Two treatises of Mr. Jeremiah Burroughs. The first of earthly-mindedness, wherein is shewed, 1. What earthly-mindedness is. ... 6. Directions how to get our hearts free from earthly-mindedness. The second treatise. Of conversing in heaven, and walking with God. Wherein is shewed, 1. How the Saints have their conversation in heaven. ... 9. Rules for our walking with God. The fourth volumn [sic] published by Thomas Goodwyn. William Greenhil. Sydrach Simpson. Philip Nye. William Bridge. John Yates. William Adderley.
Burroughs, Jeremiah, 1599-1646., Goodwin, Thomas, 1600-1680.

CHAP. X. An Objection concerning Gods hiding of his face, Answered in six Particulars.

IF it be a spiritual discertion, if the Lord seems to with∣draw himself from the spirits of his servants, What Rules should be given there, for one yet to walk with God in the time of Spiritual discertion?

I have divers things to speak to those that God hath see∣med to withdraw himself from.

Page  335

Object. You will say, You have told us of the excel∣lency of walking with God, and we account it the happi∣ness of our lives to walk with him; Oh but God will not walk with me, but withdraws himself from my soul so that I cannot see him, and hides himself from me.

Now I have divers things to say to thee:

In the first place, Be of good comfort; It's a good sign, that God hath made thee know what it is to walk with him, that canst be sensible of his withdrawings; there is a generation of people in the world that go on in a slight kind of way in the profession of Religion, and they know not what it is to be sensible of any of Gods withdrawings from them, you never hear them complain of any such thing, they know not what it means; therefore (I say) it's a good sign that thou knowest what it is to walk with God because thou art sensible of any of Gods withdrawings from thee.

Secondly, Examine whether thou hast not sometimes shut out God from thee, when God hath offered himself to walk with thee. Hath not God sometimes tendred himself, and even taken thee by the hand to walk with thee, and thou hast not bin at leasure then, thy mind hath been about somewhat else? Oh! therefore be humbled before him for all thy unwor∣thy dealings with him, and for all thy declynings from him; Know, God calls thee to this, There hath been ma∣ny wandrings of thy spirit from God, Oh that thou couldst but say in respect of thy spiritual wandrings, as the Pro∣phet David saith in respect of his wandrings, in Psal 56. 8. Thou tellest my wandrings, put thou my tears into thy bottle, are they not in thy book? Oh that thou couldst but say so! Lord, there hath been many wandrings of my spirit, but Lord, put my tears into thy bottle; sutable to my wandrings so are my tears, Oh! it grieves me to the soul that ever I have grieved thy Spirit; when thy spirit hath even taken me by the hand to walk with thee I have withdrawn my self, and upon that thy Spirit hath been grieved; Oh it grieves my soul! Oh Lord, thou hast taken notice of my wandrings, take notice of my tears that are sutable.

Page  336 Thirdly, It is better that God withdraw, than that we with∣draw. I beseech you observe it: If God withdraws from you it is your affliction: but if you withdraw from God, it is your sin; and sin is worse than affliction, better bear any affliction, yea spiritual afflictions than commit sin; and that you should labor to be sensible of: you that complain of God's withdrawing from you, and that God will not walk with you; Be you more sensible of your own with∣drawings as a greater evil to you than Gods? It's true, Gods withdrawing from me it is a sore affliction above all that ever befell me in this world; but my withdrawing from him it is a greater burden to me. And it may be if God did not withdraw from thee, thou wouldst with∣draw from him: And many times God doth withdraw from his people to prevent his peoples withdrawing from him. As many times the mother will withdraw her selfe from the child that the child may not be wandring from her. And this may be the very end why God withdraws, he sees thy heart begins to be loose, wanton, slight, and vain, and therefore it is that he hides himself, that thou maiest be awakened and sensible of the danger that thou art in by withdrawing thy self from God; that so thou maiest cleave to him the more fully, and that thy soul may follow more after him, that thou maiest lift up thy heart and cry more earnestly after God. But now, if God be withdrawn, & the soul be not so sensible as to cry after him, or if it should leave off crying; then such a one is in a dangerous condi∣on indeed. As if a poor child had lost the father or mo∣ther and were crying after them; at length comes some begger with an apple or plumb and steals away the child, and then the child is quiet for the present; Oh take heed of that, depart not from the Lord, keep crying after him in all his withdrawings.

Fourthly, Gods withdrawing of comfort is not alwaies the withdrawing of his presence: Thou maiest mistake, thou thinkest that God is withdrawn, why? because he hath withdarwn comfort; there may be a great mistake in this: Page  337 God (I say) may withdraw comfort, and not withdraw his presence, take this for a certain rule and make much use of it, when comforts are gone: Do not say when com∣forts are gone, therefore the presence of God is gone, there may be as ful and as gracious a presence of God when com∣forts are gone as ever there was: he may be present with his graces and support; as in Psal. 63. 8. My soul followeth hard after thee, thy right hand upholdeth me; though thou seemest to be gone. So, God may be present to uphold thee, and to strengthen thee, and to exercise thy faith in him, and that may be as acceptable to God: The exercise of faith in the want of comfort may have as much of God in it as all the comfort that ever thou hadst in all thy life; and therefore do not say, that Gods presence is gone be∣cause comforts are gone: The beams of the Sun in the winter time is not so effectual as the influence of the Sun when it is in a cloud in the summer time: Is the presence of the Sun gone in the summer because there's a cloud between the sun and you? It may be a child will think, Oh the Sun is gone out of the firmament because there's a cloud: I but I know there's the Sun still, for there's the influence of the Sun, there's some heat in the day, and there's some light wherby I may see to do my work, though I have not that lustre as before; Now when the Sun shines in win∣ter it shines bright but there's not that influence of the sun upon the earth as makes the plants grow: So, sometimes the beams of Gods presence may be clouded to a Christian by reason of outward afflictions, and yet there may be more of Gods presence than at another time, when it shall shine in the beauty of it in the comfotrs of a Christian for so I compare the shining of the Comforts of a Christian to the shining of the Sun in the winter, that sometimes have no influence to sanctifie the heart, As in winter times the Sun hath not that influence to fructifie the ground, but at other times though the Sun be clouded yet it hath influ∣ence to make the ground fruitful; so though God may not shine upon thee in regard of outward comforts, yet he Page  338 may shine in upon thy soul and make thee to increase and grow in goodness more than ever before.

Fifthly, If thou canst not see Gods face, yet hearken and see if thou canst not hear his voice, and follow that. Doest thou come to the Word and there hear his voice? Is not God pleased to speak to thy soul out of his Word? Thou goest perhaps into thy closet and canst not see his face there as thou wert wont to do, yet blesse him that thou canst hear his voice, and follow his voice though it be in the dark. As now, if a child be going with the father and it be lost, yet if the child cries, and the father or mother speaks, that quiets the child very much; so it is with the children of God, when they cannot see Gods face, yet they may hear Gods voice: They cannot have those comforts from God as sometimes they have had; those sweet manifestations of the love of God shed abroad into their hearts; but when they come to the Word, they cannot but say that they hear their fa∣thers voice; Perhaps the word is not a comforting word to thee as hereto fore, I but is it not a directing word, an instructing word, an inlightening word? Oh this now should support thee for the present.

Sixthly, All that I will say further is this, Keep thy self in a waiting frame for God: Do not determine that be∣cause the Lord is gone he will ever be gone; Oh no, but keep still in the waies of God waiting for him, resolve, that though God leaves thee, yet thou wilt not leave the path in which God was heretofore: I am sure that God was once here, Oh then keep the path wherein thou wert wont to meet with God, for thou shalt meet with him again: It's better to keep the path, the ordinary high-way of God, for you are more like to meet with God there than if you should go out of the way: I'le give you a Scripture or two for that and so conclude. The first is in Psal. 101. 2. I will behave my self wisely in a perfect way, Oh when, wilt thou come unto me! That which I quote this for is this, the resolution of David to behave himself wisely in a perfect way, toge∣ther with his panting after the presence of God, Oh when Page  339 wilt thou come unto me! as if he should say, Lord, Thou art absent from me now, but Lord, I will not go out of the way wherein I was wont to find thee, Oh when wilt thou come! I will not determine that I shall never see thee in this way as heretofore I have done, no, but I hope I shal afterwards meet thee. And so in the 119. Psalm, 8. verse, I will keep thy Statutes; what then? Oh forsake me not utterly. It seems that the Lord for the present to Davids apprehen∣sion had forsaken him: but what was Davids resolution? God hath forsaken me and I'le forsake him? Oh no, But I'le keep thy Statutes, and Oh! leave me not utterly. So keep on in the waies of God still, go on in his way and wait for the presence of God until he come; and conclude this, Surely, he will come. Be not like to children, that be∣cause they see the Sun going down, therefore they conclude that the Sun is gone, and will never come again. Though God seems to withdraw the light of his face from thee, do not conclude and determine, well, I shall never have those comforts from God, in communion with God, in walking with God, as once I was wont to have; do not say so, but go on, and keep in the waies of God, wait upon him and look up towards him, and so thou maiest come to have as much Communion, Sweetness, and Joy in God as ever thou hadst in all thy life. And now know, that God cals for the work of faith in such times as these are, now God calls thee to walk by faith and not by sence.