תמונות בעמוד

righteous be glad, let them rejoice before God, yea, let them exceedingly rejoice ;' 'Be glad in the Lord and rejoice ye righteous; and shout for joy all that are upright in heart.' He is sorry for the poor unhappy world, that have no better things than meat, and drink, and clothes, and house, and land, and money, and lust, and play, and domineering over others, to rejoice in: and heartily he wisheth that they had but a taste of the saints' delights, that it might make them turn from their grovelling, unclean, unsatisfactory pleasures. One look to Christ, one promise of the gospel, one serious thought of the life which he must live with God for ever, doth afford his soul more solid comfort than all the kingdoms on earth can afford. And though he live not continually in these high delights, yet peace with God, and peace of conscience, and some delight in God and godliness, is the ordinary temperature of his soul, and higher degrees are given him in season for his cordials and his feasts.

2. But the weak Christian hath little of these spiritual delights: his ordinary temper is to apprehend that God and his ways are indeed most delectable : his very heart acknowledgeth that they are worthiest and fittest to be the matter of his delights; and if he could attain assurance of his special interest in the love of God, and his part in Christ and life eternal, he would then rejoice in them indeed, and would be gladder than if he were Lord of all the world. But, in the mean time, either his fears and doubts are damping his delights, or else (which is much worse) his appetite is dull, and God and holiness relish not with him half so sweetly as they do with the confirmed Christian ; and he is too busy in tasting of fleshly and forbidden pleasures, which yet more deprave his appetite, and dull his desires to the things of God; so that though in his estimation, choice, resolution, and endeavour, he much preferreth God before the world ; yet, as to any delightful sweetness in him, it is but little that he tasteth. He loveth God with a desiring love, and with a seeking love, but with very little of a delighting love. The remnant of corrupt and alien affections do weaken his affections to the things above; and his infant measure of spiritual life, conjunct with many troublesome diseases, allow him very little of the joy of the Holy Ghost. Nay, perhaps he hath more grief, and fear, and doubts, and trouble, and perplexity of mind, than ever he had before he turned unto God; and perhaps he hath yet less pleasure in God than he had before in sin and sensuality. Because he had his sin in a state of fruition, but he hath God only in a seeking, hoping state : he had the best of sin, and all that it will ever afford him ; but he hath yet none of the full felicity which he expecteth in God : the fruition of him is yet but in the prospect of hope. His sensual, sinful life was in its maturity, and the object present in its most alluring state : but his spiritual life of faith and love is yet only in its weak beginnings, and the object absent from our sight. He is so busy at first in blowing up his little spark, not knowing whether the fire will kindle or go out, that he hath little of the use or pleasure either of its light or warmth. Infants come crying into the world, and afterwards oftener cry than laugh: their senses and reason are not yet perfected, or exercised to partake of the pleasures of life. And when they do come to know what laughter is, they will laugh and cry almost in a breath: and those weak Christians that do come to taste of joy and pleasure in their religious state, it is commonly but as a flash of lightning, which leaveth them as dark as they were before. Sometimes in the beginning, upon their first apprehensions of the love of God in Christ, and of the pardon of their sins, and the privileges of their new condition, and the hopes of everlasting joy, their hearts are transported with unspeakable delight; which is partly from the newness of the thing, and partly because God will let them have some encouraging taste to draw them further, and to convince them of the difference between the pleasures of sin and the comforts of believing. But these first rejoicings soon abate, and turn into a life of doubts, and fears, and griefs, and care, till they are grown to greater understanding, experience, and settledness in the things of God: the root must grow greater and deeper before it will bear a greater top. Those Christians that, in the weakness of grace, have frequent joys, are usually persons whose weak and passionate nature doth occasion it; some, women especially, that have strong phantasies and passions are always passionately affected with whatsoever they apprehend ; and these are like a ship that is tossed in a tempest, that is one while lifted up as to the clouds, and presently cast down as into an infernal gulf: they are one day in great joy, and quickly after in as great perplexity and sorrow; because their comforts or sorrows do follow their present feeling, or mutable apprehensions. But when they come to be confirmed Christians, they will keep a more constant judgment of themselves, and their own condition, and constantly see their grounds of comfort; and when they cannot raise their souls to any high and passionate joys, they yet walk in a settled peace of soul, and in such competent comforts, as make their lives to be easy and delightful, being well pleased and contented with the happy condition that Christ hath brought them to, and thankful that he hath not left them in those foolish, vain, pernicious pleasures, which


to endless sorrows. 3. But the seeming Christian seeketh and taketh up his chief contentment in some carnal thing. If he be so poor and miserable as to have nothing in possession that can much delight him, he will hope for better days hereafter, and that hope shall be his chief delight: or, if he have no such hope, he will be without delight, and shew his love to the world and flesh, by mourning for that which he cannot have, as others do in rejoicing in what they do possess; and he will, in such a desperate case of misery, be such to the world as the weak Christian is to God, who hath a mourning and desiring love when he cannot reach to an enjoying and delighting love. His carnal mind most savoureth the things of the flesh, and therefore in them he findeth or

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seeketh his chief delights; though yet he may have also a delight in his superficial kind of religion, his hearing, and reading, and praying, and in his ill-grounded hopes of life eternal : but all this is but subordinate to his chiefest earthly pleasure. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinances of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching unto God.' And yet all this was subjected to a covetous, oppressing mind. He that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while ; for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.' Whereby it appeareth that his love to the word was subjected to his love to the world.

OBJ. But there are those who seem to have no fleshly delights at all, and yet are not in the way to salvation: viz., some of the religious orders of the papists, who afflict their flesh. Ans. Some of them undergo their fastings and penance for a day, that they may sin the more quietly all the week after; and some of them proudly comfort themselves with the fancies and conceit of being and appearing more excellent in austerity than others; and all these take up with a carnal sort of pleasure. As proud persons are pleased with their own or others' conceits of their beauty, or wit, or worldly greatness ; so prouder persons are pleased with their own and others' conceits of their holiness: and

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