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the consideration and improvement of it, and did believingly eye
the promised glory, and hereupon did make it the business of their lives to delight their souls in him that hath loved them! And what a wonderful success might we expect to our preaching, if the holy delights and cheerful obedience of the saints did preach, as clearly to the eyes of the world, as we preach loudly to their ears.
But flesh will be flesh yet awhile! And unbelief will be unbelief! We are all to blame! The Lord forgive our overlooking his lovingkindness; and our dishonouring the glorious Gospel of his Son; and our seconding satan, in his contradicting of that design which hath contrived God's glory in so sweet a way.
And now, Christian reader, let me entreat thee in the name and fear of God, hereafter better to understand and practise thy duty. Thy heart is better a thousand times in godly sorrow than in carnal mirth, and by such sorrow it is often made better; Eccles. vii. 2–4. But never take it to be right till it be delighting itself in God. When you kneel down in prayer, labour so to conceive of God, and bespeak him that he may be your delight; so do in hearing and reading ; so do in all your meditations of God; so do in your feasting on the flesh and blood of Christ at his supper. Especially improve the happy opportunity of the Lord's day, wherein you may wholly devote yourselves to this work. And I advise ministers and all Christ's redeemed ones, that they spend more of those days in praise and thanksgiving, especially in commemoration of the whole work of redemption (and not of Christ's resurrection alone) or else they will not answer the institution of the Lord. And that they keep it as the most solemn day of thanksgiving, and be more brief on that day in their confessions and lamentations, and larger at other times !
O that the congregations of Christ through the world were so well informed and animated, that the main business of their solemn assemblies on that day might be to sound forth the high praises of their Redeemer; and to begin here the praises of God and the Lamb, which they must perfect in heaven for ever! How sweet a foretaste of heaven would be then in these solemnities! And truly, let me tell you, my brethren of the ministry, you should by private teaching and weekday sermons, so further the knowledge of your people, that
you might not ..ced to spend so much of the Lord's day in sermons as the most godly use to do; but might bestow a greater part of it in psalms and solemn praises to our Redeemer. And I could wish that the ministers of England, to that end, would unanimously agree on some one translation of the English Psalms in metre, better than that in common use, and if it may be, better than any yet extant (not neglecting the poetical sweetness under pretence of exact translating), or at least to agree on the best now extant; (the London ministers may do well to lead the way) lest that blessed part of God's solemn worship should be blemished for want either of reformation or uniformity. And in my weak judgment, if hymns and psalms of praise were new invented, as fit for the state of the Gospel church and worship (to laud the Redeemer come in the flesh, as expressly as the work of grace is now express) as David's Psalms were fitted to the former state and infancy of the church, and more obscure revelations of the Mediator and his grace, it would be no sinful, human invention or addition ; nor any more want of warrant, than our inventing the form and words of every sermon that we preach, and every prayer that we may make, or any catechism or confession of faith. Nay, it may seem of so great usefulness, as to be next to a necessity. (Still provided that we force not any to the use of them that through ignorance may scruple it.) And if there be any convenient parcels of the ancient church that are fitted to this use, they should deservedly be preferred. I do not think I digress all this while from the scope of my discourse. For doubtless if God's usual solemn worship on the Lord's days were more fitted and directed to a pleasant, delightful, praising way, it would do very much to frame the spirits of Christians to joyfulness, and thankfulness, and delight in God; than which there is no greater cure for their doubtful, pensive, self-tormenting frame. O try this, Christians, at the request of one that is moved by God to importune you to it! God doth pity you in your sorrows ! But he delighteth in you when you delight in him. See Isai. lviii. 14. compared with Zeph. iii. 17. And if sin interpose and hinder your delights, believe it, a cheerful amendment and obedience is that which will please God better than your self-tormenting fears. Do not you like that servant better that will go cheerfully about your
work, and do it as well as he can, accounting it a recreation, and will endeavour to mend where he hath done amiss, than him that will at every step fall a crying, “O I am so weak, I can do nothing as I should.' A humble sense of failings you will like; but not that your servant should sit still and complain when he should be working ; nor that all your service should be performed with weeping, disquietness and lamentations; you had rather have your servant humbly and modestly cheerful, and not always dejected, for fear of displeasing you. O how many poor souls are overseen in this ! You might easily perceive it even by the devil's opposition and temptations. He will further you in your self-vexations (when he cannot keep you in security and presumption), but in amending, he will hinder you with all his might. How oft have I known poor, passionate creatures, that would vex and
and break out in unseemly language, to the disquieting of all about them; and others that would drop into other the like sins, and when they have done lament it, and condemn themselves ; and yet would not set upon a resolute and cheerful reformation! Nay, if you do but reprove them for any sin, they will sooner say,
If I be so bad, God will condemn me for an hypocrite,' and so lie down in disquietness and distress; than they will say, · I see my sin, and I resolve to resist it, and I pray you warn me of it, and help me to watch against it. So that they would bring us to this pass, that either we must let them alone with their sins, for fear of tormenting them, or else we must cause them to lie down in terrors. Alas, poor mistaken souls! It is neither of these that God calls for! Will you do any thing save what you should do? Must you needs be esteemed either innocent, or hypocrites, or such as shall be damned ? The thing that God would have is this; That you would be glad that you see your fault, and thank him that sheweth it you, and resolvedly do your
best to amend it, and this in faith and cheerful confidence in Christ, Aying to his Spirit for help and victory. Will you please the devil so far, and so far contradict the gracious way of Christ, as that you will needs either sit still or despair ? Is there not a middle between these two ? To wit, cheerful amendment ? Remember that it is not your vexation or despair, but your obedience and peace that God
desireth. That life is most pleasing to him, which is most safe and sweet to you.
If you say still, you cannot delight in God, I say again, Do but acknowledge it the great work that God requireth of you, and make it your daily aim, and care, and business, and then you will more easily and certainly attain it. But while you know not your work, or so far mistake it, as to think it consisteth more in sorrows and fears; and never endeavour, in your duties or meditations, to raise your soul to a delight in God, but rather to cast down yourself with still poring on your miseries, no wonder then if you be a stranger to this life of holy delight.
By this time I find myself come up to the subject of my book of the “Saints' Rest;" wherein having said so much to direct and excite you, for the attainment of these spiritual and heavenly delights, I will refer you to it, for your help in that work; and add no more here, but to desire you, through the course of your life, to remember, That the true love of God in Christ, and delight in him, and thankful, cheerful obedience to him, is the great work of a Christian, which God is best pleased with, and which the blessed angels and saints shall be exercised in for ever.
And I thou the blessed God of love, the Father of mercy, the Prince of peace, the Spirit of consolation, compose the disquieted spirits of thy people, and the tumultuous, disjointed state of thy churches; and pardon our rashness, contentions, and blood-guiltiness, and give us not up to the state of the wicked, who are like the raging sea, and to whom there is no peace! Lay thy command on our winds and waves, before thy shipwrecked vessel perish; and rebuke that evil spirit whose name is Legion, which hath possessed so great a part of thine inheritance. Send forth the spirit of judgment and meekness into thy churches, and save us from our pride and ignorance with their effects; and bring our feet into the
peace, which hitherto we have not known. O close all thy people speedily in loving consultations, and earnest inquiries after peace. Let them return from their corruptions, contentions, and divisions, and jointly seek thee, asking the way to Zion with their faces thitherward; saying, Come let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten. Blast all
opposing policies and powers. Say to these dead and dry bones, Live. And out of these ruins do thou yet erect a city of righteousness, where thy people may dwell together in peaceable habitations; and in the midst thereof a temple to thy holiness : let the materials of it be verity and purity: let the Redeemer be its foundation : let love and peace cement it into unity: let thy laver and covenant be the doors; and holiness to the Lord be engraven thereon; that buyers and sellers may be cast out, and the common and unclean may know their place; and let no desolating abomination be there set up. But let thy people all in one name, in one faith, with one mind, and one soul, attend to thine instructions, and wait for thy laws, and submit unto thine order, and rejoice in thy salvation; that the troubled spirits may be there exhilarated, the dark enlightened, and all may offer thee the sacrifice of praise, (without disaffections, discords, or divisions ;) that so thy people may be thy delight, and thou mayest be the chiefest delight of thy people; and they may please thee through him that hath perfectly pleased thee. Or if our expectation of this happiness on earth be too high, yet give us so much as may enlighten our eyes, and heal those corruptions which estrange us from thee, and may propagate thy truth, increase thy church, and honour thy holiness, and may quicken our desires, and strengthen us in ourway, and be a foretaste to us of the everlasting rest.
END OF THE RIGHT METHOD FOR A SETTLED PEACE OF