The Sinfullnesse of the Imaginative Power of the Soul.
This Text explained and vindicated against D. J. Taylor, Grotius, the Papists and Socinians.
GEN. 6. 5.
WE have at large discovered the universal pollution of the Affections, which we have by nature, and handled them in this order (though the Doctrine about the sinfulnesse of the Imaginative power should have preceded) because they have such an immedi∣ate connexion with the will, belonging to the appetitive part of a man.
The next seat of original sinne in man I shall consider of, is the Fancy, which we shall find to be instrumental to great iniquities, because in it self it is polluted sinfully. To which truth this Text will give in a full and pregnant testimony.
To open which you must understand, that we have here related the Cause of that universal and dreadfull judgement which God brought upon the whole world; The cause was that universal and desperate wickednesse, whereby all flesh had corrupted their wayes; The long-suffering of God would bear no longer, especially they being so often admonished by Noah the preacher of righteousnesse: Thus the general actual impieties every where abounding on the face of the earth, is the proxim and immediate cause of drowning of the world.
Secondly, We have the remote and mediate cause, which is internal, and that is, the universal sinfulnesse of every mans heart by nature, which is alwayes emptying it self into sinfull thoughts and lusts, so that it is never quiet, or like a fountain sealed up, but diffusing it self into poisonous streams; There are always sparks flying out of this furnace.
Now this natural pollution is described in the most emphatical manner that can be.
There are some who complain, that we are too tragical in explaining the nature of original sinne, that we aggravate it too much; but if we consider the scope of the holy Ghost in this place, we will easily be perswaded that none can say enough in this particular. For
Page 349 1. Here is the heart said to be evil, that which is the very life of man, and is the fountain of all actions and motions; Not the eyes or the tongue, but the heart, which is the whole of man, which implieth also, that he sinneth not by example and outward temptation only, but from an inward principle.
2. In this heart that is said to be evil, which we would think is not capable of sinne, at least of very little, the thoughts, not onely the affections, or the will, the appetitive parts of the soul, but the sublime and apprehensive.
3. He doth not only say the thoughts, but the imagination, the very first ri∣sing and framing of them: It is a Metaphor from the Potter who doth frame his vessels upon a wheel in what shape he pleaseth: Thus the heart of man is continu∣ally shaping and effigiating some thoughts or other: Now these are not onely sinfull when formed, and it may be consented unto, but the very first fashion∣ing of them, even as they rise immediately from the heart are sinfull: If we ex∣plain it as others do, who observe this word signifieth to frame a thing with cu∣rious art and industry, then it aggravateth likewise, informing of us, that those thoughts which are polished by us in the most accurate manner they are altogether evil.
4. Here is the Vniversality, Every Imagination; In those millions and milli∣ons of thoughts which arise in a man, like the motes in the air, there is not one good thought, all and every imagination.
5. Here is not onely the extension of this sinne to every thought, but the in∣tention likewise, It is onely evil, there is no good at all in it; Godly men in their best actions have some sinfulnesse adhering to them; There is some water in their best wine, but here is all drosse and no gold at all, only evil.
Lastly, Here is the Aggravation of it from the perpetuity; It is thus only evil, and that continually; Thus the holy Ghost, which is truth it self represents our Blackmore natures to humble and debase man, as also to justifie God under any effects of his wrath and vengeance that he may bring upon us; How wretched then are the attempts of some Writers, who lay out the utmost of their power and wit, to make this sinne nothing at all, (as Doctor Taylor, and as Papists) or to have very little guilt in it? If you say, This Text speaketh of actual sinnes, of evil imaginations, I grant it, but as flowing from original pollution, it speak∣eth of bitter fruit, but as flowing from that bitter root within; And 〈…〉 the Scripture use to speak of this sinne commonly, as putting it self 〈…〉 immediate evil motions; because though original sinne be not peccatum〈◊〉 yet it is peccatum actuosum (as hath been said;) It is an acting, and an active sinne, though not actual. Pererius would evade this Text by having it to be an hyperbole, or else to be true only of some particular wicked men, the Gyants in those dayes; As for the hyperbole, which both Papists and Socinians so often flie unto, when the Scripture doth intend to exagerate this sinne, we shall easily in time convince of the falshood and vanity of such an exception.
And as for the second particular, we will readily grant, That the actual impiety of all men generally was exceedingly heightned, so that this gave the occasion to mention that internal corruption which is upon all mankind, but yet we must necessarily say, that besides those actual impieties, original sinne is also aimed at as being the cause of them; for the scope of Moses is to give an universal cause of that universal judgement; seeing therefore the deluge drowned Infants as well as grown persons, and they could not be guilty of actual impieties, it remain∣eth that the native pollution they were born in, was the cause of their destruction; and indeed original sinne did greatly aggravate those actual wickednesses, for hereby was demonstrated the incurableness of their natures; No patience, no mercy would do them any good; for they are not only evil, but their hearts the fountain of all was evil likewise, and then how could grapes ever grow from such thorns? Neither may we limit it, (as some would) to particular great Page 350 sinners, who then lived, because Chap. 8. 21. we have the same sentence in effect repeated, when yet the wicked men of the world were destroyed, when those eight persons onely were alive and preserved, God giveth this character of mans nature. Besides, it is spoken indefinitely, the imagination of mans heart, not of those men, or of such particular men.
Why this very reason should be used, Gen. 8. 21. that God would not destroy the world any more, which is in this Text brought for the destruction of it, is to be shewed when we come to treat of the effects of original sinne.
In the mean time, Let us consider what a late Writer (Doctor Jer. Taylor of Repent. Chap. 6.) who useth to sharpen his weapons at the Philistims forges, the Papists, and commonly the worst of them, as also the Socinians, with whom we reckon Grotius, from these (I say) he delivereth his poisonous asser∣tions:
First, It is pretended, That the Scripture maketh this their own fault, and not Adam's because vers. 12. it is said, All flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. But
This is very feeble and weak, for it is willingly acknowledged, that the increase of actual wickedness was the immediate and proxime cause of this general judge∣ment, had not their iniquities in that age risen higher, and cried louder for ven∣geance then ordinarily sinne did, we may conceive God would not have pro∣ceeded to such an unheard of, and extraordinary judgement: Therefore vers. 5. it is said, God saw the wickednesse of man was great in the earth; The Hebrew word comprehends both the greatness in quantity, it was exceedingly multiplied as also in quality; They were enormous sinnes, all this the Text is clear for, but this is not all; The Text goeth higher, to aggravate these impieties from the fountain, which is a corrupt nature, even as David, Psal. 51. doth heighten his actual wickedness from the sinfull nature he was born in; Therefore both actual sins, as the fruit and original sinne as the root, is here made the cause of that uni∣versal judgement.
The second Exception, to which the third may be adjoyned, is, That this cor∣ruption is supposed by those who hold it to be natural and unavoidable, and therefore God could no more punish mankind for that, then for sleeping or being hungry; Be∣••〈…〉 by were eight persons excepted, when all were alike, Is not this a respect of 〈…〉
Answer this, Here is either grosse ignorance, or else a wilfull mistake about the word natural and unavoidable: We grant it to be natural and unavoidable in some sense, but not in that which he taketh it, as if it were natural like sleep or hunger, which are not culpable, or have any guilt in them; But of this largely in its time, because the Adversaries do usually in an odious manner represent this inevitablenesse of sinning unto their Reader, though we say voluntarily contra∣cted at first, and seem much to triumph in it.
As for the other addition [Eight persons were excepted] It is answered, That those who were godly then, and escaped that judgement, they were delivered from the dominion and guilt of this original sinne, and therefore it being pardon∣ed to them, though the remnants in some measure continued in them, they were not involved in this judgement.
Lastly, What ignorance is manifested in saying, [It must be respect of persons] If God amongst those that were equally guilty spared some, and rejected others; For he may learn out of Aquinas and his followers, That respect of persons can∣not be in matters of liberality and munificence, for where that is, there is some justice and debt supposed. Now if God had not saved any one man, more then any apostate Angel, I suppose he would not have charged God with in justice.
Thirdly, It is questioned, If it were the natural corruption God complained of, Page 351 Why did he it but thus, as if it were a new thing?
It is answered, The though original corruption was in all mankind, as soon as ever the Image of God was lost, and therefore Seth is said to beget his sonne after his own likeness sinfull and mortal, yet because it did not break out into those violent torrents of iniquity before, as it did at this time; Hence it was that God did more severely take notice of it, as putting it self forth in such bitter effects.
Fourthly, It is objected, That Noah the Preacher of righteousnesse was sent to draw the world off from that which was likely to destroy it, but no man can think, he would dehort them from being guilty of original sinne.
To this we also answer, That as for being guilty of original sinne in our birth, and how that can be our sinne, then, when we were not capable of a precept, I have at large treated of it, and so shall not actum ager•• as also how farre ori∣ginal sinne is to be repented of; Onely to the present Objection we say, That though the Ministry be not to hinder us from being born in sinne, yet it is to be instrumental in working our Regeneration (which great gift of God those that deny original sinne must also necessarily deny) which is a subduing and mortify∣ing of original sinne in some degree, and is a renovation of all those parts which original sinne had corrupted; For Regeneration (John 3.) is proved neces∣sary from the supposition of original sinne, Whatsoever is born of the flesh is flesh.
The Text then thus vindicated from corrupt glosses, for the imagination and devices of many men, though learned, have been very evil, and that continually in the interpretation of it; I shall only adde this, That although by the imagina∣tion of the thoughts be chiefly meant the working of the mind, and the under∣standing, yet because the imaginative power or phantasie in a man, is immediate∣ly subservient to the understanding in its operations, and is therefore called ratio imperfecta, imperfect reason, and Cogitativa facultas, the cogitative faculty in the soul, I shall therefore treat of it only from this verse, for the original pollu∣tion of the understanding hath been abundantly discovered. From the Text then observe,
That that power of the soul, whereby we imagine or phansie any thing, is univer∣sally corrupted. It imagineth only evil, and that continually; we have sinfull fancies as well as sinfull affections.
Of the Nature of the Imagination in a man.
BEfore we insist on the particular pollutions thereof, let us briefly take notice of the Nature of this Imagination in man. And
First, It is taken two wayes; For either by imagination we mean the power it self, whereby we do imagine, or the acting thereof, even as the word Wib is sometimes taken for the power, and sometimes for the act, so is fancy and ima∣gination.
Secondly, Consider, That Philosophers do affirm, that besides the rational and immaterial faculties of the soul, as also besides the external senses, there are internal material senses, about the number whereof they greatly dissent; Some make five, The Common Sense, the Phansie, the Imaginative Power the Estima∣tive, and the Memory; Others there; Others four; Some but one; only it may seem many, because of the several manners of operation; It is not worth the Page 352 while to contest herein; it is enough to know that there is in man such a power, whereby he doth imagine and fancy things, witness those dreams which usually rise in our sleep: The use of this imagination is to preserve the species suggested to order them, and judge of them, and thereby is necessary to our understand∣ing, according to that Rule, Oportet intelligentem phantasmata speculari; And certainly, The power of God is admirably seen in this imaginative faculty, whe∣ther in men or beasts; For how do birds come so artificially to make their nests, and the Ants and Bees to be such admirable provident, creatures in their kind, but from that natural instinct in them, whereby their phansies are determined to such things? So it is from this imagination that the Sheep is afraid of a Wolf, though it never saw one before; especially in man his imagination being perfect, there are many admirable things about the nature of it, which, when learned men have said all they can, they must confess their ignorance of; onely you must know, that as the affections are very potent in a man, to turn him this way or that way, so also is the imagination and fancy of a man; Insomuch that it is a great happi∣ness to have a sanctified fancy, that is commonly in men, the womb wherein much iniquity is conceived. It is greatly disputed in Philosophy, What the power and strength of imagination is. Some have gone so farre as to attribute all mira∣cles, whether Divine or Diabolical to the strength of imagination: Yea Abi∣lardus his position was, That fides was estimatio, Faith was nothing but a strong fancy, but these are absurd; Onely it is granted, that some strong impressions it may make on the party himself, as also on the fruit of the womb in conception: As for Jacob's art of laying parti-coloured sticks before sheep, when they came to be watered, that in the time of gendring they might bring such coloured lambs, though imagination might be something conducible thereunto, yet rather ascribe this (with some learned men) to a miracle, and the peculiar blessing and power of God towards Jacob. But I shall not hold you any longer here, let us proceed to the discovery of the natural sinfulness thereof.
The Natural Sinfulnesse of the Imagination appeares, in making Idols, daily Supports, and vain Conceits, whereby it pleaseth it self.
FIrst, The metaphorical expression in the Text doth fully declare it; For as the Potter doth make vessels upon the wheel daily, or as some explain it, as the Artificer doth of his wood and other materials make Idols, which he worshippeth as gods, though they be vanities; Thus the imagination of man doth daily fabri∣cate such fancies and Idols to it self, making gods of them, and putting confidence therein; And if you observe what riseth daily in the heart of a man devoid of grace, you shall find, That it is a continual Idol-maker, it maketh daily puppets and vain conceits, whereby it pleaseth it self, and accounteth it self happy therein. Thus we see what shops (as it were) our hearts are; The imagination having that sinfull artifice, as to make and erect Idols all the day long; Even as children naturally delight to make babies, and then to play with them, so do all men by nature; How many vain Idols do the ambitious men, the unclean men of the world daily build up in their fancies? Hence it is that the glorious things, the pleasant things they please themselves with, are more in the imagination then in any real possession, as is more to be dilated upon: In the mean while let us sadly mourn under this horrible corruption of the imaginative part of a man, that it should be daily making new gods, continually erecting Idols, in which we are apt to put Page 353 our confidence: Lapide on the 8th Chapter, and Verse 21. (where we have the like expression and metaphor,) doth offer ntollerable' violence to the sacred Text; for whereas it saith, The imagination is only set to evil, he would make two shops (as it were) wherein this imagination doth work, a shop of sinne, wherein it only fabricateth evil; and a shop of vertue, wherein it imagineth good things; but what can be directly to confront a Text, and to put the lie upon it, if this be not? Let us then be willing to be found out in all this evil; Let us acknowledge, that our imagination doth continually set up vanities, Idols; we make to our selves gods, and so leave the only true God.
We have made some entrance already upon the discovery of that wound and deadly blow the imaginative power of man hath received by original sinne; and wonder not if in the managing of this point, we often mention thoughts, discourse, invention and apprehensions, attributing these to the Imagination; for although the understanding be properly the power of the soul, from whence these operations do proceed; yet because (as you have heard) the imagina∣tive faculty is so near to the inteliectual, that in all is operations it hath some dependance on it, so that it is hard to know or perceive when some internal parts of the soul are the operations of the fancy, or of the mind; Though indeed sometimes reason doth correct our imaginations, even as they do sense: Yea Divines and Philosophers do commonly attribute some kind of opinion, and judgement, yea imperfect discourse unto it; and this difference is given be∣tween the common internal sense and the imagination: The common sense doth receive the simple impressions of things, as of a stone, of bread, as the wax recei∣ving the impression of a seal, not the seal it self, but the image of it; Thus doth the common sense receive the species of things, and retaineth them; But the fancy doth go higher, it doth compound these single species together, witness those many dreames, and also Chimeraes which many do Imagine, that never had any existence in the world; Therefore by this office it hath, we see how near it is to the understanding; yea Suidas saith, That Aristotle calleth it 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 (viz.) 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, because it hath in it, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, because it is with formes and species that it doth apprehend things, and there∣fore saith Suidas, it is called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉quasi〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, because it doth 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, make those forms and appearances to consist: however this be, we may conclude, because of the immediate subserviency to the understanding and conjunction with it, we may without any absurdity say, The thoughts, the opinion, the judgement thereof: And so I proceed to the further manifestation of its pol∣lution.
In respect of its Defect from that end and use which God did intend in the Creation of man, by making him with this Imaginative Power.
SEcondly, In respect of its defect from that end and use, which God did intend in the Creation of man by making him with this imaginative power. We must readily yeeld, that as God did shew his wonderfull wisdome and power in making of man, which the Scripture often observeth, comparing the work∣manship of our body, to the curious needle work of some skilfull woman, Psal. 139. 15. so all these powers and parts of the soul were made for singular and admi∣rable use, and therefore the imagination as well as the rest; yea we are to know, that in all those visions and dreames by which God did appear to the Prophets and others, it was by exciting and working upon their imagination; so that God hath exceedingly honoured that part of the soul in this way. The Page 354 use of this imaginative power, is two-fold, as of the other senses; The one proxime and immediate, which is to performe their operations for which they were given to men; The other remote and more general, which is to be in∣strumental to the salvation of the soul, and also to the glorifying of God; For by the imagination we are to glorifie God, as well as by other parts of soul and body; The former end of the imagination, I may call naturall; The later, morall; I shall not speak of the former, because whatsoever defect is now upon the fancy in that way, not being able to do its office, as at first Creation, it is meerly penall, a punishment, and not so much our sinne; Thus, that men are subject to madness in their fancy, that the imagination by any distemper in the organ, where it is fixed, may be wholly perverted, as we see in seavers, and in phrensies, and sometimes in dying men; This is not so much a sinne in the fancy, as a punishment, even as death is inflicted upon us, because of Adam's transgression. It is true, that Adam, though created with full and perfect knowledge in naturals and supernaturals that was necessarily required to his blessedness, yet as Suarez well determineth, (De Creatione homines lib. 3. cap. 9) in the use of his knowledge he had recourse to phantasmes in the imagination, because that is a natural way to the soul, while joyned to the body, only in that state, as the organ was not subject to any bodily distempers, so neither could his imagination any way erre; but the sinne of Adam hath not onely brought on that part an obnoxiousness to many bodily distem∣pers, but filled it also with sinnefulness, which is eminently seen in its aberra∣tion from that two-fold main end it was at first bestowed on us for: The one whereof is, the salvation of our souls; for if the sence of hearing the Word of of God, and of seeing the wonderfull works which God hath wrought, be so greatly instrumental to our sanctification, why should not the imagination much more? but who may not complain what an impediment and hinderance his fancy is to his souls good, it imagines evil and vanity, it is wholly pleased with empty and vain things, neglecting the true solid good, so that there is no man that is acquainted with the frame of his soul, but may groane under the sinful unruliness of his imagination, especially (as is to be shewed) in holy and religious approaches to God; When all the powers should be united in one way, then what swarmes of roaring imaginations? What importunate and im∣pertinent fancies are ready to fill thy soul, as flies sometimes did Egypt? Was it thus in the state of Creation? Did God create us with such fickle confused and erratique imaginations? how greatly would it dishonour God to affirm so? Affect thy heart therefore greatly with this, to think that that which was so exceedingly conducible to thy souls happiness, is now such an impedi∣ment and enemy thereunto. It is a corrupt licentious opinion, which Speran∣za (though a Papist) attributeth to several famous Schoolmen, viz. That a man is not bound to repell an evil thought, if there be not danger of consent to it, but may suffer it to be in his mind, as some natural thing, even with advertency that it is there: but this is justly called by the foresaid Author, (Spiranza scrip. sel. dig. de cong. punct. 11.) Offendiculum animarum, an opinion that is a stumbling block and scandal to souls, neither may our sinfull imaginations greatly humble us, if this were true. And as for the other end, which is to glorifie God; Wherein hath God been more dishonoured then by the imaginations of men? Whence hath that Idolatry filled the whole world? How come superstitious ma∣gical divinations but by the sinne of imagination? These phantasmata on 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, in the brain make these Idols which men fall down and worship, so that they may well have the same name. The Apostle Rom. 1. speaking of the Hea∣thens, and that in their high profession of wisdome, yet saith, They became vain in their imaginations, and why so? because of their Idolatry, turning the glory of God into birds, and beasts, insomuch that the sinnefulness of the imagina∣tion Page 355 of man hath caused all the Idolatry of the world; They have not gone to God as revealing himself in the Word by faith, but according to their natural light, by carnal and gross imaginations; whereas therefore Images were brought into the Church at first, that they might be (as Gregory said) igno∣rant mens Books; the truth is, they did teach, and confirme in erronious ima∣ginations, for from such pictures do ignorant people still conceive of God, as an old man, and of the Holy Ghost as a Dove, they imagining such things, as these Images do represent. The imagination then of man doth arise unto an high degree of impiety, when it will fancy or conceive of God without the guide of the Scripture; if so be the understanding cannot comprehend this infi∣nite Essence, how much less can our imagination? if he said Quinquid de Deo dici potest, eo ipso est indignum, quia dici potest; and, Tunc Deum digne estima∣mus, cum inestimabil indicimus: If I say he be thus above the highest contem∣plations of our minds, no wonder if he infinitely transcend our imaginations. It is an evasion that some Papist hath, (as I have read, though I cannot remem∣ber where for the present) when pressed with this Argument, that it is a great dishonour to God, and full of reproach to his Majesty, to represent him under such external formes and shapes, he would (I say) evade by inslancing in the imagination, as a natural faculty in the soul; The understanding cannot ap∣prehend of God, but by the imagination, and the imagination doth necessa∣rily receive Images and representeth species about God; otherwise we cannot at all think of him, and yet this is no Idolatry. But
First it may be answered, These formes and representations in the fancy, when we think of God, arise from the natural constitution of man, so that it cannot be avoided; It doth arise from our finite and corporeal nature, where∣by nothing can come into the understanding before it hath been in the sense and the imagination, but their Images and Idols are external gross and volun∣tarily set up to worship God by. And
Again, Howsoever such shapes and formes may come into the imagination of man about God, yet it's the duty of the understanding to expel them, and to conceive of God without any corporeal forme, as a Spirit of infinite Ma∣jesly, and therefore the imagination must not guide the understanding, but the understanding lead the imagination, that so we may not have the least thought about God, but what becometh his glorious being: but of this more in a par∣ticular by it self, because of its gret concernement. Thus we see how the ima∣gination is wonderfully defective from its main end, both in reference to Gods glory, and mans own salvation and happiness.
The Pellution of the Imagination is manifest by the Restlesness of it.
THirdly, The imaginative power of man is greatly polluted, In the restlesness of it, in the perpetual constant workings thereof; insomuch that thereby the sinfulness of it is continual, as the eie is alwayes twinkling: Is there a mo∣ment, wherein thy fancy is not busied about some object or other? And whereas other parts of the soul are subject to sinne, while we are awake only; The will, the mind, they only sinne at that time, this fancy is many times very sinful in the night time; how many polluted and wicked dreames do men fall into at such a time, at which they tremble and abhorre themselves when awakened? Thus though all sleep, yet sinne doth not, but liveth and acteth in the imagi∣nation: Page 356 But of the sinfulness of dreames by the corrupt imagination, more af∣terwards: Only for the present let us humble our selves under the perpetual and incessant motion of our sinful fancy, there being no hour or moment wherein we are free from the corrupt stirrings thereof: If there could be a breathing time or a respite from sinne, this would at least lessen the damnable guilt thereof, but to be daily minting and fashioning corrupt imaginations without any intermission; how heavily should it presse us down, and make us to judge our selves worse then beasts, yea equal to the apostate Angels in perpetuity of sinning? For whereas it is said, that in this particular mans wick∣edness is not so great as the Devils, because the Devils sinne continually, they neither slumber or sleep, as God who keepeth Israel doth not; so neither they who oppose Israel; The Devil doth vent his enmity, and never hath any stop therein by any natural impediment. Now whereas in man by reason of sleep, there is to be a natural intermission and interruption of evil, the imagination being corrupted, doth thereby keep the fire of sinne, like that of hell from go∣ing out; Cry out then unto God, because of this daily oppression that is upon thy soul; yea how happy would it be if thou couldst judge it to be an oppressi∣on, and a slavery? but these sinful imaginations are matter of delight and ti∣tillation to thee, thou art pleased and ravished (as it were) with them all the day long.
The Universallity, Multitude, and Disorder of them.
FOurthly, As the perpetual sinful actings of them may humble us, so the uni∣versallity and multitude of them: They do extend themselves to ens and non ens, to every thing, and to nothing; Insomuch that the multitude of thy ima∣ginations do even overwhelm thee, for this being the difference between the external senses and the imagination, that the outward senses, they are never moved or excited, but by the present objects; The imagination, that is constant∣ly working about absent objects; hence it is that your fancyes they are many times roving and wandring about those objects that are many hundred miles distant from thee; as God complained of the people of Israel, That they drew nigh with their lips, but their heart was afarre off; They shewed much love, but their heart went after their covetousness, Ezek. 33. 31. Thus it is with us continually, when we pray, when we hear, our imaginations are running many miles off; They are like Cain, vagabonds, and have no setled abode; which brings in the next instance of their sinfulness.
Their roving and wandring up and down without any fixed way.
FIfthly, Their roving and wandring up and down without any fixed and setled way; They fly up and down, and frisk here and there; so that although they were a multitude, yet if in a setled ordered way, ther might be some spiritual advan∣tage made of them; As a great Army, if well marshalled, may be usefull, but now here is nothing but confusion and disorders in thy imagination; so that sometimes many fancyes come into thy head at the same time; that thy head Page 357 and heart is all in uproar, which breedeth another particular of sinfulness, and that is, The hurry and continuall noise that a man hath daily within him, as if a swarme of Bees were in his soul; Christ told Martha, She was troubled about many things, but one thing was necessary, Luk. 10. 41; The word signifieth, she was in a crowd (as it were) There was a great noise within her, as men make in a market, or some common meeting; As those in a Mill have such a noise within that they cannot hear any speaking to them without: Thus it is here, the imagination fils thy soul with cumbersome thoughts, with confused noises, so that thou canst seldome make quiet and calme approaches unto God in any holy duty; and if so be the ground tilled and dressed, doth bring forth such bryars and thornes, is it any wonder that the wilderness doth? If in a godly man, there be nothing so much annoyeth him, which is so constant a burden and complaint to him, as these tumul•ouns imaginations, these roving fancyes, flying up and down like so many feathers in a stormy wind, what can we think is continually in the imagination of a natural man?
The Impertinency and Unseasonableness of the Imaginations.
SIxthly, The impertinency and unseasonableness of thy imagination, this is also to be bewailed: Indeed the unregenerate man findeth no load or burden here, therefore if these weeds choak up all the corn, if sinful imaginations fill his heart full all the while that religious duties are performing, he never mattereth it, he had rather his heart should be full of dung and earth, then of pearles, he is more desirous that his soul should be fraughted with pleasing imaginations, then attentive to those things that are spiritual and heavenly. But oh the sad complaints the people of God make in this particular, the unseasonableness of their fancy in heavenly approaches to God, commonly in religious duties more then at any other time do roving imaginations obtrude themselves, which even the children of God can no more hinder, then the birds flying in the air: This is the sad temptation that you have most of Gods people exercised with, and for redemption out of this bondage they do earnestly pray to God, but as long as the soul though sanctified is thus joyned to the body, and acts dependently upon the organs thereof, it cannot be otherwise, but as when a stone cast into the water maketh one circle, and that maketh another: This it is in mans imagina∣tion, one fancy causeth another, and that another, whereby the soul is scarce ever quiet in any duty, but these phantasmes lie knocking at the door, and do breed great disturbance; and which is saddest of all, the Devil (as is to be shewed) doth usually at such times cast in his fiery darts, his blasphemous injecti∣ons do oftentimes violate the soul; so that in stead of drawing nigh to God, it is filled with doleful and terrifying imaginations.
It eclipseth, and for the most part keeps out the Understanding; With many instances thereof.
SIxthly, Herein doth the sinfulnesse of it appear, that it doth eclipse, yea for the most part exclude and keep out the understanding, which is the more noble light, and to which it ought to be subservient, so that men (whether in religions or civil affairs) are more led by fancy then by reason, there imagination is more predomi∣nant then the understanding. It is with man the little world, as the great world, God made in this two great lights, the Sunne and Moon, one to rule in the day, the other in the night: Thus man hath two lights created in him, which are to direct him in all his operations; the Sunne that is the Understanding, the Moon is like the Imagination, which giveth a glimmering light, and that onely in particu∣lar and corporeal things. Now as it would be an horrible confusion in the world, if the Moon should shut out the Sunne, and take upon it to rule in the day time all the light the Moon hath (let it be supposed it hath some of its own) would not suffice to make a day: Thus it is in man, his fancy which hath not light enough to guide him in his actions to his true end, yet that usurpeth upon the understand∣ing, and doth in effect command all: Thus the inferiour light prevaileth over the superiour: Oh what groaning should the new creature be in, till it be deliver∣ed from this bondage: See then to thy self, and examine all things that passe through thy soul more narrowly and exactly. It may be thy imagination is the cause of all thy Religion, of all thy opinions; It may be it is not faith but fancy; It may be it is not conscience, but imagination that instigateth thee; Those ex∣pressions me thinks, and I imagine so, are not high enough, or becoming those glorious actings of faith in the soul, which the Apostle calleth 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Heb. 11. 1. The substance of things hoped for. Aristotle opposeth 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, to those apparitions that are made in the air, as the Rain-bow, which hath no real subsi∣stency; and truly such are the conceits and apprehensions many have in Religion and Piety; They are not of a solid, true, and well-grounded knowledge, but are like meteors in the air: Thus do their opinions flie up and down in their head. We may observe it a very ordinary thing in controversies and polemical writings, that both parties will often charge one another with their fancies and their imagi∣nations, that there is no such thing in Scripture or in reason, but a figment in the brain; Yea the Pelagians and Socinians call this very Doctrine of original sinne, Augustini figmentum, Austin's fancy, as if it were an evil imagination to hold, That the thoughts and imaginations of the heart are only evil, and that continually. Thus you see in what confusion we are in, when sometimes the solid Doctrine of the Scripture is traduced for a meer imagination; And again, meer fancies ap∣plauded and earnestly contended for, as sundamental pillars of Religion and Piety. Seeing then our imaginations are so apt to get into the chair of the under∣standing, and as Athaliah destroyed the seed royal, that she might reign; so fan∣cy bolteth out all solid reasons and arguments, that it alone may do all, it beho∣veth us the more to watch over our hearts in this respect, and to be sure they are the solid works of faith, and not the fickle motions of the fancy that do guide thee, and the rather, because it is the perpetual custome of wicked and ungodly men, to brand and stigmatize both the true faith and all solid piety with the re∣proach of a meer fancy. Do not Papists, Arminians, Socinians, and the like, exclaim against the Protestant Doctrine, as if it were but an Idol of Calvins and Luthers making, when they condemned the blessed Martyrs to burn at the stake, they concluded such suffered but for their fancies and their humours. It being Page 359 therefore the constant charge by all enemies to truth, that it is not thy faith thou pleadest for, thou sufferest for, but thy meer fancy, it behoveth thee to be the more diligent in Scripture knowledge, and to pray, that the Spirit of God may thereby quicken thee up to a found and sure faith: Thus also it is in practicals, Let a man set himself to the power of godliness, walk strictly, in opposition to the loosness and profaneness of the world; Let his soul mourn for sinne, and his heart grieve for his evil wayes, what do carnal people presently say, This is your fancy, these are your melancholly conceits, they judge it to be some distemper in your imagination, that it is a kind of a madness. Now that we may withstand such accusations, it behoveth us to seek after, and pray for such a thorough work of sanctification, that we may be assured it is no more fancy then that we live or have our being, that if to be godly, if to be converted be a fancy onely, then to be a man, or to be a wicked man is only a fancy also. Well, though we must take heed of calling faith a fancy, and the work of grace a melancholly conceit (for that is a kind of blaspheming the holy Ghost) yet experience doth evidence, That many have not faith, have not true piety, but meer empty shadows and imagina∣tions in Religion, witness the Scepticism of many in these dayes, who are of no faith, and no Religion, who change it often, as they do their garments, who have no rooting or immovable foundation, but are as the water which receiveth every impression, but retaineth none, that are Reeds shaken with every wind, and are clean contrary to Christ, for they are not the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever: Can you say, this is the work of Gods Spirit? Can we say, this is the Scripture-truth? No, you read the Character of such, who have true faith, and that in a sanctified manner, If it were possible to deceive the very elect, Matth. 24. 24. Certainly the prevalency of the imagination above the understanding in re∣ligious things, is one of the sore evils which original sinne hath brought upon all mankind.
In the Imagination are conceived for the most part all Actual Im∣pieties.
SEventhly, This also doth greatly manifest the sinfulness of the Imagination, That (as in the affections, so likewise) in it are conceived for the most part all actual impieties. The Imagination and the Affections joyned together are commonly that dunghill, wherein these serpents lay their eggs; yea sinne many times lieth a long while breeding in the imagination, before it be brought forth into action, yea many times it is never brought forth, but the womb of sinne is also the tomb, it lived and died in the imagination: We may observe the Scripture attributing the greatest works of impiety to the imagination, as the cause of it, Psal. 21. Why do the people imagine a vain thing? All the opposition of wicked men, and their carnal policy to overthrow the wayes of Christ flow from this imagining: Thus Psal. 38. 12. They imagine deceits all the day long, Zech. 7. 10. All the injustice, oppression and fraud that may be used to other men is attributed to this, Let none of you imagine evil against his brother in his heart. It is true, this Imagination spoken of in the Text, comprehends also acts of the mind, yet because (as you heard) the mind acteth dependently upon the imagination, therefore we conjoyn them together: How polluted then must that fountain be, which sends forth so many polluted streams? Sinne (as we told you) may be a long while breeding here, before it be compleatly formed and actuated; yea and God beholdeth and taketh notice of thy sinnes thus prepared in thy imagination Page 360 long before the commission of them: We have a notable instance for this, Deut. 31. 21. where Moses in the name of God testifying against the people of Israel, that when they come into Canaan, they do not fall off from God, useth this ex∣pression, For I know their imagination, which they go about even now, before I have brought them into the Land which I sware unto them; God did before they come into Aegypt, see what was working in their imaginations, what they were making and fashioning in their hearts; in which sense some expound that place of the Psalmist, Thou knowest my thoughts afarre off, Psal. 139. 2. And this is good and profitable for us to consider, we many times wonder to see how such gross and loathsom sinnes can come even from the godly themselves. Alas, mar∣vel not at it, these Serpents and Toads were a long while breeding in the imagi∣nation; The pleasure or profit of such a sinne was often fancied before; It was again and again committed in thy thoughts, before it was expressed in thy life, so that a man can never live unblameably in his life, that doth not keep his imagina∣tion pure and clean; Hence you have so often evil thoughts complained of as the root of all bitterness, Jer. 4. 14. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge in thee? Mark 15. 19. Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts: As exhalations and vapours ascending from the earth, which are scarce perceptible, yet at last are congealed into thick and dismal clouds, so those sins which while in the thoughts and imagi∣nation were scarce taken notice of, do at last grow into soul and enormous trans∣gressions.
That many times sinne is acted by the Imagination with delight and content, without any relation at all to the external Actings of sinne.
THirdly, The sinfulness of the Imagination is further to be amplified, In that many times sinne is acted with delight and content there, without any relation at all to the external actings of sinne. So that a man while unblameable in his life, may yet have his imagination like a cage of unclean birds, and this is commonly done, when there are external impediments, or some hinderances of committing the sinne outwardly; The fear of mens laws, outward reproach and shame, want of opportunity may keep men off from the outward committing of some lust, when yet at the same time their imaginations have the strong impressions of sinne upon them, and so in their souls they become guilty before God; The Adulterous man, Is not his imagination full of uncleanness? The proud man, Is not his fancy lifted with high and towring conceits? As the Apostle Peter speak∣eth of some whose eyes were full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sinne, 2 Pet. 2. 14. or as some read it according to the original [Adulteresse] imagination made them have her in their eyes continually, though absent, for if their eyes were, their imaginations also must necessarily be, because of the immediate natu∣ral connexion between them; so then when there are no outward sores or ulcers to be seen upon a mans life, yet his imagination may be a noisom dunghill, what uncleanness fancied, what high honours imagined, that whereas thou art re∣strained from the actings of sinne, yet thy heart burneth like an oven with lusts inwardly; It is the emphatical similitude that the holy Ghost useth, Hos. 7. 8. They have made ready their heart like an oven; The meaning is, that as the oven heated is ready to bake any thing put therein, so was the heart of those evil men prepared for any kind of naughtiness; Some understand it of the adultery of the body only, as if that were the sinne intended by the Prophet; Others, of Page 361 the spiritual adultery of the soul, by which name Idolatry is often called in Scri∣pture; Others referre it to both; we may take it to be a proverbial expression, denoting the readiness of a mans heart to commit any sinne, that it lieth in the heart and the imagination day and night, men highly sinning against God in∣wardly, when outwardly they are restrained; Know then that when the grace of sanctification shall renew thy spirit, soul and body, thou wilt then be very care∣full to look to thy very imagination, that no tickling fancies or conceits of any lust do defile thee, thou wilt keep thy imagination as a precious Cabinet, wherein preci∣ous pearls shall be treasured up, not dirt and filth: As we fitly use an expression concerning delight in sinne, that it is the rolling of honey under the tongue, so there is a rolling of sinne in the imagination with great titillation and pleasure, when sinne cannot be committed in action, we do it in our imagination; Hence it is that by the imagination old men become guilty of their youthfull lusts, when they have not bodies to be as instrumental to filthiness, as they have been, yet in their imaginations they can revive their by-past sinnes many years ago committed: Thus men became (as it were) perpetual sinners in their imaginations: Consi∣der of this more seriously, and pray for an holy, chaste and pure imagination, knowing thou hast to do with an omniscient God that knoweth what is working therein, though it be hid from the world besides; think not sinfull imaginations will escape the vengeance of God, though no sutable operations of impiety do accompany them.
Its Propensity to all evil, both towards God, and towards man.
NInthly, Our Imagination is naturally corrupted, Because of its propensity to all evil, both towards God, and towards man. And
First, Towards God, Let us take up that which was but glanced at before, and that is, How prone we are to provoke God in his worship, declining from the true Rule, and meerly because of our Imaginations. The pleasing of them hath been the cause of all that displeasure which God ever had in his Church concerning the worshipping of him: No, sinne doth more provoke God then the corrupting of his worship, to adulterate this is to meddle with the apple of his eye; God bear∣eth other sinnes a long while till his worship become to be corrupted, and then he will endure no longer: Now the original of all sinfulness in this kind hath been our imagination, we have not attended to what God hath commanded; we re∣gard not his institutions, but our own fancies, the pleasing of them: Hence when God promiseth a restauration to the people of Israel, and a reformation from their former Idolatries, he saith, Neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart, Jer. 3. 17. It was this Imagination carried them out to Idolatry, whence came those goodly Images, those glorious Altars, and many other superstitious wayes of worship, but because the fancy was pleased herein, what is pleasing to the senses is also carried with delight to the Imagination: In∣somuch that those Heathens Numa and others, who would have no Images to adore their gods by, thinking it unbe•eeming their greatness, were carried by rea∣son, and did not give way to the Imagination; and this is a very necessary truth, for all such who are so difficulty taken off from their Idolatries and Superstitions, for what is it but thy fancy thou wouldst have satisfied, thou doest not look upon Ordinances and the worship of God; as spiritual means to quicken thy faith, and to make thee more spiritual, but as that whereby thou wouldst have thy Imagina∣tion take some corporeal refreshment and satisfaction: Even Aristotle saw the Page 362 vanity of this, and therefore would not have any musical delights in the wor∣ship of their Heathenish gods; And Aquinas following him herein, is against musical instruments in the service of God: what God appointed in the Old Testament cannot be brought as an argument for any such custome in the New.
Secondly, Towards man; here the imagination is as full of evil, as the sea, of water, Prov. 6. 16. One of the seaven things that are there said to be an abo∣mination unto the Lord, An heart that deviseth wicked abominations; How crafty and subtle is the abomination of man to devise wicked and malicious purposes? This is the forge of all those malicious bloody and crafty designes that ever have been acted in the world; Read over prophane and sacred Histories, and there you will admire, what subtle foxes men have been sometimes, what cruel lyons they have been at other times; all which doth arise from this sinful imagination, which is prone to find out all manner of wayes to vent the wickedness that is bound up in the heart: so that we need not exclaim on the Devil, as if he put this into their hearts; for though no doubt sometimes he doth, as in Judas, yet the heart of it self is ready for any evil.
It continually invents new Sinnes, or occasions of Sinnes.
ALthough much hath been said concerning the original pollution of mans imagination, yet still more is to be discovered; so that there is a very 〈◊〉 resemblance between mans imagination, and those chambers of imagery, which Ezekiel beheld in a Vision, upon the walls thereof were pourtrayed the forme of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the Idols of the house of Israei, Ezek. 8. 9, 12. Thu▪ is every mans imagination a table (as it were) whereon are pictured all the formes and shapes of all kind of evil; It may well be called the chamber of mans imagery where are images of jealousy daily created, such formes received that do provoke God to wrath and jealously: Let us therefore proceed.
Tenthly, In this we have an open field wherein mans imagination doth act num∣berless evils, because of its invention, it is continually inventing new sinnes or oc∣casions of sinnes; As if the old sinnes and trespasses which had filled the world were not enough, What new wayes of impiety are invented, new fancies in evil wayes? For although invention be indeed principally an act of the under∣standing, yet because (as you heard) the understanding in its operations hath recourse to the imagination, and that is subservient and under-agent to it, therefore we may attribute the same things to both, especailly the things of in∣vention, because a mans imagination hath a peculiar influence therein; Now in this respect, if there were no other, the sinnes of the imagination will encrease like the sands upon the sea-shore: It were possible to shew, by going over every particular Commandment, that the imagination of man doth constantly invent new sinnes against them; the Apostacy of man from his first rectitude is emphatically described by the Scripture in this, as the general and summe of all, that he sought out many inventions, Eccles. 7. 29. where the wise man having declared that amongst men and women, though less amongst women, one not so much as good in an ethical and moral sense could be found; for in a spiritual sence there is not one man amongst a thousand, no not in all mankind that is good, but the speaketh of external and moral, enquiring then after the cause, why such an universal corruption should overflow all mankind; insomuch that Page 363 there is not one amongst a thousand that deserveth the name of a man, not such an one as the primitive righteousness did require, but not so much as reason judg∣ing rightly by ethical Rules would commend, he doth clear God from being the Author of this; And because this truth is of such great consequence, he useth a word of attention [Lo] Ecce, Consider it diligently; And secondly, he tel∣leth you, how he came to the knowledge of it, I have found it, (viz.) in the Word of God. where you see this Doctrine concerning original corruption is not to be investigated by humane reason, as it is discovered by divine revelation. I have found it after much and diligent study; Oh that those corrupt teachers, who deny this original pravity, could with Solomon say, They have at last after much study found out this truth also! Now the Doctrine found out is, That God made man right, full of righteousness and holiness, not onely negatively without sinne, but positively, full of righteousness; but they, that is, Adam and Eve, which are called the man Adam in the words preceding, Sought out] not being contented with that measure of knowledge and happiness God created them in, affecting to be like God. Many inventions] that is, found out many wayes of sinning, when they once forsook the strait Rule, they diverted and wandered into many crooked paths: The Hebrew word Chishbonoth is very emphatical, it is used but once more in the Old Testament, and that is 2 Chron. 26. 15. where it is said, Vzziah used engines invented by cunning men, to shoot arrows and great stones withall: So that by this word is denoted that subtilty and great artifice which is in mans Imagination to invent any evil way, sinnes that never were acted before are found out: Every age almost hath new sinnes, and whence is this, but from the subtilty of mans Imagination to find out new wayes of sin∣ning? Hence Rom. 1. 30. one character in the Catalogue of those sinnes attri∣buted to the Heathens, is to be Inventers of evil things; And certainly here the Imagination of man is very prone, that whereas to learn Trades, or the Arts, there they must have teachers, and much time must be allowed them to learn; In the invention of evil things there men are taught of their own corrupt hearts to do so. We might instance in divers things, wherein the sinfull Imagination of man is discovered about inventing of evil, new sinnes, new oaths, new blasphemies, new wayes of cheating and dishonesty, especially in those new wayes for nou∣rishing pride, and wantonness, Which is the ridiculous, absurd and uncivil fa∣shions in apparel and deportments of body, which are truly and properly the genuine issue of the sinfull fancies of men. The Ape being a creature of strong Imagina∣tion, but wanting reason doth strive to imitate more then any other creature; And thus it is an argument that that mans imagination and fancy are farre greater then their wisdom and prudence, who are ambitiously ready to imitate every foolish and childish fashion that mens corrupt imaginations have produced. Look upon all the several fashions, all the changes and mutabilities, which are in mens and wo∣mens apparel, and you will presently be perswaded, that their imaginations are corrupted; From this also ariseth the use of auxiliary beauty, painting, spot∣ting, &c. and which is the highest aggravation of our sinfulness; herein we do not onely conform to such foolish and indecent fashions, but we plead for the lawfulness thereof; but remember to let Scripture-gravity, modesty and chastity be more powerfull in thy heart, and manifested in thy garments and gestures, then the sinfull impressions of unjustifiable fashions upon thy imagination: To how many transforming themselves into the new guises and modes of the times they live in, if the gravity of the Minister would permit it as well, as the vanity of the subject deserve it, may you apply Martials verse,
The Sinfulness of the Imagination manifests it self in reference to the Word of God, and the Ministerial Preaching thereof.
ELeventhly, The sinfull Imagination of a man doth in a great measure manifest it self, in reference to the Word of God, and the Ministerial Preaching thereof. Here it discovers much enmity and contrariety to what is godly; For the Word it self, How greatly is the Imagination offended thereat, both in respect of the style and the matter? The language is not so imbellished and polished, that the fancy should delight therein; This hath been a rock of offence to many great but unsanctified wits; They have disdained the simplicity of the style, and affected a more gaudy Oratory; This is the sinne of the fancy chiefly. Austin in his Con∣fessions doth much bewail his pride and tumour in this particular; He disdained to become like a little child, and to lay aside the admiration of humane eloquence; by which he was so much puffed up; What prophaneness and the love to their filthy lusts do to some in making them opposite to Scripture wayes, The same doth an unmortified fancy, especially where there are learning and parts in others; Even as we see Christ became a stumbling block to many, because he came not in that external dignity and pomp of a King which they desired; Thus also it is with the Scriptures, because they are not in such pleasing words, such florid expressions as their Imagination would have: Hence it is they take no de∣light in the reading of them, or in meditating therein, whereas they are never sa∣tisfied in reading of Comedies, Histories that are full of delight and exact lan∣guage, in reading of Poetry and Romances, thou readest (it may be) not one Chapter in the Bible to many of these: Oh do thou humble thy self under that vain and proud fancy, It is a great enemy to thy conversion! If ever God open thy eyes, thou wilt with Austin bewail thy folly herein, and at last regard fruit more than leaves, substances more than shadows. This was also Hierom's temptation to be much inamoured with humane Oratory, and therefore speaks of himself, what terrors, yea bodily smart he was in, hearing a voice at the same time, say∣ing, Ciceronianus es non Christianus. I do not speak this as if humane Oratory and Eloquence were not lawfull; yea where it is well used, it is an excellent gift of God. Cyprian and others carried this Aegyptian gold out of Aegypt to Canaan. Chrysostome, Nazianzen, Basil, were so many Divine Orphe••'s to change the natures of beastly men; Therefore it may lawfully be used where God giveth it; Hence in the Scripture we have metaphors and similitudes, yea Christ is full of Parables, which do in their nature please the fancy representing spiritual things by sensible; but then we must be sure, that we stay not in this eloquence, that it be not like musick affecting the ear for a while, having no ope∣ration at all, as Ezekiel's preaching was to his hearers, but it is to be like the su∣gar that maketh us swallow down the bitter pils more willingly: To admire the Page 365 Artifice of a Cup, and never drink of the liquour within, is a childish vanity; to be affected with the words and language of a Minister, and not to consider what wholsome food it is to thee, whether it be the bread of life to thee or no, is absurd impiety: As the proud fancy of a man is thus offended at the Word of God, so also it is at the preaching thereof in a solid and substantial manner in a soul-saving way; This is not according to a mans fancy, which looketh for plea∣sure not profit. Austin confessed this also in himself, that he did with great de∣light go to hear Ambrose preach, not that he regarded the spiritual matter and heavenly truths delivered, but because of the eloquence and pleasing elocution which Ambrose had. Though it is true, such was the goodness of God to Au∣stin, that though hearing Ambrose onely for eloquence sake, yet secretly some power of truth was instilled in him, which made to his conversion; So that from looking to the art in the Sermon, he came at last to mind the grace of God in it: Even as it is said of Apelles, that by his often beholding and looking on the wo∣man, whose picture he was drawing, though at first he minded his Art onely, yet secretly love did creep into his affections at the same time, which made him languish away, till Alexander helped her to him as his wise. But though admira∣tion of gifts and oratory may sometimes thus be blessed, yet commonly it is otherwise, and the inclination of such a fancy is to reject with scorn and contempt the powerfull preaching of the Gospel without words of mans wisdom, as a most low and despicable thing: Thus the preaching of Christ crucified was foolishnesse to the Gentiles, who gloried in humane literature, 1 Cor. 1. 23. Though it is true, God will by these weak things bring to nought the great admired things of the world. Thus 2 Cor. 10. 5. The ministerial weapons of the Gospel are mighty through God, to pull down strong holds, and to cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth it self, as Cannon-shot doth strong Castles; By this of the Apostle you see the imaginations of men raise up strong and mighty opposi∣tion against the Word preached, though the Word of God set home by his own power overcometh every thing that doth withstand it. It is good then, especially for men of quick parts and raised fancies to suspect themselves, to fear lest from them arise all their destruction, lest these be the bolts and barres that keep Christ out from possessing of their hearts.
It is more affected with Appearances then Realities.
TWelfthly, The sinfulnesse of the Imagination is seen, in that it is more affected with the appearance of things, then the reality, yea we do wholly satisfie our selves with things, as they are in our fancy only, and never attain to what is really good or happy. Our comforts are but imaginary comforts; our delights but ima∣ginary delight, yea our wealth, our honours are but in imagination onely; It's usual with the Scripture to speak of the Nations of the world comparatively to God, as a drop, as a little dust; How often is a mans life compared to a shadow? Insomuch that neither our life and delight are worthy of the name; All the things of this world are but in imagination; What seemeth to be more substantial than wealth, which is said to answer all things? yet Solomon saith, Why doest thou set thy eyes upon that which is not? Prov. 23. 5. Wilt thou cause thine eyes to flie up∣on it, is in the original? It sheweth our ardent desires after that thing which is not: Hence a wicked man in his greatest triumph and glory is compared but to a dream, Job 20 8. He shall flee away as a dream, and shall not be; All the while we pursue riches, honours, all the while our hearts are hastening after the creatures, Page 366 we are but in a dream; What is true riches? What is true food? What is true glory? We misse and imbrace onely a shadow: This is notably represented by the Prophet, Isa 29. 8. The enemies of the Church that had in their hopes and expectations devoured Zion, are compared to an hungry man that dreameth he eateth, but when he is awakened his soul is empty: Thus it is in all these worldly enjoyments, this life is but a dream, we are not awaked till we come within the borders of eternity: Oh that this were truly considered, how greatly would it mortifie that inordinacy in us to these sading things? When the child re∣joyceth in his bauble, it is but his Imagination that is pleased, his count∣ers he taketh for money, it is but his fancy that contents him; and truly no more are all the great things of the world in respect of God and eter∣nal things.
The sinfulness of the Imagination in respect of fear, and the workings of Conscience.
13. AS the Imagination makes us rejoyce and account our selves happy, when there is no solid foundation for it, so on the other side, When the conscience is awakened for sinne, many times the imagination doth work so ter∣ribly, and filleth us with such sad apprehensions, that we fear, where no fear is, we flee when none pursueth; So that a disturbed imagination doth many times work with the troubles of conscience, hindering both the working of our judgement, and of faith, representing God and Christ to us farre other∣wise then they are. Job complaineth, Chap. 7. 14. that God did scare him with dreams: Oh it is very sad, and a grievous condition, when God shall turn a mans fancy against his own self; To have our conscience against us, and our imaginations against us is an hell upon an earth, and it is just with God to fill these Imaginations that once received nothing but lustfull and pleasant im∣pressions with terrible and dreadfull ones, and both these wayes draw from God, both joyfull delights, and terrible apprehensions! That great change which we read made upon Nebuchadnezzar, who from a great Monarch of the world is become like a beast living amongst them, his haires being growne like Eagles feathers, and his nailes like birds clawes, was nothing else (as many Expositours judge) but a judgement brought upon his Reason and Imagination by a deep melancholly; So that the terrours of a troubled Imagination (especially when joyned with troubles of conscience) doe drive from Christ, oppose the comfortable way of the Gospel, as well as proud and unclean motions do the pure and holy way thereof.
Of the Actings of the Imagination in Dreams.
IN the fourteenth place, Herein the pollution of it doth manifest it self, That when the senses and the rational part are bound up, so that they cease from operation, even then that is acting, and most commonly in a sinfull manner by dreams. Dreams are the proper work of the Imagination, and Divines do make three sorts of them, Natural Dreams, which arise from natural causes, and these commonly either have much sinfulness in them, or great troublesom∣ness. Diabolical, such as are cast into the imagination by the Devil; or Di∣vine, such as are caused by God; for the Spirit of God hath used the imagina∣tion in some operations thereof: Thus Joseph and others were warned by God in a dream; And Joel 2. the promise is, That their young men should dream dreams. These Divine dreams Tertullian (Lib. 3. de animâ) doth divide in∣to Prophetica, such as are meerly fore-telling things to come; Revelatoria, such as reveal something to be done, as Peters vision concerning Cornelius; Aedificatoria, such as build up to any holy duty; And Vocatoria, that call to some spiritual service, as that vision of Paul inviting him to come into Mace∣donia. Concerning Diabolical Dreams they are not a mans sinnes but afflicti∣ons, unless a man doth directly or indirectly consent thereunto, or walk so that he deserveth God should leave him to such unclean or polluted apprehen∣sions. But we speak of Natural Dreams, and not such as are meerly natural, that arise from some natural cause, but such as have had some voluntariness an∣tecedent thereunto, while waking, such now are proud dreames, malicious dreams, unclean and unjust dreams. All these do either expresly or virtually come from a polluted Imagination while we are awake, though happily we cannot remember any such thoughts we had. The sinfulness then of our dreams we are to be humbled under, as coming from sinne the cause, and be∣ing also sinnes in themselves: No doubt but Adam would have dreamed, (it being common to all mankind, onely it is said of Nero, That he seldome or never dreamed till after the murder of Agrippina, after which he was afright∣ed with terrible ones; As also of the Atalantes, that none dream amongst them. Though Tertullian faith, Perhaps same did deceive Aristotle in that report,) yet his dreams had been meerly natural, not having the least con∣nexion of any sinne, or any disquieting with them: But how greatly is confu∣sion brought upon us in this very respect? Insomuch that what the Devil can∣not tempt to, while waking, he doth allure unto, while dreaming: Indeed it is folly and superstition (as many people do) to regard dreams so as to make conjectures and prophesies thereby, but so to observe them, as to take notice of the filthiness and sinfulness of them, that is a duty, for although the reason and the will do not operate at that time, yet there is sinne in our dreams, because they are the effects of the sinfull motions of thy soul sometimes or other. Let it then be thy care to have pure and sanctified imaginations both dreaming and waking, and do nothing that may provoke the Spirit of God to leave thee to the defile∣ments thereof
It is not in that orderly Subordination to the rational part of man, as it was in the Primitive Condition.
15. THe imagination is hereby deprived, That it is not now in that orderly subordination to the rational part of man, as it was in its primitive con∣dition. Every thing in Adam was harmonical, he was not infested with need∣less and wandering Imaginations; Even the birds of the air, as well as the beasts of the field God brought to Adam, that he should give names to them; The birds though flying in the air, yet come and submit to him; so it was in his soul; Those volatique Imaginations and flying thoughts which might arise in Adam's soul, they were all within his power and command, neither did any troublesomly interpose in his holy meditation; but now how predominant is thy imagination over thee? How are good thoughts and bad thoughts con∣joyned, as there were clean and unclean beasts at the same time in the Ark? Especially doest thou not labour and groan under thy wandring imaginations, even in thy best duties, and when thy heart is in the best frame? Is not this the great Question thou propoundest to thy self, How may I be freed from wan∣dering thoughts and roving Imaginations in my addresses to God? Oh that I were directed how to clip the wings of these birds, for they are my burden and my heavy load all the day long? Surely the experience of this in thy self may teach thee what a deep and mortal wound original sinne hath given every part of thee: Hadst thou the Image of God in the full perfection of it, as Adam once had, as Christs humane nature had, and as we shall have when glorified in Heaven, then there would not be one wandring thought, one roving imagi∣nation left as a thorn in thy side to offend and grieve thee? This imagination being of such a subtil and quick motion, doth presently flie from one thing to another, runneth from one object to another, so that hereby a great deal of sinne is committed in the very twinkling of an eye. The soul indeed being si∣nite in his essence, cannot think of all things together, but not to consider that which it ought to do, or to rove to one object, when it should be fastned on another: This is not a natural, but a sinfull infirmity thereof.
It is according to Austin's Judgement the great Instrument of conveying Original Sinne to the child.
16. THe Imagination is so greatly polluted, That according to Austin's judgement, it is the great instrument of conveying original sinne to the child; For when he is pressed to shew how original sinne cometh to be pro∣pagated, how the soul can be infected from the flesh, though this be not his chief answer, yet he doth in part runne to this (viz.) the powerfull effect of the imagination; The vehement affection and lust in the parent is according to him the cause of a libidinous disposition in the child, hereupon he instanceth in the fact of Jacob, who by working upon the imagination of the females, did by the parti-coloured sticks produce such a colour in their young ones; Yea one thinketh, that this instance was by a special providence of God, chiefly to represent how original sinne might be propagated from parents to children; Page 369 And it cannot be denied but that many solid Philosophers and Phisitians do grant, that the imagination hath a special influence upon the body, and the child in the womb to make great immutation and change: Austin instanceth (lib 5. contra Julian. cap. 9) in the King of Cyrus, who would have a curious picture of exquisite beauty in his chamber for his wife to look upon in the time of her conception; Yea Histories report strange, and it may be very fabulous things herein, therefore we are not to runne to this of the imagination when we would explain the traduction of this sinne: It is true, some imbre qualities are many times transfused from parents to children, parents subject to the Gout and Stone have children also subject to such diseases, and blackmores do alwaies beget blackmores, and so no doubt but in the conveighing of ori∣ginal sinne there is a seminal influence, but how and in what manner it is hard to discover; but though the corrupt imagination cannot be the cause, yet it may in some sense dispose for the propagating of it.
How prone it is to receive the Devils Impressions and Suggestions.
LAstly, The imagination is greatly polluted, In that it is so ready and prone to receive the Devils impressions and suggestions. When we lost original righteousness, which is the image of God, not only original sinne like an uni∣versal leprosie did succeed in the room thereof, but the Devil also did there∣upon seize upon us as his owne: our souls and all the parts and powers there∣of are his habitation; he reigneth in the hearts of all by nature, we are all his captives; so that as a man is said to dwell in his own house, it is his home, he may do what he will, such a right and claim hath the Devil to a mans soul by nature, he dwells in it, he moveth and reigneth in it: Now the imagination is that room of the soul wherein he doth often appear. Indeed (to speak exact∣ly) the Devil hath no efficient power over the rational part of a man, he can∣not change the will, he cannot alter the heart of a man, neither doth he know the thoughts of a man, so that the utmost he can do in tempting of a man to sinne, is by swasion and suggestion only; but then. How doth the Devil do this? even by working upon the imagination. Learned men make this his me∣thod, that he observeth the temper and bodily constitution of a man, and there∣upon suggests to his fancy, and injects his fiery darts thereinto, by which the mind and will come to be wrought upon; for it is Aristotl's rule, That Phantasmata movent intellectum, sicut sensila sensum; so that as the object of sense, being present, doth presently move the sense; so do phantasmes and imaginations move the understanding. The Devil then, though he hath no imperious efficacy over thy will, yet because he can thus stirre and move thy imagination, and thou being naturally destitute of grace canst not withstand these suggestions; hence it is that any sinne in thy imagination, though but in the outward works of the soul, yet doth quickly lay hold on all; and indeed by this meanes do arise those horrible delusions that are in many erronious wayes of Religion, all is because their imaginations are corrupted; yea, how often are these diabolical illusions of the imagination taken for the gracious opera∣tions of Gods Spirit? Divines give many excellent Rules, how we may discern between those delusions of the imagination by Satan, and the savourie work∣ings of Gods Spirits in illumination, and consolations: It is not my purpose to enter on that Subject, only bewail and humble thy self under this, that the Devil hath such command over thy fancy, that he can so quickly dart in, like Page 370 so much lightning so many unclean or blasphemous imaginations, it is from hence that many have pretended to Enthusiasmes, that regard dreames, that they leave the Scripture, and wholly attend to what they perceive and feel with∣in them. And thus much for the opening of this noisome dunghill also.
Some Corollaryes from the Premises.
NOw from the corruption which you have heard of all the parts of the soul both the rational and sensitive part of a man conjoyned together, we may see the unspeakable misery of man in these particulars; and oh that every au∣ditor would smite upon his brest and say, O Lord I am the man thus polluted! O Lord all this poison and pollution lyeth here! For
First, In having all the powers of the soul thus defiled, both superior and inferi∣or, hereby man hath lost all liberty, and is become a miserable slave and vassal to sinne and Satan. For whereas man was made only to serve God, and by love to cleave to him, the creature is come in his room, and thereby man is inslaved in his affections to these temporal things only; so that we do very improperly say, that a man is the Master or the Lord of such an estate, of such an house, for indeed he is a slave to them, Fiunt servi, dum domini esse desiderant, as Austin, while thou dost so earnestly desire to be master of such an estate, thou art indeed made a servant to it; but remember thou canst not serve God and the creature, these are two contrary masters.
Secondly, He hath by this pollution lost all true judgement to discern of things, he doth not know what are the best things, yea he doth grossely misjudge, he prefer∣eth earth before gold, dross before pearles. The natural man cannot discern spiritu∣al things, because he wants a spiritual eye; he mistaketh about God, he mis∣judgeth about true blessedness, he is deceived about the true nature of god∣liness; so that he can no more judge of these things, then a worm can of An∣gelical actions: The Apostle speaketh fully to this, 1 Cor. 2. 14, 15. Thus we are become like children, yea natural fools as to spiritual things; when we are invited to this feast, we pretend excuses; when Christ is tendered to us, we had rather keep our swine; when exhorted to labour for everlasting bread and riches and an eternal crown of glory, we had rather have our Barley-Corn, then all these: Thus we have lost all spiritual judgement and will not part with our bables, though for an inheritance in heaven.
Thirdly, A man being thus in his intellectuals and affectionate parts of his soul carried out only to these earthly things, and from God; hence is it, that he is as it were made one with them; we may say, earth thou art not only in respect of thy body, but also of thy soul; for if the Apostle say, 1 Cor. 6. 17, he that is joyned to the Lord is made one spirit; may we not also say, he that is joyned to sinne, to creatures, is made (as it were) the same with them. Although (saith Austin) the mind when it inclineth to these bodily things is not made corpus, a body, yet by these appetites and desires quodammodo corporascit, it doth (as it were) become bodily; It is as if a mighty Prince should come from his throne of glory, and wallow in the mire like a swine; this is our state com∣paratively to that primitive happiness and holiness; we are now no better then those lusts and those creatures that we do adhere unto; Junge cor tuun ater∣nitati Dei, & cum ille aeternus eris; and again, Si terram amas terra es; Thou art in Gods account that which thy heart is set upon; Oh then, God cannot look upon thee as his primitive creature, he seeth his image and superscription Page 371 defaced, and another brought in the stead thereof very loathsome and deform∣ed; Even as they that worshipt Idols are said to be like them, to become as abo∣minable, yea and as sensless, and as stupid, as they are, so it is in this case.
Fourthly, From hence also ariseth that impossibility of loosing our selves from the creature to return again to God from wn•m we fell; Had not the Lord shewed mercy to some of mankind, none of them could ever have recovered out of their lost estate, no more than the Devils can to that habitation which they forsook; All these creatures are the bird-lime that now hinder the wings of the soul from flying to Heaven: Oh that we could say, The snare is broken, and we are delivered; Who will give me wings that I may flie as a Dove, and my soul find rest with God! Yea as a man hath no power to break these bonds of sinne, so neither hath be any desire, for he is kept thus fast joyned to sinne by delight and by pleasure; so that the more sinne and the creatures delight him, the more strongly is he possessed; Samson was as much under Dalilah's power, though it was by his delight and consent, as when under the Philistims by force and constraint; So that the will and affections of man are hereby so glued to sin and the creature, That nothing is more offensive and troublesom to them, then to be di∣vided from these things: So that whereas David having experience of the sweetness of Gods favour, saith, It is good for me to draw nigh to God; They (on the contrary) judge it their greatest good to draw nigh to, and possess the creature, Hence
In the fifth place, There is that difficulty in man to bear the want of the plea∣sures of sinne, and the delight of the creatures, yea the exceeding great sorrow un∣der the losing of them: Were not man fallen from that glorious state of holiness, and enjoyment of God, he could not so sadly deplore and bewail the loss of any creature, no more then a man should be troubled to have the Moon taken a∣way when the Sunne is in the room thereof; but because, when fallen from God, we center upon these earthly things; therefore it is, that as we have in∣ordinate delight in the possessing of them, so immoderate sorrow in the losing of them; For that is a true Rule about all these things, Non est earendo difficul∣tas, nisi cum in habendo est cupiditas; Now all this trouble and perplexing grief ariseth from the pollution of the soul being destitute of that glorious Image.
Sixthly, Man having lost the Image of God thus in his soul, hence it is that he liveth a wretched instable and unquiet life, for being off in his heart from God, he therefore is tossed up and down according to the mutability of every creature; Hence no man having no more then what he hath by Adam, can live any quiet, secure and peaceable life, but is tossed up and down with contrary winds, some∣times fears, sometimes hope, sometimes joy, sometimes sorrow, so that he is ne∣ver in the Haven, but alwayes floting upon the waters; Thus miserable is a mans life, till the Image of God be repaired in him.
Lastly, From this universal pollution upon a man, it followeth, That be abuseth every good thing he hath, that he sinneth in all things, and by all things; That whether he eateth or drinketh, whether he buyeth or selleth, he cannot refer any one of these to the ultimate end, which is Gods glory, but to inferiour and self-respects: Oh wretched and miserable estate, wherein thou hast abused eve∣ry mercy God hath given thee to his dishonour and thy damnation! Thou hast turned all thy honey into gall and poison; thou wast never able to fulfill that command, 1 Cor. 7. So to use the world as not to abuse it; Thy meat, thy rai∣ment, thy health, thy wealth, they have all been abused; neither hath God been glorified, or the salvation of thy soul promoted thereby.