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2. And do you not know the next and better habitation? Is faith no knowledge? If you believe God's promise, you know that such a state there is; and you know, in general, that it is better than this world; and you know that we shall be in holiness and glorious happiness with Christ and is this no knowledge? 3. And what we know not, Christ, that prepareth and promiseth it, doth know; and is that nothing to us, if really we trust our souls to him? He that knoweth not more good by heaven than by earth is yet so earthly and unbelieving, that it is no wonder if he be afraid and unwilling to depart.
Sect. 4. II. In departing from this body and life, I must depart from all its ancient pleasures: I must taste no more sweetness in meat, or drink, or rest, or sport, or any such thing, that now delighteth me; house and lands, and goods, and wealth, must all be left; and the place where I live must know me no more. All my possessions must be no more to me, nor all that I labored for, or took delight in, than if they had never been at all.
And what though it must be so? Consider, O my soul! 1. Thy ancient pleasures are all past already; thou losest none of them by death, for they are all lost before, if immortal grace have not, by sanctifying them, made the benefits of them to become immortal. All the sweet draughts, and morsels, and sports, and laughters; all the sweet thoughts of thy worldly possessions, or thy hopes, that ever thou hadst till this present hour, are passed by, dead, and gone already. All that death doth to such as these is, to prevent such, that on earth thou shalt have no more.
2. And is not that the case of every brute, that hath no comfort from the prospect of another life, to repair his loss; and yet as our dominion diminisheth their pleasure while they live, by our keeping them under fear and labor, so, at our will, their lives must end. please a gentleman's appetite for half an hour, or less, birds, beasts, and fishes, must lose life itself, and all the pleasure which light might have afforded them for many years; yea, perhaps many of these (birds and fishes at least) must die to become but one feast to a rich man, if not one ordinary meal. And is not their sensual pleasure of the same nature as ours? Meat is as sweet to them, and ease as welcome, and lust as strong (in season); and the pleasure that death
depriveth our flesh of, is such as is common to man with brutes; why then should it seem hard to us to lose that in the course of nature, which our wills deprive them of at our pleasure? When, if we are believers, we can say, that we do but exchange these delights of life for the greater delights of a life with Christ, which is a comfort which our fellow creatures (the brutes) have not.
3. And, indeed, the pleasures of life are usually embittered with so much pain, that to a great part of the world doth seem to exceed them; the vanity and vexation is so great and grevious as the pleasure seldom countervaileth. It is true, that nature desireth life, even under sufferings that are but tolerable, rather than to die; but that is not so much from the sensible pleasure of life, as from mere natural inclination; which God hath laid so deep, that free-will hath no power against it. As before I said, that the body of man is such a thing, that could we see through the skin (as men may look through a glass hive upon the bees) and see all the parts and motion, the filth and excrements, that are in it, the soul would hardly be willing to actuate, love, and cherish such a mass of unclean matter, and to dwell in such a loathsome place, unless God had necessitated it by nature (deeper than reason or sense) to such a love and such a labor, by the pondus or spring of inclination; even as the cow would not else lick the unclean calf, nor women themselves be at so much labor and trouble with their children, while there is little of them to be pleasing, but uncleanness, and crying, and helpless impatiency, to make them wearisome, had not necessitating inclination done more hereto than any other sense or reason; even so I now say of the pleasure of living, that the sorrows are so much greater to multitudes than the sensible delight, that life would not be so commonly chosen and endured under so much trouble, were not men determined thereto by natural necessitating inclination; (or deterred from death by the fears of misery to the separated soul;) and yet all this kept not some, counted the best and wisest of the heathens, from taking it for the valor and wisdom of a man to make away his life in time of extremity, and from making this the great answer to them that grudge at God for making their lives so miserable, 'If the misery be greater than the good of life, why dost thou not end it? Thou mayest do that when thou wilt.'
Our meat and drink is pleasant to the healthful, but it costeth poor men so much toil, and labor, and care, and trouble to procure a poor diet for themselves, and their families, that, I think, could they live without eating and drinking, they would thankfully exchange the pleasure of it all, to be eased of their care and toil in getting it. And when sickness cometh, even the pleasantest food is loathsome.
4. And do we not willingly interrupt and lay by these pleasures every night, when we betake ourselves to sleep? It is possible, indeed, a man may then have pleasant dreams; but I think few go to sleep for the pleasure of dreaming; either no dreams, or vain, or troublesome dreams, are much more common. And to say that rest and ease is my pleasure, is but to say, that my daily labor and cares are so much greater than my waking pleasure, that I am glad to lay by both together. For what is ease but delivrance from weariness and pain? For in deep and dreamless sleep there is little positive sense of the pleasure of rest itself. But, indeed, it is more from nature's necessitated inclination to this self-easing and repairing means, than from the positive pleasure of it, that we desire sleep. And if we can thus be contented every night to die, as it were, to all our waking pleasures, why should we be unwilling to die to them at once?
5. If it be the inordinate pleasures forbidden of God, which you are loth to leave, those must be left before you die, or else it had been better for you never to have been born, yea, every wise and godly man doth cast them off with detestation. You must be against holiness on that account, as well as against death, and, indeed, the same cause which maketh men unwilling to live a holy life, hath a great hand in making them unwilling to die, even because they are loth to leave the pleasure of sin. If the wicked be converted, he must be gluttonous and drunken no more; he must live in pride, vain-glory, worldliness, and sensual pleasures no more, and therefore he draweth back from a holy life, as if it were from death itself. And so he is the loather to die, because he must have no more of the pleasures of his riches, pomp, and honors, his sports, and lust, and pleased appetite, for ever. But what is this to them that have mortified the flesh, with the affections and lusts thereof?
6. Yea, it is these forbidden pleasures which are the great impediments both of our holiness and our truest pleasures; and one of the reasons why God forbiddeth them, is, because they hinder us from better. And if for our own good we must forsake them when we turn to God, it must be supposed that they should be no reason against our willingness to die, but rather that to be free from the danger of them, we should be the more willing.
7. But the great satisfying answer of this objection is, that death will pass us to far greater pleasures, with which all these are not worthy to be compared. But of this more in due place.
Sect. 5. III. When I die, I must depart, not only from sensual delights, but from the more manly pleasures of my studies, knowledge, and converse with many wise and godly men, and from all my pleasure in reading, hearing, public and private exercises of religion, &c. I must leave my library, and turn over those pleasant books no more. I must no more come among the living, nor see the faces of my faithful friends, nor be seen of man. Houses, and cities, and will be nothing as to me.
fields, and countries, gardens, and walks,
I shall no more hear of the affairs of the world, of man, or wars, or other news, nor see what becomes of that beloved interest of wisdom, piety, and peace, which I desire may prosper, &c.
Ans. 1. Though these delights are far above those of sensual sinners, yet, alas! how low and little are they! How small is our knowledge in comparison of our ignorance! And how little doth the knowledge of learned doctors differ from the thoughts of a silly child! For from our childhood we take it in by drops, and as trifles are the matter of childish knowledge, so words, and notions, and artificial forms, do make up more of the learning of the world, than is commonly understood, and many such learned men know little more of any great and excellent things themselves, than rustics that are contemned by them for their ignorance. God, and the life to come, are little better known by them, if not much less, than by many of the unlearned. What is it but a child-game, that many logicians, rhetoricians, grammarians, yea, metaphysicians, and other philosophers, in their eagerest studies and disputes, are exercised in? Of how little us is it to know what is contained in many hundreds of the volumes
that fill our libraries! Yea, or to know many of the most glorious speculations in physics, mathematics, &c., which have given some the title of Virtuosi, and Ingeniosi, in these times, who have little the more wit or virtue to live to God, or overcome temptations from the flesh and world, and to secure their everlasting hopes. What pleasure or quiet doth it give to a dying man to know almost any of their trifles?
2. Yea, it were well if much of our reading and learning did us no harm, nay, more than good. I fear lest books are to some but a more honorable kind of temptation than cards and dice, lest many a precious hour be lost in them, that should be employed on much higher matters, and lest many make such knowledge but an unholy, natural, yea, carnal pleasure, as worldlings do the thoughts of their lands and honors, and lest they be the more dangerous by how much the less suspected. But the best is, it is a pleasure so fenced from the slothful with thorny labor of hard and long studies, that laziness saveth more from it than grace and holy wisdom doth. But, doubtless, fancy and the natural intellect may, with as little sanctity, live in the pleasure of reading, knowing, disputing, and writing, as others spend their time at a game at chess, or other ingenious sport.
For my own part, I know that the knowledge of natural things is valuable, and may be sanctified, much more theological theory, and when it is so, it is of good use; and I have little knowledge which I find not some way useful to my highest ends. And if wishing or money could procure more, I would wish and empty my purse for it; but yet if many score or hundred books which I have read, had been all unread, and I had that time now to lay out upon higher things, I should think myself much richer than now I am. And I must earnestly pray, the Lord forgive me the hours that I have spent in reading things less profitable, for the pleasing of a mind that would fain know all, which I should have spent for the increase of holiness in myself and others! and yet I must thankfully acknowledge to God, that from my youth he taught me to begin with things of greatest weight, and to refer most of my other studies thereto, and to spend my days under the motives of necessity and profit to myself, and those with whom I had to do. And I now think better of the course