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moonlight discover grosser evils) or, if he do see them, yet he judges it too much niceness to choose a great inconvenience rather than a little sin. Again; they differ. in another particular--a natural man may be so far in love with virtue after his manner, as to dislike his own faults and resolve to amend them; but yet he would think it a great weakness to sit down and mourn for sin, and to afflict his soul, as the scripture speaks. The Christian's repentance goes not so lightly; there is a great deal more work in it. There is not only indignation against impurity, but it proceeds to revenge. The saints we read of in scripture were ashamed of their impurity, but never of their tears for it. Let the world enjoy their own thoughts and account it folly, yet surely the Chris. tian who delights in purity, seeing he cannot be free from daily sin, when he retires himself at night, is then best contented when his eyes serve him most plentifully to weep out the stains of the past day ; yet he knows withal, that it is only his Redeemer's blood that takes away the guilt of them. This is the condition of those that are truly, though not yet fully cleansed from the pollutions of the world by the Spirit of wisdom and purity. What mean they then, who would argue themselves out of this number, because they find yet much dross left, and that they are not so sanctified and refined as they would wish to be? On the coutrary, this hatred of pollution testifies strongly that the contrary of it, purity, is there ; and though its beginnings be small, doubt not, it shall in the end be victorious. The smoaking of this flax shows indeed that there is gross matter there, but it witnesses likewise that there is fire in it too, and though it be little, we have Christ's own word for it, that it shall not be quenched ; and if he favor it, no other power shall be able to quench it. You find not indeed absolute holiness in your persons nor in your best performances, yet if you breathe and follow after it, if the pulse of the heart beat thus, if the main current of your affections be towards purity, if sin be in you as your disease and greatest grief, and not as your delight, then take courage ; you are as, pure as travellers can be ; and notwithstanding that im. pure spirit, Satan, and the impurity of your own spirits,
vex you daily with temptations and often foil you, yet, in despite of them all, you shall arrive safe at home where perfection dwells.
The wisdom from above is pure. Be ashamed, then, of your extreme folly, you that take pleasure in any kind of uncleanness, Especially, seeing God hath reformed and purged his house amongst us, you that are or should be his living temples, remaid not unreformed. If you do, church reformation will be so far from profiting you, that, as a clearer light, it will but serve to make your impurity both more visible and more inexcusable. If you mean that the Holy Ghost should dwell with you, entertain him, avoiding both spiritual and fleshly pollutions. The word here used doth more particularly signify chastity; and certainly, wherever this wisdom from above is, this comely grace is one of her attendants. Whatever any have been in times past, let all be persuaded benceforth to mortify all lustful and carnal affections. Know that there is more true and lasting pleasure in the contempt of unlawful pleasures, than in the enjoyment of them. Grieve not then the good Spirit of God with actions or speeches, yea, or with thoughts, that are impure. The unholy soul, like the mystical Babylon, makes itself a cage of unclean birds and a habitation of filthy spirits ; and if it continues to be such, it must, when it dislodges, take up its habitation with cursed spirits for ever in utter darkness. But as for those that are sincerely and affectionately pure, that is, pure in heart, our Saviour hath pronounced their begun happiness ---Blessed are they that are pure in heart ; and assured them of full bappiness for they shall see God. This wisdom is sent from heaven on purpose to guide the elect thither by the way of purity. And mark how well their reward is suited to their labor-their frequent contemplating and beholding of God's purity as they could, while they were on their journey, and their laboring to be like him, shall bring them to sit down in glory, and to be for ever the pure beholders of that purest object'; They shall see God. What this is, we cannot tell you, nor can you conceive it ; but walk beavenwards in purity, and long to be there, where you shall know what it means; for you shall see him as he is.
The Patient and Docile Sufferer. I will go and return to my place, saith the Lord by his prophet, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face. In their affliction they will seek me early, Hos. v, 15. The Father of Mercies hides himself from his chil. dren, not to lose them, but that they may seek him, and may learn, having found him, to keep closer by him than formerly. He threatens then, to keep them from punishment. If his threatening work submission, it is well; if not, he punishes them gently, to save them from destruction. He seeks no more but that they acknowledge their offence, and seek his face. Wonderful clemency! For who can forbear to confess multitudes of offences, who know themselves ? And who can choose but seek thy face, that ever saw thy face, and tliat knows thee? In their affliction, they will seek me early. He that prays not till affliction comes and forces him to it, is very
slothful; but he that prays not in affliction is altogether senseless. Certainly, they that at this time are not more than ordinarily fervent in prayer, or do not at least desire and strive to be so, cannot well think that there is any spiritual life within them. Surely it is high time to stir selves to prayers and tears. All may bear arms in that kind of service. Weak women may be strong in prayer ; and those tears wherein they usually abound upon other accasions, cannot be so well spent as in this way. Let them not run out in howlings and impatience, but bring them, by bewailing sins, private as well as public, to quench this public fire. And ye men, yea, ye men of courage, account it no disparagement thus to weep. We read often of David's tears, which were no'stain to his valor. That cloud which hangs over us, which the frequent vapors of our sins have made, except it dissolve and fall down again in these sweet showers of godly tears, is certainly reserved to be the matter of a dreadful storm. Be instant, every one, in secret, for the averting
of this wrath, and let us now again unite the cries of our hearts for this purpose to our compassionate God, in the name and mediation of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
JOB, XXXIV, 31, 32. Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne
chastisement, I will not offend any more: That which I see not, teach thou me: if I hade done
iniquity, I will do no more.
The great sin, as well as the great misery of man, is the forgetting of God; and the great end and use of his works and of his word is, to teach us the right remembrance and consideration of him in all estates. These words do particularly instruct us in the application of our thoughts towards him in the time of affliction. The shortness and the various signification of the words used in the original, give occasion to some other readings and another sense of them. But this we have in our translation being not only very profitable, but very congruous both to the words of the primitive text and to the contexture of the discourse, I shall keep to it, without divid. ing your thoughts by the mentioning of any other. Neither will I lead you so far about, as to speak of the great dispute of this book, and the question about it which is held. He that speaks here, though the youngest of the company, yet, as a wise and calm-spirited man, closes all with a discourse of excellent temper, and full of grave, useful instructious, amongst which this is one.
Surely it is meet to be said unto God. This speaking to God, though it may be vocal, yet it is not necessarily nor chiefly so, but is always mainly, and may often be only mental. Without this, the words of the mouth, how well chosen and well expressed soever they be, are to God of no account or signification at all. But if the heart speak, even when there is not a word in the mouth, it is that which he hearkens to, and he regards that speech, though made by a voice that none hears but he, and in a language that none understands but he.
But it is a rare, unfrequent thing, this communing of the heart with God, speaking its thoughts to him con
cerning itself, and concerning him and his dealings with it, and the purposes and intentions it hath towards him; which is the speech here recommended, and is that divine exercise of meditation and soliloquy of the soul with itself and with God, hearkening what the Lord God speaks to us
ith us, and our hearts echoing and resounding his words, and opening to him our thoughts of them and of ourselves. Though they stand open and he sees them all, even when we tell him not of them, yet because he loves us, he loves to hear them of our own speaking: Let me hear thy voice, for it is sweet ; as a father delights in the little stammering, lisping language of his beloved child. And if the reflex affection of children be in us, we shall love also to speak with our Father, and to tell him all our mind, and to be often with him in the entertainments of our secret thoughts.
But the most of men are little within. Either they wear out their hours in vain discourse with others, or possibly vainer discourses with themselves. Even those who are not of the worst sort, and who possibly have their times of secret prayer, yet do not so delight to think of God and to speak with him, as they do to be conversant in other affairs, and companies, and discourses, in which there is a great deal of froth and emptiness. Men think, by talking of many things, to be refreshed, and yet, when they have done, find that it is nothing, and that they had much better have been alone or have said nothing. Our thoughts and speeches in most things run to waste, yea, are defiled ; as water spilt on the ground is lost, cannot be gathered up again, and is polluted, mingled with dust. But no word spoken to God from the serious sense of a holy heart, is lost. He receives it, and returns it into our bosom with advantage, A soul that delights to speak to him will find that he also delights to speak to it. And this communication is certainly the sweetest and happiest choice-to speak little with men and much with God. One short word, such as this, spoken to God in a darted thought, eases the heart more when it is afflicted, than the largest discourses and complainings to the greatest and most powerful of men, or the kindest and most friendly. It gives not only ease, but