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himself. This is the conversation of those that bosom-friends been, though mutable. How I have long dwelt with in this world : atheism, sweet hath the neighbourhood of the godly been' infidelity, papal church tyranny, bloody wars, How sweet hath the holy assemblies been! And destroying the righteous, oppressing the poor, how many hours of comfort have I there had! adultery and fornication, stigmatising, perjury, How profitable have their writings, their conferambition, violence, covetousness, deceit, sottish ence, and their prayers been! What then will ignorance, wilfulness in sin, hatred of reproof, it be to live in the union of perfect love with revengeful malice. These, and such like, are perfect saints in heaven for ever, and with them the fruits of the soil where I have long so-concordantly to love the God of love? journed, though, through the grace of Christ, As the act and the object of love will constiamong the faithful, there have been better fruits: tute my felicity, so will my reception from the and is not the company of holy angels better love of God, and his creatures, be sweeter to me than this? With them God is all; who are even than my own activity can be: for it is mutual made up of shining wisdom, and holy love, and love that makes it up. I shall not be the founbeneficent activity ; who are the blessed choir tain of my own delights; por can I act till I am that melodiously sing forth the high praises of acted, nor offer any thing to God, but what I their Maker; among whom God dwells as in his have first received from him. Receive I shall presence-chamber or his temple, and in whom abundantly and continually, and from thence he takes great delight: with these I shall see or shall overflow to God, and receiving and return. hear no evil: no mixture of fools or wicked ones ing, are, now, and will be, the circular endless pollute or trouble their society. There will be motion, and our true perpetual life and happino false doctrine, no evil example, no favouring ness. wickedress, no accusing goodness, no hurtful All my receivings shall be from God. His violence, but holy, powerful, operative love, will love is not a mere passive will, nor a wish which be all and do all, as their very nature, life, and touches not the object : but it is what heat is in work. Is it not better to be a door-keeper there, or from the sun or fire. It is an efflux of goodthan to dwell in the palaces of wickedness ? And ness: it is the most powerful, sweet, communiis not a day with them better than a thousand cating principle or work. All love is communihere ?
cative, but none in comparison of God's: as there With the holy angels I shall love holy souls is none primitively and simply good but God. that are made like unto them, and joined with How much doth love in the affairs of men? All them in the same society, and it is likely, with that is pleasant in the world is it, or its effects. them judge, that is, rule the world. All their Were it not for sensual love, there would be do infirmities are there put off with the flesh ; they generation of man or brutes : God hath made it also are spirits made up of holy life, light, and a generating principle. Hatred causes not conlove. There is none of their former ignorance, gress, but fighting with, or flying from, one error, imprudence, selfishness, contentiousness, another. Were it not for natural love, mothers impatience, or any other troubling, hurtful thing. would never endure the pain, trouble, and care, When I think with what fervent love to God, to which is necessary to human birth and education. Jesus Christ, and to one another, they will be Were it not for love, parents would never labour perfectly united there ; alas! how sad and how all their lives to leave their children well inshameful is it, that they should here be prone structed, and well provided for, when they are to disaffections and divisions, and hardly agree gone. My food would not please me did I not to call each other the servants of God, or to love it, and I should neglect it to the neglect of worship God in the same assemblies : but the my life. Did I not love my books, and learning remnants of dividing principles, viz. pride, error, itself, I should never have bestowed so much of and uncharitableness, will be all left behind. seventy years in poring on them, and searching Society with imperfect saints is sweet: the im- for knowledge, as I have done. Did I not love perfect image of God upon them is amiable ; but my house, my conveniences, and necessaries, I their frailties here are so vexatious, that it is hard should neglect them, and they would be to me to live with some of them in peace. But perfect of small use. Did I not love my friends, I should love will make them one, and O how delightful be less profitable to them, and they to me. Did will that communion of saints be! I can never I not love my life, I should neglect it, and never forget how sweet God hath made the course of have endured the labour and cost about it as I my pilgrimage, by the fragrance and usefulness have done. If a man love not his country, posof his servants' graces : how sweet have my / terity, and the common good, he will be as 3
burdensome drone in the hive, or as pernicious and hath scarcely seemed pleasant enough to be vermin. What is done in the world that is good, accepted, or to call off my mind from luscious but by love ?
poison! How often would he have shone upon me, If created love be so necessary, so active, so and I have shut my windows or mine eyes : he communicative, how much more will the infinite was jealous indeed, and liked not a partner! He love of the Creator be? His love is now the would have been all to me, if I would have been life of the world: his love is the life of nature in all for him, but I divided my heart, my thoughts, the living ; the life of holiness in saints ; and the my love, my desires, and my kindnesses; and life of glory in the blessed. In this infinite love alas, how much did go besides him, yea, against it is that I, and all the saints, shall dwell for him, to his enemies, even when I knew that all evermore. If I dwell in love and love in me, was lost, and worse than lost, which was not his ? surely I shall have its sweet and plenteous com- What wonder then if so foolish and unkind a munication, and shall ever drink of the rivers sinner had little pleasure in his love; and if so of pleasure. It is pleasant to nature to be be- great ingratitude and neglect of sovereign goodloved of others, especially of the great, wise, and ness were punished with such strangeness, fears, good; much more to have all the communica- and faintings, as I have long with groans lations of love, in converse and gifts, in plenty and mented ? continuance, which may be still expressing it to But in heaven I shall have none of these obour greatest benefit. Had I a friend now that structions. All old unkindness and ingratitude did for me but the hundredth part of what God will be forgiven: the great reconciler in whom doth, how dearly should I love him ? Think then, I am beloved, will then have perfected his work. think believingly, seriously, constantly, O my I shall then be wholly separated from the vanity soul, what a life thou shalt live for ever in the which here deceived me: my open soul will be presence, the face, the bosom of infinite, eternal prepared to receive the heavenly influx : with love. He now shines on me by the sun, and open face I shall behold the open face of glorion my soul by the Sun of righteousness, but it fying love. I shall joyfully attend his voice, and is as through a lantern, or the crevices of my delightfully relish the celestial provisions ! No darksome habitation : but then he will shine on disease will corrupt my appetite: no sluggishme and in me openly, and with the fullest ness will make me guilty again of my
old streams and beams of love.
glects. The love of the Father, by the grace of God is the same God in heaven and earth, the Son, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, but I shall not be the same man. Here I receive will have got the victory over all my deadness, comparatively little, but live in darkness, Joubt. folly, and disaffection, and my God-displeasing ful and frequent sorrows, because my powers of and self-undoing averseness and enmity will be reception are so small. The windows of my gone for ever. The perfect love which God doth soul are not open to his light, sin hath raised first effect in me, will be my everlasting spring clouds, and consequently storms, against my com- of the fullest love of God. Benevolent love will forts : the entrances to my soul by the straits make me good, that is, a holy lover of God; of Aesh and sense are narrow, and they are made and then pleased love will make me his delight, narrower by sin than they were by nature. Alas, and benevolence will still maintain me in my how often would love bave spoken comfortably capacity, to me, and I was not at home to be spoken with, Study this heavenly work of love, O my soul, but was abroad among a world of vanities ; or these are not dead or barren studies: these are was not at leisure, or was asleep, and not will not sad, unpleasant studies ; it is only love that ing to be awaked! How often would love have can relish love and understand it. The will here come in and dwelt with me, and I have unkindly hath its taste, so like to an understanding, as make shut my doors against him! How often would he some philosophers say, that “the will perceives' have been with me in secret, where he freely is a proper phrase. What can poor carnal, worldwould embrace me, but I had some pleasing lings know of glorious love, who study it without company or business which I was loth to leave! love? What sounding brass, and tinkling cymHow often would he have feasted me, and had bals, a lifeless voice, as they that preach of made all ready, but I was taken up and could God, Christ, and heavenly glory, without love ? not come ! Nay, when his table hath been spread But gazing upon the face of love in Christ, and before me, Christ, grace, and glory have been tasting of its gifts, and looking up to its glooffered to me, my appetite hath been gone, or rious reign, is the way to kindle the sacred fire in dull, and all hath been almost neglected by me, thee. Look upwards if thou wouldst see the
light that must lead'thee upwards. It is not for The Lord Jesus Christ will not only be the nothing that Christ hath taught us to begin our object of our delightful love, but will also love prayers with Our Father which art in heaven: us with an effectual operative love for ever. His it is fatherly love that must win our hearts, and love will be as the vital heat and motion of the that must comfort them : it is in heaven' where heart to all the members, the root of our life and this is gloriously manifested. As I said before, joy. The love of our Redeemer will flow out as the soul is in all the body, but yet under into us all as the vital spirits, and his face of stands not in the hand as it doth in the head, or glory will be the sun of the heavenly Jerusalem, rejoices not in the foot as it doth in the heart ; and will shine upon us, and show us God : in his so God, who is every where, doth not every light we shall have light. Did his tears for a where glorify his love as he doth it in heaven : dead Lazarus make men say, “behold how he thither therefore the mind and eye are even by loved him ?' O then what will the reviving nature taught to look up as to God, as we look beams of heavenly life make us say of that love a man in the face when we speak to him, rather which fills us with the pleasures of his presence, than to his feet, though his soul be also there. and turns our souls into joy itself! He comforts
My sinful heart hath needed sorrow : my care. us now by the teaching of his word; but surely less, rash, presumptuous soul hath needed fears, the fruition of salvation will be more gladdening and I have had some part of these : mercy saw than the tidings of it. When he that told us of it good for me, as necessary to prevent my dan- glory in his gospel shall give it us, we shall not gerous deceits and lapses. O that in the hour only believe, but feel that he loves us. of sensual temptations I had feared more, and Believe, O my soul, thy Saviour's love, that departed from evil. But it is holy love that thou mayest foretaste it, and be fit to feel it. must be my life, or else I am dead notwithstand- We were incapable in sinful flesh of seeing him
otherwise than as clothed with flesh; and his O come then and study the life of love: it is consolations were administered by a word of more of a holy nature than of art ; but yet study promise suitable to his appearance: but when must do much to prepare thee to receive it. This he withdrew his bodily presence, the Comforter is the great use of a heavenly conversation! It was sent with a fuller consolation ; but all that is the contemplation, belief, and hope of the glo- was but the earnest and the first fruits of what rious state of love hereafter, that must make us he will be to us for ever. Be not seldom, nor like it, and kindle it in us here: the burning unbelievingly, nor slight, in the thoughts of thy glass must be turned directly to the sun, if you Saviour's love, for it is he that is the way to the will have it set any thing on fire. There is a infinite love. Let thy believing be so much of carnal or common love to God, which is kindled thy daily work, that thou mayest say, that he in men by carnal pleasures; but a holy love, dwells in thy heart by faith,' and that, while like that in heaven, must be studiously drawn thou livest here it is • Christ that liveth in thee; from heaven, and kindled by the foresight of and that thy life in the flesh is not a fleshly life, what is there, and what we shall be there for but by the faith of the Son of God that hath ever : faith must ascend, and look within the loved thee, and given himself for thee.' That vail; thou must not live as a stranger to thy though thou see him not, yet believing, thou home, to thy God, and Saviour, and thy hopes. lovest him also with unspeakable joy, as belierThe fire that must warm thee is in heaven, and ing the unspeakable, perfect joy which his love thou must come near it, or open thyself to its will communicate to thee for ever. influence, if thou wilt feel its powerful efficacy. Look upon the sun, and think thus with thyIt is night and winter with carnal minds, when self, How wonderful is the emanation of this sun: it is day and summer with those that set their its motion, light, and heat communicated to so faces heaven-ward.
many millions of creatures all over the earth, and But though all my receivings will be from in the seas; what if all these beams of light and God, they will not be from him alone: we must heat were proportionable beams of perfect koor. live in perfect union also with one another, and ledge, love, and joy, and that all creatures that with all the heavenly society ; and therefore as are under the sun had from its influx as much we must love them all, so shall we be beloved wisdom, love and joy, as they have light, beat, by them all. This will be a subordinate part of and motion: would not then this earth be as a our blessedness: God there will make use of world of angels and a heaven ? O what a blessed second causes, even in communicating his love world would it be! What a benefactor would and glory.
the sun be to the world! Why, even such will Jesus Christ be to the celestial world : | that should keep my heart and mind in Christ ? he is the Sun of glory ; his influence will where is the seeing, the longing, the rejoicing, send forth life, and light, and joyful love upon and triumphing faith? Where is that pleasant all the blessed from the face of God, as the familiarity above, that should make a thought of sun sends forth from God, its motion, light, Christ and heaven to be sweeter to me than the and heat upon this world. Now therefore thoughts of friends, or health, or all the prosperbegin and live upon him : live upon the in- ity and pleasure of this world ? Do those that fluence of his grace, his teaching, love-kindling, dwell in God, and God in them, and have their and quickening grace, that thou mayest have his hearts and conversations in heaven, attain to no name and mark, that he may find in thee some- more clear and satisfying perceptions of that thing of himself or of his own, when thou comest blessed state, than I have yet attained ? Is there to his righteous trial. His grace is not in my no more acquaintance above to be here expected? power, nor at my command. It is not meet it No more lively sense of future joys, nor sweeter should be so, but he hath not bid me seek and foretaste ? No fuller silencing of doubts and beg in vain. If he had never told me that he fears ? I am not so loth to go to a friend, nor to will give it me, it is equal to a promise if he but the bed where I often spend the night in restless bid me seek and ask. But I have more ! He pains and rolling, as I have too often been to teaches me to pray; he makes my prayers ; he come to thee! Alas, how many of thy servants writes me out a prayer-book on my heart; he are less afraid to go to a prison than to their gives me desires, and he loves to be importuned God; and had rather be banished to a land of by them. His Spirit is first a spirit of suppli- strangers, than sent to heaven! Lord, must I, cation, and after of consolation, and in both, a that am called thy child, and an heir of heaven, spirit of adoption. So far is he from being loth and a co-heir with Christ, have no more acquain. to be troubled with my importunity, that he seeks tance with my glorified Lord, and no more love to ine to seek his grace, and is displeased with to thee that art my portion, before I go hence, me that I will ask and have no more.
and come before thee? Shall I have no more All this is true. But how then comes my soul of the heavenly life, light, and love ? Alas, I to be yet so low, so dark, so fond of this wretched have scarcely enough in my meditations, to deflesh and world, and so backward to go home nominate them truly heavenly meditations. I and dwell with Christ? Alas ! a taste of heaven have scarcely enough in a prayer to make it inon earth is a mercy too precious to be cast away deed a heavenly prayer ; or in a sermon to make upon such as have long grieved and quenched it a heavenly sermon; and shall I have no more the Spirit, and are not by diligent and patient when I come to die? Must I go hence so like a seeking, prepared to receive it. He that pro- stranger to my home? Wilt thou take strangers claims a general peace, will give peace only to into heaven, and know them as thine that do not the sons of peace. If after such unkind neglects, better know thee here? O my God, vouchsafe such wilful sins as I have been guilty of, I should a sinner yet more of his Spirit that came down expect to be suddenly in my Saviour's arms, and on earth to call up earthly minds to God; and to be feasted presently with the first-fruits of to open heaven to all believers ? O what do I heaven, I should look that the Most Holy should beg for so frequently, so earnestly, for the sake too little manifest his hatred of my sin. My of my Redeemer, as the Spirit of life and conconscience remembers the follies of my youth, solation, which may show me the pleased face of and many a later odious sin ; and tells me that God, and unite all my affections to my glorified of heaven were quite hid from my sight, and I Head, and draw up this dark and drowsy soul should never have a glimpse of the face of glo- to love and long to be with thee? rious eternal love, it were but just. I look upward But, alas, though these are my daily groans, from day to day; I groan to see his pleased face, how little yet do I ascend! I dare not blame and better to know my God and my home. I the God of love ; he is full and willing. I dare cry to him daily, “My God, this little is better not blame my blessed Saviour; he hath showed than all the pleasures of sin ; my hopes are better that he is not backward to do good. I dare not than all the possessions of this world ; thy gra- accuse the Holy Spirit, it is his work to sanctify cious looks have often revived me, and thy mer- and comfort souls. If I knew no reason of this cies have been unmeasurable to my soul and my low and dark estate, I must needs conclude body. But O how far short am I of what even that it is somewhat in myself. But, alas, my fifty years ago I hoped sooner to have attained ! conscience wants not matter to satisfy me of Where is the peace that passeth understanding, the cause. Sinful resistance of the Spirit, and unthankful neglects of grace and glory, are un- make me know my glorified Saviour, my Father, doubtedly the cause. But are they not a cause and my home. It must be a light from heaven that mercy can forgive ? That grace can over- that must show me heaven, and a light accomcome? May I not yet hope for such a victory panied with vital heat, that must turn to love before I die ?
and joy within me. O let me not have only *Lord, I will lie at thy doors and groan: I will dreaming knowledge, of words and signs, but pour out my moans before thee : I will beg, and quickening light, to show the things which these whatever thou wilt, do thou with me; thou de- words signify, to my mind and heart. Surely scribest the kindness of the dogs to a Lazarus the faith by which we must live, must be a livthat lay at a rich man's doors in sores : thou ing faith, and must reach further than to words, commendest the neighbourly pity of a Samaritan, how true soever. Can faith live in the dark ? that took care of a wounded man: thou con- What is it but an effect of thine illumination ? deinnest those that will not show mercy to the What is my unbelief but the darkness of my poor and needy: thou biddest us“ be merciful soul? Lord Jesus, scatter all these mists : make as our heavenly Father is merciful.” If we see our thy way, O thou Sun of righteousness, into this brother have need of, and shut up the bowels of benighted mind. O send thine advocate to siour compassion from him, it is because thy love lence every temptation that is against thy truth dwells not in us. Shall I then wait at thy doors and thee, and thine agent to prosecute thy cause in vain, and go empty away from such a God, against thine enemies and mine, and to be the when I beg but for that which thou hast com- resident witness of thy verity, and my sonship manded me to ask, and without which I cannot and salvation. Hearing of thee is not satisfacserve thee or come to thee, live or die in a habit tory to me: it must be the presence and operabeseeming a member of Christ, a child of God, tion of thy light and love, shed abroad by thy and an heir of heaven ? O give me the wedding Spirit on my heart, that must quiet and content garment without which I shall but dishonour thy my soul. I confess with shame, that I have bounteous feast: let me wear a livery which be- sinned against heaven and before thee, and am comes thy family, even a child of God. How unworthy to have any glimpse or taste of hea. often hast thou commanded me to rejoice; yea, ven : but so did many that are now entertained to rejoice with exceeding and unspeakable joy ! and feasted by thy love in glory. How ardently would I in this obey thee! O • My Lord, I know that heaven is not far from that I had more faithfully obeyed thee in other me: it is not, I believe, one day's or hour's preparatory duties, in ruling my senses, my journey to a separated soul : how quick is the fancy, my tongue, and in diligent using all thy communion of my eyes with the sun, that seems talents! Then I might more easily have obeyed far off! Couldst thou not show it me in a mothee in this. Thou knowest, Lord, that love ment? Is not faith a seeing grace? It can see and joy are duties that must have more than a the invisible God, the unseen world, the new command. O bid me do them with an effecting Jerusalem, the innumerable angels, and the spi. word. How can I rejoice in death and darkness ? rits of the perfected just, if it be animated by When the bridegroom is absent I must fast and thine influx ; without which it can do nothing, mourn : while I look towards heaven but through and is nothing ; thou that often healedst the blind the crevices of this dungeon flesh, my love and here in the flesh, didst tell us, that it is much joy will be but answerable to my light : how more thy work to illuminate souls: it is but long is it since I hoped that I had been transla- forgiving all my sins, and removing this film ted from the kingdom of darkness, and delivered that sin hath gathered, and my illuminated soul from the power of the prince of darkness, and will see thy glory. I know that the vail of flesh brought into that light which is the entrance of must be also rent before I shall see thee with the inheritance of the saints ; yet alas, darkness, open face, and know my fellow-citizens above as darkness, is still my misery! There is light I am known. It is not heaven on earth that I am round about me, in thy word and works, but begging for, but that I may see it from mount darkness is within me. If my eye be dark, the Nebo, and have the bunch of grapes ; the pledge, sun will be no sun to me. Alas, my Lord, it is and the first-fruits ; that faith and hope which not all the learning in the world, no, not of the may kindle love and desire, and make me run ology, that consists in the knowledge of words my race with patience, and live and die in the and methods, which I can take for the satisfac-joy which beseems an heir of heaven. tory, heavenly light! To know what thou hast * But, if my part on earth must be no greater written in the sacred book, is not enough to than yet it is, let it make me the wearier of this