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ing and eternal weight of glory. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen for the things which are seen, are temporal; but the things which are not seen, are eternal.'
Our beholding by faith things that are not seen, things spiritual and eternal, will alleviate all our afflictions, make their burden light, and preserve our souls from fainting under them. Of these things the glory of Christ whereof we treat, is the principal, and in a due sense comprehensive of them all. For we behold the 'glory of God himself, in the face of Jesus Christ.' He that can at all times retreat unto the contemplation of this glory, will be carried above the perplexing prevailing sense of any of these evils, of a confluence of them all. Crus nil sentit in ner
vo dum animus est in cœlo.'
It is a woful kind of life, when men scramble for poor perishing reliefs in their distresses. This is the universal remedy and cure, the only balsam for all our diseases. Whatever presseth, urgeth, perplexeth; if we can but retreat in our minds unto a view of this glory, and a due consideration of our own interest therein; comfort and supportment will be administered unto us. Wicked men in their distresses (which sometimes overtake even them also), are like a troubled sea that cannot rest.' Others are heartless and despond, not without secret repinings at the wise disposals of divine providence, especially when they look on the better condition (as they suppose) of others. And the best of us all are apt to wax faint and weary, when these things press upon us in an unusual manner, or under their long continuance, without a prospect of relief. This is the strong hold which such prisoners of hope are to turn themselves unto. In this contemplation of the
glory of Christ, they will find rest unto their own souls. For,
1. It will herein, and in the discharge of this duty, be made evident, how slight and inconsiderable all these things are from whence our troubles and distresses do arise. For they all grow on this root of an over-valuation of temporal things. And unless we can arrive unto a fixed judgment that all things here below are transitory and perishing, reaching only unto the outward man, or the body (perhaps unto the killing of it), that the best of them have nothing that is truly substantial or abiding in them; that there are other things wherein we have an assured interest, that are incomparably better than they, and above them, it is impossible but that we must spend our lives in fears, sorrows, and distractions. One real view of the glory of Christ, and of our own concernment therein, will give us a full relief in this matter. For what are all the things of this life; what is the good or evil of them, in comparison of an interest in this transcendent glory? When we have due apprehensions hereof, when our minds are possessed with thoughts of it, when our affections reach out after its enjoyments, let pain, and sickness, and sorrows, and fears, and dangers, and death, say what they will, we shall have in readiness wherewith to combat with them, and overcome them; and that on this consideration, that they are all outward, transitory, and passing away; whereas our minds are fixed on those things which are eternal, and filled with incomprehensible glory.
2. The minds of men are apt by their troubles to be cast into disorder, to be tossed up and down, and disquieted with various affections and passions. So the psalmist found it in himself, in the time of his
distress; whence he calls himself unto that account: 'Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me?' And indeed, the mind on all such occasions, is its own greatest troubler. It is apt to let loose its passions of fear and sorrow, which act themselves in innumerable perplexing thoughts, until it is carried utterly out of its own power. But in this state a due contemplation of the glory of Christ, will restore and compose the mind, bring it into a sedate, quiet frame, wherein faith will be able to say unto the winds and waves of distempered passions, Peace, be still; and they shall obey it.
3. It is the way and means of conveying a sense of God's love unto our souls, which is that alone where ultimately we find rest in the midst of all the troubles of this life, as the apostle declares, Rom. v. 2-5. It is the Spirit of God, who alone communicates a sense of this love unto our souls; it is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost.' Howbeit, there are ways and means to be used on our part, whereby we may be disposed and made meet to receive these communications of divine love. Among these the principal is the contemplation of the glory of Christ insisted on, and of God the Father in him. It is the season, it is the way and means, at which and whereby the Holy Ghost will give a sense of the love of God unto us, causing us thereon to 'rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.' This will be made evident in the ensuing discourse. This will lift the minds and hearts of believers above all the troubles of this life, and is the sovereign antidote that will expel all the poison that is in them, which otherwise might perplex and enslave their souls.
I have but touched on these things, as designing to enlarge somewhat on that which doth ensue. And this is the advantage we may have in the dis
charge of this duty with respect unto death itself. It is the assiduous contemplation of the glory of Christ, which will carry us cheerfully and comfortably into it, and through it. My principal work having been now for a long season to die daily, as living in a continual expectation of my dissolution, I shall on this occasion acquaint the reader with some few of my thoughts and reliefs, with reference unto death itself.
There are sundry things required of us, that we may be able to encounter death cheerfully, constantly, and victoriously. For want of these, or some of them, I have known gracious souls, who have lived in a kind of bondage for fear of death all their days. We know not how God will manage any of our minds and souls in that season, in that trial. For he acts towards us in all such things, in a way of sovereignty. But these are the things which he requireth of us in a way of duty.
First, Peculiar actings of faith to resign and commit our departing souls into the hand of him, who is able to receive them, to keep and preserve them, as also to dispose of them into a state of rest and blessedness, are required of us.
The soul is now parting with all things here below, and that for ever. None of all the things which it hath seen, heard, or enjoyed, by its outward senses, can be prevailed with to stay with it one hour, or to take one step with it, in the voyage wherein it is engaged. It must alone by itself launch into eternity. It is entering an invisible world, which it knows no more of than it hath received by faith. None hath come from the dead to inform us of the state of the other world. Yea, God seems on purpose so to conceal it from us, that we should have no evidence of it, at least as unto the manner of things in it, but what is given unto faith divine revelation. Hence those who died and
were raised again from the dead, unto any continuance among men, as Lazarus, probably knew nothing of the invisible state. Their souls were preserved by the
power of God in their being, but bound up as unto present operations. This made a great emperor cry out on the approach of death; 'O animula, tremula, vagula, blandula; quæ nunc abibis in loca horrida, squalida,' &c. O poor, trembling, wandering soul, into what places of darkness and defilement art thou going!'
How is it like to be after the few moments, which under the pangs of death we have to continue in this world? Is it an annihilation that lies at the door? Is death the destruction of our whole being, so as that after it we shall be no more? So some would have the state of things to be. Is it a state of subsistence in a wandering condition, up and down the world, under the influence of other more powerful spirits that rule in the air, visiting tombs and solitary places, and sometimes making appearances of themselves by the impressions of those more powerful spirits, as some imagine from the story concerning Samuel and the witch of Endor, and as it is commonly received in the papacy, out of a compliance with their imagination of purgatory? Ọr is it a state of universal misery and woe? a state incapable of comfort or joy? Let them pretend what they please, who can understand no comfort or joy in this life, but what they receive by their senses, they can look for nothing else. And whatever be the state of this invisible world, the soul can undertake nothing of its own conduct after its departure from the body. It knows that it must be absolutely at the disposal of another.
Wherefore, no man can comfortably venture on and into this condition, but in the exercise of that faith, which enables him to resign and give up his departing soul into the hand of God, who alone is able