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The addition of two rules, that more specially respect the yet future season of
this blessedness, after this life ; namely, Rule 7. That we patiently wait for it until death. Rule 8. That we love not too much this present life.
There are yet two more rules to be superadded, that respect the season of this blessedness,—when we awake,—that is, not till we go out of time into eternity, not till we pass out of the drowsy darkness of our present state, till the night be over with us, and the vigorous light of the everlasting day do shine upon
Hence therefore it will be further necessary : 7. That while the appointed proper season of this blessedness is not yet come, (that is, till God shall vouchsafe to translate us from our present earthly state,) we compose our spirits to a patient expectation of it. Upon a twofold account, the exercise of patience is very requisite in the present case, namely, both in respect of this every expectation itself, and also in respect of the concomitant miseries of this expecting state. In the former respect, an absent good is the matter of our patience ; in the latter, present and incumbent evil. It falls more directly in our way, to speak to the exercise of patience upon the former account; yet as to the latter, (though it be more collateral as our present purpose,) it cannot be unseasonable briefly to consider that also.
(1.) Therefore, The very expectation itself of this blessedness, renders patience very requisite to our present state. Patince hath as proper and necessary an exercise in expecting the good we want and desire, as in enduring the evil that is actually upon us.
The direction (it must be remembered) intends such only as apprehend and desire this blessedness as their greatest good, whose souls are transported with earnest longings fully to enjoy what they have foretasted. I am apprehensive enough, that others need it not. There is no use of patience in expecting what we desire not. But as to those who desire it most, and who therefore are most concerned in this advice, it may possibly become a doubt, how since there is sin in our present ignorance of God and unlikeness to him, this can be the matter of any patience. We must therefore know, that as our knowledge of God, and conformity to him, are both our duty and blessedness, the matter both of our endeavor and of God's vouchsafement; so our ignorance of him, and unlikeness to him, are
both our sin and our misery; which, misery though God hath graciously removed it in part, yet also he continues it upon us in part, (as our sad experience tells us,) by his just and wise dispensation, which we cannot except against. Now therefore, looking upon the defect of our knowledge of God and likeness to him, under the former notion, though we are to reflect upon ourselves with great displeasure and indignation ; yet looking on them in the latter notion, we are to submit to the righteous dispensation of God with a meek, unrepining patience. By this patience, therefore, I mean not a stupid succumbency under the remaining disease and distemper of our spirits, in this our present state ; a senseless indifferency and oscitant cessation from eontinual endeavors of further redress; but a silent and submissive veneration of divine wisdom, and justice, and goodness, that are sweetly complicated in this procedure with us, with a quiet, peaceful expectation of the blessed issue of it. This being premised, I shall briefly shew,—that we have need of patience, and—that we have reason for it in this present case.
[1.] That we have need of it, (supposing our souls are intent upon glory, that we are in earnest in this pursuit) will appear upon sundry accounts.
First, The greatness of the thing we expect. To behold the face of God, to be satisfied with his likeness. What serious heart, apprehensive of its own concerns, can without much patience hold out under such an expectation? How do lovers that expect the marriage day, tell the hours, and chide the sun that it makes no more haste ? But how can that soul contain itself, that expects the most intimate fruition of the Lord of glory?
Secondly. Consider the continual representation and frequent inculcations of this glory. Its vigorous, powerful beams are by often repeated pulsations, continually beating upon such souls as are intent towards it. Life and immortality are brought to light in the gospel; and they are obliged by command and inclination to attend its discoveries. The eye that is once smitten, looks again and again, it is not satisfied with seeing: and every renewed look meets with still fresh rays of glory; they have frequent foretastes and prelibations, which still give life to new desires. To lie under the direct stroke of the powers of the world to come, this requires much patience to sustain the burden of such an expectation. Life itself were otherwise a bitter and a wearisome thing. And the want of such foretastes (for alas they
* Canerem tibi angelica voce thronorum, quam mirifica semper in patria dulcedine repleamur; nisi vererer, ne forte, posthac, tantæ dulcedinis hujus comparatione, tota tibi in terris vita non solum amarissima, verum etiam amaritudo ipsa penitus videatur; I would sing to thee in a voice of the angelic choirs; we would ever indulge the most extatic delight in our country; were it not to be feared lest from the contrast of such sweetness, the whole of this life on earth should afterwards seem to thee not only exceedingly bitter, but even bitterness itself. M. Ficin. Epis.
are not constant) makes desire more restless, and expectation more bitter and grievous.
Thirdly. Consider the nature and spring of these desires, that work in heavenly souls towards this glory. They are of a divine nature and original; He that hath wrought us to this selfsame thing is God, 2 Cor. 5. 5. Observe the tenor of this proposition ; God is not the subject of predication, but the predicate. The action is not predicated of God, as it would in this form of words, God hath wrought us &c. but God is predicated of this agent, as if he had said, this is the work of a Deity ; none but God could be the author of such desires. That a soul should be acted towards glory by the alone power of an almighty hand ! here needs a divine patience to sustain it, and make it strong and able to endure such a motion, where there is divine power to act and move it forward. The frame could not hold else, it must dissolve. The apostle therefore praying for the Thessalonians, that God would direct their hearts into the love of himself, (which could not but enflame their souls with a desire of a perfect vision and enjoyment,) presently adds, and into the patient waiting for Christ. 2 Thes. 3. 5. Where we cannot by the way but reflect upon the admirable constitution and equal temper of the new creature, as to the principles that are ingredient into the composition of it, fervent desires, allayed with meek submission, mighty love, with strong patience. If we consider it in actu signato, or in its abstract idea, this is its temperament; and of these there is a gradual participation, wherever you find it actually existing. God had otherwise formed a creature (the prime of his creatures) so as by its most intrinsical constituent principles to be a torment to itself.
Fourthly. The tiresome nature of expectation in itself, is not least considerable. It carries (it is true) pleasure (if it be hoping expectation) with it; but not without a great adınixture of pain. It brings a kind of torture to the mind, as a continued exertion or stretching forth of the neck (by which it is expressed) doth to the body. Therefore it is most significantly said by the wise man, Hope deferred makes the heart sick. Prov. 13. 12. All these, I say, together discover the truth of what the apostle tells as, We have need of patience, that when we, &c. we may inherit the promise. Heb. 10. 26.
[2.] And as we have need of it, so we have also reason for it, upon many accounts. It is no piece of rigorous severity to be put upon the exercise of some patience, to be kept awhile in a waiting posture for the completion of this blessedness. For,
First, The thing you expect is sure. You have not to do in this matter with one who is inconstant or likely to change. If such a one should make us large promises, we should have some cause never to think ourselves secure, till we had them made
good to us. But since we live in the hope of eternal life, which God who cannot lie (Tit. 1. 2.) and who, we know, is faithful, hath promised, (Heb. 10. 23.) we may be confident, and this confidence should quiet our hearts. What a faithful friend keeps for us, we reckon as safe in his hands as in our own. He that believes, makes not haste. And impatient haste argues an unbelieving jealousy and distrust. Surely, there is an end, and thy expectation will not be cut off.
Secondly. It is a happiness that will recompense the most. wearisome expectation. It were good sometimes to consider with ourselves, What is the object of our hope? are our expectations pitched upon a valuable good, that will be worth while to expect ? so the Psalmist, What wait I for? and he answers himself, My hope is in thee. Psal. 39. 7. Sure then that hope will not make ashamed. It were a confounding thing to have been a long time full of great hopes that at last dwindle into some petite trifle, but when we know before-hand the business is such as will defray itself, bear its own charges, who would not be contented to wait ?
Thirdly. Nor will the time of expectation be long--when I shall awake—when he shall appear. Put it to the longest term, it was said, sixteen hundred years ago, to be but a little while; three times over in the shutting up of the Bible he tells us, I come quickly. He seems to foresee he should be something impatiently expected : and at last, Surely I come quickly, as if he had said, What, will you not believe me? Be patient, saith the apostle, to the coming of the Lord : and presently he adds, be patient, stablish you hearts, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. James 5. 8.
Fourthly. Yea, and amidst the many troubles of that short time of expectation many present comforts are intermixed. Heaven is open to us.
We have constant liberty of access to God. He disdains not our present converse. We may have the constant pleasure of the exercise of grace, the heavenly delights of meditation, the joy of the public solemnities of worship, the communion and encouragement of fellow christians, the light of that countenance whereof we expect the eternal vision, the comforts of the Holy Ghost, the continual prospect of glory all the
way thither. What cause have we of impatience or conplaint ?
Fifthly. Saints of all ages have had their expecting time. We are required to be followers of thein who through faith and patience have inherited the promises. Our Saviour himself waited a life's time for his glorification. I have saith he) glorified thee on earth ; I have finished the work thou gavest me to do! And now, Father, glorify me with thine own self, &c. Sixthly. And while we are waiting, if it be not our fault, our
glory will be increasing. We may be glorifying God in the mean time, which is the end of our beings; we need 10t live here to no purpose.
Seventhly. We were well enough content, till God more clearly revealed that other state, to live always as we do. It is not now ingenuous to be impatiently querulous about the time of our entering into it. It is his free vouchsafement; we never merited such a thing at his hands. It is not commendable among men, to be overquick in exacting debts even where there was an antecedent right, much less where the right only shall accrue by promise, not yet sueable; would it not shame us to have God say to us, Have patience with me, and I will pay you all? And our former state should be often reflected on. If you had pro mised great things to a wretch lately taken off the dunghill, and he is every day impatiently urging you to an untimely accomplishment, would you not check his over-bold haste, by minding him of his original ? It becomes not base and lowborn per. sons to be transported with a preposterous, over-hasty expectation of high and great things. And if God bear with the sinfulness of our present state, is it not reasonable we should bear with the infelicity of it to his appointed time? Besides that, we should much injure ourselves by our impatiency; imbitter our present condition, increase our own burden, dissipate our strength, retard our progress towards the perfection we profess to aim at; for patience must have its perfect work, that we may be perfect. Jam. 1. 4.
And others, that have had as clear apprehensions and vigorous desires (at least) of the future state of glory as we can, with modesty, pretend to have yet herein moderated themselves so, as to intend their present work with composed spirits. Take that one instance of the blessed apostle, who, whilst in this earthly tabernacle he groaned, being burdened to be clothed with glory, and to have mortality swallowed up of life, being sensible enough, that during his abode or presence in the body, he was absent from the Lord; yet notwithstanding the fervor and vehemency of these longings, with the greatest calmness and resignation imaginable, as to the termination or continuance of his present state, he adds, that though he had rather be absent from the body, to be present with the Lord, it was yet his chief ambition (as the word binoropéueda he uses signifies) whether present or absent (as if in comparison of that, to be present or absent were indifferent, though otherwise out of that comparison, he had told us, he would be absent rather) to be củágscos, accepted, to appear grateful and well-pleasing in the eye of God; such that he might delight and take content in, as his expression imports. As if he had said, though I am not unapprehensive of the state of my case, I know well, I am kept out of a far more desirable condition, while I remain in this tabernacle ; yet, may I but please