Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

an animal life for an angelical life? A life, which is, in some sense, common to the very

beasts with us, for that which, in some sense, may be called the life of God? For as the blessed and holy God lives upon

his own infinite and felf-sufficient fulness, without being beholden to any thing without himself, fo fhall the saints live upon him, and upon the self-fame infinite fulness, and shall not need any creature-contributions. The apostle indeed faith, that the last enemy to be destroyed is death, 1 Cor. xv. 26. which is true of enemies without us; and it is true with respect to Christ, who shall make a general resurrection from the dead, for that is the proper meaning of it. But it is true also, that the last enemy, to be overcome within us, is the love of life; therefore it is said, that a man will part with any thing to keep his life, Job ii. 4. And we generally excuse the matter, and cry, Oh ! life is sweet, life is precious ! It must be confessed, and it may be granted, I believe that there is an inclination of the soul to the body, (arising from the dear and inconceivable union that God himself hath made of them) which is purely natural, fome say altogether neceffary for the maintaining of man in this complex state, and not in itself linful. Poflibly there may be found a man upon earth so holy and mortified, in whom this is not found ; certainly it is the last hindrance to be removed out of the way of our perfect happiness. This, although in itself natural, yea necessary, and without blame, yet in the inordinateness of it, ordinarily, if not conftantly, becomes sinful. I count him the most perfect man in the world, who loves not his own

life with an inordinate, finful love ; who loves it only in God, and not with a creature-love distinct from God. There are two ways whereby this natural and lawful love of life becomes finful, viz. immoderateness and inordinateness. Immoderateness is, when men love their lives at that rate, that they are filled with unreasonable and distracting fears, cares, and thoughts about them, when the whole business of life is almost nothing else but a studiousness to preserve the being of life. Inordinateness is, when men, though they do not love their lives at that exceflive rate, yet do love life as a creature-good not in God, nor in order to him, but love it for itself, as something out of God. Every carnal man in the world is guilty of the latter, and I doubt but few saints altogether free from the guilt of it. Now that this immoderate love of life ought to be subdued in Christians, all men almost will grant; if any will not grant it, we can easily prove it from the command of God, Matt. vi. 15. Take no thought for your life. 1. John ii. 15. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. Both which words, in the most favourable interpretation that can be given of them, do, in the judgment of all, forbid immoderation; nay, a meer philosopher would enforce this from meer moral confiderations, which I cannot now stand upon. But this inordinate love of life, as it is a more secret, sticking evil, a more refined corruption, is harder to be discovered, and men are loth to be convinced of the evil of it.

Now this particular distinct loving of life, not as in God, but in itself, as a creature good, is clearly condemned in that first and great com

mandment,

M 3

mandment, Mat. 22. verf. 37. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, 9. d. God the fupreme, infinite, perfect, original, 'effential, felffufficient good, is to be loved in the highest, and purest, and strongest manner, that the heart of man is capable to love; and all other things only in him, and under him, and as being of him, and for his fake. Let it be allowed, that life is good; yet it must be added, that it is but a created good: Let it be allowed that life is comfortable; yet it must be acknowledged, that man's chief comfort and happiness, doth not stand in this animal life. So then, life itself is to be loved in God, who is the fountain and spring of life, it is to be loved in the quality of a created good, and no otherwise : Now, created goods, are to be loved only in the creator, as coming from him, as partaking of him, as leading to him. Argue the case a little, thus: The soul of man is allowed to love its body, with which the great God hath matched it : and to love union with this body, which union we call life: but this body being a creature, and a creature, much inferior to itself, and much more ignoble than itself, cannot in reafon be judged to be the fit and adequate object of its strongest and best affections : That must needs be something more excellent than itfelf, and that cannot be any thing in this world (for this world hath nothing so noble, so excellent in it, as the foul of man) it must indeed be the creator himself. Well, seeing God is the supreme, felf-sufficient, perfect good, he is to be loved with all the strength and powers of the soul, fingly and entirely:

and

[ocr errors]

0.

and the will of God, being God himself, is not only to be submitted to, or rested in, but to be chosen and loved above all created things; yea, even above life itself, the best of creatures. So then, if it be the will of God, to call for our lives, we ought readily to give them up; because, we ought to love the will of God, much more than our lives. I pray you, drink in that notion, viz. that the will of God being pure, holy, perfect, fhould not only be submitted to, or rested in, but even loved and chosen above all creatures: now the will of God, is not that only, whereby he teacheth men, and prescribes laws to them, but that whereby he rules, and governs the world, and disposes of men in any condition of life, or takes away their lives from them. The eternal fountain of goodness can send forth nothing but what is perfe&ly good : and that which is perfectly good, ought to be loved with an universal, pure, and (as far as possible) perfect love. - This you will fay, perhaps, is a high and a hard saying: but let it not seem impossible, for a man to love his own life only in God, and in subordination to him; for this God requires (and he requires not things impoffible) Luke xiv. 26. If any man come after me, and hate not his own life, he cannot be

ту disciple, i. e. not simply hate it, but in comparison of me and my will : it is not then impossible; nay, you see it is a necessary duty, without which, we cannot be Christ's disciples. The faints of old found it possible. Holy Paul gives this answer readily, A&t. xxi. 13. I am ready to die at Jerusalem, for the name of the Lord Jesus; and Act, xx. 24. I count not my life dear unto me,

fo

ed 21

he

ܕܐ

P

xii. II.

so that I might finish my course with joy : it is witnessed of the whole army of the saints, in Rev.

That they loved not their lives unto the death, i. e. they did not value them in respect of God and his truth. Neither let any one flatter himself, and say, Yea, if I were called to die for God, I would rather do it than deny him : for the will of God is as much to be eyed in his sending for us by a natural death, as by martyrdom, and a not giving up our lives to him at any time, is as truly to deny him, and his will, as not to give them up at the stake, when we are called to it. Besides, how shall we imagine, that he, who is unwilling to die in his bed, should be willing to die at a stake? Now, this duty of being mortified to the love of this animal life, being so difficult, yet so necessary, and so noble ; how doth it become every saint to study to attain to this perfection? Which, that we may, let us press upon ourselves this consideration, this doctrine, that the glorious faints Mall live as the angels of God in heaven. We know, that if this body were broken down, this low life cut off, we should live like angels, not being beholden any more to poor creatures, for help or comfort, but should be filled with the fulness of God, filled with his immage and glory, and live upon him entirely for

Yea, I inay add, that this very living above our own lives, meerly at the will of God, is a participation of the angelical life even in this world. Therefore labour to be mortified to that love of this life which is here upon earth; yea, be weary of it, yea, almost ashamed of it.

evermore,

4. Shall

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinua »