Page images
PDF
EPUB

wiile his lips publish the name of the Lord, and but rogues and beggars? Is it not so to our ascribe greatness unto his God! Is not his heavenly Father, when we, who call ourselves his sweet discourse of heaven like the box of pre- children, feed on earth, and the garb of our souls cious ointment, which, being 'poured upon the is like that of the naked world; and our hearts head of Christ, filled the house with the odour?' familiarly converse with, and cleave to the All that are near may be refreshed by it. Happy dust,' rather than stand continually in our Father's the people that have a heavenly minister! Happy presence ? Surely we live below the children of the children and servants that bave a heavenly the King, not according to the height of our father or master! Happy the man that hath a hopes, nor the provision of our Father's house, heavenly companion, who will watch over thy and the great preparations made for his saints. ways, strengthen thee when thou art weak, cheer It is well we have a father of tender bowels, thee when thou art drooping, and comfort thee who will own his children in rags. If he did not with the comfort wherewith he himself hath been first challenge his interest in us, neither ourselves 80 often comforted of God! This is he that nor others could know us to be his people. But will always be blowing at the spark of thy spirit. when a Christian can live above, and rejoice his ual life, and drawing thy soul to God, and will soul with the things that are unseen, how is God say to thee, as the Samaritan woman, •Come, honoured by such a one ! The Lord will testify and see one that hath told me all that ever I for him, This man believes me, and takes me at did;' one that hath loved our souls to the death. my word ; he rejviceth in my promise, before he • Is not this the Christ ?' Is not the knowledge hath possession; he can be thankful for what his of God and him eternal life ?

Is it not the bodily eyes never saw; his rejoicing is not in glory of the saints to see his glory ? Come to the flesh; his heart is with me; he loves my prethis man's house, and sit at his table, and he will sence; and he shall surely enjoy it in my kingfeast thy soul with the dainties of heaven; travel dom for ever. • Blessed are they that have not with him by the way, and he will direct and seen, and yet have believed. Them that honour quicken thee in thy journey to heaven ; trade me, I will honour.' How did God esteem himself with him in the world, and he will counsel thee honcured by Caleb and Joshua, when they went to buy the pearl of great price. If thou wrong into the promised land, and brought back to bim, he can pardon thee, remembering that Christ their brethren a taste of the fruits, and spake well hath pardoned his greater offences. If thou be of the good land, and encouraged the people ! angry, he is meek, considering the meekness of what a promise and recompense did they rehis heavenly pattern ; or if he fall out with you, ceive ! he is soon reconciled, when he recollects that

14. (9.) A soul that doth not set its affections in heaven you must be everlasting friends. This on things above, disobeys the commands, and is the Christian of the right stamp, and all about loses the most gracious and delightful discoverhim are better for him. How uuprofitable is the ies of the word of God. The same God that society of all other sorts of Christians, in com. hath commanded thee to believe, and to be a parison with this! If a man should come from Christian, bath commanded thee to 'seek those heaven, how would men long to hear what re- things which are above, where Christ sitteth on ports he would make of the other world, and the right hand of God, and to set your affecwhat he had seen, and what the blessed there tions on things above, not on things on the earth.' enjoy! Would they not think this man the best | The same God that hath forbidden thee to murcompanion, and his discourses the most profit der, steal, or commit adultery, hath forbidden thee able? Why then do you value the company the neglect of this great duty; and darest thou of saints no more, and inquire no more of them, wilfully disobey him? Why not make conscience and relish their discourse no better ? For every of one, as well as the other ? He hath made it saint shall go to heaven in person, and is fre- thy duty, as well as the means of thy comfort, quently there in spirit, and hath often viewed it that a double bond may engage thee not to forin the glass of the gospel. For my part, I had sake thy own mercies. Besides, what are all the rather have the company of a heavenly-minded most glorious descriptions of heaven, all those Christian, than of the most learned disputants or discoveries of our future blessedness, and precious princely commanders.

promises of our rest, but lost to thee? Are not 13. (8.) No man so highly honoureth God, as these the stars in the firmament of scripture, and he whose conversation is in heaven. Is not a the golden lines in that book of God? Methinks parent disgraced, when his children feed on husks, thou shouldst not part with one of these pronuises, are clothed in rags, and keep company with none no, not for a world. As heaven is the perfection of all our mercies, so the promises of it in the not have compassion on the son of her womb? gospel are the very soul of the gospel. Is a Yea, she may forget, yet will I not forget thee. comfortable word from the mouth of God of such Behold, I have

graven

thee

upon the palms of my worth, that all the comforts in the world are hands; thy walls are continually before me.' nothing to it?

And dost thou neglect and over. But when he speaks of our regards to him, the look so many of them? Why should God re- case is otherwise. • Can a maid forget her orveal so much of his counsel, and tell us before- naments, or a bride her attire ? yet my people hand of the joys we shall possess, but to make have forgotten me days without number. As us know it for our joy? If it had not been to if he should say, “You will not rise one morning fill us with the delights of our foreknown bless- but you will remember to cover your nakedness, edness, he might have kept his purpose to him- nor forget your vanity of dress; and are these self, and never have let us know it till we came of more worth than your God; of more importo enjoy it. Yea, when we had got possession tance than your eternal life? And yet you can of our rest, he might still have concealed its forget these day after day.' Give not God cause eternity from us, and then the fears of losing it thus to expostulate with us. Rather let our souls would have diminished the sweetness of our joys. get up to God, and visit him every morning, and But it hath pleased our Father to open his counsel, our hearts be towards him every moment. and let us know the very intent of his heart, that 16. (11.) Should not our interest in heaven, our joy might be full, and that we might live as and our relation to it, continually keep our the heirs of such a kingdom. And shall we now hearts upon it? There our Father keeps his overlook all ? Shall we live in earthly cares and court. We call him, Our Father, who art in sorrows, and rejoice no more in these discoveries, heaven.' Unworthy children! that can be so than if the Lord had never wrote them ? If thy taken up in their play, as to be mindless of such prince had but sealed thee a patent of some lord- a Father. There also is Christ, our head, our ship, how oft wouldst thou cast thy eyes upon husband, our life; and shall we not look towards it, and make it thy delightful study, till thou him and send to him as oft as we can, till we shouldst come to possess the dignity itself! And come to see him face to face ? Since the hath God sealed thee a patent of heaven, and heavens must receive him until the times of resdost thou let it lie by thee, as if thou badst forgot titution of all things ;' let them also receive our it ? O that our hearts were as high as our hearts with him. There also is New Jerusalem, hopes, and our hopes as high as these infallible which is the mother of us all.' And there are promises !

multitudes of our elder brethren. There are our 15. (10.) It is but just that our hearts should friends and old acquaintance, whose society in be on God, when the heart of God is so much the flesh we so much delighted in, and whose

If the Lord of glory can stoop so low, departure hence we so much lamented, and is as to set his heart on sinful dust, methinks we this no attractive to thy thoughts. If they were should easily be persuaded to set our hearts on within thy reach on earth, thou wouldst go and Christ and glory, and ascend to him, in our daily visit them, and why not oftener visit them in affections, who so much condescends to us. spirit, and rejoice beforehand to think of meetChristian, dost thou not perceive that the heart | ing them there? •Socrates rejoiced that he of Gud is set upon thee, and that he is still should die, because he believed he should see minding thee with tender love, even when thou Homer, Hesiod, and other eminent persons. How forgettest both thyself and him ? Is he not fol- much more do I rejoice, said a pious old minlowing thee with daily mercies, moving upon ister, who am sure to see Christ my Saviour, the thy soul, providing for thy body, preserving eternal Son of God, in his assumed flesh; beboth? Doth he not bear thee continually in the sides so many wise, holy, and renowned patriarms of love, and promise that all shall work archs, prophets, apostles,' &c. A believer should together for thy good,' and suit all his dealings look to heaven, and contemplate the blessed state to thy greatest advantage, and give his angels of the saints, and think with himself, • Though charge over thee? And canst thou be taken up I am not yet so happy as to be with you, yet with the joys below, and forget thy Lord, who this is my daily comfort, you are my brethren forgets not thee? Unkind ingratitude! When and fellow-members in Christ, and therefore your he speaks of his own kindness for us, hear what joys are my joys, and your glory, by this near he says— Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken relation, is my glory ; especially while I believe me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a in the same Christ, and hold fast the same faith woman forget her sucking child, that she should and obedience, by which you were thus dignihed, and rejoice in spirit with you, and con- on earth an eternal happiness? Where is it? gratulate your happiness in my daily medita- What is it made of? Who was the man that tions.'

on us.

found it out? Who was he that last enjoyed it ? 17. Moreover, our house and home is above. Where dwelt he? What was his name? Or art • For we know that if our earthly house of this thou the first that ever discovered heaven on tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of earth ? Ah, wretch ! trust not to thy discoveries, God, an house not made with hands, eternal in boast not of thy gain till experience bid thee boast. the heavens.' Why do we then look no oftener Disquiet not thyself in looking for that which is towards it, and 'gruan earnestly, desiring to be not on earth ; lest thou learn thy experience with clothed upon with our house which is from hea- the loss of thy soul, which thou mightest have ven?' If our home were far meaner, sure we learned on easier terms; even by the warnings should remember it, because it is our home. If of God in his word, and the loss of thousands of you were but banished into a strange land, how souls before thee. If Satan should take thee frequently would your thoughts be at home. And up to the mountain of temptation, and show thee why is it not thus with us in respect of heaven? all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of Is not that more truly and properly our home, them ;' he could show thee nothing that is worwhere we must take up our everlasting abode, thy thy thoughts, much less to be preferred bethan this, which we are every hour expecting to fore thy rest. Indeed, so far as duty and necesbe separated from, and to see no more? We are sity require it, we must be content to mind the strangers, and that is our country. We are heirs, things below ; but who is he that contains himand that is our inheritance ; evenó an inheritance self within the compass of those limits ? And incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, yet if we ever so diligently contract our cares reserved in heaven for us. We are here in con- and thoughts, we shall find the least to be bitter tinual distress and want, and there lies our sub- and burdensome. Christians, see the emptiness stance; even a better and an enduring sub- of all these things, and the preciousness of the stance.' Yea, the very hope of our souls is there ; things above. If thy thoughts should, like the all our hope of relief from our distresses ; all laborious bee, go over the world from flower to our hope of happiness, when here we are miser- flower, from creature to creature, they would able: all this “hope is laid up for us in heaven.' bring no honey or sweetness home, save what Why, beloved Christians, have we so much in- they gathered from their relations to eternity. terest, and so few thoughts there? So near re- Though every truth of God is precious, and lation, and so little affection ? Doth it become ought to be defended; yet even all our study of us to be delighted in the company of strangers, truth should be still in reference to our rest ; for 80 as to forget our Father, and our Lord ? or to the observation is too true, that the lovers of be so well pleased with those that hate and grieve controversies in religion have never been warmed us, as to forget our best and dearest friends ; or with one spark of the love of God.'

And, as to be so fond of borrowed trifles, as to forget for minding the 'affairs of church and state ;'so our own possession and treasure ; or to be so far as they illustrate the providence of God, and much impressed with fears and wants, as to for- tend to the settling of the gospel, and the goget our eternal joy and rest? God usually pleads vernment of Christ; and, consequently, to the his property in us; and thence concludes he will saving our own souls, and those of our posterity, do us good, even because we are his own people, they are well worth our diligent observation ; whom he hath chosen out of all the world. Why but these are only their relations to eternity. then do we not plead our interest in him, and so Even all our dealings in the world, our buying raise our hearts above; even because he is our and selling, our eating and drinking, our buildown God, and because the place is our own pos- ing and marrying, our peace and war, so far as session ? Men commonly overlove and overvalue they relate not to the life to come, but tend only their own things, and mind them too much. o to the pleasing of the flesh, are not worthy the that we could mind our own inheritance, and frequent thoughts of a Christian. And now doth value it half as much as it deserves !

not thy conscience say, that there is nothing but 18. (12.) Once more consider, there is nothing heaven and the way to it, that is worth thy but heaven worth setting our hearts upon. If minding. God have them not, who shall ? If thou mind 19. Now, Reader, are these considerations not thy rest, what wilt thou mind ? Hast thou weighty, or not? Have I proved it thy duty to found out some other God? or something that keep thy heart on things above, or have I not? vill serve thee instead of rest ? Hast thou found | If thou say, 'not,' I am confident thou contra

1089

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

DIRECTIONS HOW TO LEAD A HEAVENLY LIFE

UPON EARTH.

dictest thy own conscience. If thou acknowledge will be rich, right or wrong? If this be thy thyself convinced of the duty, that very tongue case, I dare say, heaven and thy soul are very of thine shall condemn thee, and that confession great strangers. These beams in thine eyes will be pleaded against thee, if thou wilfully neglect not suffer thee to look to heaven ; they will be a such a confessed duty. Be thoroughly willing, cloud between thee and thy God. When thou and the work is more than half done. I have dost but attempt to study eternity, and gather now a few plain directions to give you for your comforts from the life to come, thy sin will help in this great work; but, alas! it is in vain presently look thee in the face, and say, “ These to mention them, except you be willing to put things belong not to thee. How shouldst thou them into practice. However, I will propose take comfort from heaven, who takest so much them to thee, and may the Lord persuade thy pleasure in the lusts of the flesh? How will heart to the work!

this damp thy joys, and make the thoughts of that day and state become thy trouble, and not

thy delight! Every wilful sin will be to thy CHAPTER XII.

comforts, as water to the fire; when thou thinkest to quicken them, this will quench them. It will utterly indispose and disable thee, that thou canst

no more ascend in divine meditation, than a bird Sect. 1. (1.) Hinderances to a heavenly life must be avoided; such as, 2. (I.) Living in any known sin ; 3. (2.) An earthly mind; 4.

can fly when its wings are clipped. Sin cuts (3.) Ungodly companions : 5. (4.) A notional religion ; 6. (5.) A the very sinews of this heavenly life. O man! atives for a heavenly life, without the thing itself

. 9. (11.) The what a life dost thou lose! What daily delights duties which will promote a heavenly life are these : 10. (1.) Be dost thou sell for a vile lust! If heaven and convinced that heaven is the only treasure and happiness; 11, 12. (2.) Labour to know your interest in it ; 13. (3.) and how near it hell can meet together, and God become a lover is : 14. (4.) Frequently and seriously talk of it: 15. (5.) Endeavour of sin, then mayest thou live in thy sin, and in in every duty to raise your affections nearer to it; 16. (6.) To the same purpose improve every object and event ; 17, 18. (7.) Be much the tastes of glory; and have a conversation in believing thoughts of the infinite love of God: 20. (9.) Carefully heaven, though thou cherish thy corruption. observe and cherish the motions of the Spirit of God: 21. (10.) And take heed, lest it banish thee from heaven, Nor even neglect the due care of your bodily health.

as it does thy heart. And though thou be not 1. (1.) As thou valuest the comforts of a guilty, and knowest no reigning sin in thy soul

, heavenly conversation, I must here charge thee think what a sad thing it would be, if ever this from God, to avoid carefully some dangerous should prove thy case. Watch, therefore: eshinderances; and then faithfully and diligently pecially resolve to keep from the occasions of to practise such duties as will especially assist sin, and out of the way of temptations. What thee in attaining to a heavenly life. And, (1.) need have we daily to pray, Lead us not into The hinderances to be avoided with all possible temptation, but deliver us froin evil!' care, are-living in any known sin-an earthly 3. (2.) An earthly mind is another hinderance mind—the company of the ungodly-notional carefully to be avoided. God and mammon, religion—a proud and lofty spirit—a slothful earth and heaven, cannot both have the delight of spirit—and resting in mere preparations for this thy heart. When the heavenly believer is blessheavenly life, without any acquaintance with the ing himself in his God, and rejoicing in hope thing itself.

of the glory to come; perhaps thou art blessing 2. (1.) Living in any known sin, is a grand thyself in thy worldly prosperity, and rejoicing impediment to a heavenly conversation. What in hope of thy thriving here. When he is comhavoc will this make in thy soul! O the joys forting his soul in the views of Christ, of angels, that this hath destroyed! The ruin it hath made and saints, whom he shall live with for ever ; amongst men's graces! The soul-strengthening then thou art comforting thyself with thy wealth, duties it hath hindered ! Christian Reader, art in looking over thy bills and bonds, thy goods, thou one that hast used violence with thy con- thy cattle, or thy buildings, and in thinking of science! Art thou a wilful neglecter of known the favour of the great, of the pleasure of a duties, either public, private, or secret ? Art plentiful estate, of larger provision for thy chilthou a slave to thine appetite, or to any other dren after thee, of the advancement of thy family, commanding sense ? Art thou a proud seeker or the increase of thy dependents. If Christ of thine own esteem? Art thou a peevish and pronounced him a fool, that said, “Soul, take thy passionate person, ready to take fire at every ease, thou hast enough laid up for many years ;' word, or look, or supposed slight? Art thou a how much more so art thou, who knowingly deceiver of others in thy dealings, or one that I speakest in thy heart the same words! Tell

[ocr errors]

me, what difference between this fool's expres- | drunkard, and the enemies of godliness, will prove sions and thy affections? Remember, thou hast hurtful companions to us, though these indeed to do with the Searcher of hearts. Certainly, so are chiefly to be avoided ; but too frequent somuch as thou delightest, and takest up thy rest ciety with persons merely civil and moral, whose on earth, so much of thy delight in God is abated. conversation is empty and unedifying, may much Thine earthly mind may consist with thy out- divert our thoughts from heaven. Our backward profession and common duties; but it can- wardness is such, that we need the most constant not consist with this heavenly duty. Thou thy- and powerful helps. A stone, or a clod, is as fit self knowest how seldom and cold, how cursory to rise and fly in the air, as our hearts are naand reserved thy thoughts have been of the joys turally to move toward heaven. You need not above, ever since thou didst trade so eagerly for hinder the rocks from flying up to the sky; it is the world. O the cursed madness of many that sufficient that you do not help them : and surely seem to be religious! They thrust themselves if our spirits have not great assistance, they may into a multitude of employments, till they are so easily be kept from soaring upward, though they loaded with labours, and clogged with cares, that should never meet with the least impediment. O their souls are as unfit to converse with God, as think of this in the choice of your company ! a man to walk with a mountain on his back; and When your spirits are so disposed for heaven, as unapt to soar in meditation, as their bodies to that you need no help to lift them up; but, as leap above the sun ! And when they have lost flames, you are always mounting, and carrying that heaven upon earth, which they might have with you all that is in your way; then, indeed, had, they take up with a few rotten arguments to you may be less careful of your company; but prove it lawful; though, indeed, they cannot. I till then, as you love the delights of a heavenly advise thee, Christian, who hast tasted the plea- life, be careful herein. What will it advantage sures of a heavenly life, as ever thou wouldst thee in a divine life to hear how the market goes, taste of them any more, avoid this devouring or what the weather is, or is like to be, or gulf of an earthly mind. If once thou come to what news is stirring ? This is the discourse of this, that thou wilt be rich, thou fallest into earthly men. What will it conduce to the raistemptation, and a stare, and into many foolish ing thy heart God-ward to hear that this is an and hurtful lusts.' Keep these things loose able minister, or that an eminent Christian, or about thee, like thy upper garments, that thou this an excellent sermon, or that an excellent mayest lay them by whenever there is need; but book, or to hear some difficult, but unimportant let God and glory be next thy heart. Ever re- controversy ? Yet this, for the most part, is the member, that the friendship of the world is en- sweetest discourse thou art like to have from a mity with God. Whosoever therefore will be a formal, speculative, dead-hearted professor. Nay, friend of the world, is the enemy of God.'-—Love if thou hadst newly been warming thy heart in not the world, neither the things that are in the the contemplation of the blessed joys above, world. If any man love the world, the love of would not this discourse benumb thy affections, the Father is not in him.' This is plain dealing, and quickly freeze thy heart again ? I appeal and happy he that faithfully receives it.

to the judgment of any man that hath tried it, 4. (3.) Beware of the company of the ungodly. and maketh observations on the frame of his Not that I would dissuade thee from necessary spirit. Men cannot well talk of one thing, and converse, or from doing them any office of love; mind another, especially things of such different especially, not from endeavouring the good of natures. You, young men, who are most liable their souls, as long as thou hast any opportunity to this temptation, think seriously of what I say : or hope: nor would I have thee to conclude can you have your hearts in heaven among your them to be dogs and swine, in order to evade the roaring companions in an alehouse or tavern ? duty of reproof; nor even to judge them such at or, when you work in your shops with those all, as long as there is any hope for the better : whose common language is oaths, 'filthiness, or much less can I approve of their practice, who foolish talking, or jesting ? Nay, let me tell conclude men dogs or swine, before ever they you, if you choose such company when you faithfully and lovingly admonish them ; or per- might have better, and find most delight in such, haps, before they have known them, or spoken you are so far from a heavenly conversation, that with them. But it is the unnecessary society of as yet you have no title to heaven at all, and in ungodly men, and too much familiarity with un- that state shall never come there. If your treaprofitable companions, that I dissuade you from. sure was there, your heart could not be on things Not only the openly profane, the swearer, the so distant. In a word, our company will be a

« PreviousContinue »