Imatges de pÓgina
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towards him, conversing with him, that my text leads me to treat of, and I shall not vary from it. In handling of which position, I shall take this method.

J. Premise some things needful to be known, concerning the fouls conversing with God: for Í shall retain the word [converfing] throughout my discourse, as being a single, and yet a large and significant word.

2. Shew what it is for a foul to converse with God; and how it comes to converse with him.

3. Prove the doctrine, that it is our duty to converse with God in the way of his judginents.

4. Shew particularly, how we are to converse with God in the time of afflictions.

5. Apply it,

1. I shall premise some things needful to be known, that tend to clear up my way to the following discourse.

1. I premise, That it is the great duty of men to converse with God. I have read that it was a common precept that the jewish doctors were wont to give to the people, that they should fingle our some one commandment, and exercise them. selves very diligently in the observation of it, that therein they might make God their friend, and make him a kind of amends for the breach of many

others. I doubt it is a rule that too many professors live by, who not having the genuine and generous spirit of true religion, do parcel out their obedience into some little shreds of homage and devotion; and instead of consecrating their whole lives to God, do content themselves with some circumstantial and light obedience, and think

themselves

themselves people of great attainments, if they do but severely tie up themselves to hearing twice a week, and prayer twice a day, and a few other acts of more folemn worship. Certainly this is a penurious and needy spirit, much unlike the generous, ample and free-born spirit of true religion. The duty, the whole duty, the constant duty of man is to converse with God; commended in Enoch by the name of walking with God, Gen. v. 22. Where you may observe of him, that he did not only set out fairly with God, or take a turn or two with him, but he walked with him three hundred years together. The same God calls for from Abraham, under the same name. Gen. xxii. 1. Walk before me, and be perfect. But it is not only the command of God that makes this a duty: if there had been no express commandment concerning it, yet were it the duty of every man, neceffarily flowing from his relation of a rea sonablo creature. As man is a creature, so he must needs live upon God; and as a reasonable creature, so he ought to live with him and unto him. Therefore hath God given unto man a noble rational soul, not only that he might talk and work, manage the creatures, and converse with the world; but that he might converse with the God of the world: that infinite, blessed and glorious being. This is the very end of man's creation, as man, as a reasonable creature; this was the end of his being created in the image of God; and when he was fallen from this image, this was the end of his redemption by Christ Jesus; that heaven and earth might be reconciled, and those that were far off might be brought nigh: fin is a sinking the foul The prea

down

down to self and the creature; and redemption from sin is nothing else but the recovery of the soul into a state of favour and fellowship with God. So that whatever is expressed by Faith and Repentance, is contained in this one word, converse with God. It is the great, the neceffary, and as I may fay, the natural duty of the reasonable foul.

2.. It is the highest privilege of man. rogative of man above the beasts in his reason; and the glory of reason is, that it is capable of knowing; loving, enjoying, and conversing with the fupreme and infinite good. The privilege of reason is not, as too many think, that it is capable of understanding arts and sciences: that it is capable of climbing up into the nature and course of the heavens, and diving into the secret depths of the earth, and sea, and the creatures therein contained but in conversing with the infinite and glorious God. How miserable do vulgar souls abuse this nobly faculty, who exercise it only in discoursing, numbering, and ordering the poor concernments of the world and the body! yea, certainly those wise men, those Scribes, those disputers of this world, as the apostle calls them, who cry up this faculty, and glory so much in it, and yet do not exercise it about that high and eternal being, do not converse with God in pure affections, and God-like dispositions and conversations, but expend those vast treasures of reason upon secrets in nature, secrets in art, secrets in itate, or any other created being, do enthral their own souls, which they say are so free-born, and captivate and confine that noble principle, which they themselves do so much magnify; for sin is certainly the great and

cnly of

only shame and reproach an immortal foul: and indeed these men, though they put their souls to fomewhat a more noble drudgery, yet are really no more happy than the vulgar fort, who fpend the strength of their souls about eating and drinking, plowing, sowing, or keeping cattle. What difference, I pray you, in point of true happiness, is there between boys playing with pins and points, and old mens hugging bags and lands? The nobleft fciences, the greatest commands, the moft enriching traffics are as very toys in comparison of true happiness, as the poor dunghii poffeffions of vulgar men: and the wise, the rich, the learned, the honourable of the world, that take up with employment in this world, and with a happiness in themselves, or in any creature, do as much disgrace their own souls, and as truly live below their own faculties, as he doth, that knows no higher good than food and raiment, no higher employment than to toil all his days in a ditch. For indeed, as to all things but conversing with God, man seems to be but equal, perhaps inferior to the beasts that perifh. Doth man eat, drink, sleep, work? So do they. Doth man find any sensual pleasure, which the beasts do not sensate as well as he? Nay the gormandizing einperor 'envied the crane's long neck, and others have envied the more able and permanent lufts of the brute beasts, because themselves have been inferior to them therein; and have enjoyed less fensual pleasure than they. If any glory in their knowledge of natural and political things ; I could instance in the strong memory, great fagacity, quick fancy, wonderful perceptions of many beasts, and their strange knowledge of many secrets which they never learned by books, no nor gathered gradually by observations. And as for inan's communications of his notions by words and phrases, I doubt not to affirm, that there is some thing like to be found in beasts and birdsyea, that very beauty and Aower of sound, even music, which some men magnify so much, is more fairly and sweetly uttered by the filly bird that fits folitary upon a bough, than by the choiristers of the pope's cathedral. What foiled prerogative worth naming remains to man above his fellow-creatures, but his conversing with God, which we call religion, and is indeed reason rectified, fanctified, exalted, and boiled up into its pure and primitive perfection! insomuch that I have sometimes thought, that I never heard a more reproachful word spoken concerning degenerate man, neither do I think that thing can be spoken of him more shameful and dishonourable, than what the apostle faith of the Heathen, Ephef

their real

. ii. 12. without God in the world. By conversing with God in the world, is man truly raised above the beasts, and the godly man above all other men. Nay, hereby is the godly foul advanced to the dignity and glory of the holy angels, or at least to a parity of happiness: for it is this that is their perfection and glory, as we find it described in Matt. xviii. 10. They always behold the face of God. And therefore our blessed Saviour doth affirm, that the saints in the resurrection, who shall be raised above all creature-communion, to live upon God wholly, singly, and entirely, shall be equal to the angels of God, Luke xx. 36. In a word, this is the most

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