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without a wonderful delight and joy in the God of all Comfort, whom we apprehend; we do now effectually borrow Moses his eyes, and, as he did, see the Invisible. Motives to slir (3) But, as all good things are difficult, and all difus up to strive ficulties full of discouragement unless they be matchto this happy ed with a countervailable benefit, in which cases they sight. do rather wher than turn the edge of our desires ; let us see, what Considerations of Profit, arising from this noble act, may stir up our languishing hearts to the endeavour and performance thereof.
There are actions, which, carrying nothing but danThe act is reward e
and trouble in the mouth of them, had need to
ger nough to itself. be drawn on with the promise of an external reward.
There are those, which carry in them their own recompence: such is this we have in hand. What can there be out of itself so good as it? When we take pains to put ourselves into some theatre or court, or some pompous triumph, we have no other end, but to see; and yet, how poor and unsatisfying is that spectacle; and such, as wherein our frivolous curiosity shuts up in emptiness and discontentment! How justly then are we ambitious of this prospect, wherein, to but see, is to be blessed! It is no news, to see wantons transported from themselves, with the sight of a beautiful face; though such, perhaps, as wherein they can never hope to have any interest: and some curious eyes, no less taken with an exquisite picture; which yet shall never be theirs : how can we be other than ravished with a heavenly delight and pleasure, in so seeing the infinite beauty of the God of Spirits, as that our sight cannot be severed from fruition? The act itself is an abundant remuneration; yet doth it not want many sweet and beneficial consequences, which do justly quicken our desires to attain unto the practice of it. This sight
(1) Whereof it is not the meanest, that whoever frees us from hath happily aspired thereunto, cannot be carried being trans- away with earthly vanities. What poor things are ported with
these, in comparison of those invisible glories! Alas, earthly vani.
what was the pleasure, and riches, of the Court of
Egypt, in the eyes of Moses, when he had once seen his God? It is a true word, that of the Chancellor of Paris; “when a man hath tasted once of the Spirit, all Aesh is savourless *” Surely, when once the Chosen Vessel had been rapt into the third heaven, and seen those unutterable magnificencies of the Divine Majesty, who can wonder, if he looked, ever after, with scorn and pity, upon all the glittering poverty of this inferior world ? Go then, ye poorly-great ones of the world, and admire the piles of your treasures, the stateliness of your structures, the sound of your titles, the extent of your territories: but know, that he, who hath seen the least glimpse of the Invisible, knows how to commiserate
* Gustato Spirit, desipit omnis caro. Gers. de 4. Domibus.
your felicity; and wonders what ye can see in all these, worth your admiration and pursuit. What joy, and triumph, was among the Jews, when they saw the foundation of the Second Temple laid ! yet those ancient Priests and Levites, whose eyes had seen the glory of the rmer Temple, wept, and cried as loud, as the rest shouted. Those, that know no better, may rejoice and exult in these worldly contentments; but those, who have had but a blink of the beauty of heaven, can look upon them no otherwise, than with an overly contemptuousness. I wonder not, if good old Simeon were content to have his eyes closed for ever, when he had once seen the Son of God: whatever he should see afterwards, would but abase those eyes, that had been blessed with the face of his Saviour. It was no ill conceit of the wise orator, that he, who had once known and considered the magnitude of the world, could never after admire any thing: surely, we may more justly say, that he, who hath duly taken into his thoughts the consideration of the infinite power, wisdom, goodness, of the great God of the World, cannot think the world itself worthy of his wonder. As some great peer therefore, that hath been used to stately shews and courtly magnificence, doth not vouchsafe so much as to cast his eye towards the mean worthless gewgaws of a pedlar's stall, which yet silly children behold with great pleasure and admiration; so the soul, that hath been inured to the sight of the Divine Majesty, scorns to suffer itself to be transported, with the trash and toys of this vain and transitory world.  No whit inferior to this benefit, is the second; It is a preva
lent means to that this sight of the Invisible is a notable and preva
restrain us lent means to restrain us froni sinning : for, how dares
from sinning. he sin, that sees. God ever before him ? whom he knows of so pure eyes, that he detests the least motion to evil; of so almighty power, as to revenge it everlastingly? It was a poor thought of him, who yet could know no better, that he, who would dissuade himself from a secret wickedness, should suppose a grave Cato, or some other such austere frowning censor, to be by him, looking upon his actions: as if the shame or fear of such a witness were a sufficient coercion from evil. He, that hath no eyes to see a God, may scare himself with the imagined sight of a man, somewhat better than himself: but he, who hath the grace to see the Invisible, finds a stronger restraint in that presence, than if he were looked on by millions of witnesses, judges, executioners. Yet, as this sight is mutual, (ours of God, and God's of us,) the good heart finds a more powerful restriction in his seeing of God, than in God's seeing of him: if there be more fear in this, there is more love in the other; for, since this holy vision of God is ever joined with some warmth of good affection to that prime and infinite goodness, the very apprehension of that unspeakable loveliness, which is in him, more effectually curbeth all evil desires in us, than the expectation of any danger that can threaten us. How can I do this great evil, and sin against God? saith good Joseph ; Gen. xxxix. 9. The sin affrights him, more than the suffering; and the offence of a God, more than his own danger. It upholds us
[3.] The Spirit of God hath thought fit to specify in the constant the third benefit, upon occasion of the mention of suffering of Moses his vision of God: He endured, as seeing him evil.
who is invisible. As this sight, therefore, hath power to withhold us from doing evil; so also, to uphold us in the suffering of evil. What, hut cheerfulness and ease, could holy Stephen find, in the stones of his enraged murderers; when, through that hail-storm, he could see his Jesus, standing at the right-hand of God, ready to revenge and crown him? What a pleasing walk did the three children find, in Nebuchadnezzar's furnace; while the Son of God made up the fourth! What bath was so suppling and delightful, as the rack of Theodorus the martyr; while God's angel wiped and refreshed his distended joints? With what confidence and resolution, did the Father of the Faithful break through all troubles and temptations, when he heard God say, Fear not, Abraham; I am thy shield, and thy erceeding great reward! Gen. xv. 1. Certainly, all fear, and discouragement, arises from a conceit of our own weakness, and an adversary's power and advantage: take away these two, and the mind of man remains undaunted. And both these vanish at the sight of the Invisible; for, what weakness can we apprehend, when God is our strength; or what adversary can we fear, when the Almighty is with us? Good Hezekiah was never so much scarred, with all the bravings of Rabshakeh, as when he said, Am I come up hither without the Lord? Had God taken part against his degenerated people, what could the arm of flesh have availed, for their defence? as, contrarily, when he strikes in, what can the gates of hell do? Is it multitude that can give us courage? as Elisha's servant said; There are more with us, than against us. Is it strength ? behold, the weakness of God is stronger than men; than devils. How justly do we contemn all visible powers, when we see the Invisible! when we see him, not empty handed; but standing ready, with a crown of glory, to reward our conquest. Vincenti dabitur; Rev. ï. 7. To him, that overcomes, it shall be giren. Are we therefore persecuted, for professing the truth of the Gospel; and cast into a dark and desolate dungeon, where no glimmering of light is allowed to look in upon us ; where we are so far from being suffered to see our friends, that we cannot see so much as the face of our keeper? Lo, even there, and thence, we may yet see the Invisible; and, in spite of malice, in his light we can see light. Do we lie groaning upon the painful bed of our sickness, closing our curtains about us to keep out the light, which now grows offensive to our sight ? yea, doth death begin to seize upon our eyes; and to dim and thicken our sight, so as now we cannot discern our dearest friends, that stand ready to close them for us? yet, even then, may we most clearly see the Invisible: and that sight is able to cheer us up, against all the pangs and terrors of death; and to make us triumph, even in dying.
[4.] Lastly, what other doth this vision of God, It enters us but enter us into our heaven? Blessed are the pure into our heain heart, saith our Saviour upon the Mount; for they shall see God. Lo, he, that only can give blessedness, hath promised it to the pure; and he, that best knows wherein blessedness consists, tells us, it is in the seeing of God. The blessed spirits above, both angels and souls of the departed saints, see him clearly, without any veil drawn over their glorified eyes : we, wretched pilgrims here on earth, must see him as we may: there is too much clay in our eyes, and too many and too gross vapours of ignorance and infidelity betwixt us and him, for a full and fect vision : yet, even here, we see him truly, though not clearly; and, the stronger our faith is, the clearer is our sight; and, the clearer our sight is, the greater is our measure of blessedness.
Neither is it a mere presence, or a bare simple vi- This vision is sion, which doth either inchoate or perfect our hap- not without a piness. We find there was a day, when the sons of fruition. God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them; Job i. 6 : and the wicked's eyes shall see him, whom they have pierced; Zech. xii. 10: we see so much of God, in the way of our bliss, as we enjoy: I know not how the eye, in these spiritual objects, betwixt which and us there is a gracious relation, hath a certain kind of applicatory faculty, which, in these material things, it wanteth. Oh, taste and sec, saith the Psalmist, how sweet the Lord is; as if our sight were more inwardly apprehensive of heavenly pleasures, than our most sensible gustation.
In these bodily objects, either there is no opera- Not so in other tion upon the sense, or to no purpose. The eye
objects. is never the warmer, for seeing a fire afar off; nor the colder, for beholding ice: we are no whit the richer, for seeing heaps of treasure ; nor the fairer, for viewing another's beauty. But, such a powerful and glorious influence there is of God into our spiritual senses, that we cannot see him, by the eye
our faith here, and not be the happier; we cannot see him above, by the eye of our separated souls, and not be perfectly glorious : and the one of these doth necessarily make way for the other; for, what is grace here, but glory begun? and what is glory above, but
grace perfected? Whosoever therefore here, hath pitched the eye of his faith upon the Invisible, doth but continue his prospect, when he comes to heaven. The place is changed: the object is the same; the act, more complete. As then, we do ever look to have our eyes blessed with the perpetual vision of God, in the highest heavens ; let us acquaint them, beforehand, with the constant and continual sight of him, in this vale of mortality.
2. No sooner have our eyes been thus lifted up of the casting above the hills, to the sight of the Invisible; than down our eyes, they must be instantly CAST DOWN, AND TURNED IN
wretchedness WARDS, TO SEE OUR OWN WRETCHEDNESS; how weak and poor we are; how frail; how vain and momentary; how de
to see our
Own we are
stitute of all good; how obnoxious to all sin and misery. Contrarieties make all things better discerned. And, surely, however it be commonly seen, that the nearness of the object is a hinderance to the sight; yet here, the more closely we bebold our own condition, the more clearly we shall discern, and the more fully shall we be convinced of this unpleasing truth. It is not for us to look back, like the heirs of some decayed house, at what we were : whoerer was the better for a past happiness? -How frail
(1.) Alas, what are we now? miserable dust and ashes; earth, at the best ; at the worst, hell. Our being is
vanity; our substance, corruption : our life is but a blast; our Aesh, worms-meat : our beginning impotent, above all creatures ; (even worms can crawl forward, so soon as they are, so cannot we:) our continuance, short and troublesome; our end, grievous : who can assure himself of one minute of time, of one dram of contentment? - how sinful (2.) But, woe is me! other creatures are frail too:
none, but man, is sinful. Our soul is not more excellent, than this tainture of it is odious and deadly. Our composition lays us open to mortality ; but our sin exposes us to the eter. nal wrath of God, and, the issue of it, eternal damnation. The grave waits for us, as men; hell, as sinners. Beasts compare with us, in our being; in our sinning, devils insult over us. -How woeful
(3.) And now, since the spring is foul, how can the are we by our streams be clear ? Alas, what act of ours is free sins
from this woeful pollution ? Who eats, or drinks, or sleeps, or moves, or talks, or thinks, or hears, or prays, without it? Even he, that was blessed with the sight of the third heaven, as tired with this clog, could say, 0 wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death ? Blessed Apostle, if thou wert so sensible of thy indwelling corruptions, who knewest nothing by thyself; how must our hearts needs rend with shame and sorrow, who are guilty of so many thousand transgressions, which our impotence can neither avoid nor expiate! How justly do we fear God, since we have deserved to be under so deep a condemnation ! 'What the Fear
II. Thus, therefore, when a man shall have stedof God is.
fastly fixed his eyes upon the dread Majesty of an ever
present God, and upon the deplored Wretchedness of his own condition, he shall be in a meet capacity to receive this Holy Fear, whereof we treat. Neither indeed is it possible, for him, to see that all-glorious presence; and not presently thereupon, find himself affected with a trembling kind of awfulness : neither can he look upon his own vileness, without an humble and bashful dejection of soul : but, when he shall see both these, at once; and compare his own shameful estate, with the dreadful incomprehensible Majesty of the great God; his own impotence, with that al. mighty Power; his own sinfulness, with that infinite purity and Justice; bis own misery, with the glory of that immense Mercy : how can he choose, but be wholly possessed, with a devout shi