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Few and evil have been the days of the years of my pilgrimage ; Gen. xlvii. 9: few, in number; evil, in condition.
Few, in themselves; but none at all to thee, with whom a thousand years are but as one day. But, had they been double to the age of Methuselah, could they have been so much as one minute to eternity ? Yea, what were they to me, now that they are past, but as a tale that is told and forgotten?
Neither yet have they been so few, as evil. Lord, what troubles and sorrows hast thou let me see, both my own and others! what vicissitudes of sickness and health! what ebbs and flows of condition! how many successions and changes of princes, both at home and abroad! what turnings of times! what alteration of governments! what shiftings and downfals of favourites! what ruins and desolations of kingdoms! what sacking of cities! what havocks of war! what frenzies of rebellions! what underminings of treachery! what cruelties and barbarisms in revenges! what anguish in the oppressed and tormented! what agonies in temptations! what pangs in dying! These I have seen; and, in these, I have suffered, And now, Lord, how willing I am to change time, for eternity; the evils of earth, for the joys of heaven; misery, for happiness; a dying life, for immortality ?
Even so, Lord Jesu: take what thou hast bought: receive my soul to thy mercy; and crown it with thy glory; Amen, Amen, Amen,
GREAT MYSTERY OF GODLINESS,
BY WAY OF AFFECTUOUS AND FEELING
BY JOSEPH, BISHOP OF NORWICH.
To all them, that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, Grace
IF I have, in a sort, taken my leave of the world already; yet not of you, whom God hath chosen out of the world, and endeared to me by a closer interest : so as ye may justly expect from me a more special valediction; which I do now, in all Christian affection, tender unto you. And, as dear friends, upon a long parting, are wont to leave behind them some tokens of remembrance, where they most affect; so have I thought good, before my setting forth on my last journey, to recommend unto you these my Two Final Meditations: than which, I suppose, nothing could be more proper for me to give, or more like to merit your acceptation; for, if we were half way in heaven already, what can be a more seasonable em. ployment of our thoughts, than the Great Mystery of Godliness, which the angels desire to look into ? And now, when our bodily eyes are glutted with the view of the things that are seen, a prospect which can afford us nothing but vanity and vexation, what can be more meet, than to feed our spiritual eyes with the Light of Invisible Glories ? Make your use of ihem: both to the edifying of yourselves, in your most holy faith; and aspire with me, towards that happiness, which is laid up above for all those, that love the appearance of our Lord Jesus. Withal, as the last words of friends are wont to bear the greatest weight, and to make the deepest impression; so let these lines of holy advice, wherewith, after many well-meant discourses, I shall close up the mouth of the press, find the like respect from you.
Oh, that I might, in the first place, effectually recommend to you the full recovery of that precious legacy of our Blessed Saviour, Peace: peace with God, peace with men; next to Grace, the best of all blessings : yet, woe is me, too too long banished from the Christian world, with such animosity, as if it were the worst of enemies, and meet to be adjudged to a perpetual migration ! Oh, for a fountain of tears, to bewail the slain of God's people, in all the coasts of the earth! How is Christendom become an universal Aceldama! How is the earth every where drenched with human blood; poured out, not by the hands of cruel infidels, but of brethren! Men need not go so far as Euphrates, for the execution of Turks and Pagans : Christians can make up an Armageddon, with their own mutual slaughter. Enough, my Dear Brethren, enough; yea, more than too much, hath been the effusion of that blood, for which our Saviour hath shed his. Let us now, at the last, dry up. these deadly issues, which we have made; and, with sovereign balms, bind up the wounds we have given. Let us now be, not more sparing of our tears, to wash off the memory of these our un