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Eve endure and groan under their Exile, and cannot but lament the Bitterness of this imperfect gloomy Day, which Men on Earth call Evil. A Day but short, and, which is worse, dismal and uncomfortable. For, who can worthily express the Pains, the Perplexities of Body and Soul, which are the necessary, the inseparable' Incumbrances of Man's present Condition? A Condition, wherein he is polluted with so many Sins, entangled in so many Difficulties, beset with lo many Misfortunes, oppreli’d with so many Fears, diftracted with so many Cares, disturbed and diverted from his main Concern by so many Impertinences, deluded with so many Vanities, confounded with so many Errors, wasted and worn out with so much Labour and Trouble; assaulted by Temptations, emasculated by Pleasures, and tormented with great variety of Necessities and Wants ?
O! when will there be an end of this so complicated Misery? When may I hope to be enlarged and released from this Bondage of Sin? When shall my Thoughts and Desires center, and be for ever fixed, in Thee, my God, alone? When may I hope to attain true Joy in Thee, without any allay of bodily Suffering, without any Distraction of Mind? When Thall I rest in firm untroubled Peace? Peace from Accidents and Temptations without, Peace from Guild and Misguiding, from the Solicitations of Lust, and the Violence of Passion within ? When shall I see my Jesus Face to Face, and contemplate the Beauties of his Kingdom and Glorious Godhead? When will my dearest Saviour be my All in All, and receive me to those blissful Habitations prepared for them that love him, and that are loved by him, before the Foundation of the World?
Behold! I am here desolate and poor, a Stranger and alone in an Enemy's Country; where Wars rage and never cease, and terrible Distresses come thick
and strong upon me every Day and Hour. Be thou my Comfort in this exiled and desolate Condition. Afswage my Pain, and incline thy Favour to thy SerPsal. cxliii. vant, whose parched and languishing Soul
gaspeth unto thee as a thirsty Land. Thou only art able to do this ; For, what the mistaken World calls Comforts, are but so many fresh Additions to my Burden. I long most earnestly to enjoy, but cannot yet attain my Wish. Fain would I grafp and cling to heavenly things, but am decained and fastened down to Earth, by Vanities below, and unmortifyid Affections. My Mind labours to get above these ; but even, when the Spirit is willing, I find the Flesh extremely weak, and my sensual, prevails over my better and heavenly Inclinations.
Thus am I, wretched Man, involved in a perpetual War, and live in Contradiction to my felf; my own Hindrance and Torment, moving different ways, and pursuing different Ends and Prospects, at one and the fame time. How great is my Concern and Conflict, when I set my Mind to Meditate and Pray, and, in the midst of this Exercise, am interrupted by a Clutter of worldly and carnal Imaginations crowding in upon me? Go not far from me, O my God, neither cast away thy Servant in Displeasure
. Scatter these dark and gloomy Clouds, which intercept my Vision of thee's by the Brightness of thy Lightning; Thunder upon
them from Heaven, cast out thine Arrows Psal. cxliv.
and discomfit them. Recollect my Broken and Scattered Thoughts, help me to forget the things of this World, to reject and despise, and effectually drive away all finful Imaginations. Aflift me, thou
fubftantial Truth, and root me fast, that no Blast of Vanity may shake and unsettle my Heart. Diffuse thy Heavenly Sweetness through my Soul, and chase away all nauseous, unfavoury, and impure Affections, for these cannot stand before thee.
Particularly, deareft Lord, I implore thy Compalfion upon my Infirmities; and in thy Mercy impute not to me my many wandring Thoughts in Prayer. For there, I must confefs, my Distractions are great and frequent ; and I am often least of all in that place, where I stand or kneel: Thus, while my Body is before thy Footstool, my Mind is carried away I know not whither. And this is a very melancholy Refle. ction, such as gives me occasion to fufpect, and deeply bewail my self. Since where my Thoughts are, there properly and indeed am I, and where my Thoughts frequent, and delight to dwell, there with out doubt is the Objeét of my Affection and Concern; and that, which either natural Difpofition or long Cuftom renders most delightful, that to be sure is most familiar, and comes continually uppermost. All this I gather from that Observation, which thou, Eternal Truth, haft left us, that where our Treasure
Matth. vi. is, there will our Heart be also.
This then is the Rule, by which I try and found the Bent of my Heart; If I love Heaven, the Thoughts of it will be frequent and pleasant to me. But if I love the World, the Effect of this will be, that I shall feel Excess of Joy in prosperous Events, and be as immoderate in my Grief for those that are otherwife. If I love the Flesh, wanton and carnal Imaginations will often return upon me, and be entertained with Satisfaction ; but if I love the Spirit, then shall I find in Spiritual Objects a grateful Relish, and dwell upon them with true Delight. For this my own Senses and Experience affure me, that what I love most, I am best pleased to be entertained with, greedieft to hear and forwardest to talk of, most careful to remember, and to preserve deep and lasting Impressions of upon my Mind. And therefore, though I cannot attain to it fo fully as I wish and strive, yet I can plainly perceive, and do truly value and admire, the Happiness
of Them, who can abandon all, and stick to Thee alone ; that commit a holy Violence upon their natural Inclinations, Crucify the Flesh, and with a pure bright Zeal, and a clear Conscience, can offer holy, fervent Prayers, a fpiritual and unblemish'd Sacrifice: Where All without are forbidden entrance, and All within is composed. These Men, fo firmly intent upon Thee and their Devotions, are fit to praise thee with those Angels, whose refined Excellencies they so happily afpire after, and to whose blessed Society thou wilt one Day exalt and admit them.
CHA P. LIV.
Of the Desire of Eternal Life, and the Happiness
of Them who strive Manfully.
Chrift.] Y Son, when thou feelest thy Soul in
flamed with an eager Desire of Eternal Happiness, and thinkest long to be released from this Prison of the Body, that thou may'st be blessed with a nearer and more distinct View, a perfect, full and uninterrupted Fruition, of my Brightness and Majefty ; fet open all the Avenues of thy Soul, and greedily receive the holy Inspiration. Express thy humblest. Thanks to God, and be duly sensible of his Goodness, who deals fo bountifully with thee, visits thee with his Mercy, supports and strengthens thee with his Grace, and raises those Affections up to Heaven, which have a fatal innate Tendency to immerse thy Soul in Earth, and Flesh, and Sense. For, do not mistake the Matter, no Reasonings or Endeavours of thy own have power to effect so good a Work, or to create those Spiritual Inclinations; the Finger of God is in them, and they are owing to no
less noble a Cause, than the ffee and bountiful Donation of Divine Grace and Favour: The Design of which is to advance and exalt thy Virtues; to make thee humble and modeft, with Reflections upon the Strength of another made perfect in thy Weakness; to fit thee for future Tryals, and forer Conflicts ; to engage thy Affections, and encourage thy Perseverance, in the faithful Service of so gracious, so good a Master.
Nor let thy Spirits be dejected, Son, if this be not done with all that Zeal, and entire Resignation of a Heart perfectly undivided; which thou could'st wish. For, as in common Fire there will always be fome Smoke ; fo in these holy Flames many Men are fincerely desirous of heavenly Things, who yet cannot quite divest themselves of Carnal Affections, nor be absolutely free from all Temptations. And therefore some other Prospects will often interpose, as well as that of promoting God's Glory only, by those good Actions, for which the Asistances of his Grace are fought, and earnestly implored. Of this thy own Experience convinces thee by fundry Instances, in which thou seest no Reason to fufpect thy own Integrity. Nor wild all that be condemned at the last Day, which was attempted with a Mixture of some Desire to promote thy own Advantage. Only take care that this Desire prevail not fo far, as to incline thee to prefer what may contribute to thy Profit or Delight, before those Things which will procure my Favour and Acceps tance, and be, for mine and for Religion's Honour. For with a wife considerate Christian, my Will takes
place above his own Desires, or any the most inviting & Object ;. and if it reign not in his Heart alone, yet it ü always fits Supreme, and over-rules the rest. I know
all thy Befres, and thy Groanings åre riot hid from me. Thou would'st this Instant be ad
Pfal.xxxviiia mitted into the glorious Liberty of the Sons of God; the blissful and eternal Mansions of thy heavenly