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moft Part of Men. Mens natural De is that to be found easily, which you fires are carried towards Health, Food, trouble yourselves, seeking elsewhere : Raiment, Life and Liberty, Peace and And believe me, tho' the general Appresuch like : But the more rational Sort of hension of Men be, that Peace, Plenty, Men, seek after some Shadow of Wisdom Preferment and Satisfaction in this Life, and Virtue. Yet the Generality of Men, to compense their Pains, is more easily both high and low, have extravagant il- attainable than Fellowship and Communi. limited Desires toward Riches, Pleasure, op with God; yet I am perswaded, that Preferment; and all that we have spoken, there is nothing more practicable than is inclosed within the narrow Compass the Life of Religion. God hath condemof Mens Abode here, which is but for a ned the World under Vanity and a Curse. Moment; So that, if it were possible, and that which is crooked, can by no Art that all these forementioned Desires and or Serength be made straight; but he Delights of Men, could attend any Man hath made this attainable by his gracious for the Space of an hundred Years, tho' Promises, even a blessed Life, in aphe had the Concurrence of the Screams proaching near to himself the Fountain of of the Creatures to bring him in Satisfacti- all Life. And this is a certain Good, on, tho' all the World mould bow to him an universal Good, and an eternal Good. and be fubject to the Beck of his Autho- It will not disappoint you as other Things rity, without Stroke of Sword, tho' all do, of which you have no Assurance for the Creatures should spend their Strength all your Toilings. This is made more and Wit upon his Satisfaction. Yet do infallible to a Soul that truly seeks it in but consider what that shall be within God. It is as certain, that they cannot fome few Years, when he shall be spoiled be ashamed through Fruftration, as that of all that Attendance, denuded of all he is faithful. And then it is an univerexternal Comforts, when the fatal Period sal Good, one comprehensive of all, one must close his Life, Peace, Health and eminently and virtually all Things creaall; and his poor Soul also, that was ated, to be joined to the infinite Alldrowned in that Gulf of Pleasure, shall fulness of God: This advanceth che Soul then find itself robbed of its precious to a Participation of all that is in him. Treasure, that is, God's Favour, and fo | This is Health, Pfal. xlii. latt, Prov. remain in everlasting Banishment from ii. 8. This is Light, Jobn. viii. 12. bis Presence. Do ye think, I say, that it is Life, Fobn xi. 23. Liberty, fobn Man were happy : Nay! O happy-viii. 36. Food and Raiment, ifa. lxi. Lazarus, who is now bleffed in Abra. 10. and Jobn iv. 14. And what not? bam's Bosom, who enjoys an Eternity of Ic is Profic, Pleasure, Preferment in the Happiness, for a Moment's Misery. But fuperlative Degree, and not scattered in my Beloved, you know that it is not so many various Streams, which divide possible, even to attain to that imagined and distract the Heart, but all combined Happiness here. All the Gain that is in one. It is the true Good of both found, is not able to quit the Coft and Soul and Body, and so the only Good of Expence of Grief, Vexation, Care, Toil. Man. And laftly, it is eternal, to be ing and Sweating that is about them. coetaneous with thy Soul: Of all other But if you would be perswaded, there Things it may be faid, I bave seen an
End of them, they were and are not ; fections, until the Time and Date of Salbut this will survive Time, and all the ration expire; and then they must know Changes of it, and then it will begin to certainly and surely, the inevitable Danbe perfect, when all Perfection is at an ger and irrecoverable Lofs they have End. Now from all this, I would exo brought themselves to, who would not hort you in Jesus Chrift, to ponder chose take Notice of the sure Way, of escapThings in your Hearts, and considering both Wrath, and attaining Happiness, them in Reference to your own Souls, while it was to be found. that ye may say with David, It is good Well then, this is the great Business for me to draw near to God.
we have here to du; yea, to make the That which all Men seek after, is Hap- Circle the larger, it is that great Buliness piness and Well-being. Men pursue no we have to do in this World, to know thing but under the Notion of Good; wherein the true Well-being and eternal and to complete that which may be called Welfare of our Souls confifts, and by Good, there is required fome Excellency any Means to apply unto that, as the onin the Thing itself, and then a Convenio ly Thing necessary, in regard of which, ency and Suitableness to us, and these all other Things are Ceremonies, Cirjointly draw the Heart of Man: But the cumstances and indifferent Things. And great Misery is, that there is so much to guide us in this Examination and ApIgnorance and Misapprehension of that plication, here is one Man, who having which is truly Good, and then, when almost made Ship-wreck upon the Rocks any Thing of it is known, there is so which Men commonly dath upon, and little serious Confideration and Applicati- being by the Lord led safely by, and alon of it to ourselves; and this makes the most arrived at the Coast of true Felicimoft Part of Men wander up and downty ; he sets out a- Beacon, and lights a in the Pursuit of divers Things, which Candle to all who shall follow him, to are not that true Good of the Soul, and direct them which way they fhall stees set their Hearts on that which is not, un their Course. Examples teach more til they find their Hearts fall down, as effectually than Rules; it is easy for wanting a Foundation, and then they turn every Mad to speak well upon this-Pojat about again to some other Vanity. And in general, and readily all will acknowfo the Wanderings and Strayings of Men ledge, that here it is, and no where else: are infinite, because the By-ways are in But yet all this is outcrying by the connumerable, tho' the true Way be but one. crary Noise of every Man's Practice. Yea, the Turnings and Toilings of one These general Grants of Truth, are re Man are various and manifold, because called in the Conversations of Men, there. he quickly loses the Sent of Happiness fore they cannot have much Influence in every way he falls into, and therefore upon any Man : But when we hear one: must turn to another. And thus Men speak, and see him walk so coo; when. are never at any solid fecting about this we have the Example of a most wise great Business, never resolute wherein Man, who wanted not these worldly Exthis Happiness confifts, nor peremptory pectations, which other Men have: So
to follow it; but they Auctuate upon that, he not only propones. it to us, but "uncertain Apprehenfions, and diverse Af after much serious Advisement, after
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mature Conlideration of all thas can be happy; and without whom it is not porn said of the Wicked's best Estate, and the fible but to be miserable, without be Godly's worst, setting down resolute Con Fountain of Light, Life and Confolation, clusions for himself. It is good for me without which there is nothing but pure to draw near to God; y'ea, so deter Darkness, without any Beam of Light ; minate into it, that if none of the World nothing but Death, without the leaft should be of that Mind, he would not breathing of Life ; nothing but Vexacion, change it ; tho' all should walk in other without the least Drop of Confolation. Ways, he would choose to be rather In a Word, without these, and wanting alone in this, than in the greateft Croud these, whom if you want, it were good of Company in any other. Now, I say, be spoiled of all Being; to be no. when we have such a Copy cast us, a ching, if that could be, or never to have Man of excellent Parts in Sobriety and been any Thing. Men will seek Death, Sadness, choosing that way, which all in and cannot find it. O! what a Lors and Words confess to be the beft; should Deprivement is the Loss of God, which
not this awake us out of our Dreams, and makes Death more desirable than Life ; raise us up to fome more Attention and and not to be at all, infinitely preferable Consideration of what we are doing? to any Being. Now, it is true, that The Words you fee, are the holy Re- the bringing in of Multitudes within the folution of a holy Heart, concerning that Pale of the visible Church, is fome De. which is the chiefeft Good. You see the gree of Access and Nearness to God; for Way to Happiness, and you find the par- then they become Citizens (as to exter . ricular Application of that to David's nal Righe) in the Common wealth of the Soul, or of his soul to it. We fhali Church, and have the Offers of the ProSpeak a Word of the Thing itfelf, then of mises made to them; in respect of which the Commendation of it, then of the Ap- vifible standing, the Apoftle speaks of the plication of it.
whole Church of Epbefus. But now For the Thing itself, drawing near ye are made near wbo were far of 40 God, it gives us fome Ground to take Ver. 13. notwithstanding, that many of a View of the Posture in which Men them were found afterwards to have left are found by Nature, far off from God. their firft Love, Rev. ii. But yet, BeOur Condition by Nature, I cannot so loved, to speak more inwardly, and as fitly express, as in the Apoftle's Words, your Souls ftand in the sight of God; Epb. ii
. 12. Witbout Chrif, Aliens the Generality of those who are near from the Common wealth of Israel, Hand in outward Ordinances, are yet Strangers from tbe Covenant of Pro- far off from God in Reality, witbour mise, baving no Hope, and without God and without Cbrif, as really as God in obe World. A deplorable Eftate touching any Soul-feeling, as those who indeed, hopeless and helpless; no Hope are altogether without. The Bond of in it, that is the Extremity of Misery, the Peace and Union was broken in Para
Refuse of all Conditions. Without Cbrift, dise, Sin dissolved it, and broke off that - and witbout God. O! these are Words Nearness and Friendhip with God; and
of infinite Weight : Without those, with from that Day' to this Day, there bath out whom it is simply impossible to be been an infinite Distance and Separation
betwixt God and Man. The Steps and many Miles distant from their Bodies, Degrees of it are many, there is Dark and they cannot keep any Conftancy in ness and Blindness in Mens Minds: Such this Approach of Prayer to God, cannot : Ignorance naturally possesseth the Mul walk with him in their Conversation, or titude, so that it wholly alienates them carry him along in their Medication. But from the Life of God, Epb. iv. 18. there is one Point of Efrangement and For what. Fellowship can Light, that Separation fuperadded to all, that there pure Light, have with such gross Dark is nu Man can come near to God, withness as is among us? This certainly is out an Oblation and Offering of Peace; the Removal of that Sun of Righteous that there is no approaching to him, but ness from our Souls, or the Impofition of as to a consuming Fire, except we can the Clouds of Transgression, that makes bring a Sacrifice to appease, and a Preit so dark a Night in the Souls of Men. " sent to please him for our infinite Offen And then there is nothing but Enmity and ces : There the Difference stands, we desperate Wickedness in the Heart of cannot draw near to walk together, till Man, and this keeps the strong Hold of we be agreed. And truly, this unto the Affections, Rom. viii. Jer. xvii. Man is impossible, for we have nothing There cannot be a further Elongation or so precious as the Redemption of our Separation of the Soul from God, than Souls, nothing can compense infinite to turn to opposite in all Inclinations and Wrongs, or satisfy infinite Justice. Now, Dispositions of his holy Will: For the this seems to make our Nearness again Distance between God and us, is not lo desperate, and to put Men furtheft off cal in the Point of Place ; for whither from Hope. Shall we go from him who is every Notwithstanding, this is the very Pur wbece? And thus he is near Hand every pose of the Gofpel, preached from the one of us; but it is also real in the De beginning of the World, to remove that formity and Repugnancy of our Natures Distance, and to take Impediments of to his holy Will. But add into this, meeting out of the Way ; for that grear that being thus separated in Affection, Obstruction, the want of a Sacrifice, and disjoined as it were in natural Dif- and Ransom, the Lord hath supplied it, positions, we cannot draw near to God he himself hash furnished it : And it was in any Ordinance, as the Word, Prayer, the great Design carried on from the c. Tho' we may, as that People, draw beginning of the World; but as the Sun, near with our Lips, and ask of him our the nearer he is, the more the Earth is Duty, and leem to delight to know him; enlightened ; so here, first fome dawnyer there is this natural Incapacity, and ing of Light appears, as a Messenger of Crookedness in the Heart of Man, that Hope, to tell that the Redeemer shall it cannot truly approach unto the Father come, that the true Sacrifice thall be of Spirits, with any Soul Defire and De- Ilain, then fill the nearer his own'aplight. But their Hearts are removed pearing, the clearer are the Manifestacifar from me, Isa. vi. 9. Mat, iv. 12. Ions of him, and the great Design is more think Men might observe, that their Souls opened up, till ar length he breaks out act not in religious Business as they in Glory from under a Cloud, and Mews hould, but that they remove their Souls himself to the World, to be rhai Lamb
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of God that soould take away tbe Sins once our Access is made by the Blood of the World. And now as the Apostle of Jesus Christ, then we are called and to the Hebrews speaks, Chap. vii. 19. allowed to come ftill nigher, to cleave The Law made nothing perfect, but tbe and adhere to him as our Father, to bringing in of a better Hope did, by pray unto him, to walk with him ; then the wbich we draw nigb to God. All we should converse as Friends and Fathe Sacrifices and Shadows that were miliars together, then draw nigh to his under the Law, did būt point at this
per- Light for Illumination, and to him as the feet Ransom ; and the Way of Access to Fountain of Life, for quickening, to place God through a Mediator was not so our Delight and Desire in him, to forclear ; but now the Matter is made as fake all other Things, even our Wills hopeful as is possible, the Partition-wall and Pleasures, and to lose them, that of the Law's Curses, the Hand-writting they may be found in his; to converse against us is removed on the Cross, the much in his Company, and be ofien in Enmity Nain, the Distance removed by Communication with him, and Meditathe Blood of the Cross, Being partly fil. tion upon him. This is the very Delgn led up by his Descent into our Nature, and Substance of the Gospel; it holds partly by his lower Descent in our Na. forth the way of making up the Breach ture to suffer Death. And this is the between Man and God, of bringing you favoury Oblation that we have to pre nigh who are yet afar off, and nearer fent to God, and may have Boldness to who are near hand. Oh let us hearken come nigh because of it. And when to it.
Prov. xxvii. 1. Boaft not thyself of Tomorrow, for thou
knoweft not what a .Day may bring forth. THERE are some peculiar Gifts that by Reason of Man's Fall into Sin, these
given his , out of firft Creation, and endued his Nature the right Channel; and therefore, as the with, beyond other living Creatures, right Improvement of them would make which being rightly ordered and impro- Man happy, so the wrong Imployment ved towards the right Obje&ts, do ad of chem loadens him with more real vance the Soul of Man to a wonder- Misery, than any other Creature : I mean, ful Height of Happiness, that no other God hath giren to Man two norable fublunary Creature is capable of. But Capacities, beyond ocher Things; one