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versies, commenting upon, and explaining the Scriptures, his characters and practical discourses, are so many species of writing wherein he excelled; but, if we might be allowed to copy after the judgment of a late author, he was by far the happiest in his Meditations. There runs through these such an uncommon vein of invention and genius; there is such a fund of solid and useful thought in them; something so lively and beautiful, joined with what is most serious and pious, that they must for ever do honour to the author's memory, and answer the great purpose of at once instructing and entertaining the reader.
So vehement was his inclination to study, that he frequently forgot the attention due to his health, and suffered himself to cultivate it even to the brink of excess. Thus he says, in an epistle to a friend, who would dissuade him from too close application: "Fear not my immoderate studies; I have a body that controls me enough in these courses, my friends need not. There is nothing whereof I could sooner surfeit, if I durst neglect my body to satisfy my mind. But while I affect knowledge, my weakness checks me, and says, Better a little learning, than no health. I yield, and patiently abide myself debarred of my chosen felicity."
His works shew him extremely warm against the tenets of the Romish communion, which is easily accounted for at a time when the disputes on the subject were at the height. Nor was he less zealous against those who affected to separate from the established church, without the greatest necessity, as appears from his answer to two gentlemen,
who attempted a secession upon Arminian principles, wherein, with great strength of expression, he describes the unhappy effects of tearing asunder a national body of christians, upon superficial and slender motives.
One of his letters, wherein he deplores the divisions among the divines at Leyden, contains some remarkable expostulations, which we beg leave to transcribe: "If I might challenge any thing in that your acute and learned Arminius, I would thus solicit and conjure him: Alas! that so wise a man should not know the worth of peace; that so noble a son of the church should not be brought to light, without ripping the womb of his mother! What mean these subtle novelties? if they make thee famous, and the church miserable, who shall gain by them?-By that most precious and bloody ransom of our Saviour, and by that awful appearance we shall once make before the glorious tribunal of the Son of God, remember thyself, and the poor distracted limbs of the church; let not those excellent parts, wherewith God hath furnished thee, lie in the narrow way, and cause any weak one to fall, or stumble, or err."
The editor has nothing further to add, but his hearty thanks to the encouragers of this work; and that, as he is not conscious of the least inclination to give offence to any body of christians, he is full of good hopes, that the dispersion and general perusal of these volumes will conduce mightily to promote union, and strengthen the principles of genuine piety.
WHAT HAT can I see, O God, in thy creation, but miracles of wonders? Thou madest something of nothing, and of that something all things. Thou, which wast without a beginning, gavest a beginning to time, and to the world in time. It is the praise 'of us men, if, when we have matter, we can give fashion: thou gavest a being to the matter, without form; thou gavest a form to that matter, and a glory to that form. If we can finish but a slight and imperfect matter according to a former pattern, it is the height of our skill: but to begin that which never was, whereof there was no example, whereto there was no inclination, wherein there was no possibility of that which it should be, is proper only to such power as thine: the infinite power of an infinite Creator! With us, not so much as a thought can arise without some matter; but here, with thee, all matter arises from nothing. How easy is it for thee to repair all out of something, which couldst thus fetch all out of nothing! Wherein can we now distrust thee, that hast proved thyself thus omnipotent? Behold, to have made the least clod of nothing, is more above wonder, than to multiply a world! But now the matter doth not more praise thy power, than the form thy wisdom. What beauty is here! what order! What order in working! what beauty in the work!
Thou mightst have made all the world perfect in an instant, but thou wouldst not. That will, which caused thee
to create, is reason enough why thou didst thus create. How should we deliberate in our actions, which are so subject to imperfection; since it pleased thine infinite perfection (not out of need) to take leisure? Neither did thy wisdom herein proceed in time only, but in degrees: at first thou madest nothing absolute; first, thou madest things which should have being without life; then, those which should have life and being; lastly, those which have being, life, reason: So we ourselves, in the ordinary course of generation, first live the life of vegetation, then of sense; of reason afterwards. That instant wherein the heaven and the earth were created in their rude matter, there was neither day nor light; but presently thou madest both light and day. While we have this example of thine, how vainly do we hope to be perfect at once! It is well for us, if, through many degrees, we can rise to our consummation.
But, alas! what was the very heaven itself without light? How confused! how formless! like to a goodly body without a soul, like a soul without thee. Thou art light, and in thee is no darkness. Oh! how incomprehensibly glorious is the light that is in thee, since one glimpse of this created light gave so lively a glory to all thy workmanship! This even the brute creatures can behold! that, not the very angels,that shines forth only to the other supreme world of immortality; this to the basest part of thy creation. There is one cause of our darkness on earth, and of the utter darkness of hell; the restraint of thy light. Shine thou, O God, into the vast corners of my soul, and in thy light I shall see light. But whence, O God, was that first light? The sun was not made till the fourth day-light the first. If man had been, he might have seen all lightsome; but, whence it had come, he could not have seen; as, in some great pond, we see the banks full; we see not the springs from whence the water ariseth. Thou madest the sun; madest the light, without the sun, before the sun, that so light might depend upon thee, and not upon thy creature. Thy power will not be limited to means. It was easy to thee to make an heaven without sun, light without an heaven, day without a sun, time without a day. It is good reason thou shouldst be the Lord of thine own works. All means serve thee: why do we, weak wretches, distrust thee, in the want of those means which thou canst either command or forbear? How plainly wouldst