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THE EYE OF GOD God cannot be mocked, saith the Apostle, nor God cannot be blinded. He seeth all the way, and at thy last
gasp he will make thee see too through the multiplying glass, the spectacle of Desperation. Canst thou hope that that God that seeth this dark earth, through all the vaults and arches of the several spheres of Heaven, that seeth thy body through all thy stone walls, and seeth thy soul through that which is darker than all those, thy corrupt flesh - canst thou hope that that God can be blinded with drawing a curtain between thy sin and him? When he is all eye, canst thou hope to put out that eye with putting out a candle?
0.336-7) Fifty Sermons, p. 337.
ANGELS That there are distinct orders of Angels, assuredly I believe, but what they are, I cannot tell. ... They are Creatures that have not so much of a body as flesh is, as froth is, as a vapour is, as a sigh is; and yet with a touch they shall moulder a rock into less atoms than the sand that it stands upon, and a millstone into smaller flour than it grinds. They are Creatures made, and yet not a minute elder than when they were first made, if they were made before all measure of time began; nor, if they were made in the beginning of time, and be now six thousand years old, have they one wrinkle of age in their face, one sob of weariness in their lungs. They are primogeniti Dei, God's eldest sons; they are super-elementary meteors; they hang between the nature of God and the nature of man, and are of middle condition.
And (if we may offencelessly express it so) they are aenigmata divina, the Riddles of Heaven and perplexities of speculation.
Fifty Sermons, p. 7. TERRIBLE THINGS In the frame and constitution of all religions, these materials, these elements have ever entered; some words of a remote signification, not vulgarly understood, some actions of a kind of half-horror and amazement, some places of reservation and retiredness, and appropriation to some sacred persons, and inaccessible to all others. Not to speak of the services and sacrifices of the Gentiles, and those self-manglings and lacerations of the Priests of Isis, and of the Priests of Baal (faintly counterfeited in the scourgings and flagellations in the Roman Church) in that very discipline which was delivered from God by Moses, the service was full of mystery and horror and reservations; "by terrible things” (sacrifices of blood in manifold effusions) “God answered them” then. So the matter of doctrine was delivered mysteriously, and with much reservation, and in in-intelligibleness. ... God says, “I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes by the ministry of the Prophets." They were visions, they were similitudes, not plain and evident things, obvious to every understanding, that God led his people by....
God in the Old, and Christ in the New Testament, hath conditioned his doctrine, and his religion (that is, his outward worship) so as that evermore there shall be preserved a majesty, and a reverential fear, and an awful discrimination of divine things from the civil, and evermore something reserved to be en
quired after, and laid up in the mouth of the priest, that the people might acknowledge an obligation from him in the exposition and application thereof. Nay, this way of “answering by terrible things” (that is, by things that imprint a holy horror and a religious reverence) is much more in the Christian Church than it can have been in any other religion.
Eighty Sermons, p. 690.
PRAYER WHEN we consider with a religious seriousness the manifold weaknesses of the strongest devotions in time of prayer, it is a sad consideration. I throw myself down in my chamber, and I call in and invite God and his angels thither; and when they are there, I neglect God and his angels for the noise of a fly, for the rattling of a coach, for the whining of a door; I talk on in the same posture of praying, eyes lifted up, knees bowed down, as though I prayed to God; and if God or his angels should ask me when I thought last of God in that prayer, I cannot tell; sometimes I find I had forgot what I was about, but when I began to forget it I cannot tell. A memory of yesterday's pleasures, a fear of to-morrow's dangers, a straw under my knee, a noise in mine ear, a light in mine eye, an anything, a nothing, a fancy, a chimera in my brain, troubles me in my prayer.
Ibid., p. 820. UNCONSCIOUS PRAYER That soul that is accustomed to direct herself to God upon every occasion; that, as a flower at sunrising, conceives a sense of God in every beam of his, and spreads and dilates itself towards him in a thank
fulness, in every small blessing that he sheds upon her; that soul, that as a flower at the sun's declining, contracts and gathers in and shuts up herself as though she had received a blow, whensoever she hears her Saviour wounded by an oath or blasphemy or execration; that soul, who, whatsoever string be strucken in her, base or treble, her high or her low estate, is ever tuned toward God — that soul prays sometimes when it does not know that it prays.
Eighty Sermons, p. 90.
WHEN I CONSIDER WHEN I consider what I was in my parents' loins — a substance unworthy of a word, unworthy of a thought — when I consider what I am now ume of diseases bound up together – a dry cinder, ... an aged child, a grey-haired infant, and but the ghost of mine own youth; when I consider what I shall be at last, by the hand of death in my grave first but putrefaction, and then not so much as putrefaction I shall not be able to send forth so much as an ill air, not any air at all, but shall be all insipid, tasteless, savourless dust; for a while all worms, and after a while not so much as worms, sordid, senseless, nameless dust; — when I consider the past and present and future state of this body in this world, I am able to conceive, able to express, the worst that can befall it in nature, and the worst that can be inflicted upon it by man or fortune: but the least degree of glory that God hath prepared for that body in heaven, I am not able to express, not able to conceive.
Ibid., p. 223.
LET ME WITHER Let me wither and wear out mine age in a discomfortable, in an unwholesome, in a penurious prison, and so pay my debts with my bones, and recompense the wastefulness of my youth with the beggary of mine age; let me wither in a spittle under sharp and
; foul and infamous diseases, and so recompense the wantonness of my youth with that loathsomeness in mine age; yet, if God withdraw not his spiritual blessings, his grace, his patience; if I can call my suffering his doing, my passion his action - all this
is temporal, is but a caterpillar got into one corner of my garden, but a mildew fallen upon one acre of my corn; the body of all, the substance of all is safe, as long as the soul is safe. But when I shall trust to that which we call a good spirit, and God shall deject and impoverish and evacuate that spirit; when I shall rely upon a moral constancy, and God shall shake and enfeeble and enervate, destroy and demolish that constancy; when I shall think to refresh myself in the serenity and sweet air of a good conscience, and God shall call up the damps and vapours of Hell itself, and spread a cloud of diffidence, and an impenetrable crust of desperation upon my conscience; when health shall fly from me, and I shall lay hold upon riches to succour me and comfort me in my sickness, and riches shall fly from me, and I shall snatch after favour and good opinion to comfort me in my poverty; when even this good opinion shall leave me, and calumnies and misinformations shall prevail against me; when I shall need peace, because there is none but thou, O Lord, that should stand for me, and then shall find that all the wounds that have come from