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weeping, disquietness and lamentations ; you had rather have your servant humbly and modestly cheerful, and not always dejected for fear of displeasing you. O how many poor souls are overseen in this ! You might easily perceive it even by the devil's opposition and temptations. He will further you in your self-vexations (when he cannot keep you in security and presumption,) but in amending, he will hinder you with all his might. How oft have I known poor, passionate creatures, that would vex and rage in anger, and break out in unseemly language, to the disquieting of all about them; and others that would drop into other the like sins, and when they have done, lament it, and condemn themselves ; and yet would not set upon a resolute and cheerful reformation! Nay, if you do but reprove them for any sin, they will sooner say, "If I be so bad, God will condemn me for an hypocrite,' and so lie down in disquietness and distress ; than they will say, 'I see my sin, and I resolve to resist it, and I pray you warn me of it, and help me to watch against it.' So that they would bring us to this pass, that either we must let them alone with their sins, for fear of tormenting them, or else we must cause them to lie down in terrors. Alas, poor mistaken souls ! It is neither of these that God calls for! Will you do any thing save what you should do? Must you needs be esteemed either innocent, or hypocrites, or such as shall be damned? The thing that God would have is this : That you would be glad that you see your fault, and thank him that sheweth it you, and resolvedly do your best to amend it, and this in faith and cheerful confidence in Christ, flying to his Spirit for help and victory. Will you please the devil so far, and so far contradict the gracious way of Christ, as that you will needs either sin still or despair? Is there not a middle between these two, to wit, cheersul amendment? Remember that it is not your vexation or despair, but your obedience and peace, that God desireth. That life is most pleasing to him, which is most safe and sweet to you.
If you say still, you cannot delight in God, I say again, Do but acknowledge it the great work that God requireth of you, and make it your daily aim, and care, and business, and then you will more easily and certaicly attain it. But while you know not your work, VOL. I.
or so far mistake it, as to think it consisteth more in sorrows and fears; and never endeavor, in your duties or meditations, to raise your soul to a delight in God, but rather to cast down yourself with still poring on your miseries, no wonder then if you be a stranger to this life of holy delight.
By this time I find myself come up to the subject of my book of the “ Saints' Rest;" wherein having said so much to direct and excite you, for the attainment of these spiritual and heavenly delights, I will refer you to it, for your help in that work; and add no more here, but to desire you, through the course of your life, to remember, That the true love of God in Christ, and delight in him, and thankful, cheerful obedience to him, is the great work of a Christian, which God is best pleased with, and which the blessed angels and saints shall be exercised in for ever.
And Othou the blessed God of love, the Father of mercy, the Prince of peace, the Spirit of consolation, compose the disquieted spirits of thy people, and the tumultuous, disjointed state of thy churches; and pardon our rashness, contentions, and blood-guiltiness, and give us not up to the state of the wicked, who are like the raging sea, and to whom there is no peace! Lay thy command on our winds and waves, before thy shipwrecked vessel perish; and rebuke that evil spirit whose name is Legion, which hath possessed so great a part of thine inheritance. Send forth the spirit of judgment and meekness into thy churches, and save us from our pride and ignorance with their effects; and bring our feet into the way of peace, which hitherto we have not known. O close all thy people speedily in loving consultations, and earnest inquiries after peace. Let them return from their corruptions, contentions, and divisions, and jointly seek thee, asking the way to Zion with their faces thitherward; saying, Come let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten. Blast all opposing policies and powers. Say to these dead and dry bones, Live. And out of these ruins do thou yet erect a city of righteousness, where thy people may dwell together in peaceable habitations; and in the midst thereof a temple to thy holiness : let the materials of it be verity and purity : let the Redeemer be its foundation : let love and peace cement it into unity : let thy laver and covenant be the doors ; and holiness to the Lord be engraven thereon ; that buyers and sellers may be cast out, and the common and unclean may know their place; and let no desolating abomination be there set up. But let thy people all in one name, in one faith, with one mind, and one soul, attend to thine instructions, and wait for thy laws, and submit unto thine order, and rejoice in thy salvation; that the troubled spirits may be there exhilarated. the dark enlightened, and all may offer thee the sacrifice of praise, (without disaffections, discords, or divisions ;) that so thy people may be thy delight, and thou mayest be the chiefest delight of thy people ; and they may please thee through him that hath perfectly pleased thee. Or if our expectation of this happiness on earth be too high, yet give us so much as may enlighten our eyes, and heal those corruptions which estrange us from thee, and may propagate thy truth, increase thy church, and honor thy holiness, and may quicken our desires, and strengthen us in cur way, and be a foretaste to us of the everlasting rest.