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not say, " Thou mayest die," no, nor " Thou must die," but " Thou art dead ;" and where the first notice that my soul hath of her sickness, is irrecoverableness, irremediableness. But, O my God, Job did not charge thee foolishly in his temporal afflictions, nor may I in my spiritual. Thou hast imprinted a pulse in our soul, but we do not examine it; a voice in our conscience, but we do not hearken unto it. We talk it out, we jest it out, we drink it out, we sleep it out; and when we wake, we do not say with Jacob, Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not: but though we might know it, we do not, we will not. But will God pretend to make a watch, and leave out the spring? to make so many various wheels in the faculties of the soul, and in the organs of the body, and leave out grace, that should move them? Or will God make a spring, and not wind it up? Infuse his first grace, and not second it with more, without which we can no more use his first grace when we have it, than we could dispose ourselves by nature to have it? But, alas, that is not our case; we are all prodigal sons, and not disinherited; we have received our portion, and mispent it, not been denied it. We are God's tenants here, and yet here, he, our landlord, pays us rents; not yearly nor quarterly, but hourly and quarterly; every minute he renews his mercy, but we will not understand, lest that we should be converted, and he should heal us1.
O ETERNAL and most gracious God, who, considered in thyself, art a circle, first and last, and altogether; but, considered in thy working upon us, art a direct line, and leadest us from our beginning, through all our ways, to our end, enable me by 1 Matt. xiii. 10.
thy grace to look forward to mine end, and to look backward too, to the considerations of thy mercies afforded me from the beginning; that so by that practice of considering thy mercy, in my beginning in this world, when thou plantedst me in the Christian church, and thy mercy in the beginning in the other world, when thou writest me in the book of life, in my election, I may come to a holy consideration of thy mercy in the beginning of all my actions here: that in all the beginnings, in all the accesses, and approaches of spiritual sicknesses of sin, I may hear and hearken to that voice, O thou man of God, there is death in the pot1, and so refrain from that which I was so hungerly, so greedily flying to. A faithful ambassador is health3, says thy wise servant Solomon. Thy voice received in the beginning of a sickness, of a sin, is true health. If I can see that light betimes, and hear that voice early, Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and my health shall spring forth speedily' . Deliver me therefore, O my God, from these vain imaginations; that it is an overcurious thing, a dangerous thing, to come to that tenderness, that rawness, that scrupulousness, to fear every concupiscence, every offer of sin, that this suspicious and jealous diligence will turn to an inordinate dejection of spirit, and a diffidence in thy care and providence; but keep me still established, both in a constant assurance, that thou wilt speak to me at the beginning of every such sickness, at the approach of every such sin; and that, if I take knowledge of that voice then, and fly to thee, thou wilt preserve me from falling, or raise me again, when by natural infirmity I am fallen. Do this, O Lord, for his sake, who knows our natural infirmities, for he had them, and knows the weight of our sins, for he paid a dear price for them, thy Son, our Saviour, Christ Jesus.
2 2 Kings, iv. 40. 3 Prov. xiii. 17.
* Isaiah, Iviii. 8.
II. Actio Uesa.
The Strength and the Function of the Senses, and other Faculties, change and fail.
THE heavens are not the less constant because they move continually, because they move continually one and the same way. The earth is not the more constant because it lies still continually, because continually it changes, and melts in all the parts thereof. Man, who is the noblest part of the earth, melts so away, as if he were a statue, not of earth, but of snow. We see his own envy melts him, he grows lean with that; he will say, another's beauty melts him; but he feels that a fever doth not melt him like snow, but pour him out like lead, like iron, like brass melted in a furnace. It doth not onlv melt him, but calcine him, reduce him to atoms and to ashes; not to water, but to lime. And how quickly? Sooner than thou canst receive an answer, sooner than thou canst conceive the question; earth is the centre of my body, heaven is the centre of my soul ; these two are the natural places of these two; but those go not to these two in an equal pace. My body falls down without pushing, my soul does not go up without pulling. Ascension is my soul's pace and measure, but precipitation my body's. And even angels, whose home is heaven, and who are winged too, yet had a ladder to go to heaven by steps. The sun who goes so many miles in a minute, the stars of the firmament which go so very many more, go not so fast as my body to the earth. In the same instant that I feel the
first attempt of the disease, I feel the victory; in the twinkling of an eye I can scarce see; instantly the taste is insipid and fatuous; instantly the appetite is dull and desireless; instantly the knees are sinking and strengthless; and in an instant, sleep, which is the picture, the copy of death, is taken away, that the original, death itself, may succeed, and that so I might have death to the life. It was part of Adam's punishment, In the sweat of thy brows thou shalt eat thy bread: it is multiplied to me; I have earned bread in the sweat of my brows, in the labour of my calling, and I have it; and I sweat again and again, from the brow to the sole of the foot, but I eat no bread, I taste no sustenance. Miserable distribution of mankind, where one half lacks meat, and the other stomach!
DAVID professes himself a dead dogi, to his king Saul, and so doth Mephibosheth to his king David2; and yet David speaks to Saul, and Mephibosheth to David. No man is so little, in respect of the greatest man, as the greatest in respect of God; for here, in that, we have not so much as a measure to try it by; proportion is no measure for infinity. He that hath no more of this world but a grave, he that hath his grave but lent him, till a better man or another man must be buried in the same grave, he that hath no grave but a dunghill, he that hath no more earth but that which he carries, but that which he is, he that hath not that earth which he is, but even in that is another's slave, hath as much proportion to God, as if all David's worthies, and all the world's monarchs, and all imagination's giants, were kneaded and incorporated into one, and as though 1 J Sam. xxiv. 15. 2 2 Sam. ix. 8.
that one were the survivor of all the sons of men, to whom God had given the world. And therefore how little soever I be, as God calls things that are not, as though they were, I, who am as though I were not, may call upon God, and say, My God, my God, why comes thine anger so fast upon me? Why dost thou melt me, scatter me, pour me like water upon the ground so instantly? Thou stayedst for the first world, in Noah's time, one hundred and twenty years; thou stayedst for a rebellious generation in the wilderness forty years; wilt thou stay no minute for me? Wilt thou make thy process and thy decree, thy citation and thy judgment, but one act? Thy summons, thy battle, thy victory, thy triumph, all but one act; and lead me captive, nay, deliver me captive to death, as soon as thou declarest me to be enemy, and so cut me off even with the drawing of thy sword out of the scabbard, and for that question, How long was he sick? leave no other answer, but that the hand of death pressed upon him from the first minute? My God, my God, thou wast not wont to come in whirlwinds, but in soft and gentle air. Thy first breath breathed a soul into me, and shall thy breath blow it out? Thy breath in the congregation, thy word in the church, breathes communion and consolation here, and consummation hereafter; shall thy breath in this chamber breathe dissolution and destruction, divorce and separation? Surely it is not thou, it is not thy hand. The devouring sword, the consuming fire, the winds from the wilderness, the diseases of the body, all that afflicted Job, were from the hand of Satan; it is not thou. It is thou, thou my God, who hast led me so continually with thy hand, from the hand of my nurse, as that I know thou wilt not correct me, but with thine own hand. My parents would not give me over to a servant's correction, nor my God to Satan's.