Select Thoughts: OR, CHOICE HELPS FOR A Pious Spirit. A Century of Divine Breathings for a Ravished Soule, beholding the Excel­lencies of her Lord Jesus.

By J: HALL, B. N.


London, Printed for Nath: Brooke, at the Angel in Cornhill. 1654.

TO THE Christian Reader Grace and Peace.

IT pleased the Al­wise and holy GOD, who or­ders all events to his own glory, to make use of my late Secession for the producing of divers, not, I [Page 8] hope unprofitable Tractates; wherein I much rejoyce that my declined Age, even in that retiredness, might be in any measure serviceable to his Church: Now, I send these Select Notions after their Fellows; of which, I wish you may finde cause to say with the Wedding-guests at Cana, Thou hast re­served the best wine till now.

The intent of this Labor is to put some good Thoughts (Reader) into thy minde, which would not otherwise, perhaps have tendered them­selves [Page 9] to thee; such, as I hope may not a little further thee on thy journey to Hea­ven. And if in my Laboring thitherward, I shall, through Gods mercy, be a means of forwarding any soul, but some steps up that steep way, how happy am I?

To which purpose, I know no means more effectual, then those Meditations which conduce to the animation and vigor of Christian pra­ctise: Such I have pro­pounded to my Self, as most behooveful and necessary; especially for this Age, into [Page 10] which we are faln; an Age of more brain then heart; and that hath almost lost Piety in the chase of some litigious Truths. And surely had I known how better to have placed my hours, I should gladly have changed my task: But, I must needs say, I have found this im­ployment so useful, and proper, as that I have looked upon those Polemical Dis­courses which have been forced from me, as no better then meer Excursions. I wis, it will be long enough, ere we shall wrangle our selves into [Page 11] Heaven: It must be true contrition, pure consciences, holy affections, heavenly dis­positions, hearty devotions, sound Regeneration, Faith working by Love, an humble walking with GOD that shall help us thither; and whatsoever may tend to the advancing of any of these gracious Works in us, is worthy to be dear and preci­ous.

Such passages, Reader, if thou shalt, according to my hopes, meet with here, bless GOD with me, and im­prove them to the best ad­vantage [Page 12] of thy Soul: Thus shall our gain be mutual, and our account happy in the day of the Lord Jesus: In whom farewel.

Select Thoughts, One Century.


IF miracles be ceased, yet marvails will never cease. There is no creature in the world, wherein we may not see enough to wonder at; for there is no worm of the earth, no spire of grass, no leaf, no twig, wherein we may not see the footsteps of a Deity: The best visible Creature is man; now, what man is he that can [Page 14] make but an hair, or a straw, much less any sensitive crea­ture; so as no less then an in­finite power is seen in every object that presents it self to our eyes; if therefore we look onely upon the outsides of these bodily substances, and do not see God in every thing, we are no better then brutish; making use meerly of our sence without the least im­provement of our faith, or our reason: Contrary then to the opinion of those men, who hold that a wise man should admire nothing, I say, that a man truely wise and good should admire every thing, or rather that infiniteness of wisdom and omnipotence which shews it self in every visible object: Lord what a [Page 15] beast am I that I have suffered mine eyes to be taken up with shapes, and colours and quan­tities, and have not lookt deeper at thee (with awful adoration, and wonder) in e­very parcel of thy great Crea­tion: Henceforth let me see nothing but thee, and look at all visible things, but as the meer shadows of a glorious omnipotence.


Our affections are then onely safe and right, when they are deduced from God, and have their rise from Heaven; then onely can I take comfort of my love, when I can love my wife, my childe, my friend, my self, my pleasures, and whatsoever [Page 16] contentments in God; thus I may be sure not to offend ei­ther in the object, or measure; no man can in God love whom he should not, nor im­moderately love whom he should: this holy respect doth both direct and limit him; and shuts up his delights in the conscience of a lawful fruition: the like must be said of our joy, and fear, and grief, and what ever other affection; for we cannot derive our joy from God, if we place it upon any sinful thing, or if we exceed in the measure of things allowed; we cannot fetch our fear from Heaven, if it be cowardly, and despe­rate, nor our grief, if it be meerly worldly and heartless. And if our affections do be­gin [Page 17] from above, they will sure­ly end there, closing up in that God, who is the Author and orderer of them; and such as our affections are, such will be the whole disposition of the soul, and the whole carriage of our actions: These are the feet of the soul, and which way the feet walk, the whole man goes; happy is the man that can be so far the master of himself, as to entertain no affections but such as he takes upon the rebound from Hea­ven.


Whence is this delicate scent in this Rose, and Violet? It is not from the root, that smells of nothing; not from the stalk, that is as senceless as [Page 18] the root; not from the earth whence it grows, which con­tributes no more to these flowers, then to the grass that grows by them; not from the leaf, not from the bud before it be disclosed, which yields no more fra­grance then the leaf, or stalk, or root; yet here I now finde it; neither is it here by any miraculous way, but in an ordinary course of nature; for all Violets and Roses of this kinde yield the same redo­lence; it cannot be, but that it was potentially in that root, and stem from which the flowers proceed, and there placed, and thence drawn by that Almighty power which hath given these admirable vertues to several plants, and [Page 19] educes them in his due seasons to these excellent perfections. It is the same hand that works spiritually in his elect; out of the soyl of the renewed heart, watered with the dew of Heaven, and warmed with the beams of his Spirit, God can, and in his own season, doth bring forth those sweet odors of Grace, and holy dis­positions, which are most pleasing to himself; and if those excellencies be so close­ly lodged in their bosoms, that they do not discover themselves at all times, it should be no more strange to us, then that this Rose and Violet are not to be found, but in their own moneths; it is enough that the same vertue is still in the root, [Page 20] though the flower be va­nished.


A man that looks at all things through the considera­tion of eternity, makes no more of a man, then of a flower; that lasts some days, he lasts some years; at their period, both fade: Now, what difference is there to be made betwixt days and years in the thoughts of an eternal duration? Herein therefore I have a great advantage of a carnal heart; such a one boun­ding his narrow conceits with the present condition, is rea­dy to admire himself, and o­thers, for what they have or are, and is therefore deject­ed upon every miscarriage: [Page 21] whereas I behold my self, or that man, in all his glory, as vanishing; onely measuring every mans felicity by the hopes and interress which he hath in a blessed eternity.


When I am dead and for­gotten, the world will be as it is, the same successions and varieties of seasons, the same revolutions of Heaven, the same changes of Earth and Sea, the like occur­rents of natural events, and humane affairs. It is not in my power to alter the course of things, or to prevent what must be: What should I do, but quietly take my part of the present, and humbly leave the care of the future to that [Page 22] all-wise providence, which ordereth all things (even the most cross events) according to his most holy and just pur­poses?


The Scripture is the Sun, the Church is the Clock, whose hand points us to, and whose sound tells us the hours of the day; the Sun we know to be sure, and regularly constant in his motion; the Clock as it may fall out, may go too fast, or too slow; we are wont to look at, and listen to the Clock to know the time of the day, but where we finde the variation sensible, to be­leeve the Sun against the Clock, not the Clock against the Sun. As then we would [Page 23] condemn him of much folly, that should profess to trust the Clock rather then the Sun; so we cannot but justly tax the miscredulity of those who will rather trust to the Church then to the Scri­pture.


What marvailous high re­spects hath God given to man above all his other visible Creatures! what an house hath he put him into! how gloriously arched, how richly pavemented! Wherefore serves all the furniture of Heaven and Earth, but for his use? What delicate provisi­on hath that bountiful hand made for his palate, both of meats and liquors, by Land [Page 24] and Sea? What rich orna­ments hath he laid up for him in his wardrobe of earth and waters? and wherefore serves the various musick of Birds, but to please his ear? For, as for the brute Creatures, all harmony to them is but as silence. Wherefore serves the excellent variety of Flow­ers, surpassing Solomon in all his glory, but to please his eie? meer grass is more acceptable to Beasts. Yea, what Crea­ture but he is capable to sur­vey Gods wonders in the deep? to contemplate the great fabrick of the Heavens? to observe the glorious bodies, and regular motions of the Sun, Moon, Stars; and (which exceeds all conceiveable mercies,) who but [Page 25] he is capable of that celestial Glory, which is within that beautiful contignation? to be a companion of the blessed Angels, yea to be a limb of the mystical Body of the eternal Son of God, and to partake with him of his everlasting and incomprehensible glory? Lord, what is man that thou art thus mindful of him? and how utterly unworthy are we even of common mercies, if we re­turn not to our God, more advantage of glory, then those poor creatures that were made for us, and which cannot in nature be sensible of his favors?


How plain is it that all sen­sitive things are ordered by an [Page 26] instinct from their Maker? He that gives them being, puts into them their several dispo­sitions, inclinations, facul­ties, operations. If we look to Birds; the Mavis, the Black­bird, the Red-brest have throats tuneable to any note, as we daily see they may be taught strains utterly vary­ing from their natural tones, yet they all naturally have the same songs and accents different from each other, and fully according to their own kinde; so as every Mavis hath the same ditty with his fel­lows: If we mark the build­ing of their nests, each kinde observes its own fashion and materials, some clay, others moss, hair, sticks; yea if their very motions and rest­ings, [Page 27] they are conform to their own feather, different from others. If to Beasts, they all untaught observe the fashi­ons of their several kindes. Ga­len observes that when he was dissecting a She-goat big with young, a Kid then ready to be yeaned starts out, and walks up and down the room, and there being in the same place, set several vessels of oyl, hony, water, milk, the new faln Kid smells at them all, and re­fusing the rest falls to lapping of the milk; whereupon he justly infers, that nature stays not for a Teacher. Nei­ther is it other in Flies, and all sorts of the meanest vermine, all Bees build alike, and order the Common-wealth of their [Page 28] hive in one maner; all Ants keep their own way in their housing, journeys, provisi­ons; all Spiders do as per­fectly and uniformly weave their web, as if they had been Apprentises to the trade, the same instincts are seen also in the rational Creatures, al­though in most cases overru­led by their higher facul­ties.

What an infinite provi­dence then is this we live un­der, that hath distributed to every creature, as a several form, so several inclinations, qualities, motions, proper to to their own kinde, and diffe­rent from other; and keeps them in this constant unifor­mity, and variety, for the de­light and contentment of [Page 29] man! O God, that I could be capable of enough won­dring at thy great works! that I could be enough hum­bled under the sense of my own incapacity, that I could give thee so much more glo­ry, as I finde more vileness in my self.


When I saw my precious watch (now through an un­happy fall grown irregular) taken asunder, and lying scat­tered upon the workmans shop-board; so as here lay a wheel, there the balance, here one gimmer, there another, straight my ignorance was ready to think, when and how will all these ever peece together again in their former [Page 30] order? But when the skilful Artisan had taken it a while in hand, and curiously pin­ed the joynts, it now began to return to its wonted shape, and constant motion, as if it had never been disordered: How could I chuse but see in this, the just embleme of a distempered Church and State? wherein if all seem disjoynted, and every wheel laid aside by it self, so as an unknowing beholder would dispair of a redress, yet if it shall please the great Artist of Heaven to put his hand unto it, how soon might it return to an happy resetlement? Even so, blessed Lord, for thy great mercies sake make up the breaches of thy Sion, & repair the ruines of thy Jerusalem


We are, and we are not, all one mans children: Our bodies once met in one root, but our mindes and dispositi­ons do so differ, as if we had never been of kin: one man is so gentle and plausible that he would fain please all; ano­ther is so churlish and dogged that he cares not whom he displeases, and hardly can be well pleased with himself: One so sparing and pinching that he grudges himself ne­cessaries, another so vainly lavish, that he cares not how he squanders his estate: one is tenderly pitiful, another mercilesly cruel; one religi­ously devout, another wildly profane; one cowardly fear­ful, [Page 32] another desperately cou­ragious: one jovially cheer­ful and lightsome, another sad and dumpish, even to stu­pidity: one petulant and wan­ton, another austerely conti­nent; one humble and low-conceited of rich indow­ments, another swoln big with a little. He did never read men to purpose that is too much troubled with the harsh and unpleasing contra­riety of humors, which he meets with in the world; and he shall be too unthankful to God, that finding himself better composed then others, knows not whither to ascribe it; and too neglective of him­self, that finding his own distempered, labors not to re­ctifie it.


Nature, Law, and Grace divide all the Ages of the world; now as it is in man (who is a lesser world) that in every day there is a resem­blance of his whole life; the morning is his childehood, the mid-day his youth, the evening his old age; so is it in this greater World; the dim break of day was the state of nature, and this was the non­age of the world, wherein the light of knowledg, both of humane and divine things was but weak and obscure. The Sun was risen higher in the state of the Law, but yet not without thick mists and shad­ows, till the high-noon of that true Sun of Righteous­ness, [Page 34] who personally shone forth to the world; upon whose vertical point began the age of Grace, that still continues, which is the clear afternoon, and full vigour of the World, though now in its sensible declination: after this, there shall be no time, but eternity. These then are they, which both the Pro­phets and Apostles have stiled the last days; not onely in re­spect of the times that went before them, but in regard that no time shall follow them: neither have we reason to bogle at the large latitude of sixteen hundred years; there was neither of the two other periods of age, but were longer then this: Be­sides, how ever, childehood [Page 35] and youth have their fixed terms which they ordinarily pass not, yet the duration of old age is indefinite: We have in our youth known some gray-heads that have con­tinued vigorous, till we have lived to match them in the colour of their livery.

And if this be (as it is) the Evening of the World, do we not see much difference of time in the shutting in of the Light? A Summers Evening, is a Winters day; but if these were to the Apostles the last days, how can they be other then in the last hour, yea, the last minute unto us?

Why do we not put our selves into a constant expecta­tion of the end of all things, and set our selves in a meet [Page 36] posture for the receit of our returning Saviour?


It is a feeling and experi­mental expression that the Apostle gives of a Christian,2 Cor. 4. 18. That he looks not on the things which are seen; not that his eyes are so dim as old Isaacs, that he cannot discern them, or that his inward senses are so stupified, that he cannot judg of their true value: but that, taking an exact view of these earthly things, he dis­cries so much vanity in them, as that he findes them not worthy to be lookt at with the full bent of his desires; like as it is not the meer sight of a strange beauty that is forbidden (for a man may as [Page 37] well look upon a fair face, as upon a good picture) but a setled and fixed aspect, that feeds the eye, and draws the heart to a sinful concupi­scence: Thus doth not the Christian look upon the things that are seen, as making them the full scope, and aym of his desires and affections: So far he takes notice of them, as to make his best (that is, lawful and moderate) use of them; not so, as to make them the chief object of his contemplation, the main drift of his cares. It is well observed by S. Basil, that as there are two contrary ways, the broad, and the nar­row; so there are two guides, as contrary, Sense and Faith: Sense presents to us the plea­sing [Page 38] delights of this world, on the one side; on the other, the present afflictions and per­secutions that attend a good profession: Faith lays before us the glorious things of a future life, and the endless miseries and torments abid­ing for sinful souls in the world to come: Now, it is not for every one to deny al credit to his sense, alluring him with all present, and visible plea­sures, and discouraging him with the terror & pain of pre­sent and visible afflictions, and to yield himself hood-winkt, to be led by Faith, forepromi­sing onely better things afar off, and foreadmonishing him of dangers, future and invisi­ble. Faith onely is that he­roical vertue, which makes a [Page 39] man with an holy contempt to overlook all the pleasing baits of the world, and with a brave courage and fortitude to despise all the menaces, and painful inflictions of his present fury: This works our eyes, not to look upon the things which we cannot but see, the present shews of the world, whether alluring, or terrifying: Had Lot but lookt back on Sodom; the pleasant plain of Sodom, that lay like the Garden of God behinde his back, he had never escaped into the mountain: Had the glorious Protomartyr fixed his eyes onely upon his persecu­tors, his heart could not but have failed, to see the fire in their faces, the sparkling of their eyes, the grinding of [Page 40] their teeth, the bending of their brows, the stopping of their ears, their furious run­ing upon him, their violent halings and draggings; and lastly, a whole volly of stones discharged mortally upon him; he had been utterly daunted with such an impe­tuosity of death: But he, as not seeing any of this pomp, and ostentation of horror, looks up stedfastly to Heaven, and there sees (that which might well make him blinde to all other visible objects) the Heavens open, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and upon this sight, he shut up his eyes, and slept. The true Christian then, hath with holy Job, made a cove­nant with his eyes, not to look [Page 41] upon, either the cruel insolen­cies of the raging world with fear and dejectedness, or on the tempting vanities of the world with amorous glances; but with a sober and constant resolution entertains the ob­jects of both kindes. Very justly did Tertullian jeer that Heathen Philosopher, who pulled out his eyes to avoyd concupiscence; and can tell him, that a Christian can hold his eyes, and yet behold Beau­ty unbewitched; and can be at once open-eyed to nature, and blinde to lust: and what the Apostle said of the Use, he can practise of the sight of the world, and earthly objects; he can so behold them, as if he beheld them not. How oft have we, in a deep study fixed [Page 42] our eyes upon that, which we, the while thought not upon, neither perceived that we saw? So doth the Christian to these worldly glories, plea­sures, profits, whiles his minde and affections are on the things above, Colos. 3. 1, 2. where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. There, Lord, let me behold those things which cannot yet be seen, but shall, once, in the sight of them make me bless­ed: And let me not look on the things that are seen; for the things that are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen, are eternal.


There is not more strange­ness then significance in that charge of the Apostle, That [Page 43] we should put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Rom. 13. 14. The soul is (as it were) a body;Gal. 3. 27. not really and properly so, according to the gross error of Tertullian; but by way of allusion: This body of the soul, then, may not be naked, but must be clad; as our first parents were ashamed of their bodily nakedness, (and so still are all their (not savage) posterity,) so may we of our spiritual. Every sinner is naked; those rags that he hath, are so far from hiding his nakedness, that they are part of it; his fairest moralities are but glit­tering sins, and his sins are his nakedness:Exod. 32. 25. Aaron had made Israel naked to their shame; not so much in that they were stripped of their earings, as [Page 44] that they were enwrapped in the sin of idolatry. No mar­vel if we run away, and hide us from the presence of God, as our first parents did, whiles we are guilty to our selves of our Spiritual deformity: As then we are bodily naked, when we come into the world, so we are spiritually naked whiles we are of the world; neither can it be either safe, or comely for us, till we be covered: There is no clothing can fit the soul but the Lord Jesus Christ; all o­ther robes in the wardrobe of Earth, or Heaven, are too short, too straight; like those which the scorn of Hanun put upon Davids messengers, reaching but to the hams; for though the soul of man be [Page 45] finite, the sin of the soul is scarce so; and that sin must be covered, else there can be no safety for the soul, accord­ing to that of the Psalmist: Psal. 32. 1. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is cover­ed: None therefore but the robes of an infinite Righte­ousness, can cover the soul so wofully dressed; none there­fore but the Lord Jesus Christ, who is God blessed for ever, can cover the soul, that it may not appear unrigh­teous; or can cleanse the soul that it may not be unrighte­ous; and cleansed it must be, ere the Lord Jesus can be put on: We shall wrong his perfit holiness, if we think we can slip him on, as a case, over our beastly rags: It is with [Page 46] us, as with Joshua the high Priest;Zech. 3. 4. The filthy garments must first be taken off, and then the Lord shall say unto us: Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of rayment.

We put on a garment when we apply it all over to our body; so as that part which is clothed, appears not, but is defended from the air, and from the eye: if we have truely put on the Lord Jesus, nothing of ours is seen, but Christ is all in all, to us; al­though this application goes yet deeper; for we so put him on, that we not onely put our selves into him, but also put him into our selves, by a mu­tual kinde of Spiritual incor­poration.

[Page 47] We put him on then, upon our Intellectual parts, by knowing him, by beleeving on him. (This is eternal life to know thee, and whom thou hast sent, saith our Saviour;) and for Faith, no grace doth so sensibly apprehend him, and make him so feelingly ours.

We put him on upon our wills, and affections, when we take pleasure in him, when we love him, delight in him, and prefer him to our chiefest joy.

Thus do we put him on; as our Lord, in our humble and dutiful subjection; as our Jesus, in our faithful affiance; as Christ, the anointed of God, to be our King, in all holy obedience; our Priest, in our willing consecration [Page 48] to him; our Prophet, in our cheerful readiness to be in­structed by him: How happy are we, if we be thus decked; we prank up these poor carcasses of ours gaily, with no small expence; and when we have done, the stuff, or the fashion, or both, wears out to nothing: But, here is a garment that will never be out of fashion; Jesus Christ yesterday, and to day, and the same for ever; yea, the same to us: here, we put him on in Grace, there, in eternal Glory.

The Israelites were fourty years in the wilderness,Deut. 16. yet their shooes not worn, their apparel not impaired; but this attire shall not onely hold good in the time of our wan­dring [Page 49] in this desart, but after we are come into the Canaan of glory, and is best at last. Wherefore do we put on our choisest attire on some high days, but to testifie the cheer­fulness of our hearts:Eccles. 9. 7, 8. Let thy garment be white, saith the Preacher, for now God accept­eth thy works: Mephibosheth changed not his raiment since David went out, as one that would have the sorrow of his heart seen in the neglect of his clothes; although many a one under a gay coat hath an heavy heart, but this attire doth not onely testifie, but make cheerfulness in the soul; Thou hast given me more joy of heart, Psal. 4. 7. then they had in the time that their corn and their wine increased; and, In thy presence [Page 50] is the fulness of joy; what can this apparel of ours do but keep us from a blast, or a showre? it is so far from safeguarding the soul, that it many times wounds it, and that to the death. It was one of the main quarrels against the rich glutton, that he was every day clothed in purple, and byss: How many souls shall once wish that their bodies had been ever either naked,Luk. 16. 19. or clad with hair­cloth? But this aray, as it is infinitely rich and beautiful, so it is as surely defensative of the soul; and is no less then armor of proof against all assaults,Ephes. 6. all miseries.

What a deal of cost and pains do we bestow upon these wretched bodies of [Page 51] ours, onely to make them pleasing and lovely to the eye of some beholders, as mise­rable, perhaps, as our selves; and yet when we have all done, we are (it may be) no better then hard-favord, and unhandsome creatures, and contemptible in those eyes from whom we desired most approbation; Jezebel, for all her licking, is cast out of the window, and troden to dirt in the streets: But this robe we can not wear, and not be amiable in the eyes of the holiest:Cant. 1. 15. Behold thou art fair, my beloved; behold thou art fair, and there is no spot in thee: Lo, in this case, the apparel makes the man; neither is it in the power of any spiritual deformity, to make us other [Page 52] then lovely, in the sight of our God, whiles we have Christ put on upon us. What ever therefore become of the out­ward man, let it be my care that my soul be vested with my Lord Jesus; so shall I be sure, to be safe, rich, amiable here, and hereafter glorious.

It was part of our Saviours charge upon the mount, Take no care what to put on; but it must be the main care of our lives, how to put on Christ upon our souls: This is the prime stole wherewith the fa­ther of the Prodigal, graceth his returned son; the heaven of heavens is not worth such another; when I have once got this on my back, I shall say, though in a contrary sense, with the Spouse in the [Page 53] Canticles: Cant. 5. 3. I have put on my coat, how shall I put it off? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them?


With how devout passion doth the Psalmist call to all the works of the Almighty to praise him; as well supposing, that every creature (even those that have no tongues to speak for themselves) yet have a tongue to praise their Maker;Psal. 19. 1. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handy work; Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth know­ledg: There is no speech nor language, where their voyce is not heard; neither is the very earth defective in this duty: [Page 54] Every plant sayes, look on me, and acknowledg, the life, co­lour, form, smell, fruit, force that I have from the power of my Creator: every worm and flie sayes, look on me, and give God the praise of my living, sense, and motion: every bird sayes; hear me, and praise that God who hath given me these various feathers, and taught me these several notes: every beast, whiles he bellows, bleats, brays, barks, roars, sayes, It is God that hath given me this shape, this sound; yea the very mute fishes, are in their very silence, vocal, in magni­fying the infinite wisdom and power of him that made them, and placed them in those watery habitations; [Page 55] Let every thing that hath breath saith the Psalmist,Psa. ult. ult. praise the Lord. Yea the very winds whistle, and the sea roars out the praise of the Almighty, who both raises, and allays them at pleasure; what a shame were it for man, to whom alone God hath given an understanding heart, a nimble tongue, and articulate language, wherein he can ex­press his rational thoughts, to be wanting to this so univer­sal devotion? and to be as in­sensible of the great works of God, as the ground that he treads upon? If others shall be thus unthankfully dumb, Yet praise thou the Lord, Psal. 103. 1. 2. O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name; Psa. 146. 1, 2. whiles I live will I praise the Lord; I will sing [Page 56] praises to my God whilest I have any being. But alas Lord thou knowest, I cannot so much as will to praise thee, without thee; do thou fill my heart with holy desires, and my mouth with songs of thanks­giving.


It may seem a strange er­rand upon which our Saviour tells us he came into the world;Luk. 12. 49. I am come to send fire on the earth: When the two fervent Disciples would have had fire sent down from Hea­ven upon but a Samaritan Village, our Saviour rebuked them, and told them they knew not of what spirit they were; yet here, he makes it his own business, to send fire [Page 57] on the earth: Alas (may we think) we have fire too much already; how happy were it rather, if the fire which is kindled in the world, were well quenched; and what is the main drift of the Prince of darkness but fire? If not to send fire down from Heaven, upon the inhabitants of the earth; yet, to send the inha­bitants of the earth down to the fire of hell? As then we finde divers kindes of material fire, Celestial, Elementary, Domestique, Artificial, Na­tural; so there is no less varie­ty of spiritual fires: It was in fiery, cloven, tongues, where­in the Holy Ghost descended upon the Apostles,Acts 2. in their Pentecost;Joh. 16. 7. and even this fire did our Saviour come to send [Page 58] down on the earth: Thy word was in mee as fire,Jer. 5. 14. saith the Prophet; and did not our harts burn within us (said the two Disciples,Luk. 23. 32. in their walk to Emaus) whiles he talked with us; This fire he also came to send: Heavenly Love, and holy Zeal are fire;Cant. 8 7. Many waters cannot quench love. My zeal hath consumed me, Psal. 119. 139. saith the Psalmist: and these fires our Saviour came to send into the hearts of men; holy thoughts are no other then the beams of celestial fire,Psal. 39 4. My heart was hot within me; whiles I was musing, the fire burned, and these, we know he sends:Psal. 104. 4. He maketh his An­gels spirits, Heb. 1. 7. and his ministers a flame of fire: These he sends forth to the earth to minister [Page 59] for them that shall be heirs of of salvation: Heb. 1. 14. Besides these, afflictions and persecutions are fire: We have passed through fire and water:1 Pet. 4. 12. Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery tryal, which is to try you, as if some strange thing had happened to you: and even these are of his sending;Lament. 4. 11. The Lord hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundations there­of. There is no evil in the city, but the Lord hath done it: The Lord hath done that which he had devised, Lam. 2. 17. he hath thrown down, and not pitied.

But this expression of our Saviour goes yet deeper, and alludes to the effect of Sepa­ration, which follows upon the fire of our tryal: When the lump of Oar is put into the [Page 60] furnace, the fire tryes the pure mettal from the dross, and makes an actual division of the one from the other; so doth Christ by his Word, and Spirit; even he that is the Prince and God of Peace, comes to set division in the world. Surely, there are holy quarrels worthy of his en­gagement; for, as the flesh lusteth and warreth against the spirit, so the spirit fighteth against the flesh; and this du­el may well beseem God for the Author, and the Son of God for the setter of it: these second blows make an happy fray.

Nothing is more properly compared then discord to fire; this,Judges 9. 20. Christ (the first thing he does) sets in every heart: there [Page 61] is all quietness, secure ease, and self-contentment in the soul, till Christ come there: How should it be other, when Satan sways all without resist­ance? but when once Christ offers to enter, there are straight civil wars in the soul betwixt the old man, and the new; and it fares with the heart, as with an house di­vided in it self, wherein the husband and the wife are at variance; nothing is to be heard, but unquiet janglings, open brawlings, secret oppo­sition; the houshold takes part, and professes a mutual vexation: This Spiritual self-division, where ever it is, though it be troublesom, yet it is cordial; it puts the soul into the state of Rebecca [...]s [Page 62] womb; which barren, yield­ed no pain; but when an Esau and Jacob were conceived, and strugling within, yielded for the time, no ease; yet this was that which caused her just joy, That she had not so much children, as nations in her womb; even so the trou­ble of this inward conflict is abundantly requited with the joy of this assurance, That now Christ is come into our soul, and is working his own desired ends, in, and upon us. Let vain and sensual hearts please themselves in their in­ward peace and calmness; there cannot be a greater signe of gracelesness and disfavor of God; When they shall say Peace, Peace, then shall come upon them sudden destructi­on: [Page 63] The old word was, No safety in War; here it is con­trary, It is this intestine war of the heart, with fire and sword to our corruptions, that must bring us true rest for the present, and hereafter eternal peace and happiness. Now, Lord, since it is thy de­sire that this fire should be kindled, kindle thou and en­flame my heart with a fervent desire, and endeavor that this thy desire may be accom­plished in me: Set me at war with my self, that I may be at peace with thee.


In all that we have to do with God, he justly requires and expects from us, an awful disposition of heart towards [Page 64] his infiniteness; hereupon it was that he delivered his Law in thunder, fire, smoke, and all dreadful magnificence; And when upon the same day, he would send down his Spirit, for the propagation of the Gospel, it was done with an astonishing Majesty; with a sound from Heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and with the apparition of cloven and fiery tongues:Acts 2. 2, 12. And as it was thus in the descent of the Holy Ghost in the miraculous gifts; so it is in the sanctify­ing Graces: Seldom ever doth God by them seize upon the heart, but with a vehe­ment concussion going be­fore: That of St Pauls con­version, was extraordinary and miraculous, but in some [Page 65] degree it is thus, in every soul; We are struck down first, and are made sensible of our spi­ritual blindness, ere our full call be accomplished; as it was with Elijah in the Mount of Horeb, There came first a strong wind, that tore the Rocks, and Mountains, and after that, an earth-quake, then a fire, before the still small voyce; so it is usually in our brests, ere the comfort­able voyce of Gods Spirit speak to our hearts, there must be some blustrings, and flashes of the Law: It is our honor, and his favor, that we are allowed to love God; it is our duty to fear him: We may be too familiar in our love, we cannot be too aw­ful in our fear.


All valuations of these out­ward things are arbitrary, ac­cording to the opinion of their pleasure, or their rarity, or the necessity of their use: Did not mens mindes set a price upon mettals, what were they better then some other entrails of the earth, or one better then other? If by publike law the mint were or­dained to be onely supplyed by our stanneries, how cur­rantly would they pass for more precious then silver mines? To an Indian, a bracelet of worthless Beads is estimated above his Gold; an hungry Esau values a mess of pottage above his birth­right: In the siege of Samaria [Page 67] an Asses head was sold for fourscore peeces of silver; and a Kab of Doves dung for five peeces:2 Kings 6. 25. We have heard that those of Angola have valued a Dog at the price of many slaves. In all these earthly commodities, the market rises, and falls accord­ing to conceit, and occasion; neither is there any intrinse­cal, and setled worth in any of them; onely Spiritual things, as Vertue and Grace are good in themselves; and so carry their infinite value in them, that they make their owner absolutely rich, and happy: When therefore I see a rich man hugging his bags, and admiring his wealth, I look upon that man with pity, as knowing the poorness of [Page 68] that pelf wherein he placeth his felicity; neither can I be­hold him with other eyes, then those, wherewith, a dis­creet European sees a savage Indian priding himself in those trifles, which our chil­dren have learned to con­temn: On the other side when I see a man rich in the endow­ments of minde, well-fraught with knowledg, eminent in goodness, and truly gracious, I shall rise up to that man (how homely so ever his out­side be) as the most precious and excellent peece which this world can afford.


Should I but see an Angel, I should look (with Manoah) to dye no other death then the [Page 69] sight of that glory; and yet even that Angel is fain to hide his face, as not able to behold the infinite Majesty of God his Creator: When Moses did but talk with God in the Mount, for fourty days, his face did so shine, that the Israelites could not look upon the lustre of his countenance, even the very presence of the Divine Majesty not onely hath, but communicates glo­ry: Lord, that I could see but some glimpse of the re­flection of those glorious beams of thine upon my soul; how happy should I be in this vision, whose next degree is perfectly beatifical.


As good, so evil is apt to [Page 70] be communicative of it self; and this so much more, as it meets with subjects more capable of evil then good; the breath of a plague-sick man taints the air round about him; yea, the very sight of blear eyes infects the sound; and one yawning mouth stretcheth many jaws: How many have we known, that have been innocent in their retiredness, miserably de­baucht with leud conversati­on? Next to being good, is, to consort with the vertuous; It is the most merciful im­provement of an holy power to separate the precious from the vile; it is the highest praise of a constant goodness, for a Lot to be righteous in the midst of Sodom.


We are all apt to put off the blame of our miscarriages from our selves: Even in para­dise we did so: It was the wo­man, saith Adam, it was the Serpent, saith the woman: How have we heard fond gamesters cast the blame of their ill luck upon the standers by, which intermedled no­thing but by a silent eye­sight: So the idolatrous Pagans of old, though flagitiously wicked, yet could impute their publike judgments to none but the Christians, whose onely innocence was their protection from utter ruine; So foolishly partial doth our self-love render us to our own demerits, that all are [Page 72] guilty save our selves: Yea, rather then we will want shifts, our very stars shall be blamed; which are no more accessary to our harms, then our eyes are to the Eclipses of their most eminent Lights. As on the contrary, we are ready to arrogate unto our selves those blessings, which the meer bounty of Divine Providence hath cast upon us; whereto we could not contribute so much as an hand to receive them, but by the mercy of the giver: It cannot be well with me, till I have learned to correct this palpable injustice in both; challenging to my self all my errors, and guilt of sufferings, and yielding to God the praise his own [Page 73] free and gracious bene­ficence.


How profitable and bene­ficial a thing is affliction; e­specially to some dispositions more then other: I see some trees that will not thrive, un­less their roots be laid bare; unless (besides pruning) their bodies be gashed and sliced; others, that are too luxuri­ant, except divers of their blossoms be seasonably pulld off, yield nothing: I see too rank corn, if it be not timely eaten down, may yield some­thing to the barn, but little to the granary: I see some full bodies, that can enjoy no health without strong evacu­ations, blood-lettings, fonti­nels; [Page 74] such is the condition of our spiritual part: It is a rare soul that can be kept in any constant order without these smarting remedies; I confess mine cannot: How wilde had I run, if the rod had not been over me? Every man can say he thanks God for ease; for me, I bless God for my trou­bles.


When I consider what an insensible Atome man is, in comparison of the whole body of the Earth; and what a meer Center-point the Earth is, in comparison of the vast circumference of Hea­ven; and what an almost-in­finite distance there is be­twixt this point of Earth, and [Page 75] that large circle of the Fir­mament; and therewithal think of the innumerable number, and immense great­ness of those heavenly Lumi­naries: I cannot but appre­hend how improbable it is, that those Stars should, at such a distance, distinguish be­twixt one man, and another; betwixt one limb of the same body, and another; betwixt one spot of Earth, and ano­ther; and in so great a mix­ture, and confusion of influ­ences, should give any distinct intimation of particular e­vents in nature; and much more of meer contingencies of arbitrary affairs. As for the Moon, by reason of her vicinity to the Earth, and sensible predominance over [Page 76] moysture; and for the Sun, the great magazin of Light and Heat, I acknowledg their powerful (but unpartial) ope­rations upon this whole globe of Earth and Waters, and every part of it, not without just wonder and astonish­ment; the other Stars may have their several vertues and effects, but their marvelous remoteness, and my un­discernable nothingness, may seem to forbid any certain intelligence of their distinct workings upon me: But whe­ther these glorious Lights give, or take any notice of such an imperceptible mite as I; sure I am, there is great reason I should take notice of them; of their beauteous lustre, of their wonderful [Page 77] magnitude, of their regular motion; and be transported with admiration of that om­nipotent power, wisdom, pro­vidence, which created this goodly and mighty host of Heaven, and guides them in their constant march, without the least deviation from their first setting out, to the last moment of their final con­flagration. O the narrowness of my wretched heart, that affords not room enough for wonder at that which I can­not but see!


It becomes not us to be niggardly where our Saviour intends bounty: How glad should we be rather to ampli­ate the benefit of the great [Page 78] Work of our Redeemer? but surely, I cannot see upon what warrant that favor is grounded, that enlargeth the fruit of Christs redemption, to the Angels: the good needed it not, the evil were not capable of it; onely man­kinde was captiv'd, and re­deemable by that invaluable ransom.

Doubtless those blessed Spirits have their part in the joy and gratulation of the in­finite mercy of our deliver­ance; for if they rejoyce at the conversion of one sinner, what triumph do we think there is in Heaven at the Uni­versal Redemption of all be­leevers? The propriety of this favor hath reason to in­gage us so much the more: [Page 79] Lord, thy mercy is free, and boundless; thou wouldst pass by the lapsed Angels, and leave them in their sin, and their chains; and onely rescue miserable man out of their Hell. O for an heart that might be in some measure answerable to so infinite mer­cy; and that might be no less captiv'd to thy love, then it is freed by thy Redemption.


Men do commonly wrong themselves with a groundless expectation of good; fore­promising to themselves all fair terms in their proceed­ings, and all happy success in the issue; boding nothing to themselves but what they wish; even the man after [Page 80] Gods own heart could say, In my prosperity I said, Psal. 30. 6. tush, I shall never be removed; where­in their misreckoning makes their disappointment so much the more grievous: Had not David made such account of the strength and stability of his Mountain, it could not have so much troubled him to have it levell'd with the Plain; on the contrary, the evils which we look for, fall so much the less heavily, by how much we are fore-pre­pared for their entertainment; what ever by-accidents I may meet withal besides, I have two fixed matches that I must inevitably incounter with, Age, and Death; the one is attended with many inconve­niences, the other with much [Page 81] horror: let me not flatter my self with hopes of jollity, and ease. My comforts for Hea­ven shall (I trust) never fail me; but for the present world, it shall be well for me, if I can without too much difficulty scramble out of the necessary miseries of life; and without too much sorrow crawl to my grave.


Heaven hath many tongues that talk of it, more eyes to behold it, but few hearts that rightly affect it: Ask any Christian (especially) whom ye shall meet with; he will tell you, thither he shapes his course; there he hath pitcht his hopes, and would think himself highly [Page 82] wronged by that man, who should make doubt of either his interest or speed: But, if we shall cast our eyes upon the lives of men, or they reflect their eyes upon their own bo­somes, the hypocrisie will too palpably discover it self: for surely, which way so ever the faces look, the hands and feet of the most men move hell-ward: If malice, fraud, cruelty, oppression, injustice, excess, uncleanness, pride, con­tention, covetousness, lyes, heresies, blasphemies, disobe­dience be the way thither, wo is me, how many walk in that wide and open road to de­struction? but even there where the heart pretends to innocence, let a man strictly examine his own affections, [Page 83] he shall finde them so deeply earthed, that he shall be for­ced to confess his claim to Heaven is but fashionable: Ask thy self but this one question, O man, whatsoever thou art, ask it seriously; Might I this very hour go to Heaven, am I willing and de­sirous to make a present change of this life for a bet­ter? and tell me sincerely, what answer thou receivest from thine own heart. Thy judgment cannot but tell thee that the place is a thousand times better; that the condi­tion would be infinitely ad­vantageous, to exchange base­ness for glory, misery for blessedness, time for eternity, a living death, for a life im­mortal: If thou do now fum­ble, [Page 84] and shuffle, and demur upon the resolution, be con­vinced of thine own world­liness, and infidelity; and know, that if thy heart had as much of Heaven as thy tongue, thou couldst not but say with the chosen vessel,Phil. 1. 23. I desire to depart hence, and to be with Christ, which is far better.


There is no earthly pleasure whereof we shall not soon grow weary; and be as will­ing to intermit, as ever we were to entertain it; and if the use of it continue, the very frequency makes it disregard­ed; so as that which at first we esteemed rare and preci­ous, is now looked upon as common and despicable; and [Page 85] if it be such, as that our impetuous affection is too much transported with a pre­sent fruition, we are so much the more distempered in the loss: on the contrary, those painful yokes, which at the first imposing seemed insup­portable, grow tolerable by custom and long acquaint­ance; so as I know not how it comes to pass, that time hath a contrary power, both to aggravate, and lighten evils: those pleasures are onely worthy to carry our hearts, which are measured by no less then eternity; and those pains most justly for­midable which know neither end, nor remission.


The nearer our Saviour drew to his glory, the more humility he expressed: His followers,Joh. 13. 16. were first his ser­vants,Joh. 15. 8. and he their Master;Joh. 15. 14. then his disciples and he their Teacher; soon after they were his friends, and he theirs; straightways after his resurrection, and entrance into an immortal condition, they were his brethren;Joh. 20. 17. Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend to my Father, and your Father. Lastly, they are incorporated into him, and made partakers of his glory,Joh. 17. 21, 22, 23. That they also may be one with us, saith he, I in them, and thou in me: that they may be made perfect in one; and the [Page 87] glory which thou gavest me, I have given them. O Saviour, was this done for the de­pressing of thy self, or for the exaltation of us; or rather for both? how couldst thou more depress thy self, then thus to match thy self with us poor wretched creatures? how couldst thou more exalt us, then to raise us unto this entireness with thee the All-glorious, and eternal Son of God? how should we learn of thee to improve our high­est advancement to our deep­est humility, and so to regard each other, that when we are greatest, we should be least?


How apt we are to miscon­strue the Spirit of God, to [Page 88] our own disadvantage? whiles the blessed Apostle bids us to work out our sal­vation with fear and trembling; he doth not bid us to work it out with doubt and distrust: It is the Psalmists charge,Psal. 2. that we should serve the Lord with fear, and rejoyce in him with trembling; so as there is a fear without diffidence, and a trembling that may consist with joy; trembling is an effect of fear, but this fear which we must affect is re­verential, not slavish, not distrustful: Indeed, when we look upon our selves, and con­sider our own frailties and corruptions, and Gods in­finite justice, we have too just cause of doubt and dejection, yea (were it not for better [Page 89] helps) of utter despair; but when we cast up our eyes to the power of him that hath undertaken for us, and the faithfulness of him that hath promised; and the sure mer­cies of him that hath begun his good work in us, we can fear with confidence, and re­joyce in our trembling: For what are our sins to his mer­cies, our unworthiness to his infinite merits, our weaknesses to his omnipotence! I will therefore so distrust my self, that I will be stedfastly con­fident in the God of my sal­vation; I will so tremble be­fore the glorious Majesty of my God, that I may not abate of the joy of his never-failing mercy.


What a large and open hand hath our God? how in­finitely doth his bounty tran­scend not the practise onely, but the admiration of man? We think it well if upon often asking we can receive small favors: if after long delay, we can be gratified with a condescent; and if we have received one curtesie, that is a bar to a second; whereas our munificent God gives us not onely what we ask, but what we ask not; and there­fore before we ask: yea, it is he that gives us to ask, neither could we so much as crave good things, if he did not put into us those holy desires; yea, he not onely gives us [Page 91] blessings, before we ask; but he gives us the best things, a right to eternal glory, before we are at all, yea, before the world was; and as he prevents us in time, so he exceeds our thoughts in measure, giving us more then we ask: Rachel would have a Son; God gives her two: Abraham sues that Ishmael may live; God gives him to prosper and to be the father of many Princes: Yet more, he gives us what we cannot ask. The dumb Demoniack could not sue for himself; his very silence was vocal, and receives what he would, and could not request: yea lastly, which is the great improvement of his mercy, he gives us against our asking; our ignorance sues against our [Page 92] selves, requiring hurtful things, he will not suffer our hearts and tongues to wrong us; but withholds what we unfitly crave, and gives us what we should, and do not crave; as the fond childe cryes to his father for a knife; he reaches him a spoon that may feed, and not hurt him. O the Ocean of divine bounty, boundless, bottom­less; O our wretched un­worthiness, if we be either niggardly to our selves in not asking blessings, or unthank­ful to our God in not ac­knowledging them!


Infidelity and faith look both through the same per­spective glass, but at contrary [Page 93] ends: Infidelity looks through the wrong end of the glass, and therefore sees those objects which are neer, a far off; and makes great things little; diminishing the greatest spiritual blessings; and re­moving far from us, threat­ned evils: Faith looks at the right end, and brings the blessings that are far off in time, close to our eye; and multiplies Gods mercies which in a distance lost their greatness: Thus the Father of the faithful saw his seed possessed of the promised land, when as yet he had no seed, nor was likely to have any; when the seed which he should have, should not enjoy it till after four hundred years; thus that good Patri­ark [Page 94] saw Christs day, and re­joyced: Thus our first parent comforted himself after his ejection out of paradise, with the foresight of that blessed seed of the woman, which should be exhibited almost four thousand years after: still, and ever faith is like it self; what use were there of that grace, if it did not fetch home to my eye things fu­ture, and invisible?

That this dissolved body shall be raised out of the dust, and enlived with this very soul wherewith it is now animated; and both of them put into a condition eternally glorious, is as clearly repre­sented to my soul in this glass, as if it were already done. Faithful is he that hath pro­mised, [Page 95] which will also do it.


Who can think other then with scorn of that base and unworthy conceit which hath been entertained by some, that our Saviour lived here on earth upon alms? He that vouchsafed to take upon him the shape of a servant, would have hated to take upon him the trade of a begger: Service is a lawful calling; beggery not so: he that gave life to all creatures, could take a main­tenance from them without asking: he that did command the fish to bring the tribute money for himself and his disciples, and could multiply a few loaves and fishes for the [Page 96] relief of thousands; could rather raise a sustenance to himself, and his, then beg it: But here was neither need, nor cause; even ordinary means failed not; many wealthy followers, who had received cures and miracu­lous deliverances (besides heavenly doctrine) from him,Luk. 8. 2. ministred to him of their sub­stance: neither was this out of charity, but out of duty; in the charge which he gave to his disciples (when he sent them by payrs to preach a­broad) he tells them the labor­er is worthy of his wages; and can we think this rule doth not much more hold concern­ing himself? had not him­self and his family been fur­nished with a meet stock [Page 97] raised from hence; what purse was it which Judas bore? and how could he be a theif in his office, if his bags were empty? He therefore that could say, It is a more blessed thing to give, then to receive; certainly would not choose (when it was in his power) rather to receive then give: The earth is the Lords, and the fulness thereof; and he di­stributes it as he pleaseth, amongst the children of men: For me, I hope I shall have the grace to be content with whatsoever share shall fall to my lot; but my prayer shall be that I may beg of none but God.


What a madness it is in [Page 98] us to presume, on our in­terest in Gods favor, for the securing of our sinful­ness from judgment? The Angels were deeper in it then we mortals can ever hope to be, in these houses of clay; yet long since are ugly Devils; and they which enjoyed the liberty of the glorious Heavens, are now reserved in everlasting chains of darkness; And if we look down upon earth, what darl­ing had God in the world but Israel? This was his first born, his lot, his inhe­ritance; of whom he said, Here I have a delight to dwell. And now, where is it? O the woful desolations of that select people! What is it to tell of the suffossion of [Page 99] her vineyards?Psa. 80. 13. vastation of her tents?Jer. 4. 20. the devouring of her land?Esa. 1. 7. demolition of walls?Psa. 89. 40. breaking down Al­tars?Esa. 27. 11. burning of Cities?Esa. 13. 16. spoyling of houses? dashing in peices their children, ravishing their wives,Psa. 78. 84. killing of their Priests, eating of their own children of but a span long,Lam. 2. 26. and a thousand such woful symptomes of war: the Psalmist hath said a word for all (in a just, but contrary sense) Destructions are come to a perpetual end; what destru­ction can be more, when there is no Israel? How is that wretched nation vanish­ed no man knows whither! so as it was Jezebels curse that nothing was left, whereof it could be said, this was [Page 100] Jezebel, So there is not one peece of a man left in all the world, of whom we can say; This was of one of the tribes of Israel: as for those famous Churches, which were, (since that) honored with the preaching, and pens of the blessed Apostles, where are they now to be lookt for, but amongst the rubbish of cur­sed Mahumetism? O that we could not be high-minded, but fear.


What a woful conversion is here? The sting of death is sin; and the sting of sin is death; both meet in man, to make him perfectly misera­ble; Death could not have stung us; no, could not have [Page 101] been at all, if it had not been for sin: And sin, though in it self extreamly heinous yet were not so dreadful, and horrible, if it were not attend­ed with death: How do we owe our selves to the mercy of a Saviour, that hath freed us from the evil of both; ha­ving pulled out the sting of death which is sin, that it cannot hurt us; and having taken such order with the sting of sin, which is death, that in stead of hurting, it shall turn beneficial to us: Lord, into what a safe con­dition hast thou put us? If neither sin, nor death can hurt us, what should we fear?


How unjustly hath the presumption of blasphemous cavillers been wont to cast the envy of their condemna­tion meerly upon the absolute will of an unrespective power, as if the damnation of the creature were onely of a supreame will, not of a just merit; the very name of Ju­stice convinces them; a puni­tive Justice cannot but sup­pose an offence: It is not for us to rack the brains, and strain the heart-strings of plain honest Christians with the subtilties of distinctions, of a negative, and positive reprobation, of causes and consequences; truths meet for the Schools: It is enough that all Christian Divines; the [Page 103] Synods both of Dort and Trent agree in this truth; that never man is, was, can be miserable but for sin, yea, for his own sin; The Prophet tells us so in terms,Lam. 3. 39. Why is the living man sorrowful, man suffereth for his sin: Nothing can be more true then that of Bildad the Shuhite,Job. 8. 20. Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man: thy perdition is of thy self, O Israel. It is no less then rank blasphemy to make God the author of sin:Psa. 5. 4. Thou art the God that hast no pleasure in wickedness, neither shall any evil dwel with thee, saith the Psalmist; our sin is our own, and the wages of sin is death; he that doth the work earns the wages; so then the righteous God is cleared [Page 104] both of our sin, and our death; onely his justice pays us what we will needs de­serve;Ezek. 18. 23. Have I any pleasure at all (saith he) that the wicked should die, and not that he should return from his ways and live? wherefore return yea and live. What a wretched thing is a willful sinner that will needs be guilty of his own death? Nothing is more odious a­mongst men, then for a man to be a felon of himself; besides the forfeiture of his estate, Christian burial is denied him, and he is cast forth into the highway, with a stake pitcht through his body, so as every passenger that sees that woful monument is rea­dy to say: There lyes the car­cass, but where is the soul?

[Page 105] But so much more hein­ous is the self-felony of a wilful sinner, because it is immediatly acted upon the soul; and carries him with pleasure in the ways of an eternal death.Psal. 19. 12, 13. O Lord, cleanse thou me from my secret faults; keep thy servant also from pre­sumptuous sins, lest they get the dominion over me.


We are wont to say, That we ought to give even the Devil his due; and surely, it is possible for us to wrong that malignant spirit, in cast­ing upon him those evils which are not properly his: It is true, that he is the tempter; and both injects [Page 106] evil motions, and draws them forth into act: but yet, all ill is not immediatly his; we have enough besides, of our own:Jam. 1. 14, 15. Every man, saith St. James, is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed; then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin when it is fi­nished bringeth forth death; Lo, both the lust, and the seducement are our own; the sin is ours, the death ours: There are indeed dia­bolical suggestions which are immediatly cast into us by that wicked one; but there are carnal tentations that are raised out of our own corrupt nature; these need not his immediate hand; he was the maine agent in our de­pravation; [Page 107] but being once depraved we can act evil of our selves: And if Satan be the father of sin, our will is the mother; and sin is the cursed issue of both: He could not make our sin with­out our selves; we concur to our own undoing: It was the charge of the Apostle, That we should not give place to the Devil; Lo, he could not take it, unless we gave it; our will betrays us to his tyranny; in vain shall we cry out of the malice and fraud of wicked spirits, whiles we nourish their complices in our bosomes.


I cannot but think with what unspeakable joy old [Page 108] Simeon dyed, when, after long waiting for the consolation of Israel, he had now seen, the Lords Christ; when I hear him say, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, ac­cording to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation; Methinks I should see his soul ready to flie out of his mouth in an heavenly ravishment; and even then upon its wing towards its glory; for now his eyes saw, and his arms embraced, in Gods salvati­on, his own; in Israels glory, his own: How gladly doth he now see death, when he hath the Lord of life in his bosome? or how can he wish to close up his eyes with any other object? yet when I have seriously con­sidered [Page 109] it, I cannot see wherein our condition comes short of his: He saw the childe Jesus but in his swathing-bands, when he was but now en­tering upon the great work of our redemption; we see him, after the full accom­plishment of it, gloriously triumphing in Heaven: He saw him but buckling on his armor, and entring into the lists; we see him victorious. Who is this that cometh from Edom with dyed garments from Bozra; Esa. 63. 1. this that is glorious in his apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength, migh­ty to save? He could onely say:Esa. 9. 6. To us a childe is born, to us a son is given: We can say, Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity [Page 110] captive, Psa. 68. 18. thou hast received gifts for men: It is true, the difference is, he saw his Savi­our with bodily eyes, we with mental; but the eyes of our Faith are no less sure and unfailing, then those of Sense: Lord, why should not I, whose eyes have no less seen thy salvation, say, Now let thy servant depart, not in peace onely, but in a joyful sence of my instant glory.


When I think on my Sa­viour in his agony, and on his cross, my soul is so cloud­ed with sorrow, as if it would never be clear again: those bloody drops, and those dreadful ejulations (methinks) should be past all [Page 111] reach of comfort: but when I see his happy eluctation out of these pangs, and hear him cheerfully rendring his spirit into the hands of his Father; when I finde him trampling upon his grave, at­tended with glorious Angels, and ascending in the chariot of a cloud to his Heaven; I am so elevated with joy, as that I seem to have forgotten there was ever any cause of greif in those sufferings. I could be passionate to think, O Saviour, of thy bitter and and ignominious death, and most of all, of thy vehement struglings with thy fathers wrath for my sake, but thy conquest and glory takes me off, and calls me to Hallelu­jahs of joy and triumph; [Page 112] Blessing, Revel. 5. 13. honor, glory, and power be unto him that sitteth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.


It is not hard to observe that the more holy any per­son is, the more he is afflicted with others sin: Lot vexed his righteous soul with the un­clean conversation of the So­domites; Davids eyes gush't out rivers of water because men kept not the Law; Those that can look with dry and undispleased eyes upon ano­thers sin, never truly mourn­ed for their own: Had they abhorred sin, as sin, the offence of a God would have been grievous to them in whomsoever: It is a godless [Page 113] heart that doth not finde it self concerned in Gods quarrel; and that can laugh at that, which the God of Heaven frowns at; my soul is nearest to me, my sorrow therefore for my sin must begin at home, but it may not rest there; from thence it shall diffuse it self all the world over:2 Cor. 11. 19. Who is offended, and I burn not? who offendeth, and I weep not?


The world little considers the good advantage that is made of sins: surely the whole Church of God hath reason to bless God for Thomas his unbelief, not in the act, which was odious (after so good assurances) but in the [Page 114] issue his doubt proves our evi­dence; and his confession (after his touch had convin­ced him) was more noble, then his incredulity was shameful. All his attendance upon Christ had not taught him so much divinity, as this one touch: Often had he said, my Lord, but never my God, till now: Even Peters con­fession (though rewarded with the change of his name) came short of this: The flame that is beaten down by the blast of the bellowes, rises higher then otherwise it would; and the spring water that runs level in the Plain, yet if it fall low, it will there­fore rise, high; the shaken tree roots the deeper: Not that we should sin that grace may abound, [Page 115] God forbid; he can never hope to be good that will be there­fore ill, that he may be the better: but that our holy zeal should labor to improve our miscarriages to our spiri­tual gain, and the greater glo­ry of that Majesty whom we have offended: To be better­ed by grace it is no mastery; but to raise more holiness out of sin, is a noble imita­tion of that holy God, who brings light out of darkness, life out of death.


Every man best knows his own complaints, we look up­on the outsides of many, whom we think happy; who in the meane time are secretly wrung with the inward sense [Page 116] of their own concealed sor­rows, and under a smooth and calm countenance smo­ther many a tempest in their bosome. There are those, whose faces smile, whiles their conscience gripes them closely within; There are those that can dissemble their poverty, and domestick vexa­tions, reserving their sighs till their back be turned; that can pick their teeth abroad, when they are fasting, and hungry at home: and many a one forces a song when his heart is heavy: No doubt Naomi made many a short meal after her return to Bethlehem, yet did not whine to her great kinred in a bemoaning of her want: And good Hannah bit in many a grief, which her [Page 117] insulting rival might not see: On the contrary, there are many whom we pity as mi­serable, that laugh in their sleeve, and applaud them­selves in their secret felicity; and would be very loath to exchange conditions with those that commiserate them. A ragged Cynick likes him­self at least as well as a great Alexander: The mortifyed Christian that knows both worlds, looks with a kinde of contented scorn upon the proud gallant, that con­temns him; as feeling that heaven within him, which the other is not capable to believe.

It is no judging of mens real estate by their sem­blance; nor valuing others [Page 118] worth by our own rate: And for our selves, if we have once laid sure grounds of our own inward contentment and hap­piness, it matters not greatly if we be mis-known of the world.


For one man to give titles to another is ordinary; but for the great God to give titles to a poor wretched man is no less then wonder­ful: Thus doth the Lord to Job; There is none like him in the earth, a perfect and upright man: O what must he needs be, in whom his maker glories! Lo; who would have looked for a Saint in so obscure a corner of the east, and in so dark a time, [Page 119] before ever the Law gave light to the world? yet even then the land of UZ yields a Job; no time, no place can be any bar to an infinite mer­cy: Even this while, for ought I see, the Sun shined more bright in Midian then in Goshen: Gods election will be sure to finde out his own any where out of hell; and if they could be there, even there al­so: Amongst all those ido­latrous heathen, Job is perfect and upright; his religion and integrity is so much the more glorious, because it is so ill neighbored; as some rich Diamond is set off by a dark foyl. O the infinite goodness of the Almighty that picks out some few grains out of the large chaff-heap of the [Page 120] world, which he reserves for the granary of a blessed im­mortality: It is not of him that willeth, nor in him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy.

We might well imagine that such a sprig must sprout out of the stock of faithful Abraham; what other loyns were likely to yield so holy an issue? And if his Sarah must be the mother of the promised seed, yet why might he not also raise a bles­sed seed from Keturah? The birth doth not always follow the belly: even this second brood yields an heir of his fathers faith;Gen. 25. 6. it is said, That to the sons of the Concubines Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away to the East: [Page 121] Surely this son of the Con­cubine carries away as rich a legacy of his fathers grace as ever was enjoyed by the Son of the promise at home.

The gifts that Abraham gave to Midian were no­thing to those gifts which the God of Abraham gives to this son of Midian; who was perfect and upright, one that feared God and eschued evil. I perceive the holy and wise God meant to make this man a patern as of pati­ence, so of all heavenly ver­tues; he could not be fit for that use if he were not exqui­site; and what can be want­ing to that man, of whom God holily boasts that he is Perfect?

And now what mettal is so [Page 221] fit to challenge the fire of affliction as this pure gold? and who is so fit a match for the great Adversary as this Champion of God? Never had he been put upon so hard a combat, if God had not well known both the strength that he had given him, and the happy success of his con­flict: little doth that good man know what wager is laid on his head, but strongly in­counters all his tryals: The Sabeans have bereft him of his Oxen; the Chaldees of his Camels; the fire from Hea­ven of his sheep; the tempest of his children; Satan of his health; and had not his wife been left to him for his great­est cross, and his friends for his further tormentors, I [Page 123] doubt whether they had escaped.

Lo there sits the great Po­tentate of the East, naked and forlorn in the ashes; as destitute of all comforts, as full of painful boyls and botches; scraping his loath­some hide with a potsheard; yet even in that woful posture possessing his soul in patience, maintaining his innocence, justifying his Maker, cheering himself in his Redeemer, and happily triumphing over all his miseries, and at last made the great miroir of divine bounty to all generations: Now must Job pray for his freindly persecutors, and is so high in favor with God, that it is made an argument of extream wrath against Israel; [Page 124] that though Noah, Ezek 14. 14, 20. Daniel, and Job were in the land they should deliver none but their own souls: O God, this Saint could not have had this strength of invincible pati­ence without thee: thou that rewardest it in him, didst be­stow it upon him: it is thy great mercy to crown thine owne works in us: thy gifts are free, thou canst fortifie even my weak soul with the same powers, strengthen me with the same grace, and im­pose what thou wilt.


As it shall be once in glory, so it is in grace, there are de­grees of it: The Apostle that said of his auditors, they have received the holy Ghost as [Page 125] well as we, did not say; they have received the holy Ghost as much as we: We know the Apostles had so much as to give it to others; none besides them could do so: It is an happy thing to have any quantity of true sanctifiying grace at all; every drop of water is water, and every grain of gold is gold, every measure of grace is precious: But who is there that when he is dry would take up with one drop of liquor when he might have more? or if co­vetously minded, would sit down content with one dram of gold? in such cases a little doth but draw on a desire of more: it is strange to see that in all other commodities we desire a fulness: If God give [Page 126] us fruit of our bodies, it con­tents us not to have an imper­fect childe, but we wish it may have the full shape and proportion: and, when God hath answered us in that, we do not rest in the integrity of parts, but desire that it may attain to a fulness of under­standing, and of stature; and then lastly to a fulness of age: We would have full dishes, full cups, full cofers, full barns; a fulness of all things, save the best of all, which is, the holy Ghost. Any mea­sure of spiritual grace con­tents us; so as we are ready to say with Esau: I have enough my brother. There is a sinful kinde of contentation, where­with many fashionable Christians suffer themselves [Page 127] to be beguiled, to the utter undoing of their souls: for hereupon they grow utterly careless to get, what they think they have already: who cares to eat that is full cram­ed? and by this means they live and die graceless: for had they ever tasted how sweet the Lord is in the Graces of his holy Spirit, they could never think they had enough; and whiles they do think so, they are utterly uncapable of either having, or desiring more: As there is a sinful; so there is an holy covetousness, which the more it hath, the more it affects: Lord make me thus cove­tous, and I cannot chuse but be rich▪


What a marvelous famili­arity was this which Moses had with God:Exod. 33. 11. That the Lord spake unto Moses, face to face, as a man speaketh to his friend! and yet more, that Moses so spake to God! what a bold and high request was that which Moses made to God: I be­seech thee shew me thy glory, that is (as it is there interpreted) thy face! that face which no man might see and live: Lo; God had immediately be­fore spoken to Moses even to his face, out of the cloudy pillar: that doth not satisfie his holily-ambitious soul: but, as he heard the voyce, so he must see the face of the Almighty: That cloudy [Page 129] pillar did sufficiently represent unto him the presence of the great God of Israel; yet still he sues for a sight of his glory: This is no patern for flesh and blood; far be it from our thoughts to aspire so high: Thy face, O God, will we seek: but in thy blessed ordinances, not in thy glorious and in­comprehensible essence: It is not for me as yet to presume so far as to desire to see that infinite light which thou art, or that light wherewith thou art cloathed, or that light in­accessible wherein thou dwel­est: Onely, now shew me the light of thy countenance in grace, and prepare my soul for that light of glory; when I shall see as I am seen.


In the waters of life, the divine Scriptures, there are shallows, and there are deeps; shallows where the lamb may wade, and deeps where the Elephant may swim: If we be not wise to distinguish, we may easily mis-carry: he that can wade over the foord, cannot swim through the deep; and if he mistake the passage he drowns: What in­finite mischeif hath arisen to the Church of God from the presumption of ignorant and unlettered men, that have taken upon them to interpret the most obscure Scriptures, and pertinaciously defended their own sense? How con­trary is this to all practise in [Page 131] whatsoever vocation? In the Taylors trade, every man can stitch a seam, but every man cannot cut out a gar­ment: In the Saylers art, eve­ry one may be able to pull at a cable, but every one can­not guide the helm: In the Physitians profession, every gossip can give some ordina­ry receits upon common ex­perience; but to finde the na­ture of the disease, and to pre­scribe proper remedies from the just grounds of art, is pro­per to the professors of that science; and we think it ab­surd and dangerous to allow every ignorant Mountebank to practise: In matter of law, every plain country-man knows what belongs to distraining, impounding, re­plevying: [Page 132] but to give sound counsel to a clyent in a point of difficulty, to draw firm conveyances; to plead effectu­ally, and to give sound judgment in the hardest cases, is for none but Barristers, and Benchers: And shall we think it safe that in Divinity, which is the mistress of all Sciences, and in matters which may concern the eternal safety of the soul, every man should take upon him to shape his own coat, to steer his own way, to give his own dose, to put and adjudg his own case? The old word was, that Ar­tists are worthy to be trusted in their own trade: Wherefore hath God given to men skill in arts and tongues? Where­fore do the aptest wits spend [Page 133] their times and studies from their infancy upon these sa­cred imployments, if men al­together inexpert in all the grounds, both of art and lan­guage, can be able to pass as sound a judgment in the depths of Theological truths, as they? How happy were it if we could all learn (accor­ding to that word of the A­postle) to keep our selves within our own line: As Christians, the Scriptures are ours; but to use, to enjoy; to read, to hear, to learn, to meditate, to practise; not to in­terpret according to our pri­vate conceit; for this faculty we must look higher:Mal. 2. 7. The Priests lips are to preserve know­ledg: and they shall seek the Law at his mouth: for he is the [Page 134] messenger of the Lord of hosts.


When we see the year in his prime and pride, decked with beautiful blossoms, and all goodly varieties of flowers, cheered with the Musick of birds, and stated in a sweet and moderate temper of heat and cold; how glad we are that we have made so good an exchange for an hard and chilling winter; and how rea­dy we could be to wish that this pleasant and happy season might last all the year long: But herein (were our desires satisfied) we should wish to our own great disadvantage: for if the spring were not fol­lowed with an intension of Summers heat, those fruits [Page 135] whose hopes we see in the bud and flower, could never come to any perfection: and even that succeeding fervor, if it should continue long, would be no less prejudicial to the health and life of all creatures; and if there were not a relaxation of that vigo­rous heat in Autumn, so as the sap returns back into the root, we could never look to see but one years fruit. And thus also it is spiritually: if our prosperity were not inter­mixed with vicissitudes of crosses; and if the lively beams of grace were not sometimes interchanged with cold deser­tions, we should never know what belongs to spiritual life: What should we do then, but be both patient of, and [Page 136] thankful for our changes; and make no account of any con­stancy, till we attain to the Region of rest and blessed­ness?


What fools doth the devil make of those men which would fain otherwise be accounted wise? who would think that men could be so far forsaken of their reason, as to fall down before those stocks and stones which their own hands had carved; to guide their enterprises by the fond auguries of the flying, or posture, or noyse of fowls; or the inspection of the en­trails of beasts; to tye the confidence of their success to certain scrawls, and [Page 137] characters, which themselves have devised: to read their own or others fortunes in their hands or stars: to suffer themselves mocked with de­ceitful visions? neither are his spiritual delusions less gross and palpable; wise Solomon speaks of the wickedness of folly;Eccles. 7. 25. and we may no less truly invert it; the folly of wickedness,Matth. 7. 26. the fool, saith our Saviour, builds his house upon the sand, 1 Tim 6. 17. so as it may be washt away with the next waves; what other doth the foolish worldling, that builds all his hopes upon uncertain riches,Heb 11. 25. momen­tany pleasures,Prov. 31. 30. deceitful favors?Eccles. 2. 14. The fool (saith So­lomon) walketh in darkness; Eccles. 10. 15. the sinner walks in the darkness [Page 138] of ignorance, through the works of darkness, to the pit of darkness: The fool, saith the Preacher, knows not the way into the city: The world­ling may perhaps hit the way through the golden gates of honor; or down to the mines of wealth; or to the flowry garden of pleasure; but the way of true peace he knows not: he no more knows the way to Heaven, then if there were none: The fool (saith the Psalmist) hath said in his heart, there is no God; Did not the wicked man say so, he durst not wilfully sin in the face of so mighty and dreadful an a­venger. Lastly, the fool is apt to part with his patrimony for some gay toys: and how ready is the carnal heart to [Page 139] cast away the Favor of God, the inheritance of Heaven, the salvation of his soul, for these vain earthly trifles? Holy men are wont to pass with the world for Gods fools; (alas! how little do these censurers know to pass a true judgment of wisdom and folly? he that was rapt into the third Heaven, tells us, That the foolishness of God is wiser then men, 1 Cor. 1. 25. and the weak­ness of God stronger then men; but this we are sure of, that wicked men are the devils fools;Pro. 19. 29: and that judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.


There are some things which are laudable in man, [Page 140] but cannot be incident into God; as a bashful shamefast­ness, and holy fear: And there are some dispositions blame-worthy in men, which are yet, in a right sence, holily ascribed unto God, as unchangeableness, and irrepentance: Attributes and qualities receive their limitations according to the meet subjects to which they belong; with this sure rule, That whatsoever may import an infinite purity and perfecti­on, we have reason to ascribe to our Maker; whatever may argue infirmitie, misery, cor­ruption, we have reason to take to our selves: Neither is it otherwise in the condition of men: One mans vertue is anothers vice; so boldness in a [Page 141] woman, bashfulness in an old man, bounty in a poor man, parsimony in the great, are as foully unbeseeming, as bold­ness in a Soldier, bashfulness in a childe, bounty in the rich, parsimony in the poor, are justly commendable. It is not enough for us to know what is good in it self, but what is proper for us: else, we may be blemished with that which is anothers honor.


It is easie to observe that there are five degrees of the digestion of our spiritual food: First it is received into the cell of the ear, and there digested by a careful attenti­on; then it is conveyed into the brain, and there concoct­ed [Page 142] by due meditation, from thence it is sent down into the heart, and there digested by the affections; and from thence it is conveyed to the tongue, in conference, and holy confession; and lastly, it is thence transmitted to the hand, and there receives per­fect digestion, in our action and performance: And as the life and health of the body cannot be maintained, except the material food pass through all the degrees of bodily concoction, no more can the soul live and prosper in the want of any of these spiritual degrees of digestion; And as where the food is per­fectly concocted, the body grows fat and vigorous; so is it with the soul, where the [Page 143] spiritual repast is thus kind­ly digested: Were there not failings in all these degrees, the souls of men would not be so meager and unthriving as they are. Some there are that will not give so much as ear-room to the word of truth; such are willing recu­sants: others will admit it per­haps, so far, but there let it rest; these are fashionable au­ditors: some others can be content to let it enter into the brain, and take up some place in their thoughts and memo­ries; these are speculative pro­fessors; some (but fewer) others let it down into their hearts, and there entertain it with secret liking, but hide it in their bosomes, not daring to make profession of it to the [Page 144] world; these are close Nico­demians: Others take it into their mouthes, and busie their tongues in holy chat, yet do nothing; these are formal dis­coursers: But alas, how few are there whose hands speak louder then their tongues; that conscionably hear, me­ditate, affect, speak, do the word of their Maker, and Redeemer?


Men that are in the same condition speed not always alike: Barabbas was a theif, murderer, seditionary, and deserved hanging no less then the two theeves that were crucified with our Saviour, yet he is dismissed, and they executed; And even of these [Page 145] two (as our Saviour said of the two women grinding at the mill) one was taken, the other refused; one went be­fore Peter to paradise, the other went before Judas into hell: The providence and e­lection of a God may make a difference; we have no reason in the same crime, to presume upon a contrary issue: If that gracious hand shall exempt us from the common judgment of our consorts in evil, we have cause [...] less his mercy; but if his just hand shall sweep us away in the company of our wicked consociates, we have reason to thank none but our selves for our sufferings.


How sweet a thing is re­venge [Page 146] to us naturally? even the very infant rejoyces to see him beaten that hath angerd him; and is ready with his little hand to give that sroke to the by-stander, which he would have with more force returned to the offender; and how many have we known in mortal quarrels cheerfully bleeding out their last drop, when they have seen their enemy gasping, and dying before them: This alone shews how much there is re­maining in our bosome of the sting of that old Serpent, who was a murderer from the beginning, delighting in death, and enjoying our torment; whereas, on the contrary, true grace is merciful, ready to forgive, apt to return good [Page 147] for evil,Col. 3. 13. to pray for our per­secutors; Nothing doth more clearly evince what spirit we are of, then our disposition in wrongs received: The car­nal heart breathes nothing but revenge, and is straight wringing the sword out of the hands of him that hath said,Rom. 12. 19. Vengeance is mine: The regenerate soul,Deut. 32. 35. contrarily, gives place to wrath, and puts on the bowels of mercies, Col. 3. 12. 13. kind­ness, humbleness of minde, meek­ness, long suffering, forbearing, forgiving: Rom. 12. 21. and will not be overcome with evil, but over­comes evil with good. We have so much of God, as we can remit injuries; so much of Satan, as we would revenge them.


It is worth observing how nature hath taught all living creatures to be their own physitians; The same power that gave them a being hath led them to the means of their own preservation: No Indian is so savage, but that he knows the use of his Tobac­co and Contra-yerva; yea even the brute creatures are bred with this skill: The Dog when he is stomack-sick can go right to his proper Grass; the Cat to her Nep; the Goat to his Hemlock; the Weasel to Rue; the Hart to Dittany; the sick Lyon can cure himself with an Ape; the Monkey with a Spider; the Bear with an Ant-heap; the [Page 149] Panther with mans dung; and the Stork is said to have taught man the use of the glyster; to what purpose should we instance when the case is universal? The Toad hath recourse to his Plantain­leaf; the Tortois to his Peni­royal; & in short, there is none but knows his own medicine: As for the reasonable crea­ture, in all the civilized re­gions of the world, we may well say now of every nation as it was of old said of Egypt, That it is a countrey of Phy­sitions: There is not an hus­wife, but hath an Apothe­caries shop in her Garden; which affords her those re­ceipts, whereby she heals the ayls of her complaining family. Onely mankinde is [Page 150] mortally soul-sick, and na­turally neither knows, nor seeks, nor cares for remedy. O thou that art the great Phy­sitian in Heaven, first cure our insensibleness; make thou us as sick of our sins, as we have made our selves sick by sin, and then speak the word, and we shall be whole.


When I consider the preci­ous ornaments of the high Priest, the rich Fabrick and furniture of the Tabernacle, the bountiful gifts which the Princes of the Tribes offered at the dedication of the Altar;Num. 8. I cannot but think what a mass of wealth Israel brought with them out of Egypt; these treasures grew not in the [Page 151] wilderness; neither did Jacob and his sons bring them out of Canaan; they were ga­thered in their Goshen: It was an hard bondage under which Israel was held by the latter Pharaohs; yet, as if then, in stead of the furnaces of bricks, they had been labor­ing in the Silver mines, to their own advantage, they come out laden with precious mettals: What should I say to this? God said, Israel is my first born, and the first born was to have a double portion: What was Israel but a type of Gods Church? now the Church of God may be held down with cruel tyranny; but in spight of all opposition it will thrive;Psal. 68. 13. And though they have lyen among the pots, yet shall [Page 152] they be as the wings of a Dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold; And if the Spouse of Christ shall be stripped of her outward or­naments; yet the kings daughter is allglorious within; rich in those heavenly endowments of Grace and holiness, which shall make her dear and lovely in the eyes of her ce­lestial Bride-groom; shortly, the Church may be impair­ed in her external estate; but if, the while, she gathers so much the more of those bet­ter treasures▪ what hath she lost? Godliness is great gain with contentment; If she have less of the world and more of God, what cause can she have of complaint, or her enemies of insultation?


He that is a God of Order loves both to set, and keep it; For the service of his Sanctu­ary he appointed several offi­ces, and in those offices se­veral degrees; none of those might enterfer with others: The Levites might not medle with the Preists charge; nor one degree of Levites with another: The Porters might not thrust in amongst the Singers, though perhaps some of their voyces might be more tuneable; neither might the Singers change pla­ces with the Porters: The sons of Merari, that were to carry the boards,Num. 4. 29. 23. bars, and pillars of the Tabernacle, and the Court, might not change [Page 154] with the sons of Gershon for the lighter burthen of the curtains, and hangings; nor those of Gershon, Num. 4. 15. for the more holy load of the vessels of the Sanctuary, committed to the sons of Kohath: Neither might the sons of Kohath so much as go in to see the co­vering of those sacred uten­sils by Aaron, Num. 4. 20. and his sons; upon no less pain then death: So punctual was God in set­ing every man his proper station; and holding him to it, without either neglect, or change: And why should we think God less curious in his Evangelical Church? It was the charge of him, who next under the Almighty, had the marshalling of the Church of the Gentiles; Let every man [Page 155] abide in the same calling, 1 Cor. 7. 20. where­in he was called: perhaps there may be a better head for po­licy upon Plebeian shoulders then the Governors: shall that man leave his rank, and thrust into the chair of government? Neither is it other in spiritual offices; It is no thinking that the wise and holy God will be pleased with a wel-meant confusion: For all our im­ployments in the service of the Almighty, we must con­sult, not with our abilities, but with our vocation.


I see too many men willing to live to no purpose; caring only to be rid of time on what terms soever, making it the onely scope of their life to [Page 156] live; A disposition that may well befit brute creatures, which are not capable of any other aym save meerly their own preservation: but for men that enjoy the priviledg of reason, for Christians that pretend a title to Religion, too base and unworthy; where God hath bestowed these higher faculties, he looks for other improvements; For what a poor thing is it onely to live? a thing com­mon to us, with the most de­spised vermin, that breeds on our own corruption: but to live for some more excellent ends, is that which Reason suggests, and Religion per­fits: Here then are divers subordinations of ends, whereof one makes way for [Page 157] another, and all for the su­pream. We labor and exer­cise that we may eat, we eat that we may live, and main­tain health and strength; we desire health and strength that we may do good to our selves and many; that we may be able to do service to God, King, and Country; and therein, we drive at the testi­mony of a good conscience, approving to God our holy desires, and endeavors; and in all these, at the glory and salvation of our souls; and lastly, in that, as the highest of all ends, at the glory of our blessed Creator and Redeemer: This is indeed to live: otherwise, we may have a being for a time upon earth, but a life I cannot call it; and [Page 158] when we must cease to be, we are necessarily swallowed up with the horror of either not being at all, or of being e­ternally miserable.


All our love is moved from some good which we appre­hend in the party loved; car­nal love from beauty; world­ly from gain; spiritual from grace; divine, from infinite goodness: It must needs be therefore, that when the ground and motive of our love faileth, the affection it self must cease; those that are enamoured of a beautiful face, finde their passion cooled with a loathsome deformity; those that are led by the hopes of profit, like wasps, [Page 159] leave buzzing about the gal­ly-pot, when all the hony is gone; those that could carry the rod familiarly in their hand, run from it when they see it turnd to a Serpent: Contrarily, when that which attracts our love is constant to it self, and everlasting, the affection set upon it is perma­nent, and eternal: If then I love God for riches, for pre­ferment, for my own in­dempnity; when intervening crosses strip me of the hopes of all these, I shall be ready to say, with that distemper­ed King of Israel: 2 Kings. 6. 33. Behold, this evil is of the Lord, What should I wait on the Lord any longer? If my respects to my Saviour be for the loaves, and fishes; my heart is carried a­way [Page 160] with those baskets of fragments: but if I can love God for his goodness sake,Cant. 8. 6. this love shall out-last time; and over-match death.


What a wretched narrow­ness of heart is this which I finde in my self; that when I may have all things, I take up with nothing; and when I may be possessed of an infi­nite good, I please my self in grasping a little thick clay? It was a large word that the Apostle said to his Corinthi­ans;1 Cor. 3. 22. Whether Paul, or Apollo, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours. What, shall we think they were richer then their neigh­bors? [Page 165] or is not this the con­dition of all those, of whom he can say in the next words, ye are Christs? There, there comes in all our right to this infinite wealth; of our selves we are beggars; in him, who is Lord of all, we are feoffed in all things; for whiles he saith, All are yours, and ye are Christs, and Christ is Gods; he doth in effect say, Christ is yours, and in him, God is yours; for this right is mutual: How else should all things be ours, if God were not ours; without whom all is no­thing? and how should God the Father be ours, without that Son of his love, who hath said,Joh. 16. 15. All things that the Father hath, Joh. 17. 21. are mine; Joh. 14. 6. Thou O Father art in me, and I in thee: [Page 162] No man cometh to the Father, but by me? If then Christ be mine, all is mine: and if I have so oft received him, and so often renued my union with him, how is he but mine? O Saviour, let me feel my self throughly pos­sest of thee, whether the world slide, or sink, I am happy.


God will not vouchsafe to allow so much honor to wicked instruments, as to make them the means of re­moving publike evils: The Magicians of Egypt could have power to bring some plagues upon the Land, but had not the power to take them away; Certainly, there [Page 163] needed a greater power to give a being to the frogs, then to call them off; yet this lat­ter they cannot do who pre­vailed in the first: Moses and Aaron must be called to fetch off that judgment, which the Sorcerers have brought upon themselves; neither is it o­therwise still: Wicked men can draw down those plagues upon a nation, which onely the faithful must remove: The sins of the one make work for the others inter­cession: Do we therefore smart, and groan under hea­vy calamities? we know to whom we are beholden:Jer. 14. 10, 12. Thus saith the Lord to this people, thus have they loved to wander; they have not refrained their feet, therefore he will now re­member [Page 164] their iniquity, and visit their sins; When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offrings and an oblation, I will not accept them; but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence. Do we desire to be freed from the present evils and to escape an utter desolation? They are Moses and Aaron that must do it; He said that he would destroy them: Psal. 106. 23. had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them: When our quarrel is with Heaven, it is not our force, or our policy that can save us: Every faith­ful man is a favorite of the King of glory, and can do more then command Legi­ons: [Page 165] Then is a people in some good way towards safety, when they have learned to know their friends. Whiles we have good mens prayers to grapple with wicked mens sins, there may be hopes of recovery.


The ayming at a good end can be no just excuse for an unlawful act, or disposition; but if contentment did con­sist in having much, it were a sore temptation to a man to be covetous; since that con­tentation is the thing wherein the heart of man is wont to place it's chief felicity: nei­ther indeed can there be any possible happiness without it; but the truth is, abun­dance [Page 166] is no whit guilty so much as of ease, much less of a full joy: how many have we known that have spent, more pleased and happy hours, under an house of sticks, and walls of mud, and roof of straw, then great Po­tentates have done under marbles, and cedar? And how many, both wise Hea­then, and mortified Christi­ans have rid their hands of their cumbersome store, that they might be capable of being happy? Other crea­tures do naturally neglect that which abused reason bids us dote upon: If we had no bet­ter powers then beast, or fowls, we should not at all care for this either white, or red earth; and if our graces [Page 167] were as great as the least of Saints, we should look care­lesly upon the preciousest and largest treasures that the earth can afford; now our debauch­ed reason, in stead of stir­ing us up to emulate the best creatures, draws us down below the basest of them; moving us to place our hap­piness in those things which have neither life, nor true worth; much less can give that which they have not; It is not for the generous souls of Christians to look so low, as to place their contentment in any thing, whether within the bowels, or upon the face of this earth; but to raise their thoughts up to the glo­rious region of their original, and rest: looking not at the [Page 168] things which are seen,2 Cor. 4. 18. but at the things which are not seen: for the things that are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.


The holy Psalmist knew well what he said when he called the thunder in the clouds,Psal. 29. 4. The voyce of the Lord: a voyce powerful and full of Majesty: The very Heathens made this the most awful act of their Jupiter; which the Spirit of God expresses in a more divine language: The God of glory thundreth; upon this dreadful sound it is, that the Psalmist calls to the migh­ty ones,Psal. 29. 3. to give unto the Lord glory and strength, Psal, 29. 1. 2. to give unto the Lord the glory due to his [Page 169] name: as it were advising the great Commanders of the world, when they hear it thunder, to fall down on their knees, and to lift up their hands, and eyes, to that great God that speaks to them from Heaven: No man needs to bid the stoutest heart to fear, when this terrible sound strikes through his ear; which is able to drive even Neroes and Caligulaes into bench-holes: But this mighty voyce calls for an improve­ment of our fear, to the glo­ry of that Almighty power whence it proceeds: Perhaps, the presumption of man will be finding out the natural causes of this fearful uproar in the clouds; but the work­ing by means derogates no­thing [Page 170] from the God of nature; neither yet are all thunders natural: That whirlwind and thunder, wherein God spake to Job; Job. 40. 9. 38. 1. that thunder and lightning wherein God spake to Moses and Israel in mount Sinai; Exod. 19. that thunder and rain wherewith God answered the prayer of Samuel in wheat-harvest,1 Sam. 12. 17, 8. for Israels conviction in the unseasonable suit for their King; that thundering voyce from Heaven that an­swered the prayer of the Son of God,Joh. 12. 28, 29. for the glorifying of his Name; the seven thun­ders that uttered their voyces to the beloved Disciple in Pathmos, Revel. 10. 3. 4. had nothing of or­dinary nature in them: And how many have we heard, and read of, That for sleight­ing [Page 171] of this great work of God, have at once heard his voyce, and felt his stroke. Shortly, if any heart can be unmoved at this mighty voyce of God, it is stiffer then the rocks in the wilderness;Ps. 29. 8. for, The voyce of the Lord shaketh the wilder­ness, the Lord shaketh the wil­derness of Kadesh: For me, I tremble at the power, whiles I adore the mercy of that great God, that speaks so loud to me: It is my com­fort that he is my Father, who approves himself thus omni­potent; his love is no less in­finite then his power; let the terror be to them that know him angry; let my confidence overcome my fear: It is the Lord, let him do what he will: All is not right with me till I [Page 172] have attained to tremble at him while he shineth, and to rejoyce in him whiles he thundreth.


We talk of mighty warri­ors that have done great ex­ploits in conquering king­doms; but the Spirit of God tells us of a greater conquest then all theirs; Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; 1 Joh. 5. 4. and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith; A­lass, the conquest of those great Commanders was but poor and partial, of some small spots of the earth; the conquest of a regenerate Christian is universal, of the whole world: Those other [Page 173] conquerors, whiles they pre­vailed abroad, were yet o­vercome at home: and whiles they were the Lords of nati­ons, were no other then vas­sals to their own lusts: These begin their victories at home, and enlarge their Triumphs over all their spiritual ene­mies: The glory of those o­ther victors was laid down with their bodies in the dust; the glory that attends these, is eternal; What pity it is that the true Christian should not know his own greatness; that he may raise his thoughts accordingly; and bear him­self as one that tramples the world under his feet? For all that is in the world, 1 Joh. 2. 16. is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; these he [Page 174] hath truly subdued in him­self; not so as to bereave them of life, but of rule; if he have left them some kinde of being still in him, yet he hath left them no dominion; and therefore may well stile him­self the Lord of the world: Far, far therefore be it from him, that he should so abject, and debase himself, as to be a slave to his vassals: none but holy and high thoughts, and demeanors, may now beseem him; and in these spiritual regards of his inward great­ness, and self-conquests, his word must be; either Cesar, or nothing.


I see so many kindes of phrensies in the world, and [Page 175] so many seemingly wise brains taken with them, that I much doubt whom I may be sure to account free from either the touch, or (at least) the danger of this indispositi­on; How many opinions do I see raised every day, that argue no less then a meer spiritual madness? such as if they should have been but mentioned seven years ago, would have been questioned out of what Bedlam they had broken loose. And for dis­positions; how do we see one so ragingly furious, as if he had newly torn off his chaines, and escaped; ano­ther so stupidly senseless, that you may thrust pins into him, up to the head, and he startles not at it: One so [Page 176] dumpishly sad, as if he would freez to death in melancholy, and hated any contentment but in sorrow; another so apishly jocund, as if he cared for no other pastime then to play with feathers: One so superstitiously devout, that he is ready to cringe, and crouch to every stock; ano­ther so wildly prophane, that he is ready to spit God in the face: shortly, one so censori­ous of others, as if he thought all men mad but himself; an­other so mad, as that he thinks himself and all mad men so­ber, and well-witted.

In this store and variety of distempers (were I not sure of my own principles) I could easily misdoubt my self; now, setled on firm grounds, I can [Page 177] pity and bewail the woful distraction of many; and can but send them for recovery to that divine wisdom, who calls to them in the openings of the gates, and uttereth her words, saying; Prov. 1. 22. How long ye silly ones will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorn­ing, and fools hate knowledg; turn you at my reproof:Prov. 8. 5. O ye sim­ple understand wisdom, and ye fools be ye of an understanding heart:Prov. 8. 34, 36. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my ga [...]es: But he that sinneth against me, wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me, love death.


Man, as he confists of a double nature, flesh and spi­rit, so is he placed in a middle [Page 178] rank betwixt an angel, which is spirit, and a beast, which is flesh; partaking of the qualities, and performing the acts of both: he is angelical in his understanding, in his sensual affections, beastial: and to whether of these he most enclineth, and con­formeth himself, that part wins more of the other, and gives a denomination to him; so as, he that was before half angel, half beast, if he be drowned in sensuality, hath lost the angel, and is become a beast; if he be wholly taken up with heavenly Me­ditations, he hath quit the beast, and is improved an­gelical: It is hard to hold an equal temper; either he must degenerate into a beast, or be [Page 179] advanced to an angel; meer reason sufficiently appre­hends the difference of the condition: Could a beast be capable of that faculty, he would wish to be a man, ra­ther then a brute, as he is: There is not more difference betwixt a man, and beast, then between an angel and a brutish man; How must I needs therefore be worse then beast, if, when I may be pre­ferred to that happy honor, I shall rather affect to be a beast, then an angel? Away then with the bestial delights of the sensual appetite; let not my soul sink in this mud; let me be wholly for those intel­lectual pleasures which are pure and spiritual: and let my ambition be, to come as [Page 180] neer to the Angel as this clog of my flesh will permit.


There is great difference in mens dispositions under affli­ction: Some there are, dead­hearted patients, that grow mopish and stupid, with too deep a sence of their suffer­ings; others out of a careless jollity are insensible even of sharp and heavy crosses: We are wont to speak of some, whose inchanted flesh is in­vulnerable; this is the state of those hearts, which are so bewitched with worldly pleasur [...]s, that they are not to be peirced with any cala­mity, that may befal them in their estates, children, husbands, wives, friends; [Page 181] so as they can say with Solo­mons drunkard,Prov. 23. 35. They have stricken me and I was not sick, they have beaten me but I felt it not; These are dead flesh, which do no more feel the knife, then if it did not at all enter; for whom some corro­sives are necessary to make them capable of smart: This disposition, though it seem to carry a face of Fortitude, and Patience, yet is justly offensive; and not a little in­jurious both to God, and the soul: To God; whom it in­deavors to frustrate of those holy ends which he pro­poseth to himself in our sufferings; for wherefore doth he afflict us, if he would not have us afflicted? where­fore doth the father whip [Page 182] the childe, but that he would have him smart; and by smarting bettered? he looks for cryes and tears; and the childe that weeps not under the rod is held graceless: To the soul, whom it robs of the benefit of our suffering; for what use can there be of patience where there is no sence of evil? and how can patience have its perfect work, where it is not?

Betwixt both these ex­treams, if we would have our souls prosper, a mid-disposi­tion must be attained; we must be so sensible of evils, that we be not stupified with them; and so re [...]olute under our crosses, that we may be truly sensible of them: not so brawned under the rod, that [Page 183] we should not feel it; nor yet so tender that we should over-feel it: not more pa­tient under the stripe, then willing to kiss the hand that inflicts it.


God as he is one, so he loves singleness and simplici­ty in the inward parts: as therefore he hath been plea­sed to give us those sences double, whereby we might let in for our selves, as our eyes, and ears; and those limbs double, whereby we might act for our selves, as our hands and feet; so those which he would appropriate to himself, as our hearts for beleef, and our tongue for confession, he hath given us [Page 184] single; neither did he ever ordain, or can abide two hearts in a bosome, two tongues in one mouth: It is then the hateful stile, which the Spirit of God gives to an hypocrite;Jam. 4. 8. that he is double­minded; In the language of Gods Spirit, a fool hath no heart, and a dissembler hath an heart, and an heart; and surely, as a man that hath two heads is a monster in nature, so he that hath two hearts is no less a spiritual monster to God: For the holy and wise God hath made one for one; One minde, or soul, for one body: And if the regenerate man have two men in one; the old man, and the new; yet it is so, as that one is flesh, the other spirit; the minde [Page 185] then is not double; but the law of the mind is opposed to the law of the flesh;Rom. 7. 23. so as here are strivings, in one heart, not the sidings of two: for surely, the God of unity can neither indure multiplication, nor division of hearts, in one brest: If then we have one heart for God, another for Mammon, we may be sure God will not own this latter; how should he, for he made it not? Yea, most justly will he disclaim both, since that which he made was but one, this double. And as the wise man hath told us, That God hates nothing which he hath made; so may we truly say, God hateth whatsoever he made not; since what he made not, is onely evil: [Page 186] When I have done my best, I shall have but a weak and a faulty heart; but, Lord, let it be but a single one:Psal. 134. 23, 24. Search me, O God, and know my heart, try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.


There is a kinde of not-be­ing in sin; for sin is not an existence of somewhat that is, but a deficiency of that recti­tude which should be: it is a privation, but not without a real mischief; as blindness is but a privation of sight, but a true misery: Now, a priva­tion cannot stand alone; it must have some subject to lean upon; there is no blind­ness [Page 187] but where there is an eye, no death but where there hath been a life: sin therefore sup­poses a soul, wherein it is, and an act whereto it clea­veth: and those acts of sin are they which the Apostle calls the works of darkness▪ Eph. 5. 12. So as there is a kinde of operosity in sin, in regard whereof sin­ners are stiled,Luk. 13. 27. The workers of iniquity: And surely there are sins, wherein there is more toyl and labor, then in the holiest actions: What pains and care doth the theef take in setting his match, in watching for his prey? How doth he spend the darkest and coldest nights in the executi­on of his plot? What fears, what flights, what hazards, what shifts are here to a­voyd [Page 188] notice and punishment?

The adulterer says, That stoln waters are sweet; but that sweet is sauced to him with many careful thoughts, with many deadly dangers: The superstitious bygot, who is himself besotted with er­ror, how doth he traverse Sea and land to make a Prose­lyte? What adventures doth he make, what perils doth he run, what deaths doth he challenge, to mar a soul?

So as some men take more pains to go to Hell, then some others do, to go to Heaven: O the sottishness of sinners, that with a temporary misery will needs purchase an eter­nal! How should we think no pains sufficient for the at­taining of Heaven, when we [Page 189] see wretched men toyl so much for damnation?


With what elegance and force doth the holy Ghost ex­press our Saviours leaving of the world; which he cals his taking home again;Luk. 9. 51. or his re­ceiving up? In the former, implying, That the Son of God was, for the time, sent out of his Fathers house, to these lower regions of his exile, or pilgrimage, and was now re-admitted into those his glorious mansions; In the latter, so intimating his triumphant ascension, that he passeth over his bitter passion: Surely, he was to take death in his way; so he told his Disciples, in the walk to [Page 190] Emaus: Luk. 24. 26. Ought not Christ to suffer these things, and to enter into his glory? He must be lift­ed up to the Cross, ere his As­cension to Heaven; but, as if the thought of death were swallowed up in the blessed issue of his death, here is no mention of ought but his assumption: Lo, death truly swallowed up in victory: Neither is it otherwise pro­portionally with us: wholly so it cannot be; for, as for him, Death did but taste of him, could not devour him, much less put him over; It could not but yield him whole & entire the third day, without any impairing of his nature; yea, with an happy addition to it, of a glorious immortality: and in that glo­rified [Page 191] humanity he ascended by his own Power into his Heaven: For us, we must be content that one part of us lye rotting for the time, in the dust, whiles our spiritual part shall by the ministery of An­gels be received up to those everlasting habitations: Here is an Assumption therefore, true and happy, though not, as yet, total: And why should I not therefore have my heart taken up with the assured expectation of this receiving up into my glory? Why do I not look beyond death, at the eternally-blessed condition of this soul of mine; which in my dissolu­tion is thus crowned with im­mortality? So doth the Sea­beaten Marriner chear up [Page 192] himself with the sight of that Heaven, which he makes for; So doth the Travailer com­fort himself, when after a tempestuous storm he sees the Sun breaking forth in his brightness.

I am dying; but, O Savi­our, Joh. 11. 23. thou art the resurrection and the life; he that beleeves in thee, though he be dead yet shall he live:Esa. 26. 19. Awake, and sing ye that dwel in the dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead: Blessed are the dead that dye in the Lord for they rest from their labors, and their works follow them.


What need I be troubled that I finde in my self a fear of [Page 193] Death? what Israelite is not ready to run away at the sight of this Goliah? This fear is natural; and so far from being evil, that it was inci­dent into the Son of God, who was heard in that which he feared; Christianity serves not to destroy, but to rectifie nature. Grace regulates this passion in us, and corrects the exorbitances of it, never intended to root it out: Let me therefore entertain this fear, but so, as that I may master it; if I cannot avoyd fear, let it be such as may be incident into a faithful man: Whiles my fear apprehends just terror in the face of Death, let my faith lay fast hold on that blessed Saviour, who hath both overcome, [Page 194] and sweetned it; on that blessed estate of glory which accompanies it; my fear shall end in joy, my death in ad­vantage.


It is too plain that we are faln upon the old age of the world; the last times, and therefore nearest to the dis­solution; and if time it self did not evince it, the dis­position and qualities would most evidently do it; For to what a cold temper of charity are we grown? what meer Ice is in these spiritual veins? the unnatural and unkindly flushings of self-love abound indeed every where; but for true Christian love it is come to old Davids pass, it may [Page 195] be covered with clothes,1 King. 1. 1. but it can get no heat: Besides, what whimsies, and fancies of dotage do we finde the world possessed withal, be­yond the examples of all for­mer times? what wilde and mad opinions have been late­ly broached, which the setled brains of better ages could never have imagined? Unto these, how extreamly cho­lerick the world is grown, in these later times, there needs no other proof then the effu­sion of so much blood in this present age, as many preced­ing centuries of years have been sparing to spill.

What should I speak of the moral distempers of diseases, the confluence whereof hath made this age more wicked­ly-miserable [Page 196] then all the former? for, when ever was there so much prophane­ness, atheism, blasphemy, schism, excess, disobedience, oppression, licentiousness, as we now sigh under? Lastly, that which is the common fault of age, loquacity, is a plain evidence of the worlds declinedness: for, was there ever age guilty of so much tongue, and pen as this last? were ever the Presses so cloy­ed with frivolous work? E­very man thinks what he lists, and speaks what he thinks, and writes what he speaks, and prints what he writes; Neither would the world talk so much, did it not make account it cannot talk long. What should we do then, [Page 197] since we know the world truly old, and now going upon his great, and fatal Climacterical, but as discreet men would carry themselves to impotent and decrepit age; bear with the infirmities of it, pity and bewail the distempers, strive against the enormities, and prepare for the dissolution.


There cannot be a stronger motive to awe and obedience, then that which Saint Peter enforceth;1 Pet. 1. 17. That God is both a Father and a Judg: The one is a title of Love and Mercy; the other of Justice. What ever God is, he is all that; he is all Love and Mercy; He is all Justice; He is not so a Judg, that he hath [Page 198] waved the title and affection of a Father: He is not so a Fa­ther that he will remit ought of his infinite justice as a Judg: He is, he will ever be both these in one; and we must fasten our eyes upon both these at once; and be accordingly affected unto both: He is a Father, there­fore here must be a loving awe; He is a Judg, and there­fore here must be an awful love and obedience. So must we lay hold upon the tender mercies of a Father that we may rejoyce continually; so must we apprehend the Justice of a righteous Judg, that we do lovingly tremble; Why then should man des­pair? God is a father; All the bowels of mortal and hu­mane [Page 199] love,Isa. 49. 15. are straight to his: Can a woman forget her sucking childe, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget; yet will I not forget thee: saith the Lord. That which is the title of his personality in di­vine relation, is also the title of his gracious relation to us, Father; neither can he be other then he is styled; And contrarily how dare man pre­sume, since this Father is a Judg? It is for sinful flesh and blood to be partial; foolish parents may be apt to connive at the sins of their own loyns, or bowels, be­cause theirs; either they will not see them, or not hate them, or not censure them, or not punish them: The infinite [Page 200] justice of a God cannot wink at our failings: There is no debt of our sin, but must be paid in our selves, or our surety:1 Pet. 1. 17. If then we call him Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every mans work; why do we not pass the time of our sojourn­ing here in fear?


How terrible a motion was that, (which was made by the two Disciples) of com­manding fire to come down from Heaven, and consume the inhospital Samaritans? Me thinks, I could tremble but at the imagination of so dreadful a judgment, as they did not fear to sue for; Yet if we look to the offence, it was [Page 201] no positive act of indignity offered to Christ; but the meer not lodging of his train; and that, not out of a rude inhumanity, but out of a re­ligious scruple: what could they have said if these Sama­ritans had pursued them with swords, and staves, and stones? Whom shall we hope to finde free from cruelty of revenge, when even the Disciple of Love was thus over-taken? What wonder is it if natural men be transported with fu­rious desires, when so emi­nent Domesticks, and follow­ers of our Saviour were thus faulty? Surely nature in man is cruel; neither is there any creature under Heaven so bloody to its own kinde: Even Bears and Wolves, and [Page 202] Tigers devour not one ano­ther; and if any of them fall out in single combats for a prey, here is no publique en­gaging for blood; neither do they affect to enjoy each o­thers torment; rather enter­taining one anothers com­plaints with pity; Let but a swine cry, the rest of the herd within the noyse, come run­ing in, to see and compassion­ate his pain; onely man re­joyces in the misery of the same flesh and blood with himself, and loves to triumph in his revenge: whiles we are thus affected, we know not of what spirit we are; we may soon learn; we are even of that spirit who was a man­slayer from the beginning; Joh. 8. 44. as for the good spirit, his just [Page 203] style is the preserver of men; Job. 7. 20. and the errand of the son of man was,Luk. 9▪ 56. not to destroy mens lives, but to save to them: and his charge to these, and all other his disciples;Luk. 6. 36. Be mercifull, as your Father also is merciful and how easily may we observe that this very disciple (as if in way of abundant satisfaction for this rash over-sight) calls more for love, then all the rest of his masters train, tel­ling us that God is love, 1 Joh. 4. 16. and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him: and, Beloved, let us love one ano­ther: 1 Joh. 4. 7. For love is of God; and every one that loveth is of God, and knoweth God: 1 Joh. 4. 8. He that loveth not, knoweth not God: for God is love. Shortly then, what would not this holy [Page 204] disciple have given to have recalled this fiery motion? The more mercy and charity is in us, the more we have of God; the more fury, and re­venge; of Satan.


Much caution must be had in our imitation of the actions of the holiest: cautions, both in respect of the persons, and of the actions: God himself; yea, God cloathed in flesh, (though the pattern of all perfection) is not for our uni­versal imitation; the most of their actions are for our won­der, not for our exampling; and amongst men; how ab­surd were it in a Peasant to imitate a King? or one of the long robe, a Souldier? [Page 205] If Moses climbe up the hill of God, Sinai; shall another Israelite say, Moses goes up, why not I? So he might have paid dear for his pre­sumption: Moses was called up, the rest were limited; and if a beast touch the hill, he shall dye. That act may beseem one, which would be very incongruous in another; The dog fawns upon his ma­ster, and hath his back stroaked; if the Ass do the like, he is beaten: We are naturally apt to be carried with examples: It is one of the greatest improvements of wisedom to know, whom, in what, and how far we may imitate:Phil. 3. 17. The best have their weaknesses;1 Cor. 4. 16. there is no copy without a blur:1 Cor. 11. 1. Be ye fol­lowers [Page 206] of me, saith the chosen Vessel; but how? Even as I am of Christ: It is safe follow­ing him that cannot erer.


God who is simply one, infinitely perfect, absolutely compleat in himself, enjoys himself fully, from all eter­nity, without any relation to the creature: but knowing our wants, and weaknesses, he hath ordained a society for our well-being; and therefore even in mans innocency, could say, It is not good for man to be alone: And why Lord? why might not man have taken pleasure enough in the beauty and sweetness of his Paradise, in contempla­ting thine Heaven, in the [Page 207] command of thine obsequi­ous creatures, and above all, in the fruition of thy divine presence, in that happy inte­grity of his nature without any accession of other helps? Surely, thou who knewest well what disposition thou hadst put into him, intend­edst to fit him with all meet conveniences: and thou who madest him sociable, before he could have any socie­ty; thoughtst fit to stead him with such a society, as might make his life comfort­able to him. Wise Solomon observes it out of his deep ex­perience,Eccl. 4. 7, 8, 9. for a vanity under the Sun, That there is one alone, and there is not a second; and that, two are better then one, because they have a good reward for their labor.

[Page 208] In the Plantation of the Evangelical Church, the A­postles are not reckoned sin­gle,Matt. 10. 2, 3, 4, but by pairs; and so doth their Lord send them upon the great errand of his Gospel: And when he se­conded that Work by a com­mission given to his seventy Disciples;Luke. 10. 1. He sent them two and two before his face, into every City and place, whither he himself would come▪ After this, when our Saviour had left the earth, Paul and Barnabas go together; and when they are parted, Paul and Silas, Bar­nabas and Mark are sorted: Single indeavors seldom pros­per; many hands make the work both quick and sure: They can be no friends to the happy estate of a Family or [Page 209] Church, that labor to cause distractions; Division makes certain way for ruine.


Under the Law there was difference, as of Ages, so of Sexes: Circumcision was ap­propriated to the Male: In the Temple there was the Court of the Jews; and without that, the Court of the Women; neither might that Sex go beyond their bounds; and still it is so in their Jewish Synagogues: But in Christ, there is neither Male, nor Female. As the soul hath no Sex; so God makes no difference in the ac­ceptation of either: As it is the honor of the one Sex, that Christ the Son of God was a [Page 210] man; so it is the honor of the other Sex, that he was born of a woman: And if the woman be (as she is in nature) the weaker vessel, yet she is no less capable of Grace, then the stronger; as the thinest glass may receive as precious liquor, as the best plate▪ Good Anna as well as Simeon, Luk. 2. 38. gave glory to their new-born Saviour, to all that looked for redemption in Jerusalem: And afterwards, the holy women were no less zealous attend­ants of Christ, both in his life and death,Luk. 8. 2, 3. then the most forward Disciples; yea, they followed him, when his do­mestick followers forsook him; neither could be parted by either his Cross, or his Grave.

[Page 211] And they were the first that were honored with the no­tice, and message of their Saviours blessed Resurrecti­on,Joh. 20. 17. and Ascension; then which, what imployment could be more noble? The Lord gave the word, Psal. 68. 11. saith the Psalmist, great was the com­pany of the Preacheresses; the word is Feminine: However therefore in natural, and po­litique respects, the Philo­sopher might have some rea­son to bless God, that he had made him a man, and not a woman; yet in spiritual (which are the best) regards, here is no inequality; so that it is the great mercy and good­ness of our common Creator, that though he hath made a difference in the smallest mat­ters, [Page 212] yet he makes none in the greatest;King Iames his preface monitory. and that he so in­differently peoples Heaven with both Sexes, that, for ought we know, the greatest Saint there, is of the weaker Sex.


There is nothing more easie then for a man to be courageous in a time of safety; and to defie those dangers which he neither feels nor sees. Whiles the coast is clear, every man can be ready to say, with Peter; Though all men, Mark. 14. 31. yet not I; If I should dye with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise: But when the evil hour cometh, when our enemy appears armed in the lists, ready to encounter [Page 213] us, then to call up our spirits, and to grapple resolutely with dangers and death, it is the praise and proof of a true Christian valour▪

And this is that which the Apostle calls standing; Ephes. 6. 13, 14. in op­position to both falling, and fleeing: Falling, out of faint­ness, and fleeing for fear. It shall not be possible for us thus to stand, if we shall trust to our own feet; In, and of our selves, the best of us are but meer cowards; neither can be able so much as to look our enemy in the face: Would we be perfect victors? we must go out of our selves, into the God of our strength: If we have made him ours, who shall, yea, who can be against us?Phil. 4. 13. We can do all [Page 214] things through him that strengthens us: Phil. 4. 13. All things; therefore conquer Death and Hell: If we be weakness, he is omnipotence;Rom. 13. 14. Put we on the Lord Jesus Christ by a lively Faith, what enemy can come within us, to do us hurt?Psal. 56. 3, 4. What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee, O God: In thee, O God, have I trusted, I will not fear what (either) flesh (or spirit) can do unto me: The Lord is my rock, Psal. 18. 2, 3. and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust, my buckler, and the horn of my salvation; I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from mine enemies.


It is disparagement enough that the Apostle casts upon all the visible things of this world,2 Cor. 4. 18. That the things which are seen are temporary: Be they never so glorious, yet being transitory, they cannot be worthy of our hearts: Who would care for an house of glass, if never so curiously painted, and gilded? All things that are measured by time, are thus brittle: Bodily substances of what kinde so­ever, lye open to the eye; and being seen, can be in no other, then a fading condition; even that goodly Fabrick of Hea­ven, which we see, and ad­mire, must be changed, and in a sort dissolved: How [Page 216] much more vanishing are all earthly glories?2 Pet. 3. 7. 12, and by how much shorter their continu­ance is, so much lower must be their valuation: We ac­count him foolish that will dote too much upon a flower, though never so beautiful; because we know it can be but a moneths pleasure; and no care, no art can preserve it from withering; amongst the rest the Hemerocallis is the least esteemed, because one day ends its beauty: what madness then were it in us to set our hearts upon these perishing contentments which we must soon mutually leave, we them, they us: Eternity is that onely thing which is worthy to take up the thoughts of a wise man; [Page 217] That being added to evil makes the evil infinitely more intolerable; and being added to good, makes the good in­finitely more desireable.

O Eternity! thou bottom­less abyss of misery to the wicked; thou indeterminable pitch of joy to the Saints of God; what soul is able to comprehend thee? what strength of understanding is able to conceive of thee? Be thou ever in my thoughts, ever before mine eyes: Be thou the scope of all my acti­ons, of all my indeavors: and in respect of thee, let all this visible world be to mee as nothing: And since onely the things which are not seen by the eye of sense are eternal; Lord, sharpen thou the eyes [Page 218] of my faith that I may see those things invisible, and may in that sight, enjoy thy blessed eternity.


What is all the world to us in comparison of the Bird in our bosome, our conscience? In vain shall all the world ac­quite, and magnifie us, if that secretly condemn us; and if that condemn us not,1 Joh. 3. 21. We have confidence towards God, and may bid defiance to men and devils: Now that it may not condemn us; it must be both pacified, and purged: paci­fied in respect of the guilt of sin purged in respect of the corruption:

For so long as there is guilt in the soul, the clamors of an [Page 219] accusing, and condemning conscience can no more be stilled, then the waters of the Sea can stand still in a storm: There is then no pacification without removing the guilt of sin; no removing of guilt without remission; no re­mission without satisfaction; no satisfaction without a price of infinite value answerable to the infiniteness of the Justice offended: and this is no where to be had, but in the blood of Christ, God, and Man: All created and finite powers are but misera­ble comforters, Physitians of no value, to this one.

And the same power that pacifieth the conscience from the guilt, must also purge it from the filthiness of sin;Heb. 9. 14. [Page 220] even that blood of the Son of God,Heb. 9. 14. who is made unto us of God, 1 Joh. 1. 7. Sanctification and Redemp­tion: That Faith which brings Christ home to the soul, doth by the efficacy of his blessed Spirit,Act. 15. 9. purifie the heart from all filthiness both of flesh and spirit: Being justified by this faith, we have peace with God: When once the heart is quiet­ed from the uproars of self­accusation, and cleansed from dead works; what in this world can so much concern us, as to keep it so? Which shall be done, if we shall give Christ the possession of our souls, and commit the keys into his onely hands; so shall nothing be suffered to enter in, that may disturb or defile it; if we shall settle firm [Page 221] resolutions in our brests, never to yield to the com­mission of any known, enor­mious sin: Failings and slips there will be in the holiest of Gods Saints, whiles they carry their clay about them; For these we are allowed to fetch forth a pardon of course from that infinite mer­cy of our God,Zechar. 13. 1. who hath set a Fountain open to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin, and for uncleanness; by the force of our daily prayers: But if, through an over-bold securi­ty, and spiritual negligence, we shall suffer our selves to be drawn away into some hei­nous wickedness, it must cost warm water to recover us: Neither can it, in such a case, [Page 222] be safe for us, to suffer our eyes to sleep, or our eye-lids to slumber, till we have made our peace with Heaven: This done, and carefully maintain­ed, what can make us other then happily secure? Blessed is he whose conscience hath not condemned him, Ecclu. 14. 2. and who is not faln from his hope in the Lord.


We cannot apprehend Hea­ven in any notion but of ex­cellency, and glory; that as it is in it self a place of won­derful resplendance, and Ma­jesty; so it is the Palace of the most high God, wherein he exhibites his infinite magni­ficence; that it is the happy receptacle of all the elect of [Page 223] God; that it is the glorious rendezvous of the blessed Angels; that we have parents, children, husband, wife, brothers, sisters, friends whom we dearly loved, there: For such is the power of love that it can endeare any place to us where the party affected, is; much more the best; If it be a loathsome gaol, our affection can make it a delightful bower; yea the very grave cannot keep us off: The women could say of Ma­ry, that she was gone to the grave of Lazarus to weep there: and the zeal of those holy clyents of Christ carries them to seek their (as they supposed still dead) Saviour, even in his Tomb: Above all conceivable apprehensions [Page 224] then, wherein Heaven is en­deared to us, there is none comparable to that, which the Apostle enforceth to us, that, there Christ sitteth on the right hand of God: Colos. 3. 1. If we have an hus­band, wife, childe, whom we dearly love, pent up in some Tower or Castle afar off, whi­ther we are not allowed to have access; how many long­ing eyes do we cast thither; how do we please our selves to think, within those walls is he inclosed whom my soul lo­veth; and who is inclosed in my heart; but if it may be pos­sible to have passage (though with some difficulty and dan­ger) to the place, how gladly do we put our selves upon the adventure? When therefore we hear and certainly know [Page 225] that our most dear Saviour is above, in all heavenly glory; and that the Heavens must contain him till his coming again, with what full content­ment of heart should we look up thither? How should we break thorow all these secular distractions, and be carried up by our affections (which are the wings of the soul) towards an happy fruition of him? Good old Jacob, when he heard that his dearling son was yet alive, in Egypt, how doth he gather up his spirits, and takes up a cheerful resolution, Joseph my son is yet alive, Gen. 45. 26. I will go and see him before I dye? Do we think his heart was any more in Canaan, after he heard where his Joseph was? And shall we, when we hear, [Page 226] and know, where our dearest Saviour (typified by that good Patriark) is; that he is gone before to provide a place for us in the rich Goshen above, shall we be heartless in our desires towards him, and take up with earth? How many poor souls take tedious, costly, perilous voy­ages to that land (which one­ly the bodily presence of our Saviour could denominate holy, their own wickedness justly stiles accursed) onely to see the place, where our dear Saviour trod; where he stood, where he sate, lay, set his last footing; and finde a kinde of contentment in this sacred curiosity, returning yet, never the holier, never the happier; how then should I be affected [Page 227] with the sight of that place, where he is now in person, sitting gloriously at the right hand of Majesty, adored by all the powers of Heaven? Let it be a covenant between me and my eyes, never to look up at Heaven, (as how can I look beside it?) but I shall, in the same instant, think of my blessed Saviour, sitting there in his glorified humanity, united to the incomprehensible — glorious Deity, attended and wor­shiped by thousand thou­sands of Saints and Angels, preparing a place for me and all his elect in those eternal Mansions.


How lively doth the Spirit [Page 228] of God describe the heaven­ly affections of faithful Abra­ham; that he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God: Heb. 11. 10. What city was this, but the celestial Jerusalem, the glori­ous seat of the Great Empire of Heaven? The main strength of any building is in the foundation; if that be firm and sure, the fabrick well knit together will stand: but if that be either not laid, or lye loose and unsetled, the tottering frame doth but wait upon the next wind for a ruine: The good Patriark had been used to dwell in Tents, which were not cap­able of a foundation: It is like, he and his ancestors wanted not good houses in [Page 229] Chaldea, where they were formerly planted; God calls him forth of those fixed habi­tations in his own Countrey, to sojourn in Tabernacles, or Booths in a strange land; his faith carries him cheerfully along; his present fruition gives way to hope of better things: In stead of those poor sheds of sticks and skins, he looks for a City; in stead of those stakes and cords, he looks for Foundations; in stead of mens work, he looks for the Architecture of God. Alass, we men will be build­ing Castles, and Towers here upon earth, or, in the ayr rather; such as either have no foundation at all; or at the best, onely a foundation in the dust; neither can they [Page 230] be any other, whiles they are of mans making; for what can he make in better condi­tion then himself? The City that is of Gods building is deep, and firmly grounded upon the rock of his eternal decree; and hath more found­ations then one; and all of them both sure and costly; Gods material house built by Solomon had the foundation laid with great squared stone;Revel. 21. 19. but the foundations of the wall of this City of God are garnished with all manner of precious stones: Glorious things are spoken of thee, O thou city of God: Why do I set up my rest in this house of clay, which is every day falling on my head, whiles I have the assured expectation of so glo­rious [Page 231] a dwelling above?2 Cor. 4. 1. For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God; an house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens.


God, though he be free of his entertainments, yet is curious of his guests: we know what the great house­keeper said to the sordid guest; Friend how camest thou in hither, not having on a wedding garment? To his feast of glory none can come but the pure; without this disposition no man shall so much as see God,Heb. 12. 14. much less be entertained by him: To his feast of grace none may come but the clean, and those [Page 232] who upon strict examination have found themselves wor­thy: That we may be meet to sit at either of these Tables, there must be a putting off,Colos. 3. 9, 10. ere there can be a putting on; a putting off the old garments, ere there can be a putting on the new; the old are foul and ragged, the new clean and holy; for if they should be worn at once; the foul and beastly under-garment would soyl, and defile the clean; the clean could not cleanse the foul: As it was in the Jewish law of holiness, holy flesh in the skirt of the garment could not infuse an holiness into the garment;Haggai. 2. 12, 13. but the touch of an unclean person might diffuse uncleanness to the garment: Thus our pro­fessed [Page 233] holiness, and pretended graces are sure to be defiled by our secretly-maintained corruption, not our corrup­tion sanctified by our graces; as in common experience, if the sound person come to see the infected; the infected may easily taint the sound; the sound cannot by his pre­sence heal the infected: If ever therefore we look to be welcome to the feasts of God, we must put off the old man with his deeds, Colos. 3▪ 9, 10. and put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledg after the image of him that created him.


It is not for us to cast a dis­paragement upon any work of our Maker; much less [Page 234] upon a peece so neer, so essen­tial to us: yet with what con­tempt doth the Apostle seem still to mention our flesh? and, as if he would have it sleighted for some forlorn out-cast, he charges us, not to make provision for the flesh: What?Rom. 13. 14. shall we think the holy man was faln out with a part of himself? Surely, sometimes his language that he gives it, is hard: The flesh rebels against the spirit: Rom. 7. 18. I know that in me (that is in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing: but how easie is it to observe, that the Flesh sometimes goes for the body of man; some­times for the body of sin: as the first, it is a partner with the soul; as the latter, it is an enemy; and the worst of [Page 235] enemies, spiritual: No mar­vel then if he would not have provision made for such an enemy: In outward and bo­dily enmity, the case, and his charge is otherwise:Prov. 25. 21. If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, Rom. 12. 20. give him drink: but here, make no provision for the flesh: What reason were there that a man should fur­nish, and strengthen an enemy against himself? But if the flesh be the body of the man, it must challenge a respect; but the very name carries an intimation of baseness; at the best, it is that which is com­mon to beasts with us;1 Cor. 15. 39. There is one flesh (saith the Apostle) of men, another flesh of beasts; both are but flesh: Alas, what is it but a clod of earth better [Page 236] molded, the clog of the soul, a rotten pile, a pack of dust, a feast of worms? But even as such, provision must be made for it; with a moderate and thrifty care, not with a solicitous: a provision for the necessities and convenience of life, not for the fulfilling of the lusts: This flesh must be fed, and clad; not humord, not pampered: so fed as to hold up nature, not inordi­nateness; shortly, such an hand must we hold over it, as that we may make it a good servant, not a lawless wan­ton.


What action was ever so good, or so compleatly done, as to be well taken of all [Page 237] hands? Noah and Lot fore­tel of judgments from God, upon the old world, and So­dom, and are scoffed at: Israel would go to sacrifice to God in the wilderness, and they are idle; Moses and Aaron will be governing Israel according to Gods appointment; Ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi: David will be dancing before the Ark of the Lord;2 Sam. 6. 20. He uncovers himself shame­lesly as one of the vain fel­lows:Matt. 11. 18, 19. Our Saviour is socia­ble; He is a wine-bibber, a freind of publicans and sinners: John Baptist is solitary, and austere; He hath a devil: Christ casts out devils; He doth it by Beelzebub the prince of devils: He rides in an homely pomp through Jerusalem; he affects a [Page 238] temporal kingdom; and he is no friend to Cesar that can suffer him to live. He is by his Almighty powr risen from the dead; his Disciples stole him away, whiles the Soldiers slept: The Spirit of God descends upon the Apo­stles in fiery and cloven tongues,Act. 2. 13. and they, thus in­spired, suddenly speak all Languages; they are full of new wine. Stephen preach­eth Christ the end of the Law;Act. 6. 11. He speaks blasphe­mous words against Moses and against God; and what as­persions were cast upon the primitive Christians, all Histories witness: What can we hope to do, or say, that shall escape the censures, and mis-interpretations of men, [Page 239] when we see the Son of God could not avoyd it? Let a man profess himself honestly conscionable, he is a scrupu­lous hypocrite; Let him take but a just liberty in things meerly indifferent, he is loosely profane; Let him be charitably affected to both parts (though in a quarrel not fundamental,) he is an odious neuter, a luke-warm Laodice­an: It concerns every wise Christian to settle his heart in a resolved confidence of his own holy and just grounds, and then to go on in a con­stant course of his well-war­ranted judgment, and practise, with a careless dis-regard of those fools-bolts which will be sure to be shot at him, which way soever he goes.


All Gods dear and faith­ful ones are notably descri­bed by the Apostle, to be such as love the appearing of our Lord Jesus: 2 Tim. 4. 8. for certain­ly, we cannot be true friends to those whose presence we do not desire and delight in; now this appearing is either in his coming to us, or our going to him; whether ever it be, that he makes his glo­rious return to us for the judg­ment of the world, and the full redemption of his elect; or, that he fetches us home to himself, for the fruition of his blessedness; in both, or either, we enjoy his appear­ance: If then we can onely be content with either of [Page 241] these; but do not love them, nor wish for them; our hearts are not yet right with God: It is true that there is some terror in the way to both these; his return to us is not without a dreadful Majestie;2 Pet. 3. 10. for the Heavens shall pass away with a great noyse; and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; and the glori­ous retinue of his blessed An­gels must needs be with an astonishing magnificence; and on the other part our passage to him must be through the gates of death, wherein na­ture cannot but apprehend an horror; but the immediate issue of both these is so in­finitely advantageous, and happy, that the fear is easily swallowed up of the joy; [Page 242] Doth the daughter of Jephtah abate ought of her timbrels and dances because she is to meet a father,Judg. 11. 34. whose armes are bloody with victory? Doth a loving wife entertain her returning husband other­wise then with gladness, be­cause he comes home in a military pomp? Is the con­queror less joyful to take up his crown, because it is con­gratulated to him with many peals of Ordnance? Certainly then, neither that heavenly state wherein Christ shall re­turn to us; nor the fears of an harmless and beneficial death, wherein we shall pass to him, either may, nor can hinder ought of our love to his appearing: O Saviour, come in whatever equipage, [Page 243] or fashion thou wilt, thou canst be no other then lovely, and welcome: Come Lord Je­sus, come quickly.


Suppose a man comes to me on the same errand which the Prophet delivered to He­zekiah; 2 Kin. 20. 1. Set thine house in order, for thou shalt dye, and not live: with what welcome do I en­tertain him? Do I, with that good King, turn my face to the wall, and weep? or do I say of the messenger as David said of Ahimaaz; 2 Sam. 18. 27. He is a good man, and brings good tidings? Surely, Nature urges me to the former, which can­not but hold Dissolution her greatest enemy; for what can she abhor so much as a not-being? [Page 244] Faith perswades me to the latter; telling me that, To dye is gain; Philip. i. 23. Now, whe­ther of these two shall prevail with me? Certainly, as each of them hath a share in me; so shall either of them act its own part in my soul: Nature shall obtain so much of me, as to fetch from me, upon the suddain apprehension of death, some thoughts of fear; Faith shall strait step in, and drive away all those weak fears; and raise up my heart to a cheerful expectation of so gainful, and happy a change: Nature shews me the gastli­ness of death; Faith shews me the transcendency of Hea­venly glory: Nature repre­sents to me a rotten carkase; Faith presents me with a glo­rious [Page 245] soul; Shortly, nature startles at the sight of death; Faith out-faces and over­comes it; so then, I who at the first blush could say,Ecclus. 41. 1. O Death how bitter is thy remem­brance; can now upon my deliberate thoughts, say, I desire to depart and to be with Christ. Philip. 1. 23.


In the carriage of our holy profession, God can neither abide us cowardly, nor in­discreet: The same mouth that bad us, when we are per­secuted in one city, flee into another, said also; he that will save his life, shall loose it; we may neither cloak cowardice with a pretended discretion; nor lose our dis­cretion [Page 246] in a rash courage; He that is most skilful and most valiant, may in his combat traverse his ground for an ad­vantage; and the stoutest Commander may fall flat to avoyd a Cannon-shot; True Christian wisdom, and not carnal fear, is that, wherewith we must consult for advice, when to stand to it; and when to give back. On the one side, he dies honorably that falls in Gods quarrel; on the other, he that flies may fight again; Even our blessed lead­er that came purposely to give his life for the world, yet when he found that he was laid for in Judea, flees into Galilce. The practise of some Primitive Christians, that, in an ambition of martyrdom [Page 247] went to seek out and chalenge dangers and death, is more worthy of our wonder, and applause, then our imitation. It shall be my resolution to be warily thrifty in managing my life, when God offers me no just cause of hazard; and to be willingly profuse of my blood, when it is called for by that Saviour, who was not sparing of shedding his most precious blood for me.


He had need to be well un­der-laid, that knows how to entertain the time and him­self with his own thoughts: Company, variety of im­ployments, or recreations, may wear out the day with the emptiest hearts; but, [Page 248] when a man hath no society but of himself, no task to set himself upon, but what a­rises from his own bosome; surely, if he have not a good stock of former notions, or an inward mint of new, he shall soon run out of all, and (as some forlorn bankrupt) grow weary of himself: Hereupon it is that men of barren, and unexercised hearts can no more live without company, then fish out of the water: And those Heremites, and o­ther Votaries, which pro­fessing onely devotion, have no mental abilities to set themselves on work, are fain to tire themselves, and their unwelcome hours, with the perpetual repetitions of the same orisons, which are now [Page 249] grown to a tedious, and heartless formality: Those contemplative spirits that are furnished with gracious abili­ties, and got into acquaintance with the God of Heaven, may, and can lead a life (even in the closest restraint, or wildest solitariness,) neerest to Angelical; but those▪ which neither can have Maries heart, nor will have Marthaes hand, must needs be unprofitable to others, and wearisome to themselves.


There is nothing more easie then to be a Christian at large; but the beginnings of a strict and serious Christianity are not without much difficulty; for nature affects a loose kinde [Page 250] of liberty, which it cannot indure to have restrained: nei­ther fares it otherwise with it, then with some wilde colt; which at the first taking up, flings and plunges, and will stand on no ground; but af­ter it hath been somwhile dis­ciplin'd at the Post, is grown tractable, and quietly sub­mits either to the saddle, or the collar: The first is the worst; afterwards that which was tolerable, will prove easie, and that which was easie will be found pleasant: For in true practi­cal Christianity, there is a more kindly and better liber­ty;Gal. 5. 1. Standfast (saith the Apo­stle) in that liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free: Lo here a liberty of Christs ma­king, [Page 251] and therefore both just, and excellent: for what other is this liberty then a free­dome, as from the tyranny of the law, so from the bon­dage of sin?Rom. 6. 18. Being then made free from sin (saith Saint Paul) ye became the servants of righte­ousness: Here are two ma­sters, under one of which eve­ry soul must serve; either sin, or righteousness: if we be free from the one, we are bond-men to the other; we say truly, the service of God (that is of righteousness) is perfect freedom; but to be free to sin is a perfect bon­dage; and to serve sin is no other then a vassallage to the devil: From this bondage Christ onely can free us;Joh. 8. 36. If the Son shall make you free, yee [Page 252] shall be free indeed; and we are no Christians, unless we be thus freed: and being thus freed, we shall rejoyce in the pleasant fetters of our volun­tary and cheereful obedience to righteousness▪ neither would we for a world return to those gieves and manacles of sin, which we once beld our most dear and comely ornaments: and can truly say, Thou hast set my feet in a large room. Psal. 31. 8. I will walk at liberty, for I seek thy precepts. Psal. 119. 45.


I cannot but pity and la­ment the condition of those Christians who for the hope of a little earthly dross do willingly put themselves for a continuance out of the pale [Page 253] of Gods Church: What do they else, but cast themselves quite out of the Almighties protection; who hath not bound himself to follow them out of his own walks; or to seek them out amongst Turks and Infidels? well may he say to them (as to the chief Pastor of Pergamus) I know thy works, Revel. 2. 13. and where thou dwellest; even where Satans seat is; but have they any reason to expect that he should dwell with them there, under the raign of that Prince of dark­ness? These men put upon themselves that hard mea­sure, which the man after Gods own heart complains to be put upon him by his worst enemies:Psal 120. 5. Wo is me that I am constrained to dwell with [Page 254] Meshech, and to have my habi­tation in the Tents of Kedar: That holy man could in the bitterness of his soul inveigh against his persecutors for no other terms then these men offer to themselves:1 Sam. 26. 19. Cursed be they before the Lord, for they have driven me out this day from abiding in the inheritance of the Lord; saying, go serve other gods: I speak not of those, who carry God along with them in his ordinance; all earths are alike to us, where we may freely enjoy his pre­sence: but of those straglers, who care not to live without God, so they may be befrien­ded by Mammon. How ill a match these poor men make for themselves, I send them to their Saviour to learn [Page 255] What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world; Matt. 16. 26. and lose his own soul; or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? God forbid, I should give their souls for lost, but I must say, they are hazarded; for herein doubtless, they tempt God, who hath not promised to keep them in any other, then their just wayes; and they do in a sort tempt and challenge Satan, to draw them on either to a love of error and impiety, or at least to a cooling of their care and love of truth: How un­like are these men to that wise merchant in the Gospel; He sold all that he had to buy the pearl of great price:Matt. 13. 45. 46. they sell the pearl to buy a little worthless merchandize. As [Page 256] the greatest part of their tra­fick stands upon exchange; so I heartily wish they would make this one exchange more; of less care of their wealth, for more care of their souls.


Even when Joseph was a great lord in Egypt, second to none but Pharaoh, and had the command of that richest countrey of the world▪ yet then his old Father Jacob thought his poor parcel of Shechem worthy to be be­queathed to him, and embra­ced of him, as a noble patri­mony; because it was in the promised land, and the legacy of a dying Father: How just­ly do I admire the faith both [Page 257] of the father and son in this donation! Jacob was now in Goshen; Shechem was in Canaan; neither was the father now in the present possession; nor were the sons in some ages to enjoy it: It was four hun­dred and thirty years that Israel must be a sojourner in a strange countrey,Exod, 12. 41. ere they shall enter into the promised Land; yet now, as foreseeing the future possession, which his posterity should take of this spot of earth, so long af­ter, Jacob gives Shechem to Joseph, and Joseph apprehends it as a rich blessing, as the double portion of the divi­ded primogeniture: Infidelity is purblinde, and can see no­thing but that which is hard at hand; Faith is quick-sight­ed, [Page 258] and discerns the events of many centuries of years, yea of ages to come; A­braham saw his Saviours day, and rejoyced to see it, a thousand nine hundred and fourty years off; and Adam (before him) almost four thousand years. As to God all things are present, even fu­ture, so to those that by a live­ly faith partake of him: Why do I not by that faith see my Saviour returning in his Hea­venly magnificence, as truly as now I see the Heaven whence he shall come; and my body as verily raised from the dust, and become glorious, as now I see it weak and decrepit, and falling into the dust?


True knowledg causeth ap­petite and desire; For the will follows the understanding; whatsoever that apprehends to be good for us, the affective part inclines to it: No man can have any regard to an un­known good: If an hungry man did not know that food would refresh and nourish him, or the thirsty that drink would satisfie him, or the naked that fire would warm him, or the sick that Physick would recover him; none of these would affect these suc­cors: And according to our apprehension of the goodness and use of these helps, so is our appetite towards them: For the object of the will is a [Page 260] known good, either true, or appearing so: And if our ex­perience can tell us of some that can say, with her in the Poet; I see and approve bet­ter things, but follow the worse: It is not for that evil, as evil, (much less as worse) can fall into the will; but, that their appetite over-car­ries them to a misconceit of a particular good; so as, how­soever in a generality, they do confusedly assent to the goodness of some holy act, or object, yet upon the present occasion, (here and now, as the School speaketh) their sensi­tive appetite hath prevailed to draw them to a perswasion, that this pleasure, or that pro­fit is worthy to be imbraced: Like as our first parents had a [Page 261] general apprehension that it was good to obey all the commands of their Creator; but when it came to the for­bidden fruit; now their eye, and their ear, and their heart tell them, it is good for them, both for pleasure, and for the gain of knowledg, to taste of that forbidden tree: So then, the miscarriage is not in that they affect that which they think not to be good; but in that they think that to be good which is not; for alass, for one true good there are many seeming, which delude the soul with a fair sem­blance: As a man in a gene­rality esteems silver above brass, but when he meets with a rusty piece of silver, and a cleer piece of brass, he [Page 262] chooses rather the clear brass then the silver defaced with rust: Surely, it is our ignor­ance that is guilty of our cool neglect of our spiritual good; if we did know how sweet the Lord is, in his sure promises, in his unfailing mercies, we could not but long after him, and remain unsatisfied till we finde him ours: would God be pleased to shine in our hearts by the light of the true knowledg of himself, we could not have cause to complain of want of heat in our affections towards his infinite goodness.

Did we but know how sweet and delectable, Christ, the Heavenly Manna, is, we could not but hunger after him; and we could not [Page 263] hunger, and not be satisfied; and, in being satisfied, blessed.


Those which we mis-cal goods, are but in their nature, indifferent, and are either good or evil as they are affect­ed, as they are used: Indeed, all their malignity, or vertue, is in the minde, in the hand of the possessor: Riches ill got ill kept, ill spent are but the Mammon of iniquity; but if well,Pro 14. 24. The Crown of the wise is their riches: How can it be amiss to have much, when he that was the richest man of the East,Job. 1. 1, 3. was the holiest? Yea, when God himself is justly stiled the possessor of Heaven, and Earth? How [Page 264] can it be amiss to have little; when our Saviour sayes: Blessed are ye poor: Luke. 6. 20. And if from that divine mouth, we hear a wo to the rich;Luke. 6, 24. him­self interprets it of them that trust in riches:Mar. 10. 24. If our riches possess us,1 Tim. 6. 17. in stead of our possessing them, we have changed our God, and lost our selves; but if we have learnt to use our wealth, and not enjoy it, we may be no less gracious then rich: If a rich man have a large and humble heart, and a just hand, he inherits the blessing of the poor: If a poor man have a proud heart,Prov. 30. 9. and a theevish hand, he carryes a­way the wo from the rich: Riches (saith wise Solomon) make themselves wings, they [Page 265] fly away as an Eagle towards Heaven; So as we may use the matter, our souls may fly thitherward with them; If we do good, and be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store for our selves a good foundation against the time to come, 1 Tim. 6. 18, 19. that we may lay hold on eternal life. Let me say with Agur, Prov. 38. Give me neither pover­ty, nor riches; but whetherso­ever God gives, I am both thankful and indifferent, so as whiles I am rich in estate, I may be poor in spirit; and whiles I am poor in estate, I may be rich in grace.


Had I been in the streets of Jericho, sure, me thinks, I [Page 266] should have justled with Za­cheus for the Sycomore, to see Jesus; and should have bless­ed my eyes for so happy a prospect: and yet, I consider that many a one saw his face on earth, which shall never see his glory in Heaven: and I hear the Apostle say, Though we have known Christ after the flesh, 2 Cor. 5. 16. yet now hence­forth know we him so no more. O for the eyes of a Stephen, Act. 7. 55, 56. that saw the Hea­vens opened, and the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God! That prospect did as much tran­scend this of Zacheus, as Heaven is above Earth; cele­stial glory above humane in­firmity: And why should not the eyes of my faith behold [Page 267] the same object which was seen by Stephens bodily eyes? I see thee, O Saviour, I see thee, as certainly, though not so clearly: Do thou sharpen, and fortifie these weak eyes of mine,Psa.▪ 36. 9. that in thy light I may see light.


How gracious a word was that which God said to Israel, I have called thee by thy name, Isa. 43. 1. and thou art mine. He that im­posed that name upon Jacob; makes familiar use of it to his posterity: Neither is the case singular, but universally com­mon to all his spiritual issue. There is not one of them, whom he doth not both call by his name, and challenge for his own:Psa. 147. 4. He that tells the [Page 268] number of the stars, and calls them all by their names; hath also a name for every of these earthly luminaries; He who brought all other living creatures unto man, to see how he would call them, and would make use of Adams appellation;Gen. 2. 19, 20. reserved the naming of man to him­self; neither is there any one of his innumerous posterity, whom he knowes not by name: But it is one thing to take notice of their names; another thing to call them by their names; that denotes his omniscience; this his special­ty of favor: none are thus graced but the true Sons of Israel. As Gods children do not content themselves with a confused knowledg of a [Page 269] Deity, but rest not till they have attained a distinct appre­hension of their God, as he hath revealed himself to man; so doth God again to them: It is not enough that he knows them in a general view as in the throng, wherein we see many faces, none distinct­ly; but he singles them out in a familiar kinde of several­ty both of knowledg and re­spect: As then he hath names for the several Stars of Hea­ven,Job 9 9. Cimah, Cesil, Mazzaroth, &c. Job. 38. 31. And for the several An­gels, Gabriel, Raphael, Michael, &c. and calls them by the proper names which he hath given them; so he doth to every of his faithful ones: Of one he saith,Luk. 1. 13. Thou shalt call his name John: Joh. 1. 42. Of another, Thou [Page 270] art Simon, Joh. 1. 42. thou shalt be called Cephas: Luke 19. To one he says, Za­cheus, come down; to another, Cornelius, Acts 103, 4. thy prayers, and thine alms are come up: In short, there is no one of his, whom he doth not both know, and call by his name. What a comfort is this to a poor wretched man to think; Here I walk obscure and contemp­tible upon earth, in a conditi­on mean, and despised of men; but the great God of Heaven is pleased to take such notice of me, as even from Heaven to call me by my name; and to single me out for Grace, and Salvation; and not onely to mention my name from above, in the gra­cious offer of his Ordinances,Luk. 10. 2 [...]. but to write it in the eternal [Page 271] Register of Heaven? What care I to be inglorious, yea causelesly infamous with men, whiles I am thus honor­ed by the King of glory?


It is the great wisdom and providence of the Almighty, so to order the dispositions and inclinations of men, that they affect divers and different works, and pleasures: Some are for manuary trades, others for intellectual imployments: One is for the Land, another for the Sea; one for hus­bandry, another for merchan­dise; one is for Architecture, another for Vestiary services; one is for fishing, another for pasturage; and in the learn­ed trades, one is for the [Page 272] mistress of Sciences, Divini­ty; another for the Law, whe­ther Civil, or Municipal; a third is for the search of the secrets of Nature, and the skill and practice of Physick; and each one of these di­vides it self into many differ­ing varieties; Neither is it otherwise in matter of plea­sures; one places his delight in following his Hawk and Hound, another in the har­mony of Musick; one makes his Garden his paradise, and enjoys the flourishing of his fair Tulips; another findes contentment in a choice Li­brary; one loves his Bowl, or his Bowe, another pleases himself in the patient pastime of his Angle: For surely, if all men affected one and the [Page 273] same trade of life, or pleasure of recreation, it were not pos­sible that they could live one by another: Neither could there be any use of com­merce, whereby mans life is maintained; neither could it be avoyded, but that the envy of the inevitable rivality, would cut each others throat. It is good reason we should make a right use of this gra­cious and provident dispen­sation of the Almighty; and therefore that we should im­prove our several dispositions and faculties to the advancing of the common stock; and withal, that we should nei­ther encroach upon each o­thers profession, nor be apt to censure each others recrea­tion.


He were very quick-sight­ed that could perceive the growing of the grass, or the moving of the shadow upon the Dial; yet, when those are done, every eye doth easi­ly discern them. It is no otherwise in the progress of grace; which how it increa­seth in the soul, and by what degrees, we cannot hope to perceive; but being grown, we may see it: It is the fault of many Christians, that they depend too much upon sense; and make that the judg of their spiritual estate; being too much dejected when they do not sensibly feel the proofs of their proficiency, and the present proceedings [Page 275] of their regeneration: why do they not as well question the growth of their stature, because they do not see every day how much they are thri­ven? Surely, it must needs be that spiritual things are less perceptible then bodily; much more therefore must we in these, wait upon time for necessary conviction; and well may it suffice us, if upon an impartial comparing of the present measure of our know­ledg, faith, obedience with the former, we can perceive our selves any whit sensibly advanced.


The wise Christian hath learned to value every thing according to its own worth; [Page 276] If we be too glad of these earthly things, it is the way to be too much afflicted with their losse; and whiles we have them, to be transported into pride and wantonness; If we esteeme them too little, it is the way to an unthankful disrespect of the giver. Christianity carries the heart in a just equipoise; when they come, they are wel­com'd without too much joy; and when they go, they part without teares: we may smile at these earthly favors, not laugh out; we may like them, but we must take heed of being in love with them: For love, of what kinde soe­ver it be, is not without the power of assimilation; If we love the world, we cannot [Page 277] but be worldly-minded:Rom. 8. 5, 6. They that are after the flesh, do minde the things of the flesh; and to be carnally minded is death: Con­trarily if we love God, we are made partakers of the di­vine nature; and we are such as we affect: If we be Christi­ans in earnest; certainly the inner rooms of our hearts, which are the holy of holies, are reserved for the Almighty; the outer courts may be for the common resort of lawful cares and desires, they may come and go; but our God shall have his fixed habitation here for ever.


Nature is slie and cunning; neither is it possible to take her without a shift: The light [Page 278] huswife wipes her mouth,Prov. 30. 20. and it was not she: Rachel hath stoln her fathers Teraphim, and the custom of women is upon her: Saul reserves all the fat cattle of the Amalekites; it is for a sacrifice to the Lord thy God: Neither is it so onely in excusing an evil done, but in waving a good to be done: I am not elo­quent, saith Moses; send by him, by whom thou shouldst send; Pharaoh will kill me; there is a lyon in the way, saith the Sluggard: I have marryed a wife, I cannot come, saith the sensual Guest. If I give I shall want; If I make a strict profession, I shall be censured: Whereas true Grace is on the one side down right, and ingenuous in its [Page 279] confessions; not sparing to take shame to it self, that it may give glory to God; on the other side, resolutely con­stant to its holy purposes. I and my house will serve the Lord: If I perish, I perish: I am ready not to be bound onely; but also to dye at Jerusalem for the Name of the Lord Jesus: It is not hard therefore for us to know what mistress we serve: If our care and endeavor be by witty evasions to shuffle off both evil and good, we are the vas­sals of nature; but if we shall with an humble penitence ac­knowledg our evil; and set our selves with firm resoluti­ons upon the tasks of good, we are under Grace, in a way to glory.


It is good for a man not al­ways to keep his eyes at home, but sometimes to look abroad at his neighbors; and to compare his own conditi­on with the worse estate of others: I know I deserve no more then the meanest, no better then the worst of men; yet how many do I see, and hear to lye groaning upon their sick beds, in great ex­tremity of torment, whereas I walk up and down in a com­petency of health? How many do I see ready to famish, and forced to either beg, or starve, whereas I eat my own bread? How many lye rot­ing in Goals and Dungeons, or are driven to wander in un­known [Page 281] desarts, or amongst people whose language they understand not, whereas I enjoy home and liberty? How many are shrieking un­der scourges and racks, where­as I sit at ease? And if I shall cast mine eyes upon my spiri­tual condition; alass, how many do I see sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death;Mal. 4. 2. whereas the Sun of Righte­ousness hath arisen to me with healing in his wings? How many lye in a woful bondage under sin and Satan, whereas my Saviour hath freed me from those hellish chains, and brought me to the glorious liberty of the sons of God? how many are miserably mis-led into the dangerous by-paths of error, whereas he [Page 282] hath graciously kept me in the plain and sure way of his sa­ving Truth? If we do not sometimes make these (not proud, but thankful) compa­risons, and look upon our selves, not with direct beams, but by reflection upon others, we shall never be sensible enough of our own mercies.


The true Christian is in a very happy condition, for no man will envy him, and he can envy no body: None will envy him, for the world can­not know how happy he is; How happy in the favor of a God; how happy in the en­joying of that Favor: Those secret delights that he findes in the presence of his God; [Page 283] those comfortable pledges of Love, and mutual inter­changes of blessed Interest which pass between them, are not for worldly hearts to con­ceive; and no man will envy an unknown happiness. On the other side, he cannot envy the worlds greatest favorite under Heaven; for he well knows how fickle and uncer­tain that mans felicity is; he sees him walking upon Ice, and perceives every foot of his sliding, and threatning a fall; and hears that brittle pavement, at every step, crackling under him, and ready to give way to his swal­lowing up: and withal, findes, if those pleasures of his could be constant and permanent, how poor and unsatisfying [Page 284] they are, and how utterly un­able to yield true content­ment to the soul. The Christi­an therefore, whiles others look upon him with pity and scorn, laughs secretly to him­self in his bosom, as well knowing there is none but he, truly happy.


It was an high and honor­able embassie, whereon the Angel Gabriel was sent down to the blessed Virgin; that she should be the Mother of her Saviour: Neither was that inferior of the glorious Angel that brought the joy­ful tidings of the incarnation and birth of the Son of God, to the shepherds of Bethle­hem; but a far more happy [Page 285] errand was that which the Lord Jesus, after his Resur­rection, committed to the Maries: Go to my brethren, and say to them, Joh. 20. 17. I ascend to my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God: Lo, he says not I am risen, but I ascend; as if he had forgot the Earth, whence he arose; and thought onely on that Heaven whither he was go­ing: Upon his Easter, his minde is on his Ascension day. As there had been no­thing but discomfort in death, without a Resurrection; so there had been little comfort in a Resurrection, without an Ascension to glory. There is a contentment in the very act, I ascend; even nature is am­bitious; and we do all affect [Page 286] to mount higher; as to come down is a Death; but this height is, like the ascendent, infinite, I ascend to my Father: There was the glory which he put off in his humble In­carnation; there was the glory which he was now to resume, and possess to all eternity:

And, as if Nature and A­doption could give a like in­terest, he puts both together; My Father, and your Father; my God, and your God: His mercy vouchsafes to stile us Brethren; yet the distance is unmeasureable, betwixt him, the Son of his eternal Essence, and us the naturally-wretched sons of his gracious Election; yet, as if both he and we should be coheirs of the same [Page 287] blessedness (though not in the same measure) he says, My Father, and your Father: First, my Father, then yours; and indeed therefore ours, because his: It is in him that we are elected, that we are adopted: Without him, God were not onely a stranger, but an ene­my; It is the Son that must make us free; It is the Son that must make us sons: If we be his, the Father cannot but be ours.

O the unspeakable comfort and happiness of a Christian; In respect of his bodily na­ture, he cannot but say (with Job) to the worm, Job 17. 15. Thou art my mother, and my sister; in his spiritual right, God the Son hath here authorized him to say to the Almighty, Thou art [Page 288] my Father: And if nature shall, in regard of our frail and dying condition, whiningly say, I descend to the grave; Faith makes abundant a­mends in him, and can as cheerfully say, I ascend to my Father: And what son (that is not altogether graceless) would not be glad to go to his father, though it were to a meaner house then his own? and therefore is ready to say, I will descend to my Father; How much more, when his many Mansions are infinitely glorious; and when all our happiness consists in his bless­ed Presence, must we needs say, with a joy unspeakable, and glorious, I ascend to my Father?


God made man the lord of his Creatures; he made him not a Tyran; he gave the Creatures to man for his law­ful use, not for his wanton cruelty: Man may therefore exercise his just soveraignty over the beasts of the field, and fowls of the air, and fishes of the sea, not his law­less will to their needless de­struction, or torment: Had man made the Creature, he could but challenge an abso­lute dominion over that work of his hands; but now that he is onely a fellow creature to the meanest worm, What an insolent usurpation is this, so licentiously to domineer over his fellow dust? Yea, [Page 290] that great God, who gave a Being to the creature; and therefore hath a full and il­limited power over his own workmanship, takes no plea­sure to make use of that power to the unnecessary vexation, and torture of what he hath made: That all-wise and bountiful Creator, who hath put into the hands of man the subordinate Dominion over all the store of these inferior Elements, hath made the limit of his command, not necessity onely, but conveni­ence too; but if man shall go beyond these bounds, and will destroy the creature one­ly, because he will, and put it to pain because it is his pleasure; he abuseth his so­veraignty to a sinful imperi­ousness, [Page 291] and shall be account­able for his cruelty. When the Apostle, upon occasion of the Law for not muzzling the mouth of the Ox,1 Cor. 9. 9. asks, Doth God take care for oxen? Can we think he meant to question the regard that God hath to so useful a Creature? Do we not hear the Psalmist say,Ps. 147. 9. He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens that cry? Do we not hear our Saviour say,Mat. 10. 29. That not a spar­row falls to the ground without our heavenly Father? And of how much more value is an Ox then many thousands of Sparrows? Is not the speech therefore, both comparative and typical? Is the main care that God takes in that Law, for provision to be made for [Page 292] the beast; and doth he not rather under that figure give order for the maintenance of those spiritual Oxen, that labor in the husbandry of the Almighty? Doubtless, as even the savage creatures,Psal 104. 21, 27, 28. The young lyons seek their meat from God; so they finde it from him in due season; He open­eth his hand and filleth every creature with good: Is God so careful for preserving, and shall man be so licentious in destroying them?Pro. 12. 10. A righ­teous man (saith Solomon) re­gardeth the life of his beast, he is no better, therefore, then a wicked man that regardeth it not: To offer violence to, and to take away the life from our fellow-creatures, without a cause, is no less then tyran­ny: [Page 293] Surely, no other measure should a man offer to his beast, then that, which if his beast (with Balaams) could expostulate with him, he could well justifie to it; no other, then that man, if he had been made a beast, would have been content should have been offered by man to him; no other then he shall make account to answer to a common Creator. Justly do we smile at the niceness of the foolish Manichees, who made scruple to pull an herb or flower, and were ready to Preface apologies and excuses for the reaping of their Corn, and grinding the grain they fed upon, as if these Veget­ables were sensible of pain, and capable of our oppression; [Page 294] but surely, for those creatures which enjoying a sensitive life, forgo it with no less an­guish and reluctation then our selves; and would be as willing to live, without harm, as their owners, they may well challenge both such mercy and justice at our hands, as that in the usage of them we may approve our selves to their Maker: Where­in I blush and grieve to see how far we are exceeded by Turks and Infidels; whom meer nature hath taught more tenderness to the poor brute creatures, then we have learn­ed from the holier rules of charitable Christianity.

For my part, let me rather affect and applaud the harm­less humor of that mis-called [Page 295] Saint, who in an indiscreet humility called every Woolf his brother, and every Sheep, yea, every Ant his sister, fel­lowing himself with every thing that had life in it, as well as himself; then the ty­rannical disposition of those men who take pleasure in the abuse, persecution, destructi­on of their fellow-creatures, upon no other quarrel, then because they live.



THere is a satiety in all other (even the best) things that I either have, or doe: I can be easily apt to complain of being wearied, or cloyed with the same objects but in the thoughts of spiritual things, mee thinkes, I can never have enough: For as there is infinite scope and variety of matter, wherein to employ my meditations, so in each one of them, there is such marvellous depth, that I should in vaine hope, after all [Page 297] my exquisitest search, to reach unto the bottome: Yea the more I look upon the in­comprehensible Deity, in any one of his glorious attributes, or any one of his omnipotent works, of creation, govern­ment, redemption; the more I long to see, and the less am I satisfied in seeing: and now I finde cause to bless that un­speakable goodness, that he hath vouchsafed to give leave to his unworthy creaturs, to contemplate those excellent glories, and those saving mysteries; and think my self happy in so gracious a liberty of exchanging these worth­less thoughts of the world, for the deare and precious meditations of heavenly things; and now how justly [Page 298] do I fall out with my wretch­ed self, that I have given way to secular distractions? since my heart can be sometimes in Heaven, why should it not be alwaies there?


What is this that I see? my Saviour in an Agonie, and an Angel strengthening him? Oh the wonderful dispensati­on of the Almighty! That the eternal Son of God, who promised to send the comfor­ter to his followers, should need comfort! That he, of whom the voice from Hea­ven said, This is my well-belo­ved Son in whom I am well plea­sed, should be strugling with his Fathers wrath even to blood! That the Lord of [Page 299] life should in a languishing horror, say, My soul is ex­ceeding sorrowfull, even unto death! These, these, O Sa­viour, are the chastisements of our peace, which both thou wouldst suffer, and thy Father would inflict; The least touch of one of those pangs, would have been no less then an hell to mee; the whole brunt whereof thou enduredst for my soul; what a wretch am I, to grudg a little paine from, or for thee who wert content to under­goe such pressure of torment for me, as squeezed from thee a sweat of blood! since my miserable sinfulness de­served more load, then thou in thy merciful compassion wilt lay upon mee; and thy [Page 300] pure nature, and perfect inno­cence merited nothing but love and glory.

In this sad case, what ser­vice is it that an Angel offers to do unto thee?Luc. 22. 43. [Lo there appeares to thee an Angel from Heaven, strengthening thee] still more wonder! Art not thou the God of spirits? Is it not thou, that gavest be­ing, life, motion, power, glory to all the Angels of Heaven? Shall there be need of one single created spirit to administer strength and com­fort to his Creator? were this the errand; why did not all that blessed Chore of celestial spirits joyn their forces toge­ther in so high an imploy­ment? Where are the multi­tudes of that heavenly host, [Page 301] which at thy birth,Luk. 2. 13. 14. sung, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace? Where are those Angels which ministred to thee after thy combat of temptations in the wilder­ness? Surely there was not so much use of their divine cor­dialls in the desart, as in the garden; O my God, and Sa­viour, thus thou wouldst have it; It is thy holy will that is the rule and reason of all thine actions, and events; Thou that wouldst make use of the provision of men for thy maintenance on earth, wouldst employ thy servants the Angels, for the supply of thy consolations; and thou that couldst have comman­ded Legions of those celestial spirits, wouldst be served by [Page 302] one; not, but that more were present, but that onely one appeared; all the host of them ever invisibly attended thee, as God, but as man, one onely presents himself to thy bodily eyes; and thou, who madest thy self,Heb. 2. 9. for our sakes, a little lower then the Angels which thou madest, wouldst humble thy self to receive comfort from those hands, to which thou gavest the capacity to bring it; It is no marvel if that which was thy condescent, be our glory and happiness: I am not wor­thy, O God, to know what conflicts thou hast ordained for my weakness; what ever they be, thou that hast ap­pointed thine Angels to be ministring spirits for the [Page 303] behoof of them who shall be heirs of salvation, Heb. 1. 14. suffer not thy servant to want the pre­sence of those blessed Emissa­ries of thine in any of his ex­tremities; let them stand by his soul in his last agonie, and after an happy Eluctation conveigh it to thy glory.


Many a one hath stumbled dangerously at a wicked mans prosperity; and some have fallen desperately into that sin, which they have seen thrive in others hands: Those car­nal hearts know no other proof of good or evil but pre­sent events; esteeming those causes holy and just which are crowned with outward suc­cess: not considering that it [Page 304] is one of the cunningest plots of hell, to win credit to bad enterprises by the fairest issues; wherein, the Devill deales with unwary men, like some cheating gamester, who having drawn in an unskilful and wealthy novice into play, suffers him to win a while at the first, that he may at the last, sweet away all the stakes, and some rich mannors to boote: The foolish Benjami­nites having twice won the field, begin to please them­selves with a fale conceit of Gibeahs honesty,Judg. 20. and their own perpetual victories; but they shall soon finde that this good speed is but a pit-fal to entrap them in an ensuing de­struction. It is a great judg­ment of God to punish [Page 305] sinners with welfare; and to render their leud waies pro­speruos: wherein, how contra­ry are the Almighties thoughts to theirs; their see­ming blessings are his heavy curse; and the smart of his stripes are a favor too good for them to enjoy, to judge wise­ly of our condition, it is to be considered not so much how we fare, as upon what termes: If we stand right with Heaven, every cross is a blessing, and every blessing a pledge of future happiness: if we be in Gods disfavor, eve­ry of his benefits is a judg­ment; and every judgment makes way for perdition: For mee, let it be my care that my disposition may be holy, and my actions righteous, let [Page 306] God undertake for the event.


It is no easie thing to per­swade a man that he is proud; every one professes to hate that vice, yet cherishes it se­cretly in his bosome: for what is pride but an over-weening of our selves? and such is is our natural self-love, that we can hardly be drawn to believe that in any kinde we think too well of our own: Now, this pride is ever so much more dangerous, as the thing which we over-prize is more excellent; and as our mis-apprehension of it m [...]y be more diffusive: To be proud of gay-cloathes, which is childish; or, to be proud of [Page 307] beauty, which is a woman­ish vice, hath in it more fond­ness then malignity; and goes no further then the brest wherein it is conceived; finding no other entertain­ment in the beholders, then either smiles, or envy: but the pride of knowledg, or holy dispositions of the soul, as it is of an higher na­ture, so it produceth com­monly more perilous effects: for as it puffes up a man above measure; so it suffers not it self to bekept in within the narrow bounds of his own thoughts, but violently bursts out to the extream prejudice of a world of men:Prov. 13. 10. Onely by pride commeth contention, saith wise Solomon: Even purse­pride is quarelous, domineer­ing [Page 308] over the humble neigh­bourhood, and raising quar­rels out of trifles; but the spi­ritual arrogance is so much more mischeivous, as the soul is beyond all earthly pelf: For, when we are once come to advance, and admire our own judgments; we are first apt to hug our own in­ventions; then to esteem them too precious to be smo­thered within our own clo­sets: the world must know of how happy an issue we are delivered; and must applaud it, or abide a contestation, and expect a challenge. The fairest paradoxes cannot pass without a contradiction; it were strange if some as bold, and forward wits as our own, should not take up the gant­let: [Page 309] now the fray is begun; the multitude is divided; sides are taken; the world is in an uproare, from skirmish­es we grow to pitcht fields: the Church bleeds on both parts; and it were marvel if kingdoms could be free:

But that which most not­ably evinceth the deceitful­ness of mans heart in this be­half, is, that this pride is too often lodged in those brests which are professedly devot­ed to a godly and mortified lowliness: for, as for those persons which are meer flesh, they are carelesly indifferent to error or truth; neither are at all moved with the success of either; but the religious minde, when it is once pos­sessed with the conceit of [Page 310] some singular and important truth revealed to it, and hid from the rest of the world, is ready to say with the Samari­tan Lepers;2 King. 7. 9. I do not well; this day is a day of good tidings, and I hold my peace; and therefore makes it matter of conscience to trouble the Church with a mis-grounded novelty: Come we to the Test; Let me ask these mis-guided souls that are no less confidently per­swaded of their own humility then Truth; Can it be any other then an height of pride, for a man to think himself wiser then the whole Church of God upon earth? wiser then the whole Church of God that hath been upon earth ever since the Apostles of Christ inclusively, in all [Page 311] successions to this present time? Can they without much pride think they can look deeper into the great mysteries of Godliness, then those blessed attendants of our Saviour, and their graci­ous successors, the holy mar­tyrs, the godly and religious guides of Gods Church, in all the following ages? Had not they, then, the same God; the same Scriptures, the illu­minations of the same Spirit? Can they imagine it less then insolent to attribute more to their own private opinion, then to the constant judg­ment and practise of the whole Christian world in all successions of Generations? Can they suppose themselves in their single capacity [Page 312] (though neither Prophets, nor Prophets sons) meet Judges or Questionists of those matters of Faith which the general Councils of the purer times have unanimous­ly agreed upon as the main principles of Christianity? can they think themselves priviledged by the liberty of prophesying to coyn new articles, to deface old? Surely, if the hand of pride be not in all this, I shall never desire to be acquainted with humility; so as it is too plain, that a man may be exceeding proudly and not know it; this vicious habit lurks close in the soul, and un­less it discover it self by some scarce—discernable effects (which break out now and [Page 313] then, especially, upon occa­sions of opposition) is rather more concealed from the owner, then from the eyes of a stranger: But (if ever,) it bewrays it self in the affectati­on of undue eminence, scorn­ful under-valuation of others merits, obstinacy in opinion, sharpness of censures, and im­patience of contradiction; Of all these the world is com­monly no less guilty, then all these are guilty of the com­mon miseries.

Lord deliver us from our pride, and our contentions will dye alone.


What a strange praise and priviledge is that which is given to Enoch, above all [Page 314] those generations of men that peopled the first world; of whom the Spirit of God saies;Gen. 5. 24. Enoch walked with God, and he was not; for God took him: Doubtless, amongst all those successive families of the sons of Seth, there were many religious and well-affected souls; yet there was no one of them that had this character set upon him, that he walked with God, but he: Whether it were, that God did in a more open and entire way reveal himself to that exemplary Saint; or whether that holy man did in a more close and familiar fashion, converse with the invisible Deity, the presence was cer­tain, and the acknowledg­ment mutual: neither was [Page 315] this walk short, for a turn, and away; but constant, and continual; even for the space of three hundred years:Gen. 5. 22. And what? did the blessed man re­tire to some desart, far from all humane society, that he might enjoy this heavenly company alone? Did he this-while cast off all secular thoughts, and abdicate all the care of his family? Nei­ther this, nor that; for in this space wherein he walked with his God; he both begat sons and daughters, and bred them like the children of such a father; as one that knew to make the world subordinate, not opposite to it's maker: and had learn'd to reconcile the use of the creature with the fruition of the Creator: [Page 316] What then were the steps of this walk, but pious thoughts, heavenly affections, fervent love, reverential fear, spiritu­al joy, holy desires, divine ravishments of spirit; strict obediences, assiduous devo­tions, faithful affiances, gra­cious ingagements, firme re­solutions, and effectual indea­vors of good, and whatsoe­ver might work a dearness of respect betwixt the soul, and the God of Spirits: O God, that which thou pro­misedst (as a reward) to those few Saints of Sardis, Revel. 3. 4. that had not defile their garments, thou hast before hand fully performed to this eminent worthy of the first world; he walked with thee in white, in the white of innocence [Page 317] here; and in the shining robes of glory above; so thou hast told us, He was not, for God took him; Lo; being, and good were wont to pass for convertible; but here, Enochs not-being, is his blessedness; he was not at all here; that he might be perfectly above: The best being on earth is but miserable; even Enochs walk with God cannot exempt him from sorrows; he must cease to be, that he may begin to be happy; He was then hap­py, not for that he was not; (a meer privation of being can be no other then the worst of evils) but for that God took him: The God with whom he walkt so long upon earth, takes him away from the earth to himself, for eter­nity: [Page 318] Here below though he walk't with God, yet with­all he conversed with sinful men, whose wickedness could not but many a time vex his righteous soul; now he is freed from all those spi­ritual annoyances; enjoying onely the glorious presence and vision of the Divine majesty, the blessed Angels, and the Saints, co-partners of the same immortality. There can be no doubt but that the souls of his holy predecessors Adam, Abel, Seth, returned to the God that gave them; but had not Enoch been bless­ed with a peculiar conveiance to his glory, it had not been said, That God took him: were onely the spirit of Enoch yeild­ed up in the way of an ordi­nary [Page 319] death, the man had not been taken; now, whole Enoch, body and soul, is trans­lated to an heavenly life.

His father Jared, Ecculs. 44. 16. and his son Methuselah went to God in the common way of men, by a separation of the spirit from the flesh; but for him, God took him; and cloathed him living with immortality: I finde none but him and Elijah that were thus fetcht to their Heaven: It will be happy for us if we may pass in the common road to blessedness; O God, give me to walk close and constantly with thee, and what end thou pleasest; let my body pass through all the degrees of corruption, so that my soul may be immediately glorious.




BLessed Lord God; thou callest me to obedience; and fain would I fol­low thee: but what good can this wretched heart of mine be capable of, except thou put it there? thou know'st I cannot so much as [Page 2] wish to think well without thee; I have strong powers to offend thee; my sins are my own; but whence should I have any inclination to good but from thee, who art only, and all good? Lord, work me to what thou requirest, and then require what thou wilt.


Lord God, whither need I go to seek thee? Thou art so with me, as that I cannot move but in thee. I look up to heaven; there I know thy Majestie most manifests it self; but withall, I know that being here thou art never out of thy heaven, for it is thy presence onely that makes heaven: Oh give me to en­joy [Page 3] thee in this lowest region of thine heavenly habitation; and as in respect of my natu­rall being, I live and move in thee, so let me not live and move spiritually, but with thee, and to thee.


Whither now, O whither do ye rove O my thoughts? Can ye hope to finde rest in any of these sublunary con­tentments, Alas? how can they yeeld any stay to you, that have no settlement in themselves? Is there not e­nough in the infinite good to take you up; but that ye will be wandring after earthly va­nities? Oh my Lord, how justly mightest thou cast me off with scorn, for casting any [Page 4] affective glances upon so base a rival? Truly Lord, I am ashamed of this my hatefull inconstancy; but it is thou only that must remedy it; O thou that art the father of mercies pity my wildnesse, and weak distractions: Take thou my heart to thee, it is thine own; keep it with thee, tye it close to thee by the cords of love, that it may not so much as cast down an eye upon this wretched and per­ishing world.


Lord, I confesse to my shame, thou art a great loser by me; for, besides my not improving of thy favors, I have not kept even-reckon­ings with thee; I have not [Page 5] justly tallied up thy inesti­mable benefits: Thy very privative mercies are both without, and beyond my ac­count; for every evill that I am free from, is a new blessing from thee; That I am out of bondage, that I am out of pain and misery, that I am out of the dominion of sin; out of the tyranny of Satan, out of the agonies of an af­flicted soul; out of the tor­ments of hell: Lord, how unspeakeable mercies are these? Yet, when did I bless thee for any of them? Thy positive bounties I can feel, but with a benummed and imperfect sence. Lord, do thou enlarge, and intenerate my heart; make me truly sen­sible, as of my good received; [Page 6] so of my escaped evils; and take thou to thy self the glory of them both.


Ah my Lord God, what heats and colds do I feel in my soul? Sometimes I finde my self so vigorous in grace, that no thought of doubt dare shew it self; and me thinks I durst challenge my hellish enemies; another while I feel my self so dejected and heart­lesse, as if I had no interest in the God of my salvation, nor never had received any cer­tain pledges of his favour: What shall I say to this va­rious disposition? Whether, Lord, is it my wretchednesse to suffer my self to be rob'd of thee, for the time, by temp­tation? [Page 7] or whether is this the course of thy proceedings in the dispensation of thy graces to the sons of men; that thou wilt have the breathings of thy Spirit, as where, so how, and when thou pleasest? Surely, O my God, if I did not know thee constant to thine everlasting mercies, I should be utterly dishearten­ed with these sad intervals; now, when my sense failes me, I make use of my faith; and am no lesse sure of thee, even when I feel thee not, then when I finde the clearest evidences of thy gracious pre­sence. Lord, shine upon me with the light of thy counte­nance (if it may be) alwaies; but, when ever that is clou­ded, strengthen thou my [Page 8] faith; so shall I be safe, even when I am comfortless.


O my God, I am justly ashamed to think what favors I have received from thee, and what poor returns I have made to thee: Truly Lord, I must needs say, thou hast thought nothing either in earth, or in heaven too good for me; and I, on the other side, have grudg'd thee that weak and worthless obedi­ence which thou hast requi­red of me: Alas, what plea­sure could I have done to thee who art infinite, if I had sa­crificed my whole self to thee, as thou commandest? Thou art, and wilt be thy self, though the world were not; [Page 9] it is I, I only that could be a gainer by this happy match; which in my own wrong I have unthankfully neglected; I see it is not so much what we have, as how we imploy it: O thou, that hast been so bountiful, in heaping thy rich mercies upon me, vouchsafe to grant me yet one gift more; give me grace and power to improve all thy gifts to the glory of the giver; otherwise, it had been better for me to have been poor, then ingrate­ful.


Ah Lord, What strugling have I with my weak fears? how do I anticipate my evils by distrust? What shall I do when I am old? How [Page 10] shall I be able to indure pain? How shall I pass through the horrid gates of death? Oh my God, Where is my faith that I am thus surprized? Had I not thee to up-hold, and strengthen my soul, well might I tremble and sink un­der these cares; but now, that I have the assurance of so strong an helper, as com­mands all the powers of hea­ven, earth, and hell, what a shame is it for me to give so much way to my wretched infidelity, as to punish my self with the expectation of future evils? Oh for the victorie that overcomes the world,1 Joh. 5. 4. even our faith; Thou O God, Psal. 46. 1. 2. art my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble; therefore will I not [Page 11] fear though the earth be remo­ved, and though the moun­tains be carried into the midst of the Sea.


Lord, I made account my daies should have been but an inch; but thou hast made them a span long; Psal. 39. 6. having drawn out the length of a cra­zie life beyond the period of my hopes: It is for some­thing, sure, that thou hast thus long respited me from my grave, which look't for me many years ago: Here I am, O my God, attending thy good pleasure; Thou know'st best what thou hast to do with me; Dispose of me as thou wilt; Only make me faithfull in all thy servi­ces; [Page 12] resolute to trust my self with thee in all events; care­full to be approved of thee in all my waies; and crown my decayed age with such fruits as may be pleasing to thee, and available to the good of many; Lastly, let me live to thee, and die in thee.


How oft, Lord, have I wondred to see the strange carriage of thine administra­tion of these earthly affaires; and therein to see thy marvai­lous wisdome, power, good­ness, in fetching good out of evill! Alas, we wretched men are apt enough to fetch the worst of evils, out of the greatest good,Jude 4. turning the grace of thee our God into wan­tonnesse: [Page 13] but how have I seen thee, of liveless stones to raise up children to Abraham, of sinners to make Saints? out of a desperate confusion to fetch order; out of a bloudy war, an happy peace; out of resolutions of revenge, love; out of the rock, water; out of a persecuter, an Apostle? How can I be discouraged with unlikelihoods, when I see thee work by contraries? It is not for me, O my God, to examine or pre-judge thy counsailes; take what waies thou wilt, so thou bring me to thine own end; all paths shall be direct that shall leade me to blessedness.


How many good purposes, [Page 14] O my God, have I taken up, & let fall to the ground again without effect? how teeming hath this barren womb of my heart been of false concepti­ons? but especially, when thy hand hath been smart and heavy upon me in mine af­fliction, how have I tasked my self with duties, and re­vived my firme resolutions of more strict obedience, which yet upon the continuance of my better condition, I have slackened? Lord, it is from thee that I purposed well; it is from my own sinfull weak­ness that I failed in my per­formances; If any good come me, the will and the deed must be both thine;Prov. 16. 1. The very pre­parations of the heart are from thee;Prov. 16. 9. and if I have devised [Page 15] my way, it must be thou that directest my steps: O God, do thou ripen and perfect all the good motions that thou puttest into my soul; and make my health but such as my sickness promised.


Every man, Lord, is un­willing that his name should dye; we are all naturally ambi­tious of being thought on when we are gone; those that have not living monuments to perpetuate them, affect to have dead; if Absolon have not a son, he will yet erect a pillar: yet when we have all done, time eates us out at the last;Eccles 2. 16. There is no remembrance of the wise more then of the foole for ever; seeing that which now [Page 16] is, in the daies to come shall all be forgotten. O God, let it be my care and ambition, what ever become of my memory here below, that my name may be recorded in Heaven.


Thy wise providence, O God, hath so ordered it, that every mans minde seeks and findes contentment in some thing; otherwise it could not be (since we must meet with so frequent crosses in the world) but that mans life would be burdensome to him; one takes pleasure in his hauke or hound; another in his horses and furnitures; one in fair buildings; another in pleasant walks and beautiful gardens; one in travailing [Page 17] abroad; another in the en­ioying of the profits and plea­sures of his home; one in the increase of his wealth; another in the titles of his honor; one in a comfortable wife, another in loving and dutiful children, but when all is done, if there be not som­what els to uphold the heart in the evil day, it must sink. O God, do thou possesse my soul of thee; let me place all my felicity in the fruition of thine infinite goodness; so I am sure the worst of the world hath not power to ren­der me other then happy.


O Lord God, under how opposite aspects do I stand, from the world? how vari­ously [Page 18] am I construed by men? One pities my condition, ano­ther praises my patience; One favors mee out of the opinion of some good that he thinks he sees in mee; another dislikes me for some imagined evil: What are the eyes, or tongues of men to mee? Let me not know what they say, or think of me, and what am I the better or worse for them? they can have no influence upon me without my own apprehension: All is in what termes I stand with thee, my God; if thou be pleased to look upon me with the eye of thy tender mercy and com­passion, What care I to be unjustly brow-beaten of the world? If I may be blessed with thy favour, let me be [Page 19] made a gazing-stock to the world, to Angels, and to men.


Speak Lord, for thy ser­vant heareth: What is it which thou wouldst have me do that I may finde rest to my soul? I am willing to exer­cise my self in all the acts of piety which thou requirest; I am ready to fast, to pray, to read, to hear, to meditate, to communicate, to give alms, to exhort, admonish, reprove, comfort where thou bid'st me; and if there be any other duty appertaining to devoti­on, or mercy, let me serve thee in it: But, alas, O my God, howsoever I know these works are in themselves well-pleasing [Page 20] unto thee, yet as they fall from my wretchedness, they are stained with so many imperfections, that I have more reason to crave pardon for them, then to put confi­dence in them; and if I could performe them never so ex­quisitely, yet one sin is more then enough to dash all my o­bedience. I see then, O Lord, I well see there is no act that I can be capable to do unto thee, wherein I can finde any repose; it must be thine act to me, which only can effect it; It is thy gracious word,Matth. 11. 28. Come unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest; Lo this rest must be thy gift, not my earning; and what can be freer then gift? Thou givest it then, but to [Page 21] those that come to thee; not to those that come not; To those that come to thee laden and labouring under the sense of their own wretchedness; not to the proud, and care­less; O Saviour, thy sinner is sufficiently laden with the burden of his iniquities; lade thou me yet more with true penitent sorrow for my sins; and inable me then to come unto thee by a lively faith; Take thou the praise of thine own work; Give me the grace to come; and give me rest in coming.


O blessed Saviour, What strange variety of conceits do I finde concerning thy thou­sand years raign? What [Page 22] riddles are in that prophesie; which no humane tongue can aread? where to fix the begin­ing of that marvailous millen­ary, and where the end; and what manner of raign it shall be, whether temporal, or spi­ritual; on earth, or in heaven; undergoes as many constru­ctions, as there are pens that have undertaken it; and yet (when all is done) I see thine Apostle speaks onely of the souls of thy martyrs, raigning so long with thee; not of thy raigning on earth so long with those Martyrs; How busie are the tongues of men, how are their brains taken up with the indeterminable constru­ction of this enigmaticall truth? when, in the mean time, the care of thy spirituall [Page 23] raign in their hearts, is neg­lected; O my Saviour, whiles others weary themselves with the disquisition of thy perso­nall raign here upon earth for a thousand years; let it be the whole bent and study of my soul, to make sure of my per­sonall raign with thee in hea­ven to all eternity.


Blessed be thy name, O God, who hast made a good use even of hell it self; How many Atheous hearts have been convinced by the very operations of Devils? Those which would with the stupid Saducees, perswade themselves there are no spirits; yet when they have sensibly found the marvellous effects wrought [Page 24] even by the base instruments of Satan; they have been forced to confesse, Doubt­less there is a God that rules the world; for so great pow­ers of evill spirits must neces­sarily evince the greater pow­ers of good; It is of thy wise and holy dispensation that thy good Angels do not so fre­quently exhibite themselves, and give so visible demon­strations of their presence to thy Saints, as the evill Angels do to their Vassals, though they are ever as present, and more powerfull; What need they; when thou so mightily over-rulest those malignant spirits, that thou forcest from them thine own glory, and advantage to thy chosen? Lord, how much more shall [Page 25] all thy other creatures serve to thy praise, when thy very hellish enemies shall proclaim thy justice, goodness, omni­potence.


Speculation, O Lord, is not more easie then practice is difficult; how many have we known, who, as it was said of the Philosophers of old, know how to speak well, but live ill; How many have written books of Chymistry, and given very confident di­rections for the finding out of that precious stone of the Phi­losophers, but how many have indeed made gold? Practice is that which thou, O God, chiefly requirest and respectest; who hast said, [Page 26] If ye know these things, blessed are ye if you do them; Knowledg puffeth up, 1 Cor. 8. 1. but love edifieth: O Lord do thou enlighten mine eyes with the knowledg of thy will; but above all, do thou rectifie my affections, guide my feet into the wayes of thy commandements; Psal. 119. 112. ap­ply my heart to fulfill thy sta­tutes alway;Psal 90. 17. and Prosper thou the work of my hands upon me, O prosper thou my handi-work.


How oft have I wondred, O Lord, at the boldness of those men, who knowing they must shortly die, yet dare do those things which will draw upon them eternity of torments? What shall I [Page 27] say, but, The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God; Sure­ly, men love themselves well enough; and would be loth to do that, which would pro­cure them an inevitable mise­ry and pain; Did they there­fore believe there were ano­ther world, and that they must be called to a strict rec­koning for all their actions, and be doomed to an everlast­ing death for their wicked deeds, they durst not, they could not do those acts which should make them eternally miserable: Let me say to the most desperate ruffian; there is poyson in this cup, drink this draught and thou diest; he would have the wit to keep his lips close, and cast the potion to the ground; [Page 28] were it not for their infideli­ty, so would men do to the most plausible (but deadly) offers of sin. O Lord, since I know thy righteous judg­ments; teach me to tremble at them; restrain thou my feet from every evill way; and teach me so to walk, as one that looks every hour to ap­pear before thy just, and dreadfull Tribunal.


The longer I live, O my God, the more do I wonder at all the works of thine hands: I see such admirable artifice in the very least and most despicable of all thy creatures, as doth every day more and more astonish my observation: I need not look [Page 29] so far as Heaven for matter of marvaile (though therein thou art infinitely glorious) whiles I have but a spider in my window, or a bee in my garden, or a worm under my feet: every one of these over­comes me with a just amaze­ment; yet can I see no more then their very out-sides; their inward form which gives them their being, and operations, I cannot pierce in­to; the less I can know, O Lord, the more let me won­der; and the less I can satis­fie my self with marvailing at thy works, the more let me adore the majesty and omni­potence of thee that wrough­test them.


Alas, my Lord God, what poor, weak, imperfit services are those (even at the best) that I can present thee withal! How leane, lame, and ble­mished sacrifices do I bring to thine altar! I know thou art worthy of more then my soul is capable to perform; and fain would I tender thee the best of thine own: but, what I would that I do not; Rom. 7. 15. yea, cannot do: Surely, had I not to do with an infinite mer­cy, I might justly look to be punished for my very obedi­ence: But now Lord my im­potence redounds to the praise of thy goodness; for were I more answerable to thy justice the glory of thy mercy would [Page 31] be so much less eminent in my remission, & acceptance; Here I am before thee, to await thy good pleasure; thou knowest whether it be better to give me more ability, or to accept of that poor ability thou hast gi­ven me; but since, when thou hast given me most, I shall still, and ever stand in need of thy forgiveness; Let my hum­ble suit be to thee alwaies, ra­ther for pardon of my defects, then for a supply of thy graces.


O my God; how do I see many profane and careless souls spend their time in jolli­ty and pleasure.Jsa. 5. 12. The harp and the Viol, the Tabret and the pipe, and wine are in their feasts; Whiles I that desire to [Page 32] walk close with thee, in all conscionable obedience, droop and languish under a dull heaviness, and heartless dejection: I am sure I have a thousand times more cause of joy and cheerfulness, then the merriest of all those wilde and joviall spirits; they have a world to play withall, but I have a God to rejoyce in; their sports are triviall and momentanie; my joy is se­rious, and everlasting: One dram of my mirth is worth a pound of theirs; But, I con­fesse, O Lord, how much I am wanting to my self in not stirring up this holy fire of spirituall joy; but suffering it to lie raked up under the dead ashes of a sad neglect: O thou, who art the God of [Page 33] hope, quicken this heavenly affection in my soul;Rom. 15. 13. and fill me with all joy and peace in be­lieving; make my heart so much more light then the worldlings, by how much my estate is happier.


What shall I do Lord? I strive and tug (what I may) with my naturall corruptions,Ephes. 6. 12. and with the spirituall wick­ednesses in high places which set upon my soul; but some­times I am foyled, and go halting out of the field; it is thy mercy that I live, being so fiercely assaulted by those principalities, and powers; it were more then wonder if I should escape such hands without a wound: Even that [Page 34] holy servant of thine who strove with thine Angel for a blessing, went limping away, though he prevailed; what mervail is it that so weak a wretch as I, striving with ma­ny evill Angels for the avoi­dance of a curse, come off with a maime, or a scar? But blessed be thy name, the wounds that I receive are not mortall; and when I fall, it is but to my knees; whence I rise with new courage and hopes of victory; Thou who art the God of all power, and keepest the keys of hell and death, hast said, Resist the De­vill, and he will flee from you; Lord, I do and will by thy merciful ayd still and ever re­sist; make thou my faith as stedfast, as my will is reso­lute; [Page 35] Oh still teach thou my hands to war, Psal. 144. 1. and my fingers to fight; arme thou my soul with strength, and at last according to thy gracious promise, crown it with victory.


Oh Lord God; how am­bitious, how covetous of knowledg is this soul of mine? as the eye is not satisfied with seeing, Eccles. 1. 8. nor the eare filled with hearing; no more is the mind of man with understan­ding; yea, so insatiable is my heart, that the more I know, the more I desire to know; and the less I think I know: Under heaven there can be no bounds set to this intellectuall appetite: O do thou stop the mouth of my soul with thy [Page 36] self,Ps. 73. 25. who art infinite; Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee: Alas, Lord, if I could know all creatures, with all their forms, qualities, workings; if I could know as much as inno­cent Adam, or wise Solomon; Yea more, if I could know all that is done in earth or hea­ven, what were my soul the better, if it have not attained the knowledg of thee: Since, as the Preacher hath most wisely observed,Eccles. 1. 18. In much wisdome is much grief, and he that increaseth knowledg, in­creaseth sorrow; Oh then, set off my heart from affecting that knowledg whose end is sorrow; and fix it upon that knowledg, which brings e­everlasting [Page 37] life:Joh. 17. 3. And this is life eternal, to know thee the only true God; and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.


O my God, what mise­rable uncertainties there are in these worldly hopes! But yesterday I made account of an eminent advantage of my estate, which now ends in a deep loss. How did we late­ly feed our selves with the hope of a firme and during peace, which now shuts up in too much bloud? How confidently did I relie upon the promised favour of some great friends, which now leave me in the suds, as the scorn of (a mis-called) for­tune? In how slippery places, [Page 38] O Lord, do our feet stand? If that may be said to stand which is ever sliding, never fixed; And not more slippe­ry, then brittle; so as there is not more danger of falling, then of sinking: With thee, O God, with thee only, is a constant immutability of hap­piness; There let me seek it, there let me finde it; and o­ver-looking all the fickle ob­jects of this vain world, let my soul pitch it self up­on that blessed immortality which ere long it hopes to en­joy with thee.


Lord God, What a weari­some circle do I walk in here below; I sleep, and dress, and work, and eat, and work a­gain, [Page 39] and eat again, and un­dress, and sleep again; and thus wearing out my time finde a satiety in all these, troublesome; Lord, when shall I come to that state, wherein I shall do nothing but injoy thee; do nothing but praise thee; and in that one work shall finde such infinite contentment, that my glorifi­ed soul cannot wish to do any other? and shall therein alone bestow a blessed eternity?


O God, how troublesome and painful do I find this Sun of thine, whose scorching beams beat upon my head? and yet, this excellent crea­ture of thine is that, to which, under thee, we are beholden [Page 40] for our very life; and it is thy great blessing to the earth, that it may enjoy these strong and forceable rayes from it; Oh, Who shall be able to en­dure the burning flames of thy wrath, which thou in­tendest for the punishment, and everlasting torment of thine enemies? And if men shall blaspheme the name of thee the God of heaven,Rev. 16. 9. for the great heat of that benefi­ciall creature, what shall we think they will do for that fire which shall be consu­ming them to all eternity? Lord keep my soul from those flames, which shall be ever burning, and never, ei­ther quenched, or abated.


Which way, O Lord, which way can I look, and not see some sad examples of misery: One wants his limbs with Mephibosheth, ano­ther his sight with Bartimeus, a third with Lazarus wants bread, and a whole skin; One is pained in his body, another plundred of his estate, a third troubled in minde; one is pined in prison, another tor­tured on the rack, a third lan­guisheth under the loss of a deare son, or wife or hus­band; Who am I Lord, that, for the present, I enjoy an im­munity from all these sor­rows? I am sure none grones under them that hath deser­ved them more: It is thy [Page 42] mercy, thy meer mercy, O my good God, that any of these calamities have faln beside me; Oh make me truly thankful for thine infi­nite goodness; and yet onely so sensible of thy gracious in­dulgence this way; as that when any of these evils shall seize upon mee, I may be no more dejected in the sense of them, then I am now over-joyed with the favor of their forbearance.


O blessed God, what va­riety of gifts hast thou scatte­red amongst the sons of men? To one thou hast given vi­gor of body, to another agi­lity, beauty to a third; to one depth of judgment, to ano­ther [Page 43] quickness of apprehen­sion; to one readiness and ra­rity of invention; to another tenacity of memorie; to one the knowledg of liberal arts, to another the exquisiteness of manuary skill; to one worldly wealth, to another honour; to one a wise heart, to another an eloquent tongue; to one more then enough, to another content­ment with a little; to one valour, to another sagacity: These favors, O Lord, thou hast promiscuously dispersed amongst both thy friends, and enemies: but oh, how transcendent are those spiritu­al mercies which thou hast reserved for thine own; the graces of heavenly wisdome, lively faith, fervent charity, [Page 44] firme hope, joy in the holy Ghost and all the rest of that divine beauye. For any com­petency of the least of thy common blessings I desire to be thankful to thy bounty; (for which of them, O God, can I either merit or requite?) but oh for a soul truly and eagarly ambitious of those thy best mercies; Oh let me ever long for them, and ever be insatiable of them; Oh do thou fill my heart with the desire of them, and let that desire never finde it self fil­led.


How comfortable a style is that, O God, which thine Apostle gives to thine Heaven, whiles he cals it the inheritance [Page 45] of the Saints in light? None can come there but Saints; the roomes of this lower world are taken up, common­ly, with wicked men, with beasts, with Devils; but into that heavenly Jerusalem no unholy thing can enter; Nei­ther can any Saint be exclu­ded thence; each of them have not only a share, but an entire right to thy glory: And how many just titles are there, O Saviour, to that re­gion of blessedness; It is thy Fathers gift, it is thy pur­chase, it is thy Saints inheri­tance; theirs only in thy right; by thy gracious adoption they are sons,Rom. 8. 17. and as sons, heires: co-heirs with thee of that blessed Patrimony; so feoffed upon them, so posses­sed [Page 46] of them, that they can never be disseized: And, Lord, how glorious an inhe­ritance it is! An inheritance in light: In light incompre­hensible, in light inaccessible: Lo, the most spirituall of all thy visible creatures is light; and yet this light is but the effect, and emanation of one of thy creatures, the Sun; and serves only for the illumi­nation of this visible world; but that supernal light is from the Al-glorious beams of thy Divine Majesty, diffusing themselves to those blessed spirits, both Angels, and Souls of thy Saints, who live in the joyful fruition of thee, to all eternity: Alas, Lord, we do here dwell in darkness, and under an uncomfortable [Page 47] opacity, whiles thy face is clouded from us with mani­fold temptations there above, with thee, is pure light, a con­stant noon-tide of glory; I am here under a miserable and obscure wardship; Oh teach me to despise the best of earth; and ravish my soul with a longing desire of being possessed of that blessed inhe­ritance of the Saints in light.


What outward blessing can be sweeter then civill peace? What judgment more heavy then that of the sword? Yet, O Saviour, there is a peace which thou disclaimest; and there is a sword which thou challengest to bring; Peace with our corruptions is warr [Page 48] against thee; and that war in our bosomes, wherein the spirit fighteth against the flesh, is peace with thee: O let thy good Spirit raise and foment this holy and intestine war more and more within me. And as for my outward spirituall enemies; how can there be a victory without war; and how can I hope for a crown without victory? O do thou ever gird me with strength to the battle; inable thou me to resist unto bloud; make me faithfull to the death, that thou maist give me the crown of life.


O Lord God; how sub­ject is this wretched heart of mine to repining, and discon­tentment? [Page 49] If it may not have what it would, how ready it is (like a froward child) to throw away what it hath. I know and feel this to be out of that naturall pride which is so deep rooted in me; for could I be sensible enough of my own unworthinesse, I should think every thing too good, every thing too much for me; my very being, O Lord, is more then I am ever able to answer thee; and how could I deserve it when I was not? but that I have any helps of my wel-beeing here; or hopes and means of my being glorious hereafter, how far is it beyond the reach of my soul? Lord, let me finde my own nothingness; so shall I be thankfull for a little, [Page 50] and, in my very want, blesse thee.


Where art thou, O my God? whither hast thou withdrawn thy self? it is not long, since I found thy com­fortable presence with my soul; now I misse thee, and mourn and languish for thee: Nay, rather, where art thou O my soul? my God is where he was; neither can be any other then himself; the change is in thee, whose inconstant disposition varies continually, and cannot finde it self fixed upon so blessed an object. It will never be bet­ter with me, O my God,Ps. 51. 12. un­til it shall please thee to sta­blish my heart with thy free [Page 51] Spirit; and to keep it close to thee, that it may not be carried away with vain distractions, with sinful temptations: Lord my God, as thou art alwaies present with me, and canst no more be absent, then not be thy self; so let me be alwaies with thee, in an hum­ble, and faithful acknowledg­ment of thy presence; as I can never be out of thine all-seeing eye; so let mine eyes be ever bent upon thee who art invisible; Thou that hast given me eyes, improve them to thy glorie and my happi­ness.


My bosome, O Lord, is a Rebeccaes womb, there are twins striving within it; a [Page 52] Jacob and Esau, the old man and the new: whiles I was in the barren state of my unre­generation all was quiet with­in me; now this strife is both troublesome, and paine­ful; so as nature is ready to say,Gen. 25. 22. If it be so, why am I thus? But withal, O my God, I bless thee for this happy un­quietness; for I know there is just cause of comfort in these inward struglings; my soul is now not unfruitful, and is conceived with an holy seed which wrestles with my natural corruptions; and if my Esau have got the start in the priority of time; yet my Jacob shall follow him hard at the heele, and happily sup­plant him; And though I must nourish them both, as [Page 53] mine, yet I can, through thy grace, imitate thy choice; and say with thee, Jacob have I lo­ved, and Esau have I hated; Blessed God, make thou that word of thine good in me, That the elder shall serve the younger.


Alas, my Lord God, how small matters trouble me? every petty occurrence is rea­dy to rob me of my peace; so as, me thinks, I am like some little cock-boat in a rough Sea, which every bil­low topples up and down, and threats to sink: I can chide this weak pusillanimity in my self; but it is thou that must redress it: Lord, work my heart to so firme a setled­ness [Page 54] upon thee, that it may never be shaken; no not with the violent gusts of temptation; much lesse with the easie gales of secular mis-accidents: Even when I am hardest pressed, in the mul­titude of the sorrows of my heart, let thy comforts re­fresh my soul; but for these sleight crosses, oh teach me to despise them, as not worthy of my notice, much less of my vexation: Let my heart be taken up with thee, and then, what care I whether the world smile or frown.


What a comfort it is, O Saviour, that thou art the first fruits of them that sleep: Those that die in thee, do but sleep: [Page 55] Thou saidst so, once, of thy Lazarus; and maist say so of him again; he doth but sleep still: His first sleep was but short, this latter, though long­er, is no less true; out of which he shall no less surely awake at thy second call, then he did before at thy first; His first sleep and waking was sin­gular, this latter is the same with ours; we all lie down in our bed of earth, as sure to wake, as ever we can be to shut our eyes; In, and from thee, O blessed Saviour, is this our assurance; who art the first fruits of them that sleep: The first handfull of the first fruits was not pre­sented for it self, but for the whole field, wherein it grew: The vertue of that oblation [Page 56] extended it self to the whole crop: Neither didst thou, O blessed Jesu, rise again for thy self only, but the power and vertue of thy resurrection reaches to all thine; so thy chosen Vessel tels us:1 Cor. 15. 23. Christ the first fruits, afterwards they that are Christs at his coming: So as,Act. 24. 15. though the resurrection be of all the dead, both just and unjust; yet to rise by the pow­er of thy resurrection, is so proper to thine own, as that thou, O Saviour, hast styled it the resurrection of the just; Luk. 14. 14. whiles the rest shall be drag'd out of their graves by the power of thy God-head to their dreadful judgment: Al­ready therefore, O Jesu, are we risen in thee: and as sure shall rise in our own persons; [Page 57] The Loco-motive faculty is in the head; Thou who art our head art risen, we who are thy members must, and shall follow: Say then, O my dying body, say boldly unto Death,Micah 7. 8. Rejoyce not over me, O mine enemy, for though I fall, yet I shall rise again: Yea, Lord, the vertue of thy first fruits diffuseth it self, not to our rising only, but to a bles­sed immortality of these bodies of ours: for, as thou didst rise immortall and glorious, so shall we by, and with thee;Phil. 3. 21. Who shalt change these vile bodies, and make them like to thy glorious body. The same power that could shake off death, can put on glory and Majesty: Lay thee down therefore, O my [Page 58] body, quietly and cheerfully; and look to rise in another hue;1 Cor. 15. 42, 43. Thou art sown in cor­ruption, thou shalt be raised in incorruption; thou art sown in dishonour, thou shalt be rai­sed in glory; thou art sown in weaknesse, but shalt be raised in power.


In this life, in this death of the body; O Lord, I see there are no degrees, though differences of time; The man that dyed yesterday is as truly dead, as Abel the first man that dyed in the world; and Methuselah that lived nine hundred sixty nine years, did not more truly live, then the childe that did but salute, and leave the world; but in the [Page 59] life to come, and the second death, there are degrees; de­grees of blessedness to the glorified, degrees of torments to the damned; the least whereof is unspeakable, un­conceivable: Oh thou that art the Lord of life and death, keep my soul from those steps that go down to the cham­bers of death; and once set it (for higher I dare not sue to go) but over the threshold of glory and blessedness.


O Lord my God, I am as very a Pilgrime as ever walk­ed upon thy earth; Why should I look to be in any better condition then my neighbours, then my fore­fathers? Even the best of [Page 60] them, that were most fixed upon their inheritance, were no other then strangers at home: It was not in the pow­er of the world to naturalize them, much less to make them enroll themselves free-Denizons here below; they knew their country, which they sought,Heb. 11. 13, 14, 15. was above; so infinitely rich, and pleasant, that these earthly regions which they must pass tho­rough, are, in comparison, worthy of nothing but con­tempt.

My condition is no other then theirs; I wander here in a strange country; What wonder is it, if I meet with forrainers fare, hard usage, and neglect? Why do I in­termeddle with the affaires of [Page 61] a nation that is not mine? Why do I clog my self in my way with the base and heavy lumber of the world? Why are not my affections home­ward? Why do I not long to see and enjoy my fathers house? O my God, thou that hast put me into the state of a Pilgrim, give me a Pil­grims heart; set me off from this wretched world wherein I am; let me hate to think of dwelling here; Let it be my only care how to pass through this miserable wilderness to the promised land of a blessed eternitie.


One Talent at the least, O Lord, hast thou put into my hand; and that sum is great [Page 62] to him that is not worth a dram; but, alas, what have I done with it? I confess I have not hid it in a napkin; but have been laying it out to some poor advantage; yet surely the gain is so unanswer­able, that I am afraid of an Audit: I see none of the ap­proved servants in the Gospel brought in an increase of less value then the receit; I fear I shall come short of the sum.Luk. 19. 16. 17, 18, 19. O thou, who justly holdest thy self wronged with the style of an austere master, vouchsafe to accept of my so mean improvement; and thou, who valuedst the poor widows mites above the rich gifts cast into thy Treasurie, be pleased to allow of those few pounds that my weak in­devors [Page 63] could raise from thy stock; and mercifully reward thy servant, not according to his success, but according to his true intentions of glorify­ing thee.


What a word is this which I hear from thee, O Saviour; Behold I stand at the doore and knock! Thou which art the Lord of life, God blessed for ever, to stand and knock at the door of a sinful heart! Oh what a praise is this of thy mercy and long suffering? What a shame to our dull neglect and graceless ingrati­tude?Ps. 40. 1. For a David to say I waited patiently upon the Lord; Truly my soul waiteth upon God; Ps. 62. 1. it is but meet and come­ly; [Page 64] for it is no other then the duty of the greatest Mo­narchs on earth, yea, of the highest Angels in Heaven to attend their Maker; but for thee the great God of Heaven to wait at the door of us sin­ful dust and ashes, what a condescension is this, what a longanimity? It were our happiness, O Lord, if upon our greatest suit and importu­nity we might have the favor to entertain thee into our hearts; but that thou shouldst importune us to admit thee, and shouldst wait at the posts of our doors,Cant. 5. 2. till thine head be filled with dew, and thy locks with the drops of the night, it is such a mercy, as there is not room enough in our souls to wonder at. In the mean [Page 65] time what shall I say to our wretched unthankfulnes; and impious negligence? Thou hast graciously invited us to thee, and hast said; knock and it shall be opened; and yet thou continuest knocking at our doors, and we open not; willingly delaying to let in our happiness; we know how easie it were for thee to break open the brasen doors of our brests, and to come in; but the Kingdome of Heaven suffers not violence from thee, though it should suffer it from us; Thou wilt do all thy works in a sweet and gra­cious way; as one who will not force, but win love; Lord, I cannot open unless thou that knock'st for en­trance, wilt be pleased to in­able [Page 66] me with strength to turn the key, and to unbolt this unweldy bar of my soul. O do thou make way for thy self by the strong motions of thy blessed Spirit, into the in-most rooms of my heart; and do thou powerfully in­cline me to mine own happi­ness: els, thou shalt be ever excluded, and I shall be ever miserable.


In what pangs couldst thou be, O Asaph, that so woful a word should fall from thee, Hath God forgotten to be graci­ous? Ps. 77▪ 9. Surely, the temptation went so high, that the next step had been blasphemie; Had not that good God, whom thy bold weakness [Page 67] questions for forgetfulness, in great mercy remembred thee, and brought thee spee­dily to remember thy self and him, that which thou con­fessest to have been infirmity, had proved a sinful despair: I dare say for thee, that word washed thy cheeks with many a tear, and was worthy of more; For, O God, What can be so dear to thee as the glory of thy mercy? There is none of thy blessed attributes which thou desirest to set forth so much unto the sons of men, and so much abhor­rest to be disparaged by our detraction, as thy mercy: Thou canst, O Lord, forget thy displeasure against thy people; thou canst forget our iniquities, and cast our sins [Page 68] out of thy remembrance;Micha. 7. 18, 19. but thou canst no more forget to be gracious, then thou canst cease to be thy self; O my God, I sin against thy justice hourly, and thy mercy inter­poses for my remission; but oh keep me from sinning a­gainst thy mercy; What plea can I hope for, when I have made my Advocate mine e­nemy?


How happy, O Lord, is the man that hath thee for his God? He can want nothing that is good; he can be hurt by nothing that is evill; his sins are pardoned, his good indeavors are accepted; his crosses are sanctified; his prayers are heard; all that he [Page 69] hath are blessings, all that he suffers are advantages; his life is holy, his death com­fortable, his estate after death glorious; Oh that I could feel thee to be my God; that I could enjoy an heavenly communion with thee; In vain should earth or hell labour to make me other then blessed.


How just a motion is this of thine, O thou sweet singer of Israel; Psal. 31. 23. O love the Lord, all ye his Saints; Surely they can be no Saints that love not such a Lord; Had he never been good to them, yet that infinite goodness which is in himself, would have com­manded love from Saints: [Page 70] Yet, how could they have been Saints, if he had wholly kept his goodness to himself? In that then he hath made them Saints, he hath com­municated his goodness to them, and challengeth all love from them; and being made such, how infinitely hath he obliged them with all kinds of mercies? How can ye choose O ye Saints but love the Lord? What have ye, what are ye, what can ye be, but from his meer boun­ty? They are sleight favours that he hath done you for the world; in these his very ene­mies share with you; How transcendent are his spirituall obligations! Hath he not given you his Angels for your attendants; himself for [Page 71] your Protector; his Son out of his bosome for your Re­deemer; his Spirit for your Comforter; his heaven for your inheritance? If gifts can attract love; O my God, Who can have any interest in my heart but thy blessed self, that hast been so infinitely munificent to my soul? Take it to thee, thou that hast made and bought it; enamour it thoroughly of thy goodness; make me sick of love; yea let me die for love of thee, who hast loved me unto death that I may fully enjoy the perfecti­on of thy love, in the height of thy glory.


Lord, how have I seen men miscarried into those sins, the [Page 72] premonition whereof they would have thought incredi­ble, and their yeildance there­to, impossible? How many Hazaels hath our very age yeilded, that if a Prophet should have fore told their acts,2 Kings. 8. 13. would have said, Is thy servant a dog that he should do these great things? Oh my God, why do not I suspect my self? What hold have I of my self more then these o­ther miserable examples of humane frailtie?

Lord God, if thou take off thy hand from me, what wickedness shall escape me? I know I cannot want a temp­ter; and that tempter cannot want either power, or malice, or skill, or vigilance▪ or baits, or opportunities; and for my [Page 73] self, I find too well, that of my self I have no strength to resist any of his temptations: O for thy mercies sake, up­hold thou me with thy migh­ty hand; stand close to me in all assaults; shew thy self strong in my weakness:Psal. 19. 13. Keep back thy servant from presump­tuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me; then (onely) shall I be upright, and shall be in­nocent from the great transgres­sion.


It is thy title, O Lord, and only thine, that thou givest songs in the night: Job 35. 10. The night is a sad and dolorous season;Eccles. 11. 7. as the light contrarily is the image of cheerfulness; like as it is in bodily pains and aches, [Page 74] that they are still worst to­wards night; so it is in the cares and griefs of mind; then they assault us most when they are helpt on by the ad­vantage of an uncomfortable darkness: Many men can give themselves songs in the day of their prosperity; who can but howl in the night of their affliction;Act. 16. 25. but for a Paul and Silas to sing in their prison at mid-night; for an Asaph to call to remembrance his song in the night, Ps. 77. 6. this comes onely from that Spirit of thine, whose peculiar style is the Comforter: And surely, as mu­sick sounds best in the night, so those heavenly notes of praise which we sing to thee our God in the gloomy darkness of our adversity, cannot but [Page 75] be most pleasing in thine ears: Thine Apostle bids us (which is our ordinary wont) when we are merry to sing, when af­flicted, to pray; but if when we are afflicted we can sing, (as also when we are merriest we can pray) that ditty must needs be so much more ac­ceptable to thee, as it is a more powerful effect of the joy of thy Holy Ghost; O my God, I am conscious of my own infirmity; I know I am natu­rally subject to a dull and hea­vy dumpishness, under what­soever affliction; Thou that art the God of all comfort, re­medy this heartless dispositi­on in me; pull this lead out of my bosome; make me not pa­tient only, but cheerful under my trials, fill thou my heart [Page 76] with joy, and my mouth with songs in the night of my tri­bulation.


It is a true word, O Lord, that thy Seer said of thee long ago;1 Sam. 16. 7. The Lord seeth not as man seeth: Man sees the face, thou seest the heart; man sees things as they seem, thou seest them as they are; many things are hid from the eyes of men, all things lie open and displaid before thee. What a madness then were it in me to come disguised into thy presence, & to seek to hide my counsels from thine al-seeing eyes? I must be content, Lord, to be deluded here by fair appea­rances; for I may not offer to look into the bosoms of men, [Page 77] which thou hast reserved for thy self; it is only the out-side that I can judg by; Yea, O God, if I shall cast my eyes in­ward, and look into my own brest, even there I find my self baffled at home; The heart of man is deceitful above all things; who can know it? None but those piercing eyes of thine can discover all the windings and turnings of that intricate piece. What would it avail me, O Lord, to mock the eyes of all the world with a semblance of holiness, whilst thou shouldst see me false and filthy? Should I be censured by a world of men, when I am secretly allowed by thee, I could contemn it, yea glory in their unjust reproach; But if thine eye shall note me guil­ty, [Page 78] to what purpose is all the applause of men? O thou that art the God of truth; do thou open, and dissect this close heart of mine; search every fibre that is in, or about it; and if thou findest any ill blood there, let it out; and if thou findest any hollowness, fill it up; and so work upon it, that it may be approved of thee that madest it; as for men, it shall be alike to me whether they spend their breath or save it.


Lord God, What a world of treasure hast thou hid in the bowels of the earth, which no eye of man ever did, or shall, or can see? What good­ly plants hast thou brought [Page 79] forth of the earth, in wilde, unknown regions, which no man ever beheld? What great wits hast thou shut up in a willing obscurity, which the world never takes notice of? In all which thou shewest, that it is not only the use and benefit of man which thou re­gardest in the great variety of thy creation, and acts of ad­ministration of the world; but thine own glory, and the ful­filling of thine own good pleasure; and if onely the An­gels of heaven be witnesses of thy great works, thou canst not want a due celebration of thy praise; It is just with thee, O God, that thou shouldst regard only thy bles­sed self, in all that thou doest, or hast done; for all is thine, [Page 80] and thou art all: Oh that I could sincerely make thee the perfect scope of all my thoughts, of all my actions; that so we may both meet in one and the same happy end, thy glory in my eternall bles­sedness.


Indeed, Lord, as thou saist, the night commeth when no man can work; What can we do, when the light is shut in, but shut our eyes, and sleep? When our senses are tyed up, and our limbs laid to rest, what can we do, but yeeld our selves to a necessary repose? O my God, I perceive my night hastening on apace, my Sun draws low, the shadows lengthen, vapours rise, and [Page 81] the air begins to darken; Let me bestir my self for the time; let me lose none of my few hours; Let me work hard a while; because I shall soon rest everlastingly.


Thou seest, Lord, how apt I am to contemn this body of mine; Surely when I look back upon the stuffe whereof it is made, no better then that I tread upon; and see the loathsomness of all kinds that comes from it; and feel the pain that it oft times puts me to, and consider whither it is going, and how noisome it is above all other creatures upon the dissoluti­on; I have much adoe to hold good terms with so [Page 82] unequal a partner; But on the other side; when I look up to thy hand, and see how fearfully and wonderfully thou hast made it; what infi­nite cost thou hast bestowed upon it, in that thou hast not thought thine own blood too dear to redeeme it; that thou hast so far honour'd it, as to make it the Temple of thy holy Ghost; and to admit it into a blessed communion with thy self; and hast de­creed to do so great things for it hereafter; even to cloath it with immortality, and to make it like unto thy glorious body; I can bless thee for so happy a mate; and with pati­ence digest all these necessary infirmities; and now I look upon this flesh, not as it is, [Page 83] withered and wrinkled; but as it will be, shining and glo­rified. O Lord, how vile so ever this clay is in it self; yet make mee in thine interest and my hopes so enamoured of it, as if I did already finde it made celestial. Oh that my faith could prevent my change, and anticipate my ensuing glory.


Lord, what a dreadful fa­vor was that which thou shewedst to thy Prophet Elijah, to send a fiery chariot for him, to conveigh him up to Heaven! I should have thought that the sight of so terrible a carriage should have fetcht away his soul before­hand, and have left the body [Page 84] groveling on the earth: But that good Spirit of thine, which had fore-signified that fiery rapture, had doubtless fore-armed thy servant with an answerable resolution to expect, and undergoe it: Ei­ther he knew that chariot, how ever fearful in the appea­rance, was onely glorious, and not penal; Or els he cheerfully resolved that such a momentany pain in the change would be followed with an eternity of happiness: O God, we are not worthy to know whereto thou hast reserved us: Perhaps thou hast appointed us to be in the number of those, whom thou shalt finde alive at thy second coming; and then the case will be ours; we shall pass [Page 85] through fire to our immorta­lity: or, if thou hast ordained us to a speedier dispatch, per­haps thou hast decreed that our way to thee shall be through a fiery triall. O God, what ever course thou in thine holy wisdom hast determined for the fetching up my soul from this vale of misery, and tears, prepare me thoroughly for it; and do thou work my heart to so lively a faith in thee, that all the terrours of my death may be swallowed up in an assured expectation of my speedy glory: and that my last groans shall be imme­diately seconded with eternall Allelujahs, in the glorious Chore of thy Saints and Angels in Heaven. Amen. Amen.


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