Communion With God
The Third Discourse:
How To Close the Day with God
Matthew Henry (1662-1714)
Copyright: Public Domain
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THE THIRD DISCOURSE
HOW TO CLOSE THE DAY WITH GOD.
Psalm iv. 8.
will both lay me down in peace and sleep; for thou, Lord,
only makest me to dwell in safety.
This may be understood either figuratively, of the repose of the soul in the assurance of God’s grace; or literally, of the repose of the body under the protection of his providence. I love to give Scripture its full latitude, and therefore alike in both.
1. The Psalmist having given the preference to God’s favour above any good, having chosen that, and portioned himself in that, here expresseth his great complacency in the choice he had made. While he saw many making themselves perpetually uneasy with that fruitless inquiry, who will show us any good? wearying themselves for every vanity; he had made himself perfectly easy, by casting himself on the divine good-will,—“Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.” Any good, short of God’s favour, will not serve our turn; but that is enough, without the world’s smiles. The moon and stars, and all the fires and candles in the world, will not make day without the sun; but the sun will make day without any of them. These are David’s sentiments, and all the saints agree with him. Finding no rest, therefore, like Noah’s dove in the deluge defiled world, he flies to the ark, that type of Christ; return unto thy rest, unto thy Noah (so the word is in the original, for Noah’s name signifies rest), O my soul. Psalm cxvi. 7.
If God lift up the light of his countenance upon us, as it fills us with a holy joy, it puts gladness into the heart more than they have whose corn and wine increaseth, ver. 7, so it fixeth us in a holy rest; I will now lay me down and sleep. God is my God, and I am pleased, I am satisfied, I look no further, I desire no more, I dwell in safety, or in confidence, while I walk in the light of the Lord; as I want no good, nor am sensible of any deficiency, so I fear no evil, nor am apprehensive of any danger. The Lord God is to me both a sun and shield; a sun to enlighten and comfort me, a shield to protect and defend me.
Hence learn, that those who have the assurances of God’s favour towards them, may enjoy, and should labour after, a holy serenity and security of mind. We have both these put together in that precious promise, Isaiah xxxii. I7. But the work of righteousness shall be peace; there is a present satisfaction in doing good; and, in the issue, the effect of righteousness shall be quietness and assurance for ever; quietness in the enjoyment of good, and assurance in a freedom from evil.
1. A holy serenity is one blessed fruit of God’s favour. ” I will now lay me down in peace, and sleep. While we are under God’s displeasure, or in doubt concerning his favour, how can we have any enjoyment of ourselves! While this great concern is unsettled, the soul cannot be satisfied. Hath God a controversy with thee? Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eye-lids, until thou hast got the controversy taken up. Go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend, thy best friend, Prov. vi. 34, and when thou hast made thy peace with him, and hast some comfortable evidence that thou art accepted of him, then say wisely and justly, what that carnal worldling said foolishly, and without ground. Soul, take thy ease, for in God, and in the covenant of his grace, thou hast goods laid up for many years, goods laid up for eternity, Luke xii. 19. Are thy sins pardoned? Hast thou an interest in Christ’s mediation? Doth God now in him accept thy works? Go thy way, and eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart, Eccl. ix. 7. Let this still every storm, and command and create a calm in thy soul.
Having God to be our God in covenant, we have enough, we have all; and though the gracious soul still desires more of God, it never desires more than God; in him it reposeth itself with a perfect complacency; in him it is at home, it is at rest; if we be but satisfied of his loving-kindness, we may be satisfied with his loving-kindness, abundantly satisfied. There is enough in this to satiate the weary soul, and to replenish every sorrowful soul, Jer. xxxi. 25, to fill even the hungry with good things, with the best things; and being filled, they should be at rest, at rest for ever, and their sleep here should be sweet.
2. A holy security is another blessed fruit of God’s favour. Thou, Lord, makest me to dwell in safety; when the light of thy countenance shines upon me, I am safe, and I know I am so, and am therefore easy, for with thy favour wilt thou compass me as with a shield, Psalm v. 12, being taken under the protection of the divine favour. Though a host of enemies should encamp against me, yet my heart shall not fear, in this I will be confident, Psalm xxvii. 3. Whatever God has promised me, I can promise myself, and that is enough to indemnify me, and save me harmless, whatever difficulties and dangers I may meet with in the way of my duty. Though the earth be moved, yet will not we fear, Psalm xlvi. 2, not fear any evil, no, not in the valley of the shadow of death, in the territories of the king of terrors himself; for there thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
What the rich man’s wealth is to him, in his own conceit, a strong city, and a high wall, that the good man’s God is to him, Prov. Xviii. 10, 11. The Almighty shall be thy gold, thy defence, Job xxii. 25.
Nothing is more dangerous than security in a sinful way, and men’s crying, peace, peace, to themselves, while they continue under the reigning power of a vain and carnal mind. O that the sinners that are at ease were made to tremble. Nothing is more foolish than a security built upon the world and its promises, for they are all vanity and a lie; but nothing more reasonable in itself, or more advantageous to us, than for good people to build with assurance upon the promises of a good God; for those that keep in the way of duty, to be quiet from the fear of evil; as those that know no evil shall befall them, no real evil; no evil but what shall be made to work for their good; as those that know, while they continue in their allegiance to God as their king, they are under his protection, under the protection of Omnipotence itself, which enables them to bid defiance to all malignant powers. If God be for us, who can be against us? This security even the heathen looked upon every honest virtuous man to be entitled to, that is, Integer vitæ celerisque purus, and thought if the world should fall in pieces about his ears, he needed not fear being lost in the desolations of it, Et si fractus illabatur orbis, Impavidum ferient ruinæ; much more reason have Christians, who hold fast their integrity, to lay claim to it; for who is he, or what is it that shall harm us, if we be followers of him that is good in his goodness?
Now, (1.) It is the privilege of good people that they may be thus easy and satisfied. This holy serenity and security of mind is allowed them, God gives them leave to be cheerful; nay, it is promised them, God will speak peace to his people, and to his saints; he will fill them with joy and peace in believing; his peace shall keep their hearts and minds; keep them safe, keep them calm. Nay, there is a method appointed for their obtaining this promised serenity and security. The scriptures are written to them, that their joy may be full, and that through patience and comfort of them they may have hope. Ordinances are instituted to be wells of salvation, out of which they may draw water with joy. Ministers are ordained to be their comforters, and the helpers of their joy. Thus willing has God been to show to the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, that they might have strong consolation, Heb. vi. 17, I8.
(2.) It is the duty of good people to labour after this holy security and serenity of mind, and, to use the means appointed for the obtaining of it. Give not way to the disquieting suggestions of Satan, and to those tormenting doubts and fears that arise in your own souls. Study to be quiet, chide yourselves for your distrusts, charge yourselves to believe and to hope in God, that you shall praise him. You are in the dark concerning yourselves; do as Paul’s mariners did, cast anchor, and wish for the day. Poor trembling Christian, that art tossed with tempests, and not comforted, try to lay thee down in peace and sleep; compose thyself into a sedate and even frame in the name of him whom winds and seas obey, command down thy tumultuous thoughts, and say. Peace, be still; lay thy aching trembling head of thine where the beloved disciple laid his, in the bosom of the Lord Jesus; or, if thou hast not yet attained such boldness of access to him, lay that aching trembling head of thine at the feet of the Lord Jesus, by an entire submission and resignation to him, saying, if I perish, I will perish here; put it into his hand by an entire confidence in him; submit it to his operation and disposal, who knows how to speak to the heart. And if thou art not yet entered into the sabbatism, as the word is, Heb. iv. 9; this present rest that remaineth for the people of God, yet look upon it to be a land of promise, and therefore, though it tarry, wait for it, for the vision is for an appointed time, and at the end it shall speak, and shall not lie. Light is sown for the righteous, and what is sown shall come up again at last in a harvest of joy.
2. The Psalmist having done his day’s work, and perhaps fatigued himself with it, it being now bed-time, and he having given good advice to those to whom he had wished a good night, to commune with their own hearts upon their beds, and to offer the evening sacrifice of righteousness, ver. 4, 5, now retires to his chamber, with this word, “I will lay me down in peace and sleep.” That which I chose this text for, will lead me to understand it literally, as the disciples understood their Master, when he said, Lazarus sleepeth, of taking rest in sleep, John xi. 12, 13. And so we have here David’s pious thoughts when he was going to bed: As when he awakes he is still with God, he is still so when he goes to sleep, and concludes the day, as he opened it, with meditations on God, and sweet communion with him.
It should seem David penned this Psalm when he was distressed and persecuted by his enemies; perhaps it was penned on the same occasion with the foregoing Psalm, when he fled from Absalom his son. Without were fightings, and then no wonder that within were fears; yet then he puts such a confidence in God’s protection, that he will go to bed at his usual time, and with his usual quietness and cheerfulness will compose himself as at other times. He knows his enemies have no power against him but what is given them from above, and they shall have no power given them but what is still under the divine check and restraint; nor shall their power be permitted to exert itself, so far as to do him any real mischief; and therefore he retires into the secret place of the Most High, and abides under the shadow of the Almighty, and is very quiet in his own mind. That will break a worldly man’s heart which will not break a godly man’s sleep: Let them do their worst, saith David, I will lay me down and sleep; the will of the Lord be done.
Now observe here,
1. His confidence in God: “Thou, Lord, makest me to dwell in safety;” not only makest me safe, but makest me to know that I am so; makest me to dwell with a good assurance. It is the same word that is used concerning him that walks uprightly, that he walks surely, Prov. x. 9. He goes boldly in his way; so David here goes boldly to his bed. He doth not carelessly, as the men, of Laish, Judg. xviii. 7, but dwells at ease in God, as the sons of Zion, in the city of their solemnities, when their eyes see it a quiet habitation, Isa. xxxiii. 20.
There is one word in this part of the text that is observable; thou, Lord, only dost secure me Some refer it to David; even when I am alone, have none of my privy counsellors about me to advise me, none of my life-guards to fight for me, yet I am under no apprehension of danger while God is with me. The Son of David comforted himself with this, that when all his disciples forsook him, and left him alone, yet he was not alone, for the Father was with him. Some weak people are afraid of being alone, especially in the dark: but a firm belief of God’s presence with us in all places, and that divine protection, which all good people are under, would silence those fears, and make us ashamed of them. Nay, our being alone a peculiar people, whom God hath set apart for himself, (as it is here, ver. 3.) will be our security. A sober singularity will be our safety and satisfaction, as Noah’s was in the old world. Israel is a people that shall dwell alone, and not be reckoned among the nations, and therefore may set them all at defiance till they foolishly mingle themselves among them. Num. xxiii. 9. Israel shall then dwell in safety alone, Deut. xxxiii. 28. The more we dwell alone, the more safe we dwell. But our translation refers it to God: Thou alone makest me to dwell safely. It is done by thee only. God, in protecting his people, needs not any assistance, though he sometimes makes use of instruments. The earth helped the woman; yet he can do it without them; and when all other refuges fail, his own arm works salvation. So the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him, Deut. xxxii. 12. yet that is not all, I depend on thee only to do it; therefore I am easy, and think myself safe, not because I have hosts on my side, but purely because I have the Lord of hosts on my side.
Thou makest me to dwell in safety, that I may look either backward or forward, or rather both. Thou hast made me to dwell in safety all day, so that the sun has not smitten me by day; and then it is the language of his thankfulness for the mercies he had received; or, thou wilt make me to dwell in safety all night, that the moon shall not smite me by night: and then it is the language of his dependence upon God for further mercies; and both these should go together; and our eye must be to God as ever the same, who was, and is, and is to come; who has delivered, and doth, and will.
2. His composedness in himself inferred from hence, I will both lay me down and sleep: Simul or pariter in pace cubabo. They that have their corn and wine increasing, that have abundance of the wealth and pleasure of this world, they lay them down and sleep contentedly, as Boaz did at the end of the heap of corn, Ruth iii. 7. But though I have not what they have, I can lay me down in peace, and sleep as well as they. We make it to join, his lying down and his sleeping; I will not only lay me down as one that desires to be composed, but will sleep as one that really is so. Some make it to intimate his falling asleep presently after he had laid him down; so well wearied was he with the work of the day, and so free from any of those disquieting thoughts which would keep him from sleeping.
Now these are words put into our mouths, with which to compose ourselves when we retire at night to our repose; and we should take care so to manage ourselves all day, especially when it draws towards night, as that we may not be unfitted, and put out of frame for our evening devotions; that our hearts may not be overcharged, either, on the one hand, with surfeiting and drunkenness, as their’s often are that are men of pleasure; or, on the other hand, with the cares of this life, as their’s often are that are men of business. But that we may have such a command, both of our thoughts and of our time, as that we may finish our daily work well, which will be an earnest of our finishing our life’s work well; and all is well indeed that ends everlastingly well.
Doct. As we must begin the day with God, and wait upon him all the day, so we must endeavour to close it with him.
This duty of closing the day with God, and in a good frame, I know not better how to open to you, than by going over the particulars in the text in their order, and recommending to you David’s example.
First, Let us retire to lay us down: nature calls for rest as well as food; man goes forth to his work and labour, and goes to and fro about it; but it is only until evening, and then it is time to lie down. We read of Ishbosheth, that he lay on his bed at noon, but death met him there, 2 Sam. iv. 5, 6; and of David himself, that he came off from his bed at evening-tide; but sin, a worse thing than death, met him there, 2 Sam. xi. 2. We must work the works of him that sent us while it is day, it will be time enough to lie down when the night comes, and no man can work; and it is then proper and seasonable to lie down. It is promised, Zeph. ii. 7, “They shall lie down in the evening;” and with that promise we must comply, and rest in the time appointed for rest, and not turn day into night, and night into day, as many do upon some ill account or other.
1. Some sit up to do mischief to their neighbours; to kill, and steal, and to destroy. In the dark they dig through houses which they had marked for themselves in the day time. Job xxiv. 16. David complains of his enemies that at evening they go round about the city, Psal. lix. 6. They that do evil hate the light. Judas the traitor was in quest of his master with his band of men, when he should have been in his bed. And it is an aggravation of the wickedness of the wicked, when they take so much pains to compass an ill design, and have their hearts so much upon it, that they sleep not except they have done mischief, Prov. iv. l6. As it is a shame to those who profess to make it their business to do good, that they cannot find in their hearts to entrench upon any of the gratifications of sense in pursuance of it.
Ut jugulent Homines surgunt de node Latrones,
Tuque ut te serves non expergisceris?
Say then, while others sit up watching for an opportunity to be mischievous, I will lay me down and be quiet, and do nobody any harm.
2. Others sit up in pursuit of the world, and the wealth of it. They not only rise up early, but they sit up late, in the eager prosecution of their covetous practices, Psalm cxxvii. 2, and either to get or save, deny themselves their most necessary sleep; and this their way is their folly, for hereby they deprive themselves of the comfortable enjoyment of what they have, which is the end, under pretence of care and pains to obtain more, which is but the means. Solomon speaks of those that neither day nor night sleep with their eyes, Eccl. viii. 16, that make themselves perfect slaves and drudges to the world, than which there is not a more cruel task-master; and thus they make that which of itself is vanity, to be to them vexation of spirit, for they weary themselves for very vanity, Hab. ii. 13, and are so miserably in love with their chain, that they deny themselves not only the spiritual rest God has provided for them as the God of grace, but the natural rest, which, as the God of nature, he has provided; and is a specimen of the wrong sinners do to their own bodies, as well as their own souls. Let us see the folly of it, and never labour thus for the meat that perisheth, and that abundance of the rich which will not suffer him to sleep; but let us labour for that meat which endureth to eternal life, that grace which is the earnest of glory, the abundance of which will make our sleep sweet to us.
3. Others sit up in the indulgence of their pleasures; they will not lay them down in due time, because they cannot find in their hearts to leave their vain sports and pastimes, their music and dancing and plays, their cards and dice; or, which is worse, their rioting and excess; for they that are drunk are drunk in the night. It is bad enough when these gratifications of a base lust, or at least of a vain mind, are suffered to devour the whole evening, and then to engross the whole soul, as they are apt enough to do insensibly; so that there is neither time nor heart for the evening devotions, either in the closet or in the family: But it is much worse when they are suffered to go far into the night too, for then, of course, they trespass upon the ensuing morning, and steal away the time that should then also be bestowed upon the exercises of religion. Those that can, of choice, and with so much pleasure, sit up until I know not what time of night, to make, as they say, a merry night of it, to spend their time in filthiness, and foolish talking and jesting, which are not convenient, would think themselves hardly dealt with if they should be kept one half hour past their sleeping time, engaged in any good duties, and would have called blessed Paul himself a long-winded preacher, and have censured him as very indiscreet, when, upon a particular occasion, he continued his speech till midnight, Acts XX. 7. And how loath would they be, with David, at midnight, to rise and give thanks to God; or, with their. Master, to continue all night in prayer to God.
Let the corrupt affections, which run out thus and transgress, be mortified, and not gratified. Those who have indulged themselves in such irregularities, if they have allowed themselves an impartial reflection, cannot but have found the inconvenience of them, and that they have been a prejudice to the prosperity of the soul, and should therefore deny themselves for their own good. One rule for the closing of the day well, is to keep good hours. Every thing is beautiful in its season. I have heard it said long since, and I beg leave to repeat it now, that
Early to bed and early to rise,
Is the way to be healthy, and wealthy and wise.
We shall now take it for granted, that unless some necessary business, or some work of mercy, or some more than ordinary act of devotion, keep you up beyond your usual time, you are disposed to lay you down. And let us lay us down with thankfulness to God, and with thoughts of dying; with penitent reflections upon the sins of the day, and with humble supplications for the mercies of the night.
1. Let us lie down with thankfulness to God. When we retire to our bed-chambers or closets, we should lift up our hearts to God, the God of our mercies, and make him the God of our praises when we go to bed. I am sure we do not want matter for praise, if we do not want a heart. Let us therefore address ourselves to that pleasant duty, that work which is its own wages. The evening sacrifice was to be a sacrifice of praise.
(1.) We have reason to be thankful for the many mercies of the day past, which we ought particularly to review, and to say, “Blessed be the Lord who daily loadeth us with his benefits.” Observe the constant series of mercies, which has not been interrupted, or broken in upon, any day. Observe the particular instances of mercy with which some days have been signalized and made remarkable. It is he that has granted us life and favour; it is his visitation that preserves our spirits. Think how many are the calamities we are every day preserved from, the calamities which we are sensibly exposed to, and perhaps have been delivered from the imminent danger of, and those which we have not been apprehensive of; many of which we have deserved, and which others, better than we are, grown under. All our bones have reason to say. Lord, who is like unto thee? For it is God that keepeth all our bones, not one of them is broken. It is of his mercies that we are not consumed.
Think how many are the comforts we every day receive, for all of which we are indebted to the bounty of divine providence. Every bit we eat, and every drop we drink, is mercy; every step we take, and every breath we draw, is mercy. All the satisfaction we have in the agreeableness and affections of our relations, and in the society and serviceableness of our friends: All the success we have in our callings and employments, and the pleasure we take in them: All the joy which Zebulon has in his going out, and Issachar in his tents, is what we have reason to acknowledge with thankfulness to God’s praise.
Yet it is likely the day has not passed without some cross accidents, something or other has afflicted and disappointed us; and if it has, yet that must not indispose us for praise; however it be, yet God is good, and it is our duty in every thing to give thanks, and to bless the name of the Lord, when he takes away as well as when he gives; for our afflictions are but few, and a thousand times deserved; our mercies are many, and a thousand times forfeited.
(2.) We have reason to be thankful for the shadows of the evening, which call us to retire and lie down. The same wisdom, power, and goodness, that makes the morning, makes the evening also to rejoice; and gives us cause to be thankful for the drawing of the curtains of the night about us in favour of our repose, as well as for the opening of the eye-lids of the morning upon us in favour of our business. When God divided between the light and the darkness, and allotted to both of them their time successively, he saw that it was good it should be so. In a world of mixtures and changes, nothing more proper. Let us therefore give thanks to God, who forms the light and creates the darkness; and believe, that as in the revolutions of time, so in the revolutions of the events of time, the darkness of affliction may be as needful for us in its season as the light of prosperity. If the hireling longs until the shadow comes, let him be thankful for it when it doth come, that the burden and heat of the day is not perpetual.
(3,) We have reason to be thankful for a quiet habitation to lie down in; that we are not driven out from among men, as Nebuchadnezzar, to lie down with the beasts of the field; that though we were born like the wild ass’ colt, yet we have not, with the wild ass, the wilderness for our habitation, and the desolate and barren land for our dwelling. That we are not to wander in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth, as many of God’s dear saints and servants have been forced to do, of whom the world was not worthy: But the good Shepherd makes us lie down in green pastures: That we have not, as Jacob, the cold ground for our bed, and a stone for our pillow; which yet one would be content with, and covet, if with it one could have his dream.
(4.) We have reason to be thankful that we are not forced to sit up, that our Master not only gives us leave to lie down, but orders that nothing shall prevent our lying down. Many go to bed, but cannot lie down there by reason of painful and languishing sicknesses, of that nature, that if they lie down they cannot breathe. Our bodies are of the same mould, and it is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not so afflicted. Many are kept up by sickness in their families: children are ill, and they must attend them. If God takes sickness away from the midst of us, and keeps it away, so that no plague comes near our dwellings, a numerous family, perhaps, and all well, it is a mercy we are bound to be very thankful for, and to value in proportion to the greatness of the affliction where sickness prevails. Many are kept up by the fear of enemies, of soldiers, of thieves. The good man of the house watcheth that his house may not be broken through; but our lying down is not prevented or disturbed by the alarms of war, we are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of repose; therefore should we rehearse the righteous acts of the Lord, even his righteous acts towards the inhabitants of his villages in Israel, which, under his protection, are as safe as walled cities with gates and bars. When we lie down, let us thank God that we may lie down.
2. Let us lie down with thoughts of death, and of that great change which at death we must pass under. The conclusion of every day should put us in mind of the conclusion of all our days; when our night comes, our long night, which will put a period to our work, and bring the honest labourer both to take his rest and receive his penny. It is good for us to think frequently of dying, to think of it as oft as we go to bed. It will help to mortify the corruptions of our own hearts, which are daily burdens, to arm us against the temptations of the world, which are our daily snares; it will wean us from our daily comforts, and make us easy under our daily crosses and fatigues. It is good for us to think familiarly of dying, to think of it as our going to bed, that by thinking often of it, and thinking thus of it, we may get above the fear of it.
(1.) At death we shall retire, as we do at bedtime; we shall go to be private for a while, until the public appearance at the great day. Man lieth down, and riseth not until the heavens be no more, until then they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. Job xiv. 12. Now we go abroad to see and be seen, and to no higher purpose do some spend their day, spend their life; but when death comes, there is an end of both; we shall then see no more in this world: I shall behold man no more, Isa. xxxviii. 11. we shall then be seen no more; the eye of him that hath seen me, shall see me no more, Job vii. 8. we shall be hid in the grave, and cut off from all living. To die is to bid good night to all our friends, to put a period to our conversation with them; we bid them farewell; but blessed be God it is not an eternal farewell. We hope to meet them again in the morning of the resurrection, to part no more,
(2.) At death we shall put off the body, as we put off our clothes when we lie down. The soul is the man, the body is but clothes; at death we shall be unclothed, the earthly house of this tabernacle shall be dissolved, the garment of the body shall be laid aside; death strips us, and sends us naked out of the world as we came into it; strips the soul of all the disguises wherein it appeared before men, that it may appear naked and open before God. Our grave clothes are night clothes.
(3.) At death we shall lie down in the grave as our bed, shall lie down in the dust, Job xx. 11. To those that die in sin, and impenitent, the grave is a dungeon; their iniquities which are upon their bodies, and which lie down with them, make it so; but to those that die in Christ, that die in faith, it is a bed, a bed of rest, where there is no tossings to and fro until the dawning of the day, as sometimes there are upon the easiest beds we have in this world, where there is no danger of being scared with dreams, and terrified with visions of the night, there is no being chastened with pain on that bed, or the multitude of the bones with strong pain. It is the privilege of those, who, while they live, walk in their uprightness, that when they die they enter into peace, and rest in their beds, Isa. Ivii. 2. Holy Job comforts himself with this, in the midst of his agonies, that he shall shortly make his bed in the darkness, and be easy there. It is a bed of roses, a bed of spices, to all believers ever since he lay in it, who is the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.
Say then of thy grave, as thou dost of thy bed at night, there the weary are at rest; with this further consolation, that thou shalt not only rest there, but rise thence shortly, abundantly refreshed, shalt be called up to meet the beloved of thy soul, and to be for ever with him; shalt rise to a day which will not renew thy cares, as every day on earth doth, but secure to thee unmixed and everlasting joys. How comfortably may we lie down at night, if such thoughts as these lie down with us; and how comfortably may we lie down at death, if we have accustomed ourselves to such thoughts as these.
3. Let us lie down with penitent reflections upon the sins of the day past. Praising God, and delighting ourselves in him, is such pleasant work, and so much the work of angels, that methinks it is a pity we should have any thing else to do; but the truth is, we make other work for ourselves by our own folly, that is not so pleasant, but absolutely needful, and that is repentance. While we are at night solacing ourselves in God’s goodness, yet we must intermix therewith the afflicting of ourselves for our own badness; both must have their place in us, and they will very well agree together; for we must take our work before us.
(1.) We must be convinced of it, that we are still contracting guilt. We carry corrupt natures about with us, which are bitter roots that bear gall and wormwood, and all we say or do is imbittered by them. In many things we all offend, insomuch that there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sins not. We are in the midst of a defiling world, and cannot keep ourselves perfectly unspotted from it. If we say we have no sin, or that we have passed a day and have not sinned, we deceived ourselves; for if we know the truth by ourselves, we shall see cause to cry, Who can understand his errors? cleanse us from our secret faults, faults which we ourselves are not aware of. We ought to aim at a sinless perfection, with as strict a watchfulness as if we could attain it: But, after all, we must acknowledge that we come short of it; that we have not yet attained, neither are already perfect. We find it by constant sad experience, for it is certain we do enough every day to bring us upon our knees at night.
(2.) We must examine our consciences, that we may find out our particular transgressions the day past. Let us every night search and try our ways, our thoughts, words, and actions, compare them with the rule of the word, look our faces in that glass, that we may see our spots, and may be particular in the [acknowledgment of them. It will be good for us to ask, What have we done this day? What have we done amiss? What duty have we neglected? What false step have we taken? How have we carried it in our callings, in our converse? Have we done the duties of our particular relations, and accommodated ourselves to the will of God in every event of providence? By doing this frequently, we shall grow in our acquaintance with ourselves, than which nothing will contribute more to our soul’s prosperity.
(3.) We must renew our repentance for whatever we find has been amiss in us, or has been said or done amiss by us. We must be sorry for it, and sadly lament it, and take shame to ourselves for it, and give glory to God by making confession. If any thing appear to have been wrong more than ordinary, that must be particularly bewailed; and, in general, we must be mortified for our sins of daily infirmity, which we ought not to think slightly of because they are returning daily, but rather be the more ashamed of them, and of that fountain within, which casts out these waters.
It is good to be speedy in renewing our repentance, before the heart be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Delays are dangerous, green wounds may soon be cured, if taken in time, but if they stink and are corrupt, as the Psalmist complains, Psalm. xxxviii.5, it is our fault and folly, and the cure will be difficult. Though, through the weakness of the flesh, we fall into sin daily, if we get up again by renewed repentance at night, we are not, nor ought we to think ourselves utterly cast down. The sin that humbles us shall not ruin us.
(4) We must make a fresh application of the blood of Christ to our souls for the remission of our sins, and the gracious acceptance of our repentance. We must not think that we have need of Christ only at our first conversion to God; no, we have daily need of him, as our advocate with the Father, and therefore, as such, he always appears in the presence of God for us, and attends continually to this very thing. Even our sins of daily infirmity would be our ruin, if he had not made satisfaction for them, and did not still make intercession for us. He that is washed, still needeth to wash his feet from the filth he contracts in every step; and, blessed be God, there is a fountain opened for us to wash in, and it is always open.
(5.) Let us lie down with humble supplications for the mercies of the night. Prayer is as necessary in the evening as it was in the morning; for we have the same need of the divine favour and care, to make the evening out-goings to rejoice, that we had to beautify those of the morning.
(1.) We must pray that our outward man may be under the care of God’s holy angels, who are the ministers of his providence. God hath promised that he will give his angels charge concerning those who make the Most High their refuge, and that they shall pitch their tents round about them and deliver them; and what he hath promised, we may and must pray for, not as if God needed the service of the angels, or as if he did himself quit all the care of his people, and turn it over to them. But it appears, by abundance of Scripture proofs, that they are employed about the people of God, whom he takes under his special protection, though they are not seen, both for the honour of God, by whom they are charged, and for the honour of the saints with whom they are charged. It was the glory of Solomon’s bed, that three score valiant men were about it, of the valiant of Israel, all holding swords, because of fear in the night. Cant. Iii. 7, S» But much more honourably and comfortably are all true believers attended, for though they lie ever so meanly, they have hosts of angels surrounding their beds, and by the ministration of good spirits are preserved from malignant spirits. But God will for this be inquired of by the house of Israel; Christ himself must pray the Father, and he will send to his relief legions of angels. Mat. xxvi. 53. Much more reason have we to ask, that it may be given us.
(2.) We must pray that our inward man may be under the influences of his Holy Spirit, who is the author and fountain of his grace. As public ordinances are opportunities in which the Spirit works upon the hearts of men, and therefore when we attend on them, we must pray for the Spirit’s operations; so are private retirements, and therefore me must put up the same prayer when we enter upon them. We find, that in slumberings upon the bed, God openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction. Job xxxiii. 15, 16. And with this David’s experiences concur; he found that God visited him in the night, and tried him, and so discovered him to himself, Psalm. xvii. 3. And that God gave him counsel, and his reins instructed him in the night season, and so he discovered himself to him. Psalm xvi. 7. He found that was a proper season for remembering God, and meditating upon him; and in order to our due improvement of this proper season for conversing with God in solitude, we need the powerful and benign influences of the blessed Spirit, which therefore, when we lie down, we should earnestly pray for, and humbly put ourselves under, and submit ourselves to. How God’s grace may work upon us when we are asleep, we know not; the soul will act in a state of separation from the body, and how far it doth act independent of the body, when the bodily senses are all locked up, we cannot say; but are sure that the Spirit of the Lord is not bound. We have reason to pray, not only that our minds may not be either disturbed or polluted by evil dreams, in which, for aught we know, evil spirits sometimes have a hand, but may be instructed and quieted by good dreams; which Plutarch reckons among the evidences of increase and proficiency in virtue, and on which the good Spirit has an influence. I have heard of a good man that used to pray at night for good dreams.
Secondly. When we lay us down, our care and endeavour must be to lay us down in peace. It is promised to Abraham, that he shall go to his grave in peace, Gen. xv. 15, and this promise is sure to all his spiritual seed; for the end of the upright man is peace. Josiah dies in peace though he is killed in battle; now, as an earnest of this, let us every night lie down in peace. It is threatened to the wicked, that they shall lie down in sorrow, Isa. 1. 11. It is promised to the righteous, that they shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid, Lev. xxvi. 6, Job xi. 19. Let us then enter into this rest, this blessed Sabbatism, and take care that we come not short of it.
1. Let us lie down in peace with God, for without this there can be no peace at all. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked, whom God is at war with. A state of sin is a state of enmity against God; they that continue in that state are under the wrath and curse of God, and cannot lie down in peace. What have they to do with peace? Hasten, therefore, sinner, hasten to make thy peace with God in Jesus Christ, by repentance and faith; take hold on his strength, that thou mayest make peace with him, and thou shalt make peace; for fury is not with him. Conditions of peace are offered, consent to them; close with him who is our peace; take Christ upon his own terms, Christ upon any terms. Defer not to do this; dare not to sleep in that condition in which thou darest not die. Escape for thy life, look not behind thee. Acquaint now thyself with him, now presently, and be at peace, and thereby this good shall come unto thee, thou shalt lie down in peace.
Sin is ever and anon making mischief between God and our souls, provoking God against us, alienating us from God; we therefore need to be every night making peace, reconciling ourselves to him, and to his holy will, by the agency of his Spirit upon us, and begging of him to be reconciled to us through the intercession of his Son for us; that there may be no distance, no strangeness between us and God, no inter. posing cloud to hinder his mercies from coming down upon us, or our prayers from coming up unto him. Being justified by faith, we have this peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: and then we may not only lie down in peace, but we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Let this be our first care, that God have no quarrel with us, nor we with him.
2, Let us lie down in peace with all men; we are concerned to go to sleep, as “well as to go to die, in charity. Those that converse much with the world, can scarcely pass a day but something or other happens that is provoking; some affront is given them, some injury done them, at least they so think. When they retire at night and reject upon it, they are apt to magnify the offence; and while they are musing on it, the fire burns; their resentment rises, and they begin to say, I will do so to him as he has done to me, Prov. Xxiv. 29. Then is the time of ripening the passion into a rooted malice, and meditating revenge; then therefore let wisdom and grace be set on work, to extinguish this fire from hell before it get head; then let this root of bitterness be killed and plucked up; and let the mind be disposed to forgive the injury, and to think well of, and wish well to, him that did it. If others incline to quarrel with us, yet let us resolve not to quarrel with them. Let us resolve, that whatever the affront or injury was, it shall neither disquiet our spirits, nor make us to fret, which Peninnah aimed at in provoking Hannah, 1 Sam, i, 6. nor sour or imbitter our spirits, or make us peevish and spiteful: But that we still love ourselves, and love our neighbours as ourselves, and therefore not by harbouring malice, do any wrong to ourselves or our neighbour. And we shall find it much easier in itself, and much more pleasant in the reflection, to forgive twenty injuries than to avenge one.
3. Let us lie down in peace with ourselves, with our minds, with a sweet composedness of spirit and enjoyment of ourselves. Return unto thy rest, O my soul, and be easy; let nothing disturb my soul, my darling.
But when may we lie down in peace at night?
1. If we have, by the grace of God, in some measure done the work of the day, and filled it up with duty, we may then lie down in peace at night. If we have the testimony of our consciences, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have this day had our conversation in the world; that we have done some good in our places, something that will turn to a good account; if our hearts do not reproach us with a diem perdidi, alas ! I have lost a day; or with that which is worse, the spending of that time in the service of sin, which should have been spent in the service of God; but if, on the contrary, we have abode with God, have been in his fear, and waited on him all the day long, we may then lie down in peace; for God saith, Well done, good and faithful servant; and the sleep of the labouring man, of the labouring Christian, is sweet, is very sweet, when he can say, as I am a day’s journey nearer my end, so 1 am a day’s work fitter for it. Nothing will make our bed-chambers pleasant, and our beds easy, like the witness of the Spirit of God with our spirits, that we are going forward for heaven; and a conscience kept void of offence, which will not only be a continual feast, but a continual rest.
2. If we have, by faith and patience, and submission to the divine will, reconciled ourselves to all the event is of the day, so as to be uneasy at nothing that God has done, we may then lie down in peace at night. Whatever hath fallen out cross to us, it shall not fret us, but we will kiss the rod, take up the cross, and say, all is well that God doth. Thus we must, in our patience, keep possession of our own souls, and not suffer any affliction to put us out of the possession of them. We have met with disappointments, perhaps in husbandry, in trade, or at sea; debtors prove insolvent, creditors prove severe; but this and the other proceedeth from the Lord, there is a providence in it, every creature is what God makes it to be, and therefore I am dumb, I open not my mouth: That which pleaseth God, ought not to displease me.
3. If we have put ourselves under the divine protection for the ensuing night, we may then lay us down in peace. If, by faith and prayer, we have run into the name of the Lord as our strong tower, have fled to take shelter under the shadow of his wings, and made the Lord our refuge and our habitation, we may then speak peace to ourselves, for God in his word speaks peace to us. If David has an eye to the cherubims, between which God is said to dwell, when he saith, Psalm Ivii. 1. In the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge; yet certainly he has an eye to the similitude Christ makes use of, of a hen gathering her chickens under her wings, when he saith, Psalm xci. 4. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust; and the chickens under the wings of the hen are not only safe, but warm and pleased.
4. If we have cast all our cares for the day following upon God, we may then lay us down in peace. Taking thought for the morrow is the great hinderance of our peace in the night. Let us but learn to live without disquieting care, and to refer the issue of all events to that God, who may and can do what he will, and will do what is best for those that love and fear him: Father, thy will be done, and then we make ourselves easy. Our Saviour presseth this very much upon his disciples, not to perplex themselves with thoughts, what they shall eat, and what they shall drink, and wherewithal they shall be clothed, because their heavenly Father knows that they have need of these things, and will see that they be supplied. Let us therefore ease ourselves of this burden, by casting it on him who careth for us: what need he care, and we care too?
Thirdly, Having laid ourselves down in peace, we must compose ourselves to sleep. I will lay me down and sleep. The love of sleep for sleeping sake, is the character of the sluggard; but as it is nature’s physic for the recruiting of its weary powers, it is to be looked upon as a mercy equal to that of our food, and in its season to be received with thankfulness.
And with such thoughts as these we may go to sleep.
1. What poor bodies are these we carry about with us, that call for rest and relief so often, that are so soon tired even with doing nothing, or next to nothing. It is an honour to man above the beasts, that he is made to go erect, Os Homini sublime dedit. It was part of the serpent’s curse, on thy belly shalt thou go: yet we have little reason to boast of this honour, when we observe how little a while we can stand upright, and how soon we are burdened with our honour, and are forced to lie down. The powers of the soul, and the senses of the body, are our honour; but it is mortifying to consider, how, after a few hours use, they are locked up under a total disability of acting; and it is necessary they should be so. Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, or the strong man in his strength, since they both lie for a fourth part of their time utterly bereft of strength and wisdom, and on a level with the weak and foolish.
2. What a sad thing is it to be under the necessity of losing so much precious time as we do in sleep; that we should lie so many hours every four and twenty, in no capacity at all of serving God or our neighbour, of doing any work of piety or charity. Those that consider how short our time is, and what a great deal of work we have to do, and how fast the day of account hastens on, cannot but grudge to spend so much time in sleep, cannot but wish to spend as little as may be in it, cannot but be quickened by it to redeem time when they are awake, and cannot but long to be there where there shall be no need of sleep, but they shall be as the angels of God, and never rest day nor night from the blessed work of praising God.
3. What a good Master do we serve, that allows us time for sleep, and furnishes us with conveniencies for it, and makes it refreshing and reviving to us. By this it appears the Lord is for the body; and it is a good reason why we should present our bodies to him as living sacrifices, and glorify him with them. Nay, sleep is spoken of as given by promise to the saints, Psalm cxxvii. 2. So he giveth his beloved sleep. The godly man hath the enjoyment of that in a quiet resignation to God, which the worldly man labours in vain for in the eager pursuit of the world. What a difference is there between the sleep of a sinner, that is not sensible of his being within a step of hell, and the sleep of a saint, that has good hopes, through grace, of his being within a step of heaven; that is the sleep God gives to his beloved.
4. We have now one day less to live than we had in the morning; the thread of time is winding off apace, its sands are running down, and as time goes, eternity comes. It is hasting on; our days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle. which passeth and repasseth in an instant; and what do we of the work of time? What forwardness are we in to give up our account? O that we could always go to sleep with death upon our thoughts ! how would it quicken us to improve time ! It would make our sleep not the less desirable, but it would make our death much the less formidable.
5. O that, when I awake, I may be still with God, that the parenthesis of sleep, though long, may not break off the thread of my communion with God, but that as soon as I awake 1 may resume it. O that, when I awake in the night, I may have my mind turned to good thoughts, may remember God upon my bed, who then is at my right hand, and to whom the darkness and the light are both alike; and that I may sweetly meditate upon him in the night watches; that thus even that time may be redeemed, and improved to the best advantage, which otherwise is in danger, not only of being lost in vain thoughts, but mispent in ill ones. O that, when I awake in the morning, my first thoughts may be of God, that with them my heart may be seasoned for all day.
6. O that I may enter into a better rest than that which 1 am now entering upon ! The apostle speaks of a rest, which we, that have believed, do enter into, even in this world, as well as of a rest which, in the other world, remains for the people of God, Heb. iv. 4, 9. Believers rest from sin and the world, they rest in Christ, and in God through Christ, they enjoy a satisfaction in the covenant of grace, and their interest in that covenant: this is my rest for ever, here will I dwell. They enter into this ark; and there are not only safe, but easy. Now, O that I might enjoy this rest while I live, and when I die, might enter into something more than rest, even the joy of my Lord, a fulness of joy.
Fourthly. We must do all this in a believing dependence upon God and his power, providence, and grace. Therefore I lay me down in peace, and compose myself to sleep, because thou. Lord, keepest me, and assurest me that thou dost so. Thou, Lord, makest me to dwell in safety. David takes notice of God’s compassing his path, and his lying down, as he observes, Psalm cxxxiv. 3. He sees his eye upon him, when he is retired into his bed-chamber, and none else sees him; when he is in the dark, and none else can see him. Here he takes notice of him, compassing his lying down as his preserver, and sees his hand about him, to protect him from evil, and keep him safe: feels his hand under him to support him, and to make him easy.
1. It is by the power of God’s providence that we are kept safe in the night, and on that providence we must depend continually. It is he that preserveth man and beast, Psalm xxxvi. 6, that upholds all things by the word of his power. That death, which by sin entered into the world, would soon lay all waste, if God did not shelter his creatures from its arrows, which are continually flying about. We cannot but see ourselves exposed in the night. Our bodies carry about with them the seeds of all diseases; death is always working in us, a little thing would stop the circulation either of the blood or the breath, and then we are gone, either never wake, or wake under the arrests of death.
We are very unable to help ourselves, and our friends unable to help us; we are not aware of the particulars of our danger, nor can we foresee which way it will arise; and therefore know not where to stand upon our guard, or, if we did, we know not how. When Saul was asleep, he lost his spear and cruise of water, and might as easily have lost his head, as Sisera did, when he was asleep, by the hand of a woman. What poor helpless creatures are we, and how easily are we overcome when sleep has overcome us! Our friends are asleep too, and cannot help us. An illness may seize us in the night, which, if they be called up and come to us, they cannot help us; even the most skilful and tender physicians are of no value.
It is therefore God’s providence that protects us, night after night, by his care and kindness. That was the hedge about Job, about him and his house, and all that he had, Job i. 10; a hedge that Satan himself could not break through, nor find a gap in, though he traversed it round. There is a special protection which God’s people are taken under; they are hid in his pavilion, in the secret of his tabernacle, under the protection of his promise, Psalm xXvii. 5. They are his own, and dear to him, and he keeps them as the apple of his eye, Psalm xvii. 8. He is round about them from henceforth and for ever, as the mountains are round about Jerusalem, Psalm cxxv. 2. He protects their habitations as he did the tents of Israel in the wilderness; for he hath promised to create upon every dwelling-place of mount Zion a pillar of cloud by day, to shelter from heat, and the shining of a flaming fire by night, to shelter from cold, Isa. iv, 5. Thus he blesseth the habitation of the just, so that no real evil shall befall it, nor any plague come nigh it.
This care of the divine providence, concerning us and our families, we are to depend upon, so as to look upon no provisions we make for our own safety sufficient, without the blessing of divine providence upon it. Except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen watch in vain. Be the house never so well built, the doors and windows never so well barred, the servants never so careful, never so watchful, it is all to no purpose, unless he that keeps Israel, who neither slumbers nor sleeps, undertakes for our safety; and if he be thy protector, at destruction and famine thou shalt laugh, and shalt know that thy tabernacle is in peace. Job v. 22, 24.
2. It is by the power of God’s grace that we are enabled to think ourselves safe, and on that grace we must continually depend. The fear of danger, though groundless, is as vexatious as if it were never so just. And therefore, to complete the mercy of being made to dwell safely, it is requisite that, by the grace of God, we be delivered from our fears, Psalm xxxiv. 4. as well as from the things themselves that we are afraid of, that shadows may not be a terror to us, no more than substantial evils.
If by the grace of God we are enabled to live by faith, that faith which sets God always before us; that faith which applies the promises to ourselves, and puts them in suit at the throne of grace; that faith which purifies the heart, overcomes the world, and quenches all the fiery darts of the wicked one, that faith which realizes unseen things, and is the substance and evidence of them: If we be actuated and governed by his grace, we are made to dwell safely, and to bid defiance to death itself, and all its harbingers and terrors. O Death ! where is thy sting? This faith will not only silence our fears, but will open our lips in holy triumphs. If God be for us, who can be against us?
Let us lie down in peace, and sleep, not in the strength of a natural resolution against fear, nor merely of rational arguments against it, though they are of good use, but in a dependence upon the grace of God to work faith in us, and to fulfil in us the work of faith. This is going to sleep like a Christian under the shadow of God’s wings; going to sleep in faith, and it will be to us a good earnest of dying in faith; for the same faith that will carry us cheerfully through the short death of sleep, will carry us through the long sleep of death.
First. See how much it is our concern to carry our religion about with us wherever we go, and to have it always at our right hand; for at every turn we have occasion for it, lying down, rising up, going out and coming in; and those are Christians indeed, who confine not their religion to the new moons and the Sabbaths, but bring the influences of it into all the common actions and occurrences of human life. We must sit down at our tables, and rise from them, lie down in our beds, and arise from them, with an eye to God’s providence and promise. Thus we must live a life of communion with God, even while our conversation is with the world.
And in order to this, it is necessary that we have a living principle in our hearts, a principle of grace, which, like a well of living water, may be continually springing up to life eternal, John iv. 14. It is necessary likewise that we have a watchful eye upon our hearts, and keep them with all diligence, that we set a strict guard upon their motions, and have our thoughts more at command than I fear most Christians have. See what need we have of the constant supplies of divine grace, and of a union with Christ, that by faith we may partake of the root and fatness of the goodly olive continually.
Secondly. See what a hidden life the life of good Christians is, and how much it lies from under the eye and observation of the world. The most important part of their business lies between God and their own souls, in the frame of their spirits, and the workings of their hearts in their retirements, which no eye sees but his that is all eye. Justly are the saints called God’s hidden ones, and his secret is said to be with them; for they have meat to eat, and work to do, which the world knows not of; and joys, and griefs, and cares, which a stranger doth not intermeddle with. Great is the mystery of serious godliness.
And this is a good reason why we should look upon ourselves as incompetent judges one of another, because we know not the hearts of others, nor are witnesses to their retirements. It is to be feared there are many whose religion lies all on the outside. They make a fair show in the flesh, and perhaps a great noise; and yet are strangers to this secret communion with God, in which consists so much of the power of godliness. And, on the other hand, it is to be hoped, there are many who do not distinguish themselves by any thing observable in their profession of religion, but pass through the world without being taken notice of; and yet converse much with God in solitude, and walk with him in the even constant tenor of a regular devotion and conversation. The kingdom of God cometh not with observation. Many merchants thrive by a secret trade, and make no bustle in the world. It is fit therefore that every man’s judgment should proceed from the Lord, who knows men’s hearts, and sees in secret.
Thirdly. See what enemies they are to themselves, that continue under the power of a vain and carnal mind, and live without God in the world. Multitudes, 1 fear there are, to whom all that has been said of secret communion with God, is accounted as a strange thing, and they are ready to say of their ministers, when they speak of it, do they speak parables? They lie down and rise up, go out and come in, in the constant pursuit either of worldly profits, or of sensual pleasures : But God is not in all their thoughts, not in any of them. They live upon him, and upon the gifts of his bounty, from day to day, but they have no regard to him, never own their dependence on him, nor are in any care to secure his favours.
They that live such a mere animal life as this, do not only put a great contempt upon God, but do a great deal of damage to themselves; they stand in their own light, and deprive themselves of the most valuable comforts that can be enjoyed on this side heaven. What peace can they have who are not at peace with God? What satisfaction can they take in their hopes, who build them not upon God the everlasting foundation? Or in their joys, who derive them not from him, the fountain of life and living waters? O that at length they would be wise for themselves, and remember their Creator and benefactor.
Fourthly, See what easy and pleasant lives the people of God might live, if it were not their own faults. There are those who fear God, and work righteousness, and are accepted of the Lord, but go drooping and disconsolate from day to day, are full of cares, and fears, and complaints, and make themselves always uneasy; and it is because they do not live that life of delight in God, and dependence on him, that they might and should live. God has effectually provided for their dwelling at ease, but they make not use of that provision he has laid up for them.
O that all who appear to be conscientious, and are afraid of sin, would appear to be cheerful, and afraid of nothing else; that all, who call God Father, and are in care to please him, and keep themselves in his love, would learn to cast all their other care upon him, and commit their way to him as to a Father. He shall choose our inheritance for us, and knows what is best for us, better than we do for ourselves. Thou shalt answer. Lord, for me. It is what I have often said, and will abide by, That a holy heavenly life, spent in the service of God, and in communion with him, is the most pleasant and comfortable life any person can live in this world.
Fifthly, See in this, what is the best preparation we can make for the unchangeable world that is before us. We know God will bring us to death, and it is our great concern to get ready for it. It ought to be the business of every day, to prepare for our last day; and what can we do better for ourselves in the prospect of death, than by frequent retirements for communion with God, to get more loose from that world, which at death we must leave, and better acquainted with that world, which at death we must remove to. By going to our beds as to our graves, we shall make death familiar to us, and it will become as easy to us to close our eyes in peace and die, as it used to be to close our eyes in peace and sleep.
We hope God will bring us to heaven j and by keeping up daily communion with God, we grow more and more meet to partake of that inheritance, and have our conversation in heaven. It is certain, all that will go to heaven hereafter begin their heaven now, and have their hearts there. If we thus enter into a spiritual rest every night, that will be a pledge of our blessed repose in the embraces of divine love, in that world wherein day and night come to an end, and we shall not rest day or night from praising him, who is, and who will be, our eternal rest.