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pleasest ; so that thou bringest me to the end of my hope, the salvation of my soul.
THE WAKING GUARDIAN. It is a true word, which the Psalmist said of thee, O God: Thou, that keepest Israel, neither slunberest, nor sleepest ; Psalm cxxi. 4. Fond tyrants think that thou winkest at their cruel persecutions of thy Church, because thou dost not speedily execute vengeance upon them; whereas, if the fault were not in their eyes, they should see thine wide open, and bent upon them for their just destruction: only, thou thinkest fit to hold thy hand, for a time, from the infliction of judgment, till the measure of their iniquity be full; and then, they shall feel to their cost, that thou sawest all their secret plots and conspiracies against thine Israel. The time was, () Saviour, when, in the days of thy human infirmity, thou sleptest in the stern of the ship, on a pillow, when the tempest raged and the waves swelled; yet even then, when thy disciples awoke thee, and said, Lord, save us, we perish, thou rebukedst them sharply with, IVhy are ye fearful, o ye of little faith? Matth. viii. 24–26. Mark iv. 37–40. Luke viii. 23-25. Their danger was apparently great: but yet thou tellest them their fear was causeless; and their faith weak, that they could not assure themselves, that thy presence, though sleeping, was a sufficient preservative against the fury of winds and waters : how much more now, that being in the height of thy heavenly glory, and ever intentively vigilant for the safeguard of thy chosen ones, may we rest secure of thy blessed protection, and our sure indemnity! () God, do thou keep my eyes ever open, that I may still wait upon thee, for thy gracious tuition, and the merciful accomplishment of thy salvation. Thou seest I have to do with those enemies, that are never but waking, nerer but seeking all advantages against my soul: what can they do, when thine eye is ever over me for good? Oh, then, let mine eyes be ever unto thee, O God my Lord: in thee let me still put my trust : so shalt thou keep me from the snares that they have laid for me, and the gins of the workers of iniquity; Psalm cxli. 8, 9.
THE STING OF GUILTINESS. Guiltiness can never think itself sure, if there were no fiends to torment it: like a bosom-devil, it would ever torment itself: no guard can be so sure, no fort so strong, as to secure it from terrors. The first murderer, after his bloody fratricide, when there is no mention of any man, beside his father, upon earth ; vet can say, It shall come to pass, that every one, that findeth me, shall slay me; Gen. iv. 14: and I marvel, that he added not, “ If none else will do it, I shall do that deadly office to myself.” He was sure he could meet with none, but brethren or nephews; and even the face of those was now dreadful to him: he, that had been so cruel, to him, that had lain in the same womb with himself, fears, that no nearness of blood can shield him, from the violence of the next man. Conscience, when once exasperated, needs not stay for an accuser, a witness, a solicitor to enforce the evidence, a judge; but itself alone acts all these parts; and, ofttimes also, the executioner's, to boot. It was a just question of the wisest of men, A wounded spirit who can bear? but, there are divers and different degrees of the wounds of spirit: all are painful, some mortal. As, in the body, there may be some wounds in the outward and fleshly part, which have more pain than peril; but those of the principal and vital parts are not more dolorous than dangerous, and often deadly: so it is in the soul; there are wounds of the inferior and affective faculties, as grief for crosses, vexation for disappointment of hopes, pangs of anger for wrongs received, which may be cured with seasonable remedies; but the wounds of conscience, inflicted by the sting of some heinous sin, which lies belking within us, carries in it horror, despair, death. O God, keep me from blood-guiltiness, and from all crying and presumptuous sins; but, if ever my frailty should be so foully tainted, do thou so work upon my soul, as that my repentance may walk in equal paces with my sin, ere it can aggravate itself by continuance. Apply thy sovereign plaister to my soul, while the wound is green; and suffer it not to fester inwardly, through any impenitent delay.
BENEFICIAL WANT. It is just with thee, O God, when thou seest us grow wanton, and unthankfully neglective of thy blessings, to withdraw them from us; that, by the want of them, we may feel both our unregarded obligations, and the defects of our duty : so we have seen the nurse, when the child begins to play with the dug, to put up the breast out of sight. I should not acknowledge how precious a favour health is, if thou didst not sometimes interchange it with sickness; nor how much I am bound to thee for my limbs, if I had not sometimes a touch of lameness. Thirst gives better relish to the drink; and hunger is the best sauce to our meat. Nature must needs affect a continuance of her welfare; neither is any thing more grievous to her, than these cross interceptions of her contentments : but thou, who art Wisdom itself, knowest how fit it is for us, both to smart for our neglect of thy familiar mercies, and to have thy blessings more endeared to us by a seasonable discontinuance. Neither dost thou want to deal otherwise, in the managing of thy spiritual mercies. If thy Spouse, the faithful soul, shall, being pampered with prosperity, begin to grow secure and negligent; so as, at the first knock of her beloved, she rise not up to open to him, but suffers his head to be filled with dew, and his locks with the drops of the night, she soon finds her beloved withdrawn and gone: she may then seek him, and not find him; she may call and receive no answer; she may seek him about the streets, and, instead of finding him, lose her veil, and meet with blows and wounds from the watchmen; Cant. v. 2-7. O God, keep thou me from being resty with
ease: hold me in a continual tenderness of heart: continue me in a thankful and awful use of all thy favours : but, if, at any time, thou seest me decline to a careless obduration, and to a disrespective forgetfulness of thy mercies, do thou so chastise me with the fatherly hand of thy afflictions, and so work me to a gracious use of thy desertions; that my soul may seek thee with more vigour of af. fections, and may recover thee with more sensible comfort.
INTERCHANGE OF CONDITIONS. It is not for nothing, O my God, that thou hast protracted my time so long, and hast given me so large experience of thy most wise and holy dealing with myself and others. Doubtless, it is, that I might see, and feel, and observe, and teach the gracious changes of thy carriage towards thy poor sinful creatures upon earth. Thou dost not hold us always under the rod, though we well deserve a perpetual correction; as considering our miserable impotence, and aptness to a heartless dejection. Thou dost not always keep our hearts raised up to the jollity of a prosperous condition; as knowing our readiness to presume, and to be carried away with a false confidence of our unmoveableness : but graciously interchangest thy favours with our sufferings. When thou seest us ready to faint, and to be discouraged with our adversity, thou takest off thy hand, and givest us a comfortable respiration from our miseries: when thou seest us puffed up with the vain conceit of our own worth orsuccess, thou takest us down with some heavy cross. When thou findest us overlaid with an unequal match, and ready to be foiled in the fight, thou givest us breath, and puttest new strength into our arms, and new courage into our hearts : when thou findest us insolent with our victory, thou shamest us by an unexpected discomfiture. And, as for the outward estate of the nations and kingdoms of the earth, thou whirlest them about in a perpetual yet constant vicissitude: peace breeds plenty ; plenty, wantonness and pride; pride, animosity; from thence follows war; war produces vastation and want; poverty causeth industry; and, when nothing is left to strive for, peace; an industrious peace brings plenty again : and, in this gyre, thou hast ordained the world still to turn about. Be not too much moved then, O my soul, when thou findest thyself hard pressed with afflictions, and conflicted with strong temptations; but bear up constantly, in the strength of thy faith, as being assured, that, having rid out this storm, thou shalt be blessed with a happy calm: neither be thou lifted up too much, when thou findest thyself carried on with a fair gale of prosperity ; since thou knowest not what tempests may suddenly arise, and many a hopeful vessel hath been sunk in sight of the port. And, when thou seest the world every where fuil of woeful combustions, be not over-much dismayed with the sight and sense of these public calamities; but wait patiently upon that Divine Providence, which, after those revolutions of change, shall happily reduce all things to their determinate posture. To which purpose, () God, do thou fix my heart firmly upon thee: do thou keep me from the evil of prosperity, from dejectedness in affliction, from the prevalence of temptation, from misprision of thy Providence. Work me to that due temper, which thy Solomon hath prescribed me: In the day of prosperity, be joyful : but, in the day of adversity, consider : God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him; Eccl. vii. 14.
THE RULE OF DEVOTION. Tuy will, O God, as it is always holy; so, in what thou hast de. creed to do with us, is secret; and, in what thou wouldest have us do to thee, is revealed. It is thy revealed will, that must regulate both our actions and our prayers. It may be, that I may lawfully sue to thee, for what thou hast decreed not to grant : as Samuel ceased not to pray for thy favour to that Saul, whom thou hadst rejected; and many an Israelite prayed for rain, in that three years and a half, wherein thou hadst commanded the clouds to make good the prophecy of thine Elijah; yea, thy holy Apostle prayed thrice to have the messenger of Satan taken off from him, and heard no answer, but, My grace is sufficient for thee ; 2 Cor. xii. 9. So, Lord, we pray for the removal of thy judgments from this sinful and deplored nation, which for ought we know, and have cause to fear, thou hast decreed to ruin and devastation; and many a good soul prays for a comfortable sense of thy favour, whom thou thinkest fit to keep down for the time in a sad desertion; and I, thy unworthy servant, may pray to be freed from those temptations, wherewith thou seest it fit that my faith should be still exercised. O God, give me the grace to follow thy revealed will, and to submit myself to thy secret. What thou hast commanded, I know I may do: what thou hast promised, I know I may trust to: what thou hast, in a generality, promised to do, may, in some particular cases, by the just decree of thy secret counsel, be otherwise determined. If I ask what thou hast decreed to do, I know I cannot but obtain : if I ask what thou hast warranted, notwithstanding the particular exception of thy secret will, though I receive it not; yet I receive not pardon only, but acceptation. O God, give me grace to steer myself and my prayers by thy revealed will; and humbly to stoop to what the event shews to have been thy se, cret will.
HELL'S TRIUMPH. Thou hast told us, O Saviour, that there is joy in the presence of thine angels for a sinner's repentance ; Luke xv. 10. Those blessed spirits are so far from envying our happiness, that, as they endeavour it here, so they congratulate it in heaven: and, we well know, that these good spirits do not more rejoice in the conversion of a sinner, than the evil spirits do in the miscarriage of a convert. The
course of the holy obedience of thy servants here, is doubtless a pleasing object to thine angels; neither are those malignant spirits · less pleased with the wicked practices of their vassals : but the joy arises to both, from the contrary condition of those parties, over which they have prevailed. The allegiance of a good subject, though well-accepted, yet is no news to a gracious sovereign; but the coming in of some great rebel is happy tidings at the court : on the contrary, where there is a rivality of sovereignty, for a professed enemy to do hostile actions, is no other than could be expected; but, for a subject or a domestic servant to be drawn into the conspiracy, is not more advantage than joy to the intruder. O God, thou hast mercifully called me out of the world to a profession of thy Name: I know what eyes those envious spirits bave ever upon me: Oh, do thou lead me in thy righteousness, because of mine enemies; Psalm v. 8. If thine angels have found cause to joy in my conversion, Oh, do thou keep me from making music in hell by my miscarriage.
DUMB HOMAGE. How officious, O God, do I see thy poor dumb creatures to us! how do they fawn, or crouch, as they see us affected ! how do they run, and fetch, and carry, and draw at our command! how do they bear our stripes with a trembling unresistance! how readily do they spend their strength, and live theirs in our service! how patiently do they yield us their milk and their fleeces, for our advantage; and lie equally still, to be shorn, or slain, at our pleasure! expecting nothing from us, in the mean time, but a bare sustenance, which, if it be denied them, they do not fall furiously upon their cruel masters; but meekly bemoan themselves in their brutish language, and languish, and die: if granted them, they are fattened for our use. I am ashamed, O God, I am ashamed to see these thy creatures so obsequiously pliant unto me, while I consider my disposition and deportment towards thee my Creator. Alas, Lord, what made the difference betwixt me and them, but thy mere good pleasure ? thou mightest have made them rational, and have exchanged my reason for their brutality. They are my fellows, by creation; and owe both their being and preservation, to the same hand with myself. Thou art the absolute Lord of both, to whom I must be accountable for them: they are mine, only by a limited substitution from thee : why then should they be more obedient to my will, than I am to thine; since they have only sense to lead them in their way, I have both reason and faith to teach me my duty ? Had I made them, I could but require of them their absolute submission : why should I then exact of them, more than I am ready to perform unto thee? O God, thou, that hast put them under my hand, and me under thy own; as thou hast made me their master for command, so let me make them my masters to teach me obedience,