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And dost thou doubt, canst thou doubt,' O my soul, whether thou art going to a God that loveth thee? If the Jews discerned the great love of Christ to Lazarus by his tears, canst thou not discern his love to thee in his blood ? It is never the less, but the more, obliging and amiable that it was not shed for thee alone, but for many. May I not say as Paul, (Gal. ii. 20,)“ I live by the faith of the Son of God, that hath loved me, and given himself for me.” Yea, it is not so much I that live, as Christ liveth in me: and will he forsake the habitation which his love hath chosen ; and which he hath so dearly bought? Oh, read often that triumphing chapter Rom. viii., and conclude, “What shall separate us from the love of God?” If life have not done it, death shall not do it. If leaning on his breast at meat was a token of Christ's special love to John, is not his dwelling in me by my faith, and his living in me by his Spirit, a sure token of his love to me: and if a dark saying, “ If he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” raised a report that the beloved disciple should not die, why should not plain promises assure me that I shall live with him that loveth me for ever? Be not so unthankful, O my soul, as to question, doubtingly, whether thy heavenly Father, and thy Lord, doth love thee? Canst thou forget the sealed testimonies of it? Did I not even now repeat so many as should shame my doubts ? A multitude of thy friends have loved thee so entirely, that thou canst not doubt of it: and did any of them signify their love with the convincing evidence that God hath done? Have they done for thee what he hath done? Are they love itself? Is their love so full, so firm, and so unchangeable, as his? My thoughts of heaven are the sweeter, because abundance of my ancient, lovely, and loving holy friends are there : and I am the willinger, by death, to follow them. And should I not think of it more pleasedly because my God and Father, my Saviour, and my Comforter, is there? And not alone, but with all the society of love. Was not Lazarus in the bosom of God himself? Yet it is said that he was in Abraham's bosom; as the promise runs, that we shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God. And what maketh the society of the saints so sweet as holy love? It is comfortable to read, that " To love the Lord our God with all our heart, and soul, and might,' is the first and great commandment; and the second is like to it;" to love our neighbours as ourselves.” For God's commands proceed from that will which is his nature, or essence, and they tend to the same as their objective end. Therefore, he that hath made love the great command, doth tell us that love is the great conception of his own essence, the spring of that command ; and that this commanded, imperfect love doth tend to perfect, heavenly love, even to our communion with essential, infinite love. It were strange, that the love and goodness which is equal to the power that inade the world, and the wisdom that ordereth it, should be scant and backward to do good, and to be suspected more than the love of friends! The remembrance of the holiness, humility, love, and faithfulness, of my dearest friends of every rank, with whom I have conversed on earth, in every place where I have lived, is so sweet to me, that I am oft ready to recreate myself with the naming of such as are now with Christ. But in heaven they will love me better than they did on earth; and my love to them will be more pleasant. But all these sparks are little to the sun.
Every place that I have lived in was a place of divine love, which there set up its obliging monuments. Every year and hour of my life hath been a time of love ; every friend, and every neighbour, yea, every enemy, have been the messengers and instruments of love; every state and change of my life, notwithstanding my sin, hath opened to . ine treasures and mysteries of love. And after such a life of love, shall I doubt whether the same God do love me? Is he the God of the mountains, and not of the vallies ? Did he love me in my youth and health, and doth he not love me in my age, and pain, and sickness ? Did he love all the faithful better in their life than at their death? If our hope be not chiefly in this life, neither is our state of love, which is principally the heavenly, endless grace. My groans grieve my friends, but abate not their love. Did he love me for my strength, my weakness might be my fear; as they that love for beauty loathe them that are deformed, and they that love for riches despise the poor. But God loved me when I was his enemy, to make me a friend, and when I was bad, to make me better. Whatever he taketh pleasure in is his own gift. Who made me to differ? And what have I that I have not received? And God will finish the work, the building, the warfare, that is his own. Oh, the multitude of mercies to my soul and body, in peace and war, in youth and age, to myself and friends, the many great and gracious deliverances which have testified to me the love of God! Have I lived in the experience of it, and shall I die in the doubts of it? Had it been love only to my body, it would have died with me, and not have accompanied my departing soul. I am not much in doubt of the truth of my love to him ; though I have not seen him, save as in a glass, as in a glass seen I love him. I love my brethren whom I have seen, and those most that are most in love with him. I love his word, and works, and ways, and fain I would be nearer to him, and love him more; and I loathe myself for loving him no better. And shall Peter say more confidently, “ Thou knowest that I love thee," than “ I know that thou lovest me?” Yes, he may; because, though God's love is greater and steadfaster than ours, yet our knowledge of his great love is less than his knowledge of our little love; and as we are defective in our own love, so are we in our certainty of its sincerity. And without the knowledge of our love to God, we can never be sure of his special love to us. But yet I am not utterly a stranger to myself; I know for what I have lived and laboured in the world, and who it is that I have desired to please. The God whose I am, and whom I serve, hath loved me in my youth, and he will love me in my aged weakness. My flesh and my heart fail; my pains seem grievous to the flesh; but it is love that chooseth them, that useth them for my good, that moderateth thein, and will shortly end them. Why then should I doubt of my Father's love? Shall pain or dying make me doubt? Did God love none from the beginning of the world, but Enoch and Elias? And what am I better than
forefathers ? What is in me that I should expect exemption from the common lot of mankind ? Is not a competent time of great mercy on earth, in order to the unseen felicity, all that the best of men can hope for? O for a clearer, stronger faith, to show me the world that more excelleth this, than this excelleth the womb where I was conceived ! Then should I not fear my third birthday, what pangs soever go before it; nor be unwilling of my change. The grave, indeed, is a bed that nature doth abhor, yet there the weary be at rest. But souls new born have a double nature that is immortal, and go to the place that is agreeable to their nature, even to the region of spirits, and the region of holy love. Even passive matter, that hath no other natural motion, hath a natural inclination to uniting, aggregative motion. And God maketh all natures suitable to their proper ends and use. How can it be that a spirit should not incline to be with spirits ? and souls, that have the divine nature in holy love, desire to be with the God of love ? Arts, and sciences, and tongues, become not a nature to us; else they would not cease at death. But holy love is our new nature, and therefore ceaseth not with this bodily life. And shall accidental love make me desire the company of a frail and mutable friend? And shall not this engrafted, inseparable love, make me long to be with Christ? Though the love of God to all his créatures will not prove that they are all immortal, nor oblige them to expect another life, that never had capacity or faculties to expect it, yet his love to such as in nature and grace are made capable of it, doth warrant and oblige them to believe and hope for the full perfection of the work of love. Some comfort themselves in the love of St. Peter, as having the keys of heaven. And how many could I name that are now with Christ, who loved me so faithfully on earth, that were I sure they had the keys and power of heaven, and were not changed in their love, I could put my departing soul into their hands, and die with joy. And is it not better in the hand of my Redeemer, and the God of love, and Father of spirits ? Is any love comparable to his; or any friend so boldly to be trusted ? I should take it for ungrateful unkindness in my friend to doubt of my love and trustiness, if I had given him all that he hath, and maintained him constantly by my kindness; but oh, how odious a thing is sin! which, by destroying our love to God, doth make us unmeet to believe and sweetly perceive his love ; and by making us doubt of the love of God, and lose the pleasant relish of it, doth more increase our difficulty of loving him. The title that the angel gave to Daniel, “ A man greatly beloved of God," methinks, should be enough to make one joyfully love and trust God, both in life and death. Will Almighty love ever hurt me or forsake me ? And have not all saints that title in their degrees? What else signifieth their mark and name, Holiness to the Lord? What is it but our separation to God, as his peculiar, beloved people? And how are they separated but by mutual love, and our forsaking all that alienateth, or is contrary? Let scorners deride us as self-flatterers, that believe they are God's darlings; and wo to the hypocrites that believe it on their false presumption! Without such belief or grounded hopes I see not how any man can die in true peace. He that is no otherwise beloved than hypocrites and unbelievers, must have his portion with them. And he that is no otherwise beloved than as the ungodly, unholy, and unregenerate, shall not stand in judgment, nor see God, nor enter into his kingdom. Most upright souls are to blame for groundless doubting of God's love; but not for acknowledging it, rejoicing in it, and, in their doubts, being most solicitous to make it sure. Love brought me into the world, and furnished me with a thousand mercies. Love hath provided for me, delivered me, and preserved me, till now; and will it not entertain my separated soul? Is God like false or insufficient friends, that forsake us in adversity ?
I confess that I have wronged love by sin; by many and great unexcusable sins. But all, save Christ himself, were sinners, which love did purify, and receive to glory. God, who is rich in
mercy, for the great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by grace we are saved, and hath raised us up together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Eph. ii. 4–6.) O that I could love much that have so much forgiven! The glorified praise him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and made us kings and priests to God. (Rev. i. 5, 6.) Our Father that hath loved us, giveth us consolation and good hope, through grace. (2 Thess. ii. 16.) I know no sin which I repent not of with self-loathing; and I earnestly beg and labour that none of my sins may be to me unknown. . I dare not justify even what is in any way uncertain; though I dare not call all that my sin which siding men, of different judgments, on each side, passionately call so. While both sides do it on contrary accounts,' and not to go contrary ways is a crime. O that God would bless my accusations to my illumination, that I may not be unknown to myself! Though some think me much better than I am, and others much worse, it most concerneth me to know the truth myself; flattery would be more dangerous to me than false accusations : I may safelier be ignorant of other men's sins than of my own. understand his errors ? Cleanse me, Lord, from secret sins, and let not ignorance or error keep me in impenitence; and keep thou me back from presumptụous sins. (Psalm xix. 12, 13.) I have an advocate with the Father, and thy promise, that he that confesseth and forsaketh his sins shall have mercy. Those are, by some men, taken for my greatest sins, which my most serious thoughts did judge to be the greatest of my outward duties, and which I performed through the greatest difficulties, and which cost me dearest to the flesh, and the greatest self