Imágenes de páginas

sick of love to Christ, or having the bodily strength weakened by strong and vigorous exercises of love to him. And bowever kind to human nature the influences of the Spirit of God are, yet nobody doubts but that divine and eternal things, as they may be discovered, would overpower the nature of man in its present weak state ; and that therefore the body in its present weakness, is not fitted for the views, and pleasures, and employments of heaven : And that if God did discover but a little of that which is seen by the saints and angels in heaven, our frail natures would sink under it. Indeed I know not what persons may deny now, to defend themselves in a cause they have had their spirits long engaged in ; but I know these things do not use to be denied or doubted of. Let us rationally consider what we profess to believe of the infinite greatness of the things of God, the divine wrath, the divine glory, and the divine infinite love and grace in Jesus Christ, and the vastness and infinite importance of the things of eternity; and how reasonable is it to suppose, that if it pleases God a little to withdraw the veil and let in light into the soul, and give something of a view of the great things of another world in their transcendent and infinite greatness, that human nature, that is as the grass, a shaking leaf, a weak withering flower, should totter under such a discovery? Such a bubbleis too wcak to bear the weight of a view of things that are so vast. Alas! What is such dust and ashes, that it should support itself under the view of the awsul wrath or infinite glory and love of Jehovah ! No wonder therefore that it is said, no man can see me and live, and flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. That external glory and majesty of Christ which Daniel saw, when there remained no strength in him, and his comeliness was turned in him into corruption, Dan. X. 6, 7, 8. And which the apostle John saw, when he fell at his feet as dead ; was but an image or shadow of that spiritual glory and majesty of Christ, which will be manifested in the souls of the saints in another world, and which is sometimes, in some degree, manifested to the soul in this world, by the influences of the Spirit of God. And if the beholding the image, and external representation of this spiritual majesty and glory, did so over

power human nature, is it unreasonable to suppose that a sight of the spiritual glory itself, which is the substance, of which that was but the shadow, should have as powerful an effect? The prophet Habakkuk, speaking of the awful manifestations God made of his majesty and wrath, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness, and at Mount Sinai, where he gave the Law; and of the merciful influence, and strong imprescion God caused it to have upon him, to the end that he miglit be saved from that wrath, and rest in the day of trouble ; says, Hab. iii. 16. “ When I heard, my belly trembled, my lips quivered at the voice, rottenness entered into my bones, I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble.” Which is much such an effect as the discovery of the same majesty and wrath, in the same awful voice from Mount Sinai, has had upon many in these days ; and to the same purposes, viz. to give them rest in the day of trouble, and save them from that wrath. The psalmist also speaks of very much such an effect as I have often seen on persons under religious affections of late, Psal. cxix. 131.“ I opened my mouth and panted, for I longed for thy commandments.”

God is pleased sometimes in dealing forth spiritual blessings to his people, in some respect to exceed the capacity of the vessel, in its present scantiness, so that he does not only fill it full, but he makes their cup to run over ; agreeable to Psalm xxiii, 5. And pours out a blessing sometimes, in such a manner and measure that there is not room enough to receive it, Mal, iii. 10, and gives them riches more than they can carry away ; as he did to Jehosaphat, and his people in a time of great favor, by the word of his prophet Jehaziel in answer to earnest prayer, when the people blessed the Lord in the valley of Bcrachah, 2 Chron. xx. 25, 26. It has been with the disciples of Christ, for a long time, a time of great emptiness upon spiritual accounts; they have gone hungry, and have been toiling in vain, during a dark season, a time of night with the church of God; as it was with the disciples of old, when they had toiled all night for something to eat, and caught nothing, Luke v. 5, and John xxi. 3. But now, the ynorning being come, Jesus appears to his disciples, and takes a compassionate notice of their wants, and says to them, Children, have ye any meat ? And gives some of them such abundance of food, that they are not able to draw their net ; yea, so that their net breaks, and their vessel is overloaded, and begins to sink; as it was with the disciples of old, Luke v. 6, 7, and John xxi. 6.

We cannot determine that God never shall give any person so much of a discovery of himself, not only as to weaken their bodies, but to take away their lives, It is supposed by very learned and judicious divines, that Moses's life was taken away after this manner; and this has also been supposed to be the case with some other saints. Yea, I do not see any solid sure grounds any have to determine, that God shall never make such strong impressions on the mind by his Spirit, that shall be an occasion of so impairing the frame of the body, and particularly that part of the body, the brain, that persons shall be deprived of the use of reason. As I said be. fore, it is too much for us to determine, that God will not bring an outward calamity in bestowing spiritual and eternal blessings : So it is too much for us to determine, how great an outward calamity he will bring. If God gives a great increase of discoveries of himself, and of love to him, the benefit is infinitely greater than the calamity, though the lise should presently after be taken away ; yea though the soul should not immediately be taken to heaven, but should lic some years

in a deep sleep, and then be taken to heaven : Or, which is much the same thing, if it be deprived of the use of its faculties, and be unactive and unserviceable, as if it lay in a deep sleep for some years, and then should pass into glory. We cannot determine how great a calamity distraction is, when considered with all its conséquences, and all that might have been consequent, if ihe distraction had not happened ; nor indeed whether, thus considered) it be any calamity at all, or whether it be not a mercy, by preventing some great sin, or some more dreadful thing, if it had not been. It is a great fault in us to limit a sovereign, allwise God, whose judgments are a great deep, and his ways past finding out, where he has not limited himself, and in things, concerning which, he has not told us what his way shall be. It is remarkable, considering in what multitudes of instances, and to how great a degree, the frame of the body has been overpowered of late, that persons' lives have notwithstanding been preserved, and that the instances of those that have been deprived of reason have been so very few, and those, perhaps, all of them, persotis under the peculiar disadvantage of a weak, vapory habit of body. A merciful and careful divine hand is very manifest in it, that in so many instances where the ship has begun to sink, yet it has been upheld, and has not totally sunk. The instances of such as have been deprived of reason are so few, that certainly they are not enough to cause us to be in any fright, as though this work that has been carried on in the country, was like to be of baneful influence; unless we are disposed to gather up all that we can to darken it, and set it forth in frightful colors.

There is one particular kind of exercise and concern of mind, that many have been overpowered by, that has been especially stumbling to some ; and that is, the deep concern and distress that they have been in for the souls of others. I am sorry that any put us to the trouble of doing that which seems so needless, as defending such a thing as this. It seems like meer trilling in so plain a case, to enter into a formal and particular debate, in order to determine whether there be any thing in the greatness and importance of the case that will answer, and bear a proportion to the greatness of the concern that some have manifested. Men


be allowed, from no higher a principle than common ingenuity and humanity, to be very deeply concerned, and greatly exercised in mind, at the secing others in great danger, of no greater a calamity, than drowning, or being burnt up in an house on fire. And if so, then doubtless it will be allowed to be equally reasonable, if they saw them in danger of a calamity ten times greater, to be still much more concerned; and so much more still, if the calamity was still vastly greater. And why then should it be thought unreasonable, and looked upon with a very suspicious eye, as if it must come from some bad cause, when persons are extremely concerned at seeing others in very great danger of suffering the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God, to all eternity? And besides it will doubtless be allowed that those that have very great degrees of the Spirit of God, that is a spirit of love, may well be supposed to have vastly more of love and compassion to their fellow creatures, than those that are influenced only by common humanity. Why should it be thought strange that those that are full of the spirit of Christ, should be proportionably, in their love to souls, like to Christ? Who had so strong a love to them and concern for them, as to be willing to drink the dregs of the cup of God's fury for them; and at the same time that he offered up his blood for souls, offered up also, as their high priest, strong crying and tears, with an extreme agony, wherein the soul of Christ was as it were in travail for the souls of the elect; and therefore in saving them he is said to see of the travail of his soul. As such a spirit of love to, and concern for souls was the spirit of Christ, so it is the spirit of the church ; and therefore the church, in desiring and seeking that Christ might be brought forth in the world, and in the souls of men, is represented, Rev, xii. As a “ Woman crying, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered,” The Spirit of those that have been in distress for the souls of others, so far as I can discern, seems not to be different from that of the apostle, who travailed for souls, and was ready to wish himself accursed from Christ for others, And that of the Psalmist, Psal. cxix. 53. “ Horror hath taken hold upon me, because of the wicked that forsake thy Law." And v. 136. « Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy Law.” And that of the prophet Jeremiah. Jer, iv. 19. “ My bowels ! My bowels ! I am pained at my very heart ! My heart maketh a noise in me! I cannot hold my peace! Because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war !” And so chap. ix. 1, and xiii. 17, and xiv. 17, and Isa. xxii. 4. We read of Mordecai, when he saw his people in danger of being destroyed with a temporal destruction, Esth. iv, 1. “ That he lent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and bitter cry. And why then should persons be thought to be distracted, when they

« AnteriorContinuar »