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mischiefs, hath not a fort wherein to succour himself; and safe and happy is that soul, that hath a sure and impregnable hold, whereto he may resort. the noble example of holy David! never man could be more perplexed than he was, at his Ziklag; his city burnt, his whole stock plundered, his wives carried away, his people cursing, his soldiers mutinying, pursued by Saul, cast off by the Philistines, helpless, hopeless : But David fortified himself in the Lord his God; 1 Sam. xxx. 6. There, there, O Lord, is a sure help, in the time of trouble: a safe protection, in the time of danger; a most certain remedy of all complaints : let my dove get once into the holes of that rock, in vain shall all the birds of prey hover over me for my destruction.
THE LIGHT BURDEN.
Why do we complain of the difficulty of a Christian profession, when we hear our Saviour say, My yoke is easy, and my burden is light? Certainly, he, that imposed it, hath exactly poised it; and knows the weight of it to the full. It is our fault, if we make or account that heavy, which he knows to be light. If this yoke and burden be heavy, to our sullen nature; yet, to grace, they are, if they be heavy to fear, yet they are light to love. What is more sweet and
than to love and love is all the burden we need to take up: for, Love is the fulfilling of the Law; and the Evangelical Law is all the burden of my Saviour. O Blessed Jesu, how willingly do I stoop under thy commands ! It is no other than my happiness, that thou requirest: I shall be, therefore, my own enemy, if I be not thy servant. Hadst thou not bidden me to love thee, to obey thee, thine infinite goodness and perfection of divine beauty would have attracted my heart, to be spiritually enamoured of thee: now thou biddest me to do that which I should have wished to be commanded, how gladly do I yield up my soul to thee! Lay on what load thou pleasest : since, the more I bear, the more thou enablest me to bear, and the more I shall desire to bear. The world hath so clogged me this while, with his worthless and base lumber, that I have been ready to sink under the weight; and what have I got by it, but a lame shoulder, and a galled back ? Oh, do thou free me from this unprofitable and painful luggage; and ease my soul, with the happy change of thy gracious impositions : so shall thy yoke, not be easy only, but pleasing; so shall thy fulfilled will be so far from a burden to me, that it shall be my greatest delight upon earth, and my surest and comfortablest evidence for heaven.
JOY INTERMITTED. What a lightsomeness of heart do I now feel in myself, for the present, out of a comfortable sense of thy presence, O my God, and the apprehension of my interest in thee! Why should it
not be thus always with me? Surely thine Apostle bids me rejoice continually; and, who would not wish to do so ? For, there is little difference betwixt joy and happiness : neither was it guessed ill by him, that defined that man only to be happy, that is always de lighted; and, certainly, there is just cause, why I should be thus always affected. Thus, O my God, thou art still and always the same: yea, the same to me, in all thy gracious relations, of a merciful Father, a loving Saviour, a sweet Comforter : yea, thou art my Head, and I am a limb of thy Mystical Body. Such I am, and shall ever be. Thou canst no more change, than not be; and, for me, my crosses and
my sins are so far from separating me from thee, that they make me hold of thee the faster. But, alas, though the just grounds of my joy be steady, yet my weak disposition is subject to variableness. While I carry this flesh about me, my soul cannot but be much swayed with the temper of my body; which sometimes inclines me to a dull listlessness, and a dumpish heaviness of heart and sadness of spirit : so as, I am utterly unapt to all cheerful thoughts; and find work enough, to pull my affections out of this stiff clay of the earth, and to raise them up to heaven. Besides, this joy of the Holy Ghost is a gift of thy divine bounty, which thou dispensest when and how thou pleasest; not always alike to thy best favourites on earth : thou, that givest thy sun and rain, dost not command thy clouds always to be dropping, nor those beams to shine continually upon any face: there would be no difference, betwixt the proceedings of nature and grace, if both produced their effects in a set and constant regularity; and what difference should I find, betwixt my pilgrimage and my home, if I should here be taken up with a perpetuity of heavenly joy? Should I always thus feelingly enjoy thee, my life of faith should be changed into a life of sense. It is enough for me, O God, that above, in those regions of bliss, my joy in thee shall be full and permanent; if, in the mean while, it may please thee, that but some flashes of that celestial light of joy may frequently glance into my soul. It shall suffice, it thou give me but a taste of those heavenly pleasures, whereon I shall once liberally feast with thee to all eternity.
UNIVERSAL INTEREST. It was a noble praise that was given to that wise heathen (Cato), that he so carried himself, as if he thought himself born for all the world. Surely, the more universal a Man's beneficence is, so much is it more commendable; and comes so much nearer to the bounty of that great God, who openeth his hand, and filleth all things living with plenteousness. There are too many selfish men, whose spirits, as in a close retort, are cooped up, within the compass of their own concernments; whose narrow hearts think they are bom for none but themselves: others, that would seem good natured men, are willing enough to enlarge themselves to their kindred; whom they
are careful to advance, with neglect of all others, however deserving: some yet, more liberal-minded, can be content to be kind and open-handed to their neighbours : and some, perhaps, reach so far, as to profess a readiness to do all good offices to their countrymen; but here their largeness finds its utmost bounds. All these dispositions are but inclosures : give me the open champain, of a general and illimited benefacture. Is he rich he scatters his seed abroad, by whole handfuls, over the whole ridge ; and doth not drop it down, between his fingers, into the several furrows : his bread is cast upon the waters also.' Is he knowing and learned ? he smothers not his skill in his bosom; but freely lays it out upon the common stock: not so much regarding his private contentment, as the public proficiency. Is he deeply wise ? he is ready to improve all his cares and counsels, to the advancement and preservation of peace, justice, and good order amongst men. Now, although it is not in the power of any, but persons placed in the highest orb of authority, actually to oblige the world to them; yet nothing hinders, but that men of meaner rank may have the will to be thus universally beneficent, and may, in preparation of mind, be zealously affected to lay themselves forth upon the common good. O Lord, if thou hast given me but a private and short hand, yet give me a large and public heart.
THE SPIRITUAL BEDLAM. He, that, with wise Solomon, affects to know not wisdom only, but madness and folly, let him, after a serious observation of the sober part of the world, obtain of himself to visit Bedlam ; and to look into the several cells of distracted persons : where, it is a wonder to see, what strange varieties of humours and passions shall present themselves to him. Here, he shall see one weeping and wringing his hands, for a merely-imaginary disaster; there, another, holding his sides in a loud laughter, as if he were made all of mirth : here, one mopishly stupid, and so fixed to his posture, as if he were a breathing statue; there, another apishly active and restless : here, one ragingly fierce, and wreaking his causeless anger on his chain; there, another gloriously boasting of a mighty style of honour, whereto his rags are justly entitled. And, when he hath wondered a while at this woeful spectacle, let him know and consider, that this is but a slight image of those spiritual phrensies, wherewith the world is miserably possessed. The persons affected believe it not : surely, should I go about to persuade any of these guests of Bedlam, that indeed he is mad, and should therefore quietly submit himself to the means of cure, I should be more mad than he: only dark rooms, and cords, and hellebore, are meet receipts for these mental distempers. In the mean while, the sober and sad beholders too well see these men's wits out of the socket; and are ready, out of Christian charity, to force upon them due remedies, who cannot be sensible of their own miseries.
Now having learned of the Great Doctor of the Gentiles, to distinguish man into spirit, soul, and body : 1 Thess. v. 23 : whereof the body is as the earthly part, the soul
as the ethereal, the spirit as the heavenly; the soul animal
, the spirit rational, the body merely organical : it is easy for him to observe, that, as each of these parts exceeds other in dignity, so the distemperature thereof is so much
greater and more dangerous, as the part is more excellent. When, therefore, he shall hear the Prophet Hosea say, The spiritual man is mad, Hosea ix. 7. he cannot think that charge less, than of the worst of phrensies.
And such, indeed, they are, which have been epidemical to all times. Could they pass for any other than sottishly mad, that would worship cats, and dogs, and serpents ? so did the old Egyptians, who thought themselves the most deeply learned of all nations. Could they be less mad than they, that, of the same tree, would make a block for their fire, and a god for their adoration so did Isaiah's idolaters; Isaiah xliv. 16. Could they be any better, who, when they had molten their ear-rings, and, with their own hands, had shaped a golden calf, could fall down and worship it; and say, These be thy gods, 0 Israel
, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt? so did they, which should have known themselves God's peculiar people ; Exod. xxxii. 4. Could they be any other than madmen, that thought there was one god of the hills, another of the vallies ? so did the Syrian courtiers; 1 Kings xx. 23. Could they be any other than stark mad, that would lance and gash their own Aesh, because their Block did not answer them by fire ? so did the Baalites; 1 Kings xviii. 28. Lastly, could they be other than the maddest of men, who would pass their own children through the fire, and burn them to ashes in a pretence of devotion? so did the clients of Moloch ; 2 Kings xxiii. 10.
Yea, what speak I of the times of ignorance? even since the true light came into the world, and since the beams of his glorious Gospel shined on all faces, there hath been no less need of dark rooms and manacles than before. Can we think them other than notoriously mad, that, having good clothes to their backs, would needs strip them off, and go stark naked? So did the Adamites of old, about the year of our Lord 194: so did certain Anabaptists of Holland, at Amsterdam, in the year 1535: su did the cynical Saint Francis, in the streets of Assissium. Could they be other than mad, which would worship Cain, Judas, the Sodomites ? so did those good devotionists, which were called Caiani, about the year 159. Nay, were they not worse than mad, who, if we may believe Hosius, and Lindanus, and Prateolus, worshipped the Devil, ten times every day? so did those heretics, which were in the last age called Demoniaci. Could they be better than mad, which held that beasts have reason, as well as man; that the elements have life; that plants have sense, and suffer pain in their cutting up ! so did the Manichees. Could they be other than blasphemously mad, that held there are two gods, ove good, the other evil; and that all creatures were made by the latter? so did the Gnostics. Were
there ever madmen in the world, if they were not such, who would beseech, yea force passengers, to do them the favour to cut their throats, in a vain affectation of the praise of martyrdom? so did the Circumcillions, a faction of Donatists in the year 349. But, above all other, did not those surpass in madness, who allowed of all heresies, and professed to hold all opinions true? so did Rhetorius, and his followers: St. Augustin's charity sticks at the belief of so impossible a tenet: I must crave leave to wonder at his reason : “ For," saith he, “many opinions being contradictory to each other, no man that is compos mentis can think both parts can be verifiable;" as if it could be supposed, that a Rhetorius, thus opening, could be any other than beside all his wits : surely, had he been himself, so impossible an absurdity could not have fallen from him; neither could any of these fore-cited practices or opinions have been incident into any, but brains highly distempered. But what do we, raking in the ashes of these old forgotten lunatics? Would to God, we had not work, more than enough, to look for the prodigious phrensies of the present age; than which, there were never, since the world began, either more or worse!
Can there be, under the cope of heaven, a madder man, than he, that can deny there is a God? such a monster was rare, and hooted at, in the tirnes of Paganism. The heathen orator * tells us of but two, in those dark ages before him, that were so far forsaken of their wits; and we know that the old Athenians, when a bold pen durst but question a Deity, sentenced the book to the fire, and the author to exile. But now, alas, I am ashamed to say, that this modern age, under so clear beams of the Gospel, hath bred many professed atheists; who have dared, not in their heart only, as in David's time, but with their blasphemous lips, to deny the God that made them.
And are the phrensies of those insolent souls any whit less wild and outrageous, that dare boast themselves to be God; and stick not to style themselves absolutely deified ? avowing, that the soul in their body is the only Christ, or God in the flesh; that all the acts of their beastly and abominable lusts are the works of righteousness; that it is their perfection, and the highest pitch of their glory, to give themselves up to all manner of abominations, without any reluctation; that there is no hell, but a dislike of, and remorse for, their greatest villanies t : now shew me, amongst the savagest of Pagans, any one that hath been thus desperately brainsick; and let me be branded for a slanderer.
What should I need to instance in any more, or to contract a large volume of Heresiology ? In short, there is no true heretic in the world, that is 'not, in some degree, a madman. And this spi. ritual madness is so much worse than the natural, as in other regards, so especially in this ; that, whereas that distemper of the brain
* Cicero de Natura Dcorum . initio. † “ Heart-Bleedings for Professors' Abominations : set forth under the Hands of 16 churches of Christ's Baptized inig the Name of Christ,” pp. 5, 6, 7, &c.