And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the even-tide.
Secondly, I Come now to the particular Objects of Meditation,
First, I begin with that which is the Chief End of Man, a ne∣cessary Work that you may come to your selves, Luke 15.17. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, when he came to himself he said, how many hired servants of my Fathers have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! That is, when he began to consider of his Condition, it put better thoughts into him. Therefore that we may come to our selves, it is good to consider the End why we were Created, and the Errand upon which God sent us into the World, to reason thus with our selves, Why was I sent into the World? Why do I live here to get an Estate, or to get into Christ? To wallow in Pleasures, or to Exercise my self in Communion with God? To heap up perishing things together, or to make my Everlasting State more sure? When the End is rightly stated Men know their Work, and so live up to the purposes of their Creation. But alass! Many know other things, but are ignorant of themselves, and so pass on carelesly to their own Ruine, like him that gazed on the Stars, and fell into a deep Pit, their Eyes are upon the ends of the Earth, but they do not consider their Souls. Others for want of considering the end of their Lives, are so far from living as Christians, that they scarce live as Men, but either as Beasts, or as Devils. Delight in the Pleasures of the World transformeth a Man into a Beast, it is their happyness to enjoy Pleasures without remorse, and to gratifie the Body; and delight in Sin transformeth a Man into a Devil. Worldly Pleasures are not Bread, and Sinful Pleasures are Poyson: You that are allured by the Pleasures of the World, which are lawful in themselves, you lay out your Money for that which is not Bread; and you to whom it is Meat to do Evil, you feed upon that which is Rank Poy∣son; the World cannot satisfie, and Sin will surely destroy. Thus Men beguile themselves, and do not consider of the end of their Lives, till their Lives be ended, and then they make their moan. Usually when Men lye a dying, then they cry out of this World, how it hath deceived them! And how little they have fulfilled the end of their Creation! Partly because then Conscience is awake, and puts off all Disguises; and partly because present things are apt to work up∣on us, and when the Everlasting Estate is at hand, the Soul is troubled that it did no more think of it. Oh consider! It is better to be prepared than to be sur∣prized. Think not only of your Last End, but of your Chief End, what should be the great aim of your Lives, even before Death comes. All Religion lyes in this, in fixing the aim of your Life, all the difference between Men and Men is in their Chief Good and Utmost End.
In the managing of this Meditation, I shall pursue it in this Method; not that I prescribe to you, but that I may set some bounds to my own Discourse; how∣ever I shall use such a Method as is most facile and obvious, not exceeding the Capacity and Reach of the meanest. The Work of such a Meditation may be divided into three parts.
- 1. The Considering Work.
- 2. The Plotting and Contriving Work.
- 3. The Arguing Work.
First, In the Considering Work you may propound these or such like things to your thoughts.
1. Man was made for some End. All God's Works are referred to the Ser∣vice and Use of his Glory, Prov. 16.4. The Lord hath made all things for him∣self, yea even the wicked for the day of wrath. God being a wise Agent must have an End, now God could have no other End but himself and his own Glory, for the End must be more worthy than the Means, something better and above all created things. And if God made all things for himself, then Man, who was the visible Master-piece of the Creation, the lesser World, the Compendium and Summ of all Gods other Works. So the Apostle, Rom. 11.36. For of him, and through him, and to him are all things. All things are of him as a Creator, through him as a Preserver, and to him, or to his Glory; from him as the first Cause, to him as the last End. Certainly God did not make such a glori∣ous Creature, as Man for any low use. The whole Creation was for Mans Use, and Man was for God's Glory. Psalm 8.3, 4. When I consider the heavens, the works of thy fingers, the moon and the stars that thou hast ordained, what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the Son of Man that thou visitest him? He was God's Deputy and Vicegerent, created to enjoy the Comfort of other Creatures, and to exercise Dominion over them; the whole World is his Palace, arched with Heaven, and floored with Earth. But still that he might be faithful to his Maker, and do his Homage to God, and give him the Rent and Tribute of his Glory and Praise. And therefore if the Heavens do declare the Glory of God, and the creeping things, and all Beasts in their Rank and Place, much more should Man, who was furnished with Higher Priviledges, and with an Higher Capa∣city; we have faculties that are especially suited to this purpose, therefore it is said, 1 Iohn 5.26. He hath given us an understanding that we may know him that is true. Certainly God never made such a Glorious Creature for Wealth or Pleasures, but for an higher Use and Purpose, even for himself. If you do but look upon his Mind and Understanding, you will find it to be a wrong and de∣basement to take it off from a Spiritual Use, and put it to a Carnal.
2. This End is the injoying and glorifying of God: To enjoy God is Mans hap∣pyness, and to glorifie God is Mans work; by glorifying God he comes to enjoy him, and he enjoyeth him that he may glorifie him. Herein he differeth from other Creatures, they were made only to glorifie him, not to enjoy him, but Man to glorifie him, and enjoy him too.
1. He was made to enjoy him, for that is his happyness. Domine! Fecisti nos propter te, & irrequietum est cor nostrum, donec perveniat ad te. The Soul is made up of unlimited and restless desires, there are such cranneys and chinks in the Soul that cannot be filled up but by the enjoyment of God; we were made for him, and we are not quiet till we do enjoy him. Nature will teach us to groap after an Eternal good, as the Sodomites did after Lots Wife in the Dark, Acts 17.28. That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him: So Psalm 4.6. There be many that say, who will shew us any good? It should be translated, The many say, &c. For this is the voice of the Multitude, all are for good, for something that is every way satisfying and contentful. There are some remains of intire Reason, and right Nature, as Iob's Messengers said, Iob 1.15. And I only am escaped alone to tell thee. There are some obscure in∣stincts that are alone escaped out of the Ruins of the Fall, to tell us that God is our chiefest good, and therefore must be our utmost End. But the Scriptures go further and teach us, that there is no way of enjoying God but in Christ, and till then Man can never be happy. God is the Center of the Soul, the place of the Souls Rest; all things move to their own place, so should Man to God. It is monstrous to see things move contrary to the Impulse of Nature, to see Fire to descend, or a Stone to leap upward; so it is as monstrous in Grace for our Souls to descend, and to cleave to those things which are with∣out Page 638 us, which were made only to rest in God; our Souls are of a Heavenly Ori∣ginal, and therefore should tend thither. Say then, this is that which will make me happy here and hereafter, and therefore why should I run elsewhere? It is against Grace and Nature; there is a Principle in Natures, by which all Crea∣tures aim at their own satisfaction, there is a weight and propension that poyseth them to their happyness, if I would shew my self a Christian or a Man, all my Comforth lyeth in enjoying God in Christ, Isa. 46.8. Remember this, and shew your selves men. He is a Beast that can satisfie his Soul with the World, and he is a Devil that can satisfie his Soul with Sin; let me shew my self a Man, and re∣turn to my own rest. Things are miserable when they do not attain their End; so shall I be out of my place, tossed to and fro; till I return to God; the Facul∣ties of the Soul are mis-placed, and are as a Member out of joynt.
2. He was made to glorif•e God. The Creatures do it necessarily, we must do it voluntarily, and by choice. This must be the care of our Hearts; (1.) In eve∣ry Business. (2.) In every Enjoyment.
1. In every Business, be it never so trivial and low, even in the ordinary re∣freshments of Nature, 1 Cor. 10.31. Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or what∣soever ye do, do all to the glory of God. These common actions of Eating and Drinking must be done upon Reasons of Religion. In a Kings House there are many Officers, but they are all to please the King; so in my Calling, in my Du∣ties, all must be done for the Glory of the Great God; all things must be mea∣sured by this Rule, and give place to this great End, how I may glorifie God, whether in the Shop, or in the Closet, in my outward Calling, or in my Pri∣vate Duties, or in my Publick Relations or Engagements, so far am I to mingle with any outward Business, as I may still enjoy God, and be serviceable to his Glory. This is to make Religion your Work, and not your Play and Recrea∣tion, when still in every business God is at the utmost End, whatever present ends I have. If Nature interpose to make us look after our particular Conve∣niences, yet this is but in subordination to Gods Glory.
2. In every Enjoyment, whether it be Natural, or Spiritual. I am to desire outward increase and estate, but I cannot desire it lawfully, but so as I may ho∣nour God with it. Agur measureth every Estate by Ends of Religion, Prov. 30.8, 9. Give me neither poverty nor riches, but feed me with food convenient for me. Lest I be full and deny thee, and say who is the Lord, or lest I be poor and steal, and take the name of God in vain. As God should be at the end of every business, so at the end of every Enjoyment, though it be Spiritual. It is a mistake in Chri∣stians to think that Spiritual Blessings are only to be desired for themselves; I must desire the Pardon of my Sins, not meerly for it self, but that God may be glorified in Pardon. I must desire Grace, not only that I might be saved, but that God may be glorified in my Salvation, Eph. 1.6. To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. The Creatures aims are never regular, but when they suit with Gods. In the work of Redemption Jesus Christ pleased not himself, but had an aim at the Fathers Glory, Rom. 15.3. For even Christ pleased not himself. So should we in the Comforts of Redemption, not please our selves meerly in the consideration of our own happyness, but re∣joyce in it as Gods Ends are promoted in it, that God is glorifyed in pardoning my Sin, or giving me Grace and Salvation. Though it be a difficult, yet it is a necessary piece of Self-Denyal to desire Salvation in a Subordination to Gods Glory.
Secondly, For the contriving plotting Work. The End being once fixed, we are to consider Generally by what means it may be accomplished, and more parti∣cularly, how you may observe and carry it on to the Glory of God.
1. Generally, By what means we may accomplish it. Every End is obtained by apt and fit means, and God as he hath ordained the end, so he hath appointed the means. The whole Duty of Man is, to fear God, and keep his commandments, Eccles. 12.13. The whole Duty is comprized in Obedience and Fear, Obedience respects the Rule, and Fear the Principle. Or Obedience and Love, he instan∣ceth in that Principle that was most sutable to the present Dispensation. In the Old Testament Fear is the beginning of Wisdom, Fear is represented as the great Page 639 Principle of Duty and Worship, as in the New Testament Love, 2 Cor. 5.14. The Love of Christ constraineth us, 1 Iohn 5.3. This is the love of God, that we keep his Commandments; the meaning of that place is, that God hath required in∣tire Obedience out of an Holy and Upright Principle. Look as God hath appoin∣ted to the Creatures a Law of Creation, by which they are bounded to their stated times and paths, as the Psalmist saith of the Waters of the Sea, Psal. 104.9. Thou hast set a bound, that they may not pass over, that they turn not again to cover the earth. So God hath given a Moral Law and Rule to the Rational Creature▪ which must be observed by Love and Reverence, So it is said, Ephes. 2.10. We are the workmanship of God, created in Christ Iesus to good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk therein. God having by the same Decree and Wise Council ordained both End and Means, he hath given us a Rule by which we are to be guided in serving his Glory.
2. More Particularly, How you may observe and carry it on in this way accor∣ding to the Will of God. A Christian is to be wise in his Generation; that is, in the Course and Sphere of his Employments, to manage the Holy Life by a wise foresight, a Man that is a Child of God hath Wisdom, if he would improve it. Luke 16.8. For the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. Christ makes it to be the Application of the Parable of the unjust Steward, he was plotting aforehand how he should maintain himself, when he was turned out of his Service; so Christ would hence commend to us Spiritual Wisdom, how the Children of Light should plot and contrive, how to manage their course according to the Will of God. As the Prodigal contrives aforehand how he shall make his Address most acceptably to his Father, Luke 15.18. I will arise and go to my Father, and will say unto him, Father I have sinned against heaven, and before thee. He is searching out meet words, words of humbleness and submission, by which he might work upon his Fathers Bowels. So if this be my End to enjoy God and glorifie him, how shall I order my Life so as to maintain most Com∣munion with him, and so as I may most promote his Glory, Nehem. 1.11. Grant me mercy in the sight of this man, for I was the kings cup-bearer. He showeth the Reason why he did undertake the work, he was a Courtier, and had the liberty of Address to Artaxerxes. Mnemon, he was devising what he might do for God in that Station. So you should be contriving, this is my place, and these are my Relations, what shall I do for God as I am a Minister, a Magistrate, a Master of a Family? How may I serve the great End of my Creation, and promote the Glory of God? Such foresights makes the Holy Life to be a Life of Care and Choice; not meerly of Chance and Peradventure, but managed and guided with Discretion for the Glory of God.
Thirdly, For the Arguing Work. In such a Meditation as this is, you must Dispute and Argue with the Soul, that you may gain it from base and inferi∣our Objects, which would divert you from looking after the great end of your Conversation, which is the glorifying and enjoying of God.
Follow the Method formerly prescribed, by Pregnant Reasons, Apt Similitudes, Forcible Comparisons, and by Holy Colloquies and Soliloquies.
1. By Pregnant Reasons, Debate thus with your selves, Why should I look after other things, when my end is to enjoy God? Take these Reasons.
1. Other things cannot satisfie, and yield any solid contentment to the Spirit▪ Isa. 55.2. Wherefore do you spend your money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? Carnal Affections are most irrational, why should I ravish away my choice respects upon those things that will do me no good? The things of this World cloy rather than satisfie. A Man is soon wea∣ry of Worldly Comforts, therefore he must have shift and change; when we have Wealth and Honour, we want Peace and Contentment; nay sometimes the particular Pleasure must be changed because of satiety and loathing which will grow upon us; a Man may be weary of Life it self, and it may be a burden to him, but never of the Love of God, you never heard any one complain of too Page 640 much Communion with God. Heavenly Comforts are more lovely when they are attained, than when they are desired, one tast ravisheth, and Imagination is nothing to feeling. Worldly things cannot satisfie the Affections; Mans Heart is made up of vast and unlimited Desires, because it was made for God, and can∣not be quiet till it enjoy God; He that is All-sufficient can only fill up those cran∣nyes and chinks that are in Mans Heart. But alass! if they could satisfie the Affections, they cannot satisfie the Conscience, they cannot calm and lull Con∣science asleep: There is no proportion between Conscience and Worldly Things, these are a Covering too short for us, there will be Trouble, though we have abundance.
2. They are not durable and lasting. An Immortal Soul is for an Eternal good. It is the greatest Misery that can be to out-live our Happyness; we have a Soul that will never perish, and why should we labour after things that perish? When the things are gone, our Affection will increase our Affliction, we shall be the more troubled, because we loved them so much. All things under the Sun are therefore Vexation, because Vanity, Eccles. 1.14. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun, and behold all is vanity and vexation of spirit. That which is vain and flashy will vex the Soul with disappointment; we can enjoy no∣thing with contentment but what we enjoy with security. Isa. 40.6. All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field. The Flower may be gone, the blustring of the Wind, and the scorching of the Sun may soon deface the Beauty and Glory of the Flower, and then it remains a rotten and neglected Stalk, Prov 23.5. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? The Men of the World call them Substance, they think they are the only things, when of all these Solomon saies, they are not. How fading are Honours! Haman was one day high in Honour, and the next day high on the Gallowes. Therefore these things being so fickle and of such uncertain enjoyment, they cannot give the Soul any quiet.
3. They are inferiour, and below the Soul; they do not perfect Nature, but abase it, they suit only with the outward and baser part of Man, and serve only the Conveniences of the Body. That which makes a Man happy must be some∣thing above a Man, better than himself, now this is beneath your Souls. You would count it absurd to adorn Gold with Dirt, or lay on Brass upon Silver, it is a stain and disgrace, not an Ornament to it. One Soul is more worth than an whole World Matth. 16.26. What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? God created the World only with a word, but Christ redeemed the Soul with his Blood and Sufferings, and why should you degrade your selves? Heaven thought your Souls worthy of the Blood of Christ, and you should think them too wor∣thy to be prostituted to the World. Men do not know the worth of a Soul till they come to dye, and then what would a Man give in exchange for his Soul, to redeem his Soul from the destruction of fears, Iob 27.8. For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul? When God comes by a Fatal Stroak, or a Mortal Disease to take away your Soul, you will see that a Soul once lost can be redeemed by no price, and how little doth the Hypocrite then think of all his gain, that he hath heaped together? Oh then do not debase your Souls, It is dishonourable among Men to match beneath their birth and dignity; oh why will you match your Souls that are of an Heavenly Original to these base outward things?
4. All these things which we think increase our Happyness, do but add to our Trouble, both to our Outward, Inward, and Eternal Trouble.
1. Many times to our Outward Trouble. The greater Gates do but open to the greater Cares, and the more any are endowed with any Excellency in the World, they have proportionable Sorrow and Incumbrances. Moral Wisdom is the best of all Outward Enjoyments, yet that encreaseth our Portion of Sorrow, Eccles. 1.18. For in much wisdom is much grief, and he that increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow. Many have observed, that never was a Man eminent for any outward endowment, but the Joy of it was abated with an answerable proportion of Sor∣row and Trouble, and their encumbrances have been every way suitable to their Page 641 Comforts. Those that have been most famous for outward Qualities have come to some dismal End, as Sampson for Strength, Saul for Stature, Absalom for Beau∣ty, Achitophel for Council and Parts, Asahel for Swiftness, Alexander for Warlike •rowess, Nabal for Riches; and God hath made it good by many Experiences in our times, the Wheel of Providence hath rolled upon them, and they have come to some sad End. So for Witt and Parts, Wit has been many a Mans Ruine, Isa. 47.10. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge hath perverted thee. Many are undone by their own Wisdom and Knowledge, and the greatness of their parts, and came to sad Accidents.
2. For inward Troubles. As Children catch at painted Butter-flies, and when they have taken them, their gawdy Wings melt away in their fingers, and there remaineth nothing but an ugly Worm; so we catch at those things which perish in the using, but the Worm of Conscience remaineth. Many times outward Blessings are salted with a Curse; we never have outward things as a Blessing, till we have an higher Interest in them, Psalm 127.2. So he giveth his beloved sleep▪ Those that have an Interest in God, can rest quietly in the bosom of Providence; and outward Comforts are given as a Blessing, when they are additionals and ap∣pendices to the Covenant of Grace, Matth. 6.33. Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. God doth not say, seek the World, and Heaven shall be added to you; but seek Heaven, and the World shall be added: For by seeking of Heavenly things first, you drive on two Trades at once, for Earth and Heaven. But when Men cumber themselves with the World, there is a snare upon the Conscience, and they cannot enjoy the comfort of their Condition. It will add to your inward Trouble, when God is neglected, and the World sought.
3. For Eternal Trouble. These things are Temporal, and we hazard the loss of Eternal things for them. We never leave God but with disadvantage to our selves, Ionah 2.8. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy, when∣ever you go off from God for a Fleeting Shadow, you loose an Eternal Joy. The Comfort of the World is but for a time, but our Punishment is for ever; Ea quae ad usum diuturna esse non possunt, ad supplicium diuturna sunt, why should we look after those things that we cannot use for ever, and so wound and destroy our Souls for ever? An immoderate seeking after Temporal things will be our Eternal Ruine. Oh that Men would be wise, not to run so great a hazard for so small a pleasure! Riches are uncertain, but the Love of them brings a sure Damnation, Phil. 2.19. Whose end is destruction, who mind earthly things. Oh say then, shall I overturn the quietness of my Life? Shall I wound my Conscience? Shall I contract guilt and terrour for the time to come for that which will perish in the using, and is un∣certain in the Enjoyment? Let us leave things that perish to Men that perish. Shall I adventure my Soul upon so vain a pursuit? Shall I lose Eternal Glory for a little Vain Glory? Shall I make my Children or Kindred Rich, and be poor to all Eternity? Shall I bereave my Soul of all my hopes, and of those Eternal Joyes which God hath provided for them that love him, for a possession that is so uncer∣tain and so ensnaring?
2. You should deal with your Hearts by apt Similitudes. The word will afford you with several, who would dwell in a Ditch that may have a goodly House in a City? Who would leave Treasures, and feed of Husks? Who would refuse a pleasant Bride for a Company of nasty Harlots? Or who would sit on the Stairs, when he is called up to sit on the Throne? I may enjoy God in Christ, and shall I think it my happyness to enjoy the World?
3. By Comparisons. Compare the World with Heaven; here you have the fuller Wealth, and but a foretast of Heaven, but the Grapes of Heaven are better than the Vintage of the World, and these present Enjoyments are sweeter and more sure than all Honours and Riches in the World. These things are gotten with care, kept with Fear, and lost with grief. Reason thus with your selves, what are these Pleasures to the Joyes of the Spirit? These gratifie the Body, the Beast, and are so disproportionable to reason it self, that when we have sucked Page 642 out the quintessence of all Earthly Delights, they cannot yield a perfect content∣ment. Therefore Solomon saith, Prov. 14.13. Even in laughter the heart is sor∣rowful, and the end of that mirth is heavyness. We see that laughter by too much extension and dilatation of the Spirits causeth an aking in the sides, in the outward Expressions of Jollity God would shew how painful it is; you will find carnal delights alwaies go away, and leave some sad Impressions. God's worst is better than the Worlds best, the groans of the Spirit are better than the Joyes of the World. The groads of the World never go away, but they leave a Contentment, and drop some sweetness, but the Joyes of the World never go away, but Clouds of Sorrow are left behind. God's Children rejoyce in the midst of their Mourning, and a Glory hath risen upon their Spirits, even when they seem to be disconsolate in the Eyes of the World.
4. By Colloquies with God. Either by way of Complaint, that thou hast sin∣ned and been ungrateful to God, Psalm 73.22. So foolish was I and ignorant, I was as a beast before thee. Lord! This hath been my brutishness to chose outward Pleasure before Communion with God, and to prefer the Contentments of the World before the delights of thy presence. Go and humble your selves and say, Lord! I have traded with vanity, and vexed my self in unprofitable pursuits; I have lived so long in the World, and have scarce minded the end wherefore I was sent into the VVorld, as if I was put into the VVorld only as Leviathan in the Sea, to take my fill of Pleasure, and bathe my Soul in Carnal Delights. Or else by way of Thanksgiving, if the Lord hath taught thee better; as David, when he had chosen the Lord for his Portion, Psalm 16.7. I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel. My own Reason would never have taught me so much, that is a dimm light; there were some ob∣scure instincts to sway me to my happyness in general, but I might have groped about for the Door of Grace, but not have found it, but God gave me Counsel. As Austin saith, Errare per me potui, redire non potui, Lord! I could go astray of my self, but I could not return of my self, so we could go astray fast enough out of the Inclination of our own Nature, but thou hast brought home a poor lost Sheep on thine own Shoulder, if I had been left to the Counsels of my own heart, what would have become of me!
5. By Soliloquie with your own Souls. Expostulate with your selves for your former Errors and Follies, Rom. 6.21. What fruit had ye in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? The end of those things is death, why should I melt away my Spirit, and emasculate my Soul by stooping to such low Contentments? VVhat have I got by turning away from God, but a VVound and Disquiet in my Con∣science? Then charge your Souls, Issue out a practical Decree, determine with your selves, VVell! Now I see it is best to cleave to God, I will choose God for my chiefest good and utmost end, Oh my Soul! I see with David, Psalm 73.28. It is good for me to draw nigh to God. Therefore farewel my Pleasure, that pleased my Childish Age, when I was a Child I did as a Child, it shall be my care now to enjoy Communion with God, to be Ruled by his VVord, to live to his Glory; those things that have intercepted the Delight, and Contentment of my Spirit, I will leave them to the Men of the VVorld.