« AnteriorContinua »
upon God, even whilst you live in the body. To this I may add another particular or two.
3. Converse with God, and live upon him in all his ordinances. Let communion with God be your drift in every duty, and the very life, and soul, and fweetness of
ordinance. You never read of a soul more thirsty after ordinances than David, as might appear abundantly ; yet if you look well into the expressions, you will find that it was not fo much after them, as after God in them ; not after the dead letter, but after the living God, Psalm xlii. 2. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God; and Pfalm lxxxiv. 2. My heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Let the word, preached or read, be as a voice from heaven talking
your conference be a comment upon that word; let meditation be as a kind of bringing down God into your souls; and prayer, as a raising up of your souls unto God; nothing but faith and love put into phrases ; and so of all the reft.
4. Converse with God in all his providences, profperity, adversity, plenty, penury, health, sickness, peace, and perplexity. This is a large theine; but as to prosperity, I have spoken something already, under that head of conversing with God in creature-enjoyments. As for adversity, I have faid much more in a large discourse, to describe and commend the art of conversing with God in afflictions. Briefly, at this time, converse not with loffes, wants, afflictions, but with God in them; and that not only with the juftice, righteousness, severity, and sovereignty of God in them, but with the goodness and mercy of God in them: they are dark providences, we had not need to
dwell on the dark side of them. If all the ways of the Lord towards his people be mercy and truth, Psalm xxv. 10. then his roughest and most uncouth ways are so too. If God be wholly love, 1 John iv. 8. then his very corrections proceed not from hatred. If it is his name to be good, and to do good, Psalm cxix. 68. where have we learnt then to call his afflicting providence evils, and to divide evil, which is but one, even as God is one, into culpæ and pæna, fin and amiction? Surely we speak as men ; and if God calls them so, he speaks after the manner of men, as he often doth. If the governing will of God be pure, perfect, and infinitely good and righteous, ought we not to conversé with it in a free and chearful manner, yea, and to love it too? In a word, pore not upon creature-changes, nor the uncertain wheels of motion, that are turning up and down, we know not how, nor how oft ; but fix yourselves upon that all-seeing eye, that unbounded under standing, that unsearchable and infinite goodness, that derives itself through the whole universe, and fits in all the wheels of motion, governing all the strange motions of the creatures in a wonderful and powerful manner, and carrying them all in their several orbs to one last and blessed end !
Thus imitate the angelical life, even whilst you are in the body; converse with God in self-excellencies, in creature-excellencies, ordinances, providences: and yet labour to be more like him still, to abstract your mind from all these, and all material and sensible things, and to converse with God without the help of any creature, I mean in the spirit, and by a secret feeling of his Almighty Goodness, and the
munications of a divine life in your souls.' In a word, if you would taste of heaven whilst you are upon earth, labour above all things - for a true conjunction of your hearts with God, in a secret feeling of his goodness, and a reciprocation of love to him ; and to find the holy and blessed God exercising his grace and power upon all the faculties of your souls, and rendering them like unto himself; and all these powers of the soul mutually spending themselves upon him freely and entirely, as upon the chief good, which is their proper and full object. Seeing the saints in glory shall be like unto the angels of God, in their way of living in and upon God alone, receive, I
pray, this exhortation, which I have so largely prosecuted, and labour to begin that life as far as you can, upon earth. Is there not reason for such an inference? Doth it not now flow naturally from the doctrine? If you think it does not, I will add two or three particulars to strengthen this inference, or, at least, to clear it.
1. It is highly reasonable that we begin to be that which we expect to be for ever, to learn that way of living in which we hope to live to all eternity; fo that I infer upon as strong ground as the apostle, i John iii. 3. He that hath this hope purifieth himself, &c.
2. If this be the life of angels, then it is the highest and noblest life that any created being is capable of. As by the bread of angels and the tongue of angels, the most excellent food and the Proft excellent language is understood in Scripture; fomut we understand this life of angels. Now it is very suitable to the reasonable foul, that im22, noble being, to aim at the highest and
noblest life. See Matt. xvi. 26. What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
3. This shall not only be our life in heaven, but itself is something of heaven, a beginning of heaven. This life is not a thing really distinct from life eternal, John xvii. 3. This is life eternal, &c.
1 John v. 13. Ye have eternal life. Therefore we read of eternal life abiding in men, and not abiding in them, i John iii. 15. So also John vi. 54. Whofo eateth my flejh hath eternal life. A holy soul thus deified, thus living in and upon God, is as truly glorified upon earth, in some degree, as the world is enlightened by the morning fun; which is as truly, though not so gloriously, as by the sun in its greates height. Oh! low and ignoble fpirits, that can be satisfied with a happiness which shall only be in the world to come! Certainly it is a true and proper speech to say, that a participation of God is an anticipation of heaven; and to be like unto him, is to be with him. You see what reason I have to make such an inference, and to form it into fuch an earnest exhortation. Oh! therefore, I beseech you, before God and his holy angels, to endeavour to be like him, and live like them! Object. Say not, How can men on earth live like angels! Answ. 1. But fall on and imitate them, though it be--baud palibus æquis; labour to be righteous, if you cannot be altogether righteous. 2. We are bidden to live the life of God, Matt. v. ult. Be perfect, &c." So . Pet. i. 15. Be ye holy, &c. If I speak high, how high speak these texts ? Obj. Say not, But how can this animal life permit this? Answ. i. For 1. Thus men have lived in the body. Thus Enoch, Gen. v. 22. Thus lived Paul, Phil. i. 21. Thus
lived David, that man after God's own heart, the greatest and most divine character that can be given of a mortal man, Psalm lxxiii. 25. There is . none upon earth that I desire besides thee. not we live in the body, except we live to the body? You see saints upon earth live above other men upon earth, and yet a little more pains, take the other fight, and you may live above yourfelves too, higher than you
do. I will only add a motive or two to this duty of living upon God.
1. The last enemy to be overcome is creature-love. This is the last enemy that keeps the field, by which alone the greatest sort of men do perish everlastingly. Beat down this, and you win the day, and shall wear the crown ; nay, the very conquest of it is a crown, as I said before.
2. To live upon God in the creature, is to enjoy the creature in the best sense. You will lose nothing of the creature by this means, but shall enjoy it more fully than ever you did. For the creature is ten thousand times sweeter in God, than it is in itself. Yea, in a word, this is the way to enjoy all the world, and to enjoy the accomplishments of all men; and all things as much as if they were your own,
3. It is the way never to lose any thing. He that lives upon God, spends upon a stock that cannot be wasted, drinks at a fountain that cannot be exhausted. So much as we enjoy of God in the creature, we do not lose with it, and that which we do not so enjoy, we deserve to lose. This then is the secure and honourable life; in comparison of which the life of a prince is but a wallowing in the mire. Lord, give us evermore this bread, and hearts to feed upon it. Amen.