Obrazy na stronie

can hold it; none can limit it. But, if you regard the immortal and immaterial substance of it, it is fast locked up within these walls of clay, till the day of my changing come.

Even as the closest captive may write letters to his remotest friends, whilst his person is in lurance; I have too much reason to acknowledge my native gaol, and feel the true symptoms of it to my pain. What darkness of sorrow, have I here found! what little ease of melancholic lodgings! what manacles and shackles of cramps ! yea, what racks of torturing convulsions !

And, if there be others, that find less misery in their prison; yet, there is no good soul, but finds equal restraint. That spiritual substance, which is imprisoned within us, would fain be flying up to that heaven whence it descended : these walls of Aesh forbid that evolation, as Socrates called it of old; and will not let it out, till the God of Spirits, who placed it there, shall unlock the doors and free the prisoner by death. He, that infused life into Lazarus, that he might call him from the prison of the grave, must take life from us, when he calls us out of this prison of Hesh. I desire to be loosed, and to be wih Christ, saith the Apostle; as some versions express it. While we are chained to this fesh, we can have no passage to heaven, no free conversation with our Saviour; although it was the singular privilege of that great Doctor of the Gentiles, that he was in heaven before his dissolution : whether in the body, or out of the body, he knew not. How far that rapture extended, whether to both soul and body, if he knew not, how should we? But, this we know, that such ecstasy and vision was in him, without separation of the soul from the body, which another should hope for in vain. And, for him, so he saw this glory of paradise, that he could not yet enjoy it.

Before he or we can be blessed with the fruition of Christ, we must be loosed, that is, freed from our clog, and our chain of this mortal body. What, but our prison walls, can hinder us here, from a free

prospect? What, but these walls of Aesh, can hinder me from a clear vision of God ? I must now, for the time, see as I may. Nothing can enter into my soul, but what passes through my senses; and partakes, in some sort, of their earthliness : when I am freed froin them, I shall see as I am seen; in an abstracted and heavenly way, so as one spirit apprehends another. I do now, at the best, see those spiritual objects darkly, by the eye of faith, as in a glass; and that, not one of the cleanest neither'; alas, what dim representations are these, that I can attain to here, of that Majesty, whose sight shall make me blessed ! I shall once see as I am seen, face to face. The face of my glorified soul shall see the face of that allglorious Deity; and, in that sight, be eternally happy. It is enough for a prisoner in this dungeon of clay, to know of and fore-expect such felicity, whereof these earthly gyves render him as yet uncapable.

2. Woe is me! how many prisons do we pass ! So soon as ever this divine soul is infused into this flesh, it is a

prisoner: neither can any more pass out of this skin, till this frame of nature be demolished.

And now, as the soul of this embryon is instantly a prisoner to the body, so the body is also a prisoner in the womb wherein it is formed. What darkness, what closeness, what uneasiness, what nuisance is there, in this dungeon of nature ! There he must lie, in an uncouth posture, for his appointed month; till, the native bonds being loosed and the doors forced open, he shall be, by a helpful obstetrication, drawn forth into the larger prison of the l'orld.

There, indeed, he hath elbow room enough; but all that wide scope cannot free him from a true incarceration.

Who knows not, that there are many differences and latitudes of restraint ? A Simeon may imprison and enchain himself in the compass of a pillar; not allowing himself the ease of his whole dimensions: Peter may be locked up in a larger gaol, betwixt his two Leopards, as that Father terms them: St. Paul may be two years allowed to be a prisoner in his own hired house, but under the guard of his keeper and not without his chain ; Acts xxviii. 31: there are those, who, upon heinous and dangerous occasions, may be kept close under many locks: there are prisoners at large, who have the liberty of the Tower; yet even these last, notwithstanding the allowance of spacious walks and fresh gardens, are no other, than acknowledged prisoners. Such is my condition to the world, when I am at my fullest liberty.

It is true, that when I look back to the straitness of my first and native prison, and compare it with the large extent of that wide world, into which I am brought, I may well, with Isaac's herdsmen say, Rehoboth, for now the Lord hath made me room ; Gen. xxvi. 22: but, when I compare that world wherein I am, with that whereto I aspire, and which I know to be above, and look to enjoy; I can see nothing here, but mere prison walls, and profess my life to be no other than a perpetual durance.

If Varro said, of old, that the world was no other than “the great house of little man *,” I shall be bold to add what kind of house it is : it is no other, than his prison; yea, his dungeon.

Far be it from me, to disparage the glorious work of my Omnipotent Creator. I were not worthy to look upon this large and glittering roof of heaven, nor to see the pleasant varieties of these earthly landscapes, if I did not adore that infinite power and wisdom, which appears in this goodly and immense fabric; and confess the marvellous beauty of that majestic and transcendent workmanship: rather, when I see the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained, I say, with the Psalmist, Lord, what is man? Ps. vii.

3, 4.

But, o God, it is no dishonour to thee, that, though this be a fair house, yet thou hast one so much better than it, as a palace is beyond a gaol. This beauty may please ; but that ravisheth my

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soul: here is light; but dim and dusky, in respect of that inaccessible light, wherein thou dwellest : here is a glorious sun, that illuminateth this inferior world ; but thou art the Sun, who enlightenest that world above; thou, to whom thy created sun is but a shadow. Here we converse with beasts, or, at the best, with men; there, with blessed souls and heavenly angels : here, some frivolous delights are intermixed with a thousand vexations; there, in thy presence, is the fulness of joy.

So then, let the sensual heart mis-place his paradise here in the world, it shall not pass for other with me, than my prison. How can it? Why should it? for what other terms do I find here?

What blind light looks in here, at these scant loop-holes of my soul! Yea, what darkness of ignorance rather possesses me! What bolts and shackles of heavy crosses, do I bear about me! How am I fed here, with the bread of affliction ! How am I watched and beset with evil spirits ! How contumeliously traduced! How disdainfully looked upon! How dragging the same chain with the worst malefactors ! How disabled to all spiritual motions ! How restrained from that full liberty of enjoying my home, and my God in it, which I daily expect in my dissolution? !

When, therefore, I am released from these walls, I am still imprisoned in larger; and so shall be, till the Lord of the Spirits of all Flesh, who put me here, shall set me free: and all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till this my changing come.

SECT. V. You see then, by this time, how little reason I have, to be too much troubled with this imprisonment, or my friends for me. But, indeed, there are some sorts of prisoners, which neither you nor í can have tears enough to bewail. And those, especially, of two kinds : the one, those, that are too much affected with an outward bondage: the other, those, that are no whit affected with a spiritual.

1. In the first rank are they, that sink under the weight of their irons. Poor impotent souls, that, groaning under the cruelty of a Turkish thraldom, or a Spanish Inquisition, want faith to bear them out against the impetuous violences of their tormentors.

I sorrow for their sufferings; but, for their fainting, more. Could they see the crown of glory, which the Righteous Judge holds ready for their victorious patience, they could not but contemn pain, and all the pomp of death ; and confess, that their light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. But, alas, it is the weakness of their eyes, that they only look at the things that are seen ; close walls, heavy fetters, sharp scourges, merciless racks, and other dreadful engines of torture: and see not the things which are not seen, the glorious reward of their victory, Blessedness.

Had they had Stephen's eyes, they would have emulated his mar. tyrdom. Surely, whosoever shall but read the story of the mother and the seven brethren in the Maccabees; and that of the forty Armenian martyrs frozen to death, reported by Gaudentius; and shall there see the fainting revolter dying uncomfortably in the bath, while the other thirty and nine, together with their new-converted keeper, are crowned by an angel from heaven; cannot choose, except he have nothing but ice in his bosom, but find in himself a disposition, emulous of their courage, and ambitious of their honour,

But, alas, whatever our desires and purposes may be, it is not for every one to attain to the glory of martyrdom. This is the highest pitch, that earthly Saints are capable of, He must be more than a man, whom pain and death cannot remove from his holy resolutions; and especially the lingering execution of both.

It is well, if an Age can yield one Mole. In what terms shall I commemorate thee, () thou Blessed Confessor, the great example of invincible constancy, in these backsliding times, if at least thy rare perseverance be not more for wonder, than imitation : whom thirty years' tedious durance, in the Inquisitory at Rome, could not weary out of thy sincere profession of the Evangelical Truth? All this while, thou wert not allowed the speech, the sight of any, but thy persecutors. Here was none to pity thee; none to exhort thee. If either force of persuasion, or proffers of favour, or threats of ex. tremity could have wrought thee for thy perversion, thou hadst not at last died ours.

Blessed be the God of all Comfort, who, having stood by thee and made thee faithful to the death, hath now given thee a crowu of life and immortality; and left thee a noble pattern of Christian fortitude, so much more remarkable, as less frequently followed.

Whether I look into the former or present times, I find the world full of shrinking professors.

Amongst the first Christians, persecution easily discovered four sorts of cowardly renegadoes : the first and worst, whom they justly styled Idolaters; that yielded to all the public forms of worship to those false gods: the second, Sacrificers; who condescended so far as to some kind of immolation unto those feigned deities, or at least to a tasting of those things which were offered: the third, Incensers; such as, with Marcellinus himself, came on so far as to cast some grains of incense into the idol's fire: the last were their Libellaticks; such as privately by themselves, or by some allowed proxy, denied the faith, yet with their money bought out this ignominy and sin of any public act of idolatry.

Not to speak of those many thousands, which fell down before Solyman the Second; and held up their finger, to signify their couversion to his Mahometism, for ease of their taxations; how many do we hear of daily of all nations, and some, which I shame and grieve to say, of our own, who yield to receive circumcision, and ro renounce their Saviour!

Oh, the lamentable condition of those distressed Christians! If constant to their profession, they live in a perpetual purgatory of torment: if revolting, they run into the danger of an everlasting damnation in hell. Even this gentle restraint puts me into the meditation of their insupportable durance. Why do not all Christian hearts bleed, with the sense of their deplorable estate? Why is not our compassion heightened, according to the depth of their peril and misery? What are our bowels made of, if they yearn not at their inexpressible calamity? Ye rich merchants, under whose employment many of these poor souls have thus unhappily miscarried, how can you bless yourselves in your bags, while you see the members of Christ, your Saviour, thus torn from him, for want of a petty ransom? Ye eminent persons, whom God hath advanced to power and greatness, how can you sleep quietly upon your pillows, while

you think of the cold and hard lodgings, the hungry bellies, the naked and wealed backs of miserable Christians? Lastly, what fervent prayers should we all, that profess the dear name of Christ, pour out unto the God of Heaven, for the strengthening of the faith and patience of these afflicted souls, against the assaults of violence; and for their happy and speedy deliverance, out of their woeful captivity!

2. These prisoners are worthy of our deep compassion; as those, who are too sensible of their own misery. Others there are, who are so much more worthy of greater pity, by how much they are less apprehensive of their need of it: plausible prisoners, under a spiritual

tyranny; whose very wills are so captived to the powers of darkness, that, to choose, they would be no other than bondmen: pleasing themselves in those chains, whose weight is enough to sink their souls into hell.

Such are they, who have yielded themselves over to be enthralled by any known sin. No men under heaven do so much applaud themselves, in the conceit of their liberty ; done so great slaves, as they. If the very Stoic Philosophers had not enough evinced this truth, Divinity should.

Indeed, the world is a worse kind of Algiers ; full of miserable captives. Here lies one, so fettered in lust, that he rots again; there, another, so laden with drunken excess, that he can neither go por stand, and in very deed is not his own man: here, one, so pinched with golden fetters, that he can neither eat nor sleep, por at all enjoy himself; there, another, so pined with envy, that he is forced to feed on bis own heart: here, one, so tormented with anger, that he is stark mad for the time, and cares not how he mischieves himself in a furious desire to hurt others; there, another, so racked with ambition, that he is stretched beyond his own length, and lives in the pain of a perpetual self-extension.

These, and all others of this kind, are most miserable prisoners, chained up for everlasting darkness; so much more worthy of our pity, as they are less capable of their own. Spend your compassion, if you please, upon these deplorable subjects : but, for me, wish me, if you will, as free from any imputation of evil, as I was

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