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THE HEAVENLY USE OF EARTHLY THINGS: .
Confifting of many pleasant obfervations, pertinent applications, and se
rious reflections, and each chapter concluded with a divine and fuitable poem. Directing husbandmen to the most excellent improvements of their common employments. Whereunto are added, by way of Appendix, several choice occasional meditations, upon birds, beafts, trees, flowers, rivers, and several other objects; fitted for the help of such as defire to walk with God in all their folitudes, and receffes from the world.
THE EPISTLE DEDICATORY.
To the Worshipful ROBERT SAVERY, and WILLIAM SAVERY, of
discover the world above; Seculum eft fpeculum : and although I am not of their opinion, that say, the Heathens may spell Christ
out of the sun, moon, and stars ; yet this I know, that the irrational and inanimate, as well as rational creatures, have a language; and though not by articulate speech, yet, in a metaphorical fenfe, they preach unto man the wisdom, power, and goodness of God, Rom. i. 20. “ There is (faith the Pfalmist, Psalm xix. 3.) no speech, nor language, « where their voice is not heard.” Or (as Junius renders it) there is no speech, nor words, yet without there, their voice is understood, and their line (i. e. faith Diodate) their writing in gross and plain draughts, is gone out through all the earth.
As man is compounded of a fleshly and spiritual substance, fo God hath endowed the creatures with a spiritual, as well as fleshly usefulnels; they have not only a natural use in alimental and physical refpećts, but also a spiritual use, as they bear the figures and fimilitudes of many sublime and heavenly mysteries. Believe me (faith contemplative Bernard) thou shalt find more in the woods, than in a corner; ftones and trees will teach thee what thou shalt not hear from learned doctors. By a skilful and induftrious improvement of the creaVOL. V. No. 38.
tures (saita Mr Baxter excellently) we might have a fuller taste of Christ and heaven, in every bit of bread that we eat, and in every draught of beer that we drink, than most men have in the use of the facrament.
And as the creatures teach divine and excellent things, to they teach them in a perspicuous and taking manner : Duo illa nos maxime movent, fimilitudo et exemplum, faith the orator*. These two things, fimilitude and example, do especially move us. Notions are more easily conveyed to the understanding, by being first clothed in some apt similitude, and fo represented to the fenfe. And therefore Jefus Christ the great Prophet, delighted much in teaching by parables; and the prophets were much in this way allo, Hof. xii. 10. “I have “ used fimilitudes by the ministry of the prophets." Those that can retain little of a fermon, yet ordinarily retain an apt fimilitude.
I confefs it is an humbling confideration, That man, who at first was led by the knowledge of God to the knowledge of the creature, must now by the creatures learn to know God. That the creatures, (as one faith) like Balaam's afs, should teach their master. But though this be the unhappiness of poor man in his collapsed state, . yet it is now his wisdom to improve such helps ; and whilft others, by the abuse of the creatures, are furthering their perdition, to be, by the spiritual improvement of them, promoting his own falvation.
It is an excellent art to discourse with birds, beasts, and fishes, about sublime and spiritual subjects, and make them answer to your questions; and this may be done, Job xii. 7, 8. “ Ask now the « beasts, and they shall teach thee, and the fowls of the air, and “ they shall tell thee; or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee, " and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.” That is (saith neat and accurate + Caryl) the creatures teach us when we think of them : They teach us, though not formally, yet virtually; they an< swer and resolve the question put to them, though not explicitly to • the ear, yet convincingly to the conscience. So then, we ask the · creatures, when we diligently consider them, when we search out • the perfections and virtues that God hath put into, or stampt up• on them. To set our mind thus upon the creature, is to discourse • with the creature; the questions which man alks of a beast, are I only his own meditations. Again, the creatures teach us, when
we in meditation make our collections, and draw down a demon• ftration of the power, wisdom, and goodness of God in making " them, or the frailty of man in needing them : such conclusions and inferences are the teachings of the creatures.'
Common objects (faith another) may be improved two ways ; viz. In an argumentative, and in a representative way; by reasoning from them, and by viewing the resemblance that is betwixt them and fpiritual matters.
+ Caryl. in loc.
| Dr Manton.