Page images
PDF
EPUB

If a King should send a Messenger with a Pardon to a Malefactor that's ready to be turnd off of the Ladder, there is no Man but a stranger to Pity and Compassion, but would speak in commendation of the Royal Mercy; but should the King himself approach the place of Execution, and absolve him, it's like the unexpected bounty would cast the Malefactor into a Swoon. And then, when the Great God of Heaven and Earth made his Favour exstatical, went out of the common road of Mercy, stept beyond all Precedents and Examples, encreased his kindness into perfect Miracles, Miracles which the Ages before cannot parallel, and the Son of God made his way through all the Clouds of Heaven, to tell Men how God longed for their Society and Happiness; we cannot suppose a possibility of greater condescension. And that which still increases the wonder, this Son of God intreats, wooes, and beseeches Men to bethink themselves, and dress up their Souls for the next World's Glory. He that might have come (as one day most certainly. he will) with flames of Fire, and taken Venge. ance on the obstinate, and terrified and startled them into seriousness, and might, without a Me. taphor, as it is, Psal. 45. 3. have girded his Sword upon his Thigh, and looked itern on the Re. bels, that would not have him reign over them, and frowned them into Hell. That this Son of God, this Sovereign Prince, whom all the Elements serve, at whose command the Waters drown, and the Fire burns, and the Earth swallows up,that he Mould come, and draw near the City, and, instead

of

of consuming, weep over it, as if he meant to quench the Fire of God's indignation against it: and instead of dooming it outright to Eternal Vengeance, wish, O'that thou hadst known in this thy day what belongs unto thy peace! Call like a tender compassionate Father, How often would I have ga thered you as a Hen doth gather her Chickens under her wings, and ye would not ! That he should bear affronts, and in the midst of those injuries, entreat Men to be reconciled to him, and seek for a Pardon! That he should make nothing of being flandered, so he might but win them to Repentance; be content to undergo Reproaches, so he might but allure them to God's ways; suffer himfelf to be abused, fo he might but undeceive them in their strong delusions ; bear with their peevishness and frowardness, so he might but perTwade them to mind their Eternal Interest. That like his Apostle afterward, thô free from all Men, he should yet make himself a servant to all, that he might gain the more; unto the Jews become as a few, that he might gain the Jews ; to them that are under the Law, as under the Law, that 'he might gain them that are under the Law ; to them that are without Law,as without Law, being not without Law to God, that he might gain them that are without Law; to the weak, become as weak, that he might gain the weak, and be made all things to all Men, that he might by all means save some; that he should conjure Mankind by Tcars and Wounds, and his own Blood, by those very Torinents and Agonies he endured for them to have Mercy on themselves ; to take a view of

the

the burning Lake beneath, and run away; to look upon the. Joys above, and be ravished with the light! That he should court them by the sweetest Invitations, and the kindest Calls; by the greatest Offers, and the softest Promises ; Promises of Assistance, and of his Holy Spirit, of Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost; and seal his strong defires and longings after their Holiness,with his own death; and after his Death, being risen again, send Apostles, and whole Armies of Confeffors and Martyrs to establish those Desires, ordain a Funetion of Men, that might preach those Desires in Men's Ears to the World's End; this indeed is a condescension which the great ministring Spirits in Heaven stand amazed at, and may justly be looked

upon to be one of those things, the Angels desire to pry into.

By such astonishing Means hath the great Immortal God endeavoured to effect that Holiness in Men, that Seriousness, that Piety, that Heavenly-mindedness, which he hath appointed to be the only way to endless Bliss. Glorious Means indeed! But then they are no more but Pearls thrown before Swine, where Men consider not how far they are concerned in the Heavenly Call; and what can be the meaning of all these Arts and Stratagems of Divine Compassion, and what should make God thus folicitous and careful to procure Man's happiness; and how dreadful it must be to neglect so great Salvation ; what God designs by all this; and what the intent of these unusual Endeavours must be ; whether things are so, or no; and if they be fo, what monstrous

stupidity it must be to lie ftill, and sleep under fuch strong and powerful Invitations. To lay all this Labour and Industry, and indefatigable pains of God before the Eyes of Men, when they will not fix their contemplations on the remedies intended for their recovery; what is it but to make a Learned Oration to a Flock of Sheep; and, with the Popish St. Francis, to address our felves to Falcons and Pheasants, and other Birds; or with him in Sulpitius Severus, to speak to Woolves, to talk to a blind Man of Colours, to discourse Mathematicks to one in a Fever, and to prepare Elixirs and Cordials for Men deprived of Life and Sense ? Without Confideration, we have little but Shape and Speech left to us to diftinguish us from Beasts; and God clearly loses the Vertue of his Exhortations and Entreaties, except Consideration sets them home, digests and applies them to the Soul, and the inward Thoughts, like Sun-beams in a Burning-Glass, unite and continue so long upon these Spiritual objects, till they set the Heart on fire.

Сн Ар.

CH A P. II.

[ocr errors]

Consideration no transitory view of Spiritual Things,

imports laying the Heart and Mind closely unto Spiritual Concerns ; resembles Magnifying Glasses, which discover Things Imperceptible by the naked Eye. The great Ingredients of a Self-Examination, Expostulation, and strong Resolution.

Ow Confideration, Thinking, Pondering,

Meditation, Contemplation, do differ, is not Material to enquire. Consideration includes alf these, and is nothing but exercising and improving that Rational Faculty the great Architect ħath bestowed on us, to the Glory of God, and the Felicity of our immortal Souls. The Charaeter St. Bernard gives of it, may help to illustrate this Description: It distinguisheth (faith he) things confused, collecteth such as lie dispersed; searches and dives isto such as are concealed and bid, examines probabilities, reflects upon what is done, resolves what to do, and presses towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,

The School-men are in the right, when they call it, Employing the whole understanding about a thing; for indeed, a flash of Thinking is no more Consideration than a few wandring sparks can be faid to warm a spacious Room: As well may à Man hope to fet” a Mill a going, by sparkling fome drops upon the Wheels, as imagine that a few transient Thoughts will reform the Soul : And

[merged small][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »