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(2.) Your lives are none of your own, but at God's disposal; "to God the Lord belong the issues from death." Thus he holdeth our souls in life; our times are in his hands: it is a piece of arrogancy and presumption to dispose of ourselves, or imagine that any mortal man is sui juris, at his own disposal:

(3.) You are to look upon natural life as a mercy, yea, the foundation of all outward mercies. David saith, "Thy loving kindness is better than life;" as if he had said, if there were any thing better than life, God's love exceeds it. Hence it was, that in the midst of honest Baruch's sad complaints, and mixture of personal and public calamities coming upon him, God promiseth for all that, "thy life will I give unto thee for a prey," Jer. xlv.3,5. Surely that is worth accepting, thou hast no cause then to complain.

(4.) The wheel of providence may turn; you may outlive your present distresses, and see a fairer day, as many have done. Job cursed the day of his birth, but he lived to see a strange revolution, "God blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning." So it may be with you.

You will say, It is not merely affliction that creates my discontent and weariness of life; no, no, it is sin, this body of death, I am even wearied out with it.

I answer, It is well that this is your burden, but you must continue in the field till your Captain call you off, and give you a discharge. However, know that you must not absolutely, or impatiently desire death, merely to be rid of sin, but still with submission and under correction. You may perhaps be in a strait as Paul was, whether to choose life or death,* but still you must refer yourselves to God, let him use his pleasure. Should it be his pleasure that I should re* Psal. lxviii. 20. lxiii. 3. Job iii. 1-3. xlii. 12. Phil. i. 23.

main still longer here to conflict with spiritual enemies, if grace will support me, and God have any glory by me, I am content.

Oh, but you say, Why should I continue to live, I do no good in my place, I do but cumber the ground, and do not honour God.

Ans. (1.) No man doth know of what use he is while he lives. It is your humility to judge thus meanly of yourselves; that is good, only let not your modesty issue in discontent, but provoke you to more activity for God and usefulness in your generation. There

is a medium between vain arrogance and base pusillanimity. Thank God if you be a stick in the hedge, though you be not a main post, or a pillar in the house of God. Be content to be dismissed, like old Simeon, Luke ii. 29, "Lord, said he, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word."

(2.) Let Christians on the other hand take heed lest they too eagerly desire to live, and be unwilling to die. In this case also the best of God's children may be loth to die; for death is an enemy to nature, though a friend to grace: it is "the king of terrors." Even good Jeremiah makes supplication that he might not "return to the house of Jonathan, lest," saith he, "I die there," Jer. xxxvii. 20. Christ tells Peter that even when he was old, they would carry him whither he would not, John xxi. 18. Alas! the best persons may linger in this world, as Lot in Sodom, though vexed in it. We are in bondage in these bodies of clay, but too like Israel, loth to leave our slavery.* It is the grace of God that must help us to look beyond death, that can make us willing to die. But grace is not always in exercise, and we know that death is a parting of the dearest friends, body and soul, as Jona• Job xviii. 14. Gen. xix. 16. Exod. xiv. 12.

than and David. The best believe but in part, yet when faith prevails, unseen things are most desirable: and the believer can say with triumphant David, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me," Psal. xxiii. 4. But "the spirit is willing," though "the flesh be


As assurance increaseth, holy confidence gains ground. And why are you short, after making so long a profession and enjoying so many privileges? Dare you not trust God with your souls? Do not children long to go to bed in their father's hand, though in the dark? What have you been doing all this while? Are you in love with this polluted world? Do not you long to throw off this burden of sin? Is not your case suspicious, when you are so loth to die? Say to your dull souls as a good man did,† “Go forth my soul, go forth, to meet thy beloved bridegroom."

2. By way of instruction, counsel may be given to pious persons, in these ten particulars.

(1.) Study contentment. Be content with God's allowance in the world, be it less or more. A little of the world will serve to bear your charges to heaven. Seek not to be rich, which may prove a burden to you. The text saith, "Abraham was very rich," valde gravis, very heavy; so the Hebrew. It is that which will render your passage to heaven more difficult, as a camel going through the eye of a needle: and this will make your accounts greater and worse to settle, beside the temptation and snare to which riches would expose you. A middle state is most eligible, wise Agur desired neither poverty nor riches.

* Matt. xxvi. 41. + Egredere, anima, egredere. "Gen. xiii. 2. Matt. xix. 24. 1 Tim. vi. 9, 10.

Your busi

Heb. xiii. 5. Prov. xxx. 8, 9.

ness is to derive your contentment from God's providence. Paul learned this hard lesson, Phil. iv. 12; so must you. God's allowance with his blessing is an eligible dish; let it not be patience perforce, because you cannot help it, but let it be your choice; a little time will mend things.

(2.) Take pains in heaven's road; you are not to work long, work hard. Think no labour too much; you know that it "shall not be in vain in the Lord." Your wages will abundantly compensate your work. These poor things of the world are not obtained without industry; and do you think to get heaven without diligence? "Strive to enter in at the strait gate," saith our Lord, "for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." Sluggish seekers are final losers. "Work out your own salvation: labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for that which endureth to everlasting life;" not that you must earn heaven with all your labour, for eternal life is God's free gift; but God hath determined, you shall not have it without :* in good earnest begin your work, watch and pray; ply hard at the throne of grace. "Give diligence to make your calling and election sure; fight the good fight of faith; lay hold on eternal life; watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong" live like saints, and you shall die as saints.

(3.) Draw forth your faith, and hope to better objects than this world affords, or can be obtained here. Indeed the proper object of faith is things invisible; and hope that is seen is not hope; seeth, why doth he yet hope for?

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for what a man nothing attainable

Phil. ii. 12. Rom. vi. 23.
1 Cor. xvi. 13.

in this world is either suitable or durable, and therefore cannot be your happiness. I suffer hard things, sed meliora spero, but I hope for better: when the lease of my life is expired, I shall take possession of my inheritance. God is the hope of Israel; he hath helped me in straits; I have rich experience of assistance; these things I call to mind, therefore have I hope; were it not for this my heart would sink and break: "I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." In this land of life, a sojourner having to receive money, will remit large sums to his own country; so do you take letters of credence to be paid above.

(4.) Let your hearts go out to things above, study the excellence, certainty, necessity of these divine objects, that your hearts may be elated therewith. O how the thoughts thereof will sweeten your bitter pilgrimage; "set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth." This is a sign you are risen with Christ, Col. iii. 12; where should your "hearts be but where your treasure is?"* O what "riches of the glory of the inheritance of the saints!" This is transporting. A young heir hath his thoughts running out upon his estate, which he is to enjoy when he comes to full age. Human art cannot take the dimensions of the third heavens, much less of those things, which "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard; nor hath it entered in the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” † But though you cannot comprehend them, yet you should admire them, and raise up your affections to them.

(5.) Make haste through this evil world to heaven,

• Jer. xiv. 8. Lam. iii. 21. Psal. xxvii. 13. Matt. vi. 21. Eph. i. 18. 1 Cor. ii. 9.

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