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A RECAPITULATION OF THE WHOLE DISCOURSE. AND now, what is to be done? Surely, as some traveller, that hath, with many weary steps, passed through divers kingdoms and countries, being now returned to his quiet home, is wont to solace his leisure, by recalling to his thoughts a short mental landscape of those regions, through which he hath journeyed; here conceiving a large plain, there a lake ; here a track of mountains, there a wood; here a fen, there a city; here a sea, there a desert; so do thou, O my soul, upon this voyage of thine through the great Invisible World, bethink thyself of what thou hast seen; and so abridge this large prospect to thyself, as that it may never be out of thine eye.
Think, first, that, whatsoever thou seest, thou canst not look beside the Invisible Majesty of thy God. All this material world is his; he is in all; rather, all is in him; who, so comprehends this universe, that he is infinitely without it. Thi 'k of him, as with thee; as in thee; as every where. Do thou, therefore, ever acknowledge him, ever adore him, ever enjoy him, ever be approved of him. See him; from whom, thou canst not be hid: rely on him; without whom, thou canst not subsist: glorify him; without whom, thou canst not be happy.
Next, as those, that have their celestial life and being, by, from, and in him, wonder at the glorious Hierarchy of the heavenly Angels: bless him, in their pure and spiritual nature, in their innumerable numbers, in their mighty power, in their excellent knowledge: bless him, in their comely orders, in their divine offices, in their beneficial employments, in their gracious care and love of mankind. And, so far as weak flesh and blood may with pure and majestical spirits, converse with them daily: entertain them, for thou knowest they are present, with awful observances, with spiritual allocutions : ask of thyself, how pleasing thine actions are to them : receive from them their holy injections; return to them, under thy God, thy thankful acknowledgments: expect from them a gracious tuition here, and a happy transportation to thy glory. After these, represent to thyself
the blessed society of the late charge, and now partners, of those heavenly angels, the Glorified Spirits of the Just. See the certainty of their immortal being, in the state of their separation. See them, in the very instant of their parting, blessed with the vision, with the fruition, of their God. See how they now bathe themselves in that celestial bliss; as being so fully sated with joy and happiness, that they cannot so much as desire more. See them, in a mutual interknowledge, enjoying each others' blessedness. See the happy communion, which they hold with their warfaring brotherhood, here upon earth; whose victory and consummation they do, in a generality, sue for to the Throne of Grace. Foresee them, lastly, after a longing desire of meeting with their old and never forgotten partner, joyfully re
any fault of mine; yea, that crucified Saviour should rather cry me mercy for keeping me thus long in hell :” to whom Macarius said, as he well might, “ Avoid, Satan.” I know not whether more to blame their Saint, if they report him right, for too much charity, or for too little grace and wit, in so presumptuous an endeavour. The very treaty was in him blasphemous; the answer, no other than could be expected from a spirit, obdured in malice, and des perate in that obduredness.
The truth is, he hates us, because he hated God first; and, like the enraged panther, tears the picture, because he cannot reach the person whom it represents.
He, that made him an angel, tells us what he is; since he made himself a devil, even a manslayer from the beginning. His very trade is murder and destruction; and his executions unweariable: he goes about continually, like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
It is no other, than a marvellous mystery of divine state, too deep for the shallowness of human souls to reach into, that God could, with one word of his powerful command, destroy and dissolve all the powers of hell; yet he knows it best not to do it: only we know he hath a justice to glorify, as well as a mercy; and, that he knows how to fetch more honour to himself, by drawing good out of evil, than by the amotion and prevention of evil. Glory be to that infinite power, justice, mercy, providence, that contrives all things, both in heaven and earth, and hell, to the highest advantage of his own Blessed Name, and to the greatest beneħt of his elect.
SECT. V. THE VARIETY OF THE SPIRITUAL ASSAULTS OF EVIL SPIRITS. Out of this hellish nixture of Power, Skill, Malice, do proceed all the deadly Machinations of these Infernal Spirits; which have enlarged their kingdom, and furnished the pit of destruction.
It was a great word of the Chosen Vessel, We are not ignorant of Satan's devices ; 2 Cor. ii. 11. O Blessed Apostle, thy illuminated soul, which saw the height of heaven, might also see the depth of hell: our weak eyes are not able to pierce so low.
That Satan is full of crafty devices, we know too well; but, what those devices are, is beyond our reach. Alas, we know not the secret projects of silly men, like ourselves : yea, who knows the crooked windings of his own heart? much less can we hope to attain unto the understanding of these infernal plots and stratagems: such knowledge is too wonderful for us : our clew hath not line enough to fathom these depths of Satan.
But, though we be not able possibly to descry those infinite and hidden particularities of diabolical art and cunning; yet our woeful experience, and observation, hath taught us some general heads of these mischievous practices : divers whereof I am not unwilling to learn and borrow of that great Master of Meditation, Gerson *, the learned Chancellor of Paris, a man singularly acquainted with temptations.
* Gerson, de Variis Diaboli Tentationibus.
One while, therefore, that Evil One lays before us the incommodities, dangers, wants, difficulties of our callings; to dishearten us, and draw us to impatience and listlessness; and, rather than fail, will make piety a colour of laziness: another while, he spurs up our diligence in our worldly vocation ; to withdraw us from holy duties.
One while, he hides his head, and refrains from tempting; that we may think ourselves secure, and slacken our care of defence : another while, he seems to yield; that he may leave us proud of the victory.
One while, he tills us on, to our overhard task of austere mortification; that he may tire our piety, and so stupefy us with a heartless melancholy: another while, he takes us off from any higher exercises of virtue, as superfluous.
One while, he turns and fixes our eyes upon other men's sins; that we may not take view of our own: another while, he amplifies the worth and actions of others, to breed in us either envy or de jection
One while, he humours our zeal, in all other virtuous proceedings; for but the colour of one secret vice: another while, he lets us loose to all uncontrolled viciousness; so as we be content to make love to some one virtue.
One while, under the pretence of discretion, he discourages us from good, if any way dangerous, enterprizes : another while, he is apt to put us upon bold hazards, with the contempt of fear or wit; that we may be guilty of our own miscarriage.
One while, he works suspicion in love, and suggests mis-constructions of well-meant words or actions; to cause heart-burning between dear friends : another while, under a pretence of favour, he kills the soul with flattery.
One while, he stirs up our charity to the public performance of some beneficial works; only to win us to vain-glory : another while, he moves us, for avoiding the suspicion or censure of singularity, to fashion ourselves to the vicious guises of our sociable neighbours.
One while, he persuades us to rest in the outward act done, as meritoriously acceptable: another while, under a colour of humility, he dissuades us from those good duties, whereby we might be exemplary to others.
One while, he heartens us in evil-gettings ; under pretence of the opportunity of liberal alms-giving : another while, he closes our hands, in a rigorous forbearance of needful mercy; under a fair colour of justice.
One while, he incites us, under a pretence of zeal, to violate charity, in unjust censures and violent executions : another while, under pretence of mercy, to bear with gross sins.
One while, he stirs us up, under a colour of charitable caution, to wound our neighbour with a secret detraction : another while,
wards him, than if I saw his face : for his sight of me, calls for a due regard from me; not my sight of him.
Since, therefore, we have so certain demonstrations of the undoubted presence of God and his holy angels ever with us, though not discernible by our bodily eyes, with what fear and trembling, with what reverence and devotion, should we always stand or walk before them! making it our main care to be approved of them, to whom we lie no less open than they are hid to us.
As for the glorified saints of God, who are gone before us to our home; with what spiritual joy should we be ravished at the consideration of their blessed condition! who now have attained to the end of their hopes, glory and bliss without end; ever seeing, erer enjoying him, at whose right-hand are pleasures for evermore : how should we bless God for their blessedness, and long for our own!
Lastly, how should our joy be seasoned with a cautious fear, when we cast our eyes upon those objects of dread and horror, the principalities and powers of darkness : not so confined to their hell, as to leave us untempted, and encreasing their sin and torment by our temptation !
How should our hearts bleed with sorrow and commiseration of those wretched souls, which we see daily entangled in the snares of the Devil; and captivated by him, at his will, here on earth ; and frying, under his everlasting torments, in the pit of hell!
How should our hearts be prepossessed with a most earnest and vigilant care, to resist all the dangerous assaults of those wicked spirits, and to prevent the peril of our own like-woeful destruction! If we shall make this use of our being in this visible world, happy are we, that ever we came into it; more happy, in our going out of it: for, having thus used it, as if we used it not, we shall so enjoy the other, as those that ever enjoy it ; and, in it, all glory, honour, immortality.
Ló, then, O my soul, the glorious world, which thou art now aspiring unto; yea, whereinto thou art now entering. There, there fix thyself, never to be removed. Look down upon these inferior things, with an overly contempt: forget what is past, as if it had never been. Bid a willing farewell to this visible world; wherein thy Creator hath a just interest of glory, for that the substance of it is the wondrous workmanship of his hands ; so Satan, stried the Prince of it, claimeth no small share, in regard of its sinful depravation.
Farewell, then, ye frivolous and windy honours, whose management is ever wont to be in other hands, not in our own : which have ever been no less fickle, than the breath ye have depended upon : whose chief use hath been for temptation, to puff up the heart with a proud conceit of eminence above others; not requiting, in the mean while, the danger, with any solid contentment.
Farewell, ye deceitful riches, which, when we have, we cannot hold; and, even while we hold, we cannot enjoy: and, if we offer and affect to enjoy, is it not with our spiritual loss ? for what love we yield to cast away upon you, we abate to him, that is the true
and all-sufficient good. More than for necessary use, we are never the better for you; oftentimes, the worse : your load is more uneasy, than your worth is precious.
Farewell, pleasures, if I ever knew what ye were; which have always wont to afford more sting than honey: whose only scope hath professedly been, under a pretence of delectation, to debauch and emasculate the mind, and to dis-relish all spiritual comforts; where your expectation hath been somewhat delightful, your fruition hath been unsatisfying; your loss, displeasing; your remembrance, irksome.
Farewell, friends, some of whose unsteadiness and unfaithfulness hath helped to add to my load, which the fidelity of others had not power to ease; whose love might be apt to condole my shipwreck, but could not spare me a plank to swim to the shore; shortly, whose cominon misery may be more ready to receive, than give comfort.
The honour, that now I reach at, is no less than a crown; and that, not fading and corruptible, as all these earthly diadems are; but immarcescibly eternal; a crown of righteousness, a crown of glory.
The riches, that I am now for, are not such that are digged out of the base entrails of the earth, obnoxious to spoil and plunder ; but treasures laid
in heaven. The pleasures, that I now affect, are the fulness of joy at the right-hand of the Almighty for evermore.
The friends, that I ambitiously sue for, are those, that shall receive me into everlasting habitations. Lastly, farewell, vanishing life; and welcome, blessed eternity : even so, Lord Jesu, come quickly.
END OF THE SIXTH VOLUME.
C. WHITTINGHAM, Printer, Dean Street.