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Yea, it would not only ennoble, but facilitate all my duties, and be to me as wings to a bird in flying, or sails to a ship in motion. Non tardat unéta rota ; oiled wheels run freely : « Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of 6 Aminadab.” O what is the reason(my God) my delight in thee should be so little ? Is it not, because my unbelief is fo great ? Rouze up my delights, O thou fountain of pleasure! and let me swim down the stream of holy joy in duty, into the boundless ocean of those immense delights that are in thy presence, and at thy right hand for evermore.
The PO E M.
That takes no more delight in things divine.
Why droop I then, may any creature have
c H A P. IV.
OBS ER V A TI O N.
may be dressed too much, as well as too little ; if the foil be over-rank, the seed shoots up so much into the stalk, that it seldom ears well, and if too thin, and poor, it wants its due nutriment, and comes not to perfection. Therefore their care is, to keep it in heart, but not to over-dress or under-dress ito The end of all their cost and pains about it, is fruit; and there.. fore reason tells them, that such a state and temperament of its as best fits it for fruit, is best, both for it and them,
a mediocrity, and competency of the things of this life, best fits them for the fruits of obedience, which is the end and. excellency of their beings ? A man may be over-mercied, as well as over-afflicted; Rare firmant fælicibus arae, the altars of the rich seldom smoke. When our outward enjoyments are by providence shaped, and fitted to our condition, as a suit is to the body, that fits close, and neat, neither too fhort, nor long; we cannot desire a better condition in this world. This was it that wile Agur requsted of God, Prov. xxx. 8, 9.
« Give neither poverty nor riches, but feed me with food con“ venient for me, lest I be full and deny thee, and say who is “the Lord ? Or left I be poor and steal, and take the name " of my God in vain.” Against both he prays equally, not aba folutelythat had been his fin; but, comparatively, and submiffively to the will of God. He had rather, if God see it fit, to avoid both of these extremes, but what would he have then ? Why, food convenient. Or, according to the Hebrew, give me my prey, or statute-bread; which is a metaphor from birds which fly up and down to prey for their young, and what they get, they distribute among them; they bring them enough to preserve their lives, but not more than enough to lie moulder
ing in the nest. Such a proportion Agur desired, and the reason why he desired it, is drawn from the danger of both ex.. tremes. He measured, like a wise Christian, the conveniency or inconveniency of his estate in the world, by its suitableness or unsuitableness to the end of his being, which is the service of God. He accounted the true excellency of his life to conGift in its reference and tendency to the glory of his God; and he could not fee how a redundancy, or too great a penury of. earthly comforts could fit him for that; but a middle estate, equally removed from both extremes, best fitted that end. And this was all that good Jacob, who was led by the same fpirit, looked at, Gen. xxviii. 20. “ And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, “ if God will be with me, and keep me in the way
go, « and give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I
come again to my father's house in peace, then shall the Lord “ be my God.”. Poor Jacob, he desires no great matters in the world, food and raiment will satisfy him ; in spiritual matters his desires are boundless, he is the most greedy and unsatisfied man in the world, Hof. xii. 4. but in the matters of this life, if he can get from God but off am et aquam, a morsel of meat, and a mouthful of water, he will not envy the richest Cresus, or Crafsus upon earth. Cibus et potus sunt divitia Christianorum ; meat and drink are the riches of Christians. Divitiæ funt ad legem natura composita paupertas, faith Pom-. ponius Atticus ; riches are such a poverty, or mediocrity, as hath enough for nature's uses; and such a state is best accommodated, both to the condition, and to the desires of a saint.
1. To his condition, for what is a faint but a stranger and pilgrim upon earth, a man in a strange country travelling homeward ? So David professed himself, Psalm cxix. 19. “I am a “ ftranger in this earth.” And so those worthies, who are now at home in heaven, Heb. xi. 13. they professed themselves to be strangers and pilgrims upon earth, and to seek a country, a viaticum contents à traveller, he will not incumber himself with superduous things, which would rather clog and tire, than expedite and help him in his journey.
2. It suits best with his defires, I mean his regular and advi. fed desires. For,
1. A gracious foul earnestly desires a free condition in the world, he is sensible he hath inuch work to do, a race to run, and is loth to be clogged, or have his foot in the snare of the cares or pleasures of this life. He knows that fulness exposes to wantonness and irreligion, Deut. vi. 12. Hos. xiii. 6. It is hard, in the midst of so many tempting objects, to keep the gold
reap, and eat, and look no further.,
en bridle of moderation upon the affections. The heart of a Christian, like the moon, commonly fuffers an eеlipse when it is at the full, and that by the interposition of the earth.
It was Solomon's fulness that drew out and diffolved his fpirits, and brought him to such a law ebb in fpirituals, that it remains a question with fome, Whether he ever recovered it to his dying day. A; it is the mifery of the poor to be ne glected of men, fo it is the mifery of the rich to neglect God. Who can be poorer than to have the world, and love it? Or richer, than to enjoy but little of it, and live above it?
And, on the other fide, extreme poverty is no less exposed to fin and danger, Lev. vi. 2, 3, 4. As high and lofty trees are subject to storms and tempefts, fo the lowest shrubs to be browsed on by every beaft; and therefore a faint desires a just competency as the fitteft, because the freeft state.
2. A gracious person desires no more but a competency, cause there is most of God's love and care difcovered in giving in cur daily bread, by a daily providence. It is betwixt such a condition, and a fulness of creature-provisions in our land, as it was betwixt Egypt and Canaan; Egypt was watered with the foot from the river Nilus, and little of God was seen in that mercy; but Canaan depended upon the dews and showers of heaven; and fo every shower of rain was a refreshing shower to their souls, as well as bodies. Most men that have a stack of creature-comforts in their hands, look upon all as coming in an ordinary, natural course, and see very little of God in their mercies. Pope Adrian built a college at Louvain, and caufed this inscription to be written in letters of gold on the gates thereof; Trajectum plantavit, Louvanium rigavit, Cæfar dedit incrementum ; fi.e.)
, Utrecht planted me, Louvain watered me, and Cæfar gave the increase. One to reprove his folly wrote underneath, Hic Denis nihil fecit; here God did nothing.
But now, when a man fees his mercies come in by the fpecial and affiduous care of God for him, there is a double sweet ness in those mercies; the natural sweetness which comes from the creature itself, every one, even the beasts, can taste that as well as thee'; but, besides that, there is a spiritual fweetness, far exceeding the former, which none but a believer tastes; and much of that comes from the manner in which he receives it, because it comes (be it never fo coarse or little) as a covenant-mercy to him. “ He hath given bread to them that fear « him, he is ever mindful of his covenant," Psal. cxi. 5. Luther, who made many a meal upon a broiled hetring, was wont
to say, Mendicato.pane hic vivamus, annon hoc pulchre farcitur in eo, quod pascimur pane cum angelis et vita æterna, Christo et facramentis : Let us be content with coarse fare here, have we not the bread that came down from heaven? Do we not feed with angels ? A pregnant instance of the sweetness of such mercies, is given us by a worthy divine of our own, Mr. Ifaac Ambrose, For my own part (faith he) however the Lord
hath feen cause to give me but a poor pittance of outward things, for which I bless his name, yet in the income thereof, I have many times observed so much of his peculiar provi. dence, that thereby they have been very much Tweetened, and my heart hath been raised to admire his grace. When of late under an hard dispensation (which I judge not meet to
mention, wherein I suffered with inward peace conscientioully) rall streams of wonted sụpplies being stopt, the waters of relief
for myself and family did run low. I went to bed with some staggerings and doubtings of the fountain's letting out itself
for our refreshing ; but e'er I did awake in the morning, a • letter was brought to my bed-lide, which was figned by a ' choice friend, Mr. Anthony Ash, which reported some un
expected breakings out of God's goodness for my comfort These are some of his lines, Your God, who hath given you an heart thankfully to record your experiences of his
goodness, doth renew experiences for your encouragement. • Now I shall report one which will raise your spirit towards • the God of your mercy, cc." Whereupon he tweetly conclides, One morfel of God's provision, (especially if it comes
unexpected, and upon prayer, when wants are inost) will be more sweet to a spiritual relish, than all former full enjoya ments were."
Many mercies come unasked for, and they require thanke fulness, but when mercies come in upon prayer, and as a return of prayer,
their sweetness more than doubles ; for now it is both God's blessing upon his own institution, and a seal set to his promise at once, Pfal. lxvi. 16, 17. Doubtless Hannah found more comfort in her Samuel, and Rachel in her Naphfali, the one being asked of God, and the other wrestled fok with God, (as their names import) than mothers ordinarily do in their children.
REFLECTION S. Do the people of God desire only so much The refletion of the creature as may fit them for the fer- of the design, rice of God? What wretch then am I that ing hypocrite. : * Epiftle to the Earl of Bedford ; ante ultima.