Page images
PDF
EPUB

0

me rich or advanced in the world ? Surely his incarnation, merits, sacrifice, and intercession, had a low design, if that were all! And who hath more of these than they that have least of Christ? But he purchaseth us to an incorruptible crown; to an inheritance undefiled, that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us, that are kept, by God's power through faith unto salvation. (1 Pet. i.) And is it heaven that cost so dear a price for me, and is the end of so wonderful a design of grace, and shall I be unwilling now to receive the gift?

Sect. 11. 3. That sure is best for me, for which God's holy Spirit is preparing me; that for which he is given to believers; and that which is the end of all his holy operations on my soul. But it is not to love this world, that he is persuading me from day to day; but to come off from such love, and to set my heart on the things above. Is it to love this life and fleshly interest, this vanity and vexation, or rather to love the invisible perfection, that this blessed Spirit hath done so much to work my heart? And would I now undo all, or cross and frustrate all his operations? Hath grace been so long preparing me for glory, and shall I be loth to take possession of it? If I am not willing, I am not yet sufficiently prepared.

Sect. 12. 4. If heaven be not better for me than earth, God's word and ordinances have been all in vain? Surely that is my best which is the gift of the better covenant, and which is secured to me by so many sealed promises, and which I am directed to by so many sacred precepts, doctrines, and examples; and for which I have been called to hear, and read, and meditate, and pray, and watch so long. Was it the interest of the flesh on earth, or a longer life of worldly prosperity, which the gospel covenant secured to me; which the sacraments and Spirit sealed to me; which the bible was written to direct me to; which ministers preached to me; which my books were written for; which I prayed for; and for which I served God? Or was it not for bis grace on earth, and glory in heaven? And is it not better for me to have the end of all these means, than lose them all, and lose my hopes? Why have I used them, if I would not attain their end.

Sect. 13. 5. That is my best state, which all the course of God's fatherly providences tend to : all his sweeter mercies, and all his sharper corrections, are to make me partaker of his holiness, and to lead me to glory in the way that my Savior and all bis saints have gone before me : all things work together for the best to me, by preparing me for that which is best, indeed. Both calms and storms are to bring me to this harbor: if I take them but for themselves, and this present life, I mistake them, and understand them not, but unthankfully vilify them, and lose their end, and life, and sweetness : every word and work of God; every day's mercy's, and changes, and usages, do look at heaven, and intend eternity. God leadeth me no other way: if I follow him not, I forsake my hope in forsaking him: if I follow him, shall I be unwilling to be at home, and come to the end of all this way?

Sect. 14. 6. Surely that is best for me which God hath required me principally to value, love, and seek, and that as the business of all my life, referring all things else thereto: that this is my duty, I am fully certain, as is proved elsewhere, and before. Is my business in the world only for the things of this world? How vain a creature, then, were man; and how little were the difference between waking and sleeping! Life and death: no wonder if he that believeth that there is no life but this to seek or hope for do live in uncomfortable despair, and only seek to palliate his misery with the brutish pleasures of a wicked lise, and if he stick at no villany which his fleshly lusts incline him to; especially tyrants and multitudes who have none but God to fear. It is my certain duty to seck licaven with all the fervor of my soul, and diligence of my life; and is it not best lo find it !

Sect. 15. 7. That must needs be best for me, which all other things must be forsaken for : it is folly to forsake the better for the worse : but Scripture, reason, and conscience, tell me, that all this world, when it stands in competition, or opposition, should be forsaken for heaven; yea, for the least hopes of it: a possible, everlasting glory should be preferred before a certainly perishing vanity. I am sure this lise will shortly be nothing to mc; and therefore it is next to nothing now. And must I forsake all for my everlasting hopes, and yet be unwilling to pass unto the possession of them.

Sect. 10. 8. That is like to be our best which is our maturesi state. Nature carrieth all things towards their perfection : our apples, pears, grapes, and every fruit, are best when they are ripe; and though they then hasten to corruption, that is, through the incapacity of the corporal materials, any longer to retain the vegetative spirit, which is not annihilated at its separation; and being not made for its own felicity, but for man's, its ripeness is the state in which man useih it, before it doth corrupt of itsell, and that its corruption may be for his nutriment; and the spirits and best matter of his said food doth become bis very substance. And doth God cause saints to grow up unto ripeness, only to perish and drop down unto useless rottenness? It is not credible. Though our bodies become but like our filthicst excrements, our souls return to God that gave them: and though he need them not, he useth them in their separated state; and that to such heavenly uses as the heavenly maturity and mellowness hath disposed them to. Seeing, then, love hath ripened me for itsell, shall I not willingly drop into its hand ?

Sect 17. 9. That is like to be the best which the wisest and holiest, in all ages of the world, have preferred before all, and have most desired : and which also almost all mankind do acknowledge to be best at last. It is not like that all the best men in the world should be most deceived, and be put upon fruitless labors and sufferings by this deceit, and be undone by their duty; and that God should, by such deceits, rule all (or almost all) mankind : avd also that the common rotices of human nature, and conscience's last and closet documents, should be all in vain. But it is past all doubt, that no men usually are worse than those that have no belief or hopes of any life but this : and that none are so holy, just, and sober, so charitable to others, and so useful to mankind, as those that firmliest believe and hope for the state of immortality : and shall I fear that state which all that were wise and holy, in all ages, have preferred and desired ?

Sect. 18. 10. And it is not unlike that my best state is that which my greatest enemies are most against : and how much Satan doth to keep me and other men from heaven; and how much worldly honor, and pleasure, and wealth, he could afford us to accomplish it, I need not here again be copious in reciting, having said so much of it in the Treatise of infidelity. And shall I be, towards myself, so much of Satan's mind? He would not have me come to heaven: and shall I also be unwilling? All these things tell me that it is best to be with Christ.

II. The Final Reasons.

6

Sect. 1. II. 1. Is it not far better to dwell with God in glory, than with sinful men, in such a world as this? Though he be every where, bis glory, which we must behold to our felicity, and the perfecting operations and communications of his love are in the glorious world, and not on earth. As the eye is made to see the light, and then to see other things by the light, so is man's mind made to see God, and to love him; and other things, as in, by, and for him. He that is our beginning is our end; and our end is the first motive of all mor

1 al action, and for it, it is all that means are used : and the end attained is the rest of souls. How oft hath my soul groaned under the sense of distance, and darkness, and estrangedness from God? How oft hath it looked up, and gapsed after him, and said, “Oh! when shall I be nearer and better acquainted with my God?' “ As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God: my soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm xlii. 1.) And would I not have my prayers heard, and my desires granted? What else is the sum of lawful prayers, but God himself? If I desire any thing more than God, what sinfulness is in those desires, and how sad is their signification. How oft have I said, “Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none on earth that I desire besides thee? It is good for me to draw near to God.” (Psalm lxxiii. 25, 28.) Wo to me, if I did dissemble! If not, why should my soul draw back? Is it because that death stands in the way? Do not my fellow-creatures die for my daily food; and is not my passage secured by the love of my Father, and the resurrection and intercession of my Lord? Can I see the light of heavenly glory in this darksome shell and womb of flesh ?

Sect. 2. All creatures are more or less excellent and glorious, as God is more or less operative and resulgent in them, and, by that operation, communicateth most of himself unto them. Though he

causes.

be immense and indivisible, his operations and communications are not equal : and that is said to be nearest to him which hath most of those operations on it; and that without the intervenient casuality of any second, created cause; and so all those are in their order near unto him, as they have noblest natures, and sewest intervenient

Far am I from presuming to think that I am, or shall be, the best and noblest of God's creatures, and so that I shall be so near him as to be under the influx of no second or created causes, of which more anon. But to be as near as my nature was ordained to approach, is but to attain the end and perfection of my nature.

Sect. 3. And as I must not look to be the nearest to him, as he is the first efficient, no more must I, as he is the first dirigent, or governing cause. As now I am under the government of his officers on earth, I look for ever to be under sub-governors in heaven. My glorified Savior must be my Lord and ruler, and who else under him I know not. If angels are not equal in perfection, nor, as is commonly supposed equal in power, nor without some regimental order among themselves, I must not conclude that no created angel or spirit shall have any government over me, but it will be so pure and divine, as that the blessed effects of God's own government will be sweetly powerful therein. If the law was given by angels, and the angel of God was in the burning bush, and the angel conducted the pleople through the wilderness, and yet all these things are ascribed to God, much more near and glorious will the divine regiment there be, whoever are the administrators.

Sect. 4. And as I must expect to be under some created, efficient and dirigent causes there, so must I expect to have some subordinate ends : else there would not be a proportion and harmony in casualities. Whatever nobler creatures are above me, and have their causalities upon me, I must look to be finally for these nobler creatures. When I look up and think what a world of glorious beings are now over me, I dare not presume to think that I shall finally, any more than receptively, be the nearest unto God, and that I am made for none but him. I find here that I am made, and ruled, and sanctified, for the public or common good of many as above my own, of which I am past doubt; and I am sure that I must be, finally, for Vol. IJ.

33

« PreviousContinue »