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vidences; in many and wonderful preservations continually with thee, and do thou vouchsafe to and deliverances ; in the conduct of his wisdom, hold me by my right hand: and guide me by and in a life of mercies! What love appears in thy counsel, and afterwards receive me unto thy his precious promises, and the glorious provisions glory.' he hath made for me with himself to all eternity! 4. If God be with me I am not alone; for I O my Lord, I am ashamed that thy love is so shall be with him whose love is of greater benemuch lost ; that it hath no better return from an fit to me than the love of all my friends in the unkind, unthankful heart; that I am no more de- world. Their love may perhaps be some little lighted in thee, and swallowed up in the con- comfort, as it flows from his : but it is his love templation of thy love; I can contentedly let go by which, and upon which I live. It is his love the society and converse of all others, for the that gives me life, time, health, food, and preconverse of some one bosom friend, that is dearer servation ; that gives me books, and gives me to me than they all, as Jonathan to David : can understanding: that gives me provision, and I not much more be satisfied in thee alone, and saves me from turning it to pernicious fieshliness let go all, if I may continue with thee? My very and excess; that gives me even my friends dog will gladly forsake all the town, and all per-themselves, and saves me froin that abuse which sons in the world, to follow me alone! Have I might make them to me worse than enemies. not yet found so much love and goodness in The sun, the earth, the air is not so useful or thee, my dear and blessed God, as to be willing needful to me as his love. The love of all my to converse alone with thee ? All men delight friends cannot make we well when I am sick: it most in the company of those that love them cannot forgive the smallest of my sins ; nor yet best: they choose not to converse with the mul- assure me of God's forgiveness: it cannot heal titude when they look for solace and content, the maladies of my soul, nor give a solid lasting but with their dearest friends : should any be so peace to the conscience which is troubled : if all near to me as God? O were not thy love un- my friends stand about me when I am dying, worthily neglected by an unthankful heart, I they cannot take away the fears of death, nor should never be so unsatisfied in thee, but should secure iny passage to everlasting life: death take up, or seek iny comforts in thee: I should will be death still, and danger will be danger, then say, 'whom have I in heaven but thee, and when all my friends have done their best. But there is none on earth that I desire besides thee.' my almighty friend is all-sufficient : he can preThough not only my friends, but my flesh and vent my sickness, or rebuke and cure it, or make heart themselves should fail me, it is thou that it so good to me, that I shall thank him for it: wilt still be the strength of my heart, and my he can blot out my transgressions, and forgive portion for ever : it is good therefore for me to all my sin; and justify me when the world and draw near to thee, how far soever I am from my conscience do condemn me: he can teach man: O let me there dwell where thou wilt not me to believe, to repent, to pray, to hope, to be strange, for thy loving kindness is better than suffer, and to overcome: he can quiet my soul life : instead of the multitude of my turmoiling in the midst of trouble, and give me
a wellthoughts, let me be taken up in the believing grounded, everlasting peace, and a joy that no views of thy reconciled face, and in the glad at- man can take from me. He can deliver me from tendance of thy grace: or at least in the multi- all the corruptions and distempers of my froward tude of my thoughts within me, let thy celestial heart; and ease me and secure me in the troucomforts delight my soul. Let me dwell as in blesome war which is daily waged in my breast. thy family; and when I awake, let me be still He can make it as easy a thing to die, as to lie with thee! Let me go no where, but be still down and take my rest when I am weary, or to following thee : let me do nothing but thy work, undress me at night and go to bed. He can nor serve any other, but when I may truly call it a teach death to lay by its terrible aspect, and serving thee : let me hear nothing but thy voice speak with a mild and comfortable voice, and to and let me know thy voice by whatever instru- me the most joyful tidings that ever came unto ment thou shalt speak ; let me never see any my ears; and to preach to me the last and sweetthing but thyself, and the glass that represents est sermon, even the same that our Saviour thee, and the books in which I may read thy preached on the cross. "Verily I say unto thee, name: let me never play with the outside, and To-day shalt thou be with Christ in paradise.' gaze on words and letters as insignificant, and Is this the difference between the love of man not observe thy name, which is the sense. Whe- and of God ? Yet do I lament the loss of man! ther it be in company or in solitude, let me be Yet am I so backward to converse with (0:1,
and to be satisfied in his love alone! Ah my Often have I come to man for help, ease, God, how justly mayest thou withhold that love and comfort, and gone away as from an empty which I thus undervalue; and refuse that con. cistern, that had no water to cool my thirst; verse which I have first refused ? and turn me but God hath been a present help: could I but over to man, to silly, sinful man, whose con- get near him, I was sure of light, how great 80verse I so much desire, till I have learned by ever was my former darkness; could I but get dear experience the difference between man and near him, I was sure of warming, quickening life, God, and between an earthly and a heavenly how dead soever I had been before : but all my friend! Alas, have I not tried it often enough, misery was, that I could not get near him! My to have known it better before this day? Have darkened estranged guilty soul, could not get I not often enough found what man is in a time quieting and satisfying acquaintance: my insenof trial ? Have I not been told it over and over, sible heart lay dead on earth, and would not stir, and told it to the quick, by deceitful friends, by or quickly fell down again, if by any celestial self-seeking friends, by mutable, erroneous, de force it began to be drawn up, and move a little ceived, scandalous, backsliding friends, by proud towards him: my carnal mind was entangled in and self.conceited friends; by passionate, quarrel- diverting vanities : and thus I have been kept some, vexatious friends; by self-grieving, troubled from communion with my God. Kept ! pot by friends, that have but brought me all their cala- force of human tyranny; not by bars or bolts, mities and griefs to be additions to my own; or distance of place, or by the lowness of my by tempting friends, that have drawn me to sin condition : nor by any misrepresentations or remore effectually than enemies ; by tender, faith-proach of man; but, alas, by myself, by tie ful, but unable friends, that have but brought darkness, deadness, sluggishness, earthliness, fire from my calamities and sorrows, to kindle fleshliness, and passions of a naughty heart. their own, not equally sharing, but each one These have been my bars, bolts, and jailors; taking all my trouble entirely to himself: that these are they that have kept me from my God: have been willing, but insufficient to relieve me; had it not been for these, I might have got nearer and therefore the greater was their love, the to him; I might have walked with him, and greater was their own, and consequently mine dwelt with him; yea, dwelt in him, and he in affliction : that would have been with me, but me: and then I should not have missed any could not; that would willingly have eased my friends, nor felt mine enemies. Is it my sinpain, and strengthened my languishing body, ful distance from my God that hath been my but could not; that would gladly have removed loss, my wilderness, my woe; and is it a nearer all my troubles, and comforted my downcast admittance to the presence of his love that must mivd, but could not. O how often have I found be my recovery and my joy, if ever I attain to chat human friendship is a sweet desired addi-joy? O then, my soul, lay hold on Christ the tion to our woe; a beloved calamity, and an reconciler, and in him and by him draw pear to affliction which nature will not be without, not God, and cease from man, whose breath is in because it loves evil, nor because it is wholly de his nostrils. Love God in his saints, and deceived in its choice, for there is good in friend - lightfully converse with Christ in them, while ship, and delight in holy love, but because the thou hast opportunity. But remember thou livest good which is here accompanied with so much not upon them, or on their love, but upon God; evil, is the beginning of a more high and durable and therefore desire their company but for his: friendship, and points us up to the blessed, de- and if thou hast his, be content if thou hast not lightful society and converse which in the heaven- theirs. He wants not man, that enjoys God. ly Jerusalem we shall have with Christ. Gather up all the love, thoughts, and desires
But O how much better have I found the which have been scattered and lost upon the friendship of the all-sufficient God! His love creatures, and set them all on God himself, and hath not only pitied me, but relieved me: he press into his presence, and converse with him, hath not only been as it were afflicted with me and thou shalt find the mistake of thy present in my afflictions, but he hath delivered me sea- discontents, and sweet experience shall tell thee sonably and powerfully, and sweetly hath he thou hast made a happy change delivered me : and when he had once told me 5. If God be with me, I am not alone, bethat my afflictions were his own, I had no reason cause he is with me with whom my greatest to doubt of a deliverance. My burdened mind business lies : and what company should I dehath been eased by his love, which was but more sire, but theirs with whom I have my daily, neburdened by the fruitless love of all my friends. cessary work to do? I have wore to do with God, than with all the world : yea, more and and water my bed with tears, and fill the air greater business with him in one day, than with with my groans and lamentations, or feel my all the world in all my life. I have business soul overwhelmed within me, so that my words with man about houses, lands, or food, or raiment, are intercepted, and I am readier to break than or labour, or journeying, or recreations, about speak, and yet not perceive that my greatest society and public peace: but what are these to business is with God? Can I think of dying ; my business with God? Indeed with holy men, can I draw near to judgment; can I think I have holy business; but that is but as they are of everlasting joys in heaven; and of everlasting messengers from God, and come to me on his pains in hell, and yet not feel that my greatest business, and so they must be dearly welcome. business is with God ? But even then my business is much more with O then, my soul, the case is easily resolved with God than with them ; with him that sent them, whom it is that thou must most desirously and than with the messengers. Indeed my business seriously converse. Where should thou be but with God is so great, that if I had not a media- where thy business is, and so great business ? Alas, tor to encourage and assist me, to do my work what have I to do with man? What can it do but and procure me acceptance, the thoughts of it make my head ache, to hear a deal of senseless would overwhelm my soul.
chat, about preferments, lands, and dignities; Otherefore my soul, let man stand by: it is about the words and thoughts of men, and a the eternal God that I have to do with ; and with thousand toys that are utterly impertinent to my whom I am to transact in this little time the great employments, and signify nothing but that business of my endless life. I have to deal with the dreaming world is not awake? What pleaGod through Christ, for the pardon of my sins, sure is it to see the bustles of a bedlam world ? of all my great and grievous sins; and wo to me, What a stir they make to prove or make them. if I speed not, that ever I was born: I have selves unhappy? How long and of how little some hopes of pardon, but intermixed with many weight, are the learned discourses about syllables perplexing fears : I have evidences much blotted, and words, names and notions, mood and figure, and not easily understood : I want assurance that yea, or about the highest planets, when all are he is indeed my Father and reconciled to me, not referred unto God? Were it not that some and will receive me to himself when the world converse with men doth further my converse forsakes me : I have many languishing graces to with God; and that God did transact much of be strengthened ; and alas, what obstinate, vexa- his business by bis messengers and servants, it tious corruptions to be cured! Can I look into were no matter whether ever I more saw the face my heart, into such an unbelieving, dead and of man: were it not that my Master hath placed earthly heart, into such a proud, peevish and me in society, and appointed me much of my disordered heart, into such a trembling, perplex work for others, and with others, and much of ed, self-accusing heart, and yet not understand his mercy is conveyed by others, man might how great my business is with God? Can I per- stand by, and solitude were better than the best use my sins, or feel my wants, and sink under society, and God alone should take me up. 0 my weaknesses, and yet not discern how great nothing is so much my misery and shame, as my business is with God? Can I look back that I am no more willing, nor better skilled in upon all the time that I have lost, and all the the inanagement of my great, important business ! grace that I unthankfully resisted, and all the That my work is with God, and my heart is no mercies that I trod under foot, or fooled away, more with him! O what might I do in boly or can I look before me and see how near my meditation, or prayer, one hour, if I were as time is to an end, and yet not understand how ready for prayer, and as good at prayer, as one great my business is with God? Can I think of that has had so long opportunity and so great the malice and diligence of satan, the number, necessity to converse with God, should be! A power and subtilty of mine enemies, the many prayerless heart, a heart that flies away from snares and dangers that are still before me, the God, is most inexcusable in such a one as I, that strength and number of temptations, and my ig- have so much important business with him : it is norance, unwatchfulness and weakness to resist, work that must be done ; and if well done, will and yet not know that my greatest business is never be repented of: I use not to return from with God? Can I feel my afflictions and la- the presence of God, when indeed I have drawn ment them, and think my burden greater than I near him, as I do from the company can bear, and find that inan cannot relieve me : men, repenting that I have lost my time, and can I go mourning in the heaviness of my soul, trembling that my inind is discomposed or de
of empty pressed by the vanity and earthly savour of their to be known, when I know the most. I am never discourse: I often repent that I have prayed to satiated with the easiness of knowing, nor are him so coldly, and conversed with him so negli- my desires abated by any uneasiness or unwor. gently, and served him so remissly : but I never thiness in the object : but I am drawn to it by repent of the time, the care, the affections or its highest excellencies, and drawn on to desire the diligence employed in his holy work. Many more and more by the infinitude of the light a time I have repented that ever I spent so much which I have not yet beheld, and the infinitude time with man, and wished I had never seen the of the good which yet I have not enjoyed. If I faces of some that are eminent in the world, be idle, or seem to want employment, when I am whose favour and converse others are ambitious to contemplate all the attributes, relations, merof: but it is my grief and shame that so small a cies, works, and revealed perfections of the Lord, part of all my life hath been spent with God; it is surely for want of eyes to see, or a heart inand that fervent prayer and heavenly contempla- clined to my business : if God be not enough to tions, have been so seldom and so short. O that employ my soul, then all the persons and things I had lived more with God, though I had been on earth are not enough. less with the dearest of my friends! How much When I have infinite goodness to delight in, more sweet then would my life have been ! How where my soul may freely let out itself, and inuch more blameless, regular and pure! How never need to fear excess of love, how sweet much more fruitful, and answerable to my obli- should this employment be? As knowledge, so gations and professions! How much more com- love is never stinted here, by the narrowness of fortable to my review! How many falls, hurts, the object : we can never love him in any prowounds, griefs, and groans might I have escaped portion either to his goodness and amiableness in O how much more pleasing is it now to my re- himself, or to his love to us. What need have membrance, to think of the hours in which I I then of any other company or business, when have lain at the feet of God, though it were in I have infinite goodness to delight in, and to tears and groans, than to think of the time which love, further than they subserve this greatest I have spent in any common converse with the work ? greatest, or the most learned, or the dearest of Come home then, O my soul, to God; conmy acquaintance.
verse in heaven : turn away thine eyes from beAs my greatest business is with God, so my holding vanity: let not thy affections kindle daily business is also with him : he purposely upon straw or briars, that go out when they have leaves me under wants, and suffers necessities made a flash or noise, and leave thee to thy cold daily to return, and enemies to assault me, and and darkness : but come and dwell upon celestial affliction to surprise me, that I may be daily beauties, and make it thy daily and most diligent driven to him : he loves to hear from me: he work, to kindle thy affections on the infinite, would have me be no stranger with him: I have everlasting good ; and then they will never be business with him every hour, I need not want extinguished or decay for want of fuel ; but the employment for all the faculties of my soul, if I further they go, and the longer they burn, the know what it is to converse in heaven. Even greater will be the flame. Though thou find it prayer, and every holy thought of God, hath an hard while love is but a spark to make it burn, object so great and excellent, as should wholly and complain that thy cold and backward heart take me up. Nothing must be thought or spo- is hardly warmed with the love of God, yet ken lightly about the Lord. His name must not when the whole pile hath taken fire, and the be taken in vain : nothing that is common be- flame ascends, fire will breed fire, love will seems his worshippers. He will be sanctified of cause love; and all the malice of hell itself shall all that shall draw near him: he must be loved never be able to suppress or quench it unto all with all the heart and might. His servants need eternity. not be wearied for want of employment, nor 6. It is a great encouragement to my converse through the lightness or unprofitableness of their with God, that no misunderstanding, no malice employment: if I had cities to build, or king- of enemies, no former sin or present frailty, no, doms to govern, I might better complain for nor the infinite distance of the most holy God, want of employment, for the faculties of my can hinder my access to him, or turn away bis soul, than I can when I am to converse in hea- ear or love, or interrupt my leave aud liberty of
In other studies the delight abates when converse. If I converse with the poor, their I have reached my desire, and know all that I wants afflict me, being greater than I can surcan know : but in God there is infinitely more ply; their complaints and expectations, which 1 cannot satisfy, are my trouble. If I would con- gotten the vanity and villany of my youth ; yea, verse with great ones, it is not easy to get access: so easily have forgotten my most aggravated and less easy to have their favour, unless I would sins. When I had sinned against light; when I purchase it at too dear a rate : how strangely and had resisted conscience; when I had frequently contemptuously do they look at their inferiors! and wilfully injured love, I thought he would Great friends must be made for a word or smile: never have forgotten it: but the greatness of his if you be not quickly gone, they are weary of love and mercy, and the blood and intercession you;
if you seek any thing of them, or would of his Son, hath cancelled all. put them to any cost or trouble, you are as wel- O how many mercies have I tasted since come to them as so many noisome creatures. I thought I had sinned away all mercies! How They please them best that drive you away. patiently hath he borne with me, since I thought With how much labour and difficulty must you he would never have put up more! Yet beclimb, if you will see the top of one of these sides my sins and the withdrawings of my own mountains ? When you are there, you are but heart, there hath been nothing to interrupt our in a place of barrenness; and have nothing to converse. Though he be God, and I a worm, satisfy you for your pains, but a larger prospect yet that would not have kept me out : though and dizzy view of the lower grounds which are he be in heaven, yet he is near to succour me not your own: it is seldom that these great on earth, in all that I call upon him for: though ones are to be spoken with : perhaps their speech he have the praise of angels, he disdains not my is but a denial to your request, if not some snap- tears and groans : though he have the perfect pish and contemptuous rejection, that makes you love of perfect souls, he knows the little spark in glad when you are got far enough from them, my breast, and despises not my weak and languid and makes you better love the accessible, calm, love: though I injure and dishonour him by and fruitful plains.
loving him no more, though I often forget him, and But O how much greater encouragements hath have been out of the way when he bath come or my soul to converse with God! Company never called me, though I have disobediently turned kinders him from hearkening to my suit : he is away mine ears, and unkindly refused the enterinfinite and omnipotent, and is sufficient for tainments of his love, and unfaithfully dealt every individual soul, as if he had no other to with those whose company he forbade me, he hath look after in the world: when he is taken up not divorced me, nor turned me out of doors. O with the attendance and praises of his heavenly wonderful; that heaven will be familiar with host, he is as free and ready to attend and an- earth : and God with man; the highest with a swer the groans and prayers of a contrite soul, worm: and the most holy with an unconstant as if he had no nobler creatures, and no higher sinner! Man refuses me, when God will enterservice to regard. I am often unready, but God is tain me: man, that is no wiser nor better than never unready: I am unready to pray, but he myself. Those that I never wronged, or deseris not unready to hear : I am unready to come ved ill of, reject me with reproach : God, whom to God, to walk with him, and to solace my soul I have unspeakably injured, doth invite me, and with him; but he is never unready to entertain intreat me, and condescends to me, as if he were me. Many a time my conscience would have beholden to me to be saved : men, that I have driven me away, when he hath called me to him, deserved well of, do abhor me: God, that I have and rebuked my accusing, fearful conscience. deserved ill of, doth accept me. The best of Many a time I have called myself a prodigal, a them are briars, and a thorny hedge, and he is companion of fools, a miserable, hard-hearted love, rest, and joy: yet I can be more welcome sinner, unworthy to be called his son, when he to him, though I have offended him, than I can nath called me child, and chid me for my ques- to them whom I have obliged: I have freer tioning his love. He hath readily forgiven the leave to cast myself into my Father's arms, than sins which I thought would have made my soul to tumble into those briars, or wallow in the mire. the fuel of hell : he hath entertained me with I upbraid myself with my sins, but he doth not joy, with music and a feast, when I better de upbraid me with them. I condemn myself for served to have been among the dogs without his them, but he condemns me not: he forgives me doors. He hath embraced me in his sustaining, sooner than I can forgive myself: I have peace consolatory arms, when he night have spurned with him, before I can have peace of conscience. my guilty soul to hell, and said, 'depart from O therefore, my soul, draw near to him that is me, thou worker of iniquity, I know thee not.' so willing of thy company! That frowns thee not O little did I 'bink that he could ever have for- ' away, unless it be when thou hast fallen into the