Page images
PDF
EPUB

we should be overwhelmed with thy glory; and, with too much light, blinded. By this means it comes to pass, that these small interspirations set an edge upon our reassumed speculations, and renewed devotions : although also, in the mean time, I should hate all secular diversions, if they should take thee for a moment quite out of my sight; if I did not find, that I may refer them to thee, and enjoy thee in them. O God, do thou so fix my soul upon thee, that whatever occasion shall take me up, I may never be out of thy blessed society; and make me so insensible of the noise of the world, that, even in the midst of the market, I may be still alone with thee.

LIV.

HONEY FROM THE ROCK. O God, thou didst miraculously refresh thy murmuring Israel of old with water, out of the rock, in that dry wilderness : and now I hear thee say, If they had hearkened to thy voice, and walked in thy ways, with honey out of the rock thou wouldest have satisfied them; Psalm lxxxi. 16. Lo, that, which thou wouldest have done to thine ancient people, if they had obeyed thee, thou hast abundantly performed to thine Evangelical Israel: with honey, out of the Rock, hast thou satisfied them: the Rock, that followed them, was Christ my Saviour; 1 Cor. x. 4. Lo, out of this Rock hath flowed that honey, whereby our souls are satisfied. Out of his side, saith the Evangelist, came water and blood. This Rock of our Salvativn affordeth both what Israel had, and might have had. Surely, O my God, there can be no honey so sweet, as the effect of the precious blood of my Saviour to the soul of the believer: by that blood, we have eternal redemption from death, and remission of all our sins ; Heb. ix. 12. Eph. i. 7: by that blood, are we justified in the sight of our God, and saved from the wrath to come ; Rom. v. 9: by that blood, we have our peace made in heaven, and are fully reconciled to our God; Col. i. 20: by that blood, we are cleansed and purged from all our iniquity; Heb. ix. 22: by that blood we are sanctified from our corruptions; Heb. xiii. 12. 1 Pet. i. 2 : by that blood, we receive the promises and possessions of an eternal inheritance ; Heb. ix. 15. O the spiritual honey so sweet, that the material honey is but bitterness to it! Jonathan of old did but dip his spear, in the honey of the wood; and, but with one lick of that sweet moisture, had his eyes cleared, and his spirits revived; 1 Sam. xiv. 29. O God, let me but taste and see how sweet the Lord Je. sus is, in all his gracious promises, in all his merciful and real performances, I shall need no more to make me happy: Thy Solomon bids me to eat honey; Prov. xxiv. 13. Lo, this is the honey, that I desire to eat of: give me of this honey, and I shall receive both clearness to my eyes, and vigour of my spirits to the foiling of all my spiritual enemies. This is not the honey, whereof I am bidden not to eat too much; Prov. xxv. 16. No, Lord, I can never eat enough of this celestial honey: here I cannot surfeit; or, if I could, this surfeit would be my health. O God, give me still enough of this honey out of the Rock: so shall my soul live, and bless thee, and be blessed of thee.

LV.

SURE EARNEST. () My God, what a comfortable assurance is this, which thou hast given to my soul! Thou hast, in thy great mercy, promised and agreed to give me heaven; and now, because thou dost not put me into a present possession, thou hast given me earnest of my future inheritance ; Eph. i. 14: and this earnest is that Good Spirit of thine, which thou hast graciously put into my soul. Even we men, whose style is deceitful upon the balance, think ourselves sure, when, in civil transactions, we have received an earnest of the bargain ; and, much more, when we have taken that small piece of coin, as part of the bargained payment: how then can I fear thee to fail, my God, whose title is Faithful and True ; whose word is l'ea and

Amen? It is ordinary with the world, to cheat my soul with fair promises and faithless engagements, of yielding me those contentments, which it neither can, nor meant to perform : but, for thee, O Lord, heaven and earth shall pass away, but not one jot of thy word shall pass unfulfilled ; Matth. xxiv. 35. Hadst thou then but given me that word of thine, I durst have set my soul upon it with all firm confidence; but, now that thou hast seconded thy word with thy earnest, what place can be left for my doubt? What then, what is it, that thou canst stick at, O my soul? Canst thou make question of the truth of the earnest ? thou knowest, that thou canst not: the stamp is too well known, to be disdoubted: the impressions are full and inimitable: this seal cannot be counterfeit: the graces of the Spirit, which thou hast received, thou feelest to be true and real: thou findest in thyself a faith, though weak, yet sincere; and unfeigned repentance, joined with a hearty detestation of all thy sins; a fervent love of that infinite goodness, that hath remitted them; a conscionable care to avoid them; a zealous desire, to be approved to God, in all thy ways: flesh and blood cannot have wrought these graces in thee: it is only that Good Spirit of thy God, which hath thus sealed thee to the day of redemption. Walk on, therefore, O my soul, confidently and cheerfully, in the strength of this assurance; and joyfully expect the full accomplishment of this happy contract, from the sure hands of thy God: let no temptation stagger thee, in the comfortable resolutions of thy future glory; but say boldly, with that holy Patriarch, O Lord, I have waited for thy salvation,

LVI.

HEAVENLY MANNA,

VICTORY itself is the great reward of our fight; but what is it, o God, that thou promisest to give us, as the reward of our victory!

even the Hidden Manna : surely, were not this gift exceeding precious, thou wouldest not reserve it, for the remuneration of so glorious a conquest. Behold that material and visible manna, which thou sentest down from heaven, to stop the mouth of murmuring Israel, perished in their use; and, if it were reserved but to the next day, putrefied; and, instead of nourishing, annoyed them : but the hidden manna, that was laid up in the ark, was incorruptible; as a lasting monument of thy power and mercy to thy people. But now, alas, what is become both of that manna, and that ark? Both are vanished, having passed through the devouring jaws of time, into mere forgetfulness. It is the true Spiritual Manna, that came down from the highest heaven, and, ascending thither again, is hidden there, in the glorious ark of eternity, that thou wilt give to thy conqueror: that is it, which, being participated of here below, nourisheth us to eternal life; and, being communicated to us above, is the full consummation of that blessed life and glory. Oh, give me so to fight, that I may overcome; that so overcoming, I may be feasted with this manna. Thou, that art, and hast given me thyself, the Spiritual Manna, which I have fed on by faith; and the Symbolical Manna, whereof I have eaten sacramentally; give me of that Heavenly Manna, whereof I shall partake in glory. It is yet a Hidden Manna, hid from the eyes of the world ; yea, in a sort, from our own; hid, in light inaccessible: for, Our life is hid with Christ in God; Col. iii. 3. but shall then be fully revealed : for it shall then not only cover the face of the earth round about the tents of Israel, Dut spread itself over the face of the whole heaven; yea, fill both heaven and earth. I well thought, O my God, that if heaven could afford any thing more precious than other, thou wouldest lay it up for thy victor: for it is a hard service, that thy poor infantry here upon earth are pat unto, to conflict with so mighty, so malicious, so indefatigable enemies; and therefore the reward must be so much the greater, as the warfare is more difficult. Oh, do thou, who art the great Lord of Hosts, give me courage to fight, perseverance in fighting, and power to overcome all my spiritual enemies; that I may receive from thee this Hidden Mianria, that my soul may live for ever, and may for ever bless thee.

LVII.

THE HEART'S TREASURE, It is a sure word of thine, O Saviour, that where our treasure is, there our hearts will be also; neither can we easily know, where to find our hearts, if our treasure did not discover them. Now, Lord, where is my treasure? Surely, I am not worthy to be owned of thee, if my treasure be any where, but in heaven: my lumber and luggage may be here on earth; but my treasure is above: there thou hast laid up for me the richest of thy mercies, even my eternal salvation. Yea, Lord, what is my richest treasure, but thyself; in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, yea of infinite glory arę laid up, for all thine ? All things, that this world cạu af,

ford me, are but mere pelf, in comparison of this treasure; or, if the earth could yield ought that is precious, yet I cannot call that treasure. Treasure implies both price, and store of the dearest commodities : never so great abundance of base things cannot make a treasure; neither can some few pieces of the richest metals be so accounted; but where there is a large congestion of precious jewels and metals, there only is treasure. If any at all, surely very little and mean is the wealth, which I can promise myself here: perhaps, some brass farthing, or light and counterfeit coin; mere earthly dross, which may load, but cannot enrich my soul. My only true riches are above, with thee; and, where then should my heart be, but there? My hand and my brain too, must necessarily be sometimes here below; but my heart shall be still with my treasure in heaven. It is wont to be said, that, however the memory of old age is short, yet that no old man ever forgot where he laid up his treasure. () God, let not that Celestial Treasure, which thou hast laid up for me, be at any time out of my thoughts: let my eye be ever upon it; let my heart long for the full possession of it; and so joy in the assured expectation of it, that it may disrelish all the contentments, and contemn all the crosses, which this world can afford me.

LVIII.

THE NARROW WAY.

O SAVIOUR, I hear thee say, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; and yet again, thou, who art Truth itself, tellest me, that the way is narrow, and the gate strait, that leadeth unto life. Surely, thou, who art the living Way, art exceeding large; so wide, that all the world of believers enter into life by thee only: but the way of our walk towards thee is strait and narrow. Not, but that thy commandment in itself is exceeding broad; Psalm cxix. 96: for, Lord, how fully comprehensive it is of all moral and holy duties! and what gracious latitude hast thou given us in it, of our obedience! and how favourable indulgence and remission, in case of our failings ! but narrow, in respect of the weakness and insusficiency of our obedience : it is our wretched infirmity, that straitens our way to thee. Lo, heaven, which is thy all-glorious mansion, when we are once entered into it, how infinitely large and spacious it is ! even this lower contignation of it, at how marvellous distance it archeth in this globe of air, and earth, and waters ! and how is that again surrounded, with several heights of those lightsome regions, unmeasurable for their glorious dimensions ! But, the heaven of hea. vens, the seat of the blessed, is yet so much larger; as it is higher in place, and more eminent in glory: yet, thou wouldest have the way to it narrow, and the gate of it strait. And even thus it pleaseth thee to ordain, in the dispensation of all thine inferior blessings: learning dwells far within; but the entrance is strait through study, watching, bending of brains, wearing of spirits : the house of honour is sumptuous and goodly within; but the gate is strait, that leads into it; which is through danger, attendance, plots of emulation : wealth hath large elbow-room of lodging; but the gate is strait; hard labour, careful thrift, racking of thoughts, painful adventures. How much more wouldest thou have it thus, in the best of all blessings, the eternal fruition of heaven! And why is this way narrow, but because it is untracked and untrodden? If I

may not rather say, the way is untracked and found by few, because it is narrow, and not easy to tread in. Surely, grace is the way to glory; and that path is not for every foot: the straiter and narrower it is, () my God, the more let me strive and shoulder to enter into it. What vain quarrels do we daily hear of, for the way; but, Lord, enable me to strive, for this way, even to blood. And, if thou hast been pleased to set me a deep way, or a rough way, through many tribulations, to that happy and eternal life, let me pass it with all cheerful resolution. How oft have I not grudged to go a foul way to a friend's house, where I knew my entertainment kind and cordial! Oh, let me not think much, to come to those thy everlasting mansions of bliss, through tears and blood : the end shall make an abundant amends for the way: if I suffer with thee, I shall reign with thee.

LIX.

GOD'S VARIOUS PROCEEDINGS. WHAT strange varieties do I find, in the workings of God with man! one where, I find him gently and plausibly inviting men to their conversion; another where, I find him frighting some others to heaven:

: some, he trains up in a goodly education, and, without any eminent change, calls them forth to an exemplary profession of his name; some others, he chuseth out of a life notoriously lewd, to be the great patterns of a sudden reformation : one, that was only formal in his devotion without any true life of grace, is, upon a grievous sickness, brought to a lively sense of godliness; another comes to God's house with a purpose to sleep or scoff, and, through the secret operation of God's Spirit working with his word, returns full of true compunction of heart, with tears in his eyes, and resolutions of present amendment of life: one, that was proud of his own righteousness, is suffered to fall into some foul sin, which shames him before men, and is thus brought down to an humble acknowledgment of his own frailty; another, that was cast down with a sad despair of God's mercy, is raised up by the fall of an unbroken glass, or by some comfortable dream, or by the seasonable word of a cheerful friend : oue is called at the sixth hour ; another, not till the eleventh : one, by fair and probable means; another, by contraries ; so as even the work of Satan himself hath been made the occasion of the conversion of his soul. O God, thy ways are infinite, and past finding out. It is not for us to prescribe thee what to do, but humbly to adore thee in what thou doest. Far be it from me, so to cast myself upon thy all-working Providence as to neglect the ordinary means of my salvation. Enable me cheerfully to endeavour what thou requirest, and then take what way thou

« PreviousContinue »