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4. That we should attentively and unweariedly imitate him in all his imitable perfections and actions.
5. That we should intirely resign up our selves to his conduct and disposal.
6. That we should chearfully rely, and depend upon him.
All which, as I shall Thew, are in cluded in the heavenly part of the Christian Life; and do most effectually contribute to our future happiness.
1. As we are rational Creatures related to God, we are obliged to be often contemplating and thinking upon him. For the natural use of our undera standing is to contemplate Truth, and therefore the more of Truth and Reality there is in any knowable object, and the farther it is removed from Falshood and Non-entity, the more the Understanding is concerned to contemplate and think upon it. God therefore boing the most true and real object, as he stands renioved by the necessity of his existence from all possibility of not-being; must needs be the most perfect Theme of our Urderstanding, the best and greatest Subject, on which it can employ its Meditations. And befides chat he is the most true and real of all beings, he is also the source and spring of all Truth and Reality, his Power conducted by his Wisdom, and Goodness being the cause, not only of all that isa but of all that either shall be, or can be. And is it fit that our Understanding, which was made to contemplate, should wholly over-look the fountain of it? But besides this too, that he is the greatest Truth himself, and the caufe of every thing else that is true and real, he is the Soveraign of Beings;
and the most amiable and perfecta as he includes in his infinite Ellence all possible perfections both in kind and degree. And what a monitrous Irreverence is it for minds that were framed to the contemplation of Truth, to pass by such a great and glorious one without any regard or obfervance; as if he food for a Cypher in the world, and were not worthy to be thought upon ? Nay, and besides all this, (which one would think were enough to oblige our Understandings to the Itrictelt attendance to him) he is a Truth in which above all others we are most nearly concerna ed, as he is not only the Father and Prop of our Beings, and the Consolation of our lives, but the fole Arbiter of our Fate too, upon whom our everlasting well or ill, being depends. And what can we be more concerned to think, and meditate upon than this great Being, from whom we sprang, in whom we live and breath, and of whom we are to expect all that evil or good that we can fear or hope for. All which considered, there is no doubt to be made but that our Understanding was chiefly made for God, to look up to him, and contemplate his Being and Perfections. And though in this imperfect State it is too often averted from him, by this vast variety of sensual things that surround it, and intercept its Prospect, yet. as our Soul recovers out of this sensual condition into a life of Reason, we find by experience that its Understanding presently looks upwards, by a natural Instinct, and directs it self to God, as to its proper Pole and Center. And as it grows more and more indifferent to the objects of Sense, so it becomes more and more vigorous in its tendency
towards God and divine things. And 'tis no wonder it doth so, since it is God only who is an infinite Truth, that is able to satisfie its infinité. Thirst after Truth. - And hence it is, that till we have throughly fixed our Minds and Wills upon God, we do naturally affect such an Infinity of Objects, that our Delires are always reaching at nem Pleasures, and carried forth after new Poslefsions; that our Fancy is always entertaining our mind with new Ideas, and our Understanding continually calling for new Scenes of Contemplation. By which, as one hath well observed, the foul declares that it is not to be perfectly pleased with finite Truth or Good : Which poslibly nray be the reason of that delight we take in Fables, and Pictures of Anticks and Monsters, because they exceed the limits of Truth, and so do enlarge, as it were, the prospect of the Soul, which by its unconfined motions, shews that it is of a Divine Extract, and that it can never be perfectly satisfied but in union with God, who is an infinite Ocean of Truth and Goodness. For as for all other Beings, they are fo very shallow, that we quickly see (or at least shall do, when we fee after the manner of Spirits ) to the very bottom of their Truth and Reality; and when we have done that, they have no more in them to feed and entertain our understandings. So that when we have exhausted the Truth of finite Beings, we must either cease to understand any more, which would be to deprive our noblest faculty of any farther Pleafure, or we must at last fix our mind upon God, in whom it will find fuch infinite Truth, as will be fufficient to exercise it through
out all its infinite Duration. But unless we do now acquaint our minds with God by frequent thinking and meditating upon him, we shall by degrees grow such Strangers to him, that, by that time we go into the other world, we shall be so far from being pleased with contemplating him, that we shall look upon him as an uncouth Object, and out of distaste avert and turn our eyes from him. For the mind of man must be familiarized to its objects, before it will be able to contemplate them with pleasure, and though the objects themselves be never fo amiable, yet while the mind is unused to them, its thoughts will start and flie off from them, and without a great deal of violence, will never be reduced to a fixt and serious attention to them. So that if we go into Eternity with minds unaccustomed to the thoughts of God, we shall be continually flying away from hin, as Bats and Owls do from the light of the Sun, and never be able to compose our awkward thoughts into a fixed contemplation of his glory. And when we have thus banished our felves from the only object that can for ever bleß and satisfie our understanding, that can keep it in everlasting exercise and motion, and feed its greedy thoughts eternally with fresh and glorious discoveries, we have utterly lost one of the sweetest Pleafures that HumaneNature is capable of ; and so must necessarily pine and languish, under an eternal discontentedness. To prevent which, the Gospel enjoyns us to train up our minds to divine Contemplation, and to be frequertly thinking and meditating upon God; to mind those things that are above, for so the Greek word is to be rendred, Col. iii. 1. To fan&tifie the
Lord Godinour Hearts, 1 Pet. iii. 15. that is, by entertaining great and worthy Thoughts of him. And therefore the Gospel is set before us as a Glaß, that therein we may contemplaie and behold the glory of God, 2 Cor. iii. 18. namely, that divine glory which is therein discovered and revealed to us ; that we may set him always before our minds, and gather up our thoughts about him, and force then to dwell and stay upon him, that so they may taste and relish his heavenly beauties, and please and satisfie themselves with the view and contemplation of them. For though to meditate closely upon God may at first be irksom and tedious to our unexperienced minds, yet when by the constant practice of it, we have worn off that Strangeneß towards God, which renders the thoughts of him so troublesome to us, and by frequent converses are grown better acquainted with him, we shall grow by degrees so pleased and satisfied with the thoughts of him, that we shall not know how to live without them; and our minds at last will be toucht with such a lively sense of his attractive beauties, that we shall never be well but while we are with him ; so that he will become the constant Companion of our thoughts, and the daily Theme of our Meditations; and nothing in the world will be so grateful and acceptable to us, as to retire now and then from the world, and converse with God in holy Contemplations. And though by reason of our present Çircumstances and Necessities there is no remedy but our thoughts must be often diverted from him, and forced to attend to our fecular occasions ; yet after they haye been used a while to God, we H 3