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RIGHT HONOURABLE AND EXEMPLARY
COUNTESS OF BALCARRES.
MADAM, In hope of the fuller pardon of my delay, I now present you with two other Treatises besides the Sermon (enlarged), which at your desire I preached at your departure hence. I knew of many and great afflictions, which you had undergone in the removal of your dearest friends, which made this subject seem so suitable and seasonable to you at that time : but I knew not that God was about to make so great an addition to your trials in the same kind, by taking to himself the principal branch of your noble family (by a rare disease, the emblem of the mortal malady now reigning).*
I hope this loss also shall promote your gain, by keeping you nearer to your heavenly Lord, who is so jealous of your fections, and resolved to have them entirely to himself: and then you will still find, that you are not alone, nor deprived of your dearest or most necessary friend, while the Father, the Son, the sanctifying and comforting Spirit is with you. And it should not be hard to reconcile us to the disposals of so sure a Friend. Nothing but good can come from God; however the blind may miscal it, who know no good or evil, but what is measured by the private standard of their selfish interest, and that as judged of by sense. Eternal Love engaged by covenant to make us happy, will do nothing but what we shall find at last, will terminate in that blessed end. He envied you not your son, as too good for you, or too great a mercy, who hath given you his own Son, and with him the mercy of eternal life. Corporal sufferings with spiritual blessings are the ordinary lot of believers here on earth : as corporal prosperity with spiritual calamity is the lot of the ungodly. And I beseech you consider, that God knoweth better than you or I, what an ocean your
Charles, Earl of Balcarres, who died of a stone in his heart, of a very great magnitude.
son was ready to launch out into, and how tempestuous and terrible it might have proved, and whether the world that he is saved from, would have afforded him more of safety or seduction, of comfort or calamity? Whether the protraction of the life of your noble husband, to have seen our sins and their effects and consequents, would have afforded him greater joy or sorrow? Undoubtedly as God had a better title to your husband and children, and friends than you had, so it is much better to be with him, than to be with you, or with the best or greatest upon earth. The heavenly inhabitants fear not our fears, and feel not our afflictions. They are past our dangers, and out of the reach of all our enemies, and delivered from our pains and cares, and have the full possession of all those mercies which we pray and labour for. Can you think your children and friends that are with Christ, are not safer and better than those that yet remain with you? Do you think that earth is better than heaven for yourself? I take it for granted you cannot think so, and will not say so: and if it be worse for you, it is worse for them. The Providence, which by hastening their glorification, doth promote your sanctification ; which helpeth them to the end, and helpeth you in the way, must needs be good to them and you, however it appear to flesh and onbelief. O madam, when our Lord hath shewed us (as he will shortly do) what a state it is to which he bringeth the spirits of the just, and how he doth there entertain and use them, we shall then be more competent judges of all those acts of Providence, to which we are now so hardly reconciled! Then we shall censure our censurings of these works of God, and be offended with our offences at them, and call ourselves blind, unthankful sinners, for calling them so bad as we did in our misjudging unbelief and passion. We shall not wish ourselves or friends again on earth, among temptations and pains, and among uncharitable men, malicious enemies, deceitful flatterers, and untrusty friends! When we see that face which we long to see, and know the things which we long to feel, and are full of the joys which now we can scarce attain a taste of, and have reached the end which now we seek, and for which we suffer, we shall no more take it for a judgment to be taken from ungodly men, and from a world of sin, and fear, and sorrow; nor shall we envy the wicked, nor ever desire to be partakers of their pleasures. Till then, let us congratulate our departed friends the felicity which they have attained, and which we desire ; and let us rejoice with them that rejoice with Christ, and let us prefer the least believing thought of the everlasting joys, before all the defiled transitory pleasures of the deluded, dreaming, miserable world. And let us prefer such converse as we can here attain, with God in Christ, and with the heavenly society, before all the pomp and friendship of the world. We have no friend that is so able to supply all our wants, so sufficient to content us, so ready to relieve us, so willing to entertain us, so unwearied in hearing us, and conversing with us, as our blessed Lord. This is a Friend that will never prove untrusty; nor be changed by any change of interest, opinion, or fortune; nor give us cause to suspect his love: a Friend that we are sure will not forsake us, nor turn our enemy, nor abuse us for his own advantage, nor will ever die or be separated from us, but we shall be always with him, and see his glory, and be filled and transported with his love, and sing his praise to all eternity. With whom then should we so delightfully converse on earth? And till we can reach that sweet, delightful converse, whom should we seek with more ambition, or observe with greater devotedness and respect?. O that we were less carnal and more spiritual, and lived less by sense, and more by faith ; that we knew better the difference between God and man, between visible temporals, and invisible eternals! We should then have other thoughts and desires, and resolutions, and converse, and employments, and pleasures, than too many have!
Madam, it displeaseth me that it is no more elaborate a Treatise, to which the present opportunity inviteth me to prefix your name; but your own desire of the third, must be my excuse for all: But pardon the manner, and I dare commend the matter to you, as more worthy your serious contemplation, and your daily most delightful practice, than any other that was ever proposed unto mortal man. This is the manlike noble life : the life which the rational soul was made for: to which, if our faculties be not by sanctifying grace restored, they fall below their proper dignity and use, and are worse than lost, like a prince or learned man that is employed only in sweeping dog-kennels,
or tending swine. To walk in holiness with the Most Holy God, is the improvement and advancement of the nature of man, towards its designed equality with angels. When earthliness and sensuality degrade humanity into (a voluntary, and therefore sinful) brutishness: this is the life which affordeth the soul a solid and durable pleasure and content: when carnal minds evaporate into air, and bubble into froth and vanity, wasted in a dream, and the violent, busy pursuit of a shadow; deceiving themselves with a mixture of some counterfeit religion ; playing with God, and working for the world; living in jest, and dying, and despairing, and suffering in earnest; with unwearied labour building on the sand, and sinking at death for want of a foundation; hating the serious practice of their own professed religion, because it is not the profession, but the serious practice which hath the greatest enmity to their sensual delights; yet wishing to be numbered with those hereafter, whom they hated here. This holy walking with the Most Holy God, is the only life which is best at last, and sweet in the review; which the godly live in, and most of the ungodly could wish to die in ; like him that wished to be Cæsar in life, and Socrates at death: Yea, this is the life which hath no end; which we are bere but learning, and beginning to practise, and which we must hereafter live (in another manner and degree) with God for ever. O wondrous mercy! which thus ennobleth even the state of mortality! and honoureth earth with so much participation of, and communion with Heaven! That by God, and with God, we may walk in holy peace and safety unto God, and there be blessed in his perfect sight and love for ever! Madam, the greatest service I can do you for all your favours, is to pray that God will more acquaint you with himself, and lead you by this blessed way to that more blessed end; that when you see all worldly glory in the dust, you may bless him for ever, who taught you to make a wiser choice: Which are the prayers of
Your very much obliged Servant,
Dec. 24, 1662.