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there is no more grace and holiness, knowledge of God, and communion with him in this world. That so few are saints, and those few so lamentably defective and imperfect. That when the sun shineth on all the earth, the Sun of Righteousness shineth on so small a part of it, and so few live in the love of God, and the joyful hopes of future blessedness; and those few have so low a measure of it, and are corrupted and troubled with so many contrary affections. Infinite goodness is not undisposed to do good. He that made us capable of holy and heavenly affections, gave us not that capacity in vain; and yet, alas! how little of God and glory taketh up the hearts of men.

But man hath no cause to grudge at God. The devils, before their fall, were not made indefectible; divine wisdom is delighted in the diversity of his works and maketh them not all of equal excellency. Free will was to act its part; hell is not to be as good as heaven and sin hath made earth to be next to hell: so much sin, so much hell. What is sin but a wilful forsaking of God? And can we forsake him, and yet love him, and enjoy his love? God's kingdom is not to be judged of by his gaol or gibbets. We wilfully forsook the light, and made the world a dungeon to ourselves. And, when recovering light doth shine unto us, how unthankfully do we usually entertain it? We cannot have the conduct and comfort of it while we shut our eyes, and turn away. And what though God give not all men an overcoming measure, nor to the best so much as they desire the earth is but a spot, or print, of God's creation; not so much as an ant hillock to a kingdom, or, perhaps, to all the earth. And who is scandalised because the world hath an heap of ants in it, yea, or a nest of snakes, that are not men? The vast, unmeasurable worlds of light which are above us, are possessed by inhabitants suitable to their glory. A casement, or crevice of light, or a candle, in this darksome world, is an unspeakable mercy; yea, that we may but hear of a better world, and may seek it in hope. We must not grudge that in our prison we have not that presence of our King, and pleasures of the kingdom, as innocent and free subjects have: hope of pardon, and a speedy deliverance, are great mercies to malefactors.

Sect. 10. And if my want of the knowledge and love of God, and joyful communion with the heavenly society, be my prison, and as the suburbs of hell, should it not make me long for the day of my redemption, and the glorious liberty of the sons of God? My true desires of deliverance, and of holiness and perfection, are my evidences that I shall obtain them. As the will is the sinner, so it is the obstinate continuance of a will to sin, which is the bondage, and the cause of continued sin and a continued hell is continued sin, as to the first part at least. Therefore, they that continue in hell, do continue in a sinning will, and so continue in a love and willingness of so much of hell. So far as God maketh us willing to be delivered from sin, so far we are delivered; and our initial, imperfect deliverance is the way to more. If pains, then, make me groan for ease, and sickness make me wish for health, why should not my remnants of ignorance, unbelief, and strangeness to God, occasion me to long for the day of my salvation? This is the greatest of all my troubles; and should it not, then, be the greatest wearying burden from which I should earnestly desire to be eased? As grace never doth hurt efficiently, and yet may be ill used, and do hurt objectively, (as to them that are proud of it,) so sin never doth good efficiently, and of itself, and yet objectively may do good; for sin may be the object of grace, and so to use it is not sin. My unbelief, and darkness, and disaffection, and inordinate love of this life, do, of themselves, most hinder my desires of deliverance, and of a better life; but, objectively, what more fit to make me weary of such a grievous state? Were my unbelief and earthly mind predominant, they would chain my affections to this world; or if I were constrainedly weary of a miserable life, I should have no comfortable hopes of a better. But as it is the nature of my sin to draw down my heart from God and glory, it is the nature of my faith, and hope, and love, to carry it upward and to desire the heavenly perfection: not to love death, but to love that which is beyond it. And have I been so many years in the school of Christ, learning both how to live and die, begging and studying for this grace, and exercising it against this sinful flesh, and shall I now, after all, find flesh more powerful to draw me downward, than faith, hope, and love, to carry my desires up to God?

Sect. 11. O God forbid! O thou that freely gavest me thy grace, maintain it to the last against its enemies, and make it finally victorious! It came from thee; it hath been preserved by thee; it is on thy side, and wholly for thee. O let it not now fail, and be conquered by blind and base carnality, or by the temptations of a hellish, conquered enemy; without it I had lived as a beast, and without it I should die more miserably than a beast. It is thine image which thou lovest; it is a divine nature and heavenly beam. What will a soul be without it, but a dungeon of darkness, a devil for malignity, and dead to holiness and heaven? Without it, who shall plead thy cause against the devil, world, and flesh? Without thy glory, earth is but earth without thy natural efficacy, it would be nothing: without thy wise and potent ordination it would be but a chaos: and, without thy grace, it would be a hell. O rather deny me the light of the sun, than the light of thy countenance! Less miserable had I been without life or being, than without thy grace. Without thee, and my Savior's help, I can do nothing; I did not live without thee; I could not pray or learn without thee; I never could conquer a temptation without thee; and can I die, or be prepared to die, without thee? Alas! I shall but say as Philip of Christ, "I know not whither my soul is going, and how then shall I know the way?" My Lord having loved his own in the world, did love them to the end. Thou lovest fidelity and perseverance in thy servants; even those that in his sufferings forsook him and fled, yet are commended and rewarded by Christ, for continuing with him in his temptations. (Luke xxii. 28.) And wilt thou forsake a sinner in his extremity, who consenteth to thy covenant, and would not forsake thee? My God, I have often sinned against thee, but yet thou knowest I would fain be thine I have not served thee with the resolution, fidelity, and delight, as such a master should have been served, but yet I would not forsake thy service, nor change my master, or my work. I can say, with thy servant Paul, that thou art the God whose I am, and whom I serve: (Acts. xxvii. 23.) and O that I could serve thee better! For to serve thee is but to receive thy grace, and to use it for my own and others' good, and so to glorify thee, and please thy will, which, being love itself, is best pleased when we receive and

do most good. I have not loved thee as infinite goodness, and love itself, and fatherly bounty, should have been loved; but yet I would not forsake thy family. And nothing in this world is more my grief, than that I love thee no more. Forsake not, then, a sinner that would not forsake thee, that looketh every hour towards thee, that feeleth it as a piece of hell to be so dark and strange unto thee, that gropeth, and groaneth, and gaspeth after thee; feeling, to his greatest sorrow, (though thou art every where,) that while he is present in the body, he is absent from the Lord. My Lord, I have nothing to do in this world, but to seek and serve thee. I have nothing to do with a heart and its affections, but to breathe after thee: I have nothing to do with my tongue and pen, but to speak to thee, and for thee, and to publish thy glory, and thy will. What have I to do with all my reputation, and interest in my friends, but to increase thy church, and propagate thy holy truth and service? What have I to do with my remaining time, even these last and languishing hours, but to look up unto thee, and wait for thy grace, and thy salvation? O pardon all my carnal thoughts, and all my unthankful neglects of thy precious grace, and love, and all my wilful sin against thy truth and thee; and let the fuller communications of thy forfeited grace, now tell me by experience that thou dost forgive me! Even under the terrible law thou didst tell man thy very nature, by proclaiming thy name, "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin." (Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7.) And is not the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ revealed in the gospel for our more abundant faith and consolation? My God, I know as I cannot love thee according to thy loveliness, so I cannot trust thee according to thy faithfulness: I can never be sufficiently confident of thy all-sufficient power, thy wisdom, and thy goodness. When I have said, as Psalm lxxvii. 7, "Will the Lord cast off forever? And will he be favorable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? Doth his promise fail to generations? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies?" Conscience hath replied, that this is my infirmity; I never wanted comfort, because thou wantedst mercy; but because I

wanted faith and fitness to receive it, and perceive it. But hast thou not mercy also to give me, even that fitness, and that faith? My God, all is of thee, and through thee, and all is to thee, and when I have the felicity, the glory of all for ever will be thine. None that trusteth in thee, (according to thy nature and promise,) shall be ashamed. If I can live and die in trusting in thee, surely I shall not be confounded.


Sect. 12. Why, then should it seem a difficult question, how I may, willingly, leave this world, and my soul depart to Christ in peace? The same grace which regenerated me, must bring me to my desired end, as the same principle of vegetation which causeth the end, must bring the fruit to sweet maturity, I. Believe and trust thy Father, thy Savior, and thy Comforter. II. And hope for the joyful entertainments of his love, and for the blessed state which he hath promised. III. And long, by love, for nearer union and communion with him; and thus, O my soul, thou mayest depart in peace.

I. How sure is the promise of God! How suitable to his love, and to the nature of our souls, and to the operations of every grace? It is initially performed here, whilst our desires are turned towards him, and the heavenly seed and spark is here ingenerated in a soul that was dead and dark, and disaffected. Is it any strange thing for fire to ascend? yea, or the fiery principle of vegetation in a tree, to carry up the earthy matter to a great height? Is it strange that rivers should hasten to the sea? Whither should spirits go, but to the region or world of spirits? And whither should Christ's members, and holy spirits go but to himself, and the heavenly society? And is not that a more holy and glorious place and state than this below? Earth is between heaven and hell; a place of gross and passive matter, where spirits may, indeed, operate upon that which needeth them, and where they may be detained awhile in such operation, or as incorporated forms, if not incarcerated delinquents; but it is not their center, end, or home. Even sight and reason might persuade me, that all the noble, invisible powers, that operate on this lower world, do principally belong unto a higher; and what can earth add to their essence, dignity, or persection?

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