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tion? Is faith no knowledge ? If you believe | Christ, which is a comfort that our fellow-creaGod's promise, you know that such a state there tures, the brutes, have not ! is: and you know in general that it is better than Indeed the pleasures of life are usually imbit. this world ; and you know that we shall be in tered with so much pain, that to a great part of holiness and glorious happiness with Christ : and the world doth seem to exceed them : the vanity is this no knowledge ? What we know not, and vexation is so great and grievous, as the Christ, that prepares and promises it, doth know: pleasure seldom countervails. It is true, that and is that nothing to us, if we really trust our nature desires life, even under sufferings that are souls to him? He that knows not more good by but tolerable, rather than to die : but that is not heaven than by earth, is yet so earthly and unbe- so much from the sensible pleasure of life, as lieving, that it is no wonder if he be afraid and from mere natural inclination ; which God hath unwilling to depart.
laid so deep, that free-will hath not full power In departing from this body and life, I must against it. As before I said, that the body of depart from all its ancient pleasures: I must taste man is such a thing, that could we see through no more sweetness in meat, drink, rest, sport, or the skin, as men may look through a glass-hive any such thing that now delights me: house, upon the bees, and see all the parts and motion, lands, goods and wealth, must all be left; and the filth that are in it, the soul would hardly be the place where I live must know me no more. All willing to actuate, love, and cherish such a mass my possessions must be no more to me, nor all of unclean matter, and to dwell in such a lothethat I laboured for or took delight in, than if some place, unless God had necessitated it by they had never been at all.
nature, deeper than reason or sense, to such a What though it must be so ? Consider, O my love, and such a labour, by the spring of inclinasoul, thy ancient pleasures are all past already. tion: even as the cow would not else lick the Thou losest none of them by death, for they are unclean calf, nor women themselves be at so much all lost before, if immortal grace have not by labour and trouble with their children, while sanctifying them, made the benefits of them to there is little of them to be pleasing, but uncleanbecome immortal. All the sweet draughts, ness, and crying, and helpless impatiency, to morsels, sports, and laughter ; all the sweet make wearisome, had not necessitating inclinathoughts of thy worldly possessions, or thy hopes, tion done more hereto than any other sense or that ever thou hadst till this present hour, are reason ; even so I now say of the pleasure of past by, dead, and gone already. All that death living, that the sorrows are so much greater to doth to such as these, is to prevent such, that on multitudes than the sensible delight, that life earth thou shalt have no more.
would not be so commonly chosen and endured Is not that the case of every brute, that hath | under so much trouble, were not men determined no comfort from the prospect of another life, to thereto by natural, necessitating inclination; or repair his loss : and yet as our dominion dimin- deterred from death by the fears of misery to ishes their pleasure while they live, by our keep- the separated soul; and yet all this kept not some ing them under fear and labour, so at our will who are counted the best and wisest of the heatheir lives must end. To please a gentleman's thens, from taking it for the valour and wisdom of appetite for half an hour or less, birds, beasts, a man to take away his life in times of extremity, and fishes, must lose life itself, and all the and from making this the great answer to them pleasure which light might have afforded them that grudge at God for making their lives so for many years; yea, perhaps many of these, miserable, "If the misery be greater than the good birds and fishes at least, must die to become but of life, why dost thou not end it? Thou mayst one feast to a rich man, if not one ordinary do that when thou wilt.' meal.
Our meat and drink is pleasant to the healthIs not their sensual pleasure of the same nature ful; but it costs poor men so much toil, labour, as ours ? Meat is as sweet to them, and ease as care, and trouble, to procure a poor diet for welcome, and desire as strong in season ; and the themselves and their families, that, I think, could pleasure that death deprives our flesh of, is such they live without eating and drinking, they would as is common to man with brutes : why then thankfully exchange the pleasure of it all, to be should it seem hard to us to lose that in the eased of their care and toil in getting it: and course of nature, which our wills deprive them when sickness comes, even the pleasantest food of at our pleasure ? When, if we are believers, is lothesome. we can say that we but exchange these delights Do we not willingly interrupt and lay by these of life, for the greater delights of a life with pleasures every night, when we betake ourselves to slecp? It is possible, indeed, that a man many wise and godly men, and from all my pleamay then have pleasant dreams : but I think few sure in reading, hearing, public and private exgo to sleep for the pleasure of dreaming : either ercises of religion, &c. ; I must leave my library, no dreams, or vain, or troublesome dreams, are and turn over those pleasant books no more : I much more common. To say that rest and ease must no more come among the living, nor see is my pleasure, is but to say that my daily la- the faces of my faithful friends, nor be seen of bour and cares are so much greater than my man: houses and cities, fields and countries, waking pleasure, that I am glad to lay by both gardens and walks, will be nothing as to me. I together : for what is ease but deliverance from shall no more hear of the affairs of the world, of weariness and pain? For in deep and dreamless man, or wars, or other news, nor see wbat besleep there is little positive sense of the pleasure comes of that beloved interest of wisdom, piety, of rest itself. But indeed it is more from na- and peace, which I desire may prosper, &c. ture's necessitated inclination to this self-easing Though these delights are far above those of and repairing means, than from the positive plea- sensual sinners, yet, alas, how low and little are sure of it, that we desire sleep. If we can thus they? How small is our knowledge in comparibe contented every night to die, as it were, to son of our ignorance? How little doth the all our waking pleasures, why should we be un- knowledge of learned doctors differ from the willing to die to them at once.
thoughts of a silly child ? For from our childIf it be the inordinate pleasures forbidden of hood we take it in by drops; and as trifles are God, which you are loth to leave, those must be the matter of childish knowledge, so words, and left before you die, or else it had been better for notions, and artificial forms, do make up more you never to have been born : yea, every wise of the learning of the world, than is commonly and godly man doth cast them off with detesta- understood ; and many such learned men know tion : you must be against holiness on that ac- little more of any great and excellent things count as well as against death : indeed, the same themselves, than rustics that are contemned by cause which makes men unwilling to live a holy them for their ignorance. God and the life to life, hath a great hand in making them unwilling come, are little better known by them, if not to die; even because they are loth to leave the much less than by many of the unlearned. What pleasure of sin: if the wicked be converted, he is it but a child's game, that many logicians, rhemust be gluttonous and drunken no more ; he toricians, grammarians, yea, metaphysicians, and must live in pride, vain glory, worldliness, and other philosophers, in their most eager studies and sensual pleasures, no more: therefore he draws disputes, are exercised in? Of how little use is it back from a holy life, as if it were from death to know what is contained in many hundreds of itself. So he is the more loth to die, because he the volumes that fill our libraries ? Yea, or to must have no more of the pleasures of his riches, know many of the most glorious speculations in pomp, and bonours, his sports and lust, and pleased physics, mathematics, &c. which have given appetite ; no more for ever : but what is this some the title of virtuosi and ingeniosi in these to them that have mortified the flesh with the af- times, who have little the more wit or virtue to feetions and lusts thereof?
live to God, or overcome temptations from the Yea, it is these forbidden pleasures which are flesh and world, and to secure their everlasting great impediments both of our holiness and our hopes : what pleasure or quiet doth it give to a true pleasures : one of the reasons why God for- dying man to know almost any of their trifles. bids them; is, because they hinder us from better. Yea, it were well if much of our reading and If for our own good we must forsake them when learning did us no harm, nay, more than good: we turn to God, it must be supposed that they I fear lest books are to some but a more honourshould be no reason against our willingness to able kind of temptation than cards or dice ; lést die, but rather that to be free from the danger many a precious hour be lost in them, that should of them, we should be the more willing.
be employed on much higher matters, and lest But the great satisfying answer of this ob- many make such knowledge but an unholy, najection is, that death will pass us to far greater tural, yea, carnal pleasure, as worldlings do the pleasures, with which all these are not worthy to thoughts of their lands and honours; and lest be compared. But of this more in due place. they be the more dangerous by how much the
less suspected: but the best is, it is a pleasure so When I die, I must depart not only from sen- fenced from the slothful with thorny labour of sual delights, but from the more manly pleasures hard and long studies, that laziness saves more of my studies, knowledge, and converse with | from it than grace and holy wisdom doth. But
doubtless, fancy and the natural intellect may, | men, have I lost by it, which I might easily have with as little sanctity, live in the pleasure of had in a more conversant and plausible way of reading, knowing, disputing, and writing, as life? When all is done, if I reach to know any others spend their time at a game of chess, or more than others of my place and order, I must other ingenious sport.
differ so much, usually, from them : if I maniFor my own part, I know that the knowledge fest not that difference, but keep all that knowof natural things is valuable, and may be sancti- ledge to myself, I sin against conscience and nafied ; much more theological knowledge ; when ture itself: the love of man, and the love of it is so, it is of good use; and I have little truth oblige me to be soberly communicative: knowledge which I find not some way useful to were I so indifferent to truth and knowledge, as my highest ends. If wishing or money could easily to forbear their propagation, I must also procure more, I would wish and empty my purse be so indifferent to them, as not to think them for it ; but yet if many score or hundred books worth so dear a price as they have cost me, which I have read, had been all unread, and I though they are the free gifts of God: as nature had that time now to lay out upon higher things, is universally inclined to the propagation of the I should think myself much richer than now I kind by generation, so is the intellectual nature
I must earnestly pray, the Lord forgive to the communication of knowledge, which yet me the hours that I have spent in reading things hath its lust and inordinancy in proud, ignorant, less profitable, for the pleasing of a mind that hasty teachers and disputers. would wish to know all, which I should have But if I obey nature and conscience in comspent for the increase of holiness in myself and municating that knowledge which contains my others : : yet I must thankfully acknowledge to difference aforesaid, the dissenters too often think God, that from my youth he taught me to begin themselves disparaged by it, how peaceably sowith things of greatest weight, and to refer most ever I manage it: as bad men take the piety of of my other studies thereto, and to spend my the godly to be an accusation of their impiety, days under the motives of necessity and profit so many teachers take themselves to be accused to myself, and those with whom I had to do. Iof ignorance, by such as condemn their errors now think better of the course of Paul, who de- by the light of truth? If you meddle not with termined to know nothing but a crucified Christ, any person, yet take they their opinions to be so among the Corinthians, that is, so to converse much their interest, as that all that is said against with them as to use, and glorying as if he knew, them, they take as said against themselves. nothing else : so of the rest of the apostles and Then, alas, what envyings, what whispering disprimitive ages : though I still love and honour paragements, and what backbitings, if not malithe fullest knowledge, yet I less censure even cious slanders and underminings, do we meet that Carthage council which forbade the reading with from the carnal clergy. O that it were all of the heathen books of learning and arts, than from them alone, and that among the zealous formerly I have done. I would have men fa- and suffering party of faithful preachers, there vour most that learning in their health, which were not much of such iniquity, and that none they will, or should, favour most in sickness, and of them preached Christ in strife and envy; it is near to death.
sad that error should find so much shelter under Alas, how dear a vanity is this knowledge the selfishness and pride of pious men; and that That which is but theoretic and notional is but the friends of truth should be tempted to reject a tickling of the fancy or mind, little differing and abuse so inuch of it in their ignorance as from a pleasant dream: but how many hours, they do: but the matter of fact is too evident what gazing of the wearied eye, what stretching to be hid. thoughts of the impatient brain, must it cost us, But especially if we meet with a clergy that if we will attain to any excellency ? Well saith are high, and have a great deal of worldly Solomon, 'much reading is a weariness to the interest at the stake : or if they be in councils flesh, and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth and synods, and have got the major vote, they sorrow.' How many hundred studious days and too easily believe that either their grandeur, weeks, and how many hard and tearing thoughts, reverence, names, or numbers, must give them hath my little, very little, knowledge cost me ? the reputation of being orthodox, and in the How much infirmity and painfulness to my flesh, right, and will warrant them to account and deincrease of painful diseases, and loss of bodily fame him as erroneous, heretical, schismatical, ease and health ? How much pleasure to myself singular, factious, or proud, that presumes to of other kinds, and how much acceptance with contradict them, and to know more than they: the corpse,
of which not only the case of Nazianzen, Martin, saway: 'when I was a child I spoke as a child, Chrysostom, are sad proofs, but also the pro- understood as a child, I thought as a child ; but ceedings of too many general and provincial when I became a man, I put away childish councils. So our hard studies and darling truth things:' for now we see through a glass darkly, must make us as owls, or reproached persons, as men understand a thing by a metaphor, among those reverend brethren, who are ignorant parable or riddle, but then face to face, even at easier rates, and who find it a far softer kind of creatures intuitively as in themselves naked and life to think and say as the most or best esteemed open to our sight: now I know in part, but then do, than to purchase reproach and obloquy so shall I know, even as I am known: not as God dearly.
knows us : for our knowledge and his must The religious people of the several parts will not be so comparatively likened : but as holy say as they hear their teachers do, and be the spirits know us both now and for ever, we shall militant followers of their too militant leaders: both know and be known by immediate intuition. and it will be their house talk, their shop talk, If a physician be to describe the parts of man, their street talk, if not their church talk, that and the latent diseases of his patient, he is anxious such a one is an erroneous, dangerous man, to search hard, and bestow many thoughts of it, because he is not as ignorant and erroneous as besides his long reading and converse to make they, especially if they be the followers of a him capable of knowing: and when all is done, teacher much exasperated by confutation, and he goes much upon conjectures, and his knowengaged in the controversy; and also if it should ledge is mixed with many uncertainties, yea, and be suffering confessors that are contracted, or mistakes ; but when he opens
he men most highly esteemed for extraordinary de- all, and his knowledge is more full, more true, grees of piety: then what cruel censures must and more certain, besides that it is easily and he expect, who ever so tenderly would suppress quickly attained, even by a present look : a countheir errors ?
tryman knows the town, the fields, and rivers O what sad instances of this are the case of where he dwells, yea, and the plants and animals, the confessors in Cyprian's days, who, as many with ease and certain clearness; when he that of his epistles show, became the great disturbers must know the same things by the study of geoof that church ; and of the Egyptian monks graphical writings and tables, must know them, at Alexandria, in the days of Theophilus, who but with a general, an unsatisfactory, and often turned Anthropomorphites, and raised abominable a much mistaken kind of knowledge: alas, when tumults, with woeful scandal, and odious blood- our present knowledge hath cost a man the study shed. . O that this age had not yet greater of forty, or fifty, or sixty years, how lean and instances to prove the matter than any of these! poor, how doubtful and unsatisfactory is it after Now should a man be loth to die, for fear of all ? But when God will show us himself, and · leaving such troublesome, costly learning and all things; and when heaven is known as the sun knowledge, as the wisest men can here attain ? by its own light, this will be the clear, sure, and
But the chief answer is yet behind. No know- satisfactory knowledge ; “ blessed are the pure in ledge is lost, but perfected, and changed for much heart, for they shall see God. “And without nobler, sweeter, greater knowledge : let men be holiness none can see him.' This sight will be ever so uncertain in particular de modo, whether worthy the name of wisdom, when our present acquired habits of intellect and memory die with glimpse is but philosophy, a love and desire of us, as being dependent on the body: yet, by wisdom ; so far should we be from fearing death what manner soever, that a far clearer knowledge through the fear of losing our knowledge, or any we shall have, than is here attainable, is not to of the means of knowledge, that it should make be doubted of. The cessation of our present us rather long for the world of glorious light, that mode of knowing, is but the cessation of our we might get out of this darkness, and know all ignorance and imperfection : as our wakening that with an easy look, to our joy and satisfacends a dreaming knowledge, and our maturity tion, which here we know with troublesome ends the trifling knowledge of a child : for so doubtings, or not at all. Shall we be afraid of saith the Holy Ghost, ‘Love never faileth,' and darkness in the heavenly light, or of ignorance, we can love no more than we know : but whether when we see the Lord of glory. there be prophesies they shall fail: that is, cease: As for the loss of sermons, books, and other whether there be tongues they shall cease : means, surely it is no loss to cease the means whether there be knowledge, notional and ab- when we have attained the end : cannot we spare stractive, such as we have now, it shall vanish our winter clothes, as troublesome in the heat of
summer, and sit by the hot fire without our gloves ? | a little good with so troublesome a mixture of Cannot we sit at home without a horse or coach ? noisome evils ? or set them by at our journey's end? Cannot Christ loved his disciples, his kindred, yes, we lie in bed without boots and spurs ? Is it and all mankind, and took pleasure in doing grievous to us to cease our physic when we are good to all; and so did his apostles: but how well: even here, he is happier that hath least of poor a requital had he or they from any but from the creature, and needs least, than he that hath God? Christ's own brethren believed not in much and needs much : because all creature him, but wrangled with him; almost like those comforts and helps have also their inconvenien- that said to him on the cross, · If thou be the ces: the very applying and using so many re- Son of God, come down, and we will believe.' medies of our want, is tedious of itself. As God Peter himself was once a Satan to him, and after, only needeth nothing but is self-sufficient, and with cursing and swearing, denied him : all his therefore only perfectly and essentially happy, disciples forsook him and fled: what then from so those are likest God that need least from others could be expected ? without, and have the greatest plenitude of No friends have a perfect suitableness to each internal goodness. What need we to preach, other ; and roughness and inequalities that are hear, read, pray, to bring us to heaven when we nearest us are most troublesome. The wonder. are there?
ful variety and contrariety of apprehensions, As for our friends, and our converse with interest, educations, temperaments, occasions, them, as relations, or as wise, religious, and temptations, &c. are such, that whilst we are faithful to us, he that believes not that there are scandalized at the discord and confusions of the far more, and far better, in heaven than are on world, we must recall ourselves, and admire that earth, doth not believe, as he ought, that there is all-ruling providence which keeps up so much a heaven: our friends here are wise, but they order and concord as there is : we are, indeed, are unwise also : they are faithful, but partly unlike people in crowded streets, who, going several faithful ; they are holy, but also, alas, too sin- ways, molest each other with their jostling opful: they have the image of God, but blotted positions ; or, like boys at foot-ball, striving to and dishonoured by their faults: they do God overthrow each other for the ball : but it is a and his church much service; but they also do wonder of divine power and wisdom, that all too much against him, and too much for Satan, the world is not continually in moral war. even when they intend the honour of God: they If I do men no harm, yet if I do but cross promote the gospel; but they also hinder it: their wills, it goes for a provoking injury: their weakness, ignorance, error, selfishness, When there are as many wills as persons, who pride, passion, division, contention, scandals, and is it than can please them all ? Who hath money remissness, do often so much hurt, that it is hard enough to please all the poor that need it, or the to discern whether it be not greater than their covetous that desire it? Or, who can live with good to the church or to their neighbours. Our displeased men, and not feel some of the fruits friends are our helpers and comforters ; but how of their displeasure ? What day goes over my often also are they our hinderers, troubles, and head in which very many desire not, or espect grief? But in heaven they are altogether wise, not impossibilities from me? How great is the holy, faithful, and concordant, and have nothing number of them that expect unrighteous things? in them, nor there done by them, but what is By nothing do I displease so many, as by not amiable to God and man.
displeasing God and my conscience : for nothing With our faithful friends, we have here a mix- am I so deeply accused of sin, as for not sinning; ture, partly of useless and burdensome persons, the world will not think well of any thing that and partly of unfaithful hypocrites, and partly of crosses their opinion and carnal interest, be it self-conceited, factious wranglers, and partly of ever so conformable to God's commands; I malicious, envious underminers, and partly of must confess, that while I suffer from all sides, implacable enemies : how many of all these set few men have more common and open praises together is there for one worthy, faithful friend ? from their persecutors than I: but while they How great a number is there to trouble you, for praise me in general, and for other particuone that will indeed comfort you ? But in hea- lars, they aggravate my nonconformity to their ven there are none but the wise and holy: no opinions and wills, and take me to be so hypocrites, no burdensome neighbours, no treach- much the more hurtful to them. The greaterous, or oppressing, or persecuting enemies are est crimes that have been charged on me bare there: is not all good and amiable better than | been for the things which I thought to be