Billeder på siden


of God; the sight of God; the OTHER, of a most miserable vileness, of ourselves.

and, as it were, nothingness of ourselves. The former is that, which the Spirit of God calls the sight of the Invisible : for sight is a sense of the quickest and surest perception; so as, in seeing of God, we apprehend him infinitely glorious in all that he is, in all that he hath, in all that he doth; and intimately present to us, with us, in us. of the Sight of the

1. Let us then, first, see WHAT THAT SIGHT IS. Invisible iloses Wherein we cannot have a more meet pattern a fit pattern for than Moses: that exposed infant, who, in his cradle

of bulrushes, was drawn out of the flags of Nilus, is a true emblem of a regenerate soul, taken up out of the misery * of a dangerous world, in whose waves he is naturally sinking. He, that was saved from the waters, saw God in fire; and, in a holy curiosity, hasted to see the bush, that burned, and consumed not: let our godly zeal carry us as fast, to see what he saw; and make us eagerly ambitious of his eyes, of his Art. Surely Moses, as St. Stephen tells us, was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians : he was not a greater courtier, than a scholar: but, Moses bis optics were more worth, than all the rest of his skill. All Egypt, and Chaldea to boot, though they were famous of old for mathematic sciences, could not teach him this Art of seeing the Invisible. As only the sun gives us light, to see itself; so only the Invisible God gives a man power, to see himself that is invisible. There is a threefold world objected to human apprehension; a sensible world, an intelligible, à spiritual or divine: and, accordingly, man hath three sorts of eves, exercised about them; the eye of sense, for this outward and material world; of reason, for the intelligible; of faith, for the spiritual. Moses had all these: by the eve of sense, he saw Pharaoh's court and Israel's servitude; by the eve of reason, he saw the mysteries of Egyptian learning; by the eye of faith, he saw him that is invisible. In the eye of sense, even brute creatures partake with him; in the eye of reason, men; in the faculty of discerning spiritual and divine things, only saints and angels. Doubtless, Moses was herein privileged above other men. Two ways there- Two ways, therefore, did he see the Invisible: in Moses saw the first, by viewing the visible signs and sensible Invisible.

representations of God's presence; as in the bush of Horeb, the hill of visions; in the fire and cloud, in the mount of Sinai: secondly, by his own spiritual apprehension. That first was proper to Moses, as an eminent favourite of God: this other must be common to us, with him. That we may then attain to the true fear and fruition of God, we must see him that is invisible; as travellers, here; as comprehensors, hereafter. How we shall see him, in his and our glorious home, we cannot yet

The former editions read“ mercy" ; which may indeed have an appropriate signification in this place, as alluding to the mercy of exposing Moses rather than destroying him: bui I coneeive it to be an error of the press for “ misery."


of God.

hope to comprehend : when we come there to see him, we shall see and know, how and how much we see him; and, not till then. In the mean time, it must be our main care, to bless our eyes with Moses's object; and, even upon earth, to aspire to the sight of the Invisible.

This is an act, wherein indeed our chief felicity Our Felicity con. consists. It is a curiously witty disquisition of the

sists in the Sight Schools, since all beatitude consists in the fruition of God, Whether we more essentially, primarily, and directly enjoy God in the act of understanding, which is by seeing him; than in the act of will, which is by loving him: and the greatest Masters, for ought I see, pitch upon the understanding, in the full sight of God; as whose act is more noble and absolute, and the union wrought by it more perfect. If any man desire to spend thoughts upon this divine curiosity, I refer him to the ten reasons, which that Doctor Solennis* gives and rests in, for the decision of this point. Surely, these two go so close together, in the separated soul, that it is hard, even in thought, to distinguish them. If I may not rather say, that, as there is no imaginable composition in that spiritual essence; so, its fruition of God is made up of one simple act alone, which here results out of two distinct faculties. It is enough for us to know, that if all perfection of happiness and full union with God consist in the seeing of him, in his glory; then it is and must be our begun happiness, to see him, as we may, here below. He can never be, other than he is: our apprehension of him varies. Here, we can only see him darkly ; as in a glass : there, clearly; and, as he is.

Even here below, there are degrees; as of bodily, The Degrees of so of spiritual sight. The newly-recovered blind our Spiritual man saw men, like trees: the eyes of true sense see

Sight. men, like men. The illuminated eyes of Elisha and his servant -saw angels, environing them: St. Stephen's eyes saw heaven opened, and Jesus standing at the right-hand of God; Acts vij. 56. The clear eyes of Moses see the God of Angels : St. Paul's eyes saw the unutterable glories of the third heaven. Still, the better eyes the brighter vision.

But what a contradiction is here, in seeing the How Sight and Invisible! If invisible, how seen ? and if seen, how Invisibility invisible ? Surely, God is a most purely and simply, may consist too spiritual essence. Here is no place for that, not so

gether. much heresy, as stupid conceit, of Anthropomorphism. A bodily eye can only see bodies, like itself: the eye must answer the object: a spiritual object, therefore, as God is, must be seen by a spiritual eye. Moses his soul was a spirit; and that saw the God of Spirits: so he, that is in himself invisible, was seen by an invisible

eye; and so must be. If we have no eyes, but those, that are seen; we are as very beasts, as those, that we see: but, is

* Johan. de Neapoli. qu. 14.

How we may

iot by any


PRACTICAL WORKS. we have invisible and spiritual eyes, we must improve them, to the sight of him that is invisible.

Let us then, to the unspeakable comfort of our souls, enquire and learn, How we may here upon earth, see the invisible God.

(1) And, surely, as it was wisely said of him of

old, that it is more easy to know what God is not, not think to

than what he is; so it inay be justly said also, of see God :

the vision of God, it is more obvious to say how God is not seen, than how he is. Let us, if you please, begin with the negative.

[1. We may not, therefore, think to see God,

by any Fancieď Representation. He will admit of Feigned Repre

All no image of himself; no, not in thought. sentation :

possibly conceiveable ideas and siinilitudes, as they are infinitely too low; so they are clean contrary to his spiritual nature, and his express charge: and the very entertainment of any of them is no other, than a mental idolatry. In the very Holy of Holies, where he would most manifest his presence, there was nothing to be seen, but a cloud of smoke; as the Poet *, scoffingly; and, as that great King † professed to see there : to teach his people, that he would not be conceived any way, but in an absolute immunity from all forms.

[2. Secondly, we may not hope to see God, --not by the Work by the Workirg of our Improved Reason: for, of Improved Rea- as intelligible things are above the apprehension

of sense; so divine matters are no less above the capacity of understanding. Justly is Durand exploded here; who held, that a created understanding was, of itself, sufficient for the vision of God, without supernatural aid; for, whatever our soul understands here, it doth it by the way of those phantasms which are represented unto it; by which it is not possible, there should be any comprehension of this Infinite Essence.

Every power works within the compass of his own sphere; even from the lowest of sense, to the highest of faith. If the eye should encroach upon the ear, in affecting to discern the delicate air of pleasant sounds; and the ear should usurp upon the eye, in professing to judge of a curious picture or pleasant prospect; it were an absurd ambition of both. It is all one, for a beast to take upon him, to judge of matter of discourse; and for a philosopher, to determine of matters of faith. Reason was not given to man, for nought: even that can impart unto us something concerning God; but, not enough. I remember Gerson I, a great Master of Contemplation, professes that he knew one, (which is, in St. Paul's phrase, himself) who, after many temptations of doubt, concerning à main article of faith, was suddenly brought into so clear a light of truth and certitude ; that there remained no relics at all of du'bitation; nothing but confidence and serenity: which, saith he,

* Nil præler nubes. Juv. + Alex. Mag.

Jo. Gerson de Distinctione Verarum Visionum à Falsis.


was wrought by a hearty humiliation, and captivation of the understanding to the obedience of faith: neither could any reason be given of that quiet, and firm peace in believing, but his own feeling and experience. And, surely, so it is, in this great business of seeing God: the less we search, and the more we believe, the clearer vision do we attain of him that is invisible.

[3.] Neither, thirdly, may we hope here to aspire -not in u Full to a perfect sight, or a Full Comprehension of this Comprehenblessed object. The best of all earthly eyes doth

sion : but look through a scarf, at this glorious sight; and complains of its own weakness and obscurity: and what hope can we have, to compass this infinite prospect? The clearest eye cannot, at once, see any round body, if it be but of a small bullet or ring: and, when we say we see a man, we mean, that we see but his outside ; for, surely, his heart, or lungs, or brain, are out of our sight; much less can we see his soul, by which he is. What speak I of the poor narrow conceit of us mortals? I need not fear to say, that the glorified saints and glorious angels of heaven, being but of a finite though spiritual nature, hold it no disparagement, to disclaim the capacity of this Infinite Object ; much less may we think to drain this ocean, with our egg-shell

. [+.) Lastly, we may not make account here, to see the face of God in his Divine Essence, or in -not here in his the Height of the Resplendence of his glory. Divine Essence, This, even Moses himself did not: he desired 'it

or Height of Re

splendence: indeed, but it might not be yielded; Exodus xxxii. 18, 20: and God tells him, this was no object for mortal eyes : A man must die to see it; as Austin, well. Indeed, it is said, Moses spake to God, face to face; the word in the original is D'D SW D'O, faces to faces : but ye never read, that he saw God face to face: he still conferred with that Oracle, which was ever invisible. It is a poor conceit of Cornelius à Lapide, that Moses longed so much to see the face of God in some assumed form ; for then that face should not have been his : and, if God should have been pleased to assume such a form, it had been no less easy for him, to have made the face aspectable, as the back. In this sense, old Jacob calls his altar Penu-el, the face of God, and professes to have seen God, face to face; Gen. xxxii. 30: his face saw that face, which God had, for the present, assumed, without a present death.

Doubtless, Moses, having seen divers vails of How Moses deGod's presence, that is, sensible testimonies of his sired to see the being there, desires now to see that glorious Ma- Face of God. jesty of God open-faced; without those masks of outward representation. So he interprets himself, while he expresses - 739 thy Face, by 77 thy Glory; Exod. xxxiii

. 18. The desire was zealously ambitious : too high, · even for him, that had been twice blessed with forty days' conference, with the God whom he longed to see. Much less may we think of aspiring to this sight; who must know our distance, even from the foot of the

mount. It is abundantly enough for us, if, out of some small loop hole of the rock, we may be allowed, in his passage, to see some after glimpses of that Incomprehensible Majesty: to see him, both as we can be capable, and as he will be visible; that is, as he hath revealed himself to us in his word, in his works, in his wonderful attributes in his Word, as a most glorious spiritual substance, in three equally glorious subsistences: in his Works, as the most mighty Creator, and munificent Preserver; as the most merciful Redeemer of the World; as the most gracious Comforter and Sanctifier of the world of his Elect: in his Attributes, as the God of Spirits; whose infinite power, wisdom, mercy, justice, truth, goodness is essential; so as he is all these abstractedly, uncompoundedly, really, infinitely.

Shortly, therefore, we may not look here to him by the eye of Fancy, or by the eye of Reason, or in a Full View, or in the Height of his Glory.

How we must endeavour (2.) Let us then, in the next place, see to see the Invisible. how we may and must see him.

Would we therefore see him that is invisible?

-Our eyes must [1.] In the first place, we must have our eyes be Cleared from cleared from the natural indisposition to which they are subject.

all Hinderances

of sight: We have all, in nature, many both inward and ambient hinderances of the sight. There is a kind of earthliness in the best eye; whereby it is gouled up; that it cannot so much as open itself, to see spiritual things: these are our Carnal Affections. There is a dimness and duskiness in the body of the eye, when it is opened: which is our natural Ignorance of heavenly things. There is, besides these, a film, which is apt to grow over our eye, of natural Infidelity; which makes it incapable of this divine vision. And, after all these, when it is at the clearest, the moats and dust of Worldly Thoughts, are apt to trouble our sight. Lastly, every Known Sin, wherein a man willingly continues, is a beam in the eye, that bars all sight of God: In malevolam animam*, &c. "Wisdom enters not into an ill-doing soul:" and Malitia occa cat intellectum; Wickedness blinds the understanding; as the Wise Man of old.

There must be a removal and remedy of all these, ere we can attain to a comfortable vision of the Invisible. The goule of our eyes must be washed off: and, if we cannot, by our utmost endeavours, lift up our eye-lids, as we ought, we must sue to him that can do it, Aperi oculos: Open thou mine eyes, that I may see the conderful things of thy Law. The dimness and duskiness of our eyes must be cleared, by that eye-salve of the Spirit; Rev. iii. 1S. The film of our infidelity must be scoured off by the cleansing waters of Siloam; the fountain of divine truth, welling out of the Holy Scriptures. The moats and dust of worldly cares must be

* Εις κακοτέκνον ψυχὴν. Wisd. i. 4.

« ForrigeFortsæt »