CHAP. 10.

Two especial Times wherein the former Principle is to be applied.


THE point thus cleared is very sweet and sovereign; but so that no carnal man must come near it, no stranger meddle with it, much less swine trample upon it. It is a jewel for the true-hearted Nathanael's wearing alone. Nay, the Christian himself, in the time of his soul's health, height of feeling, and flourishing of his faith, must hold off his hand; only let him keep it fresh and orient in the cabinet of his memory, as a very rich pearl against the day of spiritual distress. As precious and cordial waters are to be given only in swoonings, faintings, and defection of the spirits; so this delicious manna is to be ministered specially, and to be made use of in the straits and extremities of the soul, at such times and in such cases as these: In

1. The strugglings of the new-birth.
2. Spiritual desertions.
[[274]] 3. Strong temptations.
3. Extraordinary troubles upon our last bed.

1. When thou art once come so far as I intimated before,-to wit, that after a thorough conviction of sin, and sound humiliation under God's mighty hand, upon a timely and seasonable revelation of the glorious mystery of Christ, his excellencies, invitations, his truth, tender-heartedness (for the desire I speak of is an effect and affection wrought ever immediately by the gospel alone); I say, when in this case thine heart is filled with vehement longings after the Lord of life, if thou be able to say with David, “My soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land” (Psalm cxliii, 6); if thou feel in thyself a hearty hunger and thirst after the favour of God, that fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness, and fellowship with Christ, assuredly then the well of life is already opened unto thee by the hand of thy faithful Redeemer, and in due time thou shalt drink thy fill. He that is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the eternal and unchangeable God, hath promised it. And amidst the sorrows of thy trembling heart, and longings of thy thirsty soul, thou mayest even challenge it at his hands with a humble, sober, and zealous confidence. As did that Scottish penitent (George Sprot) a little before his execution. He freely “confessed his fault, to the shame, as he said, of himself, and to the shame of the devil, but to the glory of God. He acknowledged it to be so heinous and horrible, that had he a thousand lives, and could he die ten thousand deaths, he could not make satisfaction. Notwithstanding, said lie, Lord, thou hast left me this comfort in thy word, that thou hast said, ' Come unto me all ye that are weary and laden, and I will refresh you.' Lord. 1 am weary; Lord, I am heavily laden with my sins, which are innumerable. I am ready to sink, Lord, even to hell, without thou in thy mercy put to thine hand and deliver me. Lord, thou hast promised by thine own word, out of thine own mouth, that thou wilt refresh the weary soul. And with that he thrusts out one of his hands; and reaching as high as he could, with a louder and a strained voice cried, I challenge thee, Lord, by that word, and by that promise which thou hast made, that thou perform and make it good unto me that call for ease and mercy at thine hands.” Proportionably when heavy-heartedness for sin hath so dried up thy bones, and the angry countenance of God so parched thine heart that thy poor soul begins to gasp for grace, as the thirsty land for drops of rain, thou mayest, though dust and ashes, with a holy humility [[275]] thus speak unto thy gracious God. O merciful Lord God, thou art Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.

Thou sayest, It is done, of things that are yet to come, so faithful and true are thy decrees and promises. And thou hast promised by thine own word out of thine own mouth, “that unto him that is athirst, thou wilt give of the fountain of the water of life freely” (Rev. xxi, 6). O Lord, I thirst, I faint, I languish, I long for one drop of mercy. “As the hart panteth for the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God,” and after the yearning bowels of thy wonted compassions. Had I now in possession the glory, the wealth, and the pleasures of the whole world; nay, had I ten thousand lives, joyfully would I lay them all down and part with them to have this poor trembling soul of mine received into the bleeding arms of my blessed Redeemer. O Lord, and thou only knowest it, my spirit within me is melted into tears of blood, my heart is shivered into pieces. Out of the very place of dragons and shadow of death do I lift up my thoughts, heavy and sad, before thee; the remembrance of my former vanities and pollutions is sickening to my soul; and it is sorely wounded with the grievous representation thereof. The very flames of hell, Lord! the fury of thy just wrath, the scorchings of mine own conscience, have so wasted and parched mine heart, that my thirst is insatiable. “bowels are hot within me; my desire after Jesus Christ, pardon, and grace, is greedy as the grave; “the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.” And, Lord, in thy blessed book thou callest and criest, “Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters,” &c. (Isa. lv, 1). “In that great day of the feast, thou stoodest and criedst with thine own mouth, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink” (John vii, 37). And these are thine own words, those “who hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled” (Matt. v, 6). I challenge thee, Lord, in this my extremest thirst after thine own blessed self, and spiritual life in thee, by that word, and by that promise which thou hast made, that thou perform and make it good unto me that lie grovelling in the dust and trembling at thy feet. Oh! open now that promised “well of life; ' for I must drink, or else I die here then, and in a word, is thy comfort: in these hungerings and thirstings of the soul, there is as it were the seed of faith, there is something of faith in them, as excellent divines both for learning and holiness do affirm. Howsoever, or in what phrase soever it be expressed, sure I am, [[276]] such desires, so qualified as before, shall be fulfilled, satisfied, accomplished, possessed of the well of life; and that is abundant to put the thirsting party into a comfortable and saving state. The words of Scripture are punctual and downright for this. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matt. v, 6). “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink” (John vii, 37). “The Lord heareth the desire of the humble” (Psalm x, 17). “He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him” (Psalm cxlv, 19). “The Lord filleth the hungry with good things” (Luke i, 53). “Let him that is athirst, come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. xxii, 17). “Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters” &c. (Isa. lv, 1). “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground” (Isa. xliv, 3). These longings and desires, this hunger and thirst, before a sensible apprehension and enjoyment of Christ, arise from a sense of the necessity and want of his blessed person and precious bloodshed, which the afflicted soul now prizeth before ten thousand worlds: and for whose sake is most willing to sell all, and to abandon wholly the devil's service for ever. Those, after a full entrance into the holy path, and joyful grasping of the Lord Jesus in the arms of our faith, arise partly from the former state of unutterable sweetness we found in him; partly from the want of a more full and farther fruition of him, especially when he is departed, in respect of present feeling; as in times of desertion, extraordinary temptation, &c. In the passage that is past 1 understand the former; in those that follow, the latter.

2. Concerning desertions, I intend a larger and more particular discourse; and therefore 1 pass by them here.