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God, is meditation, whereby a man calls together "all that is within him to bless his name," Psal. ciii. 1. Meditation is the wing of the soul which carrieth the affections thereof to things above. By this, as Moses, it goeth up to the top of Pisgah to take a view of the promised land. It is, as Clemens Alexandrinus saith of prayer, a conversing with God; as Chrysostom saith of faith, so may we of meditation. It makes God, and Christ, and precepts, and promises ours, by giving us a fuller possession of them. Hereby we hold fast the things which we have learned; we awaken our faith, inflame our love, strengthen our hope, revive our desires, increase our joys in God; we furnish our hearts, and fill our mouths with materials of prayer; we loosen our affections from the world; we acquaint ourselves beforehand with those glories which we yet but hope for, and get some knowledge of that love of Christ which passeth knowledge. Meditation is the palate of the soul whereby we taste the goodness of God; the eye of the soul whereby we view the beauties of holiness; whereby our spiritual senses are exercised, Acts xxiv. 16. Heb. v. 14. It is the key to the wine-cellar, to the banqueting-house, to the garden of spices, which letteth us in unto Him whom our soul loveth. It is the arm whereby we embrace the promises at a distance, and bring Christ and our souls together.
Though some learned men of former times have written some few things upon this subject, yet of our
agc, and in our language, I do not remember any who have purposely handled it, but our christian Sencca, the learned and reverend bishop Hall, which being one small tract in the midst of a voluminous work, may haply not be in every man's hand to peruse. The necessity, excellency, and usefulness of this christian duty, the reverend author of this book hath elegantly described, which is therefore worthy the perusal of such as desire to acquaint and furnish themselves with so excellent a part of christian skill, whereby time may be redeemed and improved unto the prepossession of eternity. The Lord so fill us with the love of him, and with all the fulness of God, that we may be able continually to say, "My heart is fixed O Lord, my heart is fixed, I will sing and give praise."
Thine in the Lord,
From my study at Lawr. Jury,
*Afterwards bishop of Norwich.
SAINT'S SPIRITUAL DELIGHT.
BUT HIS DELIGHT IS IN THE LAW OF THE LORD.
CHAPTER I.-Showing that Negative Goodness is but a broken Title to Heaven.
As the book of the Canticles is called the Song of Songs by an Hebraism, it being the most excellent, so this psalm may not unfitly be entitled, the Psalm of Psalms, for it contains in it the very pith and What Jerome saith of quintessence of christianity. St. Paul's epistles, the same may I say of this psalm; it is short as to the composure, but full of length and strength as to the matter. This psalm carries blessedness in the frontispiece; it begins where we all hope to end: it may well be called a Christian's Guide, for it discovers the quicksands where the wicked sink down in perdition, ver. 1. and the firm ground on which the saints tread to glory, ver. 2. "But The text is an epitome and breviary of religion, his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night." Every word hath its emphasis; I begin with the first word "But.'
This "But" is full of spiritual wine, we will broach and taste a little, then proceed.
"But." This is a term of opposition. The godly man is described,
I. By way of negation, in three particulars. 1. "He walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly;" he is none of the council; he neither gives bad counsel, nor takes it. 2." He standeth not in the way of sinners." He will not stand among those who shall not be able to stand in the judgment," ver. 5. 3. "He sitteth not in the seat of the scornful." Let it be a chair of state, he will not sit in it, he knows it will prove very uneasy at last.
The word sitting implies, 1. A habit in sin,— "Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother," Psal. I. 20. 2. Sitting implies familiarity with sinners I have not sat with vain persons,' Psal. xxvi. 4. that is, I do not haunt their company. The godly man shakes off all intimacy with the wicked. He may traffic with them, not associate; he may be civil to them, as neighbours, but not twist into a cord of friendship: diamonds and stones may lie together, but they will not solder and
II. The godly man is described by way of position, or rather opposition: "But his delight is in the law of the Lord.' From this word "But" observe, that negative goodness is not sufficient to entitle us to heaven. To be no scorner, is good, but it is not enough. There are some in the world whose religion runs all upon negatives; they are not drunkards, they are not swearers, and for this they bless themselves. See how that pharisee vapours, “God,
I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers," &c. Luke xviii. 11.
Alas, the not being scandalous will no more make a good christian than a cipher will make a sum. The godly man goes further, "he sits not in the seat of the scorner; but his delight is in the law of the Lord.” We are bid, not only to "cease from evil, but to do good," Psal. xxxiv. 14. It will be a poor plea at last, Lord, I kept myself from being spotted with gross sin; I did no hurt. But what good is there in thee? It is not enough for the servant of the vineyard, that he doth no hurt there, he doth not break the trees, or destroy the hedges; if he doth not work in the vineyard, he loseth his pay; it is not enough for us to say at the last day, we have done no hurt, we have lived in no gross sin; but what good have we done in the vineyard? where is the grace we have gotten? If we cannot show this, we shall lose our pay, and miss of salvation.
Do not content yourselves with the negative part of religion; many build their hopes for heaven upon this cracked foundation, they are given to no vice, none can charge them with any foul miscarriages, and these are their letters of credence to show; to such persons I say three things.
1. You may not be outwardly bad, and yet not inwardly good. You may be as far from grace as from vice; though none can say your eye is black, yet your soul may be dyed black. Though your hands be not working iniquity, your heads may be plotting it. Though you do not hang out your bush,* yet you may secretly vend your commodity; a tree may be full of vermin, yet the fair leaves may cover them that they are not seen; so the fair leaves of civility may hide you from the eye of man, but God
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