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and he invites me to sit down, and feed plenteously thereon as a foretaste of the high delights of heaven.
But, ah my Lord, thy feast is nothing to me with out an appetite. Thou hast set the dainties of heaven before me, but alas, I am blind, and cannot see them; I am sick and cannot relish them; I am so benumbed, that I cannot put forth my hand to take them. I therefore humbly beg thy grace, that as thou hast opened heaven to me in thy blessed word, so thou wouldst open mine eyes to see it, and my heart to delight in it, else heaven will be no heaven to me.
Away soul tormenting cares and fears! Away ye importunate heart-vexing sorrows! At least forbear me a little while; stand by, and trouble not my aspiring soul; stay here below, whilst I go up, and see my rest. The way is strange to me, but not to Christ. There was the eternal dwelling of his glorious Deity and thither has he also brought his assumed glorified flesh. It was his work to purchase it; it is his work to prepare it, and to prepare me for it, and to bring me to it. The eternal God of truth has given me his promise, his seal, and his oath to assure me, that believing in Christ I shall not perish, but have everlasting life. Thither shall my soul be speedily removed, and my body will very shortly follow. It is not so far, but he that is every where can bring me thither; nor so difficult and unlikely but omnipotency can effect it. And though this unbelief may diminish my delights, and much abate my joys in the way; yet shall it not abate the love of my Redeemer, nor make the promise of none effect. And can my tongue say, that I shall shortly and surely live with God; and yet my heart not leap within me? Can I say it believingly, and not rejoicingly? Ah faith! how sensibly do I now perceive thy weakness! Ah unbelief! if I had never heard or known it before, how sensibly do I now perceive thy malicious tyranny. But, though thou darken my light, and dull my life, and suppress my joys, yet shalt thou not be able to conquer and destroy me. There shall I and my joys survive, when thou art dead; and though thou envy
all my comforts, yet some, in despite of thee, I shall even here receive. But were it not for thee, what abundance might I have! The light of heaven would shine into my heart, and I might be as familiar there as I am on earth.
Come away, my soul, then; stop thine ears to the ignorant language of infidelity. Thou art able to answer all its arguments; or if thou be not, yet tread them under thy feet. Come away, stand not looking on that grave, nor turning up those bones, nor reading thy lesson in the dust. These lines will soon be wiped out. But raise thy eyes to heaven; and see thy name in golden letters written in the book of life before the foundation of the world. What if an angel from heaven should tell thee, that there is a mansion prepared for thee; that it shall certainly be thine own, and thou shalt possess it for ever? Would not such a message make thee glad? And dost thou make light of the infallible promises which were delivered by the Holy Spirit, and by the Son himself? Suppose thou hadst seen a fiery chariot come for thee, to carry thee up to heaven like Elijah. Would not this rejoice thee? Why, my Lord assures me, that the soul of Lazarus, though a beggar, goes not forth of its corrupted flesh, but a convoy of angels are ready to attend it, and carry it to Abraham's bosom. Can meat and drink delight me when I am hungry and thirsty? Can I find pleasure in walks, and gardens, and convenient dwellings? Can beauteous sights delight mine eyes, and sweet odours my smell, and melodious sounds mine ears? And shall not the forethought of the celestial bliss delight me? What delight have I found in my private studies, especially when they have prospered to the increase of my knowledge! Methinks I could bid the world farewell, and immure myself among my books, and look forth no more (were it a lawful course,) but as Heinsius in his library at Leyden, shut the doors upon me, and as in the lap of eternity, employ myself with sweet content among those divine souls, and pity the rich and great ones that know not this happiness. If Lipsius thought
when he did but read Seneca, that he was upon Olympus' top, above mortality and human things,what a case shall I be in when I am beholding Christ! How delectable will my life be, when I shall fully and clearly know those things which the most learned do now know but doubtfully and darkly! In one hour I shall see all my difficulties vanish, and all my doubts resolved. Yea all the depths of divinity will be uncovered to me, and the book of God unsealed, and mine eyes opened. In knowing God, I shall know all things, that are fit or good for the creature to know. If the Queen of Sheba came from Ethiopia to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and see his glory, O how gladly should I leave this country! how cheerfully should I pass from earth to heaven to see the glory of the Eternal Majesty; and to attain myself that height of wisdom, in comparison of which the most learned on earth are ignorant silly fools! If Bernard was so ravished with the delights of his monastery (where he lived in poverty, without the common pleasures of the world,) because of its green banks, and shady bowers, and herbs, and trees, and various objects to feed the eyes, and fragrant smells, and sweet and various tunes of birds, together with the opportunity of devout contemplations, that he cries out in admiration, "Lord, what abundance of delights dost thou provide even for the poor !"-how should I be ravished with the heaven of heavens, which is not formed by the art of man, but is the matchless palace of the great King, built by himself for the residence of his glory, and the perpetual entertainment of his beloved saints; where, instead of herbs, and trees, and birds, and bowers, I shall enjoy God and my Redeemer, angels, saints, and other inexpressible pleasures; and therefore should with more admiration cry out, "Lord, what delights hast thou provided for us miserable and unworthy creatures that wait for thee!" If the honour of the ambitious, or the wealth of the covetous person increase; if they have a little more land or money, than their neighbours, how easily you may see it in their countenance
and carriage. How high do they look! how big do they speak! how stately and lofty do they demean themselves! And shall not the heavenly loftiness and height of my spirit, discover my title to this promised land? Shall I be the adopted son of God, and co-heir with Christ of that blessed inheritance and daily look when I am to be put into possession; and shall not this be seen in my joyful countenance? What if God had made me commander of the earth? What if
the mountains would remove at my command ? What if I could heal all diseases with a word or a touch? What if the infernal spirits were all at my command? Should I not rejoice in such privileges and honours as these? Yet is it my Saviour's command, not to rejoice because the devils are subject to us; but because our names are written in heaven.
I cannot here enjoy my parents, or my near and beloved friends without some delight. When I freely let out my affections to them, how sweet is that very exercise of love! O what will it then be to live in the perpetual love of God? For brethren here to dwell together in unity, how good and pleasant a thing is it! To see a family live in love,-husbands, wife, parents, children, servants, doing all in love to one another to see a town live together in love, without any envyings, brawlings, heart-burnings, contentions, scorns, law-suits, factions or divisions, but every man loving his neighbour as himself, and thinking they can never do too much for one another; but striving to go beyond each other in love, O how happy and delectable a sight is this! O what a blessed society will be the family of heaven! what a happy community the inhabitants of the New Jerusalem, where there is no division, no differing judgments, no disaffection, no strangeness, no deceitful friendship, never an angry thought or look, never a cutting unkind expression, but all are one in Christ, and live together in harmony and love! Ah wretched, fleshly unbelieving heart! that can think of such a day, and work, and life as this, with so low, and dull, and feeble joys!
How delectable is it to me to behold and study the inferior works of God! What a beautiful fabric is this great house in which we here dwell! The floor so drest with various herbs, and flowers, and trees, and watered with springs, and rivers, and seas! The roof so wide expanded, so admirably adorned, such astonishing workmanship in every part! O then what a dwelling must that needs be, which he prepares for pure, refined, spiritual, glorified beings, and which he will bestow only upon his own children! As far as our perfected glorified bodies will excel this frail corruptible flesh, so far will the glory of the New Jerusalem exceed all the present glory of the creatures. The change upon our mansion, will be proportionable to the change upon ourselves. Arise then, O my soul, by these steps, in thy contemplation; and let thy thoughts of that glory exceed as far in sweetness thy thoughts of the excellencies below.
How delightful is it to my soul, to review the working of Providence for myself, to read over the records and catalogues of those special mercies wherewith my life has been adorned and sweetened! How often have my prayers been heard, and my tears regarded, and my groaning, troubled soul relieved, and my Lord has bid me, "Be of good cheer!" He has healed me when, in respect of means, I was incurable. He has helped me, when I was helpless. In the midst of my supplications, has he eased and revived me: he has taken me up from my knees, and from the dust where I have lain in sorrow and despair; even the cries which have been occasioned by distrust has he regarded. What a support are these experiences to my fearful unbelieving heart! These testimonies of my Father's love, do put life into my afflicted drooping spirit! O then, what a blessed day will that be, when I shall have all mercy, perfection of mercy, nothing but mercy! When I shall stand on the shore, and look back upon the raging seas which I have safely passed; when I shall in full possession of glory, take a retrospect of all my pains and troubles, and fears and tears, and shall behold the