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Have ye not full often complained of the worthlessness and satiety of these poor vanities, here below? Ilave ye not found their promises false, their performances unsatisfactory, their disa; pointment irksome? Away then, ye frivolous temptations; and solicit those minds, that are low and empty, like yourselves: for me, I disdain your motions; and, being taken up with higher employments, scorn to descend to your base suggestions, wnich tend io nothing but mere earthliness.
But, as there is no fire which will not go out if it be not fed, it cannot be enough, that thou hast entertained these gracious vesolutions; unless thou do also supply and nourish them, with holy meditations, devout prayers, continual ejaculations, and the due frequentation of all the holy ordinances of thy God: without which, if they shall languish through thy neglect, thou shalt find double more work and difficulty, in reviving them; than there could have been, in maintaining and upholding them in their former vigour. Be not, therefore, wanting to thyself, in the perpetual exercise and improvement of all those holy means, that may further and perfect these heavenly longings after salvation: thy God shall not be wanting to thee, in blessing thee with an answerable success.
SECT, XI. It is the just praise of the marvellous bounty of thy God, O my soul, that he will fulfil the desires of them, that fear him ; Psalm cxlv. 19. If, therefore, thou canst hunger and thirst after righteousness, if thy heart can yearn after heaven, he shall be sure to satisfy thee with goodness: and not only shall bring thee home, at the last, to that land of promised blessedness; but, in the mean time also, put thee into an inchoate fruition of happiness; which is the next degree of thine ascent to heaven.
That, which is complete, may be the surest rule of knowing and judging, of that, which is imperfect. Wherein doth the perfection of heavenly bliss consist, but in a perpetual enjoying the presence of God, in a clear vision of the Divine Essence, in a perfect union with God, and an eternal participation of his life and glory? Now, as grace is glory begun, and glory is grace consummate, so dost thou, O my soul, being wrought to it by the power of the Spirit of thy God, even in this life, how weakly soever, enter upon all these acts and privileges of beatitude: even here below, thou art never out of the presence of thy God; and that presence can never be other than glorious; and that it is not beatifical here, is not out of any deficiency in it, but in thine own miserable incapacity, who, while thou abidest in this vale of tears, and art clogged with this fesh, art no fit subject of so happy a condition.
Yea, that blessed presence is ever comfortably acknowledged by thee, and enjoyed with such contentment and pleasure, that thou wouldst not part with it for a world, and that thou justly accountest all earthly delights but mere vexations to that alone: Whom have I in heaven, but thee? and what do I desire on earth, in comparison of thee? Psalm lxxiii. 25. Balaain could say, how truls soever, I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh; Num. xxiv. 17: but, Lord, I see thee even now: I behold thee so nigh me, that I live in thee; and would rather die, than live without thee. I see thee, though weakly and dimly, yet truly and really: I see thee, as my God All-sufficient, as my powerful Creator, my merciful Redeemer, my gracious Comforter: I see thee the Living God, the Father of Lights, the God of Spirits; dwelling in light inaccessible; animating, filling, comprehending this glorious world; and do awfully adore thine infiniteness.
Neither do I look at thee, with a trembling astonishment, as some dreadful stranger or terrible avenger; but I behold thy Majesty so graciously complying with my wretchedness, that thou admittest me to a blessed uvion with thee. I take thee at thy word, O Dear Saviour, even that sweet word of impetration, which thou wert pleased to utter to thy Co-eternal Father, immediately before thy meritorious passion: I pray not for these alone, but for them also, vehich shall believe on me through their word: that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee; that they may be one in us. And the glory, which thou gavest me, I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me; that they may be made perfect in one : and that the world may know, that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me; John xvii. 20—23. I know thou couldest not but be heard, in all that thou prayedst; and, therefore, I take what thou suedst for, as done. Lord, I do believe in thee: unite thou me to thee: make me one spirit with thee; 1 Cor. vi. 17. It is 110 presumption, to sue and hope for what thou hast prayed for, and promised to perform. Oh, make me, according to the capability of my weak humanity, partaker of thy Divine Nature; 2 Peter i. 4. Vouchsafe to allow me, even me, poor wretched soul, to say of thee, I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine ; Cant. vi. 3.
And, by virtue of this indissoluble union, why shouldest thou not, O my soul, find thyself endowed with a blessed participation of that heavenly life and glory, which is in and with him? In that thou art united to thy body, thou impartest to it vegetation, sense, motion; and givest it a share in the exercise of all thy noble faculties: how much more entire and beneficial is the spiritual union of thy God and thee! Alas, that bond of natural conjunction is easily dissolved, by ten thousand ways of death: this heavenly knot is so fast tied, that all the powers of hell cannot unloose it. And the blessings communicated to thee by this Divine match are so much more excellent, as the Infinite Giver of them is above thy meanness. Lo, now thou art actually interested in all that thy God is, or hath: his kingdom is thine, his glory is thine, to all eternity
SECT. XII. AND what now can follow, () my soul, upon the apprehension of thus enjoying the presence of thy God, and the vision of so blessed an object, and thine union with him and participation of him; but a sensible ravishment of spirit, with a joy unspeakable
and full of glory? Heretofore, if some great friend should have
But, alas, what poor things are these, in comparison of those heavenly promotions ! I might have been brought into the stateliest court of this world; and have been honoured, not only with the presence, but the highest favours of the best and greatest of kings; and
yet have been most miserable. Yea, which of those monarchs, that have the command and dispensation of all greatness, can secure himself from the saddest infelicities? But these spiritual prerogatives are above the reach of all possible miseries, and can and do put thee, in some degree, into an unfailing possession, both real and personal, of eternal blessedness.
I cannot wonder that Peter, when, with the other two disciples upon mount Tabor, he saw the glorious Transfiguration of my Saviour, was out of himself for the time, and knew not what he said; yet, as not thinking himself and his partners, any other ways concerned, than in the sight of so heavenly a vision, he mentions only three tabernacles, for Christ, Moses, Elias, none for them. selves; Mark ix. 6. Luke ix. 33. It was enough for him, if, without doors, he might be still blessed with such a prospect: but how had he been rapt from himself, if he had found himself taken into the society of this wondrous transformation, and interested in the communion of this glory!
Thy renovation, and the power of thy faith, O my soul, puts thee into that happy condition: thou art spiritually transfigured into the similitude of thy Blessed Saviour, shining with his righteousness and holiness; Rom. xii. 2. Eph. iv. 24: so as he is glorified in thee, and thou in him; John xvii. 10. 2 Thes. i. 12: glorified, not in the fulness of that perfection, which will be; but in the pledge and earnest, of what shall and must be, hereafter.
Oh, then, with what unspeakable joy and jubilation, dost thou entertain thy happiness! " How canst thou contain thyself any longer within these bounds of my flesh, when thou feelest thyself thus initiated into glory? Art thou in heaven, and knowest it not? knowest thou not, that he, who is within the entry or behind the screen, is as truly within the house; as he, that walks in the hall, or sits in the parlour? and canst thou pretend to be within the verge of heaven, and not rejoice? What is it, that makes heaven, but joy and felicity? thy very thought cannot separate these two, no more than it can sever the sun and light: for both these are
equally the originals and fountains of light and joy; from whence they both flow, and in which both are complete. There is no light, which is not derived from the sun; no true joy, but from heaven: as, therefore, the nearer to the body of the sun, the more light and heat; so, the nearer to heaven, the more excess of joy. And certainly, O my soul, there is nothing, but infidelity, can keep thee from an exuberance of joy and delight, in the apprehension of heaveu.
Can the weary traveller, after he hath measured many tedious miles, and passed many dangers both by sea and land, and felt the harsh entertainments of a stranger, chuse but rejoice to draw near, in his return, to a rich and pleasant home? Can the ward, after a hard pupillage, chuse but rejoice that the day is coming, wherein he shall freely enjoy all his lordly revenues and royalties? Can a Joseph chuse but find himself inwardly joyed, when, out of the dungeon, he shall be called up, not to liberty only, but to honour; and shall be arrayed with a vesture of fine linen, and graced with Pharaoh's ring and chain, and set in his second chariot, and in the next chair to the throne of Egypt? And canst thou apprehend thyself now approaching to the glory of the heaven of heavens, a place and state of so infinite contentment and happiness, and not be ecstasied with joy?
There, there shalt thou, O my soul, enjoy a perfect rest from all thy toils, cares, fears: there shalt thou find a true vital life, free from all the incumbrances of thy miserable pilgrimage; free from the dangers of either sins or temptations; free from all anxiety and distraction; free from all sorrow, pain, perturbation; free from all the possibility of change or death: a life, wherein there is nothing, but pure and perfect pleasure ; nothing, but perpetual melody of angels and saints, singing sweet Hallelujahs to their God: a life, which the most glorious Deity both gives, and is: a life, wherein thou hast the full fruition of the ever-blessed Godhead, the continual society of the celestial spirits, the blissful presence of the glorified Humanity of thy Dear Saviour: a life, wherein thou hast ever consort with the glorious company of the apostles, the goodly fellowship of the patriarchs and prophets, the noble army of martyrs and confessors, the celestial synod of all the holy fathers and illuminated doctors of the Church; shortly, the blessed assembly of all the faithful professors of the Name of the Lord Jesus, that, having finished their course, sit now shining in their promised glory. Se e there that yet-unapproachable light, that divine magnificence of the Heavenly King: see that resplendent crown of righteous. ness, which decks the heads of every of those saints; and is ready to be set on thine, when thou hast happily overcome those spiritual powers, wherewith thou art still conflicting: see the joyful triumphs of these exulting victors: see the measures of their glory different, yet all full, and the least unmeasurable: lastly, see all this happiness not limited to thousands, nor yet millions of years, but commeasured by no less than eternity.
And now, my soul, if thou have received the infallible engagement of thy God, in that, having believed, thou art sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of thine inheritance, until the full redemption of thy purchased possession ; Eph. i. 13, 14: if, through his infinite mercy, thou be now upon the entering into that blessed place and state of immortality : forbear, if thou canst, to be raised above thyself with the joy of the Holy Ghost: 1 Thes. i. 6: to be enlarged towards thy God, with a joy unspeakable and glorious. See, if thou canst now breathe forth any thing, but praises to thy God, and songs of rejoicing: bearing evermore a part in that heavenly ditty of the angels; Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might be unto our God, for ever and ever; Rev. vii. 12.
SECT. XIII. And now what remains, O my soul, but that thou do humbly and faithfully wait at the gate of heaven, for a happy entrance, at the good pleasure of thy God, into those everlasting mansions ?
I confess, should thy merits be weighed in the balance of a rigorous justice, another place, which I cannot mention without horror, were more fit for thee, more due to thee: for, alas, thou hast been, above measure, sinful; and thou knowest the wages of sin, death. But the God of my mercy hath prevented thee, with infinite compassion; Psalm lix. 1o: and, in the multitudes of his tender mercies, hath not only delivered thee from the nethermost hell; Psalm lxxxvi. 13: but hath also vouchsafed to translate thee to the kingdom of his Dear Son ; Col. i. 13. In him, thou hast boldness of access to the Throne of Grace: thou, who, in thyself, art worthy to be a child of wrath, art, in him, adopted to be a co-heir of glory; and hast the livery and seizin given thee, beforehand, of a blessed possession; the full estating wherein, I do, in all humble awfulness, attend.
All the few days, therefore, of my appointed time, will I wait at the threshold of grace, until my changing come; with a trembling joy, with a longing patience, with a comfortable hope.
Only, Lord, I know there is something to be done, ere I can enter: I must die, ere I can be capable to enjoy that blessed life with thee: one stroke of thine angel must be endured, in my passage into thy paradise. And, lo, here I am before thee, ready to embrace the condition: even, when thou pleasest, let me bleed once to be ever happy. Thou hast, after a weary walk through this roaring wilderness, vouchsafed to call up thy servant to mount Nebo; and, from thence, aloof off, to shew me the Land of Promise, a land that flows with milk and honey. Do thou but say, “ Die tho
,” with this prospect in mine eye; and do thou mercifully take my soul from me, who gavest it to me; and dispose of it where thou wilt, in that region of immortality. Amen, Amen. Come, Lord Jesu, come quickly.
Behold, Lord, I have, by thy providence, dwelt in this house of clay more than double the time, wherein thou wert pleased to sojourn upon earth: yet, I may well say, with thy holy Patriarch,