« PreviousContinue »
solitariness, to musing, and to dismal thoughts, that they are undone, graceless, hopeless, &c., which because they passionately seem to feel, no words, which silence them, will satisfy them; or if you seem a little to satisfy them today, it is all gone to-morrow: for a melancholy man is like the eye that looketh on all things through a coloured glass, or in an opthalmy, and seeth them according to the medium.
The disease, in some few, beginneth with over-stretching thoughts and troubles about things spiritual; but in most that I have met with, (ten to one,) it beginneth with some worldly cross, loss, or trouble, which grieveth them, and casteth them into troublesome anxieties and cares; and then when by these the spirits are diseased, it presently turneth upon conscience; first, against themselves, aggravating sin and misery, apprehending calamity from every thing which they see, hear, or think of; and next, against God and Scripture, perplexed in every thing that cometh before them, and quarrelling with all, and offended in all; and usually they are importuned, as if it were by something else within them, to say some blasphemous word against God, or do some mischief against themselves. No doubt through satan's special instigation, who can work on men according to the advantage of their bodily and sensitive distempers, and can do that on a melancholy man, (though a godly man,) which he cannot do on another; as he can also work on the choleric, phlegmatic, &c. according to their temper.
1. The cure of this must be by these means; (1.) You must not suffer them to be much alone. (2) You must divert them from all musing, and turn it to discourse. (3.) You must keep from them displeasing things and persons, and help them to suitable pleasing company and converse. (4.) You must change their air and company sometimes, that strange objects may change their imagination. (5.) Above all, if they have strength, you must not suffer them to be idle, to lie in bed longer than they sleep in the day; nor to sit musing, but must get them upon the work of a lawful calling, and drive them on to so much diligence, that body and mind may be closely employed. This will be more than all other ordinary means. (6.) In most, meet physic also will do very much, which must be ordered by an experienced physician that is with them, or well knoweth them. (7.)
Lastly, Their false thoughts also must be confuted, and their minds have due satisfaction. And if you cannot have all, or most of these done, you can hardly expect a cure, unless time wear it off, which is doubtful.
II. The falsehood and vexation of such men's thoughts, whether the melancholy or others, are brought to pass, 1. By a false method of reasoning. II. By false opinions which they have before received.
1. It is a grossly deluding and subverting way of reasoning, to begin at dark and doubtful consequents, thence to argue against certain, clear, fundamental principles. As if from some doubts about the position and motion of the stars, or of the nature of light, heat, and motion, men should argue that there is no sun, or moon, or stars at all; or that they have no power of light, heat, or motion: or as if from the many difficulties in anatomy, about the circulation of the blood the' oleum nervosum,' the lympha,' and its vessels, the passages and the succus' of the pancreas and gall, the transcolation through the intestines into the venæ lactæ,' the chyly glandules, and such like, one should arise to a conclusion, that there is no blood, no chyle, no veins, no glandules, no head, no body; or from the controversy, whether the heart be a mere muscle without any proper parenchymæ,' one should grow to conclude that there is no heart: so such persons, from points beyond man's reach, about God's decrees and intentions, and the mysteries of providence, conclude or doubt against God's goodness; that is, whether indeed there be a God. I have spoken so fully to this case, in my "Reasons of the Christian Religion," chapter iv. that I would desire you to peruse it. I shall now only give you twenty questions which the tempted person may challenge all the subtlety and malice of hell to answer; for it is easy to justify the goodness of God.
Quest. 1. Is it not certain that there is a world, in which is abundance of created goodness?' The earth is but a point as to all the world. There is a sun, and moon, and multitudes of glorious stars, which are many of them manifold greater than the earth. There are angels, there are men, there are variety of creatures in this lower part of the creation, which have all their excellency; all the men on earth
cannot by any contribution of their counsels, discern the ten thousandth part of the excellency of this little parcel of God's works. And as to the whole, it is next to nothing which we comprehend: every worm, every plant excelleth the highest human apprehension. Is there no physical goodness in all this unmeasurable, this harmonious, this glorious frame? Look about you, look upwards, and deny it if you can. And is there no moral goodness in holy men and angels? And is there no felicity and glorious goodness in all the heavens? What mind can be so black, as to deny all created goodness?
Quest.2. 'Is not all the goodness of the whole creation communicated from God?' Did it make itself? Or who else made it? Are not all effects from their causes? And is he not the first cause? See what I have said to prove this fully in the aforesaid Treatise.
Quest. 3. Hath God made a world that is better than himself?' Could he give more goodness than he had to give? Must not he needs be better than all his works?
Quest. 4. Is he fit to be quarrelled with for want of goodness, who hath infinitely more goodness than the whole world besides?' More than sun and stars, heaven and earth, angels and men, all set together in all their single and their united, harmonious worth? If he be better than all, is he not most beyond accusation or exception?
Quest. 5. 'Must not God necessarily excel his works? Must he needs make every worm a god? Or must he make any god, or equal to himself?" Is not that a contradiction? And is there not necessarily an imperfection in all that is not God? Nothing can be so great, so wise, so good, so holy, so immutable, so self-sufficient, so blessed, as God.
Quest. 6. Is not God's creation a harmonious universe, of which individuals are but the parts?' Are not the parts for the whole, and their worth to be valued for the whole, or for the common ends? Must every pin in a watch, or every stitch in your garment, or every part of your house, or every member of your body, and every humour or excrement in it, have that excellency which may simply dignify itself in a compared or separated sense? Or rather, must it not have that excellency which belongeth to it as a part of the whole for the common end of all together? Is not that best, that
is best to the order, beauty, and usefulness of the universal frame?
Quest. 7. Is it necessary to this end, or to prove God's goodness, that all individuals, or species of creatures, must be of the highest rank or excellency?' Is God wanting in goodness, if every man be not an angel, or every angel made unchangeable, or every unlearned man a doctor, or every star a sun, or every cloud or clod a star, or every beast a man, or every worm an elephant, or every weed a rose, or every member a heart or head, or every excrement blood and spirits? Will you think that a man doth reason like a man who thus disputeth, He that doth not do that which is best when he can do it, is not perfectly good, and therefore is not God. But he that maketh toads and serpents, and maketh the guts the passage of filthy excrements, when he could have made them equal with the heart, doth not do that which is best, when he can do it. Therefore he is not perfectly good; therefore he is not God: therefore there is no God; therefore there is no Creator; therefore the world hath no cause, or made itself, and preserveth itself. Therefore I made myself, and must rule and preserve myself,' Conclude next, Therefore I will never suffer, nor die,' and thus prove the wisdom of such reasoning, if you can.
Quest. 8. If God made man and all things, did he not make them for himself, for the pleasure of his own will? Must he not needs in reason be the end of all, who is the beginning and cause of all?' And is not that means the best which is aptest to the end? And doth not the proper goodness of a means consist in its aptitude to promote the end? And then is not that the goodness of all creatures (partly to be what the Creator efficiently maketh them, and partly) to fulfil his will, and what creature hath not this goodness, as to the absolute will of his decrees, which all fulfil?
Quest. 9. Are not now both these conclusions of infallible certainty, and therefore not at all contradictory?' 1. That God is most good, because he is the cause of all the good in the whole creation? 2. And yet that there are toads, serpents, darkness, death, sickness, pains, &c. which therefore are no whit inconsistent with his goodness? Neither of them being capable of a denial, or of a sober doubt.
Quest. 10. Is not an angel and man, endued with reason and freewill, and left to choose or refuse his own rectitude
and felicity (or misery) capable of knowing, loving, serving, and enjoying God, if he will? and instructed by a perfect holy law (with rewards and punishments) to choose aright? I say, is not such a creature as noble and as meet for God to make as a stone, or a toad, or worm, or serpent?' If God choose to please his own holy will, by making a world of such intellectual, free agents, whom he will (ordinarily) rule by the way of moral laws and motives; is this any disparagement to his wisdom and goodness? It is true, that such a mutable freewill is below a confirmed, immutable will. But it is as true, that a toad is below a man; and that Infinite wisdom thought not meet to make all his creatures of one rank or size, not to make all faces alike, nor all the stones in the street alike, but in wonderful variety. It is not then unbeseeming God, to make a world of rational freeagents, under such a moral government by laws.
Quest. 11. If all these free-agents have abused their liberty and undone themselves, if he so far shew mercy to them all, as that they may be all happy if they will, and none of them shall perish but for wilful and final refusing of the saving means and mercy which is offered to them; and if they will, they may live with God himself, and Christ and angels in endless glory; and none shall lose this free-given felicity, but for final refusal and contempt, preferring certain vanity and dung before it. And if officers be commissioned, and means provided, to acquaint all, in several measures, with the reasons why they should choose heaven and holiness before the dirty pleasures of sin, and to importune them daily to such a choice; and if a life of mercies be granted to allure them, and afflictions to drive them, and examples to invite them to choose aright. I say, after all this, 'have any of these persons cause to complain, that God dealeth not mercifully with them?" Shall they, that will not accept of life and mercy offered them, accuse him as cruel that importuneth them to accept it?
Quest. 12. Is the goodness of a king to be judged of by the interest of murderers in the gaol?" When he restrained them by laws, when he warned them by legal penalties, when he encourageth and protecteth all the good; when the lives of the innocent need this severity against the wicked; when the commonwealth would take him to be bad, that would not restrain thieves and murderers by penalties. Yea,