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from these ears by which we have been allured to transgression and defiling iniquities! Absent from those lusts and passions, from that fear and that hope, that pleasure and that pain, that love, that desire, and that anger, which are all carnal, and seated in the fleshly nature, and become the spring and occasion of so much sin to our souls in this state. Absent from the body, and present with the Lord: Methinks there is a heaven contained in the first part of these words, absent from the body; and a double happiness in the last, present with the Lord: present with him who hath saved our spirits through all the days of our christian conflict, and hath given us the final victory: Present with that God, who shall eternally influence us to all holiness, who shall forever shine upon upon us with his own beams, and make us conformable to his own holy image: Present with that Lord and Saviour, from whom it shall not be in the power of all creatures to divert or draw us aside.
It is by our flesh in this world that we are a-kin to so many temptations, a-kin to all the objects that stand around us, to tempt us from our God; and we are ready to cry out, "O the blessed angels that were never a-kin to the flesh! O those blessed spirits, who move swift as flames to execute the will of their God, without the incumberance of flesh, without being allured by that most powerful and successful tempter! Happy beings! they know not our toils; they feel them not; they are all spirit; they are all holy! O the blessed saints in glory, that are released from their flesh, which once they had so many, and so sore combats with! Their flesh, which heretofore prisoned them, and pained them, and drew them often away from God, contrary to that heavenly bias that was put upon their souls by God the Sanctifier !"
But we rejoice in hope that our turn shall come too. There is a day of deliverance from this sinful flesh provided for us. All our times are in the hand of God; and the best time, is the time of release from this sinful companion. Let our faith say, "I read in the promises that this same happiness belongs to me, which the saints above are now possessed of: It is coming, it is coming as fast as time and the heavens can move, as fast as days and hours can remove out of the way." Then we shall have no flesh for the world to lodge one temptation in, nor for Satan to make use of as an engine of his malice, to batter the constancy and duty of our souls; then we shall be freed from all those methods of injury to our spirits, which we receive now by means of the flesh.
Thus at the day of our death is derived a glorious liberty, and thence we date our joys; but our joys rise high indeed, if our faith can but look a little farther, and take a prospect of that day, when our flesh shall be raised in perfect holiness, and our spirits
completely holy, shall be rejoined to it; then it shall be no more, true, that flesh and spirit lust against each other, and these two are contrary; for flesh and spirit shall both draw one way, both lead us towards our divine original, and the first Father of our minds, shall concur together to influence us to perfect holiness; then, when our spirits shall be like God, the first and best of Spirits; and when our flesh shall be like the flesh of the Son of God, that great pattern of a glorified body.
And this day will surely come, for our Redeemer with his body is glorified in heaven, and he sits there as a pattern of our bodies to be glorified, and a pledge to assure us of it too. O come the day when he shall change these bodies of our vileness into the form of the body of his glory! and he can easily do it, by that power whereby he can subdue all things to himself; Phil. iii. 21. Then shall our flesh and our spirit join sweetly together and each of them fulfil and enjoy their part, in the business and blessedness provided for them in regions of unknown pleasure. Amen.
HYMN FOR SERMON IV.
Flesh and Spirit; or, the Principles of Sin and Holiness.
WHAT vain desires, and passions vain,
Oft have they pierc'd my soul with pain,
How have I wander'd from my God,
And following sin and shame,
For ever blessed be thy grace
That form'd my spirit new.
And made it of an heaven-born race,
My spirit holds perpetual war,
And wrestles and complains, And views the happy moment near, That shall dissolve its chains.
Chearful in death I close my eyes,
How would my purer spirit fear
If its old tempting powers were there,
The Soul drawing near to God in prayer..
Jos xxiii. 3, 4.-0 that I knew where I might find him that I might come even to bis seat; I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments.
THE FIRST PART.
THIS book of Job might, perhaps, be the first and earliest part of all the written word of God; for learned men, upon good ground, suppose that this history was elder than the days of Moses, and yet it hath many a sweet lessen of experimental religion in it, to teach the disciples of Christ; we may learn many duties and comforts from it in our day, upon whom the ends of the world are come. The style of it in some parts is so magnificent and solemn, in others so tender and affectionate, that we must feel something of devout passion when we read this history, our hearts are but in a serious frame, and if our temper or circumstances of mind or body have any thing a-kin to the grief or piety of this good man.
Job had now heard long stories of accusation from his friends while he was bowed down, and groaning under the heavy providences of God; they persecuted him whom God had smitten, and poured in fresh sorrows upon all his wounds. "I will turn aside, saith he, from man, for miserable comforters are ye all; and I will address myself to God, even to the God that smites me. O that knew where I might find him! The stroke of the father doth not make the child fly from him, but come nearer, and bow himself before his best friend: this is the filial temper of the children of God. "My complaint is bitter, (saith Job, ver. 2.) because of my sorrows from the hand of God, and from the accusations and reproaches of my friends; you may think I am too lavish in my complainings and my continual cries, but I feel more than I complain of." And therefore Job is set up as a pattern of patience; for he could say, my stroke is heavier than my groaning.
There are some of the children of God who give themselves up to a perpetual habit of complaints and groans, though no trial hath befallen them but what is common to men; they make all around them sensible of every lesser pain they feel, and being always uneasy in themselves, they take the kindest and gentlest
admonition for an accusation; and while they imagine themselves in the case of Job, they resent highly every real or suspected injury in short, they make a great part of their own sorrows themselves, and then they cry out and complain; and among their dismal complainings, they often, without reason, assume the words of Job as their own, and say, my stroke is heavier than my groaning. In some persons this is the temper of their natures, and in others a mere distemper of the body; but both ought to watch against it, and resist it, because it appears so much like sinful impatience and fretfulness, that it cannot be indulged without sin.
There are others, whose real afflictions are dreadful indeed, and uncommon, who seem to tire all their friends with their complaints too; but, it may be, if we knew all their variety of sorrows, and could take an intimate view of every outward and inward wound, we should acknowledge their stroke was heavier than their groaning; and especially when God is in such a measure absent from them too, that they are at a loss, as Job was, how they should come at him or converse with the heavenly Father then their souls break out into vehement desires, O that I knew where I might find him!
A child of God who is wont to maintain a constant and humble correspondence with heaven, does often receive such sensible influences of instruction and comfort from the throne of grace, that he is led on sweetly in the path of daily duty, by the guiding providences of God, and by the secret directions of his Holy Spirit. He finds divine pleasure in his morning addresses to the mercy-seat, and returns to the throne in the evening with joy in his heart, and praise upon his tongue. He has something to do with the great God, in a way of humble devotion, in all his important concerns; but if God retire and withdraw from him, he feels and bemoans the divine absence, and his heart meditates grief and complaints; and when at the same time he is pressed with other burdens too, he breathes after God with a sacred impatience, and longs to know where he may find him: then says the soul, "O if I could but come near to the seat of God, in my addresses to him, I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments." This brings me to the doctrine, which shall be the subject of my discourse.
Observation. When a christian gets near the seat of God in prayer, he tells him all his sorrows, and pleads with him for relief.
In discoursing on this doctrine I shall consider four things.I. How may we know when a soul gets near to God in prayer; or what is to get near the seat of God.-II. What are the parti
cular subjects of holy converse between God and the soul.—III. Why such a soul tells God all his sorrows.-IV. How he pleads with God for relief.
First, How may we know when a soul gets near the seat of God in prayer?
I answer, there will be some or all these attendants of nearness to God.
I. There will be an inward sense of the several glories of God, and suitable exercises of grace in the soul. For when we get near to God, we see him, we are in his presence; he is then, as it were, before the eyes of the soul, even as the soul is at all times before the eyes of God. There will be something of such a spiritual sense of the presence of God, as we shall have when our souls are dismissed from the prison of this flesh, and see him face to face, though in a far less degree: It is something that resembles the future vision of God in the blessed world of spirits; and those souls who have had much intimacy with God in prayer, will tell you that they know, in some measure, what heaven is. The soul, when it gets near to God, even to his seat beholds several of his glories displayed there; for it is a seat of majesty, a seat of judgment, and a seat of mercy. Under these three characters is the seat of God distinguished in scripture; and because this word is part of my text, I shall therefore a little enlarge upon these heads.
When the soul gets near to God, it sees him,
1. As upon a seat of majesty. There he appears to the soul in the first notion of his divinity or godhead, as self-sufficient, and the first of beings: He appears there as the infinite ocean, the unmeasurable fountain of being, and perfection, and blessedness; and the soul, in a due exercise of grace, shrinks, as it were, into nothing before him, as a drop, or a dust, a mere atom of being. The soul is in its own eyes at that time, what it is always in the eyes of God, as nothing, and less than nothing and vanity. He appears then in the glory of his all-sufficience, as an almighty Creator, giving birth, and life, and being to all things; and the soul, in a due exercise of grace, stands before him as a dependant creature, receiving all its powers and being from him, supported every moment by him, and ready to sink into utter nothing, if God withdraw that support. Such is God, and such is the soul, when the soul draws near to God in worship.
He appears again upon his seat of majesty as a sovereign, in the glory of his infinite supremacy, and the soul sees him as the supreme of beings, owns his just sovereignty, and subjects itself afresh, and for ever to his high dominion. O with what deep humility and self-abasement doth the saint, considered merely as a creature, cast himself down at the foot of God, when