« AnteriorContinuar »
duft. But to return: many scriptures you have more to this purpose. God faith, Ifa. v. 4. What could have been done more to my vineyard that I have not done in it? And how often (faith our Saviour) would I have gathered thee, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not ? And again, come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you reft, Matt. xi. 28. And so the scripture ends, Rev. iii. 20. Behold I stand at the door and knock, if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. This is the 3d. Our assured hope and or pectation.
I have now done with the firft reason. If you would make a just estimate of man, you must con-' sider him in respect to his double state, his existence in time, and his future existence in eternity. For as to his present being, you find him here but of short and uncertain continuance ; you find him here labouring much under false opinions and lying imaginations; and whether he be here happy, or miserable, it is less than it will be hereafter : yet his being here, is not to be despised, and over-looked ; for upon three accounts it is very confiderable, viz. in respect of his possibility, opportunity, and his well grounded hope and expectation.
2ly. I come now to the 2d reason, why, if we would make a just estimate of man, we must confrder him in respect to his double state of existence, in time and in eternity : for man is a much more valuable creature than his affairs in this world represent him to be : and this I will make appear in three particulars. Because
. . Man
i. Man is here in his state of infancy, and nonage ; he is not yet come to the full use of his parts ; yea, he is as it were imprisoned, and incumber'd with a gross, dull and crafy body.
2. In this state, man is neither as he should be, nor if he himself well consider, as he would be.
3., There are many appearances in this state, which represent man to be but a mean and ordinary thing, whereas he is in truth, a noble and generous creature, made for attendance upon God, and to converse with angels in glory, as I shall fhew you in several particulars.
. 1. Man is here, in his state of infancy and nonage : he is here as a child in his minority, who is not so much as trusted with himself, or his own affairs; and much less with the affairs of other men: who because of his imperfection, is not able to do any legal act, any act that may extend to his own prejudice. Here he is but as a flower in the bloffom, and in the spring of his years : and besides, he is in a state of limitation and confinement, in respect of his body, and in respect of his mind. In respect of his body, he is imprisoned, and incumbered : therefore we read, that this body which we now have, is to be so remarkably changed, that it is said it shall be a spiritual body, and that this corruption Thall put on incorruption, and be made like unto the body of our Saviour, or a glorified body and this Thall be effected by his almighty power, which is able to subdue all things to himself. We now dwell in houses of clay, but we shall then have ahouse not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. T 2
Our bodies shall then be made fit instruments for our souls, whereas now, as the philosopher tells us, the body is an impediment to the mind and to all divine contemplation. It was the great consolation that Socrates * had, when he was condemned to die ; what (faith he to his friend that came to comfort him) is this, but to do that which I have endeavoured to do all along my life; that is to lay afide my body, which yet never kept company with my mind ? thus was he able to say. So that, as a child in the cradle, so is a man in this world. Our minds are confined in the body : In this tabernacle (faith the apostle) we groan being burdened ; this is the voice of all spiritually awakened souls “ Let us “ take our fight to heaven and see in the light of « God's countenance, and forsake this low and dirty « world, for here souls are hindered as to their highc est operations of mind, and understanding, and the largeness of their wills and affections.” As Plato faith well, we have here certain inclinations, at times, to move upward towards heaven, and then we fall down again as birds that are tied by the leg. We are as they say, heavy behind. In this body, the very reason of our mind is materiated, and the very sentiments of our souls (to use the common phrase) do taste of the cask. That is the first thing : man is a far more considerable creature than his state in this world doth represent him to be ; because he is here in his infancy, he is not at his full growth, not at perfect liberty ; but is contracted by a gross and heavy body.
2. Man * Plato, apologia Socratis.
2. Man in this state is neither ; 1. as he shall be. Nor,
2. (If he well consider) as he would be : and therefore he is not in perfect welfare here.
I. Man is not as he should be, because of non-ufe and misuse, and abuse of himself; of which every one is more or less (in some degree) guilty. And therefore as the lawyers tell us, if men do not destroy, yet they weaken their title by these things. Now we are all of us guilty, in respect of non-use of ourselves, in that we do not employ ourselves about God, as we should ; and of misuse, witness the contracted evil habits ; for by custom and practice men -may so misuse themselves, as to become lame and blind ; and therefore the scripture doth apply to us thus Rev. iii. 18. I counsel thee to buy of me eye-falve that thou mayest fee: the remedy doth declare the nature of the malady. If a man doth but consider he will be a wonder to himself, and he will marvel how it is become so with him, as Rebecca faid, Gen. XXV. 22. If it be so, why am I thus ! Every man is sensible of contradiction from within, and a diversity from himself; he is not all of a piece, nor hath the power of his apprehensions. That which is born after the flesh persecutes that which is born after the spirit, Gal. iv. 29. I do enlarge the apostle's words, and speak them upon a natural account ; that is, things that are founded on the body are not the genuine issue of mind and understanding ; bodily temper and inclination doth make it hard for us to exercise our understanding and reason. And he is the most valuable man that can subdue every T 3
thing thing to himself, all appetites and desires to such government. This we have experience of, that we are but weak to discern ; and many times unresolved what to do, and uncertain to perform. If we come to judge, we judge fallibly; if we come to refolve, we are off and on ; if we come to execute and perform, we are many times beaten off from ourselves. There is a whole chapter, Luke xv. to represent this loft state of man in three parables, that of a lost groat, a loft sheep, and a loft son. That of the loft groat represents the stupidity, dulness and incapacity of sinners ; they being void of all understanding : for a groat is a thing without any life or motion : by which parable is represented the stupidity and senslessness of finners ; that are sunk, and lost. Then there is the wandring feep : A sheep is indeed an innocent creature, but very filly and exposed to all sorts of dangers ; from dogs, wolves, briers, and thorns; and if once 'tis gone from the food, there is no hope of returning by its own care. This doth also represent the state of finners, who are very fools, when they do part from the way of righteousness ; and very seldom return by their own care and confideration, but even like loft sheep wandring from the fold, so they wander up and down in the wilderness of this world. The third parable is that of the prodigal for, which represents the state of dissolute and profane finners that make havock of their conscience, that are desperate and presumptuous, and very hardly drawn to any true consideration. These three parables represent the state and condition of lost finners. From all