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unkindness and ingratitude will be forgiven; the great Reconciler in whom I am beloved will then have perfected his work ; I shall then be wholly separated from the vanity which here deceived me; my open soul will be prepared to receive the heavenly influx; with open face I shall behold the open face of glorifying love; I shall joyfully attend his voice, and delightfully relish the celestial provisions. No disease will corrupt my appetite ; no sluggishness will make me guilty again of my old neglects; the love of the Father, by the grace of the Son, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, will have got the victory over all my deadness, folly, and disaffection, and my God-displeasing and self-undoing averseness and enmity will be gone for ever. The perfect love, which God doth first effect in me, will be my everlasting receptivity of the fullest love of God. Benevolent love will make me good ; that is, a holy lover of God; and then pleased love will make me his delight, and benevolence will still maintain me in my capacity.
Study this heavenly work of love, O my soul ; these are not dead or barren studies, these are not sad, unpleasant studies, it is only love that can relish love and understand it; the will here hath its gust, so like to an understanding, as make some philosophers say, that voluntas percipit is a proper phrase. What can poor, carnal worldlings know of glorious love, who study it without love? What sounding brass and tinkling cymbals, a lifeless voice, are they that preach of God, and Christ, and heavenly glory, without love; but gazing upon the face of love in Christ, and tasting of its gifts, and looking up to its glorious reign, is the way to kindle the sacred fire in thee. Look upwards, if thou wouldest see the light that must lead thee upwards. It is not for nothing that Christ hath taught us to begin our prayers with “Our Father, which art in heaven;" it is fatherly love that must win our hearts, and that must comfort them; and it is in heaven where this is gloriously manifested. As I said before, as the soul is in all the body, but yet understandeth not in the hand as it doth in the head, and rejoiceth not in the foot as it doth in the heart; so God, that is everywhere, doth not everywhere glorify his love as he doth it in heaven. Thither, therefore, the mind and eye are even by nature taught to look up as to God, as we look a man in the face when we speak to him, rather than to his feet, though his soul be also there.
My sinful heart hath needed sorrow. My careless, rash, presumptuous soul hath needed fears; and I have had some part of these. Mercy saw it good for me, as necessary to prevent my dangerous deceits and lapses: and ( that in the hour of sensual temptations I had feared more, and departed from evil. But it is holy love that must be my life; or else I am dead notwithstanding fear.
Oh, come, then, and study the life of love. It is more of a holy nature than of art; but yet study must do much to prepare thee to receive it. This is the great yse of a heavenly conversation. It is the contemplation, belief, and hope of the glorious state of love hereafter, that must make us like it, and kindle it in us here. The burning glass must be turned directly to the
you will have it set any thing on fire. There is a carnal or common love, to God, which is kindled in men by carnal pleasures; but a holy love, like that in heaven, must be studiously fetched from heaven, and kindled by the foresight of what is there, and what we shall be there for ever,
Faith must ascend, and look within the veil. Thou must not live as a stranger to thy home, to thy God, and Saviour, and thy hopes. The fire that must warm thee is in heaven, and thou must come near it, or open thyself to its influence, if thou wilt feel its powerful efficacy. It is night and winter with carnal minds, when it is day and summer with those that set their faces heavenward.
Sect. 21. JI. But, though all my receivings will be from God, they will not be from him alone. We must live in perfect union also with one another, and with all the heavenly society; and therefore as we must love them all, so shall we be beloved by them all : and this will be a subordinate part of our blessed
God there will make use of second causes, even in communicating his love and glory.
Sect. 22. 1. The Lord Jesus Christ will not only be the object of our delightful love, but will also love us with an effectual, operative love for ever. His love will be as the vital heat and motion of the heart to all the members, the root of our life and joy. The love of our Redeemer will flow out into us all as the vital spirits, and his face of glory will be the sun of the heavenly Jerusalem, and will shine upon us, and show us God; and in his light we shall have light. Did his tears for a dead Lazarus make men say, 'Behold how he loved him ! O, then, what will the reviving beams of heavenly life make us say of that love which filleth us with the pleasures of his presence, and
turneth our souls into joy itself. He comforteth us now by the teaching of his word; but, surely, the fruition of salvation will be more gladdening than the tidings of it. When he that told us of glory, in his gospel, shall give it us, we shall not only believe, but feel that he loveth us.
Sect. 23. Believe, O my soul, thy Saviour's love, that thou mayest foretaste it, and be fit to feel it. We were incapable, in sinful flesh, of seeing him othersvise than as clothed with flesh, and his consolations were administered by a word of promise suitable to his appearance; but when he withdrew his bodily presence, the Comforter was sent with a fuller consolation. But all that was but the earnest, and the first-fruits, of what he will be to us for ever. Be not seldom, nor unbelieving, nor slight, in the thoughts of thy Saviour's love, for it is he that is the way to the infinite love. Let thy believing be so much of thy daily work, that thou mayest say that he “dwelleth in thy heart by faith;” (Eph. iii. 17;) and that while thou livest here it is Christ that liveth in thee; and that thy life in the flesh is not a fleshly life, but by the faith of the Son of God that hath loved thee, and given himself for thee. (Gal. ii. 20.) And that though thou see him not, yet, believing, thou lovest him also with unspeakable joy, as believing the unspeakable perfect joy which his love will communicate to thee for ever.
Look upon the sun, and think thus with thyself: 'How wonderful is the emanation of this sun: its motion, light, and heat, communicated to so many millions of creatures all over the earth, and in the seas. What, if all these beams of light and heat were proportionable beams of perfect knowledge, love, and joy; and that all creatures that are under the sun had, from its influx, as much wisdom, love, and joy, as they have light, heat, and motion. Would not then this earth be as a world of angels, and a heaven? O what a blessed world would it be; and what a benefactor would the sun be to the world! Why, even such will Jesus Christ be to the celestial world. He is the sun of glory. His influence will send forth life and light, and joyful love upon all the blessed, from the face of God, as the sun sends forth from God its inotion, light, and heat, upon this world. Now, therefore, begin, and live upon him: live upon the influence of his grace, his teaching, love-kindling, and quickening grace, that thou mayest have his name and mark, and he may find in thee something of himself, or of his own, when thou comest to his righteous trial. His grace is not in my power, nor at my command. It is not meet it should be so; but he hath not bid me seek and beg in vain. If he had never told me that he will give it me, it is equal to a promise if he do but bid me seek and ask. But I have more. He teacheth me to pray: he maketh my prayers: he writeth me out a prayerbook on my heart: he giveth me desires, and he loveth to be importuned by them: his Spirit is first a spirit of supplication, and after of consolation, and in both a spirit of adoption. So far is he from being loth to be troubled with my importunity, that he seeketh me to seek his grace, and is displeased with me that I will ask and have no more.
All this is true: but how then cometh my soul to be yet so low, so dark, so fond of this wretched flesh and world, and so backward to go home, and dwell with Christ? Alas! a taste of heaven on earth is a mercy too precious to be cast away upon such as have long grieved and quenched the Spirit, and are not, by diligent and patient seeking, prepared to receive it. He that proclaimeth a general peace, will give peace only to the sons of peace. If, after such unkind neglects, such wilful sins as I have been guilty of, I should expect to be suddenly in my Saviour's arms, and to be feasted presently with the first-fruits of heaven, I should look that the Most Holy should too little manifest his hatred of my sin. My conscience remembereth the follies of my youth, and many a later odious sin; and telleth me that if heaven were quite hid from my sight, and I should never have a glimpse of the face of glorious, eternal love, it were but just. I look upward from day to day; I groan to see his pleased face, and better to know my God and my home. I cry to him daily, • My God, this little is better than all the pleasures of sin. My hopes are better than all the possessions of this world. Thy gracious looks have oft revived me, and thy mercies have been immeasurable to my soul and body. But, oh, how far short am I of what, even fifty years ago, I hoped sooner to have attained! Where is the peace that passeth understanding, that should keep my heart and mind in Christ? Oh! where is the seeing, the longing, the rejoicing, and triumphing faith? Where is that pleasant familiarity above, that should make a thought of Christ and heaven to be sweeter to me than the thoughts of friends, or health, or all the prosperity and pleasure of this world? Do those that dwell in God, and God in them, and have their hearts and conversations in heaven, attain to no more clear and satisfying perceptions of that blessed state than
I have yet attained? Is there no more acquaintance above to be here expected; no livelier sense of future joys, nor sweeter foretaste; no fuller silencing of doubts and fears? I am not so loth to go to a friend, nor to the bed where I oft spend the niglit in restless pains and rolling, as I have too often been to come to thee. Alas ! how many of thy servants are less afraid to go to a prison than to their God, and had rather be banished to a land of strangers than sent to heaven. Lord, must I, that am called thy child, and an heir of heaven, and a co-heir with Christ, have no more acquaintance with my glorified Lord, and no more love to thee that art my portion, before I go hence, and come before thee? Shall I have no more of the heavenly life, and light, and love ? Alas! I have scarce enough in my meditations to denominate them truly heavenly meditations. I have scarce enough in a prayer to make it indeed a heavenly prayer, or in a sermon to make it a heavenly sermon: and shall I have no more when I come to die? Must I go hence so like a stranger to my home? Wilt thou take strangers into heaven, and know them as thine that do not better know thee here? O my God, vouchsafe a sinner yet more of his Spirit that came down on earth to call up earthly minds to God, and to open heaven to all believers! O what do I beg for so frequently, so earnestly, for the sake of my Redeemer, as the spirit of life and consolation, which may show me the pleased face of God, and unite all my affections to my glorified Head, and draw up this dark and drowsy soul to love and long to be with thee ?'
But, alas ! though these are my daily groans, how little yet do I ascend. I dare not blame the God of love; he is full and willing. I dare not blame my blessed Saviour; he hath showed that he is not backward to do good. I dare not accuse the Holy Spirit; it is his work to sanctify and comfort souls. If I knew no reason of this, my low and dark estate, I must needs conclude that it is somewhat in myself. But, alas! my conscience wants not matter to satisfy me of the cause. Sinful resistance of the Spirit, and unthankful neglects of grace and glory, are undoubtedly the cause. But are they not a cause that mercy can forgive, that grace can overcome?
And may 1 not yet hope for such a victory before I die?
Lord, I will lie at thy doors and groan: I will pour out my moans before thee. I will beg, and whatever thou wilt, do thou with me. Thou describest the kindness of the dogs to a Lazarus that lay at a rich man's door in sores: thou commend