Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE PREFACE.

As those, that fit from their old home and betake themselves to dwell in another country where they are sure to settle, are wont to forget the faces and fashions whereto they were formerly inured, and to apply themselves to the knowledge and acquaintance of those with whom they shall afterwards converse; so it is here with me: being to remove from my earthly tabernacle, wherein I have worn out the few and evil days of my pilgrimage, to an abiding city above, I have desired to acquaint myself with that Invisible World, to which I am going; to enter-know my good God, and his blessed Angels and Saints, with whom I hope to pass a happy eternity : and if, by often and serious meditation, I have attained, through God's mercy, to any measure of lightsome apprehension of them and their blissful condition; I thought it could be no other than profitable to my fellow-pilgrims, to have it imparted unto them. And, as knowing we can never be sensible enough of our happiness, unless we know our own dangers and the woeful miscarriages of others; nor so fully bless our eyes with the sight of heaven, if we cast not some glances upon hell; I have held it requisite, to bestow some thoughts upon that dreadful Region of Darkness and Confusion : that, by the former of these, our desires may be whetted to the fruition of their blessedness; and, by the other, we may be stirred up to a care of avoiding those paths that lead down to that second death, and to a continual thankfulness unto that merciful God, whose infinite goodness hath delivered us from that pit of horror and perdition.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

THE FIRST BOOK:-OF GOD AND HIS ANGELS,

SECT. I,

THAT THERE IS AN INVISIBLE WORLD.

W ho can think other, but that the great God of Heaven loseth much glory by our ignorance? for, how can we give him the honour due to his Name, while we conceive too narrowly of him and his works? To know him as he is, is past the capacity of our finite understanding: we must have other eyes, to discern that incomprehensible essence: but, to see him in his Divine Emanations, and marvellous works, which are the back parts of that glorious Majesty, is that, whereof we may be capable, and should be ambitious. Neither is there any thing in this world, that can so much import us: for, wherefore serves the eye of sense, but to view the goodly frame and furniture of the creation ? Wherefore serves the eye of reason and faith, but to see that lively and invisible power, which governs and comprehends it ?

Even this sensible, and material world, if we could conceive aright of it, is enough to amaze the most enlightened reason : for, if this globe of earth, in regard of the immense greatness of it, is wont, not unjustly, to be accounted a world, what shall we say of so many thousand stars, that are, for the most part, bigger than it ? How can we but admire so many thousand worlds of light, rolling continually over our heads; all made by the omnipotent power, all regularly guided by the infinite provi. dence, of the great God ? How poorly must that man needs think of the workmanship of the Almighty, that looks upon all these, but as so many torches, set up in the firmament every even, ing, only so big as they seem! and, with what awful respects must he needs be carried to his Creator, that knows the vastness and perpetually-constant movings of those lightsome bodies, ruled and up, held only by the Mighty Word that made them!

There is store of wonders in the visible, but the spiritual and intelligible world is that, which is more worthy to take up our hearts : both as we are men, endued with reason; and as regenerate, enlightened by faith; being so much more excellent than the other, by how much more it is removed from all earthly means of appres hension. Brute creatures may behold these visible things, perhaps with sharper eyes than we; but spiritual objects are so utterly out of their reach, as if they had no being. Nearest, therefore, to beasts are those men, who suffer themselves to be so altogether led by their senses, as to believe nothing, but what is suggested by that purblind and unfaithful informer. Let such men doubt, whether they have a soul in their body, because their eye never met with it *; or, that there are any stars in the firmament at noon-day, because they appear not; or, that there is any air wherein they breathe, because nothing appears to them but an insensible vacuity.

Of all other, the Sadducees had been the most dull and sottish heretics, that ever were; if, as some have construed them, they had utterly denied the very being of any spirits. Sure, as learned Cameron † pleads for them, they could not be so senseless: for, be. lieving the books of Moses, and being conscious of their own animation, their bosoms must needs convince them of their spiritual inmate: and what, but a spirit, could enable them to argue against spirits ? and how could they hold a God, and no Spirit? It was bad enough, that they denied the immortality and constant subsistence of those angelical, immaterial substances: an opinion long since hissed out, not of the school of Christianity only, but of the very stalls and sties of the most brutish Paganism; although that, very long since, as is reported by Hosius and Prateolus, that cursed glazier of Gaunt, David George, durst wickedly rake it out of the dust; and, of late, some sceptics of our own have let fall some suspicious glances this way.

Surely, all, that know they have souls, must needs believe a world of spirits, which they see not; if from no other grounds, yet out of that analogy, which they cannot but find betwixt this lesser and that greater world. For, as this little world, Man, consists of an outward visible body; and an inward spiritual soul, which gives life and motion to that organical frame, so possessing all parts, that it is wholly in all, and in each part wholly: so must it also be in this great universe, the sensible and material part whereof hath being and moving from those spiritual powers, both supreme and subordinate, which dwell in it, and fill and actuate it. Every illuminated soul, therefore, looks about him with no other than St. Paul's eyes; whose profession it is, We look not at the things, which are seen ; but at the things, which are not seen : for the things, which are seen, are temporal ; but the things, which are not seen, are eternal; 2 Cor. iv. 18.

* Nulla visibilia nisi per invisibilia videntur : tolle mentem, qui non videtur; et incassum patebit oculus. Greg. + Camer, in Act. xxiii. 8.

GG

SECT. II. THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD. I CANNOT quite mislike the conceit of Reuchlin and his Cabala, seconded by Galatinus, that as in an egg, the yolk lies in the midst encompassed round with the white, and that again by a film and shell; so the sensible world is inclosed within the intelligible: but, withal, I must add, that here is not a meer involution only, but a spiritual permeation and inexistence; yet without all confusion. For those pure and simple natures are not capable of mingling with gross, material substances : and the God of Order hath given them their own separate essences, offices, operations; as for the managing of their own spiritual commonwealth within themselves, so for the disposing, governing, and moving of this sensible world. As, therefore, we shall foully misconceive of a man, if we shall think him to be nothing but a body, because our eyes see no more ; so we shall no less grossly err, if, beholding this outward fabric, we shall conceive of nothing to be in this vast universe, but the mere lifeless substance of the heavens and elements, which runs into our sight : those lively and active powers, that dwell in them, could not be such, if they were not purely spiritual. · Here then, above and beyond all worlds, and in this material and intelligible world, our illuminated eyes meet first with the God of Spirits; the DEITY, incomprehensible; the Fountain of all life and being; the infinite and self-existing Essence; one most pure, simple, eternal Act; the absolute, omnipotent, omnipresent Spirit: who, in himself, is more than a world of worlds ; filling and comprehending both the spiritual and sensible world; in comparison of whom, this All is nothing, and but from him had been and were nothing. Upon this blessed object, O my soul, may thy thoughts ever dwell: where the more they are fixed, the more shall they find themselves ravished from the regard of all sensible things; and swallowed up with an admiration of that, which they are still further off from comprehending *

Next to this All-glorious and Infinite Spirit, they meet with those Immaterial and Invisible Powers, who receive their original and continuance, their natures and offices, from that King of Glory : each one whereof is so mighty, as to make up a world of power alone; each one so knowing, as to contain a word of wisdom; and all of them so innumerably many, that their number is next to -infinite; and all this numberless number is so perfectly united in one celestial policy, that their entire communion, under the laws and government of their sovereign Creator, makes them a complete world of spirits, invisibly living and moving both within and above this visible globe of the material world.

* Omne tempus quo de Deo non cogitat, perdidisse se computat. Bern. de spec. inon.

WO.

After these, we meet with the Glorified Souls of the Just; who, now let loose from this prison of clay, enjoy the full liberty of hea. ven; and, being at last reunited to their then immortal bodies, and to their most glorious Head, both are and possess a world of everlasting bliss.

Last of all, may thy thoughts fall upon those Infernal Powers of Darkness, the spiritual wickednesses in heavenly places ; whose number, might, combination, makes up a dreadful world of evil angels, conflicting where they prevail not, and tormenting where they overcome.

These, together with the Reprobate Souls, whom they have captived, are the most horrible and woeful prospects of mischief and misery, which either world is subject unto.

Now all and every of these, howsoever, in respect of largeness, they may well pass for so many several worlds : yet, as we are wont to account the whole globe of heaven and earth, and the other inclosed elements, though vast in their several extents, to make up but one sensible world; so shall we consider all the entire specifications of spirits, but as ranked in so many regions of one immaterial and intelligible world.

Wherefore, let us first silently adore that mundum archetypum, that one transcendent, self-being, and infinite essence, in three most glorious persons, the Blessed Deity, which filleth heaven and earth with the majesty of his glory; as vailed with the beams of infiniteness, and hid in an inaccessible light: and let us turn our eyes to the spiritual guard, the invisible attendants of that Divine Majesty ; without the knowledge and right apprehension whereof, we shall never attain to conceive of their God and ours, as we ought.

But, () ye blessed, immortal, glorious Spirits, who can know you, but he, that is of you? Alas, this soul of mine knows not itself: how shall it know you ? Surely, no more can our minds conceive of you, than our eyes can see you: only, since he, that made you, hath given us some little glimpse of your subdivine natures, properties, operations, let us.weakly, as we may, recount them to his glory in yours.

SECT. III. THE ANGELS OF HEAVEN: THEIR NUMBERS. The good Lord forgive me, for that, amongst my other offences, I have suffered myseif so much to forget, as his divine presence, so the presence of his holy angels. It is, I confess, my great sin, that I have filled mine eyes with other objects; and have been slack in returning praises to my God, for the continual assistance of those blessed and beneficent spirits, which have ever graciously attended me, without intermission, from the first hour of my conception to this present moment; neither shall ever, I hope, absent themselves from my tutelage and protection, till they shall have presented to my poor soul her final glory. Oh, that the dust and clay were se

« PreviousContinue »