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pernicious diversion of their souls from God; so do too many learned men do by their organical, signal knowledge. They use it as men do cards, and romances, and plays, to delight their fancies, but they know less of the things that are worth their knowing, than many unlearned persons do, as I said before. Had not much of the Athenian learning been then a mere game, for men to play away theirprecious time at, and to grow proud of, while they were ignorant of saving realities, Christ and his Apostles had not so much neglected it as they did, nor Paul so much warned men to take heed of being deceived by that vain kind of philosophy, in which he seemeth to me to have greater respect to the universally esteemed Athenian arts, than, as Dr. Hammond thought, to the mere gnostic pretensions.
This poor, dreaming, signal, artificial knowledge is, 1. Costly. 2. Uncertain. 3. Contentious. 4. Unsatisfactory, in comparison of intuitive knowledge.
1. It is costly, as to the hard labor and precious time which must be laid out for it, as aforesaid. We grow old in getting us horses, and boots, and spurs, for our journey, and it is well if we begin it at the last; like a man that would study the new-found planets, and the shape of Saturn's and Jupiter's satellites, and the Viam Lacteam, &c.; and he spends his whole life in getting him the best tubes, or telescopes, and never useth them to his ends; or like one that, instead of learning to write, doth spend his life in getting the best ink, paper, and pens; or rather like one that learneth to write and print exactly, and not to understand what any of his words do signify. Men take their spectacles instead of eyes.
2. And when this learning is got, how uncertain are we whether the words have no ambiguity ; whether they give us the true notice of the speaker's mind, and of the matter spoken of. As I said before, what penury, and yet redundancy of words have we: of how various and uncertain signification; changed by custom, or arbitrary design; sometimes by the vulgar use, and sometimes by learned men that, being conscious of the defectiveness of the speaking art, are still tampering, and attempting to amend it. And some men speak obscurely on purpose, to raise in their readers a conceit of their subtle and sublime conceptions. And he that understandeth things most clearly,
and speaketh them most plainly, (which are the parts of true learning,) shall have much ado to get the matter out of dark and bewildering uncertainties, and to make others understand both it and him.
3. And hence come the greatest part of the contentions of the world, which are hottest among men that most pretend to wordy knowledge; as in traffic and converse, the more men and business we have to do with, usually the more quarrels and differences we have; so the more of this wordy learning, instead of realities, men pretend to, the more disputes and controversies they make; and the instruments of knowledge prove the instruments of error and contention. And, alas! how many applauded volumes are the snares, and troubles of the world! and how great a part of our libraries are vain janglings, and strife of words, and traps for the more ingenious sort, that will not be taken with cards and dice, robbing us of our time, destroying our love, depressing our minds, that should ascend to God, and diverting them from the great and holy things which should be the matter of our thoughts and joys; and filling the church with sects and strife, while every one striveth for the pre-eminence of his wit and notions, and few strive for holy love, and unity, and good works.
4. And all this while, alas! too many learned men do but lick the outside of the glass, and leave the wine within untasted. To know God and Christ, and heaven, and holiness, do give the soul a nourishing and strengthening kind of pleasure, like that of the appetite in its food; but this game at words is but a knowing of images, signs, and shadows, and so is but an image and shadow of true knowledge. It is not that grace which Austin's definition saith, Nemo male utitur ; but it is that which the sanctified use well, and the unsanctified are puffed up by, and use to the opposition of truth, the ostentation of a foolish wit, and the deceit of their own souls. And if it be sanctified knowledge, it is but mediate, in order to our knowledge of things thus signified; and it is the real good which contenteth and beatifieth, though the notions may be a subordinate recreation; and intuition feasteth on these realities.
Sect. 9. II. And as to the objects of this intuition, their excellency will be the excellency of our knowledge. I. I shall know God
better. II. I shall know the universe better. III. I shall know Christ better. IV. I shall know the church, bis body, better, with the holy angels. V. I shall better know the methods and perfection of the Scripture, and all God's dirigent word and will. VI. I shall know the methods and sense of disposing providence better. VII. I shall know the divine benefits, which are the fruits of love, better. VIN. I shall know myself better. IX. I shall better know every fellow-creature, which I am concerned to know. X. And I shall better know all that evil, sin, Satan, and misery, from which I am delivered.
Sect. 10. I. Aquinas, and many others, took it for the chief, natural proof of the soul's immortality, that man, by nature, desireth not only to know effects, and second causes, but to rise up to the knowledge of the first cause; and, therefore, was made for such knowledge in the state of his perfection ; but grace hath much more of this desire than nature. Not that we must not be content to be without a great deal of knowledge, which would be unmeet for us, useless, troublesome, or dangerous to us; nor must we aspire to that which is above our capacity, and to know the unsearchable things of God; but not to know God, is to know nothing, and to have an understanding worse than none.
presume not to pry into the secrets of the Almighty, nor to pretend to know more of God than, indeed, I do; but O that I might know more of his perfections, of his will, and love, and ways, with that knowledge which is eternal life! Blessed be that love that sent the Son of God from heaven, to reveal him to us in the gospel, as he hath done ; but all that hear the same words, and believe them, have not the same degree of light or faith. If an angel from heaven came down on earth to tell us all of God that we would know, and might lawfully desire and ask him, who would not turn his back on libraries, and universities, and learned men, to go and discourse with such a messenger? What travel should I think too far, what cost too great, for one hour's talk with such a messenger? But we must have here but such intimations as will exercise faith, and excite desire, and try us under the temptations of the world and flesh. The glorious light is the reward of the victory obtained by the conduct of the light of grace. God, in great mercy, even here beginneth the reward.
They that are true to the initial light, and faithfully follow on to know the Lord, do find, usually, such increase of light (not of vain notions, but of quickening and comforting knowledge of God) as greatly encourageth them still on to seek for more. It is very pleasant here to increase in holy knowledge, though it usually bring an increase of malignant opposition, and so of sorrows to the flesh. The pleasure that the mind hath in common knowledge, brings men through a great deal of labor to attain it. How many years' travel over land and sea do some men take, to see and know more of this lower world; though it is little that they bring home, but more acquaintance with sin, and vanity, and vexation. How many more years do thousands spend in the reading multitudes of tedious volumes, that they may know what others knew before them. Printers and booksellers live by our desire of knowledge. What soul, then, on earth can possibly conceive bow great a pleasure it will be for a glorified soul to see the Lord ? Though I cannot now conceive what that intuition of God himself will be, and whether it will not be a glorious kind of concluding or abstractive knowledge; whether the glory which we shall see be only a created appearance of God, or be his very essence, it satisfieth me that it will be as perfect a knowledge as is fit for me to desire ; and I shall then desire no more than is fit: and what it is I shall then know by itself, for it is not otherwise to be clearly known. And all the pleasure that I shall have in heaven, in knowing any of the works of God, will be in my beholding God himself, his being, his vital power and action, his wisdom, and his love and goodness, in those works; for he is the life and glory of them all. “ Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
II. And, doubtless, it will be no small part of my delight to see and know God's perfect works, I mean the universe itself. I cannot say that I shall have so large a capacity as to comprehend all the world, or know it perfectly, and with an adequate knowledge; but I shall know it in such perfection as is suitable to my capacity. It is exceeding pleasant to know the least particles of the works of God. With what diligence and delight have men endeavored to anatomise a body, yea, a small part of a carcass, and to know and describe poor worms and insects, plants and minerals; and no man ever yet perfectly knew the least of them all. No herbalist or physician ever yet knew the nature and uses of any one herb with an adequate knowledge. With what delight and diligence are physical searches carried on in the world, though still we are all but groping in the dark, and ignorant of many things for one that we know, and, therefore, know no one perfectly, because we are ignorant of the rest. But if, indeed, we were above our dreaming, erroneous hypothesis, and saw the nature of every creature, even in sea and land—this little spot of God's creation, and the compages of all, oh! what a delightful spectacle would it be! How much more to see the whole creation, yea, or one vortex or system of the globes, and to know. their union and communion, and to behold their beauteous symmetry, and hear them, in concord and melodious harmony, praising the glory of their great, wise, amiable Creator. This were a delectable sight indeed. I shall have as much of this as I shall be capable of; and the wonders and glories of the works of God shall wrap up my soul in admiring, joyful praise for ever: and though here it be but little of God's work that we know, I have great reason to think that it will be far otherwise there. 1. Because the state of perfection must far excel our dark and infant state of imperfection. We have now desires after such a knowledge. His works are great, sought out of them that have pleasure therein : and these desires, being of God, shall not be frustrate. 2. Because there will be a proportionableness of the parts of our perfection; and therefore, as our love to God and his works will be there perfected, so will be our knowledge. 3. Because we shall know God himself as much as we are capable, and therefore we shall know his works in him, or by a subordinate knowledge, the less being in the greater. 4. Because God hath made his works to be known to his glory: but it is little that is here known of them by mortals; therefore they are known by them in heaven, who are fitted to improve that knowledge to his praise.
If Christ, who is the wisdom of God, will teach me the true philosophy, how to love God, and live here in all well-pleasing unto him, I shall quickly, in heaven, be a perfect philosophy ; and experience will tell me that the surest way to be truly learned, and know the wonderful works of God, was to know, love, and serve the great