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of men or beasts ; or, bloody springs breaking out; or, direful noises heard; or, some such like uncouth premonitors; which the Great and Holy God sends purposely to awaken our security, and to prepare us either for expectation or prevention of judgments : wherein, the mercy of God marvellously magnifies itself towards sinful mankind, that he wills not to surprise us with unwarned evils, but would have his punishments anticipated by a seasonable repentance. But, of all the fore-tokens of thy fearfullest plagues prepared for any nation, O God, there is none so certain, as the prodigious sins of the people committed with a high hand against heaven, against so clear a light, so powerful convictions. The monstrous and unmatchable heresies, the hellish blasphemies, the bratish incests, the savage murders, the horrible sacrileges, perjuries, sorceries of any people, can be no other than the professed harbingers of vengeance : these are our showers of blood: these are our illboding comets : these are our misshapen births ; which an easy augury might well construe, to portend our threatened destruction. The Prophet did not more certainly foretell, when he heard of a hand-broad cloud arising from the sea, that a vehement rain was coming, (1 Kings xviii. 44 :) than God's Seers might foreknow, when they saw this dark cloud of our sins mounting up towards heaven, that a tempest of judgment must necessarily follow. But, O thou God of infinite mercy and compassion, look down from heaven upon us, and behold us from the habitation of thy holiness : where is thy zeal, and thy strength, the sounding of thy bowels, and of thy mercies towards us ? Are they restrained ? Isaiah Ixiii. 15. If so, it is but just ; for, surely, we are a sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity; Isaiah i. 4. We have seen our tokens, and have felt thy hand; yet we have not turned to thee from our evil ways: to us, therefore, justly belongeth confusion of faces, because we hive sinned against thee : but to thee, O Lord our God, belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against thee; Dan. ix. 8, 9. Oh, spare, spare the remnant of thy people : let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy chosen inheritance. O my God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate ; vv. 16, 17. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken, and defer not for thine own sake, O my God ; v. 19.
LXXX. UNWEARIED MOTION, AND REST ETERNAL. I SEE thy heavens, O God, move about continually, and are never weary of their revolution : whereas, all sublunary creatures are soon tired with motions; and seek for ease, in their intermissions. Even so, O my soul, the nearer thou growest to celestial, the more constant shall thy courses be; and the freer from that lassitude, that hangs upon thine earthly part. As it is now with me; thou seest, I soon find an unavoidable defatigation in all things: I am weary of labour; and, when that is done, I am no less weary of doing nothing; weary of the day, and more weary of the night; weary of all postures, weary of all places; weary of any one, if never so pleasing, employment ; weary, even of varieties; weary of those, which some men call recreations; weary of those, wherein I find most delight, my studies. But, o my soul, if thou be once soundly heavenized in thy thoughts and atfections, it shall be otherwise with thee: then, thou shalt be ever, like this firmament, most happily restless : thou shalt then find ever work enough, to contemplate that Infinite Deity, who dwells in the light inaccessible ; to see, with ravishment of spirit, thy Dear Saviour in his glorified Humanity, adored by all the powers of heaven; to view the blessed Orders of that Celestial Hierarchy, attending upon the Throne of Majesty ; to behold and admire the unspeakable and incomprehensible glory of the Saints : these are objects, with the sight whereof thine eye shall never be satisfied, much less cloyed; besides, that the hopes and desires of enjoying so great felicity, and the care of so composing thyself as that thou mayest be ever readily addressed for the fruition of it, shall wholly take thee up, with such contentment, that all earthly pleasures shall be no better than torments in comparison thereof. Oh, then, my soul, since, as a spark of that heavenly fire, thou canst never be but in motion, fix here above, where thy movings can be no other than pleasing and beatifical. And as thou, O my God, hast a double heaven; a lower heaven for motion, and an empyreal heaven for rest; one
eye, the other visible to our faith; so let my soul take part with them both: let it ever be moving towards thee, and in thee, like this visible heaven; and, since the end of all motion is rest, let it ever rest with thee, in that invisible region of glory. So let it move ever to thee, while I am here, that it may ever rest with thee, in thine eternal glory hereafter!
patent to the
THE SOUL'S FAREWELL TO EARTH,
APPROACHES TO HEAVEN.
SECT. I. Be thou ever, O my soul, holily ambitious: always aspiring towards thy heaven; not entertaining any thought, that makes not towards blessedness. For this cause, therefore, put thyself upon thy wings, and leave the earth below thee; and, when thou art advanced above this inferior world, look down upon this globe of wretched mortality, and despise what thou wast and hadst: and think with thyself: “ There was I, not a sojourner, so much as prisoner, for some tedious years : there have I been, thus long tugging with my miseries, with my sins: there have my treacherous senses betrayed me to infinite evils, both done and suffered. How have I been there tormented, with the sense of others' wickedness, but more of my own! what insolence did I see in men of power ! what rage, in men of blood! what gross superstition, in the ignorant! what abominable sacrilege, in those, that would be zealous ! what drunken reveilings, what Sodomitical filthiness, what hellish profanations, in atheous ruffians! what perfidiousness in friendship, what cozenage in contracts, what cruelty in revenges! shortly, what a hell upon earth! Farewell then, sinful world, whose favours have been no other than snares, and whose frowns no less than torments : farewell, for ever: for, if my flesh cannot yet clear itself of thee, yet my spirit shall ever know thee at a distance; and behold thee, no otherwise than the escaped mariner looks back upon the rock, whereon he was lately splitted. Let thy bewitched clients adore thee for a Deity: all the homage thou shalt receive from me shall be no other, than defiance; and, if thy glorious shews have deluded the eyes of credulous spectators, I know thee for an impostor: deceive, henceforth, those, that trust thee; for me, I am out of the reach of thy fraud, out of the power of thy malice.”
Thus do thou, O my soul, when thou art raised up to this height of thy fixed contemplation, cast down thine eyes contemptuously upon the region of thy former miseries, and be sure ever to keep up in a constant ascent towards blessedness; not suffering thyself to stoop any more upon these earthly vanities.
For, tell me seriously, when the world was disposed to court thee most of all, what did it yield thee but unsound joys, sauced