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fed, and established by the laws of the country; and if the wind should turn, and the public authority think fit to establish another religion, they can shift their fail, and steer a contrary courfe

But now, reader, let me tell thee, that if ever God fend forth these two grim ferjeants, his law, and thine own confcience, to arrest thee for thy fins, if thou find thyself dragged a way by them towards that prifon from whence none return, that are once clapt up therein, and that in this unspeakable diftrefs Jefus Chrift manifeft himself to thy foul, and open thy heart to receive him, and become thy furety with God, pay all thy debts, and cancel all thy obligations, thou wilt love him at another rate than others do; his blood will run deeper in thine eyes than it doth in the fhallow apprehenfions of the world; he will be altogether lovely, and thou wilt account all things but dung and drofs in comparison of the excellency of Jefus Christ thy Lord. To work thy heart to this frame, these things are written, which the Lord profper upon thy foul, by the blef fing of his good Spirit upon then.

Bleffed be God for Jefus Chrift.

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The EPISLTE DEDICATORY. To the much honoured, his dear kinfman, Mr. JOHN FLAVEL, and Mr. EDWARD CRISPE, of London, Merchants; and the rest of my worthy friends in London, RATCLIFFE, SHADWELL, and LYMEHOUSE, grace, mercy, and peace,


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Dear Friends,

MONG all the creatures in this lower world, none deferves to be ftiled great, but man; and in man nothing is found worthy of that epithet, but his


" foul *."

The study, and knowledge of his foul was, therefore, always reckoned a rich, and neceffary improvement of time. All ages have magnified thefe two words, "Know thyself, as an oracle "defcending from heaven +."

"No knowledge, faith Bernard +, is better than that where་ by we know ourselves; leave other matters therefore, and "search thyself; run through thyself, make a stand in thy"felf; let thy thoughts, as it were, circulate, begin and end "in thyself. Strain not thy thoughts in vain about other things, thyfelf being neglected.

The study and knowledge of Jefus Chrift muft ftill be allowed to be the most excellent and neceffary: But yet the worth,

* Nihil in terra magnum præter hominem, nihil in homine præter mentem. Favorin.


-E cælo defcendit, vai cauro. Juvenal. Sat. 11. V. 27. ‡ Nulla fcientia melior illa, qua homo novit feipfum; relinque ergo cætera, et teipfum difcute: per te curre, in te confifte; a te asipiat cogitatie tua, et in te finiatur,

and neceffity of Chrift is unknown to men, till the value, wants, and dangers of their own fouls be firft discovered to them.

The difaffectedness, and averfation of men to the study of their own fouls, is the more to be admired; not only because of the weight and neceffity of it, but the alluring pleafure, and fweetness that is found therein. What Cardan fpeaks, is experimentally felt by many, "That fcarce any thing is more

pleasant and delectable to the foul of man, than to know "what he is, what he may, and fhall be; and what those di"vine and fupreme things are, which he is to enjoy after death, "and the viciffitudes of this prefent world." For we are crea tures confcious to ourselves of an immortal nature, and that we have fomething about us which muft overlive this mortal flesh, and therefore is ever and anon fome way or other hinting, and intimating to us its expectations of, and defignation for a better life than that it now lives in the body, and that we shall not ceafe to be, when we ceafe to breathe.

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And certainly, my friends, difcourfes of the foul, and its immortality; of heaven, and of hell, the next, and only receptacles of unbodied fpirits, were never more feasonable, and neceffary than in this atheistical age of the world, wherein all ferious piety, and thoughts of immortality are ridiculed, and hiffed out of the company of many: As if thofe old condemned Heretics, the Omletuxitai, who afferted the corruptibility, and mortality of the foul as well as body, had been again revived in our days.

And as the Atheism of fome, fo the tepidity, and unconcerned carelesnefs of the most, needs and calls for fuch potent remedies, as difcourfes of this kind do plentifully afford. I dare appeal to your charitable judgments, whether the converfations and difcourfes of the many, do indeed look like a ferious pursuit of heaven, and a flight from hell?

Long have my thoughts bended towards this great and excellent fubject, and many earneft defires I have had, (as I believe all thinking perfons must needs have) to know what I fhall be when I breathe not. But when I had engaged my meditations about it, two great rubs oppofed the farther progress of my thoughts therein: Namely,

I. The difficulty of the fubject I had chofen: And

II. The distractions of the times in which I was to write upon it.

|| Quid jucundius quam feire quid fimus, quid fuerimus, quid erimus, et cum his etiam divina atque fuprema illa poft obitum mundique viciffitudines.

I. As for the fubject, such is the fubtility and fublimity of its' nature, and fuch the knotty controverfies in which it is involved, that it much better deferves that inscription, than Minerva's temple at Saum did, *" Never did any mortal reveal "me plainly."


"It is but little that the most clear, and fharp-fighted do dif"cern of their own fouls, now in the state of composition; and "what can we pofitively, and distinctly know of the life they "live in the state of feparation? The darkness in which these things are involved doth greatly exercise, even the greatest "wits, and frequently elude and fruftrate the most generous attempts +." Many great fcholars, whofe natural and acquired abilities fingularly furnished and qualified them to make a clearer discovery, have laboured in this field, ufque ad fudorem et pallorem, even to sweat and palenefs, and done little more but intangle themselves, and the fubject more than before; this cannot but difcourage new attempts.


And yet, without fome knowledge of the hability, and subjective capacity of our fouls to enjoy the good of the world to come, even in a state of abfence from the body, a principal relief must be cut off from them, under the great, and manifold trials they are to encounter in this evil world.

As for myself, I affure you, I am deeply fenfible of the inequality of my fhoulders to this burden; and have often thought (fince I undertook it) of that grave and neceffary caution of the poet ‡, to weild and poise the burden as porters use to do, before I undertook it. Zuinglius blamed Caroloftadius (as fome may do me) for undertaking the controverfy of that age; because, faith he, Non habet fatis humerorum; his shoulders are too weak for it.


And yet I know mens labours profper not, according to the art and elegancy of the composure, but according to the divine

* Τον εμον πεπλον εδεις πωθνητος απεκάλυψενα

† Animam præfentem mentis acie vix, aut ne vix quidem assequimur; fed qualis fit futura, quomodo indagabimus? Laborant hic maxima ingenia, et caligo conatus etiam generofos non raro eludit. Jof. Stern. de morte, cap. 20.

Sumite materiam veftris, qui fcribitis, æquam,
Viribus et verfate diu, quid ferre recufent,
Quid valeant humeri-
Examine well, ye writers, weigh with care
What fuits your genius, what your strength can bear;
For when a well-proportion'd theme you chufe,
Nor words nor method will their aid refuse: -

Horat, de arte poet. 1. 37

bleffing which pleafeth to accompany them. Ruffinus tells us of a learend philosopher at the Council of Nice, who stourly defended his thefis against the greatest wits, and scholars there, and yet was at laft fairly vanquished by a man of no extraordinary parts of which conquest the philofopher gave this candid, and ingenuous account; Against words (faid he) I oppofed words; and what was spoken, I overthrew by the art of Speaking: But when, instead of words, power came out of the mouth of the fpeaker, words could no longer withstand truth; nor man oppose the power of God.

O that my weak endeavours might profper, under the influence of the like fpirit, upon the hearts of them that shall read this inartificial, but well-meant difcourfe.

I am little concerned about the contempts and cenfures of fa• ftidious readers. I have refolved to fay nothing that exceeds fo briety, nor to provoke any man, except my diffent from his unproved dictates muit be his provocation.

Perhaps there are fome doubts, and difficulties relating to this fubject, which will never fully be folved till we come to heaven. For man, by the fall, being lefs than himself, doth not understand himself, nor will ever perfectly do fo, until he be fully restored to himself; which will not be whilft he dwells in a body of fin and death. And yet it is to me past doubt, that this, as well as other fubjects, might have been much more cleared than it is, if inftead of the proud contendings of masterly wits for victory, all had humbly, and peaceably applied themselves to the impartial fearch of truth.

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Truth, like an orient pearl in the bottom of a river, would have discovered itfelf by its native luftre, and radiancy, had not the feet of Heathen philofophers, cunning Atheists, and daring fchool divines, difturbed and fouled the ftream.

II. And as the difficulties of the subject are many, fo many have been the interruptions and avocations I have met with, whilft it was under my hand: Which I mention for no other end but to procure a more favourable cenfure from you, if it appears lefs exact than you expected to find it. Such as it is, I do with much refpect and affection, tender to your hands, humbly requesting the bleffing of the Spirit may accompany it to your hearts. If you will but allow yourfelves to think clofe to the matter before you, I doubt not but you may find somewhat in it apt, both to inform your minds, and quicken your affections. I know you have a multiplicity of bufinefs under your hands, but yet I hope your great concern makes all others daily to give place; and that how clamorous, and importunate foever the af

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