Page images
PDF
EPUB

delight in him, what will? Put then this to the venture; exercise your thoughts upon this very thing, the eternal, free, and fruitful love of the Father, and see if your hearts be not wrought upon to delight in him. I dare boldly fay, believers will find it as thriving a course, as ever they pitched on in their lives. Sit down a little at the Fountain, and you will quickly have a farther discovery of the sweetness of the streams. You who have run from him, will not be able after a while, to keep at a distance for a moment.

But some may fay!

Alas how shall I hold communion with the Fa. ther in love! I know not at all whether he loves me or no; and inall I venture to cast myself upon it? How if I should not be accepted? should I not rather perish for my presumption, than find sweetness in his bosom? God seems to me, only as a consuming fire, and everlasting burnings, so that I dread to look up unto him.

I know not what may be understood by knowing of the love of God; though it be carried on by fpiritual sense, and experience, yet it is received purely by believing. Our knowing of it, is our believing of it, as revealed. We have known and believed the love that God hath to us, God is love, John iv, 16. This is the assurance which at the very entrance of walking with God thou mayest have of this love, he who is truth hath said it; and what-ever thy heart says, or Satan says, unless thou wilt take it up on this account, thou dost thy endeavour to make him a lyar, who hath spoken it, 1 John v. 10.

I can believe that God is love to others, for he hath aid he is Love; but that he will be so to me, I see no ground of persuasion; there is no cause, no rea.

fon

son in the world, why he should turn one thought of love and kindness towards me: and therefore I dare not cast myself upon it, to hold communion with him in his special love.

He hath fpoken it as particularly to thee, as to any one in the world. And for cause of love, he hath as much, to fix it on thee, as on any of the children of men; that is none at all without hiinself. So that I shall make speedy work with this objection. Never any one from the foundation of the world, who believed such love in the Father, and made returns of love to him again, was deceived, neither shall ever any to the worlds end be so, in so doing. Thou art then in this upon a most sure bottom; if thou believest and receivest the Father as love, he will infallibly be so to thee, though others may fall under his severity. But,

I cannot find my heart making returns of love unto God. Could I find my soul set upon him, I could then believe his foul delighted in me.

This is the most preposterous course, that possibly thy thoughts can pitch upon, a most ready way to rob God of his glory. Herein is love, faith the Holy Ghost, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, first, i John iv. 10, 11. Now, thou wouldest invert this order, and say, herein is love, not that God loved me, but that I love him first,

This is to take the glory of God from him, that whereas he loves us without a cause, that is in ourselves, and we have all cause in the world to love him, chou wouldest have the contrarv, viz. that something should be in thee, for which God should lovethee, even thy love to him; and that thou shouldest love God, before thou knowelt any thing lovely in him, viz, whether he love thee or no. This is a

[ocr errors]

course

course of fleshes finding out, that will never bring glory to God, nor peace to thy own soul. Lay down then thy reasonings; take up the love of the Father upon a pure act of believing, and that will open thy soul to let it out unto the Lord in the communion of love. . .

To make yet some farther improvement of this truth, so opened, and exhorted unto as before; it will discover unto us, the eminency and privilege of the faints of God. What low thoughts foever the sons of men may have of them, it will appear that they have meat to eat that the world knows not of; they have close communion and fellowship with the Father, the deal with him in the interchange of love? Men are generally esteemed according to the company they keep. It is an honour to stand in the presence of princes, though but as servants. What honour then have all the saints, to stand wih boldnefs in the presence of the Father, and there to enjoy his bosom love. What a blessing did the queen of Sheba pronounce on the servants of Solomon, who stood before him, and heard his wisdom. How much more blessed then are they, who stand continually before the God of Solomon, hearing his wisdom, enjoying his love? Whilst o-thers have their fellowship with Satan, and their own lusts, making provision for them, ant receiving: peri/hing refreshments from them, whofe end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame who mind earthly things; they have this sweet communion with the Father.

Moreover; what a safe and sweet' retreat is here for the saints in all the scorns, reproaches, scan. dals, misrepresentations which they undergo in the torld. When a child is abused abroad in the

streets

streets by strangers, he rutis with speed to the bofom of his Father, there he makes his complaint, and is comforted. In all the hard censures, and tongue-persecutions which the saints meets withal in the streets of the world, they may run with their moanings unto their Father, and be comforted. As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you, faith the Lord, Isa. Ixvi. 13. So that the soul may fay, if I have hatred in the world, I will go where I am sure of love: though all others are hard to me, yet my Father is tender, and full of compassion: I will go to him, and fatisfy myself in him: here I am accounted vile, frowned on, and rejected, but I have honour and love with him, whose kindness is better than life itself. There I fhall have all things in the fountain, which others have but in the drops: there is in my Father's love, every thing desireable: there is the sweetness of all mercies in the abstract itself, and that fully, and durably.

Evidently then, the saints are the most mistaken men in the world. If they say, come and have fellowship with us; are not men ready to say; why, what are you? a forry company of feditious factious persons: be it known unto you, that we despise your fellowship; when we intend to leave fellowfhip with all honest men, and men of worth, then will we come to you. But alas! how are men miftaken? truly, their fellowship is with the Father: let men think of it as they please, they have close, spiritual, heavenly refreshings in the mutual communication of love with the Father himself; how they are generally misconceived, the apostle de clares, 2 Cor. vi. 8, 9, 10. As deceivers, and ye true, as unknown, yet well known, as dying an

behol

behold we live, as chastened, and not killed, as forrowful, yet always rejoicing, as poor, yet making many rich, as having nothing, yet polejling all things. And as it is thus in general, so in no one thing more than this, that they are looked on as poor, low, despicable persons, when indeed they are the only great and noble personages in the world. Consider the company they keep, it is with the Faiher, who so glorious? the merchandise they trade in, it is love, what so precious ? doubtless they are the excellent on the earth, Pfal. xvi. 3.

Further; this will discover a main difference between the saints and empty professors, as to the performance of duties, and so the enjoyment of outward privileges, fruitless profeffors, often walk hand in hand with them: but now come to their secret retirements, and what a difference is there? there the fainis hold communion with God; hypocrites for the most part, with the world and their own lusts, with them they converse, and commu. nicate; they hearken what they will say to them, and make provision for them: when the faints are sweetly wrapt up in the bofom of their Father's love. It is oftentimes even almost impossible that believers should in outward appearance go beyond them who have very rotten hearts: but this meat they have which others know not of, this refrethinent in the banqueting house wherein others have no share; in the multitude of their thoughts, the comforts of God their Father refresh their souls.

Now then (to draw towards a close of this difcou se) if these things be fo, what manner of men ought we to be, in all manner of holy conversationi? even our God is a consuming fire. What communion is there between light and darkness? Shall

« PreviousContinue »