Master Sermon List
Converse with the Unseen World
by James Meikle
1. FUTURE GLORY.
When, some years ago, I left my native country for another land, my thoughts went before me; and when I foresaw, that, in the course of providence, I would cross the glowing equator, still my thoughts got the start of me, and were, as it were, acquainted with the place before my arrival there. Since, then, I am on my journey towards eternity, and the world unseen, why is not my meditation there? Shall the howling desert, through which I hasten, engross all my attention, when paradise is before me?
Tell me, you inhabitants of bliss, how you employ yourselves, you who have bid everlasting farewell to all created things? "Oh! man, your question moves our pity, and proves that you dwell in thick darkness. Could you thrust your head through these heavens, and get one glance of the glory we dwell in, of the divine person we adore, you would never ask the question again, but ardently long to come up here, and account the conquest of an earthly kingdom, like the childish acquisition of a feather or a fly; you would turn the world out of your mind, and trample on its noblest things with a disdain befitting an expectant of glory."
My divine Redeemer, I see, then, that in your presence there is fullness of joy, and that at your right hand are pleasures evermore. Too long the things of time have gained on my esteem; too long have I been enamored with creature-charms, and mistaken the chief good; henceforth I will meditate on that world, where in a little while I shall dwell forever. The more I meditate on divine things, the more I love them, and find the greater delight in my meditations; but the less my thoughts are on them, alas! the less do I esteem them. Ah! hitherto how have I refused and fled the purest felicity, and followed after vanity and pain!
2. LACK OF LOVE TO GOD.
Bleed, my heart! and be pained, my inmost soul! at the irreverence that too often troubles me in my devotion, and defiles my best duties. O you sons of light! I see you stand at the eternal throne, and worship the Almighty, with profoundest awe and reverence. Yes, you angelic throng! though your countenance sparkles with glory, yet, before the Ancient of Days, you hide your faces with your wings, drop your greatness in his effulgent Majesty, and lose your beauty in his diviner beams. There the mighty Gabriel is a celestial worm; and all the seraphic principalities are but insects round the throne!
What, then, must I be before the High and Lofty One who alone inhabits eternity? I who dwell in clay, am crushed before the moth, clouded with ignorance, defiled by sin, dogged by death, pleased with phantoms and charmed with painted nothings! The language I write in, cannot afford words to describe my vileness; metaphors fall short, and fruitful fancy toils in vain. Then let me think, and fall down in deep debasement.
O tremendous gulf! where am I now! You fallen angels! you infernal throng! you I resemble in my irreverence towards God. Oh, horrid! shall I be like these wicked specters, these ancient sons of sin and death? Out of the belly of hell will I cry unto you: yet you have my heart, you have my love, and I will worship at your throne prostrate on the humble ground.
O you happy assembly on the heavenly mount, the mount of God! could I think like you, could I know like you, could my whole soul be enrapt in adoration and divine attention to the sweet employ, what delight would diffuse through all my powers of mind in my happiest moments!
What cause have I to fear lest your burning thunderbolts break on my irreverent head, and dash the daring wretch out of your gracious presence into perdition and woe? Be exalted in your condescension to my state, in your pity to my frame, and let your patience and forbearance swell my grateful anthem, while I long for that perfect state, wherein, though blessed with the nearest approaches, I shall always be filled with the profoundest respect, divinest awe, and not one improper thought of God shall pass my bosom.
3. WE GROPE IN THE DARK WHILE HERE BELOW.
You heirs of endless rest and joy! You no longer experience the anxious thought, the troubled bosom; your cares are past, and your concerns have come to an happy end. Yet this day I wait the doubtful outcome of some grand affairs which very much concern my passing life. Not a cloud is in your sky, not a doubt is in your mind, while I dwell in the stormy twilight, and fear a tempestuous night. O you shining ones! is it possible, that ever, like me, you dwelt in this valley of Achor? Were your composed countenances ever disfigured with sorrow, or did the briny tear ever trickle from your sparkling eyes?
"Yes, mistaken man! we all, everyone of us, came out of great tribulation! There is not an inhabitant of the Canaan above, but traveled through the wilderness below. We lost our sorrows when we left our mortal frame, and at once found immortality and joy; and now our happiness is as vast as thought, unbounded as our wish, and stable as the hills of bliss!"
Well, well, you sons of joy! I reckon my happiness as well as you. If your felicity be secured in the possession, mine is secured in the promise. He who delivers out of Egypt, also brings safely over Jordan, Once, like me, you wept, you mourned, you stood bewildered, and knew not what to do. So, in a little while, I, like you, shall shout and sing, and share eternal peace, and the conduct of my glorious Guide. Comforted with these prospects, I will encounter all the changes of a transient state, and fix my eye on the felicity to come. By faith I will drink at the river which flows from the throne of God; and thus, become immortal in my highest hopes, and most endearing prospects, I will bid defiance to all the darts of woe that can strike me in time. What can changes do to me, since my last, and most terrible change shall fix my felicity, and render my best state unchangeable?
4. ALL THINGS WORK FOR GOOD TO THE SAINTS.
May I endure as seeing him who is invisible, and having my eye much on the world to come! Time now passes, and passing time has perplexing scenes. But, O you citizens of the New Jerusalem, your mountain stands fast, and shall never be moved, and your beloved is in your arms; and an everlasting hallelujah dwells upon your tongue! Here I dwell in the dark, and am much in doubt, nor know what conclusion to draw from the conduct of Providence concerning my present state. I am confounded and pray, and often am at a loss to know my duty. Is there none in your great assembly who wish that some of your crosses had not taken place in time? and that the divine conduct had been otherwise?
"No, complaining mortal! No! Be it known to you, and all the mourning throng, that we adore and acquiesce in all that ever befell us below. Yes, the very providences which troubled us most, and made us almost doubt the love of God, and disbelieve his promises; now, when unfolded in the light of glory, fill our hearts with joy, and our mouths with songs, while we adore the infinite love and amazing wisdom of our God, who made all things work together for our eternal good!"
What! Is there not one in all your numerous assembly that has had dark and bewildering providences in his lot?
"What, then, presumptuous inquirer? It comforts us, that God, our own God, has sent the dark and bewildering providences. And though we should never be able to find out the cause, or be indulged with the mystery unfolded, we are all well pleased to have the strongest impressions of Jehovah's absolute sovereignty, who gives no account of any of his matters to men or angels, thus preserved on our enlarged souls, to all eternity."
Shall I not, then, from this time, O Lord, claim you as my Father, and the guide of my life? Thousands, and ten thousands, by your divine conduct, have safely arrived at bliss, and not a complaint on their tongue, not a murmur in their mind, for one step in all the rugged way.
5. A SOUL CONVERTED, JOY AMONG THE ANGELS.
"One of our blessed number is just now arrived from ministering to the saints on earth, and brings the joyful tidings, that a sinner is converted, an heir of glory born, and therefore joy sparkles in every angelic countenance, and triumphs in our rapturous hallelujahs. Let this day be marked in the records of heaven, in the annals of eternity!"
What is the meaning of this great shout in the camp of heaven? Hail, happy day, when the conversion of my friend, whom I have daily prayers, shall cause joy among the angels of God! Yes, when the Savior shall see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied! Methinks I see the rosy dawn of divine power, when the soul who once resisted Jesus flies into his arms. Then the peace of God, and peace of conscience, are prized above all the things of time. Jesus! Your name is salvation, your word enlivening, your merits infinite, and all your affections love!
Again the heavenly arches ring, "Another captive is rescued from hell, another sinner is converted from the error of his way!" Let all the ransomed throng exalt the riches of free and sovereign grace, while all my powers are swallowed up of astonishment and love!
6. EARTH NOT OUR HOME.
Why am I so fond of this land wherein I am a stranger, of the place of my exile? The decease of all my ancestors proves this; not one of them is this day alive, and I shall shortly follow them. O to get this world under my feet, that it may not be a dead weight on me in my journey! This is the land of idols, and every image dares compete with eternal realities for my affections. Time is as often in my thoughts as eternity. Earth engrosses as much of my concern as heaven.
The expectant of glory will not own his home beneath the sun; for it is but a wilderness where sin and Satan reign; where God is seldom seen; and where the Christian is often weeping. But, O blessed inhabitants! who dwell where the Lord God and the Lamb are the temple, the Lord God and the Lamb are the light, and the joy of the whole land. You not only dwell in heaven, but heaven dwells in you, while earth and hell struggle hard for room in my heart, and, alas too, too often prevail. Compassionate Redeemer! when shall your traveler arrive at these realms of day, join the sinless throng that worship at your throne, and never, never, sin?
<>7. WE SHOULD LIVE ABOVE THE WORLD.
O divine Lover! O divine love! how wonderful are your works! In eternity past, there was not one adorer to be found before the throne; but now how are the courts of the great King thronged! and thousands and ten thousands continually worship at your throne! And by and by not only the angels of light, but all the heirs of love, shall all sit down in the kingdom of their Father. Then shall I get full views of you, O darling of heaven, desire of nations, light of the world above! Men and angels were created to be happy in you, and got their beings that you might be glorified, and they might be blessed. But all men fell into sin, that some might be redeemed. O wisdom finite! O Sovereign love! Then, not only being and bliss have I from you in creation, but in the wonderful work of redemption. And yet I am a stranger to my divine Redeemer! O when shall I come and stand before your throne? As fast as the chariot of time can drive, I am posting to the unseen world, but how shall I be ashamed that I had not more acquaintance with you! To sit at your feet, will be my joy through eternity; and to talk of your love, will heighten my joy! Should not your love be now my daily theme, which shall be the praise of the marriage-supper of the Lamb through eternity?
Do I believe that this world and I must part? Then, may my heart and mind be set on eternal realities, and not on the the world's lying vanities!
8. JOY AWAITS THE SAINTS.
"He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17
Can I complain of my present troubles, since in a short time, like those who walk in white robes, with crowns on their heads, and palms in their hands, I shall be in an ecstacy of joy forever? When I am brought from the house of mourning, to make my solemn entrance into the King's palace, it will be with gladness and rejoicing. All my powers of mind will be entranced at my admission into your beatific presence! All the heavenly graces will sing in concert at receiving the crown of perfection! All the angels of light will welcome me with joy to their great Master's house! and the whole church of the first-born will shout my happy accession to the purchased throne!
Yet, for all this, my welcome would be but dry, and their song but dull, did not you, O Jehovah! rejoice over me! Did you not rest in your love, and rejoice over me with singing! How can the heaven be silent, if Jehovah sings? All your attributes, all your perfections shall harmonize in my salvation. Mercy and truth, righteousness and peace, shall meet and kiss, and shout and sing! O what astonishing transports and entrancing melody shall fill the highest heavens! where, O amazing! where the subject of our songs, and object of our love, shall himself be the sweetest singer, because he does everything according to the grandeur of a God!
9. THE JOY OF SAINTS UNSEEN.
How do the men of the world mistake piety, and think the Christian dull, melancholy and morose! But, O Fountain of my joy! you know what divine delight I find in my retired moments. I only lament that I am not more alone, or, when alone, that I am not more with you. The request of the spouse shall be mine, Come, my beloved, let me get up early from an enchanting world, let me go forth from the vanities of time, let me lodge in the humble village of solitude, let me walk in the flowing field the promise, and there will I give you my love. In these sweet moments heaven smiles in my face, and my soul exults in God. I grasp at my expected bliss, and taste the joys on high.
10. HEAVEN THE BEST INHERITANCE.
"Yes, dear friends, we are already God's children, and we can't even imagine what we will be like when Christ returns. But we do know that when he comes we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is." I John 3:2
A divided sea, and a flaming Sinai, falling manna, and a friendly cloud, were wonders of old. But O what a wonder is this, that the God of glory should come down to give wings to worms of the earth to bear them to the skies! Amazing! to see insects soar above the stars, and arrive at the realms of glory! When, O when shall I also join the shining multitude that sits on Zion's hill? But there is not one crawling insect in all the heavenly country. So, though I be a worm below, while I rise to the throne, I shall be changed into a pure being, in the assimilating beam.
Truly, O King eternal! my faith sees that the land of promise is a pleasant land, and that your presence makes heaven a desirable habitation. Let worldlings contend about earthly dust. I will not be satisfied with anything but your presence. What is a province, what is kingdom, what is an empire, what a continent, what is the whole world, compared to an inheritance in the highest heaven! To your honor, O you King of kings! all your glorified subjects are both altogether and always kings. In your favor they are exalted, and none shall ever drive them from their state. A home in the wilderness was not desired by the tribes who were traveling to the land of promise. Nor shall I much esteem a plot of this enchanting world, who desire to be only charmed with my heavenly possession.
O pleasant country! O land of delight! where the winter is past, and eternal summer dwells! Sin dares not pass the frontiers of Immanuel's land; sorrow and sickness dare not invade the seats of bliss. Shall I hereafter inhabit the land where sin shall no more infest it? I who have been plagued with it all my life! Shall, then, this earth, which is marked for destruction, engage my attention, or gain my esteem, when my eternal home is so very near? I have but a little way to go until I pass over Jordan, and enter into my eternal possession of Jehovah and the Lamb, where I shall enjoy all his glorious fullness, ages without end!
11. ENEMIES OVERTHROWN.
Though Israel was safe, while recoiling seas opened a passage for the ransomed tribes; and the angel and the cloud interposed between the heirs of promise and the hardened pursuers; yet when their enemies are no more, but their lifeless bodies, which caused their terror in Egypt, are lying on the shore, how do they sing and boast in their divine Deliverer! Even so, though under your conduct, O Captain of salvation! I am safe in spite of earth and hell at my heels, in spite of sin and corruption rising in my heart! Yet how desirable is it to enter into the land of rest! how pleasant to join the triumphant throng, who have put off their armor, and put on their crowns; who have dropped the spear, and taken up the palm! In a word, how sweet, how ineffably sweet, to cease from sin!
You know I desire to depend on promised grace, and in the strength thereof to cut my way through all my enemies. But I also desire to pant for promised glory, when not an enemy shall be found in all the heavenly world. Hail happy day, when sin, which choked my graces, and slew my comforts, shall be cast into the lake of fire! To believe in you is my duty while below, but to behold you will be my bliss above! Faith and hope refresh and support me in earthly state, but vision and fruition shall transport and ravish me forever! Indeed my defense is the same, but the sense of my security differs. Though grace shall rise into glory, yet often my faith is shaken, and a heavy tumult ensues in my soul. But when crowned with glory, and seated before your throne, I shall sin no more, I shall fear no more, but enjoy divine ecstasies, sacred tranquility, and all the pleasures of the land of love!
12. THE EXERCISE OF THE BLESSED.
O you heavenly multitudes, how are you this night employed? "In beholding him, and praising him, in seeing him, and singing to him. We look on him, and love him; we look to him and are enlightened; we see him, and are like him. No fatigue deadens our devotions, no weakness inclines us to repose! We are immortal, and our theme is eternal, so we cannot be wearied, and it cannot be exhausted!"
What high and beautiful themes are in your songs, then, O you redeemed from among men! O the ravishing paeans of the hosannahs above, and the raptures of the hallelujah on high! O the sweetness of the song of Moses and the Lamb, and the melody of the mingling notes of men and angels! O the sublime subject of the anthem, and the eternity of the concert! "True, O man! for our day knows no night, our song no pause, our vision no veil, our sun no cloud, our light no shadow, our strength no decay, our felicity no period, our love no allay, and our eternity no end!"
O exalted ones! Do you not pity us, the sons of men, to find us so anxious and eager in the pursuit of lying vanities, as if the things of time could please us? You are honoring Christ to the highest, for he is in your soul, and in your song, in your love, and in your eye. O blessed exercise! O excellency of bliss! The Most High God, in the highest heaven, in the brightest display of his glory, in the sweetest manifestations of his love, is the subject of your song, the object of your adorations, and the plenitude of your possession! My rest would be your uneasiness; for I must sleep in order to bear the toils of a perishing world, but you rest not day nor night, and yet are sufficient for the ecstasies of an eternal heaven! These are the years of the right hand of the Most High God; the days of the exalted Son of man, of which I long to see. O the strength that flows from that exceeding and eternal weight of glory! the more weight, the more might!
Amazing thought! I shall shortly join in that song, possess that glory, plunge into that bliss, be satisfied with that likeness, see that well-beloved of my soul, burn in that love, share of that fullness, and enter into that joy! Therefore, in my present low condition, it shall be consolation to me to meditate on the sublime employment of the higher house, until I am transported there!
13. COMPLAINTS OF SPIRITUAL LANGUOR.
O Lord, these many years I have pretended to love you. I have indeed tasted that you are gracious; but, alas! how can I say that I love you, when my heart is not fixed on you? Can I love you, and not long for you? Surely it is the nature of love to be impatient and restless until possessed of the object beloved; yet how little do I long for you! How can I dwell with so much contentment at such a distance from you! I am not only astonished, but terrified at myself. O lukewarm heart! O lifeless lover that I am! is this my kindness to my friend? Did I rightly esteem the smiles of your face, and the light of your countenance, I could not dwell with so much pleasure in this land of darkness. Did I regard the honor of your name as I ought, the daily sight of your enemies would be my daily grief; and to find myself so often acting the enemy against my dearest Lord, and best friend, would be my continual lamentation and burden.
Is it possible I can be an heir of God, an expectant of glory, and not pant after communion with God? Ah! in what delusive dreams have I hitherto been held! Is the whole creation able to balance the loss of one moment in heaven? Shall I dwell so long at Jerusalem, and not long to enter into the palace to see the King's face! O chief among ten thousand! strike off my fetters, and captivate my love! Divide your heavens, and let my eye of faith look in, and my soul will follow my eye. Why should I, when invited to a crown of heavenly glory, resort to worldly vanities? What a struggle have I with stubborn self, present things, a carnal mind, a weak faith, cold desires, and languid love! O to be enriched with that faith which is the substance of all that a believer can hope for, the evidence and pledge of all the divine excellencies of the unseen world! Then, my faith shall work by love, and my love shall go out on God, and I shall truly long to be forever with the Lord!
14. PREPARATION FOR HEAVEN.
Were I to go abroad, with all my substance, and spend the remainder of my days in another land, would not some things gain my attention?
1. I would study the language of the country, that I might converse with the inhabitants in their own dialect.
2. I would get all the knowledge I could of the laws, liberties etc. of those among whom I were to take up my fixed abode.
3. I would use my utmost endeavor to contract acquaintances, and establish a friendship with the men of the place.
4. If possible, would get recommended to the favor and protection of the ruler of the land.
Alas, then! am I less provident for heaven than I would be for earth?
You inhabitants of the heavenly Canaan, how will you stare at me, if I enter your assembly an utter stranger to your songs? My trifling discourse, and carnal converse, will sound and smell of hell, in the courts of heaven! Oh! am I to converse through eternity in the language of love, and yet not know a letter below?
Am I to be under the laws of your scepter, O King of saints! and not know that God is love! O! now to be searching into the privileges of that land which I am to inhabit, not for the short time, but for eternity itself; where I shall see the King in his beauty, and share of the divine fullness of my exalted Head.
Would I be acquainted with the glorified church, and all the angels of light (and, you happy ones, I hope to join you soon), then only in our employment we contract acquaintance, for while we worship at the same throne, and behold the same amiable Being, faith and vision having like effects, we are companions in love, and associates in work! and are assimilated to the glorious object we behold!
Since in the smiles of your countenance I shall find my eternal heaven, how should I esteem your favor above life, and ardently breathe after communion with you below! I may dwell in any country here, and neither know nor be known by the king; but this cannot be in your land, O Immanuel! for unless I know and am known personally to the King, I can never enter into that glorious place!
15. THE ETERNAL SABBATH.
How is it that I, who pretend to love you, should ever be wearied with a Sabbath-day's devotion? If the body is fatigued, or the spirits exhausted, how shall I stand under much intenser ardors, through eternity itself? What do you say, you adorers round the throne? do you never long to rest from your divine employment? "O poor mortal! how ignorant are you of our frame, our faculties, our felicity and strength! The rest you speak of would be our torment; an intermission of praise would pierce us with the severest pangs of anguish. Did you see him as we do, you would wholly melt in admiration, dissolve in love, and pour forth in praise, and never cease, and never tire through eternity itself."
O Father of lights! pity my darkness, and enlighten me! O fountain of life! pity my deadness, and enliven me! Though the saints in glory never are fatigued or dulled in their divine exercises; have not I had some happy moments, of which I did not weary? Now, when in my best frames, I have found it so for a while. But corruption and infirmity daily distressing me altered all, else I would have found it so for a long time. But in heaven the spiritual frame is fixed, and infirmity and corruption are no more; therefore, with equal ease and vigor I will worship God through eternity, as I would one hour on earth. Well may the fire of love continually burn in heaven, having fresh fuel added to it by the hand of God; well may my soul follow hard after you, being upheld by the arm of your Omnipotence. Then to worship at your throne shall be both the business and the bliss of my eternity! When once I have tasted what it is to rest in the bosom of God, to drink the spiced wine of bliss, to hold communion in the holy of holies, and to worship at the highest throne; then all created beings joined together will not drive me one moment from my dear enjoyment and divine employment! Come, O longed-for day, when I shall mourn no more over my feeble nature, and my perishing body; or my imperfect love; but rise to ardors only known above, and, full of heaven, live wholly for God!
16. INDIFFERENCE TO THE WORLD.
My soul has but a dusky color, an earthly hue, because earth engrosses my thoughts, my cares and concerns. O how little converse have I with the unseen world! how little communion with God! One step into the future world will render my present existence, as if it had never been. Because this world will cheat me, shall I cheat myself? It will be a costly bargain, to give it my soul until I yield my body to its dust. Wherein shall the expectant of glory excel others, if his causes and cures of joy and grief are the same? Should one who would gladly be conversant about the world to come, so much concern himself with wind and vanity, dust and ashes? Bags of 'yellow dust' may bring me to a throne here, but the whole world on my back, will not procure me entrance into the palace of the King Eternal.
When arrived at the seats of bliss, it will not matter whether my journey was in the fair day of prosperity and fame; or in the tempestuous day of affliction and disgrace. Both are forgotten in glory. But if I love God, I will long to be with him, for I shall never get my fill of love in a foreign land. Well, death is fast approaching, and the wondrous hour that divides Jordan. Both deliver me from this howling desert, and possess me of the land of promise. Under such a prospect, well may I with cheerfulness give up my life, saying, into your hand I commit my spirit.
17. THE DISEMBODIED SAINT.
Where, dear angels, where do you carry my soul, which just left its dying body? "Commissioned from your Father's throne, we come to carry you safe into his immediate presence." What dismal howling is that I hear behind us? "It is the last yells of hell's old lion, at your safe escape." Ah! where am I now? What wonders rise around me! what fragrance meets me from the mountains of myrrh, from the hills of frankincense! I hear the voice of my Beloved! Sacred guardians, let me leave you, and fly into his arms!
Am I the one who lately lay tumbling and tossing on a deathbed, who now walks in beds of roses, and on banks of bliss? Am I the one who a little while ago, had weeping friends around his bed, who now am surrounded with angelic song, entranced with heavenly harmony, and ravished with delights? Am I the one who lately lay struggling with the pangs, and trembling at the approach of death, who now am above the reach of fear, and stroke of death?
But, O Majesty of heaven! I blush at my very entrance into your courts, that I have been such a stranger here. What precious time have I wasted on toys and trifles, and despised the joy of angels and the work of heaven! Where are all the things of time now, which could once challenge God, for the possession of my heart? Why did not your glorious being feast my meditations? Why did not your love attract, constrain mine? Why did not the joys of heaven drown the fleeting joys, and dissipate the imaginary sorrows of the world? Why did I prostitute the temple of my soul to the idols of time? Why did I permit the world and self a place in that temple which the Godhead is to inhabit forever?
There are none before the throne but supreme lovers of God, a name I dare not claim; then, let me retire to the outmost confines of the land of bliss, as unworthy to be nearer. Ah! no! At your throne I will dwell forever, and glow in ardors, and dissolve in love. And the sacred spark, which sin and Satan, the world and self, smothered while below, shall burn a flame intense and strong through everlasting day!
18. A CHECK FOR NOT MEDITATING ON DIVINE THINGS.
Does my faith expect a kingdom, a heavenly kingdom, and a crown of glory which fades not away? And can I live days and weeks, months and years, without a real ardent desire to be put in possession of the promised land? I wonder not so much that the wicked think nothing of heaven (for who admire unknown lands?) as that the saints think so little of it, though now and then allowed to pluck the fruits of paradise! Were the day fixed, on which I should make my appearance at an earthly court, to be crowned a prince, how often would my thoughts revolve the encouraging day, and feast on the imaginary, the transitory grandeur! And in the mean time, were it notified to me, that my sovereign expected that I should often meditate on the majesty of his throne, on the equity of his scepter, on the immutability of his laws, on the wisdom of his government, on the riches of his treasures, on the sweetness of his favor, on the munificence of his love, on all his admirable perfections, I would not need a second invitation to these meditations. Now, when all these supposed excellencies in an earthly monarch are realized in the King Eternal; and I am not only permitted, but invited and commanded to meditate on him, assured that the day is on wing when I shall be brought into the palace of the King, crowned with immortality, and serve him in his temple evermore; what a shame, what a sin, yes, what a loss is it, that my whole soul, in all her thoughts, meditations, desires, delights, longings, and outgoings, is not on God, and the things of God!
19. APPROBATION OF TRYING PROVIDENCES.
O governor of men and angels! how necessary is it for me to be conformed to the Captain of my salvation, who was made perfect through sufferings! Who ever expected to find bright noon, in the dark night; or serene summer, in the middle of stormy winter; or pleasing arbors and flower gardens, in a barren desert? Why then am I surprised that I stumble while traveling in the night? Or that it rains and is sometimes very tempestuous in the winter season? Or that I find barrenness in the desert, and lose sight of my fellow-travelers in the dark? I will note my afflictions, but I dare not quarrel. I will plead for compassion, but I will not complain. Death has so often visited my family, that I only am escaped alone to tell, that I have neither father nor mother, sister nor brother, nephew nor niece, nor any nearer relative.
Yet, when the Son of righteousness shall arise on me, I shall share an eternal day above the reach of night, a serene summer where winter shall return no more; and a blooming paradise, and arbors of bliss, where there is no barren desert. Also, while I leave all my infirmities, and all my afflictions in the valley of misery behind me, I shall find treasures of glory, rivers of pleasure, in your presence, fullness of joy at your right hand forever! Moreover, I shall find my pious friends in the better country, whose death I now bewail. And truly I believe, I shall lose and overlook them, and all the heavenly crowd, while entertained and admitted to more divine communion with Jehovah and the Lamb.
20. FAITH'S TRIUMPH OVER AFFLICTION.
In a little while, I shall be where I never was before. And where I now am, I shall never be again. Along with every immortal, I shall be in eternity, and bid a final farewell to time. I shall just be in that heavenly place where my happy meditations now are. In your presence, O Savior! at your throne, O King of kings! shall I find my heaven. Surely, then, it can never become an expectant of so much bliss, to be sad for anything but sin, or to find lasting joy in anything but in God. When I am no more numbered with the living, but lamented over as a broken vessel, I shall mingle with the multitudes of the living God, with the armies of light, and exult in my celestial privilege forever.
Like the rest of Adam's discontented family, I am often grumbling at my griefs, complaining of my afflictions, and on the brink of quarreling at the conduct of Providence itself! To be without afflictions is impossible here below, where man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward. Not to feel when afflicted, is a stoical, impious stupidity. But to sink under troubles of any kind, is beneath the character of the Christian. Yet, when I reflect on that eternity of bliss which is before me, on that world of glory of which I am an heir, I wonder that my afflictions are not rather more.
Is it much for me to stumble among the 'rough stones of adversity', to have my flesh pricked with the 'thorns of trouble', who shall so soon walk the golden streets of heaven, and wear a crown of immortal glory? Though the whole earth should rise up against me, if heaven, and the God of heaven is for me, I am in perfect safety in the midst of all the storms and tempests, whirlwinds and hurricanes, which can blow!
21. A SWEET PROSPECT OF FUTURE BLISS.
How soon I shall mingle with the inhabitants of the invisible world, I cannot say; but I may assure myself it cannot be long. Why then do I converse so seldom with the unseen world? Why do I daily strike my roots deeper into this world, like an old tree; when, like an old tree, I must soon be cut down? By kind providences, and gracious promises, I am encouraged to be heavenly-minded. And by afflictions I am chastened for my carnality. But could my faith get one sip of the heavenly banquet, I would long to sit down at the marriage-supper of the Lamb. What a rich feast is found in the kingdom of God, which entertains thousands and ten thousands of happy souls through eternity, and shall my immortal soul feed on the refuse of created vanities! I tread under foot 'earthly shadows' and rise in my ambition to the bliss of heaven, to the fruition of God. O what beams of glory shine on me! What treasures open in my view, the all-sufficient God enjoyed through everlasting day, by all the powers of my expanding, wondering, ravished, and enlarged mind!
22. THE RAVISHING EMPLOYMENT OF SAINTS IN GLORY.
It is owing to the richness of God's grace, and the immutability of his love, that I do not forfeit my title to the heavenly inheritance, by taking so little delight in divine things, and being so captivated with the perishing creature! O fool that am! to be busied about dust and ashes, and to delight in painted nothings; for the whole creation shall at last be set on fire.
Then, when admitted into your unclouded and beatific presence, what a strange change shall take place in my pursuits? I shall feel a frame of mind superior to the claim of my faith; and my soul shall be filled with raptures never felt, never known below. My soul shall largely open to the sacred emanations of the Deity, and exert all her ravished powers in searching the divine perfections, and through eternity pursue the blissful theme. Then, and not until then, shall I know what it is to see God, to have perfect communion and fellowship with Jesus, and to enjoy him in all his inexhaustible fullness. There shall not be an unemployed moment, nor an idle thought there. Crowns and kingdoms shall not excite one wish there (why then should lesser things excite so many wishes now, since, I am to be so soon there?) but God's infinite, lovely self shall be my all in all through eternity!
23. A REPROOF FOR DECAY IN GRACE.
With tears of blood might I write bitter lamentations over the deadness of my soul, the darkness of my heart! Is the beloved of my soul in heaven, and shall the love of my soul grovel on the earth? Has he who is fairer than the angels of God, lost all his beauty with me? Has he no form nor loveliness that I should desire him, meditate on him, and long for him? O the mad career of my foolish mind, to hunt after shadows, vanity, wind, and let heaven and glory go! O happy day of glory that is on the wing, when sin shall poison my pursuits no more; but all my soul, with the ardor of heavenly love, and the vigor of perfected grace, shall search the adorable perfections of God!
24. THE NOBLE INDIFFERENCE.
The brevity of time, and the near approach of eternity, give to the rightly-exercised soul a noble indifference about everything below. What does it matter whether I dwell in a palace or a prison, since it is but for a day, an hour, a moment! What disappointment should grieve me in time, if I shall possess God for eternity? I look around me, and see multitudes eager on the chase, keen in the pursuit of created vanities, forgetful that the world is passing away. I look forward to the invisible world, and see multitudes in their eternal state, astonished at the stupidity of men, that the 'trifles of time' should preponderate so much with them. I also find myself in the deluded throng of triflers, and condemn my own vain conduct.
A hundred years ago, the earth was filled with inhabitants, who are now in eternity. They then straggled along the road of human life with care and concern, with burdens and bitterness, but now are forever at their journey's end. I am now traveling the thorny path, and shall also shortly arrive at my eternal home. The interim is so short, that nothing that can befall me should either give much pain or pleasure. I am on the wing to the celestial paradise, and no blasts in my face shall hinder my flight to the city of God!
The brevity of time may be bitter to the sinner, because torment and eternity seize him in the same moment. But it must afford me joy, for the shorter my time, the nearer to my endless felicity. All the complicated afflictions of time must disappear when time is no more. Why, then, take deep concern, or heavy sorrow; or much joy, or lasting delight, at the ill or good of the few flying moments on our journey to eternity? My soul is immortal, and God is eternal. Therefore in God below, and in God above, in God in time, and in God in eternity, shall my soul find boundless pleasures and unfading bliss!
25. NO HAPPINESS BELOW.
Never shall I attain to happiness, while I seek it in the creature, or expect it outside of heaven! O how little concern should I have with the things of time, who am so far on my journey towards eternity! When the world gets into the affections, there is nothing but tumult and disorder there; this I have long found. But when heaven dwells within, the heart becomes a little heaven, and all is peace and serenity, composure and joy. O! then, to keep the heart barred against 'enchanting trifles,' and to live above everything below. At the hour of death, I shall make my triumphant entry into the New Jerusalem, and from the walls of the holy city I shall bid defiance to all the cares of life, the pleasures of sense, the multitudes of corruption, and the legions of hell.
26. GOD A NEVER-FAILING PORTION.
With respect to this world, I sleep but a part of every day; but with respect to eternal realities, alas! how long is my sleep, how little am I awake! O it is sad to be taken up with dreams and shadows, and to neglect eternal realities! I am happy to be shaken out of my false confidences, and to hang on my heavenly Father alone; and if disappointed in my support, it will not be owing to the instability of my prop, but to my not leaning on him aright. However, I am happy with his rich grace and overflowing love, in spite of all temporal disasters. I am content, even if the whole of my life were one series of disappointments, one continued tempest and storm, since the hour of death brings me safe to the other shore, where the enjoyment of God and the Lamb shall replenish my whole soul forever!
27. GOD CLAIMS THE WHOLE HEART.
O to have communion with God in all things, and at all times; and for this end I should keep for him my heart. If I am visited by a great friend, I must not ignore him by playing with trifles; lest he grow angry, and be gone. Just so, God expects my heart, claims my meditations, and is affronted when he is not in all my thoughts. O then, to get my idols destroyed, my meditations swept of vanities, and my heart wholly kept for God.
28. THE BEST EMPLOYMENT.
To prepare for the world to come may well employ my time, the short while in this world. And the sweet hopes of the heavenly paradise may well support me while traveling through this earthly wilderness. And when I arrive there, it shall not diminish my bliss, that in my pilgrimage I sometimes had storms and tempests in my face; clouds and thick darkness around me; troubles and dangers in my way; strangers and enemies as my companions by the way; and that I was often walking without any company at all. When I arrive there, I shall get such a view of the wisdom which conducted me along, that I shall not only approve of it, but admire, adore, and sing of it forever!
29. THE DEATH OF FRIENDS.
If we love to converse with our friends, surely I should love to converse much with the unseen world, where all my godly friends are. Several years ago, death swept off all my family into the unseen world. Thus Providence has torn my family to pieces, blasted my pleasant prospects, plucked up the olive-plant which graced my table, cut down the fruitful vine which flourished by my side; and so desolated me, that I have no near friend to consult with about the affairs of this world, or the concerns of the unseen world. Now, if there was no other state than this, no other world but the present, surely my situation would be extremely melancholy. But there is a future state, an unseen world which balances all. So, while the tear starts in my eye from affection to my friends, a triumph rises in my heart, from a knowledge of their felicity. The days of my mourning will come to an end, but their happiness and hosannahs are eternal!
30. DIVINE WISDOM IN OUR VARIOUS LOTS.
The wisdom of the gardener is seen in the cultivation of his plants; some he sets in the sun, others in the shade; some in a rich, fertile soil, others in a dry and barren ground; and thus the gardener's skill is conspicuous, for each thrives best in its own soil. Then, since Infinite Wisdom has allotted a great part of my life to sorrow and solitude (not that I complain) I realize that I could not grow well in another soil.
Behind the high wall of adversity, and in the shade of affliction, the saints will bring forth fruits of humility, self-denial, resignation and patience. These graces cannot grow so well in the sun-beams of prosperity.
Now, if another soil would be more agreeable to my spiritual growth, the heavenly farmer would soon transplant me there. It does not matter, though I grow in the shade, if the Sun of righteousness shines on my soul, and makes every grace to flourish. He knows better what lot is best for me, than I do myself. In choosing it for me, I should rather admire his wisdom, than complain of his conduct; the more so, when I consider that on a barren soil, and in a lonely shade, he can cultivate plants that shall bask in the eternal beams of glory!
31. THE MIND TOO LITTLE ON HEAVEN.
Alas! how little do I converse with myself, how little with the unseen world, how little with God! and yet what various events in adorable Providence call for my attention! With God there is a time to give, and a time to take; a time to remove, and a time to restore; a time to afflict, and a time to comfort. All these things point me to my latter end, and admonish me to converse with the unseen world. Now, what solid consolation may this yield to me, that he who is my best friend, is Supreme Governor over all! He will shortly, through all events, bring me to the eternal enjoyment of himself!
32. THE DUTY OF THE AGED SAINT.
The kind providences of my lot, command my gratitude to my Heavenly Father, my entire dependance on his arm, and peace and composure in my bosom. The heavenly promises of being brought home to glory, and satisfied forever with his likeness, may shed a little heaven through my bosom; and because I am so far advanced in life, may rather cheer than distress me. O how vain and uncertain is this world, but how sweet and sure the unseen world, towards which I look! When Hezekiah got the message of his death, he turned away his face from his courtiers, his officers of state, and his attendants, towards the wall; for none of our friends can attend us through the dark valley of death. So in view of my approaching dissolution, I should turn my face, my affections, away from all created things.
I am now, like the Israelites, arrived on the very banks of Jordan, and just waiting for the command to cross over. Until that day comes, I wish by the 'eye of faith' to take pleasant and repeated views of the unseen world. This will wean me from this present wilderness, endear heaven to me, and encourage me in view of passing over the river. Israel dwelt forty years in the desert, but when they left it, they left it for good and never pitched a tent there again, or expressed the least desire of returning there. Just so, though I should dwell seventy years in this weary world, yet when called away, O with what cheerfulness will I leave the land of my pilgrimage, the place of my exile! When gone, I shall be gone forever, and raise a triumphant song at having entered my everlasting rest; and being set forever free from sin and earth, from infirmity and death!
33. AFFLICTIONS WILL ATTEND US TO OUR LAST.
At times, I may be ready to say, "Is there any trouble like my trouble with which the Lord has afflicted me?" Yet I know that I should never complain of my difficulties. However numerous or uncommon some of my afflictions may be, I thereby am conformed to the happy souls before the throne, who came out of great tribulation and fiery trials. I am to acquit Sovereignty in the kind and in the duration of my afflictions. Nothing should grieve me, but my sinfulness. Divine Love, Infinite Wisdom, and Sovereign Grace, can turn this shadow of death into the morning, and out of this roaring lion bring forth food to my soul!