網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

Now thus it must be ordinarily.

(1.) The duties of every day must be carried on with delight. This must be our divertisement, and the refreshment of our other labours, that when tired out with the encumbrances of the world, we may look upon reading, meditating, hearing, as our recreation, and the salt and solace of our lives, that other things, may go down the better. The labours of the mind do relieve those of the body, and those of the body those of the mind. Ainsworth saith, the word in the text signifieth, ‘I will solace and recreate myself;' and “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm i. 2); as was before cited.

(2.) Especially upon the Lord's day : “ Thou shalt call the Sabbath a delight” (Isa. lviii. 13); call it so, that is, account it so. When our whole time is to be parted into meditation, and prayer, and hearing, and conference, then it is our advantage to lie in the boson of God all the day long. A bell is kept up with less difficulty when it is once raised; and when the heart is once got up, it is the better kept up in a holy delight in God.

The reasons of it are two :-
1. The word of God deserveth it.
2. This delight will be of great use to them.
First, The word of God deserveth it.

1. In regard of the author, they delight in it for the author's sake, because it is the signification of his mind; as a letter from a beloved friend is very welcome to us. Aristotle mentioning the causes of delight, saith (Rhet. I. cap. 11), óc põVTEC, K cua Youvoi, g Yoá¢ovies, S Tot8VTC åsi ti tepi čowjéve xaiọ801v. Lovers are mightily pleased when they hear anything of the party beloved, or receive anything from them, a letter or a token. The word is God's epistle and love-letter to ourselves; it is the more welcome for his sake. The contrary, God complaineth of: “I have written to them the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing” (Hos. viii. 13). God is the author, whosoever be the penman; it is a writing from him to us. Now to be strangers to it, or little conversant about it, argueth some contempt of God. As to slight the letter of a friend, showeth little esteem of the writer. But now the saints put it into their bosoms, view it with delight, it is God's epistle.

2. In regard of its own excellency, in three respects. It is,-
Ist, Their direction.
2ndly, Their support.
3rdly, Their charter.

1. It is their direction; “it is a light that shineth in a dark place" (2 Peter i. 19). The world is a dark place beset with dangers, and ever and anon we are apt to stumble into the pit of destruction, without taking heed to this light. The word discovereth to them evils, that they may see them, repent of them, forsake them; and showeth us our ready way to Heaven, that we may walk therein. It discovereth the greatest dangers, and pointeth out the surest way to safety and peace. They are called “ true laws,” and “ good statutes" (Neh. ix. 13), to show the full proportion that they bear to the soul. Verum and bonum, truth and goodness, are proper for our most eminent faculties, the understanding and will. It doth a man's heart good, to study these statutes. A child of God that seeth others stumble and fall, how may he stand and bless God for the

direction of the word, that God hath given him counsel in his reins, that he hath a clue to lead him out of those labyrinths in which others have lost their way, and know not how to escape !

2. It is their support. Their word is koivov larpeiov, as Basil expresseth it; It is God's shop, whence they fetch all their cordials in a time of fainting, and so are freed from those fears and discontents, and despairing thoughts, under which others languish : “ This is my comfort in my affliction, thy word hath quickened me” (Psalm cxix. 50). When à believer is damped with trouble, and even dead at heart, a promise will revive him again : “ Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction" (verse. 92). And many such like experiences the saints have had. The worth of the world is best known in an evil time. One promise in the word of God doth bear up the heart more than all the arguings and discourses of men, though never so excellent. In a time of temptation, in the hour of death, O what a reviving is one word of God's mouth!

3. It is their charter, that which they have to show for their everlasting hopes. There we have promises of eternal joy and blessedness under the greatest assurance; and this makes way for strong consolation (Heb. vi. 18). A man that hath a clear evidence to show for a fair inheritance, it is not irksome to hear it read, or to look over it now and then, as a covetous man is pleased to look into his bills and bonds which he has under hand and seal.

Secondly, This delight will be of great use to them :

1. To draw us off from carnal vanities. We have another delight, and the strength of the soul runneth out in another way; there will not be such room for worldly affections. As fear is cured with fear, the fear of men with the fear of God; so is delight by delight; delight in God's statutes, is the cure of delight in worldly things. Love cannot lie idle, it must be occupied one way or another ; either carried out to the contentments of the flesh, or else to holy things. Now if you can find a more noble delight, there is a check upon that which is carnal : “ Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity, and quicken thou me in thy way” (Psalm cxix. 37). The enlargement of the heart straightens the flesh.

2. It will take off the tediousness of religious exercises. What we delight in, is not irksome. In hunting, fowling, and fishing, though there be as much labour as in our ordinary employments, yet we count the toil nothing, because of the delight we have in them. We are very apt to be weary of well-doing, and to tire in a holy course; but now when it is our delight, it goeth on the more easily. In one sense we must make religion our business, in another our recreation; our work to prevent slackness, our recreation to prevent tediousness ; it is not a task, but a pleasure.

Use I.—This informeth us of the ill choice that many men make of their delights and recreations; they must have cards and dice, and foolish mirth, to pass away the time, or else idle stories and vain romances : a Christian is everywhere like himself; he showeth himself a Christian in bis recreations as well as in his business. Castæ deliciæ meæ sunt Scrip. turæ tuæ, (saith Austin,) Lord, my chaste delights are the holy Scriptures. If we were as we should be, it would be our recreation to understand our duty, to contemplate the way of reconciliation to God by Christ, and to take a view of our everlasting hores. Were we seriously persuaded of the benefits which men have by the word, that there is a sure direction to resolve our doubts, and our scruples, and the offers of a pardon, and a glorious estate by Christ, what need hath a Christian for any other recreation? Will not the sense of God's love, and the hopes of Heaven, make us merry enough ? Indeed, because of the weariness of the flesh, we need temporal refreshments; but here should be our great delight, “I will" solace or recreate “ myself in thy statutes."

USE II. —Caution to us to fix our delights aright.

1. It is a considerable affection. All the affections depend upon pleasure or pain, delight or grief (the one is proper to the body, the other to the soul) which grow from the contentment or distaste which we receive from the divers objects which we meet with. If we love, it is for that we find a sweetness in the object beloved ; if we hate, we apprehend a trouble in what we hate : if we hope, we promise ourselves a happiness or satisfaction in the possession of the thing hoped for: if we despair, it is because the thing cannot be obtained from which our contentment would arise. Desire is of some good which we judge pleasing. By fear and flight we shun things which we apprehend would breed us vexation. So that in effect, delight sets all the other affections a-work.

2. It is a choice affection, more proper to fruition than use, and therefore not for the means so much as end, and so reserved for God who is the last end. There are fruenda and utenda, God and heavenly things to be enjoyed, but earthly things to be used : for means, those that are in the nearest vicinity to the end, as the law of God, and grace : earthly things are to be used with a kind of indifferency, and therefore should have little of our joy, but our solid complacency must be in God, next in the things of God, his law and grace, which are means in the nearest vicinity with our end : “ Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thy heart” (Psalm xxxvii. 4). “Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say rejoice” (Phil. iv. 4).

3. Delight, if not rightly set, of all the affections it is apt to degenerate. We have a liberty to delight in earthly things; the affection is allowed, the excess is forbidden. Thou mayest delight in the wife of thy youth, in thy children, estate, in the provisions heaped upon thee by the indulgence of God's providence. Pleasure is the sauce of life, to better digest our sorrows. It is allowed us, but it must be well guarded. We are most apt to surfeit of pleasant things, and to miscarry by sweet affections. Sorrow is afflictive and painful, and will in time wear away of itself. Pleasure is ingrained in our natures, born and bred with us; and therefore though we may delight in the moderate use of the refreshments of the present life, in estate, honour, reputation ; yet we should take heed of excess, that our hearts be not overjoyed, and too much taken up about these things. Carnal joy is the drunkenness of the mind, it besotteth us, maketh us unmindful of God, weakens our esteem of his favour and blessing, it chaineth us to present things. Pleasure is the great witch and sorceress that enchants with the love of the world, maketh us unmindful of the country whence we came, and whither we are going ; therefore we should be jealous of our delight, and how we bestow it.

USE III.—To exhort us to this delight in God's statutes, or this spiritual rejoicing.

1. Here is no danger of exceeding ; the greatest excesses here are most praiseworthy. In other things we must exercise it with jealousy, feed

[ocr errors]

with fear, rejoice as if we rejoiced not; a man may easily go beyond his bounds when he rejoiceth in the creature: but here enlarge thy heart as much as is possible, and take thy fill of pleasure : “ Eat, О friends ; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved" (Cant. v. 1). This is ebrietas quæ nos castos facit : chaste flagons. “ Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the spirit" (Eph. v. 18).

2. We shall never be ashamed of these joys : “ Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience," &c. (2 Cor. i. 12). All carnal joys have a turpitude affixed to them, and therefore affect to lie hid under a veil of secrecy. The world would cry shame of him that would say of his bags, or his dishes, ‘Here is my joy :' as much as men affect these things, yet they desire to conceal them from the knowledge of others.

3. We shall never be weary of these joys. The delights of the senses become nauseous and troublesome; our natural dispositions become weary and importunate; a man must have shift and change, pleasures refreshed with other pleasures. But these delights add perfection to nature; nature therefore when fully enjoyed, they delight most. A good conscience is a continual feast, a dish we are never weary of. The blessed spirits in Heaven are never weary of beholding the face of God. God is new and fresh every moment to them. The contemplation of such excellent objects doth not overcharge and weaken the spirits, but doth raise and fortify them. It is true, the corporeal powers being weak, may be tired in such an employment, as much reading is a weariness to the flesh; but the object doth not grow distasteful, as in carnal things.

How shall we get it ?

(1.) Get a suitableness to the word. Every man's delights are as his principles : “ They that are after the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh: but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit” (Rom. viii. 5). A man is much discovered by his savour and relish of things. All creatures must have suitable food. There must be a suitableness between the faculty and the object ; spiritual things are spiritually discerned.

(2.) Be in a condition to delight in the word. A guilty soul readeth its own doom there; it révealeth themselves to themselves, accuseth and condemneth them. As Ahab said of Micaiah, “ He prophesieth evil against me," and therefore could not endure to hear him. “Every one that doeth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved" (John ii. 20).

(3.) Purge the heart from carnal distempers, lust, envy, covetousness, love of pleasures; these are diseases that need other diet than the word. Such persons must have other solaces, the cater for they flesh, to please the senses. An earthly heart will not delight in spiritual things.

DOCTRIN E II.-It standeth God's children upon, to see that they do not forget the word.

First, What is it to forget the word ? A man may remember or forget two ways, notionally and affectively.

1. Notionally, when the notions of things formerly known, are either altogether, or in part worn out : “He is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass,—but goeth away, and straightway forgetteth what manner of person he was” (James i. 25).

2. Affectively, when, though he still retain the notions, yet he is not answerably affected, nor doth act according thereunto. Thus the butler did not remember Joseph, that is, did not pity him. Thus God is said

not to remember the sins of them that repent, when he doth not punish them; and to forget the afflictions of his people, when he doth not deliver them; and we are said to forget God (Psalm cvi, 21), when we do not obey him; and to forget his word when we do not “ remember his commandments to do them” (Psalm ciï. 18). In this place both are intended, the notional and practical remembrance.

Secondly, The reasons why we should not forget his word.

1. Meditation will fail else. A barren, lean soul is unfit to enlarge itself in holy thoughts, shall never grow rich in the spiritual understanding : “Let the word of God dwell in you richly, in all wisdom," &c. (Col. ïïi. 6). Men of small substance grow rich by continual saving, and holding together what they have gotten; but if they spend it as fast as they get it, they cannot be rich. “Mary kept all these sayings, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke ii. 19).

2. Delectation will grow cold, unless the memory be rubbed up ever and anon. When they fainted under affliction, the cause is intimated : “ Have ye forgotten the exhortation, that speaketh unto you as unto children ?” (Heb. xii. 5.) Distrust in straights is from the same source : “ They remembered not the miracle of the loaves, for their hearts were hardened” (Mark viïi. 14–17). Ye see, and hear, and do not remember. David was under great discomfort, till be remembered “the years of the right hand of the Most High” (Psalm lxxvii. 10). “ This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope" (Lam. üïi. 21).

3. Practice, and conscience of obedience, will grow more remiss. Nothing keepeth the heart in a holy tenderness, so much as a presence of the truth; and when we can bring our knowledge to act, and have it for our use upon all occasions, it urgeth us to practice : “Being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer” (James i. 25). Most of our sins are sins of forgetfulness and incogitancy. Peter would never have been so bold and daring, and done what he did, if he had remembered Christ's prediction.

The text saith, “ When he remembered, he wept bitterly'' (Luke xxii. 61, 62). A bad memory is the occasion of much mischief to the soul. When we do not call truths to mind in their season, and when fit occasion and opportunity is offered. Memory is a handmaid to understanding and conscience, and keeps truths, and brings them forth when called for.

Use—is to press us to caution. Let us not forget the word. Helps to memory are :

1. Attention. Men remember what they heed and regard. Attend to my sayings,“ keep them in the midst of thine heart" (Prov. iv. 21). Where there is attention, there will be retention. Oh, lay up truths with much earnestness and care. Sensitive memory is seated in the hinder part of the head, as one would say in a chamber backward, from the noise of the street. Now, Oh, lay up truth safe, and lay it out whenever you have need. But rational memory lieth near the understanding and conscience, in the midst of thine heart. Reverence in the admission of the word, helps us in the keeping of it. Let us take “heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip" (Heb. ii. 1). If we did receive it with more heed, we would retain it with more constancy, lay them up, keep them choicely

2. Affection, that is a great friend to memory. What we esteem most, we best remeinber. Omnia que curat s'nps meminerunt : an old man will not forget where he laid his bag of gold. Delight and love will renew

« 上一頁繼續 »