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majesty of a God, clothed with celestial glory, to have dazzled our eyes, and to have drawn all hearts unto him, this might have seemed, in some measure, to have sorted with his Divine magni. ficence: but thou wouldst have him to appear in the wretched condition of our humanity. Yet, even thus, hadst thou sent him into the world, in the highest estate and pomp of royalty that earth could afford, that all the kings and monarchs of the world should have been commanded to follow his train and to glitter in his court, and that the knees of all the potentates of the earth should have bowed to his Sovereign Majesty, and their lips have kissed his dust, this might have carried some kind of appearance of a state next to Divine greatness; but thou wouldst have him come in the despised form of a servant: and thou, O blessed Jesus, wast accordingly willing for our sakes to submit thyself to nakedness, hunger, thirst, weariness, temptation, contempt, betraying, agonies, scorn, buffeting, scourgings, distention, crucifixion, death. Oh love above measure, without example, beyond admiration! Greater love (thou sayest) hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends; but oh, what is it, then, that thou, who wert God and man, shouldst lay down thy life (more precious than many worlds) for thine enemies! Yet, had it been but the laying down of a life, in a fair and gentle way, there might have been some mitigation of the sorrow of a dissolution: there is not more difference betwixt life and death, than there may be betwixt some one kind of death and another. Thine, O dear Saviour, was the painful, shameful, cursed death of the cross ; wherein, yet, all that man could do unto thee was nothing to that inward torment which, in our stead, thou enduredst from thy Father's wrath; when, in the bitterness of thine anguished soul, thou criedst out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matt. xxvii. 46. Even thus, thus wast thou content to be forsaken, that we wretched sinners might be received to mercy. Oh love stronger than death, which thou vanquishedst! more high than that hell is deep, from which thou hast rescued us !
XVI. The sense of this infinite love of God cannot fail to ravish the soul, and cause it to go out of itself, into that Saviour who hath wrought so mercifully for it; so as it may be nothing in itself, but what it hath, is or may be Christ's. By the sweet powers, therefore, of faith and love, the soul finds itself united unto Christ, feelingly, effectually, indivisibly; so as that it is not to be distinguished betwixt the acts of both : “ To me to live is Christ,” saith the blessed apostle, Phil. i. 21; and elsewhere, “ I live, yet not Ī, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which now I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me,” Gal. ii. 20. “ My Beloved is mine, and I am his,” saith the spouse of Christ in her bridal song, Cant. ii. 16. O blessed union, next to the hypostatical, whereby the human nature of the Son of God is taken into the participation of the eternal Godhead.
XVII. Out of the sense of this happy union ariseth an unspeakable complacency and delight of the soul in that God and Saviour, who is thus inseparably ours, and by whose union we are blessed; and a high appreciation of him above all the world, and a contemptuous under-valuation of all earthly things, in comparison of him. And this is no other than a heavenly reflection of that sweet contentment, which the God of mercies takes in the faithful soul. “Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister : my spouse, thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes. Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem : turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me. How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse ! How much better is thy love than wine, and the smell of thine ointments better than all spices,” Cant. iv. 9, 10; vi. 4, 5. And the soul answers him again in the same language of spiritual dearness : “My Beloved is white and ruddy, the chief. est among ten thousand. Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm, for love is as strong as death,” v. 10; viii. 6. And, as in an ecstatical rapture of ardent affection : “ Stay me with flagons, and comfort me with apples, for I am sick of love,” ii. 5.
XVIII. Upon this gracious complacency will follow an absolute self-resignation, or giving up ourselves to the hands of that good God, whose we are, and who is ours; and a humble contentedness with his good pleasure in all things; looking upon God with the same face, whether he smile upon us in his favours, or chastise us with his loving corrections. If he speak good unto us—“ Behold the servant of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word :" if evil—" It is the Lord, let him do whatsoever he will.” Here is, therefore, a cheerful acquiescence in God; and a hearty reliance, and casting ourselves upon the mercy of so bountiful a God, who having given us his Son, can in and with him deny us nothing.
XIX. Upon this submissive disposition of heart will follow a familiar (yet awful) calling upon God; and an emptying of our souls before him in all our necessities. For that God, who is infinitely merciful, yet will not have his favours otherwise conveyed to us than by our supplications. The style of his dear ones is, his people that prayeth; and his own style is, the God that heareth prayers. To him, therefore, doth the devout heart pour out all his requests with all true humility, with all fervour of spirit, as knowing that God will hear nei. ther proud nor heartless prayers. Wherein his holy desires are regulated by a just method; first, suing for spiritual favours, as most worthy; then for temporal, as the appendages of better; and in both, aiming at the glory of our good God, more than our own advantage. And, in the order of spiritual things, first and most for those that are most necessary and essential for our soul's health ; then for secondary graces, that concern the prosperity and comfort of our spiritual life. Absolutely craving those graces that accompany salvation, all others conditionally, and with reference to the good pleasure of the munificent Giver. Wherein heed must be taken, that our thoughts be not so much taken up with our expressions as with our desires; and that we do not suffer ourselves to languish into an unfeeling length and repetition of our suits. Even the hands of a Moses may in time grow heavy; so, therefore, must we husband our spiritual strength, that our devotion may not flag with overtiring, but may be most vigorous at the last. And. as we must enter into our prayers, not without preparatory elevations, so must we be careful to take a meet leave of God, at their shutting up:
following our supplications with the pause of a faithful and most lowly adoration, and, as it were, sending up our hearts into heaven, to see how our prayers are taken; and raising them to a joyful expectation of a gracious and successful answer from the Father of mercies.
XX. Upon the comfortable feeling of a gracious condescension follows a happy fruition of God in all his favours, so that we have not them so much, as God in them; which advanceth their worth a thousand-fold, and, as it were, brings down heaven unto us. Whereas, therefore, the sensual man rests only in the mere use of any blessing, as health, peace, prosperity, knowledge, and reacheth no higher; the devout soul, in and through all these, sees and feels a God that sanctifies them to him, and enjoys therein his favour, that is better than life. Even we men are wont, out of our good nature, to esteem a benefit, not so much for its own worth, as for the love and respect of the giver : small legacies, for this cause, find dear acceptation. How much more is it so betwixt God and the devout soul! It is the sweet apprehension of this love that makes all his gifts blessings. Do we not see some vain churl, though cried down by the multitude, herein secretly applauding himself that he hath bags at home; how much more shall the godly man find comfort against all the crosses of the world, that he is possessed of Him that possesseth all things, even God all-sufficient, the pledges of whose infinite love he feels in all the whole course of God's dealing with him!
XXI. Out of the true sense of this inward fruition of God, the devout soul breaks forth into cheerful thanksgivings to the God of all comfort,