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melody from the art of man, to delight the ear; hast much more ordained transcendent pleasures and infinite contentments, for thy glorified Saints above. My soul, while it is thus clogged and confined, is too strait to conceive of those incomprehensible ways of spiritual delectation, which thou hast provided for thy dear chosen ones, triumphing with thee in thy heaven. Oh, teach me to wonder at that, which I cannot here attain to know ; and to long for that happiness, which I there hope to enjoy with thee for ever.
MIXED CONTENTMENTS. What a fool were I, if I should think to find that, which Solomon could not; contentment upon earth! His greatness, wealth, and wisdom gave him opportunity to search, where my impotency is shut out: were there any thing under heaven free from vanity and vexation, his curious inquisition could not have missed it. No, alas, all our earthly contentments are like a Jewish Passover, which we must eat with sour herbs. Have I wealth? I cannot be void of cares: bave I honour? I cannot be rid of envy: have I knowledge? He, that increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow; saith the kingly Preacher: bave I children? it were strange, if without crosses: have I pleasures? not without sting: have I health? not without the threats of disease: have I full diet? not without the inconveniences of satiety: bave I beauty? not without a snare to my soul. Thus it is, in all our sublunary comforts: I cannot have the rose, but I must be content with the prickles. Pure and absolute pleasure dwells elsewhere, far above the reach of this vale of misery. O God, give me to seek it there only; not without a contemptuous neglect of all those deceitful vanities, which would withdraw my soul from thee: and there let me find it, while I am here, by faith; when I remove hence, by personal fruition. In the mean time, let me take what thou givest me with patience and thankfulness; thankfulness for the meat, and patience with the sauce.
TRUE WEALTH. ALL a man's wealth, or poverty, is within himself: it is not the outward abundance or want, that can make the difference. Let a man he never so rich in estate, yet if his heart be not satisfied, but he is still whining, and scraping, and pining for more, that man is miserably poor: all his bags carinot make him other, than a stark beggar. On the other side, give me a man of small means, whose mind is thoroughly content with a little, and enjoys his pittance with a quiet and thankful heart, that man is exceeding rich: all the world cannot rob him of his wealth. It is not having, by which we can measure riches; but enjoying. The earth hath all treasures in it, yet no man styles it rich. Of these, which the world call goods of fortune, only opinion sets the value. Gold and silver would be metals, whether we think them so, or not: they would not be riches, if men's conceit and institution did not make them such. O my soul, be not thou carried away with the common error, to cover and admire those things, which have no true worth in themselves : if both the Indies were thine, thou shouldst be no whit the wealthier: labour for those riches, whereby thy stock may be advanced. The great Lord of All, who knows best where his wealth lies, and where thou shouldst hoard up thine, hath told thee, where to seek it, where to lay it: Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven ; Matt. vi. 19, 20. There, thou shalt be sure to find it entire; free from plunder, and all danger of diminution. O God, give me to covet, that my mind may be rich in knowledge; that my soul may be rich in grace; that my heart may be rich in true contentation: as for this pelf of the world, let it make them miserable, that admire it.
FALSE LIGHT. LOOKING forth, one starry evening, my eye met with a glorious light, that seemed fairer than its fellows. While I was studying what planet it might be, it suddenly glided down, and vanished. O God, how can we hope to avoid delusions upon earth, when even the face of heaven may thus deceive us? It is no otherwise in the firmament of the Church: how many have there been, that have seemed eternally fised in that high sphere, which have proved no other than base meteors, gilded with fair beams! they appeared stars; their substance was but slime. Woe were to the earth, if a true star should fall. Yea, I doubt whether the fabric of heaven would stand, if one of those glorious lights should drop down. If, therefore, the star Wormwood shall fall, and embitter the waters, he shall shew himself to be but a false star, and a true impostor; else heaven should fall, as soon as he. () my God, give me grace to know the truth of my substance, and the firmness of my station: let me hate all counterfeit exaltations : let me know myself the least and most insensible star of thy galaxy: so shall I be happy in thee; and thou shalt be by me glorified.
THE HASTE OF DESIRE. How slowly the hours seem to pace, when we are big with the de. sire and expectation of any earthly contentment! We are ready to chide the time for standing still, when we would over-hasten the fruition of our approaching comfort. So the school-boy longs for his play-day; the apprentice, for his freedom; the ward, for his livery; the bride, for her nuptials; the heir, for his inheritance: so approvedly true is that of wise Solomon, Hope deferred makes the heart sick ; Prov. xiii. 12. Were it not, O my soul, for that wretched infidelity, which cleaves so close unto thee, thou couldst
not but be thus affected to thy heaven; and shouldst be yet so much more, as the joys there are infinitely more exquisite than those, which this earth can afford. Surely, thou dost but flatter me with the over-weening conceit of the firm apprehension of my faith, while I find thee so cool in the longing desires of thy glorification. What! hast thou no stomach to thy happiness? Hath the world benumbed thee with such a dull stupidity, that thou art grown regardless and insensible of eternal blessedness? Oh, shake off this lethargic heaviness of spirit, which hath possessed thee; and rouse up thyself to those ardent desires of glory, which have sometimes entamed thee. Yea, Lord, do thou stir up that heavenly fire, that now lies raked up in the embers of my soul; and ravish my heart, with a longing desire of thy salvation.
DEATH'S REMEMBRANCERS. EVERY thing, that I see, furnishes me with fair monitions of my dissolution. If I look into my garden, there I see some flowers fading, some withered: if I look to the earth, I see that mother, in whose womb I must lie: if I go to Church, the graves, that I must step over in my way, shew me what I must trust to: if I look to my table, death is in every dish; since what I feed on, did once live: if I look into my glass, I cannot but see death in my face: if I go to my bed, there I meet with sleep, the image of death; and the sheets, which put me in mind of my winding up: if I look into my study, what are all those books, but the monuments of other dead authors ? O my soul, how canst thou be unmindful of our parting, when thou art plied with so many monitors ? Cast thine eyes abroad into the world, what canst thou see, but killing and dying? Cast thine eyes up into heaven, how canst thou but think of the place of thy approaching rest? How justly then may I say with the Apostle, By our rejoicing, which I have in Christ Jesus, I die daily! i Cor. xv. 31. And, Lord, as I daily die, in the decay of this frail nature; so let me die daily, in my affection to life, in my preparation for death. Oh, do thou fit me for that last and happy change. Teach me so to number my days, that I may apply my heart to wisdom, and address it to ensuing glory.
FAITH'S VICTORY. We are here in a perpetual warfare, and fight we must : surely, either fight or die. Some there are, that do both: that is, according as the quarrel is, and is managed. There are those, that fight against God: these, meddling with so unequal a match, cannot look to prevail. Again, the flesh warreth against the spirit: this intestine rebellion cannot hope to prosper. But if, with the Chosen Vessel, I can say, I have fought a good fight, (2 Tim. iv. 7), I can neither lose life, nor miss of victory. And what is that good fight?
Even the same Apostle tells me, The fight of faith ; 1 Tim. vi. 12. This is the good fight indeed; both in the cause, and managing, and the issue. Lo, this faith it is, that wins God to my side; that makes the Almighty mine; that not only engages him in my cause, but unites me to him, so as his strength is mine. In the power of his might, therefore, I cannot but be victorious over all my spiritual enemies, by the only means of this faith. For Satan, this shield of faith is it, that shall quench all the fiery darts of that wicked one; Eph. vi. 16. For the world; this is the victory ihat overcomes the world ; even our faith ; 1 John v. 4. Be sure to find thyself furnished with this grace; and then say, “ () my soul, thou hast marched valiantly: the powers of hell shall not be able to stand before thee: they are mighty, and have all advantages of a spiritual nature, of long duration, and experience, of place, of subtlety; yet, this conquering grace of faith is able to give them the foil, and to trample over all the powers of darkness. O my Lord God, do thou arm and fortify my soul, with a lively and stedfast faith in thee; I shall not fear what man nor devil can do unto me: settle my heart in a firm reliance upon thee, and turn me loose to what enemy thou pleasest.
THE UNFAILING FRIEND. Next to the joy of a good conscience, there is no greater com. fort upon earth, than the enjoyment of dear friends; neither is there any thing more sad than their parting; and, by how nearer their relations are, so much greater is our sorrow in foregoing them. What moan did good David make, both for Absalom, as a son, though ungracious; and for Jonathan, as a friend! Surely, when our dear ones are pulled away from us, we seem to have limbs torn away from our bodies; yet this is a thing must be looked for: we are given to each other, or lent rather, upon condition of parting : either they must leave us, or we them; a parting there must be, as sure as there was a meeting. It is our fault, if we set our hearts too much upon that, which may, yea, which must, be lost. Be wise, O my soul, and make sure of such friends, as thou canst not be bereaved of. Thou hast a God, that hath said, I will not leave thee nor forsake thee. It was an easy suit, and already granted, which the holy Psalmist made; Cast me not off, in the time of old age: forsake me not, when my strength faileth ; Psalm lxxi. 9 : and, again, When my father and my mnother forsake me, in their farewell to a better world, yet then the Lord will take me up; Psalm xxvii. 10. It is a happy thing, to have immortal friends. Stick close unto them, O my soul, and rejoice in them evermore; as those, that shall sweetly converse with thee here, and shall at last receive thee into everlasting habitations.
QUIET HUMILITY. He is a rare man, that is not wise in his own conceit; and that says not within himself, “I see more than my neighbours:" for we all
en to each oth leave us het ware is our fan
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are born proud and self-opinionate; and, when we are come to our imaginary maturity, are apt to say, with Zedekiah, to those of better judgment than our own, IVhich way went the Spirit of God from me to speak unto thee? 1 Kings xxii. 24. Hence have arisen those strange varieties of wild paradoxes, both in philosophy and religion, wherewith the world abounds every where. When our fancy hath entertained some uncouth thought, our self-love is apt to hatch it up, our confidence to broach it, and our obstinacy to maintain it; and, if it be not too monstrous, there will not want some credulous fools to abet it: so as, the only way, both to peace, and truth, is true humility; which will teach us, to think meanly of our own abilities, to be disfident of our own apprehensions and judgments, to ascribe much to the reverend antiquity, greater sanctity, deeper insight of our blessed predecessors. This only. will keep us in the beaten road, without all extravagant deviations to untrodden by-paths. Teach me, O Lord, evermore to think myself no whit wiser than I am : so shall I neither be vainly irre. gular, nor the Church troublesomely unquiet.
SURE MERCIES. THERE is nothing more troublesome in human society, than the disappoint of trust, and failing of friends : for, besides the disorder, that it works in our own affairs, it commonly is attended with a necessary deficiency of our performances to others. The leaning upon a broken reed gives us both a fall and a wound. Such is a false friend, who, after professions of love and real offices, either slinks from us, or betrays us. This is that, which the great pattern of patience so bitterly complains of, as none of his least afflictions; My kinsfolk have failed me, and my familiar friends have forgotten me; Job xix. 14. It went to the heart of David, that his own familiar friend, in whom he trusted, which did eat of his bread, should lift up his heel against him; Psalm xli. 9. And, surely, those, that are stanch and faithful in themselves, cannot but be so much the more deeply affected with the perfidious dealing of others; and yet also so much the more, as their confidence and entireness was greater: this was that, which heightened the vexation of that man, who is so famous for the integrity of his heart :. It was thou, O man, mine equal, my guide, my acquaintance; we . took sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God in company; Psalm lv. 13, 14. And still, our daily experience gives us miserable instances in this kind. He hath had little to do in the world, that hath not spent many a sigh upon others' faithlessness. And now, () my soul, the more sad proof thou hast had of the untrusty disposition and carriage of men, the more it concerns thee to betake thyself, in all zealous and absolute affiance, unto the sure protection and never failing providence of thy God; the God, who, being Truth itself, never did, never can forfeit his trust to any soul, that relied upon his most certain promises, upon his. promised mercies, upon his merciful and just performances. My