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XXI. O my God, how do I see many profane and careless souls spend their time in jollity and pleasure! “The harp and the viol, the tabret and the pipe, and wine, are in their feasts,” Isa. v. 12. While I, that desire to walk close with thee, in all conscientious obedience, droop and languish under a dull heaviness and heartless dejection. I am sure I have a thousand times more cause of joy and cheerfulness, than the merriest of all those wild and jovial spirits. They have a world to play withal, but I have a God to rejoice in. Their sports are trivial and momentary ; my joy is seri. ous and everlasting. One drachm of my mirth is worth a pound of theirs. But I confess, O Lord, how much I am wanting to myself in not stirring up this holy fire of spiritual joy ; but suffering it to lie raked up under the dead ashes of a sad neglect. O thou, who art the God of hope, quicken this heavenly affection in my soul, and “fill me with all joy and peace in believing,” Rom. xv. 13; make my heart so much more light than the worldling's, by how much my estate is happier.
XXII. What shall I do, Lord? I strive and labour (what I may) with my natural corruptions, and with the spiritual wickednesses in high places which set upon my soul, Eph. vi. 12; but sometimes I am foiled, and go halting out of the field. It is thy mercy that I live, being so fiercely assaulted by those principalities and powers; it were more than wonder if I should escape such hands without a wound. Even that holy servant of thine, who strove with thine angel for a blessing, went limping away, though he prevailed; what marvel is it that so weak a wretch as I, striving with many evil angels for the avoidance of a curse, come off with a maim or a scar? But blessed be thy name, the wounds that I receive are not mortal; and when I fall, it is but to my knees, whence I rise with new courage and hopes of victory. Thou, who art the God of all power, and keepest the keys of hell and death, hast said, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you:” Lord, I do, and will by thy merciful aid, still and ever resist ; make thou my faith as stedfast as my will is resolute : O still“ teach thou my hands to war, and my fingers to fight,” Psa. cxliv. 1. Arm thou my soul with strength, and at last, according to thy gracious promise, crown it with victory.
XXIII. O Lord God, how ambitious, how covetous of knowledge is this soul of mine! As “ the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing,” Eccles. i. 8, no more is the mind of man with understanding ; yea, so insatiable is my heart, that the more I know, the more I desire to know, and the less I think I know. Under heaven there can be no bounds set to this intellectual appetite. O do thou stop the mouth of my soul with thyself, who art infinite : “ Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee,” Psa. lxxiii. 25. Alas, Lord, if I could know all creatures, with all their forms, qualities, workings; if I could know as much as innocent Adam or wise Solomon; yea, more, if I could know all that is done in earth or heaven; what were my soul the better, if it have not attained the knowledge of thee? since, as the preacher hath most wisely observed, “In much wisdom is much grief, and he that increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow,” Eccles. i. 18. O then, set off my heart from affecting that knowledge whose end is sorrow, and fix it upon that knowledge which brings everlasting life: “And this is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God; and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent,” John xvii. 3.
XXIV. O my God, what miserable uncertainties there are in these worldly hopes ! But yesterday I made account of an eminent advantage of my estate, which now ends in a deep loss. How did we lately feed ourselves with the hope of a firm and during peace, which now shuts up in too much blood! How confidently did I rely upon the promised favour of some great friends, who now leave me in the suds, as the scorn of (a miscalled) fortune! In how slippery places, o Lord, do our feet stand! if that may be said to stand which is ever sliding, never fixed; and not more slippery than brittle, so as there is not more danger of falling than of sinking. With thee, O God, with thee only is a constant immutability of happiness; there let me seek it, there let me find it; and overlooking all the fickle objects of this vain world, let my soul fix itself upon that blessed immortality, which ere long it hopes to enjoy with thee.
Lord God, what a wearisome circle do I walk in here below! I sleep, and dress, and work, and eat; and work again, and eat again, and undress, and sleep again; and thus wearing out my time, find a troublesome satiety in all these. Lord, when shall I come to that state, wherein I shall do nothing but enjoy thee, do nothing but praise thee, and in that one work shall find such infinite contentment, that my glorified soul cannot wish to do any other, and shall therein alone bestow a blessed eternity?
XXVI. O God, how troublesome and painful do I find this sun of thine, whose scorching beams beat upon my head! And yet this excellent creature of thine is that to which, under thee, we are beholden for our very life; and it is thy great blessing to the earth, that it may enjoy these strong and forcible rays from it. Oh, who shall be able to endure the burning flames of thy wrath, which thou intendest for the punishment and everlasting torment of thine enemies ! And if men shall blaspheme the name of thee, the God of heaven, for the great heat of that beneficial creature, Rev. xvi. 9, what shall we think they will do for that fire which shall be consuming them to all eternity! Lord, keep my soul from those flames, which shall be ever burning, and never either quenched or abated.
XXVII. Which way, O Lord, which way can I look and not see some sad examples of misery? One wants his limbs, with Mephibosheth; another his sight, with Bartimeus; a third, with Lazarus, wants bread and a whole skin; one is pained in his body, another plundered of his estate, a third troubled in mind; one is pining in prison, another tortured on the rack, a third languisheth under the loss of a dear son, or wife, or husband. Who am I, Lord, that for the present I enjoy an immunity from all these sorrows ? I am sure none groan under them that have deserved them more. It is thy mercy, thy mere mercy, O my good God, that any of these calamities have fallen beside me. O make me truly thankful for thine infinite goodness, and yet only so sensible of thy gracious indulgence this way, as that when any of these evils shall seize upon me, I may be no more dejected in the sense of them, than I am now overjoyed with the favour of their forbearance.
XXVIII. O blessed God, what variety of gifts hast thou scattered amongst the sons of men ! To one thou hast given vigour of body, to another agility, beauty to a third ; to one depth of judgment, to another quickness of apprehension; to one readiness and rarity of invention, to another tenacity of memory; to one the knowledge of liberal arts, to another the exquisiteness of manual skill; to one worldly wealth, to another honour; to one a wise heart, to another an eloquent tongue; to one more than enough, to another contentment with a little ; to one valour, to another sagacity. These favours, O Lord, thou hast promiscuously dispersed amongst both thy friends and enemies ; but, oh! how transcendent are those spiritual mercies which thou hast reserved for thine own! the graces of heavenly wisdom, lively faith, fervent charity, firm hope, joy in the Holy Ghost, and all the rest of that Divine beauty. For any competency of the rest of thy common blessings, I desire to be thankful to thy bounty-for which of them, O God, can I either merit or requite ? But, ob for a soul truly and