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Why do the clouds cast fatness on the hills ?
Oh, Thou, whose brightening wing is plumed with light,
When wilt thou, when, thy power almighty prove,
Gloom, guilt, and woe, on his eternal tide.
Nor need we read of regal wrath and hate,
GURNALL. [WILLIAM GURNALL was born about 1617. He was educated at Emanuel College, Cambridge, of which college he became a Fellow. He was presented to the living of Lavenham, Suffolk; which he retained, although of the Presbyterian persuasion, by conceding to the Act of Uniformity in 1662. He died in 1679. The work from which our extract is given is a folio, entitled “The Christian in Complete Armour;' and was once amongst the most popular of theological works. It is remarkable for having very little of a polemical nature in an age of controversy.]
First. For earthly things, it is not necessary that thou hast them; that is necessary which cannot be supplied per vicarium, with somewhat besides itself. Now, there is no such earthly enjoyment, but may be supplied as to make its room more desirable than its company. In heaven there shall be light and no sun, a rich feast and yet no meat, glorious robes and yet no clothes, there shall want nothing, and yet none of this worldly glory be found there; yea, even while we are here, they may be recompensed; thou mayest be under infirmities of body, and yet better than if thou hadst health. The inhabitants shall not say, I am sick; the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity. Isa. xxxiii. 34. Thou mayest miss of worldly honour, and obtain with those worthies of Christ (Heb. i. 1.) a good report by faith, and that is a name better than of the great ones of the earth; thou mayest be poor in the world, and yet rich in grace; and godliness with
content is great gain. In a word, if thou partest with thy temporal life, and findest an eternal, what dost thou lose by thy change? but heaven and heavenly things are such as cannot be recompensed with any other.
Secondly. Earthly things are such, as it is a great uncertainty whether with all our labour we can have them or not. The world, though so many thousand years old, hath not learned the merchant such a method of trading, as that from it he may infallibly conclude he shall at last get an estate by his trade; nor the courtier such rules of comporting himself to the humour of his prince, as to assure him he shall rise. They are but few that carry away the prize in the world's lottery, the greater number have only their labour for their pains, and a sorrowful remembrance left them of their egregious folly, to be led such a wild-goose-chase after that which hath deceived them at last. But now, for heaven and the things of heaven, there is such a clear and certain rule laid down, that if we will but take the counsel of the Word, we can neither mistake the way, nor in that way miscarry of the end. As many as walk by this rule, peace be upon them, and the whole Israel of God. There are some indeed who run, and yet obtain not this prize, that seek and find not, knock and find the door shut upon them; but it is because they do it either not in the right manner, or in the right season. Some would have heaven, but if God save them he must save their sins also, for they do not mean to part with them; and how heaven can hold God and such together, judge you: As they come in at one door, Christ and all those holy spirits with him would run out at the other. Ungrateful wretches that will not come to this glorious feast, unless they may bring that with them which would disturb the joy of that blissful state, and offend all the guests that sit at the table with them, yea, drive God out of his own mansion-house ; a second sort would have heaven, but like him in Ruth, ch. iv., v. 2, 3, 4, who had a mind to his kinsman Elimelech's land, and would have paid for the purchase, but he liked not to have it by marrying Ruth, and so missed of it; some seem very forward to have heaven and salvation, if their own righteousness could procure the same (all the good they do, and duties they perform, they lay up for this purchase), but at last perish because they close not with Christ, and take not heaven in his right. A third sort are content to have it by Christ, but their desires are so
with them ; a they come in out at tl
impotent and listless, that they put them upon no vigorous use of means to obtain him, and so (like the sluggard) they starve, because they will not pull their hands out of their bosom of sloth to reach their food that is before them; for the world they have metal enough, and too much; they trudge far and near for that, and when they have run themselves out of breath can stand and pant after the dust of the earth, as the prophet phraseth it, Amos ii. 7. But for Christ, and obtaining interest in him, O how key-cold are they! there is a kind of cramp invades all the powers of their souls when they should pray, hear, examine their hearts, draw out their affections in hungerings and thirstings after his grace and spirit. 'Tis strange to see how they who even now went full swoop to the world, are suddenly becalmed, not a breath of wind stirring to any purpose in their souls after these things; and is it any wonder that Christ and heaven should be denied to them that have no more mind to them? Lastly, some have zeal enough to have Christ and heaven, but it is when the master of the house is risen, and hath shut to the door; and truly then they may stand long enough rapping before any come to let them in. There is no gospel preached in another world; but as for thee, poor soul, who art per. suaded to renounce thy lusts, throw away the conceit of thy own righteousness, that thou mayest run with more speed to Christ, and art so possessed with the excellency of Christ, thy own present need of him, and salvation by him, that thou pantest after him more than life itself; in God's name go on and speed, be of good comfort, he calls thee by name to come unto him, that thou mayest have rest for thy soul. There is an office in the Word where thou mayest have thy soul and its eternal happiness ensured to thee. Those that come to him, as he will himself in no wise cast away, so not suffer any other to pluck them away. This day (saith Christ to Zaccheus) is salvation come to thy house, Luke xix. 9. Salvation comes to thee (poor soul) that openest thy heart to receive Christ; thou hast eternal life already, as sure as if thou wert a glorified saint now walking in that heavenly city. 0, sirs, if there were a free trade proclaimed to the Indies, enough gold for all that went, and a certainty of making a safe voyage, who would stay at home? But, alas ! this can never be had : all this, and infinitely more, may be said for heaven; and yet how few leave their uncertain hopes of the world to trade for it? What account can be given for this, but the desperate atheism of men's hearts? They are not yet