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that the witnesses of the miracles of the apostles themselves have also given us the same three degrees of proof of the verity of their testimony, though miracles continue not now as then : and I have looked round about me in the world, as diligently and impartially as I could, to see whether Christ, and the way which he hath prescribed us, have any competitor which may make it difficult to resolve which to prefer and follow and as I have found that none but God alone hath absolute dominion and sovereignty over us, and is our chief Benefactor, nor fit to be our felicity and ultimate end, so I have found that there is no one so fit to be taken for our Mediator and the way to God, as Jesus Christ ; none else that hath a natural aptitude: none else among men that is perfect without sin, that hath conquered Satan, the world, and death; that is a messenger from heaven so infallible and sure, whose doctrine and life is suited to our case; none else that is become a sacrifice for our sins, and hath risen from the dead, and ascended into glory, and doth govern and preserve us, and will judge the world, and hath power to give the Holy Ghost, both for gifts and graces; nor that actually giveth it to the sanctifying of all his sincere followers; none else that hath such a church and kingdom, contemning the world, and contemned by the world, and so truly fitted to the pleasing of God, and the future fruition of him in glory. I see that Judaism is but the porch of Christianity, and if Christ had not confirmed the verity of the Old Testament to me, I should have found the difficulty of believing it much greater: and as for Mahometanism, besides the common truths which it retaineth of the unity of the Godhead, the verity of Christ, and the life to come, &c., there is nothing else which at all inviteth my understanding: and as for heathenism, the case that it hath brought the miserable world into is much to be pitied and deplored: much precious truth is revealed to us by nature, but experience telleth us of the need of more, and Christianity hath all which nature teacheth with a great deal more: so that Christianity hath no considerable com
And as for worldly wealth and honour, superiority and command of others, the favour, applause, and praise of great ones, or of the multitude, voluptuousness, and fleshly delights, &c., ease, long life, or any accommodations of the flesh; yea, learn
m Leg Idiotæ contemplat. de Amore Dei.
ing itself, as it is but the pleasing of the fancy in the knowledge of unnecessary things; all these I have perused, and found them to be deceit and trouble: a glimpse of heaven, a taste of the love of God in Christ; yea, a fervent desire after God; yea, a penitent tear, is better than them all, and yieldeth a delight which leaveth a better taste behind it, and which my reason more approveth in the review. And the vanity of all inferior pleasures appeareth to me in the common effects; they distract and corrupt the minds of those that have the greatest measure of them, and make them the calamity of their times, the furious afflicters of the upright, and the pity of all sober standers-by, who see them turn the world into a Bedlam; and how all their honour, wealth, and sport, will leave them at a dying hour, and with what dejected minds unwelcome death will be entertained by them, and with what sad reviews they will look back upon all their lives, and in what sordid dust and darkness they must leave the rotting flesh when their souls are gone to receive their doom before the Judge of all the world. All these are things which are past all doubt with me, since I had any solid use of reason, and things which are still before my eyes.
Wherefore, my God, I look to thee, I come to thee, to thee alone: no man, no worldly creature made me, none of them did redeem me, none of them did renew my soul, none of them will justify me at thy bar, nor forgive my sin, nor save me from thy penal justice; none of them will be a full or a perpetual felicity or portion for my soul. I am not a stranger to their promises and performances; I have trusted them too far, and followed them too long: O that it had been less; though I must thankfully acknowledge, that mercy did early show me their deceit, and turn my inquiring thoughts to thee. To thee I resign myself, for I am thine own; to thee I subject all the powers of my soul and body, for thou art my rightful, sovereign Governor ; from thee I thankfully accept of all the benefits and comforts of my life; in thee I expect my true felicity and content. To know thee, and love thee, and delight in thee, must be my blessedness, or I must have none. n The little tastes of this sweetness which my thirsty soul hath had, do tell me that there
Illa enim gloria quid est nisi æternum angelorum beatorumque spiritum convivium, quod est semper laudare Deum? Ad hoc vitæ præsentis inopia nullatenus valet contingere. Scire autem ubi sit, et prægustare, illud gaudio spei, sitire et esurire quod gustaveris, hæc est illa quæ dicitur sanctorum in hac vita perfectio.—Hugo à S. Victore Erud. Theol, de Offic. Eccl. lib. 2, cap. 19.
is no other real joy. I feel that thou hast made my mind to know thee, and I feel thou hast made my heart to love thee, my tongue to praise thee, and all that I am and have, to serve thee; and even in the panting, languishing desires and motions of my soul, I find that thou, and only thou, art its resting place; and though love do now but search, and pray, and cry, and weep, and is reaching upward, but cannot reach the glorious light, the blessed knowledge, the perfect love for which it longeth, yet by its eye, its aim, its motions, its moans, its groans, I know its meaning, where it would be, and I know its end. My displaced soul will never be well till it come near to thee, till it know thee better, till it love thee more. It loves itself, and justifieth that self-love, when it can love thee; it loathes itself, and is weary of itself, as a lifeless burthen, when it feels no pantings after thee. Wert thou to be found in the most solitary desert, it would seek thee; or in the uttermost parts of the earth, it would make after thee. Thy presence makes a crowd, a church; thy converse maketh a closet, or solitary wood or field, to be kin to the angelical choir. The creature were dead if thou wert not its life; and ugly, if thou wert not its beauty; and insignificant, if thou wert not its sense. The soul is deformed which is without thine image; and lifeless, which liveth not in love to thee, if love be not its pulse, and prayer, and praise, its constant breath. The mind is unlearned which readeth not thy name on all the world, and seeth not Holiness to the Lord' engraven upon the face of every creature. He doteth that doubteth of thy being or perfections; and he dreameth who doth not live to thee. O let me have no other portion, no reason, no love, no life but what is devoted to thee, employed on thee, and for thee here, and shall be perfected in thee, the only perfect, final Object for evermore. Upon the holy altar, erected by thy Son, and by his hands, and his mediation, I humbly devote and offer thee this heart: 0 that I could say, with greater feeling, this flaming, loving, longing heart! But the sacred fire which must kindle on my sacrifice, must come from thee, it will not else ascend unto thee; let it consume this dross, so the nobler part may know its home. All that I can say to commend it to thine acceptance is, that I hope it is washed in precious blood, and that there is something in it that is thine own; it still looketh towards thee, and groaneth to thee, and followeth after thee, and will be content with gold, and mirth, and honour, and such inferior fooleries, no more; it lieth at thy doors, and will be entertained or perish: though,
alas! it loves thee not as it would, I boldly say it longs to love thee, it loves to love thee; it seeks, it craves no greater blessedness than perfect, endless, mutual love; it is vowed to thee, even to thee alone, and will never take up with shadows more, but is resolved to lie down in sorrow and despair if thou wilt not be its Rest and Joy. It hateth itself for loving thee no more, accounting no want, deformity, shame, or pain, so great and grievous a calamity.
For thee, the glorious, blessed God, it is that I come to Jesus Christ if he did not reconcile my guilty soul to thee, and did not teach it the heavenly art and work of love, by the sweet communications of thy love, he could be no Saviour for me. Thou art my only ultimate End; it is only a guide and way to thee that my anxious soul hath so much studied: and none can teach me rightly to know thee, and to love thee, and to live to thee, but thyself; it must be a teacher sent from thee, that must conduct me to thee. I have long looked round about me in the world, to see if there were a more lucid region, from whence thy will and glory might be better seen, than that in which my lot is fallen but no traveller that I can speak with, no book which I have turned over, no creature which I can see, doth tell me more than Jesus Christ: I can find no way so suitable to my soul, no medicine so fitted to my misery, no bellows so fit to kindle love, as faith in Christ, the Glass and Messenger of thy love. I see no doctrine so divine and heavenly, as bearing the image and superscription of God; nor any so fully confirmed and delivered by the attestation of thy own omnipotency; nor any which so purely pleads thy cause, and calls the soul from self and vanity, and condemns its sin, and purifieth it, and leadeth it directly unto thee; and though my former ignorance disabled me to look back to the ages past, and to see the methods of thy providence, and when I look into thy word, disabled me from seeing the beauteous methods of thy truth, thou hast given me a glimpse of clearer light, which hath discovered the reasons and methods of grace, which I then discerned not; and in the midst of my most hideous temptations and perplexed thoughts, thou kepst alive the root of faith, and kepst alive the love to thee, and unto holiness, which it had kindled. Thou hast mercifully given me the witness in myself; not an unreasonable persuasion, in my mind, but that renewed nature, those holy and heavenly desires and delights, which surely can come from none but thee. And O, how much more have I perceived in many
of thy servants, than in myself! Thou hast cast my lot among the souls whom Christ hath healed; I have daily conversed with those whom he hath raised from the dead. I have seen the power of thy Gospel upon sinners: all the love that ever I perceived kindled towards thee, and all the true obedience that ever I saw performed to thee, hath been effected by the Word of Jesus Christ. How often hath his Spirit helped me to pray; and how often hast thou heard those prayers! What pledges hast thou given to my staggering faith, in the works which prayer hath procured, both for myself and many others? And if confidence in Christ be yet deceit, must I not say, that thou hast deceived me? who I know canst neither be deceived, or by any falsehood or seduction deceive.
On thee, therefore, O my dear Redeemer, do I cast and trust this sinful soul! with thee, and with thy Holy Spirit, I renew my covenant; I know no other, I have no other, I can have no other Saviour but thyself: to thee I deliver up this soul which thou hast redeemed, not to be advanced to the wealth, and ho-nours, and pleasures of this world, but to be delivered from them, and to be healed of sin, and brought to God, and to be saved from this present evil world, which is the portion of the ungodly and unbelievers; to be washed in thy blood, and illuminated, quickened, and confirmed by thy Spirit, and conducted in the ways of holiness and love, and at last to be presented, justified and spotless, to the. Father of spirits, and possessed of the glory which thou hast promised. O thou that has prepared so dear a medicine for the cleansing of polluted, guilty souls, leave not this unworthy soul in its guilt, or in its pollution : O thou that knowest the Father, and his will, and art nearest to him, and most beloved of him, cause me in my degree to know the Father; acquaint me with so much of his will as concerneth my duty, or my just encouragement: leave not my soul to grope darkness, seeing thou art the Sun and Lord of Light. O heal my estranged thoughts of God: is he my Light and Life, and all my hope; and must I dwell with him for ever, and yet shall I know him no better than thus; shall I learn no more that have such a teacher; and shall I get no nearer him, while I have a Saviour and a Head so near? O give my faith a clearer prospect into that better world, and let me not be so much unacquainted with the place in which I must abide for ever: and as thou hast prepared a heaven for holy souls, prepare this too-unprepared soul for heaven, which hath not long to stay on earth; and