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region of the air, when yet the air seemeth itself to fill it, &c., I dare not think that glorified spirits, (no, nor spiritual bodies,) will be such strangers to one another, as we are here on earth.
Sect. 22. And I must needs say, that it is a pleasant thought to me, and greatly helpeth my willingness to die, to think that I shall go to all the holy ones, both Christ and angels, and departed, blessed souls. For, 1. God hath convinced me that they are better than I (each singly), and therefore more amiable than myself: 2. And that many are better than one, and the whole than a poor, sinful part, and the New Jerusalem is the glory of the creation. 3. God hath given me a love to all his holy ones, as such. 4. And a love to the work of love and praise, which they continually and perfectly perform to God. 5. And a love to the celestial Jerusalem, as it is complete, and to his glory shining in them. 6. And my old acquaintance, with many a holy person gone to Christ, doth make my thoughts of heaven the more familiar to me. O, how O, how many of them could I name! 7. And it is no small encouragement to one that is to enter upon an unseen world, to think that he goeth not an untrodden path, nor enters into a solitary or singular state; but followeth all from the creation to this day, that have passed by death to endless life. And is it not an emboldening consideration, to think that I am to go no other way, nor to no other place or state, than all the believers and saints have gone to before me, from the beginning to this time? Of this more anon.
Sect. 1. But I must be loosed, or depart, before I can thus be with Christ. And I must here consider, I. From what I must depart. II. And how, or in what manner: and I must not refuse to know the worst.
Sect. 2. I. And, 1. I know that I must depart from this body itself, and the life which consisteth in the animating of it. These eyes must here see no more; this hand must move no more; these feet must walk no more; this tongue must speak no more. As much as I have loved and over-loved this body, I must leave it to the grave. There must it lie and rot in darkness, as a neglected and a loathed thing.
Sect. 3. This is the fruit of sin, and nature would not have it so: I mean the nature of this compound man; but what, though it be so? 1. It is but my shell, or tabernacle, and the clothing of my soul, and not itself. 2. It is but an elementary composition dissolved; and earth going to earth, and water to water; and air to air, and fire to fire, into that union which the elementary nature doth incline it.
3. It is but an instrument laid by when all its work is done, and a servant dismissed when his service is at an end. And what should I do with a horse, when I shall need to ride or travel no more, or with a pen, when I must write no more? It is but the laying by the passive receiver of my soul's operations, when the soul hath no more to do upon it; as I cast by my lute, or other instrument, when I have better employment than music to take up my time.
4. Or, at most, it is but as flowers die in the fall, and plants in winter, when the retiring spirits have done their work, and are undisposed to dwell in so cold and unmeet a habitation, as the season maketh their former matter then to be. And its retirement is not its annihilation, but its taking up a fitter place.
5. It is but a separation from a troublesome companion, and putting off a shoe that pinched me; many a sad and painful hour I have had in this frail and faltering flesh; many a weary night and day: what cares, what fears, what griefs, and what groans, hath this body cost me! Alas! how many hours of my precious time have been spent to maintain it, please it, or repair it! How considerable a part of all my life hath been spent in necessary sleep and rest; and how much in eating, drinking, dressing, physic; and how much in laboring, or using means, to procure these and other necessaries! Many a hundred times I have thought, that it costeth me so dear to live, yea, to live a painful, weary life, that were it not for the work and higher ends of life, I had little reason to be much in love with it, or to be loth to leave it. And had not God put into our nature itself a necessary, unavoidable, sensitive love of the body, and of life, as he puts into the mother, and into every brute, a love of their young ones, how unclean, and impotent, and troublesome soever, for the propagation and continuance of man on earth? Had God but left it to mere reason, without this necessary pre-engagement of our natures, it
would have been a matter of more doubt and difficulty than it is, whether this life should be loved and desired; and no small number would daily wish that they had never been born: a wish that I have had much ado to forbear, even when I have known that it is sinful, and when the work and pleasure of my life have been such to overcome the evils of it as few have had.
6. Yea, to depart from such a body, is but to be removed from a foul, uncleanly, and sordid habitation. I know that the body of man and brutes is the curious, wonderful work of God, and not to be despised, nor injuriously dishonored, but admired, and well used; but yet it is a wonder to our reason, that so noble a spirit should be so meanly housed; and we may call it "our vile body," as the apostle doth. (Phil. iii. 21.) It is made up of the airy, watery, and earthly parts of our daily food, subacted and actuated by the fiery part, as the instrument of the soul. The greater part of the same food which, with great cost, and pomp, and pleasure, is first upon our tables, and then in our mouths, to-day, is to-morrow a foetid, loathsome excrement, and cast out into the draught, that the sight and smell of that annoy us not, which yesterday was the sumptuous fruit of our abundance, and the glory of that which is called great housekeeping, and the pleasure of our eyes and taste. And is not the rest that turneth into blood and flesh, of the same general kind with that which is turned into loathsome filth? The difference is, that it is fitter for the soul by the fiery spirits, yet longer to operate on and keep from corruption; our blood and flesh are as stinking and loathsome a substance as our filthiest excrements, save that they are longer kept from putrefaction. Why then should it more grieve me, that one part of my food, which turneth into flesh, should rot and stink in the grave, than that all the rest should daily stink in the draught? Yea, while it is within me, were it not covered from my sight, what a loathsome mass would my intestines appear! If I saw what is in the guts, the mesentery, the ventricles of the brain, what filth, what bilious or mucous matter, and, perhaps, crawling worms, that are in the most proud or comely person, I should think that the cover of a cleaner skin, and the borrowed ornaments of apparel, make no great difference between such a body and a carcass (which may be also covVOL. II.
ered with an adorned coffin and monument, to deceive such spectators as see but outsides); the change is not so great of corruptible flesh, replete with such foetid excrements, into corrupted flesh, as some fools imagine.
7. Yet more to depart from such a body is but to be loosed from the bondage of corruption, and from a clog and prison of the soul. I say not that God put a pre-existent soul into this prison penally, for former faults; I must say no more than I can prove, or than I know; but that body which was an apt servant to innocent man's soul, is become as a prison to him now; what alteration sin made upon the nature of the body, as whether it be more terrene and gross than else it would have been, I have no reason to assert; of earth or dust it was at first, and to dust it is sentenced to return. But no doubt but it hath its part in that dispositive deprivation which is the fruit of sin. We find that the soul, as sensitive, is so imprisoned, or shut up, in flesh, that sometimes it is more than one door that must be opened before the object and the faculty can meet. In the eye, indeed, the soul seemeth to have a window to look out at, and to be almost itself visible to others; and yet there are many interposing tunicles, and a suffusion, or winking, can make the clearest sight to be as useless for the time as if it were none; and if sense be thus shut up from its object, no wonder if reason also be under difficulties from corporeal impediments; and if the soul that is yoked with such a body can go no faster than its heavy pace.
8. Yet further to depart from such a body, is but to be separated from an accidental enemy, and one of our greatest and most hurtful enemies; though still we say, that it is not by any default in the work of our Creator, but by the effects of sin, that it is such ; what could Satan, or any other enemy of our souls, have done against us without our flesh? What is it but the interest of this body, that standeth in competition against the interest of our souls and God? What else do the profane sell their heavenly inheritance for, as Esau his birthright? No man loveth evil, as evil, but as some way a real or seeming good; and what good is it but that which seemeth good for the body? What else is the bait of ambition, covetousness, and sensuality, but the interest and pleasure of this flesh? What taketh
up the thoughts and care which we should lay out upon things spiritual and heavenly, but this body and its life? What pleasures are they that steal away men's hearts from the heavenly pleasures of faith, hope, and love, but the pleasures of this flesh? This draweth us to sin; this hindereth us from and in our duty. This body hath its interest which must be minded, and its inordinate appetite which must be pleased; or else what murmurings and disquiet must we expect. Were it not for bodily interest, and its temptations, how much more innocently and holily might I live! I should have nothing to care for, but to please God, and to be pleased in him, were it not for the care of this bodily life. What employment should my will and love have, but to delight in God, and love him and his interest, were it not for the love of the body, and its concerns? By this the mind is darkened, and the thoughts diverted: by this our wills are perverted and corrupted, and, by loving things corporeal, contract a strangeness and aversion from things spiritual; by this, heart and time are alienated from God; our guilt is increased, and our heavenly desire and hopes destroyed; life made unholy and uncomfortable, and death made terrible; God and our souls separated, and life eternal set by, and in danger of being utterly lost. I know that it is the sinful soul that is in all this the chief cause and agent; but what is it but bodily interest that is its temptation, bait, and end? What but the body, and its life, and its pleasure, is the chief, objective, alluring cause of all this sin and misery? And shall I take such a body to be better than heaven, or be loth to be loosed from so troublesome a yoke-fellow, or to be separated from so burdensome and dangerous a companion.
Sect. 3. Obj. But I know this habitation, but the next I know not. I have long been acquainted with this body, and this world, but the next I am unacquainted with.
Ans. 1. If you know it, you know all that of it which I have mentioned before; you know it to be a burden and snare; I am sure I know, by long experience, that this flesh hath been a painful lodging to my soul, and this world as a tumultuous ocean, or like the uncertain and stormy region of the air. And well he deserveth bondage, pain, and enmity, who will love them because he is acquainted with them, and is loth to leave them because he hath had them long, and is afraid of being well because he hath been long sick.