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implied; for his soul is first made sorrowful with the bitter meditations on his sufferings and death, and then he poureth it out in prayer.(k) So that Christ had his accustomed place, and consequently accustomed duty; and so must we; he hath a place that is solitary, whither he retireth himself, even from his own disciples; and so must we; his meditations go further than his thoughts, they affect and pierce his heart and soul; and so must ours. Only there is a wide difference in the ooject: Christ meditates on the sufferings that our sins had deserved, so that the wrath of his Father passed through all his soul; but we are to meditate on the glory he hath purchased, that the love of the Father, and the joy of the Spirit, may enter at our thoughts, and revive our affections, and overflow our souls.
$ 19. (IV.) I am next to advise thee concerning the preparations of thy heart for this heavenly contemplation. The success of the work much depends on the frame of thy heart. When man's heart had nothing in it to grieve the Spirit, it was then the delightful habitation of his Maker. God did not quit his residence there till man expelled him by unworthy provocations, There was no shyness or reserve till the heart grew sinful, and too loathsome a dungeon for God to delight in. And was this soul reduced to its former innocency, Gou would quickly return to his former habitation; yea, so far as it is renewed and repaired by the Spirit, and purged from its lusts, and beautified with his image, the Lord will yet acknowledge it as his own: Christ will manifest himself unto it, and the Spirit will take it for his temple and residence. So far as the heart is qualified for conversing with God, so far it usually enjoys him. Therefore, with all diligence keep thy heart, for out of it are the issues of life. Ő More particularly,
$ 20. (1) Get thy heart as clear from the world as thou canst. Wholly lay by the thoughts of thy business, troubles, enjoyments, and every thing that may take up any room in thy soul. Get it as empty as thou possibly canst, that it may be the more capable of being
repair with hi
illed with God. If thou couldest perform some outward duty with a piece of thy heart, while the other is absent, yet this duty above all I am sure thou canst not. When thou shalt go into the mount of contemplation, hou wilt be like the covetous man at the heap of gold, vho, when he might take as much as he could, lanented that he was able to carry no more; so thou vilt find so much of God and glory as thy narrow heart s able to contain, and almost nothing to hinder thy all possession, but the incapacity of thy own spirit. l'hen thou wilt think, “ O that this understanding, nd these affections, could contain more! It is more ny unfitness than any thing else, that even this place s not my heaven. God is in this place, and I know I not. This mountain is full of chariots of fire, but nine eyes are shut, and I cannot see them. O the vords of love Christ hath to speak, and wonders of ove he hath to show, but I cannot bear them yet! leaven is ready for me, but my heart is unready for eaven.” Therefore, Reader, seeing thy enjoyment of sod in this contemplation much depends on the calacity and disposition of thy heart, seek him here, if ver, with all thy soul. Thrust not Christ into the table and the manger, as if thou hadst better guests or the chief rooms. Say io all thy worldly business nd thoughts, as Christ to his disciples, Sit ye here, vhile I go and pray yonder. Or as Abraham to his ervants when he went to offer Isaac, Abide ye here, nd I will go yonder and worship, and come again to ou. Even as the priests thrust king Uzziah out of he temple where he presumed to burn incense, when hey saw the leprosy upon him; so do thou 'thrust hose thoughts from the temple of thy heart, which ave the badge of God's prohibition upon them.
☺ 21. (2) Be sure to set upon this work with the reatest solemnity of heart and mind. There is no triing in holy things. God will be sanctified in them that ome nigh him.(m) These spiritual, excellent, soul-raising uties, are, if well used, most profitable; but when used
(m) Lev. X. S.
unfaithfully, most dangerous. Labour, therefore, to have the deepest apprehensions of the presence of God, and his incomprehensible greatness. If queen Esther must not draw near, till the king hold out the sceptre; think then with what reverence thou shouldest approach him, who made the worlds with the word of his mouth, who upholds the earth as in the palm of his hand, who keeps the sun, moon, and stars, in their courses, and who sets bounds to the raging sea. Thou art going to converse with him, before whom the earth will quake, and devils do tremble, and at whose bar thou and all the world must shortly stand, and be finally judged. O think, “ I shall then have lively apprehensions of his majesty. My drowsy spirits will then be awakened, and my irreverence be laid aside; and why should I not now be roused with the sense of his greatness, and the dread of his name possess my soul?” Labour also to apprehend the greatness of the work which thou attemptest, and to be deeply sensible both of its importance and excellency. If thou wast pleading for thy life at the bar of an earthly judge, thou wouldest be serious; and yet that would be a trifle to this. If thou wast engaged in such a work as David against Goliath, on which the welfare of a kingdom depended; in itself considered, it were nothing to this. Suppose thou wast going to such a wrestling as Jacob's, or to see the sight which the three disciples saw in the mount; how seriously, how reverently, wouldest thou both approach and behold! If but an angel from heaven should appoint to meet thee, at the same time and place of thy contemplations; with what dread wouldest thou be filled! Consider then, with what a spirit thou shouldest meet the Lord, and with what seriousness and awe thou shouldest daily converse with him. Consider also the blessed issue of the work: if it succeed, it will be thy admission into the presence of God, and the beginning of thy eternal glory on earth; a means to make thee live above the rate of other men, and fix thee in the next room to the angels themselves, that thou mayest both live and die joyfully. The prize being so great, thy preparations should be answerable. There is none on earth live such a life of joy and blessedness, as those that are acquainted with this heavenly conversation. The joys of all other men are but like a child's plaything, a fool's laughter, or a sick man's dream of health. He that trades for heaven is the only gainer, and he that neglects it is the only loser. How seriously, therefore, should this work be done!
What use heavenly Contemplation makes of Consideration,
Affections, Soliloquy, and Prayer.
§ 1. The reader is invited to engage in heavenly contemplation;
§ 2. and to that end is, (I.) directed in the use of consideration; $3-3. the great influence of which over the heart is represented in several instances: $ 9. Then (II.) it is shown how heavenly contemplation is promoted by the affections; particularly, § 10—12. (1) by love, § 13. (2) desire, $ 14. (3) hope, s 15. (4) courage or boldness, $ 16–18. and (5) joy. § 19. A caution is added concerning this exercise of the affections. $ 20—22. (III.) The chapter concludes with some account of the usefulness of soliloquy and prayer, in heavenly contemplation.
♡ 1. HAVING set thy heart in tune, we now coine to the music itself. Having got an appetite, now approach to the feast, and delight thy soul as with marrow and fatness. Come, for all things are now ready. Heaven and Christ, and the exceeding weight of glory, are before you. Do not make light of this invitation, nor begin to make excuses; whatever thou art, rich or poor, though in alms-houses or hospitals, though in highways and hedges, my commission is, if possible, to compel you to come in; and blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God! The manna lieth about your tents; walk out, gather it up, take it home and feed upon it. In order to this I am only to direct you-how to use your considerationand affections-your soliloquy and prayer.
§ 2. (I.) Consideration is the great instrument by which this heavenly work is carried on. This
manna liethorat bread in the kinodd; and blessed is must be voluntary, and not forced. Some men consider unwillingly: so God will make the wicked consider their sins, when he shall set them in order before their eyes ;(n) so shall the damned consider of the excellency of Christ, whom they once despised, and of the eternal joys which they have foolishly lost. Great is the power which consideration hath for moving the affections, and impressing things on the heart; as will appear by the following particulars.
3. (1) Consideration, as it were, opens the door between the head and the heart. The understanding having received truths, lays them up in the memory, and consideration conveys them from thence to the affections. What excellency would there be in much learning and knowledge, if the obstructions between the head and the heart were but opened, and the affections did but correspond to the understanding! He is usually the best scholar whose apprehension is quick, clear, and tenacious; but he is usually the best Christian, whose apprehension is the deepest and most affectionate, and who has the readiest passages, not so much from the ear to the brain, as from that to the heart, And though the Spirit be the principal cause, yet on our part this passage must be opened by consideration.
§ 4. (2) Consideration presents to the affections those things which are most important. The most de lightful object does not entertain where it is not seen, nor the most joyful news affect him that does not hear it: but consideration presents to our view those things which were as absent, and brings them to the eye and ear of the soul. Are not Christ and glory affecting objects? Would they not work wonders upon the soul, if they were but clearly discovered, and our ap prehensions of them were in some measure answerable to their worth? It is consideration that presents them to us. This is the Christian's perspective, by which he can see from earth to heaven.
5. (3) Consideration also presents the most important things in the most affecting way. Consideration reasons the case with a man's own heart. When a be
(n) Psalm 1. 21, 22.