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them, and keeps them sase and clean, but the child is forgotten and lost. My body which is but the garment of my soul, I kept and nourished with excessive care, but my soul was long forgotten, and had been lost for ever, as others daily are, had not God rouzed it, by the convictions of his Spirit, out of that deep oblivion and deadly flumber. ..-. .
When the God that formed it, out of free grace to the work of his own hands, had thus recovered it to a sense of its own worth and danger, my next work was to get it united, with Christ, and thereby secured from the wrath to come; which I found to be a work difficult to effect, (if it be yet effected), and a work of time to clear, though but to the degree of good hope through grace.
And since the hopes.and evidences of salvation began to spring tip in my soul, and settle the state thereof, I found these three great words, viz. Christ, soul, and eternity, to have a far difserent, and more awful sound in my ear, than ever they used to have. I looked on them from that time, as things of the greatest certainty, and most awful solemnity. These things have laid some weight upon my thoughts, and I selt, at certain seasons, a strong inclination to sequester myself from all other studies, and spend my last days, and most fixed meditations upon these three great and weighty subjects.
I know the subject matter of my studies and enquiries (be it never so weighty) doth not therefore make my meditations and discourse upon it great and weighty: nor am I such a vain opiniowtor, as to imagine my discourses every way suitable to the dignity of such subjects; no, no, the more I think and study about them, the more I discern the indistinctness, darkness, crudity, and confusion of my own conceptions, and expression of such great-and transcendent things as those: but, In magnis voluijse sat est, I resolved to do what I could: and accordingly some years past I finished and published, in two parts, the Dotlrine of Christ; and by the acceptation and success the Lord gave that, he hath encouraged me to go on in this second part of ray work, how unequal soever my shoulders are to the burden of it.
The nature, original, immortality, and capacity pf Cifne own soul, for the present lodged in and related to this vile, body, destined to corruption • together with its existence, employment, perfection, converse -with Cod, and other spirits, both of its own, and of a superior rank and order, when it shall (as I know it shortly mudi) put off this its tabernacle; these things have a long time been the matters of my limited desires to ander stand, so sar as I could see the pillar of fire (God in his word) enlightening my way to the knowledge of them. Yea, such is the value I have tor them, that I have given them the next place in my esteem, to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and my interest in him. '.
God hath formed me, as he hath other men, a pro/feeling creature. I seel myself yet uncentered, and short of that state of rest and satissaction to which my soul, in its natural and spiritual capacity, hath a designation. I find that I am in a continual motion towards my everlasting abode, and the expence of my time; and many infirmities tell me that I am not sar from , it: by all which I am strongly prompted to look forward, and acquaint my self as much as I can, with my next place and employment. I look with a greedy and inquisitive eye that way.
• Yet would I not be guilty of an unwarrantable curiosity in searching into revealed things; how willing soever I am to put my head by saith into the world above, and to know thethings which Jesus Christ hath purchased and prepared for me, and all the rest that are waiting for his appearance and kingdom. I seel my curiosity checked and repressed by that elegant paronomasia, Rom. xii. 3. M« vutftyoiet* trap 0 ckt tppc<en, «aa* vt T' ru<$p,m<, In all things I would be wise unto sobriety. I groan under the efsects of Adam's itching ambition to know, and would not by repeating his sin, encrease my own misery; nor yet would I be scared, by his example, into the contrary evil of neglecting the means God hath afforded me, to knowTU that I can of his revealed will. . * The helps philosophy affords in some parts of this discourse, are too great to be despised, and too small to be admired. I consess I read the definitions of the foul given by the antient philosophers, with a compassionate smile. When Thales calls it a nature -without repofe; Asclepiades, an exercitation of sense; Hesiod, a thing compofed of earth and water; Parmenides, a thing compofed of earth and fire; Galen saith it is heat; Hippocrates, a spirit diffused through the body; Plato, a self-movingsubstance; Aristotle calls it Entelechia, that by which the body it moved: If my opinion fhould be asked, which of all these definitions I like best, I should give the same answer which Theocritus gave an ill poet, repeating many of his verses, and ask
'• For to whom is the truth known with certainty without God? or God without Christ? or Christ explorated without the Spirit? or the Spirit vouchsased without saith i Tertullian on the fault .
ing which he liked best; Those (said he) which you have omittecL Or if they must have the garland as the prize they have Ihot for, let them have it upon the same reason that was once given to him that always fhot wide. Difficilius est taties non attingere, Because it was the greatest difficulty to aim lo often at the mark, and never come near it. One word of God gives me more light than a thouland such laborious trifles. As Caesar was best able to write his own commentaries, so God only can give the best account of his own creature, on which he hath impressed his own image.
Modern philosophers, assisted by the divine oracles, must needs come closer to the mark, and give us a sar better account of the nature of the soul. Yet I have endeavoured not to cloud this subject with their controversies, or abstruse notions; remembring what a smart, but deserved check, Tertullian gives those, Qui Platonicum et /tristetelicum Christianifmum producunt Christianu. Words are but the servants of matter, 1 value them as merchants do their fhips, not by the gilded head and stern, the neatness of their mould, or curious flags and streamers, but by the soundness of their bottom, largeness of their capacity, and richness of their cargo and loading. The quality of this subject necessitates, in many places, the use of scholastic terms, which will be obscure to the vulgar reader: but apt and proper words must not be rejected for their obscurity, except plainer words could be found that fit the subject as well, and are as fully expressive of the matter. The unnecessary I have avoided, and the rest explained as I could.
The principal fruits I especially aim at, both to my own and the reader's soul, are, That whilst we contemplate the freedom, pleasure, and satissaction of that spiritual, incorporeal people, who dwell in the region of light and joy, and are hereby forming to ourselves a true scriptural idea of the blessed state of those disembodied spirits, with whom we are to serve, and converse in the temple-worship in heaven; and come more explicitly and distinctly to understand the constitution, order, and delightful employments of those our everlasting associates; we may answerably seel the sound and inordinate love of this animal lise subacted and wrought down; the frightful vizard of death drop off, and a more pleasing aspect appear; that no upright soul that shall read these discourses may henceforth be convulsed at the name of death, but che-arfully aspire, and with a pleasant expectation wait for the blessed season of its transportation to that blessed assembly. It is certainly out ignorance of the lise of heaven, that makes us dote as we do upon the present lise. There is a gloom, a thick mist overspreading the next lise, and hiding, even from the eyes of believers, the glory that is there. We send forth our thoughts to penetrate this cloud, but they return to us without the desired success. We reinforce them with a sally of new and more vigorous thoughts, but still they come back in confusion and disappointment, as to any persect account they can bring us from thence; though the oftner and closer we think, still the more we grow up into acquaintance with these excellent things.
Another benefit 1 pray for, and expect from these labours, is, that by describing the horrid estate of those souls which go the other way, and fhewing to the living the dismal conditioa of souls departed in their unregenerate state; some may be awakened to a seasonable and essectual consideration of their wretched condition, whilst they yet continue under the means and among the instruments of their salvation.
Whatever the fruit of this discouise shall be toothers, I have cause to bless God for the advantage it hath already given me. I begin to find more than ever I have done, in the separate state of sanctified souls, all that is capable of attracting an intellectual nature; and it God will but fix my mind upon this state, and cause my pleased thoughts about it to settle into a steddy frame and temper, I hope I fhall daily more and more depreciate and despise this common way of existence in a corporeal prison; and when the blessed season of my departure is at hand, I fhall take a chearful sarewel of the greater and lesser elementary world, to which my soul hath been confined, and have an abundant entrance through the broad gate of assurance, unto the Messed, unbodied inhabitants of the world to come.
Gen. ii. 7. ri* Ier<i God formed man oat of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nestrih the breath of life; aud man became a living fouL
"r I ^ HREE things (saith * Ath3nasius) are unknown to *' 1 men according to their essence, viz. God, angels', and "the souls of men." Of the nature of the divine and
high-born foul, we may fay, as the learned f Whitaker doth of the way of its insection by original fin, "it is easier sought than "understood, and better understood than explicated :" And; for its original, the most sagacious and renowned for wisdom amongst the % ancient philofophers understood nothing of it. It is said of" || Democritus, that "there is nothing in the "whole workmanship of nature of which he did not write and in a more lofty and swelling hyperbole, they stile their eagleey'd Aristotle, r< the'rule, yea, and miracle of nature; learning' M itself, the very sun of knowledge:" yet both these are not only said, -but proved by Lactantius to be learned ideots. How have the schools of Epicurus, and Aristotle, the Cartesians, and other sects of philofophers, abused and troubled the world with a kind of philofophical enthusiasm, and a great many ridiculous
# Tri'a fans qua secundum effentiam hominibus sunt ayvura., »u 'e,pi'-«, Deus, angelus, et anima homir.it: Ath. in Tract. de desin.
f Shiœr't faciliui est quam intelligitur, et meliut intelligitur quarn explicatur. .
% Plato doubted, Aristotle denied, and Galen derided the doctrine of the world's creation.
|| Nihil est in toto opificio naturae, de quo non scripstt Democritus* And for Aristotle, they stiled him, Regula naturae, Nature miraeulum, ipfa eruditio, sol scientiarum, Antiflss literarum et fasten*tiœ. Lactantius. lib. iii, cap. 17, 18.