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Reader, if thou knewest what a cordial to thy thou need the choicest cordials? Here are griefs the serious views of glory are, thou choicer than the world can afford; here are all
less fear these harmless troubles, and the joys of heaven, even the vision of God, and more use that preserving, reviving remedy. “In Christ, and whatsoever the blessed here possess. the multitude of my troubled thoughts within | These dainties are offered thee by the hand of me,' saith David, 'thy comforts delight my soul.' Christ; he hath written the receipt in the pro• I reckon,' saith Paul, “ that the sufferings of this mises of the gospel ; he hath prepared the inpresent time are not worthy to be compared with gredients in heaven ; only put forth the hand of the glory which shall be revealed in us.'— For faith, and feed upon them, and rejoice and live. which cause we faint not, but though our out. The Lord saith to thee, as to Elijah, ' Arise and ward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed eat, because the journey is too great for thee.' day by day. For our light affliction, which is Though it be not long, yet the way is miry: but for a moment, worketh for us a far more therefore obey his voice, arise and eat, and in exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we the strength of that meat thou mayest go to the look not at the things which are seen, but at the mount of God; and, like Moses, die in the mount things which are not seen ; for the things which whither thou goest up: and say, as Simeon, are seen are temporal ; but the things which are Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in not seen are eternal.
peace ; for my eye of faith hath seen thy salva17. And another season peculiarly fit for this tion.' heavenly duty is, when the messengers of God 18. (III.) Concerning the fittest place for summon us to die. When should we more fre- heavenly contemplation, it is sufficient to say, quently sweeten our souls with the believing that the most convenient is some private retirethoughts of another life, than when we find that ment. Our spirits need every help, and to be this is almost ended ? No men have greater freed from every hinderance in the work. If, need of supporting joys, than dying men ; and in private prayer, Christ directs us to enter into those joys must be fetched from our eternal joy. our closet, and shut the door, that our Father As heavenly delights are sweetest, when nothing may see us in secret,' so should we do this in earthly is joined with them; so the delights of meditation. How often did Christ himself retire dying Christians are oftentimes the sweetest they to some mountain, or wilderness, or other soliever had. What a prophetic blessing had dying tary place? I give not this advice for occasional Isaac and Jacob, for their sons! With what a meditation, but for that which is set and solemn. heavenly song, and divine benediction, did Moses | Therefore withdraw thyself from all society, conclude his life! What heavenly advice and even that of godly men, that thou mayst a while prayer had the disciples from their Lord, when enjoy the society of thy Lord. If a student he was about to leave them! When Paul was cannot study in a crowd, who exerciseth only ready to be offered up, what heavenly exhorta- his invention and memory ; much less shouldst tion and advice did he give the Philippians, thou be in a crowd, who art to exercise all the Timothy, and the elders of Ephesus! How powers of thy soul, and upon an object so far near to heaven was John in Patmos, but a little above nature. We are fled so far from superstibefore his translation thither! It is the general tious solitude, that we have even cast off the temper of the saints to be then most heavenly solitude of contemplative devotion. We seldom when they are nearest heaven. If it be thy case, read of God's appearing by himself, or by his Reader, to perceive thy dying time draw on, o angels, to any of his prophets or saints, in a where should thy heart now be, but with Christ? crowd; but frequently when they were alone. Methinks thou shouldst even behold him stand. But observe for thyself what place best agrees ing by thee, and shouldst bespeak him as thy with thy spirit; within doors or without. Isaac's father, thy husband, thy physician, thy friend. example, in going out to meditate in the field, Methinks thou shouldst, as it were, see the angels will, I am persuaded, best suit with most. Our about thee waiting to perform their last office to Lord so much used a solitary garden, that even thy soul ; even those angels which disdained not Judas, when he came to betray him, knew where to carry into Abraham's bosom the soul of Laz- to find him: and though he took his disciples arus, nor will think much to conduct thee thither. thither with him, yet he was withdrawn from Look upon thy pain and sickness as Jacob did them for more secret devotions; and though his on Joseph's chariots, and let thy spirit revive meditation be not directly named, but only his within thee, and say, ' It is enough, Christ is yet praying, yet it is very clearly implied; for his alive; because he liveth, I shall live also.' Dost soul is first made sorrowful with the bitter medi
tations on his sufferings and death, and then he this understanding, and these affections, could poureth it out in prayer. So that Christ had his contain more! It is more my unfitness than any accustomed place, and consequently accustomed thing else, that even this place is not my heaven. duty; and so must we; he hath a place that is God is in this place, and I know it not. This solitary, whither he retireth himself, even from mount is full of chariots of fire; but mine eyes his own disciples, and so must we: his medita- are shut, and I cannot see them. O the words tions go further than his thoughts, they affect of love Christ hath to speak, and wonders of and pierce his heart and soul, and so must ours. love he hath to show, but I cannot bear them Only there is a wide difference in the object : yet! Heaven is ready for me, but my heart is Christ meditates on the sufferings that our sins unready for heaven. Therefore, Reader, seeing had deserved, so that the wrath of his Father thy enjoyment of God in this contemplation passed through all his soul; but we are to medi- much depends on the capacity and disposition tate on the glory he hath purchased, that the of thy heart, seek him here, if ever, with all thy love of the Father, and the joy of the Spirit, may soul. Thrust not Christ into the stable and the enter at our thoughts, and revive our affections, manger, as if thou hadst better guests for the and overflow our souls.
chief rooms. Say to all thy worldly business 19. (IV.) I am next to advise thee concerning and thoughts, as Christ to his disciples, . Sit ye the preparations of thy heart for this heavenly here, while I go and pray yonder.' Or as Abra. contemplation. The success of the work much ham to his servants, when he went to offer depends on the frame of thy heart. When man's Isaac, Abide ye here, and I will go yonder and heart had nothing in it to grieve the Spirit, it worship, and come again to you. Even as the was then the delightful habitation of his Maker. priests thrust king Uzziah out of the temple, God did not quit his residence there, till man where he presumed to burn incense, when they expelled him by unworthy provocations. There saw the leprosy upon him ; so do thou thrust was no shyness or reserve till the heart grew those thoughts from the temple of thy heart, sinful, and too lothesome a dungeon for God to which have the badge of God's prohibition upon delight in. And was this soul reduced to its them. former innocency, God would quickly return to 21. (2.) Be sure to set upon this work with his former habitation ; yea, so far as it is re- the greatest solemnity of heart and mind. There newed and repaired by the Spirit, and purged is no trifling in holy things. God will be sancfrom its lusts, and beautified with his image, the tified in them that come nigh him.' These spi. Lord will yet acknowledge it as his own; Christ ritual, excellent, soul-raising duties, are, if well will manifest himself unto it, and the Spirit will used, most profitable ; but, when used unfaithtake it for bis temple and residence. So far as fully, most dangerous. Labour, therefore, to the heart is qualified for conversing with God, have the deepest apprehensions of the presence so far it usually enjoys him. Therefore, with all of God, and his incomprehensible greatness. If diligence keep thy heart, for out of it are the queen Esther must not draw near 'till the king issues of life. More particularly,
hold out the sceptre ;' think, then, with what 20. (1.) Get thy heart as clear from the world reverence thou shouldst approach him who made as thou canst. Wholly lay by the thoughts of the worlds with the word of his mouth, who up. thy business, troubles, enjoyments, and every holds the earth as in the palm of his hand, who thing that may take up any room in thy soul. keeps the sun, moon, and stars in their courses, Get it as empty as thou possibly canst, that it and who sets bounds to the raging sea. Thou may be the more capable of being filled with art going to converse with him, before whom God. If thou couldst perform some outward the earth will quake, and devils do tremble, and duty with a piece of thy heart, while the other at whose bar thou and all the world must shortly is absent, yet this duty, above all, I am sure stand, and be finally judged. O think! 'I shall thou canst not. When thou shalt go into the then have lively apprehensions of his majesty. mount of contemplation, thou wilt be like the My drowsy spirits will then be awakened, and covetous man at the heap of gold, who, when my irreverence be laid aside ; and why should he might take as much as he could, lamented I not now be roused with the sense of his greatthat he was able to carry no more : so thou wilt ness, and the dread of his name possess my soul ?' find so much of God and glory as thy narrow Labour also to apprehend the greatness of the heart is able to contain, and almost nothing to work which thou attemptest, and to be deeply hinder thy full possession, but the incapacity of sensible both of its importance and excellency. thy own spirit. Then thou wilt think, () that If thou wast pleading for thy life at the bar of
an earthly judge, thou wouldst be serious, and he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God! yet that would be a trifle to this. If thou wast The manna lieth about your tents; walk out, engaged in such a work as David against Goli- gather it up, take it home, and feed upon it. In ath, on which the welfare of a kingdom depended; order to this I am only to direct you-how to in itself considered, it were nothing to this. use your consideration—and affections-your Suppose thou wast going to such a wrestling as soliloquy, and prayer. Jacob's, or to see the sight which the three dis- 2. (I.) Consideration is the great instrument ciples saw in the mount, how seriously, how re- by which this heavenly work is carried on. This verently wouldst thou both approach and be- must be voluntary, and not forced. Some men hold! If but an angel from heaven should ap- consider unwillingly; so God will make the point to meet thee, at the same time and place wicked consider their sins, when he shall • set of thy contemplations; with what dread wouldst them in order before their eyes ;' so shall the thou be filled! Consider, then, with what a damned consider of the excellency of Christ, spirit thou shouldst meet the Lord, and with what whom they once despised, and of the eternal joys seriousness and awe thou shouldst daily converse which they have foolishly lost. Great is the with him. Consider also the blessed issue of the power which consideration hath for moving the work : if it succeed, it will be thy admission into affections, and impressing things on the heart; the presence of God, and the beginning of thy as will appear by the following particulars. eternal glory on earth ; a means to make thee 3. (1.) Consideration, as it were, opens the live above the rate of other men, and fix thee door between the head and the heart. The un. in the next room to the angels themselves, that derstanding having received truths, lays them thou mayest both live and die joyfully. The up in the memory, and consideration conveys prize being so great, thy preparations should be them from thence to the affections. What ex. answerable. There is none on earth live such cellency would there be in much learning and a life of joy and blessedness, as those that are knowledge, if the obstructions between the head acquainted with this heavenly conversation. The and heart were but opened, and the affections joys of all other men are but like a child's play, did but correspond to the understanding! He a fool's laughter, or a sick man's dream of health. is usually the best scholar, whose apprehension He that trades for heaven is the only gainer, is quick, clear, and tenacious; but he is usually and he that neglects it is the only loser. How the best Christian, whose apprehension is the seriously, therefore, should this work be done! deepest and most affectionate, and who has the
readiest passages, not so much from the ear to
the brain, as from that to the heart. And though CHAPTER XIV.
the Spirit be the principal cause ; yet, on our part, this passage must be opened by consideration.
4. (2.) Consideration presents to the affections those things which are most important. The most delightful object does not entertain,
WHAT USE HEAVENLY CONTEMPLATION MAKES OF
affect him that does not hear it ; but considera
Sect. 1. The reader is invited to engage in heavenly contemplation;
2. and to that end is, (I.) Directed in the use of consideration; 3-8. the great influence of which over the heart is represented in several instances : 9. Then, (II.) it is shown how heavenly contemplation is promoted by the affections ; particularly, 10–12. (1.) by love, 13 (2) desire, 14. (3.) hope, 15. (4.) courage, or boldness, 16.-18. and (5.) joy. 19. A caution is added concerning this exercise of the affections. 20-22. (III.) The chapter concludes with some account of the usefulness of soliloquy and prayer, in heavenly contemplation
were as absent, and brings them to the eye and
fecting objects? Would they not work wonders
upon the soul, if they were but clearly discove 1. Having set thy heart in tune, we now come ered, and our apprehensions of them were in to the music itself. Having got an appetite, some measure answerable to their worth? It is now approach to the feast, and delight thy soul consideration that presents them to us: this is as with marrow and fatness. Come, for all things the Christian's perspective, by which he can see are now ready. Heaven and Christ, and the from earth to heaven. exceeding weight of glory are before you. Do 5. (3.) Consideration also presents the most not make light of this invitation, nor begin to important things in the most affecting way. Conmake excuses; whatever thou art, rich or poor, sideration reasons the case with a man's own though in alms-houses or hospitals, though in heart. When a believer would reason his heart to highways and hedges, my commission is, if pos- heavenly contemplation, how many arguments sible, to compel you to come in : and blessed is offer themselves from God and Christ, froni each of the divine perfections, from our former and 8. (6.) Consideration can continue and persepresent state, from promises, from present suf- vere in this rational employment. Meditation ferings and enjoyments, from hell and heaven. holds reason and faith to their work, and blows Every thing offers itself to promote our joy, and the fire till it thoronghly burns. To run a few consideration is the hand to draw them all out; steps will not get a man heat, but walking an it adds one reason to another, till the scales turn: hour may : and though a sudden occasional this it does when persuading to joy, till it hath thought of heaven will not raise our affections to silenced all our distrust and sorrows, and your any spiritual heat, yet meditation can continue cause for rejoicing lies plain before you. If our thoughts till our hearts grow warm. Thus another’s reasoning is powerful with us, though you see the powerful tendency of consideration we are not certain whether he intends to inform to produce this great elevation of the soul in or deceive us, how much more should our own heavenly contemplation. reasoning prevail with us, when we are so well 9. (II.) Let us next see how this heavenly acquainted with our own intentions ? Nay, how work is promoted by the particular exercise of much more should God's reasoning work upon the affections. It is by consideration, that we us, which we are sure cannot deceive, or be de- first have recourse to the memory, and from ceived ? Now, consideration is but the reading thence take those heavenly doctrines which we over, and repeating God's reasons to our hearts. intend to make the subject of our meditation ; As the prodigal had many and strong reasons to such as promises of eternal life, descriptions of plead with himself, why he should return to his the saints' glory, the resurrection, &c. &c. We Father's house, so have we to plead with our then present them to our judgment, that it may affections, to persuade them to our Father's ever- deliberately view them over, and take an exact lasting mansion.
survey, and determine uprightly concerning the 6.(4.) Consideration exalts reason to its just perfection of our celestial happiness, against all authority. It helps to deliver it from its cap- the dictates of flesh and sense, and so as to magtivity to the senses, and sets it again on the nify the Lord in our hearts, till we are filled throne of the soul. When reason is silent, it is with a holy admiration. But the principal thing usually subject ; for when it is asleep, the senses is to exercise, not merely our judgment, but our domineer. But consideration awakens our rea- faith in the truth of our everlasting rest ; by son, till, like Samson, it rouses up itself, and which I mean, both the truth of the promises, breaks the bonds of sensuality, and bears down and of our own personal interest in them, and the delusions of the flesh. What strength can title to them. If we did really and firmly bethe lion exert while asleep? What is a king, lieve, that there is such a glory, and that within when dethroned, more than another man? Spi- a few days our eyes shall behold it, ( what pasritual reason, excited by meditation, and not sions would it raise within us! What astonishing fancy or fleshly sense, must judge of heavenly apprehensions of that life would it produce ! joys. Consideration exalts the objects of faith, What love, what longing would it excite within and comparatively disgraces the objects of sense. I us! O how it would actuate every affection ! The most inconsiderate men are most sensual. | How it would transport us with joy, upon the It is too easy and common to sin against know least assurance of our title! Never expect to ledge, but against sober, strong, persevering con have love and joy move, when faith stands still, sideration, men seldom offend.
which must lead the way. Therefore, daily ex7. (5.) Consideration makes reason strong and ercise faith, and set before it the freeness of the active. Before, it was a standing water, but promise, God's urging all to accept it, Christ's now as a stream, which violently bears down all gracious disposition, all the evidences of the before it. Before, it was as the stones in the | love of Christ, his faithfulness to his engagebrook, but now, like that out of David's sling, ments, and the evidences of his love in ourselves ; which smites the Goliath of our unbelief in the lay all these together, and think, whether they forehead. As wicked men continue wicked, be- do not testify the good-will of the Lord concercause they bring not reason into act and exer- ning our salvation, and may not properly be cise ; so godly men are uncomfortable, because pleaded against our unbelief.-Thus, when the they let their reason and faith lie asleep, and do judgment bath determined, and faith hath apnot stir them up to action by this work of medi-prehended the truth of our happiness, then may tation. What fears, sorrows, and joys will our our meditation proceed to raise our affections, very dreams excite! How much more, then, would and, particularly,-love-desire-hope-courserious meditation affect us ?
| age, or boldness--and joy.
10. (1.) Love is the first affection to be ex- great Peace-maker ; his kingdom is the kingdom cited in heavenly contemplation : the object of of peace : his gospel is the tidings of peace; his it is goodness. Here, Christian, is the soul-re voice to thee now is the voice of peace! Draw viving part of thy work. Go to thy memory, near and behold him. Dost thou not hear his thy judgment, and thy faith, and from them pro- voice ? He that bade Thomas come near, and duce the excellencies of thy rest ; present these see the print of the nails, and put his finger into to thy affection of love, and thou wilt find thy- his wounds, he it is that calls to thee, • Come self as it were in another world. Speak out, and near and view the Lord thy Saviour, and be not love can hear. Do but reveal these things, and faithless, but believing; peace be unto thee, love can see. It is the brutish love of the world fear not, it is l. Look well upon him. Dost that is blind : divine love is exceeding quick- thou not know him? It is he that brought thee sighted. Let thy faith take hold of thy heart, up from the pit of hell, reversed the sentence of and show it the sumptuous buildings of thy thy damnation, bore the curse which thou shouldst eternal habitation, and the glorious ornaments have borne, restored thee to the blessing thou of thy Father's house, even the mansions Christ hadst forfeited, and purchased the advancement is preparing, and the honours of his kingdom ; which thou must inherit for ever. And dost thou let thy faith lead thy heart into the presence of not yet know him ? His hands were pierced, God, and as near as thou possibly canst, and say his head, his side, his heart were pierced, that to it, Behold the Ancient of Days, the Lord by these marks thou mightest always know him. Jehovah, whose name is, I AM: this is he who Dost thou not remember when he found thee made all the worlds with his word, who upholds lying in thy blood, and took pity on thee, and the earth, who rules the nations, who disposes of dressed thy wounds, and brought thee home, and all events, who subdues his foes, who controls said unto thee, Live. Hast thou forgotten the swelling waves of the sea, who governs the since he wounded himself to cure thy wounds, winds, and causes the sun to run its race, and and let out his own blood to stop thy bleeding? the stars to know their courses. This is he who If thou knowest him not by the face, the voice, loved thee from everlasting, formed thee in the the hands, thou mayest know him by that heart womb, gave thee this soul, brought thee forth, that soul-pitying heart is his; it can be none showed thee the light, and ranked thee with the but his : love and compassion are its certain chief of his earthly creatures ; who endued thee signatures: this is he who chose thy life before with thy understanding, and beautified thee with his own ; who pleads his blood before his Father, bis gifts ; who maintains thy life and all its and makes continual intercession for thee? If comforts, and distinguishes thee from the most he had not suffered, what hadst thou suffered ? miserable and vilest of men. O here is an ob- There was but a step between thee and hell, ject worthy thy love! Here shouldst thou even when he stepped in and bore the stroke. And pour out thy soul in love! Here it is impossible is not here fuel enough for thy love to feed on? for thee to love too much! This is the Lord who Doth not thy throbbing heart stop here to ease hath blessed thee with his benefits, spread thy itself, and, like Joseph, ' seek for a place to weep table in the sight of thine enemies, and made in ?' or do not the tears of thy love bedew these thy cup overflow? This is he whom angels and lines ? Go on, then, for the field of love is saints praise, and the heavenly host for ever large; it will be thy eternal work to behold and magnify! Thus do thou expatiate on the praises love; nor needest thou want work for thy preof God, and open his excellencies to thine sent meditation. heart, till the holy fire of love begins to kindle in 12. How often hath thy Lord found thee, like thy breast.
| Hagar, sitting and weeping, and giving up thy 11. If thou feelest thy love not yet burn, lead soul for lost, and he opened to thee a well of thy heart farther, and show it the Son of the consolation, and also opened thine eyes to see it! living God, whose name is, · Wonderful, Coun- How often, in the posture of Elijah, desiring to sellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, die out of thy misery, and he hath spread thee the Prince of Peace : show it the King of saints a table of unexpected relief, and sent thee on his on the throne of his glory, “the First and the work refreshed and encouraged! How often, in Last ; who is, and was, and is to come; who the case of the prophet's servants, crying out, liveth, and was dead, and behold he lives for · Alas! what shall we do, for a host doth enevermore ; who hath made thy peace by the camp us;' and he hath opened thine eyes to see blood of his cross,' and hath prepared thee with more for thee than against thee!' How often, himself a habitation of peace : his office is the like Jonah, peevish, and weary of thy life, and