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would express a glorious object, we call it conspicuous; and the less glorious, or more obscure any thing is, the less visible it is, and the nearer it approaches to invisibility ; whence that saying in the common philosophy, “ To see blackness is to see nothing. Arist. in 3. Meteorolog. Cap. de Iride. Whatsoever a glorified eye, replenished with a heavenly vitality and vigor, can fetch in from the many glorified objects that encompass it, we must suppose to concur to this blessedness. Now is the eye satisfied with seeing, which besore never could.
But, it is intellectual sight we are chiefly to consider here, that, whereby we see him that is invisible, and approach the inaccessible light. The word here used, some critics tell us, more usually signifies the sight of the mind. And then, not a casual, superficial glancing at a thing, but contemplation, a studious, designed viewing of a thing when we solemnly compose and apply ourselves thereto; or the vision of prophets, or such as have things discovered to them by divine revelation, (thence called chozim, seers,) which imports (though not a previous design, yet) no less intention of mind in the act itself. And so it more fitly expresses that knowledge which we have, not by discourse and reasoning out of one thing from another, but by immediate intuition of what is nakedly, and at once offered to our view, which is the more proper knowledge of the blessed in heaven. They shall have the glory of God so presented, and their minds so enlarged, as to comprehend much at one view; in which respect they may be said, in a great degree, to know as they are known, inasmuch as the blessed God comprehends all things at once, in one simple act of knowing. Yet that is not to be understood as if the state of glory should exclude all ratiocination, more than our present state doth all intuition, (for first and indemonstrable principles we see by their own light, without illation or argument); nor can it be inconvenient to admit, that while the knowledge the blessed have of God is not infinite, there may be use of their discursive faculty with great fruit and pleasure. Pure intuition of God, without any mixture of reasoning, is acknowledged (by such as are apt enough to be overascribing to the creature) peculiar to God alone. But as the blessed God shall continually afford (if we may speak of continuity in eternity, which yet we cannot otherwise apprehend) a clear discovery of himself, so shall the principal exercise, and felicity of the blessed soul consist in that less laborious and more pleasant way of knowing, a mere admitting or entertaining of those free beams of voluntary light, by a grateful intuition; which way of knowing, the expression of sight, or beholding, doth most incline to ; and that is, we are sure, the ordinary language of Scripture about this matter. Matt. 5. 8. 12. 14') Cognoscere Deum clare et intuitive est proprium et naturale soli Deo, sicut est proprium igni calefacere et soli illuminare : to
know God clearly and intuitively is peculiar and natural to God alone ; as it is peculiar to fire to give warmth and to the sun to give light. Ledesm. de divin. perfect. p. 8. Art. 7.
1. Having considered the 1. ingredient of this blessedness, “ Vision of God's
face,” we pass on to the next, that is, 2, Assimilation to God, or his glory impressed. Wherein it consists, discovered in sundry propositions. ii. The last ingredient, which is, 3, The satisfaction and pleasure which results, stated and opened.
I. And now, upon this vision of the blessed face of God next follows, in the order of discourse,
2. The soul's perfect assimilation unto that revealed glory, or its participation thereof (touching the order of the things themselves have one to another, there will be consideration had in its proper place) and this also must be considered as a distinct and necessary ingredient into the state of blessedness we are treating of. Distinct it is, for though the vision now spoken of, dothe include a certain kind of assimilation in it, as all vision doth, being only a reception of the species or likeness of the object seen; this assimilation we are to speak of, is of a very different kind. That, is such as affects only the visive or cognitive power, and that not with a real change, but intentional only, nor for longer continuance than the act of seeing lasts; but this, is real, total, and permanent. And surely it is of equal necessity to the soul's blessedness, to partake the glory of God, as to behold it; as well to have the divine likeness impressed upon it, as represented to it. After so contagious and over-spreading a depravation as sin bath diffused through all its powers, it can never be happy without a change of its very crasis and temper throughout. A diseased, ulcerous body would take little felicity in gay and glorious sights: no more would all the glory of heaven signify to a sick, deformed, self-loathing soul.
It must therefore be all glorious within, have the divine nature more perfectly communicated, the likeness of God transfused and wrought into it. This is the blessed work begun in regeneration; but how far it is from being perfected, we may soon find by considering, how far short we are of being satisfied in our present state, even in the contemplation of the highest and most excellent objects. How tasteless to our souls are the thoughts of God! How little pleasure do we take in viewing
over his glorious attributes! the most acknowledged and adorable excellencies of his being! And whereunto can we impute it but to this, that our spirits are not yet sufficiently connaturalized to them? Their likeness is not enough deeply instamped on our souls. Nor will this be, till we awake. When we see better we shall become better; when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. But do we indeed pretend to such an expectation? Can we think what God is, and what we are in our present state, and not confess these words to carry with them an amazing sound,“ we shall be like him! How great a hope is this ! How strange an errand hath the gospel into the world! How admirable a design! to transform men and make them like God! Were the dust of the earth turned into stars in the firmament! were the most stupendous, poetical transformations assured realities; what could equal the greatness and the wonder of this mighty change ! Yea, and doth not the expectation of it seem as presumptuous, as the issue itself would be strange ; is it not an over-bold desire; too daring a thought; a thing unlawful to be affected, as it seems impossible to be attained ? It must be acknowledged there is an appearance of high arrogance in aspiring to this, to be like God. And the very wish or thought of being so, in all respects, were not to be entertained without horror. It is a matter therefore that requires some disquisition and explication, wherein that impressed likeness of God consists, which must concur to the saints' blessed
In order hereunto then take the following propositions : (3.) There is a sense wherein to be like God is altogether impossible, and the very desire of it the most horrid wickedness. The prophet in the name of God charges the proud prince of Tyre with this, as an inexpiable arrogance that he did set his heart as the heart of God, and upon this score challenges and enters the list with him: Come, you that would fain be taken for a God, I will make a sorry God of thee before I have done; Because thou hast set thy heart as the heart of God, I will set those upon thee, that shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and that shall defile thy brightness; And what! Wilt thou yet say in the hand of him that slayeth thee, I am a God? Thou shalt be a man, and no God, in the hand of him that slayeth thee; I have spoken it saith the Lord God. Ezek. 28. 6—10. He will endure no such imitation of him, as to be rivalled in the point of his Godhead. This is the matter of his jealousy ; “ They have moved me to jealousy with not-God,” (Deut. 32. 21.) so it is shortly and more smartly spoken in the original text. And see how he displays his threats and terrors hereupon in the following verses. This was the design and inducement of the first transgression, to be as gods. And indeed all sin may be reduced hither. What else is sin (in the most comprehensive notion ) but an undue imitation of God? an exalting of the creature's will
into a supremacy, and opposing it as such to the divine ? To sin, is to take upon us, as if we were supreme, and that there were no Lord over us; it is to assume to ourselves a deity, as if we were under no law or rule; as he is not under any, but what he is to himself. Herein, to be like God, is the very core and malignity of sin.
(2.) There is a just and laudable imitation of God, a likeness to him, that is matter of command, praise and promise, as wherein both the duty, excellency and blessedness of the reasonable creature doth consist; and which is in some respect inseparable from the nature of man. We are required to be followers of God, as dear children, (Eph. 1. 5. Mountai) imitators the word is. David is commended as a man after God's own heart; though but now, we saw in another, with what disdain and indignation it was resented, that he did set his heart, as the heart, of God. The new creature, the new man, the first fruits, as he is called, the flower of the creation, is made after God. Jam. 1. 18. Eph. 4. 24. Saints expect, upon the assurance of his word, to be more fully like him, as we see in the text, and parallel places. Yea, man was made at first with a concreate similitude to God, which we know was the counsel of heaven, and the result and issue of that counsel, Gen. 1. 26. 27. This is evident enough in itself, and needs no more words. But to make a further step in this business, observe next,
(3.) There can be no allowable imitation of any one, but with an exception, as to some peculiarities that may belong to his special station, relation, and other circumstances of the condition in which he is; or with limitation to such things as are of common concernment unto both.. It is commonly observed, how naturally a people form their mánners and fashions to the example of the prince; and there is no well-disposed ruler, but would take it well, to be imitated in things that are of common concernment to him and his subjects, that is, that concern him, not as he is a king, but as he is a man, or a christian. To behold the transforming power of his own example ; where it is such as begets a fair and unreproachful impresst ; how his virtues circulate (his justice, temperance, love of religion,) and produce their likeness among his people; it will be a glory, and cannot but be resented with some delight. We cast an honor upon them whom we imitate: for we acknowledge an excellency in them (which is all that honoring imports in the first notion of it,) and that naturally is received with pleasure. But now, should subjects aspire to
*Regis ad exemplum totus componitur orbis; the whole nation is conformed to the example of the King.
Nam facere rectè bonus princeps faciendo docet. Cumque sic imperio maximus, exemplo major est: for a good prince teaches virtue by his own practice. And thus while he is supreme in authority, he is superior in example. Velleius Paterculus, Rom. Hist. 1. 2.
a likeness to their prince, in the proper appendages and acts of sovereignty; and because he is a glorious king, they will be such too ; and assume the peucliar cognizances of regality ; ascend the throne, sway the sceptre, wear the crown, enact laws, &c. There cannot be more of dutifulness and observance in the former imitation, than there is of disloyalty and treason in this. A father is pleased, to have his son imitate him, within such limits beforementioned; but, if he will govern the family, and fill up his room in all relations, this will never be endured.
(4.) There are some things to be found in the blessed God, not so incommunicable and appropriate, but that his creatures may be said to have some participation thereof with him : and so far, to be truly like him. This participation cannot be univocal; as the nature of a living creature in general, is equal in men and brutes; so, it is a self-evident principle, that inter Deum et creaturam nihil est commune, nothing can be common to God and an inferior being. Nor is it only an equivocal, a participation of the same name, when the natures signified thereby are altogether diverse : but analogical, in as much as the things spoken, under the same names, of God and the creature, have a real likeness, and conveniency in nature with one another: and they are in God, primarily ; in the creature, by dependance, and derivation : in him, essentially, as being his very essence; in them, but as accidents, (many of them) adventitious to their beings; and so while they cannot be said to be the same things in them, as in him, are fitly said to be his likeness.
(5.) This likeness, as it is principally found in man, among all the terrestrial creatures; so hath it, in man, for its seat and subject, his soul or spiritual part. The effects of divine wisdom, power, goodness, are every-where visible, throughout the whole creation; and as there is no effect, but hath something in it, corresponding to its cause (wherein it was the cause ;) so, every creature doth, some way or other, represent God. Some in virtues, some in life, some in being* only. The material world represents him, as a house does the builder; but spiritual beings, as a child does the father sở yag yévos Equev, for we are his offspring. Other creatures (as one, P. Folineus de cognitione Dei, fitly expresses it) carry his footsteps; these, his image ; and that, not as drawn with a pencil, which can only express figure and color; but as represented in a glass, which imitates action and motion.
*Multis enim modis dici res possunt similes Deo; aliæ secundum virtutem, & sapientiam, factæ; quia in ipso est virtus & sapientia non facta ; aliæ in quantum solûm vivunt, quia ille summé & primò vivit ; aliæ in quantum sunt, quia ille summé ? et primitus est. For there are many respects in which creatures may be said to be like God: some with regard to virtue and wisdom, inasmuch as there are in him, virtue and wisdom, uncreated; others merely from their possession or share of life, whereas he possessess life in the highest and first sense ; others in being only, but he is the highest and first of beings. Aug. 80 quest. q. (nibi) 211.