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ourselves, yet with Paul we may desire to be disolved. The perfection that most "Christians attain to, is but to dejire to live and be content to die. Oh! confider what I have said on this matter, and invert the order of those words in your hearts, Be content to live, desire to die. But what! would
you have us pray for death ? Answer: I speak not of a formal praying, either for one or the other. What the apostle speaks of the greatest of sins, 1John v. 16. I am ready to say of this state of freedoin from all sin, I do not say thet ye should pray for it. You will tell me that David and Hezekiah prayed for life; and I could tell you that Elijah prayed for death, 1 Kings xix. 5. he was indeed a man subječt to passions, James v. 17. but I believe this was none of them. But I will not inveigle myself in any controversy: methinks the fad consideration laid before your eyes, whilst we are in the body, we are absent, distant from the Lord, should wring out an, Oh! wretched man that I am, &c. or an, I desire to be disolved: Or if not words, yet, at least, a groan after immortality, with our apostle here---We groan within ourselves that mortality may be swallowed up of life.
But can a soul possibly long for the destruction of the body? Philosophy indeed tells us that it cannot. Be it fo; yet I am sure divinity teaches, that a soul may long after the redemption of the body; the redemption of it from this kind of animal, corruptible, ensnaring condition that it is now in, Rom. viii. 23.---We groan within ourselves, waiting for the redemption of our body. If we cannot wish to be uncloathed, yet we may long to be.
cloathed upon, verfe 4. of this chapter. At least, methinks, the Heathen fhould not out-do us, who could say, Mori nolo, sed me mortuum elle nihil
But, will all cry, Oh if we were sure of an interest in Christ, of pardon of fin, of truth of grace, of eternal life, then we could freely leave all ? Answ.
1. That is, you would live to be more holy before you die : you are not yet holy enough. No, nor never shall be till
If you long after holiness, long to be with God then; for that is a state of perfect holiness. To desire to live, upon pretence of being more holy, is a meer fallacy, a contradiction. But, it may be, this is not the meaning of the objection : therefore,
2. A not having of what we would have, is not an excuse for not doing what we fhould do. It is our duty to rejoice in the Lord. Phil. iv.
4. which our not having of assurance, doth not except us from ; though, if we have assurance, we might indeed rejoice the more. But to take off this plea at once:
3. Our earnest longings after a full and perfect enjoyment of God, and to our breathings after an immortal state doth not depend upon our affurance, but indeed assurance rather depends upon that. I doubt not we are commonly mistaken in the nature of assurance; and, it may be, are in a wrong manner curious about the signs of Christ's appearing in our fouls. For certainly a wellgrounded assurance of the love of God doth moft discover and unfold itself in the growth of true godliness in the soul; now the love of God, and
an earnest desire to be like unto him, and to be with him, is the better half of all religion, Matt. xxii. 37, 38. so that it rather seems that assurance springs up from this frame of foul, than that this arises out of assurance. If assurance be the thing that you desire, get your souls joined to God in an union of affections, will, and ends, and then labour and long to be closer to him, liker to him, perfectly holy and happy in him ; and be ye afsured that Christ is in you of a truth : for these mighty works which he hath wrought, these divine breathings, these holy pantings after him, do bear witness of him.
4. Whether everyou come to that feeling knowledge, that powerful sense of your state or no, which you call assurance, yet know, that it is your duty to long after immortality. We are wont to call assurance the privilege of some few. but the Scriptures make this temper, that I am speaking of, the duty of all believers, which I the rather name, because I find few professors of this temper ; and indeed but few that are willing to believe that they ought to be so. Our Saviour calls all believers to as much, in effect, as I do, Luke xxi. 28. Look up, and lift up your heads, for the day of your redemption draweth nigh. Whereby is not meant a bare posture and speculation, but joy and longing are required by that phrase, fay the Dutch Annotat. See also Rev. xxii, 17. Confider further, (which, methinks, should strike cold to the hearts of cold-hearted professors) that this very temper is made one of the greatest characters of true and sincere saints. I do not know of any one oftener named, fee Rom. viii. 23. groan
within ourselves, waiting for the redemption of our body, 2 Tim. iv. 8. The Lord shall give the crown to them that love his appearing, Tit. ii. 13.. We should live godly in this present world, Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Chrift, 2 Pet. iii.
What manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for, and hastening to the coming of the day of God, Jude 21. Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
Do all these plain and pathetical scriptures stand for cyphers in your eye? Methinks they should not. But not to stand upon the proof of it to be a duty, it matters not, whether there be an express command for it or no: this that I am speaking of, is not so much the duty of godly persons, as the
very nature, genius and spirit, indeed of godliness itself. Methinks a godly soul, that is truly touched with divine goodness, influenced by it, and imprest with it, as the needle is with the loadstone, must need strive powerfully within itself to be in conjunction with it. A holy soul, that after all its wearisome.defeats, and shameful disappointments in the creature, finds itself perfectly matched with this infinite, full, and perfect object, must certainly and necessarily be carried, without any other argument, with fervent longings after union to it, and communion with it. The Spouse might say concerning Christ, as he concerning her, Cant. vi. 12. Or ever I was aware, my foul made me like the chariots of Aminadab. And every godly soul, may in some degree, fay with that spoule. Cant. v. 4. 5. My beloved
put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him: I rose up, &c. Tell me, friends, how can divine grace, that well of living water in the soul, chufe but spring up into eternal life? John iv. 14. I doubt not to affirm, that that which is of God in the soul, must needs carry the soul after God; as it belongs to heaven, so it will be longing towards heaven. That which is of a divine original, must needs have a divine tendency; that which is of divine extračtion, will have in it a divine attraction, and pursue a divine perfection, Col. iii. 1. That divine life and spirit, that runs through godly fouls, doth awaken and exalt in some measure, all the powers of them, into an active and chearful sympathy, with that absolute good that renders them compleatly blessed. Holiness and purity of heart will be attracting God more and more to itself; and the more pure our souls are, and the more separate from earthly things, the more earnestly will they endeavour the nearest union that may be with God; and fo, by consequence, methinks they must needs, in fome fense, desire the removal of that animal life, and dark body that stands in their way: for they know that that which now letteth, will let (such is the unchangeable nature of it, till it be laid in the dust) till it be taken out of the way.
The thirsty king, did but cry for water of the well of Bethlehem, and his champions broke through the host of the Philistines, and fetched it, 2. Sam. xxiii. 15.
And will ye not allow the thirsty foul, if not to break through to fetch it, yet at least, to break out into an, Oħ! that one would give me to drink of the living water, of the fountain