Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

of God, and in the arms of Omnipotence. But when it begins to consider where it is, how far it is from its God, its life, and the happy state that God hath prepared it for, then it cannot but groan within itself, and be ready with Peter, to cast itself out of the ship; to get to its God, to land itself in eternity. Neither indeed (to speak truly) is it only the sense of sin against God, which sets the godly soul a going; for though it must be confest, that this is a heavy burden upon the soul, yet the apostle makes no complaint of this here, but only of his distance from God, that necessary distance from God that the body kept him at.

2. See here the excellent spirit of true religion. Godly fouls do groan after an unbodied itate, not only because of their fins in the body, but even because of the necessary distance at which the body keeps them from God. We may suppose a godly foul, at some time, to have no manner of affiétion in the world to grieve him ; no fin unpardoned, unrepented of to trouble him ; yet for all this he is not at perfect rest: he is burdened, and groans within himself, because he is at such a distance from that absolute good, whom he longs to know more familiarly, and enjoy more fully than he doth yet, or than is allowed to mortal men. And though nothing else ail him, yet the consideration of this distance makes him cry out, Oh when shall I come and appear before God! be wholly swallowed up in him, fee him as he is, and converse with him face to face. Bare innocency, or freedom from sin, cannot satisfy that noble and large spirit that is in a truly and God-like soul but that spirit of true goodness (being nothing else

but

;

but an efflux from God himfelf) carries the foul out after a more intimate union with that being from whence it came. God, dwelling in the foul, doth, by a secret, mighty power, draw the soul more and more to himself. In a word, a godly soul, that is really touched with the sense of divine sweetness and fullness, and impressed with divine goodness and holiness, as the wax is with the stamp of the seal, could not be content to dwell for ever in this kind of animal body, nor take up an eternal rest in this imperfect mixed state, though it could converse with the world without a finful fullying of itself, but must needs endeavour still a closer conjunction with God; and, leaving the chace of all other objects, pant and breathe, not only after God alone, but after more and more of him; and not only when it is under the sense of sin, but most of all when it is under the most powerful influences of divine grace and love, cry out with Paul, Oh, who will deliver me. out of this body!

3. Suffer me, from hence, to expostulate a little; to expostulate with Christian souls about their unseemly temper. Doth this animal life, and mortal body, keep us at fuch a distance from our God, our happinefs ? Why are we then so fond of this life and mixed state?' Why do we fo pamper this body? Why so anxiously studious to keep it up, so dreadfully afraid of the ruins of it? If we take the apostle's words in the first sense that I named, then I may ask with him in the first verse, Know we not, that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens ? or ver. 8. Why are we not willing rather to be

abfent

you?

absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord? If we take them in the latter sense, as this animal body is an hindrance to the soul's knowledge of, and communion with God; then I ask concerning this, as the apostle doth concerning rich men, James ii. 6. Why do ye pamper, prize, honour, dote upon this body? Doth not this body oppress you, diftract you, burden you, clog you, hinder

Doth not this body interpose between the Sun of Righteousness, between the Father of Lights, and your souls that should shine with a light and glory borrowed from him ; even as the dark body of the earth interposes between the sun and moon, to eclipse its light? Why are we not rather weary that we are in the body ? Surely there are fome objections, some impediments to the soul's longing after its happy state, which I shall come to anon; but I doubt also that there is something that chains the foul to this animal life ; fome cords to this earthly tabernacle that tie up the soul in it: but I cannot well imagine what they should be. Say not, There is something of God to be enjoyed in this life, which makes it pleasant ; for, although this be true, yet I am sure God gives nothing of himself to a soul, thereby to clog it or cloy it. Did Moses send for some clusters of the land of Canaan into the wilderneness, think ye, that the people might see and taste the fruits, and fit ftill, and be satisfied, and say, Oh it is enough; we see that there are pleasant things in that land, we will never come at it ?

Or, did he not do it rather that they might make the more haste to poffefs themselves of it? Will any man say, Away, I will have no more land, no more money, I have some already? Can a godly soul fay, God hath given me an earnest, I desire no more? No, no; but the report that a Christian hears of a rest remaining, a happy life remaining for it, and the chariots of divine graces that he fees God hath sent out into his soul to convey it thither, make him cry out, not with Jacob, Gen. xlv. 28. It is not enough Joseph my son is yet alive, I will go and see him before I die. But Oh this is not enough; this report is not enough ; it is not enough that I taste some of the good things of the land; it is not enough that I see these carriages sent out for me; it is not enough that my

money,

soul hath an happy and honourable life prepared for it; I see it indeed before I die, but I will also die, that I may see it better, and enjoy it more. But I doubt there is some earthly tie, even upon the heavenly soul that chains it to this present animal body; but sure I am, that whatsoever it is, it is but a weak one. Is there any worldly accommodation, any creature-toy, that should in reason step between a foul and its God? Is this life sweet, because there are creature-comforts to be enjoyed ?- And will it not be a better life, when creature-comforts shall not be needed ?

And are the pleasures of this body, the comforts of this life, the flattering smiles, or fawning embraces of the creature, such a mighty contentment to a soul, to a soul acquainted with the highest good ? Haft thou, O my soul, any such full and satisfying entertainment in thy pilgrimage, as to make thee loth to go home? Wilt thou hide thyself with Saul among the stuff, among the lumber of the world, when thou art fought for to be crowned ?

Are

Are the empty sounds of popular applause, the breaking bubbles of secular greatness, the thallow streains of sensual pleasures, the smiling dalliance, and lisping eloquence of wives and children, the flying shadows of creature-refreshments, the momentary flourishes of worldly beauty and bravery; are these meat for a soul? Are these the proper object, or the main happiness of such a divine thing as an immortal soul? Why are we not rather weary of this body, that makes us so weary of heavenly employment? Why do we not rather long to part with that life that parts us from our life?

And instead of the young apostles, It is good to be here, cry out with the Tweet. Singer, Oh that one would give me the wings of a dove, ihat I may fiy away and be at reft!

And now methinks, by this time, I might be somewhat bold, and form my remaining difcourse into an exhortation. But it may be, you will not bear it all at once ; therefore I will first begin with a dehortation, to dissuade from two evils concerning your body, viz. Fear and Fondness.

1. Take heed of Fear for the body. I speak, not so much of those first impressions which our fancies and animal spirits do make upon our minds (though it were to be wished that the mind did not so much as once sensate or entertain these) but of those acts of the will, whereby it doth receive, allow, cherish these impressions, until the cockatrice egg be hatched into a viper. I fpeak not against care and circumspection; no, nor against that kind of suspicion, whereby wife and prudent persons are jealous of circumstances and events, and so do watch to prevent, remove, or

manage

« AnteriorContinua »