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^ 22. (2) Heavenly contemplation is also promoted by speaking to God in prayer, as well as by speaking to ourselves in soliloquy. Ejaculatory prayer may very properly be intermixed with meditation, as a part of die duty. How often do we find David, in the same psalm, sometimes pleading with his soul, and sometimes with God? The apostle bids us speak to ourselves in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs;(v) and no doubt we may also speak to God in them. This keeps the soul sensible of the divine presence, and tends greatly to quicken and raise it. As God is the highest object of onr thoughts, so our viewing of him, speaking to him, and pleading with him, more elevates the soul, and excites the affections, than any other part of meditation.Though we remain unaffected, while we plead the case with ourselves; yet when we turn our speech to God. it may strike us with awe; and the holiness and majesty of him whom we speak to, may cause both the matter and words to pierce the deeper. When *M read, that Isaac went out to meditate in the field, the margin says to pray: for the Hebrew word signiries both. Thus in our meditations, to intermix soliloqny and prayer, (sometimes speaking to our own hearts, and sometimes to God,) is, I apprehend, the highest step we can advance to in this heavenly work. N*1 should we imagine it will be as well to take up witi prayer alone, and lay aside meditation. For they art distinct duties, and must both of them be performed. We need one, as well as the other, and therefore shall wrong ourselves, by neglecting either. Besides, the mixture of them, like music, will be more engaging as the one serves to put life into the other. And onr speaking to ourselves in meditation, should go before our speaking to God in prayer. For want of attending to this due order, men speak to God with farlesreverence and affection than they would speak to »p angel, if he should appear to them; or to a judge,'1 they were speaking for their lives. Speaking to 'lie God of heaven in prayer, is a weightier duty than most are aware of.
Heavenly Contemplation assisted by sensible Objects, and guarded against a treacherous Heart.
\ 1. As it is difficult to maintain a lively impression of heavenly things, therefore § 2. (I.) heavenly contemplation may be assisted by sensible objects; §3. (1) if we draw strong suppositions from sense; and § 4—11. (2) if we compare the objects of sense with the objects of faith, several instances of which are produced. | 12. (II.) Heavenly contemplation may also be guarded against a treacherous heart, by considering, § 13, 14.
(1) the great backwardness of the heart to this duty, § 15,
(2) its trifling in it, $ 16. (3) its wandering from it, | 17. (4) its too abruptly putting an end to it.
§ 1. The most difficult part of heavenly contemplation » to maintain a lively sense of heavenly things upon «r hearts. It is easier, merely to think of heaven a' rltole day, than to be lively and affectionate in those houghts a quarter of an hour. Fai1h is imperfect, for' ,'e are renewed but in part; and goes against a world ( resistance; and being supernatural, is prone to deline and languish, unless it be continually excited, ense is strong, according to the strength of the flesh; nd being natural, continues while nature continues. he objects of faith are far off; but those of sense are. igh. We must go as far as heaven for our joys. To Jjoice in what we never saw, nor ever knew the man. iat did see, and this upon a mere promise in the Bible, i not so easy as to rejoice in what we see and possess. t must therefore be a point of spiritual prudence, to all in sense to the assistance of faith. It will be a good ork, if we can make friends of these usual enemies, iul make them instruments for raising us to God, which re so often the means of drawing us from him. Why ath God given us either our senses, or their common •>jects, if they might not be serviceable to his praise? V liy doth the Holy Spirit describe the glory of the Jew Jerusalem, in expressions that are even grateful
to the flesh? Is it that we might think heaven to be made of gold and pearl? or that saints and angels eat and drink? No, but to help us to conceive of them as we are able, and to use these borrowed phrases as a glass, in which we must see the things themselves imperfectly represented, till we come to an immediate and perfect sight.—And besides showing how heavenly contemplation may be assisted by sensible objects, —this chapter will also show how it may be preserved from a waudering heart.
§ 2. (I.) In order that heavenly contemplation may be assisted by sensible objects, let me only advise—to draw strong suppositions from sense, and to compare the objects of sense with the objects of faith.
$ 3. (1) For the helping of thy affections in heavenly contemplation, draw as strong suppositions as possible from thy senses. Think on the joys above, as boldly as scripture hath expressed them. Bring down thy conceptions to the reach of sense. Both loTe and joy are promoted by familiar acquaintance. When we attempt to think of God and glory without the scripture manne; of representing them, we are lost, and have nothing to fix our thoughts upon; we set them so far from us that our thoughts are strange, and we are ready to say, what is above us, is nothing to us. To conceive of God and glory, only as above our conception, will beget but little love; or as above our love, will produce little joy. Therefore put Christ no farther from you than he hath put himself, lest the divine nature be again inaccessible Think of Christ as in our own glorified nature. Thinl of glorified saints, as men made perfect. Suppose thyself a companion with John, in his survey of the Ne* Jerusalem, and viewing the thrones, the majesty, the heavenly hosts, the shining splendour which he sa« Suppose thyself his fellow-traveller into the celestial kingdom; and that thou hadst seen all the saints in their white robes, with palms in their hands; and that tho" hadst heard those sougs of Moses, and of the Lamb. If thou hadst really seen and heard these things, in w hat a rapture wouldst thou have been! And the more sffl
ously thou puttest this supposition to thyself, the more will thy meditation elevate thy heart. Do not, like the papists, draw them in pictures; but get the liveliest picture of them in thy mind that thou possibly canst, by contemplating the scripture account of them, till thou canst say, "Methinks I see a glimpse of glory! Methinks I hear the shouts of joy and praise, and even standby Abraham and David, Peter and Paul, and other triumphant souls! Methinks I even see the Son of God appearing in the clouds, and the world standing at his bar to receive their doom; and hear him say, Come, ye blessed of my Father; and see them go rejoicing into the joy of their Lord! My very dreams of these things have sometimes greatly affected me; and should not these just suppositions much more affect me? What if I had seen, with Paul, those unutterable things? Or, with Stephen, had seen heaven opened, and Christ sitting at the right hand of God? Surely that one sight was worth his storm of stones. What if I had seen as Micaiah did, the Lord sitting upon his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on Jiis left? Such things did these men of God see; and I shall shortly see far more than ever they saw till they were loosed from the flesh, as 1 must be." Thus you see bow it excites our affections in this heavenly work, if we make strong and familiar suppositions from our bodily senses, concerning the state of blessedness, as the Spirit hath, in condescending language, expressed it.
§ 4. (2) The other way in which our senses may promote this heavenly work, is, by comparing the objects of sense with the objects of faith. As for instance,— You may strongly argue with your hearts, from the corrupt delights of sensual men, to the joys above.— Think with yourselves, "Is it such a delight to a sinner to do wickedly? And will it not be delightful indeed to live with God? Hath the drunkard such delights in his cups, that the fears of damnation will not make him forsake them? Will the whoremaster rather part with his credit, estate and salvation, than with his brutish delights? If the way to hell can afford such