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."-" It is a constant work; it is with a Christian in this business, as it is with seamen who have sprung a leak at sea: if they labour not constantly at the pump, the water increases on them, and will quickly sink them. No sooner do Moses' hands grow heavy and sink down, than Amalek prevails."
Speaking of the unreasonableness of the expectations which many pious men have indulged, of some sensible and outward sign or token of the Divine favour and acceptance,
“ I remember that Mr. Roberts tells us, in his treatise on the covenants, that he knew a Christian who, in the infancy of his Christianity, so vehemently panted after the infallible assurance of God's love, that for a long time together he earnestly desired some voice from heaven-yea, sometimes walking in the solitary fields, he earnestly desired some miraculous voice from the trees and stones there. This, after many desires and longings, was denied him; but in time, a better was afforded in the ordinary way of searching the word and his own heart. An instance of the like nature, the learned Gerson gives us, of one who was driven by temptation on the very borders of desperation; at last, being sweetly settled and assured, one asked him, how he attained it? He answered, not by any extraordinary revelation, but by subjecting my understanding to the scriptures, and comparing my own heart with them.”
The first two chapters, from which we have made the foregoing extracts, treat of " what the keeping of the heart supposes and imports,” and of “ the reasons for keeping the heart.” The third discourses of “ the seasons in which the heart must especially be kept”—and first, “ a season of prosperity.” On the passage, “ It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, &c." and on that other, “ Not many mighty, not many noble, are called,” he presents the following illustration :
“ It might justly make us tremble, when the scripture tells us, in general, that few shall be saved ; much more, where it tells us, that of that rank and sort of which we are speaking, but few shall be saved. When Joshua called all the tribes of Israel to draw lots for the discovery of Achan, doubtless Achan feared; when the tribe of Judah are taken, his fear increased; but when the family of the Zachites was taken, it was time then to tremble.”—“O how many have been coached to hell in the chariots of earthly pleasures, while others have been whipped to heaven by the rod of affliction !"
He adds example to precept.
“What a sad story is that of Pius Quintus, who, dying, cried out despairingly, When I was in a low condition, I had some hopes of salvation; but when I was advanced to be cardinal, I greatly doubted
it; and since I came to the popedom, I have no hope at all. Mr. Spencer tells us a real, but sad story, of a rich oppressor, who had scraped up a great estate for his only son. When he came to die, he called his son to him, and said, Son, do you indeed love me? The son answered, that nature, besides his paternal indulgence, obliged him to that. Then, said the father, express it by this-hold thy finger in the candle while I am saying a paternoster. The son attempted, but could not endure it. On that, the father broke out into these expressionsThou canst not suffer the burning of thy finger for me; but to get this wealth, I have hazarded my soul for thee, and must burn body and soul in hell for thy sake. Thy pain would have been but for a moment, but mine will be unquenchable fire.”—“ There was a serious truth in that atheistical scoff of Julian, when he took away the Christians' estates, and told them, it was to make them fitter for the kingdom of heaven.”
His reflections on “ a season of adversity,” are (as may be expected) most animating and consolatory.
Though God has reserved to himself a liberty of afflicting his people, yet he has tied up his own hands by promise never to take his loving kindness from them." .“ O my haughty heart! Dost thou well to be discontented, when God has given thee the whole tree, with all the clusters of comfort growing on it, because he suffers the wind to blow down a few leaves ?”—“ My God, says the church, will hear me. Suppose your husband or child had lost all at sea, and should come to you in
you deny the relation, or refuse to entertain him? If you would not, much less would God,” &c.
“What if, by the loss of outward comforts, God will preserve your souls from the ruining power of temptations ? We see mariners in a storm can throw overboard rich bales of silk and precious things, to preserve their vessel and their lives with it, and every one says they act prudently. We know it is usual for soldiers in a city besieged, to batter down or burn the fairest buildings without the walls in which the enemy may shelter themselves in the siege; and no man doubts but it is wisely done. Such as have mortified legs or arms, can willingly stretch them out to be cut off, and not only thank but pay
surgeon for his pains. And must God only be repined at for casting over what will sink you in a storm ? for pulling down that which would advantage your enemy in the siege of temptation? for cutting off what would endanger your everlasting life?-0, inconsiderate, ungrateful man ! Are not these things for which thou grievest, the very things that have ruined thousands of souls ?"_“It may strengthen thy heart, if thou considerest, that, in these troubles, God is about that work at which, if thou didst see the design of it, thy soul would rejoice. We are beclouded with much ignorance; and therefore, like Israel in the wilderness, are often murmuring because Providence leads us about in a howling desert, where we are exposed to straits, though he led them, and is now leading us, by the right way to a city of habitation.'”. “ Providence is like a curious piece of arras, made
of a thousand shreds, which, single, we know not what to make of, but, put together and stitched up orderly, they represent a beautiful history to the eye.”
The third season,
“ Calling for more than ordinary diligence in keeping the heart, is the time of Zion's troubles—when the church, like the ship in which Christ and his disciples were, is oppressed and ready to perish in the wars of persecution, these good souls are ready to sink and be shipwrecked too, on the billows of their own fears. I confess most men rather need the spur than the reins in this case, and yet some sit down overweighed with the sense of the church's troubles.
He adduces, as historical examples of persons so inAuenced, those of Eli, Nehemiah, and Elijah, -all which he touches with very forcible language, and then comes to the question,“ how tender hearts may be relieved and supported when they are overweighed with the burthensome sense of Zion's troubles ?" And gives, for his first precept,
“ Settle this great truth in your hearts, that no trouble befalls Zion, but by the permission of Zion's God; and he permits nothing out of which he will not bring much good at last to his people."
And, to such as those who would presume to direct in what manner the affairs of the world should best be ordered, he addresses this wholesome admonition :
“ As Luther said to Melancthon," cease to be the ruler of the world,' so say I to you. Let infinite wisdom, power, and love, alone; for by these all creatures are swayed and actions guided, in reference to the church. It is none of our work to rule the world, but to submit to him that does rule it. The motions of Providence are all well ordered; the wheels are full of eyes. It is enough that the affairs of Zion are in a good hand.”
The fourth season of danger :
“ Now there are fourteen excellent rules or helps for keeping the heart from sinful fear, when imminent dangers threaten us. The first is, Look upon all creatures as in the hand of God, who manages them in all their motions, limiting, restraining, and determining them all at his pleasure.”—“ In Revelations, you read of the white, black, and red horses, which are nothing else but the instruments that God employs in executing his judgements in the world, as wars, pestilence, and death. But when these horses are prancing, and trampling up and down in the world, here is that which may quiet our hearts—that God has the reins in his hand.”—“ Remember that God, in whose hand all the creatures are, is your Father, and is much more tender over you, than you are, or can be, over yourselves. Let me ask the most timorous woman, whether there is not a vast difference between the sight of a drawn sword in the hand of a bloody ruffian, and the same sword in the hand of her own tender husband?"-" That is a sweet scripture to this purpose. [Isa. liv. 5.) “ Thy maker is thy husband, the Lord of Hosts is his name.” Who would be afraid to pass through an army,
though all the soldiers should turn their swords and guns towards him, if the general of that army were his friend or father? I have met with an excellent story of a religious young man, who being at sea with many other passengers in a great storm, and they being half dead with fear, he only was observed to be very cheerful, as if he had been but little concerned in that danger. One of them demanding the reason of his cheerfulness, “ 0," said he, “ it is because the pilot of the ship is my Father."
“ Natural fear may be allayed for the present by natural reason, or the removal of the occasion, but then it is but like a candle blown out with a puff of breath, which is easily blown in again ; but if the fear of God extinguish it, then it is like a candle quenched in water, which cannot easily be rekindled.”
“A violent death, you say, is terrible to nature! But what matter is it, when thy soul is in heaven, whether it were let out at thy mouth, or at thy throat ?—whether thy familiar friends, or barbarous enemies, stand about thy dead body and close thine eyes ? alas ! it is not worth the making so much to do about. Thy soul shall not be sensible in heaven how thy body is used on earth ; no, it shall be swallowed up in life.”
We cannot afford space for much more quotation, and have already produced enough to serve as specimens of the style—sometimes (at least according to present apprehension) too low and familiar, but often eloquent, and always earnest and impressive,- of this author; whose faults and merits are, in a greater or less degree, common to him with the best theological and ethical writers of the age in which he wrote, with Taylor, Barrow, and Milton; who certainly evinces a deep and thorough acquaintance with the mysterious subject he treats of the human heart) with all its contradictions and subtleties; whose reasons and arguments have all the force of actual experiences; whose devotion is warm from the heart to which it appeals; and who, in the frequency of allusion and metaphor with which he abounds, cannot be charged in a single instance with adopting, from a vain love of ornament, the figures of speech which rise spontaneously to his service.
We cannot deny ourselves the pleasure of extracting a few more passages, without further reference to the order of their subjects, and with them we shall close the present article.
Speaking of " the season of want,” he says:
“ This affliction, though great, is not such an affliction but God has far greater, with which he chastises the dearly beloved of his soul in this world : and should he remove this, and inflict those, you would account your present state a very comfortable state, and bless God to be as now you are. What think ye? Should God remove your present troubles, supply all your outward wants, give you the desire of your hearts in creative comforts, but hide his face from you, shoot his arrows into your souls, and cause the venom of them to drink up your spirits ; should he leave you but a few days to the buffeting of Satan, and his blasphemous injections; should he hold your eyes but a few nights waking with horrors of conscience, tossing to and fro till the dawning of the day; should he lead you through the chambers of death, show you the visions of darkness, and make his terrors set themselves in array against you--then tell men if you would not count it a choice mercy to be back again in your former necessitous condition, with peace of conscience; and count bread and water, with God's favour, a happy state? O then take heed of repining. Say not God deals hardly with you, but you provoke him to convince you, by your own sense and feeling, that he has worse rods than these för unsubmissive and froward children.”
In a season of duty : “Beg of God a chastised imagination. A working fancy, how much soever it is extolled among men, is a great snare to the soul, except it work in fellowship with right reason and a sanctified heart. The imagination is a power of the soul placed between the senses and the understanding. It is that which first stirs itself in the soul, and by its motions the other powers are stirred. It is the common shop, where thoughts are first forged and framed; and as this is, so are they: if imaginations be not first cast down, it is impossible that every thought of the heart should be brought into obedience to Christ. The fancy is naturally the wildest and most untameable power in the soul. And truly, the more spiritual the heart is, the more it is troubled about the vanity and wildness of it. O what a sad thing is it, that thy nobler soul must follow up and down after a vain and roving fancy! that such a beggar should ride on horseback, and such a prince run after on foot! that it should call off the soul from attendance upon God, when it is most sweetly engaged in communion with him, to prosecute such vanities as it will start at such times before it !”_- A man who is praying, says Bernard, should behave himself as if he were entering into the court of heaven, where he sees the Lord on his throne, surrounded with ten thousand of his angels and saints ministering unto him.”—“ If thou wert petitioning the king for thy life, would it not provoke him to see thee playing with thy bandstrings, or catching at every fly that lights upon thy clothes, whilst thou art speaking to him about such serious matters? Why did God descend in thunderings and lightnings, and dark clouds, upon Sinai? Why did the mountains smoke under him; the people quake and tremble round about him; yea, Moses himself not exempted--but to teach the people this great truth, “ Let us have grace, whereby we may serve him acceptably, with reverence and godly fear, for our God is a consuming fire!"
« The tenth special season, to keep the heart with all diligence, is the time of spiritual darkness and doubting, when it is with the soul as it was with Paul in his dangerous voyage-neither sun, nor moon, nor star, appearing for many days; when, by reason of the hidings of God's face, the prevalency of corruption, and the inevidence of grace, the soul is even ready to give up all its hopes and comforts for lost, to