|« Prev||Chap. XI. Of the Happiness of the Inward Man.||Next »|
Of the Happiness of the Inward Man.
I Proceed now to treat of the Happiness of the Inner Man, the Soul or Spirit, and that consists in the love of God, and of our Neighbour; whatever makes the Soul happy, must be suitable and agreeable to the Nature of it. Now the Soul is a spiritual substance, and therefore its Objective Happiness must be so too. The Soul is immortal, and therefore the Object which makes it happy must be of eternal duration. The desires of the Soul are very vast and extensive; nay, infinite; and therefore not to be satisfied but by an Infinite Good.92
From the Love of God flows an universal Obedience to all his holy Commandments, John 14. 13. If a man love me, he will keep my words. It is the nature of love to desire and endeavour to please and gratifie the Party beloved: And therefore he that loves God will labour to please him, by doing those things that are acceptable to him, and right in his fight. The Love of God will add Wings to his Soul, and constrain him to run the ways of his Commandments, which will no longer seem grievous or burthensome to him, but pleasant and delightful; yea, eligible, were they proposed to his choice in competition with the short and unsatisfactory Pleasures of Sin.
Now Holiness of Life, and Obedience to the Commandments of God, hath the promises of all good things both for the Soul and Body; for this Life, and a better, Psal. 84. 11. He will give grace and glory, and no good thing will he withhold from them that live uprightly. Psal. 34. 10. They that fear the Lord shall not want any good thing. Rom. 8. 28. We know that all things work together for good to them that love God. 1 Tim. 4. 8. Godliness is profitable to all things, having the promises of the Life, that now is, and of that which is to come.93
Moreover those that love God, cannot but be happy, because they that love him, shall be beloved of him, both of the Father, and of the Son, John 14. 21. He that loveth me, shall be beloved of my Father , and I will love him, and manifest my self to him. And again, V. 25. If a man love me, my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our abode with him. God is the fountain of Happiness; whatever good is in the Creature, it came from him, and is but a Beam of his Light: Whatever is in the Creature in a limited, restrained, imperfect manner? is in him without limitation, without restriction, without imperfection. He both can and will make them whom he loves as happy as they are capable of being. God is the only Object: that deserves the highest degree of our Love, and he requires it: And therefore it is as well against our Duty as our Interest to deny it.
As for the Love of our Neighbour, that is commanded us by God, Levit. 19. 18. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy self, repeated Matt. xx. 9. 1 John 4. 21. And this Commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God, love his Brother also. From this immediately flows the performance 94of the Duties of the Second Table. That great Rule of doing to others as we would they should do to us in like case; and the contrary of not doing to others that we would not should be done to us, are necessary consequences of loving our Neighbour as our selves. If we loved him as our selves, we would wish him as much good, and do him as much good as we do to our selves. We would willingly that other Men should do their Duties to us, shew us all kindness, and be helpful and beneficial to us in all our Wants and Necessities; and why? because we love our selves. Had we the same love to them, it would have the same effects. We would do the same good to them, that we desire from them. To instance in the particular Commands:
Children, Subjects and Inferiors would yield to their Parents, Magistrates and Superiors, all that. Honour, Reverence and Obedience, which themselves would expect and desire from their Inferiors, were they in the same Relations and Circumstances.
No Man would willingly have his own Body killed, or wounded, or any way tormented and put to pain; because no Man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth 95and cherisheth it, as the 1212 Eph. 5. 29.Apostle speaks. Did he then love his Neighbour as himself, he would be so far from injuring him in that kind, that he would not suffer others to do so, if he could help it.
Every Man is jealous of the Loyalty of his Wife, and impatient of having his Enclosure invaded, and made common, because he sets a high value on her Love and Fidelity, and looks upon it as a great dishonour, as well as an injury done him, to be robbed of it. Think we then he would offer such an abuse and wrong to his Neighbour, did he love him as himself, and were as tender of his Reputation as his own.
Did Men love their Neighbours as themselves, there would be no need of Locks and Bars to secure their Goods from rapine and surreptions by Thieves and Robbers, because there would be no such; so that every Man might lie down securely, and there would be none to make him afraid: Love is so far from invading another’s right, that it is liberal and communicative, and willing rather to part, with its own.96
The like, if it were needful, might easily be shewn in, the rest of the Commandments relating to our Neighbour.
It remains now that we speak of the Effects and Consequents of a Holy Life upon the Soul or Inward Man.
I. The regulating and exalting of our Faculties, and inabling them for their proper Functions.
II. The Peace, Tranquillity and Joy attendant to, and consequent thereupon.
I. As for the regulating and exalting of our Faculties, they are, 1. The Understanding. 2. The Will. 3. The Affections.
1. The Understanding: As Sin and Vice do stupifie and blind it, and disable it to judge aright; so the Commandments of God when obeyed do enlighten it, and enable it to discern and approve things that are excellent, Psalm 119. 98. Thou through thy Commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies; for they are ever with me, V. 99. I have more understanding than all my teachers; for thy testimonies are my meditation. V. 100. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. Psalm 111. 10. A good understanding have all they that do his Commandments.
2. The Will: The Perfection whereof consists in a perfect resignation to the Will of God; and true liberty, that is, freedom from the Bondage of Sin and Corruption, from the slavery of Satan, from the dominion of every vile Affection.
Wicked Men are real Slaves and Vassals to their Lusts: This the very Heathen acknowledged; as Cicero and Horace, Juvenal, Persius, and others.
From this Bondage the Son of God delivers us, John 8. 34. Our Saviour saith, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And V. 36. If the son therefore shall make you free, ye shalt be free indeed.
3 . The Affections or Passions: The Law of God requires and commands us to moderate and rule them, to place them upon their proper Objects, and to keep them within their due bounds; and good reason there is we should hold a strict hand over them: Animum rege, qui nisi paret imperat. If they be given way to, and the Bridle let loose, they become the great disturbers of Mens peace, quiet, and tranquillity; Anger, Hatred, Envy, &c. What storms and tumults do they raise in the Breast? What 98Mischievous Imaginations do they excite? What plotting, and counterplotting of revenge? Breaking out many times into railings, revilings, opprobrious Language, bitter Curses and Execrations: they toss the Mind to and fro, as contrary Winds do the Sea, causing it to cast up Mire and Dirt.
On the contrary; where the Passions are duly governed and moderated, kept within their proper bounds and chanels, the Soul is calm and serene, and fit for any Employment or Exercise civil or religious.
II. The Happiness of the Inward Man consists in that peace, joy and tranquillity that is attendant upon, or consequent to our obedience to God’s Commands.
1. Pleasure and Delight attends the performance of our Duties. Virtuous and pious Actions are agreeable to the Nature and Inclinations of good Men: It is as grateful and pleasing to a good Man to do good, as to an hungry Man to eat, or a thirsty Man to drink. It is as great a satisfaction to his rational Inclinations, as those other are to the sensual Appetites. Nothing can be more delightful and welcome to a generous Mind, than an opportunity of 99shewing it self grateful, to Parents, Friends and Benefactors, and making ample returns to those by whom he hath been obliged for the favours received: Nothing more acceptable than to be employed in worthy Actions, especially such as tend to promote publick good, the peace and prosperity of our Country, or Mankind in general The Heathen Poet could say,
Dulce & decorum est pro Patriâ mori.
It is a sweet and comely thing even to die for ones Country: Which yet I suppose is too high a flight or pitch of Charity for a Heathen to attain to; and that there must be something of glory to carry them so far. To overcome evil with good, and return Kindnesses instead of Injuries, thereby melting the Hearts of our Enemies, and making them our Friends, is certainly a more pleasant thing, and much more for our peace and ease, than revenging our selves of them. To return good for evil is a Godlike quality; our Saviour commanding us to love our enemies, and do good to them that hate us, &c. to engage us thereto, proposes God’s Example; who causes his sun to shine on the evil, and on the good; and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. Who 100is kind unto the unthankful and the evil. Cicero in his Gratulatory Oration to Cæsar for M. Marcellus, makes him that forgives Enemies, and restores them to their former Dignities, like to God: Non ego illum summis viris comparo, sed Deo similem judico.
2. Peace and Joy, and confidence towards God is a necessary consequent of Obedience to his Commandments, 1 John 3. 21. If our hearts condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God; and whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his Commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. Delight and Pleasure, and satisfaction of Mind, inward Peace and Tranquillity naturally follow religious Actions: When a Man hath done his Duty, and spent his time well, he can reflect upon his doings with comfort; he is not afraid to review his Life past, and call himself to an account for what he hath done; Res severa est verum gaudium, saith Seneca: Unde sit interrogas? dicam; ex bonâ conscientiâ, ex honestis consiliis, ex rectis actionibus: True joy is a severe thing: Do you ask whence it comes? I’ll tell you; from a good Conscience, from honest Counsels, from just Actions. A good Conscience is said to be a continual Feast: The Poet resembles 101it to a brazen Wall, which secures the Soul from all inward Trouble and Disquiet, Fear and Terror.
—Hic murus aheneus esto,
Nil conscire sibi, nullâ pallesere culpâ.
I shall conclude this Particular with the Words of Dr. Wilkins, Bishop of Chester, the most rational, solid, sublime, compleat, durable Delights of all others do flow from the Conscience of well-doing. ’Tis a chief part this, of that Heaven we enjoy upon Earth; and it is a principal part of that Happiness which we hope to enjoy in Heaven; next to the Beatifical Vision and Fruition of God, is the Happiness of a good Conscience, and next to that, the Society of Saints and Angels, Solomon saith of Wisdom, that is the fear of God, Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace, Prov. 3. 17. Peace internal, Peace external, Peace eternal: Peace with our selves; Peace with Men; Peace with God; as I have heard a Reverend Divine distinguish it.
On the other side, no Man can be happy that keeps not a good Conscience: But without Holiness of Life, and Obedience to God’s Commandments, a good Conscience 102cannot be kept, Esay 57. 21. There is no peace to the wicked, saith my God. Guilt is an obligation to Punishment; but an obligation to Punishment infers an expectation of it; and whosoever expects it, doth really suffer it: as Seneca excellently, Dat pœnas quisquis expectat; quisquis autem meruit, expectat: That man doth really suffer punishment, who expects it: But whosoever hath deserved it, expects it. Were it not for diversion, and non-attendance to his Condition, a wicked Man would carry a continual Hell in his Breast; there is therefore (as I have noted elsewhere) but a thought’s distance between him and Hell: His only security is in being a stranger to himself. This, (one would think) should be the most powerful curb imaginable to restrain Men from Sin, and the most effectual Persuasive in the World to a holy Life; That those that live in Sin cannot think upon their Condition without fear and disquiet; especially those who are guilty of secret Crimes, who are liable to those more severe Lashes, and affrighting Rebukes of Conscience. These Men are not able to hear such Sins reproved without blushing and confusion, and inward trouble of Mind;103
—Rubet Auditor cui frigida mens est
Crimmibus, tacitâ sudant præcordia culpâ.
—He whose Spirits feel
Cold guilt, his Crimes laid open,
His conscious Intrails sweat.
Nay, sometimes they are in such distress, as to be a burthen to themselves, as holy Job1313 Job 7. 20. speaks, and weary of their very Beings, so as to chuse Strangling rather than Life; or else to be their own delators, and publish their guilt. God hath implanted in our Natures (as I noted before) an aversation from, and dislike of Sin: The Reason of Man cannot be reconciled to it, but must needs disapprove and condemn it. We know (as the Apostle speaks, Rom. 7.) that the Law and Commandment of God is holy, and just, and good; and therefore he that lives in Sin, is a self-condemned Person, and can have no inward Peace, You will object, Consuetudo peccandi tollit sensum peccati: The Custom of Sinning takes away the sense of Sin: And some Men have their Consciences cauterized, being past feeling, and go on securely in their vicious 104Courses without check or remorse. I answer, That such Men indeed, who long resist the Grace of God, he is pleased at last to withdraw it from them, and give them up to a reprobate Mind, to do things not convenient; yet is not their condition the better for this; But this senselesness or stupidity is a more dangerous and incurable Disease, answering to a Lethargy, or Apoplexy in the Body.
Neither yet do the Troubles of Mind arismg from in evil Conscience, determine in Death, but continue for ever. This is that Worm which dieth not; a sad reflection upon our own desperate madness and folly in leading such wicked Lives, as have brought this Misery upon us; and a perpetual indignation against, and condemnation of our selves.
I have often wondred that the very Heathens, who had no clear Revelation of a future Estate after this Life ended, nor any more than an ancient Tradition of Rewards and Punishments then to be received or suffered, accordingly as Men had lived virtuous or wicked Lives should be so terrified with a sense of guilt; and that the consciousness of secret Crimes should be so grievous and insupportable to them, arming their 105Minds against themselves and making them their own Tormentors, as the Poet expresses it,
—Quos diri conscia facti
Mens habet attonitos, & surdo verbere cædit,
Occultum quatiente animo tortore flagellum.
I cannot but think that this great terrour and anxiety of Mind attending the consciousness of any heinous Sin, is more than the effect of an expedition of punishment, grounded only upon an ancient Tradition; but that the sense of a connexion between Sin and Punishment is deeply imprinted upon the Soul of Man, by the Finger of God; and is one great Argument of the existence of a Deity.
Against what we have said concerning the Happiness that attends the godly in this present State, it may be objected: Is it not said in Scripture, Psal. 34. 19. Many are the afflictions of the righteous. And do we not read in the Hebrews, Chap. 11. 37. of some who had trial of bonds and imprisonments, who were stoned, sawn in sunder, tempted, slain with the sword, wandred about in Sheeps-skins and Goats-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom the 106world was not worthy. And doth not the Apostle say, 1 Cor. 15. 19. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. And 2 Tim. 3. 12. All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
To all this I answer, that we speak according to the natural and usual course of things. But there are some exceptions from general Rules, peculiar and exempt Cases; some righteous persons, whom for weighty and wise Reasons God is pleased to permit to be exercised with great and sore Afflictions and Distresses; either perhaps to manifest his own Power in supporting them; or to set them forth as illustrious Examples of Fortitude, Faith and Patience. Did not righteous Men sometimes conflict with adversity and Misery, there would be no use of such a Grace as Patience; nay, it could not be known that there were any such; or, to enhance their future reward. The Martyrs who seal the Truth with their Blood, shall in the judgment of Divines, be advanced to a higher degree of Glory than ordinary Christians, and be crowned with Aureolæ suitable to their deserts.
But those two latter places of the Apostle are to be understood of the Primitive 107Times of Christianity, when all the Powers of the World were Heathen; when God was pleased to make use of the Sufferings of the Professors of it to propagate the Gospel, after a strange and wonderful manner: So that Sanguis Martyrum was said to be Semen Ecclesiæ, the Blood of Martyrs, the Seed of the Church. But now since the publick reception and acknowledgment of the Truth: Since Kings have become nursing Fathers, and Queens nursing Mothers to the Church: The case is altered, and Religion instead of exposing its Professors to Sufferings, doth rather promote their Worldly Interest.
Those Afflictions which God is pleased to lay upon his Children and Servants as fatherly Corrections for their Miscarriages, serving as Physick to purge out the Reliques of Corruption, and to embitter Sin to them, and quicken them to the performance of their Duty; are no prejudice to our Assertion, because we bring them upon our selves by own default; and ’tis not holiness of Life, but the want of it, and neglect of our Duties, which is always the procuring, and often the productive cause of them. For God doth not willingly afflict nor grieve the Children of men, Lament. 3. 33. 108Here we may note the great imperfection of the Love of God even in the bell Men, Afflictions being oftentimes a more powerful Curb to restrain them from the commission of Sin; and a more effectual Spur to quicken them to Duty, than the Love of God; as we see in David, the Man after God’s own heart, Psal. 119. 67.
|« Prev||Chap. XI. Of the Happiness of the Inward Man.||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version