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with their sorrow for the sins of others. The sairats' pains and travailing for the souls of sinners are chiefly in secret places, Jer. xiii. 17. “ If ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride, and mine eye shali wecp sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord's flock is carried away captive.” So it is with gracious joys: They are hidden manna, in this respect, as well as others, Rev. ii. 17.
The Psalmist seems to speak of his sweetest comforts, as those that were to be had in secret, Psal. Ixiii. 5, 6. soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness ; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips : When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watch. es.” Christ calls forth his spouse, away from the world, into retired places, that he may give her his sweetest love, Cant. vii. 11, 12. “ Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field ; let us lodge in the villages : There I will give thee my loves.” The most eminent divine favors that the saints obtained, that we read of in scripture, were in their retirement. The principal manifestations that God made of him. self, and his covenant mercy to Abraham, were when he was alone, apart from his numerous family ; as any one will judge that carefully reads his history. Isaac received that special gift of God to him, Rebekah, who was so great a comfort to him, and by whom he obtained the promised secd, walking alone, meditating in the field. Jacob was retired for secret prayer, when Christ came to him, and he wrestled with him, and obtained the blessing. God revealed himself to Moscs in the bush, when he was in a solitary place in the desert, in Mount Horeb, Exod. iii. at the beginning. And afterwards, when God shewed him his glory, and he was admitted to the highest degree of communion with God that ever he enjoyed; he was alone, in the same mountain, and continued there for ty days and forty nights, and then came down with his face shining. God came to those great prophets, Elijah and Elisha, and conversed freely with them, chiefly in their retirement. Elijah conversed alone with God at mount Sinai, as Moses did. And when Jesus Christ had his greatest preliba:ion of his future glory, when he was transfigured ; it was not
when he was with the multitude, or with the twelve disci ples, but retired into a solitary place in a mountain, with only three select disciples, charging them that they should tell no man, until he was risen from the dead. When the angel Gabriel came to the blessed virgin, and when the Holy Ghost came upon her, and the power of the highest overshadowed her, she seems to have been alone, and to be in this matter hid from the world ; her nearest and dearest earthly feiend Joseph, that had betrothed her (though a just man) knew nothing of the matter. And she that first partook of the joy of Christ's resurrection, was alone with Christ at the sepul. chre, John xx. And when the beloved disciple was favored with those wonderful visions of Christ and his future dispensations towards the church and the world, he was alone in the isle of. Patmos. Not but that we have also instances of great privileges that the saints have received when with others; or that there is not much in Christian conversation, and social and public worship, tending greatly to refresh and rejoice the hearts of the saints. But this is all that I aim at by what has been said, to shew that it is the nature of true grace, that however it loves Christian society in its place, yet it in a peculiar manner delights in retirement, and secret con. verse with God. So that if persons appear greatly engaged in social religion, and but little in the religion of the closet, and are often highly affected when with others, and but little moved when they have none but God and Christ to converse with, it looks very darkly upon their religion.
XI. Another great and very distinguishing difference between gracious affections and others is, that gracious affec: tions, the higher they are raised, the more is a spiritual appetite and longing of soul after spiritual attainments increase ed. On the contrary, false affections rest satisfied in them. selves.*
The more a true saint loves God with a gracious love, the more he desires to love him, and the more uneasy is he at his
* " Truly there is no work of Christ that is right (says Mr. Shepherd) but it carries the soul to long for more of it." Parable of the Ten Virgins, Part I. p. 136.
want of love to him ; the more he hates sin, the more he desires to hate it, and laments that he has so much remaining love to it ; the more he mourns for sin, the more he longs to * mourn for sin ; the more his heart is broke, the more he desires it should be broke : The more he thirsts and longs after God and holiness, the more he longs to long, and breathe out his very soul in longings after God: The kindling and raising of gracious affections is like kindling a flame; the
higher it is raised; the more, ardent it is; and the more it burns, the more vehemently does it tend and seek to burn. So that the spiritual appetite after holiness, and an increase of holy affections, is much more lively and keen in those that are eminent in holiness, than others ; and more when grace and holy affections are in their most lively exercise, than at other times. It is as much the nature of one that is spiritually new born, to thirst after growth in holiness, as it is the nature of a new born babe to thirst after the mother's breast; who has the sharpest appetite, when best in health, 1 Pet. ij. 2, 3.
“ As new born babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby : If so be ye have tasto ed that the Lord is gracious.” The most that the saints have in this world, is but a taste, a prelibation of that future glory which is their proper fulness ; it is only an earnest of their .future inheritance in their hearts, 2 Cor. i. 22, and v. 5, and Eph. i. 14. The most eminent saints in this state are but children, compared with their future, which is their proper state of maturity and perfection ; as the apostle observes, 1 Cor. xiii. 10, 11. The greatest eminency that the saints ar-rive to in this world, has no tendency to satiety, or to abate their desires after more ; but, on the contrary, makes them more eager to press forwards ; as is evident by the apostle's words, Phil. iii. 13, 14, 15. “ Forgetting those things whi
are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press towards the mark...Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded.”
The reasons of it are, that the more persons have of holy affections, the more they have of that spiritual taste which I have spoken of elsewhere ; whereby they perceive the ex
cellency, and relish the divine sweetness of holiness. And the more grace they have, while in this state of imperfection, the more they see their imperfection and emptiness, and distance from what ought to be: And so the more do they see their need of grace; as I shewed at large before, when speaking of the nature of evangelical humiliation. And besides, grace, as long as it is imperfect, is of a growing nature, and in a growing state. And we see it to be so with all living things, that while they are in a state of imperfection, and in their growing state, their nature seeks after growth ; and so much the more, as they are more healthy and prosperous. Therefore the
of every true grace, is like that cry of true faith, Mark ix. 24. “Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief.” And the greater spiritual discoveries and affections the true Christian has, the more does he become an earnest beggar for grace, and spiritual food, that he may grow ; and the more earnestly does he pursue after it, in the use of proper means and endeavors; for true and gracious longings after holiness are no idle ineffectual desires.
But here some may object and say, How is this consistent with what all allow, that spiritual enjoyments are of a soul satisfying nature ?
I answer, its being so, will appear to be not at all inconsiste ent with what has been said, if it be considered in what manner spiritual enjoyments are said to be of a soul satisfying nature. Certainly they are not so in that sense, that they are of so cloying a nature, that he who has any thing of them, though but in a very imperfect degree, desires no more. But spiritual enjoyments are of a soul satisfying nature in the following respects. 1. They in their kind and nature, are fully adapted to the nature, capacity, and need of the soul of man. So that those who find them, desire no other kind of enjoyments ; they sit down fully contented with that kind of happiness which they have, desiring no change, nor inclining to wander about any more, saying, “ Who will shew us any good ?” The soul is never cloyed, never weary ; but perpetually giving up itself, with all its powers, to this happiness. But not that those who have something of this happiness, de
sire no more of the same. 2. They are satisfying also in this respect, that they answer the expectation of the appetite. When the appetite is high to any thing, the expectation is consequently so. Appetite to a particular object, implies expectation in its nature. This expectation is not satisfied by worldly enjoyments; the man expected to have a great accession of happiness, but he is disappointed. But it is not so with spiritual enjoyments ; they fully answer and satisfy the expectation. 3. The gratification and pleasure of spiritual en. joyments is permanent. It is not so with worldly enjoyments. They in a sense satisfy particular appetites : But the appetite, in being satisfied, is glutted, and then the pleasure is over : And as soon as that is over, the general appetite of human nature after happiness returns; but is empty, and without any thing to satisfy it. So that the glutting of a particular appetite, does but take away from, and leave empty, the general thirst of nature. 4. Spiritual good is satisfying, as there is enough in it to satisfy the soul, a's to degree, if obstacles were but removed, and the enjoying faculty duly applied. There is room enough here for the soul to extend itself; here is an infinite ocean of it. If men be not satisfied here, in degree of happiness, the cause iswith themselves; it is be. cause they do not open their mouths wide enough.
But these things do not argue that a soul has no appetite excited after more of the same, that has tasted a little ; or that his appetite will not increase, the more he tastes, until he comes to fulness of enjoyment : As bodies that are attracted to the globe of the earth, tend to it more strongly, the nearer they come to the attracting body, and are not at rest out of the center. Spiritual good is of a satisfying nature; and for that very reason, the soul that tastes, and knows its nature, will thirst after it, and a fulness of it, that it may be satisfied. And the more he experiences, and the more he knows this excellent, unparalleled, exquisite, and satisfying sweetness, the more earnestly will he hunger and thirst for more, until he comes to perfection. And therefore this is the nature of spiritual affections that the greater they be, the greater the appetite and longing is, after grace and holiness. Vol. IV.