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plained; and, the same steps he seeth me take in this, he may accordingly tread in any other theme.
The Practice of meditation, wherein, 1. We begin with some Description of that we meditate of.
FIRST, therefore, it shall be expedient, to consider seriously, WHAT the thing is whereof we meditate.
"What then, O my soul, is the Life of the Saints, whereof thou studiest? Who are the Saints, but those, which, having been weakly holy upon earth, are perfectly holy above? which, even on earth, were perfectly holy in their Saviour; now, are so, in themselves? which, overcoming on earth, are truly canonized in heaven? What is their life, but that blessed estate above, wherein their glorified soul hath a full fruition of God ?”
2. Follows an easy and voluntary Division of the matter meditated. THE nature whereof, after we have thus shadowed out to ourselves by a Description; not curious always, and exactly framed according to the rules of art, but sufficient for our own conceit; the next is, if it shall seem needful, or if the matter will bear or offer it, some easy and voluntary DIVISION, whereby our thoughts shall have more room made for them, and our proceeding shall be more distinct.
"There is a life of nature; when thou, my soul, dwellest in this body, and informest thine earthly burthen: there is a life of grace; when the Spirit of God dwells in thee: there is a life of glory; when the body being united to thee, both shall be united to God; or when, in the mean time, being separated from thy companion, thou enjoyest God alone. This life of thine therefore, as the other hath his ages, hath his statures: for it entereth upon his birth, when thou passest out of thy body, and changest this earthly house for a heavenly: it enters into his full vigour, when, at the day of the common resurrection, thou resumest this thy companion; unlike to itself, like to thee, like to thy Saviour; immortal now, and glorious. In this life here, may be degrees; there, can be no imperfection. If some be like the sky, others like the stars; yet all shine. If some sit at their Saviour's right-hand, others at his left; all are blessed. If some vessels hold more; all are full: none complaineth of want; none envieth him, that hath more."
3. A consideration of the Causes thereof, in all kinds of them. WHICH done, it shall be requisite for our perfecter understanding, and for the laying grounds of matter for our affection, to carry it through those other principal places and heads of reason, which na
ture hath taught every man, both for knowledge and amplification: the first whereof are the causes, of all sorts.
“ Whence is this eternal life, but from him, which only is eternal; which only is the fountain of life; yea, life itself? Who, but the same God that gives our temporal life, giveth also that eternal ? The Father bestoweth it; the Son ineriteth it; the Holy Ghost seals, and applieth it. Expect it only from him, O my soul, whose free election gave thee the first title to it, to be purchased by the blood of thy Saviour. For thou shalt not therefore be happy, because he saw that thou wouldest be good; but therefore art thou good, because he hath ordained thou shalt be happy. He hath ordained thee to life : he hath given thee a Saviour, to give this life unto thee; faith, whereby thou mightest attain to this Saviour; his word, by which thou mightest attain to this faith : what is there in this, not his? And yet, not his so simply, as that it is without thee: without thy merit, indeed; not without thine act. Thou livest here, through his blessing; but, by bread : thou shalt live above, through his mercy; but by thy faith below, apprehending the Author of thy Life. And, yet, as he will not save thee without thy faith, so thou canst never have faith without his gift. Look to him, therefore, () my soul, as the beginner and finisher of thy salvation; and, while thou magnifiest the Author, be ravished with the glory of the work : which far passeth both the tongue of angels, and the heart of man. It can be no good thing, that is not there. How can they want water, that have the spring? Where God is enjoyed, in whom only all things are good, what good can be wanting? And what perfection of bliss is there, where all goodness is met and united! In thy presence is fulness of joy; and, at thy right-hand, are pleasures for evermore. O blessed reflection of glory! We see there, as we are seen : in that we are seen, it is our glory; in that we see, it is God's glory: therefore doth he glorify us, that our glory should be his. How worthy art thou, O Lord, that, through us, thou shouldest look at thyself!"
CHAP. XXI. 4. The consideration of the Fruits and Effects. The next place shall be the fruits and EFFECTS following upon their several causes: which also affords very feeling and copious matter to our meditation; wherein it shall be ever best, not so much to seek for all, as to choose out the chiefest.
“No marvel then, if, from this glory, proceed unspeakable joy; and, from this joy, the sweet songs of praise and thanksgiving. The Spirit bids us, when we are merry, sing: bow much more then, when we are merry without all mixture of sorrow, beyond all measure of our earthly affections, shall we sing joyful Hallelujahs and Hosannahs to him that dwelleth in the highest heavens? Our hearts shall be so full, that we cannot choose but sing; and we cannot but șing melodiously. There is no jar in this music; no end of this
song. O blessed change of the Saints! They do nothing but weep below; and now nothing but sing above. We sowed in tears; reap in joy there was some comfort in those tears, when they were at the worst; but there is no danger of complaint in this heavenly mirth. If we cannot sing here with angels, On earth peace; yet there we shall sing with them Glory to God on high; and, joining our voices to theirs, shall make up that celestial concert, which none can either hear or bear part in, and not be happy."
5. Consideration of the Subject wherein, or whereabout, it is. AFTER which comes to be considered the SUBJECT; either wherein that is, or whereabout, that is employed, which we meditate of:
"And, indeed, what less happiness doth the very place promise, wherein this glory is exhibited? which is no other than the Paradise of God. Here below we dwell, or rather we wander, in a continued wilderness: there, we shall rest us in the true Eden: I am come into my garden, my Sister, my Spouse. Kings use not to dwell in cottages of clay; but in royal Courts fit for their estate: how much more shall the King of Heaven, who hath prepared for men so fair mansions on earth, make himself a habitation suitable to his Majesty! Even earthly princes have dwelt in cedar and ivory: but the great city, Holy Jerusalem, the palace of the Highest, hath her walls of jasper, her building of gold, her foundation of precious stones, her gates of pearl: How glorious things are spoken of thee, O thou city of God! We see but the pavement; and yet, how goodly it is! The believing Centurion thought himself unworthy that Christ should come under his roof; yet wert thou, O Saviour, in thine humbled estate, in the form of a servant: how then shall I think myself worthy to come under this roof of thine, so shining and glorious? Oh, if this clay of mine may come to this honour above, let it be trampled upon and despised on earth."
6. Consideration of the Appendances and Qualities of it. SIXTHLY, shall follow the APPENDANCES and QUALITIES, which cleave unto the subject, whereof we meditate: as,
"But were the place less noble and majestical; yet the company, which it affordeth, hath enough to make the soul blessed : for, not the place giveth ornament to the guest, so much as the guest to the place. How loth are we to leave this earth, only for the society of some few friends, in whom we delight; which yet are subject every day to mutual dislikes! What pleasure shall we then take, in the enjoying of the Saints; when there is nothing in them not amiable, nothing in us that may cool the fervour of our love! There shalt thou, my soul, thyself glorified, meet with thy
dear Parents and Friends alike glorious, never to be severed. There thou shalt see and converse with those ancient Worthies of the former World; the blessed Patriarchs and Prophets, with the crowned Martyrs and Confessors; with the holy Apostles, and the Fathers of that primitive and this present Church; shining each one according to the measure of his blessed labours. There shalt thou live familiarly in the sight of those Angels, whom now thou receivest good from, but seest not. There, which is the head of all thy felicity, thine eyes shall see Him, whom now thy heart longeth for; that Saviour of thine, in the only hope of whom, now thou Jivest. Alas, how dimly and afar off dost thou now behold him! How imperfectly dost thou enjoy him ; while every temptation bereaves thee, for the time, of his presence! I sought him, whom my soul loveth : I sought him, but found him not. His back is now towards thee, many times, through thy sins; and, therefore, thou hardly discernest him. Otherwhile and often, thy back is turned unto him, through negligence; that, when thou mightest obscurely see him, thou dost not: now, thou shalt see him; and thine eyes, thus fixed, shall not be removed. Yet neither could this glory make us happy, if, being thus absolute, it were not perpetual. To be happy, is not so sweet a state; as it is miserable, to have been happy. Lest ought, therefore, should be wanting ; behold, this felicity knoweth no end; feareth no intermission; and is as eternal for the continuance, as he that had no beginning. O blessedness truly infinite! Our earthly joys do scarce ever begin; but, when they begin, their end bordereth upon their beginning. One hour seeth us ofttimes joyful and miserable: here alone is nothing but eternity. If then the divine Prophet thought here one day in God's earthly house, better than a thousand otherwhere; what shall I compare to thousands of millions of years in God's heavenly temple? Yea, millions of years are not so much as a minute to eternity; and that other house not a cottage to this.”
CHAP. XXIV. 7. Of that which is Diverse from it, or Contrary to it. Seventhly, our thoughts, leaving a while the consideration of the thing as it is in itself, shall descend unto it as respectively with others; and, therefore, first shall meditate of that, which is DIVERSE from it, or CONTRARY unto it.
“What dost thou here then, O my soul ? What dost thou here, grovelling upon earth; where the best things are vanity, the rest no better than vexation ? Look round about thee; and see whether thine eyes can meet with any thing, but either sins or miseries. Those few and short pleasures thou seest, end ever sorrowfully; and, in the mean time, are intermingled with many grievances. Here, thou hearest one cry out of a sick body; whereof there is no part which affords not choice of diseases: this man layeth his hand upon his consuming lungs, and complaineth of short wind; that other, upon his rising spleen; a third shaketh his painful head; another roars out for the torment of his reins or bladder; anothier, for the racking of his gouty joints : one is distempered with a wa. tery dropsy ; another, with a windy colic; a third, with a fiery ague; a fourth, with an earthen melancholy: one grovels and foameth with the falling sickness; another lieth bed-rid, half senseless with a dead palsy : there are but few bodies, that complain not of some disease ; and, that thou mayest not look far, it is a wonder if thyself feel not always one of these evils within thee. There, thou hearest another lament his loss : either his estate is impaired by suretyship, or stealth, or shipwreck, or oppression; or his child is unruly, or miscarried; or his wife dead, or disloyal: another tormented with passions : each one is some way miserable. But, that which is yet more irksome, thy one ear is beaten with cursings and blasphemies; thy other, with scornful, or wanton, or murdering speeches: thine eyes see nothing but pride, filthiness, profaneness, blood, excess, and whatsoever else might vex a righteous soul; and, if all the world besides were innocent, thou findest enough within thyself to make thyself weary, and thy life loathsome. Thou needlest not fetch cause of complaint from others: thy corruptions yield thee too much at home; ever sinning, ever presuming: sinning, even when thou hast repented; yea, eren while thou repentest, sinning. Go to now, my soul, and solace thyself here below; and suffer thyself besotted with these goodly contentments, worthy of no better, while thou fixest thyself on these. See if thou canst find any of these above; and, if thou canst meet with any distemper, any loss, any sin, any complaint, from thyself or any other above, despise thy heaven, as much as now thou Jovest the earth. Or, if all this cannot enough commend unto thee the state of heavenly glory, cast down thine eyes yet lower, into that deep and bottomless pit, full of horror, full of iorment: where there is nothing but fames, and tears, and shrieks, and gnashing of teeth; nothing but fiends, and tortures: where there is palpable darkness, and yet perpetual fire: where the damned are ever boiling, never consumed; ever dying, never dead; ever complaining, nerer pitied : where the Glutton, that once would not give a crust of bread, now begs for one drop of water; and yet, alas, if whole rivers of water should fall into his mouth, how should they quench those rivers of brimstone that feed this fame? where there is no intermission of complaints; no breathing from pain; and, afier millions of years, no possibility of comfort. And, if the rod wherewith thou chastisest thy children, O Lord, even in this life, be so smart and galling, ihat they have been brought down to the brim of despair; and, in the bitterness of their soul, have entreated death to release thein ; what shall I think of their plagues, in whose righteous confusion thou consultest, and sayest; Aha, I will arengë me of mine enemies ? Even that thou shalt not be thus miserable, o my soul, is some kind of happipess; but, that thou shalt be as happy, as the reprobate are mi