Sunday, February 3, 2013

Heavenly Solitude

Richard Baxter, The Saints' Everlasting Rest, in The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, Vol. 2, p. 304:

As this [meditation] is a private and spiritual duty, so it is most convenient that thou retire to some private place: our spirits had need of every help, and to be freed from every hinderance in the work: and the quality of these circumstances, though to some they may seem small things, doth much conduce to our hinderance or our help. Christ himself thought it not vain to direct in this circumstance of private duty, Matt. vi. 4, 6, 18. If in private prayer we must shut our door upon us, that our Father may hear us in secret, so is it also requisite in this meditation. How oft doth Christ himself depart to some mountain, or wilderness, or other solitary place! For occasional meditation I give thee not this advice, but for this daily set and solemn duty I advise that thou withdraw thyself from all society, yea, though it were the society of godly men, that thou mayst awhile enjoy the society of Christ: if a student cannot study in a crowd, who exercises only his invention and memory, much less when thou must exercise all the powers of thy soul, and that upon an object so far above nature: when thy eyes are filled with the persons and actions of men, and thine ears with their discourse, it is hard then to have thy thoughts and affections free for this duty. Though I would not persuade thee to Pythagoras's cave, nor to the hermit's wilderness, nor to the monk's cell; yet I would advise thee to frequent solitariness, that thou mayst sometimes confer with Christ, and with thyself, as well as with others. We are fled so far from the solitude of superstition, that we have cast off the solitude of contemplative devotion. Friends use to converse most familiarly in private, and to open their secrets and let out their affections most freely. Public converse is but common converse. Use, therefore, as Christ himself did, (Mark i. 35,) to depart sometimes into a solitary place, that thou mayst be wholly vacant for this great employment. See Matt. xiv. 23; Mark vi. 23; Luke ix. 18, 36; John vi. 15, 16. We seldom read of God's appearing, by himself, or his angels, to any of his prophets or saints in a throng, but frequently when they were alone.

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