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with his head a-fountain of tears, that he might
further cause of grief occurs, if we turn in upon ourselves, to observe our weak graces, our strong corruptions, our danger from a deceitful heart within, and a subtle and busy adversary without, and how often we are surprized, and fall, to the grieving of the Holy Spirit, breaking our peace, disquieting conscience, and losing the comfortable sense of God's favour and love? These are some of the trials, which saints are here subject to.
II. Let us see how the soul is to be engaged by faith, with reference to the goodness of God in the land of the living, the felicity of the better world, when it is kept from fainting under the trials of this.
It is plain every kind, and manner of acting of faith is not fufficient for this. But
1st. That which engages the mind in the moft serious contemplation of this goodness of God in the land of the living, into the light of which it is brought by the gospel. Heaven is not set open to be neglected; though most look downward, and virtually say, that earth is better. What, my soul, deserves thy serious thoughts, if not the goodness God hath prepared for those that love him, the felicity Christ hath purchased and is now in poffeffion of? Look off from the world, where sin hath let in so much forrow, to the fulness of joy in the presence of God, and the pleasures that are at his right-hand for evermore: and let not thy thoughts be trifling and
transient about things with which thy eternal abode is expected.
Though it doth not yet appear what we shall be, there is enough discovered to call off our minds from all things here below, and fix them more steadily on things above. Believers are known under the character of strangers in the present world; as their principal concern is, or ought to be in another. And when any thing would unseasonably tempt down their minds and hearts from things above, how readily may they say, I am better employed ?
2. It is a faith that carries up the soul by love and choice to the goodness of the Lord' in the land of the living, as preferable to all that can be here enjoyed, and as enough to make amends for whatever we may endure. Its genuine language is this
, O how great is the goodness that thou hast laid up
for them that fear thee! How unworthy is any thing here to stand in competition with it'! The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance. The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places ; yea, and I have a goodly heritage. I will bless the Lord; and have reason to do it, however it
go now, Pfal
. xvi. 5, 6, 7. Thus Mofes chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. And esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect to the recompence of reward. The fashion of this world is paffing away. Ohow empty and insatisfactory are all things in it, in comparison of the habitation of the saints in light! How naked shall I e're B 4
long be left, if this is all I am to have! Think my
soul of this, and of the inexpressible forrow in which they will be doomed to lie for ever, who have their good things here, and then who would not say with the Psalmist, Let men of the world have their portion in this present life: As for me, O Lord, I will behold thy face in righteousness, and I hall be satisfied. Let me have my part in the good land, and take this wilderness who will.
And as for the evils to which I am exposed, how little a thing is it to go mourning to the heavenly Sion, where my God shall be my glory and everlasting joy. The sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared to the glory to be revealed. Lord, let me have my lot with those that mourn and suffer, groan and die, so I may have an interest in thy loving kindness, which is better than life, and may at last be brought to thy presence to be happy in that life for ever. 3.
It is a faith that raises up to, and is accompanied with a well-grounded hope of the happiness to be enjoyed above, which is of use to keep the soul from sinking under present sufferings, I had fainted, could I not have looked to the end of this vale of tears into a better state, where I trust I shall arrive safe at last, how long and deep soever be the way. There remaineth a rest for the people of God ; and though out of sight, hope enters into that which is within the vail, and so proves an anchor to the soul, both sure and stedfast, enabling them to ride out the storm, in which how forely, soever they may be tossed,
they shall not perish or come short of the kingdom they are making to.
He that hath wrought them for the self-fame thing is God: and having made them meet for heaven, will not always keep them at so mournful a distance. They look up to the glory of the other world, as that for which the price is paid; of which their Head and Lord is in poffefsion, and for which the royal word is past: and all the promises are yea and amen in him : therefore, whatever trials they are to pass through, they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto falvation. Faithful is be that bath promised, who also will do it.
4. It works the heart to a patient waiting, till the season comes wherein the longing expectants of heaven shall not fail of being called up thither. Though the goodness be great I hope for, and the misery great I endure ; yet I am not in a sinful and impatient haste. I resign it to the divine good pleasure, when my warfare shall be accomplished, and the trial of
faith shall be finished. I know on what ground I shall look for the fruition of blessedness. It is a reward indeed, yet not of merit, but of grace.
I know from how miserable an estate I was raised to any hope of it, and prepared for it. And though my inclinations are strong to obtain it, and my Redeemer strong to give it ; yet in patience I would possess my own foul, till I am called up to enjoy glory.
It is far better to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord: but when, or in what manner, I shall leave my present state, is
not mine to chuse; but to labour, whether present or absent, to be accepted of him. The whole creation groaneth, and travelleth in pain together until now : and not only they, but ourselves also, groan within our felves, waiting for the adoption, &c. Rom. x. 23. We groan, not that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon with our house which is from heaven, 2 Cor. v. 1, 2, 4. But as we have need of patience from the greatness of the expected bleffedness: so, upon this fame ground, we have reason for it too, as it is enough to make amends for the longest stay.
O happy they that have got within the Veil, who fee and enjoy what I believe; and do already possess a thousand times more than I can conceive of! O how gladly would I be with them, and make one of that joyful assembly! And, he that shall come, will come, and will not tarry. He that wisdom to know the fittest seafon, and will not forget me when that season comes: wherefore all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my great Lord give me leave to die, in order to enter into his joy. I would not be weary of the work he hath given me to do, nor sink under the burdens he would have me bear, but by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, honour, and immortality; and rely on his promise to bestow eternal life, which cannot fail, though for a time deferred. I am fecure as to his faithfulness, and calmly trust him for a blessed issue. Surely there is an end, and, O my soul, tby expectation shall not be cut off And how little while need the longest stay appear, when all along thou art in