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Sect. 19. But have I not expected more particular and more sensitive conceptions of heaven, and the state of blessed souls, than I should have done, and remained less satisfied, because I expected such distinct perceptions to my satisfaction, which God doth not ordinarily give to souls in flesh? I fear it hath been too much so; a distrust of God, and a distrustful desire to know much (good and evil) for ourselves, as necessary to our quiet and satisfaction, was that sin which hath deeply corrupted man's nature, and is more of our common pravity, than is commonly observed; I find that this distrust of God, and my Redeemer, hath had too great a hand in iny desires of a distincter and more sensible knowledge. I know that I should implicitly, and absolutely, and quietly, trust my soul into my Redeemer's hands; (of which I must speak more anon;) and it is not only for the body, but also for the soul, that a distrustsul care is our great sin and misery. But yet we must desire that our knowledge and belief may be as distinct and particular as God's revelations are; and we can love no further than we know; and the more we know of God and glory, the more we shall love, desire, and trust him. It is a known, and not merely an unknown God and happiness, that the soul doth joyfully desire ; and if I may not be ambitious of too sensible and distinct perceptions here, of the things unseen; yet must I desire and beg the most fervent and sensible love to them that I am capable of. I am willing (in part) to take up with that unavoidable ignorance, and that low degree of such knowledge, which God confineth us to in the flesh, so be it he will give me but such consolatory foretastes in love and joy, which such a general, imperfect knowledge may consist with, that my soul may not pass with distrust and terror, but with suitable, triumphant hopes to the everlasting pleas
O Father of lights! who givest wisdom to them that ask it of thee, shut not up this sinful soul in darkness ! leave me not to grope in unsatisfied doubts, at the door of the celestial light! or if my knowledge must be general, let it be clear and powerful; and deny me not now the lively exercise of faith, hope, and love, which are the stirrings of the new creature, and the dawnings of the everlasting light, and the earnest of the promised inheritance.
Sect. 20. But we are oft ready to say with Cicero, when he had been reading such as Plato, that, while the book is in our hands, we seem confident of our immortality, and when we lay it by, our doubts return; so our arguments seem clear and cogent, and
when we think not of them, with the best advantage, we are oft surprised with fear, lest we should be mistaken, and our hopes be vain; and hereupon (and from the common fear of death, that even good men 100 often manisest) the infidels gather, that we do but force ourselves into such a hope as we desire to be true, against the tendency of man's nature, and that we were not made for a better world.
Sect. 21. But this fallacy ariseth from men's not distinguishing, 1. Sensitive fears from rational uncertainty, or doubts. 2. And the mind that is in the darkness of unbelief, from that which hath the light of faith.
I find in myself too much of fear, when I look into eternity, interrupting and weakening my desires and joy. But I find that it is very much an irrational, sensitive fear, which the darkness of man's mind, the greatness of the change, the dreadful majesty of God, and man's natural averseness to die, do, in some degree, necessitate, even when reason is fully satisfied that such fears are consistent with certain safety. If I were bound with the strongest chains, or stood on the surest battlements, on the top of a castle or steeple, I could not possibly look down without fear, and such as would go near to overcome me; and yet I should be rationally sure that I am there fast and safe, and cannot fall. So is it with our prospect into the life to come : fear is oft a necessitated passion : when a man is certain of his safe foundation, it will violently rob him of the comfort of that certainty : yea, it is a passion that irrationally doth much to corrupt our reason itself, and would make us doubt because we fear, though we know not why: and a searsul man doch hardly trust his own apprehensions of his safety, but, among other sears, is still ready to fear lest he be deceived : like timorous, melancholy persons about their bodies, who are ready sull oo think that every little distemper is a mortal symptom, and that worse is still nearer them than they feel, and they hardly believe any words of hope.
Sect. 22. And Satan, knowing the power of these passions, and having easier access to the sensitive than to the intellective faculties, doth labor to get in at this backdoor, and to frighten poor souls into doubt and unbelief: and in timorous natures he doth it with too great success, as to the consolatory acts of faith. Though yet God's mercy is wonderfully seen in preserving many honest, tender souls from the damning part of unbelief, and, by their fears, preserveth them from being bold with sin : when many bold and impudent sinners turn infidels, or atheists, by forfeiting the helps of grace.
Sect. 23. And indeed, irrational fears have so much power to raise doubts, that they are seldom separated; insomuch that many scarce know, or observe, the difference between doubts and fears : and many say they not only fear but doubt, when they can scarce tell why, as if it were no intellectual ac, which they meant, but an irrational passion.
Sect. 24. If, therefore, my soul see undeniable evidence of immortality; and if it be able, by irresragable argument, to prove the future blessedness expected; and if it be convinced that God's promises are true, and sufficiently sealed and attested by him, to warrant the most confident belief; and if I trust my soul and all my hopes upon this word, and evidences of truth, it is not, then, our averseness to die, nor the sensible fears of a soul that looketh into eternity, that invalidate
any of the reasons of my hope, nor prove the unsoundness of
faith. Sect. 25. But yet these fears do prove its weakness; and were they prevalent against the choice, obedience, resolutions, and endeavors of faith, they would be prevalent against the truth of faith, or prove its nullity; for faith is trust; and trust is a securing, quieting thing. "Why are ye fearful, Oye of little faith ?" was a just reproof of Christ to his disciples, when sensible dangers raised up their fears. For the established will hath a political or imperfect, though not a despotical and absolute, power over our passions. And there-, fore our sears do show our unbelief, and stronger faith is the best means of conquering even irrational sears? “Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou so disquieted in me? trust in God," &c. Psalm xlii.,) is a needful way of chiding a timorous heart.
Sect. 26. And though many say that faith hath not evidence, and think that it is an assent of the mind, merely commanded by the empire of the will, without a knowledge of the verity of the testimony; yet, certainly, the same assent is ordinarily in the Scriptures called, indifferently, knowing and believing: and as a bare command, will not cause love, unless we perceive an amiableness in the object, so a bare command of the law, or of the will, cannot alone cause belief, unless we perceive a truth in the testimony believed : for it is a contradiction; or an act without its object. And truth is perceived only so far as it is some way evident: for evidence is nothing but the objective perceptibility of truth; or that which is metaphorically called light. So that we must say that faith hath not sensible evidence of the invisible things believed; but faith is nothing else but the willing perception of the evidence of truth in the word of the assertor, and a trust therein. We have, and must have, evidence that Scripture is God's word, and that his word is true, before, by any command of the word or will, we can believe it.
Sect. 27. I do, therefore, neither despise evidence as unnecessary, nor trust to it alone as the sufficient total cause of my belief; for if God's
and come down in power upon my will, and insinuate into it a sweet acquaintance with the things unseen, and a taste of their goodness to delight my soul, no reasons will serve to stablish and comfort me, how undeniable soever: reason is fain first to make use of notions, words, or signs; and to know terms, propositions, and arguments, which are but means to the knowledge of things, is its first employment, and that, alas! which multitudes of learned men do take up with : but it is the illumination of God that must give us an effectual acquaintance with the things spiritual and invisible, which these notions signify, and to which our organical knowledge is but a means.
Sect. 28. To sum up all, that our hopes of heaven have a certain ground appeareth, I. From nature: II. From grace: III. From other works of gracious providence.
I. i. From the nature of man: 1. Made capable of it. 2. Obliged, even by the law of nature to seek it before all. 3. Naturally desiring perfection, (1.) Habitual : (2.) Active: And, (3.) Objective.
ii. And from the nature of God, 1. As good and communica- . tive. 2. As holy and righteous. 3. As wise ; making none of his works in vain.
Sect. 29. II. From grace, 1. Purchasing it. 2. Declaring it by a messenger from heaven, both by word, and by Christ's own (and others') resurrection. 3. Promising it. 4. Sealing that promise by miracles there. 5. And by the work of sanctification, to the end of the world.
Sect. 30. III. By subordinate providence. 1. God's actual governing the world by the hopes and fears of another life. 2. The many helps which he giveth us for a heavenly life, and for attaining it (which are not vain.) 3. Specially the ministration of angels, and their love to us, and communion with us. 4. And, by accident,
, devils themselves convince us. (1.) By the nature of their temptations. (2.) &c.
BEING WITH CHRIST.
Sect. 1. II. Having proved that faith and hope have a certain, future happiness to expect, the text directeth me next to consider why it is described by “ being with Christ;” viz. 1. What is included in our being with Christ." II. That we shall be with him. III. Why we shall be with him.
Sect. 2. To be with Christ, includeih, i. Presence. ii. Union. iü. Communion, or participation of felicity with him.
Sect. 3. i. Quest. Is it Christ's Godhead, or his human soul, or his human body, that we shall be present with, and united to, or all ? Answ. It is all, but variously.
Sect. 4. 1. We shall be present with the divine nature of Christ. Quest. But are we not always so? And are not all creatures so? Answ. Yes, as his essence comprehendeth all place and beings; but not as it is operative, and manifested in and by his glory. Christ directeth our hearts and tongues to pray “Our Father, which art in heaven:” and yet he knew that all place is in and with God; because it is in heaven that he gloriously operateth and shineth forth to holy souls: even as man's soul is eminently said to be in the head, because it understandeth and reasoneth in the head, and not in the foot, or hand, though it be also there. And as we look a man in the