« AnteriorContinuar »
all, and this blessed patrimony is communicated to all saints, as that the whole is the property of every one.
Upon the assurance, therefore, of thy God's gracious promises made to every true believer, find thou thyself happily seised * of both the King and the kingdom of heaven, so far as thy faith can as yet feoff theef in both; and delight thyself above all things in these unfailing pledges of thine instant blessedness, and say with the holy mother of thy Redeemer, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit rejoiceth in God my Saviour,” Luke i. 46, 47.
IX. From this feeling complacency in the owning of thy right to glory and happiness, there cannot but arise a longing desire of the full possession thereof. For thou canst not so little love thyself, as what thou knowest thou hast a just title unto, and withal apprehendest to be infinitely pleasing and beneficial, not to wish that thou mayest freely enjoy it. If thou have tasted how sweet the Lord is, thou canst not but long for more of him, yea, for all. It is no otherwise, even in carnal delights, the taste whereof is wont to draw on the heart to a more eager desire : much more in spiritual; the pleasures whereof, as they are more pure, so they are sought by the heavenly-minded with far greater ardency of spirit. The covetous man's heart is in his bags; what he hath doth but augment his lust of more ; and the having of. more doth not satiate, but enlarge his desires : “He that loveth silver, shall not be satisfied with silver ; nor he that loveth abundance, with increase,” Eccles. v. 10. But these celestial * Legally possessed.
† Secure thee.
riches are so much more attractive, as they are. more excellent than those which are delved out of the bowels of the earth. O my soul, thou hast, through the favour of thy God, sipped some little of the cup of immortality, and tasted of that heavenly manna, the food of angels: and canst thou take up with these slight touches of blessedness? Thou hast (though most unworthy) the honour to be contracted to thy Saviour here below; thou knowest the voice of his spouse: “Draw me, and we will run after thee. Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples; for I am sick of love. Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices,” Cant. i. 4; ii. 5; viii. 14. Where is thy love, if thou have not fervent desire of a perpetual enjoyment; if thou do not earnestly wish for a full consummation of that heavenly match ? O my Lord and Saviour, as I am not worthy to love thee, so I were not able to love thee (how amiable soever) but by thee. O thou who hast begun to kindle this fire of heavenly love in me, raise thou it up to a perfect flame; make me not only sick of thy love, but ready and desirous to die for thee, that I may enjoy thee. O let me not endure that any worldly heart should be more enamoured of these earthly beauties, which are but vanishing rottenness, than I am of thee, who art of absolute and infinite perfections, and bestowest them in being loved.
O when shall the day be, wherein thou wilt make up these blessed nuptials, and endow me with a full participation of that glory wherewith thou art invested, from and to all eternity! Whereto have all thy sweet favours and gracious lovetokens tended, but to this issue of blessedness ?
O do thou crown all thy mercies in me, and me, with immortality.
X. Upon this desire of fruition (if thou wouldst be truly happy) there must follow a constant prosecution of that desire. For if thy wishes be ever so fervent, yet if they be only volatile and transient, they shall be able to avail thee little; slight and flickering motions of good, if they be not followed with due endeavours, sort to no effect. Content not thyself, therefore, O my soul, that thou hast entertained in thyself some affecting thoughts of thy beatitude; but settle thyself in firm resolutions to pursue and perpetuate them. Let them not call in as strangers, but dwell in thee as inmates, never to be by any secular occasions dislodged. These morning dews of holy dispositions, which are ready to be exhaled with every gleam of worldly prosperity, as they find little acceptance from God, so they are able to afford small comfort to thee, whose condition is such, that they leave thee more disconsolate in their vanishing, than they yielded thee pleasure at their momentary continu. ance. Be thou able to say with holy David, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed,” Psa. lvii. 7. And then thou mayest well add, “I will sing and give praise :” otherwise thy distracted thoughts will admit no cause of sound joy. In this case it falls out with thee, O my soul, as with some fond child, who eagerly following a bee in hope of her bag, sees a gay butterfly cross his way, and thereupon leaves his first chase, and runs after those painted wings; but in that pursuit seeing a bird lying close by him, he leaves the fly, in hope of a better purchase; but in the mean time is disappointed of all, and catcheth nothing. It mainly
behoves thee, therefore, to keep up thy cogitations and affections close to these heavenly objects, and to check them whensoever thou perceivest an inclination to their wandering. Like as the careful huntsman, when he finds his hound offering to follow after a new game, rates him off, and holds him to his first scent. Whither are ye straying, O my thoughts? What means this sinful and lossful inconstancy? Can ye be happier in a change? Is there any thing in this miserable world that can be worthy to carry you away from the hopes and desires of blessedness? Have ye not full often complained of the worthlessness and satiety of these poor vanities here below ? Have ye not found their promises false, their performances unsatisfactory, their disappointment irksome? Away, then, ye frivolous temptations, and solicit those minds that are low and empty like yourselves. For me, I disdain your motions, and, being taken up with higher employments, scorn to descend to your base suggestions, which tend to nothing but mere earthliness.
But, as there is no fire which will not go out if it be not fed, it cannot be enough that thou hast entertained these gracious resolutions, unless thou do also supply and nourish them with holy meditations, devout prayers, continual ejaculations, and due attendance on all the holy ordinances of thy God; without which, if they shall languish through thy neglect, thou shalt find double inore work and difficulty in reviving them, than there could have been in maintaining and upholding them in their former vigour. Be not, therefore, wanting to thyself in the perpetual exercise and improvement of all those holy means, that may further and perfect these heavenly longings after salvation; thy God shall not be wanting to thee, in blessing thee with an answerable success.
XI. It is the just praise of the marvellous bounty of thy God, O my soul, that “he will fulfil the desires of them that fear him," Psa. cxlv. 19. If, therefore, thou canst hunger and thirst after righteousness, if thy heart can yearn after heaven, He shall be sure to satisfy thee with goodness; and not only shall bring thee home at last to that land of promised blessedness, but, in the mean time, also put thee into an incipient fruition of happiness; which is the next degree of thine ascent to heaven.
That which is complete may be the surest rule of knowing and judging of that which is imperfect : wherein doth the perfection of heavenly bliss consist, but in a perpetual enjoying the presence of God, in a clear vision of the Divine essence, in a perfect union with God, and an eternal participation of his life and glory? Now, as grace is glory begun, and glory is grace consummated, so dost thou, O my soul, (being wrought to it by the power of the Spirit of thy God,) even in this life, (how weakly soever,) enter upon all these acts and privileges of beatitude. Even here below thou art never out of the presence of thy God, and that presence can never be other than glorious. And that it is not beatifical here, is not out of any deficiency in it, but in thine own miserable incapacity, who while thou abidest in this vale of tears, and art clogged with this flesh, art no fit subject of so happy a condition. Yea, that blessed presence is ever comfortably acknowledged by thee, and enjoyed with such contentment and pleasure, that