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ing of men, whose light, till they be illuminate from above, as it arises out of a dark dungeon, fo, it leads to destruction; and initead of directing the man who follows.it, to a place of reit, it leads him to the pit, and leaves him there to perish. If thou be taken, I say, with such kind of ftuff, I shall not bid thee, but I know thou wilt go else, where: but if thou be one, who loves not to feed upon ashes, and haft no mind to fill thy belly with that eaft-wind, which inftead of nourishment, produceth nothing but much torment in the inward parts, I know thou wilt welcome this piece, as that which hath both meat and medicine for thy soul in it: here thou wilt meet with one warmed with the love of God, shining and reflecting heat upon all that are about him, let. ţing thựe know from his own experience, what is to be found in a fel. lowship with God, and desirous of nothing so much, as that thou and others may

share with him in that same love, which is better than life, and be partakers of that same blessedness, which made him boast of God all the day, and bless himself in his afflicted lot : he would have thee taste of that, which made him cheerful under the cross, and put him in case, not only to look, but to laugh all his troubles out of countenance : and if thou wilt but converse with him a little, it may be, thou find thy heart burn within thee while thon talkest with this warm soul, whole words seem as they drop, to cart tire in the affections, and set the heart in a flame : the author in his other writings (which have always a special tincture of holiness; for even in following the most obstruse notion, and apparently remote from practice, thou wilt ftill perceive him Spirare fanctitatem) he is much above many men; but in these (how low foever at the first look they may appear) "he is above himself, being often, either as a man clevate above the pitch of mortality, and caught up already into the choir of angels, or as an angel come down amongft men, shewing the inhabitants of this ļower world, fomewhat of that, which will be still a great secret, while we are here, viz. what a lịfe they live, who fee God as he is, and enjoy him.

For the subject matter thou wilt meet with in these epistles, I shall not say much, there is a sweet and pleasant variety of purpose to be found in them, whereof thou canst only expect a juft account by a perusal of the whole; buț mostly thou wilt find these things insisted on, 1, What high spring-tides of joy and confolation, did fill and overflow the foul of this sufferer, so, as lometimes ye have him expressing himself as pained with a furcharge of love (O rare and blessed disease!)

and having nothing else to seek, there are earnest longings, after a more capacious foul, to contain more of that infinite ocean, which hath neither brim ņor bottom; this is the gain of one who can suffer the lofs of all things for Christ: this is the cool refreshing shade that they find in the furnace, which not only keeps the fire of affliction from scorching them, or consuming them into ames; but makes it a more desireable lot, than what others account the best of lives: the soul amidst these famés, being admitted to such a 'nearness with God, as caufeth joy to overflow all its banks, and perfumes the heart with delight, is so far from complaining, because of the fiery trial, that the cross of Christ is more defireable to it, than a crown: and since it is there, where next to heaven, his people enjoy most of himself, it makes them sing sweetly amidst all the outward forrows that befal them, and puts them in case to command a confort of music within, while others in their fool's paradise, laugh as they lift, have sadness at their heart, and find themselves pierced through with many sorrows, 2 Ye have sometimes a felt emptinefs (for this full feaft, is not, or cannot be the ordinary diet, it may well be the extraordinary desert of the people of God, while they walk by faith, and


Ror by fight; the constancy of that joy, as well as the fulness of it, is referved for the chamber of presence, no faint, how eminent foever, even in fuffering for Chrift, can expect, that all tears shall be wiped from his eyes, till he come to that land, where all the inhabitants have everlafting joy upon their heads, and where he will be put beyond hazard of finning, as well as without the reach of suffering) there is fometimes a felt emptiness, I say, that casts into a fever of delires : that river of God that is full of water, which did overflow and refrelh the foul, running again into that sea whence it came; and in this low ebb, ye fee. how the patient is pained with absence, and what a panting there is for a sensible prefence; the foul as it were is evaporate in fuch wishes as thefe, O! when wilt thou come unto me! Or, O when shall I come and appear

before thee, and be put once for all, and for ever beyond the fear of the arising of any cloud to eclipfe the light of thy countenance ! The foul in this absence, is fcorched with the fever and flame of burning defires; but to keep it from being burnt up, there is hope, this holds the foul in life that it expire not; this faves from swooning, and preferves from finking into despondency: and though while hope is defersed, the heart be fick, yet there is ease in this very pain; for an unerring expectation of a future good, yields a present ease to the expectant, and makes the man give himself the check thus, Why art thou cast down, o my fool? This sickness was never yet unto death, but cver to the glory of God, therefore hope thou in him, for I shall yet praise him : in a word, that which is principally inlifted upon, in these short fummaries of a communion with God, is this on the one hand, how a hungry and longing foul is filled and feasted with the confolations of God, and when in that posture, how puzzled and non-plus'd, as to what to think, or fay of God: it knows not what to do, or how to lay out itself for him, the fatisfaction that it hath in him, and the obligation it fees itself under to him, making it look on every thing it doth for him, fayeth or thinketh of him, with a kind of regrete and holy dissatisfactie on : it doth not please itself in pleasing him, and though he accept what love offers, yet love desiderates so much in the offering, that it presents all with a blush : and suitable to this amiable and orderly confusion of {pirit, its greatest oratory and eloquence, is, a kind of abrupt, concise, and broken discourse : it is most desirous to speak, but not knowing what to say, which is not unworthy of him, it falls into filent admiration, and yet fomething it must say; wherein though it do not please itself, yet it makes good senfe before him, and is a moft pleasant melody in his ears: it is then, when he seems to be fo taken with that, wherein the foul finds fomany failings and defects, that he says, speak on, let me fee that blushing countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. And truly thou mayest perceive much of this kind of discourse in these epiftles, whereto the holy writer was fo habituate in thefe foliloquies with God, which were ordinary to him in his retirement, that his pen, and preaching, did ever after keep the tincture, and had the relish of that: for while many preached notions, and some fpake because they believed; he was perceived ofttimes, not fo much to speak as believing, as seeing; his being fo long in the mount with God, made his face to shine ever thereafter in his public appearances : and there was some peculiar sweetness in his phrase (especially in crying up, and commending the love of Christ, in mentioning the joy of the Holy Ghost, or the glory of the life to come) beyond what was to be found, even with other holy men: neither was it amongst the dry fchool-men, nor at Aristotle's feet (though there were few in the age, so well acquaint with either) that he learned this; nay;


Aay, flesh and blood did not, nor could not reveal it unto him, he was a fty. dent above the clouds; and there it was, where he learned these metaphysics. This, I say, is the thing upon the one hand which is insisted upon, and on the other, thou hast the fad condition of a soal'deprived of these sweet enjoyments: he who was juft now taken into the banqueting-house, and had the banner of love for his canopy, bath that spiced wine which his foul was drinking with delight snatcht out of his hand, and sits panting for a drop of the rivers of his pleasure, wherein nor long ago he was bathing himself: whereupon follows a night of forrow in the foul; because the fun that did illuminate and warm it, with his rays, is set: then, as if the foul would break forth at many passages together, for hafte to be after him, who hath withdrawn himself, it runs out at the eyes in tears, and at the mouth in complaints, because of his abfence; yet faith fets down the fainter upon the brink of the river, and puts him under an arrest (that he run not away) till the fea flow again: and desire makes him look out with a watery eye as impatient of delay, the inward echo of the heart, in the mean time, being still this, How long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long? And while he is in this pofture, ye would not know him to be the man, that a few minutes fince he was, and a few minutes hence he may and will be: and no wonder, since that is wanting and away, which was the health of his countenance, that he look pale: as the weeping man's eye, being blinded with water, cannot take up objeets as they are, especially if they be at any distance; fo ye have this holy man in these heavy hours, venting his jealousies, and becaufe of withdrawing, giving way to his forrow: now, as the joy of enjoying God, is by the former, made clear to be of all the greateit (for under these full' manifestations, the foul may be transported to such an extasy of delight, that for the time, whether in the body, or out of the body, the man knows not) so, the forrow for being deprived of that, (the giver seeing it necessary, to withhold and suspend these manifeftations, knowing that heaviness for a feason thro' manifold temptations, is fit for these, who are fons of confolation, and who fall bave a few days hence, an everlafting year of jubilee) is, of all forrows, feen to be the forest and sharpeft. This is foul-anguish, and so least of any supportable : because it makes the very Spirit, which if it were found would sustain a man's infirmities, fink under it while it is thus with him, ye may perceive that his bed cannot comfort him, nor his couch ease his complaint. · And in this Fever, there are some expressions dropped, which after the height is over, he doth retract, as rash and unadvised, and upon more mature deliberation, is made to say, This was my infirmity : and truly he who intendeth the advantage of the whole, in his way of dealing with every member of that body, whereof he is Head, hath excellently ordered this matter, thar they who have the fullest feasts of joy, and are admitted to the neareft fellowship upon the earth, to the end, that pride may be hid from their eyes, have ordinarily the deepest down-castings, these warm hours and hot blinks of a sensible presence, are often followed with a Sharp shower, and a dark night of bitter defertion : so that if poor fouls in reading these, should begin to think or say, Alas! we are fparingly dealt with, we are great Itrangers to such a favourite's feast: let them consider alsó (besides that he was an ambassador now in bonds, and fo his master allowed liberally upon him) that their foul anguish is short of bis, and fo, if they consider his condition well, they will fee, that though he had much, yet he had nothing over; and if they take notice of the mercy that is in their own, they will perceive also, that though they have little, yet they have no lack; for he abounds


towards his, in all wisdom and prudence. There is a third condition fpoken frequently to in these epiftles also, which lies in the middle betwist these two: and that is, such a communion with God, as con fits in the foul's being well pleased with him, and being most desirous to please him in all things, abstracting from thefe extraordinary tran1ports of joy upon the one hand, and free likewise of these deep down-castings upon the other : and this is the more ordinary way of the saints, whose daily exercife it is, to come and take out their directions from their master, and endeavour to walk according to these, both as men who are still under their mafter's eye, and as those who must give an account of themselves to him : in which service they want not their own fweet peace; for the way

wherein they walk is a way of pleasantness, and all these paths are peace; though it be not fuch an overflowing peace, as amounts to a joy anspeakable and full of glory; fo full joy is nothing elfe but peace swelling without its ordinary channel, and overflowing all its banks : and on the other hand, they want pot their own checks and challenges, they are often before God with the rear in their eye, and know what it is to figh, because of a body of death within them; becaufe of that law which is in their members, warring against that law which is in their mind, and bringing them into captivity to the law of fin, which is in their members : yet this is short of the forrow of fome dear to him, who are made to roar, by reason of the difquietness of their heart, and to cry out of the arrows of the Almighty sticking within them, and the poifon thereof drinking up their spirit, fo that while they suffer this, they are with wife Heman almost distracted. These things, I say, are mainly insisted upon, which according to an epistolar method, lie fcattered in feveral parcels up and down the book : in reading whereof, zhou wilt eafily perceive also, that though the whole of thefe epiftles may be of fingular use for a Christian in every condition, yet a great many of them have a more special reference, both to the comfort and the carriage of a Christian under the cross (whether his affliction be outward trouble, or inward foul-exercise and terror, where he is most frequently to be found : which is all I have to say for the matter,

There are not a few in this generation, I know, who will make it their business, and think it of their intereft, to derogate from the esteem which these epistles do juftly challenge, and will readily get, from all who know how to prize things according to their worth; as knowing very well, that what respect these get and gain amongst readers, they lose; though I may truly fay, and they will at last find it so that if they get the thing they seek by this artifice, they lofe by that getting: and I may affure myself

also, if thefe either find thee a Christian or make thee fuch, they may well lofe by this labour any esteem thou hadst for them, but they will not profelyte thee, to their profane contempt of fo fpiritual matter; yet I know they will effay, it: First, fomewhat to this purpose may be fáid and will be suggested by them, that here is a needless and nauseating repetition of the fame thing; though it may be, they are not fo displeased, that it is said often, as that it is said at ál; or if the frequency

of it offend them, it is out of a fear, that what is often faid, be once listened to, and at last learned. I grant that the same matter and purpose is divers times touched and infifted upon; but consider, I. That this is to divers persons, and is there either reafon or religion in it, to envy him the liberty of telling all the fearers of God, to whom he writes, what was done for his foul, or the people of God, the advantage of that relation? Was it not for the edification of the church, that all who had heard of his perfecution for the gospel, fiould hear also, that


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the world, do their worst, cannot make a sufferer truly miserable, while God makes him happy in a communion with himself: the heat of perfecution may dry up or imbitter all the nether springs, but then the foul hath free access to the upper, and is admitted to drink, yea, drink abundantly, of these rivers of his pleasure: this is the spiced wine he drinks, and the meat he gets to eat in secret, which the world knoweth not of, and cannot take from him; and having found how sweet to the tafte this bread of God, which comes down from heaven, is, he cannot forbear, to tell others, how he is feasted; to excire desires in all to come and share with him in these dainties, and forbear to surfeit themselves with the world's deceitful meat. 2. Consider, that it is at divers times, and surely, he finding the confolations of God new every morning, and abounding every moment, it had been a piece of base ingratitude in him, to have made mention of that but once, which God had given him often. 3. Consider, though the same matter be often mentioned, yet it is mostly with a sweet and taking variety of phrase: he brings forth the old and new together, nay, there is ever so much new in it, as may contribute to kindle new desires in thee, in order to the fatisfaction of thy own foul, to seek what he found, and when thou haft fallen upon that, and art filled with it, thy practice in telling it over to others, will, without doubt, have such a coincidency with his, as will justify what he hath done, and thou wilt then judge, that an apology for publishing and frequent proclaiming the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, is either wholly superfluous, or it doth suppose the reader not to be a Chriftian, at least in case.

Secondly, Something will be said by malicious mutterers, (I know). against the apparent courseness of some phrases, and commonnets of some words made use of by the author; who all alongit sets himself, to make use of the most ordinary expressions, which are in use among the common fort of people. Something, I say, of this kind may probably be belched forth, by this carping, criticizing, profane and prejudicate age: but if they would remember, what was said (by men much more knowing than themselves, and more able to discern what ought to be spoken, both as to matter and words) to the commendation of Plautus, who made use of the most common words that were in use, amongst the most.common fort of people in Rome, Si ipfæ mufæ loquerentur ore Plautino uterentur; they would fee reason, rather to commend a dexterous making use of common phrafes, in writing to people of no extraordinary capacity, than take, because of this, any occasion to quarrel at, orcry down, that which is so useful and excellent : and if in the opinion of men faithful and famous in their generation, he be the best preacher to a people (and consequently writer too)qui,quam maxime trivialiter, pueriliter, populariter docet, as to words, and phrases: I fee no great reason such have to carp, or necessity I have to make an apology: but there is sufficient to be faid, if not for silencing of bablers, whose tongue hath more dimensions than their reason (which makes it not worth the while to take notice of their barking), yet for fatisfying of the more fober minded. First, Confider, that this disciple learned at his Master, both so to write and speak, as not to hide his purpose in a cloud of new coined words : he consulted his own reputation fo little, while he fought his Master's honour, that he would rather seem a babler to them, who minded nothing but words'; than a barbarian to the meanest, who was taken with spiritual matter: if Christ's example, who taught these high and heavenly mysteries of salvation, by plain and obvious similitudes, be not fufficient to Glence such persons, who d


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