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TO THE RIGHT WORSHIPFUL
SIR RICHARD LEA, KNT.
ALL INCREASE OF TRUE HONOUR WITH GOD AND MEN.
EVER since I began to bestow myself upon the common good, studying wherein my labours might be most serviceable; I still found they could be no way so well improved, as in that part, which concerneth devotion, and the practice of true piety. For, on the one side, 1 perceived the number of polemical books rather to breed than end strifes : and those, which are doctrinal, by reason of their multitude, rather to oppress than satisfy the reader ; wherein, if we write the same things, we are judged tedious ; if disserent, singular. On the other part, respecting the reader, I saw the brains of men never more stuffed, their tongues never more stirring, their hearts never more empty, nor their hands more idle. Wherefore, after those sudden Meditations which passed me without rule *, I was easily induced by their success, as a small thing moves the willing, to send forth this Rule of Meditation; and, after my Heaven upon Earth, to discourse, although by way of example, of Heaven above. In this Art of mine, I confess to have received more light from one obscure nameless Monk, which wrote some hundred and twelve years ago, than from the directions of all other writers. I would his humility had not made him niggardly of his name, that we might have known whom to have thanked. It had been easy to have framed it with more curiosity: but God and my soul know, that I made profit the scope of my labour, and not applause ; and therefore, to chuse, I wished rather to be rude than unprofitable. If now the simplicity of any reader shull bereave him of the benefit of my precepts, I know he may make his use of my eramples. Why I have honoured it with your name, I need not give account to the world, which already knoweth your worth and deserts ; and shall see by this, that I acknowledge them. Go you on happily, according to the heavenly advice of your Junius, in your worihy and glorious profession; still bearing yourself as one, that knoweth Virtue the truest Nobility, and Religion the best Virtue. The God, whom you serve, shall honour you with men, and crown you in heaven. To his grace 1 humbly commend you : requesting you only to accept the work, and continue your favour to the Author.
Your IVorship’s humbly devoted
* Alluding 10 his Three Centuries of Meditations and Vows, EDITOR.
The Benefit and Uses of meditation. Which are universal to all
Christians, and not to be appropriated to some professions. It is not, I suppose, a more bold than profitable labour, after the endeavours of so many contemplative men, to teach the Art of Meditation : a heavenly business, as any that belongeth either to man or Christian; and such as, whereby the soul doth unspeakably benefit itself. For, by this, do we ransack our deep and false hearts; find out our secret enemies; buckle with them, expel them; arm ourselves against their re-entrance: by this, we make use of all good means; fit ourselves to all good duties: by this, we descry our weakness; obtain redress; prevent temptations; cheer up our solitariness ; temper our occasions of delight; get more light unto our knowledge, more heat to our affections, more life to our devotion : by this, we grow to be, as we are, strangers upon earth ; and, out of a right estimation of all earthly things, into a sweet fruition of invisible comforts : by this, we see our Saviour, with Stephen; we talk with God, as Moses : and, by this, we are ravished, with blessed Paul, into paradise; and see that heaven, which we are loth to leave, which we cannot utter. This alone is the remedy of security and worldliness, the pastime of saints, the ladder of heaven; and, in short, the best improvement of Christianity. Learn it who can, and neglect it who list: he shall never find joy, neither in God nor in himself, which doth not both know and practise it.
And, however of old some hidden cloisters have engrossed it to themselves, and confined it within their cells, who indeed, professing nothing but contemplation, through their immunity from those cares which accompany an acuive lite, might have the best leisure to this business : yet, seeing there is no man so taken up with action, as not sometimes to have a free mind; and there is no reasonable mind so simple, as not to be able both to discourse may be
somewhat and to better itself by her secret thoughts; I deern it an envious wrong, to conceal that from any, whose benefit universal. Those, that have but a little stock, had need to know the best rules of thrift.
CHAP. II. The Description and Kinds of meditation. The rather, for that whereas our Divine Meditation is nothing else but a bending of the mind upon some spiritual object, through divers forms of discourse, until our thoughts come to an issue : and this must needs be either Extemporal, and occasioned by outward occurrences offered to the mind; or Deliberate, and wrought out of our own heart : which again is either in matter of Knowledge, for the finding out of some hidden truth, and convincing of a heresy by profound traversing of reason; or in matter of Affection, for the enkindling of our love to God: the former of these two last, we, sending to the Schools and Masters of Controversies, search after the latter; which is both of larger use, and such as no Christian can reject, as either unnecessary or over-difficult : for, both every Christian had need of fire put to his affections; and weaker judgments are no less capable of this divine heat, which proceeds not so much from reason as from faith. One saith, and I believe him, that God's School is more of Affection, than Understanding : both lessons very needful, very profitable; but, for this age, especially the latter : for, if there be some, that have much zeal, little knowledge; there are more, that have much knowledge, without zeal: and he, that hath much skill and no affection, may do good to others by information of judgment; but shall never have thank, either of his own heart, or of God; who useth not to cast away his love on those, of whom he is but known, not loved.
Concerning meditation Extemporal. Of Extemporal Meditation there may be much use, no rule : forasmuch as our conceits herein vary according to the infinite multitude of objects, and their diverse manner of proffering themselves to the mind; as also for the suddenness of this act. Man is placed in this stage of the world, to view the several natures and actions of the creature; to view them, not idly, without his use, as they do him. God made all these for man, and man for his own, sake.
Both these purposes were lost, if man should let the creatures pass carelessly by him; only seen, not thought upou.. He only can make benefit of what he sees: which if he do not, it is all on e, as if he were blind or brute. Whence it is, that wise Solomor putte th the sluggard to school unto the ant; and our Saviour sendet n the cuistrustful to the lily of the field. In this kind, was that p.editat ion of the divine Psalmist ; which, upon the view of the glorious frame of the heavens, was led to wonder at the merciful respect God hath to so poor a creature as man. Thus our Saviour took occasion of the water fetched up solemnly to the altar, from the well of Shilo, on the day of the great Hosannah, to meditate and discourse of the Water of Life. Thus holy and sweet Augustin; from occasion of the watercourse near to his lodging, running among the pebbles, sometimes more silently, sometimes in a baser murmur, and sometimes in a shriller note; entered into the thought and discourse of that excellent order, which God hath settled in all these inferior things. Thus that learned and heavenly soul of our late Estye, when we sat together and heard a sweet concert of music, seemed upon this occasion carried up for the time beforehand to the place of his rest; saying, not without some passion, “What music may we think there is in heaven!” Thus, lastly, for who knows not that examples of this kind are infinite that faithful and reverend Deering, when the sun shined on his face, now lying on his death-bed, fell into a sweet meditation of the glory of God, and his approaching joy. The thoughts of this nature are not only lawful, but so behoveful, that we cannot omit them, without neglect of God, his creatures, ourselves. The creatures are half lost, if we only employ them, not learn something of them : God is wronged, if his creatures be unregarded; ourselves most of all, if we read this great volume of the creatures, and take out no lesson for our instruction.
Cautions of Extemporal meditation. WHEREIN yet caution is to be had, that our meditations be not either too far fetched, or savouring o tsuperstition. Far fetched, I call those, which have not a fair and easy resemblance unto the matter, from whence they are raised; in which case our thoughts prove loose and heartless, making no memorable impression in the mind : Superstitious, when we make choice of those grounds of meditation, which are forbidden us, as teachers of ranity : or employ our own devices, though well-grounded, to an use above their reach; making them, upon our own pleasures, not only furtherances, but parts of God's worship: in both which, our meditations degenerate, and grow rather perilous to the soul. Whereto add, that the mind be not too much cloyed, with too frequent ite. ration of the same thought : which, at last, breeds a weariness in ourselves; and an unpleasantness of that conceit, which, at the first entertainment, promised much delight. Our nature is too ready to abuse familiarity, in any kind: and it is with meditations, as with medicines; which, with over-ordinary use, lose their sovereignty; and fill, instead of purging. God hath not straited us for matter, having given us the scope of the whole world; so that there is no creature, event, action, speech, which may not allord us new matter of meditation. And that, which we are wont to say of fine wits, we may as truly affirm of the Christian heart, that it can make use of any thing. Wherefore, as travellers in a foreign country make every sight a lesson; so ought we, in this our pilgrimage. Thou seest the heaven rolling above thy head, in a constant and unmoveable motion; the stars so overlooking one another, that the greatest shew little, the least greatest, all glorious; the air full of the bottles of rain, or fleeces of snow, or divers forms of fiery exhalations; the sea, under one uniform face, full of strange and monstrous shapes beneath ; the earth so adorned with variety of plants, that thou canst not but tread on many at once with every foot; besides the store of creatures, that fly about it, walk upon it, live in it. Thou idle Truant, dost thou learn nothing of so many masters? Hast thou so long read these capital letters of God's Great Book, and canst thou not yet spell one word of them? The brute creatures see the same things, with as clear, perhaps better eyes : if thine inward eyes see not their use, as well as thy bodily eyes their shape, I know not whether is more reasonable or less brutish.
Of meditation Deliberate :-Wherein I. the QUALITIES OF THE PER
SON :-of whom is required; 1. That he be pure from his sins. DELIBERATE meditation is that we chiefly enquire for; which both may be well guided, and shall not be a little furthered, by precepts : part whereof, the labours of others shall yield us; and part, the plainest mistress, Experience.
Wherein order requires of us, first, the Qualities of the Person fit for meditation; then the Circumstances, Manner, and Proceedings of the work.
The hill of meditation may not be climbed with a profane foot : but, as in the delivery of the Law, so here, no beast may touch God's hill, lest he die: only the pure of heart have promise to see God. Sin dimmeth and dazzleth the eye, that it cannot behold spiritual things. The guard of heavenly soldiers was about Elisha's servant, before: he saw them not before, through the scales of his infidelity. The soul must, therefore, be purged; ere it can profitably meditate. And, as of old they were wont to search for and thrust out malefactors from the presence, ere they went to sacrifice; so must we our sins, ere we offer our thoughts to God. First, saith David, I will wash my hands in innocency, then I will compass thine allar. Whereupon, not unfitly, did that worthy Chancellor of Paris make the first stair of his ladder of contemplation, Humble Repentance. The cloth that is white, which is wont to be the colour of innocency, is capable of any die; the black, of none other. Not that we require an absolute perfection; which, as it is incident unto none, so it it were would exclude all need and use of meditation; but rather an honest sincerity of the heart, not wil. lingly sioning, willingly repenting when we have sinned: which