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glory there enjoyed, which was the end of all these trials, O what a blessed view will that be! O glorious prospect which I shall have from the celestial mount Zion! If one drop of lively faith were even now mixed with these considerations, O what work would they make in my breast! what a heavenravished heart would I carry within me! Fain would I believe: "Lord, help my unbelief."
Consider further, O my soul, how sweet have the ordinances been to thee! What raptures hast thou had in prayer and under heavenly sermons! What joys in days of thanksgiving, after eminent deliverances to the church, or to thyself! What delight do I find in the society of the saints To be among my humble faithful neighbours and friends; to join with them in the frequent worship of God; to see their growth and stability and soundness of understanding; to see those daily added to the church who shall be saved; what high delight does this afford me! How glad have I been to go up to the house of God! Especially after long confinement by sickness, when I have been released and admitted to join with the people of God in their solemn assemblies, and to set forth the praises of my great Deliverer! How sweet is my work in preaching the gospel, and inviting sinners to the marriage supper of the Lamb, and opening to them the treasures of Divine grace! Especially when God blesses my endeavours with plenteous success, and gives me to see the fruit of my labours! This alone has been a greater joy to my heart, than if I had been made the lord of all the riches of this earth. O then how can my heart conceive that joy, which I shall have on my admittance into the celestial temple and into the heavenly host, that shall do nothing but praise the Lord for ever!when we shall say to Christ, Here am I, and the children whom thou hast given me; and when Christ shall present us all to his Father, and the church shall be all gathered, and perfected! How far would I go to see one of those blessed angels, which appeared to Abraham, to Lot, to John; or to speak with Enoch,
or Elijah, or any saint who had lived with God,especially if he would resolve all my doubts, and describe to me the celestial habitations! How much more desirable must it needs be to live with these blessed saints and angels, and to see and possess as well as they! It is written of Erastus, that he was so desirous to learn, that it would have been sweet to him even to die, if he might thereby but be resolved of those doubtful questions wherein he could not satisfy himself. How sweet then should it be to me to die, that I may not only be resolved of all my doubts, but also know what before I never did think of, and enjoy what before I never knew! It was a happy dwelling that the apostles had with Christ; to be always in his company, to see his face, and hear him open to them the mysteries of the kingdom. But it will be another kind of happiness to dwell with him in glory.
Rouse up thyself, O my soul, and consider; can the foresight of this glory make others embrace the stake, and kiss the faggot, and welcome the cross, and refuse deliverance? And shall it not make thee cheerful under less sufferings? Can it sweeten the flames to them? And shall it not sweeten thy life, or thy sickness, or thy natural death? If a glimpse of it could make Moses' face to shine, and Peter on the mount so transported, and Paul so exalted, and John so wrapt up in the Spirit, why should it not somewhat revive me with delight? Doubtless it would, if my thoughts were more believing. Is it not the same heaven in which they and I must live? Is not their God, their Christ, their crown, and mine the same? Nay, how many a poor despised Christian have I seen, mean in parts, but rich in faith, who could rejoice and triumph in hope of this inheritance!
Consider also, O my soul, what a beauty there is in the imperfect graces of the Spirit here! So great are they, that they are called the image of God: and can any created excellency have a more honourable title? And yet how small a part are these of what we shall enjoy in our perfect state! O how precious a mercy
would I esteem it, if God would but take away my bodily infirmities, and restore me to some comfortable measure of health and strength, that I might be able with cheerfulness, to go through his work. How precious a mercy then will it be, to have all my corruptions removed, and my soul perfected, and my body also raised to so high a state, as I now can neither desire nor conceive! Surely as health of body, so health of soul, carries an inexpressible sweetness along with it. Were there no reward besides, yet every gracious act is a reward and comfort. Never had I the least stirring of love to God, but I felt a heavenly sweetness accompanying it the very act of loving was inexpressibly sweet. What a happy life would I here live, could I but love as much as I would, and as often, and as long as I would! Could I be all love, and always loving! O my soul, what wouldst thou give for such a life! 0 my soul, what a blessed state wilt thou shortly be in, when thou shalt have far more of these than thou canst now desire; and shalt exercise all thy perfected graces upon God in his immediate presence and in open vision, and not as now in the dark, and at a distance!
But, alas, what a loss am I at in the midst of my contemplations! I thought my heart had all this while followed these meditations, but I see it does not. And shall I let my understanding go on alone? or my tongue run on without affections? What life is in empty thoughts and words? Neither God nor I find pleasure in them.
Rather let me turn back, and chide this lazy loitering heart, that turns off from such a pleasant work as this. Where hast thou been, unworthy heart, while I was opening to thee the everlasting treasures? Didst thou sleep, or wast thou minding something else; or dost thou think that all this is but a fable or a dream, as uncertain as the predictions of some presumptuous astrologer? Art thou not ashamed to complain so much of an uncomfortable life, and to murmur at God for filling thee with sorrows, when he offers thee in vain the delights of angels, and when
thou treadest under foot these transcendent pleasures? Thou wilfully pinest away in grief, and art ready to charge thy Father with unkindness for making thee only a vessel of displeasure, a channel for the waters of affliction to run in, when, in the meantime, thou mightest live a life of joy. Hadst thou now but followed me closely, and applied thyself by faith to that which I have spoken, and drunk in but half the comfort which it holds forth, it would have made thee revive and leap for joy, and forget thy sorrows, and diseases, and pains; but seeing thou judgest thyself unworthy of comfort, it is but just that comfort should be taken from thee.
Lord, what is the matter that this work goes on so heavily? Did I think my heart had been so backward to rejoice? If it had been to mourn, and fear, and despair, it were no wonder. I have been lifting at this stone, and it will not stir; I have been pouring the water of life into the mouth of the dead. I hope, Lord, by the time I come to heaven, this heart will be quickened by thy Spirit, or else even the joys of Paradise will scarce rejoice me.
But besides my darkness, deadness, and unbelief, I perceive there is something else that forbids my full desired joys. This is not the time and place where 30 much is given: the time is our winter, not our harvest: the place is called the valley of tears. There must be great difference between the way and the end, the work and the wages, the foretastes and the full fruition.
Actings of Desire.
BUT, Lord, though thou hast reserved our joys for heaven, yet hast thou not so suspended our desires. They are most suitable and seasonable in the present life. O help me, therefore, to desire till I may
possess, and let me long, when I cannot, as I would, rejoice. There is love in desire, as well as in delight; and if I be not empty of love, I know I shall not long be empty of delight.
Rouse up thyself once more then, O my soul, and try and exercise thy spiritual appetite. Though thou art ignorant and unbelieving, yet art thou reasonable, and therefore must needs desire happiness and rest. Nor canst thou surely be so unreasonable as to dream of attaining them here on earth. Thou knowest to thy sorrow that thou art not yet at thy rest. Thy own feeling convinces thee of thy present unhappiness; and dost thou know that thou art restless, and yet art thou willing to continue so? Art thou happy neither in deed, nor in desire? Art thou neither well, nor wouldst be well? When my flesh is pained, and languishes under consuming sickness, how heartily and frequently do I cry out, "O when thall I be eased of this pain? when shall my decaying strength be recovered?" There is no dissembling or formality in these desires and groans. How then should I long for my final full recovery! "O when shall I arrive at that safe and quiet harbour, where there are no storms or dangers; where I shall never more have a weary restless night or day!" Then shall not my life be such a medley of hope and fear, of joy and sorrow, as now it is; nor shall my soul be as a pitched field, where faith and unbelief, trust and distrust, humility and pride, maintain a continual distracting conflict. Then shall I not live a dying life for fear of dying, nor my life be made uncomfortable for the fear of losing it. O when shall I be past these soul tormenting cares, and griefs, and passions! When shall I be free of this frail, corruptible, ruinous body! When shall I be delivered from this vain, vexatious, ensnaring world, whose pleasures are delusive dreams and shadows, but whose miseries are numerous, substantial, and incessant! How long shall I see the church of Christ lie trodden under the feet of persecutors; or else as a ship in the hands of foolish guides, though the supreme Master does moderate and overrule all