« PreviousContinue »
they have found, but rest and satisfaction they | prived of our former idul, yet rather than come never found. And shall we think to find that which to God, we delight ourselves in the hope of renever man could find before us? Ahab's king- covering it, and make that very hope our rest ; dom is nothing to him, without Naboth's vine- or search about from creature to creature, lo find yard ; and did that satisfy him when he obtained out something to supply the room; yea, if we it? Were you, like Noah's dove, to look through can find no supply, yet we will rather settle in the earth for a resting-place, you would return this misery, and make a rest of a wretched being, confessing, that you could find none. Go, ask than leave all and come to God. O the cursed honour, Is there rest here? You may as well averseness of our souls from God! If any place rest on the top of tempestuous mountains, or in in hell were tolerable, the soul would rather take Etna's flames. Ask riches, Is there rest here? up its rest there, than come to God. Yea, when Even such as is in a bed of thorns. If you in. he is bringing us over to him, and hath convinced quire for rest of worldly pleasure, it is such as the us of the worth of his ways and service, the last fish hath in swallowing the bait: when the plea. deceit of all is here, we will rather settle upon sure is sweetest, death is nearest. Go to learn- those ways that lead to m, and those ordinances ing, and even to divine ordinances, and inquire that speak of him, and those gifts which flow whether there your souls may rest ? You might from him, than we will come entirely over to indeed receive from these an olive branch of himself. Christian, marvel not that I speak so hope, as they are means to your rest, and have much of resting in these ; beware lest it prove relation to eternity ; but in regard of any satis- thy own case. I suppose thou art so far convinced faction in themselves, you would remain as rest of the vanity of riches, honour, and pleasure, less as ever. How well might all these answer that thou canst more easily disclaim thesė; and us, as Jacob did Rachel, “ Am I in God's stead,' | it is well if it be so ; but the means of grace thou that you came to me for soul-rest ? Not all the lookest on with less suspicion, and thinkest thou states of men in the world ; neither court nor canst not delight in them too much, especially country, towns nor cities, shops nor fields, treas- seeing most of the world despise them, or deures, libraries, solitude, society, studies, nor pul- light in them too little. I know they must be pits, can afford any such thing as this rest. If you loved and valued ; and he that delights in any could inquire of the dead of all generations, or of worldly thing more than in them, is not a the living through all dominions, they would all Christian. But when we are content with orditell you, " Here is no rest. Or if other men's ex- nances without God, and had rather be at a serperience move you not, take a view of your own. mon than in heaven, and a member of the church Can you remember the state that did fully satisfy here than of the perfect church above, this is a you; or if you could, will it prove lasting? I sad mistake. So far let thy soul take comfort believe we may all say of our earthly rest, as in ordinances, as God doth accompany them ; Paul of our hope, if it were in this life only, we remembering, this is not heaven, but the first are of all men the most miserable.'
fruits. “While we are present in the body, we 18. If then either scripture or reason, or the are absent from the Lord;' and while we are experience of ourselves, and all the world, will absent from him, we are absent from our rest. satisfy us, we may see there is no resting here. If God were as willing to be absent from us as And yet how guilty are the generality of us of we from him, and as loth to be our rest as we to this sin!
How many halts and stops do we rest in him, we should be left to an eternal restmake, before we will make the Lord our rest. less separation. In a word, as you are sensible How must God even drive us, and fire us out of the sinfulness of your earthly discontents, so of every condition, lest we should sit down and be you also of your irregular satisfaction, and rest there! If he gives us prosperity, riches, or pray God to pardon them much more. And honour, we do in our hearts dance before them, above all the plagues on this side hell, see that as the Israelites before their call, and say, 'these you watch and pray against settling any where are thy gods ;' and conclude, 'it is good to be short of heaven, or reposing your souls on any bere.' If he imbitter all these to us, how restless thing below God. are we till our coudition be sweetened, that we 19. (III.) The next thing to be considered, may sit down again, and rest where we were! is, our unreasonable unwillingness to die, that we If he proceed in the cure, and take the creature may possess the saints' rest. We linger, like Lot quite away, then how do we labour, and cry, and in Sodom, till the Lord being merciful untu us,' play, that God would restore it, that we may doth pluck us away against our will. I confess make it our rest again! And while we are de- lihat death of itself is not desirable ; but the soul's rest with God is, to which death is the common My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God; passage. Because we are apt to make light of when shall I come and appear before God ?—By this sin, let me set before you its nature and our unwillingness to die, it appears we are little remedy, in a variety of considerations. As for weary of sin. Did we take sin for the greatest instance—it has in it much infidelity. If we did evil, we should not be willing to have its combut verily believe, that the promise of this glory pany so long. "O foolish, sinful heart! Hast is the word of God, and that God doth truly thou been so long a cage of all unclean lusts, a mean as he speaks, and is fully resolved to make fountain incessantly streaming forth the bitter it good ; if we did verily believe, that there is waters of transgression, and art thou not yet indeed such blessedness prepared for believers : weary? Wretched soul! hast thou been so long surely we should be as impatient of living, as wounded in all thy faculties, so grievously lanwe are now fearful of dying, and should think guishing in all thy performances, so fruitful a every day a year till our last day should come. soil of all iniquities, and art thou not yet more Is it possible that we can truly believe, that weary? Wouldst thou still lie under thy imdeath will remove us from misery to such glory, perfections? Hath thy sin proved so profitable and yet be loth to die? If the doubts of our a commodity, so necessary a companion, such a own interest in that glory make us fear, yet a delightful employment, that thou dost so much true belief of the certainty and excellency of this dread the parting day? May not God justly rest, would make us restless till our title to it grant thee thy wishes, and seal thee a lease of thy be cleared. Though there is much faith and desired distance from him, and nail thy ears to Christianity in our mouths, yet there is much these doors of misery, and exclude thee eternally infidelity and paganism' in our hearts, which is from his glory ??—It shows that we are insensithe chief cause that we are so loth to die. It is ble of the vanity of the creature, when we are also much owing to the coldness of our love. If so loth to hear or think of a removal. · Ah, foolwe love our friend, we love his company; his ish, wretched soul! doth every prisoner groan presence is comfortable, his absence is painful : for freedom: and every slave desire his jubilee ; when he comes to us, we entertain him with and every sick man long for health ; and every gladness; when he dies, we mourn, and usually hungry man for food ; and dost thou alone abhor overmourn. To be separated from a faithful deliverance ? Doth the sailor wish to see land? friend, is like the rending a member from our Doth the husbandman desire the harvest, and body. And would not our desires after God be the labourer to receive his pay? Doth the trasuch, if we really loved him ? Nay, should it veller long to be at home, and the racer to win not be much more than such, as he is above all the prize, and the soldier to win the field ?-and friends most lovely ? May the Lord teach us art thou loth to see thy labours finished, and to to look closely to our hearts, and take heed of receive the end of thy faith and sufferings ? self-deceit in this point! Whatever we pretend, Have thy griefs been only dreams? If they if we love either father, mother, husband, wife, were, yet methinks thou shouldst not be afraid child, friend, wealth, or life itself more than of waking. Or is it not rather the world's deChrist, we are yet none of his sincere disciples. lights that are all mere dreams and shadows ? When it comes to the trial, the question will not Or is the world become of late more kind? We be, Who hath preached most, or heard most, or may at our peril reconcile ourselves to the world, talked most? but, Who hath loved most? Christ but it will never reconcile itself to us.
O unwill not take sermons, prayers, fastings; no, nor worthy soul ! who hadst rather dwell in this land the 'giving our goods,' nor the burning our of darkness, and wander in this barren wilderbodies,' instead of love. And do we love him, ness, than be at rest with Jesus Christ! who and yet care not how long we are from him ? hadst rather stay among the wolves, and daily Was it such a joy to Jacob to see the face of suffer the scorpion's stings, than praise the Lord Joseph in Egypt; and shall we be contented with the host of heaven!' without the sight of Christ in glory, and yet say 20. This unwillingness to die, doth actually we love him? I dare not conclude, that we have impeach us of high treason against the Lord. Is no love at all, when we are so loth to die; but it not choosing of earth before him, and taking I dare say, were our love more, we should die of present things for our happiness, and, consemore willingly. If this holy fame were thor- quently, making them our very god? If we did oughly kindled in our breasts, we should cry out indeed make God our end, our rest, our portion, with David, “ As the hart panteth after the water- our treasure, how is it possible but we should brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. I desire to enjoy him ?_It moreover discovers some dissimulation. Would you have any be- die, and go to heaven, what would you have lieve you, when you call the Lord your only more than an epicure or a beast ? Why do we hope, and speak of Christ as all in all, and of pray, and fast, and mourn? Why do we suffer the joy that is in his presence, and yet would the contempt of the world ? Why are we Chrisendure the hardest life, rather than die, and enter tians, and not pagans and infidels, if we do not into his presence ? What self-contradiction is desire a life to come? Wouldst thou lose thy this, to talk so hardly of the world, and the flesh, faith and labour, Christian ? all thy duties and to groan and complain of sin and suffering, and sufferings, all the end of thy life, and all the yet fear no day more than that, which we expect blood of Christ, and be contented with the porshould bring our final freedom! What hypocrisy tion of a worldling or a brute ? Rather say, as is this, to profess to strive and fight for heaven, one did on his deathbed, when he was asked which we are loth to come to! and spend one whether he was willing to die or not, ‘Let him hour after another in prayer, for that which we be loth to die, who is loth to be with Christ.' would not have! Hereby we wrong the Lord Is God willing by death to glorify us, and we and his promises, and disgrace his ways in the are unwilling to die, that we may be glorified ? eyes of the world. As if we could persuade them
them Methinks, if a prince were willing to make you to question, whether God be true to his word or his heir, you would scarce be unwilling to accept not? whether there be any such glory as the it : the refusing such a kindness would discover Scripture mentions ? When they see those so ingratitude and unworthiness. As God hath reloth to leave their hold of present things, who solved against them, who make excuses when have professed to live by faith, and have boasted they should come to Christ,“ none of those men, of their hopes in another world, and spoken dis- who were bidden, shall taste of my supper ;' so gracefully of all things below, in comparison of it is just with him to resolve against us, who things above, how doth this confirm the world frame excuses when we should come to glory. in their unbelief and sensuality ? Sure,' say The Lord Jesus Christ was willing to come from they, 'if these professors did expect so much heaven to earth for us, and shall we be unwilling glory, and make so light of the world as they to remove from earth to heaven for ourselves and seem, they would not themselves be so loth to him ? He might have said, “What is it to me, change.' O how are we ever able to repair the if these sinners suffer ? If they value their flesh wrong which we do to God and souls by this above their spirit, and their lusts above my scandal ! And what an honour to God, what a Father's love ; if they will sell their souls for strengthening to believers, what a conviction to nought, who is it fit should be the loser ? Should unbelievers would it be, if Christians in this did I, whom they have wronged ? Must they wilanswer their profession, and cheerfully welcome fully transgress my law, and I undergo their dethe news of rest !—It also evidently shows, that served pain ? Must I come down from heaven we have spent much time to little purpose. Have to earth, and clothe myself with human flesh, be we not had all our lifetime to prepare to die ? So spit upon and scorned by man, and fast, and many years to make ready for one hour, and are weep, and sweat, and suffer, and bleed, and die we so unready and unwilling yet! What have a cursed death ; and all this for wretched worms, we done? Why have we lived ? Had we any who would rather hazard their souls, than forbear greater matters to mind? Would we have one forbidden morsel? Do they cast away themwished for more frequent warnings ? How often selves so slightly, and must I redeem them so bath death entered the habitations of our neigh- dearly?' Thus we see Christ had reason enough bours! How often hath it knocked at our own to have made him unwilling ; and yet did he doors! How many distempers have vexed our voluntarily condescend. But we have no reason bodies, that we have been forced to receive the against our coming to himn ; except we will reasentence of death! And are we unready and un- son against our hopes, and plead for a perpewilling after all this? O careless, dead-hearted tuity of our own calamities. Christ came down sinners ! unworthy neglectors of God's warnings ! to fetch us up; and would we have him lose his faithless betrayers of our own souls
blood and labour, and go again without us? 21. Consider, not to die, is never to be happy. Hath he bought our rest at so dear a rate? Is To
escape death, is to miss of blessedness ; ex- our inheritance purchased with his blood ? And cept God should translate us, as Enoch and are we, after all this, loth to enter ? Ah, Sirs, Elijah; which he never did before or since. “If it was Christ, and not we, that had cause to in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are be loth. May the Lord forgive, and heal this of all men most miserable. If you would not | foolish ingratitude !
22. Do we not combine with our most 'cruel | do not our fears of dying ensnare our souls, and fues in their most malicious designs, while we add strength to many temptations ? What made are loth to die, and go to heaven? What is the Peter deny his Lord ? What makes apostates devil's daily business? Is it not to keep our in suffering times forsake the truth? Why doth suuls from God? And shall we be content with the green blade of unrooted faith wither before this? Is it not the one half of hell which we the heat of persecution ? Fear of imprisonment wish to ourselves, while we desire to be absent and poverty may do much, but fear of death will from heaven ? What sport is this to Satan, that do much more. So much fear as we have of his desires and thine, Christian, should so concur? death, so much cowardice we usually have in that when he sees he cannot get thee to hell, he the cause of God: beside the multitude of unbecan so long keep thee out of heaven, and make lieving contrivances, and discontents at the wise thee the earnest petitioner for it thyself! O disposals of God, and hard thoughts of most of gratify not the devil so much to thy own injury! his providences, which this sin doth make us Do not our daily fears of death make our lives guilty of. a continual torment? 'Those lives which might 23. Let us further consider, what a compebe full of joy, in the daily contemplations of the tent time most of us have had. Why should not life to come, and the sweet delightful thoughts a man, that would die at all, be as willing at of bliss; how do we fill them up with causeless thirty or forty, if God see fit, as at seventy or terrors! Thus we consume our own comforts, eighty ? Length of time doth vot conquer corand prey upon our truest pleasures. When we ruption ; it never withers nor decays through might lie down, and rise up, and walk abroad, age. Except we receive an addition of grace, with our hearts full of the joys of God, we con- as well as time, we naturally grow worse. "O tinually fill them with perplexing fears. For he my soul! depart in peace. As thou wouldst not that fears dying, must be always fearing; because desire an unlimited state in wealth and honour, he hath always reason to expect it. And how so desire it not in point of time. If thou wast can that man's life be comfortable, who lives in sensible how little thou deservest an hour of that continual fear of losing his comforts ?--Are not patience which thou hast enjoyed, thou wouldst these fears of death self-created sufferings ? As think thou hadst had a large part. Is it not if God had not inflicted enough upon us, but we divine wisdom that sets the bounds ? God will must inflict more upon ourselves. Is not death honour himself by various persons, and severai bitter enough to the flesh of itself, but we must ages, and not by one person or age. Seeing double and treble its bitterness ? The sufferings thou hast acted thy own part, and finished thy laid upon us by God, do all lead to happy appointed course, come down contentedly, that issues : the progress is, from tribulation to pa- others may succeed, who must have their turns tience, from thence to experience, and so to as well as thyself. Much time hath much duty. hope, and at last to glory. But the sufferings Beg therefore for grace to improve it better; but we make for ourselves, are circular and endless, be content with thy share of time. Thou hast from sin to suffering, from suffering to sin, and also had a competency of the comforts of life. so to suffering again ; and not only so, but they God might have made thy life a burden, till thou multiply in their course; every sin is greater hadst been as weary of possessing it, as thou arı than the former, and so every suffering also : so now afraid of losing it. He might have suffered that except we think God hath made us to be thee to have consumed thy days in ignorance, our own tormentors, we have small reason to without the true knowledge of Christ : but he nourish our fears of death. And are they not hath opened thy eyes in the morning of thy useless, unprofitable fears? As all our care days, and acquainted thee betimes with the busi
cannot make one hair white or black, nor add ness of thy life. Hath thy heavenly Father one cubit to our stature ;' so neither can our caused thy lot to fall in Europe, not in Asia, fear prevent our sufferings, nor delay our death Africa, or America ; in England, not in Spain or one hour : willing, or unwilling, we must away. Italy ? Hath he filled up all thy life with merMany a man's fears have hastened his end, but cies, and dost lhou now think thy share too no man's ever did avert it. It is true, a cautious small? What a multitude of hours of consola. fear concerning the danger after death, hath pro. tion, of delightful Sabbaths, of pleasant studies, fited many, and is very useful to the preventing of precious companions, of wonderful deliverof that danger; but for a meinber of Christ, and ances, of excellent opportunities, of fruitful laan heir of heaven, to be afraid of entering his bours, of joyful tidings, of sweet experiences, own inheritance, is a sinful, useless fear.–And I of astonishing providences, hath thy life partaken
THE IMPORTANCE OF LEADING A HEAVENLY LIFE
of: Hath thy life been so sweet, that thou art loth to leave it? Is this thy thanks to him who
CHAPTER XI. is thus drawing thee to his own sweetness ? O foolish soul, would thou wast as covetous after eternity, as thou art for a fading, perishing life! and after the presence of God in glory, as thou Sect. 1. The reasonableness of delighting in the thoughts of the art for continuance on earth! Then thou wouldst
saints' rest. 2. Christians exhorted to it, by considering, 3. (1.) It
will evidence their sincere piety : 4. (2.) It is the highest excellenco cry, 'Why is his chariot so long in coming ? of the Christian temper ; 5. (3.) It leads to the most comfortable
life ; 6—9. (4.) It will be the best preservative from temptations to Why tarry the wheels of his chariot ? How long,
sin ; 10. (5.) It will invigorate their graces and duties; 11. (6.) It Lord ? how long ?- What if God should let will be their best cordial in all aftlictions; 12 (7.) It will render
them most profitable to others ; 13 (8.) It will honour God. 14. (9) thee live many years, but deny thee the mercies Without it, we disobey the commands, and lose the most gracious which thou hast hitherto enjoyed ? Might he
and delightful discoveries of the word of God. 15. (10.) It is the
more reasonable to have our hearts with God, as his is so much on not give thee life, as he gave the murmuring us; 16 17, and (11.) In heaven, where we have so much interest
and relation ; 18 (12.) Besides, there is nothing but heaven worth Israelites quails ? He might give thee life, till
setting our hearts upon. 19. Transition to the subject of the next thou wert weary of living, and as glad to be rid chapter. of it as Judas, or Ahithophel; and make thee like many miserable creatures in the world, who
1. Is there such a rest remaining for us? Why can hardly forbear laying violent hands on them- then are our thoughts no more upon it? Why selves. Be not therefore so importunate for life, are not our hearts continually there? Why dwell which may prove a judgment, instead of a bless- we not there in constant contemplation ? What ing. How many of the precious servants of is the cause of this neglect ? Are we reasonable God, of all ages and places, have gone before in this, or are we not? Hath the eternal God thee! Thou art not to enter an untrodden path, provided us such a glory, and promised to take por appointed first to break the ice. Except
us up to dwell with himself, and is not this worth Enoch and Elijah, which of the saints have thinking on? Should not the strongest desires escaped death? And art thou better than they ? of our hearts be after it? Do we believe this, There are many millions of saints dead, more
and yet forget and neglect it? If God will than now remain on earth. What a number of not give us leave to approach this light, what thine own bosom-friends, and companions in mean all his earnest invitations ? Why doth he duty, are now gone, and why shouldst thou be so condemn our earthly-mindedness, and com80 loth to follow ? Nay, hath not Jesus Christ mand us to set our affections on things above ? himself gone this way ? Hath he not sanctified Ah, vile hearts ! if God were against it, we were the grave to us, and perfumed the dust with his likelier to be for it; but when he commands our own body, and art thou loth to follow him too? hearts to heaven, then they will not stir one Rather say as Thomas, “let us also go, that we inch: like our predecessors, the sinful Israelites; may die with him.'
when God would have them march for Canaan, 24. If what hath been said, will not persuade, then they mutiny, and will not stir; but when scripture and reason hath little force. And i God bids them not go, then they will be prehave said the more on this subject, finding it so sently marching. If God say, 'love not the needful to myself and others; finding among so world, nor the things of the world,' we dote upon many Christians, who could do and suffer much it. How freely, how frequently can we think for Christ, so few that can willingly die ; and of of our pleasures, our friends, our labours, our many, who have somewhat subdued other cor- Aesh and its lusts; yea, our wrongs and miseries, ruptions, so few have got the conquest of this. I our fears and sufferings ! But where is the
What is persuade not the ungodly, from fearing death. Christian whose heart is on his rest? It is a wonder that they fear it no more, and the matter? Are we so full of joy, that we need spend not their days in continual horror.
no more? Or is there nothing in heaven for our joyous thoughts ? Or rather, are not our hearts carnal and stupid ? Let us humble these sensual hearts that have in them no more of Christ and glory. If this world was the only subject of our discourse, all would count us ungodly; why then may we not call our hearts ungodly, that have so little delight in Christ and heaven?
2. But I am speaking only to those wiose