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wiped out, by a contemptuous and holy resolution. The beam of sin, lastly, must be pulled out by a serious repentance.
So then, if there be any of us that makes account to see God, while he is taken up with sensual affections, while he is blinded with his natural ignorance and infidelity, while he is seized upon by worldly cares and distractions, while he harbours any known sin in his bosom, he doth but deceive his own soul. Away with all these impediments, that we may be capable of the vision of God.
[2.] In the second place, we must set this - That blessed obblessed object before our eyes; resolving of the ject must be Set
Before our eyes : certainty of his presence, with us. Or, rather, we must set ourselves before him, who is ever unremoveably before us, with us, in us: acknowledging him, with no less assurance of our faith; than we acknowledge the presence of our own bodies, by the assurance of sense. For, how shall we suppose we can see him, that is absent from us? No man will
sun, when it is out of our hemisphere.
That Infinite God therefore, who cannot but be every where, must be acknowledged to be ever, in a glorious manner, present with us : manifesting his presence most eminently, in the high heavens; and yet, filling both heaven and earth with the Majesty of his Glory In him it is, that we live, and move, and have our being. He comprehends the whole world; himself being only incomprehensible : secluded from no place, included in no place : nearer to us than our own souls ; when we die, we paxt from them; from him we cannot part, with whom remoteness of place can make no difference, time no change.
When the heart is thus thoroughly assured, it is in a fair way to see the Invisible: for now, after all the former impediments, the hinderance of distance is taken away ; and nothing remaineth, but that the eye be so affected and employed hereabouts, as it ought. [3.] To which purpose, in the third place, there –There must be
Exaltation must be an Exaltation and a Fortification of our Sight : an exaltation, raising it above our wonted pitch; of our Sight :
and Fortification for our heart is so inured and confined to bodily objects, that, except it be somewhat raised above itself, it is not capable of spiritual things: a fortification of our sight, so raised; for our visive beams are, at our best, so weak, that they are not able to look upon a sight so spiritually glorious. Alas, we cannot so much as look upon the sun-beams, but we are dazzled and blinded, with that, which gives us opportunity of sight : how shall we be able to behold the infinite respleridence of him, that made it?
St. Stephen was a true eagle. That blessed protomartyr's cleared, exalted, fortified sight pierced the heavens; and saw Jesus standing at the right-hand of God. Whence was this vigour, and perspicacity? He was full of the Holy Ghost. That Spirit of God, that was within him, gave both clearness and strength, in such mira
culous manner, to the eyes of him, who should straightway see, as he was seen ; who should instantly, by the eye of his glorified soul, no less see the incomprehensible Majesty of God the Father, than now, by his bodily eye, he saw the glorified body of the Son of God. It must be the only work of the same Spirit of God within us, that must enable us, both to the faculty and exercise of seeing the Invisible. -There must be [4.] For the performance whereof, there must a Trajection of be, in the fourth place, a Trajection of the Vithe Visual Beams sual Beams of the Soul, through all Earthly Ocof the Soul, thro'
currences, terminating them only in God: as now, all Earthly Occur
we look through the air, at any object; but our
sight passes through it, and rests not in it. While we are here, we cannot but see the world : even the holiest eye cannot look off it; but it is to us, as the vast air is betwixt us and the starry heaven, only for passage. All is translucid, till the sight arrive there. There it meets with that solid object of perfect contentment and happiness, wherewith it is thoroughly bounded.
[5.] When it hath therefore attained thitber, -A Divine Irradiation of the there must be, in the fifth place, a certain Divine Mind must fol- Irradiation of the Mind, which is now filled and low
taken up with a lightsome apprehension of an Infinite Majesty, of a glory incomprehensible and boundless; attended and adored by millions of heavenly, angels and glorified spirits. Whereto way must be made, by the conceit of a transcendent light; wherein God dwelleth ; as far above this outward light which we see, as that is above darkness : for, though we may not in our thoughts liken God to any created brightness, be it never so glorious; yet nothing forbids us to think of the place of his eternal habitation, as infinitely resplendent, above the comparison of those beams which any creature can cast forth. He is clothed, saith the Psalmist, with light as with a garment. Lo, when we cannot see a man's soul, yet we may see his body ; and, when we cannot see the body, yet we may see the clothes : even so, though we may not think to see the essence of God, yet we may see and conceive of this his resplendent garment of light. what light we
Far be it therefore from us, when we would look must conceive up to a Deity, to have our eye-sight terminated in
a gloomy opacity and sad darksomeness, which hath no affinity with any appendance of that Divine Majesty, who hath thought good to describe itself by Light. Let our hearts adore such an Infinite Spirit, as that the light, wherein he dwells, is inaccessible; the light, which he hath, and is, is inconceivable : and rather rest themselves, in an bumble and devout adoration of what they cannot know ; than weary themselves, with a curious search of what they cannot comprehend. A simple and meek kind of astonishment and admiration, beseems us here better, than a bold and busy disquisition. But, if this outward light, which of all visible creatures coines nearest the nature of a spirit, shall seem too
material, to express the glory of that blessed habitation of the Highest ; let the mind labour to apprehend an intellectual light, which may be so to our understanding, as this bodily light is to ur sense, purely spiritual and transcendently glorious; and let it desire to wonder at that, which it can never conceive. How should this light be inaccessible, if it were such, as oureither sense or reason could attain unto?
[6.] When we have attained to this comfortable -The Eye must and heavenly illumination, there must be, in the be Fixed upon sixth place, a Fixing of the Eye upon this beatifical this blessed obobject; so, as it may be free from distraction and ject Unremovewandering. Certainly, there is nothing more apt to
ably : be miscarried, than the eye: every new sight' wins it away from that, which last allured it. It is not hard nor unusual, to have some sudden short glimpses of this happy vision; which yet the next toy fetches off, and makes us to forget; like as the last wave washeth off the impression of the former. What are we the better for this, than that patient, who, having the film too early raised from his eye, sees the light for the present, but shall never see any more? Would we see God to purpose ? when we have once set eye upon him, we may not suffer ourselves, by any means, to lose the sight of him again; but must follow it still, with a constant and eager intention : like as the disciples of Christ, when they had fixed their eyes upon their ascending Saviour, could not be taken off, with the presence
of angels; but sent their eye-beams after him into heaven, so earnestly, that the reproof of those glorious spirits could hardly pull them off.
You are now ready to tell me, this is a fit task for --How this may us, when we are in our heaven; and to plead the be effected; and
how far: difficulty of such our settlement, in this region of change; where our eyes cannot but be forced aside, with the necessity of our worldly occasions : and to question the possibility of viewing two objects at once; God, and the world: not considering, that herein lies the improvement of the Christian's skill, in these divine optics. The carnal eye looks through God, at the world: the spiritual eye looks through the world, at God: the one of those he seeth mediately; the other, terminatively: neither is it, in nature, hard to conceive, how we may see two such objects, as whereof one is in the way to the other; as through a prospective glass, we can see a remote mark; or, through a thin cloud, we can see heaven. Those glorious angels of heaven are never without the vision of God; yet, being ministering spirits for the good of his elect, here below, they must needs take notice of these earthly occurrences: the variety of these sublunary objects cannot divert their thoughts from their Maker. Although also, to speak distinctly, the eye, thus employed, is not the same : nothing hinders, but that, while the bodily sees a body, the spiritual eye may see a spirit: as, when a loadstone is presented to my view, the eye of my sense sees the body and fashion of the stone, my eye of reason sees the hidden virtue which is in it. Both these kinds of
may be thus fixed upon their several objects, without any intersection of the visual Jines of each other.
But, that no man may think God hath so little respect to our infirmities, as to impose upon us impossible tasks, we must know, that, since the soul of man, in this state of frail mortality, is not capable of a perpetual act of such an intuition of God, here is neces sary use of a just distinction.
As the School, is wont to distinguish of intentions; Three ways of our apprehen- so must we here, of the apprehension of God: which sion of God.
is either actual, or habitual, or virtual: Actual, when
our cogitations are taken up and directly employed in the meet consideration of the Blessed Deity, and the things thereto appertaining : Habitual, when we have a settled kind of holy disposition, and aptitude inclining us ever to these divine thoughts; ready still to bring them forth into act, upon every least motion : Virtual, betwixt both these, being neither so quick and agile, as the actual; nor yet so dull and Aagging, as the habitual, which
may be incident to a man whether sleeping or otherwise busied: when, by the power of a heavenly disposition wrought in the mind, we are so affected, as that divine thoughts are become the constant, though insensible, guests of the soul; while the virtue of that original illumination sticks still by us, and is, in a sort, derived into all our subsequent cogitations ; leaving in them perpetual remainders of the holy effects of the deeply wrought and wellgrounded apprehension of God: as, in a pilgrim towards the Holy Land, there are not always actual thoughts concerning his way or end; yet there is still a habitual resolution, to begin and compass that journey; and a secret power of his continued will, to put forward'his steps to that purpose; there being a certain impression remaining in the motive faculty, which still insensibly stirs him towards the place desired: neither is it unusual, even in nature, to see many effects continuing, when the motion of the cause, by which they were wrought, ceaseth ; as when some deep bell is rung to the height, the noise continues some time in the air, after the clapper is silent; or, when a stone is cast into the water, the circles that are caused by it are enlarged and multiplied, after the stone lies still in the bottom.
However, therefore, we cannot hope in this life, through our manifold weaknesses and distractions, to attain unto the steady continuance of the actual view of him that is invisible ; yet, to the habitual and virtual power of apprehending him, we may, through the goodness of him whom we strive to see, happily aspire.
Neither may we be wanting to ourselves, in taking all occasions of renewing these our actual visions of God; both set, and casual. There is nothing, that we can see, which doth not put us in mind of God: what creature is there, wherein we do not espy some footsteps of a Deity ? every herb, flower, leaf, in our garden; every bird and fly, in the air; every aut and worm, in the ground; every spider, in our window; speaks the omnipotence and intinite wisdom of their Creator. None of these may pass us, without some fruitful
monition of acknowledging a Divine Hand. But, besides these, it will be requisite for us, every morning, to season our thoughts with a serious renovation of our awful apprehensions of God; and not to take off our hand, till we have wrought our hearts to some good competency of right and holy conceits of that Glorious Majesty: the efficacy whereof may dilate itself to the whole following day; which may be often revived by our frequent ejaculations. But, above all other, when we have to do with God, in the set immediate exercises of his services and our heavenly devotions, we must endeavour, to our utmost, to sharpen our eyes, to a spiritual perspicacity; striving to see him, whom we speak unto, and who speaks unto us, as he hath pleased to reveal himself. But, over and beside all these, even when we have no provocations from any particular occasion, it must be our continual care, to labour with our God, that it would please him to work us to such a holy and heavenly disposition, as that, whatever our employments may be, we may never want the comfort of a virtual and habitual enjoying the sight of God; so as the power and efficacy of our first, well-taken apprehension may run on, through all the following actions and events, both of our life and death.
There will fol low a delight and complacency in that God whom w see. Reprobates do rather
see God's an
ger, than him
 UPON this constant fixedness of our thoughts on God, there cannot but follow, in the seventh place, a marvellous delight and complacency of the soul, in so blessed an object. Neither is it easy to determine, whether of these do more justly challenge a precedency in the heart whether the eye be so fixed, because it is well pleased with the sight; or, whether it be so pleased and ravished, with that happy sight, because it is so fixed. Whatsoever these two are, in the order of nature, I am sure, in time, they are inseparable: neither is it possible, for any man to see God as interested in him, and not to love him, and take pleasure in him. As a stranger, as an enemy, or avenger, even devils and reprobate souls behold him, to their regret and torment; if I may not say, they rather see his anger and judgment, than himself: but never eye can see him as his God, and not be taken with infinite delight: for that absolute goodness, out of which no man can contemplate God, can be no other, than infinitely amiable. And if, in the seeing of God, we be, as the School hath taught us to speak, unitively carried into him, how can we choose but in this act, be affected with joy unspeakable and glorious? In thy presence, saith the Psalmist, is the fulness of joy: and, at thy right-hand, are pleasures for evermore.
In sum, therefore; if, when our eyes, being freed from all natural indispositions and both inward and outward impediments, we have so this blessed object presented before us, as that, there is an exaltation and fortification of our sight; and, thereupon, a trajection of the visual beams through all earthly occurrences; and a divine irradiation of the understanding; and a stedfast fixing of the eye upon this happy object, without wandering and distraction; not