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and more perfectly filled with him and the clearer the soul's apprehensions are of its object, and the deeper its sense is of its own unlikeness to him, and distance from him, the more strong and impatient are its breathings; insomuch that not only fear, as the Apostle speaks, but even love itself sometimes seems to itself to have a kind of agony and torment in itself; which made the spouse cry, she was sick of love, that is, sick of every thing that kept her from her love, sick of that distance at which she stood from her beloved Lord. The godly soul being ravished with the infinite sweetness and goodness of God, longs to be that rather than what itself is; and beholding how it is estranged from him, by many sensual loves, selfish passions, corporeal clogs and distractions, bewails its distance, and cries out within itself, "Oh when shall I come and appear before God!" Oh when will God come and appear gloriously to me and in me! "Who will deliver me from this body of death!" Oh that mortality were swallowed up of life! David's soul did wait for God as earnestly, and more properly, than they that watch for the morning; they may be said rather to be weary of the long and cold and troublesome night, than properly covetous of the day; but he, out of a pure and spiritual sense of his estrangement from God, longs to appear before him, and be wrapped up in him. Heal the godly man of all his afflictions, grievances, adversities in the world, that he may have nothing to trouble him, nor put him to pain; yet he is not quiet, he is in pain because of the distance at which he stands from God: give him the whole world, and all the glory of it, yet he has not
enough; he still cries, and craves, "Give, give," because he is not entirely swallowed up in God: he openeth his mouth wide, as the Psalmist speaks, and all the silver and gold, peace, health, liberty, preferment, that you cast into it, cannot fill it; because they are not God, he cannot look upon them as his chiefest good. In a word, a godly man doth not so much say, in the sense either of sin or affliction, "Oh that one would give me the wings of a dove, that I might fly away and be at rest!" as in the sense of his dissimilitude to, and distance from God, Oh that one would give me the wings of an angel, that I might fly away towards heaven!
An expostulation with Christians concerning their remiss and sluggish temper; an attempt to convince them of it by some considerations; which are, 1. The activity of worldly men. 2. The restless appetites of the body. 3. The strong propensions of every creature towards its own centre: an inquiry into the slothfulness and inactivity of Christian souls. The grace of faith vindicated from the slander of being merely passive. A short attempt to awaken Christians unto greater vigour and activity.
WE have seen in what respects religion is an active principle in the soul where it is seated; give me leave to enlarge a little here for conviction or reprehension. By this property of true religion we shall be able to discover much that is false and counterfeit in the world. If religion be no lazy, languid, sluggish, passive thing, but life, love, the spirit of power and freedom, a fire burning, a well of water springing up, as we have sufficiently seen, what shall we say then of that heavy, sluggish, spiritless kind of religion that most men take up with? Shall we call it a spirit of life, with the Apostle; and yet allow of a religion that is cold and dead? Shall we call it a spirit of love and power, with the same Apostle; and yet allow of it, though it be indifferent, low, and impotent? Or will such pass for current with the wise and holy God, if we should pass a favourable censure upon it? And why should it ever pass with men, if it will not for
ever pass with God? But, indeed, how can this inactivity and sluggishness pass for religion amongst men? Who can think you are in pursuit of the infinite and supreme good, that sees you so slow in your motions towards it? Who can think that your treasure is in heaven, that sees your heart so far from thence? The more any thing partakes of God, and the nearer it comes to him who is the fountain of life, and power, and virtue, the more active, powerful, and lively will it be. We read of an atheistical generation in Zeph. i. 12. who fancied to themselves an idle and slothful God, that minded not the affairs of the world at all, saying, "The Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil;" which was also the false and gross conceit of many of the heathen, as Cicero confesses of some of the philosophers themselves, "who maintain that God has no power in himself, and can impart no power to any other" and, indeed, though it be not so blasphemous, yet it is almost as absurd, to fancy an idle saint, as an idle deity. Sure I am, if it be not altogether impossible, yet it is altogether a shameful and deformed sight; a holy soul in a lethargy, a godly soul that is not in pursuit of God. Moses indeed bids Israel "stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord;" but there is no such divinity in the Holy Scriptures as this, 'stand still and see the salvation of the soul,' though some have violently pressed those words, Exod. xiv. 13. to serve under their slothful standard: no, no, the Scripture speaks to us in another manner-" work out your own salvation:" and, indeed, the Spirit of God doth every where describe religion by the activity, industry,
vigour, and quietness of it, as I hinted in the very beginning of this discourse, and could abundantly confirm and explain, if there were need of it.
But that I may more powerfully convince and awaken the lazy and heavy spirit and temper of many professors, I will briefly touch upon a few particulars, which I will next propound to their serious consideration.
1. The children of this world, earthly and sensual men, are not so slothful, so lazy, so indifferent in the pursuit of earthly and sensual objects. You say you have laid up your treasure in heaven; we know they have laid up their treasure in the earth : now, who is it that behaves himself more suitably and seemly towards his treasure? You or they? You say you have a treasure in heaven, and are content to be able to say so, but make no haste to be fully and feelingly possessed of it, to enjoy the benefit and sweetness of it. But they "rise up early and sit up late," and either pine themselves, or eat the bread of sorrow, to obtain earthly and perishing inheritances; they compass the world, travel far, sell all to purchase that part which is of so great price with them: and when they have accomplished it, Oh how do they set their heart upon it, bind up their souls in the same bags with their money, and seal up their affections together with it: yea, and they are not at rest neither, but find a gnawing hunger upon their hearts after more still, to add house to house, and land to land, and one bag to another;-the covetous miser is ready to sit down and wring his hands, because he hath no more hands to scrape with; the voluptuous epicure