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be only with these. Let those other be never so faithful, yet they are uncertain; be their will never so good, yet their power is limited: these are never but at hand; never but able and willing to make and keep thee happy. O my God, thou seest how subject I am to distractions: oh, hold me close to thee: let me enter into the same company here in my pilgrimage, which I shall for ever enjoy hereafter in my home.
LOVE-UNCHANGEABLE. OUR younger years are wont to be delighted with variety; and to be much atfected to a change, although to the worse: the child is better pleased with his new coat, though the old be far handsomer: whereas age and experience fixeth our desires; and teacherb us to set the greatest value upon those good things, wherewith we have been longest acquainted. Yea, it is the general disposition of nature, to be cloyed with continued blessings; and, upon long fruition, to complain of that good, which we first commended for pleasing and beneficial. What could relish better with the Israelites, the first morning, than the angels' food, which fell down from heaven every day about their camp? the taste whereof was like to wafers made with honey; Exod. xvi. 13. Deut. viii. 3. Exod. xvi. 31. If we stay but a while, we shall, ere many years, hear them calling for the onions and garlick of Egypt; and crying out, Now gur soul is dried away; there is nothing but this Manna before our eyes; Num. xi. 6. Our wanton appetite is apt to be weary of the best blessings, both of earth and heaven, and to nauseate with store: neither is any thing more tedious to us, than the enjoined repetition of a daily-tasked devotion. But, contrarily, grace endears all blessings to us, by their continuance; and heightens our affections, where they are rightly placed, by the length of the time of their enjoying. () God, it is thy mercy, that thou hast vouchsafed to allow me an early interest in thee, even from my tender years: the more and longer I have known thee, the more cause have I still found to love thee, and adore thee. Thou art ever one and unchangeable: oh, make thou my heart so. Devote thou me wholly unto thee; and, by how much cooler my old age is in all other affections, inflame it so much the more in my love to thee.
THE HAPPIEST OBJECT. If we could attain to settle in our thoughts a right apprehension of the Majesty of God, it would put us into the comfortable exercise of all the affections that belong to the soul. For, surely, if we could conceive aright of his omnipotent power, and transcending glory, and incomprehensible infiniteness; we could not but tremble before him, and be always taken up with an adoring fear of him: and, if we could apprehend his infinite goodness both in himself and to mankind; we could not but be ravished with a fervent love to him, and should think ourselves happy that we might be allowed to love such a God: and, if we could conceive of that absolute beauty of his holiness and blissful presence; we could not but be enflamed with a longing desire to enjoy such a God: and, if we could apprehend all these; we could not be but both transported with an unspeakable joy, that we have a sure interest in a God so holy, so good, so almighty, so glorious, and stricken with an unexpressible grief, that we should either offend him, or suffer ourselves to want but for a moment the feeling presence of that all-sufficient and all-comprehending Majesty. On the contrary, those men begin at the wrong end, who go about to draw their affections to God, first; and then, after, seek to have their minds enlightened with right conceits of his essence and attributes: who, meeting with those occurrent temptations, which mainly cross them in their desires and affections, are straight set off from prosecuting their good motions; and are as new to seek of a God, as if they had never bent their thoughts towards heaven. O God, let it be the main care of my life, to know thee; and, whom thou hast sent, Jesus Christ, thy Son, my Saviour. I cannot, through thy mercy, fail of a heavenly disposition of soul, while I am here; and of a life of eternal glory, with thee, hereafter.
UNCHANGEABLE DURATION. In the first minute wherein we live, we enter upon an eternity of being: and, though at the first, through the want of the exercise of reason, we cannot know it; and, afterwards, through our inconsideration and the bewitching businesses of time, we do not seriously lay it to heart; we are in a state of everlastingness. There must, upon the necessity of our mortality, be a change of our condition; but, with a perpetuity of our being: the body must undergo a temporary dissolution, and the soul a remove either to bliss or torment; but both of them, upon their meeting, shall continue in an unchangeable duration for ever and ever. And, if we are wont to slight transitory and vanishing commodities, by reason of their momentary continuance, and to make most account of things durable, what care and great thoughts ought I to bestow upon myself, who shall outlast the present world! and how ought I to frame my life so, as it may fall upon an eternity infinitely happy and glorious! () God, do thou set off my heart from all these earthly vanities, and fix it above with thee. As there shall be no end of my being, so let there be no change of my affections. Let them, beforehand, take possession of that heaven of thine, whereto I am aspiring. Let nothing but this clay of mine be left remaining upon this earth, whereinto it is mouldering. Let my spiritual part be ever with thee, whence it came; and enter upon that bliss, which knows neither change nor end.
TRUST UPON TRIAL. What a Providence there is, over all the creatures in the world; which both produceth them to their being, and overrules and carries them on, to and in their dissolution, without their kilow ledge or intended co-operation: but, for those, whom God hath endued with the faculty of ratiocination, how easy is it to observe the course of the divine proceedings with them! how that all-wise God contrives their affairs and events, quite beyond and above the power of their weak projections; how he prevents their desires; how he fetches about unexpected and improbable occurrences, to their hinderance or advantage: sometimes, blessing them with success, beyond all their hopes; sometimes, blasting their projects, when their blossoms are at the fairest. Surely, if I look only in a dull stupidity upon the outsides of all accidents that befall me, and not improve my reason and faith to discern and acknowledge that invisible power that orders them to his own and their ends, I shall be little better than brutish; and if, upon the observation of that good hand of God, sensibly leading me on in all the ways of my younger and riper age, in so many feeling and apparent experiments of his gracious provisions and protections, I shall not have learned to trust him with the small remainder of my days, and the happy close of that life which he hath so long and mercifully preserved, the favours of a bountiful God shall have been cast away upon a barren and unthankful heart. O God, I am such as thou hast made me: make up thy good work in me; and keep me, that I do not mar myself with my wretched unbelief. I have tried thee to the full. Oh, that I could cast myself wholly upon thee; and trust thee, both with my body and soul, for my safe passage to that blessed home, and for the perfect accomplishment of my glory in thine!
ANGELICAL FAMILIARITY. There is no reason to induce a man to think, that the good angels are not as assiduously present with us for our good, as the evil angels are for our hurt; since we know, that the evil spirits cannot be more full of malice to work our harm, than the blessed angels are full of charity and well-wishing to mankind; and the evil are only let loose to tempt us by a permission of the Almighty, whereas the good are by a gracious delegation from God encharged with our custody; Heb. i. 14. Now, that the evil spirits are ever at hand, ready upon all occasions to present their service to us for our furtherance to mischief, appears too plainly in their continual temptations which they inject into our thoughts; in their real and speedy operations with the spells and charms of their wicked clients, which are no less effectually answered by them, immediately upon their practice, than natural causes are by their ordinary and regular productions. It must needs follow, therefore, that the good angels are as close to us, and as inseparable from us: and, though we see neither; yet, he, that hath spiritual eyes, perceives them both, and is accordingly affecțed to their presence. If then wicked men stick not, to go so far, as to endanger and draw on their own damnation, by familiarly conversing with malignant Spirits; why should not I, for the unspeakable advantage of my soul, affect an awful familiar conversation with those blessed angels, which I know to be with me? The language of spirits are thoughts: why do not I entertain them in my secret cogitations, and hold a holy discourse with them in mental allocutions: and so carry myself, as that I may ever hold fair correspondence with those invisible companions; and may expect from them all gracious offices, of holy motions, careful protection, and, at last, a happy conveyance to my glory! O my soul, thou art a spirit, as they are : do thou ever see thein, as they see thee; and so speak to them, as they speak to thee; and bless thy God for their presence and tuition; and take heed of doing ought, that may cause those heavenly guardians to turn away their faces from thee, as ashamed of their charge.
THE UNANSWERABLE CHRISTIAN. It is no small grief to any good heart, that loves the Lord Jesus in sincerity, to see how utterly unanswerable the greater sort of men, that bear the name of Christ, are to the example and precepts of that Christ, whose name they bear. He was humble and meek; they, proud and insolent: he bade us love our enemies; they hardly can love their friends: he prayed for his persecutors; they curse: he, that had the command of all, cared not to possess any thing; they, not having right to much, would possess all : he bade us give our coat also to him, that takes our cloak; they take both coat and cloak from him, that hath it: he bade us turn our cheek for the other blow; they will be sure to give two blows for one: he paid obedience to a foster-father, and tribute to Cæsar; they despise government: his trade was only doing good, spending the night in praying, the day in preaching and healing; they debauch their time, revelling away the night, and sleeping away or misspending the day: he forbade oaths; they not only swear and forswear, but blaspheme too: he bade us make friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; they make mammon their God: he bade us take up his cross; they impose their own: he bade us lay up our treasure in heaven; they place their heaven in earth: he bids us give to them that ask; they take violently from the owners : he bade us return good, for evil; they, for good, return evil: he charged his disciples to love one another; they nourish malice and rancour against their brethren: he left peace, for a legacy to his followers; they are apt to set the world on fire: his business was to save; theirs, to destroy. O God, let rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they do no better keep the law of thy Gospel; Psalm cxix. 136. Give grace to all, that are called by thy Name, to walk worthy of that high profession, whereto they are called: and keep me, thy unworthy servant, that I may never deviate from that blessed pattern, which thou hast set before me. Oh, let me never shame that great Name, that is put upon me. Let me, in all things, approve myself a Christian in earnest; and so conform
myself to thee, in all thy examples and commands, that it may be no dishonour to thee to own me for thine.
HELLISH HOSTILITY. I CANNOT but observe, how universal it is, in all kinds, for one creature to prey upon another: the greater fishes devour the less: the birds of rapine feed upon the smaller fowls: the ravenous wild beasts sustain themselves with the flesh of the weaker and tamer cattle: the dog pursues the hare; the cat, the mouse: yea, the very mole, under the earth, hunts for the worm; and the spider, in our window, for the fly. Whether it pleased God to ordain this antipathy in nature, or whether man's sin brought this enmity upon the creature, I enquire not: this I am sure of, that both God hath given unto man, the lord of this inferior world, leave and power, to prey upon all these his fellow-creatures, and to make his use of them both for his necessity and lawful pleasure; and that the God of this World is only he, that hath stirred up men to prey upon one another : some, to eat their flesh, as the savage Indians; others, to destroy their lives, estates, good names : this proceeds only from him, that is a murderer from the beginning. O my soul, do thou mourn in secret, to see the great enemy of mankind so woefully prevalent, as to make the earth so bloody a shambles to the sons of men; and to see Christians so outrageously cruel to their own flesh. And O thou, that art the Lord of Hosts and the God of Peace, restrain thou the violent fury of those, which are called by thy name; and compose these unhappy quarrels, amongst them, that should be brethren. Let me, if it may stand with thy blessed will, once again see peace smile over the earth, before I come to see thy face in glory.
FALSE JOY. AMONGST these püblic blusters of the world, I find many men, that secretly applaud themselves in the conceit of a happy peace, which they find in their bosom: where all is calm and quiet; no distemper of passions, no fear of evil, no sting of remorse, no disturbance of doubts; but all smoothness of brow, and all tranquillity of mind; whose course of life, yet, without any great enquiry, hath appeared to be not over-strict and regular. I hear them boast of their condition, without any envy of their happiness; as one, that would rather hear them complain of their inward unquietness, than brag of their peace. Give me a man, that, after many secret bickerings and hard conflicts in his breast, upon a serious penitence and sense of reconciliation with his God, hath attained to a quiet heart, walking conscionably and close with that Majesty with whom he is atoned; I shall bless and emulate him, as a meet subject of true joy. For, spiritually, there is never a perfect calm, but after a tempest: the wind, and earthquake, and