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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 the 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 our 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, inay cause both the matter and words to pierce the deeper. When we read, that Isaac went out to meditate in the field, the margin says to pray: for the Hebrew word signifies both. Thus in our meditations, to intermix soliloquy 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. Nor should we imagine it will be as well to take up with prayer alone, and lay aside meditation. For they are 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 our 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 far less reverence and affection than they would speak to an angel, if he should appear to them; or to a judge, if they were speaking for their lives. Speaking to the God of heaven in prayer, is a weightier duty than most are aware of.
(o) Ephes. v. 19.
CHAP. XV. Hcavenly Contemplation assisted by sensible Objects,
and guarded against a treacherous Heart. ș 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, s 15. (2) its trifling in it, $ 16. (3) its wandering from it, Š 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 ur hearts. It is easier, merely to think of heaven a vhole day, than to be lively and affectionate in those houghts a quarter of an hour. Faith is imperfect, for ve are renewed but in part;' and goes against a world f resistance; and being supernatural, is prone to de. line and languish, unless it be continually excited. lense is strong, 'according to the strength of the flesh; nd being natural, continues while nature continues. The objects of faith are far off; but those of sense are igh. We must go as far as heaven for our joys. To ejoice in what we never saw, nor ever knew the man hat did see, and this upon a mere promise in the Bible,
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 rork, if we can make friends of these usual enemies, nd 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 hjects, if they might not be serviceable to his praise? Vhy doth the Holy Spirit describe the glory of the New 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 heaven. ly contemplation may be assisted by sensible objects, -this chapter will also show how it may be preserved from a wandering heart.
§ 2. (1.) 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 love and joy are promoted by familiar acquaintance. When we attempt to think of God and glory without the scripture manner 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. Think of glorified saints, as men made perfect. Suppose thyself a companion with John, in his survey of the New Jerusalem, and viewing the thrones, the majesty, the heavenly hosts, the shining splendour which he saw. 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 thou hadst heard those songs of Moses, and of the Lamb. If thou hadst really seen and heard these things, in what a rapture wouldst thou have been! And the more seri.
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 stand by 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 his 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 I must be.” Thus you see how 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
pleasure, what then are the pleasures of the saints in heaven! If the covetous man hath so much pleasure in his wealth, and the ambitious man in places of power and titles of honour; what then have the saints in everlasting treasures, and in heavenly honours, where we shall be set above principalities and powers, and be made the glorious spouse of Christ! How delightfully will the voluptuous follow their recreations from morning to night, or sit at their cards and dice, nights and days together! O the delight we shall have when we come to our rest, in beholding the face of the living God, and singing forth praises unto him, and the Lamb!” Compare also the delights above, with the lawful and moderate delights of sense. Think with thyself, “ How sweet is food to my taste when I am hungry! especially if it be, as Isaac said, such as I love, which my temperance and appetite incline to! What delight then must my soul have in feeding upon Christ, the living bread, and in eating with him at his table in his kingdom! Was a mess of pottage so sweet to Esau in his hunger, that he would buy it at so dear a rate as his birthright? How highly then should I value this never perishing food! How pleasant is drink in the extremity of thirst, scarcely to be expressed; enough to make the strength of Samson revive! O how delightful it will be to my soul to drink of that fountain of living water, which whoso drinketh it shall thirst no more! How delightful are grateful odours to the smell; or music to the ear; or beautiful sights to the eye! What fragrance then hath the precious ointment, which is poured on the head of our glorified Saviour, and which must be poured on the head of all his saints, and will fill all heaven with its odour! How delightful is the music of the heavenly host! How pleasing will be those real beauties above! How glorious the building not made with hands, the house that God himself dwells in, the walks and prospects in the city of God, and the celestial paradise !"
§ 5. Compare also the delights above, with those we find in natural knowledge. These are far beyond