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to a refusal of what it calls for ; to practise somewhat of poverty, to learn to peed a few things.
It is strange, men should be so foolish as to tie themselves to these things, which have neither satisfying content in them, nor certain abode. And why shouldst thou set thine eyes on things which are not, says Solomon, on a nonentity, a fancy? How soon may you be parted! He who is the true God, God alone, how soon can he pull these false gods from you, or you from them! What is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul ? Like that case in the parable, Luke xii, 19; Soul, take thine ease. A strange inference from full barns! That were sufficient provision for a horse, a fit happiness for it; but for a soul, though it were to stay, how gross and base a portion! But it cannot stay ; This night thy soul shall be required of thee.
The only firm position is this of the prophet, Yet will I rejoice in the Lord. And such times indeed are fit to give proof of this, to tell thee whether it be so indeed, where thy heart is built. While thy honor, and wealth, and friends are about thee, it is hard to know whether these props bear thee up, or another, an invisible Supporter; but when these are plucked away, and thou art destitute round about, tben it will appear if thy strength be in God, if these other things were but florisbes about thee, and thou laidst no weight on them at all. He that leans on these, must fall when these fall, and his hope is cut off, and his trust as a spider's web. He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand. They that clasp their hearts about their houses or estates, within a while they are either sadly pulled asunder, or swept away together.
But the blessed, the high condition of a soul set on God, untied, independent from all things beside bim, its whole dependence and rest placed on him alone, sitting loose to all the world, and so not stirred with alterations! Yea, amid the turnings upside-down of human things, if the frame of the heaven and earth were falling to pieces, tbe heart founded on him who made it, abides uvmoved; the everlasting arms are under it, and bear it up.
Do ye believe, my brethren, that there is such a thing, that it is no fancy ? Yea, all-is but fancy beside it. Do you believe this? Why then is one day after another put off, and this not attained, nor the soul so much as entered or engaged to a serious endeavour after it, looking on all things else, compared to this noble design, as vanity? How often and how easily are their joys damped, who rejoice in other things, and their hopes broken! What they expected most, soon proves a lie, as the word spoken of the olive, bere signities; as if the labor of it should lie--a fair vintage or harvest promised, and either withered with drought, or drowned with rain : indeed it lies at the best. But the soul that places its joy on God, is still fresh and green, when all are withered about it, Jer. xvii, 8. Acquaint thyself with him betimes in ease. It is a sad case, to be making acquaintance with him, when thou shouldest most make use of his friendship, and find comfort in his love.
Now this joy in God cannot remain in an impure unholy soul, any more than heaven and hell can mix together. An impure unboly soul, I call not that which is stained with sin, for no other are under the sun; all must then quit all pretensions to that estate; but such a one as willingly entertains any sinful lust or way of wickedness. That delight and this are directly opposite. And certainly the more the soul is refined from all delights of sin, yea, even from sinless delights of sense and of this present world, it hath the more capacity, the fitter and the larger room, for this pure heavenly delight.
No language can make a natural man understand what this thing is, to rejoice in God. O it is a mystery. Most men mind poor childish things, laughing and crying in a breath at trifles; easily puffed up, and as easily cast down. But even the children of God are too little acquainted with this their portion. Which of you find this power in the remembrance of God, that it doth overflow and drown all other things, both your worldly joys and worldly sorrows, that
find them not? And thus it would be, if we knew him. Is he then our Father, and yet we know him not,
Although all should fail, yet rejoice in him who fails not, who alters not.' He is still the same in himself, and to the sense of the soul that is knit to bim, is then sweetest when the world is bitterest. When other comforts are withdrawn, the loss of them brings this great gain, so much the more of God and his love imparted, to make all up. They that ever found this, could almost wish for things that others are afraid of. If we knew how to improve them, bis sharpest visits would be his sweetest ; thou wouldest be glad to catch a kiss of his hand while he is beating thee, or pulling away something from thee that thou lovest, and bless him while he is doing so.
Rejoice in God, although the fig-tree blossom not. Yea, rejoice in these hardest things, as his doing. A heart rejoicing in him, delights in all bis will, and
is surely provi. ded for the most firm joy in all estates; for if nothing can come to pass beside or against his will, then cannot tbat soul be vexed which delights in him, and hath no will but bis, but follows him in all times, in all estates, not obly when he shines bright on them, but when they are clouded. That flower which follows the sun, doth so even in cloudy days : when it doth not shine forth, yet it follows the hidden course and motion of it. So the soul that moves after God, keeps that course when he bides bis face; is content, yea, is glad at his will in all estates, or conditions, or events. And though not only all be withered and blasted without, but the face of the soul little better within to sense, no forishing of graces for the present, yet it rejoices in him, and in that everlasting covenant that still holds, ordered in all things and sure, as the sweet singer of Israel sweetly expresses it. For this, says he, is all my salvation, and all my desire, although, he make it not to grow. That is a strange although, and yet is be satisfied even in that.
This joy in God, as my God, the God of my salvation, ought to exercise the soul in the darkest and worst times; and it ought to stick to it, not to let go this confidence, still expecting salvation from bim, and resting on him for it, though not having those senses and assurances that thou desirest. This weak believers are easily beaten from, by temptation. But we are to stand to our right in him, even when we see it not. And when it is said to thee
as in psalm iri, that there is no help for thee in God, tell all that say so, they lie. He is my God, my glory, and the lifter up of my head; as there he speaks.
Rejoice in him still as thy God; or, at any rate, rejoice in him as God. I will rejoice in Jehovah, glad that be is God, that his enemies cannot unsettle nor reach his throne, that he rules and is glorious in all things, that be is self-blessed and needs nothing. This is the purest and highest kind of rejoicing in him, and is certainly most distant and most free from alteration, and bath indeed most of heaven in it.
A Summary of Spiritual Privileges.
1 Cor. i, 30. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made
unto us, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
The great design of the gospel, is to bring men to Jesus Christ; and, next to that, to instruct those who are brought to him, in the clearest knowledge, and to keep them in the fresh remembrance of the privileges and happiness they have in him. This the apostles, writing to new converts, much insist upon, and Paul most abundantly; but no where more excellently and fully than in these words.
As that is a great and much commended oracle, “Know thyself,” so also there can be nothing more comfortable and profitable for a Christian than this point, to understand bis new being, to know himself as out of himself in Christ, to study what he is there. O what joy, what humility, what holiness would it work, were we well seen and much conversant in this subject, viewing ourselves in this light, as here the apostle represents a believer to himself, of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
If we look back a little, we see his aim is to vindicate the doctrine of Christ from contempt in that chief point wbich is the believer's greatest comfort and glory, yet lies openest to the world's misprision, the doctrine of the cross, Christ crucified. Him we preach, says he, let men take it as they please : be be a stumbling-block to the Jews, and foolishness to the Gentiles, yet to them that believe among both, he is the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
As, in the person of Christ, glory was wrapt up in meanness, so it was in his sufferings and death. And in the doctrine of it and in the way of preaching it, they are not drest with human wisdom or excellency of speech: this would be as incongruous as that rich gaudy attire they cover the image of the Virgin with and her child lying in a stable. And that all might be suitable, so is it in the persons of those that believe on him.
Brethren, you see your calling, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. And God's purpose in this, is, that
no flesh should glory before him.
This is the grand disease of the flesh, to swell in conceit of any little advantages, real or imagined, forgetting itself and him from whom it receives all, receives its very self, the being it bath and all superadded good. Now God is pleased, in justice on some and in great mercy others, so to order most things in the world, as to allay this tumor; often bringing down high things, and raising the low, and so attenpering and levelling disparities, as to take men off from self-glorying. Proud undertakings, we see, are commonly most disgracefully broken. Nor is there any surer presage of the speedy ruin of any affairs or persons, than presumptuous boasting. This is God's work amongst men, as even natural men bave observed, to abase bigb things, to exalt low things. He goes from one thing to another, pulling down the crest and blasting the glory of all human excellency, breaking the likeliest projects, and effecting what is least to be expected, withdrawing man from his purpose, to hide pride from his eyes,