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of this life, as well as of the life that is to come'." That is plain. And although Christ revealed his Father's mercies to us, in new expresses and great abundance; yet he took nothing from the world which ever did, in any sense, invite piety, or endear obedience, or co-operate towards felicity. And, therefore, the promises which were made of old, are also presupposed in the new, and mentioned by intimation and implication within the greater. When our blessed Saviour, in seven of the eight beatitudes, had instanced in new promises and rewards, as "heaven, seeing of God, life eternal";" in one of them, to which heaven is as certainly consequent as to any of the rest, he did choose to instance in a temporal blessing, and in the very words of the Old Testament"; to show, that that part of the old covenant, which concerns morality, and the rewards of obedience, remains firm, and included within the conditions of the Gospel.
16. To this purpose is that saying of our blessed Saviour: "Man liveth not by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God":" meaning, that besides natural means, ordained for the preservation of our lives, there are means supernatural and divine. God's blessing does as much as bread: nay, it is "every word proceeding out of the mouth of God;" that is, every precept and commandment of God is so for our good, that it is intended as food and physic to us, a means to make us live long. And therefore God hath done in this as in other graces and issues evangelical, which he purposed to continue in his church for ever he first gave it in miraculous and extraordinary manner, and then gave it by way of perpetual ministry. The Holy Ghost appeared at first like a prodigy, and with miracle; he descended in visible representments, expressing himself in revelations and powers extraordinary: but it being a promise intended to descend upon all ages of the church, there was appointed a perpetual ministry for its conveyance; and still, though without a sign or miraculous representment, it is ministered in confirmation by imposition of the bishop's hands. And thus also, health and long life, which, by way of ordinary benediction, is consequent to piety, faith, and
1 1 Tim. iv. 8.
n Psal. xxxvii. 11.
m Matt. v. 3, &c. Ver. 5.
obedience evangelical, was at first given in a miraculous manner; that so the ordinary effects, being at first confirmed by miraculous and extraordinary instances and manners of operation, might, for ever after, be confidently expected, without any dubitation, since it was in the same manner consigned, by which all the whole religion was, by a voice from heaven, and a verification of miracles, and extraordinary supernatural effects. That the gift of healing, and preservation and restitution of life, was at first miraculous, needs no particular probation. All the story of the Gospel is one entire argument to prove it: and amongst the fruits of the Spirit, St. Paul reckons "gifts of healing, and government, and helps," or exterior assistances and advantages; to represent, that it was intended the life of Christian people should be happy and healthful for ever. Now, that this grace also descended afterwards in an ordinary ministry, is recorded by St. James: "Is any man sick amongst you? let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord P;" that was then the ceremony, and the blessing and effect is still; for "the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up." For it is observable, that the blessing of healing and recovery is not appendant to the annealing, but to the prayer, of the church; to manifest, that the ceremony went with the first miraculous and extraordinary manner; yet that there was an ordinary ministry appointed for the daily conveyance of the blessing the faithful prayers and offices of holy priests shall obtain life and health to such persons who are receptive of it, and in spiritual and apt dispositions. And when we see, by a continual flux of extraordinary benediction, that even some Christian princes are instruments of the Spirit, not only in the government, but in the gifts of healing too, as a reward for their promoting the just interests of Christianity; we may acknowledge ourselves convinced, that a holy life, in the faith and obedience of Jesus Christ, may be of great advantage for our health and life, by that instance to entertain our present desires, and to establish our hopes of life eternal.
P Jam. v. 14, 15.
¶ Futuræ nobis resurrectionis virorem in te Dominus ostendit, ut peccati sciamus esse, quòd cæteri adhuc viventes præmoriuntur in carne; justitiæ, quòd tu adolescentiam in aliena ætate mentiris.-S. Hieron. Paulo Concor diensi Vegeto et Pio Seni, lib. i. c. 3.
17. For I consider, that the fear of God is therefore the best antidote in the world against sickness and death, because it is the direct enemy to sin, which brought in sickness and death; and besides this, that God, by spiritual means, should produce alterations natural, is not hard to be understood by a Christian philosopher, take him in either of the two capacities. 2. For there is a rule of proportion, and analogy of effects, that, if sin destroys not only the soul but the body also, then may piety preserve both, and that much rather: for "if sin," that is, the effects and consequents of sin, "hath abounded, then shall grace superabound;" that is, Christ hath done us more benefit than the fall of Adam hath done us injury; and, therefore, the effects of sin are not greater upon the body, than either are to be restored or prevented by a pious life. 3. There is so near a conjunction between soul and body, that it is no wonder, if God, meaning to glorify both by the means of a spiritual life, suffers spirit and matter to communicate in effects and mutual impresses. Thus the waters of baptism purify the soul; and the holy eucharist, not the symbolical, but the mysterious and spiritual part of it, makes the body also partaker of the death of Christ and a holy union. The flames of hell, whatsoever they are, torment accursed souls; and the stings of conscience vex and disquiet the body. 4. And if we consider, that, in the glories of heaven, when we shall live a life purely spiritual, our bodies also are so clarified and made spiritual, that they also become immortal; that state of glory being nothing else but a perfection of the state of grace, it is not unimaginable, but that the soul may have some proportion of the same operation upon the body, as to conduce to its prolongation, as to an antepast of immortality. 5. For, since the body hath all its life from its conjunction with the soul, why not also the perfection of life, according to its present capacity, that is, health and duration, from the perfection of the soul, I mean, from the ornaments of grace? And as the blessedness of the soul (saith the philosopher) consists in the speculation of honest and just things; so the perfection of the body, and of the whole man, consists in the practice, the exercise, and operations of virtue.
Rom. v. 20.
18. But this problem in Christian philosophy is yet more intelligible, and will be reduced to certain experience, if we consider good life in union and concretion with particular, material, and circumstantiate actions of piety: for these have great powers and influences, even in nature, to restore health and preserve our lives. Witness the sweet sleeps of temperate persons, and their constant appetite; which Timotheus, the son of Conon, observed, when he dieted in Plato's academy with severe and moderated diet: "They that sup with Plato, are well the next day." Witness the symmetry of passions in meek men, their freedom from the violence of enraged and passionate indispositions, the admirable harmony and sweetness of content, which dwells in the retirements of a holy conscience: to which if we add those joys, which they only understand truly, who feel them inwardly, the joys of the Holy Ghost, the content and joys which are attending upon the lives of holy persons, are most likely to make them long and healthful. "For now we live," saith St. Paul, “if ye stand fast in the Lord." It would prolong St. Paul's life to see his ghostly children persevere in holiness; and if we understood the joys of it, it would do much greater advantage to ourselves. But if we consider a spiritual life abstractedly, and in itself, piety produces our life, not by a natural efficiency, but by Divine benediction. God gives a healthy and a long life, as a reward and blessing to crown our piety, even before the sons of men: "For such as be blessed of him, shall inherit the earth; but they that be cursed of him, shall be cut off"." So that this whole matter is principally to be referred to the act of God, either by ways of nature, or by instruments of special providence, rewarding piety with a long life. And we shall more fully apprehend this, if, upon the grounds of Scripture, reason, and experience, we weigh the contrary. "Wickedness" is the way to "shorten our days*."
19. Sin brought death in first; and yet man lived almost a thousand years. But he sinned more, and then death came nearer to him: for when all the world was first drowned in wickedness, and then in water, God cut him shorter by one half, and five hundred years was his ordinary period. And
§ Ὅτι οι παρὰ Πλάτωνι δειπνήσαντες καὶ τῇ ὑστεραίᾳ καλῶς γίνονται. Μήτε ἑορτὴν ἄλλο τι ἡγοῦνται, ἢ τὸ τὰ δέοντα πράττειν. De Atheniensibus dictum apud Thucyd.
* 1 Thess. iii. 8.
Psal. xxxvii. 22.
x Prov. x. 27.
man sinned still, and had strange imaginations, and built towers in the air; and then, about Peleg's time, God cut him shorter by one half yet, two hundred and odd years was his determination. And yet the generations of the world returned not unanimously to God; and God cut him off another half yet, and reduced him to one hundred and twenty years. And, by Moses' time, one half of the final remanent portion was pared away, reducing him to threescore years and ten; so that, unless it be by special dispensation, men live not beyond that term, or thereabout. But if God had gone on still in the same method, and shortened our days as we multiplied our sins, we should have been but as an ephemeron, man should have lived the life of a fly or a gourd; the morning should have seen his birth, his life have been the term of a day, and the evening must have provided him of a shroud. But God, seeing "man's thoughts were only evil continually," he was resolved no longer so to strive with him, nor destroy the kind, but punish individuals only, and single persons; and if they sinned, or if they did obey, regularly their life should be proportionable. This God set down for his rule: "Evil shall slay the wicked person":" and, "He that keepeth the commandments, keepeth his own soul; but he that despiseth his own ways, shall diez."
20. But that we may speak more exactly in this problem, we must observe, that, in Scripture, three general causes of natural death are assigned, nature, providence, and chance. By these three I only mean the several manners of Divine influence and operation. For God only predetermines; and what is changed in the following events by Divine permission, to this God and man, in their several manners, do co-operate. The saying of David concerning Saul, with admirable philosophy describes the three ways of ending man's life. "David said furthermore, As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall descend into battle, and perish." The first is special providence. The second means the term of nature. The third is that which, in our want of words, we call chance or accident, but is, in effect, nothing else but another manner of the Divine providence. That, in all these, sin does interrupt and retrench our lives, is the undertaking of the following periods.
y Psal. xxxiv, 21.
2 Prov. xix. 16.
a 1 Sam. xxvi. 10.