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COMFORT IN AFFLICTION.
Who cleared up my interest in His Son, strengthened my evidences of His love, satisfied and assured my soul of its happy state, more than at any time—more than at all times formerly. I had clearer and surer evidences of Divine grace in that patient, self-denying, self-submitting frame of spirit, than in all the duties that I ever performed : the valley of tears brought me more sight of my God, more insight into myself, than ever the valley of visions, all duties and ordinances, had done. When the Sun of Righteousness arose upon my soul, and chased away all the mists and fogs of self-will and creatureloves, then also did all dark and dismal fears, all gloomy doubtings, most sensibly flee before Him :
Who supplied my family, from compassionate friends, with all things needful for food and medicine. The Lord return it sevenfold into their bosoms :
Who maintained my health in the midst of sickness, in the midst of so great a death. I do not remember that either sorrow of mind, or sickness of body, ever prevailed so much upon me, during three months' seclusion, as to hinder me from my ordinary study, repast, devotions, or my necessary attendance upon my several infected rooms, and administering to the necessities of my sick. These ensuing Discourses were then composed; which doth at least argue, that, through grace, this mind was not altogether discomposed, nor body neither :
Who preserved me, and gave me not up to death. For I judge, that I was personally visited with the plague, though not with the sickness :
Who hath given me a sincere and settled resolution, and vehement desire to live entirely on and to Himself: which I account to be the only life of a soul, and only worthy to be called a living Grant me this prayer, O most blessed and gracious God, for the sake of my only and dear Redeemer!
George Swinnock was a native of Maidstone in Kent, and for some time was a fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. His first charge was Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire, but at the time of his ejection from the Church of England, he had been translated to Great Kymbel, in Bucks. For nine years thereafter, he was chaplain to the great protector of Nonconformity in Buckinghamshire, Richard Hampden; but availing himself of the indulgence in 1671, he removed to his native town, Maidstone, and became pastor of a considerable congregation there, and died Nov. 10, 1673.*
Except to a few collectors, the writings of Swinnock are almost unknown; but we confess that we have rejoiced in them as those that find great spoil. So pithy and pungent, and so practical, few books are more fitted to keep the attention awake, and few so richly reward it. No doubt there are a good many far-fetched similes, and not a little apocryphal science;t but these are what we look for in that period of our
*“Calamy's Ejected Ministers," vol. ij. p. 104.
+ For instance, to shew that “the lack of fervency is the loss of many prayers,” he subjoins—" The lazy petition is eaten up by wandering thoughts, like cold honey by wasps and flies; whilst fervent prayers, like honey boiling over the fire, are free from such ill guests." Again, to illustrate the same idea, “ There is no getting to the Indian Mines by the cold northern seas; though, because it is a shorter cut, some have attempted that way, and lost their labour.” Amongst many other curiosities of natural history, he tells us—on the authority of Pliny, however—that “when one bee is sick, the rest in the hive are all sad;" and he mentions that horsehairs, by lying nine days under water, turn to snakes. In our own boyhood we remember a species of gordius, common in still water, which the country people believed to be an animated horse-bair. But some of his inferences are so ingenious, that we must not quarrel with the fact on which they are founded. Thus: “ There is a story of a bastard eagle, which hath one foot close like a goose, with which she swims in the waters, and dives for fish; and another foot open, and armed with talons, with which she soareth in the air, and seizeth her prey; but she, participating of both natures, is weak in either, and at last becomes a prey to every ordinary vulture. The
literature, and they are abundantly over-balanced by a rare amount of sanctified wit and wisdom,
Praper. Prayer hath a twofold pre-eminence above all other duties whatsoever, in regard of the universality of its influence, and opportunity for its performance. The universality of its influence. As every sacrifice was to be seasoned with salt, so every undertaking and every affliction of the creature must be sanctified with prayer; nay, as it sheweth the excellency of gold that it is laid upon silver itself, so it speaketh the excellency of prayer, that not only natural and civil, but even religious and spiritual actions are overlaid with prayer. We pray not only before we eat or drink our bodily nourishment, but also before we feed on the bread of the Word and the bread in the sacrament. Prayer is requisite to make every providence and every ordinance blessed to us ; prayer is needful to make our particular callings successful. Prayer is the guard to secure the fort-royal of the heart ; prayer is the porter to keep the door of the lips; prayer is the strong hilt which defendeth the hands; prayer perfumes every relation ; prayer helps us to profit by every condition ; prayer is the chemist that turns all into gold; prayer is the master-workman : if that be out of the way, the whole trade stands still, or goeth backward. What the key is to the watch, that prayer is to religion ; it winds it up, and sets it agoing. It is before other duties in
ambidexter in religion, who is both for the flesh and the spirit, for riches and righteousness, is all his time a servant of sin, and will at last become a prey to Satan.” Again : “ As the carbuncle, a beast among the blackamoors, which is seen only by night, having a stone in his forehead, which shineth incredibly and giveth him light whereby to feed, but when he heareth the least noise, he presently lets fall over it a skin which he hath as a natural covering, lest its splendour should betray him; so the half-Chris. tian shines with the light of holiness by fits and starts—every fright makes hịm bold in and bide it.”
regard of opportunity for its performance. A Christian cannot always hear, or always read, or always communicate, but he may pray continually. No place, no company can deprive him of this privilege. If he be on the top of a house with Peter, he may pray; if he be in the bottom of the ocean with Jonah, he may pray; if he be walking in the field with Isaac, he may pray when no eye seeth him ; if he be waiting at table with Nehemiah, he may pray when no ear heareth him. If he be in the mountains with our Saviour, he may pray; if he be in the prison with Paul, he may pray; wherever he is, prayer will help him to find God out. Every saint is God's temple ; " and he that carrieth his temple about him," saith Austin,
may go to prayer when he pleaseth.” Indeed, to a Christian every house is an house of prayer, every closet a chamber of presence, and every place he comes to an altar whereon he may offer the sacrifice of prayer.
The Market of Free Grace.
Reader, remember thine errand at ordinances is to get grace. Thou hast God's promise to them, and His power and faithfulness, both engaged for its performance; and it is thy fault and folly if thou goest hungry from a full table, and empty from a free and large treasure. Be as wise for thy soul as others are for their bodies. The country tradesman wants commodities; he goeth to London, where is a merchant that hath variety and abundance; when he comes there, he doth not spend his time in seeing fashions and visiting friends, but in going to this and that warehouse as his occasions require to buy wares ; and you see sometimes what considerable quantities he sends home. Go thou and do likewise. Thou complainest that thou wantest grace : go to Christ, who hath variety and sufficiency for thy supply ; but do not go to see men, or to be seen of men, but to see God, and to be trans
formed into His likeness; go to this and that duty as shops (where Christ sits and sells)," and buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Little dost thou know, were this but thy business, how certainly, how liberally He would satisfy thee! Why should the tradesman be a better husband for corruptible wares than thou art for durable riches ? Alas, alas, Christ is more willing to sell than thou canst be to buy ; to give, than thou art to ask.
“The desire of the slothful killeth him, because his hands refuse to labour (Prov. xxi. 5). He is full of wishing, but far from working. As the cat, he would fain have the fish, but is unwilling to wet his feet; his desires are destitute of suitable endeavours, and therefore rather harm him than help him. Like Ishbosheth, he lazeth on his bed till he is deprived of his life. He thinketh to be hurried in haste to heaven, to be carried as passengers in a ship, asleep in their cabins, to their haven, but is all the while in a deceitful dream. There is no going to those heavens where Christ is in His glory, as the sick man came to the house where Christ was in his estate of ignominy, let down in a bed.
“Be diligent in thy calling.” It is observable that the apostle adviseth the Romans, “ Be not slothful in business, serving the Lord” (Rom. xii. 11). All the children of Adam are enjoined to mind their particular callings, by virtue of that command or threatening to their father, “In the sweat of thy brows thou shalt eat thy bread” (Gen. iii.) As in the body politic, so in the body natural there must be order ; to which three things are requisite :- 1. That every part be in its proper