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radise, which thou providedst for the harbour of innocence and boliness, was full of admirable beauty, pleasure, magnificence; but, if it be compared with this paradise above, which thou hast prepared for the everlasting entertainment of restored souls, how mean and beggarly it was! o match too unequal, of the best piece of earth with the highest state of the heaven of heavens!
In the earthly paradise, I find thine angels, the Cherubim; but it was to keep man off from that garden of delight, and from the Tree of Life in the midst of it: but, in this heavenly one, I find millions of thy Cherubim and Seraphim rejoicing at man's blessedness, and welcoming the glorified souls to their heaven. There, I find but the shadow of that, whereof the substance is here. There, we were so possessed of life, that yet we might forfeit it: here, is life, without all possibility of death. Temptation could find access thither: here, is nothing but a free and complete fruition of blessedness. There, were delights fit for earthly bodies: here, is glory, more than can be enjoyed of blessed souls. That was watered with four streams, muddy and impetuous: in this, is the pure river of the water of life, clear as chrystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. There, I find thee only walking in the cool of the day: here, manifesting thy Majesty continually. There, I see only a most pleasant orchard, set with all manner of varieties of flourishing and fruitful plants: here, I find also the city of God, infinitely rich and magnificent; the building of the wall of it of jasper; and the city itself pure gold, like unto clear glass; and the foundations of the wall garnished with all manner of precious stones.
All, that I can here attain to see, is the pavement of thy celestial habitation. And, Lord, how glorious it is! how bespangled with the glittering stars; for number, for magnitude equally admirable ! What is the least of them, but a world of light ? and what are all of them, but a confluence of so many thousand worlds of beauty and brightness, met in one firmament? And, if this floor of thy heavenly palace be thus richly set forth, oh, how infinite glory and magnificence must there needs be within! Thy Chosen Vessel, that had the privilege to be caught up thither, and to see that divine. state, whether with bodily or mental eyes, can express it no otherwise, than that it cannot possibly be expressed. No, Lord, it were not infinite, if it could be uttered. Thoughts go beyond words; yet even these come far short also. He, that saw it, says, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things, which God hath prepared for them that love him.
SECT. VII. His Love, in our Redemption from death and hell. Yet is thy love, O Saviour, so much more to be magnified of me, in this purchased glory; when I cast down mine eyes, and look into that horrible gulf of torment and eternal death, whence thou hast rescued my poor soul.
Even out of the greatest contentment which this world is capable to afford unto mankind, to be preferred to the joys of heaven, is an unconceivable advantage; but, from the depth of misery to be raised up unto the highest pitch of felicity, adds so much more to the blessing, as the evil from which we are delivered is more intolerable.
O Blessed Jesu, what a hell is this, out of which thou hast freed me! what dreadful horror is here! what darkness! what confusion! what anguish of souls, that would, and cannot die! what howling, and yelling, and shrieking, and gnashing! what everlasting burn. ings! what never slaking tortures! what merciless fury of unweari. able tormentors! what utter despair of any possibility of release! what exquisiteness, what infiniteness of pains, that cannot, yet must be endured!
O God, if the impotent displeasure of weak men have devised so subtle engines of revenge upon their fellow-mortals, for but petty offences; how can we but think_thine infinite justice and wisdom must have ordained such forms and ways of punishment, for heinous sins done against thee, as may be answerable to the violation of thy Divine Majesty ? Oh, therefore, the most fearful and deplored condition of damned spirits, never to be ended, never to be abated! Oh, those unquenchable flames; Oh, that burning Tophet, deep and large; and those streams of brimstone, wherewith it is kindled! Oh, that worm ever gnawing and tearing the heart; never dying, never sated! O ever-living death; () ever-renewing torments; O never pitied, never intermitted damnation!
From hence, () Saviour, from hence it is, that thou hast fetched my condemned soul. This is the place, this is the state, out of which thou hast snatched me up into thy heaven. () love and mercy, more deep than those depths, from which thou hast saved me; more high than that heaven, to which thou hast advanced me!
love and can these deadly hey blessed angehou ha
SECT. VIII. Christ's Love, in giving us the Guard of his Angels. Now, whereas in my passage from this state of death towards the fruition of immortal glory, I am waylaid by a world of dangers ; partly, through my own sinful aptness to miscarriages; and, partly, through the assaults of my spiritual enemies; how hath thy tender Jove and compassion, o blessed Jesu, undertaken to secure my soul from all these deadly perils; both without, and within: without, by the guardiance of thy blessed angels; within, by the pow. erful inoperation of thy good Spirit which thou hast given me!
Oh, that mine eyes could be opened, with Elisha's servant, that I might see those troops of heavenly soldiers, those horses and chariots of fire, wherewith thou hast encompassed me! every one of which is able to chase away a whole host of the powers of dark
Who am J, Lord, who am I, that, upon thy gracious appoint, ment, these glorious spirits should still watch over me, in mine up
rising and down lying; in my going out and coming in? that they should bear me in their arms; that they should shield me with their protection? Behold, such is their majesty and glory, that some of thy holiest servants have hardly been restrained from worshipping them: yet, so great is thy love to man, as that thou hast ordained them to be ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation. Surely, they are in nature far more excellent than man; as being spiritual substances, pure intelligencers, meet to stand before the throne of thee the King of Glory: what a mercy then is this, that thou, who wouldest humble thyself to be lower than they in the susception of our nature, art pleased to humble them in their offices to the guardianship of man, so far as to call them the angels of thy little ones upon earth! How hast thou blessed us; and how should we bless thee, in so mighty and glorious attendants!
SECT. IX. His Love, in giving us his Holy Spirit. NEITHER hast thou, () God, merely turned us over to the protection of those tutelary spirits; but hast held us still in thine own hand: having not so strongly defenced us without, as thou hast done within: since that, is wrought by thine angels; this, by the Spirit.
O the sovereign and powerful influences of thy Holy Ghost: whereby we are furnished with all saving graces, strengthened against all temptations; heartened against all our doubts and fears; enabled both to resist and overcome; and, upon our victories, crowned!
() divine bounty, far beyond the reach of wonder! So God, the Father, loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. So God, the Son, loved the world of his elect, that he gave unto them the Holy Spirit of promise; whereby they are sealed unto the day of redemption; whereby, according to the riches of his glory, they are strengthened with might in the inner man; by the virtue whereof shed abroad in their hearts, they are enabled to cry Abba, Father. () gifts; either of which are more worth than many worlds; yet, through thy goodness, O Lord, both of them mine. How rich is my soul, through thy divine munificence; how over-laid with mercies ! How safe, in thine Almighty tuition ! How happy, in thy blessed possession!
Now, therefore, I dare, in the might of my God, bid defiance to all the gates of hell. Do your worst, () all ye principalities and powers, and rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickednesses in high places; do your worst: God is mine, and I am his: I am above your inalice, in the right of him, whose I am. It is true, I am weak; but he is omnipotent: I am sinful; but he is infinite holiness: that power, that holiness, in his gracious application, is mine.
It is my Saviour's love, that hath made this happy exchange, of his righteousness for my sin; of his power, for my infirmity. IVho,
justifion, or distay, in od us: so nor thin ereature, s'our 10 God, bo prom it,
through him. Nay, in a gersecution, on the love of them it is God, the
MEDITATION ON THE LOVE OF CHRIST. then, shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God, that justifieth. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or fainine, ör nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him, that loved us: so as, neither death, nor life, nor ungels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Lo where this love is placed: were it our love of God, how easily might the power of a prevalent temptation separate us from it, or it from us! For, alas, what hold is to be taken of our affections; which, like unto water, are so much more apt to freeze, because they have been heated? but it is the love of God to us in Christ Jesus, which is ever as himself, constant and eternal. He can no more cease to love us, than to be himself: he cannot but be unchangeable: we cannot but be happy.
SECT. X. Our sense and improvement of Christ's Love, in all the former parti.
culars: and, first, in respect of the Inequality of the Persons. All this, O Dear Jesu, hast thou done, all this hast thou suffered, for men. And, oh now for a heart, that may be some ways answerable to thy mercies! Surely, even good natures hate to be in debt for love; and are ready to repay lavours with interest.
Oh for a soul sick of love; yea, sick unto death! Why should I, how can I, be any otherwise, any whit less affected, ( Saviour ? This only sickness is my health: this death is my life: and, not to be thus sick, is to be dead in sins and trespasses. I am rock, and not flesh; if I be not wounded with these heavenly darts. Ardent affection is apt to attract love, even where is little or no beauty; and excellent beauty is no less apt to enflame the heart, where there is no answer of affection : but, when these two meet together, what breast can hold against them? and here they are both in an eminent degree. Thou canst say even of thy poor Church, though labouring under many imperfections, Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart, with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck : how fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! And canst thou, O Blessed Saviour, be so taken with the incurious and homely features of thy faithful ones; and shall not we much more be altogether enamoured of thine absolute and divine beauty? of whom every believing soul can say, My beloved is white and ruddy; the chiefest among ten thousand: his head is as the inost fine gold: his eyes are as the eyes of doves, by the rivers of waters: his cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers : his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling inyrrh, &c. It hath pleased thee, O Lord, out of the sweet ravishments of thy heavenly love, to say to thy poor Church, Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me: but, oh let me say unto thee, - Turn thine eyes to me, that they may overcome me:" I would be thus ravished,
yes, with one canst thou, o Beof thy faithful thine absolute ang
me Altogether endeving soul can say is head is as
other enthiness arhen I was thee, wtby grace, but trimmedon take
thus overcome: I would be thus out of myself, that I might be all in thee.
Thou lovedst me, before I had being: let me, now that I have a being, be wholly taken up with thy love: let me set all my soul upon thee, that gavest me being; upon thee, who art the eternal and absolute Self-Being; who hast said, and only could say, I am that I am. Alas, Lord, we are nothing, but what thou wilt have us; and cease to be, when thou callest in that breath of life, which thou hast lent us: thou art that incomprehensibly glorious, and infinite self-existing spirit; from eterniity, in eternity, to eternity; in and from whom all things are. It is thy wonderful mercy, that thou wouldest condescend so low, as to vouchsafe to be loved of my wretchedness: of whom thou mightest justly require and expect nothing, but terror and trembling. It is my happiness, that I may be allowed to love a Majesty so infinitely glorious. Oh, let me not be so far wanting to my own felicity, as to be less than ravished with thy love.
. SECT. XI. A further enforcement of our Love to Christ, in respect of our Ur
worthiness and his Sufferings, and prepared Glory. Thou lovedst me, when I was deformed, loathly, forlorn, and miserab'e: shall I not nuw love thee, when thou hast freed me, and decked me with the ornaments of thy graces ? Lord Jesu, who should enjoy the fruit of thine own favours, but thyself ? How shamefully injurious were it, that, when thou hast trimmed up my soul, it should prostitute itself to the love of the world! Oh, take my heart to thee alone: possess thyself of that, which none can claim but thyself.
Thou lovedst me, when I was a professed rebel against thee; and receivedst me, not to mercy only, but to the endearment of a subject, a servant, a son: where should I place the improvement of the thankful affections of my loyalty and duty, but upon thee?
Thou, O God, hast so loved us, that thou wouldest become the Son of Man, for our sakes; that we, who are the sons of men, might become the sons of God. Oh, that we could put off the man, to put on Christ; that we could neglect and hate ourselves for thee, that hast so dearly loved us, as to lay aside thy heavenly glory for us!
How shall I be vile enough, O Saviour, for thee; who, for my sake, being the Lord of Life and Glory, wouldest take upon thee the shape of a servant ! How should I welcome that poverty, which thy choice hath sanctified! How resolutely shall I grapple with the temptations of that enemy, whom thou hast foiled for me! How cheerfully should I pass through those miseries and that death, which thou hast sweetened! With what comfortable as. surance shall I look upon the face of that merciful justice, which thou hast satisfied!
But oh, what a blessed inheritance hast thou, in thine infinite love, provided for me! an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled,