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is unreasonable, and especially this inordiate, tenacious love of present life. I have reason enough to be willing to depart, even much more willing than I am. Oh, that I could be as willing as I am convinced that I have reason to be? Could I love God as much as I know that I should love him, then I should desire to depart, and to be with Christ, as much as I know that I should desire it. But God, in nature, hath there laid upon me some necessity of aversation, (though the inordinateness came from sin,) else Christ had not so feared, and deprecated the cup. Death must be a penalty, even where it is a gain, and therefore it must meet with some unwillingness : because we willingly sinned, we must unwillingly suffer. The gain is not the pain or dissolution in itself, but the happy consequents of it. All the faith and reason in the world will not make death to be no penalty, and therefore will not take away all unwillingness. No man ever yet reasoned or believed himself into a love of pain and death, as such, but seeing that the gain is unspeakably greater than the pain and loss, faith and holy reason may make our willingness to be greater than our unwillingness, and our hope and joy than our fear and sorrow. And it is the deep and effectual notice of goodness, which is God's way, in nature and grace, to change and draw the will of man. Come then, my soul, and think believingly, what is best for thee. And wilt thou not love and desire most that which is certainly the best ?
TO DEPART AND TO BE WITH CHRIST IS FAR BETTER, OR RATH
ER TO BE CHOSEN.
Sect. 1. To say and hear that it is far better to be with Christ, is not enough to make us willing. Words and notions are such instruments as God useth to work on the souls, but the convincing, satisfying, powerful light, and the inclining love, are other things. The soul now operateth ut forma hominis, on and with the corporeal spirits and organs, and it perceiveth now its own perceptions, but it is a stranger to the mode of its future action, when separated from the body, and can have no formal conception of such conceptions as yet it never had. And therefore, its thoughts of its future state must be analogical and general, and partly strange. But general notices,
when certain, may be very powerful, and satisfy us in so much as is needful to our consent, and to such a measure of joy as is suitable to this earthly state. And such notices we have from the nature of the soul, with the nature of God, the course of Providence, and government of mankind, the internal and external conflicts which we perceive about men's souls, the testimony and promises of the word of God, the testimony of conscience, with the witness of the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, and in it the earnest and the foretaste of glory, and the beginnings of life eternal bere, all which I have before considered.
Sect. 2. The Socinians, who would interpret this of the state of resurrection only, against plain evidence, violate the text: seeing Paul expressly speaketh of his gain by death, which will be his abode with Christ, and this upon his departure hence : which (in 2 Cor. v. 7, 8.) he calleth, his being absent from the body, and present with the Lord : and Christ, to the penitent thief, calleth his being with him in Paradise : and (Luke xvi.) in the parable of the steward, Christ intimateth to us, that wise preparers, when they go hence, are received into the everlasting habitations; as he there further tells us Lazarus was in Abraham's bosom.
Sect. 3. Goodness is primaria et mensurans, vel secundaria et mensurata : the first is God's perfect essence and will : the second is either properly and simply good, or analogical. The former is the creature's conformity to the will of God, or its pleasingness to his will: the latter is, 1. The greater, which is the welfare or perfection of the universe. 2. The lesser, which is the several parts of the universe, either, 1. In the nobler respect, as they are parts contributing to the perfection of the whole ; or, 2. In the lower respect, as they are perfect or happy in themselves, or, 3. In the lowest respect of all, as they are good to their fellow-creatures which are below themselves.
Sect. 4. Accordingly, it is far better to be with Christ, I. Properly and simply, as it is the fulfilling of God's will. II. Analogically, as it tendeth to the perfection of the universe and the church. III. And as it will be our own good or felicity. IV. And as it will be good to our inferior fellow-creatures; though this last be most Vol. II.
questionable, and secmeth not included in the meaning of this text. Somewhat of these in order.
Sect. 5. I. It is an odious effect of idolatrous selfishness, to acknowledge no goodness above our own selicity, and accordingly, to make the goodness of God to be but formally his usefulness, benevolence, and beneficence, to his creatures, which is by making the creature the ultimate end, and God but the means; to make the creature to be God, and deny God, indeed, while we honor his name : as also it is to acknowledge no higher goodness formally in the creature, than in its own felicity as such : as if neither the pleasing of God's will, nor tue persection of the church and world, were better than we are: we are not of ourselves, and therefore we are not chiefly for ourselves; and, therefore, we have a higher good to love.
That is simply best which God willeth. Therefore, to live here is best wbilst I do live here; and to depart is best when the time of my departure comcth : that is best which is, for it is the work of God : the world cannot be better at this instant than it is, nor any thing better, which is of God, because it is as he willeth it to be : but when God hath changed them, it will then be best that they are changed. Were there no other good in my departure hence, but this simple good, the fulhilling of God's will, my reason telleth me that I should be fully satisfied in it: but there is also a subordinate sort of good.
Sect. 6. II. For my change will tend to the perfection of the universe ; even that material good or perfection, which is its aptitude
e for the use to which God hath created, and doth preserve it: as all the parts, the modes, the situation, the motions, of a clock, a watch, or other engine, do to the ends of the artificer. Though God hath not told me particularly, why every thing, and mode, and motion, is as it is, I know it is all done in perfect wisdom, and suited to its proper use and end : is the hen or bird knoweth how to make her nest, to lay her eggs secretly together, when and how to sit on them till they are hatched, and how to feed them and preserve them, and when to forsake them, as suflicient for themselves without her help, &c. If the bee knoweih when, and whence, and how, to gather her honey and wax, and how to form the repository combs, and how to lay it np,
and all the rest of her marvellous economy, shall I think that God doth he knoweth not what, or what is not absolutely the best ? Doth he want either skill, or will, or power ?
And should the stone grudge to be hewed, the brick to be burnt, the trees to be cut down, and sawed and framed, the lead and iron to be melted, &c., when it is but to form an useful edifice, and to adapt and compose every part to the perfecting of the whole ?
Shall the waters grudge that they must glide away, and the plants that they must die, and half die every winter, and the fruits and flowers that they must fall, or the moon that it must have its changing motions, or the sun that it must rise and set so oft, &c., when all is but the action and order which maketh up that harmony and persection which was designed by the Creator, and is pleasing to his will ?
Sect. 7. III. But lawful self-love is yet further herein gratified: the goodness expressed in the text is that analogical, subordinate good, which is mihi bonum, my own felicity, and that which tendeth thereunto: it is most reasonable to love God best, and that next which is likest him (if known), and why should it not be the easiest and the sweetest? But experience findeth it so easy to love ourselves, that certainly, if I firmly believe that it is best for me, I shall desire to depart, and to be with Christ. And have I not reason to believe it?
Sect. 8. The reasons of it I will consider in this order : 1. The general reason from the efficients and the means. II. The final reasons. III. The constitutive reasons from the state of my intellect, and its action and fruition there. IV. The constitutive reasons from the state of my will. V. The constitutive reasons from my practice there, leaving out those which the resurrection will give me, because I am speaking but of my present departure unto Christ.
1. The general reasons, &c. Sect. 9. And, I. That is best for me, which love itself, my heavenly Father designed, and chooseth, for my good. I hope I shall never dare to think, or say, that he is mistaken, or that he wanted skill or love, or that I could have chosen better for myself than he doth, if he had left all to my choice. Many a time the wise and
good will of God hath crossed my foolish, rebellious will on earth ; and afterwards I have still perceived that it was best ; usually for myself, but always for a higher good than mine. It is not an enemy, nor a tyrant, that made me, that hath preserved me, and that calls me hence. He hath not used me as an enemy : the more I tried him, the better I have found bim : had I better obeyed his ruling will, how happy had I been! And is not his disposing and rewarding will as good ? Man's work is like man, and evil corrupteth it; but God's work is like God, and uncorrupted: if I should not die till my dearest friend would have it, much more till I myself would choose it, (not constrained by misery,) I should rejoice, and think
my life were sase! O foolish, sinful soul ! if I take it not to be far better to be at God's choico, than at my own, or any man's ! and if I had not rather that he choose the time than I.
Be of good cheer, then, O my soul! it is thy Father's voice that calleth thee hence : bis voice that called thee into the world, and bid thee live; that called thee out of a state of sin and death, and bid thee live hereafter unto him; that called thee so oft from the grave, and, forgiving thy sins, renewed thy strength, restored thee to the comforts of his house and service; and that so graciously led thee through this howling wilderness, and brought thee almost to the sight of the promised land. And wilt thou not willingly go, when infinite, fatherly love doth call thee? art thou not desirous of his presence ? art thou afraid to go to him who is the only cure of thy fears? What was it but this glory to which he did finally elect thee? Where dost thou read that he elected thee to the riches and honors of this world, or to the pleasures of the flesh? But he elected us in Christ to the heavenly inheritance. (Eph. i. 3, 4, &c.) Indeed, he elected thee also to bear the cross, and to manifold sufferings here : but is it that which thou preferrest before the crown? That was but as a means unto the kingdom, that thou mightest be conformed to Christ, and reign with him when thou hast suffered with him. If God choose thee to blessedness, refuse it not thyself, nor behave thyself like a resuser.
Sect. 10. 2. And surely that state is my best which my Savior purchased and promised me as best: as he bought me not with silver and gold, so neither to silver and gold : Jid he live and die to make