1. Inviſibles, Realities, demonſtrated in the holy Life and Triumphant Death of Mr. John Janeway, ſometime Fellow of Kings College, Cambridge.[Page]
MR. John Janeway was born anno 1633. Octob. 27. of religious parents in Tylly in the county of Hertford. He ſoon gave his parents the hope of much comfort, and the ſymptoms of ſomething more than ordinary quickly appeared in him, ſo that ſome who ſaw this child much feared that his life would be but ſhort, others hoped that God had ſome rare piece of work to do by or for this child before he died; he ſhewed that neither of them were much miſtaken in their conjecture concerning him. He ſoon out-ran his ſuperiors for age in learning. And it was thought by no incompetent judges that for pregnancy of wit, ſolidity of judgment, the vaſtneſs of his intellectuals, and the greatneſs of his memory, that he had no ſuperiors, few equals conſidering his age and education.
He was initiated in the Latin tongue by his own father; afterward he was brought up for ſome time [Page 10] at Paul's ſchool in London, where he made a conſiderable proficiency in Latin and Greek under the care of Mr. Langly. When he was about eleven years old he took a great fancy to arithmetic and the Hebrew tongue.
About this time his parents removing into a little village called Aſpoden, had the opportunity of having this their ſon inſtructed, by a learned neighbour, who was pleaſed to count it a pleaſant diverſion, to read mathematics to him being then about twelve years old; and he made ſuch progreſs in thoſe profound ſtudies; that he read Oughtred with underſtanding, before he was thirteen years old. A perſon of quality, hearing of the admirable proficiency of this boy, ſent for him up to London, and kept him with him for ſome time, to read mathematics to him; that which made him the more to be admired was, that he did what he did with the greateſt facility, He had no ſmall ſkill in muſic and other concomitants of mathematics.
In the year 1646. he was choſen by that learned gentleman Mr. Rous the provoſt of Eton colledge, one of the foundation of that ſchool, being examined by provoſt and poſiers in the Hebrew tongue, which was thought was beyond preſident. Where he gave no unſuitable returns to the high expectations that were conceived of him.
After a little continuance at Eton he obtained leave of his maſter to go to Oxford to perfect himſelf in the ſtudy of mathematics, where being owned by that great ſcholar Dr. Ward, one of the profeſſors of the univerſity, he attained to a ſtrange exactneſs in that ſtudy, nothing being within the reach of a man but he would undertake and graſp. That great doctor gave him great help and encouragement, and looked upon him as one of the wonders of his age, loved him dearly, and could for ſome time after his death ſcarce mention his name without tears. When he had ſpent about a quarter of a [Page 11] year with Dr. Ward at Oxford, he was commanded to return again to Eton, where he ſoon gave proof of his great improvement of his time while he was abſent; by making an almanac, and calculating of the eclipſes for many years before-hand; ſo that by this time he had many eyes upon him as the glory of the ſchool. That which put an accent upon his real worth was, that he did not diſcover the leaſt affectation or ſelf-conceit, neither did any diſcernable pride attend theſe excellencies. So that every one took more notice of his parts than himſelf.
At about ſeventeen years old he was choſen to King's colledge in Cambridge, at which time the electioners did even contend for the patronage of this ſcholar. He was choſen firſt that year, and an elder brother of his in the ſixth place; but he was very willing to change places with his elder brother; letting him have the firſt, and thankfully accepting of the ſixth place.
Beſides his great learning, and many other ornaments of nature, his deportment was ſo ſweet and lovely, his demeanour ſo courteous and obliging, even when he ſeemed unconverted, that he muſt be vile with a witneſs that did not love him. Yea, many of them who had little kindneſs for morality, much leſs for grace; could not but ſpeak well of him. His great wiſdom and learning did even command reſpect, where they did not find it: he had an excellent power over his paſſions, and was in a great meaſure free from the vices which uſually attend ſuch an age and place.
But all this while it is to be feared, that he underſtood little of the worth of Chriſt, and his own ſoul; he ſtudied indeed the heavens, and knew the motion of the ſun, moon, and ſtars, but that was his higheſt; he thought yet but little of God, who made all theſe things, he pried but little into the motions of his own heart; he did not as yet much buſy himſelf, in the ſerious obſervation of the wandering ſpirit; [Page 12] the creature had not yet led him to the Creator; but was ſtill too ready to take up with mere ſpeculation But God, who from all eternity had choſen him to be one of thoſe, who ſhould ſhine as the ſun in the firmament for ever in glory; did when he was about eighteen years old, ſhine in upon his ſoul with power; and did convince him what a poor thing it was to know ſo much of the heavens and never come there. And that the greateſt knowledge in the world without Chriſt, was but an empty dry buſineſs. He now thought Mr. Bolton had ſome reaſon on his ſide, when he ſaid; ‘Give me the moſt magnificent glorious worldling, that ever trod upon earthly mould, richly crowned with all the ornaments and excellencies of nature, art, policy, preferment; or what heart can wiſh beſides; yet without the life of grace, to animate and enoble them; he were to the eye of heavenly wiſdom, but as a rotten carcaſe, ſtuck over with flowers; magnified dung, gilded rottenneſs, golden damnation.’ He began now to be of Anaxagoras's mind, that his work upon earth, was to ſtudy heaven, and to get thither, and that except a man might be admitted to greater preferment than this world can beſtow upon her favourites, it were ſcarce worth the while to be born.
THE great work of converſion, it was not carried on upon his ſoul, in that dreadful manner, that it is upon ſome, that God intends to communicate much to, and make great uſe of; but the Lord was pleaſed, ſweetly to unlock his heart, by the exemplary life, and heavenly and powerful diſcourſe, of a young man in the colledge, whoſe heart God had inflamed with love to his ſoul, he [Page 13] quickly made an attempt upon this hopeful young man, and the Spirit of God did ſet home his counſels with ſuch power, that they proved effectual, for his awakening; being accompanied with the preaching of theſe two famous worthies, Dr. Hill and Dr. Arrowſmith, together with the reading ſeveral parts of Mr. Baxter's ſaint's everlaſting reſt.
Now a mighty alteration might eaſily be diſcerned in him, he quickly looks quite like another man. He is now ſo much taken up with things above the moon and ſtars, that he had little leiſure to think of theſe things only as they pointed higher. He began now not to taſte ſo much ſweetneſs in thoſe kind of ſtudies, which he did ſo greedily imploy himſelf in formerly: He now began to pity them who were curious in their inquiries after every thing but that which is moſt needful to be known, Chriſt and themſelves, and that which ſometimes was his gain, he now counted loſs for Chriſt, yea, doubtleſs, he eſteemed all things but as dung and droſs in compariſon of Chriſt, and deſired to know nothing but Chriſt and him crucified. Not that he looked upon human learning as uſeleſs: but when fixed below Chriſt and not improved for Chriſt; he looked upon wiſdom as folly, and learning as madneſs, and that which would make one more like the devil, more fit for his ſervice, and put a greater accent upon their miſery in another world.
Mr. Janeway now begins to caſt about how he might beſt improve what he did already know, and to turn all his ſtudies into the right channel; grace did not take him off from, but made him more diligent and ſpiritual in his ſtudy. And now Chriſt was at the end and bottom of every thing; how did he plot and contrive how he might moſt expreſs his love and thankfulneſs to him who had brought him out of darkneſs into his marvellous light; to this end he ſent up and down packets of divine letters, in which he did diſcourſe ſo ſubſtantially and experimentally [Page 14] of the great things of God, that it would not at all have unbecome ſome grey head to have owned what he did write.
He was not a little like young Elihu, whoſe words he uſed to excuſe his freedom with perſons of years, whoſe ſouls he did dearly pity. He ſaid, Days ſhould ſpeak, and multitude of years ſhould teach wiſdom, but there is a ſpirit in a man, and the inſpiration of the Almighty giveth them underſtanding; I am full of matter, the ſpirit within me conſtraineth me, behold my belly is as wine which hath no vent, it is ready to burſt like new bottles, I will ſpeak that I may be refreſhed, &c. O then how ſweet was the ſavour of his graces! He could not but ſpeak the things which he had ſeen and heard, and even invite all the world to taſte and ſee how good the Lord was.
He began firſt with his relations, begging and wooing of them to think of their precious and immortal ſouls, and to lay in ſpeedy proviſions for a death-bed and eternity. O with what compaſſion did he plead the cauſe of Chriſt with their ſouls! What pathetical expreſſions did he uſe, what vehement expoſtulations, how frequent, how particular in his applications to them? O with what gravity and majeſty would he ſpeak of the myſteries of the goſpel.
THERE are two things, the want of which I have had experience of in your family, though not in every degree; yet in that intenſeneſs of degree wherein they ought to be; which are the real power of godlineſs and religion; and then that which is the fruit of the former, that chearfulneſs, delight, ſpiritual joy, and ſerenity of mind which is to be had in religion, and no where elſe; and that not in religion in its weakeſt degrees, but in a real vigour, power, and life, and in a more cloſe conſtant walking with God; from a tender ſenſe of the worth of ſouls, eſpecially thoſe of your family; and knowing the duty which my relation to it doth lay upon me, and having confidence of their well acceptance of it; I have undertaken to open my thoughts unto them.
In moſt families in England I fear there is neither the form nor the power of godlineſs, where there is no fear of God, no regard of him, no acting under him, or in reference to him. Theſe are in my opinion twice dead, nay, not ſo much as having the dead carcaſe of religion: objects of pity they are, and O how few are there that ſpend one compaſſionate thought upon them!
Others there are, who ſome way or other, it may be from tradition from good parents, it may be from knowing the faſhion of thoſe in their rank; it may be from the frequent inculcating of good inſtructions from Chriſtian friends or godly miniſters; or ſome ſtruggling eruptions of conſcience; have gotten the outward huſk or ſhell of religion, without any kernel or ſolidity at all: and this generation [Page 16] doth uſually truſt to this their religion; that it will bring them to a place like a ſleeping place in heaven, or keep them out of hell; though they live without God in the world. Theſe are poor creatures too; making haſte to their own deſtruction, and know it not yea, thinking that they are in a fair way for heaven O that there were never a family to which we are related which gave too ſad cauſe of fear, that it were in ſuch a caſe, or near ſuch a caſe as this is. A third ſort of people there are (and but few of theſe neither) which have the reality of religion, but yet in much weakneſs, coldneſs, faintneſs, dimneſs, and intermiſſion; like Nilus's brood above half mud ſtill; beginning to have ſome life in their head, a little in their heart, but the feet of their affections and actions have little or no motion. And where ſhall we find a Chriſtian that is got any higher than this, yea that doth in good earneſt ſtrive to get any higher! Now there are higher attainments to be reached after; there is a having our converſation in heaven while we are upon earth, neither doth this conſiſt in ſome weak diſcourſe about God, heaven and the things of religion, it conſiſts not in the mere praying twice a day, and in keeping the Sabbath in an uſual manner in its order, it conſiſts not in a few thoughts of religious objects coming into the mind in a common way, and as eaſily loſt as got. But true religion raiſeth the ſoul to longings, hungrings, and thirſtings, not without ſome enjoyments. Religion in power is to act for God with ſtrength, vigour, earneſtneſs, intenſeneſs, delight, cheerfulneſs, ſerenity, and calmneſs of mind. The fruits of the ſpirit are joy in the Holy Ghoſt and peace: fear, diſquiet, and terrors are uſually the introduction to a better ſtate, but they are not of the eſſentials of religion; yea the contrary frame of ſpirit is to be ſtriven for. To ſpeak yet more plainly, and to tell you, honoured Sir, what fears and [Page 17] jealouſies are, with reverence to yourſelf, and tender affection to all your family, I fear that you yourſelf are ſubject to too many deſponding melancholy thoughts. The cauſes whereof give me leave with ſubmiſſion to gueſs at. The firſt I think may be reflecting on your entring upon the miniſtry without that reverence, care, holy zeal for God, love to Chriſt, and compaſſion to ſouls, which is required of every one that undertakes that holy office; it may be there was rather a reſpect to your own living in the world than of living to God in the world, be it thus, b [...] it not as bad, or be it worſe; the remedy is the ſame. Theſe have a wounding power in them, which will be felt to be grievous, when felt as they are in themſelves, but continual ſorrow and ſad thoughts do keep this wound open too long, and are not available to the having of it cured. Wounds indeed muſt be firſt opened that they may be cleanſed, they muſt be opened that their filth may be diſcovered in reference to a purging and healing; but no longer than the balm of Gilead is to be applied, that they may be healed. And when Chriſt is made uſe of aright he leaveth joy and comfort, yet a conſtant humility of ſpirit is no way inconſiſtent with this peace of God.
A ſecond cauſe of your heavineſs may be a ſenſe of the ſtate of the people which God hath committed to you, and indeed who can but mourn over people in ſuch a condition, objects of pity they are, and the more becauſe they pity not themſelves. I have often wreſtled with God that he would direct you in what is your duty concerning them, which I perſuade myſelf is your earneſt requeſt. Now, if after your ſerious examining of yourſelf what your conſcience doth conclude to be your duty, you do it, and ſee you do it; you are then to reſt upon God for his effectual working. Let not any think to be more merciful than God, for [Page 18] wherein he doth, he goes beyond his bounds: and this is no more cauſe of heavineſs to you than the oppoſition that the apoſtles found at any time was, who notwithſtanding rejoiced in tribulation. Another cauſe of heavineſs may be what diviſions are between yourſelf and ſome of your relation. O that a ſpirit of meekneſs and wiſdom might remove all cauſe of ſorrow for that. But were the power of godlineſs more in hearts and families, all the cauſes of ſuch trouble would ſoon be removed, there would be leſs that would deſerve reprehenſion, and there would be a fittedneſs of ſpirit to give and bear reproof; to give in meekneſs and tenderneſs, and to bear in humility, patience, and thankfulneſs. Some cares and thoughts you may have concerning your family when you are gone. But let faith and former experience teach you to drive away all ſuch thoughts. The conſtitution and ſolitarineſs may alſo be ſome cauſe of melancholy; but there is a duty which if it were exerciſed would diſpel all; which is heavenly meditation, and contemplation of the things which true Chriſtian religion tends to If we did but walk cloſely with God one hour in a day in this duty, O what influence would it have into the whole life. This duty with the uſefulneſs, manner, and direction, &c. I knew in ſome meaſure before, but had it more preſſed upon me by Mr. Baxter's ſaint's everlaſting reſt, that can ſcarce be overvalued, for which I have cauſe for ever to bleſs God. As for your dear wife I fear the cares and troubles of the world take off her mind too much from walking with God ſo cloſely as ſhe ought to do, and from that earneſt endeavour after higher degrees of grace. I commend therefore to her and all this excellent duty of meditation; it is a bitter ſweet duty, bitter to corrupt nature, but ſweet to the regenerate part if performed. I intreat her and yourſelf, yea, I charge it upon you with [Page 19] humility and tenderneſs, that God have at leaſt half an hour allowed him in a day for this exerciſe: O this moſt precious ſoul-raiſing, ſoul-raviſhing, ſoul-perfecting duty! Take this from your dear friend as ſpoke with reverence and real love and faithfulneſs. My fear and jealouſy leſt I ſhould ſpeak in vain, maketh me ſay again: For God by me doth charge this upon you.
One more direction let me give, that none in your family ſatisfy themſelves in family prayer. But let every one twice a day, if it may be poſſible, draw near to God in ſecret duty. Here ſecret wants may be laid open; here great mercies may be begged with great earneſtneſs; here what wandering and coldneſs was in family duty may be repented of and mended. This is the way to get ſeriouſneſs, reality, ſincerity, cheerfulneſs in religion: and thus the joy of the Lord may be your ſtrength. Let thoſe who know their duty do it; if any think it not a neceſſary duty, let them fear leſt they loſe the moſt excellent help for a holy, uſeful, joyful life under the aſſiſtance of God's Spirit; whilſt they neglect that which they think unneceſſary. Take ſome of theſe directions from ſincere affection, ſome from my own experience, and all from a real and compaſſionate deſire of your joy and comfort. The Lord teach you in this and in the reſt. I intreat you never to reſt labouring ſtill on, till, after the foretaſtes of his comfort in this life, you have attained to true ſpiritual joy and peace in the Lord. The God of peace give you his direction, and the foretaſtes of his comforts in this life, and perfection in eternal life, in the enjoying of infinite holineſs, purity, and excellency through Chriſt. Thus praying, I reſt—
YOUR charge is great upon a temporal account, but greater upon a ſpiritual; many ſouls being committed to your charge. Out of an earneſt deſire of the good of ſouls, and your own joy and peace, I importunately requeſt that you would have a great care of your children, and be often dropping in ſome wholeſome admonitions; and this I humbly, with ſubmiſſion to your judgment in it, commend to you: nor to admoniſh them always altogether; but likewiſe privately one by one, not letting the reſt know of it. Wherein you may pleaſe to preſs upon them their natural corruption, their neceſſity of regeneration, the excellency of Chriſt, and how unſpeakably lovely it is to ſee young ones ſetting out for heaven. This way I think may do moſt good, having had experience of it myſelf in ſome ſmall meaſure, God grant that all may work for the edifying of thoſe who are committed to you. I leave you under the protection of him that hath loved us, and given himſelf for us—
WHEN he was about twenty years old, he was made fellow of the college, which did not a little advance thoſe noble projects which he had in his head, for the promoting of the intereſt of the Lord Chriſt. Then how ſweetly would he inſinuate into the young ones deſiring to carry as many of them as poſſibly he could along with him to heaven; [Page 21] many attempts he made upon ſome of the ſame houſe that he might ſeaſon them with grace, and animate, and encourage thoſe who were looking towards heaven. And as for his own relations, never was there a more compaſſionate and tender hearted brother. How many pathetical letters did he ſend to them! and how did he follow them with prayers and tears that they might prove ſucceſsful! how frequently would he addreſs himſelf to them in private! and how ready to improve providences and viſits that he might ſet them home upon them? How excellently would he ſet forth the beauty of Chriſt! He earneſtly would perſuade them to enquire into the ſtate of their ſouls. How would he endeavour to bring them off from ſandy foundations, and reſting upon their own righteouſneſs! In a word, he was ſcarce content to go to heaven, without, and through mercy he was very ſucceſsful among his own relations, and the whole family ſoon ſavoured of his ſpirit; how were the children put upon getting choice ſcripture and their catechiſms, and engaged in ſecret prayer and meditation. Father, mother, brethren, ſiſters, boarders were the better for his excellent example and holy exhortations. He was a good nurſe, if not a ſpiritual father to his natural father, as you may read afterwards; and ſome of his brethren have cauſe to bleſs God for ever that ever they ſaw his face, and heard his words, and obſerved his converſation, which had ſo much of lovelineſs and beauty in in that it could not but commend religion to any that did take notice of it. He could ſpeak in St. Paul's words, Brethren, my hearts deſire and prayer to God for you all is, that you may be ſaved.
‘Diſtance of place cannot at all leſſen that natural bond whereby we are conjoined in blood, neither ought to leſſen that of love. Nay, where [Page 22] true love is it cannot; for love towards you I can only ſay this, that I feel it better than I can expreſs it; [...] it is wont to be with all affections: but love felt and not expreſſed is little worth. I therefore deſire to make my love manifeſt in the beſt way I can. Let us look upon one another not as brethren only, but as members of the ſame body, whereof Chriſt is the head. Happy day will that be wherein the Lord will diſcover that union; let us therefore breathe and hunger after this, ſo that our cloſeſt knot may meet in Chriſt: if we are in Chriſt and Chriſt in us, then we ſhall be one with one another. This I know, you cannot complain for want of inſtruction, God hath not been to us a dry wilderneſs, or a barren hearth; you have had line upon line, and precept upon precept; he hath planted you by the rivers of water; it is the Lord alone indeed who maketh fruitful, but yet we are not to ſtand ſtill and do nothing. There is a crown worth ſeeking for; ſeek therefore, and that earneſtly. O ſeek by continual prayer, keep your ſoul in a praying frame, this is a great and neceſſary duty, nay, a high and precious privilege. If thou canſt ſay nothing, come and lay thyſelf in an humble manner before the Lord. You may believe me, for I have through mercy experienced what I ſay. There is more ſweetneſs to be got in one glimpſe of God's love, than in all that the world can afford. O do but try: O taſte and ſee how good the Lord is Get into a corner and throw yourſelf down before the Lord, and beg of God to make you ſenſible of your loſt undone ſtate by nature, and of the excellency and neceſſity of Chriſt. Say, Lord, give me a broken heart, ſoften, melt me. Any thing in the world, ſo I may be but enabled to value Chriſt, and be perſuaded to accept of him, as he is tendered in the goſpel. O that I may be delivered from the wrath to come; O a bleſſing for me, even for me, [Page 23] and reſolve not to be content till the Lord have in ſome meaſure anſwered you. O my bowels yern towards you: my heart works. O that you did but know with what affection I write now to you, and what prayers and tears have been mingled with theſe lines, the Lord ſet theſe things home and give you a heart to apply them to your ſelf, the Lord bleſs all the means that you enjoy, for his bleſſing is all in all. Give me leave to deal plainly and to come yet a little cloſer to you for I love your ſoul ſo well, that I cannot bear the thoughts of the loſs of it. Know this that there is ſuch a thing as the new birth and except a man be born again he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven; God's favour is not to be recovered without it. This new birth hath its foundation laid in a ſenſe of ſin and godly ſorrow for it, and a heart ſet againſt it; without this there can be no ſalvation. Look well about you and ſee into your ſelf, and thou wilt ſee that thou art at hells mouth without this firſt ſtep, and nothing but free grace and pure mercy is between you and the ſtate of the Devils. The Lord deliver us from a ſecure careleſs heart! Here you ſee a natural man's condition. How dareſt thou then ly down in ſecurity. O look about for your ſouls ſake. What ſhall I ſay, what ſhall I do to awaken your poor ſoul! I ſay again, without repentance there is no remiſſion; and repentance itſelf may looſe its labour if it be not in the right manner. Then tears, and groans, and prayers will not do without Chriſt; moſt when they are convinced of ſin, and are under fears of hell run to duty and reform ſomething. and thus the wound is healed, and by this thouſands fall ſhort of heaven. For if we be not brought off from ourſelves and our righteouſneſs as well as our ſins we are never like to be ſaved. We muſt ſee an abſolute need of a Chriſt, and give ourſelves up to him, and count all but dung and droſs in compariſon of Chriſt's righteouſneſs. Look therefore [Page 24] for mercy only in Chriſt, for his ſake rely upon God's mercy. The terms of the goſpel are repent and believe, gracious terms! Mercy for fetching, nay mercy for deſiring, nay for nothing but receiving. Doſt thou deſire mercy and grace, I know thou doſt; even this is the gift of God to deſire, hunger after Chriſt; let deſires put you upon endeavour, the work itſelf is ſweet; yea repentance and mourning itſelf hath more ſweetneſs in it than all the worlds comforts. Upon repentance and believing, comes juſtification, after this ſanctification, by the ſpirit dwelling in us. By this we come to be the children of God, to be made partakers of the divine nature, to lead new lives, to have a ſuitableneſs to God. It is unworthy of a Chriſtian to have ſuch a narrow ſpirit as not to act for Chriſt with all ones heart, and ſoul, and ſtrength, and might Be not aſhamed of Chriſt, be not afraid of the frowns and jeers of the wicked. Be ſure to keep a conſcience void of offence, and yield by no means to any known ſin; be much in prayer, in ſecret prayer, and in reading the ſcriptures. Therein are laid up the glorious myſteries which are hid from mine eyes. My greateſt deſire is that God would work his own great work in you. I deſire to ſee you not as formerly, but that the Lord would make me an inſtrument of your ſouls good for which I greatly long.’
1.4. CHAP. IV. His Particular Addreſſes to his Brethren, for their Souls Gooddand the Succeſs thereof.
HE wrote many letters of this nature, and deſired oftentimes to be viſiting his brethren that he might particularly addreſs himſelf to them and ſee what became of his letters, prayers, [Page 25] and tears, and he was very watchful over them, ready to reprove and convince them of ſin, and ready to encourage any beginnings of a good work in them. To inſtance in a particular or two.
One time perceiving one of his brethren aſleep at prayer in the family; he preſently took occaſion to ſhow him what a high contempt it was of God what a little ſenſe ſuch a man muſt have of his own danger, what dreadful hypocriſy, what a miracle of patience that he was not awakened in flames. After he had been a while affectionately pleading with him, it pleaſed the Lord to ſtrike in with ſome power and to melt and ſoften his brother's heart when he was about eleven years old, ſo that it was to be hoped that then the Lord began ſavingly to work upon the heart of that child. For from that time forward a conſiderable alteration might be diſcerned in him. When he perceived it he was not a little pleaſed. This put him upon carrying on the work, that conviction might not wear off till it ended in converſion. To this end he wrote to him, to put him in mind of what God had done for his ſoul, begging of him not to reſt ſatisfied till he knew what a thorow change and effectual calling meant. I hope, ſaid he, that God hath a good work to do in you, for you, and by you; yea, I hope he hath already begun it. But O take not up with ſome beginnings, faint deſires, lazy ſeekings; O remember your former tears, one may weep a little for ſin and yet go to hell for ſin; many that are under ſome ſuch work, ſhake of the ſenſe of ſin, murder their convictions, and return again to folly. O! take heed! of any draw back the Lord will take no pleaſure in them; but I hope better things of you.
He would alſo obſerve how his brethren carried at after duty, whether they ſeemed to run preſently to the world with greedineſs, as if duty were a taſk, or whether there ſeemed to be an abiding impreſſion of God and the things of God upon them.
[Page 26] His vehement love and compaſſion to ſouls may be further judged of by theſe following expreſſions, which he uſed to one of his relations. After he had been ſpeaking how infinitely it was below a Chriſtian to purſue with greedineſs the things which will be but as gravel in the teeth, if we mind not the rich proviſion which is in our Father's houſe. O what folly is it to trifle in the things of God! but I hope better things of you; did I not hope; why ſhould I not mourn in ſecret for you as one caſt out among the dead! O what ſhould I do for you but pour out my ſoul like water, and give my God no reſt till he ſhould graciouſly viſit you with his ſalvation; till he caſt you down and raiſe you up, till he wound you and heal you again.
HE was mighty in prayer, and his ſpirit was oftentimes ſo tranſported in it that he forgot the weakneſs of his own body and of others ſpirits; indeed the acquaintance that he had with God was ſo ſweet, and his converſe with him ſo frequent, that when he was engaged in duty he ſcarce knew how to leave that which was ſo delightful and ſuited to his ſpirit. His conſtant courſe for ſome years was this. He prayed at leaſt three times a day in ſecret, ſometimes ſeven times, twice a day in the family or college. And he found the ſweetneſs of it beyord imagination, and enjoyed wonderful communion with God, and taſted much of the pleaſantneſs of a heavenly life. And he could ſay by experience, that [Page 27] the ways of wiſdom were ways of pleaſantneſs, and all her paths peace. He knew what it was to wreſtle with God, and was come to that paſs that he could ſcarce come off his knees without his Father's bleſſing. He was uſed to converſe with God with a holy familiarity as a friend, and would upon all occaſions run to him for advice, and had many ſtrange and immediate anſwers of prayer. One of which I think it not altogether impertinent to give the world an account of,
His honoured father, Mr. William Janeway, miniſter of Kelſhall in Hartfortſhire, being ſick, and being under ſomewhat dark apprehenſions as to the ſtate of his ſoul, he would often ſay to his ſon John: O ſon! this paſſing upon eternity is a great thing, this dying is a ſolemn buſineſs, and enough to make any one's heart ake, that hath not his pardon ſealed, and his evidences for heaven clear. And truly ſon, I am in no ſmall fears as to my own ſtate for another world. O that God would clear his love! O that I could ſay chearfully, I can die, and upon good grounds be able to look death in the face, and venture upon eternity with well grounded peace and comfort!
His ſweet and dutiful ſon made a ſuitable reply at preſent; but ſeeing his dear father continuing under deſpondings of ſpirit (though no Chriſtians that knew him, but had a high eſteem of him for his uprightneſs) he got by himſelf and ſpent ſome time in wreſtling with God upon his father's account, earneſtly begging of God that he would fill him with joy unſpeakable in believing, and that he would ſpeedily give him ſome token for good, that he might joyfully and honourably leave this world to go to a better. After he was riſen from his knees he came down to his ſick father, and asked him how he felt himſelf. His father made no anſwer for ſome time, but wept exceedingly (a paſſion that he was not ſubject to) and continued for ſome conſiderable [Page 28] time in an extraordinary paſſion of weeping, ſo that he was not able to ſpeak. But at laſt having recovered himſelf with unſpeakable joy he burſt out into ſuch expreſſions as theſe. O ſon! now it is come, it is come, it is come. I bleſs God I can die. The ſpirit of God hath witneſſed with my ſpirit that I am his child: now I can look up to God as my dear Father, and Chriſt as my Redeemer, I can now ſay this is my friend, and this is my beloved. My heart is full, it is brim full: I can hold no more. I know now what that ſentence means, the peace of God which paſſeth underſtanding, I know now what that white ſtone is wherein a new name is written, which none know but they who have it. And that fit of weeping which you ſaw me in, was a fit of overpowering love and joy, ſo great that I could not for my heart contain myſelf: neither can I expreſs what glorious diſcoveries God hath made of himſelf unto me. And had that joy been greater, I queſtion whether I could have born it, and whether it would not have ſeparated ſoul and body. Bleſs the Lord, O my ſoul, and all that is within me, bleſs his holy name that hath pardoned all my ſins, and ſealed the pardon. He hath healed my wounds, and cauſed the bones which he had broken to rejoice. O help me to bleſs the Lord! he hath put a new ſong into my mouth: O bleſs the Lord for his infinite goodneſs and rich mercy! O now I can die! It is nothing, I bleſs God I can die. I deſire to be diſſolved and to be with Chriſt. You may well think that his ſons heart was not a little refreſhed to hear ſuch words, and ſee ſuch a ſight, and to meet the meſſenger he had ſent to heaven returned back again ſo ſpeedily. He counted himſelf a ſharer with his father in this mercy, and it was upon a double account welcome, as it did ſo wonderfully ſatisfie his father and as it was ſo immediate and clear an anſwer of his own prayers, as if God had from heaven ſaid unto him thy tears and [Page 29] prayers, are heard for thy father: thou haſt like a prince prevailed with God: thou haſt got the bleſſing: thy fervent prayers have been effectual: go down and ſee elſe.
Upon this, this precious young man broke forth into praiſes and even into another extaſie of joy that God ſhould deal ſo familiarly with him; and the father and ſon together were ſo full of joy, light, life, love and praiſe that there was a little heaven in the place. He could not then but expreſs himſelf in this manner. O bleſſed and for ever bleſſed be God for his infinite grace! O who would not pray unto God! verily he is a God that heareth prayers and that my ſoul knows right well! And then he told his joyful father, how much he was affected with former diſpondings and what he had been praying for juſt before with all the earneſtneſs he could for his ſoul, and how the Lord had immediately anſwered him. His Father hearing this, and perceiving that his former comforts came in a way of prayer, and his own childs prayer too, was the more refreſhed and was the more confirmed, that it was from the Spirit of God, and no deluſion. And immediately his Son ſtanding by he fell into another fit of triumphing joy, his weak body being almoſt ready to ſink under that great weight of glory that did ſhine in ſo powerfully upon his ſoul. He could then ſay, Now let thy ſervant depart in peace, for my eyes have ſeen thy ſalvation. He could now walk through the valley of the ſhadow of death and fear no evil. O how ſweet a thing it is to have ones intereſt in Chriſt cleared, how comfortable to have our calling and election made ſure? How lovely is the ſight of a ſmiling Jeſus when one is dying! How refreſhing is it when heart and fleſh and all is failing, to have God for the ſtrength of our heart and our portion for ever! O did the fooliſh and unexperienced world but know what theſe things mean, did they but underſtand what it is to be ſolaced with the believing views of glory, to have their ſenſes ſpiritually exerciſed, [Page 30] could they but taſte and ſee how good the Lord is, it would ſoon cauſe them diſreliſh their low and brutiſh pleaſures, and look upon all worldly joys as infinitely ſhort of one glimpſe of God's love? After this his reverend father had a ſweet calm upon his ſpirits, and went in the ſtrength of that proviſion that rich grace laid in, till he came within the gates of the new Jeruſalem: having all his graces greatly improved, ſhewed ſo much humility, love to and admiring of God, contempt of the world, ſuch ſurprizing of Chriſt, ſuch patience as few Chriſtians arrive to, eſpecially his faith by which with extraordinary confidence he caſt his widow and eleven fatherleſs children upon the care of that God who had fed him with this manna in his wilderneſs ſtate. The benefit of which faith all his children (none of which were in his life time provided for) have ſince to admiration experienced. And it is ſcarce to be imagined how helpful thus his precious Son John Janeway was to his Father by his heavenly diſcourſe, humble advice and prayers. After a four months conflict with a gainful conſumption and hectic fever his honoured father ſweetly ſlept in Jeſus.
AFter the death of his father he did what he could to ſupply his abſence, doing the part of a huſband, Son, Brother: ſo that he was no ſmall comfort to his poor mother in her diſconſolate ſtate, and all the reſt of his relations that had any ſenſe of God upon their ſpirits. To one of which, he thus addreſſed himſelf upon the death of a ſweet child.
‘Daily obſervation, and every man's experience gives ſufficient teſtimony to it, that afflictions of what kind ſoever, by how much the ſeldomer they [Page 31] are, the more grievous they ſeem. We have for a long time ſailed in the rivers of bleſſings which God hath plentifully poured forth among us; now if we come where the waves of affliction do but a little more than ordinarily ariſe, we begin to have our ſouls almoſt carried down with fears and griefs; yea the natural man if not counter powered by the ſpirit of God, will be ready to entertain murmering and repining thoughts againſt God himſelf. Whereas, if all our life had been a pilgrimage full of ſorrows and afflictions (as we deſerved) and had but rarely been intermingled with comforts. we ſhould have been more fitted to bear afflictions. Thus it is naturally: but we ought to counter work againſt the ſtream of nature by a new principle wrought in us, and whatſoever nature doth err in, grace is to rectifie. And they upon whom grace is beſtowed ought to ſet grace on work. For wherefore is grace beſtowed unleſs it ſhould act in us: It hath pleaſed the Lord to make a breach in your family, There where the knot is faſteſt tied; when it is diſunited the change becomes greater and the grief is the more inlarged. So that herein you who are moſt moved are moſt to be excuſed and comforted, the ſtrength of a mothers affection I believe none but mothers know, and greateſt affections when they are diſturbed breed the greateſt grief But when afflictions come upon us what will be our duty? Shall we then give ourſelves up to be carried way with the grieving paſſions? Shall we, becauſe of one affliction cauſe our ſouls to walk in ſadneſs all our days, and drive away all the light of comfort from our eyes by cauſing our ſouls to be obſcured under the ſhades of melancholy? Shall we quarrel with our maker and call the wiſe righteous Judge to our bar? Doth he not puniſh us leſs than we deſerve? Is there not mercy and truth in all his diſpenſations? Shall we by continual ſorrow add affliction to affliction and ſo become our own tormentors? Are we not under afflictions [Page 32] to ſee if any way we may find a glimpſe of God's love ſhining in towards us and ſo to raiſe up our ſouls nearer God. Is there not enough in God and the holy ſcriptures to bear up our ſpirits under any afflictions let them be never ſo great. What do you ſay to that word; who is there among you that feareth the Lord, and that obeyeth the voice of his ſervant that walketh in darkneſs and ſeeth no light, let him truſt in the name of the Lord and ſtay himſelf upon his God though all earthly comforts were fled away, and though you could ſee no light from any of theſe things below: yet if you look upward to God in Chriſt there is comfort to be found, there is light to be eſpied; yea a great and glorious light, which if we can rightly diſcern, it would put out the light of all lower comforts and cauſe them to be vilely accounted of. But alas! alas! thoſe heavenly comforts though they are in themſelves ſo precious, and if really and ſenſibly felt able to raiſe a man's ſoul from earth, yea from hell to the foretaſte of heaven itſelf, yet for want of a ſpiritual ſenſe they are by moſt of the world undervalued, ſlighted, and thought to be but fancies. Nay let me ſpeak freely: Chriſtians themſelves and thoſe whom we have cauſe to hope are men of another world and truly born again, yet for want of a ſpiritual quickneſs in this ſpiritual ſight and ſenſe their comforts are too lowly and meanly eſteemed of.’
‘It is a ſpiritual ſenſe that enableth a Chriſtian to behold a glorious luſtre and beauty in inviſibles, and raiſeth the ſoul up to the gate of heaven itſelf, and when he is there how can he chooſe but look down with a holy ſlighting and contempt upon the ſweeteſt of all earthly enjoyments? How can he chooſe but think all creature comforts but ſmall, compared with one look of love from Chriſt? This heavenly comfort was that which David did ſo much deſire. Lord, lift up the light of thy countenance [Page 33] upon me, was the language of his ſoul, and when this was come how was his heart enlarged? Thou haſt put joy and gladneſs in my heart more than in the time when their corn and wine increaſed. He then that in afflictions would find comfort, muſt ſtrive to ſee ſpiritual comforts to the greateſt, even that comfort which is from God, in the face of Jeſus Chriſt; this, this will be a cordial, this will be as marrow and fatneſs to the ſoul. They who have intereſt in Chriſt what need they be moved and diſcomfited with worldly trouble? Is not Chriſt better than ten children, is not his loving-kindneſs better than life? Is not all the world a ſhadow, compared with one quarter of an hours enjoyment of him, even on this ſide of glory in ſome of his own ordiances. O therefore ſtrive to get your intereſt in this comfort ſecured and then all's well. He that hath Chriſt hath all things. If God be reconciled to you through him, then he will withhold no good thing from you.’
‘We poor fooliſh creatures do ſcarce know what is good for ourſelves, but it is no ſmall encouragement to the people of God that wiſdom itſelf takes care of them, and one that loves them better than they love themſelves looks after them: and he hath given them his promiſe for it, that all ſhall work together for their good. And what better foundation of comfort can there be in the whole world than this! Why may you not then ſay with the Pſalmiſt, Why art thou caſt down, O my ſoul, and why art thou diſquieted in me, hope in God. Let not your ſoul ſink under afflictions, for what reaſon have you to be diſcomfited under them. Can you gather from thence that the Lord doth not love you? No ſurely, but rather the contrary, for whom the Lord loveth he chaſtneth, and ſcourgeth every ſon whom he receiveth, What ſon is he that the father chaſtneth [Page 34] not? Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.’
Let this ſerve as a remedy againſt exceſſive grief. Get your love to God increaſed, which if you do, the love of all other things will wax cold. And if you have given God your heart, you will give him leave to take what he will that is yours, and what he hath you will judge rather well kept than loſt.
Remember that ſcripture, and let it have its due impreſſion upon your ſpirit; He that loves father or mother, brother or ſiſter, yea or children more than me, is not worthy of me. O labour to have your affections therefore more raiſed up to him who is moſt worthy of them, let him have the uppermoſt and greateſt room in your heart, and let your love to all other things be placed in ſubjection to your love of God, be ruled by it, and directed to it. Be our earthly afflictions never ſo great, yet let this love to God poiſe your ſouls, ſo that they may not be overweighed with grief on the one ſide, or ſtupidneſs on the other ſide. Again, let our ſouls be awed by that glorious power and omnipotency of God, who is able to do any thing, and who will do whatſoever pleaſeth him both in heaven and in earth; at whoſe word and for whoſe glory all things that are were made. And what are we poor creatures, that we ſhould dare to entertain any hard thought of this God! It is dangerous contending with God! Let us learn that great leſſon of reſigning up ourſelves and all we have to God; let us put ourſelves as inſtruments into the hands of the Lord, to do what he pleaſeth with us, and let us remember that it was our promiſe and covenant with God to yield ourſelves up to him, and to be wholly at his diſpoſal. The ſoul is then in a ſweet frame when it can cordially ſay, It is the Lord, let him do what ſeemeth good in his eyes. Not my will, but thine be done. Again, let us know that though we cannot always ſee into the reaſonableneſs of the ways of God, (for [Page 35] his ways are often in the thick cloud, and our weak eyes cannot look into thoſe depths in which he walketh) yet all the ways of God are juſt, holy, and good. Let us therefore have a care of ſo much as moving, much more of entertaining any unworthy thoughts againſt God. But let us ſubmit willingly to the yoke which he is pleaſed to lay upon us, leſt he break us with terrible judgments. And now it hath ſeemed good to God to lay this ſtroke upon you, I pray labour rightly to improve it, and let this trial prepare you for greater. And ſeeing the uncertainty of all worldly things, endeavour with all your might to get your heart above them, and I beſeech the Lord who is the great Phyſician of ſouls and knows how to apply a ſalve to every ſore of his, to comfort you with his ſpiritual comforts, that he would favourably ſhine upon you and receive you into a nearer union and communion with himſelf. Into his hands I commit you, with him I leave you, praying that he would make up all in himſelf.
He was an excellent example to his younger brethren; and his wiſe inſtructions, and holy practices, did not a little influence them. He was a prudent counſellor, and an aſſiſtant that could not well be ſpared to his eldeſt brother: who was not a little ſenſible of that perſonal worth that was in his younger brother; whom he would prefer before himſelf, as one whom he judged, God had honoured with far greater parts, graces, and experiences than himſelf. The younger alſo did as humbly and heartily reſpect and honour him, as a ſerious Chriſtian, a miniſter, and his elder brother, who had obliged him with more than ordinary kindneſs!
When he was but young, yet he began to be taken notice of by antient miniſters and Chriſtians; though his modeſty was ſo great, that his huge parts, were not a little obſcured thereby; and his vaſt worth was ſo ballaſted with humility, that he made [Page 36] no great noiſe in the world, and moſt were ignorant of his ſingular worth. A wiſe man that was intimately acquainted with him, would ſay of him that he was like deep waters, that were moſt ſtill; a man of hidden excellency. There were few that knew, how cloſe he walked with God, and at what a high rate he lived, and how great a trade he drave for the riches of that other world: All which he laboured, as much as might be, to conceal.
1.7. CHAP. VII. His return to King's College after his Father's Death. His holy Projects for Chriſt and Souls.
WHEN his father was dead, he returned again to King's college, and was a member of a ſecret cabal, which began to carry on notable projects for Chriſt and ſouls, and to plot how they might beſt improve their gifts and graces, ſo as that they might be moſt ſerviceable to God and their generation. Their cuſtom was frequently to meet together, to pray and to communicate ſtudies and experiences, and to handle ſome queſtion of divinity, or in ſome ſcholaſtic way to exerciſe the gifts which God had given them. Some of this company did degenerate, but others lived to let the world underſtand, that, what they did was from a vital principle: Amongſt whom, this young man was none of the leaſt: who had a deſign upon ſome of the juniors to engage them, if poſſible, before they were enſnared by wicked company, when they came freſh from ſchool. After ſome time, moſt of his dear companions were tranſplanted either into gentlemens families or livings; and this Mr Janeway, being one of the youngeſt, was, for a while, left alone in the college. But he wanting the comfortable diverſion of ſuitable godly ſociety, [Page 37] fixed ſo intenſely upon his ſtudies, that he ſoon gave ſuch a wound to his bodily-conſtitution, that it could never be thoroughly healed.
AFTER a while, Dr. Cox wanting a tutor for his ſon in his houſe, ſent to the provoſt of the college to make choice of a man of true worth for him: In anſwer to whoſe requeſt, the provoſt was pleaſed to ſend Mr. Janeway, who did neither ſhame him that preferred him, nor diſappointed the expectations of him that entertained him: but by his diligence, profound learning, and ſucceſs in his undertaking, did not a little oblige the relations of his pulpil. But his pains were ſo great, and his body ſo weak, that it could not long bear up under ſuch work; ſo that he was forced to aſk leave of the doctor, to try whether the change of the air might not contribute ſomewhat to the mending the temper of his body, which now began ſenſibly to decay.
Whilſt he was in that family, his carriage was ſo ſweet and obliging, and his converſation ſo ſpiritual, that it did not a little endear his preſence to them, ſo that I queſtion not but ſome of that family will carry a ſweet remembrance of him along with them to their graves: And I oft heard him owning the goodneſs of God to him, in the benefit that he got, by the graces and experiences of ſome Chriſtians, in, and related to that family, whoſe tender love to him he did gratefully reſent upon his deathbed.
HE now leaves the Doctor's houſe, and retires himſelf into the country, to his mother and eldeſt brother, who did not ſpare to uſe their utmoſt diligence and tenderneſs to recruit the decays of nature; but hard ſtudy, frequent and earneſt prayers, and long and intenſe meditation, had ſo ruinated this frail tabernacle, that it could not be fully repaired; yet, by God's bleſſing upon care and art, it was underpropped for ſome time,
Whilſt he was in this declining condition, in which he could have little hopes of life; he was ſo far from being affrighted, that he received the ſentence of death in himſelf with great joy; and wrote to his deareſt relations, to diſpoſe them to a patient compliance with ſuch a diſpoſition, as might ſeparate him and them for a while: And to wean their affections from him, he ſolemnly profeſſed, that as for himſelf he was aſhamed to deſire and pray for life. Oh ſaith he, Is there any thing here more deſirable than the enjoyment of Chriſt? Can I expect any thing below, comparable to that bleſſed viſion? O, that crown, that reſt which remains for the people of God! And (bleſſed be God) that I can ſay, I know it is mine, know that, when this tabernacle of clay ſhall be diſſolved, I have a houſe not made with hands; and therefore I groan, not to be unclothed, but to be clothed upon with Chriſt. To me to live is Chriſt, and to die is gain.
When he perceived one of his neareſt relations [Page 39] diſtreſſed at the apprehenſion of his death, he charged him not to pray for his life, except it were purely with a reſpect to the glory of God I wiſh (ſaid he) I beg you, to keep your minds in a ſubmiſſive frame to the will of God concerning me. The Lord take you nearer to himſelf, that you may walk with him; to whom if I go before, I hope you will follow after. Yet, after this, he was through mercy finely recovered, and his friends were not without ſome hopes of his living to be eminently inſtrumental for God's glory in his generation
After he was recovered in ſome meaſure he fell again to his former practice of engaging deeply in the ſecret and great duties of religion, which he conſtantly practiſed (except when God diſcharged him by ſickneſs;) ſecret prayer, at leaſt three times a day ſometimes ſeven times yea more; beſides family, and colledge duties, which were before hinted he ſet apart an hour every day for ſet and ſolemn meditation; which duty he found unſpeakable to improve his graces, and to make no ſmall addition to his comforts: His time for that duty was moſt commonly in the evening, when he uſually walked into the field, if the weather would permit; if not, he retired into the church, or any empty ſolitary room. Where, (obſerving his conſtant practice, that, if poſſible, I might be aquainted with the reaſon of his retiredneſs) I once hid myſelf that I might take the more exact notice of the intercourſe, that, I judged, was kept up between him and God▪ But, O what a ſpectacle did I ſee! Surely a man walking with God, converſing intimately with his maker, and maintaining a holy familiarity with the great Jehovah. Me thought I ſaw one talking with God; me-thought, I ſaw a ſpiritual merchant in an heavenly exchange, driving a rich trade for the treaſures of the other world. O what a glorious ſight it was! Me-thinks, I ſee him ſtill; how ſweetly, did his face ſhine! O with what a lovely countenance did he walk up and [Page 40] down, his lips going; his body oft reaching up, as if he could have taken his flight into heaven! His looks, ſmiles, and every motion ſpake him to be upon the very confines of glory. O, had one but known what he was then feeding on! Sure, he had meat to eat which the world knew not of! Did we but know how welcome God made him when he brought him into his banqueting-houſe. That which one might eaſily perceive his heart to be moſt fixed upon, was, the infinite love of God in Chriſt, to the poor loſt ſons and daughters of Adam. What elſe meant his high expreſſions? What elſe did his own words to a dear friend ſignifie, but an extraordinary ſenſe of the freeneſs, fulneſs, and duration of that love. To uſe his own words, God (ſaith he) holds mine eyes moſt upon his goodneſs, his unmeaſurable goodneſs, and the promiſes which are moſt ſure, and firm in Chriſt. His love to us is greater, ſurer, fuller than ours to ourſelves▪ For when we loved ourſelves ſo as to deſtroy ourſelves, he loved us ſo as to ſave us.
AND that he might engage others in more ardent affections to God he put words into their mouths; Let us then (ſaith he) behold him, till our hearts deſire, till our very ſouls are drawn out after him, till we are brought to aquaintance, intimacy, delight in him! O that he would love me, O that I might love him! O bleſſed are they that know him, and are known of him! It is good for me, to draw near to God. ‘A day in his court is better than a thouſand elſewhere; My ſoul longeth, yea fainteth for the courts of the Lord, my heart and my fleſh crieth out for the living God.’ Oh that I were received into converſe with him, that I might hear [Page 41] his voice and ſee his countenance! For, His voice is ſweet and his countenance is comely! Oh that I might communicate myſelf to God, and he would give himſelf to me! O that I might love him! That I were ſick of love, that I might die in love! That I might loſe myſelf in his love, as a ſmall drop in the unfathomable depth of his love! That I might dwell in his eternal love! O (ſaith he to a dear friend under ſome fears as to his ſtate) ſtand ſtill and wonder, behold his love and admire; now, if never yet, conſider what thou canſt diſcover in this precious Jeſus. Canſt thou not ſee ſo much till thou canſt ſee no more, not becauſe of its ſhortneſs, but becauſe of thy darkneſs?
Here's a ſea: fling thyſelf into it, and thou ſhalt he compaſſed with the height, and depth, and breadth, and length of love, and be filled with all the fulneſs of God. Is not this enough! What wouldſt thou have more? Fling away all beſides God, God is portion enough, and the only proper portion of thy ſoul. Haſt thou not taſted, haſt thou not known, that his love is better than wine? Haſt thou not ſmelt the ſavour of his precious ointments, for which the virgins love him? This, this is he who is altogether lovely. And, while I write, my heart doth burn, my ſoul is on fire, I am ſick of love
Dear ſoul, come near and look upon his face, and ſee whether thou canſt chooſe but love him. Fall upon him, embrace him, give him thy deareſt choiſeſt love: all's too little for him; let faith and love kiſs him: you ſhall be no more bold than welcome. Fix thine eyes again and again upon him look upon his lovely, ſweet and royal face; till thou art taken with this beautiful Perſon, who hath not his fellow upon the earth, his equal among the angels. Come near, ſtill contemplate his excellency, review each part, and thou wilt find him to be made up of love; wind thy affections about him; bind thy ſoul to him, with the cords of love. Thus [Page 42] ſhalt thou find a new life to animate thy ſoul, thou ſhalt then feel a new warmth to melt thy heart; a divine fire to burn up corruption, and to break forth into a flame of heavenly love; dwell in this love, and thou ſhalt dwell in God, and God in thee. But now, methinks, I ſee you almoſt all in tears, becauſe thou feeleſt not ſuch workings of love towards God. Weep on ſtill; for, love hath tears as well as grief: and tears of love ſhall be kept in his bottle as well as they; yea, they ſhall be as precious jewels, and as an excellent ornament. Haſt thou felt ſuch meltings of loving-grief? Know, that they are no other than the ſtreams of Chriſt's love flowing to you, and through you, and from you to him again. And thus is Chriſt delighted in beholding of his own beauties, in his ſpouſe's eye.
THUS, you have a taſte of his ſpirit and may perceive, what it was that he had his heart moſt ſet upon; and what kept his graces in ſuch vigour and activity; and how deſirous he was that others ſhould be ſharers with him in this mercy: Yet, for all this, he had his gloomy days, and the ſun was ſometimes overcaſt, his ſweets were ſometimes imbittered with dreadful, and horrid temptations. The Devil ſhot his poiſonous arrows at him; yet, through the Captain of his ſalvation, he became, more than a conqueror, out of the field. He was, with Paul, many times lifted up into the third heavens and ſaw and heard things unutterable: but, leſt he ſhould be exalted above meaſure, there was a meſſenger of Satan ſent to buffet him
[Page 41] It would make a Chriſtian's heart even ake to hear and read what ſtrange temptations this gracious ſoul was exerciſed with. But he was well for ſuch a conflict, having on the ſhield of faith whereby he quenched the fiery darts of the wicked one: yet, this fight coſt him the ſweating of his very body for agonies of ſpirit; and tears and ſtrong cries to heaven, for freſh help. As for himſelf, he was wont to take an arrow out of God's quiver and diſcharge it by faith and prayer, for the diſcomfiture of his violent enemy, who at laſt was fain to fly.
Theſe temptations and conflicts with Satan did not a little help him afterwards in his dealing with one that was ſorely afflicted with temptations of the like nature And becauſe I judge it of ſingular uſe to tempted ones, and find very many of late to be exerciſed in this kind, I ſhall inſert a letter of his, ſuitable to all Chriſtians in the like caſe.
A Letter of Mr. John Janeway's.
YOUR letters are bitter in the mouth, but ſweet in the belly; they contain matter of joy, under a diſmal aſpect: they are good news, brought by a meſſenger in mourning: I had rather hear of that which is matter of ſubſtantial real joy, though mixed with many ſighs, and interrupted with many groans and ſobs; than of laughter, in the midſt of which the heart is ſad.
You ſay that you are troubled with blaſphemous thoughts: ſo then, though they are blaſphemous, yet they are your trouble; and thoughts they are too, and that neither ſent for nor welcome; and ſo are not aſſented to in your mind. What then ſhall we think of them? If they were of your own production, your heart would be delighted in its own iſſue: but you do nothing leſs. Sure then, [Page 44] they are the injections of that wicked one, who is the accuſer of the brethren, and the diſturber of the peace of the people of God. But, doth Satan uſe to employ thoſe weapons, but againſt thoſe that he is in ſome fear of loſing? He is not wont to aſſault and fight againſt his ſureſt friends in this manner. Thoſe that he hath faſt in his own poſſeſſion, he leads on, as ſoftly and quietly as he can; fearing leſt ſuch diſturbance ſhould make them look about them, and ſo they ſhould awake and ſee their danger. But as for thoſe, that have, in ſome meaſure, eſcaped his ſnares; he follows them hard, with all the diſcouragements he can. Surely theſe things can be no other but a bitter reliſh of thoſe things, which you know to be bitter after that you have taſted the honey and the honey-comb; after you have ſeen how good the Lord is. What then ſhall I call theſe motions of your mind? They are the ſouls loathing the morſels which Satan would have it to ſwallow down: yea, they are the ſouls ſtriving with Satan, whilſt he would raviſh the ſpouſe of Jeſus: And let the enemy of all goodneſs know, that he ſhall e're long pay dearly for ſuch attempts. But you will ſay, If theſe horrible thoughts be not your ſin, yet they are your trouble and miſery, and you deſire to be freed from them; and the moſt loyal and loving ſpouſe had rather be delivered from thoſe aſſaults; but you will aſk; How ſhall I get thee from them ? Firſt, See that you poſſeſs your ſoul in patience; and know this, that God hath an over-ruling hand in all this: and wait upon him; for he can, and will bring forth good out of this ſeeming evil. At preſent, you are in the dark and ſee no light: yet, Truſt in the Lord, and ſtay yourſelf upon your God. Can Chriſt forget the purchaſe of his own blood, the price of his ſoul, thoſe whom he hath ſo intimately endeared to himſelf? Can a mother forget her ſucking child? Yet, God [Page 45] cannot forget his, God hath loving and gracious intents in all this, and his bowels yearn towards his. Yea, our Saviour ſuffers with us, through his ardent love by ſympathy, as well as he hath ſuffered for us. But, for your being rid of theſe thoughts, you know who hath all power in his hand, who doth employ this power in a way of love towards his. This power is made yours thro' the prayer of faith: but, for your own work, do this.
Firſt, Let not ſuch thoughts have any time of abode in your mind: but turn them out, with all the loathing and abhorrence you can; but not ſo much trouble and diſturbance of mind, as, I believe you do. For, by this the Devil is pleaſed, and he makes you your own tormentor
Secondly, Always then diver your thoughts to ſome good thing, and let thoſe very injections be conſtantly the occaſion of your more ſpiritual meditation. Think the quite contrary, or fall a praying with earneſtneſs and the Devil will be weary, if he find his deſigns thus broken, and that thoſe ſparks of hell (which he ſtruck into the ſoul, to kindle and inflame corruption,) do put warm in-into grace and ſet faith and prayer a working, when he perceives, that what he intended as water to cool your love to God, proves like oil to make it flame the more vehemently; he will be diſcouraged Thus reſiſt him, and he will flee from you.
Thirdly, Conſider that this is no new thing: For we are not in this ignorant of ſatans wiles, that, if any ſoul hath eſcaped out of the chains of darkneſs, if he will have heaven he ſhall have it with as much trouble, as the devil can lay on; and, if he and his had their wills, no good man ſhould have one peaceable hour: But, bleſſed be God for his everlaſting and unchangeable love to his that the devil cannot pluck us out of thoſe almighty [Page 46] arms, with which he doth embrace his dear children.
Dear heart, my prayer for thee, is, that God would give thee the peaceable fruit of righteouſneſs after all thy afflictions; and that thou mayeſt come out of theſe trials, refined and purified and more fit for thy maſters uſe; having this the end of all, to purge away droſs, and take away thy ſin.
Yours in our dear Lord, John Janeway.
He was much afraid of any decays in grace, of a poſtacy; yea, of flatneſs of ſpirit, either in himſelf or others: and if he ſuſpected any thing of that nature in his neareſt relations, he would do what he could poſſibly, to recover them out of the ſnares of ſatan, and to quicken them to higher and more noble vigorous ſpiritual acts of religion. He laboured to maintain a conſtant tenderneſs and ſenſibility upon his heart, and to take notice of the leaſt departure of his ſoul from God, or Gods abſenting of himſelf from the ſoul, (which was an expreſſion that was much in his mouth.) He had a godly jealouſy, over his brother: One of which was awakened by his ſerious and particular application of himſelf to him when he was about eleven years old: but he knew, that conviction and converſion are two things, and that many are ſomewhat affected by a warm exhortation, who quickly wear off thoſe expreſſions, and return to their former trifling with God, and neglect of their ſouls. Wherefore, he deſired to carry on the work that he had ſome hopes of was well begun: [Page 47] he laboured to build ſure, and build up; that he might be rooted and grounded in the faith ſtedfaſt and unmoveable always abounding in the work of the Lord. Wherefore he followed him, not only with private warnings, and frequent pathetical counſels and directions; but with letters, one of which ſpoke in this language.
Another of his Letters, of private Warning and Pathetical Counſel.
YOU live in a place where ſtrict and cloſe walking with God, hath few or no examples and moſt are apt to be like their company; and Gods own children are too apt to forget their firſt love: our hearts are apt to be careleſs and to neglect our watch; we are ready to grow formal in duty or ſpiritual, and then, it may be, leſs frequent: and conſcience is put off with ſome poor excuſe: and thus religion withers, and one that ſeemedonce a zealot may come to be a Laodicean; and ſome that looked once as if they were eminent ſaints, may fall to juſt nothing. It is too common, to have a name to be alive and yet to be dead: Read this, and tremble leſt it ſhould be your caſe. When we are lazy and aſleep, our adverſary is awake: when we are ſlothful and negligent, then he is diligent. I conſider your age, I know where you dwell, I am not unacquainted with your temptations. Wherefore, I cannot but be afraid of you, leſt, by both inward and outward fire, the buſh be ſinged: Though, if God be in it, it cannot be burnt up.
Give me leave to be in ſome meaſure fearful of you, and jealous over you, and to mind you of what you know already. Principles of civility will be but as broken reeds, to ſtay our ſouls upon; without thoſe higher principles, which are planted in the ſoul, by the working of the Spirit of God. [Page 48] O remember what meltings ſometimes you have had; remember, how ſolicitouſly you did enquire after Chriſt, how earneſtly you ſeemed to ask the way to Zion with your face thitherward. Oh, take heed of loſing thoſe impreſſions you once had, take not up with a ſleight work. True converſion is a great thing, and another kind of buſineſs, than moſt of the world take it to be. O therefore be not ſatisfied with ſome convictions, taking them for converſion: much leſs, with reſting in a formal lifeleſs profeſſion.
There is ſuch a thing as being almoſt a Chriſtian; nay, as drawing back unto perdition: and ſome, that are not far from the kingdom of heaven, may never come there. Beware leſt you loſe the reward the promiſe is made to him that holdeth faſt, and holdeth out, unto the end and overcometh.
Labour to forget what is behind and to preſs forward towards things that are before. He that is contented with juſt grace enough to get to heaven and eſcape hell, and deſires no more; may be ſure, he hath none at all: and is far from being made partaker of the divine nature. Labour to know what it is, to converſe with God; ſtrive to do every thing, as in his preſence; deſign in all; act, as one that ſtands within ſight of the grave and eternity. I ſay again, do what you do, as if you were ſure God ſtood by and looked upon you, and exactly obſerved and recorded every thought word and action; and you may very well ſuppoſe that, which cannot be otherwiſe
Let us awake, and fall to our work in good earneſt: Heaven or hell are before us, and death behind us. What do we mean to ſleep! dulneſs in Gods ſervice is very uncomfortable, and at the beſt will coſt us dear: and, to be contented with ſuch a frame, is a certain ſymptom of a hypocrite. O, how will ſuch tremble, when God ſhall call them to give an account of their ſtewardſhip; and tell them, [Page 49] They may no longer be ſtewards. Should they fall ſick, and the Devil and conſcience fall upon them, what inconceivable perplexity would they then be in!
O, live more upon inviſibles and let the thoughts of their excellency put life into your performances. You muſt be contented to be laughed at for preciſeneſs and ſingularity. A Chriſtian's walking is not with men but with God; and, he hath great cauſe to ſuſpect his love to God, who doth not delight more in converſing with God, and being conformed to him, than in converſing with the world, and being conformed to it.
How can the love of God dwell in that man, who liveth without God in the world? without both continual walking with him in his whole converſation, and thoſe more peculiar viſits of him in prayer, meditation, ſpiritual ejaculations, and other duties of religion; and the workings of faith, love, holy deſires, delight, joy, and ſpiritual ſorrow in them! Think not that our walking with God cannot conſiſt with worldly buſineſs: yes, but religion makes us ſpiritual in common actions, and there is not an action in a man's life, in which a man is not to labour to make it a religious act, by a looking to the rule in it, and eying of God's glory; and thus he may be ſaid to walk with God. To this we muſt endeavour to riſe, and never be content till we reach to it, and if this ſeem tedious (as to degenerate nature it will) we muſt know that we have ſo much of enmity againſt God ſtill remaining, and are under depravation and darkneſs, and know not our true happineſs: Such a ſoul is ſick, and it hath loſt its taſte, which doth not perceive an incomparable ſweetneſs in walking with God, without whom all things elſe under heaven are gall and bitterneſs, and to be little valued by every true Chriſtian.
[Page 50] But we are all apt even at the worſt, to ſay, that we prefer God above all things; but we muſt know that we have very deceitful hearts: and thoſe who, being enlightened, know for what high ends they ſhould act, and what a fearful condition even a hazard in our caſe, is; theſe I ſay, will not believe their own hearts without diligent ſearch and good grounds.
Reſt not in any condition in which your ſecurity is not founded upon that ſure bottom, the Lord Jeſus Chriſt. Labour to attain to this, to love God for himſelf, and to have your heart naturalized and ſuited to ſpiritual things. O for a heart to rejoice and work righteouſneſs! O that we could do the will of God, with more activity, delight, and conſtancy! If we did know more of God, we ſhould love him more; and then God would ſtill reveal more of himſelf to us, and then we ſhould ſee more and more cauſe to love him, and wonder that we love him no more. O this, this is our happineſs, to have a fuller ſight of God, to be wrapped up, and filled with the love of Chriſt; O let my ſoul for ever be thus employed: Lord, Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none in earth, that I can deſire in compariſon of thee.
You hear what kind of language he ſpake; and you may eaſily perceive what it was that ſwallowed up his heart, and where his delight, treaſure, and life was. O how much do moſt of us, who go for Chriſtians fall ſhort of theſe things: and how vaſt a diſtance between his experience, and ours; and what reaſon have we to read theſe lines with bluſhing, and to blot the paper with tears? and to lay aſide this book awhile, and to fall upon our faces before the Lord and bemoan the curſed unſuitableneſs of our hearts unto God; and to bewail that we do ſo little underſtand what this walking with God, and living by faith means! O at what a rate [Page 51] do ſome Chriſtians live! and how low, flat, and dull are others. His love to Chriſt and ſouls, made him very deſirous to ſpend, and he ſpent in the work of the miniſtry; accordingly he did comply with the firſt loud and clear call to preach the everlaſting goſpel; and, though he was but about two and twenty years old, yet he came to that work like one that underſtood what kind of employment, preaching was He was a workman that needed not to be aſhamed, that was thoroughly furniſhed for every good word and work; one that was able to anſwer gainſayers, one in whom the word of God dwelt richly; one full of the ſpirit and power; one that hated ſin with a perfect hatred, and loved holineſs with all his ſoul; in whom religion in its beauty did ſhine; one, that knew the terrors of the Lord, and knew how to beſeech ſinners, in Chriſt's ſtead, to be reconciled unto God: One, that was a ſon of thunder, and a ſon of conſolation: In a word, I may ſpeak that of him which Paul ſpake of Timothy, that, I knew none like-minded, that did naturally care for ſouls. And, had he lived to have preached often, O what uſe might ſuch a man have been of in his generation! one, in whom learning and holineſs did, as it were, ſtrive which ſhould excel. He never preached publicly but twice, and then he came to it as if he had been uſed to that work forty years; delivering the word of God with that power and majeſty, with that tenderneſs and compaſſion, with that readineſs and freedom, that it made his hearers almoſt amazed: He was led into the myſtery of the goſpel, and he ſpoke nothing to others but what was the language of his heart, and the fruit of great experience, and which one might eaſily perceive had no ſmall impreſſion firſt upon his own ſpirit.
His firſt and laſt ſermons they were upon communion and intimate converſe with God, out of Job xxii. 21. A ſubject that few Chriſtians under heaven were better able to manage than himſelf, and [Page 52] that ſcarce any could handle ſo feelingly as he; for, he did for ſome conſiderable time maintain ſuch an intimate familiarity with God, that he ſeemed to converſe with him, as one friend doth converſe with another. This text he made ſome entrance into, whilſt he was here: but, the perfecting of his acquaintance with God was a work fitter for another world.
He was one that kept an exact watch over his thoughts, words and actions, and made a review of all that paſſed him, at leaſt once a day, in a ſolemn manner He kept a diary in which he did write down every evening what the frame of his ſpirit had been all the day long, eſpecially in every duty. He took notice what incomes and profit he received; in his ſpiritual traffique; what returns from that far country; what anſwers of prayer, what deadneſs and flatneſs, and what obſervable providences did preſent themſelves, and the ſubſtance of what they had been doing; and any wanderings of thoughts, inordinancy in any paſſion; which, though the world could not diſcern he could. It cannot be conceived by them which do not practiſe the ſame, to what a good account did this return! This made him to retain a grateful remembrance of mercy, and to live in a conſtant admiring and adoring of divine goodneſs; this, brought him to a very intimate acquaintance with his own heart; this, kept his ſpirit low and fitted him for freer communications from God; this made him more lively and active; this helped him to walk humbly with God, this made him ſpeak more affectionately and experimentally to others of the things of God: and in a word, this left a ſweet calm upon his ſpirits, becauſe he every night made even his accounts; and if his ſheets ſhould prove his winding ſheet, it had been all one: for, he could ſay his work was done, ſo that death could not ſurprize him.
Could this book [of his experiences, and regiſter of his actions] have been read, it might have contributed [Page 53] much to the compleating of this diſcourſe, and the quickning of ſome and the comforting of others. But theſe things being written in characters, the world hath loſt that jewel.
In the latter part of his life he ſeemed quite ſwallowed up with the thoughts of Chriſt, heaven, and eternity; and the nearer he came to this the more ſwift his motion was to it and the more unmixed his deſigns for it; and he would much perſwade others to an univerſal free reſpect to the glory of God, in all things; and making religion ones buſineſs, and not to mind theſe great things by the by.
HE was not a little concerned about Miniſters; that, above all men, they ſhould take heed, leſt they carried on poor low deſigns, inſtead of wholly eying of the intereſt of God, and ſouls. He judged, that, to take up preaching as a trade, was altogether inconſiſtent with the high ſpirit of a true goſpel miniſter: He deſired, that thoſe who ſeemed to be devoted to the miniſtry, would be ſuch, firſt, heartily to devote their all to God; and then that they ſhould endeavour to have a dear love to immortal ſouls.
He was very ready to debaſe himſeif; and humbly to acknowledge, what he found amiſs in himſelf, and laboured to amend himſelf and others. ‘This ſaith he, I moſt ſeriouſly confeſs, that I muſt needs reproach myſelf for deficiency in a Chriſtian ſpiritual remembrance of you (ſpeaking to a dear friend) [Page 54] and for a decay in a quick tender touch, as of other things, ſo of what relates to yourſelf in the ſpirituality of it. Not that I think not of you or of God; but, that my thoughts of you, and ſpiritual things, are not ſo frequent, favoury and affectionate, as they ought to be.’
‘By this reflection you may eaſily perceive that I ſee farther in duty than I do in practice. The truth of it is, I grudge that thoughts and affection ſhould run out any whither freely, but to God. And what I now deſire for myſelf, I deſire for you likewiſe, that God would ſweeten the fountain, our natures I mean, that every drop flowing from thence may ſavour of ſomething of God within. Thoughts are precious, affections are more precious, the beſt that we are worth; and, when they flow in a wrong channel, all Gods precious diſpenſations towards us are loſt; all that God hath ſpent upon us, is loſt, and ſpent in vanity. I ſpeak this, out of a dear reſpect to your ſoul, and God's honour, whom, I am loath, ſhould be a loſer by his kindneſs I know, you have many objects, upon which you may be too apt to let out your dear affections. I ſay again, my jealouſie is left (there being ſo many channels, wherein they may run) God loſe his due I deſire therefore, in humility and tenderneſs, that this may be as a hint to you from the ſpirit of God, to look inwards to the frame and diſpoſition of your ſoul, and to make trial thereof by the natural outgoings of your affections; and then, expoſtulate the caſe with your own ſoul. If Chriſt have my warmeſt love, why is it thus with me? If God have my heart, why am I ſo thought ful about the world! If I indeed love him beſt. How cometh it to paſs that I find more ſtrong delightf [...] conſtant acting of my affections towards my rela [...] ons, myſelf, or any worldly thing than. I do after him! O, the depth of the hearts deceitfulneſs.’
‘Dear and honoured friend, truſt not a ſurmiſatruſt [Page 55] not to a ſlight view of your heart, or the firſt apprehenſions you may have of yourſelf; but, go down into the ſecrets of your heart, try and fear, fear and try. An evidence is abundantly more than all the trouble that you can be at, in the acquiring of it: And the trouble, that there is good ground for, in an unevidenced ſtate: is far greater than that which may ſeem to be in ſearching for it. Yea, to an awakened ſoul, what is the trouble in clearing its evidences, but their ſenſe or fear of their not being clear, and of the deceitfulneſs of their hearts. The reality of that evil, which tender ſouls ſo dread, doth lie by in its full weight, (though not felt,) upon the drouſie ungroundedly ſecure ſinner.’
‘I ſpeak in love; give me leave, to remember you of ſome touches that you had formerly upon your ſpirit under the means of grace; remember, how much you were ſometims affected under preaching. Did you never ſay that theſe ſermons upon hardneſs of heart, ſoftened yours? Inquire I pray, whether thoſe convictions which were then upon your heart, are not worn off, by the incumbrances of the world: If, upon inquiry, you find that they are, it is high time for you to look about you, and repent, and not only to do your firſt works, but to ſtrive to outgo them’
‘I have with grief, taken a review of the frame of my own ſpirit, when I was at your houſe; and I have no ſmall ſenſe of the diſtemper of my ſoul, whereby I was betrayed to too great an indifference in the things of God: and, finding by ſad experience, that I was more apt (amongſt thoſe carnal comforts and affairs) to loſe that reliſh, and ſavour of divine things that I was wont to have; and thoſe delightful appearances of God which I was through rich grace, acquainted with, while I was more ſequeſtred from the world and earthly delights [not but that I find my heart at the beſt, under the higheſt [Page 56] advantages of cloſeſt communion, too unwilling to endeavour after, and maintain that gracious ſenſe and acknowledgement of God which I would fain obtain unto:] I ſay, obſerving mine own experiences, and knowing that your heart was ſomething akin to mine, fearing leſt multiplicity of buſineſs, ſhould expoſe you alſo, to the ſame hazard; chriſtian paſſion could not but put me upon arming of you againſt thoſe temptations, to which your occaſions make you ſubject.’
‘The deſire of my ſoul for you is, that you may travel ſafely through a dangerous wilderneſs, to a bleſſed Canaan; that you may quit yourſelf like a Chriſtian in the oppoſing and conquering all your enemies; and, at laſt, come triumphing out of the field, and that you may behave yourſelf like a pilgrim and ſtranger in a far country, who are looking for a city that hath foundations; and that we may meet together with joy at our fathers houſe, and ſit down with him in eternal glory. O that word glory is ſo weighty, if we did believe, that it would make the greateſt diligence we can uſe to ſecure it ſeem light. O that far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory! O for more faith! Lord, increaſe our faith and then there would be nothing wanting to make us put forth the utmoſt ſtrength of our ſoul, and to improve every moment of time, to catch hold of all advantages and to make uſe of all means poſſible for the attainment of ſuch glorious ends.’
‘But, O theſe unbelieving hearts! let us join our complaints and let us all break out into bitter lamentations over them. May not we, with as good reaſon as that diſtreſſed father over his poſſeſſed child, bring our hearts into the preſence of our Saviour, and cry out with tears, and ſay, that it is theſe unbelieving hearts, which ſometimes caſt us into the fire, and ſometimes into the water: Yea worſe, every time we forſake God, and prefer any [Page 57] thing before him, we part with life for death, with heaven for hell.’
Give me leave to come yet a little nearer to you: ‘What an advantage would a full perſuaſion of the truth and excellency of goſpel diſcoveries, bring to your ſoul, if you would but ſeriouſly, and with all your ſtrength, drive on true ſpiritual deſigns. O, how eaſily might you then go under all your burdens. If your care for the things of this world were but rightly ſubordinate to the things of eternity how chearfully might you go on with your buſineſs! If you ſought firſt the kingdom of heaven and the righteouſneſs thereof; then all other things would be added (ſo far as they are neceſſary or good for you.)’
‘Let me therefore at this time put you upon that duty of raiſing your mind from earth to heaven, from the creature to the Creator, from the world to God. Indeed, it is a matter of no ſmall difficulty, to diſcover that diſorder that is in our ſouls, when we are ſolicitous about temporary objects, and employments: But, there are but few ſurer diſcoveries of it, than inſenſibility and not complaining of it. For, when the ſoul is indeed raiſed to ſpiritual objects, and to underſtand clearly its eternal intereſt; when it doth in good earneſt, take God for its portion, and prefer him above all, then it will quickly be ſenſible of the ſouls outgoings after other objects, and even grudge that any time ſhould be taken up in the purſuit of the creature, and that any below God ſhould be followed with earneſt pleaſure and conſtancy. It would have God have the beſt, and it would do nothing elſe but love, ſerve, and enjoy God. For my own part, I cannot but wonder that God will give us leave to love him. O bleſſed goodneſs! O infinite condeſcenſion! Thoſe that believingly ſeek him he is not aſhamed to be called their God. I am ſenſible in ſome meaſure of your burdens, and [Page 58] indeed that muſt needs be a burden that keeps the ſoul from purſuing its chiefeſt good. My prayers for you are that you may have ſuch teachings from God as may make you underſtand how far heavenly things are more precious than earthly, and that you may with all your might ſeek, mind, and love that which hath moſt of true excellency in it, which hath the only ground of real comfort here, and of eternal happineſs hereafter.’
HE was full of pity and compaſſion to ſouls, and yet greatly grieved and aſhamed that he did no more to expreſs his ſenſe of the worth of ſouls and that his bowels did no more ſenſibly yearn over them, who he had juſt cauſe to fear, were in a chriſtleſs ſtate. Though there were few of his kindred and relations, nay of his neighbours and acquaintances but he did make a perſonal application to, either by letters or conference: Yet, for all this, who more ready to cry out of the want of love to ſouls, and unprofitableneſs to others in his generation, that he was no more full of compaſſion, and that he made no better improvement of all the viſits that he made; in which, we ſhould not make carnal pleaſure and recreation our end, but the imparting and receiving of ſome ſpiritual gift. This made him, after a conſiderable abſence from a dear friend, to groan out theſe complaints. ‘God by his providence hath oft brought us together; but to how little purpoſe, God and our conſciences know. As for my part, I may juſtly bewail my barrenneſs. Oh, that I ſhould be of ſo little uſe where I come! Oh, that my tongue and heart ſhould be ſtill ſo unfruitful▪ I am ready to hope ſometimes, that, if it ſhould [Page 59] pleaſe God in his providence to bring us again together, we may be more profitable one to another.’
‘And this indeed makes me more deſirous of coming to you again, than any thing elſe, That I may do ſome good among you. Oh, how few ſtudy to advance the intereſt of Chriſt, and the benefit of one anothers ſouls in their viſits, as they ſhould and might do! I am not able, at preſent, to order my affairs ſo as to come comfortably over to you, but I hope, e're long, the Lord will give me leave to ſee you, and be refreſhed by you, I deſire to ſupply my abſence by this ſure token of my remembrance of you, and alſo that I might have an opportunity for that which we ought to eye moſt in the enjoyment of one anothers ſociety. But I have found, that partly becauſe of the narrowneſs of my heart, not being enlarged to bring forth into act what I have greatly deſired, partly becauſe of the malice of the enemy of our ſouls, who endeavours all that poſſible he can, to lay ſtumbling blocks in our way to real union and nearer acquaintance with God and Chriſtian communion: from theſe, and other cauſes, it is, that I have been too little beneficial to you formerly.’
‘It may be, I may write that with freedom, which in preſence I ſhould not have ſpoken. I ſhall take occaſion from your deſire of my preſence with you to look higher to the deſires of our ſouls to be in conjunction and communion with the higheſt good, who fills up all relations to our ſouls; who is our Father, our Husband, our Friend, our God; yea our all in all. But, when I ſay, He is all in all, I mean more than that which we count all; for every one doth confeſs, that it is God alone, that doth bleſs all other things to us, and that it is not of the nature of thoſe things that we enjoy, that they are bleſſings; but it is God [Page 60] which makes them comforts to us. And thus God is to be acknowledged, All in all common enjoyment! ’
‘But, beſides this, God is ſomething to the ſoul, which he is by himſelf, and not in the mediation of the creatures; where God is a portion, and lived upon as our true happineſs; He is, not only the compliment of other things, but he himſelf is the ſoul's ſufficiency. I am a little obſcure, I deſire to be plainer, I mean, that through the diſpenſation of the goſpel, God is to be lived upon, delighted in, and choſen before all: for, for this very end, hath Chriſt appeared, that he might make God approachable by man, and that we who are afar off, may be made nigh.’
‘There is a nearneſs to God which we are not only allowed, but called to in the loving diſpenſations of the goſpel, ſo that now we are not to be ſtrangers any longer, but friends; we are to have fellowſhip and communion with God. Why do not our hearts even leap for joy? why do not our ſouls triumph in theſe diſcoveries of love? Even becauſe we know not the greatneſs of our privileges, the highneſs of our calling, the excellency of our advancement, the bleſſedneſs of this life, the ſweetneſs of theſe employments, the ſatisfaction of theſe enjoyments, the comfort of this heavenly life, the delights of this communion with God. We know not the things which belong to our peace; and thus when God calls us to that which he ſent his Son for, when Chriſt offers us, that which coſt him ſo dear; we with the greateſt unworthineſs, the vileſt ingratitude, refuſe, ſlight, and contemn it. What think we! doth it not go even to the heart of Chriſt; and (to ſpeak after the manner of men) doth it not grieve him to the ſoul to behold his greateſt love ſcorned, and the end of his agony to be more vilely accounted of than the baſeſt of our luſts?’
[Page 61] ‘Let us therefore according to that high calling wherewith we are called, enter into a more intimate acquaintance with God, and as we find our ſouls acting naturally towards thoſe things, which are naturally dear to us; ſo let us ſtrive to lighten our ſpiritual affections.’
‘We are very apt to look upon duties as burdens rather than privileges and ſeaſons of enjoying the greateſt refreſhments; but theſe apprehenſions are very low and earthly. O that we could at length ſet ourſelves to live a ſpiritual life, to walk with God, and out of a new nature, to ſavour and reliſh thoſe things which are above! Could we but really, intenſely, believingly deſire that which is real happineſs, and the heaven of heaven, union and communion with God; theſe deſires would bring in ſome comfort.’
‘As for me, you muſt give me allowance to get my affections more emptied into God; tho'it be with a diminution of love to you; and bleſſed will that day be, when all love will be fully ſwallowed up into God But ſpiritual love doth not deſtroy natural affections, or relative obligations, but perfect and rectify them; and ſo I may, giving up myſelf to God be ſtill yours.’
HE was not a little troubled at the barrenneſs of Chriſtians in their diſcourſe, and their not improving their ſociety for the quickning and warming of their hearts; the expence of precious time unaccountably, the ill management of viſits, and the impertinency of their talk, he oft reflected upon with a holy indignation. it vex [...] him to the ſoul, to ſee what prizes ſometimes were put into the hands [Page 62] of Chriſtians and how little ſkill and will they had to improve them, for the building up of one another in the moſt holy faith: and that they who ſhould be encouraging of one another in the way to Zion, communicating of experiences, and talking of their country and of the glory of that kingdom which the ſaints are heirs of, could ſatisfie themſelves with common vain ſtuff; as if Chriſt, heaven and eternity were not things of as great worth as anything elſe that uſually ſounds in the ears and comes from the lips of profeſſors. That the folly of common diſcourſe among Chriſtians might appear more, and that he might diſcover how little ſuch language did become thoſe that profeſs themſelves Iſraelites, and that ſay, they are Jews; he once ſat down ſilent and took out his pen and ink, and wrote down in ſhort-hand the diſcourſes that paſſed for ſometime together, amongſt thoſe who pretended to more than common underſtanding in the things of God: and after a while he took his paper and read it to them, and aſked them whether ſuch talk was ſuch as they would be willing God ſhould record. This he did, that he might ſhame them out of that uſual unobſervedand unlamented unprofitable communication and fruitleſs ſquandering away that ineſtimable jewel, opportunity. ‘Oh to ſpend an honour or two together, and to hear ſcarce a word for Chriſt or that ſpeaks peoples hearts in love with holineſs; Is not this writing a brave rational divine diſcourſe! Fy, fy. Where's our love to God and ſouls all this while, where's our ſenſe of the preciouſneſs of time, of the greatneſs of our account? Should we talk thus, if we believed that we ſhould hear of this again at the day of judgment? And do we not know that we muſt give an account of every idle word? Is this like thoſe that underſtand the language of Canaan! Did ſaints in former times uſe their tongues to no better purpoſe! Would Enoch, David, or Paul, have talked thus Is this the ſweeteſt communion of ſaints, [Page 63] upon earth! How ſhall we do to ſpend eternity in ſpeaking the praiſes of God, if we cannot find matter for an hours diſcourſe.’
As the barrenneſs and empty converſe of Chriſtians was a ſin that he greatly bewailed, ſo the want of love among Chriſtians, and their diviſions, did coſt him many tears and groans; and he did what he could to heal all the breaches that he could, by his tender prudent and Chriſtian advice and counſel; and if prayers, tears intreaties and counſels would prevail and cement differences, they ſhould not long be open. Nay if his letters would ſignifie any thing to make an amicable and Chriſtian correſpondency, if ſhould not be wanting. And becauſe, the wounds of diviſion are yet bleeding, I ſhall inſert two healing letters of his, which ſpeak what ſpirit he was of: Which take as follows.
IT cannot be expected that wounds ſhould be healed till their cauſe be removed; that which moveth me to write to you, at preſent and puts me upon intentions of writing again, is, that I may do my utmoſt, by mouth and pen, for the removal of that which is the cauſe of inward grief and trouble of my ſoul, and, I am perſuaded, of others alſo as well as mine, viz. thoſe diviſions, that I could not but obſerve to be between yourſelf and another Chriſtian friend. I hope, after my aſking counſel not only of my own heart, but of God alſo; he hath directed me to that which may be to his own [Page 64] glory, and the good of your ſoul; and not only for the removing of grief, but the rejoycing of the hearts of them upon whom former diviſions had any effect.
I therefore deſire you to entertain theſe following lines, as the iſſues of deep affection to your ſoul, and the honour of religion: and I beſeech you read them, not only as from me who deſire your good with the ſtrength of my ſoul, but as from God himſelf of whoſe love your good improvement will be a token. That end which I propoſe to myſelf, I cannot but perſwade myſelf, you yourſelf deſign, commend and deſire; which, Chriſtian charity and that ſweet meek goſpel ſpirit, which is ſo highly and frequently commended by our Saviour to the practice of his diſciples. O that, where there hath been any breaches, there might be the nearer union: and that ye might be joined together in the ſame ſpirit, might keep the unity of the ſpirit in the bond of peace.
And for this end that you would remove all old hindrances: watch continually leſt you give, and be careful not to take occaſion of offence. The neceſſity, uſefulneſs, ſweetneſs of true ſpiritual love appears by the word of Gods frequent urging of it, by the ſenſe of Chriſtians, the uncomfortableneſs and deformity of the contrary. Now, that you may in an unintermitted conſtancy enjoy peace within and without and rejoice my ſoul; I deſire you to join your own endeavours with the conſideration of thoſe things which I ſhall now and hereafter ſend to you
Firſt Conſider, that it is a Chriſtian's duty to go out of himſelf, to lay down his own ends and intereſts, and wholly to take upon him God's cauſe, to do all for God, and to act as under God, and to be God's inſtrument in our ſouls and bodies which are God's. Thus did God create man for his own glory and not that man ſhould ſeek himſelf: And when [Page 65] man fell, he fell out of God into himſelf; out of that divine order and compoſure of mind in which God had made him, into confuſion; from a love of God, into a corrupt ſelf-love and ſelf ſeeking. Now if we do but deſcend into our ſouls, and obſerve the actings, intents, and contrivances of them, we cannot but obſerve how confuſedly and abominably all work together for the pampering, pleaſing, and advancing of ſelf. We are not to think that if we do not preſently diſcover this in ourſelves, that it is not ſo with us: For, in ſome degree it is in every one, even in the truly regenerate, as far as they have the relics of corruption in them, ſo far they have in their ſouls this ſelf-love. Now this diſorder in our minds whereby they are taken off from their right ends is that very natural corruption and depravedneſs which we received from Adam, and it is, and, to a ſpiritual ſenſe, ought to be, worſe than hell itſelf; in as much as the cauſe doth eminently contain all and more evil than the effect.
This is the ſpiritual death, whereby we are dead in ſin, the fruit of the firſt curſe, Thou ſhalt die the death. The ſoul's life in this world, is its being in God, and living in God, and enjoyment of God; and the ſoul's eternal life will be, ſo to know God as to be formed into his likeneſs, and to be received into a full participation of, and communion with God. The ſoul's death here, is its being fallen off from God, and its beings carried into itſelf; and its eternal death will be, an utter ſeparation from him.
Now mankind being thus fallen from God, Chriſt is ſent for this very end, to bring man back again to God; and then man is brought unto God, when he is brought out of that ſtate of ſelf love into that ſtate whereby he gives up himſelf to God. Thus the ſouls being quickned by the Spirit of God, leaveth off living to itſelf, which was its death; [Page 66] and lives to God, which is its life, Here comes in the great duty of denying of ourſelves for Chriſt's ſake; which indeed were no duty, if there were nothing in us contrary to God.
This then is our duty not to ſeek our own things, before the things of God; to lay God's glory at the foundation of all our actions, and if there be any thing in us contrary to that, to give it no leave to ſtand in competition to God.
Now, were this deeply rooted in our hearts, how would contention, anger, wrath, and heart-burning and all things of this nature ceaſe? Such influence would the taking God's part againſt ſelf have into the quiet and peace of men, that it cannot be without it.
We ſee how wiſely God hath ordered things, that the very act of man's being off from God, ſhould be the cauſe of confuſion, war, and miſery: and what can be more juſt and equal than this, that God, who is the author of our being, ſhould be the end of our being? O then, that once our minds were again reduced to this frame, To live wholly to God? O that we were wrought into a thorough prejudice againſt ſelf which ſtands between us and true peace! I beg of you to ſpare ſome time from the world, and return into privacy, where you may apply this to your own ſoul.
My prayer to God for you, out of the ſtrong yearnings of my ſoul toward you is, that he would make this effectual to its intended end, for the inward peace of your ſoul, for your comfortable walking with God, in this life, and that condition wherein the wiſdom of God hath placed you. I write theſe lines with the ſtrength of affection; I feel fear, grief, compaſſion, working ſtrongly. O pity me in the midſt of all theſe, whilſt I cannot call to remembrance the cauſe of theſe without a flood of tears. Fulfil therefore my joy, in being of one mind: yea, if there be any conſolation in Chriſt, [Page 67] if any comfort in love, if any fellowſhip of the Spirit, if any bowels of mercy; fulfil ye my joy, and be likeminded, having the ſame love, being of one accord, of one mind, Phil. ii. 1, 2. I leave you to the love and mercy of God, and to the working of his Spirit, which alone is able to put life and power into theſe words. Which that he would do, is the earneſt requeſt, and fervent prayer of yours,
Now, upon a faithful peruſal of this letter, it pleaſed the Lord to give a meek and more complying ſpirit, and in a great meaſure it wrought its intended effect. The noble deſign of this ſweet peace-maker, took ſo far as to produce an ingenious acknowledgment, and ſorrowful bewailing of the want of that ſelf-denial, humility, meekneſs, and love, which doth ſo much become our ſacred profeſſion. Upon the hearing of this good news, how ſtrangely was this good man tranſported! Upon the receipt of a letter from the former friend, which gave no ſmall ſatisfaction and hopes that his former endeavours were not in vain. And, that he might drive the nail to the head, he ſpeedily backs his former letter with a ſecond; which ſpeaks theſe words.
MY ſoul is enlarged towards you and my affections work within me; and yet give me leave now to lay aſide ſo weak flames of natural affection, and to kindle my ſoul with divine love Here there is no fear of running out too far while all is in Chriſt, and for Chriſt. O that now I could let out the ſtrength of my ſoul, not as to yourſelf but as to God! O that my heart were more enlarged, that it may be comprehenſive of a more full true Chriſtian love! [Page 68] God is altogether lovely, and to be loved for himſelf, and we are ſo far dark, ignorant, and blind, as we do not ſee and account him moſt amiable. O let me have ſuch diſcoveries of his excellency, that my heart may pant; thirſt and break for its earneſt longings after the richeſt participations of him; that I may for ever be ſwallowed up of his love! O that I may love him a thouſand times more than I do! That I may rejoice in him, and take the ſweeteſt complacency and delight in him alone; and that I could let out my affections moſt, where I ſee any thing of himſelf, any beams of the image of his holineſs, and that beareth the impreſſion of his ſpirit. Had you viſited me from the dead, could my affections have moved more ſtrongly, or my rejoicing have been greater than they were at the receipt of thoſe lines which I had from you, wherein ſo much of Chriſt in you, and the goodneſs of Chriſt to me did appear. Fulfil my joy in the Lord, refreſh my bowels, and let not my rejoicing be in vain. If it hath pleaſed the Lord to make the imperfect and weak endeavours of his unworthy ſervant, any way ſubſervient to his own glory in you, it is that which I account myſelf unworthy of, and deſire to receive it from him as a manifeſtation of the riches of his free goodneſs to myſelf; knowing myſelf to be unworthy to be his inſtrument in the meaneſt ſervice, much more in ſo great a one as this is. Hoping and perſuading myſelf of the effectual work of my former letter, I am encouraged to write again both becauſe of my promife, and your expectation, and the weighty nature of the ſubject that I was then upon, which was, love. True Chriſtian love, which is a thing ſo comely, ſo beautiful and ſweet, and of ſuch weighty power all actions to make them divine and excellent, that there is no labour loſt in endeavouring to get more of it, even in thoſe in whom it moſt aboundeth. [Page 69] The apoſtle, 1 Theſſ. iv. 9, 10. Though he knew that they were taught of God to love one another, and that they did it towards all the brethren, yet, even them he beſeecheth to abound more and more in that grace of love. The former principle out of which this love doth ariſe (as I informed you in my former letter) was the putting off our own intereſts and putting on God's Now I ſhall proceed in minding you of another Chriſtian duty, which is effectual to the knitting us together in a firm operative love, and that is this; that a Chriſtian is to walk as one that is a member of Chriſt Jeſus. Into what near and cloſe union are thoſe that are given him by the father received! How hath the Holy Ghoſt choſen out all the neareſt natural relations to expreſs and ſhadow out the cloſeneſs of that ſpiritual relation that is between Chriſt and his! Chriſt is our king and we his people, he is our maſter and we are his ſervants, he is our ſhepherd and we the ſheep of his paſture, he is our friend and we his, he is our huſband and we are his ſpouſe; he the vine we the branches, he our head and we are his members, he is in us and we in him, he is our life. This duty will have influence upon our affections theſe ways.
Firſt, As Chriſt is our head and we are his members, ſo he hath an abſolute command over us. And where this relation is real, obedience to the commands of Chriſt is ſweet and without conſtraint and force; now this is Chriſt's command that we ſhould love one another; by this ſaith he ſhall all men know you are my diſciples if you love one another. Thoſe relations into which Chriſt, receiveth his, ſpeak and hold forth a willing cheerful ſubmiſſion to the commands of Chriſt, and what duty is there in all the goſpel which is more frequently and earneſtly preſſed than this. A new commandment give I unto you that you love one another as I have loved you, ſo love one another. So full is the whole ſcripture of obligations, both upon conſcience and ingenuity [Page 70] to this duty, that the whole ſtream of it ſeems to run into this channel of love. But Chriſt's command is ſuch an obligation as one that hath any ſpiritual ſenſe to feel the ſtrength of it, cannot break It is Chriſt hath commanded, and ſhall not we obey? Shall not the love of Chriſt conſtrain us? Shall we be ſo unkind to him who hath been ſo kind to us, as to ſtand it out with him in ſo equal a command? Shall not the ſweetneſs of Chriſt overcome us, that ſeeing his love was ſo great, as not to ſpare his life for us, yea, and ſuffer more for us I believe than we think he did nay, I may ſay than we can conceive he did, and that which commands his love to us is, that he ſhould do and ſuffer ſo much for us, that of his creatures we were become his enemies? Why ſhould we not then cheerfully ſubmit to him in this one command, love one another? Doth not the very word love carry in it at the firſt hearing abundance of alluring violence! This is Chriſt's yoke, and here we may well ſay, his yoke is eaſie and his burden is light. What is there in a life of divine love that we need be afraid of? What is there in this command that is grievous? How can this yoke be uneaſie? What reaſon to be loath to take it on? But ſuch is the baſe degeneracy and unreaſonableneſs of corrupted nature that when any thing comes in competition with ſelf-love, then all bonds muſt be broken, all yokes muſt be broken, all yokes muſt be caſt of, and nothing will then keep us in, but we muſt and will take our own part though never ſo bad. And our own part in the heat of paſſion muſt ſeem beſt, though it be contrary to infinite righteouſneſs, which is God himſelf. O that we could once learn to lay aſide this natural prejudice which we have againſt whatſoever doth thwart our humours, though it be never ſo juſt holy and rational. O that we could look more narrowly and ſearch more exactly into ourſelves, and to become abominable in our own eyes, and rather take any part than our own, we ſhould ſee ſo much deceitfulneſs [Page 71] in ourſelves, as that we ſhould think our caſe bad though it ſeem never ſo good to our natural ſelf, till we apply it to the rule. Rule, nature would have none but itſelf; and though in our better compoſure of mind, we may receive ſome other rule; yet in our paſſions we cannot ſpare time to go to any other rule, but we take that which is next to hand, and ſelf will be ſure to be that. But we muſt, if we will be true Chriſtians, learn to deny ſelf, and wholly to ſubmit ourſelves to the command of Chriſt, as our only rule. O, let the power of Chriſt's love, and command, make us obedient to this command of love!
Secondly, If we are to walk as members of Chriſt, who is our head; this hath influence upon our affections to oblige us to love one another, as, from the command which the head hath over the members, ſo, from the conformity that is to be in the members to the head. The head and the members are not of two ſeveral natures, but the ſame nature paſſeth from the head through all the members: Now if we be ingrafted into Chriſt, we muſt become of the ſame nature with him. Let us be followers of Chriſt as dear children, and walk in love, as Chriſt alſo hath loved us. Paul bids us to be followers of himſelf, as he was a follower of Chriſt; Chriſt then is to be our great pattern: He commands us to learn of him, for he was meek. For us to think to attain unto a perfect conformity to him, is in vain; but, as much as our natures are capable of, we are to ſtrive for it. Chriſt's love to us hath breadth, and length, and depth, and height, which paſſeth knowledge. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man ſhould lay down his life for his friend; but herein Chriſt commended his love to us, in that, while we were enemies, Chriſt died for us, Behold what manner of love is this, that Chriſt hath beſtowed on us! Hereby perceive we the love for God, that is Chriſt becauſe he laid down his life for us, 1 John iii. 16. [Page 72] His inference is there the ſame with mine, and that in a higher degree; we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. If life, then ſin; then paſſion and wrath; then a baſe, proud, ſelf-pleaſing and contradicting humour. Do we ſee any lovelineſs or beauty in Chriſt Jeſus? Is there no excellency in his ſweetneſs, pity, and patience? Is not his lovingkindneſs amiable? And would not ſomething like this in us, be deſirable? Had he more reaſon to love us than we have to love one another? O, let our ſouls be overcome with the thoughts of this love of Chriſt: let our hearts be kindled and blown up to a flame of love, by it O, when ſhall this dear, precious pure, eternal love of his, overpower our ſouls? When ſhall its have it proper effect upon us, to make us to deſire earneſtly to be like our beloved! When ſhall we put on his beauty! O how lovely ſhould we then look! Let us put off that deformity that is upon our ſouls, which makes us ſo unlike to Chriſt; yea, which makes us loathſome in his eyes. Pride, paſſion, worldlineſs, are the ſoul-de formities, which keep Chriſt at ſuch a diſtance from us, and which hinder his more ſweet, frequent, and intimate converſe with us.
It is only that of himſelf which Chriſt ſeeth in us, which he delighteth in. For, in him is the perfection of all beauty and excellency, and whatſoever lovelineſs is in any thing elſe, comes from him, is like him, and leads to him. Would we know, how much we are beloved of him, let us ſee how much we are like him; for he cannot but love that which is like himſelf, and if we would be like him, we muſt put on love, for God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him, 1 John iv. 16.
Thirdly, If we ought to walk towards one another as members of the ſame body, whereof Chriſt is the head, what can ſpeak a cloſer union than commemberſhip? No man ever yet hated his own fleſh, but [Page 73] nouriſheth and cheriſheth it. But we do not feel the power of this oneneſs, as we ought to do. We are many; and where there is diviſion, there will be diſſention; that we may therefore be more one, let us be more in putting off ourſelf. and going into Chriſt. Here, let us look into the loathſomneſs of our natures, whilſt off from God; which is the cauſe of all this confuſion, and if we cannot ſee its deformity in itſelf, let us ſee it in reflection in its bitter effects; and when we ſee our own deformity, we ſhall ſee leſs cauſe to love ourſelves, and more cauſe to love others, than Chriſt had to love us. Let us look upon our oneneſs in Chriſt, and ſee if we can thence become one in affections. Chriſt ſaith, I and the children which thou haſt given me; we have one ſpiritual Father, we are brethren; let us love as brethren. The cauſe of this union is our being made partakers of Chriſt's nature, and baptized into the ſame ſpirit with him: and, if we have at any time experienced the more lively and full incomes of this Spirit of Chriſt, how did it ſet the heart on fire! The ſoul is then too narrow to contain its own affections; how dearly then could we look upon a ſaint! How would pride and wrath vaniſh, and melt down into meekneſs, humility, and love! Did we never experience what this meaneth? Then, let the remembrance of the ſweetneſs of it, renew it in us. O, a life of ſpiritual love is a life indeed, a heaven upon earth! This is a good rule; when we find ourſelves in a ſpiritual temper, let us examine ourſelves then, and enquire how we like ſuch a frame: let us remember the voice of the ſpirit in us, and labour to have our judgment and affections always after, ſo ballanced.
Fourthly, Are we members of Chriſt, we do not ſay, we do not love Chriſt. If we do indeed love Chriſt, let us love him wherever we find him. Chriſt is in all thoſe that are his. Let us fear offending Chriſt in his, for what is done to them, he will take as done to himſelf. It will be ſaid in that great day, [Page 74] In as much as ye did it unto theſe, ye did it unto me. Let us think what we will of it at preſent, the world will find this true to their coſt. And, if we act as in Chriſt, we ſhall find ourſelves as much concerned for him, as for ourſelves, and more too. Oh the wrongs that are done to him, we ſhall reckon done to us. If we are Chriſts, Chriſt's intereſt will be ours, and his injuries will be ours. If we are Chriſt's, we will be as fearful of offending any of his, as of wronging ourſelves. Chriſt himſelf is above the reach of our wrongs, to be touched by them in himſelf; but, in his members he ſuffers to this very day. If then Chriſt and we are one, and Chriſt and all his are one; let us love Chriſt in his, let us rejoice in Chriſt in his members, let us endeavour to requite Chriſt in his members: let us fear grieving the Spirit of Chriſt, in grieving the ſpirits of any of his dear ones. Wound not Chriſt in wounding the heart of his Beloved. O the preciouſneſs, pleaſure, and profit of this love, I beg of God to give you a full enjoyment of that ſweetneſs and the joyful fruits of it, the Lord refreſh you with a quick and conſtant ſenſe and ſight of his eternal love towards your ſoul; to which the aſſurance of true Chriſtian love by the effectual work of the Comforter, may bring you. By this we know, that we are paſſed from death to life, becauſe we love the brethren. If it ſhall pleaſe the Lord to give me leave to ſee you again, I ſhall come with ſtrong expectations, and earneſt deſires of ſeeing a ſweet alteration for the better in you, in your deportment, and carriage towards one that did deſerve better at your hands. And what an effect hopes of this nature fruſtrated, will produce; I beſeech you to judge. I pray God fill you with peace and joy. My hand is weary with writing, but my mind ſtill runs forth in deſires and prayers for you. I hope the Lord will take away all cauſe of writing any more of this ſubject unto you. Your letter gave my hopes a good [Page 75] beginning: I beſeech the Lord to carry on what he hath begun to the glory of his goodneſs, that I may at every ſight of you, ſee more of the image of Chriſt in you, and more of the power and beauty of this grace of love, and that I may find you drawn nearer to heaven, and ſee you with Chriſt in heaven when time ſhall be no more. I leave you in the arms of love.
By all this you may eaſily perceive what ſpirit acted him, and how much he was troubled for any diviſions amongſt the people of God. Indeed, he was of ſo loving, and lovely a diſpoſition, that he even commanded the affections of moſt that knew him; and ſo humble he was, that he was aſhamed to be loved for his own ſake.
I can never forget a ſtrange expreſſion, that I have heard from him, concerning one that had a very ardent love for him. I know this, ſaith he, that I love no love but what is purely for Chriſt's ſake, I would Chriſt might have all the love, he alone deſerves it: for my part, I am afraid and aſhamed of the love and reſpect of Chriſtians. He ſaw ſo much pride, peeviſhneſs, and diviſion among profeſſors, that it did not a little vex his righteous ſoul, and made him think long, to be in a ſweeter air, where there ſhould be nothing but union, joy, and love. He could not endure to hear Chriſtians ſpeak reproachfully one of another, becauſe they were of different judgments and perſuaſions. There where he ſaw moſt holineſs, humility, and love, there he let out moſt of his affections. And he was of that holy man's mind, that it were pity that the very name of diviſion were not buried; and that the time would come, that we might all dearly pay for our unbrotherly nay unchriſtian animoſities.
FOR the latter part of his life; he loved like a man that was quite weary of the world, and that looked upon himſelf as a ſtranger here, and that lived in the conſtant ſight of a better world. He plainly declared himſelf but a pilgrim that looked for a better country, a city that had foundations, whoſe builder and maker was God. His habit, his language, his deportment, all ſpoke him one of another world. His meditations were ſo intenſe, long, and frequent, that they ripened him apace for heaven, but ſomewhat weakned his body. Few Chriſtians attain to ſuch a holy contempt of the world, and to ſuch clear believing, joyful, conſtant apprehenſions of the tranſcendent glories of the unſeen world.
He made it his whole buſineſs to keep up ſenſible communion with God, and to grow unto a humble familiarity with God, and to maintain it. And if by reaſon of company or any neceſſary diverſions, this was in any meaſure interrupted; he would complain, like one out of his element, till his ſpirit was recovered into a delightful, more unmixed free intercourſe with God. He was never ſo well ſatiſfied, as when he was more immediately engaged in what brought him nearer to God; and by this he enjoyed thoſe comforts frequently, which other Chriſtians rarely meet with. His graces and experiences, toward his end grew to aſtoniſhment. His faith got up to a full aſſurance; his deſires into a kind of enjoyment and delight. He was oft brought into the banquetting houſe, and there Chriſt's banner over him was love; and he ſat down under his ſhadow with great delight, and his fruit was [Page 77] pleaſant unto his taſte. His eyes beheld the king in his beauty, and while he ſat at his table, his ſpicknard did ſend forth its pleaſant ſmell: he had frequent viſions of glory, and this John lay in the boſom of his maſter, and was ſure a very beloved diſciple and highly favoured. His Lord oft called him up to the mount to him, and let him ſee his excellent glory, O the ſweet foretaſtes that he had of thoſe pleaſures that are at the right hand of God. How oft was he feaſted with the feaſt of fat things thoſe wines on the lees well refined; and ſometimes he was like a giant refreſht with new wine, rejoicing to run the race that was ſet before him, whether of doing or ſuffering. He was even ſick of love, and he could ſay to the poor unexperienced world, O taſte and ſee! and to Chriſtians, come and I will tell you what God hath done for my ſoul. O what do Chriſtians mean, that they do not more to get their ſenſes ſpirtually exerciſed! O why do they not make religion the very buſineſs of their lives, O why are the ſoul, Chriſt and glory thus deſpiſed? Is there nothing in communion with God? Are all thoſe comforts of Chriſtians, that follow hard after him, worth nothing? Is it not worth the while to make ones calling and election ſure! O, why do men and women jeſt and dally in the great matters of eternity? Little do people think, what they ſlight, when they are ſeldom and formal in ſecret duties, and when they neglect that great duty of meditation, which I have through rich mercy, found ſo ſweet and refreſhing: O, what do Chriſtians mean, that they keep at ſuch a diſtance from Chriſt? Did they but know the thouſandth part of that ſweetneſs that is in him, they could not chooſe but follow him hard; they would run and not weary, and walk and not be faint.
He could ſenſibly and experimentally commend the ways of God to the poor unexperienced world, and ſay, His ways are pleaſantneſs; and juſtifie wiſdom [Page 78] and ſay, her paths were peace. He could take off thoſe aſperſions, which the devil, and the atheiſtical frantick ſots, do caſt upon godlineſs in the power of it. Here is one that could challenge all the atheiſts in the world to diſpute; here is one could bring ſenſible demonſtrations to prove a deity, and the reality and excellency of inviſibles; which theſe ignorant fools and mad men, make the ſubject of their ſcorn: here is one that would not change delights with the greateſt Epicures living, and vie pleaſure with all the ſenſual rich gallants of the world. Which of them all could in the midſt of their jollity ſay. This is the pleaſure, that ſhall laſt for ever? Which of them can ſay among their cups and whores, I can now look death in the face, and, this very moment I can be content, yea glad, to leave theſe delights, as knowing, I ſhall enjoy better. And this he could do, when he fared deliciouſly in ſpritual banquets every day: He could, upon better reaſon than he did, ſay, Soul thou haſt goods laid up for many years; He knew full well, that what he did here enjoy, was but a little to what he ſhould have ſhortly. In his preſence there is fulneſs of joy; at his right hand there are pleaſures for evermore. Where is the Belſhazzar, that would not quake in the midſt of his cups, whilſt he is quaffing and carouzing in bowls of the richeſt wine, if he ſhould ſee a hand upon the wall writing bitter things againſt him, telling him that his joys are at an end, and that this night his ſoul muſt be required of him; that now, he muſt come away and give an account of all his ungodly pleaſures, before the mighty God. Where is the ſinner, that could be contented to hear the Lord roaring out of Zion, whilſt be is roaring in the tavern? Which of them would be glad to hear the trumpet ſound, and to hear that voice, Ariſe you dead and come to judgment? Which of them would rejoice to ſee the mountains quaking, the elements melting with fervent heat, and the earth conſumed with flames; and the Lord [Page 79] Chriſt whom they deſpiſed, coming in the clouds with millions of his ſaints and angels, to be avenged upon thoſe that know not God and obeyed not his goſpel. Is not that a bleſſed ſtate, when a man can lift up his head with joy, when others tremble with fear, and ſink with ſorrow? And this was the condition of this holy young man. In the midſt of all worldly conforts he longed for death: and the thought of the day of judgment, made all his enjoyment ſweeter. O, how did he long for the coming of Chriſt! Whilſt ſome have been diſcourſing by him of that great and terrible dya of the Lord, he would ſmile, and humbly expreſs his delight in the forethought of that approaching hour.
I remember, once there was a great talk that one had foretold that doomſday ſhould be upon ſuch a day: although he blamed their daring folly, that would pretend to know that which was hid from the angels themſelves, and that the devil could not acquaint them with; yet granting their ſuppoſition to be true, what then ſaid he? What, if the day of judgment were come, as it will moſt certainly come ſhortly! If I were ſure, the dya of judgment were to begin within a hour, I ſhould be glad with all my heart. If at this very inſtant, I ſhould hear ſuch thunderings, and ſee ſuch lightnings, as Iſrael did at Mount Sinai; I am perſwaded, my very heart would leap for joy But this I am confident of, through infinite mercy, that the very meditation of that day hath even raviſhed my ſoul, and the thought of the certainty and nearneſs of it, is more refreſhing to me than the comforts of the whole world. Surely, nothing can more revice my ſpirits than to behold the bleſſed Jeſus, the joy, life and beauty of my ſoul. Would it not more rejoice me than Joſeph's waggons did old Jacob? I lately dreamed that the day of judgment was come: methought, I heard terrible cracks of thunder, and ſaw dreadful lightnings; the foundation of the earth did ſhake, and the heavens [Page 80] were rolled together as a garment: yea, all things viſible were in a flame; methought I ſaw the graves opened, and the earth and ſea giving up their dead; methought, I ſaw millions of angels, and Chriſt coming in the clouds. Methought, I beheld the ancient of days ſitting upon his throne, and all other thrones caſt down: methought, I beheld him whoſe garments were white as ſnow, and the hair of his head like pure wool: His throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire; a fiery ſtream iſſued and came forth from him; thouſands of thouſands miniſtred unto him; and ten thouſand times ten thouſand ſtood before him; and the judgment was ſet and the books were opened. O, but with what an extaſie of joy was I ſurprized! Methought, it was the moſt heart-raiſing, and ſoul-raviſhing ſight, that ever my eyes beheld: and then I cried out. I have waited for thy ſalvation, O God; and ſo I mounted into the air, to meet my Lord in the clouds.
This I record, only to ſhew, how far he was from being daunted at the thoughts of death or judgment: and to let other Chriſtians know, what is attainable in ths life; and what folly it is, for us to take up with ſo little, when our Lord is pleaſed to make ſuch noble proviſions for us, and by a wiſe and diligent improvement of thoſe means which God hath offered us, we may have an entrance adminiſtred to us abundantly into the everlaſing kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jeſus Chriſt.
Oh how confortable, how honourable, and how profitable is this eſtate! Theſe are your men that quit themſelves like Chriſtians. This is true gallantry, noble manhood, real valour! This was the condition of Mr. Janeway for about three years before he died. I will not deny but that he had ſome clouds; but he uſually walked in a ſweet, even, humble ſerenity of ſpirit, and his refreſhing joys were more conſiderable than his deſpondings; and though he daily queſtioned many actions, yet did not queſtion [Page 81] his ſtate, but had his heart fixed upon that rock that neither waves nor winds could ſhake. His ſenſes were ſtill ſo ſpiritually exerciſed, as that he could look up to heaven as his country and inheritance, and to God as his Father, and to Chriſt as his Redeemer; and (that which is ſcarce to be heard of) he counted it the higheſt act of patience to be willing to live, and a very great pitch of ſelf-denial to be contented to be in this world, and to dwell on this ſide a full and eternal enjoyment of that royal glorious One whom his ſoul was ſo much in love with. In a word, he had the moſt earneſt deſires to be diſſolved and to be with Chriſt that I ever ſaw, read, or heard of, ſince the apoſtles times.
AND now the time draws nigh, wherein his longings ſhall be ſatisfied; he is called to his laſt work; and truly his deportment in it, was honourable; his carriage ſo eminently gracious, ſo meek, patient, fruitful, joyful, and thinkful, that it made all his friends ſtand and wonder, as being abundantly above their experience and reading: and thoſe Chriſtians that ſaw him, could not but admire God in him, and look upon him as one of the moſt ſingular inſtances of rich grace, and even bleſs God that their eyes ever ſaw, or their ears ever heard ſuch things, and had ſuch a ſenſible demonſtration of the reality of inviſibles.
His body is now ſhaken again, and he falls into a deep conſumption; but, this meſſenger of God did not in the leaſt damp him. Spitting of blood, [Page 82] was no ghaſtly thing to one that had his eye upon the blood of Jeſus; faint ſweats did not daunt him that had always ſuch reviving cordials at hand. It's matter of joy to him, that he was now in ſome hopes of having his earneſt deſires ſatisfied.
After he had been a while ſick, a ſudden dimneſs ſeized upon his eyes; by and by his ſight quite failed; and there was ſuch a viſible alteration in him, that he and others judged theſe things to be the ſumptoms of death approaching. But when he was thus taken, he was not in the leaſt ſurprized; but was lifted up with joy to thin, what a life he was going to, looing upon death itſelf as one of his Father's ſervants, and his friend that was ſent a meſſenger to conduct him ſafely to his glorious palace.
When he felt his body ready to faint, he called to his mother and ſaid, ‘Dear mother I am dying, but I beſeech you not to be troubled; for, I am through mercy, quite above the fears of death, it's no great matter, I have nothing troubles me but the apprehenſions of your grief. I am going to him whom I love above life?’
But it pleaſed the Lord to raiſe him again a little out of this fainting fit, for his Maſter had yet more work for him to do before he muſt receive his wages. Although his outwad man decayed apace, yet he is renewed in the inward man day by day: his graces were never more active, and his experiences were never greater. When one would have thought, he ſhould have been taken up with his diſtemper, and that it had been enough for him to grapple with his pains, then he quite forgets his weakneſs; and is ſo ſwallowed up of the life to come, that he had ſcarce leiſure to think of his ſickneſs.
For ſeveral weeks together, I never heard the leaſt word that ſavoured of any complaint or wearineſs under the hand of God; except, his eager deſire [Page 83] to be with Chriſt, be counted complaining, and his haſte to be in heaven be called impatience. Now's the time when one might have ſeen heaven and the glory of another world realized to ſenſe. His faith grew exceedingly and his love was proportionable, and his joys were equal to both.
O the rare attainments! The high and divine expreſſions, that dropped from his mouth! I have not words to expreſs what a ſtrange, triumphant, angelical frame he was in, for ſome conſiderable time together. It was a very heaven upon earth, to ſee and hear a man admiring God at ſuch a rate, as I never heard any, nor ever expect to hear or ſee more, till I come to heaven. Thoſe that did not ſee cannot well conceive what a ſweet frame he was in, for at leaſt ſix weeks before he died. His ſoul was almoſt always filled with thoſe joys unſpeakable and full of glory. How oft would he cry out; O, that I could but let you know what I feel now! O, that I could ſhow you what I ſee, that I could expreſs the thouſandth part of that ſweetneſs that I now find in Chriſt! You would all then think it well worth the while to make it your buſineſs to be religious. O my dear friends, we little think what a Chriſt is worth upon a death bed. I would not for a world, nay for millions of worlds, be now without a Chriſt and a pardon. I would not for a world be to live any longer: the very thoughts of a poſſiblity of recovery, makes me tremble.
When one came to viſit him, and told him, that he hoped it might pleaſe God to raiſe him again and and that he had ſeen many a weaker man reſtored to health, and that lived many a good year after: And do you think to pleaſe me (ſaid he) by ſuch diſcourſe as this? No friend, you are much miſtaken in me, if you think that the thoughts of life, and health, and the world, are pleaſing to me. The world hath quite loſt its excellency in my judgment. O how poor and contemptible a thing is it in all its glory, compared [Page 84] with the glory of that inviſible world which I now live in the ſight of! And as for life, Chriſt is my life health and ſtrength; and I know, I ſhall have another kind of life, when I leave this I tell you it would incomparably more pleaſe me, if you ſhould ſay to me, [You are no man of this world; you cannot poſſibly hold out long; before to morrow you will be in eternity.] I tell you I do ſo long to be with Chriſt, that I could be contented to be cut in pieces, and to be put to the moſt exquiſite torments, ſo I might but die, and be with Chriſt. O, how ſweet is Jeſus! Come, Lord Jeſus come quickly. Death, do thy worſt! Death hath loſt his terribleneſs. Death, it is nothing. I ſay, death is nothing (through grace) to me. I can as eaſily die as ſhut my eyes, or turn my head and ſleep: I long to be with Chriſt; I long to die; that was ſtill his note.
His mother and brethren ſtanding by him he ſaid; ‘Dear mother, I beſeech you, as earneſtly as ever I deſired anything of you in my life, that you would cheerfully give me up to Chriſt; I beſeech you, do not hinder me now I am going to reſt and glory. I am afraid of your prayers, leſt they pull: one way and mine another.’
And then turning to his brethren he ſpake thus to them, ‘I charge you all, do not pray for my life any more: you do me wrong, if you do! O that glory, the unſpeakable glory that I behold My heart is full, my heart is full Chriſt ſmiles, and I cannot chooſe but ſmile: can you find in your heart, to ſtop me who am now going to the compleate and eternal enjoyment of Chriſt? Would you keep me from my crown? The arms of my bleſſed Saviour are open to embrace me; the angels ſtand ready to carry my ſoul in his boſom. O, did you but ſee what I ſee; you would all cry out with me, how long, dear Lord, come Lord Jeſus come [Page 85] quickly! O why are his chariot-wheels ſo long a coming!’
A reverend, judicious and holy miniſter came often to viſit him, and diſcourſed with him of the excellency of Chriſt, and the glory of the inviſible world. Sir, ſaid he, I feel ſomething of it, my heart is as full as it can hold in this lower ſtate; I can hold no more here. O that I could but let you know what I feel!
This holy miniſter praying with him his ſoul was raviſhed with the abundant incomes of light, life, and love; ſo that he could ſcarce bear it, nor the thought of ſtaying any longer in the world, but longed to be in ſuch a condition, wherein he ſhould yet have more grace and more comfort, and be better able to bear that weight of glory; ſome manifeſtations whereof did even almoſt ſink his weak body, and had he not been ſuſtained by a great power, his very joys would have overwhelmed him; and whilſt he was in theſe extaſies of joy and love, he was wont to cry out.
‘Who am I Lord, who am I, that thou ſhouldſt be mindful of! Why me Lord; why me, and paſs by thouſands and look upon ſuch a wretch as me. O, what ſhall I ſay, unto thee, O thou preſerver of men? O, why me Lord, why me? O bleſſed, and for ever bleſſed, be free grace! How is it, Lord, that thou ſhouldſt manifeſt thyſelf unto me, and not unto others, even ſo father, becauſe it ſeemeth good in thy eyes, Thou wilt have mercy becauſe thou wilt have mercy. And if thou wilt look upon ſuch a poor worm who can hinder! Who would not love thee! O bleſſed father! O how ſweet and gracious haſt thou been unto me? O, [Page 86] that he ſhould have me in his thoughts of love, before the foundations of the world.’
And thus he went on, admiring and adoring of God, in a more high and heavenly manner than I can clothe with words. Suppoſe what you can on this ſide heaven; and I am perſuaded you might have ſeen it in him. He was wonderfully taken with the goodneſs of God to him in ſending that aged experienced miniſter to help him in his laſt great work upon earth. ‘Who am I, ſaid he, that God ſhould to me a meſſenger one among a thouſand (meaning that miniſter who had been praying with him tears of joy.)’
Though he was towards his end, moſt commonly in a triumphant joyful frame; yet, ſometimes, even then he had ſome ſmall intermiſſions, in which he would cry out, Hold out faith and patience; yet a little while, and your work is done. And when he found not his heart wound up to the higheſt pitch of unthankfulneſs, admiration and love; he would with great ſorrow bemoan himſelf, and cry out in this language.
‘And what's the matter now, O my ſoul, what wilt thou, canſt thou thus unworthily ſlight this admirable and aſtoniſhing condeſcenſion of God to thee? Seems it a ſmall matter, that the great Jehovah ſhould deal thus familiarly with his worm; and wilt thou paſs this over, as a common mercy? What meaneſt thou, O my ſoul, that thou doſt not conſtantly adore and praiſe this rare, ſtrong, and unſpeakable love! Is it true, O my ſoul, doth God deal familiarly with man, and are an humble, zealous, and conſtant love, praiſe, and ſervice too good for God? Why art thou, O my ſoul, ſwallowed up every moment with this free unparalell'd everlaſting love.’
‘Stand aſtoniſhed ye heavens, and wonder O ye angels at this infinite grace! Was ever any under heaven more beholding to free grace than I? Doth God uſe to do thus, with his creatures? Admire him for ever and ever, O ye redeemed ones! O thoſe joys, the taſte of which I have! Thoſe everlaſting joys, which are at his right hand for ever more! Eternity, Eternity it ſelf, is too ſhort to praiſe this God in. O bleſs the Lord with me come let us ſhout for joy and boaſt in the God of our ſalvation. O, help me to praiſe the Lord; for, his mercy endureth for ever!’
One of his brethren (that had formerly been wrought upon by his holy exhortations and example) praying with him, and ſeeing of him, (as he apprehended) near his diſſolution, deſired, that the Lord would be pleaſed to continue thoſe aſtoniſhing and ſoul ſupporting comforts to the laſt moment of his breath, and that he might go from one heaven to another, from grace and joy imperfect, to perfect grace and glory; and when his work was done here, give him, if it were his will, the moſt eaſy and triumphant paſſage to reſt; and that he might have an abundant entrance adminiſtred into the everlaſting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jeſus Chriſt.
It would have made any Chriſtians heart to leap, to have ſeen and heard, what ſome ſaw and heard, at that time; and I queſtion not, but that it will ſomewhat effect them to hear and read it; though it be ſcarce poſſible to ſpeak the half of what was admirable in him: for, it being ſo much beyond preſident, it did even aſtoniſh and amaze thoſe of us that [Page 88] were about him, that our relation muſt fall hugely ſhort of what was real.
I verily believe that it exceeds the higheſt rhetorick, to ſet out to the life, what this heavenly creature did then deliver. I ſay again, I want words to ſpeak, and ſo did he; for, he ſaw things unutterable: But yet, ſo much he ſpake as juſtly drew the admiration of all that ſaw him; and I heard an old experienced Chriſtian and miniſter ſay it again and again, That he never ſaw, nor read, nor heard the like: neither could we expect to ſee the glories of heaven more demonſtrated to ſenſe, in this world. He talked as if he had been in the third heavens, and broke out into ſuch words as theſe.
‘O, He is come! He is come! O how ſweet! How glorious is the bleſſed Jeſus! How ſhall I do to ſpeak the thouſandth part of his praiſes! O for words, to ſet out a little of that excellency! But it is unexpreſſible! O how excellent, glorious and lovely is the precious Jeſus! He is ſweet, He is altogether lovely! And now I am ſick of love, he hath raviſhed my ſoul with his beauty! I ſhall die ſick of love.’
‘O my friends ſtand by and wonder, come look upon a dying man, and wonder; I cannot myſelf but ſtand and wonder; Was there ever a greater kindneſs, was there ever ſenſibler manifeſtations of rich grace! O, why me, Lord, why me! Sure this is a-kin to heaven, and if I were never to enjoy any more than this; it were well worth all the torments that men and devils could invent, to come thorow even hell to ſuch tranſcendent joys as theſe. If this be dying, dying is ſweet: let no true Chriſtian ever be afraid of dying. O death is ſweet to me. This bed is ſoft. Chriſt's arms and kiſſes, his ſmiles and viſits, ſure they would turn hell into heaven. O that you did but ſee and feel what I do! Come and behold a dying man more chearful than you ever ſaw any healthful man in the midſt [Page 89] of his ſweeteſt enjoyments? O ſirs, worldly pleaſures are pitiful poor ſorry things, compared with one glimpſe of this glory, which ſhines in ſo ſtrongly into my ſoul! O why ſhould any of you be ſo ſad, when I am ſo glad? This is the hour that I have waited for!’
About eight and forty hours before his death his eyes were dim and his ſight much failed; his jaws ſhook and trembled, and his feet were cold, and all the ſymptoms of death were upon him, and his extreme parts were already almoſt dead and ſenſeleſs, and yet, even then, his joys were (if poſſible) greater ſtill: He had ſo many fits of joy unſpeakable, that he ſeemed to be in one continued act of ſeraphick love, and praiſe. He ſpake like one that was juſt entering into the gates of the new Jeruſalem: the greateſt part of him was now in heaven; not a word dropped from his mouth but it breathed Chriſt and heaven O what encouragements did he give to them who did ſtand by, to follow hard after God, and to follow Chriſt in a humble, believing, zealous courſe of life, and adding one degree of grace to another, and uſing all diligence to make their calling and election ſure; and that then, they alſo ſhould have a glorious paſſage into a bleſſed eternity.
But moſt of his work was praiſe, a hundred times admiring of the bottomleſs love of God to him. O why me, Lord, why me! And then he would give inſtructions to them that came to ſee him. He was ſcarce ever ſilent, becauſe the love of Chriſt and ſouls did conſtrain him. There was ſo much work done for Chriſt in his laſt ours, that I am ready to think, he did as much in an hour as ſome do in a year.
Every particular perſon had a faithful affectionate warning. And that good miniſter, that was ſo much with him, uſed this as an argument to perſwade him to be willing to live a little longer, and to be patient to tarry God's leiſure; ſure God hath ſome thing for thee to do that is yet undone; ſome word [Page 90] of exhortation to ſome poor ſoul, that you have forgot.
The truth of it is, he was ſo filled with the love of Chriſt, that he could ſcarce bear abſence from him a moment. He knew that he ſhould be capable of bearing of greater glory above, than he could here. It was the judgment of ſome that were with him that his heart was not only habitually but actually ſet on God all the day long; and nothing of human frailty, that could be thought a ſin, did appear for ſometime: except it were his paſſionate deſire to die, and difficulty to bring himſelf to be willing to ſtay below heaven.
He was wont every evening to take his leave of his friends, hoping not to ſee them, till the morning of the reſurrection; and he deſired that they would be ſure, to make ſure of a comfortable meeting at our fathers houſe, in that other world.
I cannot relate the twentieth part of that which deſerved to be written in letters of gold. And one that was one of the weakeſt, ſaid, that he did verily believe, that If we had been exact in our taking his ſentences, and obſerving his daily experiences, he could not imagine, a book could be publiſhed of greater uſe to the world, next the bible itſelf.
One rare paſſage I can't omit, which was this, that when miniſters or Chriſtians came to him, he would beg of them to ſpend all the time that they had with him in praiſe. ‘O help me to praiſe God, I have now nothing elſe to do from this time to eternity, but to praiſe and love God. I have what my ſoul deſires upon earth,’ I cannot tell what to pray for but what I have graciouſly given in. The wants that are capable of ſupplying in this world, are ſupplied. I want but one thing, and that is, a ſpeedy lift to heaven. I expect no more here, I can't deſire more, I can't hear more. O praiſe, praiſe, praiſe that infinite boundleſs love that hath, to a wonder, looked upon my ſoul, and done more for [Page 91] me than thouſands of his dear children. O bleſs the Lord, O my ſoul, and all that is within me bleſs his holy name. ‘O help me, O my friends, to praiſe and admire him that hath done ſuch aſtoniſhing wonders for my ſoul; he hath pardoned all my ſins, he hath filled me with his goodneſs; he hath given me grace and glory, and no good thing hath he withheld from me.’
‘Come help me with praiſes, all's too little: come, help me, O ye glorious and mighty angels, who are ſo well ſkilled in this heavenly work of praiſe. Praiſe him, all ye creatures upon the earth, let every thing that hath being, help me to praiſe him. Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah: Praiſe is now my work, and I ſhall be engaged in this ſweet employment for ever. Bring the bible, turn to Davids Pſalms, and let us ſing a Pſalm of praiſe; Come let us lift up our voice in the praiſe of the moſt high, I will ſing with you as long as my breath doth laſt; and when I have done, I ſhall do it better.’
And then turning to ſome of his friends that were weeping, he deſired them rather to rejoice than weep upon his account. It may juſtly ſeem a wonder, how he could ſpeak ſo much as he did, when he was ſo weak; but the joy of the Lord did ſtrengthen him.
In his ſickneſs, the ſcriptures that he took much delight in, were the fourteenth, fifteenth, ſixteenth, and ſeventeenth of John. The fifty fourth of Iſaiah was very refreſhing alſo to him; he would repeat that word [with everlaſting mercies will I gather] with abundance of joy
He recommended the ſtudy of the promiſes to believers and deſired that they would be ſure to make good their claim to them, and then they might come to the wells of conſolation, and drink thereof, their fill.
According to his deſire moſt of the time that was ſpent with him, was ſpent in praiſe; and he would [Page 92] ſtill be calling out, 'More praiſe ſtill. O, help me ‘to praiſe him: I have now nothing elſe to do; I have done with prayer, and all other ordinances; I have almoſt done converſing with mortals. I ſhall preſently be beholding Chriſt himſelf, that died for me, and loved me, and waſhed me in his blood.’
‘I ſhall before a few hours are over, be in eternity ſinging the ſong of Moſes, and the ſong of the Lamb. I ſhall preſently ſtand upon Mount Zion, with an inumerable company of angels, and the ſpirit of the juſt made perfect, and Jeſus the mediator of the new covenant, I ſhall hear the voice of much people, and be one amongſt them, which ſhall ſay Hallelujah, ſalvation, glory, honour, and power unto the Lord our God; and again, we ſhall ſay Hallelujah. And yet a very little while and I ſhall ſing unto the Lamb a ſong of praiſe, ſaying, worthy art thou to receive praiſe who wert ſlain, and redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, and haſt made us unto our God, kings and prieſts, and we ſhall reign with thee for ever and ever’
‘Methinks I ſtand as it were, with one foot in heaven, and the other upon earth; methinks, I hear the melody of heaven, and by faith, I ſee the angels waiting to carry my ſoul to the boſom of Jeſus, and I ſhall be for ever with the Lord in glory.’ And who can chooſe but rejoice in all this.
In ſeveral times, he ſpake in this language, and repeated many of theſe words often, over, and over again, with far greater affection, than can be well worded. And I ſolemnly profeſs, that what is here written, is no hyperbole, and that the twentieth part of what was obſervable in him is not recorded, and though we cannot word it exactly as he did, yet you have the ſubſtance, and many things in his own words with little or no variation.
[Page 93] The day before his death he looked ſome what earneſtly upon his brother James, who ſtood by him very ſad; of whom he judged that he was putting up ſome ejaculations to God upon his account, ‘I thank thee dear brother for thy love, ſaid he, thou art now praying for me, and I know thou loveſt me dearly: but Chriſt loveth me ten thouſand times more than thou doſt; come and kiſs me, dear brother before I die; and ſo with his cold dying lips, he kiſsed him, and ſaid, I ſhall go before, and I hope thou ſhalt follow after to glory.’
Though he was almoſt always praiſing God, and exhorting them that were about him to mind their everlaſting concerns, and ſecure an intereſt in Chriſt; and though he ſlept but very little for ſome nights; yet he was not in the leſt impaired in intellectuals, but his actions were all decent, and becoming a man, and his diſcourſe to a ſpiritual underſtanding, highly rational, ſolid, divine. And ſo he continued to the laſt minute of his breath.
A [...]ew hours before his death he called all his relations, and brethren together, that he might give them one ſolemn warning more; and bleſs them, and pray for them, as his breath and ſtrength would give him leave. Which he did with abundance of authority, affection and ſpirituality, which take briefly, as it follows.
Firſt, he thanked his dear mother, for her tender love to him, and deſired that ſhe might be in travel to ſee Chriſtformed in the ſouls of the reſt of her children, and ſee of the travel of her ſouls, and meet them with joy in that great day.
Then, He charged all his brethren and ſiſters in general, as they would anſwer it before God, that they ſhould carry it dutiful to their dear mother. As for his eldeſt brother William, (at whoſe houſe he lay ſick) his prayer was, that he might be ſwallowed up of Chriſt, and love to ſouls; and be more and more examplary in his life, and ſucceſsful in his miniſtry, and finiſh his courſe with joy.
His next brothers name was Andrew, a citizen of London, who was with him and ſaw him in this triumphing ſtate; but (his neceſſary buſineſs calling him away) he could not then be by; yet, he was not forgot, but he was thus bleſſed ‘The God of heaven remember my poor brother at London The Lord make him truly rich in giving him the pearl of great price, and make him a fellow citizen with the ſaints and of the houſe-hold of God; the Lord deliver him, from the ſins of that city, may the world be kept out of his heart and Chriſt dwell there. O that he may be as his name is aſtrong man, and that I may meet him with joy.’
Then he called his next brother, whoſe name was James (whom he hoped God bad made him a ſpiritual father to) whom he thus adreſſed himſelf, brother James, ‘I hope the [Page 94] Lord hath given thee a goodly heritage the lines are fallen to thee in pleaſant placea; the Lord is thy portion. I hope the Lord hath ſhewed thee the worth of a Chriſt.’ Hold on dear brother; Chriſt, heaven and glory, are worth ſtriving for; the Lord give thee more abundance of his grace.
His fifth brother, was Joſeph, whom he bleſſed in this manner, ‘Let him bleſs thee, O Joſeph, that bleſſed him that was ſeparated from his brethren. O that his everlaſt arms may take hold on thee! It is enough, if yet thou mayeſt live in his ſight. My heart hath been working towards thee, poor Joſeph; and I am not without hopes, that the arm of the almighty will embrace thee. The God of thy father bleſs thee with the bleſſings of heaven above’
The next, was his ſiſter Mary, to whom he ſpoke thus, ‘Poor ſiſter Mary, thy body is weak and thy days will be filled with bitterneſs; thy name is Marah, the Lord ſweeten all with his grace and peace, and give thee health in thy ſoul. Be patient, make ſure of Chriſt, and all is well.’
Then, his other ſiſter, whoſe name was Sarah, was called; whom he thus bleſſed, ſiſter Sarah, ‘Thy body is ſtrong and healthful; O that thy ſoul may be ſo too! The Lord make thee firſt a wiſe virgin, and then a mother in Iſrael; a pattern of modeſty, humility, and holineſs.’
The another brother, Jacob was called; whom he bleſſed after this manner, ‘The Lord make thee indeed, in whom there is no guile! O that thou mayeſt learn to wreſtle with God, and laike a prince, mayeſt prevail, and not go without the bleſſing!’
Then he prayed for his youngeſt brother Benjamin, who was then but an infant; ‘Poor little Benjamin, O that the father of the fatherleſs, would take care of thee poor child, that thou, who never ſaweſt thy father upon earth mayeſt ſee him with joy in heaven; the Lord be thy father, and portion; mayeſt thou prove the ſon of thy mothers right hand, and the joy of her age!’
‘O that none of us all, may be found amongſt the unconverted in the day of judgment! O that every one of us may appear (with our honoured father, and dear mother) before Chriſt with joy that they may ſay, Lord here are we, and the children which thou haſt graciouſlygiven us. O that we may live to God here, and live with him hereafter.’
And now, my dear mother, brethren, and ſiſters, farewell; I leave you for a while, and I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are ſanctified.
[Page 95] And now dear Lord, my work is done, I have finiſhed my courſe, I have fought the good fight; and henceforth there remaineth for me a crown of righteouſneſs! Now come dear Lord Jeſus come quickly.
Then that godly miniſter came to give him his laſt viſit, and to do the office of an inferiour angel, to help to convey this bleſſed ſoul to glory who was now even upon mount Piſgah, and had a full ſight of that goodly land at a little diſtance. When this miniſter ſpake to him, his heart was in a mighty flame of love and joy, which drew tears of joy from that precious miniſter, being almoſt amazed to hear a man juft a dying, talk juſt as if he had been with Jeſus, and came from the immediate preſence of God; O the ſmiles that were then in his face, and the unſpeakable joy that was in his heart; one might have read grace, and glory, in ſuch a mans countenance. O the praiſe, the triumphant praiſes, that he put up! And every one muſt ſpeak praiſe about him or elſe they make ſome jar in his harmony.
A little before he died, in the prayer, or rather praiſes, he was ſo wrapt up with admiration and joy, that he could ſcarce forbear ſhouting for joy. In the concluſion of the duty, with abundance of faith, and fervency, he ſaid aloud amen, amen!
And now his deſires ſhall ſoon be ſatisfied. He ſeeth death coming apace to do his office, his jaws are looſened more and more, and quiver greatly; his hands and feet are as cold as clay, and a cold ſweet is upon him: but, O how glad was he when he felt his Spirit juſt a going! Never was death more welcome to any mortal, I think. Tho' the pangs of death were ſtrong; yet that far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, made him endure thoſe bitter pains, with much patience and courage. In the extremity of his pains he deſired his eldeſt brother to lay him a little lower, and to take away one pillow from him, that he might die with the more eaſe; his brother replied that he durſt not for a world, do any thing that might haſten his death for a moment. Then he was well ſa [...]i [...]d, and did ſweetly reſign himſelf un wholly to God's diſpo'al; and after a few minutes, with a ſudden motion gathering up all his ſtrength, he gave himſelt a little turn on one ſide; and in the twinkling of an eye departed to the Lord, ſleeping in Jeſus.
And now bleſſed ſoul, thy longings are ſatisfied, and thou ſeeſt and feeleſt a thouſand times more than thou didſt upon earth, and yet thou canſt bear it with delight, thou art now welcomed to thy fathers houſe by Chriſt, the beloved of thy ſoul; now thou haſt heard him ſay, come, thou bleſſed of [Page 96] my father, and, well done good and faithful ſervant, enter thou into the joys of thy Lord, and wear that crown which was prepared for thee, before the foundation of the world