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I. THE DEFINITION OF THE TEXT.
Yet is not the world unjust enough, or cruel, | take up thy rest and rest in him; be satisfied or vexatious enough to you, to teach you to come with him as thy portion ; and remember where home, and take up your rest in God? It may it is that he is to be fully and perpetually enjoy. then prove more cruel, and more vexatious to ed; and then it is good for thee that thou wast you, till you have better learned this neces- afflicted; for all thy sufferings have their end. sary lesson. Yet is not your condition empty This last consideration will be further proseenough of carnal, delusory pleasures, to wean cuted in the following part: and the directions you from the world, and make you look to surer for walking with God, which I should here give things ? Yet are you keeping up your worldly you, I have reserved for a peculiar treatise, enhopes, that the world will again prove better to titled, A Christian Directory. you, and that you shall have happy days hereafter ? It seems you are not yet brought low enough : you must yet take another chastisement,
PART III. and perhaps a sharper than you took before : you must have more blood letting, till your de
OF CONVERSING WITH GOD IN SOLITUDE. lirium cease, and your feverish thirst after creature-comforts abate. It is sad that we should be so foolish and unkind as to stay from God,
“Behoid the hour cometh, yea, is come, that as long as any preferments, or pleasures, or pro
ye shall be scattered every man to his own, fits in the world, will entertain us : but seeing it
and shall leave me alone : and yet I am not
alone, because the Father is with me.”—JOHN is so, let us be thankful both to that grace and
xvi. 32. that providence which cures us. If you perceive it not better to dwell with God, than with a flattering prospering world, he will try whether you can think it better to dwell with God, than with a malicious, cruel, persecuting world : and HAVING treated of our conformity to Christ whether it be better to have your hearts in in sufferings, in general, I since came distinctly heaven, than in poverty, prison, banishment or to treat of his particular sufferings in which we reproach. If you find it not better to converse must be conformed to him: and having gone with God, than with those that honour you, please over many of those particulars, I am this day to you, or prefer you ; he will try whether you handle the instance of Christ's being forsaken by can think it better to converse with him, than his friends and followers. with those that hate, revile, and persecute you. He thought meet to foretell them how they Are these the wise and wholesome methods of should manifest their infirmity and unsteadfastour great Physician? Shall we not rather be ruled ness in this temporary forsaking of him, that so by him than by our brutish appetites ; and think he might more fully convince them, that he knew better of his counsels, than of the blind concupis. what was in man, and that he knew future con. cence of the flesh ? Let this be the issue of all our tingencies, or things to come, which seem most sufferings, and all the cruelties and injuries of dependent on the will of man, and that he volthe world, to drive us home to converse with untarily submitted to his deserted state, and ex. God, and to turn our desires, labours, and expected no support from creatures, but that man pectations to the true felicity that never will should then do least for Christ, when Christ was forsake us ; and then, the will of the Lord be doing most for man : that man, by an unthankful done! Let him choose his means, if this may be forsaking Christ, should then manifest his forthe end : let us kiss the rod, and not revile it, if saken state, when Christ was to make atonement this may be the fruit of his corrections. Who for his reconciliation to God, and was preparing will not pray that God would deny us those en- the most costly remedy for his recovery. He joyments which keep us from seeking our hap- foretold them of the fruit which their infirmity piness in him; and that he would deny us all / would produce, to humble them that were apt to those hurtful pleasures which hinder us from think too highly of themselves for the late free pleasing him, or from making him and his ways confession they had made of Christ, when they our chief pleasure ? That he would permit us no had newly said, "Now we are sure that thou such creature-converse, as hinders our converse knowest all things: by this we are sure that thou with him ? It is best living there (be it in prison comest forth from God.' or at liberty) where we may live best to God. He answers them, Do
believe? Come home, O suffering Christian, to thy God! Behold the hour cometh,' &c. Not that Christ would not have his servants know his graces in tures long before, that thus it would come to pass : them, but he would also have them know the when it is said that “thus it must be, that the corruption that is latent, and the infirmity con- scripture may be fulfilled,' the meaning is not, sistent with their grace. We are very apt to judge that, thus God will make it be, or, thus he causes of all that is in us, and of all that we shall do men to do that he may fulfil the scriptures : hereafter, by what we feel at the present upon it is not a necessity of the thing itself, as caused our hearts. As when we feel the stirring of by the prediction or decree ; but a necessity of some corruption, we are apt to think that there the truth of this conclusion in arguing ; such a is nothing else, and hardly perceive the contrary thing will be, because God hath deereed, foregrace, and are apt to think it will never be better known, or foretold it : or whatever God foretells, with us : so when we feel the exercise of faith, must necessarily come to pass ; that is, will cerdesire, or love, we are apt to overlook the con- tainly come to pass : but this God hath foretold : trary corruptions, and to think that we shall never therefore this will come to pass. feel more. But Christ would keep us both humble and vigilant, by acquainting us with the mu- II. THE APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE. tability and inconstancy of our minds. When it goes well with us, we forget that the time is Here are three observable points in the text, coming when it may go worse. As Christ said that are worthy our distinct consideration, though to bis disciples here in the case of believing, we for brevity's sake I shall handle them together. may say to ourselves in that and other cases : do 1. That Christ was forsaken by his own diswe now believe? It is well : but the time máy ciples and left alone. be coming in which we may be brought to shake 2. When the disciples left Christ, they were with the stirrings of our remaining unbelief, and scattered every one to his own. They returned shrewdly tempted to question the truth of Chris- to their old habitations, and old acquaintance, tianity itself, and of the holy scriptures, and of and old employment, as if their hopes and hearts the life to come. Do we now rejoice in the per- had been almost broken, and they had lost all suasions of the love of God? The time may be their labour in following Christ so long : yet the coming when we may think ourselves forsaken root of faith and love that still remained, caused and undone, and think he will esteem and use us them to inquire further of the end, and to come as his enemies. Do we now pray with fervour, together in secret to confer about these matters. and pour out our souls to God ? It is well : but 3. When Christ was forsaken of his disciples the time may be coming when we shall seem to and left alone, yet was he not forsaken of his be as dumb and prayerless, and say, we cannot Father, nor left so alone as to be separated from pray, or else we find no audience and acceptance him or his love. of our prayers. Christ knows that in us which We are now to consider of this not only as a we little know by ourselves; and therefore may part of Christ's humiliation, but also as a point foreknow that we will commit such sins, or fall in which we must expect to be conformed to him. into such dangers, as we little fear.
It may possibly seem strange to us that Christ What Christ here prophesies to them, did after- would suffer all his disciples to forsake him in wards all come to pass.
As soon as ever danger his extremity; and I doubt it will seem strange and trouble did appear, they began to flag, and to us, when in our extremity, and our suffering to show how ill they could adhere unto him, or for Christ, (and perhaps for them,) we shall find suffer with him, without his special corroborating ourselves forsaken by those that we most highly grace: in the garden when he was sweating valued, and had the greatest familiarity with. blood in prayer, they were sleeping ; though the But there are many reasons of this permissive spirit was willing, the flesh was weak : they could providence open to our observation. not watch with him one hour. When he was (1.) No wonder, if when Christ was suffering apprehended, they shifted each man for himself. for sin, he would even then permit the power Then all his disciples forsook him and fled'. and odiousness of sin to break forth, that it might And as this is said to be that the scriptures might be known he suffered not in vain. No wonder, be fulfilled, so it might be said to be, that this if he permitted his followers to desert him, and prediction of Christ himself might be fulfilled. show the latent unbelief, and selfishness, and unNot that scripture prophecies did cause the sin thankfulness that remained in them, that so they by which they were fulfilled; nor that God caused might know that the death of Christ was as the sin, to fulfil his own predictions, but that necessary for them as for others; and the uniGod cannot be deceived who foretold in scrip-versality of the disease might show the need that the remedy should be universal. It is none of expect from the best of men : even to know that Christ's intent to make his servants to seem better of themselves they are unfaithful, and may fail than they are, to themselves or others, or to us: and therefore not to look for too much ashonour himself by the hiding of their faults, but sistance or encouragement from them. Paul to magnify his pardoning and healing grace, by lived in a time when Christians were more selfthe means or occasion of the sins which he par- denying and stedfast than they are now, and dons and heals.
Paul was one that might better expect to be faith(2.) Hereby he will bring his followers to the fully accompanied in his sufferings for Christ, fuller knowledge of themselves, and show them than any of us : and yet he saith, ‘at my first that which all their days should keep them hum- answer no man stood with me, but all men forble, and watchful, and save them from presump- sook me:' and prays, that it be not laid to tion and trusting in themselves: when we have their charge. Thus you have seen some reasons made any full confession of Christ, or done him why Christ consented to be left of all, and perany considerable service, we are apt to say with mitted his disciples to desert him in his suffer. the disciples, · Behold we have forsaken all and ings. followed thee; what shall we have ?' As if they Yet note here, that it is but a partial, temporhad rather been givers to Christ, than receivers ary forsaking that Christ permits; and not a from him; and had highly merited at his hands : total or final forsaking or apostacy. Though he but when Peter forswears him, and the rest will let them see that they are yet men, he will shift for themselves, and when they come to not leave them to be but as other men: nor will themselves, after such cowardly and ungrateful he quite cast them off, or suffer them to perish. dealings ; then they will better understand their Nor is it all alike that thus forsake him ; Peter weakness, and know on whom they must depend. doth not do as Judas : the sincere may manifest
(3.) Hereby also they shall better understand their infirmity; but the hypocrites will manifest what they would have been, if God had left them their hypocrisy. to themselves, that so they may be thankful for Accordingly in our sufferings our familiars grace received, and may not boast themselves that were false-hearted, as being worldlings and against the miserable world, as if they had made carnal at the heart, may perhaps betray us, and themselves to differ, and had not received all set against us, or forsake the cause of Christ, that grace by which they excel the common and follow the way of gain and honour : when sort : when our falls have hurt us and shamed our tempted shrinking friends, that yet may have us, we shall know to whom we must be beholden some sincerity, may perhaps look strange at us, to support us.
and seem not to know us, and may hide their (4.) Christ would permit his disciples thus far heads, and show their fears ; and perhaps also to forsake him, because he would have no support begin to study some self-deceiving arguments from man, in his sufferings for man: this was and distinctions, and to stretch their conscienpart of his voluntary humiliation, to be deprived ces, and venture on some sin, because they are of all earthly comforts, and to bear affliction even afraid to venture on affliction ; till Christ shall from those few, that but lately were his faithful cast a gracious, rebuking, quickening aspect on servants : that men, dealing like men, and sinners, them, and shame them for their sinful shame, and while he was doing like God, and as a Saviour, fear them for their sinful fears, and inflame their no man might challenge to himself the honour of love to him by the motions of his love to them, contributing to the redemption of the world, so and destroy the love that turned them from him: much as by encouraging the Redeemer. and then the same men that dishonourably failed
(5.) Christ did permit the faith and courage Christ and us, and began to shrink, will turn of his disciples thus far to fail, that their witness back and reassume their arms, and by patient to him might be of the greater credit and author- suffering overcome and win the crown, as we ity, when his actual resurrection, and the com- have done before them. munication of the Spirit, should compel them to I. Christians are subject to the desertion of believe : when all their doubts were dissipated, friends. they that had doubted themselves, and yet were Christians, expect to be conformed to your constrained to believe, would be received as the Lord in this part of his humiliation also. Are most impartial witnesses by the doubting world. your friends yet fast and friendly to you?
(6.) Lastly, by the desertion and dissipation For all that, expect that many of them, at least, of his disciples, Christ would teach us whenever should prove less friendly: and promise not we are called to follow him in suffering, what to yourselves an unchanged constancy in them. Are they yet useful to you? Expect the time you, because you have no more to give them. when they cannot help you. Are they your | They are your friends more for what they yet comforters and delight, and is their company expect from you, than for what they have almuch of your solace upon earth ? Be ready for ready received. If you cannot still be helpful the time when they may become your sharpest to them, or feed their covetous desires, or supscourges, and most heart-piercing griefs, or at ply their wants, you are to them but as one that least when you shall say, We have no pleasure in they had never known. Many a faithful ministhem. Have any of them, or all, already failed ter of Christ hath studied, preached, prayed, and you? What wonder ? Are they not nien, and wept for their people's souls, and after all have sinners ? To whom were they ever so constant been taken for their enemies, and used as such : as not to fail them ? Rebuke yourselves for your yea even because they have done so much for unwarrantable expectations from them : learn them. Like the patient, that being cured of a hereafter to know what man is, and expect that mortal sickness, sued his physician at law for friends should use you as follows.
making him sick with the physic. But it is in. 1. Some of them that you thought sincere, deed our uncured patients only that are offended shall prove perhaps unfaithful and dissemblers, with us. Paul was accounted an enemy to the and upon fallings out, or matters of self-interest, Galatians, because he told them the truth. Unmay seek your ruin. Are you better than Da- grateful truth makes the most faithful preachers vid, that had an Ahitophel : or than Paul, that most ungrateful. It must seem no wonder to a had a Demas : or than Christ, that had a Judas ? preacher of the gospel, when he hath entreated, Some will forsake God: what wonder then if prayed, and wept night and day for miserable they may forsake you? Because iniquity shall souls, and laid his hands as it were under their abound, the love of many shall wax cold.' Where feet, in hopes of their conversion and salvation, pride, vain-glory, sensuality, and worldliness are to find them after all, his bitter enemies, and unmortified at the heart, there is no trustiness in seeking his destruction, that could have laid such persons : for their wealth, or honour, or down his life for their salvation. Jeremiah Aleshly interest, they will part with God and their seemed too impatient under this affliction, when salvation ; much more with their best deserving he said, "give heed to me, O Lord, and hearken friends. Why may not you, as well as Job, to the voice of them that contend with me: shall have occasion to complain, he hath put my evil be recompensed for good ? Remember that brethren far from me, and my acquaintance are I stood before thee to speak good for them, and verily estranged from me: my kinsfolk have to turn away thy wrath from them: therefore failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten deliver up their children to the famine, and pour me: they that dwell in my house, and my maid out their blood by the force of the sword.' ens, count me for a stranger : I am an alien in Thus may ingratitude afflict you, and kindtheir sight : I called my servant, and he gave me ness be requited with unkindness, and the no answer: I entreated him with my mouth : my greatest benefits be forgotten, and requited with breath is strange to my wife; though I entreated the greatest wrongs : your old familiars may be for the children's sake of my own body: yea, your foes : and you may be put to say as Jereyoung children despised me: I arose, and they miah : ‘for I heard the defaming of many :
fear spake against me: all my inward friends abhor on every side: report, say they, and we will rered me; and they whom I loved are turned port it: all my familiars watched for my halting, against me. Why may not you, as well as saying, Peradventure he will be enticed, and we David, be put to say, “yea, mine own familiar shall prevail against him, and we shall take our friend in whom I trusted, which did eat of my revenge on him.' Thus must the servants of bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.' Those Christ be used, in conformity to their suffering that have been most acquainted with the secrets Head. of your soul, and privy to your very thoughts, 2. Some that are sincere, and whose hearts may be the persons that shall betray you, or are with you, may yet be drawn by temptation grow strange to you. Those that you have most to disown you : when malice is slandering you, obliged by benefits, may prove your greatest ene- timorous friendship may perhaps be silent, and mies. You may find some of your friends like afraid to justify you, or take your part: when birds of prey, that hover about you for what a Peter in such imbecility and fear can disown they can get, and when they have catched it, fly and deny his suffering Lord, what wonder if away, If
you have given them all that you faint-hearted friends disown you, or me, that may have, they will forsake you, and perhaps reproach give them too much occasion or pretence? Why
may not you and I be put to say as David did, a contrariety of interests. The creature is in
my lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sufficient for us : if one have it, perhaps the sore, and my kinsmen stand afar of: they that other must want it: like a covering too narrow seek after my life lay snares for me: and they for the bed. Sometimes our reputations seer that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and to stand cross, so that one man's is diminished imagine deceits all the day long ! They that by another's: then how apt is envy to create a in fearfulness will fail their Maker and Redeem- grudge, and raise unfriendly jealousies and diser, and hazard their salvation, may by a smaller tastes ? Sometimes the ease of one is the antemptation be drawn to fail such friends as noyance of the other : then mine and thine,
which are contrary to the communion of 3. Moreover, a hundred things may occasion friendship, may divide, alienate, and make two fallings out, even amongst unfeigned friends : of those that seemed one. The instances of passions may cause inconvenient actions or ex- Abraham and Lot, upon the difference among pressions, and these may cause passions in their their servants, of Isaac and Ishmael, of Jacob friends ; and these may grow so high till friends and Esau, of Laban and Jacob, of Leah and seem to one another to be like enemies : Paul | Rachel, of Joseph and his brethren, of Saul and Barnabas may grow so hot, as to fall out to and David, and of Ziba, Mephibosheth and a parting. How easily can Satan set fire on the David, with many others, tell us this. It is tinder which he finds in the best and gentlest rare to meet with a Jonathan, that will endearnatures, if God permit him? No friends so edly love that man to the death, who is appointnear and dear, that passionate weaknesses may ed to deprive him of a kingdom. If one can not either alienate or make a grief to one another. but say, I suffer by him, or I am a loser by him, How apt are we to take unkindnesses at one it seems enough to excuse unfriendly thoughts another, and to be suspicious of ur friends, or and actions. When you can gratify the desires offended with them? How apt to give occasion of all covetous, ambitious, self-seeking persons of such offence ? How apt are we to censure in the world, or else cure their diseases, and one another, and to misinterpret the words and possess their minds with perfect charity, then actions of our friends ? How apt to give occa- all the world will be your friends. sion of such mistakes and cutting censures? The 5. Cross opinions also are like to alienate more kindness we have found in, or expected many of your friends. This age hath over and from our friends, the more their real or supposed over again given the world as full and sad deinjuries will affect us. We are apt to say, "had | monstrations of the power of cross opinions to it been a stranger, I could have borne it: but to alienate friends, and make divisions, as most be used thus by my bosom or familiar friend, ages of the world have ever had. If your friend goes near my heart. Indeed the unkindnesses of be proud, it is wonderful how he will slight friends is no small affliction ; the suffering going you, and withdraw his love, if you be not of usually as near the heart, as the person that his mind. If he be zealous, he is easily tempted caused it was near it : especially when our own to think it a part of his duty to God to disown weakness causes us to forget the frailty and in- you if you differ from him, as taking you for firmities of man, and with what allowances and one that disowns the truth of God, and therefore expectations we must choose and use our friends ; one that God himself disowns; or at least to and when we forget the love that remains in the grow cold in his affection toward you, and to midst of passions.
decline from you as he that thinks you do from 4. Also cross-interests and unsuitableness may God. As agreement in opinions doth strangely exceedingly interrupt the fastest friendship. reconcile affections ; so disagreement doth secretFriendship is very much founded in suitableness, ly and strangely alienate them; even before and maintained by it: and among mortals, there you are well aware, your friend hath lost possesis no perfect suitableness to be found; but much sion of your hearts, because of an unavoidable unsuitableness still remains. That which plea- diversity of apprehensions : when all your friends . seth one, is displeasing to another: one likes have the same intellectual complexion and temthis place, and the other that: one likes this perature, and measure of understanding with habit, and the other that: one is for mirth, and yourselves, then you may have hope to escape the other for sadness : one for talk, and the the ruptures which unlikeness and differences of other for silence : one for a public, and the apprehensions might else cause. other for a private life. Their personality having 6. Moreover, some of your friends may 30 self-love as inseparable, will unavoidably cause far overgrow you in wisdom, wealth, honour, or