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tion in heaven, where is our inheritance, our treasure, and our joy; that so, after a constant course of piety and true holiness in this our pilgrimage here, we may be received into the near embraces of our heavenly Father, and partake of those rivers of pleasure which are at his right hand for evermore.
Let who will (should we say with the Psalmist) have their portion in this life, and the present evil world; as for me, let me behold thy divine presence in righteousness; and when I awake up after thy likeness, I shall be satisfied with itk!
“ And thou most gracious God, who hast prepared for them that love thee such good things as
pass man's understanding ; pour into our hearts “ such love toward thee, that we, loving thee above “ all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed “ all that we can desire !, and after this life have the “ fruition of thy glorious Godhead in thy heavenly
kingdom ! And during our continuance in this “ mortal state, grant that in heart and mind we
may daily thither ascend, where is our treasure “ and inheritance; that so among the sundry and “ manifold changes of the world our hearts may
surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be “ found, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
k Psalm xvii. 14, 15. after Trinity.
1 Collect for the Sixth Sunday
C H A P. X.
OF THE REGULATION OF SORROW.
Of the nature, object, and usefulness of this passion. THE passion of sorrow is that uncomfortable uneasiness and anguish of mind, which we feel when under the weight and pressure of some present evil, which we apprehend it hard to get rid of, and strive in vain to throw off, and, after all our strugglings, still lies heavy upon us : and the object of it is various, according to the variety of evils that afflict us, whether they be temporal or spiritual.
The temporal evils that excite this passion are all those losses and disappointments and misfortunes, as we call them, which happen to us with respect to our outward condition here, whether of body or estate, and which the present world is so full of, and cause us so much disturbance; and the spiritual are those sinful lusts and wicked practices which war against the soul, and fill it with guilt, and that bitter remorse, and those sharp upbraidings of conscience, which we emphatically call trouble of mind, as being that which of all things causes the greatest anguish to it.
As for the usefulness of sorrow, it consists in its being an instrument of discipline, and a regimen of It corrects the folly and lightness of our spirits, makes us serious and thoughtful, and puts us upon reflection and wiser counsels ; it is like the rod to idle and headstrong children, and drives out that folly, which, as Solomon expresses it, is bound ир
in our hearts a, and teaches us to apply our minds to the instruction of wisdom and understanding: and therefore he says, Sorrow is better than laughter:for by it the heart is made better; and the heart of the wise is in the house of mourning ; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirthb. And elsewhere, it is the rod that gives wisdom", because it is attended with sorrow, which makes people more considerate, and have a more circumspect regard to their ways, that they may avoid those ill consequences of a loose, unthinking, careless way of life.
And it is an excellent remedy too for many of the diseases of the soul; it cures our pride and vanity, removes the hardness of our hearts, and tames and softens our spirits, and makes us the more easily impressible to good advice, and susceptive of the grace of God, and compliant to the motions of the Holy Ghost. It opens our eyes and clears up our understanding to the better apprehension of many excellent and useful truths; as of the uncertainty and vanity of all things here below, of our entire dependence upon Providence, and the folly of trusting in any worldly good, and that religion is the only stay and support, and lasting comfort of the soul, which will continue to cheer and refresh it when all other comforts fail. And it renders our will more regular in its choices, and our
a Prov. xxii. 15.
b Eccles. vii. 3, 4.
c Prov. xxix. 15.
affections more governable and useful to us; and finally, it is that which works repentance to salvation never to be repented of, and has a great influence upon a sinner's reformation. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, says David, that I might learn thy statutes ; and, Before I was troubled I went astray, but now I have kept thy wordd,
So that sorrow is as a tutor and a physician to us, to instruct and correct, to purge and heal and cure; provided it be rightly managed, and not indulged too much: in which the chief irregularity of it does consist, as we shall see in the following section.
Wherein consists the irregularity of this passion. WHEN sorrow has dwelt with us some time, and we have been used to and acquainted with it, it is strange to consider how apt we are to be fond of it, and humour it excessively; there is a kind of pleasing pain in this passione, insomuch that we seem loath to part with it, and are too often deaf to those good advices that would ease us of it, and rather love to feed and nourish it by our melancholy and aggravating reflections. It delights in a gloomy, sullen retirement, where it may enjoy itself without control, and is displeased with any thing that would lessen the evil that is the object of it, and thereby mitigate its perturbation; and is exceeding hard to be governed till it has thoroughly vented itself in its own way, or is spent by time.
Of this we have a remarkable instance in the author of the 77th psalm, who was then under some
d Psalm cxix. 67.71.
very heavy affliction, and from which he almost despaired of deliverance.
In the second verse we find him thus complaining in the bitterness of his spirit: My sore ran in the night season, my soul refused to be comforted: that is, the wounds of his spirit were then as it were bleeding afresh, when by musing upon his sad condition his eyes were held waking f, and nothing comfortable could enter into his thoughts. And when he thought upon God, the fountain of consolations, he was still more troubled, as looking upon that blessed Being to be then his enemy.
Will the Lord cast me off for ever, says he, and will he be no more entreated ? Hath God forgotten to be gracious, and is his mercy clean gone for ever? hath he in anger
ир his tender mercies & ? Thus he very pathetically and elegantly complained, (as grief is always either dumb or eloquent,) and thus was his spirit overwhelmed, till at length he became so troubled that he could not speak, nor any longer vent his grief by words. And to raise the tide of his passion still higher, he must needs call to remembrance his song, the triumphal hymns he formerly had made in the days of his cheerfulness and prosperity; he considered the years of old, and the days of former times, and then compared them with his present disconsolate and forlorn condition, which swelled his sorrows to the utmost height, and, as Job expresseth it, even drunk up his spirit h.
Now this is a very natural account of the usual workings of sorrow, how apt it is to exceed due bounds, and how ready we are to increase it by our own melancholy reflections, till it has got too great f Psalm lxxvii. 4.
h Job vi. 4. BRAGGE, VOL. V.
g Verse 7,