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Sure we are, that all creatures are in God, by close dependence, and yet that the good are good, and the bad are bad; and that God is good, and hath no evil; and that when man is tormented, or miserable, God suffereth nothing by it, (as the whole man doth, when but a tooth doth ache,) for he would not hurt himself were he passive. Therefore, to dream of any such cessation of our individuation by any union with a creature, as shall make the good less good or happy, or the bad less bad or miserable, is a groundless folly.
Sect. 34. Yet it is very probable, that there will be a nearer union of holy souls with God and Christ, and one another, than we can here conceive of : but this is so far from being to be feared, that it is the highest of our hopes. (1.) God himself (though equally every where in his essence) doth operate very variously on his creatures. On the wicked he operateth as the first cause of nature, as his sun sbineth on them. On some he operateth by common grace: to some he giveth faith to prepare them for the in-dwelling of his spirit. In believers he dwelleth by love, and they in him; and if we may use such a comparison, as Satan acteth on some only by suggestions, but on others so despotically, as that it is called his possessing them ; so God's Spirit worketh on holy souls, so powerfully and constantly, as is called his possessing them. And yet, on the human nature of Christ, the divine nature of the second person hath such a further, extraordinary operation, as is justly called a personal union; which
; is not by a more essential presence, (for that is everywhere,) but by a peculiar operation and relation : and so holy souls being under a more felicitating operation of God, may well be said to have a nearer union with them than now they have.
Sect. 35. (2.) And I observe that (as is aforesaid) all things have naturally a strong inclination to union and communion with their like: every
clod and stone inclineth to the earth : water would go to water, air to air, fire to fire; birds and beasts associate with their like : and the noblest natures are most strongly thus inclined: and therefore I have natural reason to think that it will be so with holy souls.
Sect. 36. (3.) And I find, that the inordinate contraction of man to himself, and to the interest of this individual person, with the defect of love to all about us, according to every creature's goodness, and
especially to God, the infinite good, whom we should love above ourselves, is the very sum of all the pravity of man. And all the injustice and injury to others; and all the neglect of good works in the world and all our daily terrors, and self-distracting, self-tormenting cares, and griefs, and fears, proceed from this inordinate love and adhesion to ourselves; therefore I have reason to think, that in our better state, we shall perfectly love others as ourselves, and the selfish love will turn into a common and a divine love, which must be by our preferring the common, and the divine good and interest.
Sect. 37. And I am so sensible of the power and plague of selfishness, and how it now corrupteth, tempteth, and disquieteth me, that when I feel any fears, lest individuation cease, and my soul fall into one common soul, (as the stoics thought all souls did at death,) I find great cause to suspect, that this ariseth from the power of this corrupting selfishness; for reason seeth no cause at all to fear it, were
Sect. 38. (4.) For I find also, that the nature of love is to desire as near a union as possible; and the strongest love doth strongliest desire it. Fervent lovers think they can scarce be too much one : and love is our perfection, and therefore so is union.
Sect. 39. (5.) And I find, that when Christians had the first and full pourings out of the Spirit, they had the ferventest love, and the nearest union, and the least desire of propriety and distance.
Sect. 40. (6.) And I find, that Christ's prayer for the felicity of his disciples, is a prayer for their unity. (John xvii. 22, 23.) And in this he placeth much of their perfection.
Sect. 41. (7.) And I find also, that man is of a social nature, and that all men find by experience, that conjunction in societies is needful for their safety, strength, and pleasure.
Sect. 42. (8.) And I find, that my soul would sain be nearer God, and that darkness and distance is my misery, and near communion is it that would answer all the tendencies of my soul; why then, should I fear too near a union.
Sect. 43. I think it utterly improbable, that my soul should become more nearly united to any creature han to God; (though it be of the same kind with other souls, and infinitely below God ;) for
God is as near me, as I am to myself ; I still depend on him, as the effect upon its total, constant cause; and that not as the fruit upon the tree, which borroweth all from the earth, water, air, and fire, which it communicateth to its fruit; but as a creature on its Creator, who hath no being but what it receiveth totally from God, by constant communication. Hence Antonine, Seneca, and the rest of the stoics, thought that all the world was God, or one great animal, consisting of divine spirit and matter, as man of soul and body; sometimes calling the supposed soul of the world, God; and sometimes calling the whole world, God; but still meaning that the universe was but one spirit and body united, and that we all are parts of God, or of the body of God, or accidents, at least.
Sect. 44. And even the popish mystical divines, in their pretensions to the highest perfection, say the same in sense; such as Benedict. Anglus in his Regula Perfectionis, (approved by many doctors,) who placed much of his supereminent life in our believing verily that there is nothing but God, as the beams are to the sun, and as the heat is to the fire; (which really is itself;) and so teaching us to rest in all things as good, as being nothing but God's essential will, which is himself (resolving even our sins and imperfections accordingly into God, so that they are God's, or none).
Sect. 45. And all these men have as fair a pretense for the conceits of such an union with God now, as for such a union after death : for their reason is, 1. That God being infinite, there can be no more beings than his own; but God and the smallest being distinct, would be more entity than God alone; but infinity can have no addition. 2. Because ens et bonum convertuntur; but God only is good.
And if we are, notwithstanding all this, distinct beings from God now, we shall not be so advanced as to be deified, and of creatures, or distinct beings, turned into a being infinitely above us. If we be not parts of God now, we shall not be so then.
But if they could prove that we are so now, we should quickly prove to them, 1. That then God bath material, divisible parts (as the stoics thought). 2. And that we are no such parts, as are not distinct from one another; but some are tormented, and some happy. And, 3. That (as is said) it will be no abatement of the misery of
the tormented, nor the felicity of the blessed, to tell them that they are all parts of God : for, though the manner of our union with him, ana dependence on him, be past our comprehension ; yet that we are distinct and distant from each other, and have each one a joy or misery of his own, is past all doubt. Therefore, there is no union with God to be feared by holy souls, but the utmost possible to be highliest desired.
Sect. 46. And if our union with God shall not cease our individuation, or resolve us into a principle to be feared, we may say also of our union with any common soul, or many: if we be unible, we are partible, and so have a distinct, though not a divided substance, which will have its proper accidents. All plants are parts of the earth, really united to it, and radicated, in it, and live, and are nourished by it; and yet a vine is a vine ; and an apple is an apple; and a rose is a rose; and a nettle is a nettle. And few men would be toiled horses, or toads, if it were proved that they are animated by a common soul.
Sect. 47. But God letteth us see, that though the world be one, yet he delighteth in a wonderful diversity, and multiplicity of individuals. How various and numerous are they in the sea and on the land, and in the air. And are there none in the other world? How come the stars therein to be so numerous, which are of the same element? and though, perhaps, Saturn, or some other planets, or many stars, may send forth their radient effluvia, or parts, into the same air, which the sunbeams seem totally to fill and illuminate, yet the rays of the sun, and of other stars, are not the same, how near soever in the same air.
Sect. 48. Were there now no more contraction by egoity, or propriety among men, nor mine and thine did signify no more, nor the distance were greater than that of the several drops of water in the sea, or particles of light in the illuminated air, but I had all my part in such a perfect unity and communion with all others, and knew that all were as happy as I, so that there were no divisions by cross interests or minds, but all were one, certainly it would make my own comforts greater by far, than they are now? Are not an hundred
candles set together and united, as splendid a flame as if they were all set asunder? So one soul, one love, one joy would be.*
Sect. 51. Obj. But this would equalize the good and bad, or at least, those that were good in several degrees; and where then were the reward and punishment ?
Answ. It would not equal them at all, any more than distinct personality would do : for, 1. The souls of all boly persons may be so united, as that the souls of the wicked shall have no part in that union. Whether the souls of the wicked shall be united in one sinful, miserable soul, or rather but in one sinful society, or be greatlier separate, disunited, contrary to each other, and militant, as part of their sin and misery, is nothing to this case. 2. Yet natural and moral
, union must be differenced. God is the root of nature to the worst, and however in one sense it is said, that there is nothing in God but God, yet it is true, that in him all live, and move, and have their being; but yet the wicked's in-being in God doth afford them no sanctifying or beatifying communion with him, as experience showeth us in this life; which yet holy souls have, as being made capable recipients of it. As I said, different plants, briars, and cedars, the stinking and the sweet, are implanted parts (or accidents) of the same world or earth. 3. And the godly themselves may have as different a share of happiness in one common soul, as they have now of holiness, and so as different rewards (even as roses and rosemary, and other herbs, differ in the same garden, and several fruits in the some orchard, or on the same tree). For if souls are unible, and so partible substances, they have neither more nor less of substance or boliness for their union; and so will each have his proper measure. As a lun of water cast into the sea will there still be the same, and more than a spoonful cast into it.
Sect. 52. Obj. But spirits are not as bodies extensive and quantitative, and so not partible or divisable, and therefore your supposition is vain.
* Sections 49 and 50 are omitted ;-they contain an abstruse answer to an ab. struse objection, both being founded, like much of the reasoning in the contex, on a philosophy now obsolete. -Ed.