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it more easy and delightful. The hill which made thee pant and blow at first going up, thou mayest easily run up, when thou art once, accustomed to it. ;
§ 12. Thou wilt also prevent the loss of that heat and life thou hast obtained. If thou eat but once in two or three days, thou wilt lose thy strength as fast as it comes. If in holy meditation thou get near to Christ, and warm thy heart with the fire of love, and then come but seldom, thy former coldness will soon return; especially as the work is so spiritual, and against the bent of depraved nature. It is true, the intermixing of other duties, especially secret prayer, may do much to the keeping thy heart above; but meditation is the life of most other duties, and the view of heaven is the life of meditation.
§ 13. (3). Chuse also the most seasonable time. All things are beautiful and excellent in their season.Unseasonableness may lose the fruit of thy labour, may raise difficulties in the work, and may turn a duty to a sin. The same hour may be seasonable to one and unseasonable to another. Servants and labourers must take that season which their business can best afford; either while at work, or in travelling; or when they lie awake in the night. Such as can choose what time of he day they will, should observe when they find their spirits most active and fit for contemplation, and fix ipon that as the stated time. I have always found that he fittest tiine for myself is the evening, from sun seting to the twilight. I the rather mention this, because t was the experience of a better and wiser man; for t is expressly said, Isaac went out to meditate in the field tthe even-tide.(a)-The Lord's day is exceeding seasonble for this exercise. When should we more seasonbly contemplate our rest, than on that day of rest, hich typifies it to us? It being a day appropriated ) spiritual duties, methinks we should never exclude nis duty, which is so eminently spiritual. I verily rink this is the chief work of a Christian sabbath, and nost agreeable to the design of its positive institution.
(a) Gen. xxiv. 63.
What fitter time to converse with our Lord, than on the Lord's day? What fitter day to ascend to heaven, than that on which he arose from earth, and fully triumphed over death and hell. The fittest temper for a true Christian is, like John, to be in the spirit on the Lord's day.(6)- And what can bring us to this joy in the Spirit, but the spiritual beholding of our approaching glory? Take notice of this, you that spend the Lord's day only in public worship; your allowing no time to private duty, and therefore neglecting this spiritual duty of meditation, is very hurtful to your souls, You also that have time on the Lord's day for idleness and vain discourse, were you but acquainted with this duty of contemplation, you would need no other pastiine; you would think the longest day short enough, and be sorry that the night had shortened your pleasure. Christians, let heaven have more share in your sabbaths, where you must shortly keep your everlasting sabbath Use your sabbaths as steps to glory, till you have passed them all, and are there arrived. Especially you that are poor, and cannot take time in the week as you desire, see that you well improve this day; as your bodies rest from their labours, let your spirits seek after rest from God.
§ 14. Besides the constant seasonableness of every day, and particularly every Lord's day, there are also more peculiar seasons for heavenly contemplation.As for instance:
15. When God hath more abundantly warmed thy spirit with fire from above, then thou mayest soat with greater freedom. A little labour will set thy heart a-going at such a time as this; whereas at another time thou mayest take pains to little purpose. Observe the gales of the Spirit, and how the Spirit of Christ doth move thy spirit. Without Christ we can do nothing: and therefore let us be doing while he is doing; and be sure not to be out of the way, nor asleep, when he comes. When the Spirit finds thy heart, like Peter, in prison, and in irons, and smites thee, and says, Arise
(6) Rev. i. 10.
ip quickly, and follow me; be sure thou then arise ind follow, and thou shalt find thy chains fall off, and Il doors will open, and thou wilt be at þegyen before hou art aware.
16. Another peculiar season for this duty, is, when hou art in a suffering, distressed, or tempted state. Vhen should we take our cordials, but in time of faintng? When is it more seasonable to walk to heayen, ban when we know not in what corner of earth to live vith comfort? Or when should our thoughts converse nore above, than when they have nothing but grief beow? Where should Noah's dove be but in the ark, vhen the waters cover all the earth, and she cannot find est for the sole of her foot? What should we think on, ut our Father's house, when we have not even the usks of the world to feed upon? Surely God sends thy fflictions to this very purpose. Happy art thou, poor lan, if thou make this use of thy poverty! and thou hat art sick, if thou so improve thy sickness! It is seaonable to go to the promised land, when our burdens re increased in Egypt, and our straits in the wilderess. Reader, if thou knewest what a cordial to thy riefs the serious views of glory are, thou wouldest less ear these harmless troubles, and more use that preseryag, reviving remedy. In the multitude of my troubled houghts within me, saith David, thy comforts delight my pul.(c) Į reckon, saith Paul, that the sufferings of this resent time, are not worthy to be compared with the glory hich shall be revealed in us.(d) For which cause we faint ot, but though our outward man perish, yet the inward van is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which s but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding nd eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for he things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.(e)
§ 17. And another season peculiarly fit for this heaenly duty is, when the messengers of God summon is to die. When should we more frequently sweeten (c) Ps. xciv. 19. (d) Rom. viii. 18. (e) 2 Cor. iv. 16, 18.
our souls with the believing thoughts of another life, than when we find that this is almost ended? Nomen have greater need of supporting joys, than dying men; and those joys must be fetched from our eternal joy.As heavenly delights are sweetest, when nothing earthly is joined with them; so the delights of dying Christians are oftentimes the sweetest they ever had. What a prophetic blessing had dying Isaac, and Jacob, for their sons! With what a heavenly song, and divine benediction, did Moses conclude his life! What heavenly advice and prayer had the disciples from their Lord, when he was about to leave them! When Paul was ready to be offered up, what heavenly exhortation and advice did he give the Philippians, Timothy, and the elders of Ephesus! How near to heaven was John in Patmos, but a little before his translation thither! It is the general temper of the saints, to be then most heavenly when they are nearest to heaven. If it be thy case, Reader, to perceive thy dying time draw on, O where should thy heart now be but with Christ? Methinks thou shouldst even behold him standing by thee, and shouldst bespeak him as thy father, thy husband, thy physician, thy friend. Methinks thou shouldst, as it were, see the angels about thee, waiting to perform their last office to thy soul; even those angels, which disdained not to carry into Abraham's bosom the soul of Lazarus, nor will think much to conduct thee thither. Look upon thy pain and sickness, as Jacob did on Joseph's chariots, and let thy spirit revive within thee, and say, It is enough, Christ is yet alive: because he liveth, I shall live also.() Dost thou need the choicest cordials? Here are choicer than the world can afford; here are all the joys of heaven, even the vision of God and Christ, and whatsoever the blessed here possess; these dainties are offered thee by the hand of Christ; he hath written the receipt in the promises of the gospel; he hath prepared the ingredients in heaven: only put forth the hand of faith, and feed upon them, and rejoice and live. The Lord saith to thee, as to Elijah,
cordials ? Herve also.(5) Dost'ins yet alive: becas
(f) John xiv. 19.
lon. Ho's in secret, (h) so cut the door, thalire
Arise' and eat, because the journey is too great for hee. Though it be not long, yet the way is miry; herefore obey his voice, arise and eat, and in the strength of that meat thou mayest go to the mount of God; and, like Moses, die in the mount, whither thor oest up; and say, as Simeon, Lord, now lettest thou hy servant depart in peace; for my eye of faith hath een thy salvation.(g)
s 18. (III.) Concerning the fittest place for heavenly ontemplation, it is sufficient to say, that the most conenient is some private retirement. Our spirits need very help, and to be freed from every hinderance in he work. If in private prayer Christ directs us to nter into our closet, and shut the door, that our Father ray see us in secret,(h) so should we do this in meditalon. How often did Christ himself retire to some mouniin, or wilderness, or other solitary place! I give not his advice for occasional meditation, but for that which
set and solemn. Therefore withdraw thyself from Il society, even that of godly men, that thou mayest while enjoy the society of thy Lord. If a student annot study in a crowd, who exerciseth only his invenon and memory; much less shouldest thou be in a rowd, who art to exercise all the powers of thy soul, nd upon an object so far above nature. We are fled so ir from superstitious solitude, that we have even cast ff the solitude of contemplative devotion. We seldom ad of God's appearing, by himself or by his angels, to hy of his prophets or saints in a crowd; but frequently hen they were alone. But observe for thyself, what lace best agrees with thy spirit, within doors or ithout. Isaac's example, in going out to meditate 1 the field, will, I am persuaded, best suit with most. ur Lord so much used a solitary garden, that even adas, when he came to betray him, knew where to nd him: and though he took his disciples thither with im, yet he was withdrawn from them for more secret evotions.(c) And though his meditation be not dictly named, but only his praying, yet it is very clearly
1) Luke ü. 29, 30. (h) Matt. vi. () Johu xviii. 1, 2. Luke xxii. 41.