« PreviousContinue »
thou teach us, that we creatures need not one another, so long as we have thee! One day we shall have light again, without the sun : Thou shalt be our sun : thy presence shall be our light: “Light is sown for the righteous. The sun and light is but for the world below itself; thine only for above. Thou givest this light to the sun, which the sun gives to the world : that light, which thou shalt once give us, shall make us shine like the sun in glory.
Now this light, which for three days was thus dispersed through the whole heavens, it pleased thee, at last, to gather and unite into one body of the sun. The whole heaven was our sun, before the sun was created : but now one star must be the treasury of light to the heaven and earth. How thou lovest the union and reduction of all things of one kind to their own head and centre ! so the waters must, by thy command, be gathered into one place, the sea : so the upper waters must be severed by these airy limits from the lower: so heavy substances hasten downward, and light mount up: so the general light of the first days, must be called into the compass of one sun: so thou wilt once gather thine elect from all coasts of heaven, to the participation of one glory. Why do we abide our thoughts and affections scattered from thee, from thy saints, from thine anointed? Oh! let this light, which thou hast now spread abroad in the hearts of all thine, once meet in thee. We are as thy heavens, in this their first imperfection; be thou our sun, unto which our light may be gathered.
Yet this light was by thee interchanged with darkness, which thou mightst as easily have commanded to be perpetual. The continuance, even of the best things, cloyeth and wearieth : there is nothing but thyself, wherein there is not satiety. So pleasing is the vicissitude of things, that the intercourse even of those occurrents, which in their own nature are less worthy, gives more contentment than the unaltered estate of better. The day dies into night, and rises into the morning again, that we might not expect any stability here below, but in perpetual successions. It is always day with thee above: the night savoureth only of mortality. Why are we not here spiritually, as we shall be hereafter Since thou hast made us children of the light, and of the day, teach us to walk ever in the light of thy presence, not in the darkness of error and unbelief.
Now, in this thine enlightened frame, how fitly, how wisely are all the parts disposed; that the method of the creation might answer the matter and the form both! Behold all purity above; below, the dregs and lees of all. The higher I go, the more perfection; each element superior to other, not more in place than dignity; that, by these stairs of ascending perfection, our thoughts might clime unto the top of all glory, and might know thine imperial heaven, no less glorious above the visible, than those above the earth. Oh! how miserable is the place of our pilgrimage, in respect of our home! Let my soul tread awhile in the steps of thine own proceedings ; and so sink as thou wroughtest. When we would describe a man, we begin not at the feet, but the head. The head of thy creation is the heaven; how high! how spacious! how glorious! It is a wonder that we can look up to so admirable a height, and that the very eye is not tired in the way. If this ascending line could be drawn right forwards, some, that have calculated curiously, have found it five hundred years' journey unto the starry heaven. I do not examine their art; O Lord, I wonder rather at thine, which hast drawn so large a line about this little point of earth : for, in the plainest rules of art and experience, the compass must needs be six times as much as half the height. We think one island great, but the earth unmeasurably. If we were in that heaven, with these eyes, the whole earth (were it equally enlightened) would seem as little to us, as now the least star in the firmament seems to us upon earth : and, indeed, how few stars are so little as it? And
And yet, how many void and ample spaces are there beside all the stars? The hugeness of this thy work, O God, is little inferior for admiration to the majesty of it. But, oh, what a glorious heaven is this which thou hast spread over our heads! With how precious a vault hast thou walled in this our inferior world! What worlds of light hast thou set above us! Those things which we see are wondrous; but those, which we believe and see not, are yet more. Thou dost but set out these unto view, to shew us what there is within. How proportionable are thy works to thyself! Kings erect not cottages, but set forth their magnificence in sumptuous buildings; so hast thou done, O King of glory! If the lowest pavement of that heaven of thine be so glorious, what shall we think of the better parts yet unseen? And if this sun of thine be of such brightness and majesty, oh! what
is the glory of the Maker of it? And yet if some other of thy stars were let down as low as it, those other stars would be suns to us; which now thou hadst rather to have admired in their distance. And if such a sky be prepared for the use and benefit even of thine enemies also upon earth, how happy shall those eternal tabernacles be, which thou hast sequestered for thine own?
Behold then, in this high and stately building of thine, I see three stages: this lowest heaven for fowls, for vapours, for meteors: the second, for the stars : the third, for thine angels and saints. The first is thine outward court, open for all : the second is the body of thy covered temple, wherein are those candles of heaven perpetually burning: the third is thine holy of holies. In the first is tumult and vanity: in the second, immutability and rest: in the third, glory and blessed
The first we feel, the second we see, the third we believe. In these two lower is no felicity; for neither the fowls nor stars are happy. It is the third heaven alone, where thou, O blessed Trinity! enjoyest thyself, and thy glorified spirits enjoy thee. It is the manifestation of thy glorious presence, that makes heaven to be itself. This is the privilege of thy children, that they here, seeing thee (which art invisible) by the eye of faith, have already begun that heaven, which the perfect sight of thee shall make perfect above. Let my
soul then let these heavens alone, till it may see as it
That we may descend to this lowest and meanest region of heaven, wherewith our senses are more acquainted; what marvels do even here meet with us? There are thy clouds, thy bottles of rain, vessels as thin as the liquor which is contained in them: there they hang and move, though weighty with their burden: how they are upheld, and why they fall, here, and now, we know not, and wonder. Those thou makest one while, as some airy seas, to hold water : another while, as some airy furnaces, whence thou scatterest thy sudden fires unto all the parts of the earth, astonishing the world with the fearful noise of that eruption : out of the midst of water thou fetchest fire, and hard stones out of the midst of thin vapours: another while, as some steel-glasses, wherein the sun looks, and shews his face in the variety of those colours which he hath not; there are thy streams of light, blazing and falling stars, fires darted up and down in many forms, hollow openings, and (as it were) gulfs in the
sky, bright circles about the moon and other planets, snows, bail: in all which it is enough to admire thine hand, though we cannot search out thine action. There are thy subtile winds, which we hear and feel, yet neither can see their substance, nor know their causes: whence and whither they pass, and what they are, thou knowest. There are thy fowls of all shapes, colours, notes, natures: whilst I compare these with the inhabitants of that other heaven, I find those stars and spirits like one another; these meteors and fowls, in 'as many varieties as there are several creatures. Why is this? Is it because Man (for whose sake these are made) delights in change, thou in constancy? or is it, that in these thou mayest show thine own skill, and their imperfection? There is no variety in that which is perfect, because there is but one perfection; and so much shall we grow nearer to perfectness, by how much we draw nearer to unity and uniformity. From thence, if we go down to the great deep, the womb of moisture, the well of fountains, the great pond of the world; we know not whether to wonder at the element itself, or the guests which it contains. How doth that sea of thine roar and foam, and swell, as if it would swallow up the earth? Thou stayest the rage of it by an insensible violence; and, by a natural miracle, confinest his waves; why it moves, and why it stays, it is to us equally wonderful: what living mountains (such are thy whales) roll up and down in those fearful billows: for greatness of number, hugeness of quantity, strangeness of shapes, variety of fashions, neither air nor earth can compare with the waters. I say nothing of thy hid treasures, which thy wisdom hath reposed in the bowels of the earth and sea: how secretly and how basely are they laid up! secretly, that we might not seek them; basely, that we might not over-esteem them: I need not dig so low as these metals, mineries, quarries which yield riches enough of observation to the soul. How many millions of wonders doth the very face of the earth offer me? Which of these herbs, flowers, trees, leaves, seeds, fruits, is there; what beast, what worm, wherein we may not see the footsteps of a Deity, wherein we may not read infiniteness of power, of skill, and must be forced to confess, that he which made the angels and stars of heaven, made also the vermin on the earth? O God, the heart of man is too strait to admire enough even that which he treads upon! What shall we say to thee, the maker of all these? O Lord, how wonderful are thy works in all the world! in wisdom hast thou made them all: and in all these thou spakest, and they were done. Thy will is thy word, and thy word is thy deed. Our tongue, and hand, and heart are different: all are one in thee, which are simply one, and infinite. Here needed no helps, no instruments: what could be present with the Eternal? What needed, or what could be added to the Infinite? Thine hand is not shortened, thy word is still equally effectual: say thou the word, and my soul shall be made new again; say thou the word, and my body shall be repaired from his dust: for all things obey thee. O Lord, why do I not yield to the word of thy counsel; since I must yield, as all thy creatures, to the word of thy command?
Of Man. BUT, O God! what a little lord hast thou made over this great world? The least corn of sand is not so small to the whole earth, as man is to the heaven. When I see the heavens, the sun, moon, and stars, O God, what is man? Who would think thou shouldst make all these creatures for one, and that one well-near the least of all ? Yet none but he can see what thou hast done; none but he can admire and adore thee in what he seeth: How had he need to do nothing but this, since he alone must do it! Certainly the price and virtue of things consist not in the quantity: one diamond is worth more than many quarries of stone; one loadstone bath more virtue than mountains of earth. It is lawful for us to praise thee in ourselves. All thy creation hath not more wonder in it, than one of us : other creatures thou madest by a simple command ; Man, not without a divine consultation; -others at once; man thou didst first form, then inspire :others in several shapes, like to none but themselves; man, after thine own image :-others with qualities fit for service; man, for dominion. Man had his name from thee; they had their names from man. How should we be consecrated to thee above all others, since thou hast bestowed more cost on us than others! What shall I admire first? thy providence in the time of our creation; or thy power and wisdom in the