Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ful things arc performed by the natural instinct, and sagacity of beasts; but yet what is seid of one, is true of then all, " God "hath not imparted understanding to them," Job xxxix. 17. This is a jewel which adorns none but rational creatures, men and angels.

"What the under- /' " afaculty °f the reasonable soul, by f. ,. . which a man apprehends, and judgeth all in

a ° tetligible things.

The ohjetl as it is every being, so far as it is true in itself, end apprehensible by man. It hath a two-fold use in the lise of man, viz.

(t.) To distinguish truth from error and falshood. By this caudle of the Lord, lighted up in the soul of man, he may discern betwixt duty and sin, good and evil: It is the eye of the foul, by which it seesh the way in which we should go, and the dangerous precipices that are on either side. It is the soul's taster, and discerns wholsom food from banesul poison, Job xii. 11. " Doth not the ear (i. e. the understanding by the ear) try "words, as the mouth tasteth meat?" It brings all things as it were, in the lump before it, and then forts them, and orderly ranks them into their proper classes of lawful and unlawful, necessary and indifferent, expedient, and inexpedient, that the foul may not be damnified by mistaking one for another. And this judgment of discretion every man must be allowed for himself. No man is obliged to shut the eyes of his own understanding, and follow another man blindfold.

(2.) To diretl and guide us in our practice. This faculty is by philofophers rightly called ifyifuriMt, the leading faculty; because the will follows its practical dictates. It sits at the helm, and guides the course of the soul; not impelling, or rigorousiy enforcing its dictates upon the will; for the will cannot be so imposed upon; but by giving it a directive light, or pointing, as it were, with its finger, what it ought to chuse, and what to refuse.

To this faculty belong two other exrellent, and wonderful powers of the foul, viz.

1. Thoughts. I 2. Conscience.

1. The power or abHity of cogitation: "* Thoughts are pro

"perly the actings and agitations of the

What a thought is. "mind, or any actual operation of the un

"derstanding." They are the musings of

* buti/tm, ogitatio est mentis agitatit Pascor. vet aQio mentis Tanch.

the mind, which are acted in the speculative part of the underitanding. "It isubservable that the -f- Hebrew word T\Wsuach, "which is used for meditation, or thinking signifies both to

think and to speak in the mind." When the understanding, or mind resolves, and meditates the things that come into it, that very meditation is an inward speaking, or hidden word id the heart, Deut. xv. 9. " Beware lest there be a thought in thy "wicked heart," as some render it: In the Hebrew it is ~\HZyj> 233/ "a word in thy heart." So Mat. ix. 3, 4. «*«£i auT'<i, " they spake within themselves," i. t. "they thought ia *• their hearts." The objects presented to the mind are tha companions with whom our hearts talk and converse.

Thoughts are the figments and creatures of the mind: They are formed within it, in multitudes innumerable. The-powei of cogitation is in the mind, yea, ia the spirit of the mind.

"% The sancy indeed, whilst the soul is embodied, ordina"rily and for the most part presents the appearances and like"nesses of things to the mind;" but yet it can form thoughts of things which the sancy can present no image of, as whan j| the foul thinks of God, or of itself. This power of cogitation goes with the soul, and is rooted in it when it is separated from, the body; and by it we speak to God, and couverse with ofgeh, and other spirits in the unboded state, as will be more fully opened in the process of this discourse.

2. The conscience belongs also to this saculty; for it being the judgment of a man upon himself, whh respect, or relation to the judgment ot What conscience it, God, it must needs belong to the underHanding part, or saculty. "Thoughts are formed in thespecu* "lative, but * conscience belongs to the practical understand"ing," It is a very high and awful power; it is sab Deo mi nor, and rides (as Joseph did) in the second chariot 3 the next and immediate officer under God. He saith of conscience, with

K ^

f PitW cum pnntlo stnistro, hcutut est ore, aut corde: et >'y<^tiw<" estsemocinari intrase, (i. e.) apudse iu anhnissuit. Mat. xxi. 25.

J Phantasia menti offers phantasmata* Pico).

|{ When we think. of God, saith Max. Tyr. Diff. I.we must think of nothing material, f/^n fnylSo;, ^iits %pafta, finn *AAo n uAns s-*S's< t. e. Neither magnitude nor colour, nor any other property of matter.

* Judicium appello conscicntUnn, ut ad inttlleftum tarn per finere ostendam. Ames.

respect to every mau, as he once said of Moses, with respect: to Pharaoh, " See I have made thee a g'id to Pharaoh," Exod. vii. i. The voice of conscience is the voice of God; for it is his vicegerent and representative. What it binds on earth, is bound in heaven: and what it loofeth on earth, is loosed in heaven. It obierves, records, and bears witness of all our actions; and acquits and condemns, as in the name of God, for them. Its consolations are most sweet, and its condemnations most terrible: so tenible, that some have chosen death, which is the king of terrors, rather than to endure the scorching heat of their own consciences. The greatest deserence, add obedience is due to its command, and a man had betrer * endure any rack or torture in the world, than incur the torments of it. It accompanies us as our fhadow, wherever we go; and when all others forsake us, (as at death they will) conscience is then, with us, and is then never more active and vigorous than at that time Nor doth it forsake us after death; but where the foul goes, it, goes, and will be its companion in the other world for ever. How glad would the damned be if they might but have left their consciences behind them, when they went hence! But, as f Bernard rightly says, "It is both witness, judge, tor"mentor, and prison;" it accuse th, judgeth, punisheth, and condemneth. •,

And thus briefly of the understanding, which hath many offices, and as many names from those offices.

It is sometimes called wit, reason, understanding, opinion, wifi dom, judgmen1. And why we bestow so many names upon oue and the same saculty, the learned author of that small, but excellent £ tract de anima, gives this true and ingenious account.

The wit, the pupil of the soul's char eye,

And in man's world the only shining star, looks in the mirror of the fantasy,

Where all the gatherings of the fenses are i And aster hy discoursing to and fro,

Anticipating and comparing things,

* What deaths would I not chuse? What punishment would I aot undergo? Yea, into what vault of hell would I not rather chuse ta be thrown, than to witness against my conscience?

\ Ipsa judicat, ipsa imperat, ipsa observat, ipsa sorter, ipsa. career. Bern. lib. de Consc. cap. 9.

% Nosce teipsum, p. 48, 49.

She doth all universal natures know,
And all esfects into their caules brings.

When fie rates things, and moves from ground to ground,

Toe name 0/ reason she obtains by this
But-when by reason she the truth hath found,

Andfiandeth fixed, she understanding is..
When her ajfeirt she lightly doth incline
:. To either fart, /he Is opinion light: .:
But when she doth by .principles define

A certain truth, she hath true judgment'/ sight.

And as from fenses, reason's -work doth spring. .
So many rtajons under/landing gain;
- jindmany understandings knowledge bring,
And by much knowledge wijdom we obtain.

VI. God hath endued the soul of man , , , ... .„ ... . ... . 0. Endued with a -will.

.not only with an under/landing to an

cern, and direct, but'also a will to govern, moderate, and overrule the actions of lise.

The will is a saculty of the rational soul,' whereby a man either chuseth, or refuseth the things which the understanding discerns and knows.

This is a very high, and noble power of the loul. The understanding seems to bear the same relation to the will, as a grave counsellor doth to a great prince, it glories in two excellencies, i,<z.

I. Liberty. : '.'?>'.•.' 2- Dominion. 1. It hath a freedom and liberty; it cannot be compelled and forced: Coaction is repugnant to its very nature *. In this it dissers from the. understanding, that the understanding is wrought upon necessarily,. but the will. acts spontaneously. This liberty of the will respects the choice; or refusal of the means for attaining thole ends it prosecutes, according as. it finds them more or lessconducible thereunto. The liberty of the will mult be understood to be in things natural, which are within its own proper sphere, not in thiagssuperna'tural. It can move, or not move the body, as it pleases, but it cannot move towards Christ, in the way of saith, as it pleaseth; it can open, or fhut the hand,

It bath a free liberty of action. Zeno.

or eye, at its pleasure, but not the heart. True indeed, it bnot compelled, or forced to turn to God, by supernatural grace, but, in a way suitable to its nacure, it is determined, and drawn to Christ, Psel. ex. 3. It is drawn by a mighty power, and yet runs freely; Cant. i. 4, " Draw me, and I will run alter thee."

Efficacious grace, and victorious delight, is a thing very difserent from compulsive force. "Pelagius (as a late % author "speaks) at first gave all to nature, acknowledged no necessity "of divine grace; but when thi? proud doctrine found little "countenance, he called nature by the name of grace; and "when that deceit was discovered, he acknowledged no other "grace but outward instruction, or the benefit of external re"velation, to discourse, and put men in mind of their duty. "Being yet driven farther, he acknowledged the grace of par"doa; and before a man could do any thing acceptably, there "was a necessity of the remission of sin, and then he might "obey God persectly. But that not sufficing, he acknowledged "another grace, viz. the example of Christ, which doth both "secure our rule and encourage our practice. And last of al), "his followers owned some kind of internal grace, but they "made that to consist in some illumination of the undersland"ing, or moral persuasion, by probable arguments, to excite "the will, and this not absolutely necessary, but only for fa"ciliation, as an horse to a journey, which otherwise a man "might go a foot. Others grant the secret influences of God's "grace, but make the will of man a co-ordinate cause with '' God, namely, that God doth propound the object, hold forth "inducing considerations; give some remote power and assist"ance; but still there is an indifferency in the will of man, to "accept or refuse, as liketh him best." Thus have they been forced to quit and change their ground; but still the pride of nature will not let men (ee the necessity of divine, esfications influences upon the will, and the consistency thereof with natural liberty.

(z.) Its dignity in its dominion, as well as in its liberty. The will hath an empire, and scepter belonging to it; yea, a double empire, for it rules.

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

1. Over the body, imperia despotieo, by way of
absolute command.
Over the other powers and passions of the
foul, imperio politico, by way oisuasion,

t Dr. Manton in Psal. cxix. T. 36.

« AnteriorContinuar »