[Page] A TOKEN FOR MOURNERS: OR, The Advice of Christ to a di­stressed Mother, bewailing the Death of her Dear and only Son. WHEREIN, The Boundaries of Sorrow are duly fixed, Excesses restrained, the Common Pleas Answered, and divers Rules for the sup­port of Gods afflicted ones prescribed. By J. F. Preacher of the Gospel of Christ at Dartmouth in Devon.

[...].
Transivere patres, simul hinc transibimus omnes.
In coelo patriam, qui bene transit habet.

LONDON, Printed for Robert Boulter, at the Turks-head in Cornhill, over against the Royal Exchange. 1674.

THE Epistle Dedicatory.
To his dearly beloved Brother and Sister, Mr J. C. and Mrs. E. C. the Author wish­eth Grace, Mercy, and Peace.

Dear Friends,

THE double tye of Nature and Grace, beside the many en­dearing passages that for so many years have linked and glewed our affections so intimately, cannot but beget a tender sympathy in me under all your troubles; and make me say of every affliction which befalls [Page] you, half mine. I find it is with our affections, as with the strings of Musical instruments exactly set at the same height, if one be touched the other trembles, though it be at some distance.

Our affections are one, and so in a great measure have been our afflictions also. You cannot forget that in the years lately past, the Almighty visited my Tabernacle with the Rod, and in one year, cut off from it the root, and the branch, the tender Mother, and the only Son. What the effects of those strokes, or rather of my own unmortified passions were, I have felt, and you and others have heard. Surely I was as a Bullock unaccusto­med to the Yoak. Yea I may say with them, Lam. 3. 19, 20. Re­membring mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall, my soul hath them still in re­membrance, and is humbled in me.

I dare not say that ever I felt my [Page] heart discontentedly rising and swel­ling against God; no, I could still justifie him, when I most sensibly smarted by his hand: if he had plun­ged me into a Sea of sorrow, yet I could say in all that Sea of Sorrow, there is not a drop of injustice: But it was the over-heating, and over-acting of my fond and unmortified affections and passions that made so sad impressions upon my body, and cast me under those distempers which soon imbittered all my remaining comforts to me.

It was my earnest desire so soon as I had strength and opportunity for so great a Journey to visit you; that so, (if the Lord had pleased) I might both refresh, and be refreshed by you, after all my sad and disconsolate daye. And you cannot imagine what content and pleasure I projected in that visit! but it proved to us (as all other Comforts of the same kind ordinarily do) more in expectation, than in fruition; for how soon after [Page] our joyful meeting and embraces, did the Lord overcast and darken our day, by sending death into your Tabernacle, to take away the de­sire of your eyes with a stroke! to crop off that sweet and only bud from which we promised our selves so much Comfort: But no more of that, I fear I am gone too far already. It is not my design to exasperate your troubles, but to heal them, and for that purpose have I sent you these pa­pers, which I hope may be of use both to you and many others in your con­dition; since they are the after-fruits of my own troubles; things that I commend not to you from another hand, but which I have (in some measure) proved and tasted in my own tryals.

But I will not hold you longer here. I have only a few things to desire for and from you, and I have done.

The things I desire are,

First, That you will not be too hasty to get off the yoak which God hath [Page] put upon your neck. Remember when your child was in the Womb, neither of you desired it should be delivered thence, till Gods appointed time was fully come; and now that you travail a­gain with sorrow for its death. O desire not to be delivered from your sorrows one moment before Gods time for your deliverance be fully come also. Let patience have its perfect work; that Comfort which comes in Gods way and season, will stick by you, and do you good indeed.

Secondly, I desire, that though you and your afflictions had a sad meeting, yet you and they may have a Comfortable parting. If they effect that upon your hearts which God sent them for, I doubt not but you will give them a fair testimony when they go off.

If they obtain Gods blessing upon them in their operation, surely they will have your blessing too at their valediction. And what you enter­tained with fear, you will dismiss [Page] with praise. How sweet is it to hear the afflicted soul say when God is loose­ing his bands, It's good for me that I have been afflicted!

Thirdly, I heartily wish, that these searching afflictions may make the most satisfying discoveries, that you may now see more of the evil of sin, the vanity of the Creature, and the fullness of Christ, than ever you yet saw. Afflictions are searchers, and put the soul upon searching and trying its ways, Lam. 3. 40. When our sin finds us out by affliction, happy are we, if by the light of affliction we find out sin. Blessed is the man whom God chasteneth, and teacheth out of his Law, Psal. 94. 12. There are unseen causes many times of our troubles; you have an advantage now to sift out the seeds and principles from which they spring.

Fourthly, I wish that all the love and delight you bestowed upon your little one, may now be placed to your greater advantage upon Jesus [Page] Christ: and that the stream of your affection to him, may be so much the stronger, as there are now fewer cha­nels for it to be devided into. If God will not have any part of your happiness to lye in children; then let it wholly lye in himself. If the Jealousie of the Lord hath removed that which drew away too much of your heart from him, and hath spoken by this rod, saying, Stand aside child, thou art in my way, and fillest more room in thy Parents hearts than belongs to thee. O then deliver up all to him, and say, Lord, take the whole heart intirely and undividedly to thy self. Henceforth let there be no par­ting, sharing or deviding of the af­fections betwixt God and the Crea­ture, let all the streams meet and cen­ter in thee only.

Fifthly, That you may be strength­ned with all might in the inner man to all patience, that the peace of God may keep your heart and mind. La­bour to bring your hearts to a meek [Page] submission to the rod of your Father. We had Fathers of our flesh who corrected us, and we gave them reverence, shall we not much more be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? Is it comely for children to contest and strive with their Father? Or is it the way to be freed from the yoak by struggling under it? Oh that your hearts might be in a like frame with his, that said, Lord, thou shalt beat, and I will bear. It was a good observation that one made, Anima sedendo, & quiescendo fit sapiens. The Soul grows wise by sitting still and quiet under the rod. And the Apostle calls those excellent fruits which the Saints gather from their sanctified afflictions, The peaceable fruits of Righteous­ness, Heb. 12. 11,

Lastly, My hearts desire and prayer to God for you is, that you may die daily to all visible enjoyments, and by these frequent converses with death in your family, you may be prepared for [Page] your own change and dissolution when it shall come.

O, Friends, How many graves have you and I seen opened for our dear Relations! How oft hath death come up into our windows, and summoned the delight of our eyes? It is but a little while and we shall go to them, we and they are distinguished but by short intervals.

Transivere patres, simul hinc transibimus omnes.

Our dear Parents are gone, our lovely and desireable children are gone, our bosom Relations, that were as our own souls, are gone, the greatest part of us is gone: And do not all these warning-knocks at our dores acquaint us, that we must prepare to follow shortly after them!

O that by these things our own death might be both more easie and more fa­miliar to us! the oftner it visits us, the better we should be acquainted with it, and the more of our beloved Relations it removes before us, the [Page] less of either snare and intanglement remains for us when our turn comes.

My dear Friends, my flesh and my blood, I beseech you for Religion sake, for your own sake, and for my sake, whose Comfort is in great part bound up in your prosperity and wel­fare, that you read frequently, ponder seriously, and apply believingly these Scripture-consolations and directions, which in some haste, I have gathered for your use, and the God of all con­solation be with you.

I am Your most endeared Brother JOHN FLAVEL.
[Page 1] Luke 7. 13.‘And when the Lord saw her, he had Compassion on her, and said to her, Weep not.’

TO be above the stroke of pas­sions, is a condition equal to Angels: to be in a State of Sorrow, without the sense of sorrow, is a disposition be­neath Beasts; but duly to regulate our Sorrows, and bound our Passions under the rod, is the Wisdom, duty, and excellency of a Christian. He that is without natural affections, is deservedly ranked among the worst of Heathens; and he that is able rightly to manage them, deserves to be numbred with the best of Christians. Though when we are Sanctified, we put on the Divine Na­ture; yet till we are glorified we put not off the infirmities of our humane Na­ture.

[Page 2] Whilest we are within the reach of troubles, we cannot be without the dan­ger, nor ought to be without the fear of sin; and it is as hard for us to escape sin, being in adversity, as becalming in prosperity.

How apt we are to transgress the bounds both of Reason and Religion un­der a sharp affliction, appears, as in most mens experience, so in this Womans ex­ample, to whose excessive Sorrow, Christ puts a stop in the Text: He saw her, and had Compassion on her, and said to her, Weep not.

The Lamentations and waylings of this distressed mother, moved the tender compassions of the Lord in beholding it, and stirred up more pitty in his heart for her, than could be in her heart for her dear and only Son.

In the words we are to consider, both the Condition of the woman, and the Counsel of Christ with respect unto it.

First, The condition of this Woman, which appears to be very dolorous and distressed; her groans and tears moved and melted the very heart of Christ, to hear and behold them: When he saw her, he had Compassion on her.

[Page 3] How sad an hour it was with her when Christ met her, appears by what is so distinctly remark't by the Evangelist, in ver. 12. where it is said, Now when they came nigh to the Gate of the City, be­hold, there was a dead man carried out, the only Son of his Mother, and she was a Widdow, and much people of the City was with her.

In this one Verse, divers heart piercing circumstances of this affliction are noted.

First, It was the death of a Son. To bury a child, [...]. Graec Comic. any child, must needs rend the heart of a tender Pa­rent; for what are children but the pa­rent multiplied: a child is a part of the parent made up in another skin. But to lay a Son in the grave, A Son which con­tinues the name, and supports the family; this was ever accounted a very great affli­ction.

Secondly, This Son was not carried from the Cradle to the Coffin, nor stript out of its Swathing, to be wrapt in its Winding cloaths: Had he dyed in infancy, before he had engaged affection, or raised expectation, the affliction had not been so pungent and cutting, as now it was. Death smote this Son in the flower and [Page 4] Prime of his time. He was a man (saith the Evangelist) ver. 12. a young man, (as Christ calls him) ver. 14. he was now arrived In adolescentia defunctus fuit, ideo plus dolen­dum fuerat, quia in flore aetatis suae fuit, et cum grandi labore ac solicitudine pa­rentum ad istam aetatem perduct­us. Dion. Cath. in loc. at that age which made him capable of yeild­ing his Mother all that comfort which had been the expectation and hope of many years, and the re­ward and fruit of many cares and Labours: Yet then when the endearments were greatest, and her hopes highest, even in the flow­er of his age, he is cut off. Thus Basil bewayled the death of his Son:

Filius mihi erat adolescens, solus vi­taesuccessor, solatium senectae, gloria gene­ris, flos aequalium, fulcrum domu, saeta­tem gratiosissimam agebat: hic raptus periit, qui paulo ante jucundam vo­cem edebat, & ju­cundissimum specta­culum parentis o­culis erat.

I once had a Son who was a young man, my only suc­cessor, the solace of my age, the glory of his kind, the prop of my family, arri­ved to the endear­ing age: then was he snatcht from me by death, whose lovely voice but a little before I heard, who lately was a pleasant spectacle to his Parent.

[Page 5] Reader, if this have been thine own con­dition, as it hath been his that writes it; I need say no more to convince thee, that it was a sorrowful State indeed Christ met this tender Mother in.

Thirdly, And which is yet more, he was not only Mortem levins toleraret, si non unicus fuisset; si alter qui pa­rentis dolorem leniret superfu­isset. Ambros. a Son, but an only Son: so you find in ver. 12. He was the only Son of his Mother: One in whom all her hopes and Comforts of that kind were bound up. For,

Omnis in Ascanio stat chari cura Parentis. All her Virgil. affections were contracted into this one object. If we have never so many chil­dren, we know not which of them to spare. If they Nibil charius u­nico filio: sic do­lor de morte ip­sius intenfissimus existit. Carthus. in Loc. stand like Olive plants a­bout our Table, it would grieve us to see the least twigg amongst them bro­ken down. But surely the death of one out of many, is much more tolerable than of all in one.

Hence its noted in Scripture as the greatest of earthly Sorrows, Jer. 6. 26. O daughter of my people gird thee with Sackcloth, and wallow thy self in Ashes. [Page 6] Make thee mourning as for an onely Son, most bitter Lamentation. Yea, so deep and penetrating is this grief that the holy Ghost borrows it to express the deepest spritual troubles by it. Zech. 12. 10, They shall mourn for him, (namely Christ whom they pierced) as one mourneth for an only Son.

Fourthly, And yet to heighten the afflliction it Duplici nomine charissimus fuit tum quod esset unigenitus tum quod esset sola­tium, & quasi bacūlus viduita­tis ipsius. Pisc. in Loc. is super added, ver. 12. And she was a Widdow. So that the staff of her age, on whom she leaned was broken: She had now none left to comfort or as­sist her in her helpless comfortless State of Widdowhood; which is a condition not only void of comfort, but exposed to op­pression and contempt.

Yea, and being a Widdow, the whole burden lay upon her alone; she had not an Husband to comfort her, as Elkana did Hannah in 1 Sam. 1. 8. Why weepest thou? and why is thy heart grieved? [...]m not I more to thee than ten Sons? This would have been a great relief; but her Husband was dead as well as her Son: both gone, and she only surviving, to la­ment the loss of those comforts that once [Page 7] she had. Her calamities came not single, but one after another, and this reviving and aggravating the former. This was her case and condition when the Lord met her.

Secondly, Let us consider the Councel which Christ gives her, with respect to this hersad and sorrowful case. And when the Lord saw her, he had Compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not: Relie­ving and Supporting words, wherein we shall consider,

The
  • Occasion.
  • Motive.
  • Councel it self.

First, The occasion of it, and that was his seeing of her. This meeting at the Gate of the City, how accidental and occasional soever it seems, yet without doubt it was providentially suited to the work intended to be wrought: The eye of his Omniscience foresaw her, and this meeting was by him designed, as an oc­ [...]sion of that famous Miracle which he wrought upon the young man. Christ hath a quick eye to discern poor mourn­ing and disconsolate Creatures: and though he be now in Heaven, and stands [Page 8] out of our sight, so that we see him not; yet he sees us; and his eye (which is upon all our troubles) still affects his heart, and moves his bowels for us.

Secondly, The Motive stirring him up to give this relieving and comfortable Councel to her, was his own Compassion. She neither expected, nor desired it from him; but so full of tender pittty was the Lord towards her, that he prevents her with unexpected consolation: Her heart was nothing so full of compassion for her Son, as Christ was for her: He bore our infirmities, even natural as well as moral ones, in the dayes of his flesh; and though he be now exalted to the highest glory, yet still he continues as merciful as ever, and as apt to be touched with the sense of our miseries, Heb. 4. 15.

Lastly, The Councel it self, Weep not, herein fulfilling the office of a Comforter to them that mourn, whereunto he was anointed, Isa. 61. 1, 2, 3. Yet the words are not an absolute prohibition of tears and sorrow; he doth not Condemn [...]ll mourning as sinful, or all expressions of grief for dead Relations as uncomely: no, Christ would not have his people stupid and insensate; he only prohibits the ex­cesses and extravagancies of our sorrows [Page 9] for the dead, that it should not be such a mourning for the dead as is found a­mong the Heathens, who sorrow with­out measure, because without hope, be­ing ignorant of that grand relief by the Resurrection which the Gospel re­veals.

The Resurrection of her Son from the dead, is the ground upon which Christ builds her consolation and reliefe. Well might he say, Weep not, when he inten­ded quickly to remove the cause of her tears by restoring him again to life.

Now though there be somewhat in this case extraordinary and peculiar; for few or none that carry their dear chil­dren to the grave, may expect to receive them again from the dead immediately by a special resurrection, as she did: I say this is not to be expected by any that now loose their Relations; the occasion and reasons of such miraculous special resur­rections being removed, by a sufficient and full evidence and confirmation of Christs divine power and Godhead: Yet those that now bury their Relations, if they be such as dye in Christ, have as good and sufficient reason to moderate their passions, as this mourner had, and do as truly come within the reach and compass [Page 10] of this Christs comfortable and sup­porting councel, Weep not, as the did; For do but consider, what of support or com­fort, can a particular and present Resur­rection from the dead give us, more than that it is, and as it is a Specimen, hansell, or pledge of the general Resurrection? It is not the returning of the soul to its body, to live an Animal life again in this world of sin and sorrow, and shortly after to undergo the agonies and pains of death again, that is in it self any such privi­ledge, as may afford much comfort to the person raised, or his Relations: It is no priviledge to the person raised; for it re­turns him from rest to trouble, from the harbour back again into the Ocean. It is matter of trouble to many dying Saints, to hear of the likelyhood of their retur­ning again, when they are got so nigh to Heaven.

It was once the case of a godly Mini­ster of this Nation, who was much troub­led at his return, and said, I am like a sheep driven out of the storm almost to the fold, and then driven back into the storm again: or a weary Traveller that is come near his home, and then must go back to fetch somewhat he had forgotten: or an Apprentice, whose time is almost [Page 11] expired, and then must begin a new term.

But to die, and then return again from the dead, hath less of priviledge, than to return only from the brink of the grave; for the sick hath not yet felt the agonies and last struggles or pangs ofdeath: but such have felt them once, and must feel them again; they must die twice, be­fore they can be happy once: and besides, during the little time they spend on earth betwixt the first and second dissolution, there is a perfect [...] forgetfulness and insensibleness of all that which they saw or enjoyed in their state of separation: It being necessary, both for them, and o­thers that it should be so; for themselves its necessary, that they may be content to live, and endure the time of separation from that Victurosque dii celant, ut vivere durent. blessed and ineffable state, quietly and patiently; and for others, that they may live by faith, and not by sense, and build upon divine and not humane authority and re­port.

So that here you see, their agonies and pangs are doubled, and yet their life not sweetned by any sense of their happiness which returns and remains with them, [Page 12] and therefore it can be no such priviledge to them.

And for their Relations, though it be some comfort to receive them again from the dead; yet the consideration, that they are returned to them into the stormy Sea, to partake of new sorrows and troubles, from which they were lately free; and in a short time they must part with them again, and feel the double sorrows of a parting pull, which others feel but once: surely such a particular Resurrection con­sidered in it self, is no such ground of comfort as at first we might imagine it to be.

It remains then, that the ground of all solid Comfort and reliefe against the death of our Relations, lyes in the General and last In eo futurae re­surrectionis il­lustre habemus Specimen. Cal. in Loc. Resurrection, and what is in a particular one, is but as it is a Specimen, and evi­dence of the general: and there the Apostle places our relief, 1 Thes. 4. 17. that we shall see & enjoy them again at the Lords coming. And surely this is more, than if with this Mother (in the Text) we should presently receive them from the dead, as she did her Son: And if we judge not so, it is because our hearts [Page 13] are carnal, and measure things rather by time, and sense, than by faith and eter­nity.

Thus you see the Councel, with its ground, which for the most part is com­mon to other Christian mourners with her; the difference being but inconside­rable, and of little advantage.

Here then you find many aggravations of sorrow meeting together; A Son, an only Son, is carrying to the grave, yet Christ commands the pensive Mother, not to Mourn.

Hence we note,

Doct. That Christians ought to mode­rate their Sorrows for their dead Relations, how many afflicting circumstances and ag­gravations soever do meet together in their Death.

It is as common with Quae ardenter diligimus habi­ta, graviter sus­piramus amissa. Greg. mor. men, yea, with good men, to exceed in their sorrows for dead Relations, as it is to exceed in their loves and delights to living Relations; and both of the one and other, we may say as they say of waters, It's hard to confine them within their bounds. It is therefore grave [Page 14] advice which the Apostle delivers in this case, 1 Cor. 7. 29, 30, But this I say Bre­thren, the time is short, It remaineth, that both they that have Wives, be as though they had none, and they that weep, as though they wept not, and those that rejoyce, as though they rejoyced not. As if he had said, the floating world is near its port: God hath contracted the sailes of [...]. mans life: its but a point of time we have to live, and shortly it will not be a point to choose, whether we had wives or not, children or not: all these are time-eaten things, and before the expected fruit of these comforts be ripe, we our selves may be rotten. Its therefore an high point of Wisdom, to look upon things which shortly will not be, as if already they were not, and to behave our selves in the loss of these carnal enjoyments, as the natural man behaves himself in the use of spiri­tual Ordinances: He hears as if he heard not, and we should weep as if we wept not; Their affections are a little moved sometimes by spiritual things, but they never lay them so to heart, as to be bro­ken hearted for the sin they hear of, or deeply affected with the glory revealed: We also ought to be sensible of the stroke [Page 15] God upon our dear Relations: but yet still we must weep, as if we wept not; that is, we must keep due bounds and mo­deration in our sorrows, and not be too deeply concerned for these dying short­liv'd things.

To this purpose the Apostle exhorts, Heb. 12. 5, My Son despise not the chasten­ing of the Lord; neither faint when thou art rebuked of him. These are two ex­treams, despising, and fainting: when God is correcting, to say, I do not re­gard it, let God take all if he will; if my estate must go, let it go; if my children dy, let them dye: this is to despise the Lords chastening: and God cannot bear it, that we should bear it thus lightly.

There is also another extream, and that is Fainting: if when goods are ta­ken away, the heart be taken away, and when children dye, then the spirit of the Parent dyes also; this is fainting under the rod. Thou lamentest (saith Seneca) thy deceased friend, but I would not have thee grieve beyond what is meet: That thou shouldst not grieve at all, I dare not require thee; tears may be excused, if they do not exceed: Let thine eyes there­fore be neither wholly dry, nor yet let them overflow; Weep thou maist, but Wayle thou must not.

[Page 16] Happy man that still keeps the golden bridle of moderation upon his passions and affections, and still keeps the pos­session of himself, whatsoever he looseth the possession of.

Now the the method in which I pur­pose to proceed shall be,

  • 1. To discover the Signes of immo­derate Sorrow.
  • 2. To disswade from the sin of immo­derate Sorrow.
  • 3. To remove the pleas of immo­derate Sorrow.
  • 4. To propose the cure of immo­derate Sorrow.

First, I shall give you the Signs of im­moderate Sorrow, and shew you when it exceeds its bounds, and becomes sinful, even a sorrow to be sorrowed for; and for clearness sake, I will first allow what may be allowed to the Christian mourner, and then you will the better discern wherein the excesse and sinfulness of your sorrow lyes.

And First, How much soever we cen­sure and condemn immoderate Sorrow, yet the afflicted must be allowed an awaken­ed and tender sense of the Lords afflicting hand upon them. Its no virtue to bear what we do not feel: Yea it is a most un­becoming temper, not to tremble when God is smiting.

[Page 17] The Lord faith to Moses, in the case of Miriam, Num. 12. 24. If her Father had spit in her face, should she not be asha­med seven days? The face is the Table and Seat of beauty and honour; but when it is spit upon, it's made the sink of shame: Had her own Father spit upon her face when she had displeased him, Would she not have gone aside as one ashamed by such a rebuke, and not have shew'd her face to him again in seven days? How much more should she take it to heart, and be sensible of this rebuke of mine, who have fill'd her face with Leprous spots, the signs of my displeasure against her? Surely God will be ashamed of those, that are not ashamed when he rebukes them.

It is not magnanimity, but stupidity to make light of Gods corrections, and for this the afflicted are smartly taxed, Jer. 5. 3. I have smitten them but they have not grieved. When God smote Job in his person, children, and estate, he arose and rent his mantle, and put dust upon his head, to shew he was not sense­less and unaffected, and yet blessed the afflicting God, which as plainly shew'd he was not contumacious and unsub­missive.

[Page 18] Secondly, We must allow the mourning afflicted soul, a due and comely expression of his grief and sorrow, in his complaints both to God and men.

Its much more becoming a Christian in­genuously to open his troubles, than sul­lenly to smother them. There's no fin in complaining to God, but much wicked­ness in complaining of him. Griefes are eased by groans, and heart pressures re­lieved by utterance. This was Davids course, and constant way, who was a man of afflictions, Psal. 142. 2, 3, I poured out my complaint before him, I shewed be­fore him my trouble: when my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path.

To whom should children go but to their Father to make their moan? Whence may they expect relief and comfort but from him? The 102. Psalm is intituled, A Psalm for the afflicted, when he is over-whelmed, and poureth out his complaint be­fore the Lord.

And happy were it if every afflicted soul would chuse this way to express his sorrows. Did we complain more to God, God would complain less of us, and quickly abate the matters of our com­plaint. O you cannot think how moving, [Page 19] how melting, how prevailing it is with God, when his poor burdened and af­flicted people, in a day of distress and despondency, when deep calleth unto deep, and one wave drives on another, then for the oppressed soul with humility, filial confidence, and faith, to turn it self to the Lord and thus bespeak him,

Father, What shall I do? My soul is greatly bowed down by trouble, I am full to the brim, my vain heart hath looked for relief this way and that way but none comes, every door of comfort is shut up against me: Thou hast mul­tiplyed my sorrows, and renewed thy witnesses against me: Comfort is re­moved from my outward, and peace from my inner man: Sharp afflictions without, and bitter reflections within. O Lord I am oppressed, undertake for me. Fathers of the flesh pitty their dis­stressed children when they complain to them, and wilt not thou O Lord, whose compassions as far exceed crea­ture-compassions, as the Sea exceeds a drop. O my Father pitty me, support me, deliver me.

O how acceptable is this to God! how advantagious to the soul!

[Page 20] We may also make our complaint to men. So did Job, Chap. 19. 21. Have pitty, have pitty on me O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me. And it is a mercy if we have any friends that are wise, faithful, and experienced. They are born for such a time as this, Prov. 17. 17. But be they what they will, they connot pitty as God, relieve and succour as he: and often times we may say with Job, Chap. 21. 4. As for me, Is my com­plaint to men? and if it were, Why should not my spirit be troubled? q. d. What great advantage can I get by these com­plaints? I may burden the heart of my friend, but how little doth that ease my own! Yet the very opening of the heart to an experienced tender Christian is some relief, and the engaging his prayers is more. Thus far you mone safely: In all this there is no danger.

Thirdly, The afflicted person may (or­dinarily) accuse, judge and condemn himself, for being the cause and procurer of his own troubles. He may lawfully be discontented, and vexed with himself for his own folly, when the iniquity of his heels compasseth him about. And truly it is but seldom that any great affliction befalls a gracious person, but he saw the [Page 21] need of such a rod before he felt it.

Hath God smitten thy child or friend? and didst thou not foresee some sharp trial coming? Did not thy fond secure carnal temper need such a scourge, to awaken, quicken and purge thee? Or if you did not foresee it, its now your duty to search and examine your selves. So the Church in their afflictions resolved, Lam. 3. 40. Let us search and try our wayes. When God is smiting we should be searching. Surely our iniquities will enquire after us, if we will not enquire after them. Yea, in the day of affliction, a gracious soul is in­quisitive about nothing more than the pro­curing and provoking cause of his troubles, Job 10. 2. Shew me wherefore thou con­tendest with me? q. d. Lord what special corruption is it that this rod is sent to re­buke? What sinful neglect doth it come to humble me for? O discover it now to me, and recover me now from it.

And having found the root and cause of their troubles, ingenuous souls will shame themselves for it, and give glory to God by an humble submission, and vin­dication of the equity of his proceedings, Job. 7. 20. I have sinned, what shall I do unto thee, thou preserver of men? He thinks it no shame freely to discover unto [Page 22] God, and deeply to abase himself before him, for his folly.

I remember a choice note that Nec enim pu­det sanctos vi­ros postquam re­novata corda fuerint per resi­piscentiam, lap­sus sui & dede­coris ad dei glo­riam meminisse. Nihil nobis dece­dit quod cedit in illius honorem. Brightman in Cant. cap. 1. ver. 4. pag. 11. Mr. Brightman hath in his commentary upon the Canticles.

Holy men (saith he) after their hearts are re­newed by repentance, are not ashamed to remember and confess their slips and shameful falls, to the glory of God: for they account that glory which such con­fessions take from them is not lost, whilst it goes to the glory of God. If his glory may rise out of our shame, how willing should we be to take such shame to us? Holy David was not ashamed to acknowledge, Psal. 38. 5. My wounds stink and are corrupt, because of my foolishness. He is the wisest man that thus befooles himself before God.

Its true God may afflict from prero­gative, or for tryal; but we may always see cause enough in our selves, and its safest to charge it upon our own fol­ly.

Lastly, The afflicted Christian may in an humble submissive manner, plead with God [Page 23] and be earnest for the removal of the af­flicton.

When affliction presseth us above strength, when it disables us for duty, or when it gives advantage to temptation, then we may say with David, Remove thy stroke from me, I am consumed by the blow of thine hand, Psal. 39. 10. Even our Lord Jesus Christ, in the day of his troubles, poured out his soul with strong cries and many tears, saying, Father if thou be willing, let this cup pass from me, Luke 22. 42. Oppressed nature desires ease; and even our renewed nature de­sires freedom from those clogs and temp­tations which hinder us in duty, or ex­pose us to snares.

Thus far we may safely go.

But Sorrow then becomes sinful and excessive when,

First, It causes us to slight and despise all our other mercies and enjoyments, as small things in comparison of what we have lost.

It often falls out that the setting of one comfort clouds and benights all the rest Our tears for our lost enjoyment, so blinds our eyes that we cannot see the many other mercies which yet remain: We take so much notice of what is gone, that [Page 24] we take little or no notice of what is left: But this is very sinful; for it involves in it both ignorance, ingratitude, and great provocation.

Its a sin springing from ignorance. Did we know the desert of our sin, we would rather wonder to see one mercy left, than that twenty are cut off. They that know they have forfeited every mercy, should be thankful that they enjoy any, and pa­tient when they loose many of their com­forts.

Did we know God, even that Soveraign Lord at whose dispose our comforts come and go, who can the next moment blast all that remain, and turn you into hell, afterwards you would prize the mercies he yet indulges to you at an higher value. Did you understand the fickle vanishing nature of the Creature, what a flower, what a bubble it is, Oh how thankful would you be to find so many yet left in your possession!

Did you know the case of thousands as good, yea better than you, whose whole harvest of comfort in this world, is but an handful to the gleanings of the com­forts you still enjoy, who in all their lives never were owners of such com­fortable enjoyments as you now over-look, [Page 25] surely you would not act as you do.

Beside, What vile ingratitude is in this? What! are all your remaining mer­cies worth nothing? You have buried a child, a friend: Well, but still, you have a husband, a wife, other children; or if not, you have comfortable accommoda­tions for your selves, with health to en­joy them; or if not, yet you have the Or­dinances of God, it may be an interest in Christ, and in the Covenant, pardon of sin, and hopes of glory. What! and yet sink at this rate, as if all your mer­cies, comforts, and hopes, even in both worlds, were buried in one grave. Must Ichabod be written upon your best mer­cies, because mortality is written upon one? Fye, fye, What shameful ingrati­tude is here?

And really friend, Such a carriage as this under the rod, is no small provoca­tion to the Lord to go on in Judgment, and make a full end of all that remains, so that affliction shall not rise up the se­cond time.

What if God taking notice how little thou regardest the many undeserved fa­vours thou yet possessest, should say, Well, if thou think'st them not worth the owning, [Page 26] neither do I think them worth the con­tinuing. Go death, there's a husband, a wife, other children yet left, smite them all. Go sickness and remove the health of his body yet left; go losses and impo­verish his estate yet left; go reproach and blast his reputation which is yet sweet. What would you think of this? And yet if you be out of Christ, you are in danger of a far sadder stroke than either or all yet mention'd. What if God should say, Prizest thou not my mercy? Hast thou no value for my goodness, and forbear­ance towards thee? Is it nothing that I have spar'd thee thus long in thy sins and rebellions? Well then, I will stretch out my hand upon thy life, cut off that thred which hath kept thee so many years from dropping into hell.

O think then what you have done, by provoking the Lord through your vile ingratitude! Its a dangerous thing to provoke God, when he is already in a way of Judgement. And if you be his own people, and so out of the danger of this last and worst stroke: yet know, you have better mercies to lose, than any you have yet lost. Should God cloud your soul with doubts, let loose Satan to buffet [Page 27] you, remove joy and peace from your in­ner man, How soon would you be con­vinced, that the funeral of your dearest friend is but a trifle to this?

Well then, Whatever God takes, be still thankful for what he leaves. It was the great sin of Israel in the wilderness, that though God had delivered them from their cruel servitude in Egypt, miracu­lously fed them in the desert, and was leading them on to a Land flowing with milk and hony; yet as soon as any want did but begin to pinch them, presently all these mercies were forgotten, and slighted, Numb. 14. 12. Would to God (say they) we had died in Egypt. And Numb. 11. 6. There is nothing at all beside this Mannah. Beware of this O ye mourning and afflicted ones. You see both the sin that is in it, and the danger that attends it?

Secondly, And no less sinful are our Sorrows, When they so wholly ingulph our hearts, that we either mind not at all, or are little or nothing sensible of the publick evils and calamities which lye upon the Church and people of God.

Some Christians have such publick spi­rits that the Churches troubles swallow up their personal troubles. Melanchton [Page 28] seemed to take little notice of the death of his child, which he dearly loved, be­ing almost overwhelm'd with the miseries lying on the Church.

And it was a good evidence of the gra­ciousness and publickness of Elies spirit who sitting in the gate anxiously waiting for ty­dings Cumque ille no­minasset Arcam dei, q- d. non­dum integram, sed inchoatam audiens narra­tionem, mente praevolans & ex­itum presagiens ruebat. Meneoz. in Loc. from the Army, when the tydings came that Is­rael fled before the Phi­listins, that his two Sons Hophni and Phineas were dead, and that the Ark of God was taken; just at the mention of that word, The Ark of God, before he heard out the whole narration, his mind quickly pre­saging the issue, he sank down and died, 1 Sam. 4. 19, 20. O that was the sinking, the killing word; had the messenger stopt at the death of his two Sons, like enough he had supported that burden, but the loss of the Ark was more to him than sons or daughters.

But how few such publick spirits ap­pear even among Professors in this sel­fish generation? May we not with the Apostle complain, Phil. 2. 21. All seek their own, and not the things that are of [Page 29] Christ. Few men have any great cares or designs lying beyond the bounds of their own private interests. And what we say of cares, is as true of sorrows: if a child dye, we are ready to dye too, but publick calamities pierce us not.

How few suffer either their domestick comforts to be swallow'd up in the Churches troubles, or their domestick troubles to be swallowed up by the Churches mercies! Now when it is thus with us, when we little regard what mer­cies or miseries lye upon others, but are wholly intent upon our own afflictions, this is a sinful sorrow, and ought to be sorrowed for.

Thirdly, Our Sorrows then become sinful and exorbitant, When they divert us from, or distract us in our dutys, so that our intercourse with heaven is stopt and in­terrupted by them.

How long can we sit alone musing up­on a dead Creature? Here our thoughts easily flow, but how hard to fix them upon the living God! When our hearts should be in heaven with our Christ, they are in the grave with our dead. May not many afflicted souls justly complain, that their troubles have takenaway their Christ from them, (I mean as to sweet sensible [Page 30] communion) and laid the dead child in his room?

Poor Creature, cease to weep any lon­ger for thy dead Relation, and weep ra­ther for thy dead heart. Is this thy com­pliance with Gods design in afflicting thee? What, to grow a greater stranger to him than before! Or is this the way to thy cure and comfort in affliction, to restraine prayer, and turn thy back upon God?

Or if thou darest not wholly neglect thy duty, yet thy affliction spoyles the success and comfort of it; thy heart is wandering, dead, distracted in prayer and meditation, so that thou hast no re­lief or comfort from it.

Rouze up thy self Christian and con­sider, This is not right. Surely the rod works not kindly now. What did thy love to God expire, when thy friend expired? Is thy heart as cold in duty, as his body is in the grave? Hath natural death seized him, and spiritual deadness seized thee? Sure then thou hast more reason to lament thy dead heart, than thy dead friend. Divert the stream of thy troubles speedily, and labour to recover thy self out of this temper quickly; least sad ex­perience [Page 31] shortly tell thee, that what thou now mournest for, is but a trifle to that that thou shalt mourn for hereafter. To loose the heavenly warmth and spiritual liveliness of thy affections, is undoubted­ly a far more considerable loss, than to loose the wife of thy bosom, or the sweet­est child that ever a tender parent laid in the grave.

Reader, If this be thy case, Thou hast reason to challenge the first place among the mourners. Its better for thee to bury ten sons, than to remit one degree of love or delight in God. The end of God in smiting, was to win thy heart nearer to him, by removing that which estranged it; How then dost thou cross the very design of God in this dispensation? Must God then lose his delight in thy fellow­ship, because thou hast lost thine in the creature? Surely when thy troubles thus accompany thee to thy closet, they are sinful and extravagant troubles.

Fourthly, Then you may also conclude your sorrows to be excessive and sinful, When they so overload and oppress your bodies, as to endanger your lives, or ren­der them useless and unfit for ser­vice.

[Page 32] Worldly Sorrow works death, 2 Cor. 7. 10. that is, Sorrow after the manner of worldly men, sorrow in a meer carnal natural Tristitia mundi est tristitia se­cundum, mun­dum, quae ex amore mundi nascitur. Estius in Loc. way, which is not relieved by any spiritual reasonings and considerations: This falls so heavysometimes up­on the body, that it sinks under the weight, and is cast into such diseases as are never more wrought off, or healed in this world. Heaviness in the heart of a man makes it stoop, saith Solo­mon, Prov. 12. 25. The stoutest body must stoop under heart pressures.

It is with the mind of man (saith one) as with the stone Tyrhenus: as long as its whole it swimeth, but once broken it sinks presently. Grief is a moth which getting into the mind, will in short time, make the body, be it never so strong and well wrought a piece, like an old seary garment.

Philosophers and Physitians generally reckon sorrow among the chief causes of shortning life. Christ was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with griefes, and this some think was the reason, that he appeared as a man of fifty, when he was little more than thirty years old, Joh. 8. 57. But his [Page 33] sorrows were of another kind. Haec tibi scri­bo qui tam im­modice flevi ut (quod minime velim) inter ex­empla sim eorum quos dolor vi­cit: hodie ta­men factum me­um damno. Seneca Ep. 63. p. mihi 637.

Many a mans Soul is to his Body, as a sharp knife to a thin sheath, which ea­sily cuts it through; and what do we by poreing and pondering upon our troubles, but whet the knife that it may cut the deeper and quicker? Of all the Creatures that ever God made (Devils only excepted) man is the most able and apt to be his own tormen­tor.

How unmercifully do we load them in times of affliction? How do we not only waste their strength by sorrow, but deny relief and necessary refreshment? They must carry the load, but be allow­ed no refreshment: If they can eat the bread of affliction, and drink tears, they may feed at full; but no pleasant bread, no quiet sleep is permitted them. Surely you would not burden a beast, as you do your own bodies; you would pitty and relieve a bruit beast groaning and sink­ing under an heavy burden, but you will noc pitty not relieve your own bodies.

[Page 34] Some mens souls have given such deep wounds to their bodies, that they are never like to enjoy many easie or comfor­table dayes more whilst they dwell in them.

Now this is very sinful, and displeasing to God; for if he have such a tender care for our bodies, that he would not have us swallowed up, of over much grief, no though it be for sin, 2 Cor. 2. 7. but even to that sorrow sets bounds. How much less with outward sorrow for temporal losses? May not your stock of natural strength be imployed to better purposes think you than these? Time may come, that you may earnestly wish you had that health and strength again to spend for God, which you now so lavishly waste, and prodigally cast away upon your troubles to no purpose, or advantage.

It was therefore an high point of wis­dom in David, and Recorded no doubt for our immitation, who when the child was dead, ceased to mourn, but arose, washed himself, and eat bread, 2 Sam. 12. 20.

Fifthly, When affliction sowres the Spi­rit with discontent, and makes it inward­ly grudge against the hand of God, then [Page 35] our trouble is full of sin, and we ought to be humbled for it before the Lord.

Whatever God doth with us or ours, still we should maintain good thoughts of him. A gracious heart cleaves nearer and nearer to God in affliction, and can justifie God in his severest strokes, ac­knowledging them to be all just and holy. Psal. 119. 75, I know also that thy Judge­ments are right, and that thou in faith­fulness hast afflicted me. And hereby the soul may comfortably evidence to it self its own uprightness, and sincere love to God. Yea, it hath been of singular use to some souls, to take right measures of their love to God in such tryals; to have lovely and well pleased thoughts of God even when he smites us in our nearest and dearest comforts; argues plainly that we love him for himself, and not for his gifts only: And that his interest in the heart is deeper, than any creature interest is. And such is the comfort that hath re­sulted to some from such discoveries of their own hearts by close smarting afflicti­ons; that they would not part with it, to have their comforts, whose removal occasioned them, given back in lieu of it.

But to swell with secret discontent, [Page 36] and have hard thoughts of God, as if he had done us wrong, or dealt more se­verely with us than any. O this is a vile temper, cursed fruit springing from an evil root; a very carnal, ignorant, proud heart; or at least from a very dis­tempered if renewed heart. So it was with Jonah when God smote his Gourd, Tea, (saith he) I do well to be angry even unto death, Jonah 4. 9. Poor man, he was highly distempered at this time and out of frame; this was not his true tem­per or ordinary frame, but a surprize; the effect of a paroxisme of temptation, in which his passions had been over-heated.

Few dare to vent it in such language, But how many have their hearts im­bittered by discontent, and secret risings against the Lord? which if ever the Lord open their eyes to see, will cost them more trouble than ever that of affliction did, which gave the occasion of it.

I deny not, but the best heart may be tempted to think and speak frowardly concerning these works of the Lord, that envious adversary the Devil, will blow the coals, and labour to blow up our spirits at such time into high discon­tents. [Page 37] The temptation was strong even upon David himself, to take up hard thoughts of God, and to conclude, Uerily I have cleansed my heart in vain. q. d. How little priviledge from the worst of evils hath a man by his godliness? but he soon supprest such motions. If I should say thus, I should offend against the generation of thy children: Meaning, that he should condemn the whole race of godly men through the whole world; for who is there among them all, but is, or hath, or may be afflicted as severely as my self?

Surely, it is meet to be said unto God, I have born Chastisement, I will not offend any more, Job 34. 31. Whatever God doth with you, speak well, and think well of him, and his works.

Sixthly, Our sorrows exceed due bounds, when we continually excite and provoke them by willing irritations.

Grief like a Lyon loves to play with us before it destroy us. And strange it is that we should find some kind of pleasure in rouzing our sorrows. Its In est quidam dulce tristitiae, cum occurant ser­mones eorum jucundi, conversatio hilaris officiosa pietas: tunc occuli velut in gaudio relaxantur. Sen. Ep. 806. Seneca's observation, and [Page 38] experimentally true, that even sorrow it self hath a certain kind of delight atten­ding it.

The Jews that were with Mary in the house to comfort her, When they saw that she went out hastily, followed her, saying, she goeth to the grave to weep there, Joh. 11. 32. As they do (saith Calvin) that seek to provoke their Ex eorum more qui luctus sui irritamenta que­runt. Calv. troubles by going to the grave, or often looking upon the dead body.

Thus we delight to look upon the re­licks of our deceased friends, and often to mention their actions and sayings, not so much for any matter of holy and weighty instruction or imitation; for that would warrant and commend the action; but rather to rub the wound, and fetch fresh blood from it, by piercing our selves with some little trivial, yet wounding circumstances. I have known many that will sit and talk of the fea­tures, actions and sayings, of their chil­dren, for hours together, and weep at the rehersal of them, and that for many months after they are gone: So keeping the wound continually open, and excru­ciating their own hearts without any be­nefit at all by them. A lock of hair or [Page 39] some such trifle must be kept for this purpose to renew their sorrow daily by looking on it. On this account Jacob would not have his Son called Benoni, least it should renew his sorrow, but Ben­jamin.

I am far from commending a brutish oblivion of our dear Relations, and condemn it as much as I do this childish and unprofitable remembrance. Oh friends we have other things to do under the rod than these. Were it not better to be searching our hearts and houses, when Gods rod is upon us, and studying how to answer the end of it, by mortifying those corruptions which provoke it? Surely the rod works not kindly till it come to this.

Seventhly, Lastly. Our sorrows may then be pronounced sinful, when they deafen our ears to all the wholsome and seasonable words of counsel and comfort offered us for our relief and support.

Jer. 31. 15. A voice was heard in Ra­mah, Lamentation and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children, would not be comforted for her children, because they were not. She will admit no com­fort, her disease is curable by no other means but the restoration of her chil­dren; [Page 40] give her them again and she will be quiet, else you speak into the air, she regards not what ever you say.

Thus Israel in the cruel bondage in Egypt, Moses brings them the glad ty­dings of deliverance, But they hearkned not to him, because of the anguish of Spi­rit, and their cruel bondage, Exod. 6. 9.

Thus obstinately fixed are many in their trouble, that no words of advice or comfort find any place with them: yea, I have known some exceeding quick and ingenious, even above the rate of their common parts and abilities in inventing shifts, and framing objections to turn off comfort from themselves; as if they had been hired to plead against their own interest: and if they be driven from those pleas, yet they are setled in their troubles too fast to be moved: say what you will they mind it not; or at most it abides not upon them. Let proper seasonable ad­vice or comfort be tendred they refuse it, your councel is good, but they have no heart to it now. Thus Psal. 77. 10. My foul (saith he) refused to be com­forted.

To want comfort in time of affliction, is an aggravation of our affliction; but to refuse it, when offered us, wants not [Page 41] sin. Time may come, when we would be glad to receive comfort, or hear a word of support, and shall be denyed it.

O, tis a mercy to the afflicted to have a Barnabas with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand; and it will be the great sin, and folly of the afflicted to spill those excellent cordials prepared and of­fered to them, like water upon the ground, out of a froward, or dead spirit, under trouble. Say not with them, Lam. 3. 18, 19. My hope is perished from the Lord, remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the Gall. Its a thousand pitties the wormwood and gall of af­fliction should so disgust a Christian, as that he should not at any time be able to relish the sweetness that is in Christ, and in the promises. And thus I have dis­patcht the first part of my design, in shewing you wherein the sin of mour­ners doth not lye, and in what it doth.

Secondly, Having cleared this, and shown you wherein the sin and danger lyes; my way is prepared to the second thing proposed: namely, to disswade Mourners from these sinful excesses of sorrows, and keep the golden bridle of moderation upon their passions in times [Page 42] of affliction. And O that my words may be as successful upon those pensive souls that shall read them, as Abigalls were to David, 1 Sam. 25. 32. who when he perceived how proper and seasonable they were, said, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who sent thee this day to meet me, and blessed be thy advice.

I am sensible how hard a task it is I here undertake; to charm down, and allay mutinous, raging, and tumultuous passions; to give check to the torrent of passion is ordinarily but to provoke it, and make it rage and swell the more.

The work is the Lords, and wholly depends upon his power and blessing. He that saith to the Sea, when the waves thereof roar, be still; can also quiet and compose the stormy and tumultuous Sea that rages in the breasts of the afflicted, and casts up nothing but the froth of vain and useless complaints of our misery, or the dirt of sinful and wicked complaints of the dealings of the Lord with us.

The rod of affliction goes round and visits all sorts of persons without differ­ence: It is upon the Tabernacles of the just and of the unjust, the righteous and the wicked, both are mourning under the rod.

[Page 43] The godly are not so to be minded, as that the other be wholly neglected, they have as strong and tender, though not as regular affections to their Relations, and must not be wholly suffered to sink under their unrelieved burthens.

Here therefore I must have respect to two sorts of persons, whom I find in tears upon the same account; I mean the loss of their dear Relations, the Regenerate, and the unregenerate, I am a debtor to both, and shall endeavour their support and assistance; for even the unregene­rate call for our help and pitty, and must not be neg­lected Nil miserius mi­sero non miser ante seipsum. and wholly slighted in their afflictions. We must pitty them, that can't pitty them­selves. The Law of God commands us to help a beast, if fallen under its bur­den; How much more a man sinking un­der a load of sorrow?

I confess uses of comfort to the unre­generate are not (ordinarily) in use a­mong us; and it may seem strange whence any thing of support should be drawn for them, that have no special interest in Christ, or the promises.

I confess also, I find my self under great disadvantages for this work, I can­not [Page 44] offer them those reviving cordials that are contained in Christ, and the co­venant for Gods afflicted people; but yet such is the goodness of God even to his enemies, that they are not left wholly without supports, or means to allay their Sorrow.

If this therefore be thy case, who read­est these lines; afflicted and unsanctified, mourning bitterly for thy dead friends, and more cause to mourn for thy dead soul; Christless, and graceless, as well as childless or friendless: no comfort in hand, nor yet in hope, full of trouble, and no vent by prayer or faith to ease thy heart.

Poor creature, thy case is sad, but yet do not wholly sink, and suffer thy self to be swallowed up of grief, thou hast laid thy dear one in the grave, yet throw not thy self head-long into the grave af­ter him; that will not be the way to re­medy thy misery: but sit down a while and ponder these three things:

First, That of all persons in the World, thou hast most reason to be tender over thy life and health, and careful to preserve it; for if thy troubles destroy thee, thou art eternally lost, undone for ever. Worldly sorrow (saith the Apostle) works death. [Page 45] And if it works thy death, it works thy damnation also; for Hell follows that pale horse, Revel. 6. 8. If a believer dyes, there's no danger of Hell to him, the second death hath no power over him; but wo to thee if it overtake thee in thy sin; beware therefore what thou dost a­gainst thy health and life. Don't put the candle of sorrow too near that thread by which thou hangest over the mouth of Hell.

O its far better to be childless, or friendless on earth; than hopeless, and remediless in hell.

Secondly, Own and admire the boun­ty and goodness of God manifested to thee in this affliction; that when death came into thy family to smite and carry off one, it had not fallen to thy lot to be the person; thy Husband, Wife, or Child is taken, and thou art left: Had thy name been in the Commission, thou hadst been now past hope.

O the sparing mercy of God! the wonderful long suffering of God towards thee! Possibly that poor creature that is gone, never provoked God as thou hast done; thy poor child, never abused mer­cies, neglected calls, treasur'd up the thousandth part of that guilt thou hast [Page 46] done: So that thou mightest well im­magine it should rather have cut thee down, that hadst so provoked God, than thy poor little one.

But oh the admirable patience of God! Oh the riches of long suffering! Thou art only warned, not smitten by it: Is there nothing in this worth thy thankful acknowledgement? Is it not better to be in black for another on earth, than in the blackness of darkness for ever? Is it not easier to go to the grave with thy dead friend, and weep there; than to go to hell among the damned where there is weeping, and wailing, and gnash­ing of teeth?

Thirdly, This affliction for which thou mournest, may be the greatest mercy to thee that ever yet befel thee in this world. God hath now made thy heart soft by trouble, shewed thee the vanity of this World; and what a poor trifle it is which thou madest thy happiness: There is now a dark cloud spread over all thy worldly comforts. Now, O now, if the Lord would but strike in with this affliction, and by it open thine eyes to see thy deplo­rable state, and take off thy heart for ever from the vain world which thou now seest hath nothing in it; and cause [Page 47] thee to chuse Christ the only abiding good for thy portion. If now thy affliction may but bring thy sin to remembrance, and thy dead friend may but bring thee to a sense of thy dead soul, which is as cold to God and spiritual things, as his body is to thee; and more loathsome in his eyes than that corps is, or shortly will be to the eyes of men: Then this day is certainly a day of the greatest mercy that ever yet thou sawest. O happy death, that shall prove life to thy soul.

Why, this is sometimes the way of the Lord with men, Job 36. 8, 9. If they be bound in fetters, and helden in cords of affliction, then he sheweth them their work and their transgression, that they have ex­ceeded: he openeth also their ear to disci­pline, and commandeth them that they re­turn from iniquity.

O Consider poor pensive creature, that which stole away thy heart from God is now gone: That which eat up thy time and thoughts, that there was no room for God, soul, or eternity in them, is gone: All the vain expectations thou raisedst up to thy self, from that poor creature which now lyes in the dust, are in one day perished. O what an advantage hast thou now for heaven, beyond what ever [Page 48] thou yet hadst! If God will but bless this rod, thou wilt have cause to keep many a thanksgiving day for this day.

I pray let these three things be pondred by you: I can bestow no more comforts upon you, your condition bars the best comforts from you; they belong to the people of God, and you have yet nothing to do with them.

I shall therefore turn from you to them, and present some choicer comforts to them to whom they properly belong, which may be of great use to you in read­ing; if it be but to convince you of the blessed priviledge and state of the people of God in the greatest plunges of troubles in this world; and what advantages their interest in Christ gives them for peace and settlement beyond that state you are in.

And here I do with much more free­dom and hope of success apply my sēlf to the work of councelling and comforting the afflicted. You are the fearers of the Lord, and tremble at his word; the least sin is more formidable to you than the greatest affliction. Doubtless you would rather chuse to bury all your children than provoke and grieve your heavenly Father. Your Relations are dear, but Christ is dearer to you by far.

[Page 49] Well then let me perswade you to re­tire a while into your closets, redeem a little time from your unprofitable sor­rows, ease and empty your hearts before the Lord, and beg his blessing upon the following quieting and heart composing considerations that follow, some of which are more general and common, some more particular and special, but all of them such, as through the blessing of God may be very useful at this time to your souls.

1. Consid. Consider in this day of sor­row, who is the framer and author of this rod by which you now smart, Is it not the Lord? and if the Lord have done it, it be­comes you meekly to submit. Psal. 46. 10. Be still and know that I am God.

Man and man stand upon even ground, if your fellow creature do any thing that displeases you, you may not only enquire Who did it, but Why he did it? You may demand his grounds and reasons for what he hath done; but you may not do so here: It is expected that this one thing, The Lord hath done it, should without any farther disputes or contests silence and quiet you, what ever it be that he hath done, Job 33. 13. Why dost thou strive a­gainst him? for he giveth not an account of [Page 50] any of his matters. The supream being must needs be an unaccountable and un­controulable being.

Its a shame for a child, to strive with his Father; a shame for a servant to contend with his Master: but for a crea­ture to quarrel and strive with the God that made him, O how shameful is it? Surely tis highly reasonable that you be subject to that will whence you proceed­ed, and that he who formed you and yours, should dispose of both as seemeth him good. It is said, 2 Sam. 3. 36. That whatsoever the King did, pleased all the people: and shall any thing the Lord doth displease you? He can do no wrong. If we pluck a Rose in the bud as we walk in our Gardens, Who shall blame us for it, it is our own, and we may crop it off when we please; Is not this the case? Thy sweet bud which was cropt before it was fully blown, was cropt off by him that owned it, yea by him that for­med it. If his dominion be absolute, sure his disposal should be acceptable.

It was so to good Eli, 1 Sam. 3. 18. It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good. And it was so to David, Psal. 39. 9. I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it. O let it [Page 51] be for ever remembred, That he whose name alone is Jehovah, is the most high over all the earth, Psal. 83. 18.

The glorious soveraignty of God is illustriously displayed in two things, his decrees, and his providences. With respect to the first he saith, Rom. 9. 15. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy. Here is no ground of disputing with him; for so its said, ver. 20. Who art thou O man, that replyest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay?

And as to his Providences, wherein his Soveraignty is also manifested. Its said, Zech. 2. 13. Be silent O all flesh be­fore the Lord, for he is raised up out of his habitation. Its spoken of his provi­dential working in the changes of King­doms, and desolations that attend them.

Now seeing the case stands thus, that Lord hath done it, it is his pleasure to have it so; and if it had not been his will, it could never have been as it is: He that gave thee, (rather lent thee thy Relation) hath taken him. O how quiet should this consideration leave thee! If your Landlord who hath many years suf­fered [Page 52] you to dwell in his house, do at last warn you out of it, though he tell you not why; you will not contend with him, or say he hath done you wrong: much less if he tell you, it will be more for his profit and accommodation to take it into his own hand, than let it to you any longer.

Doubtless reason will tell you, you ought quietly to pack up and quit it. Its your great Landlord from whom you hold (at pleasure) your own, and your Relations lives, that hath now warned you out from one of them, it being more for his glory (it may be) to take it in hand by death; And must you dispute the case with him?

Come Christian, this no way becomes thee, but rather, The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken, blessed be the name of the Lord. Look off from a dead crea­ture, lift up thine eyes to the Soveraign, wise, and holy pleasure that ordered this affliction: Consider who he is, and what thou art; yea, pursue this consideration till thou canst say, I am filled with the will of God.

2. Consid. Ponder well the quality of the comfort you are deprived of, and re­member, that when you had it, it stood [Page 53] but in the rank and order of common and inferiour comforts.

Children and all other Relations are but common blessings, which God in­differently bestows upon his friends and enemies, and by the having or losing of them, no man knows either love or hatred. It is said of the wicked, Psal. 77. 14. That they are full of children; yea, and of children that do survive them too; for, They leave their substance to their babes. Full of sin, yet full of children, and these children live to inherit their parents sins and estates together.

It is the mistaking of the quality and nature of our enjoyments, that so plunges us into trouble when we lose them. We think there is so necessary a connexion betwixt these creatures and our happiness, that we are utterly undone when they fail us.

But this is our mistake, there is no such necessary connection or dependance, we may be happy without these things. It is not father, mother, wife, or child, in which our chief good and felicity lyes, we have higher, better, and more en­during things than these, all these may perish, and yet our soul secure and safe, yea and our comfort in the way, as well [Page 54] as end; may be safe enough though these be gone. God hath better things to comfort his people with than these, and worse rods to afflict you with than the removal of these: had God let your chil­dren live and flourish, and given you ease and rest in your Tabernacle; but in the mean time inflicted spiritual Judgements upon your souls, How much more sad had your case been?

But as long as your best mercies are all safe, the things that have salvation in them remain, and only the things that have vanity in them are removed: you are not prejudiced, or much hindred as to the attainment of your last end by the loss of these things.

Alas, it was not Christs intent to pur­chase for you a sensual content in the en­joyment of these earthly comforts, but to redeem you from all iniquity; purge your corruptions, sanctifie your natures, wean your hearts from this vain world; and so to dispose and order your present condi­tion, that finding no rest and content here, you might the more ardently pant and sigh after the rest which remains for the people of God. And are you not in as probable a way to attain this end now, as you were before? Do you think [Page 55] you are not as likely by these methods of providence to be weaned from the world, as by more pleasant and prosperous ones? Every wise man reckons that station and condition to be best for him, which most promotes and secures his last end and great design.

Well then, reckon you are as well without these things as with them; yea, and better too, if they were but clogs and snares upon your affections, you have really lost nothing, if the things wherein your eternal happiness consisteth be yet safe. Many of Gods dearest children have been denied such comforts as these, and many have been deprived of them, and yet never the farther from Christ and heaven for that.

3. Consid. Alwaies remember that how soon and unexpected soever your parting with your Relations was, yet your Lease was expired before you lost them, and you enjoyed them every moment of the time that God intended them for you.

Before this Relation whose loss you lament, was born, the time of your en­joyment and separation was unalterably fixed and limited in heaven, by the God of the spirits of all flesh; and although it was a secret to you, whilst your friend [Page 56] was with you: yet now it is a plain and evident thing, that this was the time of separation before appointed; and that the life of your friend could by no means be protracted or abreviated, but must keep you company just so far, and then part with you.

This position wants not full and clear Scripture authority for its foundation, how pregnant and full is that Text, Job 24. 5, 6. Seeing his dayes are determined, the number of his moneths are with thee: Thou hast appointed him his bounds which he cannot pass.

The time of our life as well as the place of our habitation was prefixed be­fore we were born.

It will greatly conduce to your settle­ment and peace to be well established in this truth: That the appointed time was fully come, when you and your dear Re­lation parted; for it will prevent and save a great deal of trouble which comes from our after Reflections.

O if this had been done, or that omit­ted; had it not been for such miscarriages and over-sights; my dear husband, wife, or child, had been alive at this day? No, no, the Lords time was fully come, and all things concurred and fell in together to [Page 57] bring about the pleasure of his will; let that satisfie you; had the ablest physitians in the world been there, or had they that were there, prescribed another course, as it is now, so it would have been, when they had done all. Only it must be pre­caution'd, that the decree of God no way excuses any voluntary sinful neglects or miscarriages. God over-rules these things to serve his own ends, but no way ap­proves them: but it greatly relieves a­gainst all our involuntary and unavoydable oversights and mistakes about the use of means, or the timing of them; for it could not be otherwise than now it is.

Object. But many things are alledged against this position, and that with much seeming countenance from such Scriptures as these, Psal. 54. 25. Blood thirsty men shall not live out half their dayes. Eccles. 7. 18. Why shouldst thou dye before thy time. Psal. 102. 24. O my God, take me not away in the midst of my dayes. Isa. 38. 10. I am deprived of the residue of my years. And Prov. 10. 27. The fear of the Lord prolongeth dayes, but the years of the wicked shall be shortened. It is demanded what tollerable sense we can give these Scrip­tures whilest we assert an unalterable fix­ation of the term of death.

[Page 58] Sol. The sense of all these Scriptures will be clear'd up to full satisfaction by distinguishing death and the Terms of it.

First we must distinguish death into, Natural and Violent

The wicked and blood thirsty man shall not live out half his dayes: (i. e.) half so long as he might live according to the course of nature, or the vigour and soundness of his natural constitution; for his wickedness either drowns nature in an excess of riot and luxury, or ex­poses him to the hand of justice, which cuts him off for his wickedness before he hath accomplished half his dayes.

Again we must distinguish of the Term or limit set for death, which is either, General or Special.

The general limit is now seventy or or eighty years, Psal. 90. 10. The dayes of our years are threescore years and ten, and if by reason of strength they be four­score years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow. To this short limit the life of man is generally reduced since the flood; [Page 59] and though there be some few exceptions, yet the general rule is not thereby de­stroyed.

The special limit is that proportion of time which God by his own counsel and will hath alotted to every individual per­son; and it is only known to us by the event: This we affirm to be a fixed and unmovable term, with it all things shall fall in, and subserve the will of God in our dissolution at that time. But be­cause the general limit is known, and this special limit is a secret hid in Gods own brest; therefore man reckons by the former account, and may be said when he dyes at thirty or forty years old to be cut off in the midst of his dayes; for it is so, reckoning by the general account: though he be not cut off till the end of his dayes, reckoning by his special li­mit.

Thus he that is wicked dies before his time; (i. e.) the time he might attain to in an ordinary way: but not before the time God had appointed. And so in all the other objected Scripture.

It is not proper at all in a Subject of this nature to digress into a controversie. Alas, the poor Mourner, overwhelmed with grief hath no pleasure in that; it is [Page 60] not proper for him at this time; and therefore I shall for present wave the con­troversie, and wind up this consideration with an humble and serious motion to the afflicted; that they will wisely con­sider the matter, the Lords time was come. Your Relations lived with you every moment that God intended them for you, before you had them.

O Parents! mind this I beseech you; the time of your childs continuance in the womb, was fixed to a minute by the Lord; and when the parturient fulness of that time was come, Were you not wil­ling it should be delivered thence into the world? The tender Mother would not have it abide one minute longer in the womb how well soever she loved it: And is there not the same reason we should be willing when Gods appointed time is come, to have it delivered by death out of this state, which in respect of the life of Heaven is but as the life of a child in the womb, to its life in the open world.

And let none say that the death of chil­dren is a premature death. God hath waies to ripen them for Heaven, whom he intends to gather thither betimes, which we know not: In respect of fitness they dye in a full age, though they be cut off in the bud of their time.

[Page 61] He that appointed the seasons of the year, appointed the seasons of our com­fort in Relations; and as those seasons cannot be altered, no more can these: All the course of providence is guided by an unalterable decree; what falls out casually to our apprehension, yet falls out necessarily in respect of Gods appoint­ment.

O therefore be quieted in it, this must needs be as it is.

4. Consid. Hath God smitten your dar­ling, and taken away the delight of your eyes with his stroke? Bear this stroke with patience and quiet submission; for how know you but your trouble might have been greater from the life, than it is now from the death of your children?

Sad experience made a holy man once to say, Its better weep for ten dead chil­dren, than for one living child: a living child may prove a continual dropping, yea, a continual dying to the parents heart. What a sad word was that of David to Abishai, 2 Sam. 16. 11. Be­hold, saith he, my Son which came out of my bowels seeketh my life. I remember Seneca in his consolatory Epistle to his friend Marullus, brings in his friend thus aggravating the death of his child:

[Page 62] O saith Marullus, Had my child lived with me, to how great mo­desty, gravity, and prodence, Senecas Epist. p. 84. might my discipline have formed and moulded him? But, saith Sene­ca, (which is more to be feared) he might have been as others mostly are; for look (saith he) what children come even out of the worthiest families; such who exercise both their own and others lusts; in all whose life there is not a day without the mark of some notorious wickedness upon it.

I know your tender love to your chil­dren will scarce admit such jealousies of them; they are for present sweet, lovely, innocent companions; and you doubt not but by your care of their education, and prayer for them, they might have been the joy of your hearts.

Why, doubtless Esan, when he was little and in his tender age, promised as much comfort to his parents as Jacob did; and I question not but Isaac and Rebecca (a gracious pair) spent as many prayers, and bestowed as many holy councels upon him as they did upon his brother: But when the child grew up to riper years, then he became a sharp affliction to his Parents; for its said in [Page 63] Gen. 26. 34. That when Esau was forty years old, he took to wife Judith the daughter of Berith the Hittite, which was a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebecca. The word in the original, comes from a root that sig­nifies [...] erant amaritudo animi. to imbitter: This child imbittered the minds of his parents by his rebellion against them, and de­spising their councells.

And I cannot doubt but Abraham disci­plin'd his family as strictly as any of you, never man received an higher encomium from God upon that account, Gen. 18. 19. I know him, that he will command his chil­dren and his houshold after him; and they shall keep the way of the Lord. Nor can I think but he bestowed as many and as frequent prayers for his children; and particularly for his Ishmael, as any of you: We find one, and that a very pathetical one recorded, Gen. 17. 18. O that Ishmael might live before thee: and yet you know how he proved, a son that yeilded him no more comfort, than Esau did to Jacob and Rebeccah.

O how much more common is it for parents to see the vices and evils of their children, than their vertues and graces? And where one parent lives to rejoice in [Page 64] beholding the grace of God shining forth in the life of his child; there are twenty, it may be an hundred, that live to behold, to their vexation and grief, the workings of corruption in them.

It is a note of Plutarch, in his Morals, Niocles (saith Plut. Moral. p. 222. he) lived not to see the noble Victory obtained by Themistocles his Son. Nor Miltiades to see the battle his Son Cimon wan in the field. Nor Zantippus to hear his Son Pericles Preach, and make Orations. Ariston never heard his Son Plato's lectures and disputations. But men (saith he) commonly live to see their children fall a Gaming, Revelling, Drinking, and Whoring; multitudes live to see such things to their sorrow. And if thou be a gracious soul, O what a cut would this be to thy very heart! to see those (as David spake of his Abso­lom) that came out of thy bowels to be sinning against God; that God whom thou lovest, and whose honour is dearer to thee than thy very life!

But admit, they should prove civil and hopeful children, yet mightest thou not live to see more misery come upon them, than thou couldst endure to see? O think what a sad and doleful sight was [Page 65] that to Zedekiah, Jer. 50. 10. The King of Babilon brought his children and slew them before his eyes. Horrid spectacle! and that leads to the

5. Consid. How know you but by this stroke which you so lament, God hath taken them away from the evil to come?

It is Gods usual way when some ex­traordinary calamities are coming upon the world, to hide some of his weak and tender ones out of the way by death, Isa. 57. 1, 2. He leaves some, and removes others, but taketh care for the security of all. He provided a grave for Methuselah before the flood. The grave is an hiding place to some, and God sees it better for them to be under ground, than above ground in such evil dayes.

Just as a careful and tender Father, who hath a Son abroad at school, hearing the Plague is broken out in, or near the place, sends his Horse presently to fetch home his Son before the danger and dif­ficulty be greater. Death is our Fathers pale Horse, which he fends to fetch home his tender children, and carry them out of harms way.

Surely, when National calamities are drawing on, its far better for our friends to be in the grave in peace, than exposed [Page 66] to the miseries and distresss that are here, which is the meaning of Jer. 22. 10. Weep not for the dead, neither bemoan him; but weep for him that goeth away, for he shall return no more, nor see his na­tive Country.

And is there not a dreadful sound of troubles now in our ears? Do not the clouds gather blackness? Surely all things round about us seem to be preparing and disposing themselves for affliction. The dayes may be nigh in which you shall say, Blessed is the womb that never bare, and the paps that never gave suck.

It was in the day wherein the faith and patience of the Saints were exercised, that John heard a voice from heaven say­ing to him, Write, Blessed are the dead which dye in the Lord from benceforth.

Thy friend hy an Act of favour is dis­banded by death, whilst thou thy self art left to endure a great fight of affliction: And now if troubles come, thy cares and fears will be so much the less, and thy own death so much the easier to thee; when so much of thee is in heaven al­ready. In this case, the Lord by a mer­cifull dispensation is providing both for their safety, and thy own easier passage to them.

[Page 67] In removing thy friends before hand, he seems to say to thee as he did to Peter, Joh. 13. 7. What I do thou knowest not now, but hereafter thou shalt know it. The eye of Providence hath a prospect far beyond thine; it would be in pro­bability an harder task for thee to leave them behind, than to follow them.

A tree thats deeply rooted in the earth, requires many strokes to fell it, but when its roots are loosned before hand, then an easie stroke layes it down upon the earth.

6. Consid. A parting time must needs come, and why is not this as good as ano­ther? You knew before hand, your child or friend was mortal, and that the thred that linked you together, must be cut. If any one (saith Basil) had asked you, when your Aequo animo excipenecessaria, quam multi post luctum tuum lu­gent? Sen. Ep. 99. child was born, What is that which is born? What would you have answered? Would you not have said it is a man? and if a man, than a Mortal vanishing thing. And why then are you surprized, with wonder to see a dying thing dead?

He (saith Seneca) who complaines that one is Seneca's Ep. 804. [Page 68] dead, complains that he was a man. All men are under the same condition, to whose share it falls to be born, to him it remains to dye.

We are indeed distinguisht by inter­valls, but equalized in the Issue, It is ap­pointed to all men once to dye, Heb. 9. 27. There is a statute Law of heaven in the case.

Possibly you think this is the worst time for parting that could be; had you enjoyed it longer, you could have parted easier, but how are you deceiv'd in that? The longer you had enjoyed it, the lo­ther still you would have been to leave it: the deeper it would have rooted it self in your affection.

Had God given you such a priviledge as was once granted to the English Parlia­ment; that the union betwixt you and your friend should not be dissolved, till you your self were willing it should be dissolved; When think you would you have been willing it should be dissolved?

Its well for us and ours, that our times are in Gods hand, not in our own. And how immature soever it seemed to be when it was cut down; yet it came to the grave in a full age, as a shock of corn in its season, Job 5. 26. They that are in [Page 69] Christ, and in the Covenant, never dye unseasonably whensoever they dye. (Saith one upon the Text) They dye in a good old age; yea, Car. in Loc. though they dye in the spring and flower of youth, they dye in a good old age. (i. e.) They are ripe for death when ever they dye. When ever the godly dye, its harvest time with him: though in a natural capacity he be cut down while he is green, and cropt, in the bud or blossom; yet in his spiritual capacity he never dyes before he is ripe; God can ripen his speedily, he can let out such warm rayes and beams of his spirit upon them, as shall soon maturate the seeds of grace into a preparedness for glory.

It was doubtless the most fit and sea­sonable time for them that ever they could dye in; and as it is a fit time for them, so for you also. Had it lived longer, it might either have engaged you more, and so your parting would have been har­der; or else have puzled and stumbled you more by discovering its natural cor­ruption: And then what a stinging ag­gravation of your sorrow would that have been?

Surely the Lord of time, is the best Judge of time; and in nothing do we more discover our folly, and rashness, [Page 70] then in presuming to fix the times either of our comforts or troubles: as to our comforts, we never think they can come to soon, we would have them presently, whether the season be fit or not, as Numb. 12. 13. Heal her now Lord. O let it be done speedily; we are in post hast for our comforts; and as for our afflictions, we never think they come late enough; not at this time Lord, rather at any other time than now.

But its good to leave the timing both of the one and other to him, whose works are all beautiful in their seasons, and never doth any thing in an improper time.

7. Consid. Call to mind in this day of trouble, the Covenant you have made with God, and what you solemnly promised him in the day you took him for your God.

It will be very seasonable and useful for thee Christian at this time to reflect upon those transactions, and the frame of thy heart in those dayes, when an heavier load of Sorrow prest thy heart, than thou now feelest.

In those your spiritual distresses, when the burthen of sin lay heavy, the curse of the Law, the fear of hell, the dread of death [Page 71] and eternity beset thee on every side; and shut thee up to Christ, the only door of hope: Ah what good news wouldst thou then have accounted it, to escape that danger with the loss of all earthly com­forts!

Was not this thy cry in those dayes, Lord give me Christ, and deny me what ever else thou pleasest. Pardon my sin, save my soul; and in order to both, unite me with Christ, and I will never repine or open my mouth. Do what thou wilt with me; let me be friendless, let me be childless, let me be poor, let me be any thing rather than a Christless, graceless, hopeless soul.

And when the Lord hearkned to thy cry, and shewed thee mercy, when he drew thee off from the world into thy closet, and there treated with thee in secret, when he was working up thy heart to the terms of his Covenant, and made thee willing to accept Christ upon his own terms: O then how heartily didst thou submit to his yoak as most reasonable and easie, as at that time it seemed to thee.

Call to mind these dayes, the secret places where Christ and you made the [Page 72] bargain. Have not these words, or words to this sense, been whispered by thee in­to his ear with a dropping eye, and mel­ting heart?

Lord Jesus, here am I a poor guilty sinner, deeply laden with sin, fear and trouble upon one hand, and there is a just God, a severe Law, and everlasting burnings on the other hand; but blessed be God, O blessed be God for Jesus the Mediator, who interposeth betwixt me and it. Thou art the only door of hope at which I can escape, thy blood the only means of my pardon and sal­vation. Thou hast said, Come unto me all ye that Labor and are heavy Laden. Thou hast promised that he that com­eth to thee shall in no wise be cast out.

Blessed Jesus, thy poor creature cometh to thee upon these encourage­ments: I come, O but it is with many staggerings, with many doubts and fears of the Issue, yet I am willing to come, and make a Covenant with thee this day.

I take thee this day to be my Lord, and submit heartily to all thy disposals: Do what thou wilt with me or with mine: let me be rich or poor, any [Page 73] thing or nothing in this world, I am willing to be as thou wouldst have me. And I do likewise give my self to thee this day to be thine, all I am, all I have shall be thine; thine to serve thee, and thine to be disposed at thy pleasure. Thou shalt henceforth be my highest Lord, my chiefest good, my last end.

Now Christian, make good to Christ what thou so solemnly promisedst him. He, I say, He hath disposed of this thy dear Relation as pleased him; and is thereby trying thy uprightness in the Covenant which thou madest with him: Now where is the satisfaction and con­tent thou promisedst to take in all his dis­posals? Where is that Covenanted sub­mission to his Will? Didst thou except this affliction that is come upon thee?

Didst tell him, Lord I will be content thou shalt when thou pleasest take any thing I have, save only this Husband, this Wife, or this dear child; I reserve this out of the bargain: I shall never en­dure that thou shouldst kill this comfort. If so, thou didst in all this but prove thy self an hypocrite: If thou wast sincere in thy Covenant, as Christ had no re­serves on his part, so thou hadst none on thine.

[Page 74] It was all without any exception thou then resignedst to him, and now wilt thou go back from thy word, as one that had out promised himself, and repents the bargain? Or at least as one that hath for­gotten these solemn transactions in the dayes of thy distress. Wherein hath Christ failed in one tittle that he promised thee? Charge him if thou canst with the least unfaithfulness: He hath been faith­ful to a tittle on his part, O be thou so upon thine; this day its put to the proof, remember what thou hast promised him.

8. Consid. But if thy Covenant with God will not quiet thee; yet methinks Gods Covenant with thee might be presumed to do it.

Is thy family which was lately hope­ful and flourishing, a peaceful Tabernacle, now broken up and scattered? Thy po­sterity from which thou raisedst up to thy self great expectations of comfort in old age cut off? So that thou art now, like, neither to have a name or memorial left thee in the earth.

Dost thou sit alone and mourn to think whitherto thy hopes and comforts are now come?

Dost read over these words of Job, [Page 75] Chap. 29. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. and comment up­on them with many tears, O that I were as in months past, as in the day when God preserved me! when his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness! As I was in the dayes of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my Tabernacle, when the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were about me.

Yet let the Covenant God hath made with thee comfort thee in this thy deso­late condition.

You know what domestick troubles holy David met with in a sad succession, not only from the death of children: but which was much worse, from the wicked lives of his children. There was Incest, Murder, and Rebellion in his Family; a far sorer tryal, than death in their infancy could have been: And yet see how sweetly he relieves himself from the Co­venant of grace, in 2 Sam. 23. 5. Al­though my house be not so with God, yet he hath made with me an everlasting Cove­nant, ordered in all things and sure; for this is all my salvation, and my desire, al­though he make it not to grow.

I know this place principally refers to Christ, who was to spring out of Davids [Page 76] Family according to Gods Covenant made with him in that behalf: And yet I doubt not but it hath another, though less principal aspect upon his own family; over all the afflictions and troubles where­of the Covenant of God with him, did abundantly comfort him.

And as it comforted him, although his house did not increase, and those that were left were not such as he desired: So it may abundantly comfort you also, whatever troubles or deaths be upon your families, who have an interest in the Co­venant. For,

First, If you be Gods Covenant people, though he may afflict, yet he will never forget you, Psal. 3. 5. He is ever mindful of his Covenant. You are as much upon his heart in your deepest afflictions, as in the greatest flourish of your pros­perity.

You find it hard to forget your child, though it be now turned to an heap of corruption and loathsome rottenness; O how doth your mind run upon it night and day! your thoughts tire not upon that object: Why, surely its much more easie for you to forget your dear child whilst living and most endearing, much more when dead and undesireable; [Page 77] than it is for your God to forget you. Isa. 49. 15. Can a woman forget her suck­ing child, that she should not have com­passion upon the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will not I forget thee.

Can a woman, the more affectionate sex, forget her sucking child; her own child, and not a nursing child: her own child whilst it hangs on the brest, and to­gether with the milk from the breast, draws love from its mothers heart: Can such a thing as this be in nature? Possibly it may; for creature love is fickle and va­riable: But I will not forget thee, its an everlasting Covenant.

Secondly, As he will never forget you in your troubles; so he will order all your troubles for your good; Its a well ordered Covenant, or a Covenant orderly disposed: So that every thing shall work together for your good.

The Covenant so orders all your tryals, ranks, and disposes your various troubles so, as that they shall in their orders and places sweetly co-operate and joyn their united influences to make you happy.

Possibly you can't see how the present affliction should be for your good, you [Page 78] are ready to say with Jacob, Gen. 42. 36. Joseph is not, and Simeon is not; and ye will take Benjamin away; all these things are against me. But could you once see how sweetly and orderly all these af­flictions work under the blessing and in­fluence of the Covenant to your eternal good; you would not only be quiet, but thankful for that which now so much afflicts and troubles you now.

Thirdly, This Covenant is not only well ordered in all things, but sure; the mercies contained in it, are called the sure mercies of David, Isa. 55. 3. Now how sweet, how seasonable a support doth this consideration give to Gods af­flicted under the rod! You lately made your selves sure of that creature-comfort which hath forsaken you. It may be you said of your child which is now gone, as Lamech said of his Son Noah, Gen. 5. 29. This same shall comfort us concerning our work, and toyl of our hands. Meaning that his Son should not only comfort them by assisting them in the work of their hands, but in enjoying the fruit of their toil and pains for him.

Probably such thoughts you have had, and raised up to your selves great ex­pectations of comfort in your old age [Page 79] from it; but now you see you built upon the sand; And where were you now, if you had not a firmer bottom to build upon? But blessed be God, the Covenant­mercies are more sure and solid: God, Christ, and heaven, never start or fade as these things do.

The sweetest creature enjoyments you ever had or have in this world, cannot say to you as your God doth, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. You must part with your dear Husbands, how well soever you love them; you must bid adieu to the wife of your bosom, how nearly soever your affections be linked, and heart delighted in her. Your children and you must be separated, though they be to you as your own soul.

But though these vanish away, blessed be God there is something that abides. Though all flesh be as grass, and the goodli­ness of it as the flower of the grass; though the grass withereth, and the flower thereof fadeth because the spirit of the Lord blow­eth upon it; yet the word of our God shall stand for ever, Isa. 40. 6, 7, 8. There is so much of supported contain in this one consideration, that could but your faith fix here, to reallize, and apply it, I might lay down my pen at this period, [Page 80] and say the work is done, there needs no more.

9. Consid. The hope of the Resur­rection should powerfully restrain all ex­cesses of sorrow in those that do profess it.

Let them only mourn without mea­sure, who mourn without hope. The husbandman doth not mourn when he casts his seed-corn into the earth, because he sows in hope; and commits it to the ground with an expectation to receive it again with improvement. Why thus stands the case here, and just so the Apostle states it, 1 Thes. 4. 13, 14. But I would not have you to be ignorant brethren, con­cerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not even as others which have no hope; for if we believe that Jesus dyed and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

Q. D. Look not upon the dead as a lost generation: Think not that death hath annihilated and utterly destroyed them. O no, they are not dead, but only asleep; and if they sleep, they shall awake again. You don't use to make out-cries and Lamentations for your children and friends when you find them [Page 81] asleep upon their beds. Why? Death is but a longer sleep, out of which they shall as surely awake as ever they did in the morning in this world.

I have often wondered at that Golden sentence in Seneca, My thoughts of the dead (saith Habui enim il­los tanquam a­missurus amisi tanquam habe­am. Seneca Ep. 63. he) are not as others are; I have fair and pleasant ap­prehensions of them; for I enjoyed them as one that reckoned I must part with them, and I part with them, as one that makes account to have them.

He speaks no doubt of that enjoyment of them, which his pleasant contem­plations of their vertuous actions could give him; for he was wholly unacquain­ted with the comfortable and heart-sup­porting doctrine of the Resurrection. Had he known the advantages which result thence, at what a rate may we think he would have spoken of the dead and of their state? But this you profess to believe, and yet sink at a strange rate. O suffer not Gentilism to out-vye Christi­anity: Let not Pagans challenge the greatest believers to out-do them in a quiet and chearful behaviour under af­flictions.

[Page 82] I beseech thee, Reader, if thy deceased friend have left thee any sollid ground of hope that he dyed interessed in Christ, and the Covenant; that thou wilt distinct­ly ponder these admirable supports, which the doctrine of the Resurrection affords.

First, That the same body which was so pleasant a spectacle to thee, shall be restored again; yea, the same numeri­cally, as well as the same specifically: so that it shall not only be the what it was, but the who he was: These eyes shall be­hold him, and not another, Job 19. 27. &c. The very same body you laid, or are now to lay in the grave, shall be restored again; Thou shalt find thine own husband, wife, child, or friend again: I say the self same and not another.

Secondly, And farther, this is suppor­ting, that as you shall see the same person that was so dear to you: So you shall know them to be the same that were once endeared to you on earth in so near a tye of Relation.

Indeed, you shall know them no more in any carnal Relation, death dissolved that bond: But you shall know them to be such as once were your dear Relations in this world, and be able to single them out among that great multitude, and say, [Page 83] This was my Father, Mother, Husband, Wife, or Child: This was the person for whom I wept and made supplication, who was an instrument of good to me, or to whose salvation God then made me instrumental.

For we may allow in that state all that knowledge which is cumulative and per­fective, whatsoever may enlarge and heighten our felicity and satisfaction, as this must needs be allowed to do. Lu­thers judgement in this point, being by his friends asked at supper the evening before he dyed; replyed thus, What (said he) befel Melchior Adam in vita Luth. Adam? He never saw Eve; but was in a deep sleep when God formed her; yet when he awaked and saw her, he asked not, What she was, nor whence she came? But saith, she was flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone: now how knew he that? He being full of the holy Ghost, and endued with the knowledge of God, spake thus. After the same manner we also shall be in the other life renewed by Christ, and shall know our parents, our wives and children.

And this among other things was that with which Augustine com­forted the Lady Italica af­ter Aug. Ep. 6. [Page 84] the death of her dear husband, telling her that she should know him in the world to come, amongst the glorified Saints. Yea, and a greater than either of these, I mean Paul, comforted him­self that the Thessalonians, whom he had converted to Christ should be His joy and Crown of rejoycing in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ at his coming, 1 Thes. 2. 19, 20. which must needs imply his distinct knowledge of them in that day, which must be many hundred years after death had separated them from each o­ther. Whether this knowledge shall be by the glorified eyes discerning any linea­ments or property of individuation re­maining upon the glorified bodies of our Relations? or whether it shall be by im­mediate revelation as Adam knew his wife; or as Peter, James, and John, knew Moses and Elias in the Mount, as it is difficult to determine, so it is needless to puzel our selves about it.

It is the concurrent judgement of sound Divines, and it wants not countenance from Scripture and reason, that such a knowledge of them shall be in Heaven: and then the sadness of this parting will be abundantly recompensed by the joy of that meeting. Especially considering,

[Page 85] Thirdly, That at your next meeting, they shall be unspeakably more desirable sweet and excellent than ever they were in this world. They had a desirableness in them here; but yet they were not alto­gether lovely, and in every respect de­sirable; they had their infirmities, both natural, and moral; but all these are re­moved in Heaven, and for ever done away. No natural infirmities hang about glorified bodies; nor sinful ones upon perfected spirits of the just. Oh what lovely creatures will they appear to you then, when that which is sown now in dishonour shall be raised in honour, 1 Cor. 15. And then to Crown all.

Fourthly, You shall have an everlasting enjoyment of them in Heaven, never to part again. The children of the Re­surrection can dye no more, Luk. 20. 36. You shall kiss their pale lips and cold cheeks no more; you shall never fear another parting pull, but be together with the Lord for ever, 1 Thes. 4. 17. And this the Apostle thought an effectual Cordial in this case, when he exhorted the Thessalonians to comfort one another with these words.

[Page 86] 10. Consid. The present felicity into which all that dye in Christ are presently admitted, should abundantly comfort Chri­stians over the death of such as either carried a lively hope out of the world with them, or have left good grounds of such an hope behind them.

Some there are that carried a lively hope to heaven with them, who could evidence to themselves and friends their interest in Christ and in the Covenant. Yea, though they had dyed in silence, yet their conversations would speak for them, and the tenour of their lives leave no ground of doubting touching their death: others dying in their infancy or youth, though they carried not such an actual hope with them, yet they have left good grounds of hope behind them.

Parents now ponder these grounds; you have prayed for them, you have many times wrestled with the Lord on their behalf; you have taken hold of Gods Covenant for them, as well as for your selves, and dedicated them to the Lord, and they have not by any actions of theirs destroyed those grounds of your hope, but that you may with much pro­bability conclude they are with God.

[Page 87] Why, if the case be so, what abundant reason have you to be quiet and well satis­fied with what God hath done? Can they be better than where they are? Had you better provisions and entertainments for them here, than their heavenly Father hath above.

There is no Christian parent in the world but would rejoyce to see his child out-strip and get before him in grace, that he may be more eminent in parts and service than ever he was; And what reason can be given, why we should not as much rejoyce to see our children get before us in glory as in grace? They are gotten to heaven a few years before you, and is that matter of mourning? Would not your child (if he were not ignorant of you) say as Christ did to his friends a little before his death, when he saw them cast down at the thoughts of parting, Joh. 14. 28. If ye loved me ye would re­joyce because I go unto the Father. q. d. Do you valew your own sensible comfort from my bodily presence with you, be­fore my glory and advancement in hea­ven? Is this love to me? Or is it not ra­ther self-love?

So would your departed friend say to you: you have professed much love [Page 88] all along to me, my happiness seemed to be very dear to you; How comes it to pass then, that you mourn so ex­ceedingly now? This is rather the ef­fect of a fond and fleshly, than of ra­tional and spiritual love: If ye loved me with a pure spiritual love, ye would rejoyce that I am gone to my Father. It's infinitely better for me to be here, than with you on earth, under sin and sorrow. Weep not for me, but for your selves.

Alas, though you want your friends company, he wants not yours: Your care was to provide for this child, but Jesus Christ hath provided infinitely better for it than you could; you intended an Estate, but he a Kingdom for it: you thought upon such or such a match, but Christ hath forbid all others, and mar­ried your child to himself. Would you imagine an higher preferment for the fruit of your bodies?

A King from heaven hath sent for your friend, and do you grudge at the journey? O think, and think again, what an honour it is to you, that Christ hath taken them out of your bosom, and laid them in his own: stript them out of those garments you provided, and cloathed [Page 89] them in white robes washed in the blood of the Lamb. Let not your hearts be troubled, rather rejoyce exceedingly, that God made you instruments to replenish heaven, and bring forth an heir for the Kingdom of God.

Your child is now glorifying God in an higher way than you can; and what though you have lost its bodily presence for a time; yet I hope you don't reckon that to be your loss, which turns to Gods greater glory.

When Jacob heard his Joseph was Lord of Egypt, he rather wisht him­self with Joseph, than his Joseph with him, in wants and straights: So should it be with you. You are yet rowling and tossing upon a tempestuous Sea, but your friend is gone into the quiet harbour; desire rather to be there, then that he were at Sea again with you.

II. Consid. Consider how vain a thing all your trouble and self-vexation is; it no way betters your case, nor eases your burthen.

As a Bullock by wrestling and sweating in the furrow, may make his yoak to be more heavy, gall his neck, and spend his strength the sooner, but no way helps himself by that. Why thus stands the [Page 90] case with thee, if thou be as a Bullock unaccustomed to the yoak. What Christ saith of caring, we may say of grieving (Mat. 6. 27.) Which of you by taking thought can add one Cubit to his sta­ture?

Cares may break our sleep, yea, break our hearts; but they cannot add to our stature either in a natural, or in a civil notion: So your sorrowing may sooner break your hearts, than the yoak God hath laid on you.

Alas what is all this, but as the flut­tering of a bird in the net, which instead of freeing, doth but the more entangle it self? It was therefore a wise resolve of David in this very case, when the will of God was signified in the death of his child, 2 Sam. 12. 23. But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

Can I bring him back again? No, I can no more alter the purpose and work of God, than I can change the seasons of of the year, or alter the course of Sun, Moon, and Stars, or disturb the order of day and night; which are all unalterably established by a firm constitution and or­dinance of heaven.

[Page 91] As these seasons cannot be changed by man: so neither can this course and way of his providences be changed, Job 23. 13. He is of one mind, and who can turn him? And what his soul desireth even that he doth. Indeed whilst his pleasure and pur­pose are unknown to us, there is room for fasting and prayer to prevent the thing we fear; but when the purpose of God is manifested in the Issue, and the stroke is given, then it is the vainest thing in the world to fret and vex our selves, as Davids servants thought he would do, as soon as he should hear the child was dead: but he was wiser than so, his tears and cries to God before, had the nature and use of means to prevent the affliction; but when it was come and could not be prevented, then they were of no use, to no purpose in the world. Wherefore should I fast? q. d. To what end, use, or purpose will it be now?

Well then, cast not away your strength and spirits to no advantage, reserve them for future exercises and tryals. Time may come that you may need all the strength you have, and much more to support greater burthens than this.

[Page 92] 12. Consid. The Lord is able to restore all your lost comforts in Relations double to you, if you meekly submit to him, and patiently wait upon him under the rod.

When Esau had lost his blessing, he said, Hast thou but one blessing my Father? Gen. 27. 38. But your Father hath more blessings for you than one; his name is The Father of mercies, 2 Cor. 1. 3. He can beget and create as many mercies for you as he pleaseth; Relations and the comforts of them are at his com­mand.

It is but a few months or years past, and these comforts whose loss you now lament were not in being; nor did you know whence they should arise to you, yet the Lord gave the word, and com­mandèd them for you: and if he please he can make the death of these but like a sythe to the Meadow that is mown down, or a razor to the head that is sha­ved bare; which though it lay you under the present trouble and reproach of bar­renness, yet doth but make way for a double increase, a second spring with ad­vantage.

So that as it was with the Captive Church in respect of her spiritual Chil­dren, in the day of her Captivity and re­proach, [Page 93] the Lord made up all with ad­vantage to her, even to her own astonish­ment, Isa. 49. 20. The children which thou shalt have after thou hast lost the other, shall say again in thine ears, the place is too straight for me, give place to me that I may dwell.

Thus may he deal with you as to your natural children and Relations: So that what the man of God said to Amaziah, 2 Chron. 25. 9. may be applyed to the case in hand, Amaziah said to the man of God, but what shall we do for the hundred Talents? And the man of God answered, the Lord is able to give thee much more than this.

O say not what shall I do for friends and Relations? Death hath rob'd me of all comfort in them. Why, the Lord is able to give you much more. But then, as ever you expect to see your future bles­sings multiplyed, look to it, and be care­ful that you neither dishonour God, or grieve him, by your unsubmissive and impatient carriage under the present Rod.

God took away all Jobs children, and that at one stroke, and the stroke im­mediate and extraordinary: and that when they were grown up, and planted [Page 94] (at least some of them) in distinct fa­milies: Yea, whilst they were endearing each other by the mutual expressions of affection. This must be yeilded to be an extraordinary tryal; yet he meekly re­ceives, and patiently bears it from the hand of the Lord.

You have heard of the patience of Job (saith the Apostle, Jam. 5. 11.) and seen the end of the Lord. Not only the gracious end or intention of the Lord in all his afflictions, but the happy end and Issue the Lord gave to all his afflicti­ons, of which you have the account, Job 42. 10. The Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. The number of his children was not double to what he had, as all his other comforts were: but though the Lord only restored the same number to him again that he took away, yet it's like the comfort he had in these latter children was double to what he had in the former. There's nothing lost by waiting patiently, and submitting willingly to the Lords dispose.

It is as easie with the Lord to revive, as it is to remove your comforts in Rela­tions. There is a sweet expression to this purpose in Psal. 18. 28. For thou Lord wilt light my candle, the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.

[Page 95] Every comfortable enjoyment, whe­ther it be in Relations, Estates, Health, or Friends, is a candle lighted by Provi­dence for our comfort in this world, and they are but candles, which will not al­waies last, and those that last longest will be consumed and wasted at last; but often times it falls out with them as with candles, they are blown out before they are half consumed; yea, almost as soon as lighted up, and then we are in darkness for the present.

It's a dark hour with us when these comforts are put out: but Davids faith did, and ours may comfort us with this, That he that blew out one candle, can light up another. Thou Lord shalt light my candle, the Lord my God shall enlighten my darkness, that is, the Lord will re­new my comforts, alter the present sad estate I am in; and chase away that trouble and darkness which at present lies upon me. Only beware of offending him at whose beck your lights and com­forts come and go. Michall displeased the Lord, and therefore had no child unto the day of her death, 2 Sam. 6. 23.

Hanah waited humbly upon the Lord for the blessing of children, and the Lord remembred her, he enlightened her con­dition [Page 96] with that comfort, when she was as a Lamp despised. There's no com­fort you have lost, but God can restore it, yea, double it in kind, if he see it con­venient for you. And if not then

13. Consid. Consider, though he should deny you any more comforts of that kind, yet he hath far better to bestow upon you: such as these deserve not to be named with.

You have an excellent Scripture to this purpose in Isa. 56. 4, 5. For thus saith the Lord unto the Eunuchs that keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my Covenant; even to them will I give in my house, and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.

Mens names are said to be continued in their Issue, in their male Issue especially, and con­sequently Vide English Annotations in Loc. to fail in such as wanted Issue, Numb. 17. 4. And a numerous Issue is deemed no small honour, Psal. 127. 4, 5. God therefore promiseth here to supply and make good the want of Issue, and of whatsoever either honour here, or memorial here­after [Page 97] might from it have accrued to them; by bestowing upon them matter of far greater honour, and more durable; a name better or before the name of Sons and Daughters.

It's a greater honour to be a child of God, than to have the greatest honour or comfort that ever children afforded their parents in this world.

Poor heart, thou art now dejected by this affliction that lyes upon thee, as if all joy and comfort were now cut off from thee in this world.

A cloud dwells upon all other com­forts, this affliction hath so imbittered thy soul, that thou tastest no more in any other earthly comfort, than in the white of an egg. O that thou didst but consider the consolations that are with God for such as answer his ends in af­fliction, and patiently wait on him for their comfort! He hath comforts for you far transcending the joy of children.

This some have found when their chil­dren have been cut off from them, and that in so eminent a degree, that they have little valued their comfort in children in comparison with this comfort.

I will here set down a pregnant in­stance of the point in hand, as I find it [Page 98] recorded by the grave and worthy Au­thor of that excellent book entitled, The fulfilling of Fulfilling of the Scripture, p. 491. the Scripture.

‘Another notable in­stance of grace, with a very remark­able passage in his condition, I shall here mention. One Patrick Mackewrath who lived in the West parts of Scotland, whose heart, in a remarkable way, the Lord touched, and after his conversion (as he shewed to many Christian friends) was in such a frame so affected with a new world, wherein he was entred, the discoveries of God, and of a life to come; that for some months together he did seldom sleep, but was still taken up in wondering. His life was very re­markable for tenderness, and near con­verse with God in his walk; and which was worthy to be noticed, one day after a sharp tryal, having his only Son sud­denly taken away by death, he retired alone for several hours, and when he came forth did look so chearfully, that to those who asked him the reason thereof, and wondered at the same in such a time; he told them, He had got that in his retirement with the Lord, that to have it afterwards renewed, he would [Page 99] be content to lose a Son every day.

Oh what a sweet exchange had he made! Surely he had Gold for brass, a pearl for a pebble; a treasure for a trifle; for so great, yea, and far greater is the disproportion betwixt the sweet light of Gods Countenance, and the faint dim light of the best creature-enjoyment.

Would it please the Lord to make this sun arise and shine upon you: now when the stars that shined with a dim and bor­rowed light are gone down, you would see such gain by the exchange, as would quickly make you cast in your votes with him we now mentioned, and say, Lord, let every day be such as this funeral day, let all my hours be as this, so that I may see and taste what I now do. How glad­ly would I part with the dearest and nearest creature-comfort I own in this world.

The gracious and tender Lord hath his divine Cordials reserved on purpose for such sad hours: these are sometimes given before some sharp tryal to prepare for it, and sometimes after to support under it.

I have often heard it from the mouth, and found it in the Diary of a sweet Christian now with God, That a little [Page 100] before the Lord removed her dear hus­band by death, there was such an abun­dant out-let of the love of God into her soul, for several days and nights follow­ing; that when the Lord took away her husband by death, though he were a gracious, sweet temper'd, and by her most tenderly beloved husband; she was scarce sensible of the stroke, but carried quite above all earthly things, their comforts, and their troubles; so that she had almost lost the thoughts of her husband in God. And had not the Lord taken this course with her, she concluded that blow had not been possible to be born by her, she must have sunck without such a prepa­rative.

A Husband, a Wife, a Child, are great, very great things, as they stand by other creatures, but surely they will seem little things, and next to nothing, when the Lord shall set himself by them before the soul.

And how know you, but God hath bid these earthly comforts stand aside this day, to make way for heavenly ones? It may be God is coming to communicate himself more sweetly, more sensibly than ev [...]r to your souls; and these are the pro­vidences which must cast up and prepare [Page 101] the way of the Lord. Possibly Gods meaning in their death is but this, Child stand aside thou art in my way, and fillest my place in thy parents heart.

14. Consid. Be careful you exceed not in your grief for the loss of earthly things, considering that Satan takes the advantage of all extreams.

You cannot touch any extream, but you will be touched by that enemy; whose greatest advantages lye in assaulting you there.

Satan is called the Ruler of the darkness of this world, Eph. 6. 12. (i. e.) his Kingdom is supported by darkness. Now there is a twofold darkness, which gives Satan great advantage: the darkness of the mind, viz. ignorance, and the dark­ness of the condition, viz. trouble and affliction. Of the former the Apostle speaks chiefly in that Text: but the latter also is by him often improved, to carry on his designs upon us: When it's a dark hour of trouble with us, then is his fittest season to tempt.

That cowardly spirit falls upon the people of God when they are down and low in spirit, as well as state. Satan would never have desired that the hand of God should have been stretched out [Page 102] upon Jobs Person, Estate, and children; but that he promised himself a notable advantage therein to poyson his spirit with vile thoughts of God: Do this (saith he) and he will curse thee to thy face.

What the Psalmist observes of natural, is as true of metaphorical darkness, Psal. 104. 20. Thou makest darkness and it is night, wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth, the young Lions roar after their prey.

When its dark night with men, its noon­day with Satan (i. e.) our suffering time, is his busiest working time, many a dis­mal suggestion he then plants and grafts upon our affliction, which are much more dangerous to us than the affliction it self.

Sometimes he injects desponding thoughts into the afflicted soul. Then said I, I am cut off from before thine eyes, Psal. 31. 22. & Lam. 3. 18, 19. My hope is perished from the Lord, remembring my affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall.

Sometimes he suggests hard thoughts of God, Ruth 1. 20. The Lord hath dealt very bitterly with me. Yea, that he hath dealt more severely with us than any [Page 103] other, Lam. 1. 12. See and behold if there be any sorrow, like unto my sorrow which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me, in the day of his fierce an­ger.

And sometimes murmuring and repining thoughts against the Lord, the soul is displeased at the hand of God upon it. Jonah was angry at the hand of God, and said, I do well to be angry even unto death, Jonah 4. 9. What dismal thoughts are these? And how much more afflictive to a gracious soul than the loss of any outward enjoyment in this world?

And sometimes very irreligious and Atheistical thoughts, as if there were no priviledge to be had by Religion, and all our pains, zeal and care about Duty, were little better than lost labour, Psal. 73. 13, 14. Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency; for all the day long I have been plagued, and chastened every mor­ning.

By these things Satan gets no small ad­vantage upon the afflicted Christian; for albeit these thoughts are his burthen, and God will not impute them to the condemnation of his people, yet they rob the soul of peace, and hinder it from [Page 104] duty, and make it act uncomely under affliction to the stumbling and hardening of others in their sin; beware therefore lest by your excesses of sorrow ye give place to the Devil: we are not ignorant of his devices.

15. Consid. Give not way to excessive sor­rows upon the account of affliction, if ye have any regard to the honour of God and Re­ligion, which will thereby be exposed to re­proach.

If you slight your own honour, don't slight the honour of God and Religion too. Take heed how you carry it in a day of trouble, many eyes are upon you. It is a true observation that a late worthy Author hath made upon this case. What will the Atheist, and what will the prophane scoffer say, M. M. his Ap­pendix to So­lomons pre­scription. p. 112. when they shall see this? So sottish and malicious they are, that if they do but see you in affliction, they are straight­way scornefully demanding; Where is your God?

But what will they say, if they should hear you your selves unbelievingly cry out; where is our God? Will they not be ready to cry; This is the Religion they make such boast of, which you see how little it [Page 105] does for them in a day of extremity: they talk of promises, rich and precious pro­mises; but where are they now? Or to what purpose do they serve? They said they had a treasure in heaven. What ails them to mourn so then if their Riches be there?

O beware what you do before the world; they have eyes to see what you can do, as well as ears to hear what you can say. And as long as your carriage under troubles is so much like their own, they will never think your principles are better than theirs. Carnal worldlings will be drawn to think that whatever fine talk you might have about God and heaven, your hearts were most upon the same things that theirs were, since your grief for their removal is as great as theirs.

They know by experience, what a stay it is to the heart to have an able, faith­ful friend to depend upon, or to have hopes of a great Estate shortly to fall to them; and they'le never be perswaded you have any such ground of comfort; if they see you as much cast down, as they that pretend to no such matter.

By this means the precepts of Christ to constancy and contentment in all E­states, [Page 106] will come to be lookt upon (like those of the Stoicks) only as magnifica verba, brave words, but such as are im­possible to be practised; and the whole of the Gospel will be taken for an airey notion, since they that profess greatest regard to it, are no more helpt there­by.

O What a shame is it that Religion should in this case make no more diffe­rence betwixt man and man? Wherefore shew to the world (whatever their com­mon censures are) that it is not so much your care to differ from them in some opinions, and little strictness, as in hu­mility, meekness, contempt of the world, and heavenly mindedness; and now let these graces display themselves by your chearful patient deportment under all your grievances.

Wherefore hath God planted those ex­cellent graces in your souls, but that he might be glorified, and you benefited by the exercises of them in tribulation? Should these be supprest and hid, and nothing but the pride, passion, and un­mortified earthliness of your hearts set on work and discovered in time of trouble, what a slur, what a wound will you give to the glorious name which [Page 107] is call'd upon by you? And then if your hearts be truly gracious, that will pierce you deeper than ever your affliction which occasioned it did.

I beseech you therefore be tender of the name of God, if you will not be so of your own peace and comfort.

16. Consid. Be quiet and hold your peace, you little know how many mercies lye in the womb of this sharp affliction.

Great are the benefits of a sharp rou­zing affliction to the people of God at sometimes, and all might have them at all times were they more careful to im­prove them. Holy David thankfully acknowledgeth, Psal. 119. 71. It is good for me that I have been afflicted.

And surely there's as much good in them for you, as for him; if the Lord sanctifie them to such ends and uses as his were sanctified unto.

Such a smarting rod as this came not before there was need enough of it, and possibly you saw the need of some awa­king providence your selves; but if not, the Lord did; he took not up the rod to smite you, till his faithfulness, and ten­der love to your souls called upon him to correct you.

You now sit pensive under the rod, [Page 108] sadly lamenting and deploring the loss of some earthly comfort, your heart is sur­charged with sorrow, your eyes run down upon every mention and remembrance of your dear friend. Why, if there were no more, this alone may discover the need you had of this rod; for doth not all this sorrow at parting, plainly speak how much your heart was set upon, how fast your heart was glewed to this earthly comfort?

Now you see that your affections were sunk many degrees deeper into the crea­ture than you were aware of: and what should God do in this case by you? Should he suffer you to cleave to the creature more and more? Should he permit it to purloin and exhaust your love and de­light, and steal away your heart from himself? This he could not do and love you. The more impatient you are under this affliction, the more need you had of it.

And what if by this stroke the Lord will awaken your drowzy soul, and re­cover you out of that pleasant, but dan­gerous spiritual slumber you were fallen into, whilst you had pillowed your head upon this pleasant, sensible creature-en­joyment? Is not this really better for you, [Page 109] than if he should say, sleep on? He is joyned to Idols, let him alone, he is de­parting from me the fountain, to a broken Cistern, let him go?

Yea, What if by this stroke upon one of the pleasantest things you had in this world, God will discover to you, more sensibly and effectually than ever, the vanity both of that, and all other earthly comforts, so as that you shall from henceforth never let forth your heart, your hope, your love and delight to any of them as you did before? you could talk before of the creatures vanity; but I question whether ever you had so clear and convincing a sight of its vanity as you have this day: And is not this a considerable mercy in your eyes?

Now, if ever, God is weaning you from all fond opinions, and vain expectations from this world; by this your Judgment of the creatures is rectified, and your af­fections to all other enjoyments on earth moderated: And is this nothing? O doubtless it's a greater mercy to you, than to have your friend alive again.

And what if by this rod your wander­ing, gadding heart shall be whipt home to God? Your neglected duties revived, your decayed Communion with God re­stored, [Page 110] a spiritual heavenly frame of heart recovered? What will you say then?

Surely you will bless that merciful hand which removed the obstructions, and adore the divine wisdom and good­ness, that by such a device as this reco­ver'd you to himself. Now you can pray more constantly, more spiritually, more affectionately than before. Oh blessed rod which buds and blossoms with such fruits as these! Let this be written among your best mercies; for you shall have cause to adore and bless God eter­nally for this beneficial affliction.

17. Consid. Suffer not your selves to be transported by impatience, and swal­lowed up of grief; because God hath ex­cercised you under a smart rod; for as smar­ting as it is, it's comparatively a gentle stroke to what others as good as your selves have felt.

Your dear Relation is dead; be it so; here is but a single death, before you, but others have seen many deaths con­trived into one upon their Relations, to which yours is nothing.

Zedekiah saw his children murdred be­fore his eyes, and then had those eyes (alas too late) put out. The worthy [Page 111] Author of that excellent book foremention'd, tells The fullfilling of the Scrip­tures. us of a choice and godly Gentlewomanin the North of Ireland, who when the Rebellion brake out there, fled with three children, one of them upon the brest; they had not gone far before they were stript na­ked by the Irish, who to admiration spa­red their lives (its like, concluding that cold and hunger would kill them) after­wards going on, at the foot of a River which runs to Locheach, others met them, and will have them cast into the River: but this godly woman, not dis­mai'd, asked a little liberty to pray; and as she lay naked on the frozen ground, got resolution not to go on her own feet to so unjust a death, upon which having called her, and she refusing, was drag'd by the heels along that rugged way to be cast in with her little ones and com­pany.

But she then turned, and on her knees says, you should I am sure be Christians, and men I see you are; in taking away our miserable lives you do us a pleasure: But know that as we never wronged you, nor yours; you must remember to dye also your selves, and one day give an account [Page 112] of this cruelty to the Judge of heaven and earth, hereupon they resolved not to murder them with their own hands, but turned them all naked upon a small Island in the River without any provi­sion, there to perish.

The next day the two boys, having crept aside, found the hide of a beast which had been killed, at the root of a tree; which the Mother cast over them lying upon the Snow. The next day a little boat goes by, unto whom she calls for Gods sake to take them out, but they being Irish refused: they desired a little bread, but they said they had none: then she begs a coal of fire which she obtained, and thus with some fallen chips made a little fire, and the children taking a piece of the hide laid it on the coals, and began to gnaw the Leather; but without an extraordinary divine support, what could this do?

Thus they lived ten days without any visible means of help, having no bread, but ice and snow, nor drink except wa­ter. The two boys being near starved, she pressed them to go out of her sight, not able to see their death: yet God de­livered them as miraculously at last, as he had supported them all that while.

[Page 113] But, judge whether a natural death, in an ordinary way, be comparable to such a tryal as this! And yet thus the Lord did by this choice and eminently gracious woman.

And Mr. Wall in his none-but-Christ, relates as sad a passage of a poor Family in Germany, who were driven to that extremity in the famine, that at last the Parents made a motion one to the other to sell one of the children for bread to sustain themselves and the rest: but when they came to consider which child it should be, their hearts so relented and yerned upon every one, that they resolved rather all to dye together. Yea we read in Lam. 4. 10. The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children.

But what speak I of these extremities; how many parents, yea, some godly ones too, have lived to see their children dying in prophaneness, and some by the hand of Justice, lamenting their Rebellions with a rope about their necks?

Ah, Reader, little dost thou know, what stings there are in the afflictions of others! Surely you have no reason to think the Lord hath dealt more bitterly with you than any. It's a gentle stroke, a merciful [Page 114] dispensation if you compare it with what others have felt.

18. Consid. If God be your God, you have really lost nothing by the removal of any creature-comfort.

God is the Fountain of all true com­fort; creatures, the very best and sweet­est, are but Cisterns to receive and con­vey to us what comfort God is pleased to communicate to them; and if the Cistern be broken, or the pipe cut off, so that no more comfort can be conveyed to us that way; he hath other waies and mediums to do it by, which we think not of; and if he please, he can convey his comforts to his people without any of them; and if he do it more imme­diately, we shall be no losers by that; for no comforts in the world are so de­lectable and ravishingly sweet, as those that flow immediately from the foun­tain.

And it is the sensuality of our hearts that causes us to affect them so inordi­nately, and grieve for the loss of them so immoderately, as if we had not enough in God without these creature-supple­ments.

Is the fulness of the Fountain yours? and yet do ye cast down your selves, be­because [Page 115] the broken Cistern is removed. The best Creatures are no better, Jer. 2. 13. Cisterns have nothing but what they re­ceive, and broken ones cannot hold what is put into them. Why then do ye mourn as if your life were bound up in the creature? You have as free an access to the Fountain, as you had before. It is the advice of an Heathen, (and let them take the Quem amabas extulisti quaere quem ames: sa­tius est amicum reparare quam flere. Seneca's Ep. p. 637. comfort of it) to repair by a new earthly comfort, what we have lost in the former.

Thou hast carried forth him whom thou lovedst (saith Seneca) seek one whom thou maist love in his stead: it's better to repair, than bemoan thy loss.

But if God never repair your loss, in things of the same kind, you know he can abundantly repair it in himself.

Ah Christian! Is not one kiss of his mouth, one glimpse of his countenance, one seal of his spirit, a more sweet and substantial comfort than the sweetest Re­lation in this world can afford you! If the stream fail, repair to the Fountain, there's enough still, God is where he was, and what he was, though the creature be not.

[Page 116] 19. Consid. Though you may want a little comfort in your life, yet surely it may be recompensed to you by a more easie death.

The removal of your friends before you may turn to your great advantage, when your hour is come that you must follow them. Oh how have many good souls been clog'd and ensnared in their dying hour, by the loves, cares, and fears they have had about those they must leave behind them in a sinful evil world!

Your love to them might have proved a snare to you, and caused you to hang back as loath to go hence; for these are the things that make men loth to dye. And thus it might have been with you, except God had removed them before hand, or should give you in that day such sights of Heaven, and tasts of Divine love, as should master and mortifie all your earthly affections to these things.

I knew a gracious person, now in heaven, who for many weeks in her last sickness complained, that she found it hard to part with a dear Relation, and that there was nothing proved a greater clog to her soul than this. 'Tis much more easie to think of going to our friends, [Page 117] who are in heaven before us, than of par­ting with them, and leaving our desire­able and dear ones behind us.

And who knows what cares and di­stracting thoughts you may then be pestred and distracted with upon their ac­count? What shall become of these when I am gone! I am now to leave them God knows to what wants, miseries, temp­tations, and afflictions, in the midst of a deceitful, defiling, dangerous world.

I know its our duty to leave our father­less children, and friendless Relations with God; to trust them with him that gave them to us: And some have been enabled chearfully to do so when they were parting from them, Luther could say, Lord, thou hast given me a wife and children, I Melchior Adam in vita Lu­theri. have little to leave them; nourish, teach, and keep them; O thou Father of the fatherless, and Judge of widows. But every Chri­stian hath not a Luthers faith. Some find it an hard thing to disentangle their af­fections at such a time: but now, if God have sent all yours before you, you have so much the less to do. Death may be easier to you than others.

[Page 118] 20. Consid. But if nothing that hath been yet said will stick with you; then, Lastly, remember, that you are near that state and place which admits no sorrows nor sad reflections upon any such accounts as these.

Yet a little while and you shall not miss them, you shall not need them, but you shall live as the Angels of God. We now live partly by faith, partly by sense, partly upon God, and partly upon the creature. Our state is mixed, therefore our comforts are so too: but when God shall be all in all, and we shall be as the Angels of God in the way and manner of our living; How much will the case be altered with us then, from what it is now!

Angels neither marry nor are given in mariage; neither shall the children of the Resurrection; when the days of our sinning are ended, the days of our mour­ning shall be so too. No graves were opened till sin enter'd, and no more shall be open'd when sin is excluded.

Our glorified Relations shall live with us for ever, they shall complain no more, dye no more; yea, this is the happiness of that state to which you are passing on, that your souls being in the nearest con­junction [Page 119] with God the fountain of Joy, you shall have no concernment out of him. You shall not be put upon these ex­ercises of patience; nor subjected to such sorrows as now you feel any more. It is but a little while and the end of all these things will come. Oh therefore bear up as persons that expect such a day of Ju­bilee at hand.

And thus I have finished the se­cond general Head of this Discourse, which is a disswasive from the sin of im­moderate sorrow.

3. I now proceed to the third thing pro­posed, namely to remove the Pleas and excuses for this immoderate grief. It s natural to men, yea to good men to justifie their excesses, or at least extenuate them, by pleading for their passions, as if they wanted not cause and reason enough to excuse them. If these be fully answered, and the soul once convinced, and left without Apology for its sin, it is then in a fair way for its cure, which is the last thing designed in this Treatise.

My present business therefore is to sa­tisfie those Objections, and answer those Reasons which are commonly pleaded in this case, to justifie our excessive grief for lost Relations. And though I shall carry [Page 120] it in that line of Relation to which the Text directs, yet its equally applicable to all other.

1. Plea.

You press me by many great conside­rations to meekness and quiet submission under this heavy stroke of God: but you little know what stings my soul feels now in it.

This child was a child of many pray­ers, it was a Samuel beg'd of the Lord, and I concluded when I had it, that it brought with it the returns and answers of many prayers. But now I see it was nothing less: God had no regard to my prayers about it; nor was it given me in that special way of mercy as I imagined it to be. My child is not only dead, but my prayers in the same day shut out and denyed.

1. Answ.

That you prayed for your children be­fore you had them was your duty, and if you prayed not for them submissively, referring it to the pleasure of God to give or deny them, to continue or remove [Page 121] them, as should seem good to him; that was your sin; you ought not to limit the holy one of Israel, nor prescribe to him, or capitulate with him, for what term you shall enjoy your outward comforts. If you did so, it was your evil, and God hath justly rebuked it by this stroke: if you did pray conditionally, and submis­sively, referring both the mercy asked, and continuance of it to the will of God as you ought to do; then there is nothing in the death of your child, that crosses the true scope and intent of your prayer.

2. Answer.

Your prayers may be answered, though the thing prayed for be withheld, yea, or though it should be given for a little while and snatcht away from you again. There are four ways of Gods answering prayers: by giving the thing prayed for presently, Dan. 9. 23. or by suspending the answer for a time, and giving it after­wards, Luk. 18. 7. or by withholding that mercy which you ask, from you, and giving you a much better mercy in the room of it, Deut. 3. 24. compared with Deut. 34. 4, 5. or lastly, by giving you patience to bear the loss or want of it, 2 Cor. 12. 9.

[Page 122] Now if the Lord have taken away your child or friend, and in lieu thereof given you a meek quiet submissive heart to his will, you need not say he hath shut out your cry.

2. Plea.

But I have lost a lovely obliging and most endearing child, one that was beauti­ful and sweet; it is a stony heart that would not dissolve into tears for the loss of one so desirable, so engaging as this was. Ah its no common loss!

1. Answer.

The more lovely and engaging your Relation was, the more excellent will your patience and contentment with the will of God in its death be; the more loveliness, the more self-denyal, and the more self-denyal, the more grace. Had it been a thousand times more endearingly sweet than it was, it was not too good to deny for God. If therefore obedience to the will of God do indeed master na­tural affections; and that you look upon patience and contentment as much more beautiful than the sweetest and most de­sirable [Page 223] enjoyment on earth, it may turn to you for a testimony of the truth and strength of grace; that you can, like Abraham, part with a child whom you so dearly love, in obedience to the will of your God whom you love infinitely more.

2. Answer.

The loveliness and beauty of our chil­dren and Relations though it must be ac­knowledged a good gift from the hand of God; yet it is but a common gift, and oftentimes becomes a snare, and is in its own nature but a transitory vanishing thing; and therefore no such great ag­gravation of the loss as is pretended.

I say it's but a common gift; Eliab, Adonijah, and Absolom, had as lovely a presence as any in their generation. Yea, it's not only common to the wicked, with the godly, but to bruit animals as well as men, and to most that excel in it, it be­comes a temptation; the souls of some had been more beautiful and lovely, if their bodies had been less so. Beside, it's but a flower which flourishes in its month, and then fades. This therefore should not be reflected on as so great a [Page 124] circumstance to aggravate your trouble.

3. Answer.

But if your Relation sleep in Jesus, he will appear ten thousand times more lovely in the morning of the Resurrection, than ever he was in this world. What is the exactest purest beauty of mortals, to the incomparable beauty of the Saints in the Resurrection: Then shall the righ­teous shine forth as the Sun, in the King­dom of their Father, Mat. 13. 43. In this hope you part with them, therefore act sutably to your hopes.

3. Plea.

O but my child was nipt off by death in the very bud, I did but see, and love, and part: had I enjoyed it longer, and had time to suck out the sweetness of such an enjoyment, I could have born it easier, but its months or years with me were so few, that they only served to raise an expectation, which was quickly, and therefore the more sadly disappoin­ted.

1. Answer.

Did your friend dye young, or was the bond of any other Relation dissolved al­most as soon as made? let not this seem so intollerable a load to you; for if you have ground to hope they died in Christ, then they lived long e­nough in this world. It's Vide Mr. Bax­ter's Epistle to the life of Mr. John Janeway. truly said, he hath sayled long enough, that hath won the Harbour; and he hath fought long enough that hath obtained the victo­ry; he hath run long enough, that hath toucht the Gole; and he hath lived long enough on earth, that hath won heaven, be his days here never so few.

2. Answer.

The sooner your Relation dyed, the less sin hath been committed, and the less sorrow felt: What can you see in this world but sin or sorrow? A quick passage through it to glory, is a special priviledge. Surely the world is not so desirable a place that Christians should desire an hours time longer in it for themselves or theirs, than serves to fit them for a better.

3. Answer.

And whereas you imagine the parting would have been easier, if the enjoyment had been longer, it is a fond and ground­less suspicion. The longer you had enjoyed them, the stronger would the endear­ments have been. A young and tender plant may be easily drawn up by a single hand, but when it hath spread and fixed its roots many years in the earth, it will require many a strong blow and hard tug to root it up. Affections like those under­ground roots are fixed and strengthned by nothing more than consuetude, and long possession; it's much easier parting now, than it would be hereafter, what­ever you opine. However, this should sa­tisfie you, that Gods time is the best time.

4. Plea.

O but I have lost all in one, it is my only one, I have none left in its room to repair the breach, and make up the loss; if God had given me other children to take comfort in, the loss had not been so great, but to lose all at one stroke, is in­supportable.

1. Answer.

Religion allows not to Christians a li­berty of expressing the death of their dear Relations by so hard a word as the loss of them is. They are not lost but sent before you. Non amittuntur, sed praemittun­tur. And it is a shameful thing for a Christian to be repro­ved for such an uncomely expression by an Heathen. It's enough to make us blush to read what an Heathen said in this case, Never say thou hast lost any thing (saith Epictetus) but that it's returned. Is thy Son Epict. Enchiri. Cap. 15. dead? he is only restored. Is thy inheritance taken from thee? It is also returned. And a while after he adds, [...]. (i. e.) Let every thing be as the Gods will have it.

2. Answer.

It's no fit expression to say you have lost all in one, except that one be Christ, and he being once yours, can never be lost. Doubtless your meaning is, you have lost all your comfort of that kind; And [Page 128] what though you have? are there not multitudes of comforts yet remaining of a higher kind, and more precious and durable nature? If you have no more of that sort, yet so long as you have better, what cause have you to rejoyce?

3. Answer.

You too much imitate the way of the world in this complaint; they know not how to repair the loss of one comfort, but by another of the same nature, which must be put in its room, to fill up the va­cancy: But have you no other way to supply your loss? Have you not a God to fill the place of any creature that leaves you? Surely this would better become a man whose portion is in this life, than one that professes God is his all in all.

5. Plea.

O but my only One is not only taken away, but there remains no expectation or probability of any more: I must now look upon my self as a dry tree, never to take comfort in children any more, which is a cutting thought.

1. Answer.

Suppose what you say, that you have no hope or expectation of another child remaining to you; yet if you have a hope of better things than children, you have no reason to be cast down: bless God for higher and better hopes than these, in Isa. 56. 4, 5. the Lord comforts them that had no expectation of sons or daughters, with this, That he will give unto them in his house, and within his walls a place, and a name better than of Sons or of Daughters; even an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. There are better mercies, and higher hopes than these; though your hopes of children, or from children should be cut off; yet if your eternal hopes be secure, and such as shall not make you ashamed, you should not be so cast down.

2. Answer.

If God will not have your comfort to lye any more in children, then resolve to place them in himself, and you shall never find cause to complain of loss by such an exchange. You will find that in [Page 130] God which is not to be had in the crea­ture: one hours communion with him shall give you that, which the happiest Parent never yet had from his children; you will exchange brass for gold, perish­ing vanity, for solid and abiding excel­lency.

6. Plea.

But the suddenness of the stroke is amazing, God gave little or no warning to prepare for this tryal: Death executed its commission, as soon as it open'd it. My dear Husband, Wife, or Child, was snatcht unexpectedly out of my arms, by a surprizing stroke; and this makes my stroke heavier than my complaint.

1. Answer.

That the death of your Relation was so sudden and surprizing, was much your own fault; who ought to have lived in the daily sense of its vanity, and ex­pectation of your separation from it: you knew it to be a dying comfort in its best estate; and it is no such wonderful thing to see that dead, which we knew before to be dying: Besides, you heard [Page 131] the changes ringing round about you in other families; you frequently saw other Parents, Husbands, and Wives carrying forth their dead; And what were all these but warnings given you to prepare for the like tryals?

Surely then it was your own security and regardlesness that made this affliction so surprizing to you, and who is to be blamed for that, you know.

2. Answer.

There is much difference betwixt the sudden death of infants, and that of grown persons: The latter may have much work to do, many sins actually to repent of, and many evidences of their interest in Christ to examine and clear, in order to their more comfortable death; and so sudden death may be deprecated by them.

But the case of Infants who exercise not their reason, is far different, they have no such work to do; but are purely pas­sive; all that is done in order to their salvation, is done by God immediately upon them; and so it comes all to one, whether their death be more quick, or more slow.

3. Answer.

You complain of the suddenness of the stroke, but another will be ready to say, had my friend died in that manner, my affliction had been nothing to what it now is; I have seen many deaths con­trived into one: I saw the gradual ap­proaches of it upon my dear Relation, who felt every tread of death as it came on towards him, who often cryed with Job, Chap. 3. 20. Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life to the bitter in soul? which long for death but it cometh it not, and dig for it more than for hid treasures: which rejoyce exceeding­ly and are glad, when they can find the grave.

That which you reckon the sting of your affliction, others would have reckoned a favour and priviledge. How many tender Parents, and other Relations who loved their friends as dearly as your selves, have been forced to their knees upon no other errand but this, to beg the Lord to hasten the separation, and put an end to that sorrow, which to them was much greater than the sorrow for the dead.

7. Plea.

You press me to moderation of sor­rows, and I know I ought to shew it; but you don't know how the case stands with me, there's a sting in this affliction, that none feels but my self; And oh how intollerable is it now! I neglected proper means in season to preserve life, or mis­carried in the use of means. I now see such a neglect or such a mistake about the means, as I cannot but judge greatly to contribute to that sad loss which I now (too late) lament.

O my negligence, O my rashness and inconsiderateness! How doth my Con­science now smite me for my folly! and by this aggravate my burthen beyond what is usually felt by others. Had I sea­sonably apply'd my self to the use of proper means, and kept strictly to such courses and counsels as those that are able and skilful might have prescribed. I might have now had a living Husband, Wife, or Child: whereas I am now not only bereaved, but am apt to think I have be­reaved my self of them. Surely, there is no sorrow, like unto my sorrow.

1. Answer.

Though it be an evil to neglect and slight the means ordained by God for re­covery of health, yet it's no less evil to ascribe too much to them, or rely too much on them. The best means in the world are weak and ineffectual without Gods assistance and concurrence, and they never have that his assistance or concur­rence, when his time is come; and that it was fully come in your friends case, is manifested now by the event. So that if your friend had had the most excellent helps the world affords, they would have avail'd nothing. This consideration takes place only in your case, who see what the will of God is by the issue, and may not be pleaded by any whilst it remains du­bious and uncertain, as it generally doth in time of sickness.

2. Answer.

Do you not unjustly charge and fault your selves, for that which is not really your fault or neglect? How far you are chargeable in this case will best appear, by comparing the circumstances you are now [Page 135] in, with those you were in when your Relation was only arrested by sickness; and it was dubious to you what was your duty and best course to take.

Possibly you had observed so many to perish in Physitians hands, and so many to recover without them, that you judged it safer for your friend, to be without those means, than to be hazarded by them.

Or if diverse methods and courses were prescribed and perswaded to, and you now see your error in preferring that which was most improper, and neglecting what was more safe and probable; yet as long as it did not so appear to your un­derstanding at that time; but you follow­ed the best light you had to guide you at that time, it were most unjust to charge the fault upon your selves, for chusing that course that then seemed best to you, whether it were so in it self or not.

To be angry with your selves for do­ing or om [...]t [...]ing what was then done, or omitted according to your best discretion and judgment; because you now see it by the light of the event far otherwise than you did before; is to be troubled that you are but men, or that you are not as God, who only can foresee Issues, and [Page 136] events; and that you acted as all rational creatures are bound to do, according to the best light they have, at the time and season of action.

3. Answer.

To conclude, times of great affliction are ordinarily times of great temptation, and it's usual with Satan then to charge us with more sins than we are really guil­ty of, and also to make those things seem to be sins, which upon impartial ex­amination will not be found to be so.

Indeed, had your neglect or miscarri­age been knowing and voluntary; or had you really prefer'd a little money (being able to give it) before the life of your Relation; so that you did deliberatly chuse to hazard this, rather than part with that; no doubt then but there had been much evil of sin mixed with your affliction: and your Conscience may justly smite you for it as your sin. But in the other case which is more common, and I presume yours; it's a false charge, and you ought not to abet the design of Satan in it.

Judg by the sorrow you now feel for your friend, in what degree he was dear [Page 137] to you, and what you could now be con­tent to give to ransom his life, if it could be done with money. Judg I say by this how groundless the charge is, that Satan now draws up against you; and you are but too ready to yeild to the truth of it.

8. Plea.

But my troubles are upon a higher score, and account. My child or friend is passed into Eternity, and I know not how it is with its soul. Were I sure that my Relation were with Christ, I should be quiet; but the fears of the contrary are overwhelming, O it's terrible to think of the damnation of one so dear to me.

1. Answer.

Admit what the objection supposes, that you have real grounds to fear the e­ternal condition of your dear Relation, yet it's utterly unbeseeming you, even in such a case as this, to dispute with, or repine against the Lord.

I do confess it's a sore and heavy tryal, and that there is no case more sad, and [Page 138] sinking to the spirit of a gracious person. Their death is but a trifle to this; but yet, if you be such as fear the Lord, methinks his indisputable Soveraignty over them, and his distinguishing love and mercy to you, should at least silence you in this matter.

First, His indisputable Soveraignty over them, Rom. 9. 20. Who art thou, O man, that disputest with God? He speaks it in the matters of eternal election and reprobation. What if the Lord will not be gracious to those that are so dear to us; Is there any wrong done to them or us thereby? Aarons two Sons were cut off in an act of sin by the Lords im­mediate hand, and yet he held his peace, Levit. 10. 3. God told Abraham plainly that the Covenant should not be establish­ed with Ishmael, for whom he so earnestly pray'd, O let Ishmael live before thee! and he knew that there was no salvation out of the Covenant; and yet he sits down silent under the word of the Lord.

Secondly, But if this do not quiet you, yet, methinks, his distinguishing love and mercy to you should do it. O what do you owe to God, that root and branch had not been cast together into the fire! [Page 139] that the Lord hath given you good hope through grace, that it shall be well with you for ever. Let this stop your mouth, and quiet your spirit: though you should have grounds for this fear.

2. Answer.

But pray examine the grounds of your fear, whether it may not proceed from the strength of your affections to the eter­nal welfare of your friend, or from the subtilty of Satan designing hereby to over-whelm and swallow you up in sorrow, as well as from just grounds and causes? In two cases it's very probable your fear may proceed only from your own affe­ction or Satans temptation.

First, If your Relation died young, before it did any thing to destroy your hopes. Or,

Secondly, If grown and in some good degree hopeful; only he did not in life, or at death manifest and give evidence of grace, with that clearness as you de­sired.

As to the case of Infants in general, it's none of our concern to judg their con­dition, and as for those that sprang from Covenanted parents, it becomes us to ex­ercise [Page 140] Charity towards them: the Scrip­ture speaks very favourably of them.

And as for the more adult, who have escaped the polutions of the world, and made Conscience of sin and duty, albeit they never manifested what you could de­sire they had; yet in them as in young Abijah, may be found some good thing to­wards the Lord, which you never took notice of. Reverence of your authority, bashfulness and shamefac'dness, reserved­ness of disposition, and many other things may hide those small and weak begin­nings of grace that are in children, from the observations of the Parents. God might see that in them that you never saw; he despises not the day of small things.

However it be, it's now out of your watch, your concernment rather is to im­prove the affliction to your own good, than judge and determine their condition; which belongs not to you, but God.

9. Plea.

O but I have sinned in this Relation, and now God hath punisht my sin in dis­solving it. O saith one, my heart was set too much upon it, I even idoliz'd it, [Page 241] that was my sin. And saith another, I wanted due affections, and did not love my Relation, at least not so spiritually as I ought, that was my sin. Now God is visiting me for all the neglects and defects that have been in me towards my Re­lation.

1. Answer.

There is no man so throughly sancti­fied, as not to fail and come short in many things pertaining to his relative duties. And to speak as the thing is, the cor­ruptions of the holiest persons are as much discovered in this, as in any other thing whatsoever. And it's a very com­mon thing for Conscience, not only to charge these failures upon us, but to ag­gravate them to the uttermost when God hath made the separation. So that this is no more than what is usual and very common with persons in your case.

2. Answer.

Admit that which the Objection sup­poses, that God hath afflicted you for your sin, and removed that comfort from you which you Idolized and too much [Page 142] doted on; yet there is no reason you should be so cast down under your af­fliction; for all this may be, and pro­bably is the fruit of his love to, and care over your soul. Rev. 3. 19. He tells the afflicted for their comfort, Whom I love, I rebuke and chasten. How much better is it to have an Idolized enjoyment taken from you in mercy, than if God should say concerning you as he did of Ephraim, Hos. 4. 17. He is joyn'd to Idols, let him alone.

O it's better for you that your Father now reckons with you for your follies with the Rod in his hand, than to say as he doth of some, let them go on, I will not hinder them in, or rebuke them for their sinful courses; but will reckon with them for all together in Hell at last.

3. Answer.

And as to what you now charge upon your self, that the neglect of duty did spring from the want of love to your Re­lation. Your sorrows at parting may evidence that your Relation was rooted deep in your affection: but if your love was not so spiritual and pure, to love and [Page 143] enjoy them in God; that was undoubted­ly your sin, and is the sin of most Chri­stians; for which, both you, and all others ought to be humbled.

10. Plea.

God hath blessed me with an Estate, and outward comforts in the world, which I reckoned to have left to my po­sterity, and now I have none to leave it with, nor have I any comfort to think of it; the purposes of my heart are bro­ken off, and the comfort of all my other enjoyments blasted by this stroke, in one hour. How are the pains and cares of many years perished!

1. Answer.

How may are there in the world, yea, of your own acquaintance, whom God hath either denyed, or deprived both of the comforts of children and Estates too? If he have left you those outward com­forts you ought to acknowledge his goodness therein, and not to slight these because he hath deprived you of the other.

2. Answer.

Though your children be gone, yet God hath many children left in the world whose bowels you may refresh with what he hath bestowed upon you; and your charity to them will doubtless turn to a more comfortable account, than if you had left a large Estate to your own po­sterity.

Surely we are not sent into this world to heap up great estates for our children; and if you have been too eager in this design, you may now read Gods just re­buke of your folly. Bless God you have yet an opportunity to serve God emi­nently by your Charity: and if God de­ny you other Executors, let your own hands be your Executors, to distribute to the necessity of the Saints; that the bles­sings of them that are ready to perish may come upon you.

11. Plea.

O but the remembrance of its witty words and pretty actions is wounding.

1. Answer.

Let it rather lift up your heart to God in praise that gave you so desirable a child, than fill your heart with discon­tent at his hand in removing it. How many Parents are there in the world whose children God hath deprived of reason and understanding, so that they only differ from Beasts in external shape and figure? And how many shew be­times so perverse a temper, that little comfort can be expected from them?

2. Answer.

These are but small circumstances and trivial things in themselves; but by these little things, Satan manages a great de­sign against your souls, to deject or ex­asperate it: And surely this is not your business at this time; you have greater things than the words and actions of chil­dren to mind: To search out Gods end in your affliction: To mortifie the cor­ruption it's sent to rebuke, to quiet your heart in the will of God: This is your work.

12. Plea.

Lastly, It's Objected, O but God hides his face from me in my affliction, it's dark within as well as without, and this makes my case most deplorable, greatly afflicted, and sadly deserted.

1. Answer.

Though you want at present sensible comfort, yet you have reason to be thank­ful for gracious supports. Though the light of Gods countenance shine not upon you; yet you find the everlasting arms are underneath you; the care of God worketh for you, when the consolations of God are withdrawn from you.

2. Answer.

To have God hide his face in time of trouble is no new, or unusual thing. God's dearest Saints, yea his own Son hath experienced it; who in the deeps of in­ward and outward trouble, when wave called unto wave, felt not those sweet sensible influences of comfort from God which had alwaies fill'd his soul formerly. [Page 149] If Christ cry in extremity, My God, my God, why hast thou for saken me? Then sure we need not wonder, as if some strange thing had happened to us.

3. Answer.

May not your unsubmissive carirage un­der the rod provoke God to hide his face from you? Pray consider it well, no­thing is more probable than this, to be the cause of Gods with-drawment from you. Could you in meekness and quiet­ness receive that cup your Father hath given you to drink; accept the punish­ment of your iniquities: say good is the word of the Lord, it is the Lord let him do what he will. You would soon find the case altered with you: but the com­forting spirit finds no delight nor rest in a turbulent and tumultuous breast.

And thus I have satisfied the most con­siderable Pleas urged in justification of our Excesses.

4. I come now to the last thing pro­posed, namely, the means of curing and preventing these sinful excesses of sorrow for the death of our dear Relations.

And although much hath been said al­ready to disswade from this evil; and I [Page 150] have enlarged already much beyond my first intention; yet I shall cast in some farther help and assistance towards the healing of this distemper, by prescribing the following Rules:

1. Rule.

If you would not mourn excessively for the loss of creature-comforts, then beware that you set not your delight and love excessively or inordinately upon them whilst you enjoy them.

Strong affections make strong afflictions, the higher the Tyde, the lower the Ebb. According to the measure of our delight in the enjoyment, is our grief in the loss of these things. The Apostle knits these two graces Temperance and Patience to­gether in the Precept, 2 Pet. 1. 16. And it's very observable how Intemperance and Impatience are inseparably linked in ex­perience, yea, the experience of the best men. You read Gen. 37. 3. How Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, be­cause he was the son of his old age; and he made him a coat of many colours.

This was the darling, Jacobs heart was exceedingly set upon him, his very life was bound up in the life of the Lad. [Page 151] Now when the supposed death of this child was brought to him; How did he carry it? See Ver. 34, 35. And Jacob rent his cloaths, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his Son many days: And all his sons and all his daugh­ters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted; and he said, for I will go down into the grave to my Son mourning: Thus his Father wept for him.

Here as in a glass, the effects of ex­cessive love to a child are represented. Here you may see what work immoderate love will make, even in a sanctified heart.

O therefore let your moderation be known to all men, in your delights and sorrows about earthly things; for or­dinarily the proportion of the one is answerable to the other.

2. Rule.

If you would not be overwhelmed with grief for the loss of your Relations, be ex­act and careful in discharging your duties to them while you have them.

The testimony of your Conscience that you have laboured in all things to dis­charge the duties you owed to your Re­lations whilst they were with you, will [Page 152] prove an excellent allay to your sorrows for them, when they are no longer yours. 'Tis not so much the single affliction, as the guilt charged upon us in times of affliction, that makes our load so heavy.

O what a terrible thing is it to look upon our dead, whilst Conscience is ac­cusing and upbraiding us for our duties neglected, and such or such sins com­mitted? O you little think how dreadful a spectacle this will make the dead body of thy friend to thee.

Conscience if not quite stupid, or dead, will speak at such a time. O there­fore as ever you would provide for a com­fortable parting at death, or meet again at Judgment; be exact, punctual and circumspect in all your relative duties.

3. Rule.

If you would not be overwhelmed by trouble for the loss of your Relations, then turn to God under your trouble, and pour out your sorrows by prayer into his bo­som.

This will ease and allay your troubles: Blessed be God for the ordinance of prayer; How much are all the Saints be­holding [Page 153] to it at all times, but especially in heart sinking and distressful times! It's some relief, when in distress we can pour out our trouble into the bosom of a Wife, or faithful Friend; How much more when we leave our complaint before the gracious, wise and faithful God? I told you before of that holy man, who having lost his dear and only Son, got to his Closet; there poured out his soul freely to the Lord, and when he came down to his friends that were waiting below to comfort him, and fearing how he would bear that stroke; he came from his duty with a chearful countenance, telling them, he would be content to bury a Son (if it were possible) every day, provided he might but enjoy such com­fort as his soul had found in that private hour.

Go thy way, Christian, to thy God, get thee to thy knees in the cloudy and dark day; retire from all Creatures that thou mayst have thy full liberty with thy God, and there pour out thy heart before him, in free, full and broken-hearted confes­sions of sin: Judge thy self worthy of Hell as well as of this trouble: Justifie God in all his smartest strokes; beg him in this distress to put under thee the ever­ing [Page 154] arms: intreat one smile, one gra­cious look to inlighten thy darkness and chear thy drooping spirit. Say with the Prophet, Jer. 17. 17, Be not then a terrour to me, thou art my hope in the day of evil. And try what relief such a course will afford thee. Surely if thy heart be sin­cere in this course, thou shalt be able to say with that holy man, Psal. 94. 19. In the multitude of my thoughts which I had within me, thy comforts have delighted my soul.

4. Rule.

If you would bear the loss of your dear Relations with moderation, eye God in the whole process of the affliction more, and se­condary causes and circumstances of the matter less.

I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it, Psal. 39. 9. Consider the hand of the Lord in the whole mat­ter: And that

First, As a Soveraign hand, which hath right to dispose of thee and all thy com­forts without thy leave or consent, Job 33. 13.

Secondly, As a Fathers hand correcting thee in love and faithfulness, Prov. 3. 11. [Page 155] Whom the Lord loveth he correcteth, as a Fa­ther the Son in whom he delighteth. O if once you could but see affliction as a rod in a Fathers hand, as proceeding from his love, and intended for your eternal good; How quiet would you then be!

And surely if it draw your heart near­er to God, and mortifie it more to this vain world; it is a rod in the hand of special love: If it end in your love to God, doubt not but it comes from Gods love to you.

Thirdly, As a just and righteous hand: Hast thou not procured this to thy self by thy own folly? Yea, the Lord is just in all that is come upon thee: Whatever he hath done, yet he hath done thee no wrong.

Fourthly, Lastly, As a moderate and merciful hand that hath punished thee less than thine iniquities deserve; he hath cast thee into affliction, he might just­ly have cast thee into Hell. It's of the Lords mercy that thou art not consumed. Why doth the living man complain?

5. Rule.

If you would bear your affliction with moderation, compare it with the affliction of other men, and that will greatly quiet your spirits.

You have no cause to say God hath dealt bitterly with you, and that there is no sorrow like your sorrow: Look round about you and impartially con­sider the conditions that others are in: and they nothing inferiour to you in any respect. You have one dead child, Aaron had two at a stroke, Job all at one stroke: and both these by an immediate stroke from the hand of God. Some godly Parents have lived to see their chil­dren dye in their sin by the hand of Justice: others have seen them live to the disho­nour of God, and breaking of their own spirits: and would have esteemed it a mercy if they had dyed from the womb, and given up the ghost when they came out of the belly, as Job speaks.

In what misery, have some Parents seen their children lye? God holding them as so many terrible spectacles of mi­sery before their eyes; so that they have beg'd the Lord with importunity, to let [Page 157] loose his hand and cut them off. Death being in their esteem, nothing to those continual agonies in which they have seen them lye sweltering from day to day. Oh you little know what a bitter cup others have had given them to drink! Surely if you compare, you must say, the Lord hath dealt gently and graciously with you.

6. Rule.

Carefully shun and avoid whatsoever may renue your sorrow, or provoke you to im­patience.

Increase not your sorrow by the sight of, or discourses about sad objects, but labour to avoid them as occasions pre­sented by the enemy of your souls, to draw forth the corruptions of your hearts.

I told you before, why Jacob would not have the child of which Rachel dyed called after the name his wife had given, Benoni, the Son of my sorrow; lest it should prove a daily occasion of renu­ing his trouble for the loss of his dear Wife; but he called his name Benjamin.

Your impatience is like tinder, or Gun-powder, so long as you can prevent the [Page 158] sparks from falling on it, there is no great danger: But you that carry such dangerous prepared matter in your own hearts, cannot be too careful to prevent them. Do by murmuring as you do by blasphemous thoughts, think quite ano­ther way, and give no occasion.

7. Rule.

In the day of your mourning for the death of your friends, seriously consider your own death as approaching, and that you and your dead are distinguisht but by a small interval and point of time.

2 Sam. 12. 23. I shall go to him. Surely the thoughts of your own death, as ap­proaching also, will greatly allay your sorrows for the dead, that are gone be­fore you.

We are apt to fancy a long life in the world, and then the loss of those com­forts which we promised our selves so much of the sweetness and comfort of our lives from, seems an intollerable thing.

But would you reallize your own deaths more, you would not be so deeply concerned for their death as you are. Could you but look into your own graves [Page 159] more seriously, you would be able to look into your friends grave more com­posedly.

And thus I have finished what I de­signed from this Scripture. The Father of mercies, and God of all comfort, whose sole Prerogative it is to comfort them that are cast down, write all his truths upon your hearts, that they may abide there, and reduce your disorder'd affections to that frame which best suits the will of God, and the profession you make of subjection and resignation there­unto.

FINIS.

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