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which is opposite to it, wherein he could not but in all reason judge and conclude beforehand, that he should with Paul, závra (nuovofai, suffer loss of all things, lose credit, lose friends, lose all hopes of preferment from the world; when a man, I say, shall change his judgment upon such terms as these, it is a strong argument that he well and thoroughly understands the spiritual danger and inconvenience of the opinion which he forsakes, as likewise the worth, truth, and goodness of that which he embraceth and professeth in the place of it. Therefore, 7, and lastly, as David replied to Michal, when she upbraided him with such a deportment, by which, as she apprehended, he had made himself contemptible and vile, “I," saith he, “will yet be more vile than thus,” 2 Sam. vi. 22. So, the grace of God assisting me, if the changing of my judgment upon such terms, as God knoweth, and men also know in part I have done in the controversies oft mentioned, rendereth either me or my judgment contemptible, I am resolved, upon the like occasion, to make both it and myself more contemptible yet, by cutting off from my soul error after error, as fast as they shall be discovered unto me, and by changing my judgment as oft as I shall thoroughly understand that my spiritual interest doth require it. Yea, it shall be one of my chief exercises, quotidiè de erroribus meis demere, to diminish daily the number of my errors, by making a diligent and frequent survey of the state and condition of my judgment, and by separating the vile from the precious here, until no misprision at all of God, or of any of his things shall, if it be possible, be found with me.
Reader, I trust, though I have wearied thee with a long epistle, and so have made thee incapable of reading farther at present, yet I have withal begotten in thee a serious desire and resolution to possess thy heart, soul, judgment, conscience, with the substance of the ensuing discourse, and this with as much expedition as thy opportunities of reading will permit. “ Let them that have wives, be as if they had none: and they that weep as though they wept not: and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not: and they that buy, as if they possessed not,” i Čor. vii. 29, 30: but let him that runneth for the great prize of a blessed eternity, for incorruptible crown of glory, be as a man wholly taken up, and transported with the glory of his engagement, let him so run as if he had nothing else to do but to run this race. Give me leave to mind thee of an admonition recommended unto men by an heathen philosopher: “ It becometh not him that is a man, to mind the things of men,” (i.e. such things as men commonly mind,) “nor him that is mortal, mortal things. But as far as is possible to immortalise it, and so to quit himself in all things, as to live according to that which is most excellent in him,"* (meaning his mind and
• Οι χρή ανθρώπινα φρονείν, άνθρωπον όντα, ουδέ θνητά, τον θνητόν· αλλ' εφ' όσον ενδέχεται, απαθανατίζειν, και άπαντα ποιείν προς το ζην κατά το κράτιστον των by aurq.Arist. Ethic. x. c. 7.
understanding.) Now thy God, and my God, of his rich grace give thee a large heart to understand and consider the great things of thy peace; recompense the labour and travel of thy soul in reading the discourse here presented unto thee, with the precious returns of light and life and peace into thy bosom, that when thou shalt have read thou mayest say, I have been in the mount with God, and mayest return with thine heart rejoicing and with thy face shining unto men. This, good reader, is the unfeigned desire and fervent prayer of,
Thy brother in Christ,
Greatly devoted to the peace of thy soul,
From my study in Coleman-street, London,
Feb. 12, 1650.
There is no created being, or second cause whatsoever, but dependeth
upon the first and supreme Cause or Being, which is God; and this as well in the second as in the first act; I mean as well in the motions and operations issuing from, or performed by, every of
them, as in their simple existence or being itself. We shall not need, I presume, to levy a dispute for the gathering or getting in that tribute due to the crown and sovereignty of being, from all beings besides, which consists in an acknowledgment of his free bounty, in calling them out of the abyss of vanity and nothing by the word of his power, hereby taking them into part and fellowship with himself in his prerogative of being, according to what was resolved by " the counsel of his will," as meet to be dispensed unto every of them, respectively, in this kind. Trees that are thoroughly and deeply rooted in the earth, will grow and flourish, though the dew or rain from heaven should seldom or never fall upon them: but grass, and herbs, and tender plants, whose roots have but a slender and thin protection of their element against the scorching violence of the sun, will soon wither and die away if the clouds of heaven should not ever and anon drop verdure upon them, and relieve them. In like manner, such notions and impressions in the soul, into which nature is deeply baptized and mightily possessed with their truth, are like to live and to maintain their interest and authority in men, though not seconded or relieved by argument or dispute; but those, which have only taken a fainter and looser hold of the judgments and consciences of men, are in danger of miscarrying, and
proving like " the corn upon the house top, which," as David observeth, "withereth before it be grown up," Psal. cxxix. 6, unless they be timely, yea and frequently encouraged, backed, and strengthened by discourse. That there is a Being, which looks upon this universe, with all the host of it, as the workmanship of his own hands; and that every creature, or finite being, is lineally descended from him as their great and first progenitor, are, I conceive, such principles of light and truth, written in so fair and full a character in the tables of all men's hearts, that even whilst they run they may read them, yea, and cannot lightly depose or suffer the loss of them, though they be not bound upon their judgments and consciences with any other bands of argument or demonstration, than those of their own evidence and conviction. Therefore
what God hath made manifest and clear in men, we shall not cast any suspicion of darkness or obscurity upon by making it matter of disputation.
And though the dependence of things in actual and complete being upon God for sustentation and support, as well of their simple existences and beings themselves, as of their operations (respectively, which is the sense and substance of the thesis propounded) be not altogether of so pregnant an inspiration as dependence upon him for their production, and first bringing into being; yet conceiving it not to be of any difficult or remote speculation, nor finding it so much as controverted or questioned by any considering man, especially of latter times, we shall in these respects content ourselves with a brief and light inquiry upon it.
The Holy Ghost indeed judged the assertion of this truth, and that by one of his greatest instruments, worthy of him; yet not so much, I suppose, to commend it simply as a truth, or to secure the judgments and consciences of men of the veracity of it, as to enforce the practical consequences thereof upon them; upon which ground, doubtless, it is that we find so many common and ordinary truths, not only delivered, but some of them oft repeated and inculcated in the Scriptures. Principles and assertions that are very obvious and low for matter of truth and apprehension, may be transcendently weighty and high in those things, whether relating unto practice or opinion, which are enfolded and contained in them, and deducible from them. Mary was but a carpenter's wife, yet did she bring forth the Great Messiah and Saviour of the world. But this only occasionally. The truth held forth in the thesis is the clear doctrine of the apostle Paul, and that preached at Athens, amongst philosophers, for learning and knowledge,
the princes of the world. “For in him," saith he, speaking of God, "we live, and move, and are, or subsist," (as the original louiv, importeth,) by avrq, “in him," i. e. through him, or by means of him, (as the preposition év frequently signifieth, Acts xvii. 28. We are not said to live, move, and have our beings in God in a way of permission only, as, viz., because he refrains the exercise of that
power in him, by which he is as able to take away all our beings as he was at first to give them; or because he forbears to annihilate us : in such a sense as this, we might as well be said to live in every man, who having power and opportunity to kill us, yet suffereth us in the possession of our lives. But we are said to receive or have these accommodations in or through God in a positive way, viz., by means of a glorious supporting influence, which issuing from his power by the mediation of his goodness or will, is to the great body of the creation, and to the respective parts and members hereof, as the soul is to the natural body of a man, with the members thereof, which remaining in union with it, preserveth it from dissolution and putrefaction; or as the presence of the sun is to the light in the air, which retains its being, whilst the sun shines upon it, but vanisheth presently, and becomes that which is not as soon
as the fountain of light withdraweth his shining. The Holy Ghost himself expresseth the dependence of creatures upon God in a borrowed resemblance of very near affinity with this : “ Thou hidest thy face,” saith David unto God, “they,” i. e. the creatures, “are troubled; thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust." That great act of God, in itself so wonderful and inexpressibly glorious, the sustentation and upholding of the universe, with all the parts thereof, in being, is ascribed only to the setting or turning of his face towards it, to show, I conceive, that it is an act of special dignation and favour in him to preserve it, and yet withal an act of easy performance, and which costs him not the least labour or toil. A gracious look from him will do it effectually, as the contrary is enough to affright all things out of their beings, and (which is equivalent hereunto, and in some cases more,) out of all that is desirable in their beings.
The Lord Christ is said pépeiv tà hávra, Heb. i. 3, i. e. to sustain, or bear up all things by the word of his power; which implies, 1. An utter impotency and weakness in the creature to stand alone, or to keep itself by its own strength from a recidivation, or relapse into its first vanity or nothing: for that which is able to preserve itself from falling needs no support, or bearing up by another. 2. That Christ feels no weight, or burden of the universe, whilst he supporteth it. The speaking of a word, especially within himself, and in his mind only, engageth no man's strength, nor putteth him to the least pain. This great act of bearing up the universe, is therefore, I conceive, appropriated unto Christ, though common to the other persons with him, because in his mediatory humiliation he laid a foundation of equity and reason, why God, notwithstanding that great provocation given by the sin of man, to dissolve it, should yet consent to the standing and supportation of it. Such executions which depend upon his mediation, and for which there had been no place otherwise, are elsewhere in Scripture peculiarly asserted to him in respect thereof: see John v. 27. Though in respect of the Divine nature, power, and will, being one and the same in all the three persons, there is a necessity of their joint concurrence in all actings, ad extra, as the schoolmen call them, yet such of these actings, for which way hath been made by any personal achievement or transaction of any of the three, may, with a good savour of reason, be in a more special and remarkable manner attributed to that person, who hath more peculiarly interposed for the procurement of them.
When the apostle affirmeth that we live and move in God, in the sense declared, as well as have our essence or being in him, his meaning seems to be, that it is through God, and his voluntary closing with us, that we have and do enjoy all manner of accommodations of being, as well the greater and lesser, as essence or being itself. To live, ofttimes in Scripture, signifies the enjoyment of an happy and contentful condition, which signification is no ways inconvenient for this place. Or if the apostle be conceived to speak of the life natural, which is not improbable, he must be sup