Imatges de pÓgina
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ambition is to be great in the world, do not only use the most effečtual means, and take the most direct courses to accomplish those designs, and attain those ends, but do continually suspect, and diligently watch against all the moths that would corrupt, the rust that would consume, the thieves that would plunder their treasures; and, in a word, against all possible hindrances, defraudations, and disappointments: fo will we suspect and watch sure against all enemies and traitors to our souls, if we live here upon eternal designs, if our ambition be to be great in God alone. And the more eminent the danger is, the more will we watch. Have you not found, by experience, which of thefe three have been most prejudicial to your communion with God? If not, you have not been so ftudious to know the state, nor pursue the happiness of your own souls as you might: if so, then watch against that most of all which you have found to be most injurious. For it ordinarily comes to pass, either by the difference of constitutions, or difference of temptations, or different ways of living, or some other thing, that God's children are more ensnared by some one of these than other. Well, be sure to watch and pray, and strive more especially against the more especial enemies of your souls.

2. Live above the body; above bodily enjoyments, ornaments, excellencies. Though these bodily enjoyments be never so sweet, these bodily ornaments never so glorious, yet is not your happiness in these. Certainly they live to their loss, who live upon the excellencies of their own souls, whether natural or supernatural, they deprive

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themselves of the infinite glory, fulness, and fufficiency that is in the blessed God, who take up. their happiness in these : much more do they pinch and impoverish their own souls, who live upon bodily ornaments or excellencies, wherein many inferior creatures do excel them; the rose in beauty, the sun in brightness, the lion in ftrength, the stag in swiftness, &c. If a woman was as lovely as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the fun; if a man was full of personal grace and majesty, terrible as an army with banners, yet were not their happiness in these accomplishments. Nay, which is worse, these ornaments stand between us and our happiness. When you begin therefore at any time fondly to admire any of these bodily excellencies, then think with yourselves, Oh, but all these do not make my soul happy! Nay, this beautiful outside must stink, and be deformed; these fair and Aourishing members must wither in the dust; this active, strong, and graceful body must be buried in disgrace and weakness, before I can attain to entire and perfect happiness. This consideration will advance us to live above

the body.

be

3. Be content to be unbodied for à time. Is it true, that we can no otherwise be happy, no otherways present with God, know him familiarly, enjoy him perfectly and entirely? Cannot we get to him, except we go through the duft! Be it so then; be content to be unbodied for a time. Occidat modo imperet, could the Heathen say concerning her fon; much rather may a Christian say, concerning his Father, Let him slay me, fo

my foul may but reign with him, which is by his

reigning

reigning in it; let him kill me, so he will, but fill me ; let him draw me through the dust of the earth, so he will but draw me out of this duft of the world, so he will but draw me nigh unto himfelf, and bring me into a full and inseparable conjunction with my Lord! Methinks I need not use many arguments to persuade a soul that is feelingly overpowered, mastered, ravished with the infinite beauty, goodness, glory, and fulness of his God, to be willing to quit a dusty tabernacle for a time, wherein he is almost swallowed up, to depart, and to be entirely swallowed up in him. Nay, suppose a Christian in the lowest form, who hath but chosen God for his highest good and only happiness, (as every sincere Christian hath) methinks he should have learnt this leflon, to comply with that infinite, perfect will, that governs both him and the whole world. I cannot conceive a gedly foul, without the subduing of self-will; nor suppose a sincere saint void at least of the habit of self-resignation. Therefore I will add no more concerning this, but rise a step higher.

4. Long after an unbodied fate, desire to depart, and to be with the Lord; groan within yourselves to have mortality swallowed up of life, in which temper you find the holy apostle. . To be content to die, is a good temper ; a temper scarce to be found I think, in any wicked man; not from a right principle, I am sure : but, methinks, it is no very great thing in comparison of what we Thould labour to attain to.

Think on it a little, what a strange kind of cold, uncouth phrase it is, Such

a man is content to be happy! Men are not said to be content to be rich, but covetous K 3

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willing to be honoured, but ambitious: and why should it only be content to be with God? I am persuaded there is no shew or semblance of satiffactory bliss and happiness for a foul, a noble immortal nature, but only in the supreme, effential, perfect, absolute good, the blessed and eternal good; and should not this noble, active being, be carried out with vehement longings after its proper and full happiness, as well as this earthly, Nuggish body, is carried with restless appetite after health, and safety, and liberty? Why should a foul alone be content not to be happy, when all other things in the world do so ardently court, and vehemently pursue their respective ends and several perfections ? Certainly if the blessed and glorious God should display himself in all his beauty, and open all his infinite treasures of goodness, and sweetness, and fulness, within the view of a soul, it could not but be ravished with the object, earnestly press into his presence, ruere in amplexus, and with a holy impatience throw itself into his arms! There would be need of setting bounds to the mount, to keep it from breaking through unto the Lord! What is said of the Queen of the South, when she had heard the wildom, and feen the glory of Solomon, 2 Cbron. ix. 4. would be more true of a Christian ; there would be no more spirit left in him. Some have therefore observed the wisdom of God in engaging the foul in so dear a union with the body, that it might care for it, and not quit it; yea, the Heathen oblerved the wisdom of God in concealing the happy state of a separated foul, that fo men might be content to live out their time, victurosque dii

celant,

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I am

celant, ut vivere durent, fælix ellë mori. But, alas! we see but darkly as through a glass, and our affections towards' God are proportionable to our apprehensions of him ; thele are dark, and therefore those are dull. And Oh! would to God they were but indeed proportionable ! for then we should love him only, if not earnestly; and defire him entirely, if not fufficiently. Consider what I have hinted concerning the happiness of the foul in the enjoyment of God, and what I have more fully demonstrated concerning the body's hindering of it, and keeping it at a distance; and then argue, Is happiness the main end of every being ? Must not this soul then, being a noble and immortal nature, needs look out for some high and noble happiness, suitable to its excellent self? Can that be any where, but in the enjoyment of the highest and uńcreated Good? And can this never be attained whilst we are in this animal state, in this mortal body, that keeps us at such a diftance ? Oh! why then do we not look out after so much enjoyment of this blessed God, as we are now capable of, and long after a departure hence, that we may enjoy him freely and fully, and be eternally happy in him! Oh! be not only content, but even covetous.

But what ! shall the soul break the cage, that she may take her flight ? God forbid ! How can he pretend to be a lover of God, who is not formed into his will, subject to his ordination, content to abide in the station that he hath allotted him ? But if we may not break it to escape, yet methinks it may be safe enough, with submiffion, to wish it were broken, If we may not, with Saul, disolve

ourselves,

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