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dust, that thou mayest wash thee from thy fil. I we shall know. Do you converse with father or thiness, and be fitter for his converse. Draw mother ; with wives or children : with pastors near to him that will not wrong thee, by believ- and teachers ? Though you may converse witli ing misreports of enemies, or laying to thy charge these as glorified saints, when you come to Christ, the things thou knewest not : but will forgive yet in these relations that they stand in to you the wrongs thou hast done to him, and justify now, you shall converse with them but a little thee from the sins that conscience lays to thy while: ‘For the time is short : it remaineth that charge. Come to him who, by his word and Spirit, both they that have wives, be as though they his ministers and mercies, calls thee to come ; had none; and they that weep, as though they and hath promised that those that come to wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they him, he will in no wise shut out. O walk with rejoiced not; and those that buy, as though they him that will bear thee up, and lead thee as by possessed not; and that use this world, as not the right hand, and carry his infants when they abusing it,' or as though they used it not: ‘for cannot go ! O speak to him that teaches thee to the fashion of this world passeth away.' speak, and understands and accepts thy stam- Why then should I so much regard a converse mering, and helps thine infirmities, when thou of so short continuance? Why should I be so knowest not what to pray for as thou oughtest ; familiar in ny inn, and so much in love with and gives thee groans when thou hast not words, that familiarity, as to grieve when I must but and knows the meaning of his Spirit in thy think of leaving it, or talk of going home, and groans : that cannot be contained in the heaven look forward to the place where I must dwell of heavens, and yet hath respect to the contrite for ever? Shall I be fond of the company of a soul, who trembles at his word, and fears his passenger that I travel with, yea, perhaps one that displeasure: that pities the tears, and despises doth but meet me in the way, and goes to a not the sighing of a broken heart, nor the de- contrary place, and shall I not take more pleasires of the sorrowful. O walk with him that is sure to remember home? I will not be so uncivil never weary of the converse of the upright soul! as to deny those I meet a short salute, or to bf that is never angry with thee but for flying from friendly with my fellow-travellers : but remenhim, or fur drawing back, or being too strange, ber, O my soul, that thou dost not dwell, but and refusing the kindness and felicity of his travel here, and that it is thy Father's house presence. The day is coming when the proudest where thou must abide for ever : yea, and he is of the sons of men would be glad of a kind look nearer thee than man (though invisible) even in from him that thou hast leave to walk with : even thy way. O see him then that is invisible : they that would not look on thee, and they that hearken to him when he speaks: obey his voice; injured and abused thee, and they that inferiors observe his way, speak to him boldly, though could have no access to, O how glad would they humbly and reverently, as his child, about the be then of a sinile, or a word of hope and mercy great concerns of thy state ; tell him what it is that from their Father! Draw near then to himn, on aileth thee ; and seeing all thy smart is the fruit whom the whole creation depends ; whose favour of thy own sin, confess thy folly and unkindness, at last the proudest and the worst would purchase crave his forgiveness, and remember him what with the loudest cries, when all their pomp and his Son bath suffered, and for what. Treat with pleasure is gone, and can purchase nothing. 0 him about thy future course : desire bis grace, walk with him that is love itself, and think him and give up thyself to his conduct and his care : not unwilling or unlovely; and let not the de weep over in his ears the history of thy mis. ceiver, by hideous misrepresentations, drive thee doings and unthankful course: tell it him with from him : when thou hast felt a while the storms penitential tears and groans : but tell him also abroad, methinks thou shouldst say, How good, the advantage that he hath for the honouring how safe, how sweet is it to draw near to God! of his grace, if it may now abound where sin 7. With whom should I so desirously con.
abounds : tell bim that thou art most offended verse, as with him whom I must live with for with thyself, for that which he is most offended ever? If I take pleasure in my house, or land, with : that thou art angry with thy disobedient, or country, my walks, my books, or friends unthankful heart : that thou art even weary of themselves, as clothed with flesh, I must possess that heart that loves him no more; and that it this pleasure but a little while: henceforth know shall never please thee, till it love bim better, we no man after the flesh : had we known Christ and be more desirous to please him ; tell him of after the flesh, we must know him so no more thy enemies, and crave the protection of his love, for ever. Though his glorified spiritual body tell him of thy frailties, infirmities, and passions, and crave not only his tender forbearance, but | voice and cry but • Father ;' in despite of unbehis help: tell him that without him thou canst lief, cry out “my Father, my Saviour, my God,' do nothing; and crave the grace that is sufficient and thou shalt hear him answer thee at last, my for thee, that through him that strengthens thee child.' Cry out, O why dost thou hide thy face, thou mayest do all things : when thou fallest, and why hast thou forsaken me; ( what shall I despair not, but crave his helping hand to raise do here without thee; O leave me not, lose me thee.
not in this howling wilderness; let me not be a Speak to him especially of the everlasting prey to any ravenous beast; to my sin, to satan, things, and thank him for his promises, and for to my foes and thine ?' Lift up thy voice and thy hopes : for what thou shalt be, and bave, and weep, and tell him, they are the tears and lado among his holy ones for ever. Express thy mentations of his child : O beg of him, that thy joy in the promise of those joys; that thou must wanderings and childish folly may not be taken see his glory, love him, and praise him better as acts of enmity, or at least that they may be than thou canst now desire ! Begin those praises, pardoned ; and though he correct thee, that he and as thou walkest with him, take pleasure in will return and not forsake thee, but still take the mention of his perfections; be thankful to thee and use thee as his child, or if thou hast him and speak good of his name: solace thyself not words to pour out before him, at least smite in remembering what a God, what a defence and upon thy breast, and though thou be ashamed or portion, all believers have: and in considering afraid to look up towards heaven, look down and whither he is now conducting thee, and what he say, · O Lord, be merciful to me a sinner,' and will do with thee, and what use he will make of he will take it for an acceptable suit, that tends thee for ever: speak with rejoicing of the glory to thy pardon and justification, and will number of his works, and the righteousness of his judg- such a sentence with the prayers which he canments, and the holiness and evenness of his not deny. Or if thou cry and canst not hear of ways: sing forth his praises with a joyful heart, him, and hast long called out upon thy Father's and pleasant and triumphing voice; and frown name, and hearest not his voice and hast no reaway all slavish fears, all importunate, malicious turn, inquire after him of those thou meetest : suggestions and doubts, all peevish, hurtful griefs, ask for him of them that know him, and are acthat would mar or interrupt the melody; and quainted with his way. Make thy moan unto would untune or unstring a raised, well composed the watchmen, and ask them where thou mayest soul. Thy Father loves thy very moans and find thy Lord. At last he will appear to thee, tears : but how much more doth he love thy and find thee first, that thou mayest find him, thanks and praise ? Or if indeed it be a winter and show thee where it was that thou didst lose time, a stormy day with thee, and he seem to him, by losing thyself and turning from him ; chide or hide his face because thou hast offended seek him and thou shalt find him: wait and he him, let the cloud that is gathered by thy folly will appear in kindness : for he never fails or come down in tears and tell him, thou hast sin- forsakes those that wait upon him. ned against heaven and before him, and art no This kind of converse, O my soul, thou hast more worthy to be called his son ; but yet fly to prosecute with thy God. Thou hast also the not from him, but beg his pardon and the privi- concerns of all his servants; his afflicted ones, lege of a servant. Thou wilt find embraces when to tell him of: tell him also of the concerns of thou fearest condemnation, and find that he is his kingdom, the fury of his enemies, the dismerciful and ready to forgive : only return, and honour they cast upon his name, the matters of keep closer for the time to come. If the breach his gospel, cause, and interest in the world: but through thy neglect be gone so far, as that thou still let his righteous judgment be remembered, seemest to have lost thy God, and to be cast and all be terminated in the glorious everlasting off, and left forsaken ; despair not yet : for he kingdom. doth but hide his face till thou repent: he doth Is it not much better thus to converse with him not forsake thee, but only tell thee what it is to that I must be with for ever, about the place, and walk so carelessly as if thou wouldst forsake hiin : the company, work, and concerns of my perpetthou art faster and surer in his love and cove- ual abode, than to be taken up with strangers in nant than thou canst believe or apprehend. Thy my way, and detained by their impertinencies. Lord was as dear as ever to his father, when he
I have found myself so long in these meditacried out, “ my God, why hast thou forsaken me ? tions that I will but name the rest and tell you But yet neglect him not, and be not regardless what I had farther to have treated on, and leave of his withdrawings and of thy loss: lift up thy (the enlargement to your own meditations.
8. I have no reason to be weary of converse | ingly rejoice a sinner ; and there is sufficient enwith God, seeing it is that for which all human couragement to draw the most guilty miserable converse is regardable. Converse with man is sinner to seek to God, and sue for mercy. But yet ouly so far desirable as it tends to our converse the sweetest converse is for children, and for those with God: and therefore the end must be pre- that have some assurance that they are children. ferred before the means.
But perhaps you will say, that this is not 9. It is the office of Christ, and the work of easily attained: how shall we know that he is the Holy Ghost, and the use of all the means of our friend? grace, and of all creatures, mercies, and afflic- In brief, I answer, If you are unfeignedly tions, to reduce our straying souls to God, that friends to God, it is because he first loved you. we may converse with him, and enjoy him. Prefer him before all other friends, and all the
10. Converse with God is most suitable to those wealth and vanity of the world; provoke him that are so near to death; it best prepares for it: not by wilfulness or neglect : use hiin as your it most resembles the work that we are next to do. best friend, and abuse him not by disobedience We had rather, when death comes, be found or ingratitude; own him before all, at the dearest conversing with God than with man: it is God rates, whenever you are called to it: desire his that a dying man hath principally to do with : it presence : lament his absence : love him from the is his judgment that he is going to, and his mercy bottom of your heart: think not hardly of him: that he hath to trust upon; therefore it concerns suspect him not, misunderstand him not, hearkev us to draw near him now, and be no strangers not to his enemies ; receive not any false reports to him, lest strangeness then should be our ter against him : take him to be really better for
you, than all the world. Do these, and doubt 11. How wonderful a condescension is it that not but you are friends with God, and God with God should be willing to converse with me! you: in a word, be but heartily willing to be with such a worm and sinful wretch: therefore friends to God, and that God should be your how inexcusable is my crime, if I refuse his chief friend, and you may be sure that it is so company, and so great a mercy!
indeed, and that you are and have what you de12. Lastly, heaven itself is but our converse sire. And then how delightfully may you conwith God and his glorified ones, though in a verse with God. more perfect manner than we can here perceive. Direct. 2. Wholly depend on the mediation Therefore our holy converse with him here is of Christ, the great Reconciler: without him the state that most resembles heaven, and that pre- there is no coming near to God: but in his Bepares for it, and all the heaven that is on earth.
loved you shall be accepted. Whatever fear of V. Directions to improve solitude.
his displeasure shall surprise you, fly presently It remains now that I briefly tell you what for safety unto Christ : whatever guilt shall look you should do to attain and manage this converse you in the face, commit yourself and cause to with God, in the improvement of your solitude. Christ, and desire him to answer for you: when For directions in general for walking with God, the doors of mercy seem to be shut against you, I reserve for another place. At present let these fly to him that bears the keys, and can at any few suffice.
time open to you and let you in: desire him to Direct. 1. If you would comfortably converse answer for you to God, to your own consciences, with God, make sure that you are reconciled to and against all accusers : by him alone you may him in Christ, and that he is indeed your friend boldly and comfortably converse with God; but and Father. • Can two walk together except God will not know you out of him. they be agreed? Can you take pleasure in dwell- Direct. 3. Take heed of bringing a particular ing with the consuming fire; or conversing with guilt into the presence of God, if you would the most dreadful enemy? Yet this I must add, have sweet communion with him: Christ himself that every doubting or self-accusing soul may never reconciled God to sin ; and the sinner and not find a pretence to fly from God. (1.) That sin are so nearly related that notwithstanding God ceases not to be a father whenever a fearful the death of Christ, you shall feel that iniquity soul is drawn to question or deny it. (2.) That dwells not with God, but he hates the workers in the universal love and grace of God to mis- of it, and the foolish shall not stand in his sight; erable sinners, and in the universal act of condi- and that if you will presume to sin because you tional pardon and oblivion, and in the offers of are his children, “be sure your sin will find you grace, and the readiness of God to receive the out. O what fears, what shame, what seli-ahpenitent, there is glad tidings, that should exceed-horrence, and self-revenge will guilt raise in a
penitent soul, when it comes into the light of the and there is none on earth that I desire besides presence of the Lord! It will unavoidably abate thee.' And with Paul, • To me to live is Christ, your boldness and your comforts : when you and to die is gain.' You must shut up the eye should be sweetly delighting in his pleased face of sense, save as subordinate to faith, and live and promised glory, you will be befooling your- by faith upon a God, a Christ, and a world that selves for your former sin, and ready even to is unseen, if you would know by experience what tear your flesh, to think that ever you should do it is to be above the brutish life of sensualists, as you have done, and use him as you would not and to converse with God. O Christian, if thou have used a common friend, and cast yourselves hast rightly learned this blessed life, what a high upon his wrath. But an innocent soul, or paci- and noble soul-conversation wouldst thou have ! fied conscience, walks with God in quietness and How easily wouldst thou spare, and how little delight, without those frowns and fears which wouldst thou miss the favour of the greatest, the are a taste of hell to others.
presence of any worldly comfort ; city or soliDirect. 4. If you would comfortably converse tude would be much alike to thee, saving that with God, be sure that you bring not idols in the place and state would be best to thee, where your hearts: take heed of inordinate affection to thou hast the greatest help and freedom to conany creature. Let all things else be nothing to verse with God. Thou wouldst say of human you, that you may have none to take up your society as Seneca, “ One is instead of all the peothoughts but God. Let your minds be further ple to me, and the people as one : one is enough separate from them than your bodies : bring not for me, and none is enough.' Thus being taken into solitude or contemplation a proud, or lust- up with God, thou mightest live in prison as at ful, or covetous mind : it much more concerns liberty, and in a wilderness as in a city, and in a thee, what heart thou bringest, than what place place of banishment as in thy native land : "for thou art in, or what work thou art upon. A the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof;' mind that is drowned in ambition, sensuality, or and every where thou mayest find him, and conpassion, will scarcely find God any sooner in a verse with him, and lift up pure hands unto him : wilderness than in a crowd, unless he be there in every place thou art within the sight of home, returning from those sins to God, wherever he and heaven is in thine eye, and thou art converssees him, God will not own and be familiar with ing with that God, in whose converse the highest so foul a soul. Seneca could say, 'What good angels place their highest felicity and delight. doth the silence of all the country do thee, if How little cause then have all the church's thou have the noise of raging affections within ? enemies to triumph, that can never shut up a And Gregory says, “ He that in body is far en gh true believer from the presence of his God; nor from the tumult of human conversation, is not banish him into such a place where he cannot in solitude, if he busy himself with earthly cogi- have his conversation in heaven? The stones tations and desires : and he is not in the city, that were cast at holy Stephen, could not hinder that is not troubled with the tumult of the worldly him from seeing the heavens opened, and Christ cares and fears, though he be pressed with the sitting at the right hand of God. A Patmos popular crowds. Bring not thy house, land, allowed holy John communion with Christ, being credit, or carnal friend along with thee in thine there in the Spirit on the Lord's day. Christ heart, if thou desire and expect to walk in heaven, never so speedily and comfortably owns his and to converse with God.
servants, as when the world disowns them, and Direct. 5. Live still by faith : let faith lay abuses them for his sake, and hurls them up and heaven and earth as it were together : look not down as the scorn and off-scouring of all. He at God as if he were far off: set him always as quickly found the blind man that he had cured, before you, even as at your right hand. Be still when once the Jews had cast him out. Persewith him when you awake. In the morning cutors do but promote the blessedness and exthank him for your rest; and deliver up your- ceeding joy of sufferers for Christ. self to his conduct and service for that day. Go How little reason then have Christians to shun forth as with him, and to do his work: do every such sufferings, by unlawful means, which turn action with the command of God, and the pro- to their so great advantage ; and to give so dear niise of heaven, before your eyes, and upon your as the hazard of their souls by wilful sin to eshearts : live as those that have incomparably cape the honour, and safety, and glory of marmore to do with God and heaven, than with all tyrdom ? this world ; that you may say with David, as Indeed we judge not, we love not, we live not, afore cited, · Whom have I in heaven but thee ? | as sanctified ones must do, if we judge not that
the truest liberty, and love it not as the best con- specious title of a friend that will save you from dition, in which we may converse with God. O the thorns and briars of disquietude, and from how much harder is it to walk with God, in a greater troubles than ever you found from open court, in the midst of sensual delights, than in a enemies. prison or wilderness where we have none to in- O blessed be that high and everlasting friend, terrupt us, and nothing else to take us up ? It who is every way suited to the upright souls ! is our prepossessed minds, our earthly hearts, our To their minds, their memories, their delight, carnal affections and concupiscence, and the plea- their love, &c. by surest truth, by fullest goodsures of a prosperous state, that are the prisons ness, by clearest light, by nearest love, by firmand jailors of our souls. Were it not for these, est constancy, &c. O why hath my drowsy and how free should we be, though our bodies were dark-sighted soul been so seldom with him ; why confined to the straitest room ? He is at liberty hath it so often, so strangely, and so unthankthat can walk in heaven, and have access to God, fully passed by, and not observed him, nor and make use of all the creatures in the world, hearkened to his kindest calls ! O what is all to the promoting of this his heavenly conversa- this trash and trouble that hath filled my memory, tion. He is the prisoner whose soul is chained and employed my mind, and cheated and corto fesh and earth, and confined to his lands and rupted my affections, wbile my dearest Lord houses, and feeds on the dust of worldly riches, hath been days and nights so unworthily foror wallows in the dung and filth of gluttony, gotten, so contemptuously neglected and disredrunkenness, and lust : that are far from God, garded, and loved as if I loved him not! O that and desire not to be near him ; but say to him, these drowsy and those waking nights, those loiDepart from us, we would not have the know. tered, lost, and empty hours had been spent in ledge of thy ways : that love their prison and the humblest converse with him, which have been chains so well, that they would not be set free, dreamed and doted away upon—now I know not but hate those with the most cruel hatred that en- what! O my God, how much wiser and happier deavour their deliverance. Those are the poor had I been, had I rather chosen to mourn with prisoners of Satan that have not liberty to be thee, than to rejoice and sport with any other ! lieve, nor love God, nor converse in heaven, cor O that I had rather wept with thee, than laughed seriously to mind or seek the things that are with the creature? For the time to come let high and honourable ; that have not liberty to that be my friend, that most befriends my dark, meditate or pray, or seriously to speak of holy dull
, and backward soul, in its progress, and things, nor to love and converse with those that heavenly conversation : Or if there be none such do so: that are tied so hard to the drudgery of upon the earth, let me bere take no one for my sin, that they have not liberty one month, or friend! O blot out every name from my cor. week, or day, to leave it, and walk with God so rupted heart, which hinders the deeper engraving much as for a recreation : but he that lives in the of thy name! Ah, Lord, what a stone, what a family of God, and is employed in attending blind, ungrateful thing, is a heart not touched him, and doth converse with Christ, and the host with celestial love; yet shall I not run to thee, of holy ones above, in reason should not much when I have none else that will know me; shall complain of his want of friends, or company, or I not draw near thee, when all fly from me? accommodations, nor yet be too impatient of any When daily experience cries out so loud, “None corporal confinement.
but Christ : God or nothing. Ah, foolish heart, Lastly, be sure then most narrowly to watch that hast not thought of it? Where is that place, your hearts, that nothing have entertainment that cave or desert, where I might soonest find there which is against your liberty of converse thee, and fullest enjoy thee; is it in the wilderwith God. Fill not those hearts with worldly ness that thou walkest, or in the crowd, in the cares, which are made, and new made, to be the closet, or in the church? Where is it that I dwelling-place of God. Desire not the company might soonest meet with God ? But alas, I now which would diminish your heavenly acquaint- perceive, that I have a heart to find, before I ance and correspondence. Be not unfriendly, am like to find my Lord; O loveless, lifeless, nor conceited of a self-sufficiency; but yet be- stony lieart ; that is dead to him that gave it ware lest under the honest ingenuous title of a life; and to none but him? Could I not love, friend, a special, prudent, faithful friend, you or think, or feel at all, methinks I were less should entertain an idol, or an enemy to your dead than now ? Less dead, if dead, than now love of God, or a co-rival or competitor with I am alive? I had almost said, Lord, let me your highest friend : for if you do, it is not the I never love more till I can love thee? Nor think