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me with the eye of thy tender mercy and compassion, what care I to be unjustly brow-beaten of the world? If I may be blessed with thy favour, let me be made a gazing-stock to the world, to angels, and to men.
XIV. “ Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.” What is it which thou wouldst have me do, that I may find rest to my soul? I am willing to exercise myself in all the acts of piety which thou requirest; I am ready to fast, to pray, to read, to hear, to meditate, to communicate, to give alms, to exhort, admonish, reprove, comfort, where thou biddest me; and if there be any other duty appertaining to devotion, or mercy, let me serve thee in it. But, alas, O my God, howsoever I know these works are in themselves well-pleasing unto thee, yet as they fall from my wretchedness, they are stained with so many imperfections, that I have more reason to crave pardon for them, than to put confidence in them; and if I could perform them ever so exquisitely, yet one sin is more than enough to dash all my obedience. I see then, O Lord, I well see, there is no act that I can be capable of doing unto thee, wherein I can find any repose; it must be thine act to me which only can effect it, It is thy gracious word, “ Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Matt. xi. 28. Lo, this rest must be thy gift, not my earning ; and what can be freer than gift! Thou givest it then, but to those that come to thee; not to those that come not: to those that come to thee laden and labouring under the sense of their own wretchedness; not to the proud and careless. O Saviour, thy sinner is sufficiently
laden with the burden of his iniquities; lade thou me yet more with true penitent sorrow for my sins; and enable me then to come unto thee by a lively faith : take thou the praise of thine own work; give me the grace to come, and give me rest in coming.
XV. O blessed Saviour, what strange variety of conceits do I find, concerning thy thousand years' reign! What riddles are in that prophecy, which no human tongue can read. Where to fix the beginning of that marvellous millenary, and where the end; and what manner of reign it shall be, whether temporal or spiritual, on earth or in heaven, undergoes as many constructions, as there are pens that have undertaken it. And yet, (when all is done,) I see thine apostle speaks only of the souls of thy martyrs reigning so long with thee, not of thy reigning on earth so long with those martyrs. How busy are the tongues of men, how are their brains taken up with the indeterminable construction of this enigmatical truth ; when, in the mean time, the care of thy spiritual reign in their hearts is neglected! O my Saviour, while others weary themselves with the disquisition of thy personal reign here upon earth for a thousand years, let it be the whole bent and study of my soul to make sure of my personal reign with thee in heaven to all eternity.
XVI. Blessed be thy name, O God, who hast made a good use even of hell itself: how many atheistical hearts have been convinced by the very operations of devils ! Those who would, with the stupid Sadducees, persuade themselves there are
no spirits ; yet when they have sensibly found the marvellous effects wrought even by the base instruments of Satan, they have been forced to confess, “Doubtless there is a God that rules the world ;" for such great powers of evil spirits must necessarily evince the greater powers of good. It is of thy wise and holy dispensation that thy good angels do not so frequently exhibit themselves, and give such visible demonstrations of their presence to thy saints, as the evil angels do to their vassals, though they are ever as present, and more powerful ; what need they, when thou so mighti. ly overrulest those malignant spirits, that thou forcest from them thine own glory, and advantage to thy chosen ? Lord, how much more shall all thy other creatures serve to thy praise, when thy very hellish enemies shall proclaim thy justice, goodness, and omnipotence.
XVII. Speculation, O Lord, is not more easy than practice is difficult : how many have we known, who, as it was said of the philosophers of old, know how to speak well, but live ill! How many have written books of chemistry, and given very confident directions for the finding out of that precious stone of the philosophers !— but how many have indeed made gold ? Practice is that which thou, O God, chiefly requirest and respectest; who hast said, “If ye know these things, blessed are ye if ye do them.” “Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth,” i Cor. viii. 1. O Lord, do thou enlighten mine eyes with the knowledge of thy will; but above all, do thou rectify my affections, guide my feet into the ways of thy commandments, apply “my heart to fulfil thy sta
tutes alway,” Psa. cxix. 112; and, “ Prosper thou the work of my hands upon me, O prosper thou my handy-work,” xc. 17.
XVIII. How often have I wondered, O Lord, at the boldness of those men, who knowing they must shortly die, yet dare do those things which will draw upon them an eternity of torments! What shall I say, but, “ The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” Surely, men love themselves well enough, and would be loth to do that which would procure them an inevitable misery and pain. Did they therefore believe there were another world, and that they must be called to a strict reckoning for all their actions, and be doomed to an everlasting death for their wicked deeds, they durst not, they could not do those acts which should make them eternally miserable. Let me say to the most desperate ruffian, there is poison in this cup, drink this draught and thou diest; he would have the wisdom to keep his lips close, and cast the potion to the ground. Were it not for their infidelity, so would men do to the most plausible, but deadly, offers of sin. O Lord, since I know thy righteous judgments, teach me to tremble at them; restrain thou my feet from every evil way; and teach me so to walk, as one that looks every hour to appear before thy just and dreadful tribunal.
XIX. The longer I live, O my God, the more do I wonder at all the works of thine hands; I see such admirable contrivance in the very least and most despicable of all thy creatures, as doth every day more and more astonish my observation. I need not look so far as heaven for matter of marvel, (though therein thou art infinitely glorious,) while I have but a spider in my window, or a bee in my garden, or a worm under my feet. Every one of these overcomes me with a just amazement; yet can I see no more than their very outsides; their inward form, which gives their being and operations, I cannot pierce into. The less I can know, O Lord, the more let me wonder; and the less I can satisfy myself with marvelling at thy works, the more let me adore thy majesty and omnipotence, who hast wrought them.
XX. Alas, my Lord God, what poor, weak, imperfect services are those, even at the best, that I can present thee withal! What lean, lame, and blemished sacrifices do I bring to thine altar! I know thou art worthy of more than my soul is capable of performing; and fain would I tender thee the best of thine own : but, “what I would, that I do not,” Rom. vii. 15, yea, cannot do. Surely, had I not to do with infinite mercy, I might justly look to be punished for my very obedience. But now, Lord, my impotence redounds to the praise of thy goodness; for were I more answerable to thy justice, the glory of thy mercy would be less eminent in my remission and acceptance. Here I am before thee, to await thy good pleasure; thou knowest whether it be better to give me more ability, or to accept of that poor ability thou hast given me; but since, when thou hast given me most, I shall still, and ever, stand in need of thy forgiveness, let my humble suit be to thee always, rather for pardon of my defects, than for a supply of thy graces.