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chapter 18: The Light of Reason Is an Ascendent Light - Nathaniel Culverwell, An Elegant and Learned Discourse of the Light of Nature 
An Elegant and Learned Discourse of the Light of Nature, ed. Robert A. Greene and Hugh MacCallum, foreword by Robert A. Greene (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001).
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The Light of Reason Is an Ascendent Light
’Tis Lumen ascendens—ὅνὤφελεναἰθέριοςΖεὺςἘννύχιονμετ̕αἜθλονἄγεινἐςὁμήγυριονἄστρων1 [it would have been fitting had heavenly Zeus, after the dark struggle, raised it into the assembly of the stars], as Musaeus sings in the praise of Hero’s Candle. Yet I mean no more by this, then what that known saying of Saint Austin imports, Fecisti nos (Domine) ad te, irrequietum erit cor nostrum donec redit ad te2 [you have made us, Lord, for yourself; our heart will be restless until it return to you]. The Candle of the Lord it came from him, and ’twould faine returne to him. For an intellectual lamp to aspire to be a Sun, ’tis a lofty straine of that intolerable pride which was in Lucifer and Adam: but for the Candle of the Lord, to desire the favour, and presence, and enjoyment of a beatifical Sun, this is but a just and noble desire of that end which God himself created it for. It must needs be a proud and swelling drop that desires to become an Ocean; but if it seeks only to be united to an Ocean, such a desire tends to its own safety and honour. The face of the soul naturally looks up to God, coelumque tueri Jussit, & erectos ad sidera tollere vultus3 [who ordained that man gaze at heaven, and raise his upturned face to the stars], tis as true of the soul as of the body. All light loves to dwell at home with the Father of lights.4 Heaven ’tis Patria luminum[the fatherland of lights], God has there fixt a tabernacle for the Sun,5 for ’tis good to be there, ’tis a condescension in a Sunne-beam that ’twill stoop so low as earth, and that ’twill gild this inferiour part of the world; ’tis the humility of light that ’twill incarnate and incorporate it self into sublunary bodies; yet even there ’tis not forgetful of its noble birth and original, but ’twill still look upwards to the Father of lights. Though the Sun cover the earth with its healing and spreading wings, yet even those wings love to flie aloft, and not to rest upon the ground in a sluggish posture. Nay, light when it courteously salutes some earthy bodies, it usually meets with such churlish entertainment, as that by an angry reverberation, ’tis sent back again, yet in respect of it self ’tis many times an happy reflection and rebound, for ’tis thus necessitated to come neerer heaven. If you look but upon a Candle, what an aspiring and ambitious light is it? though the proper figure of flame be Globular and not Pyramidal, (as the noble Verulam tells us in his History of Nature)6 which appears by those celestial bodies, those fine and rarified flames, (if we may so call them with the  Peripateticks leave) that roll and move themselves in a globular and determinate manner: yet that flame which we usually see puts on the form of a Pyramide, occasionally and accidentally, by reason that the aire is injurious to it, and by quenching the sides of the flame crushes it, and extenuates it into that form, for otherwise ’twould ascend upwards in one greatnesse, in a rounder and compleater manner. ’Tis just thus in the Candle of the Lord; Reason would move more fully according to the sphere of its activity, ’twould flame up towards heaven in a more vigorous and uniforme way, but that it is much quencht by that εὐτερίστατοςἁμαρτία7 [sin which easily besets us], and the unrulinesse of the sensitive powers will not allow it its full scope and liberty, therefore ’tis fain to spire up, and climbe up as well as it can in a Pyramidal forme, the bottome and basis of it borders upon the body, and is therefore more impure and feculent; but the apex and cuspis of it catches at heaven, and longs to touch happinesse, thus to unite it self to the fountain of light and perfection. Every spark of Reason flies upwards, this divine flame fell down from heaven, and halted with its fall, (as the Poets in their Mythology tell us of the limping of Vulcane)8 but it would faine ascend thither againe by some steps and gradations of its own framing.
Reason ’tis soon weary with its fluttering up and down among the creatures, the Candle of the Lord does but waste it self in vain in searching for happines here below. Some of the choicest Heathens did thus spend their Lamps, & exhaust their Oile, and then at length were faine to lie down in darknesse & sorrow; their Lamps did shew them some glimmering appearances of a Summum bonum at a great distance, but it did not sufficiently direct them in the way to it, no more then a Candle can guide a traveller that is ignorant of his way. You may see some of the more sordid Heathen toyling and searching with their Candle in the mines and treasuries of riches, to see if they could spy any veine of happinesse there, but the earth saith, ’Tis not in me. You may see others among them feeding and maintaining their Candle with the aire of popular applause, sucking in the breath and esteem of men, till at the length they perceived that it came with such uncertain blasts, as that they chose rather to cloyster themselves up in a Lanthorn, to put themselves into some more reserved and retired condition, rather then to be exposed to those transient and arbitrary blasts, which some are pleased to entitle and stile by the name of honours. You might see some of them pouring the Oile of gladnesse into their Lamps, till they soon perceived that voluptuous excesse did but melt and dissolve the Candle, and that pleasures like so many thieves, did set it a blazing, and did not keep it in an equal shining. You might behold others, and those the most eminent amongst them, snuffing their Candles very exactly and accurately, by improving their intellectuals and refining their morals, till they sadly perceived that when they were  at the brightest, their Candles burnt but dimly and blewly, and that for all their snuffing they would relapse into their former dulnesse. The snuffings of Nature and Reason will never make up a day, nor a Sun-shine of happinesse; all the light that did shine upon these Ethiopians did only discover their own blacknesse, yet they were so enamour’d with this natural complexion, as that they look’t upon’t as a piece of the purest beauty.
Nature Narcissus-like loves to look upon its own face, and is much taken with the reflexions of it self. What should I tell you of the excessive and hyperbolical vapourings of the Stoicks in their adoring and idolizing of Nature, whilest they fix their happinesse in the τὰἐφ̕ἡμι̑ν,9 in their own compasse and sphere; these were (as I may so terme them) a kinde of Pharisees among the Heathen, that scorn’d precarious happinesse, like so many arbitrary and independent beings; they resolv’d to be happy how they pleas’d, and when they list. Thus do fond creatures boast of their decayed Lamps, as if they were so many Sunnes, or at least Stars of the first magnitude. The Stoicks spoke this more loudly, yet the rest of the Heathen whispered out the same, for they were all of the Poets minde,—Natura beatis Omnibus esse dedit, si quis cognoverit uti10 [nature grants to all the means to be happy, if only we knew how to use them]. And they would all willingly subscribe to those words of Salust. Falso de natura queritur humanum genus11 [the human race complains of nature falsely], which indeed if understood of the God of Nature, they were words of truth and loyalty; but if they meant them (as certainly they did) of that strength which was for the present communicated to them, they were but the interpreters of their own weaknesse and vanity. Yet ’tis no wonder to hear any of the Heathen Rhetoricating in the praise of Nature; it may seem a more tolerable piece of gratitude in them to amplifie and extoll this gift of their Creatour; ’tis no wonder if such a one admire a Candle, that ne’re saw a nobler light. But for such as are surrounded and crown’d with Evangelical beams, for men that live under Gospel-Sun-shine, for them to promise themselves and others that they may be saved by the light of a candle, a Stoick, an Academick, a Peripatetick shall enter into heaven before these. Yet I finde that in the very beginning of the fifth Century, Pelagius an high Traitor against the Majesty of Heaven, scattered this dangerous and venomous Error, endeavouring to set the Crown upon Natures head, and to place the creature in the throne of God and grace. The learned Vossius12 in his Historia Pelagiana (a book full fraught with sacred Antiquity) gives us this brief representation of him, that he was, humani arbitrii decomptor, & Divinae Gratiae contemptor, a trimmer of Nature, and an affronter of grace. His body was the very type of his soul, for he wanted an eye, he was but μονόφθαλμος[one-eyed]: to be sure he wanted a spiritual eye to discern the things of God. He was a Scot by Nation, a Monk by profession, a man exemplary in Morals, and not contemptible  for learning, for though Hierom vilifie him in respect of both, yet Chrysostom gives him a sufficient Commendamus, and Augustine himself will set his hand to it, that learned adversary of his full of grace and truth, & the very hammer that broke his flinty and rebellious Errour in pieces. If you would see the rise, and progresse, and variations of this Errour, how it began to blush and put on more modesty in Semipelagianisme; how afterwards it cover’d its nakednesse with some Popish fig-leaves; how at length it refin’d it self and drest it self more handsomely in Arminianisme, you may consult with the forementioned Author, who kept a relique of his Pelagian History in his own breast, whilest it left upon him an Arminian tincture. This spreading Errour leaven’d the great lump and generality of the world, as the profound Bradwardin sighs, and complains; Totus pene mundus post Pelagium abiit in errorem13 [almost the whole world followed Pelagius into error]: for all men are born Pelagians; Nature is predominant in them: it has took possession of them, and will not easily subordinate it self to a superior principle. Yet Nature has not such a fountain of perfection in it self, but that it may very well draw from another; this Heathenish principle after all its advancements and improvements, after all its whitenings and purifyings, it must stand but afar off in Atrio Gentium[in the court of the Gentiles], it cannot enter into the Temple of God, much lesse into the Sanctum Sanctorum, it cannot pierce within the veile.
The ennoblement of intellectuals, the spotlesse integrity of Morals, sweetnesse of dispositions, and the candor of Nature, they are all deservedly amiable in the eye of the world. The Candle of Socrates, and the candle of Plato, the Lamp of Epictetus, they did all shine before men, and shine more then some that would fain be call’d Christians. Nature makes a very fine show, and a goodly glittering in the eye of the world, but this Candle cannot appear in the presence of a Sun; all the paintings and varnishings of Nature, they please and enamour the eyes of men, but they melt away at the presence of God. The Lamp of a Moralist may waste it self in doing good to others, and yet at length may go out in a snuffe, and be cast into utter darknesse. The harmonious composing of natural faculties, the tuning of those spheres, will never make up an heaven fit for a soul to dwell in. Yet notwithstanding whatsoever is lovely in nature is acceptable even to God himself, for ’tis a print of himself, and he does proportion some temporal rewards unto it; the justice of an Aristides, the good laws of a Solon or a Lycurgus, the formal devotion of a Numa Pompilius, the prudence of a Cato, the courage of a Scipio, the moderation of a Fabius, the publick spirit of a Cicero, they had all some rewards scattered among them. Nor is there any doubt but that some of the Heathen pleased God better then others. Surely Socrates was more lovely in his eyes then Aristophanes, Augustus pleased him better then Tiberius, Cicero was more acceptable to him then Catiline, for there were more  remainders of his image in the one then in the other, the one was of purer and nobler influence then the other. Minus malus respectu pejoris est bonus[the less wicked is, compared with the more wicked, good], the one shall have more mitigations of punishment then the other; Socrates shall taste a milder cup of wrath, when as Aristophanes shall drink up the dregs of fury; if divine justice whip Cicero with rods, ’twill whip Catiline with Scorpions. An easier and more gentle worm shall feed upon Augustus, a more fierce and cruel one shall prey upon Tiberius; if justice put Cato into a prison, ’twill put Cethegus into a dungeon. Nor is this a small advantage that comes by the excellencies & improvements of Nature, that if God shall please to beautifie and adorne such an one with supernatural principles, and if he think good to drop grace into such a soul, ’twill be more serviceable and instrumental to God then others. Religion cannot desire to shine with a greater glosse and lustre, it cannot desire to ride among men in greater pomp and solemnity, in a more triumphant Chariot, then in a soul of vast intellectuals, of Virgin and undeflowered morals, of calme and composed affections, of pleasant and ingenuous dispositions. When the strength of Nature, and the power of godlinesse unite, and concentricate their forces, they make up the finest and purest complexion; the soundest and bravest constitution, like a sparkling and vigorous soul, quickening and informing a beautiful body. Yet this must be thought upon, that the different improvement even of Naturals, springs only from grace. For Essentials and Specificals (which are meer Nature) they are equal in all, but whatsoever singular or additional perfection is annext to such a one, flows only from the distinguishing goodnesse of an higher cause; that Socrates was any better then Aristophanes, was not nature, but a kinde of common gift and grace of the Spirit of God, for there are the same seminal principles in all. Augustus & Tiberius were hew’n out of the same rock; there are in Cicero the seeds of a Catiline: and when the one brings forth more kindely and generous, the other more wilde and corrupted fruit, ’tis accordingly as the countenance and favourable aspect of heaven is pleased to give the increase; for as the Philosophers tell us, Motio moventis praecedit motum mobilis[the motion of the mover precedes the motion of the moved], was there any propension or inclination to goodness in the heart of a Cicero more then of a Catiline?’twas only from the first mover, from the finger of God himself that tuned the one more harmoniously then the other. As take two several Lutes, let them be made both alike for essentials, for matter and form; if now the one be strung better then the other, the thanks is not due to the Lute, but to the arbitrary pleasure of him that strung it; let them be both made alike and strung alike, yet if the one be quickened with a more delicate and graceful touch, the prevailing excellency of the musick was not to be ascribed to the nature of the Lute, but to the skill and dexterity of him that did move it and prompted it into such elegant sounds. The  several degrees of worth in men that are above radicals and fundamentals of nature, they are all the skill and workmanship, the fruits and productions of common grace; For Omnis actio particularis habet originem ab agente universali14 [every particular action springs from a universal agent]. Now if the universal agent did only dispense an equal concourse in an equal subject, all the operations and effects that flow from thence must needs be equal also; if then there be any eminency in the workings of the one more then of the other, it can have no other original then from that noble influence, which a free and supreme agent is pleased to communicate in various measures; so that naked Nature of it self is a most invalid and inefficacious principle, that does crumble away its own strength, and does wear and waste by its motions, and for every act of improvement it depends only upon the kindnesse of the first being. They that tell you Nature may merit Grace and Glory, may as well tell you (if they please) that a Candle by its shining may merit to be a Star, to be a Sun. Nor yet is Nature alwayes constant to its own light; it does not deal faithfully with its intimate and essential principles. Some darlings of Nature have abundantly witnessed this, whilest they have run into some unnatural practices, that were the very blushes of Nature; if then Nature cannot tell how to live upon earth, will it ever be able to climbe up to heaven? Si nesciat servire, nescit imperare[if it does not know how to serve, it will not know how to rule], if it be not faithful in a little, do you think that it shall be made Ruler over much? no certainly, moral endowments when they are at the proudest top and apex, can do no more, then what that great Antipelagian Prosper tells us, Mortalem vitam honestare possunt, aeternam conferre non possunt15 [they can make our mortal life honourable; they cannot confer immortality]. God has ordeined men to a choycer end, then these natural faculties can either deserve, or obtaine, or enjoy. Natures hand cannot earn it; Natures hand cannot reach it, Natures eye cannot see it. That glorious and ultimate end, which must fill and satiate the being of man, is the beatifical vision of God himself. Now there is no natural power nor operation proportioned to such a transcendent object as the face of God, as the naked essence of a Deity. Inferior creatures may, & do move within the compasse of their natures, and yet they reach that end which was propounded and assigned to their being: but such was the special and peculiar love of God, which he manifested to a rational nature, as that it must be advanc’t above it self by a supernaturale auxilium[supernatural aid], before it can be blest with so great a perfection, as to arrive to the full end of its being. Yet God has toucht nature with himself, and drawes it by the attractive and magnetical vertue of so commanding an object as his own essence is, which makes Nature affect and desire somewhat supernatural, that it may make neerer approaches unto happinesse; for this end God did assume humane nature to the divine, that he might make it more capable of this perfection, and  by a strict love-knot and union might make it partaker of the divine nature; not that ’tis changed into it, but that it has the very subsistence of its happinesse by it. Every being does naturally long for its own perfection, and therefore a rational nature must needs thus breath and pant after God, and the neerer it comes to him, the more intensely and vehemently it does desire him, for as they tell us, Motus naturalis velocior est in fine,16 the neerer a body approaches to its centre, the more cheerful and vigorous is its motion. The Understanding that sees most of God, desires to see more of him; its eye will never leave rolling till it fix it self in the very centre of the Divine essence. Nature that has but some weake glimpses of him, and so it has but faint and languishing velleities after him. Ὁιμῃνἐκφύσεωςνεύουσιπρὸςτὸἀγαθὸν17 [those who naturally move towards the good], as he speaks of the Heathens, they seem to nod after a summum bonum. What the states and conditions of those Heathens was and is in order to eternal happinesse, we cannot easily nor certainly determine; yet thus much may be safely granted, though we say not with the Pelagians, that the emprovements of nature can make men happy; nor yet with the Semi-Pelagians that natural preparations and predispositions do bespeak & procure Grace; nor yet with the Papists and Arminians, that works flowing from Grace do contribute to more Grace & Glory, yet this we say, that upon the improvement of any present strength, God out of his free goodnesse, may if he please give more. As God freely gave them nature (which makes Pelagius sometimes call Nature Grace) and as he freely, and out of his Grace gave them some emprovement of Nature, so he might as freely give them supernatural strength if it so please him. Yet a creature cannot come to heaven by all those improvements which are built upon Natures foundation; for if it should accurately and punctually observe every jot and tittle of Natures Law, yet this natural obedience would not be at all correspondent or commensurate to a supernatural happinesse, which makes Saint Augustine break out into such an expression as this; Qui dicit hominem servari posse sine Christo, dubito an ipse per Christum servari possit18 [I doubt whether he who says that man can be saved without Christ, can himself be saved by Christ]; for this is the only way, the new and living way, by which God will assume humane nature to himself, and make it happy. Yet notwithstanding their censure is too harsh and rigid, who as if they were Judges of eternal life and death, damne Plato and Aristotle without any question, without any delay at all; and do as confidently pronounce that they are in hell, as if they saw them flaming there. Whereas the infinite goodnesse and wisdome of God might for ought we know finde out several wayes of saving such by the Pleonasmes of his love in Jesus Christ; he might make a Socrates a branch of the true Vine, and might graffe Plato and Aristotle into the fruitful Olive; for it was in his power, if he pleased, to reveale Christ unto them, and to infuse faith into them after an extraordinary manner; Though indeed the Scripture does not afford our charity any sufficient ground to believe that he did; nor doth it warrant us peremtorily to conclude the contrary. Secreta Deo, it does not much concerne us to know what became of them; let us then forbear our censure, and leave them to their competent Judge. But when we mention Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and the more eminent and refined ones among the Heathens, you must be sure not to entertain such a thought as this, that the excellency of their intellectuals and morals did move and prevail with the goodnesse of God to save them more then others of the Heathen, as if these were dispositiones de congruo merentes salutem aeternam19 [dispositions meriting eternal salvation congruously], this indeed were nothing but Pelagianisme a little disguised; whereas you must resolve it only into the free grace of God, that did thus distinguish them here in time, and might more distinguish them eternally, if it pleased him to bestow a Saviour upon them. Which grace of God is so free, as that it might save the worst of the Heathens, and let go the rest; it might save an Aristophanes as well as a Socrates, nay before a Socrates, as well as a Publican before a Pharisee: not only all Heathen, but all men are of themselves in equal circumstances in order to eternal happinesse; ’tis God only that makes the difference, according to his own determinations, that were eternal and unconditional. Yet I am farre from the minde of those Patrons of Universal Grace, that make all men in an equal propinquity to salvation, whether Jewes, or Pagans, or Christians; which is nothing but dight and guilded Pelagianisme, whilest it makes grace as extensive and Catholick, a principle of as full latitude as nature is, and resolves all the difference into created powers and faculties. This makes the barren places of the world in as good a condition as the Garden of God, as the inclosure of the Church: It puts a Philosopher in as good an estate as an Apostle; For if the remedium salutiferum[healing remedy] be equally applied to all by God himself, and happinesse depends only upon mens regulating and composing of their faculties; how then comes a Christian to be neerer to the Kingdome of Heaven then an Indian? is there no advantage by the light of the Gospel shining among men with healing under its wings?20 Surely, though the free grace of God may possibly pick and choose an Heathen sometimes, yet certainly he does there more frequently pour his goodnesse into the soul where he lets it streame out more clearely and conspicuously in external manifestations. ’Tis an evident signe that God intends more salvation there, where he affords more means of salvation; if then God do choose and call an Heathen, ’tis not by universal, but by distinguishing grace. They make Grace Nature, that make it as common as Nature. Whereas Nature when ’twas most triumphant, shining in its Primitive beauty and glory, yet even then it could not be happy without Grace. Adam himself besides his integritas naturae[integral nature], had also adjutorium gratiae[the help of grace], for as the Schoolmen  explain it, though he had vires idoneas ad praestanda omnia naturalia; reipsa tamen nihil praestitit sine auxilio gratiae21 [powers capable of performing all natural acts, yet in fact he performed nothing without the help of grace]. As, if you expect any goodly and delicious clusters from a Vine, besides its own internal forme which we’ll stile Nature, there must be also auxilium gratiae[the help of grace], the Sun must favour it and shine upon it, the raine must nourish it, and drop upon it, or else Nature will never be pregnant and fruitful. Adams Candle did not shine so clearly, but that Grace was fain to snuffe it. Nature, though ’twere compleate and entire, yet ’twas faine to strengthen and support it self by its twinings about Grace, and for want of the powerful support and manu-tenncy22 of Grace, Nature fell down presently; it startled from it self, and apostatiz’d like a broken bowe. What meane the Pelagians to tell us of a Naturalis Beatitudo[natural beatitude], when as Nature now is surrounded with so many frailties and miseries, so many disorders and imperfections? Yet were it as green and flourishing as ever it was when ’twas first planted in Paradise, yet even then ’twould be too remote from happinesse, for perfect happinesse excludes and banishes all futurity and possibility of misery, which Nature never yet did, nor could do. And happinesse never flows out till the Sunne look upon it, till it see the face of God himself, whom Natures eye will ne’re be able to behold. Yet Oh! how desirous is Nature of this? how inquisitive is humane Nature into the causes of things, and esteems it no smal piece of its beatitude if it can finde them out? Foelix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas23 [happy is he who is able to discover the causes of things]. What a goodly sight is it then to behold the first cause of all being, and its own being? how faine would an intellectual eye behold him that made it! Nature longs to see who ’twas that first contrived it, and fram’d it, and fashion’d it; the soul would fain see its Father of Spirits. The Candle would faine shine in the presence of him that lighted it up.
Yet Nature cannot see the face of God and live. Ante obitum nemo supremaque funera foelix24 [before death and the final funeral no man is happy]. The Moralists happiness is dormant in the night-time, for there’s no operatio secundum virtutem[virtuous action] then, nor can the soul while ’tis clogg’d with a fraile body, climbe to the ἀκρότης[pinnacle] of goodnesse or happiness; the soul here has not a perfect enjoyment of inferiour objects, much lesse of God himself; it has but a shadowy sight of Angels propter connaturalitatem intellectus nostri ad phantasmata25 [because of the natural attraction of our intellect to phantasms]; and if natures eye cannot look upon the face of a twinkling Starre, how will it behold the brightnesse of a dazling Sunne? that general knowledge which it hath of God here is mixt with much error and deceit.
Nor can Faith look upon the divine essence; ’tis a lovely grace indeed, yet it must die in the Mount like Moses; it cannot enter into the Land of promise; ’tis auditui magis similis quam visioni26 [more like hearing than seeing], it hears the voice of its God, it does not see his face, it enflames the desire of the soul, it does not quench it, for men would faine see what they beleeve; the object of Faith is obscure and at a distance, but the face of God is all presence and brightnesse. Happinesse it consists in the noblest operation of an intellectual being, whereas in beleeving there is imperfectissima operatio ex parte intellectus, licet sit perfectio ex parte objecti27 [a most imperfect operation on the part of the intellect, although there is perfection on the part of the object].
Nor yet is the divine essence seen in a way of demonstration, for then only a Philosopher should see his face, such only as had skil in Metaphysicks, who yet may be in misery for all that, for demonstrations are no beatifical visions. The damned spirits can demonstrate a Deity, and yet they are perpetually banisht from his face: there can be no demonstration of him a priore, for he is the first cause, and all demonstrations fetcht from such effects as flow from him, they do only shew you that he is, they do not open and display the divine essence, for they are not effectus adaequantes virtutem causae28 [effects proportionate to the power of the cause]. To see God in the creatures, ’tis to see him veil’d, ’tis to see him clouded. The soul will not rest contented with such an imperfect knowledge of its God, it sees him thus here, and yet that does not hush and quiet rational desires, but does increase and inlarge them. Such things as last long, are perfected slowly, and such is happinesse; the knowledge of men here ’tis too green and crude, ’twon’t ripen into happinesse, till the Sun shine upon it with its blessed and immediate beams. God therefore creates and prepares a Lumen Gloriae29 [light of glory] for the soul, that is, such a supernatural disposition in an intellectual eye, by which ’tis clarified and fortified, and rightly prepared for the beholding the divine essence, which makes Dionysius the falsely supposed Areopagite, very fitly describe happinesse by this, ’tis στάσιςἐνθείῳφωτὶ30 [standing in the light of God], the souls sunning of it self in the Lumen Gloriae. Some will have that of the Psalmist to be sung in the praise of this light, In lumine tuo videbimus lumen31 [in thy light shall we see light]. That Seraphical Prophet does thus most excellently represent it: The Sunne shall be no more thy light by day, neither for brightnesse shall the Moone give light unto thee, but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory, Isai. 60. v. 19.32 You have it thus rendered in the Apocalypse: ΚαὶἡπόλιςοὐχρείανἜχειτου̑ἡλίου, οὐδῃτη̑ςσελήνηςἵναφαίνωσιναὐτῃ̑. ἡγὰρδόξατου̑θεου̑ἐφώτισεναὐτήν33 [And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it, for the glory of God did lighten it]. This lumen gloriae, which is similitudo quaedam intellectus divini34 [a kind of reflection of the divine intellect] (as the Schoolmen speak,) this light ’tis not so much for the discovering of the object, (for that’s an intellectual Sun cloathed with all perfection and brightnesse,) as ’tis for the helping and advancing of a created understanding, which else would be too much opprest with the weight of glory; but yet this augmentation of the visive faculty of the soul, by the Lumen Gloriae,’tis not per intentionem virtutis naturalis, but ’tis per appositionem novae formae:’tis not the raising and screwing of nature higher, but ’tis the adding of a new supernatural disposition that may close with the divine essence; for as Aquinas has it, Ipsa divina essentia copulatur intellectui, ut forma intelligibilis,35 humane understanding is as the matter accurately predisposed by the Lumen Gloriae, for the receiving of the divine essence, as an intelligible forme stamps an impression of it self upon it; it prints the soul with that summum bonum which it has so much long’d for.
So that though there be still an infinite disproportion between God and the creature in esse naturali[in nature], yet there is a fit and just proportion between them in esse intelligibili[in intellect]. Though an eye be enabled to behold the Sun, yet this does not make it all one with the Sun, but it keeps its own nature still as much as it did before.
Nor is this vision a comprehensive vision, for a finite being will never be able fully to graspe an infinite essence; ’tis true indeed, it sees the whole essence of God, not a piece of his face only, for all essence is indivisible, especially that most simple and pure essence of God himself, but the soul does not see it so clearly, and so strongly as God himself sees it; hence degrees of happinesse spring, for the Lumen Gloriae being variously shed amongst blessed souls, the larger measure they have of that, the brighter sight have they of the divine essence. Several men may look upon the same face, and yet some that have more sparkling eyes, or some that stand neerer may discerne it better; if a multitude of spectators were enabled to behold the Sunne, yet some of them that have a more strong and piercing eye might see it more cleerly then the rest. In this glasse of the divine essence glorified souls see all things else that conduce to their happinesse; as God by seeing himself the cause and fountain of beings, sees also all effects that come streaming from him; so these also looking upon the Sunne, must needs see his beams; they see the Sunne, and see other things by the Sun: they see there omnium rerum genera & species[the genera and species of all things], they there behold virtutes, & ordinem universi36 [the powers and order of the universe]. Yet because they do not see the essence of God clearly and perfectly, (that is, comprehensively) so neither can they see all those treasures of mysterious wisdome, of unsearchable goodnesse, of unlimited power, that lie hid in the very depth of the divine essence. Non vident possibilia, nec rationes rerum, nec ea quae dependent ex pura Dei voluntate37 [they do not see possible things, nor the reasons of things, nor those things which depend on the pure will of God], as the Schoolmen do well determine; yet all that a glorified understanding sees, it’s in one twinkling of its eye, for it sees all by one single species, by the divine  essence. It forgets its wrangling Syllogismes, it leaves its tardy demonstrations when it once comes to an intuitive knowledge. Non movetur de uno intelligibili in aliud, sed quiescit in actu unico38 [it does not move from one intelligible to another, but rests in one act], for the state of happinesse is a Sabbatical state. The soul rests and fixes it self in one act of perpetual enjoyment, and by this participation of simultaneity it partakes of eternity, for that is tota simul39 [all at once].
Whether this glorious happinesse be more principally situated in an act of the understanding, or of the will, I leave the Thomists and Scotists to discusse it; only this I will say in the behalfe of Aquinas, that the will cannot enjoy this happinesse any other wayes, then as ’tis a rational appetite.40 For there is a blinde appetite of good in every being, which yet neither has nor can have such happinesse. As therefore the operations of the will, so the happinesse of the will also seemes to be subordinate to that of the understanding. But it is enough for us that an intire soul, an whole rational being is united to its dearest, fairest, and supreme object in a way of pure intuitive speculation, in a way of sweetest love and fruition. Nor could nature of it self reach this, for an inferiour nature cannot thus unite it self to a superiour, but only by his indulgence raising it above it self.
This Candle of the Lord may shine here below, it may and doth aspire, and long for happinesse; but yet it will not come neere it, till he that lighted it up, be pleased to lift it up to himself, and there transforme it into a Starre, that may drink in everlasting light and influence from its original and fountain-light.