« הקודםהמשך »
and believing, and when he hath returned, hath found thee asleep, and yet he hath covered thy neglect with a mantle of love, and gently pleaded for thee, that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak! Can thy heart be cold, when thou thinkest of this ? Can it contain, when thou rememberest those boundless compassions? Thus, Reader, hold forth the goodness of Christ to thy beart; plead thus with thy frozen soul, till with David thou canst say, My heart was hot within me; while I was musing the fire burned. If this will not rouse up thy love, thou hast all Christ's personal excellencies to add, all his particular mercies to thyself, all his sweet and near relations to thee, and the happiness of thy everlasting abode with him. Only follow them close to thy heart. Deal with it as Christ did with Peter, when he thrice asked him, Lovest thou me? till he was grieved, and answers, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee: So grieve and shame thy heart out of its stupidity, till thou canst truly say, I know, and my Lord knows, that I love him.
§ 13. (2) The next affection to be exercised in heavenly contemplation, is desire. The object of it is goodness considered as absent, or not yet attained. If love be hot, desire will not be cold. Think with thyself " What have I seen? O the incomprehensible glory! O the transcendent beauty! O blessed souls that now enjoy it! who see a thousand times more clearly, what I have seen at a distance, and through dark interposing clouds. What a difference between my state and Theirs! I am sighing, and they are singing; I am offending, and they are pleasing God. I am a spectacle of pity, like a Job or a Lazarus, but they are perfect and without blemish. I am here entangled in the love of the world, while they are swallowed up in the love of God. They have none of my cares and fears; they weep not in secret; they languish not in sorrows; these tears are wiped away from their eyes. O happy, a thousand times, happy souls! Alas, that I must dwell in sinful flesh, when my brethren and companions dwell with God! How far out of sight and reach of their high enjoy. ment do I here live! What poor feeble thoughts have I of God! What cold affections towards him! How little have I of that life, that love, that joy, in which they continually live! How soon doth that little depart, and leave me in thicker darkness! Now and then a spark falls upon my heart, and while I gaze upon it, it dies, or rather my cold heart quenches it. But they have their light in his light, and drink continually at the spring of joys. Here we are vexing each other with quarrels, when they are of one heart and voice, and daily sound forth the hallelujahs of heaven with perfect harmony. O what a feast hath my faith beheld, and what a famine is yet in my spirit! O blessed souls! I may not, I dare not, envy your happiness; I rather rejoice in my brethren's prosperity, and am glad to think of the day when I shall be admitted into your fellowship. I wish not to displace you, but to be so happy as to be with you. Why must I stay, and weep, and wait? My Lord is gone: he hath left this earth, and is entered into his glory; my brethren are gone; my friends are there; my house, my hope, my all, is there. When I am so far distant from my God, wonder not what cileth me if I now complain: an ignorant Micah will lo so for his idol, and shall not my soul do so for the iving God? Had I no hope of enjoyment, I would go ride myself in the deserts, and lie and howl in some obcure wilderness, and spend my days in fruitless wishes; ut since it is the land of my promised rest, and the tate I must myself be advanced to, and my soul draws lear, and is almost at it, I will love and long, I will ook and desire, I will be breathing, 'How long, Lord! low long wilt thou suffer this soul to pant and groan, nd not open to him who waits, and longs to be with hee!” Thus, Christian Rcader, let thy thoughts aspire, ill thy soul longs, as David, Othat one would give me o drink of the wells of salvation! And till thou canst say s he did, I have longed for thy salvation, O Lord.(0) Ind as the mother and brethren of Christ, when they ould not come at him, because of the multitude, sent
culties, der sufferings, hope. This helncercised in her
to hiin, saying, Thy mother and brethren stand without, desiring to see thee; so let thy message to him be, and he will own thee; for he hath said, They that hear my word, and do it, are my mother and my brethren.(p)
j 14. (3) Another affection to be exercised in heavenly contemplation, is hope. This helps to support the soul under sufferings, animates it to the greatest difficulties, gives it firmness in the most shaking trials, enlivens it in duties, and is the very spring that sets all the wheels a-going. Who would believe or strive for heaven, if it were not for the hope that he hath to obtain it? Who would pray, but for the hope to prevail with God? If your hope dies, your duties die, your endeavours die, your joys die, and your soul dies. And if your hope be not in exercise, but asleep, it is next to dead. Therefore, Christian Reader, when thou art winding up thy affections to heaven, forget not to give one lift to thy hope. Think thus, and reason thus with thy own heart: Why should I not confidently and comfortably hope, when my soul is in the hands of so compassionate a Saviour, and when the kingdom is at the disposal of so bountiful a God? Did he ever discover the least backwardness to my good, or inclination to my ruin? Hath he not sworn, that He delights not in the death of him that dieth, but rather that he should repent and live? Have not all his dealings witnessed the same? Did he not mind me of my danger, when I never feared it, because he would have me escape it? Did he not mind me of my happiness, when I had no thoughts of it, because he would have me enjoy it? How often hath he drawn ine to himself, and his Christ, when I have drawn backward! how hath his Spirit incessantly solicited my heart! And would he have done all this if he had been willing that I should perish? Should I not hope if an honest man had promised me something in his power? And shall I not hope when I have the covenant and oath of God? It is true, the glory is out of sight; we have not beheld the mansions of the saints; but is not the promise of God more certain than our
(p) Luke viji. 20, 21.
sight? We must not be saved by sight, but by hope, and hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.(9) I have been ashamed of my hope in an arm of flesh, but hope in the promise of God maketh not ashamed.(r) In my greatest sufferings I will say, The Lord is my portion, therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord. For the Lord will not cast off for ever. But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.(s) Though I languish and die, yet will I hope; for the righteous hath hope in his death.(t) Though I must lie down in dust and darkness, yet there my flesh shall rest in hope.(u) And when my fiesh hath nothing to rejoice in, yet will I hold fast the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end;(v) for the hope of the righteous shall be gladness.(w) Indeed, if I was niyself to satisfy divine justice, then there had been no hope; but Christ hath brought in a better hope, by the which we draw nigh unto God.(x) Or, if I had to do with a feeble creature, there were small hope; for how could he raise this body from the dust, and lift me above the sun? But what is this to the Almighty power, which made the heavens and the earth out of nothing? Cannot that power which raised Christ from the dead, raise me? and that which hath glorified the Head, glorify, also the members ? Doubtless by the blood of his covenant, God will send forth his prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water; therefore will I turn to the strong as a prisoner of hope.(y)
15. (4) Courage or boldness is another affection to be exercised in heavenly contemplation. It leadeth to resolution, and concludeth in action. When you have raised your love, desire, and hope, go on and think thus with yourself: “Will God indeed dwell with
(9) Rom. viii. 24, 25. (r) Rom. v. 5. (s) Lam. iii. 24–26, 31, 32. (t) Prov. xiv. 32. (u) Psalm xvi. 9. (v) Heb. ïïi. 6 (w) Prov. x. 28. (x) Heb. vii. 19. (y) Zech. ix. 11, 12.
iben? And is there such a glory within the reach of hope? Why then do I not lay hold upon it? Where is the cheerful vigour of my spirit? Why do I not gird up the loins of my mind?(z) Why dont I set upon my enemies on every side, and valiantly break through all resistance? What should stop me, or intimidate me? Is God with me or against ine in the work? Will Christ stand by me, or will he not?. If God and Christ be for vre, who can be against me?(a) In the work of sin, almost all things are ready to help us, and only God and his servants are against us; yet how ill doth that work prosper in our hands! But in my course to heaven, almost all things are against me, but God is for me; and therefore how happily doth the work succeed! Do I set upon this work in my own strength, or rather in the strength of Christ my Lord? And cannot I do all things through him that strengthens me?(6) Was he ever foiled by an enemy? He hath indeed been assaulted, but was he ever conquered ? Why then doth my flesh urge une with the difficulties of the work? Is any thing too hard for Omnipotence? May not Peter boldly walk on the sea, if Christ give the word of command? If he begin to sink, is it from the weakness of Christ, or the smallness ef his faith? Do I not well deserve to be turned into hell, if mortal threats can drive me thither? Do I not well deserve to be shut out of heaven, if I will be frighted from thence with the reproach of tongues? What if it were father, or inother, or husband, or wife, or the nearest friend I have in the world, if they may be called friends, that would draw me to damnation, should I not forsake all that will keep me from Christ? Will their friendship countervail the enmity of God, or be any comfort to iny condemned soul? Shall I be yielding to the desires of men, and only harden myself against the Lord ? Let them beseech me upon their kness, I will scorn to stop my course to behold then; I will shut my eyes to their cries: Let them flatter or frown, let them draw out tongues or swords against me; I am resolved in the strength of Christ to break through and look upon them as dust: If they would entice me
(z) 1 Pet. i. 15. (a) Rom. viii. 31. (6) Phil. iv. 18.