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of that treasure of the church. We may be beholden to men, as God's instruments, for our faith, but no further; for “who is Paul, or who is Apollos, but ministers by whom we believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?” (1 Cor. iii. 4.) Surely, every step to that glory, every gracious gift and act, every deliverance and mercy to the church, shall be so clearly from God, that his very name shall be written in the forehead of it, and his excellent attributes stamped upon it, that he who runs may read it was the work of God; and the question may easily be answered, whether it be froin heaven, or of men; much more evidently that glory is the gift of the God of glory. What, can man give God, or earth and dust give heaven! Surely, no : and as much is it beyond them to deprive us of it. Tyrants and persecutors may take away our goods, but not our chief good; our liberties here, but not that state of freedom; our heads, but not our crown. You can shut us up in prisons, and shut us out of your church and kingdom, but shut us out of heaven if you can. Try in lower attempts. Can you deny us the light of the sun, and cause it to forbear its shining? Can you stop the influences of the planets, or deny us the dew of heaven, or command the clouds to shut up their womb, or stay the course of the flowing streams, or seal up the passages of the deep? How much less can you deprive us of our God, or deny us the light of his countenance, or stop the influences of his Spirit, or forbid the dew of his grace to fall, or stay the streams of his love, and shut up his overflowing, everflowing springs, or seal up the bottomless depth of his bounty? You can kill our bodies, if he permit you ; but try whether you can reach our souls. Nay, it is not in the saints' own power to give to, or take away from themselves this glory : so that, according to this rule, there is no state like the saints' rest ; for no man can give this rest to us, and none can take our joy from us. (John xvi. 22.)
Sect. V. 5. Another rule is this: That is ever better or best which ever maketh the owner or possessor himself better or best: and surely, according to this rule, there is no state like heaven. Riches, honour, and pleasure, make a man neither better nor best : grace here makes us better, but not best; that is reserved as the prerogative of glory." That is our good which
9 Decrescere summum bonum non potest. — Senec. Epist. Ixvi. p. 644. Mortalia eminent, cadunt; deteruntur, crescunt; exhauriuntur, implentur: divinorum una natura est.--Ibid. p. 645.
1 Ut Seneca de vita beata abunde contra Epicureos probavit.
doth us good, and that doth us good which makes us good; else it may be good in itself, but not good to us. External good is at too great a distance to be our happiness. It is not bread on our tables, but in our stoinachs, that must nourish; nor blood on our clothes or skin, but in the liver, heart, and veins, which is our life.s Nay, the things of the world are so far from making the owners good, that they prove not the least impediments thereto, and snares to the best of men. Riches and honour do seldom help to humility; but of pride they occasionally become most frequent fomenters. The difficulty is so great of conjoining graciousness with greatness, that it is next to an impossibility: and their conditions so rare, that they are next to inconsistent. To have a heart taken up with Christ and heaven, when we have health and abundance in the world, is neither easy nor ordinary. Though soul and body compose but one inan, yet they seldom prosper both together. Therefore, that is our chief good which will do us good at the heart; and that is our true glory which makes us all glorious within; and that the blessed day which will make us holy and blessed men; which will not only beautify our house, but cleanse our hearts; not only give us new habitations, and new relations, but also new souls and new bodies. The true knowing, living Christian complains more frequently and more bitterly of the wants and woes within him, than without him. If you overhear his prayers, or see him in his tears, and ask him what aileth him, he will cry out more, ‘Oh! my dark understanding! oh! my hard, my unbelieving heart!' rather than,‘Oh! my dishonour l' or 'Oh! my poverty !' Therefore, it is his desired place and state, which affords a relief suitable to his necessities and complaints. And surely that is only this rest.
Sect. VI. 6. Another rule is, that the difficulty of obtaining shows the excellency: and, surely, if you consider but what it cost Christ to purchase it; what it costs the Spirit to bring men's hearts to it; what it costs ministers to persuade to it; what it costs Christians, after all this, to obtain it; and what it costs many a half-Christian that, after all, goes without it: you will say, that here is difficulty, and therefore excellency. Trifles may be had at a trivial rate, and men may have damnation far more easily. It is but to lie still, and sleep out our days in careless laziness. It is but to take our pleasure, and mind the world, and cast away the thoughts of sin, and grace, and Christ, and heaven, and hell, out of our minds; and do as the most do, and never trouble ourselves about these high things, but venture our souls upon our presumptuous conceits and hopes, and let the vessel swim which way it will; and then stream, and wind, and tide, will all help us apace to the gulf of perdition. You may burn a hundred houses easier than build one; and kill a thousand men, than make one alive. The descent is easy, the ascent not so. To bring diseases is but to cherish sloth, please the appetite, and take what most delights us; but to cure them, will cost bitter pills, loathsome potions, tedious gripings, abstemious, accurate living; and perhaps all fall short too. He that made the way, and knows the way better than we, hath told us " it is narrow and strait,” and requires striving; and they that have placed it more truly and observantly than we, do tell us it lies through many tribulations, and is with much ado passed through. Conclude, then it is surely somewhat worth that must cost all this.
* Quomodo non sumina fælicitate et vera tranquillitate fruerentur, quibus nihil est quod divinæ voluntati reluctetur, nihil quod turbet et à mente Dei alienet, nihil quod desideretur extra voluntatem Dei?-Muscul. in Matt. vi. jom. i. p. 127.
Sect. VII. 7. Another rule is this: That is best, which not only supplieth necessity, but affordeth abundance.u By necessity is meant here, that which we cannot live without; and, by abundance, is meant a more perfect supply, a comfortable, not a useless abundance. Indeed, it is suitable to a christian state and use, to be scanted here, and to have only from hand to mouth; and that, not only in his corporeal, but in his spiritual comforts. Here we must not be filled full, that so our emptiness may cause hungering, and our hungering cause seeking and craving, and our craving testify our dependance, and occasion receiving, and our receiving occasion thanks returning, and all advance the glory of the Giver. But when we shall be brought to the well-head, and united close to the overflowing fountain, we shall then thirst no more, because we shall be empty no
+ Bion dicere solebat, facilem esse ad inferos viam, pam illic homines adire clausis oculis.- Laert. I. iv.c.7. Quod ille dixit quia morientibus clauduntur oculi; nos dicere possumus de mentis cæcitate et socordia. Facilis descensus Averni, &c.
u Quicquid præter te est, non reficit, non sufficit; si ad tempus sufficit, non tamen perpetuo satiat quin adhuc amplius quæratur; qui autem te habet, satiatus est; finem suum habet ; non habet ultra quod quærat ; quia tu es super omne visibile, audibile, odorabile, gustabile, tangibile, sensibile.-Gers. par. 3. Alphabet. Divini Amoris, cap. xiv.
'more. Surely, if those blessed souls did not abound in their blessedness, they would never so abound in praises. Such blessing, and honour, and glory, and praise to God, would never accompany common mercies. All those Allelujahs are not, surely, the language of needy men. Now, we are poor, we speak supplications, and our þeggar's tone discovers our low condition; almost all our language is complaining and craving, our breath sighing, and our life a labouring. (Prov. xviii. 23.) But, surely, where all this is turned into eternal praising and rejoicing, the case must needs be altered, and all wants supplied and forgotten. I think their hearts full of joy, and their mouths full of thanks, proves their state abounding full of blessedness.
Sect. VIII. S. Reason concludes that for the best, which is so in the judgment of the best and wisest men. Though it is true the judgment of imperfect man can be no perfect rule of truth or goodness; yet God revealeth this good to all on whom he will bestow it, and hides not from his people the end they should aim at and attain. If the holiest men are the best and wisest, then their lives tell you their judgments; and their unwearied labour and sufferings for this rest, show you they take it for the perfection of their happiness. If men of the greatest experience be the wisest men, and they that have tried both estates, then, surely it is vanity and vexation that is found below, and solid happiness and rest above. If dying men are wiser than others, who, by the world's forsaking them, and by the approach of eternitv, begin to be undeceived; then, surely, happiness is hereafter, and not here: for though the deluded world, in their flourishing prosperity, can bless themselves in their fool's paradise, and merrily jest at the simplicity of the saints, yet scarce one of many, even of the worst of them, but are ready at last to cry out with Balaam, “O, that I might die the death of the righteous, and my last end might be like his !” Never take heed, therefore, what they think or say now; for as sure as they shall die, they will one of these days think and say clean contrary. As we regard not what a drunken man says, because it is not he, but the drink; and when he hath slept he will awake in another mind; so why should we regard what wicked men say now, who are drunk with security and Aleshly delights, when we know beforehand, for certain, that when they have slept the sleep of death, at the furthest, they will awake in another mind. Only pity the perverted un
derstandings of these poor men, who are beside themselves ; knowing that one of these days, when too late experience brings them to their right minds, they will be of a far different judgment. They ask us, 'What are you wiser than your forefathers; than all the town besides; than such and such great men, and learned men?' And do you think, in good sadness, we may not, with better reason, ask you, “ What are you wiser than Enoch, and Noah; than Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Samuel ; than David and Solomon; than Moses and the prophets ; than Peter, Paul, all the apostles, and all the sons of God, in all ages and nations, that ever went to heaven; yea, than Jesus Christ himself?' Men may be deceived; but we appeal to the unerring judgment of wisdom itself, even the wise, all-knowing God, whether “ a day in his courts be not better than a thousand elsewhere ;” and whether it be not better to be doorkeepers there, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness ?” (Psal. lviii. 10.) Nay, whether the very “reproaches of Christ (even the scorns we have from you, for Christ's sake and the Gospel's,) be not greater riches than all the treasures of the world ?” (Heb. xi. 25, 26.) If wisdom, then, may pass the sentence, you see which way the cause will go; and “ wisdom is justified of her children.” (Matt. xi. 19.)
Sect. IX. Lastly: another rule in reason is this : That good which containeth all other good in it, must needs itself be best. And where do you think, in reason, that all the streams of goodness do finally empty themselves? Is it not in God, from whom, by secret springs, they finally proceed? Where, else, do all the lines of goodness concentre? Are not all the sparks contained in this fire; and all the drops in this ocean? Surely, the time was when there was nothing besides God, and then all good was only in him. And even now the creature's essence and existence are secondary, derived, contingent, improper, in comparison of his, “who is, and was, and is to come;" whose
x Quærendum est (ut summum bonum) quod not fiat indies deterius; cui non possit obstari ; quo uil inelius possit optari. Quid hoc est ? Animus : sed hic rectus, bonus, magnus. Quid aliud voces hunc quam Deum in humano corpore hospitantem ? Hic animus tam in equitem Romanum, quam in servum potest cadere. Quid est eques Romanus ? aut libertinus ? aut servus ? Nomina ex ambitione aut ex injuria nata. Subsilire in cælumn ex angulo licet; exsurge modo, et te quoque dignum fiuge Deo? finges autem non auro, non argento. Non potest ex hac materia imago Deo exprimi similis.-Senec. Epist. xxxi. ad Luc. tom. ii. p. 583. Who would think these were a heathen's words?