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Full text of "Converse with God in solitude"


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If' v:>*W 4 : 


If multitudes, who glory in their christian name, 
were not willingly without God in the world, there 
would not every where be found such melancholy 
proofs of aversion to sacred retirement. Every 
moment of time, and every capacity of nature, 
would not so studiously be consecrated to the low 
caresses of fellow worms. Nor would the natural, 
the unavoidable, and therefore common disappoint- 
ments resulting from mortal friendship, be received 
with such horrible surprise or be felt with such ex- 
quisite pain ; like the man that cried out, -when his 
idols of silver and gold were stolen from him, They 
have taken away my gods, and what have T more 1 

Mr. Henry observes, where it is said of our 
Lord, He went up into a mountain apart to pray, 
" They are not Christ's followers that do not care 
for being alone ; that cannot enjoy themselves in 
solitude, when they have none else to converse 
with, none else to enjoy but God and their own 


Oh that all hearts may be so visited with th« 
grace and Spirit of Jesus, as in this instance to make 
it their highest ambition to breathe his temper, and 
imitate his example ! Then the multitudes, who 
have so long and ardently sought their heaven in 
vain, amongst the tumults of business, or the 
thoughtless circles of mirth and gayety, will seek 
and find it in the recesses of devout retirement. 
Then will the flames of devotion, wherever they 
are now ascending, ascend yet higher, bum more 
constant, pure and fervent, and produce more lively 
foretastes of heavenly joy. That this small but 
heavenly tract may, through a divine blessing, 
contribute to answer such desirable purposes, is 
the sole end of its appearance in the present form. 

B. F. 


Behold the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye 
shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall 
leave me alone ; and yet I am not alone, because the 
father is with me.— John xvi. 32. 



Sect. I. The connexion of the text with the con- 
text. Sect. II. A general plan of the work. 
Sect. III. 1. Why Christ suffered all his disci- 
ples to forsake him. Sect. IV. — VI. 2. How 
we may see ourselves forsaken by our friends. 
Sect. VII. 3. What an aggravated affliction it 
is to be forsaken by our friends. Sect. VIII. — 
X. 4. Considerations to reconcile us to such an 
aggravated affliction. Sect. XI. The chapter 
concludes with pointing out the happy tendency 
of such considerations. 

Sect. I. Christ thought fit to 
foretel his disciples how they would 


manifest their infirmity in forsaking 
him. This he did, more fully to con- 
vince them that " he knew what was 
in man," and that he voluntarily sub- 
mitted to his being forsaken. Thus 
man did least for Christ, when Christ 
was doing most for man ; even mak- 
ing atonement for man's reconcilia- 
tion to God, and preparing the most 
effectual and expensive remedy for 
man's recovery. Christ foretold them 
of the consequence of their infirmity, 
to humble them, that they might not 
think too highly of themselves for 
having so freely confessed to him, 
" Now we arc sure that thou know- 
est all things, and needest not that 
any man should ask thee ; by this we 
believe that thou earnest forth from 


God, ; ' (ver. 30,) Immediately " Jesus 
answered them, Do ye now believe ? 
Behold the hour cometh, yea, is now 
come, that ye shall be scattered every 
man to his own, and shall leave me 
alone, and yet I am not alone, because 
the Father is with me." Though 
Christ would have his servants know 
his graces in them, he would also have 
them know their own corruptions and 
infirmities. We are apt to judge of 
what we shall do hereafter, by what 
we feel at present. When we feel the 
stirring of some corruption, we are 
ready to think ourselves destitute of 
the contrary grace : And when we 
feel the exercise of faith, or love, we 
are ready to think we shall never 
more feel the contrary corruptions. 


But Christ would keep us both hum- 
ble and watchful, by acquainting us 
with the mutability and inconstancy 
of our minds. When it goes well 
with us, we forget the time is coming 
when it may go worse. We may say 
to ourselves, as Christ to his disciples, 
" Do we now believe ? It is well. But 
the time may be coming, in which 
we may be shook by our remaining 
unbelief. Do we now rejoice in the 
love of God? The time may be com- 
ing when we may think ourselves 
forsaken of God, and that he treats us 
as enemies. Do we now pray with 
fervour ? The time may come, when 
we shall seem to ourselves to be pray- 
erless ; or, at least, to pray in vain." 
What Christ here prophesied of his 


disciples, exactly came to pass. In 
the garden, when he was sweating 
blood in prayer, they were sleeping. 
Though " the spirit was willing, the 
flesh was weak." They " could not 
watch with him one hour." When 
he was apprehended, "then all the 
disciples forsook him, and fled." 

Sect. II. In the text there are 
three things that deserve our distinct 
consideration. First, Christ was for- 
saken by his own disciples, and left 
alone. Secondly, when the disciples 
left Christ, they were scattered every 
one to his own. They returned to 
their old habitations, acquaintance, 
and employments, as if their hopes 
and hearts had been almost broken, 
and all their labour lost in following 


Christ so lonsf. Yet the root of faith 
and love, which still remained, caused 
them to inquire farther of the issue, 
and to meet together in secret to con- 
verse with each other about these 
things. Thirdly, when Christ was 
forsaken of his disciples, and leftalone, 
yet he was not forsaken of his Father, 
nor so left alone as to be separated 
from him, or from his love. Each of 
these leading sentiments of the text 
will be more particularly illustrated, 
while in this chapter we consider the 
case of friends forsaking us in our 
distress ; and (Chap. 2.) of friends 
taken from us by death : Then (Chap. 
3.) what it is to have the presence 
of God with us in solitude : and (Ch. 
4.) why the presence of God in soli 


tude is desirable : To which some 
concluding directions will be added 
(Chap. 5.) to show how the presence 
of God in solitude is attainable. The 
case of friends forsaking us in our 
distress, makes it proper to inquire, 
Why Christ suffered all his disciples 
to forsake him ; How we may see 
ourselves forsaken by our friends ; 
and what an aggravated affliction it 
is to be so forsaken ; besides offering 
some considerations, to reconcile us 
to such an aggravated affliction. 

Sect. III. 1. It may seem strange 
to us, that Christ would suffer all his 
disciples to forsake him in all his 
extremity. And, I doubt not, it will 
seem strange to us, when in our ex- 
tremity, and even in our sufferings for 


€hrist, we shall find ourselves for- 
saken by those we highly valued, and 
with whom we were most intimate. 
Providence may permit this, for such 
reasons as these. Christ, while suf- 
fering for sin, permitted the power and 
odiousness of sin to break forth, that 
it might be known he suffered not in 
vain. He permitted his followers to 
desert him; and thereby discover their 
secret unbelief, selfishness, and un- 
thankfulness, that they might know 
the death of Christ was as necessary 
for them, as for others ; that the dis- 
ease was universal, and therefore 
needed a universal remedy. It is 
not Christ's intent to make his ser- 
vants seem better than they are, either 
to themselves or others ; or to honour 


himself by his hiding their faults : but 
to magnify his pardoning and healing 
grace, by means of those sins, which 
he pardons and heals. Hereby, he 
brings his followers to the fuller know- 
ledge of themselves. He shows them 
that, which ought all their days to 
keep them humble, and watchful, and 
at a distance from presumption and 
self-confidence. When we have con- 
fessed Christ, or done him any con- 
siderable service, we are apt, with the 
disciples, to say "Behold, we have 
forsaken all, and followed thee ; what 
shall we have therefore ?" As if they 
had rather been givers to Christ, than 
receivers from him. But when Peter 
forswears him, and the rest fly from 
him, and afterwards reflect on their 


ingratitude and cowardice ; then they 
better discern their weakness, and 
where their dependence ought to be. 
He also, by this means, teaches them 
what they would have been, if God 
had totally left them to themselves. 
When our faults have hurt us, and 
made us ashamed, we shall be thank- 
ful for recovering grace, and not boast, 
as if we had " made ourselves to dif- 
fer from others." Our Lord might 
also design to have no support from 
man in his sufferings. It was part of 
his voluntary humiliation, to be de- 
prived of all earthly comforts, and to 
bear affliction even from those few 
that lately were faithful servants. 
Thus no man could challenge to 
himself the honour of contributing in 


any degree, to the redemption of the 
world ; no, not so much as by en- 
couraging the Redeemer. In this 
way Christ might render the witness 
of his disciples to him of greater au- 
thority. When all their doubts were 
dissipated, they would be received, as 
the most impartial witness, by a 
doubting world. And thus Christ 
would also teach us, that the best of 
men are not entirely to be trusted. 
Paul lived in a time when Christians 
were more self denying and steadfast 
than they now are, yet he says, " At 
my first answer no man stood with 
me, but all men forsook me." 

Sect. IY. 2. Christians expect to 
be conformed to your Lord in this 
part of his humiliation. Are your 


friends yet friendly to you ? Do not 
promise yourselves an unchanging 
constancy in them. Are they yet 
useful to you? Expect the time when 
they cannot help you. Are they 
your comforters, and is their company 
your delight ? Be ready for the time, 
when they may become your sharpest 
scourges and heart piercing griefs ; 
at least, " when you shall say, We 
have no pleasure in them." Have 
any, or all, of them already failed you? 
What wonder 7 Are they not men, 
and sinners l Reprove yourselves for 
your unwarrantable expectations, 
and learn to know what man is. Ex- 
pect some of your friends whom you 
have thought sincere, to prove very 
unfaithful. Are you better than Da- 


vid,\vho had an Ahithophel ; Or than 
Paul, who had a Demas '? Or than 
Christ, who^had a Judas ? " Because 
iniquity shall abound, the love of 
many shall wax cold." If pride, and 
vain glory, and sensuality are unmor- 
tified, such persons are not to be trust- 
ed. For wealth, honour, or worldly 
interest, they will part with God and 
salvation ; and much more with their 
best friends on earth. With Job, you 
may have occasion to complain. " He 
hath put my brethren far from me, 
and mine acquaintance are verily 
estranged from me. My kinsfolk 
have failed, and my familiar friends 
have forgotten me. They that 
dwell in my house, and my maids, 
count me for a stranger : I am an 


alien in their sight. I called my ser- 
vant, and he gave me no answer. 
I entreated him with my jnouth. My 
breath is strange to my wife, though 
I entreated for the children's sake of 
my own body. Yea, young chidren 
despised me ; I arose and they spake 
against me. All my inward friends 
abhorred me ; and they whom I 
loved, are tamed against me." You 
may be obliged, as well as David, to 
say, " Yea, mine own familiar friend 
in whom I trusted, which did eat of 
my bread, hath lifted up his heel 
against me." Those that have been 
most acquainted with the secrets of 
your soul, may be your betrayers. 
They whom you have laid under the 
strongest obligations, may prove your 


most inveterate enemies. Many faith- 
ful ministers of Christ have preached 
and prayed, and wept for their peo- 
ple's souls; and after all have been 
reproached and persecuted. Like 
the patient, that being cured of a 
mortal disease, sued his physician at 
law, for making him sick with medi- 
cines. Paul was accounted an enemy 
by the Gallatians, because he told 
them the truth. Ungrateful truth 
makes the faithfulest preachers most 
ungrateful. " I heard the defaming 
of many," says Jeremiah; "fear on 
every side. Report, say they, and 
we will report it. All my familiars 
watched for my halting, saying, per- 
adventure he will be enticed, and we 
shall prevail against him, and we shall 


take our revenge on him." Thus 
must the servants of Christ be used, 
in conformity to their suffering head. 
Sect. V. Some that are sincere, and 
whose hearts are with you, may, by 
temptation, be drawn to disown you. 
When malice is slandering you, tim- 
orous friendship may perhaps be 
silent, and afraid to take your part. 
If Peter's fear can deny his suffering 
Lord, wonder not that faint-hearted 
friends disown us, who give them 
too much occasion to do so. Why 
may not we be obliged to say as Da- 
vid did, " My lovers and my friends 
stand aloof from my sores, and my 
kinsmen stand afar off.'' Many 
things may occasion sincere friends 
to fall out. Paul and Barnabas may 


grow so hot as to separate from each 
other. Easily can Satan, if permit- 
ted, set the tinder on fire, which 
he finds in the gentlest dispositions. 
There are no friends so near and 
dear, whom the infirmities of passion 
may not either alienate from, or 
render an affliction to each other. 
Clashing interests may very much 
interrupt friendship. See this in the 
contentions of Abraham and Lot ; of 
Isaac and Ishmael ; of Jacob and 
Esau ; of Laban and Jacob ; of Leah 
and Rachel : of Joseph and his bre- 
thren : of Saul and David ; and Ziba, 
Mephibosheth and David ; with many 
others. It is rare to meet with a 
Jonathan that will affectionately love 
unto death, the man who is appointed 


to deprive him of a kingdom. He that 
can say, " I suffer by another," or, 
" I am a loser by him," thinks he has 
a licence for his unfriendly thoughts 
and actions. When you can gratify 
the desires of the covetous, ambi- 
tious, and selfish, or so cure their dis- 
tempered minds, as to fill them with 
perfect charity, then all the world will 
be your friends. The same may be 
said of difference in opinions. If 
your friend is proud, it is wonderful 
how he will slight you, and withdraw 
his love, because you are not of his 
mind. If he be zealous, he is easily 
tempted to think it a part of his duty 
to God to disown you, or grow negli- 
gent of your friendship, because your 
differing from him is, as he thinks, 


either an evidence of your neglect- 
ing God, or of your contradicting the 
truth of God. When all your friends 
have the same intellectual complex- 
ion and temperature, and their under- 
standing is of the same size with 
your own, then you may hope for an 
uninterrupted friendship. Some of 
your friends may, in their own appre- 
hensions, get above you in wisdom, 
wealth, or honour. Upon this, you 
will grow unsuitable to them. They 
will pity your weakness in not seeing 
the truth, which is so clear to their 
eye ; or your simplicity, for hindering 
your own preferment ; and therefore 
will converse, for the future, with 
those of their own distinguished 
rank. Some will think they have 


now discovered your foibles. And 
indeed our defects are so many, and 
our infirmities so great, that the more 
men know us, the more we deserve 
their pity or reproof. But this will 
not excuse that neglect of friendship 
and virtue, which is owing to the 
pride of those, who probably overlook 
much greater failings in themselves. 
Some are so changeable, that the 
same friends will not please them 
long. Their love is a flower that 
quickly withers. Novelty must feed 
their slippery affections. Perhaps they 
think they have got better friends. 
Either they have met with those that 
are more suitable, or that may be 
more useful, as having more learning 
wealth, or power. Some may think 


it is their duty to be shy of you un- 
der sufferings. Though they must 
not desert Christ, they think, for their 
own preservation, they may forsake a 
fellow mortal. But they forget their 
Lord's interesting declaration. " In 
as much as ye did it, or did it not, 
to one of the least of these my breth- 
ren, ye did it, or did it not to me." 

Sect. 6. Some of our friends, to 
cover their own unfaithfulness, will 
plead that they forsake you for your 
faults. Thus, by pretending zeal for 
God they make a duty of their sin. 
There are few crimes in the world 
that are not hypocritically called by 
names of piety and virtue. Some 
may really mistake your case, and 
think vou suffer as evil doers. So 


when God had taken away Job' s chil- 
dren, riches, and health ; his friends 
would take away the reputation and 
comfort of his integrity ; and, under 
pretence of bringing him to repent- 
ance, they charge him with what he 
was never guilty of. Censorious, false 
accusing friends, cut deeper than ma- 
licious, slandering enemies. Even 
your most self-denying acts of obe- 
dience to God, may be so misunder- 
stood by your real friends, as to be 
turned to your rebuke ; like David's 
"dancing before the ark." Thus 
friends may do the work of enemies, 
yea of satan himself, " the accuser of 
the brethren ;" and may wrong you 
much more than open adversaries 
could have done, But suppose you 


are chargeable with some real crime ; 
in that case to expect your friend 
should befriend your sins, or be- 
have to you as if you were inno- 
cent, would but show your igno- 
rance of the nature and usefulness of 
true friendship, and that there is too 
much friendship yet subsisting be- 
tween you and your sins. Even the 
friends that are most faithful to you 
may be utterly incapable of affording 
you any real service. The greatest 
and best of men are but " miserable 
comforters." They may mourn over 
your sickness and pains, without any 
tendency to heal or ease them. — 
Their ignorance may increase your 
misery, by attempting your relief. 
They may exasperate your oppressors 


while they think to speak that which 
may set you free from oppression. 
Their friendly mistakes may resemble 
Peter's, when he gave that carnal 
counsel to his Lord, " Be it far from 
thee, Lord ; this suffering shall not be 
unto thee." Also when he rashly drew 
his sword against the officers that 
came to apprehend Jesus. Love and 
good meaning will not prevent the 
mischiefs of ignorance and error. 
Your best friends may not only be 
unable to relieve you, but their suffer- 
ings may greatly add to your grief. 
While your troubles become theirs, 
theirs will become yours, and your 
own stock of sorrows be thereby in- 
creased. And though your friends 
are both sincere and serviceable, yet 


they must continue with you but a 
little while. Perhaps God will take 
away your dearest friends, and leave 
you in the midst of many enemies. 
If you have but one, perhaps God 
will separate that one from you, ei- 
ther by death, or in some remote 
situation. " The godly man ceaseth, 
the faithful fail from among the chil- 
dren of men." 

Sect. YIL 3. To be forsaken of 
our friends, in such circumstances as 
have been mentioned, is a greatly 
aggravated affliction. They usually 
forsake us in our greatest sufferings 
and straits, when we have the great- 
est need of them ; especially at a dy- 
ing hour, when all other worldly 
comforts fail. As we must leave our 


houses, lands, and wealth, so must 
we, for the present, leave our friends. 
Often they fail us, when we are most 
faithful in our duty. And perhaps 
they are persons of whom we de- 
served best, and from whom we 
might have expected most. Which 
of us must not say with David, "All 
men are liars ;" that is, deceitful, either 
through unfaithfulness or insufficien- 
cy ; that either will forsake us, or 
cannot help us in time of need. 

Sec. VIII. 4. In order to reconcile 
our minds to such an aggravated af- 
motion, let us attend to the following 
considerations. As for instance ; con- 
sider how this affliction sets the crea- 
ture at a due distance from the Crea- 
tor. All sufficiency, immutability, 


and perfect faithfulness, are proper to 
Jehovah. Glorious as the sun is, we 
wonder not at its setting 1 , or beingf 
eclipsed; and why should we wonder 
to have a friend, a pious friend, fail us 
for a time, and in the hour of our dis- 
tress ? Some friends will not, but all 
may, if God leave them to their own 
weakness. Man is not your rock. 
He has no stability but what is deriv- 
ed, dependent, and uncertain. Learn, 
therefore, to rest, on God alone, and 
lean not too confidently on any mortal. 
Consider what a useful discovery this 
affliction makes of the common infir- 
mity of man. If any of God's servants 
live in constant holiness, without any 
stumbling in their way, it tempts some 
self-accusing soul to think itself alto- 


gether graceless. But when we 
read of Peter's cursing and swearing 
that he new not Jesus ; and how he 
and Barnabas were carried away 
with dissimulation ; and of David's 
unkindness to Mephibosheth, the seed 
of Jonathan ; and of his vile treachery 
to Uriah, a faithful and deserving sub- 
ject ; we are less offended at the un- 
faithfulness of our friends, and are 
taught to compassionate their frail- 
ty ; and also are not so hopeless, 
when we ourselves have failed to 
God or man. Consider how this 
affliction manifests the meanness 
and carnality of our self-love. We 
should not discern this sin in its root, 
if we did not see and taste it in its 
fruits. When you have tasted the 


fruits of your friends' remaining world- 
liness, selfishness, and carnal fears ; 
then you will better know the odious- 
ness of these vices, which thus break 
through all obligations to God and 
you, in a direct contradiction to the 
light of conscience, and the opera- 
tions of divine grace. 

Sect IX. Consider this affliction 
as a good remedy against over-loving 
your friends. In loving God, we are 
in no danger of excess, and therefore 
have no need of any thing to quench, 
it. In loving saints, as saints, and 
purely for Christ's sake, we are not 
apt to exceed. Yet our understand- 
ing may mistake, by thinking saints 
have more holiness than they really 
have : and we are very apt to mix a 


selfish love, with that which is holy ; 
and not merely to love a christian as 
a christian, but to over-love him, be- 
cause he is our friend. The christian 
that has no special love to us, we are 
apt to undervalue ; but one that en- 
tirely loves us, we love above his pro- 
per worth. And if we love any more 
for loving us, than for loving Christ, 
no wonder we are thus afflicted, to 
cure us of our selfish love. O how 
highly do we think of their judg- 
ments, graces, and conduct, that 
highly esteem us; when greater excel- 
lences in another are scarcely obser- 
ved ! If we exalt our friends too high 
in our esteem, it is a sign that God 
must cast them down. As their love 
to us was the snn~e, so their unthank- 


fulness to us is the fittest remedy. 
God is very jealous of our hearts, 
while they inordinately love and 
value any of his creatures, and will 
rebuke our excess ; though the oppo- 
site extreme is also odious, to be void 
of natural, friendly, or social affections. 
God cannot take it well to see us 
dote upon dust and frailty like our- 
selves, at the same time that all his 
attractive goodness causes such lan- 
guid love to him, that we ourselves 
can scarcely feel it. If therefore he 
cures us, by permitting our friends to 
show us how little they deserve such 
excessive love, when God himself has 
so little of our love ; it is because he 
is so tender of his own glory, and 
merciful to his servants' souls. Con- 


sider also how this affliction leads us 
to observe and honour the wonderful 
patience of God. When our friends 
forsake us in our distress, especially 
if we suffer for Christ, it is God they 
injure more than us ; and if he bear 
with them, and forgive them upon re- 
pentance, why should not we do so 
who are much less injured ? The vile 
ingratitude of sinners should make us 
reflect, "How great and wonderful 
is the patience of God, which bears 
with those that abuse him, to whom 
they are infinitely obliged ! And how 
great is that mercy, which hath borne 
with, and pardoned greater wrongs 
done by myself to God, than men 
have ever done to me '/' When Da- 
vid remembered his sin, by which God 


was provoked to raise up that son 
against him, of whom he had been 
too fond, it made him easily bear the 
curses and reproaches of Shimei. It 
will make us bear abuse from others 
to remember how ill we have be- 
haved towards God, and consequently 
how ill we have deserved at his 

Sect. X. Consider how this affliction 
puts us upon our guard, that the love 
of our friends may not hinder us, 
when we are called to suffer or die. 
When we over- love them, it tears our 
hearts to leave them ; and strongly 
tempts us to betray the cause of 
Christ. It is so hard a thing to be 
willing to die, that it is a mercy to 
have any thing removed, that makes 


us unwilling. The excessive love 
of friends, is not the least of those im- 
pediments. O how loath are many 
a one to die, when they think of part- 
ing with wife, or husband, or children, 
or other dear friends ! And if any un- 
kindness happens to arise between 
such friends, then we are ready to say, 
"It is time to leave the world when 
my dearest friends thus forsake me !'* 
This helps us to remember our dear- 
est everlasting Friend, and to grieve 
that we have been no truer to him, 
who would not have forsaken us in 
our extremity. Sometimes it makes 
us so weary of the world, that with 
Elijah we say, " Now, O Lord, take 
away my life." Thus the unkindness 
of friends is a greater help to loosen 


us from the world, and often proves a 
great mercy to a departing soul : and 
indeed fortifies us against other temp- 
tations arising from friendship. When 
an intimate friend has grown strange 
and soon after turned away from 
every appearance of serious religion, 
I have known others convinced there- 
by of the mercy of God, in making 
their friend's desertion the means of 
their own preservation. When hus- 
bands have done this, and at the same 
time have behaved inhumanly to 
their wives, I have often observed, 
how the poor women have been kept 
from following them in their aposta- 
cy ; into which other women have 
been drawn, whose husbands behave 
more kindly. Therefore I must still 


say, we are undone, if we had the dis- 
posing of ourselves. We should never 
be willing to have our friends forsake 
us ; yet God has thereby kept many 
souls from being undone for ever. 
Once more, consider that our having 
too much comfort in any creature, is 
very unsuitable to our present state. 
The work of mortification much con- 
sists in having our enjoyments so far 
annihilated, that they may have no 
power to draw our hearts from God, 
or detain us from our duty. And the 
more excellent and lovely any enjoy- 
ment appears to us, the less it is dead 
to us, or we to it ; and the more will 
it be able to hinder and ensnare us. 
Sect. XI. If you seriously consider 
these things, you will admire the wis- 


dom of God in leaving you undci 
this kind of trial, m weaning you 
from every created enjoyment, and 
teaching you by his providence, as 
well as by his words, to " Cease from 
man, whose breath is in his nostrils ; 
for wherein is he to be accounted of?" 
You will not wonder, that they who 
live in other sins, should be guilty of 
this unfaithfulness to friends. Their 
obligations to you are nothing in com- 
parison with their great and manifold 
obligations with to God. You know 
you have more injured God your- 
selves, then any man ever injured you ; 
and if God bear with yon, have you 
not great reason to bear with others ? 
Are you not more prone to aggravate 
the wrong which others do to you ? 


than that which ynu do to them ; 
Nay, you have been much more inju- 
rious to yourselves, than ever others 
have been to you. Near as you are 
to yourselves, yet all your enemies on 
earth, or in hell, have not done you 
half the hurt, that you have done 
to yourselves. " Have I forfeited my 
own salvation, and deserved everlast- 
ing wrath, and sold myself and my 
Saviour for so base a thing as sinful 
pleasure, and shall I ever wonder that 
another man does me some temporal 
hurt ? Was my friend so near, or 
so much obliged me, as myself? O 
sinful soul, let thy own rather than 
thy friend's treachery and neglects, 
be the matter of thy wonder, thy dis- 
pleasure, and complaint. And let 


thy conformity to Jesus Christ, be thy 
holy ambition and delight ; not as thy 
suffering nor as it is caused by men's 
sin ; but as it is thy fellowship in the 
sufferings of thy Lord, and caused by 
his love." Our conformity to, and fel- 
lowship with Christ in his sufferings, in 
any remarkable degree, is the lot of 
his best servants, and the highest of 
their attainments in the present state ; 
and is therefore, neither to be expected 
with dread, nor borne with impatience 
but with holy joy. And if it be so 
with suffering for Christ in general, 
it must be so with this particular sort 
of suffering ; even to be forsaken of 
our nearest and dearest friends when 
we are most abused by our enemies. 




Sect. I. The disciples forsook their Lord for want 
of self-denial. Sect. II. The great evil of selfish- 
ness. Sect. Ill — VIII. 1. Consolations for 
such as mourn the death of their friends. Sect. 
IX — XI. and 2. For such as doubt whether hea- 
ven itself will renew the friendship they have lost. 
Sect. XII, XIII. or 3. Doubt whether the friend- 
ship that is renewed in heaven will be so much 
the more endearing. 

Sect. I. We are next to consider, 
why the disciples forsook their Lord, 
and what they had recourse to when 
they left him. The text says, " ye 
shall be scattered every man to his 
own." Self-denial was not perfect in 


them, and therefore selfishness pre- 
vailed in the hour of temptation. 
They had therefore forsaken all for 
Christ. They had left parents and 
families, estates and trades, to be his 
disciples. But though they believed 
him to be the Christ, yet they dream- 
ed of a Visible kingdom, and were ani- 
mated by carnal expectations of being 
great men upon earth, under Christ 
as a temporal prince. And therefore 
when they saw him in the hands of 
his enemies, under the most ignomi- 
nious treatment, they concluded that 
their hopes were now disappointed 
and in their sudden fright seemed to 
repent their having followed him. 
They now begun to think that they 
have lives of their own to save, and 


families of their own to mind, and 
business of their own to do. They 
that had forsook their private interest 
and affairs, and were gathered toge- 
ther for the sake of living in commun- 
ion with Jesus Christ and one another 
now return to their particular callings 
and are " scattered every man to his 

Sect. II. Selfishness is the great 
enemy of all societies, of all fidelity 
and friendship. There is no trusting 
any person in whom self is predomi- 
nant. And where it does not reign 
the remainders of it make men walk 
uneven and unsteadily, both towards 
God and each other. They will cer- 
tainly deny God and their friends in 
a time of trial, who are not able to 


deny themselves. Or rather, he that 
is prevailingly selfish was never a real 
friend to any, He has always some 
interest of his own, which his friends 
must needs contradict, or are insuffi- 
cient to satisfy. His houses, lands or 
money, his children, reputation, or 
something which he calls his own, 
will frequently be the matter of con- 
tention ; and for the sake of these 
things, which are so near to him, 
he will cast off his nearest friend. 
Contract no special friendship with a 
selfish man. Put no confidence in 
him, whatever friendship he may pro- 
fess. He is so confined to himself 
that he has no true love to spare for 
others. If he seem to love a friend, it 
is not as a friend, but as a servant, or 


at best as a benefactor. He loves you 
for himself, as he loves his money, 
his horse or house ; because you 
may be serviceable to him. When 
you have no more capacity to serve 
him, he has no more love for you. 

Sect. III. Here it may be proper 
to offer some advice to such as are 
lamenting the death of their dearest 
friends ; and doubting whether hea- 
ven itself will renew such friendship, 
or so much as need it ; or, if such 
friendship be renewed in heaven, 
whether the enjoyment of it will be 
so much the more endearing. 

Sect. IV. 1. They that are lament- 
ing the death of their dearest friends, 
may find some relief from the follow- 
ing considerations. Let it be granted 


that you mourn the loss, not of a false 
friend, but of one of the most sincere, 
faithful and intimate. Consider, Who 
deprived you of your friends ? Was 
it not God ? Did not he that gave 
him to you take him from you ? Did 
not his Lord and owner call him 
home ? Can God do anything unjust? 
May he not do what he pleases with 
his own? Was there any defect of wis- 
dom or goodness, of justice or mercy, 
in God's disposal of your friend ? Or 
will you ever have rest, but in submit- 
ting to the divine good pleasure ? If 
your friend had lived as long as you 
would have had him, you know not 
what sin he might have fallen into. 
God could indeed have preserved him 
from sin ; but he preserves by the use 


of means ; and sometimes sees that 
death is the best means for preserva- 
tion. Had God permitted your friend 
to have fallen into some scandalous 
sin, might it not have been much 
worse than death to him and you? So 
faithful a friend might have been 
shaken, like Peter, and have denied 
his Lord ; and thereby have appeared 
as odious in your eyes, as he had 
ever been amiable. You know not 
what unkindness to yourself, your 
dearest friend might have been guilty 
of. Alas ! there is greater frailty 
and inconstancy in man than you are 
aware of. How often have the hearts 
of parents been broken by undutiful 
children, whom in infancy, they 
would much more easily have follow- 


ed to the grave ? Which of us see not 
reason to distrust ourselves? And 
why should we promise ourselves 
more from another than from our- 
selves? Had your friend lived long- 
er, you know not what great ca- 
lamity might have befallen him. — 
When the righteous seem to perish, 
and merciful men are taken away, 
they are taken away from the 
evil .to come. How many deaths 
have I lamented, as unseasonable in 
my view ; but Providence has soon 
taught me, that their longer life would 
have increased their misery ? If 
your friend had survived, what com- 
fort would he have found on earth, in 
seeing and hearing such sins, as vex- 
ed a righteous Lot from day to-day ; 


and perhaps himself at the same time 
under personal affliction s, temptations, 
and reproaches ? What was the 
world to your friend, while he did en- 
joy it 1 Was it not a place of toil 
and trouble, of envy and vexation, of 
enmity and poison ; of successive cares, 
and fears, and griefs ; and especially 
of sin ? Did he not groan under the 
burden of a sinful nature ; of a distem- 
pered, tempted, troubled heart ; of 
languishings and weakness in every 
grace ; of the rebukes of God, the 
wounds of conscience, and the malice 
of a wicked world ? Did you not often 
join in a prayer with him, to obtain 
deliverance from every burden, and 
will you now grieve that he has re- 
ceived the answer of prayer ') Is the 


world a place of rest, or of trouble, to 
yourself ; and would you have your 
friend also to be as far from rest ? If 
your present circumstances are at 
all easy and peaceful, you little know 
what storms are near ; or how soon 
you may see the days, hear the tidings, 
feel the pains, and bear the burdens 
which may oblige you to desire death, 
and confess that a life on earth is no 

Sect. V. Do you think it is for the 
hurt or good of your friend that he is 
removed from hence ? It cannot be 
for his hurt, unless he be in hell. And 
if he be in hell, he was no fit per- 
son for you to take much pleasure in 
upon earth. He might have been a 
fit object of your compassion, but not 


of your complacency. How can you 
be undone for want of such company 
as God will not endure in his sight ? 
And if your friend is in heaven, you 
should regard his good as well as 
your own, and not wish him from 
thence. If love teaches us to " mourn 
with them that mourn, and to rejoice 
with them that rejoice," can it be an 
act of rational love to mourn for them 
that are possessed of the highest ever- 
lasting joys ? 

Sect. VI. God will not honour 
himself merely by one servant, but by 
many. God best knows when his 
work is done. When our friends 
have finished what God intended 
them to do, is it not time for them to 
be gone, and for others to take their 


places ? God will have a succession 
of his servants in the world. If Da- 
vid had not died, there had been no 
Solomon, nor Jehoshaphat, nor Hez- 
ekiah, nor Josiah, to honour God in 
the same throne. You must not have 
all your mercies conveyed to you 
merely by one instrument. God will 
not have you confine your love only 
to one of his servants. Therefore 
when one has done his part for your 
welfare, God will send you other mer- 
cies by another hand : and it is fit he 
should choose the messenger who be- 
stows the gift. If you resolve to have 
all your mercies in one channel, or 
refuse to have any more mercies, 
your case deserves not compassion, 
but correction. Does vour esteem for 


your friend centre in him, in yourself 
or in God ? If in God ; why are 
you troubled to have God dispose of 
him according to his unerring wis- 
dom ? If in your friend ; he is now 
made perfect, and therefore more love- 
ly, and more fit for your joyful com- 
placency. If in yourself only ; it is 
just in God to take him from you to 
teach you to prefer God before your- 
self, and to know better the nature of 
true friendship, and that your own 
felicity absolutely depends upon God 

Sect. VII. Did you get good by 
your friend while he was with you 1 
If you only loved him, and made but 
little use of him for your spiritual 
profit, God in justice took him from 


you. Your friend was given you, as 
your candle, to work by the light of it ; 
as your raiment, to wear it ; as your 
food, to feed upon it. Did you receive 
his counsel, and hearken to his re- 
proofs, and pray and converse with 
him, so as to elevate your thoughts 
to God, and inflame your breast with 
sacred love ? 

Sect. VIII. And are you not too 
forgetful where you yourself now are, 
and where you must shortly be for 
ever ? Where would you have your 
friend, but where you must be your- 
self? If he had stayed here a thousand 
years, how little of that time could 
you have had his company ? "When 
you are almost leaving the world your- 
self, would you not send your treas- 


ure before you! How soon shall you 
go from hence to God, where you 
shall find your friend, whom you 
lamented as if he had been lost, and 
there shall dwell with him for ever ? 
O foolish mourner ! Would you not 
have your friend at home ; at his 
home and your's : with his Father 
and your Father, his God and your 
God 1 Can you miss him so much 
for a day, when you have the prospect 
of living with him to all eternity ? 

Sect. IX. 2. Notwithstanding what 
has been suggested, some may doubt 
whether heaven itself will renew the 
friendship they have lost. To scat- 
ter such a distressing apprehension, 
let the following reasons, for expecting 
your friendship to revive again in 


heaven, be attended to. You cannot 
justly think that the knowledge of 
glorified saints shall be more imper- 
fect, than their knowledge was while 
they were upon earth. We shall 
know much more, but not less than 
before. Heaven exceeds earth in 
knowledge, as much as it does in joy. 
The angels in heaven have now a dis- 
tinct knowledge of the least believers 
on earth, and rejoice in their conver- 
sion, and are styled by Christ their 
angels : Therefore when we shall 
be equal to the angels, we shall cer- 
tainly know our nearest friends, who 
will have their share with us in that 
glory. Abraham knew the rich man 
in hell, and the rich man knew Abra- 
ham and Lazarus : Therefore we 


shall have as distinct a knowledge* 
The two disciples knew Moses and 
Elijah in the mount, whom^ they had 
never seen before : Much more 
shall we be made to know the saints 
in heaven. Our present knowledge 
shall be done away in heaven, only 
in regard to its imperfections ; or, 
when that which is perfect is come ; 
just as we put away childish things, 
when we become men. The change 
is from seeing through a glass, to see- 
ing face to face ; and from knowing 
in part, to knowing even as we also 
are known. 

Sect. X. And though God be all 
in all in heaven, yet we shall there, 
not only know, but love and rejoice in 
fellow creatures. For Christ, in his 


glorified human nature, is a creature ; 
and as such, will no doubt be known 
and loved by all his members, with- 
out any diminution of the glory of his 
divine nature. The several members 
of the body of Christ will, in heaven, 
be so nearly related to each other, that 
they must know and love each other, 
and not be unconcerned in each oth- 
er's felicity. The future triumphant 
state of the church is often described 
in scripture, as a kingdom, the city 
of God, the new Jerusalem ; each of 
which implies a society. The saints 
themselves are called kings ; and 
it is said of them, that they " shall 
judge the world, and shall judge 
angels ;" they must therefore have 
a distinct knowledge of the' persons 


and things, which are to be subjected 
to their judgment. As one part of 
the saints' happiness, they are to 
" come from the east and west, and sit 
down with Abraham, and Isaac, and 
Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven ; " 
and therefore shall not only know 
those great patriarchs, but shall take 
peculiar delight in their presence and 
converse. Besides, love to saints, as 
well as to God, is a grace that never 

Sect. XL God can make use of 
glorified creatures, in subordination 
to himself, so as to be no diminution 
to his own all sufficiency. Nor must 
we conceive of heaven itself as if it 
had no use for fellow creatures, nor 
any comfort in them. Though flesh 


and blood shall not enter into that 
kingdom, but onr bodies shall be 
spiritual : yet, at the resurrection, 
God shall give to every soul its 
own body and a body distinct from 
the soul ; which must therefore have 
a felicity suited to a glorified body. 
And though it is said of know- 
ing Christ after the flesh, now hence- 
forth know we him no more, it can 
only mean, that a carnal knowledge 
shall be turned into a spiritual. Thus 
the excellence of our knowledge of 
Christ in heaven, resembles the glory 
of our heavenly bodies, which shall 
be made to shine forth, as the sun in 
the kingdom of our Father. 

Sect. XII. 3. And if any should 
still doubt, whether the friendship that 


is renewed in heaven, will be so much 
the more endearing, let such take the 
following answer. If you should 
have all your happiness immediately 
and solely in God, you will sustain no 
loss. Or if you should have as much 
happiness in other friends, whom you 
never knew before, that will not di- 
minish your enjoyment of your for- 
mer friends. But most probably 
your love to glorified saints will dis- 
tinctly regard them, both for their ho- 
liness, and for their relation to you, 
As holiness is the chief excellence, no 
doubt you will love those most, that 
will have most of God and glory, 
though you never knew them upon 
earth. And amongst those whom 
you knew upon earth, you will cer- 


tainly love them best, whom God 
made use of for your greatest good, 
and who were the instruments of 
your conversion and salvation. It 
is manifest that our benefactors shall 
have our peculiar regard in heaven ; 
because we shall there for ever remem- 
ber, love, and praise " him that loved 
us, and washed us from our sins in 
his own blood, and made us kings 
and priests unto God." And there- 
fore we shall also remember others 
with love and thankfulness, in just 
subordination to Christ, and in pro- 
portion as they were our friends for 
Jesus' sake. 

Sect. XIII. The never failing )a- 
ture of love is a principal motive to 
kindle and increase it. Thus G >d 


draws us to every holy duty, by show* 
ing us the excellence of that duty, 
and it is no small excellence to say 7 
that it never fails. They therefore that 
think they shall have no personal 
knowledge of each other, nor person- 
al love to each other, in heaven, take 
the most effectual course to destroy 
in their souls all holy love to those 
especially that are of the household 
of faith. I am not able to love much, 
where I foresee I am not to love lonsr. 
I cannot love an inn , so well as my own 
house ; because I am sooner to leave 
it. I must love my Bible, better than 
books of law, or physic : because it 
leads to eternity. I must love holi- 
ness in myself and others better than 
food and raiment, or riches and lion- 


ours, or beauty and pleasures ; be- 
cause that must be loved for ever; 
while the love of these is as transitory, 
as the things themselves. I must con- 
fess, as the experience of my own soul, 
that the expectation of loving my 
friends in heaven, principally kindles 
my love to them on earth. If I 
thought I should never know them, 
and consequently never love them, 
after this life is ended, I should in 
reason number them with temporal 
things, and love them as such, at the 
same time allowing for the excellent 
nature of grace. But I now delight- 
fully converse with my godly friends, 
in a firm persuasion that I shall con- 
verse with them for ever ; and I take 
comfort in those of them that are dead 


or absent, as believing that I shall 
shortly meet them in heaven, and 
love them, I hope, with a heavenly- 
love, as the heirs of heaven, even 
with a love that shall there be per- 
fected, and more fully and for ever 




Sect. I. What the presence of God is. Sect. II. 
How God is present with us. Sect. HI. He is 
withus, 1, as a gracious Father; Sect. IV. 2, to 
do us good ; Sect. V. and 3, to converse with 
us. Sect. VI. Like Christ we shall live upon 
God when forsaken by men. Sect. VII. When 
are we necessarily called into solitude. Sect. 
VIII. When is solitude sinful. Sect. IX.— XI. 
Considerations to prevent voluntary and unne- 
cessary solitude. 

Sect. I. To the reasons already as- 
signed for bearing the loss of friends 
this may be added, that it gives us the 
loudest call to retire from all the world, 
and to converse with God himself, and 
affords us some assistance in such di- 


vine converse. But this brings us to 
the third part of the text, where our 
Lord says, " And yet I am not alone, 
because the Father is with me." He 
that is with the King, is not alone, 
though forsaken by all others. He 
on whom the sun shines is not with- 
out light, though all his candles are 
put out. If God be our God, he is 
our all. And if God be our all, we 
shall not, while he is with us, find the 
want of creatures. For, He is with 
us, who is every where, and therefore 
is never from us. He is with us, who 
is Almighty, and therefore we need 
not fear what man can do unto us. He 
can deliver us, when and how he 
pleases, from every danger and dis- 
tress. He is with us, who is infinitely 


wise, to preserve us even from our own 
folly, as well as from our enemy's sub- 
tlety. He knows what to do with us, 
in what paths to lead us, and what 
condition is best for us. He is with 
us, who is infinitely good ; alone fit 
to be the perpetual delight of our souls. 
There is nothing in him to disaffect, 
or discourage us. We may love him, 
without fear of over loving. He is 
with us, who is intimately related to 
us. He most dearly loves us, and 
will never withhold any thing from 
us that is for our real good 

Sect. II. This is He that is with us, 
when all have left us. But as to the 
manner how he is with us, let us 
more particularly observe; He is with 
us, by his gracious fatherly presence ; 


sufficiently to do us good ; and enter- 
tain us with his holy converse. 

Sect. III. 1. God is with us by his 
gracious fatherly presence ; and not 
merely as he is every where, by his 
essential presence. We are in his 
family, attending on him, as the eyes 
of servants look unto the hand of their 
masters. As his children, we are ever 
with him, and all that he hath is ours; 
that all that is fit to be communicated 
to us. When we awake, we should 
still be with him. When we go 
abroad, we should behave as always 
before him. Our life and works 
should be a walking with God. 

Sect. IV. 2. God is always with us 
sufficiently to do us good. Though 
Ave have none else to care for us ; yet 


he will never cast us out of his care, 
but bids us cast all our care upon him, 
and promises that he will care for us. 
Though we have none else to pro- 
vide for us, our heavenly Father 
knoweth all the things we need, and 
will make the best provision. Though 
we have none else to defend us, he is 
our sure defence ; the rock to which 
we fly, and upon which we are sure- 
ly built. He gathers us to himself, 
even as a hen gathereth her chickens 
under her wings. And while love is 
thus protecting us, we may well say, 
the Father is with us. Though we 
have none else to support us when we 
are weak ; yet his grace is sufficient 
for us ; for his strength is made per- 
fect in weakness. Though we have 


none to teach us, and resolve our 
doubts ; yet the Master of assemblies 
is with us, and will guide us into all 
truth. Though we have none else to 
comfort us in darkness and distress ; 
yet, like Hagar in the wilderness, we 
shall have reason to say, " Thou God 
seest us." Though all our friends, 
like Job's, turn our enemies, and add 
affliction to our affliction ; yet he says, 
u hitherto shall ye come, but no fur- 
ther, and here shall your proud waves 
be stayed." Though we say with Da- 
vid, " We looked on our right hand, 
and beheld, but there was no man that 
would know us; refuge failed us; no 
man cared for our souls ; yet we may 
add, as he does, " O Lord, thou art 
my refuge, and my portion in the land 


of the living." Though like David 
we also complain j "Our enemies speak 
evil of us, whisper together against 
us, and desire our hurt ; yet we may 
share his consolation and say, " Thou, 
Lord, upholdest us in our integrity, 
and settest us before thy face for ever." 
Though friends be far off; yet "the 
Lord is nigh unto them that are of a 
broken heart, and saveth such as be of 
a contrite spirit. 1 ' Thus God is with us 
when men are against us, or far from 
us. His people find by happy experi- 
ence that they are not alone. "His 
hand is with them to keep them from 
evil, that it may not grieve them, but 
work together for their good." He is 
" their hiding-place, to preserve them 
from trouble; surely the floods of 


great waters shall not come nigh un- 
to them ; he shall compass them about 
with songs of deliverance. 

Sect. Y. 3. God is also with us, to 
entertain us with his holy converse. 
Wherever our friends are, God is still 
at hand to be the most profitable, 
honourable, and delightful subject of 
our meditations. There is enough 
in him to employ all the faculties of 
our souls. A person in a well fur- 
nished library, or indeed in the vari- 
ous volume of the visible creation, 
may excellently engage his thoughts 
many years together ; but all would 
be nothing, unless God was the sense 
of books and creatures, and the sub- 
stance of all these noble studies. He 
that is alone, and has only God him- 


self to study, need never want matter 
for his meditation. Nor need he 
want matter of discourse, who has 
God to talk of;' though he has not 
the name of any other friend to men- 
tion. He has no want, either of 
work, or pleasure, who can spend his 
solitary hours in the believing con- 
templations of eternal love, and of all 
the divine attributes and works. 
"What delightful converse then, may 
a serious Christian have with God, 
alone ! He is always present, always 
at leisure to be spoke with, always 
easy of access ! He has no interest 
that will clash with our happiness ! 
He never mistakes our meaning, or 
our character ! If we converse with 
men, their passions and interests, their 


errors and weaknesses, render the 
trouble so great, and the benefit so 
small, that many have become there- 
by weary of the world, and have spent 
the rest of their time in deserts. In 
proportion, indeed, as any thing of 
God appears in men, their converse 
is excellent and delightful. But there 
is so much of vanity and sin in all of 
us, as exceedingly darkens our light, 
and damps the pleasure, and blasts 
the profit of mutual converse. How 
often have I been delighted in God, 
when I have found most deceit and 
darkness in the world ! How often 
has he comforted me, when it was 
not in man to do it ! How often has 
he relieved and delivered me, when all 
other help failed me ! Looking to him, 


has been my stay and rest, when the 
creature has been a bruised reed, or as 
a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint, 
Sect. VI. As followers of Christ, 
let us endeavour to imitate him in this, 
to live upon God, when men forsake 
its ; and to be persuaded, that while 
God is with us, we are not alone, nor 
forsaken, Not that we are therefore 
to undervalue our useful friends, nor 
be unthankful for so great a blessing 
as a goodly friend, nor be negligent 
in improving the company and help 
of such. Two are better than one. 
The communion of saints is a mercy 
highly to be esteemed ; and the under- 
valuing of it, is at least a sign of de- 
clension in the spiritual life. Nor 
are we, on any pretence, to slight our 


friends, and disoblige them, or neglect 
any duty that we owe them, or any 
means necessary to the regular con- 
tinuance of their friendship. Nor 
must we, without cause, retire from 
human society into solitude. To be 
weary of Conversing with men, is of- 
ten connected with a weariness of Our 
duty. A voluntary retirement into 
solitude, when God does not call or 
drive us thither, is but retiring from 
the place or work which God has ap- 
pointed us; and consequently a re- 
tiring rather from God, than to God. 
Like some idle servants that think 
they should not work so hard, be- 
cause it is but worldly business ; and 
think their masters deal not religious- 
ly by them ; unless they allow them to 


neglect their labour, that they may- 
spend more time in serving God : as if 
it were not serving God to be faithful 
to their masters' service. 

Sect. VII. It must be acknowledged 
that very holy persons have lived in a 
state of retirement from human con- 
verse. There are several circumstan- 
ces in which this may become a duty. 
As for instance : When persecution 
leaves us no opportunity of serv- 
ing or honouring God in any other 
situation. When natural infirmity, 
or any other accident, renders a per- 
son less serviceable to God and his 
church in society, than in solitude. 
When a person has committed a sin 
of such a scandalous nature, that 
though he be truly penitent for it, no 


particular church can be satisfied to 
receive him into full communion. 
When some peculiar temptations can 
after frequent trials, be no otherwise 
effectually resisted but by refraining 
from human converse. Also, when a 
person by age or sickness, finds him- 
self so near to death, that his actual 
preparations for it will be greatly 
promoted by solitude. 

Sect. Yin. But when retirement 
from human converse has no such 
necessary call, it usually proceeds 
from some vicious distemper ; perhaps 
from cowardice, when the soldiers of 
Christ, for fear of suffering, hide their 
heads instead of confessing him before 
men . Or from i ndolence and weariness 
of duty, when slothful and unprofita- 


ble servants hide their Lord's talents. 
For it is easier to ran away from our 
work, than it is to do it ; and to go 
out of the reach of ignorance, malice 
contradiction, and ungodliness, than 
to encounter and conquer them by 
the word of truth, and a life of holi- 
ness ; and to hide ourselves in some 
wilderness or cell, whilst others are 
fighting the battles of the Lord. Or 
it may be owing to mere impatience. 
When we cannot bear the frowns, 
and scoffs, and violence of the ungod- 
ly, we fly from such trials, which we 
ought to overcome by patience. Or 
it may proceed from humour and 
discontent with our condition . Many 
retire from human converse to gratify 
their peevish resentment, expecting to 


find that in privacy, which they could 
not in public, nor is to be found any 
where on earth. Sometimes it pro- 
ceeds from melancholy, which is vex- 
ed in company, and indulges its own 
sickly imagination, by living, like the 
man possessed, amongst the tombs. 
And sometimes it proceeds from pride 
and self-ignorance. If we think much 
better of ourselves than of others, we 
shall despise their converse. On the 
contrary, we should consider what 
proud, worldly, selfish, and disordered 
hearts we are like to carry with us 
into solitude, and that the nearest en- 
emy is the worst, and the nearest trou- 
ble the greatest. 

Sect. IX. Thus many are led into 
solitude by their infirmities or vices ; 


and if they live where popish vanity- 
may seduce them, they will perhaps 
imagine, that they are serving God, 
and entering into perfection, when 
they are but obeying their sinful in- 
clinations. The duties of a public 
life are undoubtedly more in number, 
greater in weight, and of more excel- 
lent tendency to the honour of God, 
and the good of society, than the 
duties of retirement. " A good man," 
says Seneca, "is a common good. 
Nor can any thing be a common good 
except every one has some share in 
it." Therefore, to prevent the evil 
of voluntary and unnecessary soli- 
tude, let the following considerations 
be attended to. As for instance : 
While you do good but to few, and 


live almost to yourselves, you are too 
little promoting the honour of the 
Redeemer and his kingdom in the 
world, and too little subserving the 
design of his death and resurrection. 
You will live in the greatest deficien- 
cy of the grace of charity, and there- 
fore in a low and very undesirable 
state. You will want the communion 
of saints, the benefit of public or- 
dinances, and the edifying gifts and 
graces of others. In proportion to 
your doing so little good to others 
you will have the least comfort your- 
selves. They have usually the most 
peace and comfort in themselves that 
are the most profitable to others. 
" You must live for others, if you 
would live yourself," says Seneca; 


u for we can never be properly said' 
to live well, when all our attention. 
is fixed upon ourselves." O the de- 
light that there is in doing good to 
many ! None know it that have 
not tried it. Not because such delight 
is owing to merit, but to the pleasing 
of God, and to the sweet and amiable 
nature of goodness itself, and to the 
efficacy of divine promise, and because 
we receive by communicating, and be- 
cause charity makes all the good we 
do to another, to be to us as our own. 
Sect. X. Considering also, how 
dark and partial we are, and how 
heedless we are of ourselves, and with 
what difficulty we get or maintain 
acquaintance with our hearts, we so 
much the more need the eye of others. 


Even an enemy's eye may be useful, 
though malicious ; and may do us 
good, while it intends evil. "An evil," 
says Barnard, "which none sees, none 
reproves ; and where there is no fear of 
being reproved the tempter will be 
the more bold and sin will be prac- 
tised with less hesitation." It is hard 
to know the spots in our own faces, 
when we have neither glass nor 
beholder to acquaint us with them. 
" Solitude," says Chrysostom, "is the 
cover of all vices." In company this 
cover is laid aside, and vice being 
more naked, is more ashamed. Be- 
holders occasion the shame, which 
solitude is not acquainted with ; and 
it is a piece of impenitency, not to be 
ashamed of sin. And we are for the 


most part so weak and sickly, that we 
are unable to subsist without the help 
of others. God has left some impo- 
tency, insufficiency, and necessity up- 
on all, which should keep all men 
sociable and make them acknowledge 
their need of others, and be thankful 
for their assistance, and be ready 
to do the good to others, which they 
would have others do to them. 

Sect. XI. In privacy, pride will 
have great advantage, and repentance 
great disadvantage. " Any person," 
as Cassianus observes, " may think 
himself patient and humble, as long 
as he keeps out of company, but his 
depraved nature will soon appear, 
whenever it meets with any provoca- 
tion." We cannot easily know what 


sin or grace is in us, if we have not 
such trials as are not to be found in 
solitude. Flying from the observa- 
tion and judgment of others, is a kind 
of self-accusation ; as if we confessed 
ourselves to be so bad, that we cannot 
stand the trial of the light. " A good 
conscience," says Seneca, " appears 
to the multitude; but a bad con- 
science is perplexed with anxious 
thoughts, even in solitude. If what 
you do, be truly good, let all men 
know it : If it be wicked, it is in 
vain to conceal it from others, while 
you know it yourself. And if you 
despise this single witness, how great 
is your misery !" Solitude is too 
much like death to be desirable. He 
that does good is alive ; but he is dead 


that is useless. " He," says Seneca, 
lives indeed, who is " serviceable to 
many. Numbers feel that he has life ; 
while they that lie hid in stupid inac- 
tivity, even anticipate their own death. 
And it is the most culpable death, and 
therefore the worst, to have life, and 
not to use it. Once more consider, that 
the nearest resemblance to heaven is a 
life of holy communion. In the heav- 
enly Jerusalem none shall be solitary 
but all the members shall, in perfect 
harmony, love and praise their Maker 
and Redeemer. 




Sect. I. Solitude is not to be feared, but improved. 
Sect. II. Improvement of solitude panted after. 
Sect. III. 4. If God is with us in solitude, we 
have 1, the maker, ruler and disposer of all things 
with us. Sect. V. 2, to whom we are absolute- 
ly devoted. Sect. VI. 3, who best loves us. 
Sect. VII. 4, whose love is more to us than the 
love of all the friends in the world. Sect. VIII. 
— IX. 5, with whom our greatest business lies. 
Sect. X. 6, with whom we may converse with- 
out reserve or interruption. Sect. XI. and 7, 
with whom we must live for ever. 

Sect. I. If God calls us, into soli- 
tude, or if men forsake us, we may 
rejoice in this, that we are not alone, 
because the Father is with us. Fear 


not such solitude, but be ready to im- 
prove it, if you be cast upon it. If 
God be your God, reconciled to you 
in Christ, and his spirit be in you, 
you are provided for solitude, and 
need not fear if all the world should 
cast you off. If you be banished, im- 
prisoned, or leftalone, it is but a relax- 
ation from your greatest labours, a 
cessation of your sharpest conflicts, 
and your removal from a multitude 
of great temptations. Though you 
may not cowardly retreat, or run 
away, from the sight of danger ; yet 
if God will dispense with you, and 
let you live in greater peace and safe- 
ty, you have no cause to murmur 
A fruit tree, that grows by the high- 
way side, seldom keeps its fruit to 


ripeness, within the reach of so many 
passengers. Even Seneca could say, 
" I never bring so good a temper out 
of company, as I took into it. What 
J had been regulating, is put out of 
order. What I had banished from 
my mind, gains admittance again. 
Thus I receive great hurt from having 
much company." How many vain 
and foolish words corrupt the minds 
of those that converse with an ungod- 
ly world ; while solitude is free from 
such temptations ! In solitude, you 
breathe not in so corrupt an air ; you 
hear not the speeches which offend 
piety, modesty, and charity ; not the 
complaints of the discontented ; noi 
the bitter words of the angry ; nor the 
wranglings of the contentious ; nor 


the slanders and reproaches of the 
malicious ; nor the revilings of the 
ungodly cast upon the righteous; 
nor how the erroneous artfully corrupt 
the minds of the unwary ; nor the 
distractions and clamours, too com- 
mon in religious disputes ; nor are 
pained with the oaths and blasphemies 
of the wicked, the imprudences of the 
weak, the persecutions of enemies, or 
the falling out of friends. In your 
solitude with God, you will not see 
the cruelty of proud oppressors ; nor 
the prosperity of the wicked, to excite 
your envy ; nor the adversity of the 
righteous, to stir up your grief ; nor 
worldly pomp, to dazzle you ; nor 
fading beauty, to entice you ; nor 
wasting calamities, to afflict you. As 


you lose the help of your gracious 
friends, so you are freed from the effects 
of their peevishness, and other man- 
ifold imperfections. In a word you 
are there half delivered from the vani- 
ty and vexations of the world. And 
were it not that you are yet unde- 
livered from yourselves, and your 
own depraved hearts, what felicity 
would your solitude be ! 

Sect. II. Alas, we cannot outrun 
our own diseases ; we must carry with 
us into solitude the remains of our 
corrupted nature ; our dead and dull, 
our selfish and earthly, our impatient 
and discontented minds ; and what is 
worst of all, our lamentable weakness 
of faith and love, our strangeness to 
God and heaven, and backwardness 


to the things of eternal life ! "O 
that I could escape these, though I 
were in the hands of the most cruel 
enemies ! O that such a heart could 
be left behind ! To outrun it, how 
gladly would I quit house, and land, 
and honour, and all sensual delights ! 

that I knew the place, where there 
is none of this darkness, nor disaffec- 
tion, nor distance from God ! O that 

1 could find it ! O that I might dwell 
there, though I should never more see 
the face of mortals, nor ever hear a 
human voice, nor ever taste the de- 
lights of flesh ! Alas, foolish soul, 
such a place there is, that has all this, 
and more than this ; but it is in par- 
adise, not in the wilderness ; it is 

above with Christ, not here upon 



earth ! And am I yet so loath to die 1 
Am I yet no more desirous of the bless- 
ed day, when I shall be unclothed of 
flesh and sin ? O death what an ene- 
my art thou even to my soul, by 
frighting me from the presence of my 
Lord, and hindering my desires and 
willingness to be gone ? This is 
wronging me much more, than by 
laying my flesh to rot in darkness. 
Fain would I know God, and love 
and enjoy him more. But O this 
hurtful love of present life ! O this 
unreasonable fear of dying ! " O 
wretched man that I am ! Who shall 
deliver me from this body of death ?" 
From this carnal unbelieving heart, 
that can sometimes think more de- 
lightfully of a wilderness than of 


heaven ? That can seek after God in 
desert solitude, among birds, and 
beasts, and trees ; and yet is so back- 
ward to be loosed from flesh, that 
I might find him, and enjoy him 
in the world of glory ? Can I ex- 
pect that heaven should come down 
to earth, and that the Lord of glory 
should remove his court, and either 
leave the retinue of his celestial cour- 
tiers, or bring them all down into this 
simple world, to satisfy my fleshly 
mind ? Or can I expect the transla- 
tion of Enoch, or the chariot of Eli- 
jah ? Is it not enough that my Lord 
has conquered death, and sanctified 
the passage, and prepared the place of 
my perpetual abode ?- Well ! Though 
a wilderness be not heaven, it shall 


be swee. and welcome for the sake of 
heaven, if from thence I may but 
have a clearer prospect of heaven ; 
and if, by retiring from the crowd and 
noise of folly, I may but be better 
disposed to converse above, and to use, 
alas, my too weak and languid faith, 
till it be exchanged for the beatific 
vision. May there but be more' of 
God, readier access to him, more fla- 
ming love, more heart-comforting in- 
timations in his favour, in a wilder- 
ness than in a city, in a prison than 
in a palace ; let that wilderness be my 
city, and that prison my palace, as 
long as I abide on earth. If, in soli- 
tude, I may have Enoch's walk with 
God, I shall in due season have such 
a translation, as will brinsr me to the 


same felicity which he enjoys ; and 
in the mean time, as well as after, it 
is no disadvantage, if by mortal eyes 
I am seen no more. If the chariot of 
contemplation will, in solitude, raise 
me to more believing affectionate con- 
verse with heaven, than I could ex- 
pect in tumults and temptations, it 
shall reconcile me to solitude, and 
make it my paradise on earth, till an- 
gels, instead of Elijah's chariot, shall 
convey me to the presence of my glo- 
rified Jesus." 

Sect. III. Is it grievous to you to 
be alone, because you have been used 
to much company? Consider, that 
company may so abuse you, that it 
may be more grievous to you not to 
be alone. You will not wish for the 


society of wasps and serpents ; and 
even bees have such stings, that their 
honey may be bought too dear. But 
can you say you are alone, while yon 
are with God ? Is his presence no- 
thing to you ? Does it not signify more 
than the company of all the men in 
the world? There can be no want of 
man when we can speak with God. 
And were it not that God is here re- 
vealed to us in a glass, and that we 
are conversing with God in man, 
human converse would be of little 
worth. If you suggest that solitude is 
disconsolate to a sociable mind, think 
again, that the most desirable society 
is no solitude. If God be nothing to 
you, you are not a Christian, but an 
atheist. If God be God to you, he is 


your all in all, and then should not 
his presence be instead of all ? O that 
I might get one step nearer to God, 
though I receded many from all the 
world ! O that I could find that place 
on earth, where a soul may have 
nearest access to him, and the fullest 
knowledge and enjoyment of him, 
though I never more saw the face of 
friends ! On these terms I should 
cheerfully say, with my blessed Sav- 
ior, " I am not alone because the Fa- 
ther is with me ;" and not without 
having the best reasons to assign for 
saying so. For if God be with me, 
the maker, ruler and disposer of all 
things is with me ; he is with me, to 
whom I am absolutely devoted ; who 
loves me best ; whose love is more to 


me than the love of all my friends in 
the world ; with whom my greatest 
business lies ; with whom I may con- 
verse without reserve or interruption ; 
and with whom I must live for ever. 
Sect. IV. 1. If God be with me, the 
maker, ruler, and disposer of all things 
is with me. So that in him all things 
are virtually with me. I have that in 
gold and jewels, which I seem to want 
in silver, lead, and dross. I can want 
no friend, if God vouchsafes to be my 
friend. I can enjoy no friend, if God 
be my enemy. If God be reconciled 
unto me, I need not fear the greatest 
enemy. I shall not miss the light of 
a candle, if I have this blessed sun. 
The creature is nothing but what it is 
from, and in God ; and as it discovers 


him, and helps the soul to know him, 
serve him, or draw nearer to him. 
As it is the sinner's idolatry to thirst 
after the creature in the neglect of God, 
thereby making the world his God ; so 
it approaches to the same aggravated 
sin, when we lament the loss of crea- 
tures more than God's displeasure. If 
I am under the wrath of God, I have 
so much greater cause for lamentation 
than for the loss, or absence, or frowns 
of mortals, as should almost make me 
forget that there is such a thing as 
man to be regarded. But if God be 
my friend in Christ, I have so much 
to think of with delight and compla- 
cency of soul, as makes it extremely 
absurd inordinately to lament the ab- 
sence of a worm, while I have his 


love and presence, who is all in all. 
If God cannot content me, and be 
enough for me, how is he then my 
God 1 Or how shall he be my heaven 
and everlasting happiness 7 

Sect. Y. 2. If God be with me, he 
is with me to whom I am absolutely 
devoted. I am wholly his, and have 
acknowledged his interest in me, and 
long ago disclaimed all usurpers, and 
penitently and unreservedly resigned 
myself to him. Where should I dwell 
but with him who is my owner, and 
with whom I have made the most 
solemn covenant that ever I made ? 
With whom should a servant dwell, 
but with his master ? Or a wife, but 
with her husband 7 Or children, but 
with their Father ? lam nearer re- 


lated to my God and Saviour than to 
any other relation in the world. I 
have renounced all the world, as it 
stands in competition or comparison 
with my God. How shall I " hate 
father and mother, brother and sister, 
and wife and children, for his sake," 
if I cannot spare them, or be without 
them, to enjoy him ? To hate them, 
is but to use them as men do hated 
things ; that is, to cast them away with 
contempt, so far as they would alienate 
me from Christ, that I may cleave to 
him, and be satisfied in him alone. I 
am now married to Christ ; and with 
whom should I delight to dwell, but 
with him who has taken me into so 
near a relation ? " O my dear Lord, 
hide not thou thy face from an un- 


kind, and unworthy sinner ! Let me 
but dwell with thee, and see thy face, 
and feel the gracious tokens of thy 
love : and then, if thou seest it best 
for me, let me be cast off by all the 
world : or, let all other friends be 
where they will, so that my soul may 
but be with thee ! For thy sake, I 
have agreed to forsake all, and I re- 
solve by thy grace to stand to this 

•Sect. VI. 3. If God be with me, he 
is with me who loves me best. The 
love of all the friends on earth is no- 
thing to his love. How plainly hath 
he declared his love to me, in the 
strange condescension, the sufferings, 
death, and intercession of his dear 
Son ! In the communications of his 


Spirit, the operations of his grace, 
and the near relations into which he 
has brought me ! In the course of 
his providences, by many and won- 
derful preservations and deliverances, 
and by the conduct of his wisdom 
through a life of mercies ! What love 
appears in his precious promises, and 
in the glorious provisions he has made 
for me with himself to ah eternity ! 
u O my Lord, I am ashamed that thy 
love is so much lost ; that it has no 
better return from an unkind, un- 
thankful heart ; that I am no more 
delighted in thee, and swallowed up in 
the contemplation of thy love. I can 
contentedly let go all others, for the 
converse of some one bosom friend, 
as Jonathan was to David ; and can 


I not much more be satisfied in thee 
alone ! All men delight most in the 
company of those that love them best ; 
when they seek satisfaction, it is not 
with the multitude, but in the con- 
verse of their dearest friends. And 
who, blessed God, should be so dear 
to me as thyself? Did not my un- 
thankful heart basely neglect thy 
love, I should never be so unsatisfied 
in thee, but should heartily say, 
1 Whom have I in heaven but thee ? 
And there is none upon earth that I 
desire besides thee.' Though not 
only my friends, but ' my flesh and 
my heart fail, yet thou, Lord, wilt be 
the strength of my heart, and my por- 
tion for ever.' Therefore how far so- 
ever I am from man, ' it is good for me 


to draw near to thee.' O let me dwell 
there, where thou wilt not be strange, 
1 because thy loving kindness is better 
than life ! In the multitude of my 
thoughts within me, let thy comforts 
delight my soul !' Let me dwell as in 
thy family, and when I awake, let me 
be still with thee ! Let me go no 
whither, but where I am still follow- 
ing thee. Let me do nothing, but thy 
work ; nor serve any other, but when 
I may truly call it a serving thee ! 
Let me hear nothing but thy voice ; 
and let me know thy voice, by what- 
ever instrument thou shalt speak ! 
Let me never see any thing but thy- 
self, and the glass that represents thee, 
and the books in which I may read 
thy name ! Whether in company or 


in solitude, let 'me be continually with 
thee,' and so thou vouchsafe to ' hold 
me by my right hand, and guide me 
with thy counsel, and afterwards re- 
ceive me to thy glory ! ' " 

Sect. VII. 4. It God be with me, 
I shall be with him, whose love is 
more to me than the love of all the 
friends in the world. Their love 
may perhaps afford me some little 
comfort, as it flows from his ; but his 
love is that only upon which I live. 
His love gives me life and time, 
health and food, books and understand- 
ing, provision and the temperate use 
of it, friends and the blessings they 
communicate. Sun, earth, and air, 
are not so useful and necessary to me, 
as his love. The love of all my friends 


cannot heal my sicknesses, nor pardon 
the smallest of my sins, nor assure 
me of God's forgiveness, nor restore 
the health of my soul, nor give last- 
ing peace to my troubled conscience, 
nor banish the fears of death, nor se- 
cure my passage to everlasting life. 
Death will be death still, and danger 
will be danger still, when all my 
friends have done their best. But my 
God is an all-sufficient friend. He 
can prevent my sickness, or rebuke 
and cure it ; or make it so good for 
me, that I shall thank him for it. He 
can blot out my transgressions, and 
forgive all my sins, and justify me 
when the world and my own con- 
science condemn me. He can teach 
me to believe, repent and pray; to hope, 


suffer, and overcome . He can quiet my 
soul in the midst of trouble, and give 
me a well grounded everlasting peace, 
and a joy that no man can take from 
me. He can deliver me from all dis- 
tempers and corruptions of my fro- 
ward heart, and both ease and secure 
me in the painful war which is daily 
maintained in my own breast. He 
can make it as easy a thing to die, as 
to undress and go to bed. He can 
strip death of its terrible aspect, and 
with a mild and comfortable voice can 
preach to me the last and sweetest 
sermon, even what Jesus preached on 
the cross; " Verily I say unto thee, to- 
day shalt thou be with me in paradise." 
And is this the difference between the 
love of man and of God ? And do I 


yet lament the loss of man ? And 
am I yet so backward to converse with 
God, and to be satisfied in his love 
alone ? " Ah ! my God, how justly 
mayst thou withhold that love, which 
I thus undervalue ; and refuse that 
converse, which I have first refused ? 
How justly mayest thou turn me over 
to man, to sinful man, whose converse 
I so much desire, till I have learned, 
by dear bought experience, the differ- 
ence between an earthly and a 
heavenly friend !" Have I not often 
enough found what man is in a time 
of trial ! Have I not been told it 
over and over, and told it to the quick, 
by deceitful and selfish friends ; by 
proud and conceited friends ; by pas- 
sionate and quarrelsome friends ; by 


tender, faithful, but unable friends 1 
How often have I found that human 
friendship is a sweet addition to our 
wo ; a beloved calamity; an afflic- 
tion which nature will not be 
without ? Not because nature loves 
evil, nor is wholly deceived in its 
choice ; (for there is good in friend- 
ship, and delight in holy love ;) but 
because the good, which is here ac- 
companied with so much evil, is the 
beginning of a more high and dura- 
ble friendship, and points us to the 
blessed society and converse which 
we shall have with Christ in the 
heavenly Jerusalem. But how much 
better have I found the friendship of 
the all-sullicient God ! His love has 
not only pitied, but relieved me. He 


has not only been afflicted, as it were, 
in my afflictions, but has seasonably, 
powerfully, and sweetly delivered me. 
My burdened mind has been eased by 
his love, which was but more burden- 
ed by the fruitless love of all my 
friends. Often have I come to man 
for help and comfort, and gone away 
as from an empty cistern, that had no 
water to cool my thirst ; but God has 
been a present help. Could I get near 
him, I was sure of light, how great 
soever my former darkness; I was 
sure of warming, quickening life, how 
dead soever I had been before. All my 
misery was, that I could not get near 
him. . My guilty soul could not get 
satisfying acquaintance with him. My 
earthly heart lay dead, and would not 


stir ; or, if by any celestial force it be- 
gan a little to move towards him, it 
soon fell down again. My carnal 
mind was entangled in diverting van- 
ities. Thus, have I been kept from 
communion with my God. Kept ! 
not by external violence ; not by bars, 
or bolts, or distance of place, or lowness 
of condition ; nor by any misrepresen- 
tation or reproaches of man ; but, 
alas ! by myself ; by the darkness, 
stupidity, and vile affections of a 
naughty heart. These, these have 
been the bars, and bolts, and jailers, to 
keep me from my God. Had it no* 
been for these, I might have got near 
er to him ; I might have walked and 
dwelt with him ; yea, " dwelt in him 
and he in me ; " nor have missed my 


friends, nor felt my enemies. And 
is it my sinful distance from my God, 
that has been my loss, my wilder- 
ness, my wo ? Is it a nearer admit- 
tance to the presence of his love that 
must be my recovery, and my joy, if 
ever I attain to joy? " O then, my 
soul, lay hold on Christ the recon- 
ciler, and in him, and by him, draw 
near to God. ' Cease from man 
whose breath is in his nostrils.' Love 
God in his saints, and delightfully 
converse with Christ in them, while 
thou hast opportunity. But remem- 
ber thou livest not upon them, or on 
their love, but upon God ; and there- 
fore desire their company but for his ; 
and if thou hast his, be content if thou 
hast not theirs. He wants not man, 


that enjoys God. Collect all thy love, 
thoughts, and distress, which have 
been scattered and lost upon the 
creatures, and set them all on God 
himself, and press into his presence, 
and converse with him ; and thou 
shalt find the mistake of thy present 
discontent, and thy sweet experience 
shall tell thee, thou hast made a hap- 
py change/' 

Sect. VIII. 5. If God be with me, 
he is with me with whom my great- 
est business lies. What company 
should I desire, but theirs, with whom 
I must do my daily necessary work 7 
I have more to do with God, than 
with all the world; yea, more and 
greater business with him in one day 
than with all the world in all my life. 


I have business with mortals about 
houses or lands, food, or raiment, la- 
bours or recreations, private or pub- 
lic peace : but what are these to my 
business with God? Indeed, with 
holy men I have holy business ; but 
it is only as they are messengers from 
God, and come to me on his business : 
But, even then, my business is much 
more with God than with them ; with 
him that sent them, than with his 
messengers. My business with God 
is so great, that if I had not a Media- 
tor to encourage and assist me to do 
my work and procure my acceptance, 
the thoughts of it would overwhelm 
my soul. Therefore let man stand 
by; I have to do with the eternal 
God, and with him I am to transact 


in this little time the business of my 
endless life. I am to seek of God, 
through Christ, the pardon of all my 
great and grievous sins ; and if I 
speed not, wo unto me that ever I 
was born ! I have some hopes of 
pardon, but intermixed with many 
perplexing fears. I have evidences of 
grace, but they are exceedingly blot- 
ted. I want assurances that God is 
my reconciled Father, and that he 
will receive me to himself when the 
world forsakes me. I have many 
languishing graces to be strength- 
ened ; and, alas ! what rooted, in- 
veterate, vexatious corruptions to be 
cured ! Can I look into my heart, 
into such an unbelieving and earthly 
heart, into such a proud and peevish 


heart, into such a perplexed and trem- 
bling heart, and not discern how- 
great my business is with God ? Can 
I survey my sins, feel my wants, and 
sink under my weaknesses? Can I 
review my lost time, and all the grace 
I have ungratefully resisted, and all 
the mercies I have abused : or. can I 
look forward, and see how near my 
time is to an end 1 Can I think of the 
malice and diligence of Satan ; the 
number, power, and policy, of my 
enemies ; the many dangerous snares 
and temptations that are around me ; 
and my own ignorance, weakness, and 
unwatchfulness, and not know that 
my greatest business is with God? 
Can I feel and lament my afflictions, 
and think my burden greater than I 


can bear, and find that men cannot 
relieve mej Can I go mourning in 
the heaviness of my soul, and water 
my bed with tears, and fill the air 
with my groans, or feel my soul over- 
whelmed, and my words intercepted ? 
Can I think of dying? Can I draw 
near to judgment? Can I contem- 
plate heaven's everlasting joys, or, 
hell's everlasting pains, and not feel 
that my greatest business is with 
God ? " O my soul, the case is easily 
resolved, with whom thou art most 
seriously to converse. Where shouldst 
thou be, but where thy business is, 
and business so important ?" Alas ! 
what have I to do with man ? What 
can it do but make my head ache, to 
hear a deal of senseless chat, about 


the words and thoughts of men, or 
their lands and titles, and a thousand 
impertinences, that only prove that 
the dreaming world is not awake? 
What pleasure is it to see the bustles 
of a bedlam world, and how they 
strive to prove or make themselves 
unhappy ! How tedious and trifling 
are discourses even of the learned, 
when God is not the mark they aim 
at ? Were it not that some converse 
with men promotes my converse 
with God, and that my master has 
placed me in society, and appointed 
me much of my work with others, 
and for others, and that much of his 
mercy is conveyed by others, man 
might stand by, and solitude would 
be better than the best of society, and 


God alone should take me up. No- 
thing is so much my misery and 
shame, as that I have so little will 
and skill in the management of my 
grand business ; that my work is with 
God, and my heart no more with 
him. What might I not do in holy 
meditation or prayer one hour, if I 
were disposed, like one that has had 
so long a season, and so great a neces- 
sity for conversing with God? A 
prayerless heart, a heart that flies 
away from God, is most inexcusable 
in such a one as I, that have so much 
important business with him. It is 
work that must be done, and if well 
done, will never be repented of. I 
have never returned from the presence 
of God, when I have really drawn 


near to him, as I have from the com- 
pany of mortals, repenting the loss 
of my time, and trembling for my dis- 
composure contracted by their vain 
and earthly discourse. I often repent 
that I have prayed to him so coldly, 
and conversed with him so nesfeent- 
ly, and served him so remissly ; but I 
never repent of the time, care, affec- 
tions, or diligence, employed in his 
holy work. O that I had lived more 
with God, though I had been less with 
some that are eminent in the world, 
or even with the dearest of my friends ! 
How much more sweet would my 
life have been ! How much more 
blameless, regular, and pure ! How 
much more fruitful, and answerable 
to my obligations and professions ! 


How much more comfortable in the 
review ! How many falls, and wounds, 
and griefs might have been prevented ! 
O how much more pleasing is it now 
to my remembrance, to think of the 
hours in which I have lain at the di- 
vine footstool, though it were in tears 
and groans, than to think of the 
time I have spent in converse with the 
greatest, most learned, or nearest of 
my acquaintance ! 

Sect. IX. And as my greatest, so 
my daily business is also with God. 
He purposely leaves me under daily 
want and necessities, and the daily 
assault of enemies, and surprise of 
afflictions, that I may be daily driven 
to him. He loves to hear from me. 
He would have me to be no stranger 


with him. I have business with him 
every hour, and need not want em- 
ployment for all the faculties of my 
soul, if I know what it is to converse 
in heaven. Prayer and every devout 
thought, have an object so great and 
excellent, as ought to possess me 
wholly. Nothing of God must be 
treated lightly. His name must not 
betaken in vain. "He will be sanctified 
in them that come nigh him." He 
must be " loved with all the heart." 
His servants need not be weary for 
want of employment, nor through its 
trifling or unprofitable nature. Had 
I cities to build, or kingdoms to gov- 
ern. I might more reasonably complain 
that my faculties are unemployed, 

than I can when I am to converse in 


heaven. In other studies, the delight 
abates, when desire is gratified and 
knowledge attained ; but in God there 
is infinitely more to be known, when 
I seem to know him best. I am never 
satisfied with the easiness of know- 
ing him, nor is there any uneasiness 
or unworthiness in him to abate my 
desires ; but I am drawn to him by 
his highest excellences, and drawn 
on to desire more and more, by the 
infinite light which I have not yet be- 
held, and by the infinite good which 
I have not yet enjoyed. If I am idle, 
or seem to want employment, when 
I am to contemplate all the works 
and mercies, all the relations and per- 
fections of the Lord, surely it is for 
want of eyes to see, or heart inclined 


to my business. If God be not enough 
to employ my soul, then all the per- 
sons and things on earth are not 
enough. And when I have infinite 
goodness to delight in, where my 
soul may freely let out itself, without 
any fear of exceeding love, how 
sweet should this employment be ! 
Love is no more confined here, by 
the narrowness of the object, than 
knowledge. We can never love him in 
any proportion, either to his goodness 
or amiableness in himself, or to his 
love to us. What need have I then of 
any other company or business, when 
I have infinite goodness to delight in 
and to love, farther than such com- 
pany or business may subserve this 
greatest work ? " Come home, then 


my soul, to God. Converse in heav- 
en. Turn away thine eyes from be- 
holding vanity. Let not thy affec- 
tions kindle upon straw or briers, that 
go out when they have made a flash 
or noise, and leave thee to cold or 
darkness. But come, and dwell up- 
on celestial beauties, and make it thy 
daily and most diligent work to kin- 
dle thy affections on the infinite ever- 
lasting good ; and thus they will 
never be extinguished for want of 
fuel : but the longer they burn, the 
greater will be the flame. Though 
while love is but a spark, thou canst 
not easily make it burn, and art com- 
plaining of thy cold and backward 
heart, that it is hardly warmed with 
the love of God ; yet, when the whole 


pile has took fire, and the flame as- 
cends, then fire will breed fire, and 
love will produce love, and all the 
malice of hell itself shall never be able 
to suppress or quench it unto all eter- 

Sect. X. 6. If God be with me, he is 
with me with whom I may converse 
without reserve or interruption. It is 
great encouragement to my converse 
with God, that no misunderstanding, 
no malice of enemies, no past sin, nor 
present frailty ; no, nor the infinite 
distance of the most holy and glorious 
God, can hinder my access to him, or 
interrupt my leave and liberty of con- 
verse, If I converse with the poor, 
their wants afflict me, being greater 
than I can supply. If I would con- 


verse with 7 the great, it is not easy 
to get access, and less easy to 
have their favour, unless I purchase 
it at too dear a rate. How strangely 
and contemptuously do they look on 
their inferiors ! How must their 
word or smile be solicited ! How 
soon are they weary of you ! Espe- 
cially if you would put them to any 
cost or trouble ! With how much 
labour and difficulty must you climb 
to see the top of one of those moun- 
tains ! And when you are there, you 
are but in a place of barrenness and 
have nothing to satisfy you for your 
pains, and may soon be glad to get 
far enough from them, and learn bet- 
ter to relish the accessible, calm, and 
fruitful valleys. How different from 


this, is my soul's converse with God ! 
Company never hinders him from 
hearkening to my suit. He is infinite, 
and omnipotent, and all-sufficient, for 
every individual soul, as if he had 
no other to look after in the world. 
When he is taken up with the atten- 
dance and praises of his heavenly 
hosts, he is as free and as ready to at- 
tend and answer the prayers and 
sighs of a contrite soul, as if he had 
no nobler creature, nor higher service 
to regard. I am often unready to 
pray, but God is always ready to hear. 
I am unready to come to him, walk 
with him, and delight myself in him, 
but he is never unready to entertain 
me. Many a time my conscience 
would have driven me away, but 

136 con~ver.se with god 

God has invited me to him, and re- 
buked my accusing and trembling- 
conscience. Many a time I have cal 1- 
ed myself a prodigal, " a miserable 
sinner," when he has called me " his 
son," and reproved me for question- 
ing his love. He has readily forgiven 
the sins, which I thought would have 
made my soul the fuel of hell. He 
has entertained me with joy, with mu- 
sic, and a feast, when I rather deserved 
to be cast out of doors. He has tenderly 
embraced me, when he might have 
said, " Depart from me, thou worker 
of iniquity, I know thee not." Little 
did I think he could ever forget the 
vanity and villany of my youth ; 
when I had sinned against light; 
when I had resisted conscience ; when 


I had frequently and wilfully injured 
love ; I thought he would never 
have forgotten it : but the greatness 
of his love and mercy, and the blood 
and intercession of his Son, have can- 
celled all. O how many mercies 
have I tasted, since I thought I had 
sinned away- all mercies ! How pa- 
tiently has he borne with me, since I 
thought he would never have put up 
with more ! And yet, except my 
sins, and the withdrawings of my 
heart, there has been nothing to in- 
terrupt our converse. Though he is 
God, and I a worm ; though he is 
in heaven, and I on earth ; yet he is 
near in all that I call upon him for. 
Though he has the praise of angels, 
he disdains not my sighs and tears, 


Though he is perfectly loved by spi 
rits made perfect, he despises not the 
little spark of my weak and languid 
love. Though I injure him by 
loving him no more ; though I often 
forget him, and have been out of the 
way, or refused to hear, when he has 
called, and have ungratefully rejected 
the entertainment of his love, and have 
unfaithfully associated myself with 
those whose company he forbid me ; 
yet he has not divorced me. O won- 
derful, that heaven will be familiar 
with earth, God with man, the most 
high with a worm, and the most holy 
with a vile sinner ! Man refuses me, 
when God entertains me. Those I 
never wronged reproach me ; and 
God, whom I have unspeakably in 


jured, invites and entreats me, and 
condescends to me, as if he was 
obliged to serve me. Men abhor 
me, whom I have deserved well of; 
and God, from whom I deserve eter- 
nal torments^graciously accepts me. 
I upbraid myself with my sins, but 
he upbraids me not. I condemn my- 
self for them, but he will not condemn 
me. He forgives me sooner than I 
can forgive myself. I have peace 
with him, before I can have peace 
in my own conscience. Draw near 
then, O my soul, to him who is wil- 
ling to have thy company ; who 
frowns thee not away, except when 
thou hast sinned, that thou mayest 
repent and be fitter for his converse. 
Draw near to him who will not wrong 


thee, by crediting thine enemies' false 
reports, or by laying to thy charge 
things that thou kno west not ; but will 
forgive the wrongs thou hast done, 
and justify thee from the sins which 
conscience lays to thy charge. Come 
to him, who invites thee to come, by 
his word and spirit, by his ministers 
and mercies, and who promises, that 
" those who come to him, he will in 
no wise cast out." "Walk with him, 
who will hold thee by thy right hand. 
Speak to him who teacheth thee to 
speak, and understands and accepts 
thy stammering, and " helps thine 
infirmities," when thou " kno west not 
what to pray for as thou oughtest," 
and gives thee " groanings which can- 
not be uttered" by thy best chosen 


Words. Speak to him whom the 
heaven and heaven of heavens can- 
not contain ; but to this man will he 
look, even to him that is poor and of 
a contrite spirit, and trembles at his 
word ; yea, " a broken and a contrite 
heart he will not despise." Walk 
with him, who is never weary of the 
converse of the upright ; who is 
never angry with thee but for 
flying from him, or from drawing 
back, or being too strange, and refus- 
ing the kindness and felicity of his 
presence. The day is coming when 
the proudest of the sons of men 
would be glad of akindlook from him, 
with whom thou hast leave now to 
walk. How glad would those be of 
a father's smile, or of any intimation of 


hope and mercy from him, who now 
will not condescend to favour thee 
with their smiles, but delight to injure 
and abuse thee ! Draw near to him, 
therefore, on whom the whole creation 
depends, and whose favour the great- 
est mortals will at last cry for, when 
all their pomp and pleasure can pur- 
chase nothing. Walk with him, who 
is love itself, nor think him unwilling 
or unlovely nor let any artifices of 
the tempter drive thee from him. 
Having felt the storms abroad, me- 
thinks thou shouldst say, how safe, 
how sweet, how " good it is to draw 
near to God !" Once more, 

Sect. XL 7. If God be with me, 
he is with me with whom I must live 
for ever. My house or land, my 


Walks or books, or even my friends 
as clothed with flesh, are pleasures I 
must posessbut a little while. " Hence- 
forth know we no man after the flesh j 
yea, though we have known Christ 
after the flesh, yet now henceforth 
know we him no more ;" for his body 
in heaven is spiritual and glorious. 
And though when we come to Christ, 
we may converse with father or 
mother, with wife or children, as glo- 
rified saints ; yet in the relation in 
which they now stand, we shall con 
verse with them but a little while. 
For " the time is short : It remaineth 
that both they that have wives, be as 
though they had none ; and they that 
weep, as though they wept not ; and 
they that rejoice, as though they re- 


joiced not; and they that buy, as 
though they possessed not ; and they 
that use this world, as not abusing it," 
or as though they use it not : " For 
the fashion of this world passeth 
away.-' Why then should I so much 
regard a converse of so short a con- 
tinuance? Why should I be so fa- 
miliar in my inn, and so fond of that 
familiarity, as to grieve at the thought 
of leaving it, and going to my glori- 
ous eternal home ? Shall I love the 
company of a fellow traveller, or per- 
haps of one that is going to a contra- 
ry place, and not take more pleasure 
in remembering my home ? O my 
soul, consider, " thou dost not dwell, 
but travel here. It is thy father's 
house, where thou must abide forever. 


Though he is invisible, he is every 

step of thy way nearer to thee than 
any mortal. Walk then, ' as seeing 
him who is invisible.' Hearken to 
him when he speaks. Obey his 
voice. Observe his way. Speak to 
him boldly, though humbly and rev- 
erently, as his child. Tell him 
what ails thee. Look upon all thy 
suffering as the demerit of thy sin. 
Confess thy folly and unkindness, 
crave his pardon, and remind him 
what and why his Son suffered. 
Treat with him about thy future con- 
verse. Desire his grace, and give up 
thyself to his conduct and care. Tell 
him the history of thy crimes,"with 
penitential tears and groans. Tell 

him, also, that where sin has abound 


ed, his grace may now much more 
abound, and therefore be honoured 
the more. Tell him, that thou art 
most angry with that which offends 
him most, even thy disobedient un- 
thankful heart ; that thou art 
weary of a heart that loves him no 
more ; and that it will never please 
thee, till it loves him better, and is 
more desirous to please him. Tell 
him of thy enemies, and entreat the 
protection of his love. Tell him of 
thy infirmities, and beg not only his 
tender forbearance, but his help; 
sensible that ' without him thou canst 
do nothing;' and that 'strengthened 
by him thou canst do all things. 
When thou fallest, despair not, but 
crave his hand to raise thee up again 


Especially speak to him of everlast- 
ing things, and thank him for his 
promises, and for thy hopes of what 
thou shalt be, and have, and do, among 
his saints for ever. Rejoice in those 
promised joys, even of seeing his glory 
and of loving and praising him bet- 
ter than thou canst now desire. Be- 
gin those praises. And as thou walk- 
est with him, take pleasure in the 
mention of his perfections ; ' be thank- 
ful unto him, and bless his name.' De- 
light thyself in considering what a 
God and portion all believers have ; 
whither this God is now conducting 
thee ; what he will do with thee ; and 
how he will employ thee for ever. Joy- 
fully celebrate the glory of his works 
the righteousness of his judgments, 


and the holiness of his ways. Let 
his praises elevate thy heart and 
voice. Turn away all slavish fears, 
all hurtful doubts and griefs, that 
would interrupt or spoil the melody. 
Thy Father loves even thy com- 
plaints and tears; and how much 
more thy praises and thanksgivings ! 
If indeed he seem to chide or hide his 
face, because thou hast offended him ; 
let the cloud that is gathered by thy 
folly come down in tears ; yet fly not 
from him, but beg his pardon, and the 
privilege of a servant, though unwor- 
thy to be treated as a son ; and thou 
wilt find that he is merciful and ready 
to forgive : only return, and keep 
closer for time to come. If the breach, 
through thy neglect, be gone so far, 


that thou seemest to have lost thy 
God, and to be cast off and forsaken ; 
despair not yet, for he does but hide 
his face till thou repent. Be not re- 
gardless of his withdrawings, and of 
thy loss. Cry out, My Father, my 
Saviour, my God, why dost thou hide 
thy face ? Why hast thou forsaken 
me ? What shall I do here without 
thee ? O leave me not, lose me not in 
this howling wilderness ! Let me not 
be a prey to any ravenous beast, to 
sin and sat an, to my foes and thine ! 
Tell him these are the lamentations 
of his child. Beg that thy childish 
follies may be pardoned ; and though 
he correct thee, that he will not for- 
sake his child. If thou hast not 
words to pour out before him, at least 


1 smite upon thy breast ;' and though 
thou art afraid or ashamed to ' lift up 
so much as thine eyes unto heaven,' 
yet look down and say, God be mer- 
ciful to me a sinner ; and it will 
tend to thy pardon and justification, 
and be a prayer which he cannot 
deny : Or if thou hast long called 
upon thy Father's name, and hearest 
not his voice, and hast no return ; in- 
quire for him of them that know him, 
and are acquainted with his way ; 
and ask the watchman where thou 
mayst find thy Lord. At length he 
will appear to thee, and first find thee, 
that thou mayest find him, and will 
show thee where thou didst lose him, 
by losing thyself. Seek him, and 
thou shalt find him. Wait, and he 


will appear in kindness ; for he never 
fails nor forsakes those that wait for 
him. Thou art surer in his covenant 
love, than thou canst believe or appre- 
hend. This kind of converse, O my 
soul, thou hast to maintain with thy 
God. Thou hast, also., the interest of 
all his afflicted servants to tell him of; 
the concerns of his kingdom ; the 
fury of his enemies ; the dishonour 
they cast upon his name; the ad- 
vancement of his gospel and glory in 
the world. But still let his righteous 
judgment be remembered, and all be 
centered in his glorious, everlasting 
kingdom." Is it not much better thus 
to converse with him, whom I must be 
with for ever, about the place, the com- 
pany, the work, and interest of my 


perpetual abode, than to be taken up 
■with strangers, and be hindered in 
,«iy way by their impertinences 1 





Sect. I. More reasons hinted at for desiring the 
presence of God in solitude. Sect. II. — III. In 
order to enjoy the presence of God in solitude, 1, 
be reconciled to him ; Sect. IV. 2, depend on 
Christ's mediation; Sect. V. 3, get free from 
guilt ; Sect. VI. 4, cherish no idol in the heart; 
Sect. VII— IX. 5, live by faith ; Sect. X. and 6, 
keep the heart with all keeping ; Sect. XI. 
The blessed God to be admired for his perfect 
suitableness to the desires of the soul. Sect. 
XII. The work concludes with ardent breathings 
after God. 

Sect. I. Largely as I have pointed 
out, in the preceding chapter, the 
reasonableness of saying in solitude, 
" I am not alone, because the Father 


is with me ;" yet I am sensible there 
are other weighty reasons to be as- 
signed, which well deserve to engage 
our meditations ; though here I shall 
but briefly mention them. As for 
instance : Converse with God gives 
human converse all its excellence. 
Converse with man is only so far 
desirable as it tends to our converse 
with God. And therefore the end 
must be preferred before the means. 
All divine dispensations and ordinan- 
ces are designed to assist our converse 
with God. It is the office of Christ, 
and the work of the Holy Spirit, and 
the usefulness of all the means of 
grace, and of all creatures, mercies, 
and afflictions, to reduce our stray- 
ing souls to God, that we may con- 


verse with him, and enjoy him. Con- 
verse with God is most suitable to 
those that are near death. It best 
prepares for death. It is the nearest 
resemblance to the work we are to do 
after death. We had rather, when 
death comes, be found conversing with 
God than with man. A dying man 
has principally to do with God ; he is 
going to the judgment of God ; and 
he must trust in his mercy. It there- 
fore concerns us to draw near to God 
now, and be no strangers to him, lest 
strangeness at death should be our ter- 
ror. God's willingness to converse 
with me, is the most wonderful con- 
descension. Will he converse with 
such a worm, with such a vile sin- 
ner ! And therefore, how inexcusa- 


ble is my crime, if I refuse his com- 
pany, and reject so great a mercy ! 
Even heaven itself is but our converse 
with God, and with his saints that 
are glorified. Consequently, our 
holy converse with God here, is the 
state that most resembles heaven, 
and best prepares for it, and indeed 
is all the heaven there is upon earth. 
Sect. II. In order to assist you in 
attaining to this converse with God, 
let the following directions be careful- 
ly attended to. As for instance : be 
reconciled to God ; depend on the 
mediation of Christ; get free from 
guilt ; cherish no idol in the heart ; 
live by faith ; and, keep the heart 
with all keeping. But, obvious as 
such directions are, there may be 


great incapacity in some persons, 
to be much in solitary contempla- 
tions, arising from melancholy, or 
other infirmities. The confusion 
and hurry, which will be apt to 
prevail in retirement, make it pro- 
per for such persons to attend, for the 
most part, to those religious duties 
which are carried on by the help of 
others. Instead of well digested 
meditations in solitude, they must 
content themselves with a little time 
in secret prayer, and with short occa- 
sional meditations ; and be so much 
the more in social reading and hear- 
ing, prayer and praise, till their better 
state of bodily health, and more vig- 
orous spirits, shall iit them for the de- 
sirable improvement of their solitude, 


Sect. III. 1. Make sure of your 
reconciliation to God in Christ, and 
of his being indeed your Father and 
friend. How " can two walk together, 
except they be agreed ?" Can you 
take pleasure indwelling with con- 
suming fire? Or, in conversing with 
the most dreadful enemy ? But that 
every doubting, or self-accusing soul 
may not find a pretence for flying 
from God, let such know and consi- 
der, that God does not cease to be a 
Father, whenever a fearful soul is 
drawn to question or deny it. Let 
them also know and consider, that in 
the offers of grace to all miserable sin- 
ners, and in the assured readiness of 
God to receive and embrace the truly 
penitent, there are such tidings as 


ought exceedingly to rejoice a sinner ; 
and such abundant encouragements, 
as ought to draw the most guilty to 
seek unto God for mercy. It must 
be acknowledged, however, that the 
sweetest converse with God is for his 
children, and for those that have some 
assurance that they are his children. 
And perhaps you will say, that this is 
not easily attained ; how shall we 
know that God is our friend ? To 
this I answer, If you are unfeignedly 
friends to God, it is " because he first 
loved you." Prefer him before all 
other friends, and before all the 
world's wealth and vanity. Use 
him as your best friend, and abuse 
him not by disobedience or ingrati- 
tude. Own him, though at the dear- 


est rate, whenever you are called to 
it. Desire his presence, and lament 
his absence. " Love him with all your 
heart." Think not hardly of him. 
Suspect him not. Misunderstand him 
not. Hearken not to his enemies. Re- 
ceive not any false reports against 
him. Take him to be really better 
for you than all the world. Thus 
do, and doubt not but you are friends 
with God, and God with you. In a 
word, be but heartily willing to be 
friends to God, and that God should 
be your chiefest friend, and you may 
be sure that it is so indeed, and that 
you are and have what you desire . 
and then how delightfully may you 
converse with God ! 

Sect. IV. 2. Depend entirely on 


the mediation of Christ, the great 
Reconciler. Without him there is no 
coming near to God ; but " in his be- 
loved" you shall " be accepted." 
Whatever fear of God's displeasure 
shall surprise you, presently fly to 
Christ for safety. Whatever guilt shall 
look you in the face, commit your- 
self and your cause to Christ, and 
desire him to answer for you. When 
the doors of mercy seem to be shut 
against you, fly to him that " has the 
keys," and who at any time can open 
to you and let you in* Entreat him 
to answer for you to God, to your 
own conscience, and to all accusers. 
By him alone you may boldly and 
comfortably converse with God ; but 
out of him God will not know you. 


Sect. Y. 3. If you would have 

sweet communion with God, take 
heed of bringing into his presence 
any particular guilt. Christ himself 
never reconciled God to sin ; and the 
sinner and sin are so nearly related; 
that, notwithstanding the death of 
Christ, you shall feel' that " iniquity 
dwelleth not with God, but he hateth 
all workers of it, and the foolish shall 
not stand in his sight ;" and that if 
you will presume to sin because you 
are his children, " be sure your sin 
will find you out." O what fear, what 
shame, what self abhorrence and self- 
revenge, will guilt raise in a penitent 
soul, when it comes with the soul 
into the light of the presence of the 
Lord ! It will unavoidably abate 


your boldness an/I your comfort. 
When you should be taking a sweet 
complacence in his reconciled face, 
and promised glory, you will be re- 
proaching yourselves for your former 
sins, and be ready even to tear your 
flesh, to think that you should do as 
you have done, and use him as you 
would not have used a common friend, 
and that you have cast yourself upon 
his wrath. But a peaceful conscience, 
a soul " washed in innocency," will 
walk with God in " quietness and as- 
surance," without those frowns and 
fears, which to others are a taste of 

Sect. V. 4. Be sure that you 
bring no idols in your hearts, when 
you come to converse with God. 


Take heed of inordinate affection to 
any creature. Let all things else be 
as nothing to yon, that you may have 
none to take up your thoughts but 
God ; and your minds may be far- 
ther separated from them than your 
bodies. Bring not into solitude, or 
contemplation, a proud, or wanton, or 
covetous mind. It is of much greater 
importance, what heart you bring, 
than what place you are in, or what 
business you are upon. A mind 
drowned in ambition, sensuality, or 
passion, will scarce find God any 
sooner in retirement, than in a crowd; 
for God will not own nor be familiar 
with such a one, unless he is return- 
ing from those sins to God. " What 
advantage is there," says Seneca, " in 


the greatest rural silence, if passions 
rage within ?" Bring not thy house, 
or land, or credit, or carnal friend, 
along with thee in thine heart, if thou- 
wouldst walk in heaven, and converse 
with God. 

Sect. YII. 5. Live still by faith. 
Let faith, as it were, lay heaven and 
earth together. Look not at God, as 
if he were afar off. " Set him always 
before you, even at your right hand. 
When you awake, be still with him." 
In the morning thank him for your 
rest, and yield up yourself to his con- 
duct and service for the whole day. 
Go forth as with him, and doing his 
work. In every action, let the com- 
mand of God, and the promise of 
heaven, be before your eyes, and up- 


on your hearts. Live, as having in- 
comparably more to do with God and 
heaven, than with all the world ; that, 
with Paul, you may say, " To me 
to live is Christ, and to die is gain." 
You mast shut up the eye of 
sense, except in subordination to 
faith, and live by faith upon a God, a 
Christ, and a world that is unseen, if 
you would by experience know what 
it is to be above the brutish life of 
sensualists, and to converse with God. 
" O Christian, if thou hadst rightly 
learned this blessed life, how high 
and noble would thy conversation be ! 
How easily wouldst thou spare, and 
how little wouldst thou miss, the fa- 
vour of the greatest mortals, or the 
presence of any worldly comfort ! 


City or country would be much alike 
to thee : only that place and state 
would be best to thee, where thou 
hast the greatest help and freedom to 
converse with God. Thou wouldst 
say of human society, as Seneca, l It 
is the same thing to me, whether I 
converse with a single friend, or with 
a multitude : I am satisfied with one, 
and with none. 5 Thus being taken 
up with God, thou mightest, in prison, 
live as at liberty ; and in a wilderness 
as in a city ; and in a place of ban- 
ishment, as hi thy native land ; ' for 
the earth is the Lord's, and the ful- 
ness thereof;' and every where thou 
may est find him, and converse with 
him, and < lift up holy hands' unto 
him. In every place thou art within 


the sight of home, and heaven is in 
thine eye, and thou art conversing 
with that God, in whose converse the 
highest angels place their most tran- 
scendent felicity." 

Sect. VIII. How little cause, then, 
have all the church's enemies to 
triumph, since they can never exclude 
a true believer from the presence of 
his God, nor banish him into such a 
place where he cannot "have his 
conversation in heaven !" The stones 
that were cast at holy Stephen, could 
not hinder him from "seeing the 
heavens opened, and Jesus standing 
on the right hand of God." A Pat- 
mos allowed St. John to be " in the 
Spirit on the Lord's day." Christ 
never so speedily and comfortably 


owns his servants, as when the 
world disowns them, and abuses 
them for his sake, and hurls them 
about " as the offscourings of all 
things." When "the Jews cast out 
the man" whom Christ had cured of 
his blindness, Jesus soon "found 
him." Persecutors do but promote the 
"blessedness and exceeding joy" of 
sufferers for Christ, How little rea- 
son, then, have Christians to shun such 
sufferings, by any unlawful means ; 
and to give so dear, as the hazard of 
their souls, for the sake of escaping 
the safety, honour, and happiness of 
martyrdom ! 

Sect. IX. Indeed, we judge not. 
we love and live not, as saints must 
do. if we jud^e not that to be the truest 


liberty, and love it not as the best con- 
dition, in which we may most inti- 
mately converse with God. And O how 
much harder is it to walk with God 
in a court, in the midst of sensual 
delights, than in aprisonor wilderness, 
where we have none to interrupt us, 
and nothing else to engage us ! Our 
prepossessed minds, our earthly hearts, 
our carnal affections, and the plea- 
sures of a prosperous state, are the 
prisons and jailers of our souls. Were 
it not for these, how free should we be, 
though our bodies were confined to 
the straightest room ! He is at liberty, 
who can walk in heaven, and have 
access to God, and make use of all 
the creatures in the world, for promo- 
ting his heavenly conversation. And 


he is the prisoner whose soul is 
chained to flesh and sense, and con- 
fined to his lands and houses, and 
feeds on the dust of worldly riches, 
or wallows in the filth of gluttony, 
drunkenness, or lust ; who is " far 
from God," and desires not to be near 
him ; who says to God, " depart from 
me, for I desire not the knowledge of 
thy ways ;" who loves his prison and 
his chains so well, that he refuses to 
be set free, and hates those, with the 
cruellest hatred, that endeavour his 
deliverance. He is the poor prisoner 
of Satan, who has not liberty to be- 
lieve, nor love God, nor converse in 
heaven, nor seriously mind and seek 
the things that are most high and 
honourable; who has no liberty to 


pray, or meditate, or speak of things 
divine, or love the converse of those 
that do ; who is tied so hard to the 
drudgery of sin, that lie cannot leave 
it for a month, a week, or a day, in 
order to delight himself in walking 
with God. Bat he who lives in the 
family of God, and is employed in 
attending on him, and in conversing 
with Christ, and with heavenly ob- 
jects ; such a one has no reason to 
complain of his want of friends, or 
company, or accommodation, nor to 
be too impatient under any corporeal 

Sect. X. 6. Lastly, keep your hearts 
with all keeping. Let nothing have 
entertainment there, which would 
abridge your liberty of conversing 


with God. Fill not those hearts with 
worldly vanities, which are made 
and new made, to be the habitation 
of God, Desire not the company 
which would diminish your heavenly 
acquaintance and correspondence. Be 
not unfriendly, nor self-sufficient and 
self-conceited, but beware, lest under 
the ingenuous title of a friend, a spe- 
cial, prudent, faithful friend, you 
should entertain an idol, or an enemy 
to your love of God, or a competitor 
with your highest and best friend. 
It is not the specious title of a friend, 
that will save you from the thorns and 
briers of disappointment, even from 
greater troubles than ever you found 
from open enemies. 

Sect. XI. O blessed be that high 


and everlasting friend, who is every 
way suited to upright souls ! to their 
minds and memories, to their delight 
and love ; by unchangeable truth, in- 
exhaustible goodness, unspotted light, 
dearest love, and firmest constancy ! 
Why has my darksighted and drow- 
sy soul been so seldom with him ! 
Why has it so often, so slightly, so 
unthankfully passed by, and not ob- 
served him, nor hearkened to his kind- 
est invitations? What is all this 
vanity and vexation that has filled 
my memory, burdened my mind, and 
cheated and corrupted my affections ; 
while my dearest Lord has been days 
and nights so unworthily forgotten, 
so contemptuously neglected, or loved 
as if T loved him not ? O that those 


lost and empty hours had been 
spent in the humblest converse with 
him, which have been dreamed away 
upon, I know not what ! 

Sect. XII. " O my God, how much 
wiser and happier had I been, had I 
rather chosen to mourn with thee, 
than to rejoice and sport with any 
other. O that I had rather wept with 
thee, than laughed with the creature ! 
For the time to come, let that be my 
friend, that most befriends my dark, 
and dull, and backward soul, in its hea- 
venly conversation! Or if there be 
none such on earth, let me be without 
earthly friends ! O blot out every name 
from my corrupted heart, which hin- 
ders the deeper engraving of thy 
name ! Ah ! Lord, what a stone, 


what a blind ungrateful thing, is a 
heart not touched with celestial love ! 
Yet, Lord, shall I not run to thee, 
when I have none else that will know 
me ? Shall I not draw near to thee, 
when all fly from me ? When daily- 
experience cries out so loud, None but 
Christ, God or nothing, ah foolish 
heart, that hast not thought of it! 
Where, Lord, is that place, that cave, 
or desert^ where I might soonest find 
thee, and fullest enjoy thee ? Is it in 
the wilderness, that thou walkest, or 
in the crowd ; in the closet, or in the 
church ? Where is it that I might 
soonest meet with God ? But, alas, 
I now perceive I have a heart to find, 
before I am like to find my Lord ! 
O lifeless stony heart, that is dead 


to him that gave it life, and to none 
but him ! Could I not love, or think, 
or feel at all, methinks I were less 
dead than now ; less dead, if dead, 
than now I am alive ! I had al- 
most said, Lord, let me never love 
more, till I can love thee ; nor think 
more on any thing, till I can more 
willingly think of thee ! But I must 
suppress that wish ; for life will act ; 
and the motions of nature are neces- 
sary to those of grace. And therefore 
in the life of nature, and in the glim- 
merings of thy light, I will wait for 
more of the celestial life. My God, 
thou hast my consent ; it is here at- 
tested under my hand ; separate me 
from what and whom thou wilt, so 

that I may but be nearer to thee ! Let 


me love thee more, and feel more of 
thy love, and then let me love or be 
beloved of the world, as little as thou 
wilt ! 1 thought self-love had been 
a more predominant thing ; but now 
I find repentance has its anger, its 
hatred, and its revenge. I am truly 
angry with my heart, that has so often 
and foolishly offended thee. Methinks 
I hate that heart, that is so cold and 
backward in thy love, and almost 
grudged it a dwelling in my breast. 
Alas, when love should be the life of 
prayer, the life of meditation, the life 
of sermons, and of holy conference, 
and my soul in them should long to 
meet thee, and delight to mention 
thee, I wander, Lord, I know not 
whither ! Or, I sit still, and wish, but 


do not rise, and run, and follow thee ; 
yea, I do not, what I seem to do ; all 
is dead, all is dead for want of love ! 
I often cry, O where is that place, where 
the quickening beams of heaven are 
warmest, that my frozen soul might 
seek it out ! But whither can I go, to 
city or to solitude ? Alas, I find it is 
not place that makes the difference ! 
I know that Christ is perfectly re- 
plenished with life and light and love ; 
and I hear him as our head and 
treasure, proclaimed and offered to us 
in thy gospel. This is thy reward, 'He 
that hath the Son hath life.' O why 
then is my barren soul so empty ! I 
thought I had long ago consented to 
thy offer ; and then according to thy 
covenant, both light and life in him 


are mine. And yet must I still be 
dark and dead ? Ah, dearest Lord, I 
say not that I have too long waited ; 
but if I continue thus to wait, wilt 
thou never find the time of love, and 
come and own thy panting, gasping 
worm? Wilt thou never dissipate 
these clouds, and shine upon this 
dead and darkened soul ? Hath my 
night no day? Thrust me not from 
thee, O my God ; for it is a hell to be 
thrust from thee ! But surely the 
cause, could I find it, or rather could I 
cure it, is all at home. Surely it is my 
face that is turned from God, when I 
say, 'his face is turned from me.' 
And if ' my life,' while on earth, must 
be out of sight, and be hidden in the 
root, ' with Christ in God ;' if all the 


rest be reserved for that better world, 
and I must here have but these small 
beginnings, O make me more to love 
and long for thine appearing, and 
not to fear the time of my deliverance, 
or unbelievingly to linger in this So- 
dom, as one that would rather stay 
with sin, than come to thee ! Though 
sin has made me backward to the 
sight, let it not make me backward to 
receive the crown ; though it has 
made me a loiterer in thy work, let it 
not make me backward to receive 
that wages which thy love will give 
to our pardoned, poor, accepted ser- 
vices ! Though I have too often 
drawn back, when I should have 
come unto thee, and have walked 
with thee in thy ways of grace ; yet 


heal that unbelief and disaffection, 
which would make me draw back, 
when thou callest me to possess thy 
glory! Though the sickness and 
lameness of my soul have hindered 
me in my journey, yet let my painful 
fatigues help me in my desires to be 
delivered, and to be at home ; where, 
without the interposing nights of thy 
displeasure, I shall perfectly feel rich- 
est love, and walk with thy glorified 
saints, in the light of thy glory, tri- 
umphing in thy praise for evermore ! 



O Lord God Almighty, assist us 
now to draw near unto thee with deep 
reverence and humility of mind. 
Deliver us from all wandering 
thoughts, and enable us to worship 
thee in such a manner as thou mayest 
hear our prayers and pour down thy 
blessing upon us. 

O Lord God of Heaven, Father of 
our Lord Jesus Christ, giver of every 
good and perfect gift, we thank thee 
for all thine unmerited mercies be- 
stowed upon this family, and we pray 


thee by thy grace to preserve every 
one of us from sinning against thee. 

Defend us through this day by thy 
mighty power, save us from the temp- 
tations of the world, the flesh, and the 
devil, put into our hearts good desires, 
and help us to fulfil all thy precepts 
and commandments. And since thou 
hast sent thy Son Jesus Christ into 
the world to die for our sins, and to be- 
come the Saviour of our souls, O Lord, 
give us grace, day by day, to thank 
thee for this unspeakable gift, and 
help us to remember that we are not 
our own, but are bought with a price, 
and make us willing therefore both to 
do and suffer all things to which thou 
mayest be pleased to call us ; teach us 
to be this day patient and humble, 


and thankful, and contented with our 
lot, often lifting up our thoughts to 
heaven, having our chief desires fixed 
on a better world. 

And make us holy in all manner of 
conversation as becometh the disciples 
of Jesus Christ ; make this household, 
we pray thee, to be a household that 
feareth God; may we be delivered 
from the corruption that is in the 
world, and may we also dwell to- 
gether in unity. May we put away 
from us all bitterness and wrath, 
and anger, and evil speaking, and all 
malice, and may we be kind one 
towards another, forgiving one an- 
other, even as we hope that God, for 
Christ's sake, hath forgiven us. And 
help us to know our several duties iu 


life that we may fulfil them. May 
we be upright and diligent, may we 
waste no time, and neglect no opportu- 
nity of doing good that is afforded us. 
May we be ready to every good 

And teach us to be ever watchful 
and circumspect, and fearful of run- 
ning into temptation, but if, at any 
time, we are overtaken with a fault, 
give us grace to confess it and repent 
of it, and to ask forgiveness both from 
God and man. 

O Lord, pardon the many sins 
which in times past we have committed 
against thee. Forgive our forgetful- 
ness of thee our God, and our many 
trespasses against our neighbours. 
Grant unto us all true repentance, and 


help us day by day to grow in grace, 
and in the knowledge of our Lord and 

Our Father, &c. 

May the grace of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, and the love of God, and the 
fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with 
us all evermore. Amen. 




O Lord our heavenly Father, we 
beseech thee to hear the prayers 
which we are about to offer up unto 
thee ; deliver us from all wandering 
thoughts, and help us to remember 
that we are now in the presence of 
that God unto whom all hearts are 
open, and from whom no secrets are 

O God we pray thee to forgive the 
sins of the past day. We acknow- 
ledge that we have this day left un- 
done many things which we ought 
to have done, and done many things 


which we ought not to have done. 
We have trespassed against thee in 
thought, word, and deed, and though 
we have been encouraged by thy gospel 
to repent of our iniquities, and to serve 
God in newness of life, yet we have 
many times returned to those sins 
which we profess to have repented of, 
and we have fallen under thy just 
wrath and displeasure. 

But we pray thee, O thou God of 
all grace and goodness, for the sake 
of thy Son Jesus Christ, to pardon all 
that is past, and to take us into thy 
favour this night, not weighing our 
merits, but forgiving our offences, 
and causing us to place our humble 
trust in thy mercy. Deliver us, we 
pray thee, from the troubles of aguil- 


ty conscience, now that we are about 
to lie down to rest. Save us, O Lord, 
from the dread of death, and from the 
terrors of the wrath to come. Grant 
unto us, if it please thee, a quiet night, 
and make us all to be at peace with 
God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

At the same time, we beseech thee 
not to suffer that we should deceive 
ourselves by any false hope, but give 
us grace, day by day, to examine our- 
selves with care and diligence, that 
we may discover all that is amiss in 
us. O Lord deliver us from con- 
tinuing in any known sin. Save us 
from every secret iniquity ; may we 
each of us resolve before we go to rest 
this night, to forsake, by thy grace 
assisting us, every former transgres- 


sion, and may we now devote our- 
selves entirely to thy service. 

We farther beseech thee to bless all 
our relations, friends, and connexions; 
take both them and us under thy pro- 
tection this night. And have mercy 
on all those who are in pain, sick- 
ness, or any other adversity, do thou 
lighten their troubles and support 
them by thy heavenly grace. 

And accept our thanks for all thy 
goodness vouchsafed unto us this day. 
Praised be the Lord for all his mercies, 
for the health and strength, and food 
and raiment, and comforts of every 
kind which we have enjoyed. But 
above all we desire to bless thy name 
for the gift of Jesus Christ, thy Son, 
for the instructions of thy sacred 


word, and for the hope of everlasting 
life. — O Lord, grant unto us grace to 
receive these, and all thy blessings 
with a thankful heart, and let us 
show forth thy praise, not with our 
lips only but with our lives. Ac- 
cept, we beseech thee, our imper- 
fect supplications and prayers, for 
the sake of Jesns Christ, our only 
Lord and Saviour. 

Our Father, &c. 

May the Grace, &c. 



rhis book is under no circumstances to be 
taken from the Building