« PreviousContinue »
hath some power to manage life, and makes it ca. pable to effect those means which may tend to the preservation of it, and to decline the contrary : but this is no other than the brute creatures enjoy equally with us, and some of these beyond us. That, therefore, to our sense, thou hast blessed us with a further addition of reason, is yet a higher pitch of munificence; for hereby we are men, and, as such, are able to attain some knowledge of thee our Creator, to observe the motions of the heavens, to search into the natures of our fellow creatures, to pass judgment upon actions and events, and to transact these earthly affairs to our best advantage. But when all this is done, woe were to us if we were but men ! for our corrupted reason renders us of all creatures the most miserable. That therefore to our reason thou hast superadded faith; to our nature, grace; and of men hast made us Chris. tians; and to us, as such, hast given thy Christ, thy Spirit, and thereby hast made us, of enemies, sons and heirs ; co-heirs with Christ of thine eternal and most glorious kingdom of heaven; yea, hast incorporated us into thyself, and made us one spirit with thee our God: Lord, what room can there possibly be in these strait and narrow hearts of ours, for a due admiration of thy transcendent love and mercy! I am swallowed up, O God, I am willingly swallowed up in this bottomless abyss of thine infinite love ; and there let me dwell in a perpetual ravishment of spirit, till, being freed from this clog of earth, and filled with the fulness of Christ, I shall be admitted to enjoy that which I cannot now reach to wonder at, thine incomprehensible bliss and glory, which thou hast laid up in the highest heavens for them that love thee, in
the blessed communion of all thy saints and angels, thy cherubim and seraphim, thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers; in the beatifical presence of thee, the ever-living God, the eternal Father of spirits, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, One infinite Deity in Three co-essentially, coeternally, co-equally glorious Persons; to whom be blessing, honour, glory, and power for ever and ever. Amen. Hallelujah!
LETTER TO SIR RICHARD LEA.
On the comfortable Remedies of all Afflictions.
WISE men seek remedies before their disease : sensible patients, when they begin to complain : fools, too late. Afflictions are the common maladies of Christians : these you feel, and upon the first groans seek for ease. Wherefore serves the tongue of the learned, but to speak words in season? I am a scholar of those that can comfort you: if you shall, with me, take out my lessons, neither of us shall repent it. You smart and complain, take heed lest too much. There is no affliction not grievous: the bone that was disjointed cannot be set right without pain. No potion can cure us, if it work not: it works not, except it makes us sick: we are contented with that sickness which is the way to health. There is a vexation without hurt, such is this: we are afflicted, not over-pressed; needy, not desperate; persecuted, not forsaken; cast down, but perish not. How should we, when all the evil in a city comes from the providence of a good God; which can neither be impotent, nor unmerciful ? It is the Lord : let him do what he will. Woe were us, if evils could come by chance; or were let loose to alight where they list : now they are overruled, we are safe. The destiny of our sorrow is written in heaven, by a wise and eternal decree: behold, He that hath ordained, moderates them. A faithful God, that gives an issue with the temptation : an issue, both of their end, and their success. He chides not always, much less striketh. Our light afflictions are but for a moment: not so long, in respect of our vacancy and rest. If we weep sometimes, our tears are precious; as they shall never be dry in his bottle, so they shall soon be dry upon our cheeks. He that wrings them from us, shall wipe them off: how sweetly doth he interchange our sorrows and joys, that we may neither be vain, nor miserable! It is true, to be struck once in anger, is fearful ; his displeasure is more than his blow: in both, our God is a consuming fire. Fear not, these stripes are the tokens of his love : he is no son that is not beaten; yea, till he smart, and cry; if not till he bleed: no parent corrects another's child ; and he is no good parent that corrects not his own. Oh rod worthy to be kissed, that assures us of his love, of our adoption! What! speak I of no hurt? short praises do but discommend; I say more, these evils are good. Look to their effects. What is good, if not patience? Affliction is the mother of it; tribulation bringeth forth patience. What can earth or heaven yield better than the assurance of God's Spirit? Afflictions argue, yea, seal this to us. Wherein stands perfect happiness, if not in our near resemblance of Christ ? Why was man created happy, but because in God's image? The glory of paradise, the beauty of his body, the duty of the creatures, could not give him felicity, without the likeness to his Creator. Behold, what we lost in our height, we recover in our misery; a conformity to the image of the Son of God: he that is not like his elder Brother, shall never be co-heir with him. Lo, his side, temples,
hands, feet, all bleeding; his face marred, ghastly, and spitted on; his skin all pearled with a bloody sweat; his head drooping; his soul heavy to the death! See you the worldling, merry, soft, a cate, perfumed, never wrinkled with sorrow, never humbled with afflictions! What resemblance is here, yea, what contrariety! Ease slayeth the fool; it hath made him resty, and leaves miserable. Be not deceived; no man can to Christ without his cross, much less reach him; and if none shall reign with Christ but those that suffer with him, what shall become of the jolly ones? Go now, thou dainty worldling, at please thyself in thy happiness, laugh always, ana be ever applauded; it is a woeful felicity, that thou shalt find in opposition to thy Redeemer: 1 hath said, Woe to them that laugh! Believest thou, and dost not weep at thy laughter ; and Solomon, condemn it as madness? And aga; with the same breath, “ Blessed are ye tha Who can believe this, and not rejoice in his own tears, and not pity the faint smiles of the god less ? Why blessed ? " for ye shall laugh hold, we that weep on earth, shall laugh
we that now weep with men, shall laugh with angels; while the mocking worldling si be gnashing and howling with devils: we weep for a time, shall laugh for ever. Who not be content to defer his joy a little, that i be perpetual, and infinite? What madman wou purchase this crackling of thorns (such is worldling's joy) with eternal shrieking and ment? He that is the door and the way." taught us, that through many afflictions we m enter into heaven. There is but one passage, a
ny laughter; and, with
: "for ye shall laugh :” be