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.
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LETTERS Concerning the Love of GOD, Between the Author of the Proposal to the LADIES AND Mr. IOHN NORRIS: Wherein his late Discourse, shewing That it ought to be intire and exclu∣sive of all other Loves, is further cleared and justified.

PUBLISHED By J. NORRIS, M. A. Rector of Bemerton near Sarum.

LONDON, Printed for Samuel Manship at the Ship near the Royal Exchange in Cornhil, and Richard Wilkin at the King's Head in St. Paul's Church-Yard, 1695.

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October 7. 1694.

C. Alston.

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TO THE Truly Honourable LADY, The LADY CATHERINE IONES, IN DUE Acknowledgment of her Merits, AND IN Testimony of that Iust, And therefore Very Great and Vnseigned VENERATION Which is paid to her Ladiships Vertues, THESE LETTERS Are most Humbly Dedicated and Presented.

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THE Letters herelaid open to thy View are a late Correspondence between my self and a Gentlewoman, and to add to thy Wonder, a young Gentlewoman. Her Name I have not the Liberty to publish. For her Person, as her Modesty will not suffer me to say much of her, so the present Productions of her Pen make it utterly needless to say any thing, unless it be by way of Pre∣vention to obviate a Diffidence in some who from the surprizing Excellency of these Writings may be tempted to que∣stion whether my Correspondent be really a Woman or no. To whom my Answer is, that indeed I did not see her write Page  [unnumbered] these Letters, but that I have all the moral and reasonable Assurance that she did write them▪ and is the true Author of them, that can be had in a thing of this Nature, And I hope my Credit may be good enough with those that know me to be believed upon my serious Word, where there is no other Satisfaction to be given.

The Subject of this Correspondence is the best and greatest that the Thought of an intelligent Creature can possibly exer∣cise it self about, the Love of GOD. And 'twere much to be wished that this were made more the Subject not only of our Conversations and Letters (instead of those many empty and impertinent Fox∣malities that usually fill and ingross them) but even of our Books and more elaborate Composures, which I think would be better imployed in laying good Foundations for the Love of GOD, and raising the low-sunk Practice of it, than Page  [unnumbered] in curious Researches of his Nature, and an eternal Contention and tedious Chicane about the Trinity. Men may wrangle for ever about these abstruse Theories, and sooner dispute themselves out of Charity than into Truth, but our Wills have at present a larger Capacity than our Understandings, and our Love of GOD may be very flaming and sera∣phick, when after the greatest Elevati∣on and Soar of Thought our Conceptions of him are but faint and shadowy, and we see him but in a Glass darkly. But if we would even make this Glass more transparent, 'tis Love that must clari∣fie and refine it. An affectionate Sense of GOD will discover more of him to us, than all the dry Study and Specula∣tion of Scholastick Heads, the Fire of our Hearts will give the best and truest Light to our Eyes, and when all is done the Love of GOD is the best Contem∣plation

Page  [unnumbered] However, I am sure it is the best Practice. Love is not only the shortest and most compendious Way to Perfecti∣on, but the greatest Heighth and Pitch of it. The more we have of Love, the nearer Advances we make to GOD, who is Love it self, and who breaths forth from him essential and substantial Love, the more fit we are to taste the Sweetness of Divine Communion and religious walking with him here, and the better prepared to relish and enjoy the fuller Display of his sovereign Ex∣cellence hereafter.

Heaven is but a State of the most perfect and comsummated Love, and therefore the best thing we can practice upon Earth is to tune our Hearts to this Divine Strain, to set them as high as we can, for sure the best Preparati∣on for Love must be Love it self. But whatever other Qualifications are requi∣site, a Heart once truly touched with Page  [unnumbered] this divine Passion cannot long want them. Love will draw along after it all other Virtues, will perfect and im∣prove them, and will at least hide those Faults of them which it cannot correct. For this is that universal Ex∣cellency which supplies the Defects of other Works, but which if wanting (such a necessary and vital Part it is) nothing else can supply or compound for. Neither Tongues, nor Prophecy, nor Knowledge, nor Faith, nor Alms, nor even Martyrdom it self signifie any thing without Charity. The Heart is the Sacrifice that GOD demands, and unless that be offered, the richest Ob∣lation will find no Acceptance. Other Gifts and Graces, whether intellectual or moral, come indeed from Heaven, but they often leave us upon Earth. Love only elevates us up thither, and is able to unite us to God. 'Tis this indeed that gives us the strictest Uni∣on Page  [unnumbered] on with him in this Life. By Faith we live upon GOD, by Obedience we live to him, but 'tis by Love alone that we live in him. And so St. John, God is Love, and he that dwelleth in Love dwelleth in God and God in him. A Passage that makes highly for the Privilege of Love, and which I can∣not mention without calling to mind a most Divine Remark which the Port Royal, Abrege de la Morale des Epistres, &c. Tom. 4. Pag. 112. in their late Abstract of the Morality of the New Testament has upon it. O great God, you are all Love in your self, and all Love for Man and Man, dares deliberate whether he should love you, and to inquire when and how far he is obliged to do it. If to love GOD be to possess him, and to be possessed by him, what an Emptiness is there in that Heart which does not love God, or of Page  [unnumbered] what is it full if not of Vanity and Indigence it self?

But I may be concerned to plead as well as to recommend the Greatness of our Subject, which indeed is so sub∣lime and vast, has such immense Di∣mensions, such Heighths and Depths in it, that there needs no other Apology than the Theme we treat of to excuse the Defectiveness of our Meditations upon it. If there be any Argument that will oppress a Writer with its Weight, daz∣zle him with its Glory, and make eve∣ry thing that he shall think or say up∣on it appear little, it is this certainly of the Love of God, which is a Theory of too exalted a Nature for any humane Pen, and such as Angels alone are fit to write upon.

They that contemplate the Face of GOD can tell it may be in some Measure how lovely he is, and the very Tran∣sport of their high Passion, would fur∣nish Page  [unnumbered] them with Expression, but 'tis hard for a Soul that sees only his Back-parts to give any tolerable Representation of his Beauty, and for a Spirit that dwells and converses upon Earth to speak the Language of Heaven. There are My∣steries in the Love of God as well as in other Parts of Religion which to the Minds of Men arm'd as they are with sensible Prejudices, will appear very difficult, and which the most purged and illuminated Spirits will not presently comprehend, and which even those that do will not easily explain so as to make them intelligible to others. Practice and Experiment will go furthest here, but after all we must be often forced to cry, O the Depth! St. Paul seems to have been sensible of this when he prayed for his Ephesians, that being rooted and grounded in Love, they might be able to comprehend with all Saints, what is the Breadth and Page  [unnumbered] Length and Depth and Heighth, and to know the Love of Christ which passes Knowledge. This perhaps may be chiefly meant of the Love of God to us, but 'tis as true of our Love to him, which has its Dimen∣sions too, a Depth which we can hardly sound, and a Heighth which we can hardly reach.

Some it may be will be ready to say here that we have reached beyond it, by carrying the Measures of Divine Love to too great a Heighth. But let me only desire them to consider (besides what they will find for the Iustification of our Measure in the following Papers) that the Love here discoursed of and recom∣mended is the Love of a God, that is, of all that is good, of all that is perfect, of all that is lovely, of all that is desi∣rable, in short, of all that truly is, and can any Love be too great or too high for such an Object? Or rather does he not Page  [unnumbered] deserve infinitely more than we or any of his Creatures can bestow upon him? What can an infinite good be loved too much, or is any Degree of Love too high for him who is infinitely lovely, and who infinitely loves himself? Is the Heart of Man too great a Sacrifice for a God, though it were intirely offered and wholly burnt and consumed at his Altar? Especially since he himself de∣mands it all, requiring us to love him with our whole Heart, Soul, and Mind. And would we present him with less? What do we think the whole too great for him that we thus mince and divide it! But does not our Conscience secretly re∣proach us when we do so? Yes, it con∣tinually upbraids to us the Love of Crea∣tures, and is always like a faithful Ad∣vocate pleading in the Behalf of God, and asserting his sovereign Right. And why then should it be thought such a Stretch of the Love of God to make it in∣tire Page  [unnumbered] and exclusive of all other Loves? Can we love God too much, or Crea∣tures too little? Or is it such a Para∣dox to make the Church speak to Christ in the same Language wherein he conde∣scendes to speak to her, my Love, my undefiled is but one.

But after all, is this such a rare and unheard of Conclusion that God ought to be the sole and intire Object of our Love, to be so stared at as I find it is, and lookt upon as such a Singulari∣ty! No certainly, nothing more ordi∣nary in Books of Piety and Devotion, than to meet with Expressions of this Kind. St. Austin's Devotional Tracts are full of them, and so are our modern Writers who commonly run upon the same Strain, as may be seen at large (for 'tis endless to make particular Quotations here) in all those Books that are written after the mystical and spiritual Way, particularly in the Page  [unnumbered] Works of the great Spanish Seraphick St. Theresa, especially in her Pensées Sur L'Amour de Dieu, in Cardinal Bona's via Compendii ad Deum, Chrestien Interieur, Thomas a Kem∣pis of the Imitation of Christ, and the great French Poet Corneille in a Book of Divine Poems upon the same Subject, where he has this memorable Passage.

O Qu' heureux est Celuy qui de Coeur & d' esprit
Scait gouster ce que C'est que d' aimer Jesus Christ,
Et joindre à cest amour le mépris de soy-mesme!
O qu' heureux est Celuy qui se laisse Charmer
Aux Celestes attraits de sa Beaute supréme,
Jusqu' à quitter tout ce qu' il aime
Pour un Dieu qu' il faut seul aimer.
Ce doux & saint Tyran de nostre Affection
A de la jalousie & de l' Ambition,
Il veut regner luy seul sur tout nostre Courage,
Il veut estre aimé seul, & ne scauroit Souffrir
Qu'autre amour que le Sien puisse entrer en partage,
Ny du Coeur qu' il prend en Ostage,
Ny des Voeux qu' on luy doit offrir.

Page  [unnumbered]Monsieur Jurieu has also a great deal to the same Purpose in his Book of Chri∣stian Devotion, and I might name several among our own Writers, but there is one that delivers himself so full and home to the Business that I need mention no more, but shall only present the Reader with a Passage out of him. It is Bishop Lake, who in his seventh Sermon upon those Words, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart, &c. Matth. 22. and 37. (the very Text we build upon) expresses himself thus: In the Que∣stion of Perfection Divines require a double Perfection, one partium, the other graduum. There is a Perfection of the Parts in Man, which must be seasoned with the Vertue, and the Vertue in those Parts must arise unto its full Pitch. This Text requires both these Per∣fections in Charity. The Perfecti∣on Page  [unnumbered]〈1 page duplicate〉Page  [unnumbered]〈1 page duplicate〉Page  [unnumbered] on of the Parts of Man are intima∣ted in the Enumeration of the Heart, Mind, Soul and Strength, unto which all our inward and out∣ward Abilities may be reduced. So that there is no Power or Part of Man that must not be qualified with the Love of God. But of this Perfection I have spoken when I shewed you the Seat of Love. I made it plain unto you that there was to be in our Charity a Perfecti∣on of Parts. That with which we have now to do is the Perfecti∣on of Degrees. The Text will tell us that it is not enough for every of those Parts to have the Love of God in them, they must also be wholly taken up therewith. And this Perfection is noted by the Word (all) which is added to Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength.

A Commandment is the sooner Page  [unnumbered] admitted if the Reasonableness of the ground thereof be first discover∣ed. I will therefore first discover the ground upon the Reasonable∣ness whereof this great Measure is required. The ground is twofold, one in GOD, another in us. The ground that is found in God is taken from the Preface of this Text, as Moses has delivered it, and St. Mark repeated it. The Preface is, hearken O Israel, the Lord thy God is one. But one, therefore the in∣tire Object of our Love. He will not give this his Glory to any other, neither will he indure any Corsival herein. The Beginning, the Middle and the End of this Ob∣ject is only he that is Alpha and Omega, the first and last. Had we many Lord Gods then might we have many Objects of our Love. The Object can no more be multi∣plied Page  [unnumbered] than he can. Take all the Parts of his Title asunder, and you shall find Oneness and Intire∣ness therein. After a particular Examination of and Descant up∣on which he proceeds. I suppose if you have well heeded what I have said you will acknowledge that there is a fair ground in the Lord our God why he should challenge all our Love. Let us come now and look upon our selves, and see what ground thereof we can find there.

When the Question was moved unto Christ whether the Iews ought to pay Tribute to Caesar or not, he called for the Coin and ask∣ed whose Image and Superscription it bare. And when they answered him Caesar's, he replied, give unto Caesar those things which are Caesar's. But he addeth to our Purpose, that upon the same grounds they must Page  [unnumbered] give unto GOD those things which are GOD's. If the Image and Su∣perscription were a just ground why Coin should be paid unto Caesar, where GOD's Image is found there is as good a Reason that that should be rendred unto him. Now God's Image is found in us by Nature, for we were made according to his Image, so that all which we receive from him we owe unto him by the Law of Creation. A second way is God's Image in us, by Grace. For our Regeneration is but a se∣cond Creation, wherein we are re∣formed unto that Image according to which God at first created us. All then is due unto God a second time, by the Law of our Redemp∣tion, so that whether we look upon our Heart, our Mind, our Soul, or Strength, it may be demanded of us, Quid habes, quod non accepisti? Page  [unnumbered] What hast thou, &c. And if we have received it all, the Exaction is but reasonable, Si totum exigit a te qui totum fecit, refecit te. Surely St. Paul thought so when he wills the Corinthians to glorifie God with their Bodies, and with their Souls, adding this reason, for they are God's.

Well then we have found fair grounds of this Measure. For if God be such and such to us, as you have heard, the only lovely thing, and all that can be beloved, and we are all his, and all that we have is due unto him, both by Nature and by Grace, then ought we with all to express our Love towards him. But what is it to love him with all! Surely it is to love him sine divisio∣ne & sine remissione. None of our Abilities must be divided, none of them must be slack in doing this Work. First of the Division, we Page  [unnumbered] must not divide our Hearts, that is, as the Scripture speaks, have a Heart and a Heart, a Heart for God, and a Heart for the World, &c. Again, all Division of our Abilities is a plain a∣bandoning of the Love of God, for no Man can serve two Masters as Christ tells us, &c. God will have all or none, &c. Again says he, What is the Use of all this but to make us see how little we perform of this Com∣mandment, and how little Cause we have to boast of the best that we do therein. VVho is he that can de∣ny that his Abilities are divided, and that he loves more things than God, yea most things more than God, &c.

You see here is a great Man that not only expresly delivers the same Conclu∣sion; but endeavours to prove it too. Whether his way of reasoning be conclu∣sive or no I leave the Reader to judge. All that I am at present concerned to re∣mark Page  [unnumbered] is, that the Conclusion it self is far from being such a Novelty or Singularity as many imagin and object. No, it is fre∣quently to be met with, and all that I have here and elsewhere done is only to reduce a common Conclusion into clear and distinct Principles, such as are founded in the Nature and Reason of Things. So that if what I advance be no Truth, yet I am sure it is no Pa∣radox, which is enough to fence me from Prejudice, and I am content that Rea∣son should decide the rest.

When I have desired the Reader to be so just to me as not to meddle with these Papers till he has first carefully perused the Discourse to which they relate, and which contains the Principle upon which they proceed, I have nothing more to say here unless it be to give some account of the Reasons of our communicating a pri∣vate Correspondence to the Publick, concerning which I shall leave the Rea∣der Page  [unnumbered] to satisfie himself out of the Two ensuing Letters, which contain my Pro∣posal of a Publication, with the Reason and Manner of my Correspondents Com∣pliance. The Letters are as follows.


SInce we have now both of us conclu∣ded our Parts, and so sealed up our Divine Subject with a double Seal, it would be a little indecorous to break it open again, especially for me who can∣not think' it Prudence to travel on even in so pleasant a Road after my Guide has left me, to proceed further in a Subject where you think fit to end, or to vitiate with any Additions of mine the Relish of an Argument upon which you have left such a pleasing and delicious Fare∣wel. No Madam, let it stand as you have left it, for though it should not be absolutely finished (as indeed who can say of such an immense Subject that it ever is) yet 'tis most just and fit that where-ever you please to end, there should be the Conclusion, after which, as in Apelles's Venus, there can be no ad∣ding Page  [unnumbered] without Presumption. I shall not therefore be guilty of it, only give me leave to lament a little that you conclude so soon your Meditations and my Plea∣sures. For methinks I could eternally hear your Discourse upon this ever fruit∣ful, ever ingaging and entertaining Theme, which as great as it is receives such an Advantage from your Manage∣ment, as might recommend it to those dull cold Spirits whom its own natural Excellency would never affect. The very Tunings and looser Touches of a sweet and well toned Instrument are pleasant, and what then is the Harmo∣ny when it comes to be played on by a Masterly Hand! And how is the musi∣cal Hearer grieved when he sees the me∣lodious Artist unstringing it and laying it aside. But Madam, there are some Pleasures that are always short, if Time be their Measure, and were your Discour∣ses here never so prolix I should still think and be ready to complain they were done too soon, so great and noble is the Sub∣ject, and so admirable both your Thoughts and Expressions upon it, such Choiceness of Matter, such Weight of Sense, such Art and Order of Contri∣vance, Page  [unnumbered] such Clearness and Strength of reasoning, such Beauty of Language, such Address of Style, such bright and lively Images and Colours of things, and such moving Strains of the most natural and powerful Oratory, and all this season∣ed with such a Tincture of Piety, and seeming to come from a true inward vi∣tal Principle of the most sincere and set∣tled Devotion. But why do I say seem∣ing, when 'tis next to impossible that such lively and favoury Representations of the Love of God should proceed from one that is not intimately acquainted with the Mysteries and Secrets of it, or that there should be any such Knowledge without the most hearty and affectionate Sense of it, which alone is able to teach and make it known. For, contrary to the Method of other Sciences,' tis Practice here that begets Theory, and those only who have their Hearts thoroughly warmed and animated with the Love of God can either know or describe its Pro∣perties.

Madam, I am very sensible what Ob∣ligations I am under to you for the Privi∣lege of your excellent Correspondence, though I can never hope that my Thanks Page  [unnumbered] should ever equal either the Pleasure or the Advantage I have received by it, or that I should be ever able to express the Value I set upon your Letters, either as to their Ingenuity or their Piety. The former of which might make them an Entertainment for an Angel, and the lat∣ter sufficient (if possible) to make a Saint of the blackest Devil. I am sure for my own Part I have particular reason to thank you for them, having received great spiritual Comfort and Advantage by them, not only Heat but Light, in∣tellectual as well as moral Improvement. For (as many Discourses as there are up∣on the Subject) to my Knowledge I ne∣ver met with any that have so inlighten∣ed my Mind, inlarged my Heart, so en∣tered and took Possession of my Spirit, and have had such a general and com∣manding Influence over my whole Soul as these of yours. And I question not but that they would have the same Effect upon other Readers if they were but ex∣posed to their View, and would help to fan and blow up that divine Fire which our Saviour came to kindle upon Earth, but which the Neglect of careless Men has let almost go out.

Page  [unnumbered] And indeed never was there more need of such warm quickning Discourses than in this cold frozen Age of ours, where∣in the Flame of divine Love seems not on∣ly to burn with a blue expiring Light, but to hang loose and hovering, just rea∣dy to fly away and be extinct. Some have not the Knowledge of God, was the Complaint of St. Paul, and the chief Character of his Time. But that of ours is Want of the Love of God, and which equally redounds to our Shame. Per∣haps more, since the natural Capacity of our Wills is greater and more extensive than that of our Understandings, and he that knows but little may yet love much. But to our Shame the Reverse of this is now true. There is a great deal of Knowledge now adays and but little Love. Knowledge indeed is now in its Meridian, diffusing at once a very bright and universal Light, but the Love of God is declining and just ready to set. Strange that our Heads should be so full of Life and Spirits, and yet that the Pulse of our Hearts should beat so low! But the Ends of the World are come upon us, and a double Prophecy must be fulfilled, viz. That in the later Page  [unnumbered] Days Knowledge shall increase, and that the Love of many shall wax cold.

O divine Love whither art thou fled, or where art thou to be found? How little art thou understood, and how much less art thou considered and practi∣sed! What Discoveries of thee have been made by the Son of God, and yet what a Riddle art thou still to the World! What a Divine Teacher hast thou had, and yet how few are thy Disciples! How charming and ravishing are thy Pleasures, and yet how very few hast thou inamour∣ed by them! While in the mean time Co∣vetousness and Ambition have their nu∣merous Altars and Votaries, and sensual Love is continually spreading its Victo∣ries, and leading in triumph its inglorious Captives. O God that thou shouldst be so infinitely lovely, and yet so little be∣loved! That ever Mortal Beauties should be suffered to vye with thine, that thy Creatures should fall in love with one another and in the mean time neglect thee, thou infinite, thou only fair, who alone art worthy to have, and who alone canst reward their Passion? What a just Indignation must every true Lover of God conceive at this strange Disorder, Page  [unnumbered] and how willing and ready will he be to help it by promoting and propagating as far as he can the Love of God in the World! For this is one great Effect and Sign of the Love of God (and the only one I would have added to those you have mentioned) that whereas the Lovers of created Beauties are jealous of them, and willing to ingross them to themselves, being conscious of their Incapacity to suffice for many, those that truly love God are desirous to have others love him too, to multiply his Votaries, and to make the whole World if they can, of∣fer up their Sacrifices upon the same di∣vine Altar. There cannot be a greater Pleasure to a true Lovers of God than to see him loved by others, nor a greater Grief than to think what vast Numbers of evil Spirits there are in Hell, and wicked Men upon Earth who either hate him or imperfectly love him. And what would not such a Soul do, what would she not suffer to gain Proselytes to the Love of God, and promote the Pow∣er and Interest of it in the World, that so God might be loved in Earth as he is in Heaven? And how would it rejoyce her to find her Endeavours succeed, to find Page  [unnumbered] that by careful fanning and blowing, she has at length lighted the Fire under the Sacrifice, and that by her zealous Endea∣deavors it burns and consumes, and sends up to Heaven a grateful Fume? What Satisfaction would she take, and how comfortably would she warm her self at the Fire which she has kindled.

And truly Madam, I know no better Fuel wherewith to kindle and nourish this sacred Fire than such Discourses as yours, which therefore I think are too useful to the Publick not to be due to it. Treasures you know ought not to be concealed, and so great is the Disorder when they are, that Ghosts oftentimes think it worth while to come into our World on purpose to have them disclo∣sed. To be plain and free, I do verily think nothing can be more conducive (next to the Breathings of the holy Spi∣rit, and the Writings by him inspired) to promote the Love of God, than your Divine Discourses, nothing more effe∣ctual to inlarge its Empire in the Hearts of Men, which is so excellent an End, that I can hardly see how you can possi∣bly dispense with your self from serving it when you have it so far in your power. Page  [unnumbered] But I shall not assume to be your Casu∣ist. You know best what your Oppor∣tunities, and what your Obligations are. Only this, if you communicate your Letters you will be a general Bene∣factor to Mankind, who will be highly obliged to thank you, and which is more, to bless God on your Behalf. But if you deny the World so rich a Trea∣sure, all that I have to set against the publick Loss will be my own greater Pri∣vilege, which however for the common Benefit would willingly be exchanged by


Your very humble Servant J. NORRIS. Bemerton,

Iuly 2nd.


SInce 'tis your Pleasure to close this ex∣cellent Subject, that I might not with it put an End to those great Advan∣tages which such an agreeable and in∣structive Correspondence affords me, I Page  [unnumbered] designed (when I had taken notice of some few incidentals in our former Let∣ters) to propose a new Subject in this, or else to desire you would please to make choice of such an one as you shall judge of greatest Usefulness, but that in good Manners I think I am obliged to return an Answer to that Request with which you conclude the old Subject before I in∣troduce a new one. Perhaps by this time, and upon maturer Consideration, you have altered your Desire, which I should be glad of for your sake, lest the World which so justly values your Judgment in other things, should have too much oc∣casion to decry it in this. I am not ig∣norant that Persons who have a great deal of Worth themselves, are too apt to over rate the least Appearances of it in others, and give such Characters of their Friends as better express what they would have them be, than what they re∣ally are. It being the Property of those only who are diffident of their own Me∣rit, to envy and endeavour to lessen their Neighbours, and because they are little, imagine that others are so, whilst those who have noble Souls themselves, form their Ideas of others according to their Page  [unnumbered] own worth: And thus it comes that you pass so undeserved a Character on my Letters, concerning which I believe ve∣ry few will be of your Mind. Is the World do you think such an equitable Censor that I should care to make it my Confessor, and expose to its View Pa∣pers writ with the same Freedom with which I think? Many are the Faults I find in them my self, though we are ge∣nerally over partial to our own Producti∣ons. Like fond Parents we think our own Brood the fairest, how disagreeable soever they appear to disinteressed Judg∣es. What think you then will the Beaux Esprits discover? How will it grati∣fie that which they call Wit, but is more truly ill Nature, to find so much Matter to work on? For truly Sir, when we ex∣pose our Meditations to the World, we give them a Right to judge, and we must either be content with the Judg∣ment they pass or keep our Thoughts at home. Charity and Wisdom indeed would restrain them from that ungo∣vernable Liberty they usually take; they may censure so it be with Candor; judge equitably; ay, and pass Sentence too, provided it be impartially. But though Page  [unnumbered] 'tis the Business of a true Critick to disco∣ver Beauties as well as Blemishes, and by a due ballancing of both, to pass a found Judgment on the whole, such Equity is not to be expected where so much Envy abounds, where every Man reckons another's Praises his Detraction, and never thinks his Fame will reach so high as when 'tis built on the Ruins of his Neighbours. A very preposterous Way in my Opinion, to get or encrease Reputation. For where is the Glory of excelling those who have little or no Ex∣cellency in them? No, let them shine as bright as they can, and if then I can out-shine them, I have made some con∣siderable Addition to my Character. The Censure therefore that abounds in the World is one Reason why I am against Printing. If a Body have no Worth, to what End should they expose themselves, and bring their Weakness to the Light? And if they have, Conceal∣ment is their wisest Choice, since they shall be sure to find more Envy than En∣couragement? For it is the Custom of the World when they behold a shining Virtue, to strive rather to reduce it to their Level, than to raise to its exalted Page  [unnumbered] Heighth. 'Tis odds whether such a Man can benefit others, who are too oft resolved not to be benefited by him, but he is certain to suffer himself. Every busie finger will be pulling the Flie out of his Box of Oyntment, not to advance but to lessen its Price. If he be guilty of a little Mistake or Inadvertency (and who is secure therefrom?) Charity shall never be called on to dispose of it, but it shall be bandied about, heightened and aggravated, not only to his, but even to the Reproach of Wisdom and Virtue it self. Since then the Air is so unkind, let's keep our tender Plants beneath a Glass; 'tis enough that they lie open to the Observation and Influence of the Sun of Righteousness, and that when Occasi∣on serves, a Friend may be admitted to view and take them. These and some other Considerations have recommended to me, my darling, my beloved Obscuri∣ty, which I court and doat on above all Earthly Blessings, and am as ambitious to slide gently through the World, with∣out so much as being seen or taken notice of in it, as others are to bustle and make parade on its Theater. And therefore, though I desire by all laudable means to Page  [unnumbered] secure a good, I will most industriously shun a great Reputation. Not that I want Ambition, perhaps there is too much of that in my Temper, but because I cannot endure to have my Glory and Reward forestalled, nor can be content ito receive my Plaudit from any but an infallible Judge. 'Tis enough for me to do well, let who will take the Praise of doing it, there being in my Opinion no Encomium comparable to that which they shall one Day hear, who seek GOD's Glo∣ry and despise their own. And though I bear in me too much Allay to be appre∣hensive of great Commendations; yet, to confess the Truth, I as little care for Censure, having not yet obtained that perfect Indifferency to publick Fame which I endeavour after, because I sup∣pose 'tis scarce possible to command our selves, and arrive at a true Generosity of Temper, till we are perfectly mortified to Praise and Dispraise as well as to other things.

But besides this, me thinks the very Form of a Letter renders such Compositi∣ons improper for publick view. Those ci∣vilities which are but necessary, especially when an Acquaintance is founding, will Page  [unnumbered] give the captious World occasion to sneer and laugh. It favours too much of Mon∣taigne's Affectation to trouble the World with such Particularities of our Humour, and Infirmities as we may in private ve∣ry laudably descend to, and which I re∣member make a Part of some of my Let∣ters. Alas Sir, we are too prone to over∣rate our selves, and consequently to va∣lue whatever relates to us on no other Account but because it does so, but we must not expect to find People so com∣plaisant as to bear with this Temper, or perhaps, so civil as not to ridicule and expose it.

These are my Reasons against a Pub∣lication, I know not how they will weigh with you, for I must needs confess one of yours overballances them all; whatever People may say of Temptation, to do good seems to me the only irresistible one. And indeed, could I be convinced any thing I have writ would serve the Ends of Piety, I should despise the Cen∣sure of the wou'd-be-Criticks, and reck∣on, that would more than compensate all other Inconveniencies. (And perhaps a little Censure is necessary to correct that Vanity your too good Opinion may Page  [unnumbered] have raised in me, and which I desire you would be less expressive of for the future. Tis enough for me to obtain the inward Esteem of any vertuous and deserving Person, the greatest Kind∣ness they can shew is to acquaint me with such Faults as lessen and obstruct it.) But if those excellent and elaborate Dis∣courses that are abroad, have so little Ef∣fect on the Generality of Mankind, how can I expect my crude Rapsodies should have any? Pardon me that I express so mean an Opinion of any thing you are pleased to commend, I would not do it in any other Case. But all Men will not see with your Eyes, whose Candor has bribed your Judgment, and I am ob∣liged to you as Homer and Virgil are to their Commentators for discovering Beauties in them which they themselves perhaps never so much as dreamt of. Have you indeed been affected with my Letters? 'Tis not through any Force of theirs but the Goodness of your own Temper. For Hearts so full of Love to GOD, like Tinder, catch at every Spark. But alas there is too much dry Wood in the World to expect that such a languid Flame should kindle it. Your Letters Page  [unnumbered] indeed would be extremely useful, and I think they are intire enough by them∣selves, nor do they need a Foil; so that I cannot imagine to what Purpose mine will serve, unless it be to decoy those to a Perusal of them, who wanting Piety to read a Book for its Usefulness, may pro∣bably have the Curiosity to inquire what can be the Product of a Womans Pen, and to excite a generous Emulation in my Sex, perswade them to leave their insignificant Pursuits for Employments worthy of them. For if one to whom Nature has not been over liberal, and who has found but little Assistance to surmount its Defects, by employing her Faculties the right way, and by a mode∣rate Industry in it, is inabled to write tolerable Sense, what may not they per∣form who enjoy all that Quickness of Parts and other Advantages which she wants? And I heartily wish they would make the Experiment, so far am I from coveting the Fame of being singular, that 'tis my very great Trouble it should be any bodies Wonder to meet with an ingenious Woman.

If therefore you over-rule me, and re∣solve to have these Papers go abroad, it Page  [unnumbered] shall be on these Conditions; first, that you make no mention of my Name, no not so much as the initial Letters; and next, that you dedicate them to a Lady whom I shall name to you, or else give me leave to do it. For though none can be less fond of Dedications, or has so little Ambition to be known to those who are called great; yet out of the Regard I owe to the glorious Author of all Per∣fection, I cannot but pay a very great Re∣spect to one who so nearly resembles him. And where can a Discourse of the Love of GOD be more appositely pre∣sented than to a Soul that constantly and brightly shines with these Celestial flames? One whom now we have duly sta∣the Measures, I may venture to say, I love with the greatest Tenderness, for all must love her who have any Esteem for unfeigned Goodness, who value an early Piety and eminent Vertue. All true Lovers of GOD being like excited Needles, which cleave not only to him their Magnet, but even to one another. A Lady, whom for the good of our Sex I would endeavour to describe, were I capable to write the Character of a compleat and finished Person; but it re∣quires Page  [unnumbered] a Soul as bright, as lovely, as re∣fined as her Ladyships, to give an exact Description of such Perfections! A Lady who dedicates that Part of her Life in∣tirely to her Maker's Service, which the generality think too short to serve them∣selves. Who in the Bloom of her Years, despising the Temptations of Birth and Beauty, and whatever may withdraw her from Mary's noble Choice, has made such Advances in Religion, that if she hold on at this rate, she'll quickly out∣strip our Theory, and oblige the World with what was never more wanted than now, an exact and living Transcript of Primitive Christianity. So good she is that even Envy it self has never a But to interfere with her Praises, and though Women are not forward to commend one another, yet I never met with any that had seen or heard of her, who did not willingly pay their Eulogies to this admirable Person, and if Praise be due to any Mortal, doubtless she may lay the greatest Claim to it. But not to relie wholly on Report, I my self have obser∣ved in her so much Sweetness and Mo∣desty, so free from the least Tincture of Vanity, so insensible of that Worth Page  [unnumbered]〈1 page duplicate〉Page  [unnumbered]〈1 page duplicate〉Page  [unnumbered] which all the World admires; such a constant and regular Attendance on the publick Worship of GOD, Prayers and Sacraments; such a serious, reverent and unaffected Devotion, so fervent and so prudent, so equally composed of Heat and Light, so removed from all Formali∣ty, and the Extremes of Coldness aud Enthusiasme, as gave me a lively Idea of Apostolical Piety, and made me every Time I prayed by her, fancy my self in the Neighbourhood of Seraphick Flames! But—my Expression are too flat, my Co∣lours too dead to draw such a lovely Piece! Would to GOD we would all transcribe, not this imperfect Copy, but that incomparable Original she daily gives us; that Ladies may be at last con∣vinced that the Beauty of the Mind is the most charming Amiableness, because most lasting and most divine, and that no Ornaments are so becoming to a Lady as the Robe of Righteousness and the Jewels of Piety. I am,


Your much obliged Friend and Servant.

July 17, 1694.

Page  [unnumbered]

Postscript to the Preface.

THo' Authorities go but a very little way with me in Questions whose Determina∣tions depends upon Measures of Reason, yet finding that the great and general Objection that lies against the present Conclusion is the pretended Singularity of it, I think it conve∣nient to set down a very signal Passage which (since the writing the Preface) I have met with in the late Continuation des Essais de morale Part 2. Tom. 1. Pag. 59, where upon that Text of St. Peter, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims abstain from fleshly Lusts, &c. the excellent Moralist has these Words, But what is the Extent of these carnal Desires which St. Peter forbids us? It is easie to mark it out. For all that which is not God is carnal according to the Scripture because it is a Consequence of the Corruption of the Heart, which having separated us from the Love of God has made the Soul wil∣ling to fill that Emptiness which she feels in her self by the Possession of Creatures. Whether these Objects are spiritual or Corporal, the Desires which we have of them are always carnal in the Language of Scripture. For which reasen it is that St. Paul puts Dissentions and Emulations a∣mong the Works of the Flesh. So that it is a no less carnal Lust to desire Glory and Reputation, and all that serves in order to it, than to desire the Pleasures of the Body, because these Objects are no more our true good than the other. God does no more permit that we should part our Love between him and Reputation, between him and the 〈◊〉 of Men, than between him and fea∣sting Page  [unnumbered] and other Bodily Pleasures. For 'tis always the Division of a thing which was all due to him. 'Tis always a Debasement of the Soul, which be∣ing made for Good stoops beneath and degrades her self in being willing to enjoy a Creature either equal or inferiour to her self. God is great enough to be the only and intire Object of our Heart, and 'tis to injure him to divide it, because 'tis in ef∣fect to declare to him that he does not deserve it all.

You see here is the Judgment of a whole Society of great Men, no less than the illustri∣ous Port Royal of France, in as clear and ex∣press Terms as can be to our purpose. 'Twere infinite to appeal to all those Writers who have either directly asserted this Conclusion, or occasionally let fall Expressions that fa∣vour and insinuate it. There is hardly a Book of Morality or Devotion extant whererein Passages of this Nature are not to be found. I do not say there are many that offer to de∣duce this Conclusion from Principles, but that it is generally held, and upon all Occasions al∣luded to and glanced at, which is enough to shew the irresistible Prevalency of the Truth, and to skreen them from the prejudice and imputation of Novelty and Singularity, who undertake upon a rational Ground to clear and defend it.


PAge 44. Line 7. dele. l. 8. read from enjoying plea∣sures that do very much out-weigh it, and is it self an Occasion and Medium to. p. 49. l. 9. after pretend add 〈◊〉 p. 50. l. 6. f. that r. than p. 180. l. 15. d. that. p. 192. 1. 6. f. the r. this. p. 286. l. 5. r. pleases.

Page  1

LETTERS Philosophical and Divine, TO Mr. IOHN NORRIS, With his Answers.

LETTER 1. To Mr. Norris.


THough some morose Gen∣tlemen wou'd perhaps re∣mit me to the Distaff or the Kitchin, or at least to the Glass and the Needle, the proper Em∣ployments as they fancy of a Wo∣mans Life; yet expecting better Page  2 things from the more Equitable and ingenious Mr. Norris, who is not so narrow-Soul'd as to confine Learning to his own Sex, or to envy it in ours, I presume to beg his Attention a little to the Imper∣tinencies of a Womans Pen. And indeed Sir, there is some reason why I, though a Stranger, should Address to you for the Resolution of my Doubts and Information of my Judgment, since you have in∣creased my Natural Thirst for Truth, and set me up for a Virtuso. For though I can't pretend to a Multitude of Books, Variety of Languages, the Advantages of Aca∣demical Education, or any Helps but what my own Curiosity afford; yet, Thinking is a Stock that no Rational Creature can want, if they know but how to use it; and this, as you have taught me, with Pu∣rity Page  3 and Prayer, (which I wish were as much practis'd as they are easie to practise) is the way and method to true Knowledge. But setting Preface and Apology aside, the occasion of giving you this trouble is this:

Reading the other day the Third Volume of your excellent Dis∣courses, as I do every thing you Write with great Pleasure and no less Advantage; yet taking the li∣berty that I use with other Books, (and yours or no bodies will bear it) to raise all the Objections that ever I can, and to make them undergo the severest Test my Thoughts can put 'em to before they pass for currant, a difficulty arose which without your assistance I know not how to solve.

Methinks there is all the reason in the World to conclude, That Page  4 GOD is the only efficient Cause of all our Sensations; and you have made it as clear as the Day; and it is equally clear from the Letter of the Commandment, That GOD is not only the Principal, but the sole Object of our Love: But the reason you assign for it, namely, Because he is the only efficient Cause of our Pleasure, seems not equally clear. For if we must Love nothing but what is Lovely, and nothing is Lovely but what is our Good, and nothing is our Good but what does us Good, and nothing does us Good but what causes Pleasure in us; may we not by the same way of arguing say, That that which Causes Pain in us does not do us Good, (for nothing you say does us Good but what Causes Pleasure) and therefore can't be our Good, and if not our Good then not Page  5 Lovely, and consequently not the proper, much less the only Object of our Love? Again, if the Au∣thor of our Pleasure be upon that account the only Object of our Love, then by the same reason the Author of our Pain can't be the Object of our Love; and if both these Sensations be produced by the same Cause, then that Cause is at once the Object of our Love, and of our Aversion; for it is as natu∣ral to avoid and fly from Pain, as it is to follow and pursue Plea∣sure?

So that if these Principles, viz. That GOD is the Efficient Cause of our Sensations, (Pain as well as Pleasure) and that he is the only Object of our Love, be firm and true, as I believe they are; it will then follow, either that the being the Cause of our Pleasure is not Page  6 the true and proper Reason why that Cause should be the Object of our Love, (for the Author of our Pain has as good a Title to our Love as the Author of our Plea∣sure;) Or else, if nothing be the Object of our Love but what does us Good, then something else does us Good besides what causes Plea∣sure? Or to speak more properly, the Cause of all our Sensations, Pain as well as Pleasure being the only Object of our Love, and no∣thing being Lovely but what does us Good, consequently, that which Causes Pain does us Good as well as that which Causes Pleasure; and therefore it can't be true, That no∣thing does us Good but what Causes Pleasure.

Perhaps I have express'd my self but crudely, yet I am persuaded I've said enough for one of your Page  7 Quickness to find out either the strength or weakness of this Ob∣jection. I shall not therefore trou∣ble you any further, but to beg Pardon for this, and to wish you all imaginable Happiness, (if it be not absurd to wish Felicity to one who already possesses a Virtu∣ous, Large and Contemplative Soul, and a quiet convenient Retirement, which is indeed all the Happiness that can be had on this side Hea∣ven) and to subscribe my self

Honoured Sir,

Your great Admirer and most humble Servant.

London, St. Matthew's day, 1693.

Page  8

LETTER II. Mr. Norris's Answer.


THough in Civility to your Person, my Answer ought to have been more speedy, yet con∣sidering the weight of your Letter, I think it cannot be well too slow, and I hope you will in Equity, al∣low me some time to recover my self out of that wonder I was cast into, to see such a Letter from a Woman, besides what was necessary to consider the great and surprising Contents of it. I find you throughly comprehend the Argument of my Discourse, in that you have pitch'd upon the only material Objection to which it is liable; which you Page  9 have also press'd so well, and so very home, that I can't but greatly ad∣mire the Light and Penetration of your Spirit. One of your clear and exact thoughts might easily sa∣tisfie your self in any Difficulty that shall come in your way, as having brightness enough of your own to dispel any Cloud that may set upon the Face of Truth; but however, since you have condescended to ap∣ply your self to me for Satisfacti∣on, I shall endeavour as well as I can to solve the Difficulty you pro∣pose.

I observe therefore first of all, that you grant the two main things contended for, viz. That God is the only Efficient Cause of all our Sensa∣tions; and that by the Letter of the Commandment, GOD ought to be the Sole Object of our Love. Only you say, that the Reason I assign Page  10 for it seems not equally Clear, by which I suppose you mean, that it does not seem to follow from God's being the only Cause of our Sensa∣tions, that he is the only Object of our Love; Or, that GOD is not therefore the only Object of our Love, because he is the only Cause of our Sensations; that is in short, you grant the things, but you question the Connexion.

Now before I consider the Ob∣jection you urge against it, give me leave to tell you that I think it very clear, That not Absolute, but Relative Good is the Formal Ob∣ject of our Love; that is, that we love a thing not as it is good in it self, but as 'tis good to us; and consequently, GOD is the Ob∣ject of our Love, not as he is ab∣solutely, but as he is Relatively Good, as he is our Good, or Good Page  11 to us. For to Love GOD is to desire him as our Good. I do not deny but that the Absolute good∣ness of GOD, the Natural Per∣fection of his Essence, is also the true Object of our Love; but not as Absolute, but as Relative; that is, not as tis a Perfection in him, but as the same may be a Perfection to us, as it makes us more happy by the Pleasure that we take either in the Contemplation, or in the Fruition of so glorious and excellent a Being. So that the absolute Perfection of GOD must become relative before it can be the Object of our Love.

Indeed, when in thinking upon GOD, we consider nothing but an infinite Reality or Perfection, we are ready to acknowledg that Order requires we should esteem him infinitely. But from this a∣lone Page  12 we do not necessarily conclude that we should adore him, fear him, love him, &c. GOD consi∣dered only in himself, or without any Relation to us, does not excite those movements of the Soul which transport it to Good, or to the Cause of its Happiness. Nothing indeed is more clear, than that a Being infinitely Perfect, ought to be infinitely Esteem'd; and I am apt to believe, that there is no Spirit that can refuse GOD this speculative Devoir, as consisting only in a simple Judgment, which is not in our power to suspend when the Evidence is intire. So that even wicked Men, those who have no Religion, those who deny Providence, may be suppos'd vo∣luntarily to render GOD this sort of Devoir. But then supposing withall, that GOD (how perfect Page  13 and good soever in himself) does not at all interess or concern him∣self with us or our Affairs; and that he is not the true and imme∣diate Cause of all the good which they enjoy, notwithstanding the Notion they have of the Absolute Perfection of GOD, they consider him not as their good, and accord∣ingly do not apply themselves to the Love of him, but brutally fol∣low the agreeable movements of their Passions. From all which it is is clear, that GOD is to be loved not for his Absolute, but for his Relative goodness.

Now if it be true in the gene∣ral, that Relative good is the Ob∣ject of Love, and that GOD is to be lov'd as, and because he is our good, then it will follow, that if GOD only be our good, or the Au∣thor of good to us, then GOD only Page  14 is to be lov'd by us. And so the other way, that if GOD only be to be lov'd by us, it must be, it can be upon no other account than as and because he only is our good, as being the only true Cause of our Pleasure. And I cannot imagine upon what other ground you can cast our Obligation to love GOD only, (which you grant to be the literal import of the Command∣ment) if not upon this, that he only is our good. For as the reason why we are to Love GOD at all, is because he is our good, so the reason why we are to Love him only (which supposition you grant) can be no other, but because he only is our good. And since he can∣not be our only good any otherwise, than as he is the only true Cause of our Pleasure, it follows, that his being the only true Cause of Page  15 our Pleasure, is the true reason why he ought to be the only Ob∣ject of our Love. This I think, is clear and evident, and therefore though I should rest here, as not being able to Answer all the Ob∣jections to the contrary, this ought not to be any prejudice to the Truth of what is maintain'd. For this I take to be a sure Rule, that we are to stick to what we clearly see, notwithstanding any Objecti∣on that may be brought against it, and not reject what is evident, for the sake of what is obscure, it being very possible for a Man to be in sure and certain possession of a Truth, though attended with some Difficulties which he knows not well how to solve. But let us see whether yours are of that Na∣ture.

Page  16 You say, if we must Love no∣thing but what is Lovely, and no∣thing be Lovely but what is our good, and nothing is our good but what does us good, and nothing does us good but what causes Pleasure in us, may we not by the same way of arguing prove, that what causes Pain in us does not do us good, and therefore can't be our good; and if not our good then not Lovely, and consequently is not the proper, much less the only Object of our Love? True, it is not so far as it causes Pain; for the causing of Pain as such, can be no reason of Love. But I suppose your meaning is, whether we may not by the same way of arguing prove, that what causes Pain is not at all the Ob∣ject of Love? To which I An∣swer, That if that which causes Pain does it in all respects after the Page  17 same manner as it causes Pleasure, the causing of Pain will, for ought I can at present see to the contrary, be as good an Argument for its not being to be lov'd, as its causing Pleasure is for its being to be loved. But thus it is not in the present Sup∣position. Though I acknowledge Pain to be as truly the Effect of GOD as Pleasure (for I know not what else shou'd cause it) yet it is not after the same manner the Ef∣fect of GOD as Pleasure is. Plea∣sure is the natural, genuine and direct Effect of GOD, but Pain comes from him only indirectly and by Accident. For first, 'tis of the proper Nature of GOD to produce Pleasure, as consisting of such essential Excellencies and Per∣fections as will necessarily beatifie and make happy those Spirits, who are, by being in their true rational Page  18 Order, duly dispos'd for the En∣joyment of him. But if this same excellent Nature occasion Pain to other Spirits, this is only indirectly and by Accident, by reason of their Moral Indisposition for so Sove∣reign a Good. Again, as 'tis thus in Reference to the Nature of GOD, so in Reference to his Will. GOD's antecedent and primary De∣sign is the Happiness of all his Creatures (for 'twas for this that he made them) but if any of them, in the event prove miserable, 'tis wholly besides his first Design, and only by a subsequent and seconda∣ry Will. Again, when GOD causes Pleasure, 'tis because he wills it for its self, and naturally delights in it, as comporting with his primary Design which is the Happiness of his Creatures; but when he causes Pain, 'tis not that Page  19 he wills it from within, or for it self (for so 'tis not at all lovely) but only from without, and for the sake of something else as it is neces∣sary to the Order of his Justice. For you are to consider, that if there had been no Sin, there wou'd ne∣ver have been such a thing as Pain, which is a plain Argument that GOD wills our Pleasure as we are Creatures, and our Pain only as we are Sinners. But now in mea∣suring our Devoirs to GOD, we are not to consider how he stands affected to us as sinners, but how he stands affected to us as Crea∣tures, how he is disposed towards us as we are his Work, and not as we have made our selves. And therefore if as Creatures he Loves us, and Wills our Happiness, that lays a sufficient Foundation for our Love to him; and 'tis not his Page  20 treating us with Evil as sinners that can overturn it.

Indeed if GOD had designed us for misery, and inflicted it upon us as Creatures, if this had been his primary and direct Intention, his Natural and Original Will, according to the systeme of those who say, That GOD made Man on purpose to Damn them, then indeed I see nothing that should hinder your Objection from taking place, GOD would not then be the pro∣per, much less (as you say) the only Object of our Love, at least as to those miserable Wretches so destin'd to Ruin, which by the way is to me a Demonstration of the falshood of that strange Hy∣pothesis. But upon the suppositi∣on, that GOD wills and causes Pleasure in us as Creatures, and puts us to Pain only as Sinners, there Page  21 will not be the same reason for our not loving him upon the account of his being the Author of our Pain, as for our loving him as the Author of our Pleasure and Hap∣piness. For we stand obliged to GOD as we are Creatures, and if in that Relation GOD be our Be∣nefactor, and the Author of our good, he has a sufficient Right; and, if the only Author, the only Right to our Love, though as sinners he puts us to pain, which being thus will'd and effected by GOD after a manner so different from our plea∣sure, cannot so well conclude for our not loving him, as this does for our loving him. Which may serve to take off the force of your first Instance.

And will be equally applicable to your second. For whereas you further urge, that if both these Page  22 Sensations, (viz. Pleasure and Pain) be produced by the same Cause, then that Cause is at once the Ob∣ject of our Love and of our A∣version: I answer by the same Di∣stinction, that if both these Sen∣sations were to be produc'd by the same Cause, acting alike in the one as in the other, it would be as you say. But since it is otherwise as I have represented it, all that you can argue from GOD's being the Author of our Pain as well as Pleasure will be this, That he is justly to be the Object of our Fear, but not of our Aversion. We are indeed to Fear him, and him only, as being the true Cause of all Pain, and only able to make us miserable, according to that of our Saviour, I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear, &c. But this is no reason why we should hate him, Page  23 as never inflicting it but when Or∣der and Justice require it. And if he did not inflict it then he would be less perfect, and consequently less amiable in the view of all re∣gular and well-order'd Spirits. I shall not determine any thing con∣cerning the Case of the Damn'd, whether that invincible Love which they have for Happiness may not inspire them with an invincible hatred against him who is the Cause of their Misery. Perhaps it may be so. Though whether it should be so, and whether they do not sin Eternally in so doing is another Question. But I shall de∣termine nothing here, thinking it sufficient for my present purpose, that this is no reason why GOD should be the Object of any Mans Aversion in this Life, whom as the Author of Pain we are indeed Page  24 to Fear, but not to Hate, for the reasons before alledged.

Now as to your last Instance, That if these Principles, viz. That GOD is the Efficient Cause of our Sen∣sations, Pain as well as Pleasure, and that he is to be the only Object of our Love, be firm and true, it will then follow, either that the being the Cause of our Pleasure (the doing us good you should say to make a right Antithesis) is not the true and proper reason why that Cause should be the Object of our Love, or else if it be, then something else does us Good besides that which causes our Pleasure; or as you otherwise word it, That which causes Pain does us good as well as that which produces Pleasure, I think neither of these Consequences need be ad∣mitted. Not the First, because I have shewn you, That God's be∣ing Page  25 the Cause of our Pleasure is a sufficient and proper reason why he should be the Object of our Love, notwithstanding that Pain which is also, but after a different manner caus'd by him. As to what you sug∣gest to the contrary, namely, That the Author of our Pain has as good a Title to our Love as the Author of our Pleasure: 'Tis true, he that is the Author of our Pain has as good a Title to it as the Author of our Pleasure, because they are both one and the same; but not as he is the Author of our Pain. He has a Title to our Love not for that, but notwithstanding that. 'Tis his being the cause of our Pleasure that makes him the proper Object of our Love; which he is, notwith∣standing his being also the Author of Pain. But then say you, if his doing us good be the reason of Page  26 his being the Object of our Love, then something else does us good besides that which causes our Plea∣sure, namely Pain, the Cause of our Sensations, Pain as well as Pleasure being the Object of our Love. I an∣swer, Pain may in some sense be said to do us good, as it may occasion to us some good that exceeds its own proper Evil. But formally and di∣rectly it does not do us good, as not making us while actually under it, Happy but Miserable. Nor is there need that upon our Supposition it should, God being sufficiently love∣ly to us as the Author of our Pleasure, to which we need not add the ad∣vantage that may accrue by Pain, or suppose Pain to be in it self as Be∣neficial as Pleasure, 'tis enough if the Evil of the former does not fru∣strate the Obligation that arises from the good of the latter. As I have shewn you that it does not

Page  27 But after all Madam, there is one thing I must further offer to your Consideration, viz. That your Objection, whatever force it may have, is not peculiarly levell'd against me, but lies equally against all those who make the loveliness of God to consist in his Relative Goodness, or in his being our Good, who I think are the most, at least the most considerable. Those of the common way say, God is to be lov'd because he is our Good, or the Author of our Good; which Notion I think right, but only add to it, That he is the only Author of our Good, and therefore the only Object of our Love. In which Argument I suppose, these Men would not deny the Consequence, (as being the same with their own) but only the minor Proposition. But now if it be an Objection a∣gainst Page  28 my Notion, That God is also the Author of Evil, then the same will no less conclude against the common way, proving as much that God ought not to be lov'd at all, as that he ought not to be lovd only. I say it proves one as well as the other, though I think if you will attend to what I have offer'd, you will find that it proves neither.

Madam, I have said all that at present occurs to my Thoughts upon this occasion, and I think as much as is necessary, and have now only to thank you for the great Fa∣vour of your Letter, assuring you that whenever you shall be pleas'd to do me that Honour again, you shall have a speedier Answer from


Your very humble Servant J. NORRIS.

Bemerton, Oct. 13. 1693.

Page  29Postscript.

ONE consideration more. When you speak of GOD's being the cause of Pain, either you mean as to this Life, or as to the next. If as to the next, that has nothing to do with the Duty that we owe him here. If as to the present Life, the pain that God in∣flicts upon us here is only Medicinal, and in order to our greater good, and consequently from a Principle of Kindness. And I think, setting aside my other Considerations, there will be no more pretence for not loving or hating God for this, than for hating our Physitian or Surgeon for putting us to pain in order to our Health or Cure.

Page  30

LETTER III. To Mr. Norris.


YOU see how greedily I embrace the advantageous Offer you made me in the Close of your excellent Letter; for which I would return some Acknow∣ledgments, but that I want Ex∣pressions suitable to its Value and my Resentments. Nor is there any thing in it from which I can with-hold my Assent, but that too favourable Opinion you seem to have conceiv'd of a Person who has nothing considerable in her but an honest Heart, and a Love to Truth. I am therefore exceeding glad to find this noble and necessary Page  31 Theory, That God is the sole Object of our Love, so well establish'd. And though any one of the three Prin∣ciples you argue from in your Print∣ed Discourse is a sufficient ground for that Conclusion; though it may be singly infer'd both from God's being the Author of our Love, and from the Obligation we are under of conforming to his Will, as well as from his being the true Cause of our Pleasure, yet joyntly they are irrefragable; and I have nothing more left to wish, but that it were as easie to perswade Men to fix the whole weight of their Desire on their Maker, as it is to Demon∣strate that they ought to do it. For when all is said, and all conclusions are tried, there is no rest, no satisfa∣ction for the Soul of Man but in her God; she can never be at Ease nor in Pleasure, but when she moves Page  32 with her full bent and inclination directly towards him, and abso∣lutely and entirely depends on him. Yet I am very well pleas'd that I made the Objection which you have so well resolv'd, because it has procur'd me a clear and accurate account of what before I had only in confuse and indistinct Notion; and has begun a Correspondence, which if it may be continued I shall reckon the greatest advantage that can befall me. For though by ob∣serving the Rules, you have already enrich'd the World with I may pos∣sibly find out Truth, yet I can't be assur'd I've done so, being too apt to suspect my own Notions merely for being my own, but if they can pass so exact a Touch∣stone as your Judgment, I shall without hesitancy subscribe to them.

Page  33 So far am I from thinking that GOD's being the Author of our Pain is any just Impediment to our entire Love of him, that I'm almost perswaded to rank it among the Motives to it. For though Pain considered abstractedly is not a Good, yet it may be so circum∣stantiated, and always is when GOD inflicts it as to be a Good. To the pious Man it is so both in∣tentionally and eventually; and though inflicted as a Punishment on wicked Men, it is however ma∣terially good, being (as you ob∣serve) an Act of GOD's Justice. And I think it is an unquestiona∣ble Maxim, that all our Good is wholly and absolutely from GOD, and all our Evil purely and intirely from our selves. Whatever Me∣thods GOD uses to draw us to himself, I am fully perswaded are Page  34 good in themselves and good for us, being they proceed from infi∣nite Goodness and tend towards it. And therefore since he has made us passible only for our good, and designed Pain as well as Pleasure in order to our Happi∣ness, that by these two different Handles he might the better move and direct our Souls towards him∣self their true and only Felicity, I see no reason but to conclude that he is every whit as lovely when he produces Pain as when he causes Pleasure.

For the Truth is, my Letter was principally designed in Favor of a Notion which I have enter∣tain'd, (and which you further confirm me in by what you add in your Postscript,) viz. That Afflictions, by which we usually understand something Painful, are Page  35 are not Evil but Good, which at first seem'd to be contradicted by your Assertion, That nothing does us good but what causes Pleasure, though upon second thoughts I think they are consistent enough. And if there by any shadow of a difference, I suppose it arises only from the equivocalness of the words Pleasure and Pain, as in truth our mistakes are chiefly owing to our encumbring one word with divers Idea's, most of the Controversies that are in the World being (in my Opinion) rather about words than things.

By Pleasure I suppose you mean in general, all those grateful Sen∣sations which Mankind is capable of; that is, all such as are truly agreeable to his Nature: For I know not how it can consist with the purity of the most holy GOD,Page  36 to say, he is the Author of those pleasing Sensations wicked Men do, or pretend to feel in what we call sinful Pleasures: so that we must either conclude, that GOD is not the Author of these irregu∣lar Sensations, or else that they are not Pleasures. I am for the latter, and do indeed think it the greatest nonsense in the World to call any thing that is sinful pleasant.

Pain you tell us, is nothing else but a disagreeable Modification of the Soul, an uneasie Thought oc∣casion'd by some outward Bodily Impression. In which Definition there are two things considerable, the Bodily Impression, and the un∣easie Thought that is consequent thereunto. And when you say that GOD is the Author of Pain, I suppose you mean no more than that an uneasie Thought is pro∣duc'd Page  37 in the Soul of Man by the Power and Will of GOD, at the presence and by occasion of that Impression which sensible Objects make upon the Body. Now I sup∣pose that this disagreeable Modifi∣cation is in the inferiour part of the Soul, that which is exercis'd about Objects of Sense, and does not necessarily and directly affect the superiour part, the Understanding and Will, and therefore is no real Evil to that which is properly the Man. And this I take to be the right Notion of Pain considered as a Sensation, and as GOD is the Author of it; but then I deny that in this sense it is strictly and properly an Evil.

Now as this Sensation which for distinction sake I will beg leave to call sensible or Bodily Pain is oc∣casioned by some disorder in the Page  38 parts of the Body, or else by the presence of something disagreeable, or absence of something necessary to the well-being of the Bodily Frame. In like manner, when the Understanding and Will deviate from the Order and Perfection of their Nature, and are destitute of their proper good, they are as truly (and if they be in Health as sensi∣bly) affected with Pain, as the Body is when it suffers the above∣mentioned displacences. This I call mental Pain, and do reckon it the only proper Evil of a Man, both because the Mind being the Man, nothing is truly and properly his Good or Evil, but as it respects his Mind; as also because so long as he is under it, 'tis impossible for him to enjoy any degree of real Happiness. For where there is a true Vital Principle, where the Soul Page  39 is not quite mortified, or at least Paralytick and Diseas'd, 'twill as certainly feel Pain when 'tis thrust out of its Natural Order, and does not move towards GOD the true Term of its Motion, as its Body will when its Members are distort∣ed; will be as sensibly affected with craving and unsatisfied desires when destitute of the Grace of GOD, the proper aliment of the Soul, as that is with Hunger and Thirst when in lack of its neces∣sary Food; and will feel the same uneasie chillness and darkness come upon it when deprived of the Light of GOD's Countenance, that its inferiour part does when it wants the Sun's comfortable and enlight∣ning Beams. And this I take to be the true meaning of what some Peo∣ple call Desertion; pain and tor∣ment being as necessary to the Soul Page  40 when she does not stand rightly affected to her GOD, as to the Body when under Sickness or out∣ward Violence: And in propor∣tion to the health of the Soul, and the fineness of its Complexion, so is the degree of its Pain when in∣terrupted in its Motion towards him.

But can GOD in any sense be said to be the Author of this Pain? Hath he not taken all the Care that is consistent with the Nature he hath given us to secure us from it? and has made all imaginable provi∣sion to prevent our falling into that disorder which is necessarily attended with mental Pain; so that whenever we fall into it, 'tis purely owing to our own Folly? For though it be sometimes said that GOD does arbitrarily withdraw the chearing Beams of his Coun∣tenance, Page  41 which cannot but be un∣easie to us so long as we are under that Eclipse, yet for my own part, I cannot think that he ever does it unless to quicken our Desires and exercise our Graces; and then, since 'tis in order to our greater good, it cannot strictly and abso∣lutely be call'd an Evil. Or else, 'tis the noisom Vapours of our Sins that raise a Cloud between us and the Sun of Righteousness, which being our own fault, we only are to be blam'd for it. Nor do I believe GOD ever denies his Grace to any but such as have first wilfully, obstinately and habitually refus'd it. So that in fine, mental Pain is neither more nor less than Sin, which I take to be the true and only Evil of a Man. For as nothing is good but GOD, so no∣thing is essentially evil but Sin, be∣cause Page  42 nothing else is directly oppo∣site to the Essence of Goodness. Since therefore GOD can in no manner of Way be said to be the Author of Sin, he cannot be the Cause of mental Pain: And I know no Hypothesis that does infer it ex∣cept the Predestinarian, which for that Reason I look on as irra∣tional and absurd, and can scarce forbear giving it severer Epithets.

The short is, GOD is the Author of Pain considered as a Sen∣sation, and so he is of all our Fa∣culties and Powers; and as it pro∣ceeds from him it is good, designd to do us good, and therefore our good. But he is not the Author of Pain considered as an Evil, as such it is purely and entirely owing to our selves; and since there is no∣thing truly and absolutely the Ob∣ject of the hatred of a Rational Page  43 Creature but Sin, because nothing but that is its true and proper Evil, consequently GOD's being the Au∣thor of Pain can be no just bar to our Love, much less any motive to our Hatred or Aversion.

I consider further, that though Man does naturally desire Pleasure in all his Capacities, and therefore Indolence is necessary to perfect Felicity, yet since there is no such thing as perfect Happiness or per∣fect Misery in this World, that which has a greater degree of good than of evil in it, may properly e∣nough be call'd a good; admitting therefore that sensible Pain is dis∣agreeable to the lower Faculties of the Soul, yet being it is designed by GOD to better and improve the Spirit of the Mind, and has a ten∣dency to do good to our better part, if we our selves do not wil∣fully Page  44 obstruct its operations, mis∣apply and abuse those opportunities it gives us, I see no reason but we may reckon it a good, and therefore Eligible. For though Pain (as you say) does not formally and di∣rectly do us a good, yet if it cannot hinder us of enjoying Pleasure, methinks we have no just Cause to fly it as an Evil. For what though my Body suffer a little Hunger or Thirst, or Cold, or the like, shall I put that petty inconveniency in competition with that most deli∣cious Pleasure my Mind does, or may at the same time enjoy in Acts of Love and Contemplation? Nay e∣ven with that Pleasure which these very inconveniencies occasion, the entire Resignation of my Will to GOD, and the Joy that arises from that delightful Thought, that I am capable of suffering something for Page  45 his sake, and in Conformity to his Will: And as it were but a bad bargain to gain the whole World by suffering the least mulct or damage in our Souls, so I am per∣swaded that the greatest sensible Calamity, no not Death it self, is worthy to be put in the ballance with the very least spiritual advan∣tage. For alas Sir, as you truly say, this World is a mere shew, a shadow, an emptiness! so little Reason have our Pretenders to Wit to discredit every thing that is not the Object of Sense, that in right estimate Spirits are the only Realities, and nothing does truly and properly occasion good or evil to us but as it respects our Minds. And I believe on these Principles 'twere easie to demonstrate that Martyrdom is the highest Plea∣sure a rational Creature is capable Page  46 of in this present State, a strange Pa∣radox to the World! But I am confident none to Mr. Norris, who does not use to think after the vulgar rate.

But whilst I talk of Pain, I for∣get how much you suffer by this tedious Scribble. If I have said any thing to the purpose 'tis because I have your excellent Letter before me. Ordinary Writers I can penetrate at the first View, but every Period of yours dilates my Mind, calls it forth to pursue its recondite Beau∣ties in a Train of useful and delight∣ful Thoughts. I have brought in my unwrought Ore to be refined and made currant by the Bright∣ness of your Judgment, and shall reckon it a great Favour if you will give your self the Trouble to point out my Mistakes, it being my Ambition not to seem to be Page  47 without Fault, but if I can, real∣ly to be so, and I know no way more conducive to that end than the Advantage of such an In∣structor.

Permit me to add a Word or two more which is of greater Con∣cernment to me because of practi∣cal Consideration; you have fully convinced me that GOD is the only proper Object of my Love, and I am sensible 'tis the highest Injustice to him and Unkindness to my self to defraud him of the least Part of my Heart; but I find it more easie to recognize his Right than to secure the Possession. Though I often. say in your Pathe∣tick and Divine Words, No, my fair Delight, I will never be drawn off from the Love of thee by the Charms of any of thy Creatures, yet alas, sensi∣ble Beauty does too often press up∣on Page  48 my Heart, whilst intelligible is disregarded. For having by Na∣ture a strong Propensity to friend∣ly Love, which I have all along en∣couraged as a good Disposition to Vertue, and do still think it so if it may be kept within the due Bounds of Benevolence. But ha∣ving likewise thought till you taught me better, that I need not cut off all Desire from the Crea∣ture, provided it were in Subordi∣nation to, and for the sake of the Creator: I have contracted such a Weakness, I will not say by Na∣ture (for I believe Nature is often very unjustly blam'd for what is owing to Will and Custom) but by voluntary Habit, that it is a very difficult thing for me to love at all, without something of Desire. Now I am loath to abandon all Thoughts of Friendship, both be∣cause Page  49 it is one of the brightest Vertues, and because I have the noblest Designs in it. Fain wou'd I rescue my Sex, or at least as many of them as come within my little Sphere, from that Meanness of Spirit into which the Generali∣ty of 'em are sunk, perswade them to pretend some higher Ex∣cellency than a well-chosen Pet∣tycoat, or a fashionable Com∣mode; and not wholly lay out their Time and Care in the Ador∣nation of their Bodies, but be∣stow a Part of it at least in the Em∣bellishment of their Minds, since inward Beauty will last when out∣ward is decayed. But though I can say without boasting that none ever loved more generously than I have done, yet perhaps never any met with more ungrateful Returns which I can attribute to nothing Page  50 so much as the Kindness of my best Friend, who saw how apt my De∣sires were to stray from him, and therefore by these frequent Disap∣pointments would have me learn more Wisdom that to let loose my Heart to that which cannot satis∣fie. And though I have in some measure rectified this Fault, yet still I find an agreeable Movement in my Soul towards her I love, and a Displeasure and Pain when I meet with Unkindness, which is a strong Indication of somewhat more than pure Benevolence; for there's no Reason that we should be uneasie because others won't let us do them all the good we would. And though your Distinction be very ingenious,

That we may seek Creatures for our good, but not love them as our good,
yet methinks 'tis too nice for common Page  51 Practice; and through the De∣ception of our Senses, and Hurry of our Passions, we shall be too apt to reckon that our good whose Absence we find uneasie to us. Be pleased therefore to oblige me with a Remedy for this Disorder, since what you have already writ has made a considerable Progress towards a Cure, but not quite per∣fected it. Thus you see Sir, what a Trouble you have brought upon your self by your obliging Condes∣centions to

Worthy Sir,

Your most humble and thankful Servant.

All-Saints Eve 1693.

Page  52

LETTER IV. Mr. Norris's Answer.


THE sincere Love you seem to have for Truth, and the great Progress you have made in it, together with that singular Aptness of Genius that appears to be in you for further Attainments, makes me not only willing to en∣ter into a Correspondence with you, but even to congratulate my self the Opportunity of so uncom∣mon a Happiness. For the bet∣ter Improvement of which, and that our Correspondence may be the more useful, I would desire that it may be continually imploy∣ed upon serious and important Page  53 Subjects, such as may deserve the Time, and reward the Pains that shall be bestowed on them, and may occasion such Thoughts and Re∣flections to pass between us as may serve to give true Perfection and Inlargement to the Rational, and right Movements and Relishes to the Moral Part of our Natures. And (since I have taken upon me to prescribe) I would have these Subjects well sifted and examined as well as well chosen, that so we may not enter upon a new Argument till that which was first undertaken be throughly discharged, whereby we shall avoid a Fault very inci∣dent to common Conversation (wherein new Questions are start∣ed before the first is brought to an Issue) and which makes the Dis∣coursings of the most intelligent Persons turn to so little an account. Page  54 But this Fault so frequent and al∣most unavoidable in the best Com∣panies, is easily remedied in Let∣ters, and therefore since we are now fallen upon a noble and sub∣lime Subject, I desire we may go to the Bottom of it, and not com∣mence any new Matter till we have gone over all that is of mate∣rial Consideration in this of Divine Love.

So much by way of Proposal, I proceed now to consider the Contents of your present Letter, in which I find very great and extra∣ordinary things, and such as will deserve more, and more studied Reflections than my present Lei∣sure (I fear) will permit me to bestow upon them. However I shall go as far as my Time and Pa∣per will allow, and if you think I leave any thing considerable omit∣ted, Page  55 the Defects of this shall be supplied in another Letter. I ob∣serve then that though you declare your self satisfied with the Ac∣count I gave in my last why GOD's being the Author of Pain should not strike off that Obliga∣tion of Love which was grounded upon his being the Cause of the opposite Sensation of Pleasure, yet (so greatly are you concerned to have that ill Consequence effectu∣ally shut out) you advance another Hypothesis for the Solution of the Difficulty. And because it is very ingenious and worth our consider∣ing, I shall therefore first of all set down what by comparing the seve∣ral Parts of your Letter together I take to be your Notion. Which when I have stated and considered, I shall reflect upon some single Passages in your Letter that relate Page  56 to it. And in this you have the Model of the Answer that I intend.

To begin then with an Ac∣count of your Notion. You di∣stinguish of two Sorts of Pain; that which is sensible or bodily, and that which is mental. By sen∣sible Pain meaning that which is in the inferiour Part of the Soul, that which is exercised about Ob∣jects of Sense; and by mental Pain that which affects the superiour and intellectual Part. Now as for mental Pain, that you allow to be an Evil, and the only proper Evil of Man, but then you say GOD is not the Cause of that. And as for sensible or bodily Pain, that you allow GOD to be the Cause of. But then you say that is not truly and really an Evil, as not affecting what is properly the Man. And therefore though Page  57 GOD be the true Cause of Pian as well as Pleasure, yet since the Pain which he causes is not of the first Sort, viz. mental Pain which is an Evil, but of the se∣cond Sort, viz. sensible Pain which is not the proper Evil of the Man, this ought to be no Bar to our Love of him, much less a Rea∣son of making him the Object of our Aversion. This I think is in short your true System, which ly∣ing thus in a regular and compen∣dious Draught may be the more di∣stinctly considered, which is the Advantage I aim at by casting it into this Form.

My first Remark upon this is that your Distinction of sensible and mental Pain in the general is right, and founded in the Nature of things. For certainly the Ideas of Joy and sensible Pleasure, Grief Page  58 and bodily Pain are very distinct. Some I know that pretend to Phi∣losophy confound these, making that Pleasure or Pain (suppose) which a Man feels upon his draw∣ing near the Fire to be all one with Joy or Grief. The Soul know∣ing (say they) or feeling that the Body which she loves is well or ill disposed, that there happens some good or ill to its mechanical Frame, either rejoyces or is grie∣ved at it. The one is our Pain, the other our Pleasure. But this I take to be gross Philosophy, though the Authors of it think it fine. It is true indeed, that as often as the Sentiments of Pleasure or Pain do give us notice that our Bodies are well or ill disposed, we are affected with Joy or Grief, but a little Re∣flection may help us to perceive that this Joy and Grief that are the Page  59 Consequences of our knowing how 'tis with the State of our Bo∣dies, differ exceedingly from those antecedent Pains and Pleasures whence the Information is receiv'd. For these prevent our Reason, whereas the other follow upon it. Pain anticipates all Thought or Reflection, but Grief supposes it and is grounded upon it. I grieve because I know my self to be in Pain, or because I expect or fear it, whence it is evident that my Grief and my Pain are not one and the same, but two very different and distinct Sentiments. I there∣fore allow your Distinction, though I am not so well satisfied with the Ground of it. You ground your Distinction of mental and sensible Pain upon a double Part of the Soul, the superiour and the inferiour. The Distin∣ction Page  60 is authorised by Custom, and (what is more) by you, but I must own to you sincerely, that I do not understand it. I have heard much talk of this superiour and inferiour Part of the Soul, and have thought much about it, but cannot for my Life form to my self a clear Idea of any such Parts. For besides that I think the Soul has no Parts at all, if it had, sure they are not such dissimular and heterogeneous Parts as superiour and inferiour, intellectual and sen∣sitive. The Soul I take to be an intire simple uniform Essence, In∣tellectual throughout, without any Parts at all, much less such heterogeneous Parts. Nor is there any need that it should be supposed to have any such for the Establishment of the present Di∣stinction. The Distinction of Page  61 Sentiments does not need Distin∣ction of Parts in the Soul. The same Essence of the Soul being variously modified may be various∣ly affected, and be capable of dif∣ferent Sentiments. Being modi∣fied thus it shall be affected with Grief, and being modified thus it shall be affected with Pain, which will be sufficiently distinguished from each other, by saying that Pain is a Modification of the Soul that anticipates and prevents all Reason and Reflection, and that Grief is a modification that follows it, and proceeds from it. Thus I choose to distinguish them, rather than by subjecting (as you) these two Sensations in two parts of the Soul, whereof I have no Idea; or by calling (as others) that Pain which the Soul suffers by the me∣diation of the Body, and that Grief Page  62 which the same Soul suffers in and by her self without the Mediation of the Body. For though accor∣ding to the Law of this State Pain be always occasioned by some Mo∣tion or Change in the Parts of the Body, yet since 'tis the Soul that truly feels it, and GOD that truly raises it, I can easily conceive, that GOD can, if he pleases, raise the Sensation of Pain in her though no Change be made in the Body, nay though she had no bo∣dy at all. That GOD for instance can raise the Sensation of Burning in the Soul without any Impressi∣on of Fire upon her Body. Which by the way may serve to shew the Impertinency of that Question a∣mong the School-men, how the Soul that is an immaterial Sub∣stance can suffer when separate by by a material Fire? For let them Page  63 tell me how Fire affects the Soul now she is in the Body, and I'll tell them how it may torment it when out of the Body. But this by the by. The thing I directly in∣tend is, that since the Soul may be capable of Pain as well without the Mediation of the Body as with it, this cannot be its Distinction from Grief that it affects the Soul by the Mediation of the Body.

But to go on, as I am not satisfied with the Ground of your Distin∣ction, so neither am I with the Use and Application you make of it. Mental Pain say you is an Evil, but such as GOD does not cause. Again, sensible Pain GOD does indeed cause, but then that is not properly the Evil of Man. Now I cannot accord with you in either of these. As to the first, I think it very certain that mental Page  64 Pain being a real Modification of the Soul is caused by GOD, who alone is able to new modifie our Souls, who only acts upon them and is able to make them happy or miserable, as I have sufficiently proved in my Discourse of Divine Love, and as you will evidently perceive if you retire within your self, and attentively consult your Reason. And I wonder why you should stick to allow GOD to be the Author of mental Pain or Grief, when you allow him to be the Cause of mental Pleasure or Ioy. If he be the Cause of our Happiness, why cannot he be as well the Cause of our Misery? And if of Pain, why not of Grief? For as to the other Part that sensi∣ble Pain which God causes, is not properly an Evil, you will find it very hard to perswade any one that Page  65 has felt it to this Paradox. That I suppose which perswaded you to it was your distinguishing the Soul of Man into two Parts, a su∣periour and an inferiour Part, the Latter of which being not properly the Man that Pain which is lodg'd there cannot be said to be the pro∣per Evil of Man. Thus the Sto∣icks reasoned of old, and thus you now. But besides, that this Di∣stinction of the Soul into a supe∣riour and inferiour Part which is the Ground of this Supposition wants it self a good Foundation. I further consider, that if there were such a thing as an inferiour Part of the Soul, yet since the higher is conscious of and affected with what is transacted in the o∣ther, I do not see what Advantage accrues from this Distinction. And since 'tis the same Soul that Page  66 feels Pain and Grief, I see no Possi∣bility of conceiving but that Pain must be as truly an Evil as Grief. And if 'twere put to my Choice, there are several Degrees of Grief that I would chuse to indure rather than some Pains. And I would fain know whether Pain be not against the Happiness of Man, or whether Happiness can consist with it. You your self imply that it cannot, when you say that Indo∣lence is necessary to perfect Felicity. And must not that then be an Evil that is contrary to Happiness? And should you not think your self guilty of offending against that Charity which you owe to your Fellow-Creatures, and which ob∣liges you to wish and seek their Welfare, if you should put any of them without Cause to Bodily Pain? Or would you try to bring Page  67 your self off by your Distinction of the superiour and inferiour Part of the Soul? That the Pain which you inflicted was only in the infe∣riour Part, which being not pro∣perly the Man you could not be said to have done any real Evil to him, and so not to have trespassed against Charity. I believe you have too much good Nature as well as Discernment to use such a Plea as this: But now if Pain be not a proper and real Evil, how can it be against Charity to cause it in any one? For what but wil∣ling an Evil to a Man can be con∣trary to wishing well to him? It must therefore be concluded that sensible Pain is truly an Evil as well as mental, evil I mean in it self for∣mally and simply considered, and that it can become good only oc∣casionally and consequentially, as Page  68 it may be a Means to avoid a greater Evil, or procure a greater Good (and so may mental Pain too) which when all is done I think the best Apology that can be offered for God's being the Author of it, and to salve him from being the Object of our Aversion upon that Account, viz. to say, that though sensible Pain be truly an Evil as well as mental, and that though GOD be the true Cause of both, yet GOD does not will our Pain as he does our Pleasure and Happiness, for it self and as such, but merely for the sake of some∣thing else, as it is a means to our greater good. And is therefore so far from meriting our Hatred for the Pain which he causes in us that he ought for that very reason to be loved by us, since 'tis for the sake of Pleasure that he causes Pain. Page  69 This I take to be the most satisfa∣ctory Account of the Difficulty, which as it resolves into what I offered in my last so 'tis what you your self think fit after all to take up with as your last Expedient to∣ward the latter Part of your Let∣ter, where indeed you deliver your self very nobly upon this Occasion.

Madam, I have now done with the Body of your Notion, and have now only to consider some looser Parts that relate to it. You say you think it an unquestionable Maxim that all our Good is whol∣ly and absolutely from GOD, and all our Evil purely and intirely from our selves. The former Part of this I absolutely allow and contend for, concerning the latter I distinguish, when you say that all our Evil is purely and intirely from our selves, if you mean of Page  70 moral Evil I grant it, but if you mean of natural Evils then I must distinguish again upon the Words from our selves, which may signi∣fie either a physical or moral, or if you will, an efficient or a meri∣torious Causality. We are cer∣tainly the meritorious Causes of all our natural Evils, as bringing them upon us by our Sins, but that we are the efficient Causes of any of them I deny. As all our good is wholly from GOD, so in this Sense is also our evil. We have not the Power to modifie our own Souls, and can no more raise the Sensation of Pain in them than that of Pleasure, GOD is the true Author of both, as I have else∣where shewn.

You say again that Afflictions are not evil but good, to which I return that they are both in diffe∣rent Page  71 Respects. They are certain∣ly evil in their own formal Nature, and simply in themselves consider∣ed, and can be good only occasio∣nally or consequentially, as they may serve as Means to some great∣er Good. And this I think may serve to reconcile the Goodness of Pain to that Assertion of mine, that nothing does us good but what causes Pleasure, that is, either for∣mally and directly, or occasional∣ly and consequentially, some Way or other whatever does us good must be supposed to cause Pleasure to us. Now though Pain cannot cause Plea∣sure formally, as being a Sensation formally distinct from it, yet it may occasionally and consequentially, and so may come within the Inclo∣sure of those things that do us good.

You think fit to confine my Sense of the Word (Pleasure) to Page  72 such only as are truly agreeable to the Nature of Man, by which I suppose you mean those Pleasures which are called rational and Intel∣lectual. To this I reply that it seems to me very evident, and I think I have elsewhere made it so, that GOD is the true Cause of all the Pleasure that is resented by Man. But you say you know not how it can consist with the Purity of the most holy GOD that he should be the Author of those plea∣sing Sensations which wicked Men feel in what we call sinful Pleasures. But 'tis your Mistake to suppose that sensual Pleasures as such are evil, or that there is any such thing as a sinful Pleasure properly speaking. As Sin cannot be for∣mally pleasant, so neither can Plea∣sure be formally sinful. All Plea∣sure in it self is simply good, as Page  73 being a real Modification of the Soul, 'tis the circumstantiating of it that is the Evil. And of this GOD is not the Cause, but the Sinner, who rather than forego such an agreeable Sensation will enjoy it in such a Manner and in such Circumstances as are not for his own or for the common Good, and therefore unlawful. But concerning this matter you may further satisfie your self out of the Letters between Dr. More and Me, and by reading the first and second Illustration M. Malebranch makes upon his De la Recharche de la Verite. Where he shews you that GOD does all that is real in the Motions of the Mind and in the Determinations of those Motions, without being the Author of Sin.

There are two other Passages in your Letter which I know not how Page  74 to assent to till I better compre∣hend them. One is, that mental Pain is the same with Sin, the o∣ther is, that Sin is the only true E∣vil of Man. I cannot stay long upon these, but as to the first, be∣sides that Sin is an Act, and Pain a Passion of the Soul; and that Pain is a real Modification of our Spirit, whereas Sin in its Forma∣lity is not any thing positive but a mere Privation, I say besides this, if mental Pain be the same with Sin, how shall we distinguish Sin from the Punishment of it? And how shall a Man repent for his Sin? For if mental Pain be the same with Sin, then to be sor∣ry for one Sin will be to commit another. Then as to the other Part that Sin is the only evil of Man, I grant it is the greatest, but I can∣not think it the only one; for besides Page  75 that mental Pain is as I have shewn an Evil distinct from it, there is al∣so a thing call'd Bodily Pain, which I have also shewn to be an Evil.

Now Madam as to what you re∣quest of me in the Conclusion of your Letter, if you think that distin∣ction of mine of seeking Creatures for our good, but not loving them as our good too nice. I further illu∣strate it thus, you are to distinguish between the Movements of the Soul and those of the Body, the Movements of the Soul ought not to tend but towards him who only is above her, and only able to act in her. But the Movements of the Body may be determined by those Objects which environ it, and so by those Movements we may unite our selves to those things which are the natural or occasional Causes of our Pleasure. Thus because Page  76 we find Pleasure from the Fire, this is Warrant enough to ap∣proach it by a Bodily Movement, but we must not therefore love it. For Love is a Movement of the Soul, and that we are to reserve for him who is the true Cause of that Pleasure which we resent by Occasion of the Fire, who as I have proved is no other than GOD. By which you may plainly perceive what 'tis I mean by saying that Creatures may be sought for our good, but not loved as our Good. But after all I must needs acknow∣ledge that this (as all our other Duties) is more intelligible than practicable, though to render it so I know no other Way than by long and constant Meditation to free our Minds of that early Preju∣dice that sensible Objects do act upon our Spirits, and are the Cau∣ses Page  77 of our Sensations, carefully to distinguish between an efficient Cause strictly so called, and an Occasion, to attribute to GOD and the Creature their proper Parts in the Production of our Pleasures, to bring our selves to a clear Per∣ception and habitual Remembrance of this grand Truth, (the Founda∣tion of all Morality) that GOD only is the true Cause of all our Good, which when fully convin∣ced of we shall no longer question whether he ought to be the only Object of our Love. I am,


With great Respect, Your humble Servant J. NORRIS.

Bemerton,Nov. 13. 1693.

If you are satisfied thus far, I would desire you to go on to communicate what other Thoughts you have concerning the Love of GOD, for 'tis a Sub∣ject I like, and would willingly pursue to the utmost.

Page  78

LETTER V. To Mr. Norris.


SO candid and condiscending a Treatment of a Stranger, a Woman, and so inconsiderable an one as my self, shews you to be as much above the Generality of the World in your Practice, as you are in your Theory and Spe∣culation. Hitherto I have court∣ed Truth with a kind of Roman∣tick Passion, in spite of all Diffi∣culties and Discouragements: for knowledge is thought so unnecessary an Accomplishment for a Woman, that few will give themselves the Trouble to assist them in the At∣tainment of it. Not considering Page  79 that the meliorating of one single Soul is an Employment more wor∣thy of a wife Man, than most of those things to which Custom ap∣propriates the Name of Business and Affairs. But now, since you have so generously put into my Hand an Opportunity of obtaining what I so greedily long after, that I may make the best Improvement of so great an Advantage, I give up my self entirely to your Con∣duct, so far as is consistent with a rational not blind Obedience, bring a free and unprejudiced Mind to receive from your Hand such Gra∣vings and Impressions as shall seem most convenient, and though I can't engage for a prompt and comprehensive Genius, yet I will for a docible Temper.

The Esteem I have for those neces∣sary and useful Rules you have al∣ready Page  80 prescribed, shall appear by my strict Observation of them. For indeed the Span of Life is too short to be trifled away in uncon∣cerning and unprofitable Matters; and that Soul who has any Sense of a better Life, can't chuse but de∣sire that every Minute of her Time may be employed in the regulating of her Will with the most critical Exactness, and the extending her Understanding to its utmost Stretch, that so she may obtain the most enlarg'd Knowledge and ample Fruition of GOD her only Good, that her Nature is capable of. I will therefore pass on to ex∣plain a little what I asserted in my last, next add a few Thoughts concerning Divine Love, and in the last place a Proposal or two for the better Prosecution of those you have already made.

Page  81

Now in order to the first, I am very well satisfied that GOD is the Cause of Mental as well as Bodily Pain, if by mental Pain you understand Grief, my Mistake ly∣ing in this, that I confounded Sin and mental Pain. 'Tis indeed evi∣dent that Sin and Grief are two distinct things; yet I cannot form to my self any Idea of Sin which does not include in it the greatest Pain and Misery. For as Sin is the meritorious Cause of all Mise∣ry, so it seems to me that the Pu∣nishment of Sin is concomitant to the Act; Misery is inseparable from Sin, and the Sinner is ipso facto punished. When therefore I said that mental Pain is the same with Sin, I meant no more than this, that as a musical Instrument, if it were capable of Sense and Thought, wou'd be uneasie and in Page  82 pain when harsh discordant Notes are plaid upon it, so Man, when he breaks the Law of his Nature and runs counter to those Motions his Maker has assign'd him, when he contradicts the Order and End of his Being must needs be in Pain and Misery. And as the Health and Perfection, Ease and Pleasure, Good and Happiness (or whatever you will call it) of a Creature con∣sists in its Conformity to the End of its Creation, and the being in such Circumstances as are agreea∣ble to its Nature, from which when in the least it deviates it lo∣ses both its Beauty and its Plea∣sure; so the Soul of Man being made on purpose for the Contem∣plation and Love of GOD when∣soever it ceases to pursue that End, must needs be put out of the Or∣der of its Nature, and consequent∣ly Page  83 depriv'd of all Pleasure and Per∣fection, whilst it stands rightly af∣fected towards GOD it cannot be destitute of Pleasure, but whatso∣ever sets it in Opposition to him does by that Act deprive it of all Delight.

So that my Hypothesis will lie thus: That although GOD only has Power to modifie the Soul of Man, and to affect it with Pain and Grief, yet since these are rather Uneasinesses than Evils strictly so call'd (nothing according to my Notion being the proper Evil of Man but Sin, of which more a∣non) since they are design'd by GOD as Mediums to good, and are, if not formally, yet at least consequentially Occasions of Plea∣sure; since the wilful and affected Ignorance of the Understanding and Pravity of the Will, or in o∣ther Page  84 Words Sin is the true and pro∣per Evil of a Man, because Sin on∣ly is absolutely and directly oppo∣site to the Essence of Goodness; and seeing GOD can no way be said to be the Author of Sin, con∣sequently his being the Cause of our uneasie Sensations, can be no just Bar to our Love, much less any Motive to our Aversion.

As for the Distinction of the Soul into inferiour and superiour Part, I am as little satisfied with it as you can be, and do confess to you ingeniously that I have no clear Idea of that which is proper∣ly my self, nor do I well know how to distinguish its Powers and Operations: For the usual Ac∣counts that are given of the Soul are very unsatisfactory, that in your Letter being the best I have met with and therefore for want of bet∣ter Page  85 Expressions, I made use of this Distinction, which I did the more readily because I learned it from your Christian Blessedness, P. 158. All the remaining Difference there∣fore lies in this Question, whether Sin be the only Evil? And in order to the removing it, I shall first shew you my Design in affirming that it is, and then the Reasons that incline me to it, and when I have done so I will refer all to your better Judgment.

First, for what I aim at, I have observ'd that most of the Folly and Mischief that is in the World proceeds from false Notions of Pain and Pleasure, and Mistakes concerning the Nature of good and evil. For would Men be per∣swaded that GOD is their only good, so they might enjoy him they would not much regret the Page  86 Absence of other things; neither would they so greedily pursue the Shell of Pleasure, nor fix their Hearts on sensible Objects which can never satisfie. And were they but convinced that nothing is so e∣vil as Sin, they would not choose Ini∣quity rather than Affliction. As there∣fore your Account of Pleasure does rectifie the Errors of our Love, so I could wish that our Aversions were better regulated than they u∣sually are; and that Sin, which though it be not the efficient, is yet the moral Cause of all our Evils and Displeasures, were so represented as that it might appear the only proper and adequate Object of our intire Hatred and Aversion. This is my Design.

Now for the Reasons (besides what are already intimated) which incline me to think that Sin is the Page  87 only Evil. I grant that whatever is contrary to the Pleasure and Good of Man in any of his Capaci∣ties, may in some Sense be call'd an Evil, and in this Latitude no doubt but that both mental and sensible Pain are Evils. But be∣cause, when we speak of Evil we usually understand something that in its own Nature is the proper Ob∣ject of our Aversion, evil as evil being no way eligible; and since mental and bodily Pain are not so far evil but that in some Circum∣stances they may become eligible, which yet they could not be with∣out assuming the Nature of good, and therefore they are not pure and absolute Evils. And further, though 'tis easie in our Contempla∣tions and Retirements to distin∣guish between greater and lesser Evils, to compare and weigh them Page  88 together, and to allot to each its due Proportion of Choice or Aver∣sion, yet since good and evil do frequently present themselves to our Minds in common Conversation and Business, when we have nei∣ther Time nor Appetite to abstract and consider, but are determin'd by this short and obvious Sillo∣gism,

Evil is not eligible, but such a thing is Evil, therefore it is not to be chosen:
Whereas perhaps that which we refuse as e∣vil (suppose bodily or mental Pain) though formally, and in the great∣est Latitude of the Word it be an Evil, yet comparatively and pro hic & nunc, it may be a Good, and so the proper Object of our Choice. To avoid which common Occasi∣on of Mistake, and because the Na∣ture of Man has so strong an Aver∣sion to every thing that bears the Page  89 Name of Evil, I wou'd rather call Grief and Pain Uneasinesses than E∣vils, and wholly appropriate the Name of Evil to Sin, which is * essentially and absolutely Evil and the only entire Object of a rational Creatures Hatred and Aversion.

But not to contend about Words, admitting that Pain and Grief are Evils, it is but in a com∣parative and lower Sense; if they were essentially Evil, they could not in some Circumstances become good, which you your self allow them to be occasionally and consequen∣tially, and as they may be a Means to avoid a greater Evil. Whereas the very* Essence of Sin is evil, it Page  90 can never in any Circumstance be eligible, which is a Sign it is never good. We may not commit a les∣ser Sin under Pretence to avoid a greater, but we may, nay we ought to endure the greatest Pain and Grief rather than commit the least sin. For (not to dispute what Good GOD may bring out of the Sins of Men, or how he does it, which are Que∣stions I will not now meddle with) I have always thought that the least moral Evil is not to be chosen, no not in order to the greatest Good, as I think may be inferred from the A∣postles arguing, Rom. 3. 8. there is a certain Peculiarity of Evil in Sin, which (though you will not allow it the only Evil, yet at least) renders it an Evil paramont to all other Evils, and excludes it from the least degree Page  91 of Eligibility. For though Pain and Grief put the Soul into uneasie Circumstances, yet they don't with∣draw her from her true Good, they rather excite her more strongly to cleave to him, and that Trouble which sensible things occasion, and which she feels through the Dis∣order of her own Thoughts, stirs her up to fix more firmly on him, whose Comforts in this Case are her only Refreshment, whereas Sin quite alienates the Soul from her only true Good, and thereby deprives her of the sole Prop she has to rest on, and consequently puts her in the most wretched, helpless and evil Condition. Eve∣ry thing but Sin has something of good in it, because every thing else proceeds from GOD; but Sin is all over perfect Deformity, an uncompounded Evil, and a direct Page  92 Contradiction to Order and Per∣fection, and consequently to Plea∣sure, and therefore is, or ought to be, set at the greatest Opposition to the Nature of Man, and to be the proper Object of his intire Hatred and Aversion. This is the Point I drive at, and if it may be gained am very indifferent whether it be by mine, or some other Way of ar∣guing.

But before I proceed to the next Particular I have two Requests, one is, That you would please to oblige me with a Definition of Pleasure; and the other, That you would a little explain the Idea of Pain, for I don't well understand your Meaning when you say, That Pain anticipates all Thought or Reflecti∣on; I did suppose it to be an unea∣sie Thought, and how then can it anticipate all Thought? The Bo∣dily Page  93 Impression indeed prevents Thought, but that is not properly the Pain but the Occasion of it.

Now in the next place to grati∣fie your Desire which falls in so much with my own Inclinations, That I should further communicate my Thoughts concerning divine Love; a Subject on which 'tis easie to be endless, and yet impossible to say too much: I take it to be the Sum and Substance of all Religion, to which all other Duties are reduci∣ble, which are but so many diffe∣rent Modifications of this Soul that animates the Christian Life: And therefore such Discourses as serve to lay its Foundation deep, and raise its superstructure high, such as bring it Fuel by rational Motives, and fan its Flame by devout and re∣lishing Expressions, do the Work of Religion all at once; for were this Page  94 Divine Principle but once firmly rooted in our Hearts, and suffered to display it self in all its necessary Effects and Consequences, 'twould supercede all other Instructions, and be instead of a Thousand Moni∣tors.

The Love of GOD is both the best Preservative against Evil (in its greatest Latitude) and the strongest Impellent to good. 'Tis the best Antidote against Sin, in that it disarms Temptations of all their Force, they cannot fasten upon the Soul that entirely loves its Maker. He who believes GOD to be his only Good, if he attend at all to that Conviction, can ne∣ver wilfully sin against him. For Sin being a Disconformity to GOD, a willing something contrary to his Nature and Will, 'tis not possible for a Man to chuse that which he Page  95 believes to be contrary to his only Good, and which will therefore consequently deprive him of it. And it being nothing else but the false Appearance of some seeming Good that inclines a Man to chuse amiss, he who considers GOD as his only Good, and loves him with an Entireness of Affection, has shut up all the Avenues of his Soul from that Syren apparent Good, and is not capable of being bewitch'd by it. Indeed if we al∣low the Creature to be in any de∣gree our good, 'tis hard to keep our selves from desiring it, and if we permit Desire, we can never be se∣cure from irregular Love, that Shame and Misery of Mankind, it being easier not to desire at all than to desire with Moderation. For Love is an insinuating Passion, and where-ever 'tis admitted, will Page  96 spread and make its Way. And though the Charms of the Creature be infinitely unworthy to rival those of the Creator, yet they have this Advantage, that they perpetu∣ally press upon the outward Man, and constantly present themselves to our Senses, so that if we allow them the least Share in our Hearts, 'tis odds but that at last they whol∣ly withdraw it from him who on∣ly has a Right to it.

And as the Love of GOD se∣cures our Innocence, so it makes the best Provision for our Pleasure. The Soul of Man may as well cease to be as cease to love; some∣thing or other it must desire, but so long as it moves towards the Creature, it may amuse its Cra∣vings but can never satisfie them. How often will the Objects of our Love be wanting? How often Page  97 will the Objects of our Love be wanting? How often will they be unkind? And suppose them as present and as kind as we can wish them, shall we not be as sick of our Fruitions as we were of our Desires? For what is there in the Crea∣ture but Emptiness, Vanity and Vexation? But the Object of Divine Love is always essential∣ly present, nothing can hide him from us but our own Neg∣lect; if we do but fix the Eyes of our Understanding on, and direct the Motions of our Will towards him, we may always contemplate and enjoy his Beauty; may always as∣swage our Thirst at this Foun∣tain, and feast our hungry Souls upon his never-failing Charms, which though they will still Page  98 draw us on to pursue a further Enjoyment, because of their in∣finite Amability and Perfection, yet all along they will satisfie and fill our Souls with unspeak∣able Delight; though they don't extinguish all Desire, yet they will remove all Emptiness, and at once replenish our Faculties and enlarge them! But these ra∣vishing Delights which the en∣amoured Soul feels in every Ap∣proach to her Divine Lover are better felt than expressed, and when we have once tasted of these most sapid Pleasures, we shall for ever disdain the muddy Streams of sensual Delights!

Thus the Love of GOD defends us from the Uneasiness of Pain and Grief, as well as from the Evil of Sin, and makes us happy in all our Capacities. Page  99 It is so Divine a Cordial, that the least Drop of it is able to sweeten and outweigh all the Troubles of this present State, and render the most Calamitous Condition not only easie but joyous. For it gives an Anticipation of those Joys in which it will at last in∣vest us, brings down Heaven in∣to our Bosoms e're it carries us up thither; and were it but largely shed abroad in our Hearts, we should be out of the Reach of Fortune, might slight and trample on all Afflictions. Though the Arrows of Pain and Grief should ruffle our Skin, they could not touch our Hearts; or they might touch but could not hurt us!

Finally, to what Heights of Piety will not this Divine Prin∣ciple elevate the amorous Soul! Page  100 For what can be too difficult to do to acquire a more perfect En∣joyment of what we love? What can be too hard to suffer for the sake of that Object that hath won our Heart? 'Tis nothing else that cramps our Endeavours, and slack∣ens our Industry after one of the brightest Crowns of Glory, but the dividing our Love between GOD and Mammon. If a foolish ill-grounded Passion can many times excite the Soul in which it dwells to do things be∣yond it self, If the Love of dir∣ty Clay, or popular Breath can reconcile us to Fatigues and Di∣stresses, and many things very uneasie to our Animal Nature, shall not the most rational and be∣coming Love, that Love which is the End and Perfection of our Be∣ings, which is secured from Disap∣pointment, Page  101 Jealousie, and all that long Train of Pain and Grief which attends Desire when it moves towards the Creature, set us above all Difficulties, render our Obedience regular constant and vi∣gorous, refine and sublimate our Natures, and make us become An∣gels even whilst we dwell on Earth?

In the last Place for the Propo∣sals I am to make. When you think we have sufficiently examined the Subject we are upon, I desire the Favour of you to furnish me with such a System of Principles as I may relie on, and to give me such Rules as you judge most conveni∣ent to initiate a raw Disciple in the Study of Philosophy; least for want of laying a good Foundation, I give you too much Trouble, by drawing Conclusions from false Page  102 Premises, and making use of im∣proper Terms.

I have no more to add but my repeated Thanks for that great Con∣descention you continue to shew to

(Worthy Sir,)

Your most obliged and humble Servant.

December 12. 1693.

Page  103

LETTER VI. Mr. Norris's Answer.


IT deserves neither your Thanks nor your Admiration that I should endeavour to be particular∣ly civil to a Person of your extra∣ordinary Worth and Accomplish∣ments, which indeed appear so great and so beyond what I ever yet found or could imagine, as at the same time to command and les∣sen the highest Respect and Defe∣rence that can be shewn to you. Your Hypothesis, as you now ex∣plain and rectifie it, runs clear and unperplext, and has nothing in it but what equitably understood challenges my full Consent and Page  104 Approbation. The Defect of it before lay partly in your supposing GOD not to be the Author of mental Pain (and that because you made mental Pain to be all one with Sin) and partly in your sup∣posing sensible Pain of which you allow'd GOD to be the Author, not to be in it self a real Evil. But now both these Faults are mended, and all is right and as it should be. For whereas before when you con∣founded mental Pain with Sin, you pleaded thus against our ha∣ting and for our loving GOD not∣withstanding the Pain which he is acknowledged to inflict upon us, mental Pain is truly an Evil, but such as GOD does not cause, sen∣sible Pain GOD does cause, but then that is not truly an Evil. Now distinguishing mental Pain from Sin, and substituting Sin in Page  105 the room of mental Pain, you make your Apology for the Love of GOD run thus, Sin which is truly an E∣vil GOD does not cause, and as for mental and sensible Pains whereof GOD is the true Cause, they are not truly and properly Evils. By which latter Clause I presume you mean not as you seem'd to do at first, that they are not truly and properly Evils in their own formal Natures and as simply in them∣selves considered (for so 'tis evident that they are Evils, as being as such against the Happiness and Well∣being of a thinking and self-consci∣ous Nature) but only as in that par∣ticular Supposition, Juncture or Circumstance wherein they are in∣flicted by GOD, who having a thorough comprehensive View of our whole Condition, and so knowing what upon all Considera∣tions Page  106 is best for us, thinks it ad∣viseable sometimes to molest and trouble our Repose with mental or sensible Pain, not for their own sakes, or that he is delighted in them as such any more than we our selves are, but in order to our Good, and as they are necessary Means to avoid some greater Evil. In which respect both Pain and Grief (though evil in their inward formal Natures) do relatively con∣sidered so far put on the Nature of Good as to be truly eligible, and would not fail to be actually willed and chosen by us for our selves, as by GOD for us, if we had the same Views and Prospects of things that he has. In this Sense it is very true and certain that both the mental and the sensible Pain which GOD inflicts in this Life (for as to the Misery of the next I do not Page  107 apprehend the present Question concerned in it) are not, all things considered, truly and properly E∣vils, because upon the whole they are eligible, which Sin can never be, it being a contradictory Sup∣position that that should be eligi∣ble as a Means to avoid a greater Evil, which is it self the greatest of all. And herein I take it con∣sists the Peculiarity of the Evil of Sin, that it is never eligible, but always the due and just Object of our Hatred and Aversion. So that if in this Sense you will have Sin to be the only Evil, that whereas all other Evils are not so far Evils but that in some Junctures and Suppo∣sitions they may become good and eligible, Sin as being the greatest Evil can in no Supposition imagi∣nable become good, but remains ever a fixed and unchangeable Evil, Page  108 as GOD does a Good, without the least Variation or Shadow of turning, I intirely consent with you, and do and hope always shall think Sin to be thus the only Evil. And since GOD is not the Author of Sin which can never be eligible but only of our uneasie Sentiments which in some Circumstances may, and then are no longer to be consi∣dered as Evils, this gives clear and full Satisfaction to that Objection against the Love of GOD taken from his being the Cause of our painful Sensations. And I can now well conceive that GOD is al∣ways lovely and to be loved by us, not only when under the little com∣mon Uneasinesses of Life, but when most miserable and afflicted, even by a Martyr in his Flames. And so we are come to a fair Reso∣lution of this Difficulty concerning the Love of GOD.

Page  109 As to what you say concerning the Inferiour and Superiour Part of the Soul, that you the rather us'd this Distinction because you learnt it from my Christian Blessed∣ness, I confess that I do there make use of this Scheme of Speech, not intending thereby two parts of the Soul Really and Physically di∣stinct, but only the same Soul di∣versly consider'd, with respect to different Objects and ways of O∣peration, In consideration of which it is usually divided into Parts in a popular way of speaking, which in a popular Discourse and where there was nothing of particular Theory depending upon it, I had no reason to depart from, but ra∣ther to comply with. But when Good or Evil, Grief or Pain come to be distinguished by their being lodg'd in this or that part of the Page  110 Soul in the Superiour or Inferiour Part (which must then signifie Parts really Distinct) I then deny that there are any such Parts. In all other Cases I should not scruple to speak in the common Language, not apprehending that I should give any one thereby just occasion to think that I held two real Parts in the Soul, any more than by using another popular mode of speaking of the Vegetative, Sensitive, and Rational Soul in Man, that it was my real Opinion that he had three Souls.

I like your Ingenuity in con∣fessing that you have no Clear Idea of that which is properly your self, and I further tell you, that you never will have while you are in this State. We do not know our Souls here by any Idea of them, (as not seeing them yet in GOD) Page  111 but only by Consciousness or inte∣riour Sentiment, which is the rea∣son that the Knowledge we have of them is so imperfect. We see Bo∣dies by their Idea's, but we know no more of our Souls than what we feel to be done in them. I forbear enlarging upon this matter, though a very noble and useful point of Speculation, because you may find a most excellent Account gi∣ven of it by M. Malebranche in the 7th Chapter of his Third Book de la recherche de la Verite, page 352. And again more at large in his Il∣lustration upon that Chapter, page 461. of Amsterdam Edition. And the same most excellent Person elsewhere, viz. in his Meditations Chrestiennes of Cologne Edition, page 152, gives a very satisfying Account of the Reasons why it has not pleased GOD to give us an Idea of Page  112our own Souls, The first of which is, that if we did see clearly what we are, we could not be so closely united to our Bodies as is necessa∣ry to the preservation of this Ani∣mal Life. We should not look upon it as a Part of our selves, and unhappy as we are at present, we should not think it worth our Care to preserve it, and consequently ha∣ving so little Value and Regard for it we should have no Sacrifice to offer to GOD, &c. His other Reason he pursues more at large, and because 'tis one of the loftiest Strains of Reason and Eloquence that I ever met with, I shall give it you as near the Original as I can translate it from the Author, who thus brings in the eternal Wisdom, speaking to her Disciple. Seconde∣ment parce que l'Idee d'une ame est un Object si grand, & si capable de Page  113 ravir les Esprits de sa beuatè, &c. Secondly, because the Idea of a Soul is an Object so great and so apt to ravish Spirits with its Beauty, that if thou hadst an Idea of thy Soul, thou wouldst be no longer able to think upon any thing else. For if the Idea of Extension which represents only Bodies, does so strongly touch Natural Philosophers and Ma∣thematicians, that they oftentimes for∣get all their Duties to contemplate it. If a Mathematician has so much De∣light when he compares Bignesses a∣mong themselves thereby to discover their Relations that he often sacrifices his Pleasures and his Health to find out the Properties of a Line, what Appli∣cation would not Men bestow upon the Research of the Properties of their own Being, and a Being infinitely more no∣ble than Bodies? What Pleasure would they not take to compare among them∣selves by a clear View of the understand∣ing Page  114 so many different Modifications the bare Sentiment of which, however fee∣ble and confuse, does so strangely busie and employ them. For thou must know that the Soul contains in her self all the Beauties and Finesses that thou seest in the World, and which thou art wont to attribute to the Objects that environ thee. Those Colours, those Odours, those Savours, with an Infinity of other Sen∣timents with which thou hast not yet been touched, are no other than Modifi∣cations of thy own Substance. That Harmony which so elevates thee is not in the Air which strikes thy Ear, and those infinite Pleasures of which the greatest Voluptuaries have but a feeble Sentiment are included in the Capacity of thy Soul. Now if thou hast a clear Idea of thy self, if thou didst see in me that Archetypal Spirit upon which thou wast formed, thou wouldst discover so many Beauties and so many Truths in Page  115 contemplating it, that thou wouldst neg∣lect all thy Devoirs. Thou wouldst discover with an Extremity of Ioy that thou wouldst be capable of enjoying an Infinity of Pleasures. Thou wouldst know clearly their Nature, thou wouldst be incessantly comparing them among themselves, and thou wouldst discover Truths which would appear to thee so worthy of thy Application, that wholly wrapt up and absorpt in the Contempla∣tion of thy own Being, full of thy self, of thy Grandeur, of thy Excellencies, and of thy Beauty thou wouldst be no longer able to think of any thing besides. But my Son, GOD has not made thee to think of nothing but thy self. He has made thee for himself. Wherefore I shall not discover to thee the Idea of thy Being, till that happy Time when the View of the very Essence of thy GOD shall deface and eclipse all thy Beauties, and make thee despise all that thou art, Page  116 that thou mayst think only of contempla∣ting him.

The Account of this excellent Person is so satisfying, that I shall not pretend to add any thing to it, but shall only observe from it that since 'tis so true that we have no I∣dea of our own Souls, and so rea∣sonable that we should have none, it would be in vain to go about to define any of the Modifications of our Spirit, which (since we have no Idea of them) must be learnt by inward Sentiment, and can no more be made known by Words to those that have not felt them than Colours can be described to a Man that is blind. And therefore you must excuse me if I own my self un∣able to gratifie your Request, in giving you a Definition of Pleasure, which though I know when I feel it, and am able to distinguish from Page  117 Light, or Colour, or Sound, or from the opposite Sensation of Pain, yet since I know it by inter∣nal Consciousness only or Senti∣ment, and not by Idea, I cannot by Words render it intelligible to any body else, but must remit him that desires the Knowledge of its Nature to Sense and Experience. For he can never know it till he feel it, and have those Motions ex∣cited in the Organs of his Sense, to which the Author of Nature has annexed this Sensation.

However I may venture to call Pain an uneasie Thought, not that I intend thereby to define it (for I think it no more capable of a De∣finition strictly so called than Plea∣sure) but only to intimate in gene∣ral that it is a Modification belong∣ing to Spirit, and not to Body. For seeing clearly in the Idea which Page  118 I have of Extension, that all its Mo∣difications reduce themselves to Fi∣gure and Motion, or certain Re∣lations of Distance, I conclude that Pleasure and Pain and the rest of those Sensations which I feel in my self by interiour Sentiment, are not Modifications belonging to my Corporeal Substance, but to some other, which I call my Spirit. And for this reason it is that I call Pain an uneasie Thought. But then for the reconciling this with my saying that it anticipates and prevents all Thought, I need only suggest to you that when I call Pain an unea∣sie Thought, I take Thought in its utmost Latitude, for all that we are any way conscious of to our selves, as my most admired Philo∣sopher does in his Principles of Philosophy P. 2. where he says, Cogitationis nomine intelligo illa omnia Page  119 quae nobis consciis in nobis fiunt, quate∣nus eorum in nobis Conscientia est. At∣que ita non modo intelligere, velle, i∣maginare, sed etiam sentire idem est hic quod cogitare; i. e. By the Name of Thought I understand all those things which we are conscious to be done in our selves, so far forth as there is in us a Conscientiousness of them. And thus not only to understand, to will, to ima∣gine, but even to feel is the same here as to think. But when I say that Pain anticipates all Thought, by Thought I mean all rational, discur∣sive and reflecting Thought, which 'tis most certain and evident by all Experience that Pain does prevent, and as certain that Grief does sup∣pose, follow and proceed from it.

But to return from these Digres∣sions (for I call all things so that have not an immediate Connection with Religion) to that which is Page  120 the principal Subject of our Cor∣respondence, and ought to be the Subject of all our Thoughts, the Love of GOD. Our Saviour places it in the Head of all Morality, tel∣ling us that it is the first and great Commandment. And his Apostle St. Paul places it in the Rear of it, telling us that the End of the Com∣mandment is Charity. So then from both these put together the Result will be that the Love of GOD is both the first and the last, the Be∣ginning and the End, the Founda∣tion and the Top-work, the Princi∣ple and the Accomplishment of all Moral Perfection. And no doubt but the first Devoir which in Or∣der of Conception we can suppose to result from the Being of an in∣telligent Creature will be to love the Author of it, and if he who is the Author of our Being be also the Page  121 Author of all the Good, Comfort, Pleasure and Happiness of our Be∣ing, nay even of our very Power and Force of loving, than as we begin with him so we must end with him too, and make him the Term and Object of our whole Love, uniting our selves to him with all that we are (as when Bo∣dies touch one another according to their whole Supersicies) with all our Heart, Soul and Mind. But of this already, and perhaps further hereafter. At present I consider that since our Being is in it self a Good, and the Foundation and Pos∣sibility of all the Good which we do or shall ever enjoy, it can be no sooner received than it brings along with it an Obligation of loving our Creator, whose we are, and to whom we are to offer up our Hearts as a flaming Sacrifice as soon as we Page  122 enter upon Being, which we are to pay to him as our first Homage, and as an early Pledge and Earnest of all the Duty that we owe him. And that which does the more ob∣lige us to this is, that if we do not thus early pay it to our Creator, we shall pay it somewhere else where it is not due. For no sooner does a Creature begin to be, but he begins to love, the intellectual Pulse com∣mences its Movement which the first Inspiration of Life as well as the natural, and the Desire of Hap∣piness immediately succeeds the Capacity of it. Assoon as we are we desire to be happy, and assoon as we desire to be happy we must seek for this Happiness in some Object or other. If therefore we seek it not in GOD, we must seek it in the Creature. But if we seeek it out of GOD, we seek it where Page  123 it is not, and we err and transgress in our Search, GOD only being our true Good. We are therefore ob∣liged to seek Union with GOD as∣soon as we desire to be happy, that is, assoon as we desire at all, that is, assoon as we are. Our Obli∣gation therefore to love GOD bears Date from the first Moment of our Existence, and is therefore the first Duty that we owe him, as thus immediately resulting from our having a Being. And thus is the Love of GOD the first Com∣mandment, and has the Precedency in the Scale of Morality.

The other Character that our Saviour gives of it is, that 'tis also the Great Commandment. And the Scripture speaks of its Dimen∣sions, adding one more than we at∣tribute to Bodies, telling us of its Breadth and Length, and Depth Page  124 and Height; but not how broad, nor how long, nor how deep, nor how high. And indeed with what Line could the Apostle measure such an immense Vastness? How could he Paint Light and Flame, or put that into Words which passes not only all Description, but even all Knowledg, and indeed every thing but Sense and Experience. Well might our Saviour call it the Great Commandment. It is great in the Matter of it, being of the most weighty and concerning importance to the final Happiness of Man. Great in the Obligation of it which is absolutely indispen∣sable, it being not possible that GOD should Create any one Spirit without obliging him to Love him, or that he should ever discharge him from that Obligation. Great in the Equity and Reason of it, it Page  125 being highly reasonable that we should Love GOD who is so in∣finitely amiable, so altogether love∣ly. Great in the Power and Vir∣tue of it, as being the most Fruit∣ful and Prolifick Principle, the Root and Seed of all Excellency and Perfection, such as draws on with it the Observation of all the Commandments, and is therefore the shortest Line, the most com∣pendious way to GOD and the en∣joyment of him. The Love of GOD is indeed the general seisin, the universal ingredient of all a good Man's Actions; 'Tis that precious Tincture, that Chymical Spirit that runs through all, and that Noble Divine Elixir which gives Worth and Value to all, and converts even our meanest and most indifferent actions into Religion and Devotion. Great lastly, in the Page  126 Pleasure and Duration of it. As Love is the most pleasant Passion, so the Love of GOD is the most pleasing Love. A Love that re∣wards it self, a Fire that is its own Fuel. He that Loves GOD as he ought, as he cannot, so he need not Love any thing else, so great delight and entertainment will he find in the Love of GOD. Which will also go along with him into the other Life, and be the Life of that Life. Then all the instrumen∣tal and ministerial Virtues shall expire and be of no further Use. Whether they be Prophecies they shall fail, &c. Even the Fear of GOD which is now so highly magnified as the Beginning of Wisdom, shall then cease, for perfect Love shall cast it out. Faith shall vanish, Hope shall be swallowed up, and Prayer it self shall be silent, only Page  127 Love and Praise shall endure, and vie with each other to all Eternity. Thus much of the Love of GOD in general, concerning which all I have said seems little when I com∣pare it with the Greatness of the Subject, and your most exalted and seraphick Strains upon it. I intend in my next to add something to the Reason of our loving GOD so in∣tirely as I state it in my Sermon. In the mean time I deliver up this no∣ble Subject to a better Hand, de∣siring you to communicate what further thoughts you have upon it, and to believe him that writes this to be in all Sincerity


Your most humble Servant J. NORRIS.

Bemerton, Jan. 11. 1693.

Page  128

LETTER VII. To Mr. Norris.


I Am glad we are come to so good an issue in the matter of our Debate, and shall therefore immediately apply my self to that most necessary and delightful Theme, which is the noblest en∣tertainment of our Thoughts, the best improvement of our Minds at present, and will be the inex∣haustible Spring of our Joy here∣after, the Love of GOD. I can∣not but admire the sottishness of those dull Epicureans, who make it their Business to hunt after Plea∣sures as vain and unsatisfactory as their admirers are Childish and Un∣wise, Page  129 and in the mean time turn their Backs on this vast Reposito∣ry of solid and substantial Joy. A Joy whose perpetual Current always affords a fresh Delight, and yet every Drop of it so entertaining, that we might live upon it to all Eterni∣ty! Whilst our Souls are inebria∣ted with its Pleasures, our very Bo∣dies partake of its Sweetness: For it excites a grateful and easie Moti∣on in the animal Spirits, and cau∣ses such an agreeble Movement of the Passions as comprehends all that Delight, abstracted from the Uneasiness which other Objects are apt to occasion. Our Passions (although they have both their Use and Pleasure, yet) as we usu∣ally feel them are blended with so much Pain, that 'tis hard to deter∣mine whether the good or evil they do us be the greater, and a Man Page  130 sometimes over-pays for his Mirth, by that Sting of Sorrow which at∣tends it. However, I am not for a Stoical Apathy, I would not have my Hands and Feet cut off lest they should sometimes incommode me. The Fault is not in our Passions considered in themselves, but in our voluntary Misapplication and unsuitable Management of them. And if Love which is the leading and Master Passion were but once wisely regulated, our Passions would be so far from rebelling a∣gainst and disquieting us, that on the contrary they would mightily facilitate the great Work we have to do, give Wings to this Earthly Body that presses down the Soul, and in a good Measure remove those Impediments that hinder her from mounting to the Original and End of her Being What is it that makes Page  131 our Joys tumultuous and flitting, our Fears tormenting, our Hopes disquieting, &c. but the Irregula∣rity of our Desire? If we love a∣miss we shall both fear and hope, grieve and Rejoyce without Rea∣son and in a wrong Measure, we shall lash out into a thousand Ex∣travagancies, and be as unhappy as we are unwise and unreasonable. Whereas if we tune our Love to the right Key, we need not be ap∣prehensive of Discord among the rest of our Passions, all their Moti∣ons will be natural and regular, and all Concert in a becoming Harmo∣ny. The Divine Nature is a Field in which our grateful Passions may freely take their Range. If we make GOD the Object of our De∣sire, our Hopes will neither de∣lude, nor our Joys forsake us; there is no Serpent lurks in this Page  132 Grass, all is calm and placid, se∣cure and entertaining. And yet, unwise that we are! How hard is it to drive us to our Felicity, how difficult to convince us of our Happiness? How many Evasions do we find to with-hold our Love from him who requires it, not for his own but our Advantage! When shall we be, I need not say so just to GOD, but so kind to our selves, as totally to withdraw every strag∣gling Desire from the Creature, the very best of which is not able to satisfie the Longings, and fill the Capacities of the Mind. The Boundlessness of Desire is a plain Indication to me that it was never made for the Creature; for what is there in the whole Compass of Nature that can satisfie Desire? What but he who made it can re∣plenish and content it? I need not Page  133 bring Arguments for the Proof of this, every one has Experience e∣nough to confirm it. For after all our Researches after that which is good for the Sons of Men, where is the happy Person who has not been defeated in his Hopes, or fru∣strated in his Enjoyments? Though he has obtained his Ob∣ject, has he satisfied his Desire? For how amiable soever created Good may appear at a Distance, a closer Inspection and intimate Knowledge, declares it to be vain and empty, and a very improper Quarry for the Soul of Man.

Indeed the Soul of our Neigh∣bour has the most plausible Pre∣tence to our Love, as being the most Godlike of all the Creatures, but since 'tis as indigent as our own, how can it supply our Wants, or conse∣quently be the proper Object of our Page  134 Desires? And if you will forgive a Remark which perhaps is not so solid as the Subject requires, I am apt to think that that Bashfulness and Unwillingness we feel in our selves to declare Love though ne∣ver so pure and so refined from base and low Designs, and which shews it self in most, but especially in the best and most generous Tempers, proceeds from hence: The Soul blushes to declare her Indigence, and to go out of her self to seek for Happiness in that which is not, can∣not be the proper Object of her Desires. 'Tis true, a Sister Soul may give somewhat better Enter∣tainment to our Love than other Creatures can, but she is not able to fill and content it. She must seek her own Felicity abroad, and if she cannot be her own Good, there is little Reason to expect she Page  135 should be ours. And being I have heard some Object against your Account of the first and great Commandment, that it is prejudici∣al to the second, and because I am of a quite contrary Opinion, and think nothing does more effectual∣ly secure and improve it, I will therefore offer to your Considera∣tion and Correction such Medita∣tions as I have had about it.

It were I confess a strong Preju∣dice against your Way of stating the Love of GOD, if it were in any Measure injurious to the right Un∣derstanding and due Performance of the Love we owe to our Neigh∣bour. For since the Precepts of the Gospel are an exact and beau∣tiful System of Wisdom and Perfe∣ction, every one of whose Parts are so duly proportioned to the other, that the Result of all is per∣fect Page  136 Harmony and Order, I must needs conclude, that when such a Sense is put upon one Precept as causes it to clash and interfere with another, it can't be the genuine Meaning of it. And if I can't make over the whole of my Desire to GOD, without defaulking from that Portion of Love he has as∣signed my Neighbour, I must of Necessity set the Signification of that Precept to a lower Pitch, and find out some other Medium to in∣terpret the first and great Com∣mandment. But there's no Ne∣cessity for this: So far is your Ac∣count of the Love of GOD from being prejudicial to the Love of our Neighbour that (if I think right) 'tis the only solid and sure Founda∣tion it can rest upon. For if I may lawfully bestow any Share of my Desire on my Neighbour, why Page  137 not on the rest of GOD's Crea∣tures that are useful and beneficial to me, provided my Love be not inordinate, but contain it self within those Bounds that Reason and Religion have prescribed? For those who contend for a Love of Desire towards our Neighbour, won't deny but that that Desire may be inordinate, and in that Re∣spect unlawful; and therefore, ac∣cording to them, it is not the bare desiring, but the Excess and Irre∣gularity of that Desire that makes it peccant. But does not Reason plead as much for the Lawfulness of desiring one Creature as ano∣ther? And what Arguments can be fetched from thence for the Love of our Neighbour, that will not be as concluding for the Love of other Creatures in their Degree and Proportion? If it be al∣ledged Page  138 that we have a Com∣mand to love our Neighbour, but none to love other Creatures, this seems to me a begging of the Que∣stion, for the Matter in Debate is, Whether that Command ought to be un∣derstood of Love of Desire or Love of Benevolence. But if we once per∣mit our Desire to stray after the Creature, we open a Bank to all that Mischief, Malice and Uncha∣ritableness that is in the World. And indeed, what can be so destru∣ctive to the Love of our Neigh∣bour as these Desires? For the Creature being finite and empty too, and therefore unable to satisfie the Desire of a rational Soul, how is it possible but that a Multi∣tude of Lovers who all desire the same thing, which is very far from being able to satisfie one, much less all of them, should cross each Page  139 other in these Desires and Pursuits, and consequently destroy that Peace and mutual Benevolence which ought to be cherished among rational Beings, and to which the Precepts of the Gospel so strictly engage us? But the Di∣vine Nature is an inexhaustible O∣cean of Felicity, in which every one of us may satisfie his most inlarged Desires, without the least Diminu∣tion of its Fulness! We need not grudg nor envy each other's Portion, for here is enough for us all. And therefore the Soul that centres all her Love on GOD, has no Temp∣tation to those Sins that obstruct her Benevolence to her Neighbour. She does not make Gold her Hope, nor the fine Gold her Confidence, and therefore can very readily part with it to supply her Brother's Necessi∣ties. She does not place her Feli∣city Page  140 in the Pomps and Pleasures of this Mortal Life, and therefore does neither envy him who posses∣ses them, nor seeks by injurious Practises to deprive him of them. And as she has no Pleasure, no co∣veting, no Ambition, but to partake of the Divine Nature, so the Ex∣cellency of that Good on which she feeds assimilates her into its own Likeness, and inspires her with such a generous and diffusive Benignity, that she is willing to spend and be spent for the good of others, and in Imitation of the Di∣vine Philanthropy, expands her self in Acts of Kindness and Benefi∣cence, as uncircumscribedly and universally as the Capacity of her Nature will permit.

What has been said I hope is suf∣ficient to authorize me without Suspicion of Injustice, to with∣draw Page  141 my Heart from my Neigh∣bour and fix it entirely on him who has Merit enough to deserve, and Kindness enough to embrace and requite the highest and most ardu∣ous Degree of Love I can possibly bestow on him. But it may fur∣ther be considered, that our Savi∣our commands us to love our Neighbour as our selves, and to love one another as he has loved us. Now our Love to our selves is a Love of Benevolence, and conse∣quently such a Love to our Neigh∣bour does fully discharge the Obli∣gation of that Command. Nor does it appear that our Saviour loved with a love of Desire, as he was GOD he could not, and as he was Man he need not, for a Love of Benevolence will answer all the End of his coming into the World. The Scripture 'tis true, mentions Page  142 some happy Favourites who had a greater Interest in his Love than others. We read that IESUS loved Lazarus, and of the Disciple whom IESUS loved, but there is no Necessity to understand this of a Love of Desire, and whatever other Reason may be assigned for this particular Kindness, I am apt to think the main Design of it was for our Example, that as our bles∣sed Lord has left us a Pattern of every Virtue, so he might especial∣ly recommend to us that most no∣ble and comprehensive one Friend∣ship, which next to the Love of GOD has the Precedency of all the rest. I am therefore very far from designing any Prejudice to Friend∣ship by what I have offered here, I rather intend to assert and advance it. For he who permits his De∣sires to run after his Friend, will in Page  143 the End neither please himself nor advantage his Friendship. How often do we force the Almighty to deprive us of these dear Idols that have usurped our Hearts? That so he may convince us how improper it is to permit our Souls to cleave to any Creature, which, allowing it to be able to entertain us at pre∣sent, can give no Security for the future. And therefore he who would secure his Felicity, and have the Current of his Delight perpetu∣al, must not suffer his Love to fix on any object but that which is the same Yesterday, to Day, and for ever. Be∣sides, the Defects which we find in Friendship, owe their Original to this misplaced Desire. 'Tis this, that knowing the Narrowness of Humane Nature makes us endea∣vour to monopolize a worthy Per∣son to our selves, whereby we do Page  144 him a great Injury by contracting and limiting his Benevolence. This is it that hoodwinks our Souls, and makes us blind to our Friend's Imperfections; for where-ever Love sixes it either finds or fancies Excellency and Perfection: To discover a Defect embitters its De∣light, wakes it out of its pleasant Dream, and is an uneasie Monitor that it ought not to rest here, since what is defective is so far not good, and consequently not lovely. But he who will not see his Friend's Infirmities is not like to inform him of them, and so fru∣strates the great Design of Friend∣ship which is to discover and cor∣rect the most minute Irregularity, and to purifie and perfect the Mind with the greatest Accuracy. What is it but Desire that creates those Jealousies and Disquiets which Page  145 sometimes creep into this refined Affection? For pure Benevolence delighting in doing good, and ha∣ving no Regard to the receiving it, would not be disgusted at the Kind∣ness which is shewn to a third Per∣son, but rather rejoyce at the Ex∣ercise of its Friend's Virtue. From Desire proceeds that unbecoming Excess of Grief which is apt inde∣cently to transport us when GOD translates our Friend from our Bo∣som into his own. A generous and regular Friendship after it has paid that Tribute of Tears which Nature and the Worth of the Per∣son requires, will rather prompt us to sympathize with and rejoyce in his Happiness, than to regret and complain of our own Loss. There is yet another Indecency that would be prevented were our Love only benevolent; and that is, that Page  146 strong Antipathy which usually succeeds Affection whenever it comes to a Rupture, as 'tis odds but it may, considering the great Weakness of Humane Nature, and how seldom a Man is in every Stage of his Life consistent with himself, for a rightly constituted Friendship will incline us by all the Arts of Sweetness and Endearment to win upon the Offender, who has so much the greater need of our Bene∣volence, by how much he does the less deserve it. Our Kindness when he no longer returns it is the more excellent and generous, because more free: And though it cann't be called Friendship when the Bond is broke on one side, yet there may be a most refined and ex∣alted Benevolence on the other.

After all, methinks Benevolence is the most great and noble Kind Page  147 of Love, and I wonder what should make us so fond of Desire, and so unwilling to withdraw it from the Creature, since so placed it is a con∣tinual Reproach to us, and perpe∣tually upbraids us with our Weak∣ness and Indigence. To need and desire nothing out of himself is the Prerogative and Perfection of the Divine Nature: And though a Creature need not blush to lan∣guish after GOD's Fulness, and to thirst for this Fountain of Living Water, yet methinks it should, to long after broken Cisterns, Creatures as dry and empty as it self; did we therefore consult either our Ho∣nour or our Interest, we should without Reluctancy banish the Creature from our Hearts, aban∣doning all other Desires but that which has all the Pleasure and Advantage of Love, without a∣ny Page  148 of its Pain and Imperfecti∣on.

And thus Sir, I have endeavour∣ed in this and my last, to point out, though very imperfectly, some of the Prerogatives of Divine Love. And I hope 'twill appear from the Utility as well as from the Reasonableness of the thing, that we ought to fix the whole of our Love on our Maker. And in Truth, if we think it reasonable to love GOD at all, I know not how we can with Safety permit our Hearts to love any thing else. For though we may fancy that the Love of the Creature is not contra∣dictory, but subordinate to the Love of GOD, yet Love being the most rapid of all Motions, if once our Desire be set a moving, in vain do we think to stop and circumscribe it; and therefore as Page  149 it is unjust, so it is unsafe to give it the least Tendency towards any Object but him who is the only proper and adequate one.

I am exceedingly pleas'd with M. Malbranch's Account of the Reasons why we have no Idea of our Souls, and wish I could read that ingeni∣ous Author in his own Language, or that he spake mine. However I have some Queries to make about the Matter, but must refer it to another Opportunity. You tell me I must not expect a Definition of Pleasure, all I desire is only such an Account as we have of some other things, which strictly speak∣ing are not capable of a Definiti∣on; that Notion which I have en∣tertained of Pleasure is, That it is that grateful Relish or Sensation, which every Faculty enjoys, in the regular Application of it self, to such Objects Page  150 as are agreeable to its Nature. Or if you please, Pleasure I take to be, the Gratification of Natural Appetites according to, and not exceeding the Intention of Nature, and I pray be so kind as to tell me wherein I Mi∣stake, whereby you will further engage me to be


Your very humble and thankful Servant.

February 15. 1693.

Page  151

LETTER VIII. Mr. Norris's Answer.


I Am no less pleased than your self that my great Argument for the intire Love of GOD taken from his being the only true Cause of our good, is so well discharged of that Difficulty which you urged against it, because (as I told you in my first) I think it the only mate∣rial one to which it stands exposed, and because it has received from your skilful Hand the utmost Ad∣vantage it was capable of. So that now I cannot but conclude the Bottom I go upon to be very sound, not expecting to be attacked by a Page  152 stronger Objection, or by one bet∣ter managed. The same occurred to my own Thoughts while I was composing my Discourse, but I thought it would be time enough to consider it when it came to be objected, and I have since met with a little flying Touch of it in a modern Philosopher of very considerable Note, Monsieur Regis a Cartesian, who in the 16th. Chap∣ter of his Metaphysicks contends up∣on this very Ground that GOD is not the Moral Good of Man, GOD (says he) is not the Moral Good of Man neither because he produces those things which are agreeable to him, nor because he causes those Pleasures which he feels. Not the first, because GOD would then be the moral good of all other Creatures as well as Man, because he does as much produce Page  153 what in agreeable to them as what is so to Man. Not the second, because GOD would then be no less the moral evil of Man than his moral good, because he does no less produce the Pain which he suf∣fers, than the Pleasure which he enjoys. From which without ad∣ding a Word more, as if this had been a most clear and incontestable Demonstration, he positively con∣cludes that GOD is not the moral good of Man. Not only that he is not so for this Reason as the Cause of our Pleasure (as your Objection runs) but that he is not so at all. For he concludes that if he be so, it must be upon one or other of the forementioned Accounts, which since he is not, therefore he will not allow him to be so at all. A strange Paradox by the way, but what Force there is in the Proof of it may Page  154 be determined from the Measures premised.

The other Difficulty against the intire Love of GOD taken from its Inconsistency with the Love of our Neighbour (which you say you have heard some urge against my Account of the first and great Commandment) is indeed in one respect more pressing than the former, though easier to be resol∣ved, because it is directly levelled, not against the Reason only of the Proposition, but the Truth of it. But I wonder to hear of this Ob∣jection as pertinent as it is, since I thought I had already laid in a suf∣ficient Caution against it in the Discourse it self. For 'tis most certain that the most intire Love of GOD enjoyn'd in the first Commandment does by no means exclude the Love of our Neigh∣bour Page  155 injoyned in the second, in case these two Loves be of two dif∣ferent Kinds, the former suppose, Love of Desire, and the latter Love of Benevolence, there being no manner of Repugnancy between the desiring none but GOD, and the wishing well to Men, and 'tis only the joyning these two diffe∣rent Ideas under one common Name (Love) that makes it seem as if there were. To love none but GOD, and yet to love others besides GOD, do indeed seem to be contradictory Propositions, but 'tis all because of the Equivocation of the Word (Love) which when applied to GOD in the first Com∣mandment signifies desiring him as a good, and when applied to Men in the second signifies not de∣siring them as a Good, but desiring good to them. And cannot I thus Page  156 love GOD only, and my Neigh∣bour too, and so fulfil both Com∣mands? Cannot I desire but one thing only in the World, and yet at the same time wish well to every thing else? 'Tis plain that I may, and that the Intireness of my Love to GOD does no way prejudice my Love to my Neighbour, suppo∣sing the latter Love to be of a dif∣ferent Kind from the former. Those therefore that will have one of these to be exclusive of the other, ought first to prove that the Word (Love) used in both commands is taken according to the same Sense in both, that by Love of our Neighbour is meant Love of De∣sire as well as by the Love of GOD, without which their Ob∣jection is precarious, and instead of proving, they do but beg the Que∣stion. And I should be glad to Page  157 see any of our Objectors prove what hitherto they are pleased to pre∣sume, that by Love of our Neigh∣bours is intended Love of Desire.

If they on the other hand de∣mand what Proof I have that the Love of our Neighbour here is not Love of Desire, I answer, first that according to all the Laws of Dispute I may reasonably take leave to suppose that it is not, till my Objectors prove that it is. Since my Account of the first Command∣ment does not overthrow the se∣cond but only upon Supposition that Love of our Neighbour there signifies Love of Desire, they that lay that to my Charge ought in all Logick and Conscience to prove that it has that Signification, till which time I may fairly suppose that it has not, and that the rather because they themselves cannot Page  158 pretend that Desire is the only thing that is called by the Name of Love, but must needs allow that there is also a Love of Benevolence, and that these two have very di∣stinct Idea's. But not to infist up∣on a Privilege I do not need: I an∣swer again that all those Arguments whereby I prove that GOD only ought to be loved with Love of Desire, do also implicity prove that that is not the Love wherewith we are to love our Neighbour, and consequently that that is not the Love intended in the second Com∣mandment, but only Love of Bene∣volence. For since there are but these two Sorts of Love, and since (which is the very Foundation of the Objection) the intire Love of GOD is not consistent with the Love of our Neighbour, as Love signifies Desire, if I prove that Page  159 GOD only ought to be loved with Love of Desire (as I think I have done) then it must follow either that our Neighbour ought not to be loved at all, which is manifest∣ly absurd, or that Love of Benevo∣lence is the Love that must fall to his share, and that which conse∣quently is enjoyned in the second Commandment. And I wonder how it should enter into so many Men's Heads, as it does, to imagin that any other Love than this was here intended. For though it were otherwise never so lawful and al∣lowable to love our Neighbour with Love of Desire, and he other∣wise never so capable of it, yet is it imaginable that this should be made the matter of a Command, and required of us as a Duty! Is it once to be thought that God who is an infinite Good, infinitely de∣sirable, Page  160 infinitely deserving of our highest Affections, nay of our whole Love; and withall infinite∣ly able to satisfie and reward it, should Command us to Love or Desire a Creature, and a Creature as vain and infirm and insuffici∣ent, as much a Shadow as our selves, and that immediately after he had in such Emphatick Terms required us to fix our Love upon himself? Is it I say to be thought, that GOD when he had laid it upon us as a Duty to repose our selves upon his own Stable Centre, should immediately after require us to lean upon that which cannot sustain its own weight? That when he had commanded us to come and quench our mighty Thirst at his own ever springing Fountain (with whom as the Psalmist speaks is the Well of Life) he should in Page  161 the very next Breath send us away to a Cistern, and that too a broken one? That he should first call us to himself, and then as if he alone were not able to suffice for us, and to satisfie those inlarged Appetites which he had given us, should call in the Creatures to bear part of the Expence, and send us from him∣self to them? Are these Thoughts worthy of GOD? But besides, let me Appeal to any of those who contend for Love of Desire as the Love of the Second Command∣ment, Do they ever feel any Re∣morse of Conscience for having been wanting in Love of Desire towards their Neighbour; or does their Conscience ever upbraid them for having thereby fail'd in their re∣gard towards the Second Com∣mandment; or do they ever think it necessary to Repent for having been Page  162 defective in this kind of Love? Our Conscience indeed does often upbraid to us our Desire of Crea∣tures (as you very well remark from our Bashfulness and Unwil∣lingness to own our selves to be in Love) but never that I know of, does it Reproach us for our Indif∣ferency towards them, or prompt us to Repent of it. And indeed it would be a strange kind of Re∣pentance for a Man to fall upon his Knees, and Confess to GOD as a Sin, that he had withdrawn all his Desires from his Creatures and fix'd them wholly upon him; that he did not desire them as his good, though at the same time he wish'd them, and was ready to do them all the good he could. I dread to speak the Language of such a Penitent, when I consider what an absurd Command he Fathers upon Page  163 God. For can we imagin that GOD will charge that person as guilty of the Second Command∣ment who intirely loves him, and bears a hearty good-will to his Fellow Creatures, merely because he does not also desire them as his good? Is it not enough to wish and do well to them? For tell me Madam, what you think of this supposition: I will suppose a Man to place his whole Affection upon GOD, and so to love him with all his Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength, as to withdraw his Love from all the Creatures, and not in the least to desire any of them as his goods, only to desire good to them all, to do them good as far as he has opportunity, and to en∣deavour to unite them to the true good. I further suppose him to persevere in this Disposition of Page  164 Mind to the very last, and then ask whether you can think that such a Person has any thing to answer at the Bar of GOD's Justice for the Breach of the second Command∣ment, or whether you think God will damn and eternally separate such an one from his Presence, as defective in his Measures of Chari∣ty merely for not making Creatures his good, and the Object of his Desire? But I need not put such a Question to you, who I am per∣swaded at the first Proposal of it will be so far from judging such a Person to be a just Object of God's Displeasure, that you will con∣clude he has all that is necessary to recommend him to his highest Fa∣vour, and to qualifie him to partake of his Sovereign Happiness. But 'tis a Question very proper to be put to my Adversaries, who must ei∣ther Page  165 say that God will damn a Per∣son of this Character, or (which therefore appears to be certainly the right) that Love of Desire is not the Love required of us in the second Commandment, but only Love of Benevolence, which who∣ever has does by that alone suffici∣ently satisfie the Intention and Ob∣ligation of that Law.

Besides, does not the Command sufficiently explain it self? For (as you very judiciously remark) our Saviour commands us to love our Neighbour as our selves, which by the Way seems to me not only an absolute Measure, but a relative Character, put in on purpose to di∣stinguish it from the Love of God. But now, as you will re∣sume; our Love of our selves is not Love of Desire, but Love of Bene∣volence. Most undoubtedly so, Page  166 for whoever reflects upon the Love of himself will presently perceive that 'tis not a desiring of himself as his good, but a desiring of some good to himself, as appears from that vulgar Expression, Charity begins at home, and from the Vice of Self-love, by which we mean a craving and seeking after more than comes to a Man's Share without ha∣ving Regard to the Communi∣ty, or a greedy Pursuance of ones own private Interest in Oppositi∣on to that of the Publick. Your other Remark is no less important, that our Saviour does also com∣mand us to love one another as he hath loved us, that is, say you, not with Love of Desire, but that of Benevolence. For as God he could not love us with Love of Desire, and as Man he need not, since Love of Benevolence would answer Page  167 all the Ends of his coming into the World, to which I add that nei∣ther need he as Man because as such he was personally united to the su∣preme good, with which Union I cannot conceive how the Desire of any Creature should be consistent. For as God himself cannot desire any thing out of himself because of his own Fulness, so neither can he that enjoys God desire any thing out of him because of the Fulness of GOD. The Enjoyment of GOD does certainly put a final Period to all Desire, and utterly quench the most flaming Thirst of a Creature, and how then can he whose De∣sire is satisfied desire any further, or if he does, how then is it satisfied? For which reason by the way I think it necessary to conclude that the blessed in Heaven finding all possible good in the Enjoyment of Page  168GOD cannot desire any thing out of him, but that all Love of the Creature does utterly cease, and is for ever silenced in that Region of Happiness, and that GOD is all in all to those that enjoy him. But now we cannot suppose any of the blessed Spirits so united to GOD in Heaven, as our Saviour was while upon Earth, who therefore must be supposed to love Mankind with Love of Benevolence only (as be∣ing capable of no other) and con∣sequently to require the same kind of Love from Men to one another. But there needs no Argument from without to prove this to be his meaning. The Text you refer to (Iohn 13. 34.) sufficiently speaks its own Sense. A new Command∣ment I give unto you, that ye love one another. As I have loved you that ye also love one another. Wherein 'tis Page  169 plain that our Saviour refers to that signal Instance of his Benevolence in his undertaking the Work of our Redemption, and in Propor∣tion requires the same sort of Love from his Disciples, that if Occasi∣on were, they should be ready to lay down their Lives for the Sal∣vation of their Brethren, as he had done for them, which is the natu∣ral Sense of the Words, and made to be so by the best Expositors that I know of upon the Place.

But besides, does not the Scrip∣ture always express our Love to∣wards our Neighbour as a Love of Benevolence only? Love (says the Apostle, Rom. 13. 10.) worketh no ill to his Neighbour, that is, does not hurt or injure him, but do him all good. Which Character shews it to be truly meant of Love of Benevolence. I say truly. And Page  170 that 'tis meant of that only, as be∣ing of it self intirely commensurate to the full Extent of Charity, is evident from the Words that fol∣low, therefore Love is the fulfilling of the Law. Of what Law? Not to be sure of the first Table. For our Love to our Neighbour though never so perfect, cannot satisfie our Obligation to GOD. It must be therefore of the second Table, which being thus fulfilled by Be∣nevolence can require no other Love than that. This is Demon∣stration. Again, when the same Apostle reckons up the Fruits of Charity, does he make any menti∣on of Desire, does he not describe them all by the Expressions of Be∣nevolence? He says, it suffers long and is kind, that it envies not, vaunts not it self, is not puffed up, does not behave it self unseemly, seeks not her Page  171 own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil, rejoyces not in Iniquity, but in the Truth, that it bears all things, be∣lieves all things, hopes all things, and in∣dures all things, but it seems the A∣postle had forgot to put in Desire, or else he thought it no Part of Chri∣stian Charity. And I must con∣fess that I am of the latter Opinion.

And as the Scripture always speaks of Brotherly Love and Cha∣rity in Terms importing Benevo∣lence, so whenever it speaks of the opposite Vice does it not always de∣scribe it by contrary Characters? Does it ever describe it by want of Desire? No, but by want of good Will, by Anger, Wrath, Envy, Bitterness, Malice and such like Terms. And by what Measure of Love it is that Christ will pro∣ceed in his Judgment of the World, whether by Love of Be∣nevolence Page  172 or by Love of Desire I shall leave to be determined by what he says himself concerning that matter in the 25th Chapter of St. Matthew. From all which put together I think nothing can be more clear and certain than that the Love intended and required in the second great Commandment of the Law, is not Love of Desire, but only Love of Benevolence. And I cannot imagine what (besides the Equivocation of the Word Love) should make the World run so generally upon a contrary Notion, unless it be that Clause in the Commandment: And the second is like unto it, whence perhaps it has been concluded that because the first is meant of Love of Desire, therefore the second must be so too. But he must be either much prejudiced, or very dull-sighted Page  173 that does not see that by like unto it is only meant of equal Authority and Obligation in Opposition to the Pharisaic Partiality towards the Precepts of the Law. Well then the Result of the present Con∣siderations is this, since that most intire Love of GOD I stand for in the first Commandment does not at all interfere with the Love of our Neighbour in the second supposing that by Love there we are not to understand Love of Desire, but only Love of Benevolence, and since as I have shewn Love of Be∣nevolence is the Love there solely intended, I may now with Assu∣rance conclude that the Account I have given of the first Command∣ment, as high as it is, is no way in∣jurious to the second, the thing that is generally laid to my Charge. But you go further, undertaking Page  174 to show that my Account of the Love of GOD is so far from being prejudicial to that of our Neighbour, that it is the only true solid Foundation it can rest upon. I thoroughly ap∣prove what you say upon this Part, but shall not offer to add any thing to it, because indeed you have said all. I promised in my last that in my next I would add something to the Reason of our loving GOD so intirely, but having fallen upon a Vein of other Thoughts, and those of no slight Importance, must beg you to let me be in your Debt for this untill ano∣ther Opportunity, as also for what you further desire con∣cerning Pleasure. In the mean time I leave you to that of Page  175 your own Meditations, more of which upon this great Subject will be highly grateful to


Your very humble Servant J. NORRIS.

Bemerton, March 23.

Page  176

LETTER IX. To Mr. Norris.


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


Your much oblig'd and humble Servant.

St. Philip and St. Iames, 1694.

Page  216

LETTER X. Mr. Norris's Answer.


HAving been so happy in my last as to give you no less Satisfaction concerning the second Difficulty arising from the seeming Inconsistency of the intire Love of GOD with the Love of our Neigh∣bour, than concerning the first, suggested from the Causality of GOD in reference to Pain as well as Pleasure, I shall now resume that Thred of my Discourse, which in the last save one I begun. but by Occasion of the Objection crossing my Way was forced to in∣terrupt and proceed to add to what both you and my self have already Page  217 offered, such further Improvement as I think necessary in order to the fuller Establishment of the intire Love of GOD. The Truth and Reasonableness of which Notion the more I think of it, seems to me so very evident, that as I can∣not with-hold my Assent from it my self, so were it not a matter of Practice wherein our Passions and Interests are concerned, as well as Theory that imploys our vnder∣standings, I should strangely wonder at all rational and conside∣rate Persons that can. But this in great measure silences my Admira∣tion. For this is the great Disad∣vantage that all Truths of a moral Nature lie under in Comparison of those that are physical or mathema∣tical, that though the former be in themselves no less certain than the latter, and demonstrated with Page  217 equal Evidence, yet they will not equally convince, nor find a paral∣lel Reception in the Minds of Men, because they meet with their Passions and Lusts, and have often∣times the will and affections to con∣tend with even after they have gained upon their Understandings; where∣as the other being abstract and in∣different Truths, and such where∣in they are wholly disinteressed, stand or fall by their own Light, and never fail to be received accor∣ding to the Degree of Evidence which they bring with them. Were I to deal only with the ratio∣nal Part of Man, I should think that half of what has been said would be enough to convince that, but considering the Nature of the Truth I advance, and what a strong Interest is made against it in the affectionate Part of humane Page  218 Nature, I cannot expect to find the generality of Men overforward to receive it. But then on the other side neither shall I for the same Reason think their Backward∣ness any Objection, or measure the Truth of the Proposition by the Number of its Adherents. For when all is done, Men will be∣lieve no further than they like, and were the Notion never so self-evident, or my Arguments for it never so convincing and demon∣strative, the mere Opposition that it carries to the Passions and lower Interests of Men, would I doubt not be enough to make it a Para∣dox. For what, to have our Hearts that have been for may Years, even from the first Pulses of them, cleaving and fixing and adhering to the World, taking Root in it, and incorporating with it by a thou∣sand Page  220 little Strings and Fibres, pluckt up and torn away from it all at once, and our Hands that had taken such fast hold of it, at one Blow forced from its sweet Embra∣ces? To be at once intirely divor∣ced from all sensible Objects, to have all our Idols demolished, and our high Places taken down, to be divided from the whole Creati∣on, and to have all the Ties bro∣ken which by a numerous Union linked us to it, to be forced to un∣dergo a mystical Death, a spiritual Crucifixion, to be crucified to the World, and to have the World crucified to us, in one Word, to die to the Body and World where∣in we live, and withdraw our Love from the Objects of Sense that we may place it all upon a spi∣ritual and intellectual good, who can expect that these things should Page  221 down with the generality of Man∣kind, or that a Doctrine that en∣counters such a strong Tide of Pre∣judices should find many Disciples in a sensual and unmortified World? The other Precepts of Morality cross only some particular Interests of Man, and fight only against some of his straggling Passions, but this engages with the whole Body of Concupiscence, and at once encounters the whole Interest of Prejudice, all the Force that is or can be raised in humane Na∣ture. Which when I consider, however convinced of the Truth of what I contend for in the Recess of my Mind, I cannot hope by the clearest and strongest reasoning to reconcile the generality of the World to a Notion so opposite to the Passions, Customs and Preju∣dices of it. Only there may be Page  221 here and there some liberal and in∣genious Spirits who have in great measure purged themselves from the Prejudices of Sense, disingaged their Hearts from the Love of sen∣sible Objects, and so far entered into the Methods of true Mortifi∣cation as to be capable of Convicti∣on, and of having their Minds wrought upon by the Light and Force of Reason. And if we have not yet said enough between us to convince such as these, I would desire them further to consider.

That the natural Tendency of the Will being from the Author of our Natures must needs be right, it being impossible that GOD should put a false Bias upon the Soul, and that therefore 'tis the Perfection and Duty of every rati∣onal Creature to conform those Determinations of his Will that Page  222 are free to that which is natural, or in other Words to take Care that the Love of his Nature and the Love of his Choice conspire in one, that they both agree in the same Motion, and concenter upon the same Object. Thus far I think I advance, nothing but what is clear and unquestionable. We are therefore only concerned to consi∣der what is the natural Inclination of the Will, or, what that Object is to which it naturally tends and stands inclined. To this the ge∣neral Answer is easie, and such as all Men will acquiesce in, who will be ready to confess that the natural Motion of the Will is to good in general. And that this is the true natural Term of its Moti∣on is plain because the Wills of all Men how different soever in their other particular Determinations Page  224 agree in this, and because we have no manner of Freedom in this Mo∣tion, or Command over it, but are altogether passive in it, which shews it to be properly a natural Motion. I lay down this therefore as an evident and undeniable Pro∣position, that the natural Motion of the Will is to good in general. But now how can the Will be moved towards good in general but by being moved towards all good? For to be moved towards good as good is to be moved towards all good. And how can the Will be moved towards all good but by be∣ing moved towards a universal Be∣ing who in himself is and contains all good? For as the Understand∣ing cannot represent to it self uni∣versal Ideas, but by being united to a Being who in the Simplicity of his Nature includes all Being, Page  225 so neither can the Will be moved to good in general but by being moved towards a universal Being who by reason of the Infinity of his Nature comprehends all good, that is, towards GOD, who is there∣fore the true Term of the natural Motion of the Soul.

And that he is so will be further evident if we consider the Operati∣on of that Cause by which this na∣tural Motion is produced. This Cause. I here suppose, and have elsewhere shewn to be GOD, and indeed who else should be the Cause of what is natural in us but he who is the Cause of our Na∣tures. Let us see now how this Cause acts. GOD cannot act but by his Will, that's most certain. But now the Will of GOD is not, as in us, an Expression that he re∣ceives from without himself, and Page  226 which accordingly carries him out from himself, but an inward self-centring Principle, that both de∣rives from, and terminates in him∣self. For as GOD is to himself his own good, his own Center and Beatifick Object, so the Love of GOD can be no other than the Love of himself. Whence it will follow, that as GOD must there∣fore be his own End, and whate∣ver he wills or acts he must will and act for himself (as I have alrea∣dy represented it in the Discourse of Divine Love) so also that the Love which is in us must be the Effect of that very Love which GOD has for himself, there being no other Principle in the Nature of GOD whereby he is supposed to act. Whence it will further fol∣low that the natural Tendency of our Love must necessarily be to∣wards Page  227 the same Object upon which the Love of GOD is turned. For since Love in all created Spirits is not produced but by the Will of GOD, which it self is no other than the Love which he bears him∣self, it is impossible that GOD should give a Love to any Spirit which does not naturally tend whi∣ther his own Love does. And since it is evident that the Term of his own Love is himself, it is as evident that the same is also the na∣tural Term of ours, that as our Love comes from him, so it natu∣rally tends to him, and that as he is the efficient, so he is also the true final Cause of the Will of Man; which I take to be nothing else but that continual Impression whereby the Author of Nature moves him towards himself. Which by the way may serve to Page  228 furnish us with the true Reason of a very considerable Maxim which has hitherto been entertained without any, as being thought ra∣ther a first Principle than a Con∣clusion, I mean, that the VVill of Man cannot will Evil as evil. VVhich though a Truth witnessed by constant Experience, and such as all Men readily consent to, and acquiesce in, I despair of ever see∣ing rationally accounted for upon any other Supposition than the pre∣sent. But according to this the Account is clear and easie. For here the VVill it self being suppo∣sed to be nothing else but that ge∣neral Impression whereby GOD, moves us continually towards him∣self, it is plain that we cannot pos∣sibly will or love Evil as evil, as having no Motion from GOD to∣wards it, but to the contrary, viz.Page  229 to himself who is the universal good. And as we may demon∣strate a Priori from this Impressi∣on whereby GOD moves us to∣wards himself, that we cannot love Evil as evil, so from the Experi∣ence we have that we cannot love Evil as evil, we may argue, as a Posteriori, that our VVills are by their original Motion carried to∣wards GOD, and that he is the true and sole Object of their natu∣ral Tendency.

VVhich is also further proved by all those Arguments which I have already, and may more at large produce, for our seeing all things in GOD as our universal Idea. For since the VVill of Man is moved only towards what the Spirit perceives, as is universally granted, and by Experience found to be true, and since as it has been Page  230 sufficiciently proved, we perceive all things in GOD, who presents to Spirits no other Idea than him∣self, who indeed is all, it plainly and necessarily follows that the na∣tural Motion of our VVills is and must be towards GOD and him only; who having made him∣self the sole Term and Object of our natural Love ought also to be made by us the sole Object of that which is free, since as was laid down in the Beginning, the De∣terminations of our VVill that are free ought to be conformable to that which is natural.

The whole Sum and Force of this reasoning lies in this Syllogism. That which is the sole Object of our natural Love ought to be the sole Object of that which is free. But the sole Object of our natural Love is GOD, therefore GOD Page  231 ought to be the sole Object of that which is free. The first of these Propositions is evident from that moral Rectitude which must ne∣cessarily be supposed in the natural Motions of our Love, as proceed∣ing from the Author of our Na∣tures, to which therefore the free Motions of it ought to be conform∣able. The second Proposition is that which I have professedly pro∣ved, and I think sufficiently. Wherefore I look upon the Conclu∣sion as demonstrated, viz. that GOD ought to be the sole Object of our free Love, which being the only Love that falls under Command, and the only one that is in our Power, we must con∣clude that GOD requires all the Love which he can possibly re∣quire, and all the Love which we can possibly give, even our whole Page  232 Heart, Soul and Mind, which we are not therefore to divide betwixt him and the Creature, but to de∣vote to him only, and religiously to present as a Burnt-offering in∣tirely to be consumed at his divine Altar. And thus the whole Moti∣on of our Wills falls under the Right and Title of GOD, who be∣comes the just proprietary and ade∣quate Object of them in their lar∣gest Capacity and utmost Latitude. There are but two Sorts of Moti∣ons in our Souls, as in our Bodies, natural and free, and both these be∣long of right to GOD, who has taken the greatest Care to secure them to himself. He prevents that which is natural, and he re∣quires that which is free. The first he makes his own by natural Instinct, the last by Commands, by Benefits and Obligations, by Page  233 his own Example, by bestowing upon us the Power to love, by di∣recting this Love towards himself, and by all the Reason in the World. We are therefore to cast both these Loves into one and the same Chanel, and make them both flow in one full Current towards GOD. We are to make GOD the only Object of our Love of Choice, as he has made himself the only object of our natural Love, and so joyning this double Motion together to employ the whole Force of our Nature upon him, and love him with all our Power from whom we have all the Power that we have to love.

And how happy is that Man that can do so, that can thus order and regulate the Master and Lead∣ing Passion of his Nature, that can thus love the Lord his GODPage  234 with all his Heart, Soul and Mind! How to be envied is that Man who can thus disingage his Affecti∣ons from the Creature, who can thus recollect, fix, and settle his whole Love upon GOD! It may seem that he is not so, and if we will hearken to the fallacious Re∣ports of our Senses and Imaginati∣ons they will tell us that this is to enter into a dry, barren, disconso∣late and withering Condition, and will represent it as a State of hor∣rible Privation, as a dismal Soli∣tude. But if it be a Solitude, 'tis such an one as that of Moses upon the holy Mount when he withdrew from the People to enjoy the Con∣verse of God, as that of our Savi∣our when he tells his Disciples that they should all desert and leave him alone, and yet that he was not alone because his Father was with Page  235 him. Happy Solitude, when the Creatures retire from us, and leave us to the more full and free En∣joyment of God, and thrice happy he that enjoys this divine Retreat, that can force the Creatures to withdraw, command their Ab∣sence, and wholly empty his Heart of their Love that it may be the more free for the Reception and Enjoyment of him who is able to fill the largest Room he can pre∣pare for him there! How ravishing and lasting are his Delights, how solid and profound is his Peace, how full and overflowing are his Joys, how bright and lucid are the Regions of his Soul, how intire and undisturbed are his Enjoy∣ments, what a settled Calm posses∣ses his Breast, what a Unity of Thought, what a Singleness and Simplicity of Desire, and what a Page  236 firm stable Rest does his Soul find when she thus reposes her full Weight upon GOD! How loose and disingaged is he from the World, and how unconcerned does he pass along through the vari∣ous Scenes and Revolutions of it, how unmoved and unaltered in all the several Changes and Chances of this mortal Life! While others are tormented with Fears, and Cares, and Jealousies, unsatisfied Desires, and unprosperous At∣tempts, while they are breaking their own and one anothers Rests for that which when they have it will not suffer them to sleep, while they are tortured with their Lusts, and with those VVars which are occasion'd by them, while they are quarrelling and contending about the things of the VVorld, hunting about after Bubbles and Page  237 Shadows, beating up and down after Preferments, at once climb∣ing up and falling down from the Heighths of Honour, pursuing hard in the Chase of Pleasure, all the way along complaining of Dis∣appointments, and yet (strange Inchantment) still laying in a Stock for more: In one VVord, while they are thus suffering the various Punishments of an irregular and misplaced Affection, so that the whole VVorld seems to be like a great troubled Sea, working and foaming and raging, till all below be Storm and Tempest, his Breast in the mean while like the higher Regions of the Air enjoys a heaven∣ly Calm, a divine Serenity, and being wholly unhinged and dislodg∣ed from the Creature, and intirely bottomed upon another Center, upon the infinite Fulness and Suf∣ficiency Page  238 of GOD, he has no more Part in any worldly Commotions than the Inhabitants of the Air have in an earthly Earthquake, nor is any further concerned in the Af∣flictions of those below him, but only to wonder at their Folly, and to pity their Misery.

Then as to his moral State, must not the Life of such an one needs be as innocent and virtuous as 'tis pleasant and happy? 'Tis the Love of the Creature that is the general Temptation to Sin, and what St. Iames observes of VVars and Fightings, is as true of all other immoral Miscarriages and Disorders, that they proceed from our Lusts. And how pure and Chaste then must his Soul be that is thoroughly purged of all created Loves, and in whom the Love of GOD reigns absolute and unrival'd, Page  239 without any Mixture or Competi∣tion. How secure must he needs be from Sin, when he has not that in him which may betray him to it! The Tempter may come, but he will find nothing in him to take hold of, the VVorld may spread round about him a poisonous Breath, but it will not hurt him, the very Cleanness of his Constitu∣tion will guard him from the In∣fection. He has but one Love at all in his Heart, and that is for GOD, and how can he that loves nothing but GOD be tempted to transgress against him, when he has nothing to separate him from him, and all that is necessary, per∣haps all that is possible to unite him to him! VVhat is there that should tempt such a Man to Sin, and what Temptation is there that he has not to incite him to all Page  240 Goodness, and what a wonderful Progress must he needs make in it? VVhither will not the intire Love of GOD carry him, and to what Degrees of Christian Perfection will he not aspire under the Conduct of so divine, so omnipotent a Principle! If Obedience be the Fruit of Love, then what an intire Obedience may we expect from so intire a Love, and how fruitful will this Love of GOD be when there are no Suckers to draw off the Nourishment from it, when there is no other Love to check and hinder its Growth! The Man that harbours Creatures in his Bosom, and divides his Heart betwixt GOD and them will be always in great Danger of being betrayed by them, and though he should with great Care and habitual VVatch∣fulness preserve for GOD a greater Page  241 Share in his Affections (which is the utmost such an one can pretend to) yet he will have such a VVeight constantly hanging upon his Soul, that he will be never able to soar ve∣ry high, or arrive at any Excellency in Religion. But what is there on the other side that can hinder him who has emptied his Heart of the Creatures, and devoted it intirely to GOD from reaching the highest Pitch of attainable Goodness? How orderly then and regular will be his Thoughts, how refined and eleva∣ted his Affections, how obedient and compliant his Passions, how pure and sincere his Intentions, how generous and noble his Underta∣kings, what a forward Zeal will he have for GOD's Glory, how chearful, vigorous and constant will he be in his Service, with what Angelick Swiftness will he Page  242 perform what GOD requires of him, or whatever he thinks will be pleasing to him, and how will he run the Way of his Commandments when his Heart is thus set at Liber∣berty! At Liberty not only from this or that particular Incumbrance, this or that Lust or Passion, but from the whole Body of Sin, the intire Weight of Concupiscence.

But Madam, while I thus set out the Reason and Advantage of the intire Love of GOD, I still make further way for your Questi∣on, how comes it to pass that we are so backward to a Love which is both so reasonable in it self, and so pleasant and profitable to us? You might have inlarged your Question with another, since Men are back∣ward, not only to pay that intire Love which they owe to GOD, but even to acknowledge the Debt, Page  243 and are not only loath to obey the Command, but even to understand it, will use a thousand Arts and De∣vices to shift off and evade the genu∣ine Force of it, and rather than fail will say, that though GOD in the most plain and express Terms calls for our whole Love, yet he means only a Part of it. Strange and amazing Partiality and Presumpti∣on! But of this general Backward∣ness to receive the Sense of this plain Command (as plain as Thou shalt have no other Gods but me) I have al∣ready hinted an Account in the former Part of this Letter, and as to the Backwardness of putting it in Practice that has been so excellently and fully accounted for by your bet∣ter Hand that there is nothing left for mine to add upon this Part of the Subject: And indeed scarce up∣on any other. I shall therefore Page  244 conclude all with a very pertinent Passage out of one of the Prayers of St. Austin, in the 35th Chapter of his Meditations. Reple semper (quae∣so) Cor meum inextinguibili dilectione tui, continuâ recordatione tuâ, adeo ut sicut Flamma urens totus ardeam in tui amoris dulcedine, quem & aquae multae in me nunquam possint extinguere. Fac me Dulcissime Domine amare te, & desiderio tui deponere pondus. Om∣nium carnalium desideriorum, & terre∣narum Concupiscentiarum gravissimam Sarcinam, quae impugnant & aggra∣vant miseram animam meam, ut post te expedite in odore unguentorum tuorum currens, us{que} ad tuae Pulchritudinis Visionem efficaciter satiandus merear pervenire. Duo enim Amores, alter honus, alter malus, alter dulcis, alter amarus, non se simul in uno capiunt pectore, & ideo si quis praeter to aliud diligit, non est Charitas tua Deus, in Page  245 eo. Amor dulcedinis & Dulcedo amo∣ris, Amor non crucians sed delectans, Amor sincere caste què permanens in sae∣culum saeculi, Amor qui semper ardes & nunquam extingueris, dulcis Chri∣ste, bone Iesu, Charitas Deus meus, accende me totum igne tuo, amore tui, Suavitate & Dulcedine tuâ, Iucundi∣tate & exultatione tuâ, voluptate & concupiscentiâ tuâ, quae sancta est & bo∣na, casta & munda, tranquilla est & secura, ut totus dulcedine amoris tui plenus, totus Flammâ Charitatis tuae succensus, diligam te Deum meum ex toto Corde meo, totisque medullis prae∣cordiorum meorum, habens te in Cor∣de, in Ore, & prae Oculis meis, sem∣per & ubiquè, ita utnullus pateat in me locus adulterinis Amoribus.

Fill always (I beseech thee) my Heart with an unquenchable Love of thee, with a continual Remembrance of thee, that so as a burning Flame, I Page  246 may burn all over in the Sweetness of thy Love, which may not be quenched even by many Waters. Make me sweetest Lord to love thee, and through the Desire of thee to lay down the Weight of all carnal Desires, and the most heavy load of earthly Con∣cupiscences, which fight against and weigh down my miserable Soul, so that running expeditely after thee in the Odor of thy Ointments, I may be worthy to arrive to the effectual∣ly satisfying Vision of thy Beauty. For two Loves, one good and another bad, one sweet and another bitter can∣not dwell together in the same Breast, and therefore if any one love any thing besides thee, thy Love O God is not in him. O Love of Sweetness, O Sweetness of Love, that dost not tormont but delight, Love that for ever remainest sincere and chast, Love that does always burn and art never Page  247 extinct, sweet Christ, good Iesus, my God, my Love, kindle me all over with thy Fire, with the Love of thee, with thy Sweetness, with thy Ioy, with thy Pleasure and Concupiscence, which is holy and good, chaste and clean, quiet and se∣cure, that being all full of the Sweet∣ness of thy Love, all on fire with the Flame of thy Charity, I may love thee my GOD with my whole Heart, and with all the Power of my inward Parts, having thee in my Heart, in my Mouth, and before my Eyes, always and every where, that so there may be no Place in me open to adulterous Loves.

You see Madam, that St. Austin here most expresly prays for the ve∣ry same thing for which I argue, the most intire Love of GOD, and Page  248 who is there that can justly scruple to say Amen to this Divine Prayer of his? I for my own Part assent to it most heartily, and so beseech∣ing the holy Spirit, the great Dis∣penser of Charity, to shed this in∣tire Love of GOD into the Hearts of you and me, and all good peo∣ple; that so we may love him as a GOD, with a Love truly worthy of him, I leave you to the Cor∣rection of these my Thoughts, and to the Enjoyment of your own; which whether you will further communicate upon this Subject, that so the same Hand may conclude which begun it, I leave you to consider, while I justly thank you for the Advan∣tage of your past Correspondence, and assure you that I cannot Page  248 express how very much I am there∣by obliged to continue


Your most faithful Friend and humble Servant J. NORRIS.

Bemerton, May 25.

Your Definition of Pleasure is right as far as it goes, but that is no further than what we call a nominal Definition.

Page  250

LETTER XI. To Mr. Norris.


THough I intimated in my last that I had concluded my Me∣ditations on this Subject, yet I find like its divine Object it has no Bounds. And besides the natural Vastness of the Argument, your convincing and pathetick Discour∣ses so rouze my Understanding, so chafe my Affections and enlarge my Thoughts, that I have once more resumed this noble, this pleasing, this perfective Theme, which is the Solace of my Heart, the Entertain∣ment, not only of my Leisure, but of my most busie and best employ∣ed Page  251 Hours. For what have we to do, what is it that deserves to be the Business of rational Creatures but to adore and love their Maker? It were not worth while to live in the World, were it not to love GOD and pay our Devoirs to him; and could the Atheists and Hypo∣thesis possibly be true, our greatest Wisdom wou'd be with all Expedi∣tion to hasten out of it.

But though the Account you give of the Love of GOD be so ac∣curate and entertaining, yet I don't in the least wonder that you com∣prehend this sacred Theory so fully, and explain it so efficaciously, since the great Evidence of divine Love has assured us that he will manifest himself to them that love him; they shall see him, whilst the blind World has no Vision of his Beau∣ty; they only can declare the Sweet∣ness Page  253 of this hidden Manna, who taste and feed on and are in∣timately acquainted with it.

Nor need you wonder at my Prolixity which you are pleased to encourage and commend, because it is an Evidence that whatever my Understanding be, my Will is right, and though I am very sensi∣ble the one is too defective to de∣serve Commendations for its Noti∣ons, yet you are pleased to overlook its Imperfections on account of the Honesty and Regularity of the other. Love you know is talka∣tive, as its Thoughts are ever busi∣ed in contemplating, so is its Tongue in displaying the Beauties of its Object; it wou'd have all the World admire that which it doats on, and every thing he sees or hears serves to excite the dear Idea in a Lovers Mind. This we may ob∣serve Page  252 when the Object is finite, and perhaps unworthy of our Choice, and well may the Observation hold when our Hearts are united to infinite Perfection, when all the beauteous things that surround us are but faint Shadows of our Be∣loved's Excellencies, when our Lof∣tiest Praises are no better than De∣tractions, and the highest Pitch of Love we can possibly skrew up our Souls unto, infinitely unworthy of him, were it possible to offer more. When therefore in my so∣litary Musings I entertain my self with these agreeable Contemplati∣ons, I fancy the whole intellectu∣al World is offering up it self a fla∣ming Sacrifice to GOD, and that there is no Contention among intel∣ligent Beings but who shall with greatest Ardor love, praise, and serve the glorious Author of their Page  254 Happiness! Whatever it is, I am sure it ought to be so: For who can forbear to admire Beauty when plainly represented to his Eye? Or to be ravished with harmonious Numbers when they briskly strike his Ear? Who is so dull as not to desire what is lovely, and relish what is good? Why then is he not affected, nay, why is he not trans∣ported when caressed by all that is good, and all that is lovely! When the Fruition of Beauty, and Har∣mony, and Goodness in the Ab∣stract are offered to him? Why we shoud with-hold our Hearts from GOD, when it is not more our Duty than our Interest and Happi∣ness to offer them to him, I confess I cannot yet discern. And though much has been said to account for this Absurdity, yet I must needs own it still employs my Wonder. Page  254 For why should even our Affecti∣ons oppose the Love of GOD, since it does not deprive them of any real good, why should they not ra∣ther close with it, since its only De∣sign is to satisfie and perfect them? Our very lower Appetites will find more true Satisfaction in the Ser∣vice of GOD and Reason, than in their own irregular and exorbitant Sway. Sure I am that a Man may be much happier by withdrawing his Heart from the Creature than he can be in cleaving to it. Nay, (let it look never so much like a Paradox) 'tis impossible for him to be in any Degree happy, whilst misplaced Affections do so far pre∣vail as to denominate him an irre∣gular Lover and wicked Man. So true is that saying I have some∣where met with, that there is no Joy but in GOD, and no Sorrow but Page  259 in an evil Conscience. But admit∣ting the Creature were able to en∣tertain us, what wise Man wou'd think much to relinquish a lesser for a greater good, or shew any In∣clination for lower Delights when courted to the Enjoyment of the highest? Why then do we relish any other Pleasure? Since there is as much Difference betwixt this and all other Delights, as between the Quintessence and the Faeces, the kindly Work of Nature, and the preternatural Operations of Medi∣cine? Other Loves, even the very best, have somewhat of Grossness in them which offends even whilst they please, and have always their Pleasure mixed with Pain; where∣as Divine Love is so connatural to the true Taste and Relish of the Soul, that although the Sentiments it excites are highly ravishing and Page  257 entertaining, though they fill every Faculty with a full Tide of Joy, they are withal so pure and undi∣sturbing that they are Sweets that know no Bitter, Joys without Al∣lay, Pleasures that have no Sting, such as I would fain describe, but that I am not Mistris of Eloquence enough to express them. But whatever it be in which a Man finds the greatest Delight, let him abstract from it all that is uneasie and disgusting, let him double and treble the Joy, let his working Fan∣cy exalt it to the utmost Heighth, and perhaps it may afford him some faint Idea of this delightful Love, which yet Experience will convince him falls as short of it as artificial Fruits do of the natural and true. All which does only encrease my wonder why there are so few Vota∣ries to this only real Bliss! For Page  258 why a Man shou'd reject his Hap∣piness is a Question we can never answer, but that he does, is what we daily see. Well then may it repent GOD that he has made Man, since Man has made himself such an absurd, irrational Creature! Well may the Divine Goodness passionately exclaim, O that they were wise! O that there were such an Heart in them, since 'tis impossible, even to an Almighty Power to make him happy who is resolved he will not be so. And herein methinks appears the Devil's greatest Master∣piece, that he can give such a false Representation of things, and so much to our Disadvantage as to put us upon the violent Pursuit of good where we can never find it, and to blind us so that we may not discern it where it is, and our own most notorious Folly in being so wretch∣edly Page  259 imposed on by him. For cer∣tainly the Ways of Vice are as toil∣some and uneasie as they are foolish and absurd; they are not only un∣profitable but unpleasant too, the Consideration of which is the reason why I was so desirous of a Definition of Pleasure from your ac∣curate Pen. For Pleasure as I take it is the grand Motive to Action, and after all the Thoughts I have employed about the matter, I am not able to conceive how there can be any such thing as Pleasure in ought but Virtue, nor consequent∣ly what Inducement to any other Course: 'Tis as irrational to look for Pleasure from eccentrick Actions, as to expect Harmony from an In∣strument unstrung and out of tune. As therefore the Love of GOD is the Sum of our Duty, so by conse∣quence 'tis the Heighth of our Plea∣sure, Page  260 the Joy of the whole Man; and were we not strange unaccount∣able Creatures, it wou'd be the Bu∣siness of our Lives, the End of all our Actions. I will not therefore search for Arguments to enforce this Love, after those incomparable ones you have so well inculcated, which are indeed unanswerable, and not to be opposed by any thing but that which is as unconquerable as 'tis unaccountable, wilful Folly, for if we are resolved not to pra∣ctise, the Wonder is the less that we are averse to admit the Truth of this Theory. Certain it is, would we but make the Tryal, our own Experience would supersede the Trouble of Dispute. The Fruiti∣on of so perfect and all-sufficient a Being, wou'd convince us that he who is altogether and infinitely love∣ly is worthy of all our Love. For Page  261 after all the Arguments we can urge, after all the Swasives we can offer, there is none like to that of the Psalmist, O taste and see that the Lord is gracious! Wou'd we but open our Souls wide to receive his Influences, we shou'd need no more Conviction that 'tis he, and he only who can replenish and content them, and therefore 'tis he only who ought to possess them. And were I wri∣ting to the World, to Persons not sensible of their Obligations, I wou'd desire them only to open their Eyes, to fix their Thoughts steddily on the Divine Beauty, and then tell me if there be any thing fit to rival him, or if that Creature be worthy of his Love who can di∣vide the least Grain of his Affecti∣ons from him, or can discern Ama∣bility in any thing besides him? I wou'd intreat them if they will not Page  262 be active in kindling this Divine Fire, to be passive at lest, not to skreen themselves from his Beams, nor put a wilful Bar to exclude the natural Operations of his Excel∣lencies (for this stubborn Will of Man, weak as he is, does often check Omnipotence) and then let me ask them if they do not feel the Rays of his Goodness sweetly insi∣nuating into every Part, clearing up the Darkness of their Understan∣dings, warming their benummed Affections, regulating their ob∣lique Motions, and melting down their obstinate, ingrateful, disin∣genuous Wills? Do they not feel these Cords of a Man as himself is pleased to call them, these silken Bands of Love, these odoriferous Perfumes drawing them after him, uniting them to him by the most potent Charms? Can they any lon∣ger Page  263 refrain from crying out, Thou hast overcome, O Lord thou hast overcome, ride on triumphantly, lead my Soul in Triumph as thy own Captive, thy Love has con∣quered and I am thine intirely and for ever. And blessed is the Man that is so overcome! He never lived till now, nor knew what Pleasure meant; some Shews of it might tantalize and abuse him, but now he is delivered from that Enchant∣ment, and has free Access to the Ocean of Delight, he may now take full Draughts of Bliss, without fear of want or Danger of Satiety! He may—what shall I say? He may be as happy as his Nature will permit, and has nothing to hinder him from being infinitely so, but that he is finite and a Crea∣ture!

Page  264

And now if our happy Man be so sensible of his Bliss, that he is desirous by all means to confirm and secure it; I know no better way than by frequently contemplating the infinite Loveliness and Love of GOD. For as it was this that be∣gat Love, so this must preserve and continue it, nor is it possible it should ever go out so long as he sup∣plies it with this Fuel. And if for the greater Security of his Happi∣ness, and that he may not deceive himself in a matter of so vast Impor∣tance, since most Men will take it very ill to have it said that they are not Lovers of GOD, and yet there are but few who really are so, if on this Consideration he be inquisitive after the genuine Properties of Di∣vine Love, (besides what has already more loosely been hinted at,) the great comprehensive and inseparable Page  265 Effect of it is universal Obedience, as I intimated in my last. But to be more particular; a flaming Love to GOD will create the greatest In∣difference imaginable towards the World and all things therein. For since all those Tyes are broke that glewed us to it, we are no longer moved or affected by it. I need not tell you Sir, that a passionate Lover is careless to all things but the Object of his Desire; if that smile, no matter who frowns on him. Those Objects which other Persons pursue with Eagerness, enjoy with Complacency and lose with Re∣gret, are unmoving and cold to him, he is not sensible of their Charms, nor are the Avenues of his Soul open to any thing but what he loves. Other things he beholds at a distance, they may slightly touch and pass away, but cannot pene∣trate. Page  266 But where-ever his Beloved is interessed his Soul is all on fire, he does not pursue his Service with a languid and frozen Application, but with the Diligence and Zeal of Love. He will not for the pet∣ty Interests that self proposes, con∣nive at the Injuries that are offered to his better self. He will not see his Beloved affronted, his Laws contemned, and his Designs oppo∣sed, and tamely stand by and hold his Peace; nor does he regard what himself may suffer, but only what Service he can reasonably hope to do; and never is chary of any of those things we usually call our own, whether Fortune, or Fame, or Life it self, but only deliberates how he may reserve them for the most opportune Season of expend∣ing them freely in his Beloveds Ser∣vice. There's nothing bitter and Page  267 uneasie in Love, the greatest La∣bours are Delights, for what so grateful to a Lover as the Difficul∣ty of a Service, because it eminent∣ly recommends that Passion which could surmount it? On which ac∣count Love by making Religion our Business and Interest, our Joy and Pleasure, takes off that Unea∣siness, which though really we do not find we however fancy to be in it, by viewing it only in the un∣pleasant Prospect of mere Task and Duty.

Again, Love cuts off all narrow and illiberal Thoughts, gives the most genteel and generous Tem∣per to the Soul, it extinguishes all Jealousies and Suspitions, tormen∣ting Cares and desponding Fears; it has a Salve for every cross Event, and a Sagacity to read GOD's Kind∣ness in such Providences as are vul∣garly Page  268 resolved into his Displeasure. Hence it is the Parent of the most intire Resignation, and exact Con∣formity. A true Lover neither questions GOD's Revelations nor disputes his Commands, deliberates no further than to obtain a good As∣surance that such and such things are really his Will and Pleasure. He does not only submit to his Dispensations how disagreeable so∣ever to Flesh and Blood and his own Expectation; this a Man must of necessity do, and therefore I can∣not discern wherein the Virtue of a bare Submission consists, such a passive Obedience to GOD is like the new Notion some have got of passive Obedience to their Gover∣nors, a being content to suffer when we know not how to help it; but our Divine Amorist has an intire Complacency in whatever GODPage  269 allots, he in a manner goes forth to meet it, chuses, justifies, and re∣joyces in it.

But I must not omit what the holy Scripture makes a peculiar Character and special Effect of Di∣vine Love, and that is the Love of our Neighbour. That it is so needs no Proof, being expresly affirmed by our Lord himself and his beloved Disciple, let us inquire a little in∣to the Reason why it is so, which seems to be this. GOD by the Prerogative of his Nature, his in∣finite Beneficence and Love to us, having a Right to all our Love, whether it be Love of Desire or Love of Benevolence, but withal, being no proper Object of the latter, by reason of his infinite Ful∣ness, has therefore thought fit to devolve all his Right to that Love on our Neighbour, and to require Page  270 as strict a Payment of it to his Proxy, as if he were capable of receiving it himself. By this Notion we may fairly understand St. Iohn's reason∣ing in his 1st. Epist. Chap. 4. 20. a Text which those Expositors that I have met with give methinks but a crude Interpretation of. And be∣sides, the Love of GOD pressing us to such an exact Imitation of him (as I shewed in my last) and GOD being in nothing more imitable than in his Charity and Communicative∣ness, our Love to him will require us to transcribe this most lovely Pattern, and to do all the good we can to those whom he is constantly pursuing with his Benefits.

It likewise teaches us the true Measure of Benevolence, which is to bestow the greatest Share of our Love on those who are dearest to GOD and do most resemble him: Page  271 I cannot forbear to reckon it an irre∣gular Affection, and an Effect of Vitious Self-love, to love any Per∣son merely on account of his Rela∣tion to us. All other Motives be∣ing equal, this may be allowed to weigh down the Scale; but cer∣tainly no Man is the better in him∣self for being akin to me, and no∣thing but an overweaning Opinion of my self can induce me to think so. I should therefore chuse to derive the Reasons why we are in the first place to regard our Relati∣ons, rather from Justice, and the Rules of Oeconomy, than from Love. For since the Abilities of Man are finite and determinate, and he cannot universally extend any Act of Benevolence but Prayers and Wishes, 'tis therefore reasonable he should begin to communicate his Benefits to those within his own Page  272 Verge and District, whose Wants he is best acquainted with, and can most conveniently supply; whose Benefits to him are presumed to re∣quire this Return, or else their Ne∣cessities bespeak him the fittest Au∣thor of their Relief.

I further observe, that Resigna∣tion and Charity are the Tests by which GOD explores every Man's Love. By the one he tries the prosperous, by the other the af∣flicted. He therefore who has this Worlds good, and with-holds his Assistance from his Brother who needs it; and he who because he has not the good things of this World murmurs and grudges at their Dispensation, and envies them that have, cannot be said to have the Love of GOD in him.

Page  273 In the last place, a true Lover of GOD is always consistent with himself, one Part of his Life does not clash and disagree with the other. He that has many Loves, has by consequence many Ends; whence it is that we too often see many who in the main are good People, lash out into some particu∣lar Irregularity, which like a Fly in a Box of Oyntment, marrs the Sweetness, and destroys the Love∣liness of their Virtue, and brings a Reproach on Religion it self. The vulgar and Men of carnal Ap∣petites partly out of Ignorance, and partly to lighten as they fancy their own Crimes, being too prone to reflect that Dash of secular In∣terest, that time-serving or over∣great Solicitude for the World, or perhaps their too great Opinion of themselves, or Censoriousness on Page  274 others, which zealous Pretenders to Piety are sometimes apt to slip into, even on that unblemished Beauty, whose Livery they wear, which I am sure gives no Allow∣ance to such unsuitable Mixtures, however her Votaries happen to admit them, But when we act by this one grand Principle, the Love of GOD, our Lives are uniform and regular wherein the great Beauty of Piety consists. For I am apt to think that be Mens Pretences what they will, that Life only is tru∣ly religious which is all of a Piece; when a Man having de∣liberately bottomed on well-cho∣sen and solid Principles, with∣out Fear or Favour acts con∣stantly and steddily according to them.

To conclude, this Divine Love is the Seal of our Adoption, the Page  275 Earnest of the Spirit in our Hearts, it being impossible that the Soul that truly loves GOD should ever fail of enjoying him. 'Tis the Antipast of our Happiness here, and the full Consummation of it hereafter. Thrice happy Soul that canst look through the Veil, and notwithstanding that thick Cloud of Creatures that obscures thy View, discern him that is invisible, live in the Light of his Countenance all the Time of thy sojourning here, and at last pure and defecate, with a Kiss of thy Beloved, breath out thy self into his sacred Bo∣som!

And now Sir I have done; for what have I further to add, since I cannot sufficiently express how much I think my self obliged to you? As for all your other Page  276 Favours, so particularly that you give me Occasion to declare my self

Worthy Sir,

Your most unfeigned Friend, As well as humble Servant.

Iune 21. 1694.

Page  277

APPENDIX. Two Letters by way of Review.

To Mr. Norris.

YOu'll wonder Sir, that I look back upon a finished Subject, but because you have in these Letters answered most of the Objections that are made against your printed Discourse, and be∣cause I am very desirous your Hypo∣thesis should appear in its full Light, though in my first I con∣ceded one of the main things you contend for, viz. That GOD is the only efficient Cause of all our Sen∣sation; yet since very many object Page  278 against this Proposition, and some∣thing has offered it self to my Thoughts, perhaps not altogether Impertinent, give me leave to exa∣mine the matter a little furrher. And methinks the main Stress of the Objections lies in these two Points. First, That this Theory renders a great Part of GOD's Workmanship vain and useless. Secondly, That it does not well comport with his Majesty.

For the first, That this Theory renders a great Part of GOD's Workmanship vain and useless, it may be thus argued. Allowing that Sensation is only in the Soul, that there is nothing in Body but Magnitude, Figure and Motion, and that being without Thought it self it is not able to produce it in us, and therefore those Sensations, whether of Pleasure or Pain, which Page  279 we feel at the Presence of Bodies, must be produced by some higher Cause than they; yet if the Ob∣jects of our Senses have no natural Efficiency towards the producing of those Sensations which we feel at their Presence, if they serve no further than as positive and arbi∣trary Conditions to determine the Action of the true and proper Cause, if they have nothing in their own Nature to qualifie them to be instrumental to the Production of such and such Sensations, but that if GOD should so please (the Na∣ture of the things notwithstanding) we might as well feel Cold at the presence of fire as of water, and heat at the Application of Water or any other Creature, and since GOD may as well excite Sensations in our Souls without these positive Conditions as with them, to what Page  280 end do they serve? And then what becomes of that acknowledged Truth that GOD does nothing in vain, when such Variety of Objects as our Senses are exercised about are wholly unnecessary? Why therefore may there not be a sensible Congruity between those Powers of the Soul that are employed in Sen∣sation, and those Objects which oc∣casion it? Analogous to that vital Congruity which your Friend Dr. More (Immor. of the Soul, B. 11. Chap. 14. S. 8.) will have to be between some certain Modifications of Matter, and the plastick Part of the Soul, which Notion he illu∣strates by that Pleasure which the preceptive Part of the Soul (as he calls it) is affected with by good Musick or delicious Viands, as I do this of sensible by his of vital Con∣gruity, and methinks they are so Page  281 symbolical that if the one be admit∣ted the other may. For as the Soul forsakes her Body when this vital Congruity fails, so when this sensible Congruity is wanting, as in the Case of Blindness, Deaf∣ness, or the Palsie, &c. the Soul has no Sensation of Colours, Sounds, Heat and the like, so that although Bodies make the same Impression that they used to do on her Body, yet whilst it is under this Indisposition, she has not that Sen∣timent of Pleasure or Pain which used to accompany that Impression, and therefore though there be no such thing as Sensation in Bodies, yet why may there not be a Congru∣ity in them by their Presence to draw forth such Sensations in the Soul? Especially since in the next place, it seems more agreeable to the Majesty of GOD, and that Page  282 Order he has established in the World, to say that he produces our Sensations mediately by his Servant Nature, than to affirm that he does it immediately by his own Almigh∣ty Power.

Nor will this be any Prejudice to the Drift of your Discourse, which is to prove that GOD only is to be loved because he only does us good, for the Creature has as little Right to our Affections this way as the other. If a bountiful Per∣son gives me Money to provide my self Necessaries, my Gratitude sure∣ly is not due to the Money but to the kind Hand that bestowed it, to whom I am as much obliged as if he had gone with me and bought them himself. For there seems no Ne∣cessity to conclude that every thing that does me good, that is, that produces Pleasure in me, though it Page  283 be but the contemptible Pleasure of a grateful Odor, has on that ac∣count a just Title to some Portion of my Love, since in some Cases the occasioning a moral and durable Good does not necessarily challenge our Love. As for Instance, my Enemy does me very much good by his greatest Injuries and most viru∣lent Reproaches, because he gives Opportunity of exercising my Cha∣rity, and makes such a Discovery of my Faults, that thereby I come to know and amend them. But I suppose you won't say I am obliged to him for all this, or that I ought to desire those Injuries, or admit him to my Bosom who offers them? Though perhaps my dearest Friend could not possibly do me a greater good. We do not therefore owe Love to any Object merely on ac∣count of what it produces, but in Page  284 Proportion to that voluntary Kind∣ness whereby it produceth it. A∣greeably to what you say in your first Letter concerning Pain, that GOD occasions it only indirectly and by Accident, it is not his ante∣cedent and primary Design, he does not will it from within, or for it self, but from without, and therefore for these Reasons is not the Object of our Aversion. And so say I, allowing that Bodies did really better our Condition, that they did contribute to our Happi∣ness or Misery, and did in some Sense produce our Pleasure or Pain, yet since they do not will it, do not act voluntarily but mechanical∣ly, and all the Power they have of affecting us proceeds intirely from the Will and good Pleasure of a superior Nature, whose Instru∣ments they are, and without whose Page  285 Blessing and Concurrence they could not act, therefore they are not proper Objects of our Love or Fear, which ought wholly and in∣tirely to be referred to him, who freely acts upon our Souls, and does us good by these in∣voluntary and necessary Instru∣ments.

For certainly that Being only de∣serves our Love, even our whole Love, who has it always in his Power to better and perfect our Nature, and who does voluntarily and freely exert that Power. Which former Clause I add to cut off our Love from all rational Creatures, who may be instrumen∣tal to our good designedly and free∣ly, but since their Power is not originally from themselves, neither are they always in a Capacity of exerting it, seeing they may, and Page  286 very often do, want either Power or Will to help us, therefore they are not the proper Objects of our Love. For that Being only is so who constantly and chusingly plea∣sures and perfects our Natures, or at least is always ready to do so, and actually does it, when not prevented and hindered by our In∣dispositions and wilful Incapaci∣ties.

These Sir, are at present my Thoughts, though hastily hud∣dled up, for I had but a few Hours to examine and digest them, and was not willing to re∣main any longer in your Debt for this Letter, having trespassed too much already. And I am confident you are such an un∣feigned Lover of Truth, that you will on that Account easily pardon her Boldness in objecting Page  287 thus freely against your ingenious Discourse, who is with all Respect and Gratitude

Your faithful Friend and Servant.

Aug. 14.

Page  288

Mr. Norris's Answer.


YOU are no less happy in this your Review than in your first Overture to pitch upon the on∣ly material Objection to which the Proposition you attack is liable. But before I set my self to answer it, give me leave to suggest to you that 'tis a Proposition of the most incontestable and philosophick Evi∣dence, and in the Discourse you refer to most clearly demonstrated to be so, that the Bodies that are about us are not the true Causes of those Sensations which we feel at their Presence, but that GOD only is the Cause of them, who being the Author of our Beings has the Page  289 sole Power to act upon our Spirits, and to give them new Modificati∣on. I say Modifications, for that well expresses the general Nature of Sensation. And it is a new Modification or different Way of existing of the Soul that makes this or that Sensation, which is not any thing really distinct from the Soul, but the Soul it self existing after such a certain Manner. Wherein it is distinguished from our Idea's, which are representative to us of something without us, whereas our Sensations are within us, and indeed no otherwise di∣stinct from us than Modalities are for the thing modified. Accor∣dingly there is a vast Difference be∣tween knowing by Sentiment and knowing by Idea. We know Numbers, Extension, and Geome∣trick Figures by Idea, but we know Page  290 Pleasure and Pain, Heat and Co∣lour, &c. by interior Sentiment. To know Numbers and Figures there is need of Ideas, for without an Idea the Soul can have no Perception of any thing distinct from it self, as Numbers and Fi∣gures are. But to know or per∣ceive Grief there is no need of an Idea to represent it. A Modality of the Soul is sufficient, it being certain that Grief is no other than a Modification of the Soul, who when in Grief does not perceive it as a thing without and distinct from her self (as when she contem∣plates a Square or a Triangle) but as a different Manner of her own Existence. Sensation then being a Modification of the Soul, this single Consideration setting aside all other Discoursings will furnish us with a demonstrative Argument Page  291 to prove that not Bodies, but GOD alone is the Cause of our Sensati∣ons. For who else should either have Power or Knowledge to new modifie our Beings, but he who made them and perfectly under∣stands them? But I shall not enter upon a further Demonstration of this Point, since I have abundantly proved it in my printed Discourse of the Love of GOD, and since you do as good as allow it in your pre∣sent Objection. This therefore appearing to be a clear and certain Truth, give me leave again to re∣mind you of a certain Maxim that I observed to you in my first Letter, That we are to stick to what we clearly see, notwithstanding any Objections that may be brought against it, and not reject what is evident for the sake of what is obscure. Suppo∣sing therefore that there are, or Page  292 might be Objections raised to shew that GOD is not the Cause of our Sensations which I could not answer, yet since my Reason as of∣ten as I consult her does most con∣vincingly assure me that he is, I ought to rest here, and not suffer that which I do not perceive, to hinder me from assenting to that which I evidently do.

But to consider your Objecti∣ons, I observe in the first place that having granted that sensation is only in the soul, that there is no∣thing in Body but Magnitude, Figure and Motion, and that being without Thought it self it is not able to pro∣duce it in us, and therefore those sensations, whether of Pleasure or Pain which we feel at the Presence of Bodies, must be produced by some higher Cause than they (all which well agrees with the Con∣clusion Page  293 I contend for) you after∣terwards object against their being only Conditions serving to deter∣mine the Action of the true and proper Cause, which Objection seems to come a little unexpectedly after such a Concession. For if they are not true and proper Cau∣ses of our sensations, what else can they be but Conditions serving to determine the Agency of him who is so? Yes, you seem to point out a middle Way, by supposing that as they are not so much as proper Causes, so they are more than mere Conditions, viz. That they have a natural Efficacy towards the Production of our Sensations. But if I am not mightily mistaken this middle Way will fall in with one of the Ex∣treams. For to have a natural Ef∣ficacy for the Production of a thing, is the same as to have a Cau∣sality, Page  294 and that again is the same as to be (at least a partial) Cause. If therefore the Objects of our Senses be not true and proper Causes of our Sensations, then neither have they any natural Efficacy towards the Production of them. But if they have any such natural Efficacy, then they are true and proper Cau∣ses, which though it be a Proposi∣tion which you formally and ex∣presly deny, is that however which your Objection in the true Conse∣quence and Result of it tends to prove. And to prove this, That Bodies have a natural Efficacy to∣wards the Production of our Sen∣sations, or that they are true Cau∣ses of them (for I take them to be Propositions of an equivalent Im∣port) you argue from a twofold Topick, first, That the contrary Theory renders a great Part of Page  295GOD's Workmanship vain and use∣less. Secondly, That it does not well comport with his Majesty. Now to set you right in this mat∣ter, and to acquit our Theory from both these very threatning Inconve∣niences, we need only fairly pro∣pose it. The Case then is this. GOD has united my Soul to a cer∣tain Portion of organized Matter, which therefore for the particular Relation it has to me I call my Bo∣dy. This Body of mine is placed among and surrounded with a vast Number and Variety of other Bo∣dies. These other Bodies accor∣ding to the Laws of Motion esta∣blished in the World strike vari∣ously upon mine, and make diffe∣rent Impressions upon it according to the Degree of their Motion, and the Difference of their Size and Fi∣gure. These Impressions have a dif∣ferent Page  [unnumbered]〈1 page duplicate〉Page  [unnumbered]〈1 page duplicate〉Page  296 Effect upon my Body, some of them tending to the Good and Preservation, and some to the Evil and Dissolution of its Structure and Mechanism, even as in the greater World some Motions tend to the Generation and Perfection, and others to the Corruption and Destruction of natural Bodies. Now though it be not necessary that my Soul should know what is done to other Bodies, yet for the good of the animal Life it is ve∣ry necessary she should know what passes in her own, whether such or such Impressions make for its good or hurt. Now there are but two Ways for this, Light and Sentiment. My Soul must know this either by considering and examining the Na∣ture of other Bodies, the inward Configuration of their Parts, the Difference of their Bulk and exter∣nal Page  297 Figure, the Degree of their Motion, and withal the Relation that all these bear to the Configura∣tion of her own Body, or by having some different Sentiment raised in her according to the Difference of the Impression, or in clearer Terms, by being differently modified her self, according as the Modification of her Body is altered by the Incur∣sion of other Bodies. The first of these Ways, besides that it would employ and ingage the Soul which was made for the Contemplation and Love of GOD (her true and on∣ly good) in things altogether un∣worthy of her Application, is with∣al, considering the Narrowness of our Faculties and the frequent Re∣turn of such Occasions, not only in∣finitely tedious, painful and distra∣cting, but utterly impracticable. For after all if I were not to take Page  298 away my Hand from the Fire till I had entered into the Philosophy of it, examined the Figure and Motion of its little Particles, and considered the several Relations they had to the Configuration of my Bo∣dy, I should be burnt before I had a quarter ended my Speculation. It is necessary therefore that there should be a quicker and a shorter Way of advertizing the Soul of the several Relations that other Bodies bear to her own, and of the Con∣veniency or Disconveniency of their Impressions. Which can be only by a suitable Sentiment either of Pleasure or Pain according as the Impression happens to be. But this is an Adver∣tisement I must in vain expect from Bodies. They can give me no Intelli∣gence of what even themselves do to me. They can indeed change the Situ∣ation of the Parts of my Body, but Page  299 they cannot give any Sentiment to my Mind, or new modifie my Soul. GOD only is able to do this, and accordingly being willing that I should know the Relations that other Bodies bear to mine with as little Trouble as may be, (it being not fit that a Soul made for the Contemplation of an infinite Good, should be occupied and taken up with anxious Disquisitions about Bodies) he leaves it not to my Reason to explore and sift out the Congru∣ities or Discongruities of other Bo∣dies with mine (which would not only be a laborious, but after all a very fallacious and uncertain Way) but in Wisdom thinks fit to go an∣other way to work, and to give me due Information of these things by the short incontestable Proof of Sentiment. And because Pleasure and Pain are the natural Marks of Page  300 Physical good and evil, and with∣al the strongest and most quickning Motives to incline me to seek or shun the Use of Bodies, according∣ly these are the two general Sensa∣tions he raises in my Soul according as the Impressions are which are made upon my Body. Thus for Instance, when the Motion of the Fire is moderate and temperate up∣on my Body, and serves only to open and supple its Parts, to quick∣en my Blood, and to cherish and recreate my Spirits, I feel a Sen∣timent of Pleasure. But when it comes to be intemperate so as to in∣danger the Rupture of any of its Fibres, I feel a contrary sentiment of Pain, which admonishes me of the imminent Evil, and in a Lan∣guage that even Children and Idiots understand, bids me remove my self at a greater Distance. And all Page  301 this with a great deal of Reason. For though there be nothing in the Motions themselves resembling those sensations which attend them, and though the Motion which occa∣sions Pleasure differ only in De∣gree from that which occa∣sions Pain (which by the way is a plain Argument that those Motions do not properly cause or produce those sensations) yet since as far as they respect the Preservation of the Machine, and the good of the Bodily Life or State they differ es∣sentially, or in their whole Kind, it is fit they should be attended with sensations essentially different, such as Pleasure and Pain, which therefore GOD raises in the soul in Consequence of those general Laws of Union which he has established between it and the Body, touching it as it ought to be touched in rela∣tion Page  302 to the Difference of sensible Objects. The Wisdom and Good∣ness of which Conduct we can ne∣ver sufficiently meditate upon or ad∣mire.

And now Madam, I can no sooner suppose you to have gone over in your Thoughts this ac∣count concerning the Manner of sensation, than to have formed with∣in your self a satisfactory solution of the Difficulties you propose. For though these sensible Objects are not the true Causes of those Sensa∣tions which we feel in our Souls up∣on the Impressions they make in our Bodies, but only Conditions deter∣mining the Agency of the true Cause, yet it does by no means fol∣low from hence that therefore they serve for nothing, and are wholly un∣necessary. No, the contrary appears from the Account before given. Page  303 For though these Objects do not act upon our spirits, or truly and properly speaking, produce any sen∣sation there, yet they do really make an Impression upon our Bodies, and according to the different Measure or Manner of that Impression mini∣ster to GOD (the true efficient) an apt and proper Occasion to act up∣on our spirits, and so in this respect are not merely positive and arbitra∣ry Conditions. 'Tis true indeed if by positive and arbitrary Conditi∣ons you mean that there is no real Analogy or necessary Connexion, abstracting from all Will or Con∣stitution of GOD about it, be∣tween such Impressions and such sensations, so they are mere positive and arbitrary Conditions. For most assuredly there is nothing in those Motions that either answers the following sensations, or natu∣rally Page  304 and necessarily infers them. But if by positive and arbitrary Conditions you mean that there is no greater Reason why GOD in Consideration of the Welfare of the Body should give the Soul such a Sentiment, rather than another up∣on such an Impression, so they are not mere positive and arbitrary Conditions. For though that Mo∣tion which is followed with Plea∣sure, has no Physical Analogy with Pleasure, as differing only in Degree from that which is followed with Pain (whereas Pleasure and Pain differ essentially) and so though GOD might if he pleased exchange sensations, giving me suppose, a sentiment of Pain, when the Moti∣on of the Fire is temperate, and ac∣cording to the present Order of things ought to be followed with a sentiment of Pleasure, and so like∣wise Page  305 giving me a sentiment of Plea∣sure when the Motion of the Fire is intemperate, and so according to the present Establishment ought to be followed with a sentiment of Pain, I say though he might thus transpose cur sensations for any Phy∣sical Proportion or Connexion that is between them and their respective Motions, yet in regard to the good State of the Body it is not so fit and reasonable that he should, as is obvious to conceive. And this is all the Sensible Congruity I can al∣low you. For in short, if by sensi∣ble Congruity you mean only, that considering the Good or Evil that arrives to the State of the Body from such an Impression there is an ante∣cedent Aptness or Reason in the thing why GOD should touch the Soul with such or such a Sentiment rather than with its contrary, I rea∣dilly Page  306 acknowledge that there is such a sensible Congruity. But if by sensible Congruity you mean (as you seem to do) that there is any natu∣ral similitude or Proportion between such an Impression and such a senti∣ment as to the things themselves, or that by virtue of this Analogy such an Impression has any natural Efficacy to produce, or (in your Language) to draw forth such a senti∣ment, in this sense I deny that there is any such thing as a sensible Con∣gruity, that is, I deny that sensible Objects have any such Congruity with our sensations as to be able to contribute any thing by way of a Physical Efficiency towards the Pro∣duction of them. No not so much as by way of Instruments. For even Instruments belong to the Or∣der of efficient Causes, though they are less principal ones, and 'tis most Page  307 certain that GOD has no need of any, since his Will is efficacious of it self. If therefore this be meant by sensible Congruity that the Objects of our senses have any real Part or Share in the Producti∣on of our sensations, though it be only in an instrumental Way, I ut∣terly disclaim it as an absurd and un∣philosophical Prejudice, and that without any Danger of rendring the Workmanship of GOD vain or un∣necessary, that Inconvenience being sufficiently salved by the first kind of sensible Congruity, as you may easily perceive.

This Madam, I think gives full Satisfaction to your first Instance. As to your second, That it seems more agreeable to the Majesty of GOD to say that he produces our sensations mediately by his servant Nature, than to affirm that he does Page  308 it immediately by his own Almigh∣ty Power, I reply briefly, First, That Arguments from the Majesty of GOD signifie no more here a∣gainst GOD's being the immediate Author of our sensations than in the old Epicurean Objection against Providence. And indeed they seem both to be built upon the same po∣pular Prejudice and wrong Appre∣hension concerning the Nature of the Deity, as if it were a Trouble to him to concern himself with his Creation. If it were not beneath the Grandeur and Majesty of GOD to create the World immediately, neither is it so to govern it, and if his greatness will permit him to or∣der and direct the Motions of Mat∣ter, much more will it to act upon and give sentiments to our Spirits, though with his own immediate Hand, which is necessary to hold Page  309 and govern the World which it has made. For, after all, secondly, we have no reason to think it be∣neath the Majesty of GOD to do that himself which can be done by none but himself. Which as I have sufficiently shewn to be the Case in reference to our Sensations, so I doubt not but that if you care∣fully read over Mr. Malebranch, Touchant l' efficace attribuèe aux Cau∣ses Seconds, you will find to hold as true as to all things else. I mean that GOD is the only true efficient Cause, and that his Servant Nature is but a mere Chimera.

As to what you say lastly, That the Supposition of Bodies ha∣ving an immediate Causality in the Production of our Sensations will be no Prejudice to the Drift of my Discourse, the intire Love of GOD, because of the mechanical and in∣voluntary Page  310 Way of their Operation, I do not know whether this Sup∣position will be so harmless or no. But this I am sure of that the safest Way to bar the Creatures from all Pretensions to my Love, is to deny that I have any of my Sensations from them, or that I am beholden to them for the lest Melioration or Perfection of my Being. And besides, if we should once allow them in a true and Physical Sense to cause our Sensations, I am in∣clined to think that this may justly be used as an Argument a Posterio∣ri, to prove that they do not do it so mechanically and involuntarily as you represent it, but rather knowingly and designedly, since it is impossible that any thing but a thinking Principle should be pro∣ductive of any Thought, as all Sen∣sation certainly is.

Page  312 And thus Madam I have endea∣voured to give you the best Satis∣faction I can upon this great and noble, but much neglected Argu∣ment, and shall think my self very happy and sufficiently rewarded if by the Pains I have bestowed I may deserve the Title of


Your sincere Friend and humble Servant J. NORRIS.

Bemerton, Sept. 21.

Page  [unnumbered]

Books printed for S. Manship, at the Ship near the Royal Exchange in Cornhil.

MR. Norris's Collection of Miscellanies, in large 8o. —His Reason and Religion. The 2d. Edition in 8o. —His Theory and Regulation of Love. The 2d. Edit. in 8o. —His Reflections upon the Conduct of Humane Life. The 2d. Edition, in 8o. —His Practical Discourses upon the Beatitudes of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Vol. I. The 3d. Edit. in 8o. —His Practical Discourses upon several Divine Subjects. Vol. II. The 2. Edit. in 8o. —His Practical Discourses upon several Divine Subjects. Vol. III. in 8o. —His Charge of Schism continued, In 12o. —His Two Treatises concerning the Divine Light, in 8o. —His Spiritual Conusel, or Father's Advice to his Chil∣dren, in 12o.

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