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saints !” Psa. xxxi. 23. Surely they can be no saints that love not such a Lord. Had he never been good to them, yet that infinite goodness which is in himself would have commanded love from saints. Yet, how could they have been saints, if he had wholly kept his goodness to himself? In that then he hath made them saints, he hath communicated his goodness to them, and challengeth all love from them; and being made such, how infinitely hath he obliged them with all kinds of mercies! How can ye choose, O ye saints, but love the Lord? What have ye, what are ye, what can ye be, but from his mere bounty? They are slight favours that he hath done you for the world : in these, his very enemies share with you. How transcendent are his spiritual obligations ! Hath he not given you his angels for your attendants ; himself for your Protector; his Son out of his bosom for your Redeemer; his Spirit for your Comforter; his heaven for your inheritance? If gifts can attract love, O my God, who can have any interest in my heart but thy blessed self, who hast been so infinitely munificent to my soul ? Take it to thee, thou who hast made and bought it; enamour it thoroughly of thy goodness; make me sick of love ; yea, let me die for love of thee, who hast loved me unto death, that I may fully enjoy the perfection of thy love, in the height of thy glory.
Lord, how have I seen men miscarried into those sins, the premonition whereof they would have thought incredible, and their yieldance thereto impossible! How many Hazaels hath our very age yielded, that if a prophet should have foretold their acts, would have said, “ Is thy servant a dog, that he should do these great things ? " 2 Kings viii. 13. O my God, why do not I suspect myself? What hold have I of myself more than these other miserable examples of human frailty?
Lord God, if thou take off thy hand from me, what wickedness shall escape me! I know I cannot want a tempter; and that tempter cannot want either power, or malice, or vigilance, or skill, or baits, or opportunities; and for myself, I find too well, that of myself I have no strength to resist any of his temptations. O for thy mercies' sake uphold thou me with thy mighty hand; stand close to me in all assaults; show thyself strong in my weakness. “Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me; then (only) shall I be upright, and shall be innocent from the great transgression,” Psa. xix. 13.
It is thy title, O Lord, and only thine, that thou givest songs in the night, Job xxxv. 10. The night is a sad and dolorous season; as the light, contrarily, is the image of cheerfulness, Eccles. xi. 7. Like as it is in bodily pains and aches, that they are still worse towards night; so it is in the cares and griefs of mind : then they assault us most when they are helped on by the advantage of an uncomfortable darkness. Many men can give themselves songs in the day of their prosperity, who can but howl in the night of their affliction ; but for a Paul and Silas to sing in their prison at midnight, Acts xvi. 25; for an Asaph to call to remembrance his song in the night, Psa. lxxvii. 6, this comes only from that Spirit of thine, whose peculiar style is the Comforter. And surely, as music sounds best in the night, so those heavenly notes of praise which we sing to thee our God in the gloomy darkness of our adversity, cannot but be most pleasing in thine ears.
Thine apostle bids us (which is our ordinary wont) when we are merry to sing, when afflicted to pray; but if, when we are afflicted, we can sing, (as also when we are merriest, we can pray,) that ditty must needs be so much more acceptable to thee, as it is a more powerful effect of the joy of thy Holy Ghost. O my God, I am conscious of my own infirmity; I know I am naturally subject to a dull and heavy dumpishness, under whatsoever affliction. Thou who art the God of all comfort, remedy this heartless disposition in me; pull this lead out of my bosom, make me not patient only, but cheerful under my trials; fill thou my heart with joy, and my mouth with songs, in the night of my tribulation.
It is a true word, O Lord, that thy seer said of thee long ago; “ The Lord seeth not as seeth,” i Sam. xvi. 7.. Man sees the face, thou seest the heart; man sees things as they seem, thou seest them as they are; many things are hid from the eyes of men, all things lie open and displayed before thee. What a madness then were it in me to come disguised into thy presence, and to seek to hide my counsels from thine all-seeing eyes !
I must be content, Lord, to be deluded here by fair appearances ; for I may not offer to look into the bosoms of men, which thou hast reserved for thyself; it is only the outside that I can
judge by. Yea, O God, if I shall cast my eyes inward, and look into my own breast, even there I find myself baffled at home : “ The heart of man is deceitful above all things; who can know it?” None but those piercing eyes of thine can discover all the windings and turnings of that intricate piece. What would it avail me, O Lord, to mock the eyes
of all the world with a semblance of holi. ness, whilst thou shouldst see me false and filthy ? Should I be censured by a world of men, when I am secretly allowed by thee, I could contemn it, yea, glory in their unjust reproach; but if thine eye shall note me guilty, to what purpose is all the applause of men ? O thou who art the God of truth, do thou open and dissect this close heart of mine; search every fibre that is in or about it; and if thou findest any ill blood there, let it out; and if thou findest any hollowness, fill it up; and so work upon it, that it may be approved of thee who madest it: as for men, it shall be alike to me whether they spend their breath or save it.
Lord God, what a world of treasure hast thou hid in the bowels of the earth, which no eye of man ever did, or shall, or can see !
What goodly plants hast thou brought forth of the earth, in wild unknown regions, which no man ever beheld ! What great understandings hast thou shut up in a willing obscurity, which the world never takes notice of! In all which thou showest, that it is not only the use and benefit of man which thou regardest in the great variety of thy creation, and acts of administration of the world, but thine own glory, and the fulfilling of thine own good pleasure ; and if only the angels of heaven be witnesses of thy
great works, thou canst not want a due celebration of thy praise. It is just with thee, O God, that thou shouldst regard only thy blessed self, in all that thou doest, or hast done; for all is thine, and thou art all. Oh that I could sincerely make thee the perfect scope of all my thoughts, of all my actions; that so we may both meet in one and the same happy end, thy glory in my eternal blessedness.
Indeed, Lord, as thou saidst, “ the night cometh when no man can work." What can we do, when the light is shut in, but shut our eyes and sleep? When our senses are tied up, and our limbs laid to rest, what can we do, but yield ourselves to a necessary repose ? O my God, I
perceive my night hastening on apace, my sun draws low, the shadows lengthen, vapours rise, and the air begins to darken. Let me bestir myself for the time ; let me lose none of my few hours; let me work hard a while, because I shall soon rest everlastingly.
Thou seest, Lord, how apt I am to contemn this body of mine. Surely, when I look back upon the stuff whereof it is made, no better than that I tread upon, and see the loathsomeness of all kinds that comes from it, and feel the pain that it ofttimes puts me to, and consider whither it is going, and how noisome it is above all other creatures upon the dissolution, I have much ado to hold good terms with so unequal a partner. But, on the other side, when I look up to thy hand, and see how fearfully and wonderfully thou hast made it, what infinite cost thou hast bestowed upon it,