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of hell itself. How many atheous hearts have been convinced, by the very operations of devils ! Those, which would, with the stupid Sadducees, persuade themselves there are no spirits ; yet, when they have sensibly found the marvellous effects wrought even by the base instruments of Satan, they have been forced to confess, Doubtless there is a God that rules the world : for, so great powers of evil spirits must necessarily evince the greater powers of good. It is of thy wise and holy dispensation, that thy good angels do not so frequently exhibit themselves, and give so visible demonstrations of their presence to thy saints, as the evil angels do to their vassals, though they are ever as present and more powerful. What need they, when thou so mightily overrulest those malignant spirits, that thou forcest from them thine own glory, and advantage to thy chosen ? Lord, how much more shall all thy other creatures serve to thy praise, when thy very hellish enemies shall proclaim thy justice, goodness, omnipotence !
XVII. Speculation, O Lord, is not more easy, than practice is difficult. How many have we known, who, as it was said of the philosophers of old, know how to speak well, but live ill! How many have written books of chemistry, and given very confident directions for the finding out of that precious stone of the philosophers! but how many have indeed made gold ? Practice is that, which thou, O God, chiefly requirest and respectest; who hast said, If ye know these things, blessed are ye if you do them : Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth; i Cor. viii. 1. () Lord, do thou enlighten mine eyes with the knowledge of thy will: but, above all, do thou rectify my affections; guide my feet into the ways of thy commandments; apply my heart to fulfil thy statutes alway; Psalm cxix. 35, 112. and prosper thou the work of my hands upon me, o prosper thou my handy-work; Psalm xc. 17.
XVIII. How oft have I wondered, O Lord, at the boldness of those men, who, knowing they must shortly die, yet dare do those things, which will draw upon them eternity of torments! What shall I say, but, The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God? Surely, men love themselves well enough; and would be loth to do that, which would procure them an inevitable misery and pain. Did they, therefore, believe there were another world, and that they must be called to a strict reckoning for all their actions, and be doomed to an everlasting death for their wicked deeds, they durst not, they could not do those acts, which should make them eternally miserable. Let me say to the most desperate ruffian, “There is poison in this cup: drink this draught, and thou diest;" he would have the wit to keep his lips close, and cast the potion to the ground: were it not for their infidelity, so would men do, to the most plausible, but deadly, offers of sin. O Lord, since I know thy righteous judgments, teach me to tremble at them : restrain
thou my feet from every evil way; and teach me so to walk, as one, that looks every hour to appear before thy just and dreadful Tribunal.
XIX. The longer I live, () my God, the more do I wonder at all the works of thy hands. I see such admirable artifice in the very least and most despicable of all thy creatures, as doth every day more and more astonish my observation. I need not look so far as heaven, for matter of marvel, though therein thou art infinitely glorious; while I have but a spider in my window, or a bee in my garden, or a worm under my feet : every one of these overcomes me with a jest amazement : yet can I see no more than their very outsides; their inward form, which gives their being and operations, I I cannot pierce into. The less I can know, () Lord, the more let me wonder; and the less I can satisfy myself with marvelling at thy works, the more let me adore the majesty and omnipotence of thee, that wroughtest them.
XX. Alas, my Lord God, what poor, weak, imperfect services are those, even at the best, that I can present thee withal ! How lean, lame, and blemished sacrifices, do I bring to thine altar! I know thou art worthy of more than my soul is capable to perform; and fain would I tender thee the best of thine own: but, what I would, that I do not ; Rom. vii. 15 : yea, cannot do. Surely, had I not to do with an infinite mercy, I might justly look to be punished for my very obedience. But now, Lord, my impotence redounds to the praise of thy goodness : for, were I more answerable to thy justice, the glory of thy mercy would be so less eminent in my remission and acceptance. Here I am before thee, to await thy good pleasure: thou knowest whether it be better to give me more ability, or to accept of that poor ability thou hast given me; but since when thou hast given me most, I shall still and ever stand in need of thy forgiveness ; let my humble suit be to thee always, rather for pardon of my defects, than for a supply of thy graces.
XXI. O my God, how do I see many profane and careless souls spend their time in jollity and pleasure! The harp, and the viol, the tabret and the pipe, and wine, are in their feasts ; Isaiah v. 12. while I, that desire to walk close with thee, in all conscionable obedience, droop and languish under a dull heaviness, and heartless dejection. I am sure I have a thousand times more cause of joy and cheerfulness, than the merriest of all those wild and jovial spirits : they have a world to play withal; but I have a God to rejoice in: their sports are trivial and momentary ; my joy is serious and everlasting: one dram of my mirth is worth a pound of theirs. But, I confess, O Lord, how much I am wanting to myself, in not stirring up this holy fire of spiritual joy ; but suffering it to lie raked up, under the dead ashes of a sad neglect. O thou, who art the God of Hope, quicken this heavenly affection in my soul; and
ingi fess, O Lord fire of spirita sad neg
fill me with all joy and peace in believing ; Rom. xv. 13. Make my heart so much more light than the worldling's, by how much my estate is happier.
XXII. What shall I do, Lord? I strive and tug, what I may, with my natural corruptions; and with the spiritual wickednesses in high places, (Eph. vi. 12.) which set upon my soul : but, sometimes, I am foiled; and go halting out of the field. It is thy mercy that I live, being so fiercely assaulted by those principalities and powers : it were more than wonder, if I should escape such hands, without a wound. Even that holy servant of thine, who strove with thine angel for a blessing, went limping away, though he prevailed: what marvel is it, that so weak a wretch as I, striving with many evil angels for the avoidance of a curse, come off with a maim or a scar? But, blessed be thy name, the wounds, that I receive, are not mortal; and, when I fall, it is but to my knees : whence I rise with new courage and hopes of victory. Thou, who art the God of all Power, and keepest the keys of hell and death, hast said, Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you : Lord, I do and will, by thy merciful aid, still and ever resist: make thou my faith as stedfast, as my will is resolute. Oh, still teach thou my hands to war, and my fingers to fight; Psalm cxliv. 1. Arm thou my soul with strength; and, at last, according to thy gracious promise, crown it with victory.
XXIII. O Lord God, how ambitious, how covetous of knowledge, is this soul of mine! As the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing ; Eccl. i. 8. no more is the mind of man with understanding : yea, so insatiable is my heart, that the more I know, the more I desire to know, and the less I think I know. Under heaven, there can be no bounds set to this intellectual appetite. Oh, do thou stop the mouth of my soul with thyself, who art Infinite. Whom have I in heaven, but thee? and there is none upon earth, that I desire besides thee ; Psalm lxxiii. 25. Alas, Lord, if I could know all creatures, with all their forms, qualities, workings; if I could know as much as innocent Adam, or wise Solomon; yea more, if I could know all that is done in earth or heaven; what were my soul the better, if it have not attained the knowledge of thee? Since, as the Preacher hath most wisely observed, In much wisdom is much grief ; and he, that increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow; Eccl. i. 18. Oh, then, set off my heart from affecting that knowledge, whose end is sorrow; and fix it upon that knowledge, which brings everlasting life: And this is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God ; and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent ; John xvii. 3.
XXIV. O my God, what miserable uncertainties there are, in these worldly hopes ! But yesterday, I made account of an eminent advantage of my estate, which now ends in a deep loss. How did we lately feed ourselves with the hope of a firm and during peace, which now shuts up in too much blood! How confidently did I rely upon the promised favour of some great friends, which now leave me in the suds, as the scorn of (a miscalled) fortune! In how slippery places, () Lord, do our feet stand! if that may be said to stand, which is ever sliding, never fixed : and not more slippery, than brittle; so as there is not more danger of falling, than of sinking. With thee, O God, with thee only is a constant immutability of happiness: there, let me seek it; there, let me find it : and, over-looking all the fickle objects of this vain world, let my soul pitch itself upon that blessed Immortality, which, ere long, it hopes to enjoy with thee.
XXV. Lord God, what a wearisome circle do I walk in here below! I sleep, and dress, and work, and eat, and work again, and eat again, and undress, and sleep again; and, thus wearing out my time, find a satiety in all these, troublesome. Lord, when shall I come to that state, wherein I shall do nothing but enjoy thee, do nothing but praise thee; and, in that one work, shali find such infinite contentment, that my glorified soul cannot wish to do any other: and shall therein alone bestow a blessed eternity?
XXVI. O God, how troublesome and painful do I find this sun of thine, whose scorching beams beat upon my head! and yet this excellent creature of thine is that, to which, under thee, we are beholden for our very life; and it is thy great blessing to the earth, that it may enjoy these strong and forcible rays from it. Oh, who shall be able to endure the burning flames of thy wrath, which thou in. tendest for the punishment and everlasting torment of thine enemies? And if men shall blaspheme the Name of thee, the God of Heaven, (Rev. xvi. 9.) for the great heat of that beneficial creature, what shall we think they will do for that fire, which shall be consuming them to all eternity ? Lord, keep my soul from those flames, which shall be ever burning, and never either quenched or abated.
XXVII. Which way, O Lord, which way can I look, and not see some sad examples of misery? One wants his limbs, with Mephibosheth; another, his sight, with Bartimeus; a third, with Laza us, wants bread and a whole skin: one is pained in his body ; another, plundered of his estate ; a third, troubled in mind : one is pined in prison; another, tortured on the rack; a third, languisheth under the loss of a dear son, or wife, or husband. Who am I, Lord, that, for the present, I enjoy an immunity from all these sorrows ? I am sure, none groans under them, that have deserved them more. It is thy mercy, thy mere mercy, O my good God, that any of these calamities have fallen beside me. Oh, make me truly thankful for thine infinite goodness; and yet only so sensible of thy gracious indulgence this way, as that when any of these evils shall seize upon me, I may be no more dejected in the sense of them, than I am now overjoyed with the favour of their forbearance.
XXVIII. O Blessed God, what variety of gifts hast thou scattered amongst the sons of men ! To one, thou hast given vigour of body; to another, agility ; beauty, to a third : to one, depth of judginent; to another, quickness of apprehension: to one, readiness and rarity of invention; to another, tenacity of memory: to one, the knowledge of liberal arts; to another, the exquisiteness of manuary skill: to one, worldly wealth; to another, honour: to one, a wise heart; to another, an eloquent tongue: to one, more than enough; to another, contentment with a little: to one, valour; to another, sagacity. These favours, O Lord, thou hast promiscuously dispersed, amongst both thy friends and enemies: but, Oh! how transcendant are those spiritual mercies, which thou hast reserved for thine own; the graces of heavenly wisdom, lively faith, fervent charity, firm hope, joy in the Holy Ghost, and all the rest of that divine bevy! For any competency of the least of thy common blessings, I desire to be thankful to thy bounty ; for which of them, O. God, can I ei. ther merit or requite ? but, Oh for a soul truly and eagerly ambitious of those thy best mercies! Oh, let me ever long for them, and ever be insatiable of them. Oh, do thou fill my heart with the desire of them, and let that desire never find itself filled.
XXIX. How comfortable a style is that, O God, which thine Apostle gives tu thy heaven, while he calls it The inheritance of the saints in light! None can come there, but Saints: the rooms of this lower world are taken up, commonly, with wicked men, with beasts, with devils; but, into that heavenly Jerusalem, no unholy thing can enter. Neither can any Saint be excluded thence : each of them have, not only a share, but an entire right to thy glory. And how many just titles are there, O Saviour, to that region of blessedness! It is thy Father's gift : it is thy purchase : it is thy Saints' Inheritance; theirs, only in thy right; by thy gracious adoption they are sons, and, as sons, heirs, co-heirs with thee of that blessed patrimony; Rom viii. 17. so feoffed upon them, so possessed of them, that they can never be disseised. “And, Lord, how glorious an inheritance it is! An inheritance in light, in light incomprehensible, in light inaccessible. Lo, the most spiritual of all thy visible creatures is light; and yet this light is but the effect and emanation of one of thy creatures the sun, and serves only for the illumination of this visible world : but that supernal light is from the all-glorious beams of thy Divine Majesty, diffusing themselves to those blessed spirits, both angels and souls of thy saints, who live in the joyful fruition of thee to all eternity. Alas, Lord, we do here dwell in darkness, and under an uncomfortable opacity, while thy face is clouded from us with manifold temptations: there above, with thee is pure light, a constant noon-tide of glory: I am here under a miserable and obscure wardship. Oh, teach me to despise the best of earth ; and ravish my soul with a longing desire, of being pos. sessed of that blessed inheritance of the saints in light,