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heart as empty as thou possibly canst, that so it may be the more capable of being filled with God. It is a work, as I have said, that will require all the powers of thy soul, if they were a thousand times more capacious and active than they are, and therefore you have need to lay aside all other thoughts and affections while you are busied in this exercise.
Seeing, therefore, so much depends on the capacity and frame of thy heart how much thou shalt enjoy of God in this contemplation, be sure that all the room thou hast be empty, and if ever, seek him here with all thy soul. Say to all thy worldly business and thoughts, as Christ to his disciples, “ Sit ye here while I go and pray yonder.” Yea, as God did terrify the people with the threatenings of death, if any one should dare to come up the Mount when Moses was to receive the law from God, so do thou terrify thy own heart, and use violence against thy intruding thoughts, if they offer to accompany thee to the mount of contemplation. Or as the priests thrust Uzziah the king out of the temple when he presumed to burn incense, so do thou thrust these thoughts from the temple of thy heart. Yourselves may be welcome, but such followers are not.
II. Engage in this work with the greatest seriousness. Formality here is a killing sin. There is no trifling in holy things: God will be "sanctified of all them that draw nigh unto him.” To help thee therefore to be serious when thou settest about this work, attend to these three directions.
1. Labour to have a deep apprehension of the presence of God, and the incomprehensible greatness of the majesty which thou approachest. If Rebecca veil her face at her approach to Isaac; if Esther must not draw near till the king hold forth the golden sceptre; if dust and worms must treat each other with such respect, think with what reverence thou shouldst approach thy Maker: Think thou art addressing thyself to him that made the worlds by the word of his mouth, that upholds the earth as in the palm of his hand, that keeps the sun, and moon, and stars in their courses, that bounds the raging sea with the sands, and says, “ Hitherto shalt thou come, and no farther.” Thou art about to converse with him before whom the earth will quake, and devils tremble; before whose bar thou must shortly stand, and all the world with thee, to receive their doom. Why should not the dread of his name possess my soul !”
2. Labour to apprehend the greatness of the work which thou attemptest. If thou
wast pleading for thy life at the bar of a judge, thou wouldst be serious; and yet that were but a trifle to this. If thou wast engaged in such a work as David was against Goliath, whereon the kingdom's deliverance did depend, thou wouldst be serious; and yet considered in itself, that were nothing to this. Suppose thou wast going to such a wrestling as Jacob's; suppose thou wast going to see the sight, which the three disciples saw in the mount; how seriously, how reverently wouldst thou both approach and behold ! If some angel from heaven should but appoint to meet thee, at the time and place of thy contemplations, how dreadfully, how apprehensively wouldst thou go forth to meet him! Why, consider then with what a spirit thou shouldst meet the Lord, and with what seriousness and dread thou shouldst daily converse with him. When Manoah had seen but an angel, he cries out, “ We shall surely die, because we have seen God.”
3. Consider the blessed issue of the work. If it succeeds, it will be an admission of thee into the presence of God, a beginning of thy eternal glory on earth, a means to make thee live above the rate of other men, and admit thee into the next room to the angels themselves: a means to make thee both live and die joyfully and blessedly. Now, the prize being so great, thy preparation should be corresponding thereto. There is none on earth who live such a life of joy and blessedness, as those that are acquainted with this heavenly conversation. The joys of all other men are but like the play of children, or the laughter of fools. It is he who trades with heaven that is the only gainer; and he who neglects it is the only loser. Othen how seriously should this work be done!
OF THE FACULTIES WHICH ARE EXERCISED
To draw the heart yet nearer to the work, I shall now show you what
powers of the soul must be exercised in heavenly contemplation.
I. You must go to the memory, which is the magazine or treasury of the understanding, and thence you must draw those heavenly doctrines which you intend to make the subject of your meditation. You may, for this purpose, look over any promise of eternal life in the Bible, any description of the glory of the saints, or the very articles of the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Some one sentence concerning these eternal joys, may afford you matter for many years' meditation; yet it will be a point of wisdom to have always a stock of matter in your memory, that so, when you should use it, you may bring forth out of your treasury things new and old. If we should take things in order, and observe some method in respect of the matter, and meditate first on one truth concerning eternity, and then on another, it would not be amiss; and if any should be barren of matter through weakness of memory, they may have notes or books on this subject to assist them.
II. When you have drawn from your memory the matter of your meditation, your next work is to present it to your judgment. Open the case as fully as thou canst,-set forth the several ornaments of the crown, and the several dignities belonging to the kingdom. Let judgment deliberately view them, and take as exact a survey of them as it can. Then put the question, and require a determination. Is there happiness in all this or not? Is there not here enough to make me blessed ? Can he want any thing who fully possesses God? Is there any thing higher for a crea ture to attain ? Thus urge thy judgment to pass an upright sentence, and compel it to subscribe to the perfection of the celestial happiness, and to leave this sentence under its hand upon record. If thy senses should begin to mutter, and put in a word for fleshly pleasure or profits, let judgment hear what each can say; weigh the arguments of the world and the flesh in one scale, and the arguments for the pre-eminence of glory in the other, and judge impartially which should be preferred. Try whether there be any comparison to be made between them, which is more excellent, which more satisfactory, which more pure, which frees most from misery, which advances us highest, and which is of longest continuance. Thus let deliberate judgment decide it, and let not flesh carry it by noise and violence; and when the sentence is passed and recorded in thy heart, it will be ready at hand to be produced upon any occasion, and to silence the flesh in its next attempt, and to disgrace the world in its next competition.
III. But the great work is, to exercise thy belief of the truth of thy rest; and that in respect both of the truth of the promise, and of the truth of thy own interest in it. As unbelief causes the languishing of all our graces, so faith would do much to revive and actuate them, if it were but revived and actuated in itself. Our belief of the truth of the Scripture, I conceive as needful to be exercised and confirmed, as almost any point of faith. Though few complain of their not believing the Scripture, yet I conceive it to be the commonest part of unbelief, and the very root of bitterness, which spoils our graces. Perhaps thou hast not a positive belief of the contrary, nor dost thou expressly think that Scripture is not the word of God: and yet thou mayest have but little belief that the Scripture is the word of God. If we did fully believe that there is such a glory, and that within a few days our eyes shall behold it, what passions would it raise within us ! Were we thoroughly persuaded tha every word in the Scripture concerning the inconceivable joys of the kingdom, and the inexpressible blessedness of the life to come, is the very word of the living God, and would certainly be performed to the smallest tittle, 0 what astonishing apprehensions of that life would it produce in our minds! What amazing horror would seize upon our hearts, if we found ourselves strangers to the conditions of that life, and utterly ignorant of our portion therein! What love, what longings would it raise within us ! and how would it transport us with joy upon the least assurance of our title !
Let this therefore be a chief part of thy business in meditation. Produce the strong arguments for the truth of Scripture : plead them against thy unbelieving nature. Answer and silence all the cavils of infidelity; read over the promises ; study all confirming providences; call forth thine own recorded experiences; remember the Scriptures which have already been fulfilled, both to the church and to the saints in former ages. Get ready the clearest and most convincing arguments, and keep them by thee, and frequently use them. Then too set before your faith, the freeness, and the universality of the promise. Consider God's offer of mercy, and that he has excepted from it, no man who will accept of it. Study also the gracious disposition of Christ, and his readiness to welcome all that come to him: study all the evidences of his love, as manifested in his sufferings, in his condescension to sinners, in his easy conditions, in his exceeding patience, in his urgent invitations and his faithfulness in performing his engagements. Study also the evidences of his love in thyself; look over the works of his grace in thy soul. If thou do not find the degree which thou desirest, yet deny not that degree which thou findest ; look after the sincerity more than the quantity. Remember what discoveries of thy state thou hast made formerly in the work of self-examination, how oft God has convinced thee of the sincerity of thy heart. Remember all the former testimonies of the Spirit, and all thy sweet feelings of the favour