Letters concerning the love of God between the author of the Proposal to the ladies and Mr. John Norris, wherein his late discourse, shewing that it ought to be intire and exclusive of all other loves, is further cleared and justified
Norris, John, 1657-1711., Astell, Mary, 1668-1731.
Page  176

LETTER IX. To Mr. Norris.

SIR,

YOU have so clearly removed the Objection made against the intire Love of GOD, on account of its being prejudicial to the Love of our Neighbour, that I hope we shall hear no more of that matter. And truly when our Objectors have once felt (as they will for cer∣tain sooner or later) the Disquiet and Uneasiness, we may well refer them to their own Experience for a full Conviction of the Unreasona∣bleness of such Desires. As far as I can perceive the Objection is founded upon Supposition, That all Human Page  177 Love is a Love of Desire; a Love that arises from and terminates in that insatiable Desire we have of our own Happiness: Which methinks is a very great Reproach to Humane Nature, which as bad as it is, is not uncapable of a pure and disin∣teressed Benevolence. Had they duly attended to what you have writ in you Theory of Love, Part 1. Sect. 5. They would have discern∣ed the Falseness of their Suppositi∣on. But though all other Argu∣ments should fail, my own Expe∣rience would assure me that there is such a thing as unmixed Benevo∣lence; for there are some Persons in the World to whom I could perform the highest Services, without any the least Intuition of Reward, or Prospect of bettering my own Being.

Page  178 And now, to proceed in our most excellent Subject, though I am very sensible how much I depre∣tiate it by my unkilful Manage∣ment; yet that I may give occasion to your better Meditations, and because of the just Deference I pay you, I am contented in Compliance with your Desire, rather to disco∣ver my Ignorance than be wanting in my Respect. I will therefore first declare what I think may be added to the Unreasonableness of loving the Creature; and secondly what to the Reasonableness of in∣terpreting the first and great Com∣mandment in the strictest Noti∣on; all along subjoyning such Re∣marks as offer themselves, and seem not to me altogether forreign to the Subject.

For the first, I think it very un∣reasonable to love the Creature, Page  179 because it can never answer the End of Love. We desire only in order to Happiness, nothing being desira∣ble any further than as it promotes that End; but the Love of the Creature is more apt to hinder than advance our Happiness which is the End of loving, and therefore in all reason Creatures ought not to be thought desirable. It may perhaps be objected that this is me∣taphysical Nonsence, for the Crea∣ture is so necessary in order to our good, that whilst we are in the World we are so far from being happy, that we cannot so much as subsist without it. I do not deny this, provided the Creature be used only as an Occasion of our good, and with that Indifferency that is due to it. But if we rest in it as our End, and desire it as the true Cause of our Pleasure, it is so far Page  180 from being our good, that it cer∣tainly becomes our evil, in that it deludes our Expectations, shrinks under us when we have laid the Weight of our Souls upon it, and causes us to fall into Air and Emp∣tiness. That the Creature cannot make us happy is evident from all those Topicks that declare its Vani∣ty, its Uncertainty, and Inability to fill the Capacities of the Soul. For let a Man grasp as much of the Creature as possibly he can, he will still find an Emptiness in his Soul, something that is still wanting to compleat his Bliss, which is the Reason why we are always upon the Hunt after Variety of Enjoy∣ments, like a Boy at the Foot of a Hill, who fancies if he were at the Top he should touch the Sky, but when he comes there, finds it as much out of his Reach as ever. Page  181 So true is that Conclusion of the wise King, who had both the fullest Enjoyment of temporal things, and the best Capacity to judge of them of any we know of, that all is Va∣nity and Vexation of Spirit. And therefore unless Reason require us to place our Felicity in that which will certainly be our Vexation, it cannot be reasonable to love the Creature; and consequently if Love be not an unreasonable Passi∣on, and if it be fit to love at all, 'tis highly reasonable to love GOD, and him only.

But if abstracted Reasons can't perswade us to the intire Love of GOD, let it further be consider∣ed, that this is the best way to se∣cure to us that which we are so ve∣ry fond of, even the Enjoyment of the Creature. It is most certain that the Divine Benignity does nei∣ther Page  182 grudge, nor envy, nor arbi∣trarily deny us any thing that has a true Tendency towards our Satis∣faction, and therefore when he de∣prives us of those occasional goods that minister to our Ease and Plea∣sure, 'tis only that he may more fully secure our Interest in our true and only good, by removing those things that stood between us and it, which eclipsed our View, withdrew our Affections, and hin∣dred us in the Enjoyment of it. And therefore to fix our Love warmly and entirely on GOD, is the most likely Way to be sure of possessing all that is good in other things. For the Crosses and Dis∣appointments that we meet with are mainly designed to divert us from our vain Pursuit after the Shadow of good, and to direct us towards the Substance; to show Page  183 us experimentally since we will not sufficiently attend to what Reason suggests, the Emptiness and Unsa∣tisfactoriness of all created good, that so we may more directly pur∣sue, and inseparably cleave to the uncreated.

I may add, that if we have any Generosity in us, any Sense of the Dignity of our Nature, we cannot but acknowledge that 'tis little and low, and unbecoming the Soul of Man to place the least Degree of its Happiness in any Creature whatso∣ever. Since the Soul is capable of enjoying the first and sovereign good, and since he freely offers himself to her Embraces, 'tis as inju∣rious to her Honour as to her Happi∣ness to stoop to a Creature, and to degrade her self to such mean En∣joyments.

Page  184 The next thing to be done is to add somewhat to the Reasonable∣ness of interpreting the great Com∣mandment in the strictest Notion. That our Saviour's meaning was that we should love the Lord our GOD with all the Force and Energy of our Souls exclusively of all other Loves, may be presumed from the great Aptitude there is in such a Love to promote the Design of Religion in general, and of the Christian Religion in particular, which is, to retrieve the original Rectitude and Perfection of Hu∣mane Nature, or rather to improve it; to new draw and perfect in our Souls that beautiful Image of our Maker, which by our Sins and Errors we have defaced; in a word, to makes us as Godlike as is consistent with the Capacity of a Creature; and I know not any Page  185 thing that does so effectually con∣duce to this as the intire Love of GOD. The End of Love is to unite its self to its Object, every Motion it makes is in order to that End, and since Heterogeneous Substances can never cordially unite, since without Similitude of Disposition there can be no Uni∣on, therefore Love does ever en∣deavour after Likeness; it would if it were possible have an Identity of Essence, and, as far as the Na∣ture of things will admit, incorpo∣rate with the beloved Object. Hence nothing is so excellent at Imi∣tation as Love, nothing does so ea∣sily assimilate, which by the way, is one reason why we ought not to love the World, because of the Danger of being conformed to it. If then we love GOD intirely we shall with all the Powers of our Page  186 Soul endeavour to be like him, and according to the Degree of our Love, so will be the Nearness of our Resemblance. For we can∣not make GOD like our selves, if therefore we desire a Union we must be conformed to the Divine Na∣ture. Love, as the wise Man long since observ'd, surpasses all things for Illumination. And wherefore does it so, but because it fixes the Eyes of our Mind upon its Object, makes them keen and piercing; cau∣ses our Thoughts to dwell upon its Beauties, for they will always be busied about what we love? And as Love is very sagacious in finding out every little Punctilio that will recommend it to its beloved, so it is most restless and unwearied in the Practice of all Endearments, It will regulate all its Operations by his Models, imitate all his imi∣table Page  187 Perfections, that so it may most powerfully recommend it self, by that which is the great Band of Affection, Similitude of Nature. Since therefore the Love of GOD has such an Aptness to pro∣mote the great Design of the Chri∣stian Religion, 'tis but reasonable to think that our Lord upon this very Account did so highly magni∣fie, and so strictly enforce it. And indeed, since Love does so powerfully influence all our Moti∣ons, since all our Endeavours, all our Operations and Varieties of Acting tend to nothing else but the Accomplishment of some Desire, 'tis but fit and decorous that all our Desires should fix on him, whose we are, and for whose Glory we were created.

To the Reasonableness of the Love of GOD, we may further Page  188 add the Necessity of it, and that upon a double Account. First, because this is the only Vital Principle of Holiness, the only ef∣fectual Means of securing our Obe∣dience, and consequently of pre∣paring us for the Enjoyment of GOD. There is no way of uni∣ting our selves to GOD but by keeping his Commandments, for then, and not otherwise, do we dwell in him and be in us. Since therefore Obedience is necessary in order to Happiness, that which is the only true Principle of Obedi∣ence must be of equal Necessity. And that without Love there can be no true Obedience, and where∣ever Obedience is found 'tis a certain Criterion of Love, is plainly evi∣dent from our Saviour's discoursing in the 14. and 15. Chapters of St. Iohn; so that to derive universal Page  189 Obedience from the Love of GOD, or to argue from that Obedience to the intire Love of GOD, is as sound a Way of Argumentation as to prove any other Effect by its Cause, or Cause by the Effect. It were easie to show how every par∣ticular Duty is necessarily conse∣quent to the Love of GOD, how it is founded upon, and does natu∣rally spring from it. But I shall not here enter into the Detail, I will only take notice of the Ma∣nagement of our Thoughts, be∣cause on them depends our Words and Actions, and derive the Neces∣sity of the intire Love of GOD, from the Impossibility of governing our Thoughts as we ought with∣out it. Now this is most certain, that what we love will be upper∣most in our Minds; there is no better Diagnostick to discover our Page  190 Love than by observing what is the most frequent Subject of our Thoughts. For Thought seems to me to be nothing else but the Determination of the Soul to some certain Object which she desires either to contemplate or enjoy, a forming in her self the Images and Representations of what she de∣lights in, or contriving how she may obtain it, and remove what stands betwixt her and it: And therefore where-ever the Weight of our Desire rests, the Stream of our Thoughts will follow; tis to no Purpose to drive them away, for though we may for a while put a Force on them, they will insen∣sibly steal back again. So that if we mean to keep our Hearts with all Diligence (the only way to secure our outward Demeanour) we must above all things take care to regu∣late Page  191 our Desire, since it is by this that we fall into Destruction. If therefore our Hearts be too busie about any thing in this World, I know no other Way to cure that Disorder but by rectifying our De∣sire: Let us cease to love it, and we shall easily restrain our Hearts from being inordinately busied about it.

It is not so much the Force of Temptations, alas! All that the World and the Devil can offer to bribe our Hearts is paultry and in∣considerable; it is not so much the unavoidable Infirmity of our Nature, which has not such an Aversion to GOD as we pretend; but it is the Defect of our Love, our wilful misplacing that Divine Affection, our voluntary hanker∣ings after the Creature that sets us at Distance from the Creator.

Page  192 For let any one who has been inti∣mately acquainted with the Move∣ments of his own Heart tell me, whether he does not find that all the strong Gusts of Temptation blow from the Quarter? Whilst he duly contemplates the divine Perfections, looks on GOD as his true and only good and desires him accordingly, is not his Obedi∣ence prompt and ready, does not his Mind move with Alacrity and unwearied Vigor, and are not all its Motions regular and pleasing? But no sooner does his Desire step into a By-path, and he suffer him∣self to doat on the Creature, but all is unhinged and falls into Dis∣order, the Wheels of his Chariot move slowly, his Thoughts wan∣der, his Devotion languishes, his Passions grow unruly, his Intenti∣ons corrupt, and his good Actions Page  193 become lame and broken. Let us not therefore complain of our List∣lessness in the Worship of GOD, our Coldness and Wandrings in his Service, how much Labour it costs us to raise up our Hearts to Heaven, and put them in a right Tune, but rather let us complain of our want of Love, for that is the true Cause of all this Unto∣wardness, all our Sins and Infir∣mities, our moral Mistakes and Imperfections proceed from no∣thing else but this; let us once banish our Idols from our Hearts whatever they are, and we shall quickly find that all will be well again. For in vain do we search for Rules to regulate our Manners, and prescribe Remedies to cure our Infirmities, which do but baffle our Industry and reproach our Skill, our Prescriptions will do us but Page  194 little Service till we have reformed our Love, the Misapplication of which is the true Source of all our Disorder, the corrupt Root of all our Faults. If therefore we would come up to our holy Religion, if we would be those wise and excel∣lent Creatures that GOD designs we should, let us above all things fix our Love on its proper Object, put it in a regular Motion, and then do but allow it Scope, and faithfully pursue its Tendencies, and we need not be afraid of doing amiss; we should run the Race that is set before us with Chearful∣ness and Vigor, in a direct Line, and with an unwearied Constancy. For when Love is arrived at its Zenith, when GOD is all in all, then and not till then, shall we be consummate; and the greater Pro∣gress we make in this Love whilst Page  195 we stay on Earth, the nearer Ap∣proaches do we make to Perfection. Could we love GOD as intirely as he loves himself, we should then be per∣fect as our heavenly Father is perfect.

One way whereby the Love of GOD mightily facilitates our Obe∣dience, and secures the Perfor∣mance of it is this, it reduces our Duty to a very narrow Compass. For it is not the Difficulty but the Multiplicity of our Tasks which is the Cause that some of them are neglected. We cannot say of any particular Duty that it is impossi∣ble, and yet through the Shortness of our Views, and Narrowness of our Powers, it frequently happens that some of our Devoirs are unper∣formed. But though a Man can∣not attend to many things at once, yet sure he can to this one, to love the Lord his GOD with all his Page  196 Heart, &c. that is, to move to∣wards him with all the Force of his Nature. And though I cannot say this will secure him from all pitia∣ble Infirmities, yet I dare venture to affirm it will from all imputa∣ble Transgressions, and keep him asfree from Sin as is consistent with the Imperfection of this present State: And certainly to be fortifi∣ed against the Venom, and secured from the Shame of Sin, is no in∣considerable Blessing. Repentance is indeed an excellent Atidote to ex∣pel the Poyson, but 'tis much bet∣ter not to take it. For though I were sure to be delivered from the evil Consequences of Sin, I would not commit it merely on account of its natural Turpitude and conco∣mitant Evil. 'Tis so exceeding ug∣ly in its own Nature, and such a Reproach to ours, that though I Page  197 know GOD (so great is his Good∣ness) will pardon me upon my true Repentance, yet I know not how to forgive my self. Even that very Goodness which frees us from the punishment, encreases the Shame of Sin, and makes it so much the more abominable in that it is an Offence against so great a Good∣ness. Ioseph's Expostulation in my Mind is very emphatick: How can I do this great Evil and sin against GOD? He does not say how can I expose my self to the Hazzard of Discovery, the Pain of Repentance, and all the evil Effects and Punishments of Sin? No, that which was most grievous to him, and is so to all ingenious Tempers, was the Opposition that is in Sin to the Nature of GOD, the Affront that it offers to his Ma∣jesty and Goodness. In his Opini∣on Page  198 Sin in its self was the only con∣siderable Evil, the only thing to be avoided and fled from, for cer∣tainly of all Punishments this is most deplorable, to be given up to our own Hearts Lust, and suffered to follow our own Imaginations. But to return from this Digression.

What was observed above is by the way a sufficient Apology for the Strictness of the Divine Law. For since 'tis GOD only that does us good, and he only that is our Good; since all our Happiness con∣sists in a Union with and Enjoy∣ment of him; and since without Holiness there can be no Uni∣on with GOD, and that without Obedience to his Commands we can never partake of his Nature; therefore Holiness is of absolute Necessity because it is impossible to be happy without being holy. Page  199 To suppose it is to suppose the greatest Absurdity, and to imagine, either that GOD is not our Happi∣ness, or that 'tis possible to enjoy him without being like him. We have therefore no reason to com∣plain of the strictest Precepts of our Religion. For when we are commanded to cleanse our selves from all Filthiness of Flesh and Spirit, to perfect Holiness, to deny and mortifie that Part of us which is the Scene of Temptation, the corruptible Body which presses down the Soul, to be holy in all manner of Conversation, and in a word to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect; we are but in other Words commanded to be as happy as ever we can, no difficult Task one would think, we may rather wonder why it should be enjoyned us, since Nature and the Reason of things dictate and press Page  200 it on us. But though we all na∣turally pursue after Happiness, though we all constantly desire it, yet we are too apt to mistake the means of attaining it. And there∣fore GOD has thought fit out of his unspeakable Goodness to send his Son into the World, to shew us by Precept and Example the true way to Felicity, and explicitly dis∣cover that which we all blindly pursue. He does not exact of us any Duty, but what if we had a just View of things we would chuse our selves; and only engages us by all that Deference that is due to his Wisdom, by all that Obedi∣ence we owe to his Authority, to seek for Happiness there only where we are sure to find it; to make use of such Methods as will infallibly secure us from Delusion and Dis∣appointment; and therefore we can Page  201 never answer it either to Reason or good Nature if we be refractory to such exuberant Kindness and Con∣discention.

But secondly, the intire Love of GOD is necessary, because unless we love GOD only, we do in ef∣fect not love him at all, the Desire of GOD, and Desire of the Crea∣ture being in their own Nature incompatible, and by allowing our selves to love the one, we do by consequence forsake the other. For besides what you have alrea∣dy very excellently observed to this purpose in the Discourse it self, it may further be considered, that Love being the same to the Soul that Motion is to Bodies, as Bodies cannot have two Centers, or diffe∣rent Terms of Motion, so neither can the Soul have a twofold Desire. We may as reasonably expect that Page  202 a Stone should go up Hill and down Hill at the same time as that the Soul should 〈…〉 GOD and any 〈…〉 To love is in 〈…〉 to make the thing 〈◊〉 our End: We move towards good in order to make that good our own, and to embrace and acquiesce in it. Now he that loves the Creature does it because he expects some Degrees of Happiness (at least) from it, and so far makes it his End, and consequently does not center upon GOD as his compleat and only Felicity, for if he did, it were im∣possible to with-hold any Degree of his Love from him. Again, if as you said in your last, he that en∣joys GOD cannot Desire any thing out of him, because of the infinite Fulness of GOD, then certainly he that desires any thing besides GOD, Page  203 whatever he pretend, or however he deceive himself, does not truly love GOD, for if he did, that would quench all Desire of the Creature. He that has discovered the Fountain will not seek for troubled and failing Streams to quench his Thirst: He can never be content to step aside to catch at the Shadow who is in Pursuit and View of the Substance. The Soul that loves GOD has no occasion to love other things, because it nei∣ther needs nor expects Felicity from them whenever it moves towards the Creature it must necessarily for∣sake the Creator, and it can never truly turn to him without a Dere∣liction of all besides him.

Perhaps this may be thought a skrewing up things to too great a Heigth, a winding up our Nature to a Pitch it is not able to reach; Page  204 and though it may be fit and desira∣ble, yet it is not at present practi∣cable to love GOD with such an intense and abstracted Affection. But I consider, that since we are so apt to tumble down the Hill, so inclinable to take up with the least and lowest Measures; since 'tis impossible we should love too much, and very great Danger of our loving too little; and that our Practice does constantly come short of our Theory, our Copy sel∣dom reach the Original; it cannot be amiss to represent our Duty in the strictest Measures, to excite our Endeavours to do as well as we can, since we cannot expect to compass what we ought, or pay to the Di∣vine Majesty what is due to his transcendent Excellencies and infi∣nite Love to us: And since our just Debt cannot be discharged, is Page  205 it not fit to raise our Composition as high as our Stock will bear? Besides, the Design of all this is on∣ly to secure and improve our Hap∣piness, and is it not an odd thing for a Man to complain of enjoying too much, and of being over hap∣py? His Desire of Happiness is ever flaming, he may indeed be, and often is mistaken in his Appli∣cations to particular Objects, can it then be thought a Discourtesie to direct him to that never-failing Spring, that stable Center which cannot disappoint him? And though perhaps he may think it at first an uneasie thing to restrain his Desires from their usual Haunts, and to put them in a new and quite contrary Motion, yet if the Reason∣ableness of the thing cannot, at least let his Kindness to himself perswade him to make the Experiment, and Page  266 I doubt not but that in a very lit∣tle time he will be fully convinced that the intire Love of GOD is as practicable and pleasurable as 'tis rational and perfective.

And indeed, nothing does so much greaten and inlarge the Mind as the Love of GOD; for when it has so vast a good before it, it must needs stretch it self to receive the Fullest Draught that ever it can, and to be covetous and ambitious of the supreme Good are very lauda∣ble Qualities. Farther yet, the Love of GOD will inspire the Soul with the most generous Senti∣ments. A noble Mind though it love never so heartily, will not de∣sire Love again unless it can pre∣tend to some Merit to recommend it. And though Merit is a thing that Creatures can have no Title to in respect of their Creator, yet some Page  207 faint Resemblance of it they may aspire to. Though they cannot strictly deserve, yet they may do that which through his gracious Acceptance will entitle them to his Favour, which though it be not Merit, yet through his Condiscen∣tion is equivalent to it. And therefore an ardent Lover of GOD will consider how incongruous it is to present him with a mean and narrow Soul, a Heart grovling on the Earth, cleaving to little dirty Creatures. He will discern that nothing but what is great and best is fit for GOD's Service, and will strive even to out-do himself that he may procure an Oblation tolera∣bly fit for such a Majesty. To con∣clude, when we can say with Da∣vid, our Hearts are fixed, when they are intirely fixed on GOD, we have very great reason to sing and give Page  208 Praise, for then we are truly and very happy, but never till then.

And now Sir, you have all that at present occurs to my Mind on this noble Argument, and when you have added what you promise, I think there will not remain much more to be said upon this Subject, unless you will please to assign the Cause why we are so backward to a Love that is both so reasonable in it self, and so pleasant and profita∣ble to us. It may indeed seem ex∣ceeding strange to a considerate Person, why any one who has the Use of Reason, should not love GOD, or why he should love any thing besides him. For does not the Will as naturally and necessarily seek after good and cleave to it, as the hungry Appetite does to its Food, or the thirsty Hart to the refreshing Streams? And does not Page  209GOD comprehend all possible Good, is he not the very Fountain and sole Author of it? Is he not Goodness it self, that communica∣tive Goodness which gave Being to all things, in whom all things are, and consequently whatsoever is good in them must in a more emi∣nent Manner subsist in him, as you have fully made out in a just Discourse upon the Subject. And admitting that he were not the efficient Cause of all our good, of all our pleasing Sensations; yet, according to the Principles of all Mankind (for they who deny GOD and his Goodness do not de∣serve to be ranked in that Num∣ber) all the good that we do or can enjoy, is, if not that way, yet some way or other derived from him. Whither then can the Will possibly move but towards him? Page  209 Where can it quench its insatiable Thirst but in this inexhaustible Ocean of Delight? And having once tasted of this true and only sa∣tisfying good, is it possible that it should desire or relish any thing besides him? It is indeed strange, very strange that it should! And no body could imagine it if Expe∣rience did not daily declare it. From whence then does this Ab∣surdity arise? What's the reason that we do not all seek for good there, and there only, where we all acknowledge it does in the most eminent manner reside? Why the Mischief is, that though we habitually know this, yet we do not actually consider it, or at least not so thoroughly as to deter∣mine us to this Choice. 'Tis our Misfortune that we live an animal before we live a rational Life; the Page  210 good we enjoy is mostly transmit∣ted to us through Bodily Mediums, and contracts such a Tincture of the Conveyance through which it passes, that forgetting the true Cause and Sourse of all our good, we take up with those occasional goods that are more visible, and present to our animal Nature. Besides, the Mistakes of our Edu∣cation do too much confirm us in this Error. We suck in false Prin∣ciples and Tendencies betimes, and are taught, not to thirst after GOD as our only good, but to close with those visible Objects that surround us, to rest and stay in them. These we learn to co∣vet and call our goods, to value our selves upon, and be pleased in the Enjoyment of them. And as we grow up we see the generality of the World pursuing the same Page  212 Method, and think it our Wis∣dom to strike in with the vulgar Herd. Probably we may have been taught to call on GOD, to acknowledge him the giver of all good things in a formal Address, and when we have done so we fancy we have paid our Tribute, dis∣charged our Duty, and therefore en∣quire no further into the meaning of it, but put on our Religion as we do our Cloaths in Conformity to the Fashion, nay perhaps do not so much study, or make so many Inquiries about that as we do about the other. Thus are we insensibly betrayed into a wrong Motion, and blindly follow on in it, till at length we become so glew'd to the Creature, that 'tis almost as diffi∣cult to wean us from it, as it is to change the I eopard's Spots, or whiten the Negro's Skin: And Page  213 finding the Propension so early and so strong, we imagine that Na∣ture not Custom is the Author of it, which certainly is a very gross Mistake. 'Tis voluntary Error, superinduced Habits, and evil Cu∣stoms that sets us in Opposition to GOD, it is not through any Na∣tural Aversion that we turn from him. For what can Nature desire but a Supply of all her Wants, and a Union with the Fonntain of all Felicity? And she is not so blind in other things as to mistake a Stone for Bread, and Poyson for Food. Nor would she go retro∣grade in this her great and primary Motion, if we did not clap a false Byass on her, and force her into a By-path. Custom as the Philoso∣pher well observed is no small matter: It is the most difficult Page  213 thing imaginable to recall our Thoughts and withdraw the Stream of our Affections from that Channel in which they were used to flow. Which is a fur∣ther proof of the great Necessity that lies upon us betimes to cut off all Desire from the Creature, to shut up all the Avenues of our Souls from created good, even from those dearest Idols that bear the nearest Resemblance to our Maker, to whom our Be∣nevolence is due, though they ought not to usurp our De∣sire.

By this Time I have suffici∣ently tired you, and therefore must not stay to enlarge upon the Usefulness and consequently the Value of that Book of yours you were pleased to send Page  214 me, I can only return my Thanks for it, and all your other Favours, as it becomes

Sir,

Your much oblig'd and humble Servant.

St. Philip and St. Iames, 1694.