« PreviousContinue »
act? First, Thou madest the great house of the world, and furnishedst it; then thou broughtest in thy tenant to possess it. The bare walls had been too good for us, but thy love was above our desert: thou, that madest ready the earth for us before we were, hast, by the same mercy, prepared a place in heaven for us, while we are on earth. The stage was first fully prepared, then was man brought forth thither, as an actor, or spectator, that he might neither be idle nor discontent. Behold, thou hadst addressed an earth for use, an heaven for contemplation. After thou hadst drawn that large and real map of the world, thou didst thus abridge it into this little table of man: he alone consists of heaven and earth, soul and body. Even this earthly part, which is vile in comparison of the other, as it is thine, O God, I dare admire it, though I can neglect it as mine own; for lo! this heap of earth hath an outward reference to heaven. Other creatures grovel down to their earth, and have all their senses intent upon it; this is reared up towards heaven, and hath no more power to look beside heaven, than to tread beside the earth. Unto this, every part hath his wonder. The head is nearest to heaven, as in place, so in resemblance, both for roundness of figure, and for those divine guests which have their seat in it: There dwell those majestical powers of reason, which make a man; all the senses, as they have their original from thence, so they do all agree there to manifest the virtue. How goodly proportions hast thou set in the face! such as, though oft-times we can give no reason when they please, yet transport us to admiration. What living glasses are those which thou hast placed in the midst of this visage, whereby all objects from far are clearly represented to the mind! and because their tenderness lies open to dangers, how hast thou defenced them with hollow bones, and with prominent brows, and lids! and lest they should be too much bent on what they ought not, thou hast given them peculiar nerves to pull them up towards the seat of their rest. What a tongue hast thou given him; the instrument not of taste only, but of speech! how sweet and excellent voices are formed by that little loose film of flesh! what an incredible strength hast thou given to the weak bones of the jaws! what a comely and tower-like neck, therefore most sinewy because smallest! and lest I be infinite, what able arms and active hands hast thou framed him, whereby he can frame all things to his own
conceit! In every part, beauty, strength, convenience, meet together. Neither is there any whereof our weakness cannot give reason why it should be no otherwise. How hast thou disposed of all the inward vessels, for all offices of life, nourishment, digestion, generation! No vein, sinew, artery is idle. There is no piece in this exquisite frame, whereof the place, use, form, doth not admit wonder, and exceed it. Yet this body, if it be compared to the soul, what is it, but as a clay wall that encompasses a treasure; as a wooden box of a jeweller; as a course case to a rich instrument; or as a mask to a beautiful face? Man was made last, because he was worthiest. The soul was inspired last, because yet more noble. If the body have this honour to be the companion of the soul, yet withal it is the drudge. If it be the instrument, yet also the clog of that divine part, the companion for life, the drudge for service, the instrument for action, the clog in respect of contemplation. These external works are effected by it; the internal, which are more noble, hindered; contrary to the bird which sings most in her cage, but flies most and highest, at liberty. This my soul teaches me of itself, that itself cannot conceive, how capable, how active it is. I can pass by her nimble thoughts from heaven to earth in a moment: it can be all things, can comprehend all things; know that which is, and conceive that which never was, never shall be. Nothing can fill it, but thou which art Infinite; nothing can limit it, but thou which art everywhere. O God, which madest it, replenish it, possess it, dwell thou in it, which hast appointed it to dwell in clay. The body was made of earth common to his fellows; the soul inspired immediately from God. The body lays senseless upon the earth like itself: the breath of lives gave it what it is, and that breath was from thee. Sense, motion, reason, are infused into it at once. From whence then was this quickening breath? No air, no earth, no water was here used to give help to this work. Thou that breathest upon man, and gavest him the Holy Spirit, didst also breathe upon the body, and gavest it a living spirit. We are beholden to nothing but thee for our soul. Our flesh is from flesh; our spirit is from the God of spirits. How should our souls rise up to thee, and fix themselves in their thoughts upon thee, who alone created them in their infusion, and infused them in their creation? How should they long to return back to the fountain of their being, and
author of being glorious? Why may we not say, that this soul, as it came from thee, so it is like thee? As thou, so it is one, immaterial, immortal, understanding spirit, distinguished into three powers, which all make up one spirit. So thou, the wise Creator of all things, wouldst have some things to resemble their Creator. These other creatures are all body; man is body and spirit. The angels are all spirit, not without a kind of spiritual composition; thou art alone after thine own manner, simple, glorious, infinite: no creature can be like thee in thy proper being, because it is a creature. How should our finite, weak, compounded nature, give any perfect resemblance of thine? Yet of all visible creatures, thou vouchsafest man the nearest correspondence to thee: not so much in the natural faculties, as in those divine graces, wherewith thou beautifiest his soul.
Our knowledge, holiness, righteousness, was like the first copy from which they were drawn. Behold, we were not more like thee in these, than now we are unlike ourselves in their loss. O God, we now praise ourselves to our shame, for the better we were, we are the worse; as the sons of some prodigal, or tainted ancestors, tell of the lands and lordships which were once theirs. Only do they whet our desires, answerably to the readiness of thy mercies, that we may redeem what we have lost; that we may recover in thee, what we have lost in ourselves. The fault shall be ours, if
our damage prove not beneficial.
I do not find that man, thus framed, found the want of an helper. His fruition of God gave him fulness of contentment: the sweetness which he found in the contemplation of this new workmanship, and the glory of the Author, did so take him up, that he had neither leisure nor cause of complaint. If man had craved an helper, he had grudged at the condition of his creation, and had questioned that which he had, perfection of being. But he that gave him his being, and knew him better than himself, thinks of giving him comfort in the creature, while he sought none but in his Maker. He sees our wants, and forecasts our relief, when we think ourselves too happy to complain. How ready will he be to help our necessities, that thus provides for our perfection!
God gives the nature to his creatures, man must give the name; that he might see they were made for him, they shall be to him what he will. Instead of their first homage, they
are presented to their new lord, and must see of whom they hold. He that was so careful of man's sovereignty in his innocence, how can he be careless of his safety in his renovation?
If God hath given them their names, it had not been so great a praise of Adam's memory to recall them, as it was now of his judgment (at first sight) to impose them: he saw the inside of all the creatures at first, (his posterity sees but their skins ever since;) and by this knowledge he fitted their names to their dispositions. All that he saw were fit to be his servants, none to be his companions. The same God that finds the want, supplies it. Rather than man's innocency shall want an outward comfort, God will begin a new creation: not out of the earth, which was the matter of man; not out of the inferior creatures, which were the servants of man; but out of himself, for dearness, for equality. Doubtless such was man's power of obedience, that if God had bidden him yield up his rib, waking, for his use, he had done it cheerfully: but the bounty of God was so absolute, that he would not so much as consult with man's will, to make him happy. As man knew not while he was made, so shall he not know while his other self is made out of him: that the comfort might be greater, which was seen before it was expected.
If the woman should have been made, not without the pain or will of the man, she might have been upbraided with her dependence and obligation. Now she owes nothing but to her Creator: the rib of Adam sleeping can challenge no more of her than the earth can of him. It was an happy change to Adam of a rib for an helper; what help did that bone give to his side! God had not made it, if it had been superfluous and yet if man could not have been perfect without it, it had not been taken out.
Many things are useful and convenient, which are not necessary; and if God had seen man might not want it, how easy had it been for him, which made the woman of that bone, to turn the flesh into another bone! but he saw man could not complain of the want of that bone, which he had so multiplied, so animated.
O God, we can never be losers by thy changes; we have nothing but what is thine. Take from us thine own, when thou wilt; we are sure thou canst not but give us better.
MAN could no sooner see, than he saw himself happy: his eye-sight and reason were both perfect at once, and the objects of both were able to make him as happy as he would. When he first opened his eyes, he saw heaven above him, earth under him, the creatures around him, God before him; he knew what all these things meant, as if he had been long acquainted with them all. He saw the heavens glorious, but afar off his Maker thought it requisite to fit him with a paradise nearer home. If God had appointed him immediately to heaven, his body had been superfluous; it was fit his body should be answered with an earthen image of that heaven, which was for his soul. Had man been made only for contemplation, it would have served as well to have been placed in some vast desart, on the top of some barren mountain; but the same power which gave him a heart to meditate, gave him hands to work, and work fit for his hands. Neither was it the purpose of the Creator, that man should but live. Pleasure may stand with innocence. He that rejoiced to see all he had made to be good, rejoiceth to see all that he hath made to be well. God loves to see his creatures happy; our lawful delight is his: they know not God, that think to please him with making themselves miserable.
The idolators thought it a fit service for Baal, to cut and lance themselves: never any holy man looked for thanks from the true God, by wronging himself. Every earth was not fit for Adam, but a garden, a paradise. What excellent pleasures, and rare varieties have men found in gardens, planted by the hands of men! and yet all the world of men cannot make one twig, or leaf or spire of grass. When he that made the matter undertakes the fashion, how must it needs be, beyond our capacity, excellent! No herb, no flower, no tree was wanting there, that might be for ornament or use; whether for sight, or for scent, or for taste. The bounty of God taught further than to necessity, even to comfort and recreation: Why are we niggardly to ourselves, when God is liberal? but for all this, if God had not there conversed with man, no abundance could have made him blessed.