« VorigeDoorgaan »
ruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved SERM. in heaven for us, who are kept by the power of God through XL faith unto salvation, (which hope therefore can never be dashed or defeated,) breed a most cheerful satisfaction, far transcending all other pleasures, which spring from the most desirable fruitions here; according to that admonition of our Lord, Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that Luke x. 20. the spirits are subject unto you ; but rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
III. We should evermore rejoice in the performing the duty of charity ; both that which we owe to God, and that which is due to our neighbour.
Love is the sweetest and most delectable of all passions ; and when, by the conduct of wisdom, it is directed in a rational way toward a worthy, congruous, attainable object, it cannot otherwise than fill the heart with ravishing delight.
And such in all respects superlatively such) an object is God: he infinitely beyond all other things deserveth our affection, as most perfectly amiable and desirable, as having obliged us by innumerable and inestimable benefits, all the good that we have ever enjoyed, or that we can ever expect, being derived from his pure bounty; all things in the world, in competition with him, being pitifully mean, ugly, and loathsome; all things, without him, being vain, unprofitable, and hurtful to us; so that the Psalmist might well say, Who in heaven can be compared Pl. lxxxis. unto the Lord? who among the fons of the mighty can be 6. likened unto the Lord ? Whom have I in heaven but thee? Pfal. Ixxiii. and there is none upon earth that I can depre bepide thee. 25. He is the most proper object of our love; for we chiefly were framed, and it is the prime law of our nature, to love Matt. xxii. him; our soul from original instinct vergeth toward him 38. as its centre, and can have no rest till it be fixed on him ; he alone can satisfy the vast capacity of our minds, and fill our boundless defires.
He, of all lovely things, most certainly and easily may be attained; for whereas commonly men are crossed in their affection, and their love is embittered from their
Psal. lxx. 4.
SERM. affecting things imaginary, which they cannot reach, or XLI. coy things, which disdain and reject their affection; it is
concerning God quite otherwise: for, John vi. 37. He is most ready to impart himself, and will not reject Cor..*any that cometh unto him; he most earneftly defineth and
wooeth our love; he is not only most willing to correJohn xiv.
spond in affection, but doth prevent us therein, for we love Apoc. iii. him, saith the Apostle, because he first loved us. 1 John iv. He doth cherish and encourage our love by sweetest in19.
fluences and most comfortable embraces, by kindest es
pressions of favour, by most beneficial returns, ordering Rom. viii. that all things shall work together for good to those who 1 Cor. ii. 9. love him : and whereas all other objects do in the enjoy
ment much fail our expectation, he doth ever far exceed it.
Wherefore, in all affectionate motions of our hearts toward God, in defiring him, or seeking his favour and friendship; in embracing him, or setting our esteem, our good-will, our confidence on him; in enjoying him by devotional meditations and addresses to him; in a reflexive sense of our interest and propriety in him; in that myste
rious union of spirit, hereby we do closely adhere to him, 1 Cor. vi. and are, as it were, inserted in him; in a hearty compla17. näs xi. 23.cence in his benignity, a grateful resentment of his kindDeut. 8. ness, and a zealous defire of yielding some requital for it, John xv. 4, we cannot but feel very pleasant transports, assuring to Bial. v. 19. us the truth of that saying in the Psalm, They that love thy
name shall be joyful in thee; and disposing us to cry out Psal. xxxvi. with the Pfalmist, How excellent is thy lovingkindness, o Pral, Ixiii. Lord! Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my
lips shall praise thee.
Indeed that celestial flame (kindled in our hearts by the spirit of love) cannot be void of warınth; we cannot fix our eyes upon infinite beauty, we cannot taste infinite sweetness, we cannot cleave to infinite felicity, without we should also perpetually rejoice in the first daughter of love to God, charity toward men; the which in complexion and cheerful dispofition doth most resemble its mother : for it doth rid all those gloomy, keen, turbulent imaginations and passions, which cloud our mind, which fret our
heart, which discompose the frame of our soul, (from SERM. burning anger, from storming contention, from gnaw- XLIII. ing envy, from rankling spite, from racking suspicion, from distracting ambition and avarice.) It consequently doth settle our mind in an even temper, in a sedate humour, in an harmonious order, in that pleasant state of tranquillity, which naturally doth result from the voidance of irregular passions.
And who can enumerate or express the pleasures which do await on every kind, on each act of charity ? E How triumphant a joy is there in anywise doing good! - whereby we feed good humour, and gratify our best incli
nations; whereby we oblige our brethren, and endear our= selves to them; whereby we most resemble the divine good ness, and attract the divine favour.
St. Paul telleth us, that God loveth a cheerful giver ; 2 Cor. ix. and he prescribeth, that he who fheweth mercy, should do Zom it éy iaapótyti, with merriness; and in the Law it is com
manded, Thine heart shall not grieve, when thou gives to Deut. xv. : thy poor brother : and who indeed can out of charity given
almıs or shew mercy without cheerfulness? seeing that he xxxv. 10. thereby doth satisfy his own mind, and doth ease his own bowels; considering that in doing good to his neighbour he receiveth far more good to himself; that he then doth put forth his stock to very great and most certain advantage; that he dischargeth an office very acceptable to God, doth much oblige him, and render him a debtor, doth engage him abundantly to requite and reward that beneficence.
What satisfaction is there in forgiving offences! whereby we discharge our souls from vexatious inmates, (black thoughts and rancorous animosities ;) whereby we clear ourselves from the troubles attending feuds and strifes ; whereby we imitate our most gracious Creator, and transcribe the pattern of our meek Redeemer; whereby we render ourselves capable of divine mercy, and acquire a good title to the pardon of our own fins; according to that divine word, if you forgive men their trespases, your Matt. xi. heavenly Father will forgive you.
Rom. xii 15.
nananvas. Rom. i. 12.
SERM. How unconfinedly and inexhaustibly vast is that delight, XLIII. which a charitable complacence in the good of our neigb
i bour (à rejoicing with those that rejoice) may afford! a
... man thence engrossing all the good in the world, and ap1 Cor. xiii.
propriating to himself all the prosperous successes, all the
pleasant entertainments, all the comfortable satisfactions Rom. xii. of his neighbour. Even a charitable sympathy, or con.
dolency, in the adversities of our neighbour, is not deftitute of content; for the soul is thereby melted into a gen
tle temper, fufceptive of the best impressions; we share in 2 Cor. i. 6. the comfort which we minister to others; we are revii. 7. freshed in that kindly submission to the good pleasure of i Luutag- God, in that lightsome contemplation of God's mercy, is
jo those comfortable hopes of a happy issue, which we sug
gest to the afflicted; we thence are disposed to a grateful sense of God's goodness, in preserving ourselves from those calamities, and in qualifying us to comfort our brethren; we feel fatisfaction in reflecting upon this very practice, and observing that we do act conformably to good-nature, to the dictates of reason, to the will of God, therein discharging a good conscience, and enjoying a portion of that continual feast.
I should, if the time would permit, farther declare how we should find delight in the contemplation of all God's attributes, of his works, of his word; in thankful refentment of all God's benefits; in willing obedience to all God's laws; how joy is a proper fruit growing on the practice of humility, of justice, of temperance, of devotion, of every virtue and grace: more particularly I should have evidenced how, from a patient submission to God's affia. ing hand, from penitential contrition of heart for our fins, from a pious fear and solicitude in working out our salvation, most sweet consolations (so tempering those ingredients as to render their bitterness very favoury) may spring: but in recommending joy I would not produce grief; and therefore shall not farther annoy your pa. tience.
KEEP THY HEART WITH ALL DILIGENCE, &c.
Prov. iv. 23. Keep thy heart with all diligence, &c. BEFORE we do apply ourselves to inculcate this precept, sERM.. it is requisite that we should somewhat explain the terms, XLIV. and settle the meaning thereof; in doing that, we begin with the last words, which qualify the action enjoined as to its degree, or extent; with all diligence: the words (opwo-ban) answering to these in the Hebrew, do, according to the various use or force of the particle 10, admit a threefold acception. They may (1.) denote absolutely the intenseness in degree, or extension in kind, of the performance required in this precept: πάση φυλακή τήρει σην xapoiav, Omni custodia serva cor tuum ; keep thy heart with all custody; that is, with all sorts or with all degrees of care and diligence; so the LXX. Interpreters, and the vulgar Latin following them, render those words. They may, (2.) taking the particle for a Mem excellentiæ, as they call it, signifying comparatively, præ omni custodia serva cor tuum; keep thy heart above all keeping; that is, especially and more than thou keepest any other thing; so doth Pagnin understand them, not without cause, both for the reason fubjoined here, because from it are the issues of life; that is, because it is the principal part and fountain of all vital operations, and therefore deserveth the best custody; as also for that in what follows, and in