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THE SECOND BOOK:-OF THE SOULS OF MEN.
SECT. I. OF THEIR SEPARATION AND IMMORTALITY. Next to these angelical essences, the Souls of Men, whether in the body or severed from it, are those spirits, which people the invisible world: next to them, I say ; not the same with them, not better. Those of the ancients, which have thought that the ruin of angels is to be supplied by blessed souls, spake doubtless without the book: for he, that is the Truth itself, bath said, they be Loáyyeros, like; not the same. And justly are those exploded, whether Pythagoreans, or Stoics, or Gnostics, or Manichees, or Almaricus, or, if Lactantius himself were in that error as Ludovicus Vives construes him, who falsely dreamed, that the souls of men were of the substance of that God, which inspired them : these errors are more fit for hellebore, than for theological conviction. Spiritual substances, doubtless, they are; and such, as have no less distant original from the body, than heaven is from earth. Galen was not a better physician than an ill divine, while he determines the soul to be the complexion and temperament of the prime qualities : no other than that harmony, which the elder naturalists dreamed of; an opinion no less brutish, than such a soul: for how can temperament be the cause of any progressive motion; much less of a rational discourse? Here is no materiality, no physical composition, in this inmate of ours: nothing, but a substantial act, an active spirit, a spiritual form of the king of all visible creatures.
But as for the essence, original derivation, powers, faculties, operations of this human soul as it is lodged in this clay, I leave them to the disquisition of the great secretaries of nature: my way lies higher, leading me from the common consideration of this spirit, as it is clogged with flesh, unto the meditation of it, as it is Divested of this Earthly Case, and Clothed with an Eternity, whether of joy or torment.
We will begin with happiness, our fruition whereof, I hope, shall never end; if first we shall have spent some thoughts, upon the general condition of this separation.
That the soul, after separation from the body, hath an indepen. dent life of its own, is so clear a truth, that the very heathen phi.
losophers, by the dim light of nature, have determined it for irrefragable: insomuch as Aristotle himself, who is wont to hear ill for his opinion of the soul's mortality, is confidently reported to have written a book of the Soul Separate; which Thomas Aquinas, in his so late age, professes to have seen. Sure I am, that his master Plato, and that heathen martyr Socrates, related by him, are full of divine discourses of this kind : insomuch as this latter, when Crito was asking him how he would be buried; “I perceive,” said he, “ I have lost much labour; for I have not yet persuaded my Crito, that I shall fly clear away, and leave nothing behind me;" meaning, that the soul is the man; and would be ever itself, when his body should have no being. And in Xenophon, as Cicero* cites him, Cyrus is brought in saying thus, Nolite arbitruri, &c. “ Think not, my dear sons, that when I shall depart from you, I shall then cease to have any being: for, even while I was with you, ye saw not that soul, which I had; but yet ye well saw, by those things which I did, that there was a soul within this body: believe ye, therefore, that though ye shall see no soul of mine, yet that it still shall have a being." Shortly, all, but a hateful Epicurus, have astipulated to this truth : and if some have fancied a transmigration of souls into other bodies; others, a passage to the stars, which formerly governed them; others, to I know not what Elysian fields; all have pitched upon a separate condition.
And, indeed, not divinity only, but true natural reason will necessarily evince it: for the intellective soul, being a more spiritual substance, and therefore having in it no composition at all, and, by consequence, nothing that may tend towards a not-being, can be no other, supposing the will and concurrence of the Infinite Creator, than immortal. Besides, as our best way of judging ought is wont to be by the effects; certainly, all operations are froni the forms of things, and all things do so work as they are. Now the body can do nothing at all, without the help of the soul; but the soul hath actions of its own t: as the acts of understanding, thinking, judging, remembering, ratiocination; whereof, if, while it is within us, it receives the first occasions by our senses and phantasms; yet it doth perfect and accomplish the said operations, by the inward powers of its own faculties: much more, and also more exactly can it do all these things, when it is merely itself; since the clog, that the body brings with it, cannot but pregravate and trouble the soul in all her performances. In the mean time, they do justly pass for mental actions; neither do so much as receive a denomination from the body: we walk, move, speak, see, feel, and do other human acts; the power, that doth them, is from the soul; the means or instrument, whereby they are done, is the body: no man will say the soul walks or sees, but the body by it; but we can no more say that the soul understands or thinks by the aid of the body, than we can say the body thinks or understands by means of the soul. These, therefore, being distinct and proper actions, do necessarily evince an independing and self-subsisting agent. O my soul, thou couldst not be thyself, unless thou knewest thine original, heavenly; thine essence, separable; thy continuance, eviternal.
* Cicero de Senectute. + Quicquid est illud quod sentit, quod sapit, quod vult, quod viget, cælesle et divinum est, ob eamque rem æternum sit necesse est, Tull. Tusc. quæst. l. 1.
But, what do we call in reason and nature to this parle, where faith, by which Christianity teacheth us to be regulated, finds so full and pregnant demonstrations? No less than half our Creed sounds this way, either by expression or inference; wherein, while we profess to believe our Saviour rose from the dead and ascended, we imply that his body was not more dead, than his soul living and active: that was it, whereof he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. Now, we cannot imagine one life of the head, and another of the body: his state, therefore, is ours: every way, are we conform to him: as our bodies shall be then once like to his, glorious; so our souls cannot be but as his, severed by death, crowned with immortality. And if he shall come to judge both the quick and the dead; those dead, whom he shall judge, must be living: for, as our Saviour said in the like case, God is not the Judge of the dead, as dead; but the Judge of the living, that were dead, and therefore living in death and after death. And whereof doth the Church Catholic consist, but of some members, warfaring on earth; others, triumphant in heaven and what doth that triumph suppose, but both a being, and a being glorious ? What Communion were there of Saints, if the departed souls were not; and the soul, when it begins to be perfect, should cease to be? To what purpose were the resurrection of the body, but to meet with his old partner, the soul? and that meeting only, implies both a separation and existence. Lastly, what life can there be properly, but of the soul ? and how can that life be everlasting, which is not continued? or that continued, that is not? If then he may be a man, certainly a Christian he cannot be, who is more assured, that he hath a soul in his body, than that his soul shall once have a being without his body. Death may tyrannize over our earthly parts: the worst he can do to the spiritual, is, to free it from a friendly bondage.
Cheer up thyself, therefore, O my soul, against all the fears of thy dissolution : thy departure is not more certain, than thy advantage: thy being shall not be less sure, but more free and absolute. Is it such a trouble to thee, to be rid of a clog? or, art thou so loth to take leave of a miserable companion, for a while; on condition, that he shall, ere long, meet thee happy?
SECT. II. OF THE INSTANT VISION OF GOD, UPON THE EGRESSION OF THE SOUL;
AND THE PRESENT CONDITION, TILL THEN. But if, in the meau while, we shall let fall our eyes upon the Present Condition of the Soul, it will appear how apt we are to misa know ourselves, and that which gives us the being of men.
The most men, however they conceive they have a soul within them, hy which they receive their animation: yet they entertain but dull and gloomy thoughts concerning it; as if it were no less void of light and activity, than it is of materiality and shape: not apprehending the spiritual agility and clearly-lightsome nature of that, whereby they are enlived.
Wherein it will not a little avail us, to bave our judgments throughly rectified; and to know, that as God is light, so the soul of man, which comes immediately from him and bears his image, is justly, even here, dignified with that glorious title.
I speak not only of the regenerate soul, illuminated by divine inspirations and supernatural knowledge; but also even of that rational soul, which every man bears in his bosom*. The spirit of man, saith wise Solomon, is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly ; Prov. xx. 27: and the dear Apostle, In him was life, and the life was the light of men ; John i. 4: and more fully soon after, That light was the true light, that lightneth every man, that cometh into the world; v. 9. No man can be so fondly charitable, as to think every man, that comes into the world, enlightened by the Spirit of Regeneration. It is, then, that intellectual light of common nature t, which the great Illuminator of the World beams forth into every soul; in such proportion, as he finds agreeable to the capacity of every subject.
Know thyself, therefore, o man; and know thy Maker. God hath not put into thee a dark soul; or shut up thy inward powers, in a dungeon of comfortless obscurity : but he hath set up a bright shining lamp in thy breast; whereby thou mayst sufficiently discern natural and moral truths, the principles and conclusions whether of nature or art; herein advancing thee above all other visible creatures, whom he hath confined, at the best, to a mere opacity of outward and common sense. But if our natural light shall, through the blessing of God, be so happily improved, as freely to give place to the spiritual, reason to faith; so that the soul can now attain to see him that is invisible, and in his light to see light; Psalm xxxvi. 9: now, even while it is over-shaded with the interposition of this earth, it is already entered within the verge of glory: but, so soon as this veil of wretched mortality is done away; now, it enjoys a clear heaven for ever, and sees as it is seen.
Amongst many heavenly thoughts, wherewith my ever-dear, and most honoured, and now blessed friend, the late Edward Earl of Norwich, had wont to animate himself against the encounter with our last enemy death; this was one, not of the meanest, that in the very instant of his soul's departing out of his body, it should
* Lumen aliquod substantiale animas habere haud improbè videmur advertere, quando in Evangelio legitur, quòd illuminat omnem hominem venientem in muna dum: deinde, quòd in cogitatione positi nescio quid tenue, volubile, clarum in nobis inesse sentimus, quod respicit sine sole, quod videt sine extranco lumine: nam si ipsum in se lucidum non esset, rerum tantam conspicientiam non ha. beret: tenebrosis ista non sunt data ; omnia cæca torpescunt, Cassidor, de Animâ, c, 10. + Calvin in loc,
immediately enjoy the vision of God. And, certainly, so it is. The spirits of just men need not stand upon distances of place, or space of time, for this beatifical sight; but, so soon as ever they are out of their clay lodging, they are in their spiritual heaven, even while they are happily conveyed to the local; 2 Cor. v. 1: for, since nothing hindered them from that happy sight, but the interposition of this earth which we carry about us, the spirit, being once free from that impediment, sees as it is seen; being instantly passed into a condition like unto the angels. Well, therefore, are these coupled together by the blessed Apostle, who, in his divine rapture, had seen them both: ye are come, saith he, unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, and to the spirits of just men made perfect ; Heb. xii. 22. As, then, the angels of God, wheresoever they are, though employed about the affairs of this lower world, yet do still see and enjoy the vision of God; so do the souls of the righteous, when they are once eased of this earthly load.
Doubtless, as they passed through degrees of grace, while they took up with these homely lodgings of clay; so they may pass through degrees of bliss, when they are once severed. And if, as some great divines* have supposed, the Angels themselves shall receive an augmentation of happiness at the day of the last judgment, when they shall be freed from all charge and employments; since their perfection of blessedness consists in rest, which is the end of all motion: how much more shall the Saints of God then receive an enlargement of their felicity! but, in the mean time, they are entered into the lists of their essential beatitude, over the threshold of their heaven.
How full and comfortable is that profession of the great Apostle, who, when he had sweetly diverted the thoughts of himself and his Corinthians, from their light afflictions to an eternal weight of excelling glory; from things temporal, which are seen, to those everlasting, which are not seen; adds, For we know, that if our earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building, not made with hands, eternal in the heaven, 2 Cor, v. 1: more than ima plying, that our eye is no sooner off from the temporal things, than it is taken up with eternal objects, and that the instant of the dissolution of these clay cottages, is the livery and seisin of a glorious and everlasting mansion in heaven.
Canst thou believe this, () my soul, and yet recoil at the thought of thy departure? Wert thou appointed, after a dolorous dissolution, to spend some hundreds of years at the fore-gates of glory, though in a painless expectation of a late happiness; even this hope were a pain alone: but, if sense of pain were also added to the delay, this were more than enough to make the condition justly dreadful: But, now that one minute shuts our eyes and opens them to a clear sight of God, determines our misery and
* Bp. Andrews in his answer to Bellarmine.