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price, and thrice blessed love, that invented and condescended ! Is this the end of believing; is this the end of the Spirit's workings? Have the gales of grace blown me into such a harbour : is it hither that Christ hath enticed my soul? O blessed way, and thrice blessed end! Is this the glory which the Scriptures spoke of, and ministers preached of so much? Why, now I see the Gospel indeed is good tidings, even tidings of peace and good things; tidings of great joy to all nations. Is my mourning, my fasting, my sad humblings, my heavy walking, groanings, complainings, come to this; are all my afflictions, sickness, languishing, troublesome physic, fears of death, come to this ; are all Satan's temptations, the world's scorns and jeers, come to this; and, now, if there be such a thing as indignation left, how will it here let fly! O vile nature, that resisted so much, and so long such a blessing: unworthy soul! Is this the place thou cainest so unwillingly towards : was duty wearisome ; was the world too good to lose? Didst thou stick at leaving all, denying all, and suffering any thing for this: wast thou loath to die to come to this? O false heart, that had almost betrayed me to eternal flames, and lost me this glory! O base flesh, that would needs have been pleased, though to the loss of this felicity! Didst thou make me to question the truth of this glory; didst thou show me improbabilities, and draw me to distrust the Lord ; didst thou question the truth of that scripture which promised this? Why, my soul, art thou not now ashamed that ever thou didst question that love that hath brought thee hither; that thou wast jealous of the faithfulness of thy Lord; that thou suspectedst his love when thou shouldest only have suspected thyself; that thou didst not live continually transported with thy Saviour's love ; and that, ever, thou quenchedst a motion of his Spirit? Art thou not ashamed of all thy hard thoughts of such a God; of all thy misinterpreting of, and grudging at, those providences, and repining at those ways that have such an end ? Now, thou art sufficiently convinced that the ways thou calledst hard, and the cup thou calledst bitter, were necessary; that thy Lord hath sweeter ends, and meant thee better than thou wouldst believe; and that thy Redeemer was saving thee, as well when he crossed thy desires as when he granted them, and as well when he broke thy heart as when he bound it up. 0, no thanks to thee, unworthy self, but shame, for this received crown ; but to Jehovah and the Lamb be glory for ever.
• Luke i. 19, and ii. 10; Acts xiii, 32.
Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. viii. 38, 39.) And now are we not left in the apostles' admiration? What shall we say to these things ? Infinite love must needs be a mystery to a finite capacity. No wonder if angels desire to pry into this mystery of and if it be the study of the saints here, to know the height, and breadth, and length, and depth, of this love, though it passeth knowledge: this is the saint's rest in the fruition of God by love.
Sect. X. Lastly: The affection of joy hath not the least share in this fruition. It is that which all the rest lead to, and conclude in; even the inconceivable complacency which the blessed feel in their seeing, knowing, loving, and being beloved of God. The delight of the senses here, cannot be known by expressions, as they are felt; how much less this joy! This is the “white stone, which none knoweth but he that receiveth ;" 8 and if there be any “joy which the stranger meddleth not with,” then surely this, above all, is it. All Christ's ways of mercy tend to and end in the saints' joys. He wept, sorrowed, suffered, that they might rejoice; he sendeth the Spirit to be their comforter; be multiplieth promises, he discovers their future happiness; that their “joy may be full :" he aboundeth to them in the mercies of all sorts ; he maketh them lie down in green pastures, and leadeth them by the still waters; yea, openeth to them the fountain of living waters'; that their joy may be full : that they may thirst no more; and that it may spring up in them to everlasting life.h Yea, he causeth them to suffer, that he may cause them to rejoice; and chasteneth them, that he may give them rest; and maketh them, as he did himself, “ to drink of the brook in the way, that they may lift up the head.” (Psal. cx. 7.) And lest, after all this, they should neglect their own comforts, he maketh it their duty, and presseth it on them, commanding them to “rejoice in him always, and again to rejoice.” And he never brings them into so low a condition, wherein he leaves them not more cause of joy than of sorrow. And hath the Lord such a care of our comfort here; where, the Bridegroom being from us, we must mourn?i. Oh! what will that joy be, where the soul being perfectly prepared for joy, and joy prepared by Christ for the soul, it shall be our work, our business, eternally to rejoice! And it seems the saints' joy shall be greater than the damned's torment; for their torment is the torment of creatures, prepared for the devil and his angels :k but our joy is the joy of our Lord; even our Lord's own joy shall we enter: “ and the same glory which the Father giveth him, doth the Son give to them;" (John xvii. 22;) “and to sit with him in his throne, even as he is set down in his Father's throne.” (Rev. iii. 21.) What sayest thou to all this, O thou sad and drooping soul? Thon that now spendest thy days in sorrow, and thy breath in sighings, and turnest all thy voice into groanings : who knowest no garments but sackcloth, no food but the bread and water of affliction ; who minglest thy bread with tears, and drinkest the tears which thou weepest ; what sayest thou to this great change ; from all sorrow to more than all joy? Thou poor soul, who prayest for joy, waitest for joy, complainest for want of joy, longest for joy ; why, then, thou shalt have full joy, as much as thou canst hold, and more than ever thou thoughtest on, or thy heart desired. And, in the meantime, walk carefully, watch constantly, and then let God measure out thy times and degrees of joy. It may be he keeps them till thou have more need : thou mayest better lose : thy comfort than thy safety; if thou shouldst die full of fears and sorrows, it will be but a moment, and they are all gone, and conclude in joy inconceivable. As the joy of the hypocrite, so the fears of the upright are but for a moment. And as their hopes are but golden dreams, which when death awakes, do then all perish, and their hopes die with them ; so the saints' doubts and fears are but terrible dreams, which, when they die, do all vanish; and they awake in joyful glory. For “God's anger endureth but a moment, but in his favour is life : weeping may endure for a night, darkness and sadness go together, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psal. xxx. 5.) O blessed morning, thrice blessed morning! poor, humble, drooping soul, how would it fill thee with joy now, if a voice from heaven should tell thee of the love of God; of the pardon of thy sins; and should assure thee of thy part in these joys ? O, what then will thy joys be, when thy actual possession shall convince thee of thy title, and thou shalt be in heaven before thou art well aware ; when the angels shall bring thee to Christ, and when Christ
f 1 Pet. i. 12; Eph. iii. 18.
h John xv. Il ; xvi. 24, and xvii. 13; Psal. xciv. 12, 13; 1 Thess. v. 16; Psal. xxxii. 11, aud xxxiii. 1, &c.
i Matt. ix, 15.
shall, as it were, take thee by the hand, and lead thee into thy purchased. possession, and bid thee welcome to thy rest, and present thee unspotted before his Father, and give thee thy place about his throne ! Poor sinner, what sayest thou to such a day as this ? wilt thou not be almost ready to draw back, and to say, What I, Lord, I, the unworthy neglecter of thy grace ! I, the unworthy disesteemer of thy blood, and slighter of thy love ! must I have this glory? “Make me a hired servant, I am no more worthy to be called a son :” but love will have it so; therefore must thou enter into his joy.
Sect. XI. And it is not thy joy only; it is a mutual joy as well as a mutual love : is there such joy in heaven at thy conversion, and will there be none at thy glorification : will not the angels welcome thee thither, and congratulate thy safe arrival? yea, it is the joy of Jesus Christ ; for now he hath the end of his undertaking, labour, suffering, dying, when we have our joys; when he is “ glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe.” We are his seed, and the fruit of his soul's travail, which, when he seeth, he will be satisfied. (Isa. liii. 10, 11.) This is Christ's harvest, when he shall reap the fruit of his labours ; and when he seeth it was not in vain, it will not repent him concerning his sufferings; but he will rejoice over his purchased inheritance, and his people shall rejoice in him.
Yea, the Father himself puts on joy, too, in our joy : as we grieve his Spirit, and weary him with our iniquities, so he is rejoiced in our good.m O how quickly here he doth espy a returning prodigal, even afar off: how doth he run and meet him; and with what compassion falls he on his neck, and kisseth him ; and puts on him the best robe, and a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet, and spares not to kill the fatted calf, that they may eat and be merry! this is indeed a happy meeting; but nothing to the embracements and the joy of that last and great meeting.
Yea, more yet; as God doth mutually love and joy, so he makes this his rest, as it is our rest. Did he appoint a Sabbath, because he rested from six days' work, and saw all good, and very good? What an eternal sabbatism, then, when the work of redemption, sanctification, preservation, glorification, are all finished, and his work more perfect than ever, and very good indeed! So the Lord is said to rejoice, and to take pleasure in his people. (Psalm cxlvii. 11, and cxlix. 4.) 0, Christians, write these words in letters of gold; “ The Lord thy God in the midst of thee, is mighty : he will save : he will rejoice over thee with joy: he will rest in his love : he will joy over thee with singing.” (Zeph. iii. 17.) O, well may we then rejoice in our God with joy, and rest in our love, and Ijoy in him with singing. (See Isa. Ixv. 18, 19.)
1 2 Thess. i. 10. .
m Quomodo passiones non esse in Deo, et tamen delectationem, gaudium et amorem esse in Deo scholastici asserunt. Vid. in Aquin. cont. Gentil. 1. ), q. 90–92, et sum. 1, &c. Sed hæc nobis incomprehensibilia et incognita existimo. Nam ut Aristot. in 2 Metaph. asserit, “Intellectus noster sic se habet ad prima entium quse sunt manifestissima in natura, sicut oculus vespertilionis ad solem.". Referente Thoma, cout. Gentil. I. i. c. 3. ubi plura de hac re videre est.
And now look back upon all this; I say to thee, as the angel to John, “ What hast thou seen?” or if yet thou perceive not, draw nearer, come up higher, come and see: dost thou fear thou hast been all this while in a dream? Why, these are the true sayings of God. Dost thou fear, as the disciples, that thou hast seen but a ghost, instead of Christ;n a shadow instead of rest? Why, come near and feel : a shadow contains not those substantial blessings, nor rests upon the basis of such a foundation truth, and sure word of promise, as you have seen these do. Go thy way now, and tell the disciples, and tell the humble, drooping souls thou meetest with, that thou hast, in this glass, seen heaven; that the Lord indeed is risen, and hath here appeared to thee; and behold he is gone before us into rest; and that he is now preparing a place for them, and will come again, and take them to himself, that where he is, there they may be also. (John xiv. 3.) Yea, go thy ways, and tell the unbelieving world, and tell thy unbelieving heart, if they ask what is the hope thou boastest of, and what will be thy rest. Why, this is my beloved, and my friend, and this is my hope and my rest. Call them forth, and say, “Behold what love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be the sons of God;” (1 John iii. 1 ;) and that we should enter into our Lord's own resi.
Sect. XII. But, alas ! my fearful heart dare scarce proceed : methinks I hear the Almighty's voice saying to me, as to Elihu, 66 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge ?” (Job xxxviii. 2.)
But pardon, O Lord, thy servant’s sin: I have not pried into unrevealed things, nor, with audacious wits, curiously searched into thy counsels; but, indeed, I have dishonoured thy holiness,
- Luke xxiv. 37 -- 39; Mark xvi. 7.