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- 1.1 Gutenberg Corpus
- 1.1 Gutenberg Corpus
But age doth not rectifie, but incurvate our natures, turning bad dispositions into worser habits, and like diseases brings on incurable vices; for every day as we grow weaker in age, we grow stronger in sinne, and the number of our dayes doth but make our sinnes innumerable.
And truely there goes a great deale of providence to produce a mans life unto threescore; there is more required than an able temper for those yeeres; though the radicall humour containe in it sufficient oyle for seventie, yet I perceive in some it gives no light past thirtie; men assigne not all the causes of long life that write whole bookes thereof.
They that found themselves on the radicall balsome or vitall sulphur of the parts, determine not why Abel liv'd not so long as Adam. There is therefore a secret glome or bottome of our dayes; 'twas his wisedome to determine them, but his perpetuall and waking providence that fulfils and accomplisheth them, wherein the spirits, our selves, and all the creatures of God in a secret and disputed way doe execute his will. Let them not therefore complaine of immaturitie that die about thirty, they fall but like the whole world, whose solid and well composed substance must not expect the duration and period of its constitution, when all things are compleated in it, its age is accomplished, and the last and generall fever may as naturally destroy it before six thousand, as me before forty: 5 there is therfore some other hand that twines the thread of life than that of nature; wee are not onely ignorant in Antipathies and occult qualities, our ends are as obscure as our beginnings, the line of our dayes is drawne by night, and the various effects therein by a pencill that is invisible; wherein though wee confesse our ignorance, I am sure we doe not erre, if wee say, it is the hand of God.
I am much taken with two verses of Lucan, since I have beene able not onely, as we doe at Schoole, to construe, but understand:. Victurosque Dei celant ut vivere durent, Felix esse mori. We're all deluded, vainely searching wayes, To make us happy by the length of dayes; For cunningly to make's protract this breath, The Gods conceale the happiness of Death.
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It is a brave act of 6 valour to contemne death, but where life is more terrible than death, it is then the truest valour to dare to live, and herein Religion hath taught us a noble example: For all the valiant acts of Curtius, Scevola or Codrus, do not parallel or match that one of Job ; and sure there is no torture to the rack of a disease, nor any Poynyards in death it selfe like those in the way or prologue unto it. Emori nolo, sed me esse mortuum nihil curo, I would not die, but care not to be dead. Men that looke no further than their outsides thinke health an appertinance unto life, and quarrell with their constitutions for being sick; but I that have examined the parts of man, and know upon what tender filaments that Fabrick hangs, doe wonder that we are not alwayes so; and considering the thousand dores that lead to death doe thanke my God that we can die but once.
There is therefore but one comfort left, that though it be in the power of the weakest arme to take away life, it is not in the strongest to deprive us of death: God would not exempt himselfe from that, the misery of immortality in the flesh, he undertooke not that was in it immortall.
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Certainly there is no happinesse within this circle of flesh, nor is it in the Opticks of these eyes to behold felicity; the first day of our Jubilee is death; the devill hath therefore fail'd of his desires; wee are happier with death than we should have beene without it: there is no misery but in himselfe where there is no end of misery; and so indeed in his own sense, the Stoick is in the right.
Hee forgets that hee can die who complaines of misery, wee are in the power of no calamitie while death is in our owne. Neither did the contemplations of the Heathens rest in their graves, without a further thought of Radamanth or some judiciall proceeding after death, though in another way, and upon suggestion of their naturall reasons.
I cannot but marvaile from what Sibyll or Oracle they stole the prophesy of the worlds destruction by fire, or whence Lucan learned to say, K I beleeve the world growes neare its end, yet is neither old nor decayed, nor will ever perish upon the ruines of its owne principles. As the worke of Creation was above nature, so is its adversary, annihilation; without which the world hath not its end, but its mutation. Now what force should bee able to consume it thus farre, without the breath of God, which is the truest consuming flame, my Philosophy cannot informe me.
Some beleeve there went not a minute to the worlds creation, nor shal there go to its destruction; those six dayes so punctually described, make not to them one moment, but rather seem to manifest the method and Idea of the great worke of the intellect of God, than the manner how hee proceeded in its operation. I cannot dreame that there should be at the last day any such Judiciall proceeding, or calling to the Barre, as indeed the Scripture seemes to imply, and the literall commentators doe conceive: for unspeakable mysteries in the Scriptures are often delivered in a vulgar and illustrative way, and being written unto man, are delivered, not as they truely are, but as they may bee understood; wherein notwithstanding the different interpretations according to different capacities may stand firme with our devotion, nor bee any way prejudiciall to each single edification.
Now to determine the day and yeare of this inevitable time, is not onely convincible and statute madnesse, but also manifest impiety; How shall we interpret Elias That common signe drawne from the revelation of Antichrist is as obscure as any; in our common compute he hath beene come these many yeares, but for my owne part to speake freely, I am halfe of opinion that Antichrist is the Philosophers stone in Divinity, for the discovery and invention whereof, though there be prescribed rules, and probable inductions, yet hath hardly any man attained the perfect discovery thereof.
That generall opinion that the world growes neere its end, hath possessed all ages past as neerely as ours; I am afraid that the Soules that now depart, cannot escape that lingring expostulation of the Saints under the Altar, Quousque Domine? How long, O Lord? This is the day that must make good that great attribute of God, his Justice, that must reconcile those unanswerable doubts that torment the wisest understandings, and reduce those seeming inequalities, and respective distributions in this world, to an equality and recompensive Justice in the next.
This is that one day, that shall include and comprehend all that went before it, wherein as in the last scene, all the Actors must enter to compleate and make up the Catastrophe of this great peece. This is the day whose memory hath onely power to make us honest in the darke, and to bee vertuous without a witnesse. I have practised that honest artifice of Seneca, K92 and in my retired and solitary imaginations, to detaine me from the foulenesse of vice, have fancyed to my selfe the presence of my deare and worthiest friends, before whom I should lose my head, rather than be vitious, yet herein I found that there was nought but morall honesty, and this was not to be vertuous for his sake who must reward us at the last.
I have tryed if I could reach that great resolution of his, to be honest without a thought of Heaven or Hell; K93 and indeed I found upon a naturall inclination, an inbred loyalty unto vertue, that I could serve her without a livery, yet not in that resolved and venerable way, but that the frailty of my nature, upon an easie temptation, might be induced to forget her.
The life therefore and spirit of all our actions, is the resurrection, and stable apprehension, that our ashes shall enjoy the fruit of our pious endeavours; without this, all Religion is a Fallacy, and those impieties of Lucian, Euripedes, and Julian are no blasphemies, but subtile verities, and Atheists have beene the onely Philosophers. How shall the dead arise, is no question of my faith; to beleeve onely possibilities, is not faith, but meere Philosophy; many things are true in Divinity, which are neither inducible by reason, nor confirmable by sense, and many things in Philosophy confirmable by sense, yet not inducible by reason.
Thus it is impossible by any solid or demonstrative reasons to perswade a man to beleeve the conversion of the Needle to the North; though this be possible, and true, and easily credible, upon a single experiment unto the sense.
I beleeve that our estranged and divided ashes shall unite againe, that our separated dust after so many pilgrimages and transformations into the parts of mineralls, Plants, Animals, Elements, shall at the voyce of God returne into their primitive shapes; and joyne againe to make up their primary and predestinate formes. As at the Creation, there was a separation of that confused masse into its species, so at the destruction thereof there shall bee a separation into its distinct individuals.
As at the Creation of the world, all the distinct species that wee behold, lay involved in one masse, till the fruitfull voyce of God separated this united multitude into its severall species: so at the last day, when these corrupted reliques shall be scattered in the wildernesse of formes, and seeme to have forgot their proper habits, God by a powerfull voyce shall command them backe into their proper shapes, K95 and call them out by their single individuals: Then shall appeare the fertilitie of Adam, and the magicke of that sperme that hath dilated into so many millions.
I have often beheld as a miracle, that artificiall resurrection and revivification of Mercury, how being mortified into thousand shapes, it assumes againe its owne, and returns into its numericall selfe. Let us speake naturally, and like Philosophers, the formes of alterable bodies in these sensible corruptions perish not; nor, as wee imagine, wholly quit their mansions, but retire and contract themselves into their secret and unaccessible parts, where they may best protect themselves from the action of their Antagonist.
A plant or vegetable consumed to ashes, to a contemplative and schoole Philosopher seemes utterly destroyed, and the forme to have taken his leave for ever: But to a sensible Artist the formes are not perished, but withdrawne into their incombustible part, where they lie secure from the action of that devouring element.
This is made good by experience, which can from the ashes of a plant revive the plant, and from its cinders recall it into its stalk and leaves againe. What the Art of man can doe in these inferiour pieces, what blasphemy is it to affirme the finger of God cannot doe in these more perfect and sensible structures? This is that mysticall Philosophy, from whence no true Scholler becomes an Atheist, but from the visible effects of nature, growes up a reall Divine, and beholds not in a dreame, as Ezekiel, but in an ocular and visible object the types of his resurrection.
Now, the necessary Mansions of our restored selves are those two contrary and incompatible places wee call Heaven and Hell; to define them, or strictly to determine what and where these are, surpasseth my Divinity. That elegant Apostle which seemed to have a glimpse of Heaven, hath left but a negative description thereof; Which neither eye hath seen, nor eare hath heard, nor can enter into the heart of man: he was translated out of himself to behold it, but being returned into himselfe could not expresse it.
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Saint 7 Johns description by Emeralds, Chrysolites, and pretious stones, is too weake to expresse the materiall Heaven we behold. Briefely therefore, where the soule hath the full measure, and complement of happinesse, where the boundlesse appetite of that spirit remaines compleatly satisfied, that it can neither desire addition nor alteration, that I thinke is truely Heaven: and this can onely be in the enjoyment of that essence, whose infinite goodnesse is able to terminate the desires of it selfe, and the unsatiable wishes of ours; where-ever God will thus manifest himselfe, there is Heaven, though within the circle of this sensible world.
1.1 Gutenberg Corpus
Thus the soule of man may bee in Heaven any where, even within the limits of his own proper body, and when it ceaseth to live in the body, it may remaine in its owne soule, that is its Creator. And thus wee may say that Saint Paul, whether in the body, or out of the body, was yet in Heaven. To place it in the Empyreall, or beyond the tenth Spheare, is to forget the worlds destruction; for when this sensible world shall bee destroyed, all shall then be here as it is now there, an Empyreall Heaven, a quasi vacuitie, when to aske where Heaven is, is to demand where the presence of God is, or where wee have the glory of that happy vision.
Moses that was bred up in all the learning of the Egyptians, committed a grosse absurdity in Philosophy, when with these eyes of flesh he desired to see God, and petitioned his Maker, that is truth it selfe, to a contradiction. This is hard to conceive, yet can I make good how even that may prey upon our bodies, and yet not consume us: for in this materiall world, there are bodies that persist invincible in the powerfullest flames, and though by the action of fire they fall into ignition and liquation, yet will they never suffer a destruction: I would gladly know how Moses with an actuall fire calcin'd, or burnt the golden Calfe into powder: for that mysticall mettle of gold, whose solary and celestiall nature I admire, exposed unto the violence of fire, grows onely hot and liquifies, but consumeth not: so when the consumable and volatile pieces of our bodies shall be refined into a more impregnable and fixed temper like gold, though they suffer from the action of flames, they shall never perish, but lie immortall in the armes of fire.
And surely if this frame must suffer onely by the action of this element, there will many bodies escape, and not onely Heaven, but earth will not bee at an end, but rather a beginning; For at present it is not earth, but a composition of fire, water, earth, and aire; but at that time spoyled of these ingredients, it shall appeare in a substance more like it selfe, its ashes.
Nor need we fear this term [annihilation] or wonder that God will destroy the workes of his Creation: for man subsisting, who is, and will then truely appeare a Microcosme, the world cannot bee said to be destroyed. For the eyes of God, and perhaps also of our glorified selves, shall as really behold and contemplate the world in its Epitome or contracted essence, as now it doth at large and in its dilated substance. In the seed of a Plant to the eyes of God, and to the understanding of man, there exists, though in an invisible way, the perfect leaves, flowers, and fruit thereof: for things that are in posse to the sense, are actually existent to the understanding.
Thus God beholds all things, who contemplates as fully his workes in their Epitome, as in their full volume, and beheld as amply the whole world in that little compendium of the sixth day, as in the scattered and dilated pieces of those five before. Men commonly set forth the torments of Hell by fire, and the extremity of corporall afflictions, and describe Hell in the same method that Mahomet doth Heaven.
This indeed makes a noyse, and drums in popular eares: but if this be the terrible piece thereof, it is not worthy to stand in diameter with Heaven, whose happinesse consists in that part that is best able to comprehend it, that immortall essence, that translated divinity and colony of God, the soule. Surely though wee place Hell under earth, the Devils walke and purlue is about it; men speake too popularly who place it in those flaming mountaines, which to grosser apprehensions represent Hell. The heart of man is the place the devill dwels in; I feele somtimes a hell within my selfe, Lucifer keeps his court in my brest, Legion is revived in me.
There are as many hels as Anaxagoras conceited worlds; K97 there was more than one hell in Magdalen, when there were seven devils; for every devill is an hell unto himselfe: hee holds enough of torture in his owne ubi, and needs not the misery of circumference to afflict him, and thus a distracted conscience here is a shadow or introduction unto hell hereafter; Who can but pity the mercifull intention of those hands that doe destroy themselves?
I can hardly thinke there was ever any scared into Heaven, they goe the fairest way to Heaven, that would serve God without a Hell, other Mercenaries that crouch unto him in feare of Hell, though they terme themselves the servants, are indeed but the slaves of the Almighty. And to be true, and speake my soule, when I survey the occurrences of my life, and call into account the finger of God, I can perceive nothing but an abysse and masse of mercies, either in generall to mankind, or in particular to my selfe; and whether out of the prejudice of my affection, or an inverting and partiall conceit of his mercies, I know not, but those which others terme crosses, afflictions, judgements, misfortunes, to me who enquire farther into them than their visible effects, they both appeare, and in event have ever proved the secret and dissembled favours of his affection.
It is a singular piece of wisedome to apprehend truly, and without passion the workes of God, and so well to distinguish his justice from his mercy, as not to miscall those noble attributes; yet it is likewise an honest piece of Logick so to dispute and argue the proceedings of God, as to distinguish even his judgements into mercies. For God is mercifull unto all, because better to the worst, than the best deserve, and to say he punisheth none in this world, though it be a Paradox, is no absurdity.
To one that hath committed murther, if the Judge should onely ordaine a Fine, it were a madnesse to call this a punishment, and to repine at the sentence, rather than admire the clemency of the Judge. Thus our offences being mortall, and deserving not onely death, but damnation, if the goodnesse of God be content to traverse and passe them over with a losse, misfortune, or disease; what frensie were it to terme this a punishment, rather than an extremity of mercy, and to groane under the rod of his judgements, rather than admire the Scepter of his mercies?
Therefore to adore, honour, and admire him, is a debt of gratitude due from the obligation of our nature, states, and conditions; and with these thoughts, he that knowes them best, will not deny that I adore him; that I obtaine Heaven, and the blisse thereof, is accidentall, and not the intended worke of my devotion, it being a felicitie I can neither thinke to deserve, nor scarce in modesty to expect. For these two ends of us all, either as rewards or punishments, are mercifully ordained and disproportionally disposed unto our actions, the one being so far beyond our deserts, the other so infinitely below our demerits.
1.1 Gutenberg Corpus
There is no salvation to those that beleeve not in Christ, that is, say some, since his Nativity, and as Divinity affirmeth, before also; which makes me much apprehend the end of those honest Worthies and Philosophers which died before his Incarnation. It is an insolent part of reason to controvert the works of God, or question the justice of his proceedings; Could humility teach others, as it hath instructed me, to contemplate the infinite and incomprehensible distance betwixt the Creator and the creature, or did wee seriously perpend that one Simile of Saint Paul, Shall the vessell say to the Potter, Why hast thou made me thus?
Men that live according to the right rule and law of reason, live but in their owne kinde, as beasts doe in theirs; who justly obey the prescript of their natures, and therefore cannot reasonably demand a reward of their actions, as onely obeying the naturall dictates of their reason. It will therefore, and must at last appeare, that all salvation is through Christ; which verity I feare these great examples of vertue must confirme, and make it good, how the perfectest actions of earth have no title or claime unto Heaven.
Nor truely doe I thinke the lives of these or of any other were ever correspondent, or in all points conformable unto their doctrines; it is evident that Aristotle transgressed the rule of his owne Ethicks; K99 the Stoicks that condemne passion, and command a man to laugh in Phalaris his Bull, could not endure without a groane a fit of the stone or collick.
The Scepticks that affirmed they know nothing, K even in that opinion confute themselves, and thought they knew more than all the world beside. Diogenes I hold to bee the most vaineglorious man of his time, and more ambitious in refusing all honours, than Alexander in rejecting none. Vice and the Devill put a fallacie upon our reasons and provoking us too hastily to run from it, entangle and profound us deeper in it.
The Duke of Venice, that weds himselfe unto the Sea, by a ring of Gold, K I will not argue of prodigality, because it is a solemnity of good use and consequence in the State. But the Philosopher that threw his money into the Sea to avoyd avarice, was a notorious prodigal. There is no road or ready way to vertue, it is not an easie point of art to disentangle our selves from this riddle, or web of sin: To perfect vertue, as to Religion, there is required a Panoplia or compleat armour, that whilst we lye at close ward against one vice we lye open to the vennie of another: And indeed wiser discretions that have the thred of reason to conduct them, offend without a pardon; whereas under heads may stumble without dishonour.
There goe so many circumstances to piece up one good action, K that it is a lesson to be good, and wee are forced to be vertuous by the booke. Againe, the practice of men holds not an equall pace, yea, and often runnes counter to their Theory; we naturally know what is good, but naturally pursue what is evill: the Rhetoricke wherewith I perswade another cannot perswade my selfe: there is a depraved appetite in us, that will with patience heare the learned instructions of Reason; but yet performe no farther than agrees to its owne irregular Humour. In briefe, we all are monsters, that is, a composition of man and beast, wherein we must endeavour to be as the Poets fancy that wise man Chiron, that is, to have the Region of Man above that of Beast, and sense to sit but at the feete of reason.