« PreviousContinue »
more on any thing till I can more willingly think these small beginnings, O make me more to love of thee? But I must suppress that wish : for and long for the blessed day of thine appearing, life will act : the mercies and motions of nature and not to fear the time of my deliverance, or are necessary to those of grace. Therefore in unbelievingly to linger in this Sodom, as one the life of nature, and in the glimmerings of that had rather stay with sin, than come to thee ; thy light, I will wait for more of the celestial | Though sin hath made me backward to the fight, life! My God, thou hast my consent! It is let it not make me backward to receive the here attested under my hand : separate me from crown : though it hath made me a loiterer in thy what and whom thou wilt, so I may but be work, let it not make me backward to receive nearer thee! Let me love thee more, and feel the wages which thy love will give to our parmore of thy love, and then let me love or be doned, poor, accepted service. Though I have beloved of the world, as little as thou wilt. too often drawn back, when I should have cone
I thought self-love had been a more pre- unto thee, and walked with thee in thy ways of dominant thing: but now I find that repentance grace, yet heal that unbelief and disaffection, hath its anger, its hatred and its revenge : I am which would make me to draw back, when thou truly angry with my heart that hath so often and callest me to possess thy glory? Though the foolishly offended thee; inethinks I hate that sickness and lameness of my soul have hindered heart that is so cold and backward in thy love, me in my journey, yet let their painfulness help and almost grudge it a dwelling in my breast. me in my desire to be delivered from them and Alas, when love should be the life of prayer, the to be at home, where, without the interposing life of holy meditation, the life of sermons and nights of thy displeasure, I shall fully feel thy of a holy conference, and my soul in these fullest love, and walk with thy glorified ones in should long to meet thee, and delight to men- the light of thy glory, triumphing in thy praise tion thee, I stray, Lord, I know not whither : for evermore. Amen. or I sit still and wish, but do not rise and But now I have given you these few directions run, and follow thee ; yea, I do not what I seem for the improvement of your solitude, for con. to do. All is dead, all is dead, for want of love; verse with God, lest I should occasion the hurt I often cry, O where is that place where the of those that are unfit for the lesson I have given. quickening beams of heaven are warmest, that I must conclude with this caution, which I have my frozen soul might seek it out! But whither formerly also published, that it is not melancholy can I go, to city, or to solitude, alas, I find it is or weak-headed persons, who are not able to bear not place that makes the difference. I know such exercises, for whom I have written these dithat Christ is perfectly replenished with life and rections. Those that are not able to be much in selight, and love divine : I hear him as our head rious, solitary thoughtfulness, without confusions, and treasure proclaimed and offered to us in the distracting suggestions, and hurrying, vexatious gospel! This is thy record, that he that hath thoughts, must set themselves for the most part the Son, hath life! O why then is my barren to those duties which are to be done in company soul so empty? I thought I had long ago con- by the help of others; and must be very little in sented to thy offer; and then according to thy solitary duties : for to them whose natural faculcovenant, both head and life in him are mine ? ties are so diseased or weak, it is no duty, as Yet must I still be dark and dead ?
being no means to do them the desired good; but Ah, dearest Lord, I say not that I have too while they strive to do that which they are natulong waited; but if I continue thus to wait, rally unable to endure, they will but confound, wilt thou never find the time of love ; and come distract themselves, and make themselves unable and own thy dying worm? Wilt thou never for those other duties which yet they are not utdissipate these clouds, and shine upon this terly unfit for. To such persons, instead of ordead and darkened soul ? Hath my night no dered, well digested meditations and much time day? Thrust me not from thee, O my God; spent in secret thoughtfulness, it must suffice that for that is a hell, to be thrust from God. But they be brief in secret prayer, and take up with surely the cause is all at home, could I find it such occasional abrupt meditations as they are out, or rather could I cure it; it is surely my capable of; and that they be the more in reading, face that is turned from God, when I say, his hearing, conference, praying and praising God face is turned from me. But if my life must with others : until their melancholy distempers here be out of sight, and hidden in the root, with are so far overcome, as that by the direction of Christ in God, and if all the rest be reserved their spiritual guides, they may judge themselves for that better world, and I must here have but fit for this improvement of their solitude.
ON Phil. 1. 23.
| the sense of the text, shall only observe what is PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS.
useful to my heart and practice. The exercise of three sorts of love-to God, to! It was a happy state into which grace had others, and to myself, afford me a threefold satis brought this apostle, who saw so much not only faction to be willing to depart.
tolerable, but greatly desirable, both in living I. I am sure my departure will be the fulfilling and dying. To live to him was Christ, that is, of that will which is love itself, which I am Christ's interest, or work : to die would be gain, bound above all things to love and please, and that is, his own interest and reward. His strait which is the beginning, rule, and end of all. was not whether it would be good to live or good Antonine could hence fetch good thoughts of to depart: both were good, but which was more death.
desirable was the doubt. II. The world dies not with me when I die : I. Quest. But was there any doubt to be made nor the church, nor the praise and glory of God, between Christ's interest and his own ? Answer. which he will have in, and from this world unto No, if it had been a full and fixed competition : the end : and if I love others as myself, their But by Christ, or Christ's interest, he means his lives and comforts will now be to my thoughts, work for his church's interest, in this world : but as if I were to live myself in them. God will be he knew that Christ also had an interest in his praised and honoured by posterity when I am saints above ; and that he could raise up more dead and gone. Were I to be annihilated this to serve him here : yet because he was to judge would comfort me now, if I lived and died in by what appeared, and he saw a defect of such perfect love.
on earth, this did turn the scales in his choice ; III. But a better and glorious world is before and for the work of Christ and his church's good, me, into which I hope by death to be translated, he more inclined to the delay of his reward, by whither all these three sorts of love should wrap self-denial : yet knowing that the delay would up the desires of my ascending soul; even the tend to its increase. It is useful to me here to love of myself, that I may be fully happy; the note:— That even in this world, short of death, love of the triumphant church, Christ, angels, and there is some good so much to be regarded, as glorified men, and the glory of all the universe may justly prevail with believers to prefer it which I shall see : and above all, the love of the before the present hastening of their reward. most glorious God, infinite life, and light, and I the rather note this, that no temptation carry love, the ultimate amiable object of man's love: me into that extreme, of taking nothing but in whom to be perfectly pleased and delighted, heaven to be worthy of our minding or regard; and to whom to be perfectly pleasing for ever, and so to cast off the world in a sinful sort, on is the chief and ultimate end of me, and of the pretence of mortification, and a heavenly mind highest, wisest, and best of creatures. Amen. I and life.
1. As to the sense, the meaning is not that THE INTRODUCTION.
any thing on earth is better than heaven ; or I write for myself, and therefore supposing simply, and in itself, to be preferred before it :