Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

The upright heart's

w From all this the upright heart takes advan

tage to rouze up its delight in God, and thus it reflection,

expoftulateth with itself: Doth the plowman fing amidst his drudging labours, and whistle away his weariness in the fields; and shall I droop amidst such heavenly employment? O my foul, what wanteft thou here, to provoke thy delight? If there be such an affection as delight in thee, methinks fuch an object as the blessed face of God in ordinances should excite it. Ah! how would this ennoble all my services, and make them angel-like ! how. glad are those blefled creatures to be employed for God! No sooner were they created, but they sang together, and shouted for joy, Job xxxviii. 7. How did they fill the air with heavenly melody, when fent to bring the joyful tidings of a Saviour to the world! Afcribing glory to God in the highest, even to the highest of their powers. Yea, this delight would make all my duties Christ-like ; and the nearer that pattern, the more excellent : he delighted to do his Father's will, it was to him meat and drink, Psalm xl. 7. John iv. 32, 34.

Yea, it would not only ennoble, but facilitate all my duties, and be to me as wings to a bird in flying, or fails to a ship in motion. Non tardat uneła rota ; oiled wheels run freely : “ Or ever I was aware, “ my soul made me like the chariots of Amminadib." O what is the reason (my God) my delight in thee should be so little ? Is it not be cause my unbelief is so great ? Rouse up my delights, O thou fountain of pleasure ! and let me swim down the stream of holy joy in dutý, into the boundless ocean of those immense delights that are in thy presence, and at thy right hand for evermore.

THE POEM.
WHAT a dull, desponding heart is mine!

That takes no more delight in things divine.
When all the creatures, both in heav'n and earth,
Enjoy their pleasures, and are big with mirth.
Angels and saints that are before the throne,
In extasies and raptures every one
Perpetually is held; each bietled spirit
The purest, highest jors doth there inherit : .
The faints on earth, in their imperfect state,
Those peerless joys, by faith do antedate.
To nat’ral men, who favour not this pleasure,
Yet bounteous nature doth unlock her treasure
Of sensitive delights; yea, strange to tell,
Bold sinners rant it all the way to hell,
Like fish that play in Jordan's silver stream,
So these in fensual lusts, and never dream
Of that dread sea to which the stream doth tend,
And to their pleasures puts a fatal end.

Yea, birds and beasts, as well as men, enjoy
Their innocent delights: these chirp and play ;
The cheerful birds among the branches sing,
And make the neighb'ring groves with music ring :
With various warbling notes they all invite
Our ravilh'd ears with pleasure and delight.
The new-fall’n lambs will, in a fun-fhine day,
About their feeding dams jump up, and play.
Are cisterns sweet? and is the fountain bitter?
Or can the sun be dark when glow-worms glitter?
Have instruments their sweet, melodious airs ?
All creatures their delights; and saints not theirs ?
Yea, theirs transcend these sensual ones as far
As noon-day Phoebus doth a twinkling star.
Why droop I then, may any creature have
A life like mine for pleasure? Who e'er gave
The like encouragement that Christ hath giv'n,
To do his will on earth, as 'tis in heav'n?

US

CHAP. IV.
Upon the due Quality of Arable Land.

Corn land must neither be too fat, nor poor ;
The middle ftate fuits best with Christians, sure.

OBSERVATION.
LJUSBANDMEN find, by experience, that their arable lands

(1 may be dressed too much, as well as too little ; if the soil be
over-rank, the feed shoots up so much into the stalk, that it feldom
cars well; and if too thin and poor, it wants its due nutriment, and
comes not to perfection. Therefore their care is, to keep it in heart,
but not to over-dress, or under-dress it. The end of all their cost
and pains about it is fruit; and therefore reason tells them, that such
a state and temperament of it, as best fits it for fruit, is best both for it
and them.

APPLICATION,

A ND doth not spiritual experience teach Christians that a medi11 ocrity and competency of the things of this life, best fit them for the fruits of obedience, which is the end and excellency of their beings ? A man may be over-mercied, as well as over-afflicted ; Raro Jumant fælicibus are, the altars of the rich feldom smoke. When our outward enjoyments are by providence shaped, and fitted to our con

dition, as a suit is to the body, that fits close and neat, neither too Thort, nor too long ; we cannot defire a better condition in this world. This was it that wise Agur requested of God, Prov. xxx. 8, 9. “ Give me neither poverty nor riches, but feed me with food conve“ nient for me, leit I be full and deny thee, and say who is the « Lord ? Or left I be poor and steal, and take the name of my God « in vain.” Against both he prays equally, not absolutely; that had been his sin; but, comparatively, and submissively to the will of God. He had rather, if God see it fit to avoid both of these extremes ; but what would he have then? Why, food convenient. Or, according to the Hebrew, give me my prey, or statute-bread; which is a metaphor from birds which fly up and down to prey for their young, and what they get they distribute among them ; they bring thein enough to preserve their lives, but not more than enough to lie mouldering in the nest. Such a proportion Agur desired, and the reason why he desired it is drawn from the danger of both extremes. He measured, like a wise Chriftian, the convenience or inconvenience of his estate in the world, by its suitableness or unsuitableness to the end of his being, which is the service of his God. He accounted the true excellence of his life to confift in its reference and tendency to the glory of his God; and he could not see how a redundancy, or too great a penury of earthly comforts could fit him for that; but a middle estate, equally removed from both extremes, best fiited that end. And this was all that good Jacob, who was led by the fame Spirit, looked at, Gen. xxviii. 20. “ And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, « if God will be with me, and keep me in the way that I go, and “ give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again “ to my father's house in peace, then shall the Lord be my God.” Poor Jacob, he desires no great inatters in the world, food and raiment will satisfy him; in spiritual matters his desires are boundleis, he is the most greedy and unsatisfied man in the world, Hof. xii. 4. but in the matters of this life, if he can get from God but offam et aquam, a morsel of meat, and a mouthful of water, he will not envy the richest Crcesus, or Craffus upon earth. Cibus et potus sunt divitia Christianorum ; meat and drink are the riches of Christians. Divitiæ funt ad legem naturæ compofita paupertas, faith Pomponius Atticus ; riches are such a poverty, or mediocrity, as hath enough for nature's uses; and such a state is best accommodated, both to the condition, and to the desires of a saint.

1. To his condition, for what is a faint but a stranger and pilgrim upon earth, a man in a strange country travelling homeward ? So David professed himself, Pfalm cxix. 12. " I am a stranger in this “ earth.” And so those worthies, who are now at home in heaven, Heb. xi. 13. they professed themselves to be strangers and pilgrims upon earth, and to seek a country ; a viaticum contents a traveller, he will not incumber himself with superfluous things, which would rather clog and tire, than expedite and help him in his journey.

2. It 'suits best with his desires, I mean his regular and advised defires. For,

1. A gracious foul earnestly delires a free condition in the world ; he his fenfible he hath much work to do, a race to run, and is loth to be clogged, or have his foot in the snare of the cares or pleasures of this life. He knows that fulness exposes to wantonness and irreligion, Deut. vi. 12. Hof. xiii. 6. It is hard, in the midst of so many tempting objects, to keep the golden bridle of moderation upon the affections. The heart of a Christian, like the moon, commonly fuffers an eclipse when it is at the full, and that by the interpofition of the earth.

It was Solomon's fulness that drew out and dissolved his spirits, and brought him to such a low ebb in fpirituals, that it remains a question with fome, Whether he ever recovered it to his dying day. As it is the misery of the poor to be neglected of men, so it is the misery of the rich to neglect God. Who can be poorer than to have the world, and love it ? Or richer, than to enjoy but little of it, and live above it?

And, on the other side, extreme poverty is no less exposed to sin and danger, Lev. vi. 2, 3, 4. As high and lofty trees are subject to storms and tempests, so the lower shrubs to be browsed on by every beaft; and therefore a faint desires a just competency as the fittesi, because the freeft state.

2. A gracious person desires no more but a competency, because there is most of God's love and care discovered in giving in our daily bread, by a daily, providence. It is betwixt such a condition, and a fulness of creature-provisions in our land, as it was betwixt Egypt and Canaan ; Egypt was watered with the foot from the river Nilus, and little of God was seen in that mercy; but Canaan depended upon the dews and showers of heaven; and so every shower of rain was a refreshing shower to their souls, as well as bodies. Most men that have a stock of creature-comforts in their hands, look upon all as coming in an ordinary, natural course, and see very little of God in their mercies. Pope Adrian built a college at Louvain, and caused this inscription to be written in letters of gold on the gates thereof; Trajectum plantavil, Louvanium rigavit, Cæfar dedit incrementum; (i.e.) Utrecht planted me, Louvain watered me, and Cæsar gave the increase One to reprove his folly wrote underneath, Hic Deus nihil fuit ; here God did nothing. Carnal men low, and reap, and eat, 2nd look no further.

But now, when a man sees his mercies come in by the special and affiduous care of God for him, there is a double sweetness in those mércies; the natural sweetness which comes from the creature itself, Every one, even the beasts, can taite that as well as thee; but besides that, there is a spiritual sweetness, far exceeding the former, which none but a believer tastes; and much of that comes from the manner

Vol. V.

in which he receives it, because it comes (be it never so coarse or lit-
tle) as a covenant-mercy to him. “ He hath given bread to them
(s that fear hiin, he is ever mindful of his covenant," Psal. cxi. 5.
Luther, who made many a meal upon a broiled herring, was wont
to say, Mendicato pane hic vivamus, annon hoc pulchre farcitur in eo, quod
pafcimur pane cum angélis et vita æterna, Christo et facramentie: Let
us be content with coarse fare here, have we not the bread that came
down from heaven? Do we not feed with angels? A pregnant in-
stance of the sweetness of such mercies is given us by a worthy di-
vine of our own, Mr Isaac Ambrofe, • * For my own part (faith he)
< however the Lord hath seen cause to give me but a poor pittance of
I outward things, for which I bless his name, yet in the income
« thereof, I have many times observed so much of his peculiar provi-
• dence, that thereby they have been very much sweetened, and my

heart bath been raised to admire his grace. When of late under ran hard dispensation (which I judge not meet to mention, wherein · I suffered with inward peace conscientiously) all streams of wonted

fupplies being stopt, the waters of relief for myself and family did " run low. I went to bed with some staggerings and doubtings of • the fountain's letting out itself for our refreshing; but ere I did

awake in the morning, a letter was brought to my bed-lide, which < was signed by a choice friend, Mr Anthony Asn, which reported « some unexpected breakings out of God's goodness for my comfort. « These are some of his lines,—Your God, who hath given you L' an heart thankfully to record your experiences of his goodness, doth • renew experiences for your encouragement Now I shall report

one which will raife your spirit towards the God of your mercy, &c.' Whereupon be sweetly concludes, - One morsel of God's provision, • (especially if-it come unexpected, and upon prayer, when wants are (most) will be more sweet to a spiritual relish, than all former full I enjoyments were.'

Many mercies come unasked for, and they require thankfulness, but when mercies come in upon prayer, and as a return of prayer, their sweetness more than doubles; for now it is both God's bleffirg upon his own institution, and a seal set to his promise at once, Plal. Ixvi. 16, 17. Doubtless Hannah found more comfort in her Samuel, and Leah in her Naphtali, the one being afked of God, and the other wrestled for with God, (as their names import) than mothers ordinarily do in their children.

[ocr errors]

REFLECTIONS.
The reflection

Do the people of God defire only so much of the of the designing i

creature as may fit them for the service of God?

"3 What wretch am I that have desired only fo much hypocrite.

of religion as may fit me to gain the creature ! As * Epistle to the Earl of Bedford; ante ultima.

« AnteriorContinuar »