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God? Doth God or I know better what he hath | to value and desire that world of light, love, and yet to do? And who is fittest to do it? The order, which he calls us to prefer and hope for. church's service and benefits must be measured If I am any way useful to the world, it is unout by our master and benefactor, and not by deserved mercy that hath made me so ; for which ourselves.
I must be thankful: but how long I shall be so, What am I to those more excellent persons is not my business to determine, but my Lord's. whom, in all ages, he hath taken out of the world? My many sweet and beautiful flowers arise and And would men's thoughts of the church's needs appear in their beauty and sweetness, but for detain them? The poor heathen, infidel, ma- one summer's time, and they murmur not that hometan nations have no preachers of the gospel? they flourish for so short a space. The beasts, And if their need prove not that God will send birds, and fishes, which I feed on, live till I will them such, no country's need will prove that have them die : and as God will be served and God will continue them such. Many more use- pleased by wonderful variety at once, of animals ful servants of Christ have died in their youth: and vegetables, &c. so will he by many sucJohn Janeway preached but one sermon : Joseph cessive generations : if one flower fall or die, it Allen, and many other excellent men, died young suffices that others shall summer after summer in the midst of their vigorous, successful labours : arise from the same root : and if my pears, apboth of them far more fit for God's work, and ples, plums, &c. fall or serve me when they are likely to win souls, and glorify God, than I am ripe, it suffices that, not they, but others, the or ever was, however their greater light was next year shall do the same; God will have other partly kindled from my lesser. Yet did both generations to succeed us : let us thank him that these, under painful, consuming languishings of we have had our time: and could we overcome the flesh, die as they had long lived, in the lively the grand crime of selfishness, and could we love triumphant praises of their Redeemer, and joy- others as ourselves, and God, as God, above all ful desires and hopes of glory ? Shall I at seventy the world, it would comfort us at death, that six years of age, after such a life of unspeakable others shall survive us, and the world shall conmercies, and almost fifty-three years of comfort tinue, and God will be still God, and be glorified able help in the service of my Lord, be now in his works : and love will say, I shall live in afraid of my reward, and shrink at the sentence my successors, and I shall more than live in the of death, and still be desiring to stay here, upon life of the world ; and yet most of all in the eterpretence of further service: we know not what nal life and glory of God. is best for the church as God doth : the church God, who made us not gods, but poor crea: and the world are not ours, but his ; not our tures, as it pleased him, knows best our measures: desires, but his will, must measure out its mer. and he will not try us with too long a life of cies: we are not so merciful as he is : it is not temptations, lest we should grow too familiar unmeet for us to desire many things which God where we should be strangers, and utterly strana will not give, nor sees it meet to grant the par gers to our home: no wonder if that world was · ticulars of such desires. Nothing ever lay so ready for a deluge, by a deluge of sin, in which heavy on my heart as the sin and misery of men lived to six, seven, eight, and nine hundred mankind, and to think how much of the world years of age : had our great sensualists any hope lies in folly and wickedness. For what can I of so long a life, they would be more like incarpray so heartily as for the world's recovery: and it nate devils, and there would be no dwelling near is his will that I should show a holy and universal them for the holy seed: if angels were among love by praying,— Let thy name be hallowed. them, they would, like the sodomites, seek furiThy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth ously to abuse them. as it is done in heaven:' yet alas, how unlike is Nor will God tire us out with too long a life earth to heaven, and what ignorance, sin, con- of earthly sufferings : we think short cares, fears, fusions, and cruelties, here reign and prosper? and sorrows, persecutions, sickness, and crosses, Unless there is a wonderful change to be ex- to be long: and shall we grudge at the wisdom pected, even as by a general miracle, how little and love which shortens them. Yea, though holy hope appears that ever these prayers should be duty itself be excellent and sweet, yet the weak. granted in the things ? It makes us better to ness of the flesh makes us liable to weariness, desire that others may be better : but God is the and abates the willingness of the spirit: and our free disposer of his own gifts : and it seems to wise and merciful God will not make our war. be his will, that the permitted ignorance and fare,.or our race, too long, lest we be wearied confusion of this world should help us the more and faint, and fall short of the prize. By our
weariness, complaints, fears and groans, one me to the feast of grace, compelled me to come would think that we thought this life too long, in without constraint: thy effectual call did and yet when we should yield to the call of God, make me willing : is not glory better than prewe draw back as if we would have it everlasting. paring grace ? Shall I not come more willingly
Willingly submit then, O my soul : it is not to the celestial feast? What was thy grace for, thou, but this flesh, that must be dissolved ; this but to make me willing of glory, and the way to troublesome, vile, and corruptible flesh: it is but it? Why didst thou dart down thy beams of the other half of thy meat and drink, which thy love, but to make me love thee, and to call me presence kept longer uncorrupted. Thou diest up to the everlasting centre? Was not the feast not when man dieth, by thy departure ; as thou of grace as a sacrament of the feast of glory: livest not to thyself, thou diest not to thyself; Did I not take it in remembrance of my Lord whether I live or die, I am the Lord's : he that until he come ? Did not he that told me all set up the candle, knows how long he hath use things are ready, tell me also that he is gone to for the light of it. Study thy duty, and work prepare a place for us, and it is his will that we while it is day, and let God choose thy time, shall be with him, and see his glory. They that and willingly stand to his disposal. The gospel are given him, and drawn to him by the Father dies not when I die: the church dies not : the on earth, do come to Christ : give now and draw praises of God die not: the world dies not: my departing soul to my glorified Head : as I perhaps it shall grow better, and those prayers have glorified thee on earth, in the measure that shall be answered which seemed lost: yea, and thy grace hath prevailed in me, pardon the sins it may be some of the seed that I have sown, by which I have offended thee, and glorify me shall spring up to some benefit of the dark and in the beholding and participation of the glory unpeaceable world when I am dead. Is not this of my Redeemer; come, Lord Jesus, come quickmuch of the end of life? Is not that life goodly, with fuller life, light, and love, into this too which attains its end? If my end was to do dead, dark, and disaffected soul, that it may good and glorify God, if good be done, and God come with joyful willingness unto thee. glorified, when I am dead, yea though I were Willingly depart, O lingering soul! It is from annihilated, is not my end attained ? Feign not a Sodom, though in it there be righteous Lots, thyself to be God, whose interest—that is, the who yet are not without their woeful blemishes ! pleasing of his will—is the end of all things ; and Hast thou so often groaned for the general blindwhose will is the measure of all created good : ness and wickedness of the world, and art thou feign not thyself to be all the world : God hath loth to leave it for a better? How often wouldst not lost his work ; the world is not dissolved thou have rejoiced to have seen but the dawning when I am dissolved. O how strong and unrea- of a day of universal peace and reformation ? sonable a disease is this inordinate selfishness! Wouldst thou not see it where it shines forth in Is not God's will infinitely better than mine, and its fullest glory? Would a light at midnight
fitter to be fulfilled ? Choose the fulfilling of have pleased thee so well? Hast thou prayed ..his will, and thou shalt always have thy choice: and laboured for it so hard? Wouldst thou not
if a man be well that can always have his will, see the sun ? Will the things of heaven please let this always be thy will, that God's will may thee no where but on earth, where they come in be done, and thou shalt always have it.
the least and weakest influences, and are termiLord, let thy servant depart in peace; even in nated in gross, terrene, obscure, and unkind rethy peace, which passes understanding, and which cipients ? Away, away, the vindictive flames Christ, the Prince of peace, doth give, and no- are ready to consume this sinful world! Sinners thing in the world can take away. O give me that blindly rage in sin, must quickly rage in the that peace which is suited to a soul which is so effects of sin, and of God's justice : the pangs near the barbour, even the world of endless peace of lust prepared for these pangs! They are and love; where perfect union, such as I am treasuring up wrath against this day: look not capable of, will free me from all the sins and then behind thee: away from this unhappy troubles which are caused by the convulsions world! Press on unto the mark, looking toand confusions of this divided, selfish world. wards, and hastening to the coming of the day Call home this soul by the encouraging voice of of God.' love, that it may joyfully hear, and say, It is my As this world hath used thee, it would use thee Father's voice : invite it to thee by the heavenly still, and it will use others : if thou hast sped well messenger : attract it by the tokens and the in it, no thanks to it, but unto God: if thou hast foretastes of love: the messengers that invited had manifold deliverances, and marvellous preservations, and hast been fed with angels' food, | as much as I know that I should desire it: but love not this wilderness for it, but God and God in nature hath there laid upon me some his angel which was thy guide, protector, and necessity of aversion, though the inordinateness deliverer.
came from sin : else Christ had not so feared, Hath this troublesome flesh been so comfort- and deprecated the cup: death must be a penable a companion to thee, that thou shouldest be alty, even where it is a gain; and therefore it so loth to leave it ? Have thy pains, thy weari- must meet with some unwillingness: because we ness, thy languishings, thy labours, thy cares and willingly sinned, we must unwillingly suffer : the fears about this body, been pleasing to thee? gain is not the pain or dissolution in itself, but Art thou loth that they should have an end ? the happy consequences of it. All the faith and Didst thou not find a need of patience to undergo reason in the world, will not make death to be them; and of greater patience than mere nature no penalty, and therefore will not take away all gave thee ? And canst thou hope now for better unwillingness. No man ever yet reasoned or when nature fails, and that an aged, consumed, believed himself into a love of pain and death, as more diseased body, should be a more pleasant such : but seeing that the gain is unspeakably habitation to thee than it was heretofore ? If greater than the pain and loss, faith and holy from thy youth up it hath been both a tempting reason may make our willingness to be greater and a troublesome thing to thee, surely though than our unwillingness, and our hope and joy it be less tempting, it will not be less troubling than our fear and sorrow : and it is the deep and when it is falling to the dust, and above ground effectual notice of goodness, which is God's way, savours of the grave! Had things sensible been in nature and grace, to change and draw the ever so pleasant in thy youth, and hadst thou will of man. Come then, my soul, and think beglutted thyself in health with that sort of delight, lievingly, what is best for thee, and wilt thou in age thou art to say, by nature: “I have no not love and desire most that which is certainly pleasure in them. Doth God in great mercy the best ? make pain and feebleness the harbingers of death, and wilt thou not understand their business ?
CHAP. IV. Doth he mercifully beforehand, take away the pleasures of all fleshly things, and worldly vani- THE INCONCEIVABLE ADVANTAGES OF BEING ties, that there may be nothing to relieve a de
WITH CHRIST-IT IS FAR BETTER. parting soul, as the shell breaks when the bird is hatched, and the womb relaxes when the in- ! To say and hear that it is far better to be with fant must be born; and yet shall we stay when Christ, is not enough to make us willing; words nothing holds us, and still be loth to come away? and notions are such instruments as God uses Wouldst thou dwell with thy beloved body in to work on souls, but the convincing, satisfying, the grave, where corruption reigns? If not, why powerful light, and the inclining love, are other should it now, in its painful languor, seem to things. The soul now operates on and with the thee a more pleasant habitation than the glorious corporeal spirits and organs; and it perceives presence of thy Lord ? In the grave it will be now its own perceptions ; but it is a stranger to at rest, and not tormented as now it is, nor wish the mode of its future action, when separated at night, O that it were morning! nor say at from the body, and can have no formal concepmorning, When will it be night? And is this a tion of such conceptions as yet it never had. dwelling fit for thy delight? Patience in it, Therefore its thoughts of its future state, must while God will so try thee, is thy duty : but is be analogical and general, and partly strange. such patience a better and sweeter life than rest But general notices, when certain, may be very and joy?
powerful, and satisfy us in so much as is needful But, alas, how deaf is flesh to reason ? Faith to our consent, and to such a measure of joy as hath the reason which easily may shame all con- is suitable to this earthly state. Such notices trary reasoning ; but sense is unreasonable, and we have from the nature of the soul, with the especially this inordinate, tenacious love of nature of God, the course of providence, and present life. I have reason enough to be willing government of mankind, the internal and exterto depart, even much more willing than I am: nal conflicts which we perceive about men's O that I could be as willing as I am convinced, souls, the testimony and promises of the word of that I have reason to be! Could I love God as God, the testimony of conscience, with the much as I know that I should love him, then I witness of the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, and should desire to depart, and to be with Christ in it the earnest and the foretaste of glory, and
Doth he of all fleshly mothing to relie the bird
the beginnings of life eternal here ; all which Iparture comes : that is best which is, for it is have before considered.
the work of God. The world cannot be better at The Socinians, who would interpret this of this instant than it is, nor any thing better, which the state of resurrection only, against plain evi- is of God, because it is as he wills it to be : dence violate the text : seeing Paul expressly but when God hath changed them, it will then speaks of his gain by death, which will be his be best that they are changed. Were there no abode with Christ, and this upon his departure other good in my departure hence but this simhence : which he calls his being • absent from ple good, the fulfilling of God's will, my reason the body, and present with the Lord :' which tells me that I should be fully satisfied in it: but Christ, to the penitent thief, calls his being with there is also a subordinate sort of good. · him in paradise ;' in the parable of the steward, For my change will tend to the perfection of the Christ intimates to us, that wise stewards, when universe, even that material good or perfection they go hence, are received into the everlasting which is its aptitude for the use to which God habitations ; as he there further tells us Lazarus hath created and doth preserve it: as all the was in Abraham's bosom.
parts, the modes, the situation, the motions of a Goodness is primary or secondary : the first clock, a watch, or other engine, do to the ends is God's perfect essence and will : the second is of the artificer. Though God hath not told me either proper and simple good, or analogical. particularly, why every thing, mode, and moThe former is the creature's conformity to the tion is as it is, I know it is all done in perfect will of God, or its pleasingness to his will : the wisdom, and suited to its proper use and end. latter is the greater, which is the welfare or If the hen or bird knows how to make her nest, perfection of the universe. The lesser, which to lay her eggs secretly together, when and how is the perfection of the several parts of the uni- to sit on them till they are hatched, and how to verse, either in the nobler respect, as they are feed them and preserve them, and when to forparts contributing to the perfection of the whole ; sake them, as sufficient for themselves without or in the lower respect, as they are perfect or her help, &c; if the bee knows when, whence, happy in themselves; or, in the lowest respect and how, to gather her honey and wax, and how of all, as they are good to their fellow-creatures to form the repository combs, and how to lay it which are below themselves.
up, and all the rest of her marvellous economy, Accordingly, it is far better to be with Christ, shall I think that God doth he knows not what, properly and simply, as it is the fulfilling of or what is not absolutely the best? Doth he God's will; analogically, as it tends to the per- want either skill, will, or power. fection of the universe and the church ; as it will Should the stone grudge to be hewed, the be our own good or felicity; and as it will be brick to be burnt, the trees to be cut down, and good 'to our inferior fellow-creatures; though sawed and framed, the lead and iron to be
this last be most questionable, and seems not in- melted, &c. when it is but to forin an useful .'cluded in the meaning of this text.
edifice, and to adapt and compose every part to * It is an odious effect of idolatrous selfishness, the perfecting of the whole ? to acknowledge no goodness above our own fe- Shall the waters grudge that they must glide Kcity, and accordingly to make the goodness of away, and the plants that they must die, and God to be but formally his usefulness, benevo- half die every winter, and the fruits and flowers lence, and beneficence to his creatures, which is that they must fall, or the moon that it must by making the creature the ultimate end, and have its changing motions, or the sun that it God but the means ; to make the creature to be must rise and set so often, &c. when all is but the God, and deny God indeed, while we honour action and order which makes up that harmony his name: as also it is, to acknowledge no higher and perfection which was designed by the Creagoodness formally in the creature, than in its tor, and is pleasing to his will ? own felicity as such, as if neither the pleasing But lawful self-love is yet futher herein gratiof God's will, nor the perfection of the church fied : the goodness expressed in the text is that and world, were better than we are. We are not analogical subordinate good which is my own of ourselves, and therefore we are not chiefly felicity, and that which tends thereunto: it is for ourselves, and therefore we have a higher most reasonable to love God best, and that good to love.
next which is likest him. Why should it not be That is simply best which God wills. There- the easiest and the sweetest ? But experience fore to live here is best whilst I do live here ; finds it so easy to love ourselves, that certainly, and to depart is best when the time of my de- if I firmly believe that it is best for me, I shall
desire to depart and to be with Christ, have I cure of thy fears ? What was it but this glory not reason to believe it?
to which he did finally elect thee? Where dost. The reasons of it I will consider in this order : thou read that he elected thee to the riches and 1st. The general reasons from the efficients and honours of this world, or to the pleasures of the the means. 2d. The final reasons. 3d. The flesh ? But he elected us in Christ to the heavenly constitutive reasons from the state of my intellect, inheritance. Indeed he elected thee also to bear and its action and fruition there. 4th. The the cross, and to manifold sufferings here ; but constitutive reasons from the state of my will. is it that which thou preferrest before the crown? 5th. The constitutive reasons from my practice That was but as a mean unto the kingdom, there, leaving out those which the resurrection that thou mightest be conformed to Christ, and will give me, because I am speaking but of my reign with him when thou hast suffered with present departure unto Christ.
him. If God choose thee to blessedness, refuse
it not thyself, nor behave thyself like one who SECTION 1.- GENERAL REASONS FOR does so.
Surely that state is my best which my Saviour
purchased and promised me as best : as he bought That is best for me, which love itself, my me not with silver and gold, so neither to silver heavenly Father designs, and chooses for my and gold. Did he live and die to make me rich good. I hope I shall never dare to think, or say, or advanced in the world ? Surely his incarnathat he is mistaken, or that he wanted skill or tion, merits, sacrifice, and intercession, had a low love, or that I could have chosen better for my- design if that were all; and who hath more of self than he doth, if he had left all to my choice. these than they that have least of Christ ? But Many a time the wise and gracious will of God he purchased us to an incorruptible crown; to hath crossed my foolish rebellious will on earth : 1 an inheritance undefiled, that fades not away, and afterward I have still perceived that it was reserved in heaven for us, that are kept by God's best ; usually for myself, but always for a higher power, through faith, unto salvation. Is it heaven good than mine. It is not an enemy, nor a that cost so dear a price for me, and is the end tyrant that made me, that hath preserved me, of so wonderful a design of grace, and shall I and that calls me hence. He hath not used me be unwilling now to receive the gift ? as an enemy : the more I have tried him, the That sure is best for me for which God's better I have found him. Had I better obeyed Holy Spirit is preparing me; that for which he his ruling will, how happy had I been ; and is is given to believers ; and that which is the end not his disposing and rewarding will as good ? of all his holy operations on my soul. But it is Man's work is like man, and evil corrupts it; but not to love this world that he is persuading me God's work is like God, and uncorrupted. If I from day to day, but to come off from such love, should not die till my dearest friend would have and to set my heart on the things above. Is it it, much more till I myself would choose it, not to love this life and fleshly interest, this vanity constrained by misery, I should rejoice, and and vexation, or rather to love the invisible perthink my life were safe! O foolish, sinful soul, fection, that this blessed Spirit hath done so much if I take it not to be far better to be at God's to work my heart ? Would I now undo all, or choice, than at my own, or any man's ; and if I cross and frustrate all his operations ?. Hath had not rather that he choose the time than I! grace been so long preparing me for glory, and
Be of good cheer then, O my soul, it is thy shall I be loth to take possession of it? If I am Father's voice that calls thee hence. His voice not willing, I am not yet sufficiently prepared ? that called thee into the world, and bade thee If heaven be not better for me than earth, live, that called thee out of a state of sin and God's word and ordinances have been all in vain? death, and bade thee live hereafter unto him ; Surely that is my best which is the gift of the that called thee so often from the grave, and for better covenant, and which is secured to me by giving thy sins, renewed thy strength, restored so many sealed promises, and which I am dithee to the comforts of his house and service ; rected to, by so many sacred precepts, doctrines, and hath so graciously led thee through this and examples; and for which I have been called howling wilderness, and brought thee almost to to hear, read, meditate, pray, and watch so long. the sight of the promised land. Wilt thou not Was it the interest of the flesh on earth, or a willingly go, when infinite fatherly love calls longer life of worldly prosperity, which the gosthee ? Art thou not desirous of his presence ?) pel covenant secured to me; which the sacraArt thou afraid to go to him who is the only I ments and Spirit sealed to me; which the Bible