Obrazy na stronie

have defired only so much of religion as may fit me to gaia the creature! As God's people have subjected all their creature-enjoyments to religion, so oppositely, O my fou!, tho u haft subjected religion to thy wordly interest and designs, Instead of eating and drinking to ferve God, I have served God that I might eat and drink; yea, I have not only acted below religion, but below reason alfo; for reason dictates plainly, that the means must never be more excellent than the end. Wretch that I am, to make religion a slave to my lust, a ftirrup to advancement, an artifice to carry on my carnal designs, verily I have my reward ; and this is all the good I am ever like to get by it.

And no less should the worldling tremble, The worldling's to consider how he hath cast off the duties of reflection. religion, made them ftand aside, and give

place to the world. Instead of defiring fo much only as might make him serviceable to God, he thrusts aside'the service of God to get as much of the world as he can, who is so far from making godliness the end of his creaturecomforts, that he rather looks upon it as an obstacle, and hindrance to them. May not the very

heathens make me blush ? Could Aristotle deliver this as a true rule to posterity, to make religion our first, and chief care ? Could Aristippus say, He would rather neglect his means than his mind! his farin than his foul ? Will the very Mahometans, how urgent foever their business be, lay it all afide five times in the day to pray? Yea, is it common to a proverb among the very Papifts, that mass and meat hinders no man; and yet I, that profefs myself a Christian, thrust out duty for every trifle ! O wretched foul ! how hath the god of this world blinded mine eyes ? Can the world indeed do that for me, that Christ can do : Hath it ever proved true to them that trusted it, and doated on it? Hath it not at last turned them off, as men turn off a fumpter-horse at night, that hath been a drudge to carry their gold and silver for them all day, and at last is turned out with an empty belly, and a galled back? O how righteous will that sentence of God be? Go cry to the gods whom thou hast served.

And may not many gracious hearts turn The gracious foul's in upon themselves with

shame and forrow, reflection. to consider how unsatisfied they have been

in that condition, that others have preferred and esteemed as the greatest of all outward mercies? I have indeed been fed with food convenient, but not contented ? how hath mine heart been tortured from day to day with anxi

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ous thoughts, what I fall eat and drink, and wherewith I and mine shall be clothed? I pretend indeed that I care but for a competency of the world, but sure I am, my cares about it have been incompetent. Come my diftruftful earthly heart, let me propound a few queftions to thee about this matter, and answer truly to what I fhall demand of thee.

Queft. 1. Haft thou here a continuing city? Art thou at home, or upon thy journey, that thou art lo folicitous about the world? Thy profession indeed speaks thee a stranger upon earth, but thy converfation a home-dweler. Erasmus said he defired honours and riches no more than a weary horse doth a heavy cloak-bag. Wouldit thou not account him a fool that would victual his fhip as much to cross the channel to France, as if the were bound for the East Indies ? Alas! it will be but a little while, and then there will be no more need of


of thefe things. It is sad, that a foul which stands at the door of eter.' nity, fhould be perplexing itself about food and raiment.

Queft. 2. Which of all the faints halt thou known to be the better for much of the world ? It hath been fome mens utter ruin. Seldom doth God suffer men to be their own carvers, but they cut their own fingers. "To give riches and pleasure

to an evil man (saith ArMtotłe) is but to give wine to one that s'hath a fever.' Where there is no want, there is ufually. much wartonness. What a sad story is that of Pius Quintus ; When I was in a low condition, said he, I had some comfortable hopes of my falvation ; but when I came to be a Cardinal, I greatly doubted of it: But since I came to the Popedom, I have no hope at all. Though this poor, undone wretch, spake it out, and others keep it in ; yet, doubtless, he hath many thousand fellows in the world, that might fay as much, would they but speak the truth.

And even God's own people, though the world hath not excluded them out of heaven, yet it hath forely clogged them in the way thither. Many that have been very humble, holy, and heavenly, in a low condition, have suffered a fad ebb in a full condition. What a cold blast have they felt coming from the cares and delights of this life, to chill both their graces, and comforts ! It had been well for some of God's people, if they had never known what prosperity meant.

Quest. 3. Is not this a fad fymptom of a declining state of foul, to be so hot, eager, and anxious about the superflaous grifles of this life? Thinkest thou, O my foul! that one who walks in the views of that glory above, and maintains a conVOL. VI,


Versation in heaven, can be much taken with these vaniti Do not the vifions of God veil the tempting fplendor of creature ! It was the opinion of some of the Schoolmen, tl the reason why Adam in paradise was not sensible of his n kedness, was because he was wholly taken up in converfir with God. But this is certain, lively and sweet communio with God, blunts and dulls the edge of the affections to earth ly things, and canst thou be satisfied, my soul, with such gain as are attended with such spiritual loffes?

Queft. 4. To conclude, is it not dishonourable to God, and a justification of the way of the world, for me, that profefs myself a Christian, to be as eager after riches as other men ? " After all these things do the nations seek," Matth. vi. 32. If I had no Father in heaven, nor promise in the world, it were another matter ; but since my heavenly Father knows what I bave need of, and hath charged me to be careful in nothing, but only to tell him my wants, Phil. iv. 6. how unbecoming a thing is it in me to live and act as I have done! Let me henceforth learn to measure, and estimate my condition, rather by its usefulness to God, than its content and ease to my flesh.

The PO E M.
F fruit and service be, indeed, the end

To which my being and redemption tend,
Keafon concludes that itate, of all the rest,
Which is most serviceable, to be best.
And fuch a state experience fhews to lie
"Twixt fulness, and a pinching poverty.
This golden mean is worth a golden mine ;
He that hath this, should be asham'd to whine.
The full-fed Christian, like the ox i'th' ftall,
Is no way fit to work, or plow withal.
And penury, like Pharaoh's leaner kine,
Devours the fatteft portions of our time.
That man with whom this earthly pleasure's found,
Or in whose heart thofe anxious cares abound;
And yet can walk by fcripture-rule, and line,
Will need a better head and heart than mine;

A single staff the traveller may find,
Of use and service ; but if


should bind A bundle of them to his back, they'll make Him flack his pace, and cry my shoulders aken - I am a-traveller, this world's my way, A single staff may be of use to stay


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lot ;

My feeble body, if it do not crack
By too hard leaning on it ; but my back
Will bear no more: Alas! I soon ihail tire,
And more than one I cannot well desire.
Lord, to prescribe to thee becomes me not,
I rather do submit unto my
But yet let condescending grace admit
Thy servant's fuit this once, and this is it ;
The staff of bread convenient let me have,
And manage it discreetly; fo, 'twill save
Thy feeble servant from the mire and dirt,
But more or less than this may do me hurt.
Or if thou say, thy servant shall have none,
Then strengthen faith, that I may go alone.

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с c HA P.
Upon the Improvement of bad Ground.
Spent barren land you can reflore, and nourish:
Decayed Christians God can cause to flourish.

Here land is spent out by tillage, or for want of manur-

ing cover, and bring it in heart again. He lets it lie fallow, to give it reft, and time to recover itself: carries out his fand, lime, and compost, to refresh and quicken it again ; and in pasture and meadow ground, will waih it (if possible) with a current of water, or the float of the ways after a fall of rain, which is to the earth as a spring of new blood to a consumptive body. He cuts down, and kills the weeds that suck it out, and causes them to make restitucion of what they have purloined from it by rotting upon the place where they grew. As careful are they to recover it, when it is {pent, as an honest physician is of his pa tient in.a languishing condition ; for he knows his field will be as grateful to him, and fully requite his care and coft.

S man's, so God's husbandry is sometimes out of case,

not by yielding too many crops, but too few. The my{tical husbandman hath fome fields, (I mean particular societies and perfons, who were once fragrant, and fruitful, like a field) which God had bleffed, but are now decayed, and

barren; whose gleanings formerly were more than their vinti ge DOW; the things that are in them are ready to die, Rev. iii. 3:


Ifa. l. 10.

It is possible,yea, too common for gracious souls to be redu to a very low ebb, both of graces and comforts ; how lo will not say: Our British divines tell us, that grace inde cannot be totally intermitted, nor finally loft; but there m be an omission of the act, though not an omiffion of the habi The act may be perverted, though the faith cannot be fubver

ed; it may be shaken in, though not fha How far true grace ken out : Its fruits may fall, but its fap. lie in a believer may hid in the root. They demerit the loss o fail.

the kingdom, but lose it not effectively,

the effect of justification may be fufpended, but the state of the juftified cannot be diffolved. *

Certain it is, one that, like Paul, hath been wrapped up with joy, even to the third heavens, and cried, “I am more than a “conqueror, who shall separate me from the love of Chrift?may at another time ly mourning, as at the gates of death, crying, “ O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from “ the body of this death ?” One that hath walked in fweet communion with God, sunning himself in the light of his countenance, may afterwards “walk in darkness, and fee no light,"

He that hath cast anchor within the veil, and rode fecurely in the peaceful harbour of aflurance, may seem to feel his anchor of hope come home to him, and go a-drift into the Stormy ocean again, crying with the church, Lam, iji. 18. “ My hope is perished from the Lord." His calm and clear

may be over-cast and clouded, yea, filled withi storms and tempests, lightnings and thunders ; his graces, like underground flowers in the winter, may all disappear, and hide their beautiful heads.

To God he may fay, I am cast out of thy fight: I know thou canst do much, but wilt thou fhew wonders to the dead?

To the promises he may say, you are sweet things indeed, but what have I to do with you ? I.could once, indeed, rejoice in you, as my portion ; but now I doubt I grasped a shadow, a fancy, instead of you.

To faints he may say, turn away, from me, labour not to comfort me, O do not spill your precious ointment of consolation upon my head, for what have I to do with comfort ? To for. mer experiences, he may say in his hafte, you are all liars. To

* Gratia nec totaliter intermittitur nec finaliter amittitur, Actus omittitur, habitus non amittitur. Actio pervertitur, fides non fábuertitur. Concutitor, non excutitor. Defluit fructus, latet fuca eus. fas ad regnum amittunt demeritorie, non effe&tive. Effec. tus justificationis suspenditur, åt-status justificati non disolvitur,


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