsearchable, how incomprehensible must you be in your true real inward happiness! The object of Love is infinitely exalted. Love is infinitely delightful to its object, God by all His works manifesteth Himself to be Love, and you being the end of them, are evidently its object. Go where you will, here alone shall you find your happiness. Contemplate therefore the works of God, for they serve you not only in manifesting Him, but in making you to know yourself and your blessedness.
As Love is righteous in glorifying itself and making its object blessed: so is it in all its dealings and dispensations towards it. Having made it amiable, it cannot but love it, which it is righteous in doing, for to love what is lovely is a righteous thing. To make it infinitely amiable is a righteous thing to infinite Love: and to love it infinitely, being infinitely amiable. For thereby infinite Love doth right to itself and its measure: yea, to itself and its object. To tender what is amiable is a righteous thing: to hurt it is evil. Love therefore is infinitely righteous in being infinitely tender of its object's welfare: and in hating infinitely the sin of hurting it. It is righteous in commanding others to promote it, and in punishing those that injure or offend it. And thus have you a Gate, in the prospect even of this world, whereby you may see into God's Kingdom. For by His works you see that God is Love, and: by His Love see the nature of all righteousness opened and unfolded: with the ground and foundations of rewards and punishments.
But God being infinite is infinitely righteous. His love therefore is righteous to itself and all its works as well as its object. To itself in requiring that it be infinitely esteemed, of which it is infinitely desirous. The contemners of it therefore it infinitely punisheth. To its works not only in making them the best that may be, but in requiring an exact and due esteem, from the enjoyers of them. Is not Love jealous of the honour of its gifts? Doth not a contempt of its presents, rebound upon itself? The world therefore serveth you abundantly in teaching you your duty. They daily cry in a living manner, with a silent and yet most loud voice, We are all His gifts: We are tokens and presents of His Love. You must therefore esteem us according to the beauty and worth that is in us, and the Love from whence we came. Which to do, is certainly the most blessed thing in all worlds, as not to do it is most wicked and most miserable.
Love further manifests itself in joining righteousness and blessedness together: for wherein can Love appear more than in making our duty most blessed. Which here is done by making obedience the fruition of one's blessedness. God cannot therefore but be infinitely provoked, when we break His laws. Not only because Love is jealous and cruel as the grave, but because also our duty being so amiable, which it imposeth on us with infinite obligations, they are all despised: His Love itself, our most beautiful duty and all its obligations. So that His wrath must be very heavy, and His indignation infinite.
Yet Love can forbear, and Love can forgive, though it can never be reconciled to an unlovely object. And, hence it is that though you have so little considered the Works of God, and prized His Love; yet you are permitted to live: and live at ease, and enjoy your pleasure. But Love can never be reconciled to an unlovely object, and you are infinitely unlovely by despising God and His Love so long. Yea, one act only of despite done to the smallest creature made you infinitely deformed. What shall become of you therefore since God cannot be reconciled to an ugly object? Verily you are in danger of perishing eternally. He cannot indeed be reconciled to an ugly object as it is ugly, but as it is capable of being otherwise He may. He can never therefore be reconciled to your sin, because sin itself is incapable of being altered: but He may be reconciled to your person, because that maybe restored and, which is an infinite wonder, to greater beauty and splendour than before.
By how much the greater His love was, by so much the greater may His sorrow be at the loss of His object: and by so much the greater His desire also of its restoration. His Love therefore being infinite, may do infinite things for an object infinitely valued. Being infinite in Wisdom, it is able also to devise a way inscrutable to us, whereby to sever the sin from the sinner and to satisfy its righteousness in punishing the transgression, yet satisfy itself in saving the transgressor: And to purge away the dross and incorporated filth and leprosy of sin: restoring the Soul to its primitive beauty, health, and glory. But then it doth this at an infinite expense, wherein also it is more delighted, and especially magnified, for it giveth Another equally dear unto itself to suffer in its stead. And thus we come again by the Works of God to our Lord JESUS CHRIST.
Whoever suffereth innocently and justly in another's stead, must become a surety by his voluntary act. And this an Angel or a Cherubim might have done. He might also perhaps have suffered an infinite punishment in the removal of that Love of God which he infinitely prized: and perhaps also he might have paid an obedience which he owed not. For the Angels are bound to love God with all their might, and men as themselves, while they are innocent: and to live by loving them in their blessedness and glory; yet they are not bound by virtue of this law to die for men being wicked and deformed; and therefore in undertaking this might have undertaken more than was their duty: and perhaps loving God infinitely, (had they seen His love to man) they would. Yea, perhaps also they might have suffered in our nature; and been able to have sustained infinite wrath; which are all the conditions usually reckoned up and numbered by Divines, as requisite in a Mediator and Redeemer of others. For they might have been hypostatically united to our nature, and though they were creatures, yet Almighty Power can sustain a creature under as great a punishment as Almighty Power can inflict. Almighty Power upholding it being like the nether millstone, and Almighty Power punishing like the upper millstone, between which two it is infinitely tormented. We must therefore search higher into the causes of our Saviour's prelation above them.
One great cause why no Angel was admitted to this office, was because it was an honour infinitely too great and sublime for them, God accounting none but His own Son worthy of that dignity. Wherefore, it is written, no man taketh this honour to himself, but He that is called of God, as was Aaron. Neither did Jesus (though He were the Son of God) make Himself an High Priest, but He that said unto Him, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Nor yet was it forced or imposed upon Him, but He voluntarily undertook it. For which cause God hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name in Heaven and Earth, because being in the form of God, he thought it not robbery to be equal with God, yet took upon Him the form of a servant, and being found in the fashion of a man would humble Himself to the Death of the Cross for our sakes.
Where we learn several strange and admirable things: First, how high an honour it is to suffer for God in this world: Secondly, in what an infinite dignity man is exalted for whom God counted none worthy to suffer but His own Son: And thirdly the equity of God's proceeding in chastising another for our sins: (against the Socinians who, being blind in this mystery, are the enemies of our Saviour's Deity in this world.) For had He imposed this task upon one that was unwilling, it had been injustice: had He imposed it upon one that was unable to perform it, it had been folly: had He imposed it upon any one to his harm, cruelty; but laying it upon one that was willing and able, to His highest benefit, it was righteousness, wisdom, and glory. All mercy goodness and love on every side.
How vile are they, and blind and ignorant, that will not see every one to be the heir of the world, for whose sake all this was done! He that spared not His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Is not he an object of infinite Love for whom our Saviour died? Shall not all things in Heaven and Earth serve him in splendour and glory, for whom the Son of God came down to minister in agonies and sufferings? O here contemplate the glory of man, and his high exaltation in the Throne of God. Here consider how you are beloved, and be transported with excess of joy at this wonderful mystery. Leave the trash and vanities of the world, to live here in communion with the blessed Trinity. Imitate St. Paul who counted all things but dross and dung, for the excellency of the knowledge of God in Christ. And thus the Works of God serve you in teaching you the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour.
Another reason for which our Redemption was denied to Angels and reserved only to be wrought by our Saviour, is the dignity of Man; for the redemption of their Soul is precious and it ceaseth forever. None of them can by any means redeem him, nor give to God a ransom for him. Having sinned, he must be clothed in the righteousness of God or perish for ever. All the Angels and Cherubims in Heaven, though their righteousness should be imputed to him could not justify him. No created righteousness is able to cover him, the exceeding glory of his primitive estate being so great, that it made his sin infinitely infinite.
Yet further, another reason why this office was delegated to none of them, was this: He that died for us must by his own merits save us. Being therefore our Saviour was to merit for us, by His own actions, it was necessary that He should be such an one, who, by His own power, could sustain infinite punishments, and offer them up to God on our behalf with infinite Love as a voluntary obedience. Which only Christ was able to do out of the treasury of His own fullness. For the divine essence in Him could overcome infinite punishments, and infinitely love the Inflicter of them: without any repining, despondency, or hatred, returned for the same. Where it is curious to observe, how fully our Saviour satisfied for us. We hated God when He loved us: our Saviour not only loved God, while God loved Him but loved Him also with infinite love, even while He expressed hatred against Him.
Finally another reason was the dignity of our Saviour's person, who, being infinitely more excellent than all Angels, was, in His condescentions infinitely more acceptable. Which excellency both of His person and condescention is not a little magnified by His Eternity. By His sufferings He brought in eternal righteousness. That He should stoop down for our sakes was infinitely meritorious. And since the Will before God is the Highest Deed: accepting this from all Eternity, it is as if from all Eternity He had suffered for us. His love to God and man, in this Act was infinite and eternal. And therefore is it said, that He through the Eternal Spirit, offered up Himself a sacrifice to God for us. His Eternal Spirit from everlasting offered up itself, when He said, Lo, I come in the volume of the Book is it written of me: to do Thy will, O God; and He offered up Himself through the Eternal Spirit in time when He was slain upon the Cross. Now no creature can offer up itself eternally, because it was not from everlasting. Nor can anything work Eternal Righteousness for us, but God alone.
How then should we be saved? since eternal righteousness must be paid for our temporal iniquity: since one must suffer by His own strength on our behalf: and out of His own fullness defray our debt of infinite charity, and that in the midst of sufferings; which no Angel or Seraphin is able: Since He must pay an obedience which He did not owe: both in loving men when themselves were hateful, and in loving God when He was hated of Him: since none but God could do this, and it was inconvenient for God to do it: whither shall we fly for refuge? Verily, we are in a great strait: but in the midst of these exigencies Love prepareth for itself an offering. One mighty to save, concerning whom it is written, This day have I begotten Thee.
God by loving begot His Son. For God is Love, and by loving He begot His Love. He is of Himself, and by loving He is what He is, INFINITE LOVE. God is not a mixt and compounded Being, so that His Love is one thing and Himself another: but the most pure and simple of all Beings, all Act, and pure Love in the abstract. Being Love therefore itself, by loving He begot His Love. Had He not Loved, He had not been what He now is, The God of Love, the most righteous of all beings, in being infinitely righteous to Himself, and all. But by loving He is infinitely righteous to Himself and all. For He is of Himself, Infinitely Blessed and most Glorious; and all His creatures are of Him, in whom they are infinitely delighted and Blessed and Glorious.
In all Love there is a love begetting, and a love begotten, and a love proceeding. Which though they are one in essence subsist nevertheless in three several manners. For love is benevolent affection to another: Which is of itself, and by itself relateth to its object. It floweth from itself and resteth in its object. Love proceedeth of necessity from itself, for unless it be of itself it is not Love. Constraint is destructive and opposite to its nature. The Love from which it floweth is the fountain of Love. The Love which streameth from it, is the communication of Love, or Love communicated. The Love which resteth in the object is the Love which streameth to it. So that in all Love, the Trinity is clear. By secret passages without stirring it proceedeth to its object, and is as powerfully present as if it did not proceed at all. The Love that lieth in the bosom of the Lover, being the love that is perceived in the spirit of the Beloved: that is, the same in substance, tho' in the manner of substance, or subsistence, different. Love in the bosom is the parent of Love, Love in the stream is the effect of Love, Love seen, or dwelling in the object proceedeth from both. Yet are all these, one and the Selfsame Love: though three Loves.
Love in the fountain and Love in the stream are both the same. And therefore are they both equal in Time and Glory. For love cominunicateth itself: And therefore love in the fountain is the very love communicated to its object. Love in the fountain is love in the stream, and love in the stream equally glorious with love in the fountain. Though it streameth to its object it abideth in the lover, and is the love of the lover.
Where Love is the Lover, Love streaming from the Lover, is the Lover; the Lover streaming from himself, and existing in another Person.
This Person is the Son of God: who as He is the Wisdom of the Father, so is He the Love of the Father, For the Love of the Father is the Wisdom of the Father. And this Person did God by loving us, beget, that He might be the means of all our glory.
This Person differs in nothing, from the Father, but only in this that He is begotten of Him. He is Eternal with the Father, as glorious and as intelligent. He is of the same mind in everything in all worlds, loveth the same objects in as infinite a measure. Is the means by which the Father loveth, acteth, createth, redeemeth, governeth, and perfecteth all things. And the means also by which we see and love the Father: our strength and our eternity. He is the Mediator between God and His creatures. God therefore being willing to redeem us by His own blood, ( Acts 20 ) by Him redeemed us, and in His person died for us.
How wonderful is it that God by being Love should prepare a Redeemer to die for us? But how much more wonderful, that by this means Himself should be, and be God by being Love! By this means also He refineth our nature, and enableth us to purge out the poison and the filthy plague of Sin. For love is so amiable and desirable to the Soul that it cannot be resisted: Love is the Spirit of God. In Himself it is the Father, or else the Son, for the Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father: In us it is the Holy Ghost. The Love of God being seen, being God in us: Purifying, illuminating, strengthening, and comforting the soul of the seer. For God by shewing communicateth Himself to men and angels. And when He dwelleth in the soul, dwelleth in the sight. And when He dwelleth in the sight achieving all that love can do for such a soul. And thus the world serveth you as it is a mirror wherein you contemplate the Blessed Trinity. For it plainly sheweth that God is Love, and in His being Love you see the unity of the Blessed Trinity, and a glorious Trinity in the Blessed Unity.
In all Love there is some Producer, some Means, and some End: all these being internal in the thing itself. Love loving is the Producer, and that is the Father Love produced is the Means, and that is the Son For Love is the means by which a lover loveth. The End of these Means is Love: for it is love by loving: and that is the Holy Ghost. The End and the Producer being both the same, by the Means attained. For by loving Love attaineth itself and being. The Producer is attained by loving, and is the End of Himself. That Love is the end of itself, and that God loveth that He might be Love, is as evident to him that considers spiritual things, as the Sun. Because it is impossible there should be a higher end, or a better proposed. What can be more desirable than the most delightful operation; what more eligible, than the most glorious being; what further can be proposed than the most blessed and perfect life? Since God therefore chooseth the most perfect life, what can be more perfect than that life and that Being which is at once the Fountain, and the End of all things? There being in it the perpetual joy of giving and receiving infinite treasures. To be the Fountain of joys and blessings is delightful. And by being Love God is the Fountain of all worlds. To receive all and to be the End of all is equally delightful, and by being Love God receiveth, and is the End of all. For all the benefits that are done unto all, by loving all, Himself receiveth: What good could Heaven and Earth do Him, were it not for His Love to the children of men? By being what He is, which is Love unto all, He enjoyeth all.
What life can be more pleasant, than that which is delighted in itself, and in all objects; in which also all objects infinitely delight? What life can be more pleasant, than that which is blessed in all, and glorious before all? Now this life is the life of Love. For this end therefore did He desire to Love, that He might be Love. Infinitely delightful to all objects, infinitely delighted in all, and infinitely pleased in Himself, for being infinitely delightful to all, and delighted in all. All this He attaineth by Love. For Love is the most delightful of all employments. All the objects of Love are delightful to it, and Love is delightful to all its objects. Well then may Love be the end of loving, which is so complete. It being a thing so delightful, that God infinitely rejoiceth in Himself for being Love. And thus you see how God is the end of Himself. He doth what He doth, that He may be what He is. Wise and glorious and bountiful and blessed in being Perfect Love.
Love is so divine and perfect a thing, that it is worthy to be the very end and being of the Deity. It is His goodness, and it is His glory. We therefore so vastly, delight in Love, because all these excellencies and all other whatsoever lie within it. By Loving a Soul does propagate and beget itself. By Loving it does dilate and magnify itself. By Loving it does enlarge and delight itself. By Loving also it delighteth others, as by Loving it doth honour and enrich itself. But above all by Loving it does attain itself. Love also being the end of Souls, which are never perfect till they are in act what they are in power. They were made to love, and are dark and vain and comfortless till they do it. Till they love they are idle, or misemployed. Till they love they are desolate; without their objects, and narrow and little, and dishonourable: but when they shine by Love upon all objects, they are accompanied with them and enlightened by them. Till we become therefore all Act as God is, we can never rest, nor ever be satisfied.
Love is so noble that it enjoyeth others' enjoyments, delighteth in giving all unto its object, and in seeing all given to its object. So that whosoever loveth all mankind, he enjoyeth all the goodness of God to the whole world: and endeavoureth the benefit of Kingdoms and Ages, with all whom He is present by Love, which is the best manner of presence that is possible.
God is present by Love alone. By Love alone He is great and glorious. By Love alone He liveth and feeleth in other persons. By Love alone He enjoyeth all the creatures, by Love alone He is pleasing to Himself, by love alone He is rich and blessed. O why dost not thou by Love alone seek to achieve all these, by Love alone attain another self, by Love alone live in others, by Love attain thy glory? The Soul is shrivelled up and buried in a grave that does not Love. But that which does love wisely and truly is the joy and end of all the world, the King of Heaven, and the Friend of God, the shining Light and Temple of Eternity: The Brother of Christ Jesus, and one Spirit with the Holy Ghost.
Love is a far more glorious Being than flesh and bones. If thou wilt it is endless, and infinitely more sweet than thy body can be to thee and others. Thy body is confined, and is a dull lump of heavy clay, by which thou art retarded, rather than dost move: It was given thee to be a lantern only to the candle of Love that shineth in thy Soul; by it thou dost see and feel and eat and drink: but the end of all is that thou mightest be as God is: a joy and blessing by being Love. Thy Love is illimited. Thy Love can extend to all objects. Thy Love can see God and accompany His Love throughout all Eternity. Thy Love is infinitely profitable to thyself and others. To thyself, for thereby mayest thou receive infinite good things. To others, for thereby thou art prone to do infinite good to all. Thy body can receive but few pleasures. Thy Love can feed upon all: take into itself all worlds, and all Eternities above all worlds and all the joys of God before and after. Thy flesh and bones can do but little good: nor that little unless as by Love it is inspired and directed. A poor carcase thy body is; but love is delightful and profitable to thousands. O live therefore by the more noble part. Be like Him who baptizeth with fire. Feel thy spirit, awaken thy Soul, be an enlarged Seraphim, an infinite Good, or like unto Him.
The true WAY we may go unto His Throne, and can never exceed, nor be too high. All hyperboles are but little pigmies, and diminutive expressions, in comparison of the Truth. All that Adam could propose to himself or hope for was laid up in store for him, in a better way than he could ask or think: but in seeking for it a false way he lost all; what he had in hope, and what he had in fruition. To be as God, we are prompted to desire by the instinct of nature. And that we shall be by Loving all that He doth. But by loving Him what, O what, shall we be? By loving Him according to the greatness of His love unto us, according to His amiableness, as we ought, and according to the obligations that lie upon us, we shall be no man can devise what. We shall love Him infinitely more than ourselves, and therefore live infinitely more in Him than in ourselves, and be infinitely more delighted with His Eternal Blessedness than our own. We shall infinitely more delight*____ than ourselves. All worlds, all Angels, all men, all kingdoms, all creatures will be more ours in Him than in ourselves: so will His Essence and Eternal Godhead. Oh Love what hast Thou done !
*There is a word here which I cannot decipher.
And He will so love us, when all this beauty of Love is within us, that though we by our love to Him seem more blessed in His blessedness than He, He is infinitely more blessed than we even in our blessedness. We being so united to each other by living in each other that nothing can divide us for evermore.
Love is infinitely delightful to its object, and the more violent the more glorious. It is infinitely high, nothing can hurt it. And infinitely great in all extremes of beauty and excellency. Excess is its true moderation: Activity its rest: and burning fervency its only refreshment. Nothing is more glorious, yet nothing more humble. Nothing more precious, yet nothing more cheap. Nothing more familiar, yet nothing so inaccessible. Nothing more nice, yet nothing more laborious. Nothing more liberal, yet nothing more covetous. It doth all things for its object's sake, yet it is the most self-ended thing in the whole world; for of all things in nature it can least endure to be displeased. Since therefore it containeth so many miracles it may well contain this one more, that it maketh every one greatest, and among lovers every one is supreme and sovereign.
God by Love wholly ministereth to others, and yet wholly ministereth to Himself, Love having this wonder in it also, that among innumerable millions, it maketh every one the sole and single end of all things: It attaineth all unattainables; and achieveth impossibles, that is, seeming impossibles to our inexperience, and real impossibles to any other means or endeavours. For indeed it maketh every one more than the end of all things: and infinitely more than the sole supreme and sovereign of all. For it maketh him so first in himself: and then in all. For while all things in Heaven and Earth fall out after my desire, I am the end and sovereign of all: which conspiring always to crown my friends with glory and happiness, and pleasing all in the same manner whom I love as myself: I am in every one of them the end of all things again: being as much concerned in their happiness as my own.
By Loving a Soul does propagate and beget itself, because before it loved it lived only in itself: after it loved, and while it loveth it liveth in its object. Nay, it did not so much as live in itself, before it loved. For as the sun would be unseen, and buried in itself, did it not scatter, and spread abroad its beams, by which alone it becometh glorious: so the Soul without extending, and living in its object, is dead within itself: An idle chaos of blind and confused powers, for which when it loveth, it gaineth Three Subsistences in itself by the Act of Loving: A glorious Spirit that abideth within, a glorious Spirit that floweth in the stream: A glorious Spirit that resideth in the object. Insomuch that now it can enjoy a sweet communion with itself: in contemplating what it is in itself, and to its object.
Love is so vastly delightful in the Lover, because it is the communication of His Goodness. For the natural end of Goodness is to be enjoyed: it desireth to be another's happiness. Which Goodness of God is so deeply implanted in our natures, that we never enjoy ourselves but when we are the joy of others. Of all our desires the strongest is to be good to others. We delight in receiving, more in giving. We love to be rich, but then it is that we thereby might be more greatly delightful. Thus we see the seeds of Eternity sparkling in our natures.
Love is so vastly delightful to Him that is Beloved, because it is the fountain of all affections, services, and endeavours; a spring of honour and liberality, and a secure pledge of future benefits. It is the sole title by which we reign in another's bosom, and the only throne by which we are exalted, The body and soul of him that loves is his that is beloved, What then can Love deny? All greatness, power and dominion, befalleth him that is beloved, in the Soul that loveth him. So that while all the glorious creatures in all worlds love you, you reign in all Souls, are the image of God, and exalted like God in every bosom.
Though no riches follow, yet we are all naturally delighted with Love: both for what we receive, and for what we give. When we are beloved we receive the quintessence and glory of another's Soul, the End of Heaven and Earth, the cream and flower of all perfections, the tribute of God Almighty, peace and welfare, pleasure and honour, help and safety, all in readiness. And something infinitely more, and which we are not able to express. When we are beloved, we attain the End of riches in an immediate manner, and having the end need not regard the means. For the end of riches is that we may be beloved. We receive power to see ourselves amiable in another's soul; and to delight and please another person. For it is impossible to delight a luke-warm person, or an alienated affection with giving crowns and sceptres, so as we may a person that violently loves us with our very presence and affections.
By this we may discern what strange power God hath given to us by loving us infinitely. He giveth us a power more to please Him, than if we were able to create worlds and present them unto Him.
How happy we are that we may live in all, as well as one; and how all-sufficient Love is, we may see by this: The more we live in all, the more we live in one. For while He seeth us to live in all, we are a more great and glorious object unto Him; the more we are beloved of all, the more we are admired by Him; the more we are the joy of all, the more blessed we are to Him. The more blessed we are to Him, the greater is our blessedness. We are all naturally ambitious of being magnified in others, and of seeming great in others. Which inclination was implanted in us that our happiness might be enlarged by the multitude of spectators.
Love is the true means by which the world is enjoyed: Our love to others, and others' love to us. We ought therefore above all things to get acquainted with the nature of Love. For Love is the root and foundation of nature: Love is the Soul of Life and Crown of rewards. If we cannot be satisfied in the nature of Love we can never be satisfied at all. The very end for which God made the world, was that He might manifest His Love. Unless therefore we can be satisfied with His Love so manifested, we can never be satisfied. There are many glorious excellencies in the material World, but without Love they are all abortive. We might spend ages in contemplating the nature of the sun, and entertain ourselves many years with the beauty of the stars, and services of the sea: but the Soul of Man is above all these, it comprehendeth all ages in a moment; and unless it perceive something more excellent, is very desolate. All worlds being but a silent wilderness, without some living thing more sweet and blessed after which it aspireth. Love in the fountain, and love in the end is the glory of the world and the Soul of Joy. Which it infinitely preferreth above all worlds, and delighteth in, and loveth to contemplate, more than all visible beings that are possible. So that you must be sure to see causes wherefore infinitely to be delighted with the Love of God, if ever you would be happy.
See causes also wherefore to be delighted in your love to men, and in the love of men to you. For the world serves you to this end, that you might love them and be beloved of them. And unless you are pleased with the end for which the world serves you, you can never be pleased with the means leading to that end. Above all things therefore contemplate the glory of loving men, and of being beloved of them. For this end our Saviour died, and for this end He came into the world, that you might be restored from hatred, which is the greatest misery. From the hatred of God and men which was due for sin, and from the misery of hating God and men; for to hate and be hated is the greatest misery. The necessity of hating God and men being the greatest bondage that Hell can impose.
When you love men, the world quickly becometh yours: and yourself become a greater treasure than the world is. For all their persons are your treasures, and all the things in Heaven and Earth that serve them, are yours. For those are the riches of Love, which minister to its Object.
You are as prone to love, as the sun is to shine; it being the most delightful and natural employment of the Soul of Man: without which you are dark and miserable. Consider therefore the extent of Love, its vigour and excellency. For certainly he that delights not in Love makes vain the universe, and is of necessity to himself the greatest burden. The whole world ministers to you as the theatre of your Love: It sustains you and all objects that you may continue to love them. Without which it were better for you to have no being. Life without objects is sensible emptiness, and that is a greater misery than Death or Nothing. Objects without Love are a delusion of life. The Objects of Love are its greatest treasures: and without Love it is impossible they should be treasures. For the Objects which we love are the pleasing Objects, and delightful things. And whatsoever is not pleasing and delightful to you can be no treasure: nay it is distasteful, and worse than nothing, since we had rather it should have no being.
That violence wherewith sometimes a man doteth upon one creature, is but a little spark of that love, even towards all, which lurketh in his nature. We are made to love, both to satisfy the necessity of our active nature, and to answer the beauties in every creature. By Love our Souls are married and solder'd to the creatures and it is our Duty like God to be united to them all. We must love them infinitely, but in God, and for God and God in them: namely all His excellencies manifested in them. When we dote upon the perfections and beauties of some one creature, we do not love that too much, but other things too little. Never was anything in this world loved too much, but many things have been loved in a false way: and all in too short a measure.
Suppose a river, or a drop of water, an apple or a sand, an ear of corn, or an herb: God knoweth infinite exellencies in it more than we: He seeth how it relateth to angels and men; how it proceedeth from the most perfect Lover to the most perfectly Beloved; how it representeth all His attributes; how it conduceth in its place, by the best of means to the best of ends: and for this cause it cannot be beloved too much. God the Author and God the End is to be beloved in it; Angels and men are to be beloved in it; and it is highly to be esteemed for all their sakes. O what a treasure is every sand when truly understood! Who can love anything that God made too much? What a world would this be, were everything beloved as it ought to be!
Suppose a curious and fair woman. Some have seen the beauties of Heaven in such a person. It is a vain thing to say they loved too much. I dare say there are ten thousand beauties in that creature which they have not seen: They loved it not too much, but upon false causes. Nor so much upon false ones, as only upon some little ones. They love a creature for sparkling eyes and curled hair, lily breasts and ruddy cheeks which they should love moreover for being God's Image, Queen of the Universe, beloved by Angels, redeemed by Jesus Christ, an heiress of Heaven, and temple of the Holy Ghost: a mine and fountain of all virtues, a treasury of graces, and a child of God. But these excellencies are unknown. They love her perhaps, but do not love God more: nor men as much: nor Heaven and Earth at all. And so, being defective to other things, perish by a seeming excess to that. We should be all Life and Mettle and Vigour and Love to everything; and that would poise us. I dare confidently say that every person in the whole world ought to be beloved as much as this: And she if there be any cause of difference more than she is. But God being beloved infinitely more, will be infinitely more our joy, and our heart will be more with Him, so that no man can be in danger by loving others too much, that loveth God as he ought.
The sun and stars please me in ministering to you. They please me in ministering to a thousand others as well as you. And you please me because you can live and love in the Image of God: not in a blind and brutish manner, as beasts do; by a mere appetite and rude propensity, but with a regulated well-ordered Love, upon clear causes, and with a rational affection, guided to divine and celestial ends. Which is to love with a Divine and Holy Love, Glorious and Blessed. We are all prone to love; but the art lies in managing our love: to make it truly amiable and proportionable. To love for God's sake, and to this end, that we may be well-pleasing unto Him: to love with a design to imitate Him, and to satisfy the principles of intelligent nature, and to become honorable, is to love in a Blessed and Holy manner.
In one soul we may be entertained and taken up with innumerable beauties. But in the Soul of Man there are innumerable infinities. One soul in the immensity of its intelligence, is greater and more excellent than the whole world. The Ocean is but the drop of a bucket to it, the Heavens but a centre, the Sun obscurity, and all Ages but as one day. It being by its understanding a Temple of Eternity, and God's omnipresence, between which and the whole world there is no proportion. Its Love is a dominion greater than that which Adam had in Paradise: and yet the fruition of it is but solitary. We need spectators, and other diversities of friends and lovers, in whose souls we might likewise dwell, and with whose beauties we might be crowned and entertained. In all whom we can dwell exactly, and be present with them fully. Lest therefore the other depths and faculties of our souls should be desolate and idle, they also are created to entertain us. And as in many mirrors we are so many other selves, so are we spiritually multiplied when we meet ourselves more sweetly, and live again in other persons.
Creatures are multiplied, that our treasures may be multiplied, and their places enlarged, that the territories of our joys might be enlarged. With all which our souls may be present in immediate manner. For since the Sun which is a poor little dead thing, can at once shine upon many kingdoms, and be wholly present, not only in many cities and realms upon earth, but in all the stars in the firmament of Heaven; surely the soul which is a far more perfect sun, nearer unto God in excellency and nature, can do far more. But that which of all wonders is the most deep and incredible is, that a soul, whereas one would think it could measure but one soul, which is as large as it: can exceed that, and measure all souls, wholly and fully. This is an infinite wonder indeed. For admit that the powers of one soul were fathomless and infinite: are not the powers so also of another? One would think therefore that one soul should be lost in another: and that two souls should be exactly adequate. Yet indeed my soul can examine and search all the chambers and endless operations of another: being prepared to see innumerable millions.
Here is a glorious creature! But that which maketh the wonder infinitely infinite, is this: That one soul, which is the object of mine, can see all souls, and all the secret chambers, and endless perfections in every soul: yea, and all souls with all their objects in every soul: Yet mine can accompany all these in one soul and without deficiency exceed that soul and accompany all these in every other soul. Which shows the work of God to be deep and infinite.
Here upon Earth perhaps where our estate is imperfect this is impossible: but in Heaven where the soul is all Act it is necessary: for the soul is there all that it can be: Here it is to rejoice in what it may be. Till therefore the mists of error, and clouds of ignorance, that confine this sun be removed, it must be present in all kingdoms and ages virtually, as the Sun is by night, if not by clear sight and love, at least by its desire. Which are its influences and its beams, working in a latent and obscure manner on earth, above in a strong and clear.
The world serveth you therefore, in maintaining all people in all kingdoms, which are the Father's treasures, and your as yet invisible joys, that their multitudes at last may come to Heaven, and make those innumerable thousands, whose hosts and employments will be your joy. Whose order, beauty, melody, and glory will be your eternal delights. And of whom you have many a sweet description in the Revelation. These are they of whom it is said: After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations and kindred and people and tongues stood before the Throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes and palms in their hands, and they cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the Throne, and to the Lamb: of which it is said, They fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps and golden vials full of odors which are the prayers of the Saints, and they sung a new song saying Thou art worthy to take the Book, and to open the Seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, and hast made us unto our God Kings and Priests. Of whom it is said, I saw a sea of glass, and they, that had gotten the victory over the Beast standing on it, and they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty, just and true are Thy ways Thou King of Saints. Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name. For Thou only art holy; for all Nations shall came and worship before Thee, because Thy judgments are made manifest.
That all the powers of your Soul shall be turned into Act in the Kingdom of Heaven is manifest by what Saint John writeth, in the Isle Patmos: And I beheld and I heard the voice of many Angels round about the throne: and the Beasts and the Elders, and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands: Saying, with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength and honour, and glory, and blessing, And every creature which is in Heaven and on Earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the Sea, And all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and Honour, and Glory, and Power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the Throne and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
These things shall never be seen with your bodily eyes, but in a more perfect manner: You shall be present with them in your understanding. You shall be in them to the very centre and they in you. As light is in a piece of crystal, so shall you be with every part and excellency of them. An Act of the understanding is the presence of the Soul, which being no body but a living Act, is a pure spirit and mysteriously fathomless in its true dimensions. By an act of the understanding therefore be present now with all the creatures among which you live; and hear them in their beings and operations praising God in an heavenly manner. Some of them vocally, others in their ministry all of them naturally and continually. We infinitely wrong ourselves by laziness and confinement. All creatures in all nations, and tongues, and people praise God infinitely; and the more, for being your sole and perfect treasures. You are never what you ought till you go out of yourself and walk among them.
Were all your riches here in some little place: all other places would be empty. It is necessary therefore for your contentment and true satisfaction, that your riches be dispersed everywhere. Whether is more delightful; to have some few private riches in one, and all other places void; or to have all places everywhere filled with our proper treasures? Certainly to have treasures in all places. For by that means we are entertained everywhere with pleasures, are everywhere at home honored and delighted, everywhere enlarged and in our own possessions. But to have a few riches in some narrow bounds, though we should suppose a kingdom full, would be to have our delights limited, and infinite spaces dark and empty, wherein we might wander without satisfaction. So that God must of necessity to satisfy His love give us infinite treasures. And we of necessity seek for our riches in all places.
The Heavens and the Earth serve you, not only in shewing unto you your Father's Glory, as all things without you are your riches and enjoyments, but as within you also, they magnify, beautify and illuminate your soul. For as the Sun-beams illuminate the air and all objects, yet are themselves also illuminated by them, so fareth it with the powers of your soul. The rays of the sun carry light in them as they pass through the air, but go on in vain till they meet an object: and there they are expressed. They illuminate a mirror, and are illuminated by it. For a looking-glass without them would be in the dark, and they without the glass unperceived. There they revive and overtake themselves, and represent the effigies from whence they came; both of the sun and heavens; and trees and mountains, if the glass be seated conveniently to receive them. Which were it not that the glass were present there, one would have thought even the ideas of them absent from the place. Even so your soul in its rays and powers is unknown: and no man would believe it present everywhere, were there no objects there to be discerned. Your thoughts and inclinations pass on and are unperceived, but by their objects are discerned to be present: being illuminated by them. For they are present with them and active about them. They receive and feel themselves, and by those objects live in employment, being turned into the figure and idea of them. For as light varieth upon all objects whither it cometh, and returneth with the form and figure of them: so is the soul transformed into the Being of its object. Like light from the Sun, its first effigies is simple life, the pure resemblance of its primitive fountain, but on the object which it meeteth it is quickly changed, and by understanding becometh all Things.
Objective treasures are always delightful: and though we travail endlessly, to see them all our own is infinitely pleasant and the further we go the more delightful. If they are all ours wholly and solely, and yet nevertheless every one's too, it is the most delightful accident that is imaginable, for thereby two contrary humours are at once delighted, and two inclinations, that are both in our natures, yet seem contradictory, are at once satisfied. The one is the avaricious humour and love of propriety, whereby we refer all unto ourselves and naturally desire to have all alone in our private possession, and to be the alone and single end of all things. This we perceive ourselves because all universally and everywhere is ours. The other is the communicative humour that is in us, whereby we desire to have companions in our enjoyments to tell our joys, and to spread abroad our delights, and to be ourselves the joy and delight of other persons. For thousands enjoy all as well as we, and are the end of all: and God communicateth all to them as well as us. And yet to us alone, because He communicateth them to us, and maketh them our rich and glorious companions: to whom we may tell our joys, and be blessed again. How much ought we to praise God, for satisfying two such insatiable humours that are contrary to each other! One would think it impossible that both should be pleased, and yet His Divine Wisdom hath made them helpful and perfective to each other.
Infinite Love cannot be expressed in finite room: but must have infinite places wherein to utter and shew itself. It must therefore fill all Eternity and the Omnipresence of God with joys and treasures for my fruition. And yet it must be expressed in a finite room by making me able in a centre to enjoy them. It must be infinitely exprest in the smallest moment by making me able in every moment to see them all. It is both ways infinite, for my Soul is an infinite sphere in a centre. By this way you know that you are infinitely beloved: God hath made your spirit a centre in eternity comprehending all, and filled all about you in an endless manner with infinite riches: which shine before you and surround you with Divine and Heavenly enjoyments.
Few will believe the soul to be infinite: yet infinite* is the first thing which is naturally known. Bounds and limits are discerned only in a secondary manner. Suppose a man were born deaf and blind. By the very feeling of his soul, he apprehends infinite about him, infinite space, infinite darkness. He thinks not of wall and limits till he feels them and is stopped by them. That things are finite therefore we learn by our senses. But infinity we know and feel by our souls: and feel it so naturally, as if it were the very essence and being of the soul. The truth of it is, it is individually in the soul: for God is there, and more near to us than we are to ourselves. So that we cannot feel our souls, but we must feel Him, in that first of properties, infinite space. And this we know so naturally, that it is the only primo et necessario cognitum in rerum naturâ: of all things the only first and most necessarily known. For we can unsuppose Heaven, and Earth and annihilate the world in our imagination, but the place where they stood will remain behind, and we cannot unsuppose or annihilate that, do what we can. Which without us is the chamber of our infinite treasures, and within us the repository and recipient of them.
* (?) Infinity.
What shall we render unto God for this infinite space in our understandings? Since in giving us this He hath laid the foundation of infinite blessedness, manifested infinite love, and made us in capacity infinite creatures, In this He hath glorified and gratified infinite goodness exerted infinite power and made Himself thereby infinitely delightful, and infinitely great, in being Lord and Upholder of such infinite creatures. For being wholly everywhere, His omnipresence was wholly in every centre: and He could do no more than that would bear: Communicate Himself wholly in every centre. His nature and essence being the foundation of His power, and of our happiness: of His glory and our greatness: of His goodness, and our satisfaction. For we could never believe that He loved us infinitely unless He exerted all His power. For k a t a D u n a m i n one of the principal properties of Love: as well as e k e i n o u e n e k a . To the utmost of its power, as well as for His sake.
He therefore hath not only made us infinite treasures only in extent: and souls infinite to see and enjoy them, which is to measure and run parallel with them but in depth also they are everywhere infinite being infinite in excellency. And the soul is a miraculous abyss of infinite abysses, an undrainable ocean, an inexhausted fountain of endless oceans, when it will exert itself to fill and fathom them. For if it were otherwise man is a creature of such noble principles and severe expectations, that could he perceive the least defect to be in the Deity, it would infinitely displease him: The smallest distaste, spreading like a cloud from a hand over all the Heavens. Neither will any pretence serve the turn to cover our cowardice, which we call modesty, in not daring to say or expect this of the Deity. Unless we expect this with infinite ardency, we are a lazy kind of creatures good for nothing. 'Tis man's holiness and glory to desire absolute perfection in God, with a jealousy and care infinitely cruel: for when we so desire it, that without this we should be infinitely displeased, and altogether lost and desperate forever: finding God to have exceeded all our desires: it becometh the foundation of infinite Love. In the fruition of the fruits of which we are to live in communion with Him for evermore.
[Between 83 and 84 in the original MS. the following is written:]
Space perfects its stature
Affections its colors
Objects its lineaments
Actions its graces.
Your soul being naturally very dark, and deformed and empty when extended through infinite but empty space, the world serves you in beautifying and filling it with amiable ideas; for the perfecting of its stature in the eye of God. For the thorough understanding of which you must know, that God is a being whose power from all Eternity was prevented with Act. And that He is one infinite Act of KNOWLEDGE and WISDOM, which is infinitely beautified with many consequences of Love &c. Being one Act of Eternal Knowledge, He knows all which He is able to know, all objects in all worlds being seen in His understanding, His greatness is the presence of His soul with all objects in infinite spaces: and His brightness the light of Eternal Wisdom. His essence also is the Light of Things. For He is all eye and all ear. Being therefore perfect, and the mirror of all perfection, He hath commanded us to be perfect as He is perfect. And we are to grow up into Him till we are filled with the fullness of His Godhead. We are to be conformed to the Image of His glory: till we become the resemblance of His great exemplar. Which we then are, when our power is converted into Act, and covered with it, we being an Act of KNOWLEDGE and WISDOM as He is: When our Souls are present with all objects, and beautified with the ideas and figures of them all. For then shall we be MENTES as He is MENS. We being of the same mind with Him who is an infinite eternal mind. As both Plato and Cato with the Apostle, term Him.
Si Deus est Animus sit pura Mente Colendus.
If God, as verses say, a Spirit be
We must in Spirit like the Deity
Become: we must the Image of His mind
And union with it, in our Spirit find.
Heaven and Earth, Angels and Men, God and all things must be contained in our souls, that we may become glorious personages, and like unto Him in all our actions.
You know that Love receives a grandeur of value and esteem from the greatness of the person, from whom it doth proceed. The love of a King is naturally more delightful than the love of a beggar: the love of God more excellent than the love of a King. The love of a beautiful person is more pleasing than that of one deformed. The love of a wise man is far more precious than the love of a fool. When you are so great a creature as to fill ages and kingdoms with the beauty of your soul, and to reign over them like the Wisdom of the Father filling Eternity with Light and Glory, your love shall be acceptable and sweet and precious. The world therefore serveth you, not only in furnishing you with riches, and making you beautiful, and great and wise, when it is rightly used: but in doing that which doth infinitely concern you, in making your love precious. For above all things in all worlds you naturally desire most violently that your love should be prized: and the reason is, because that being the best thing you can do or give, all is worthless that you can do besides: and you have no more power left to be good, or to please, or to do anything, when once your love is despised.
Since therefore Love does all it is able, to make itself accepted, both in increasing its own vehemence, and in adorning the person of the Lover: as well as in offering up the most choice and perfect gifts, with what care ought you to express your love in beautifying yourself with this wisdom, and in making your person acceptable? Especially since your person is the greatest gift your love can offer up to God Almighty. Clothe yourself with Light as with a garment, when you come before Him: put on the greatness of Heaven and Earth, adorn yourself with the excellencies of God Himself. When you prepare yourself to speak to Him, be all the knowledge and light you are able, as great, as clear, and as perfect as is possible. So at length shall you appear before God in Sion: and as God converse with God for evermore.
God hath made it easy to convert our soul into a Thought containing Heaven and Earth, not that it should be contemptible because it is easy: but done because it is Divine. Which Thought is as easily abolished, that by a perpetual influx of life it may be maintained. If He would but suspend His power, no doubt but Heaven and Earth would straight be abolished, which He upholds in Himself as easily and as continually as we do the idea of them in our own mind. Since therefore all things depending so continually upon His care and love, the perpetual influx of His almighty power is infinitely precious and His Life exercised incessantly in the manifestation of Eternal Love, in that every moment throughout all generations He continueth without failing to uphold all things for us, we likewise ought to show our infinite love by upholding Heaven and Earth, Time and Eternity, God and all things in our Souls, without wavering or intermission: by the perpetual influx of our life. To which we are by the goodness of all things infinitely obliged. Once to cease is to draw upon ourselves infinite darkness, after we have begun to be so illuminated: for it shows a forgetfulness and defect in love, and it is an infinite wonder that we are afterward restored.
[This number is omitted in the original MS.]
Being that we are here upon Earth turmoiled with cares, and often shaken with winds and by disturbances distracted: it is the infinite Mercy of God that we are permitted to breathe and be diverted. For all the things in Heaven and Earth attend upon us while we ought to answer and observe them, by upholding their beauty within: But we are spared and God winketh at our defect, all the World attending us while we are about some little trifling business. But in the Estate of Glory the least intermission would be an eternal apostacy: But there by reason of our infinite union with God it is impossible.
We could easily show that the idea of Heaven and Earth in the Soul of Man, is more precious with God than the things themselves and more excellent in nature. Which because it will surprise you a little, I will. What would Heaven and Earth be worth, were there no spectator, no enjoyer? As much therefore as the end is better than the means, the thought of the World whereby it is enjoyed is better than the World. So is the idea of it in the Soul of Man, better than the World in the esteem of God: it being the end of the World, without which Heaven and Earth would be in vain. It is better to you, because by it you receive the World, and it is the tribute you pay. It more immediately beautifies and perfects your nature. How deformed would you be should all the World stand about you and you be idle: Were you able to create other worlds, God had rather you should think on this. For thereby you are united to Him. The sun in your eye is as much to you as the sun in the heavens. For by this the other is enjoyed. It would shine on all rivers, trees, and beasts in vain to you could you not think upon it. The sun in your understanding illuminates your soul, the sun in the heavens enlightens the hemisphere. The world within you is an offering returned, which is infinitely more acceptable to God Almighty, since it came from Him, that it might return unto Him. Wherein the mystery is great. For God hath made you able to create worlds in your own mind which are more precious unto Him than those which He created; and to give and offer up the world unto Him, which is very delightful in flowing from Him, but much more in returning to Him. Besides all which in its own nature also a Thought of the World, or the World in a Thought, is more excellent than the World, because it is spiritual and nearer unto God. The material world is dead and feeleth nothing, but this spiritual world, though it be invisible, hath all dimensions, and is a divine and living Being, the voluntary Act of an obedient Soul.
Once more, that I might close up this point with an infinite wonder: As among divines, it is said, That every moment's preservation is a new creation: and therefore blessings continued must not be despised, but be more and more esteemed: because every moment's preservation is another obligation: even so in the continual series of thoughts whereby we continue to uphold the frame of Heaven and Earth in the Soul towards God, every thought is another world to the Deity as acceptable as the first. Yea, the continuance puts an infinite worth and lustre on them. For to be desultory and inconstant is the part of a fickle and careless soul, and makes the imagination of it worthless and despised. But to continue serious in upholding these thoughts for God's sake, is the part of a faithful and loving Soul: which as it thereby continues great and honorable with God, so is it thereby Divine and Holy: and every act of it of infinite importance: and the continuance of its life transcendently esteemed. So that though you can build or demolish such worlds as often as you please; yet it infinitely concerneth you faithfully to continue them, and wisely to repair them. For though to make them suddenly be to a wise man very easy: yet to uphold them always is very difficult, a work of unspeakable diligence, and an argument of infinite love.
As it becometh you to retain a glorious sense of the world, because the Earth and the Heavens and the Heaven of Heavens are the magnificent and glorious territories of God's Kingdom, so are you to remember always the unsearchable extent and unlimited greatness of your own soul; the length and breadth and depth, and height of your own understanding. Because it is the House of God, a Living Temple, and a Glorious Throne of the Blessed Trinity: far more magnificent and great than the heavens; yea a person that in Union and Communion with God, is to see Eternity, to fill His Omnipresence, to possess His greatness, to admire His love; to receive His gifts, to enjoy the world, and to live in His Image. Let all your actions proceed from a sense of this greatness, let all your affections extend to this endless wideness, let all your prayers be animated by this spirit and let all your praises arise and ascend from this fountain. For you are never your true self, till you live by your soul more than by your body, and you never live by your soul till you feel its incomparable excellency, and rest satisfied and delighted in the unsearchable greatness of its comprehension.
The world does serve you, not only as it is the place and receptacle of all your joys, but as it is a great obligation laid upon all mankind, and upon every person in all ages to love you as himself; as it also magnifieth all your companions, and showeth your heavenly Father's glory. Yea, as it exalteth you in the eyes of the illuminate, and maketh you to be honored and reverenced by the Holy. For there is not a man in the whole world that knows God, or himself, but he must honour you. Not only as an Angel or a Cherubim, but as one redeemed by the blood of Christ, beloved by all Angels, Cherubims, and Men, an heir of the world, and as much greater than the Universe, as he that possesseth the house is greater than the house. O what a holy and blessed life would men lead, what joys and treasures would they be to each other, in what a sphere of excellency would every man move, how sublime and glorious would their estate be, how full of peace and quiet would the world be, yea of joy and honour, order and beauty, did men perceive this of themselves, and had they this esteem for one another!
As the world serves you by shewing the greatness of God's love to you, so doth it serve you as fuel to foment and increase your praises. Men's lips are closed because their eyes are blinded: their tongues are dumb because their ears are deaf: and there is no life in their mouths, because death is in their hearts. But did they all see their Creator's glory, which appeareth chiefly in the greatness of His bounty; did they all know the blessedness of their estate, O what a place full of joys, what an amiable region and territory of praises would the world become; yea, what a sphere of light and glory! As no man can breathe out more air than he draweth in: so no man can offer up more praises than he receiveth benefits, to return in praises. For praises are transformed and returning benefits. And therefore doth God so greatly desire the Knowledge of Him, because God when He is known is all Love: and the praises which He desires are the reflection of His beams which will not return till they are apprehended. The world therefore is not only the Temple of these praises, and the Altar whereon they are offered, but the fuel also that enkindles them, and the very matter that composeth them. Which so much the more serves you, because it enkindles a desire in you that God should be praised, and moves you to take delight in all that praise Him. So that as it incites yours, it gives you an interest in others' praises: and is a valley of vision, wherein you see the Blessed Sight of all men's praises ascending, and of all God's blessings coming down upon them.
The World serves you, as it teaches you more abundantly to prize the love of Jesus Christ. For since the inheritance is so great to which you are restored, and no less than the whole world is the benefit of your Saviour's Love, how much are you to admire that person that redeemed you from the lowest Hell to the fruition of it? Your forfeiture was unmeasurable and your Sin infinite, your despair insupportable, and your danger eternal: how happy are you therefore, that you have so great a Lord, whose love rescued you from the extremest misery! Had you seen Adam turned into Hell, and going out of this fair mansion which the Lord had given him into everlasting torments, or eternal darkness, you would have thought the World a glorious place, which was created for him, and the Light of Eden would have appeared in greater lustre than it did before: and His love by whom he was recovered the greatest jewel. It is a heavenly thing to understand His love, and to see it well. Had Adam had no esteem for the place to which he was restored he had not valued the benefit of his restitution. But now looking upon it with those eyes wherewith noble men look upon their territories and palaces, when they are going to die, His mercy who died for him, that he after his condemnation might return again into his dear enjoyments, maketh Him by whom they were purchased the best and greatest of all enjoyments. Darius when he had conquered Babylon, by the art of Zopyrus, who cut off his nose and ears and lips, that making the Babylonians to confide in him, he might deliver up the city into the King's hands; admiring the fidelity and love of Zopyrus protested, that he had rather have one Zopyrus whole, than ten Babylons. Even so we, were our spirits Divine, and noble, and genuine, should by the greatness of the benefit be excited above ourselves, and to exceed the gift, in the Love of our Saviour. Being afterwards asked upon the sight of a pomegranate slit in the midst, what thing he would above all other desire, might he have as many of them as there were seeds in that pomegranate, answered, Tot Zopyrorum: As many Zopyruses. One Saviour is worth innumerable worlds.
The World is a pomegranate indeed, which God hath put into man's heart, as Solomon observeth in the Ecclesiastes, because it containeth the seeds of grace and the seeds of glory. All virtues lie in the World, as seeds in a pomegranate: I mean in the fruition of it, out of which when it is sown in man's heart they naturally arise. The fidelity of Zopyrus and the love of Darius are included in it. For when we consider, how great a Lord gave us so great a dominion: we shall think it abominable to be treacherous and unfaithful in the midst of His dominions. When we consider we cannot choose but sin, if we sin at all, being surrounded with His gifts, and that the land we tread on is of His munificence: how can we err against Him who gave it to us? Can we forsake Him, whose gifts we. cannot leave? The whole world is better than Babylon; and at greater expense than Zopyrus' lips was it purchased for us.
This visible World is wonderfully to be delighted in, and highly to be esteemed, because it is the theatre of God's righteous Kingdom. Who as Himself was righteous, because He made it freely, so He made it that we might freely be righteous too. For in the Kingdom of Glory it is impossible to fall. No man can sin that clearly seeth the beauty of God's face because no man can sin against his own happiness; that is, none can when he sees it clearly, willingly, and wittingly forsake it, tempter, temptation, loss, and danger being all seen: but here we see His face in a glass, and more dimly behold our happiness as in a mirror; by faith therefore we are to live, and to sharpen our eye that we may see His glory, we are to be studious and intent in our desires and endeavours. For we may sin, or we may be holy. Holiness therefore and righteousness naturally flow out of our fruition of the World: for who can vilify and debase himself by any sin, while he actually considers he is the heir of it? It exalts a man to a sublime and honorable life: it lifts him above lusts and snakes him angelical.
It makes him sensible of the reality of Happiness: it feeds him with contentment, and fills him with gratitude, it delivers him from the love of money which is the root of all evil, it causes him to reign over the perverse customs and opinions that are in. the world: it opens his eyes, and makes him to see man's blindness and errors. It sateth his covetousness, feedeth his curiosity and pleaseth his ambition. It makes him too great for preferments and allurements. It causeth him to delight in retirement: and to be in love with prayer and communion with God. It lifteth him up above men's scandals and censures. It maketh him zealous of the salvation of all. It filleth him with courage on the behalf of God. It makes him to rejoice in a present, visible, immovable treasure to which the rest of the world is blind, and strengthens his faith and hope of Invisible. Yea it makes him wise, and many invisible joys doth he see in this. Glory and Dominion are invisible joys. And so is that great interest a man hath to all Kingdoms and Ages, which a true possessor of the World is more sensible of, than of his houses and lands. It makes him meek in pardoning all injuries, because he is above the reach of all his enemies: and infinitely secure in the midst of his fruitions. How great a thing is the enjoyment of the world, how highly to be esteemed and how zealously to be thirsted after, that eminently containeth all these! Verily it is a Thing so Divine and Heavenly, that it makes vices and virtues almost visible to our very eyes.
Varro citeth 288 opinions of philosophers concerning happiness: they were so blind in the knowledge of it, and so different in their apprehensions. All which opinions fall in here, as all rivers fall into the sea, and agree together. Some placed happiness in riches, and some in honour, some in pleasure, and some in the contempt of all riches, honor, and pleasure; some in wisdom and some in firm stability of mind, some in empire and some in, love. Some in bare and naked contentment, some in contemplation, and some in action ; some in rest and some in sufferings, and some in victory and triumph. All which occur here, for here is victory and triumph over our lusts, that we might live the life of clear reason, in the fruition of all riches, honours, and pleasures, which are by wisdom to be seen, and by love to be enjoyed in the highest empire, with great contentation, in solitude alone, in communion with all, by action and contemplation, attaining it by sufferings, and resting in the possession, with perfect victory and triumph over the world and evil men, or sin, death and hell, maugre all the oppositions of men and devils. Neither angels, nor principalities, nor power, nor height nor depth, nor things present nor things to come, being able to separate us, from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Felicity is a thing coveted of all. The whole world is taken with the beauty of it: and he is no man, but a stock or stone that does not desire it. Nevertheless great offence hath been done by the philosophers and scandal given, through their blindness, many of them, in making Felicity to consist in negatives. They tell us it doth not consist in riches, it doth not consist in honors, it doth not consist in pleasures. Wherein then, saith a miserable man, doth it consist? Why in contentment, in self sufficiency, in virtues, in the right government of our passions, &c. Were it not better to show the amiableness of virtues, and the benefit of the right government of our passions, the objects of contentment, and the grounds of self sufficiency, by the truest means? Which these never do. Ought they not to distinguish between true and false riches as our Saviour doth; between real and feigned honours; between clear and pure pleasures and those which are muddy and unwholesome? The honour that cometh from above, the true treasures, those rivers of pleasure that flow at his right hand for evermore, are by all to be sought and by all to be desired. For it is the affront of nature, a making vain the powers, and a baffling the expectations of the soul, to deny it all objects, and a confining it to the grave, and a condemning of it to death, to tie it to the inward unnatural mistaken self-sufficiency and contentment they talk of. By the true government of our passions, we disentangle them from impediments, and fit and guide them to their proper objects. The amiableness of virtue consisteth in this, that by it all happiness is either attained or enjoyed. Contentment and rest ariseth from a full perception of infinite treasures. So that whosoever will profit in the mystery of Felicity, must see the objects of his happiness, and the manner how they are to be enjoyed, and discern also the powers of his soul by which he is to enjoy them, and perhaps the rules that shall guide him in the way of enjoyment. All which you have here, GOD, THE WORLD, YOUR SELF, ALL THINGS in Time and Eternity being the objects of your Felicity, God the Giver, and you the receiver.
Back to Spirit of Prayer Home
Back to the Old Studies Page
Notes on the Second Century
Meditation 21. The Book of _____ The reference here is to the apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon xiii. 1-5.
Meditation 33. As originally written this Meditation commenced thus: "Whether the sufferings of an. Angel would have been meritorious or no I will not dispute: but" _____ And the following sentence, which comes after the first, has also been crossed out: "So that it was an honour and no injury to be called to it: And so great an honour that it was an ornament to God himself, and an honour even to the second Person in the Trinity." There are a good many passages in Traherne's manuscript which are thus marked for omission; but in most cases they are of little importance, being only such redundancies of expression or needless repetitions as any author would expunge on reviewing his work. Therefore in these notes I mention only those omissions which seem to me to be of some importance.
Meditation 33. For which cause, &c. This sentence is an adaptation from some verses in Philippians ii. 5-9.
Meditation 34. Counted all things but dross, & c. Philippians iii. 8.
Meditation 35. For the redemption, &c. Traherne is here quoting from Psalm xlix. 7-8; but he has rather obscured the meaning by giving the verses in inverted order. What is to cease for ever is man's attempt to redeem man, a task which only a God could accomplish. The meaning indeed is not very clear in the Authorised Version; the Prayer Book version is more perspicuous-°But no man may deliver his brother, nor make agreement to God for him: for it cost more to redeem their souls, so that he must let that alone for ever.'
Meditation 36. After the first sentence of this Meditation, the following passage (which is marked for omission in the original MS.) occurs: "It was not convenient that the Righteousness of the Judge Himself should be accepted for ours, but the Righteousness of another, who on our behalf should appear before our Judge. For which cause it was necessary that another and not the Judge should be Righteous in our stead: and that in suffering as well as doing. Now no Angel could be Righteous in suffering, because, though by Almighty power sustaining, he might be upheld to suffer infinite punishments, yet by his own strength he could not suffer infinite punishments, at least not so as to be virtuous and meritorious in suffering them for us. For to suffer virtuously and meritoriously is so to suffer as to love the Inflicter in the midst of sufferings. Which no Angel under infinite torments, by his own strength was able to do, being hated of God."
Meditation 37. He through the Eternal Spirit, &c. Hebrews v. 7.
Meditation 60. Between the first and second sentences of this Meditation the following crossed out passage occurs: "Who more prizeth our naked love than temples full of gold: Whose naked Love is more delightful to us than all worlds; and Whose greatest gifts and treasures are living souls and friends and lovers. Who, as He hath manifested His love by giving us His Son, hath manifested it also by giving us all his sons and servants: commanding them to love us with the precious love wherewith they do themselves."
Meditation 67. This Meditation is singularly Blake-like in thought; and the Poet-Artist would have been delighted with it had he known it: Let the reader compare it with Blake's "Auguries of Innocence:"
To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heav'n in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
God appears and God is light
To those poor souls who dwell in night;
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day.
Meditation 74. After this . . . to the Lamb. Revelation vii. 9-10.
Meditation 74, They fell down . . . Priests. Revelation v. 8. 10.
Meditation 74, I saw a sea . . . made manifest. Revelation, v. 11-13.
Meditation 86. Appear before God in Sion, &c. Pg. lxxxiv. 7.
Meditation 99. Romans viii. 38-9.
Spirit of Prayer Homepage|
about the Spirit of Prayer
New Hardcover Edition of Thomas Traherne's Centuries of Meditations:
The Spirit of Prayer
The Soul of Prayer
Centuries of Meditations
Spirit of Prayer
God Squanders His Love
The Prayer of Paul
The Armor of God
Quotes About Prayer
Poem: Nick Kalfas
A Father's Thoughts
John Donne Page
by the webmaster
by the webmaster
Open Source Love
Love Life Word Work
Spirit of Love
Prayers for Special Help
Grain of Wheat
The Weavers Web Site
Fellowship in Missions
And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that, when they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born.
What we offer is drawn from us by what He offers. Our self-oblation stands on His; and the spirit of prayer flows from the gift of the Holy Ghost, the great Intercessor.
Peter Taylor Forsyth
My Personal Pages
Spirit of Prayer Home — Contact the webmaster