« Prev Section I. Of the State of Sickness. Next »

SECTION I.

Of the State of Sickness.

Adam's sin brought death into the world, and man did die the same day in which he sinned, according as God had threatened. He did not die as death is taken for a separation of soul and body; that is not death properly, but the ending of the last act of death; just as a man is said to be borne in his mother's womb; but whereas to man was intended a life long and happy, without sickness, sorrow, or infelicity, and this life should be lived here or in a better place, and the passage from one to the other should have been easy, safe, and pleasant, now that man sinned he fell from that state to a contrary.

If Adam had stood, he should not always have lived in this world; for this world was not a place capable of giving a dwelling to all those myriads of men and women which should have been born in all the generations of infinite and eternal ages; for so it must have been if man had not died at all, nor yet have removed hence at all. Neither is it likely that man's innocence should have lost to him all possibility of going thither, where the duration is better, measured by a better time, subject to fewer changes, and which is now the reward of a returning virtue which in all natural senses is less than innocence, save that it is heightened by Christ to an equality of acceptation with the state of innocence; but so it must have been that his innocence should have been punished with an eternal confinement to this state, which in all reason is the less perfect, the state of a traveler, not of one possessed of his inheritance. It is therefore certain man should have changed his abode; for so did Enoch, and so did Elias, and so shall all the world that shall be alive at the day of judgment; they shall not die, but they shall change their place and their abode, their duration and their state, and all this without death.

That death, therefore, which God threatened to Adam, and which passed upon his posterity, is not the going out of this world, but the manner of going. If he had stayed in innocence, he should not have died by sickness, misfortune, defect, or unwillingness; but when he fell, then he began to die - the same day; (so said God;) and that must needs be true: and therefore it must mean that upon that very day he fell into an evil and dangerous condition, a state of change and affliction; then death began, that is, the man began to die by a natural diminution and aptness to disease and misery. His first state was and should have been (so long as it lasted) a happy duration; his second was a daily and miserable change; and this was the dying properly.

This appears in the great instance of damnation, which, in the style of Scripture, is called eternal death; not because it kills or ends duration - it hath not so much good in it - but because it is a perpetual infelicity. Change or separation of soul and body is but accidental to death; death may be with or without either; but the formality, the curse, and the sting of death, that is, misery, sorrow, fear, diminution, defect, anguish, dishonour, and whatsoever is miserable and afflictive in nature, that is death. Death is not an action, but a whole state and condition; and this was first brought in upon us by the offence of one man.

But this went no further than thus to subject us to temporal infelicity. If it had proceeded so far as was supposed, man had been much more miserable, for man had more than one original sin in this sense; and though this death entered first upon us by Adam's fault, yet it came nearer unto us, and increased upon us by the sins of more of our forefathers; for Adam's sin left us in strength enough to contend with human calamities for almost a thousand years together. But the sins of his children, our forefathers, took off from us half the strength about the time of the flood; and then from five hundred to two hundred and fifty, and from thence to one hundred and twenty, and from thence to threescore and ten; so often halving it till it is almost come to nothing. But by the sins of men in the several generations of the world, death, that is, misery and disease, is hastened so upon us that we are of a contemptible age; and because we are to die by suffering evils, and by the daily lessening of our strength and health, this death is so long a doing, that it makes so great a part of our short life useless and unserviceable, that we have not time enough to get the perfection of a single manufacture; but ten or twelve generations of the world must go to the making up of one wise man, or one excellent art; and in the succession of those ages there happen so many changes and interruptions, so many wars and violences, that seven years' fighting sets a whole kingdom back in learning and virtue to which they were creeping, it may be a whole age.

And thus also we do evil to our posterity as Adam did to his, and Cham did to his, and Eli to his, and all they to theirs who by sins caused God to shorten the life and multiply the evils of mankind; and for this reason it is the world grows worse and worse, because so many original sins are multiplied, and so many evils from parents descend upon the succeeding generations of men, that they derive nothing from us but original misery.

But he who restored the law of nature did also restore us to the condition of nature, which, being violated by the introduction of death, Christ then repaired when he suffered and overcame death for us; that is, he hath taken away the unhappiness of sickness and the sting of death, and the dishonurs of the grave, of dissolution and weakness, of decay and change, and hath turned them into acts of favour, into instances of comfort, into opportunities of virtue; Christ hath now knit them into rosaries and coronets; he hath put them into promises and rewards; he hath made them part of the portion of his elect: they are instruments and earnests, and securities and passage to the greatest perfection of human nature and the divine promises. So that it is possible for us now to be reconciled to sickness; it came in by sin, and therefore is cured when it is turned into virtue; and although it may have in it the uneasiness of labour, yet it will not be uneasy as sin, or the restlessness of a discomposed conscience. If therefore, we can well manage our state of sickness, that we may not fall by pain, as we usually do by pleasure, we need not fear; for no evil shall happen to us.

« Prev Section I. Of the State of Sickness. Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |