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operation of man's understanding; this is also that part of the mind, which Aristotle, and all his followers, meant by their Intellectus agens ; this is that candle of the Lord, or light within them, which the unfound teachers of old, and those more innocent ones of late*, would have to be a sufficient guide to everlasting life : But if it be fo, it will be good hearkning to it, while it doth remain in its strength ; for this Sun also, as years come on, doth certainly decline, and great must that declension be. For if the light of the body, which is the eye, be darkness, great must that darkness be, Luke xi. 34 much more surely if the light of the soul, which is the Sun, be darkned, how exceeding great must that darkness needs be! Indeed, there must de a defect in the whole understanding, when this primum mobile can scarce act any longer; and therefore it is, that the apostle speaks concerning the spiritual understanding, alluding therein unto the natural ; Having their understanding darkned, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart, Eph. iv. 18. When there is ignorance to receive, and blindness to guide, in this principal faculty, all those which are thereby acted, must certainly be weakned, as the next word doth clearly import.
The LIGHT By the Light therefore, I understand all those more inferior powers of the rational part of the
foul of man, that are any way set on work by vertue of the principal Agent; which is an efflux from the before mentioned sun; the posfible understanding also, in all its operations participates in like manner of this itate of weakness. Now the operations of mans understanding are various, both ad extra, in respect of the objects; and ad intra, in respect of the will
The first, are speculative, the last, are practical. The first (whereby the understanding is conversant about things as they have in their own nature a distinct being) are principally three, The first is perception, or the simple apprehenfion of an object, from the immediate impreffion thereof by the ministry of the before-mentioned fun. The second is composition, or complexion, whereby we try, and weigh the particulars that we have before received, and compound, and divide, join, and separate one thing from another, as may be most convenient for the improvement of them, to their appointtd ends. The third is, reason, or discourse, whereby we gather up to ourselves fomewhat farther than we understood before, and make our felves masters of a new and better knowledge, which the things themselves received, as in themselves, could not administer.
The last (whereby the understanding is conyersant about things as they are good or evil) may also be reduced to three. The first is confcience, which is a reflection of the understanding upon a man's actions, together with a sentencing them to be good or evil, according to those unquestionable principles which are already received. This is the search which the candle of the Lord makes in the lower part of the belly, Prov. XX. 27. The second is direc tion, or judgment, whereby the understanding doth propose an end to be desired and prosecut: ed, the execution of which, that is, the refting satisfied in, and defiring of that end, is that which moralifts ascribe to the will, and term βέλησις. The third is confultation, Or βέλευσις, the reasoning about the means to attain that end, together with an inquisition and collation of several means among themselves, and an election of those which are most proper, the embracing of which, and putting them in execution, is that which they call #zoxígeois.
Now thefe, and all the operations of the rational soul, however they may be distinguished, have in this state an answerable imbecillity. Be a man never so apprehenfive, be he never so ingenious, be he never so rational, be he never fo conscientious, be he never so judicious, be he never so prudent ; when his Sụn begins to fet, and his Light to decline, he must become weak as another man, nay, weak as a child. And this the author of our description here, though he so well knew it, and forefaw it, yet was not able to prevent it in himself, but found his own words fadly verified in his own condiCS
tion. For it came to pass when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other Gods, 1 Kings xi. 4. he that for understanding furpassed all men, since God gave unto him wifdom more than to any man, before him, or fince, to this very day, and for light of conscience also, since the Lord had appeared to him twice, v. 5. 7. yet, when he was old, he fell to such irrational, sottish, senseless abominations, and that only by the seduction of women, as nothing but the frailty of age could poffibly have given way unto.
Now as the soul is, by reason of age, weakned in the directing part, which usually is called, the understanding ; so also in the executing part, which usually is called, the will. Old men when they do apprehend an end, and the means to attain it, they hesitate about prosecuting the mandates of the mind, and stand for the most part timorously and child-like at, shall I, Mall 1. I find one commentator upon the place fay, Non fruitur libero arbitrio*. There is not a ready embracing, nor a free acting towards the attainment of what is by the understanding first dictated. Farther yet, old men are very easily drawn off, and led aside from their own intentions, every weak suggestion is too strong for them, and takes them captive at pleafure; and as our Saviour faid to Peter, though in another sense, so may it be said to every one who shall live to the time, IV hen thou wast young,
thou * Lorinus,
thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest, but when thou shalt be old, another Mall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not, Joh. xxi. 18. A man shall not then be master of his own actions, but be very liable to the fe. ductions of whomsoever shall beset him.
And thus by these two words, the Sun, and the Light, you perceive is meant, the whole rational soul, with all its powers and operations, as it may be found exercising itself both inwardly and outwardly. And tho'here be two words more fignificantly fet down, for the fuller and clearer manifestation of what is here intended, yet it might have been exprefTed (though not foplainly) by one word only. And therefore it is, that the Syriac translation, and some followers of it, have only the Sun expressed: Antequam Sol obtenebrescetur: for the Sun may signify, not only that light which is contained within its own body, but all those emanations that illuminate whatsoever is thereby enlightned. And the woman's candle in the gospel, by which she found her groat, might fignify, not only the light in the candle itself, (which answereth here to the sun,) but all the light in every part of the room allo, (which answereth here to the light.) ' And thus we find the greater light, which rules the day of man, to be darkned; the lefler, which rules the night, is that which followeth.