Obrazy na stronie

measure now, viz. by the same knowledge, begetting likeness and love, which will be answered with returns of love, and the smiles of God's countenance, which are better than life. (3.) How God may be perfectly enjoyed, viz. by the soul's perfect freedom from sin. This perfect freedom never obtained till death; and then not by any unaccountable means, or in any unheard of manner; but the same by which it has obtained some likeness to and fruition of God in this world, viz. a clear manifestation of him.

5. Holy desire appears, and inquires why the soul may not be perfectly holy; and so perfect in the enjoyment of God here ; and expresses most insatiable thirstings after such a temper, and such fruition, and most consummate blessedness.

6. Understanding again appears, and informs, that God designs that those whom he sanctifies in part here, and intends for immortal glory, shall tarry a while in this present evil world, that their own experience of remptations, &c. may teach them how great the deliverance is which God has wrought for them, that they may be swallowed up in thankfulness and admiration to eternity; as also that they may be instrumental of doing good to their fellow-men. Now if they were perfectly holy, 'a world of sin would not be a fit habitation for them; and further, such manifestations of God as are necessary completely to sanctify the soul, would be insupportable to the body, so that we cannot see God and live.

7. Holy impatience is next introduced, complaining of the sins and sorrows of life, and almost repining at the distance of a state of perfection, uneasy to see and feel the hours hang so dull and heavy, and almost concluding that the temptations, hardships, disappointments, imperfections, and tedious employments of life will never come to a happy period.

8. Tender conscience comes in, and meekly reproves the complaints of impatience; urging how careful and watchful we ought to be, lest we should offend the divine Being with complaints; alleging also the fitness of our waiting patiently upon God for all we want, and that in

a way of doing and suffering; and at the same time mentioning the barrenness of the soul, how much precious time is misimproved, and how little it has enjoyed of God, compared with what it might have done ; as also suggesting how frequently impatient complaints spring from nothing better than self-love, want of resignation, and a greater reverence of the divine Being.

9. Judgment or sound mind next appears, and duly weighs the complaints of impatience, and the gentle admonitions of tender conscience, and impartially determines between them. On the one hand it concludes, that we may always be impatient with sin ; and supposes that we may also with such sorrow, pain and discouragement, as hinder our pursuit of holiness, though they arise from the weakness of nature. It allows us to be impatient of the distance at which we stand from a state of perfection and blessedness. It further indulges impatience at the delay of time, when we desire the period of it for no other end than that we may with angels be employed in the most lively spiritual acts of devotion, and in giving all possible glory to him that lives for ever. Temptations and sinful imperfections, it thinks we may justly be uneasy with ; and disappointments, at least those that relate to our hopes of communion with God, and growing conformity to him. And as to the tedious employments and hardships of life, it supposes some longing for the end of them not inconsistent with a spirit of faithfulness, and a cheerful disposition to perform the one and endure the other; it supposes that a faithful servant, who fully designs to do all he possibly can, may still justly long for the evening; and that no rational man would blame his kind and tender spouse, if he perceived her longing to be with him, while yet faithfulness and duty to him might still induce her to yield, for the present, to remain at a painful distance from him.-On the other hand, it approves of the caution, care and watchfulness of tender conscience, lest the divine Being should be offended

impatient complaints: it acknowledges the fitness our waiting upon God," in a way of patient doing and suffering; but supposes this very consistent with ar

B b



dent desires to “ depart, and to be with Christ.” It owns it fit that we should always remember our own bar, renness, and thinks also that we should be impatient of it, and consequently long for a state of freedom from it; and this, not so much that we may feel the happiness of it, but that God may have the glory.

It grants that im patient complaints often spring from self-love, and want of resignation and humility. Such as these it disapproves; and determines, we should be impatient only-df absence from God, and distance from that state and tem.* per wherein we may most glorify him.

10. Godly sorrow introduced, as making her sad moan, not so much that she is kept from the free possession and full enjoyment of happiness, but that God must be dishonoured; the soul being still in a world of sin, and itself imperfect. She here, with grief, counts over past faults, present temptations, and fears for the future.

11. Hope or holy confidence appears, and seems persuaded that “ nothing shall ever separate the soul from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” It expects divine as sistance and grace sufficient for all the doing and suffer ing work of time, and that death will ere long put a happy period to all sin and sorrow; and so takes occasion to rejoice.

12. Godly fear, or holy jealousy here steps in, and suggests some timorous apprehensions of the danger of deception; mentions the deceitfulness of the heart, the great influence of irregular self-love in a fallen creature; inquires whether itself is not likely to have fallen in with delusion, since the mind is so dark, and so little of God appears to the soul; and queries whether all its hopes of persevering grace may not be presumption, and whether its confident expectations of meeting death as a friend, may not issue in disappointment.

13. Hereupon reflection appears, and reminds the person of his past experiences; as to the preparatory work of conviction and humiliation; the view he then had of the impossibility of salvation, from himself, or any created arm : the manifestation he has likewise had of the glory of God in Jesus Christ : how be then admired that glory,

and chose that God for his only portion, because of the excellency and amiableness he discovered in him; not from slavish fear of being damned, if he did not, nor from base and mercenary hopes of saving himself; but from a just esteem of that beauteous and glorious object: as also how he had from time to time rejoiced and acquiesced in God, for what he is in himself; being de lighted that he is infinite in holiness, justice, power, sovereignty, as well as in mercy, goodness and love : how he has likewise, scores of tir felt his soul mourn for sin, for this very reason, because it is contrary and grievous to God; yea, how he has mourned over one vain and impertinent thought, when he has been so far from fear of the divine vindictive wrath for it, that on the contrary he has enjoyed the highest assurance of the divine everlasting love : how he has, from time to time, delighted in the commands of God, for their own purity and perfection, and longed exceedingly to be conformed to them, and even to be “ holy, as God is holy;" and counted it present heaven, to be of a heavenly temper: how he has frequently rejoiced, to think of being for ever subject to, and dependent on God; accounting it infinitely greater happiness to glorify God in a state of subjection to and dependence on him, than to be a god himself: and how heaven itself would be no heaven to him, if he could not there be every thing that God would have him be.

14. Upon this, spiritual sensation being awaked, comes in, and declares that she now feels and « tastes that the Lord is gracious;" that he is the only supreme good, the only soul-satisfying happiness; that he is a complete, self-sufficient, and almighty portion. She whispers, * Whom have I in heaven,” but this God, this dear and blessed portion; “ and there is none upon earth I desire besides him.” Oh, it is heaven to please him, and to be just what he would have me be! Oh that my soul were “ holy, as God is holy; pure, as Christ is pure; and perfect, as my Father in heaven is perfect !" These are the sweetest commands in God's book, comprising all and shall I break them? must I break them?


am I under a fatal necessity of it, as long as I live in this world ? Oh my soul ! wo, wo is me, that I am a sinner; because I now necessarily grieve and offend this blessed God, who is infinite in goodness and grace. Oh, methinks, should he punish me for my sins, it would not wound my heart so deep to offend him ; but, though I sin continually, he continually repeats his kindness to wards me! I could bear any suffering; but how can I bear to grieve and dishonour this blessed God! How shall I give ten thousand times more honour to him? What shall I do to glorify and worship this best of beings? O that I could consecrate myself, soul and hody, to his service for ever! Oh that I could give up myself to him, so as never more to attempt to be my own, or to have any will or affections that are not perfectly conformed to his ! But alas, I cannot, I feel I cannot, be thus entirely devoted to God: I cannot live and sin not. Oh ye angels, do ye glorify him incessantly: if possible, exert yourselves still more in lively and ardent devotion : if possible, prostrate yourselves still lower before the throne of the blessed King of heaven. I long to bear a part with you, and if it were possible, to help you. Yet when we have done, we shall not be able to offer the ten thousandth part of the homage he is worthy of. While spiritual sensation whispered these things, fear and jealousy were greatly overcome; and the soul replied, “ Now I know, and am assured,” &c. and again it welcomed death as a friend, saying, “ Oh death where is thy sting!"

15. Finally, holy resolution concludes the discourse, fixedly determining to "follow hard after God,” and continually to pursue a life of conformity to him. And the better to pursue this, enjoining it on the soul always to remember, that God is the only source of happiness, that his will is the only rule of rectitude to an intelligent creature, that earth has nothing in it desirable for itself, or any further than God is seen in it; and that the knowledge of God in Christ, begetting and maintaining love, and mortifying sensual and fleshly appetites, is the way to be holy on earth, and so to be attempered to the complete holiness of the heavenly world.

« PoprzedniaDalej »