« FöregåendeFortsätt »
very winds whistle, and the sea roars out the praise of the Almighty, who both raises and allays them at pleasure. What a shame were it for man, to whom alone God hath given an understanding heart, a nimble tongue, and articulate language wberein he can express his rational thoughts, to be wanting to this so universal devotion, and to be as insensible of the great works of God, as the ground that he treads upon! If others shall be thus unthankfully dumb, yet, ‘Praise thou the Lord, o my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name. While I live, will I praise the Lord : I will sing praises to my God, whilst I have any being.'' But alas, Lord, thou knowest I cannot so much as will to praise thee, without thee: do thou fill my heart with holy desires, and my mouth with songs of thanksgiving.
XV. It may seem a strange errand upon which our Saviour tells us he came into the world : 'I am come to send fire on the earth.” When the two fervent disciples would have had fire sent down from heaven upon but a Samaritan village, our Saviour rebuked them, and told them they knew not of what spirit they were; yet here he makes it his own business to send fire on earth. Alas, may we think, we have fire too much already! How happy were it rather, if the fire which is kindled in the world were well quenched! And what is the main drift of the Prince of Darkness, but fire ? if not to send fire down from heaven upon the inhabitants of the earth; yet, to send the in
i Psalm cxlvi. 1, 2.
2 Luke xii, 49.
habitants of the earth down to the fire of hell. As then we find divers kinds of material fire-celestial, elementary, domestic, artificial, natural; so there is no less variety of spiritual fires. It was in fiery, cloven tongues, wherein the Holy Ghost descended upon the apostles in their Pentecost ;' and even this fire, did our Saviour come to send down on the earth.? “Thy word was in me as fire,'3 saith the prophet; and “Did not our hearts burn within us,' said the two disciples, in their walk to Emmaus, 'while he talked with us ?'4 this fire he also came to send. Heavenly love and holy zeal are fire: “Many waters cannot quench love.'5 • My zeal hath consumed me,' saith the Psalmist. And these fires our Saviour came to send into the hearts of men. Holy thoughts are no other than the beams of celestial fire: ‘My heart was hot within me: while I was musing, the fire burned;' and these we know he sends: "He maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire;'these he sends forth to the earth, 'to minister for them that shall be heirs of salvation.'' Besides these, affictions and persecutions are fire: · We have passed through fire and water :' 'Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial, which is to try you, as if some strange thing had happened to you ;'' and even these are of his sending : • The Lord hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundation thereof.9 There is no evil in the city, but the Lord hath done it: • The Lord hath done that, which he had devised : he hath
"Acts, ii. 3. ? John, xvi. 7. 3 Jer. v. 14.“ * Luke, xxiv. 32.
5 Cant. viii. 7. 6 Psalm, cxix. 139; xxxix. 3 ; civ. 4. Heb. i. 7.
8 Psalm lxvi. 12. 1 Peter, iv. 12. 9 Lam. iv. 11.
7 Heb. i. 14.
thrown down, and not pitied.”! But this expression of our Saviour goes yet deeper, and alludes to the effect of separation which follows upon the fire of our trial. When the lump of ore is put into the furnace, the fire tries the pure metal from the dross, and makes an actual division of the one from the other : so doth Christ by his Word and Spirit. Even he, that is the Prince and God of Peace, comes to set division in the world. Surely, there are holy quarrels, worthy of his engagement; for as the flesh lusteth and warreth against the spirit, so the spirit fightest against the flesh; and this duel may well beseem God for the author, and the Son of God for the setter of it: these second blows make a happy fray. Nothing is more properly compared, than discord, to fire. This, Christ (the first thing he does) sets in every heart: there is all quietness, secure ease, and self-contentment in the soul, till Christ come there. How should it be other, when Satan sways all without resistance? But, when once Christ offers to enter, there are straight civil wars in the soul betwixt the old man and the new; and it fares with the heart, as with a house divided in itself, wherein the husband and the wife are at variance: nothing is to be heard but unquiet janglings, open brawlings, secret opposition; the household takes part, and professes a mutual vexation. This spiritual self-division, wherever it is, though it be troublesome, yet it is cordial. It puts the soul into the state of Rebekah's womb; which, barren, yielded no pain, but when an Esau and Jacob were conceived and struggling within, yielded for the time no ease;
yet this was that which caused her just joy, that she had not so much children as nations in her womb: even so the trouble of this inward conflict is abundantly requited with the joy of this assurance, That now Christ is come into our soul, and is working his own desired ends in and upon us. Let vain and sensual hearts please themselves in their inward peace and calmness—there cannot be a greater sign of gracelessness and disfavour of God: “When they shall say peace, peace, then shall come upon them sudden destruction. The old word was, “ No safety in war:" here, it is contrary. It is this intestine war of the heart, with fire and sword to our corruptions, that must bring us true rest for the present; and hereafter, eternal peace and happiness. Now, Lord, since it is thy desire that this fire should be kindled, kindle thou and enflame my heart with a fervant desire and endeavour, that this thy desire may be accomplished in me. Set me at war with myself, that I may be at peace with thee.
XVI. In all that we have to do with God, he justly requires and expects from us an awful disposition of heart towards his infiniteness. Hereupon it was that he delivered his law in thunder, fire, smoke, and all dreadful magnificence; and when upon the same day he would send down his Spirit for the propogation of the gospel, it was done with an astonishing majesty; with a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind and with the apparition of cloven and fiery tongues.' And as it was thus
1 Acts ii. 2, 3.
in the descent of the Holy Ghost in the miraculous gifts, so it is in the sanctifying graces; seldom ever doth God by them seize upon the heart, but with a vehement concussion going before. That of St. 1 Paul's conversion was extraordinary and miracu- 1 lous; but in some degree, it is thus in every soul; 1 we are struck down first, and are made sensible of our spiritual blindness, ere our full call can be ac- ji complished. As it was with Elijah in the Mount of Horeb, there came first a strong wind that tore the rocks and mountains, and after that an earthquake, 1 then a fire, before the still small voice; so it is usually in our breasts, ere the comfortable voice of 1 God's Spirit speak to our hearts : there must be i some blustering and flashes of the law. It is our honour and his favour that we are allowed to love God: it is our duty to fear him. We may be too. familiar in our love: we cannot be too awful in our fear.
XVII. , All valuations of these outward things are arbitrary, according to the opinion of their pleasure or their rarity, or the necessity of their use. Did not men's minds set a price upon metals, what were they better than some other entrails of the earth, or one better than the other ? If by public law the mint were ordained to be only supplied by our stannaries, how currently would they pass for more precious than silver mines. To an Indian, a bracelet of worthless beads is estimated above his guld; a hungry Esau values a mess of pottage above his birth-right. In the siege of Samaria an ass's head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and a cab of dove's-dung for five pieces. We have
| 2 Kings vi. 25.