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part of our happiness in heaven, and it is a sin- | lowliness will promote their intercourse. When gular part of our furtherance to it, or hinderance a man is used to be much with God, and taken from it.
up in the study of his glorious attributes, he 5. (4.) Avoid frequent disputes about lesser abhors himself in dust and ashes; and that selftruths, and a religion that lies only in opinions. abhorrence is his best preparative to obtain adThey are usually least acquainted with a heaven- mittance to God again. Therefore, after a soully life, who are violent disputers about the cir- humbling day, or in times of trouble, when the cumstantials of religion. He whose religion is soul is lowest, it useth to have freest access to all in his opinions, will be most frequently and God, and savour most of the life above. The zealously speaking his opinions ; and he whose delight of God is in him that is poor, and of a religion lies in the knowledge and love of God contrite spirit, and trembleth at his word ;' and and Christ, will be most delightfully speaking of the delight of such a soul is in God; and where that happy time when he shall enjoy them. He there is mutual delight, there will be freest adis a rare and precious Christian, who is skilful mittance, heartiest welcome, and most frequent to improve well-known truths. Therefore let me converse. But God is so far from dwelling in advise you who aspire after a heavenly life, not the soul that is proud, that he will not admit it to spend too much of your thoughts, your time, to any near access : “ The proud he knoweth afar your zeal, or your speech, upon disputes that off.' — God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace less concern your souls ; but while hypocrites to the humnble.' A proud mind is high in conare feeding on husks or shells, do you feed on ceit, self-esteem, and carnal aspiring ; a humble the joys above. I wish you were able to defend mind is high, indeed, in God's esteem, and in every truth of God, and, to this end, would read holy aspiring. These two sorts of high-mindand study; but still I would have the chief truths edness are most of all opposite to each other, as to be chiefly studied, and none to cast out your we see most wars are between princes and princes, thoughts of eternity. The least controverted and not between a prince and a ploughman. points are usually most weighty, and of most Well then, art thou a man of worth in thy own necessary, frequent use to our souls. Therefore, eyes ? Art thou delighted when thou hearest study well such scripture precepts as these : 'him of thy esteem with men, and much dejected when that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to thou hearest that they slight thee? Dost thou doubtful disputations. Foolish and unlearned love those best that honour thee, and think questions avoid ; knowing that they do gender meanly of them that do not, though they be -strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not otherwise men of godliness and honesty ? Must strive. Avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, thou have thy, humours fulfilled, and thy judgand contentions, and strivings about the law ; ment be a rule, and thy word a law to all about for they are unprofitable and vain. If any man thee? Are thy passions kindled, if thy word teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome or will be crossed ? Art thou ready to judge words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, humility to be sordid baseness, and knowest pot and to the doctrine which is according to godli- how to submit to humble confession, when thou ness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting hast sinned against God, or injured thy brother? about questions and strifes of words, whereof Art thou one that lookest strange at the godly cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, poor, and art almost ashamed to be their comperverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and panion? Canst thou not serve God in a low destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is place as well as a high ? Are thy boastings godliness: from such withdraw thyself.' restrained more by prudence or artifice than
6. (5.) Take heed of a proud and lofty spirit. humility ? Dost thou desire to have all men's There is such an antipathy between this sin and eyes upon thee, and to hear them say, 'This is God, that thou wilt never get thy heart near he ?' Art thou unacquainted with the deceitfulhim, nor get him near thy heart, as long as this ness and wickedness of thy heart ? Art thou more prevaileth in it. If it cast the angels out of ready to defend thy innocence, than accuse thyheaven, it must needs keep thy heart from heaven. self or confess thy fault? Canst thou hardly bear If it cast our first parents out of paradise, and a close reproof, or digest plain dealing ? If these separated between the Lord and us, and brought symptoms be undeniably in thy heart, thou art a his curse on all the creatures here below, it will proud person. There is too much of hell abiding .certainly keep our hearts from paradise, and in- in thee, to have any acquaintance with heaven; crease the cursed separation from our God. In thy soul is too like the devil, to have any tercourse with God will keep men low, and that familiarity with God. A proud man makes hiinself his god, and sets up himself as his idol ; | thinking of heaven, can fetch but little comfort how then can his affections be set on God ? How thence ; and yet dost thou not lose thy opporcan he possibly have his heart in heaven? In- tunities, and lie below, when thou shouldst walk vention and memory may possibly furnish his above, and live with God ? Dost thou not comtongue with humble and heavenly expressions, mend the sweetness of a heavenly life, and judge but in his spirit there is no more of heaven than those the best Christians that use it, and yet there is of humility. I speak the more of it, never try it thyself? As the sluggard that because it is the most common and dangerous stretches himself on his bed, and cries, O that sin in morality, and most promotes the great sin this were working! so dost thou talk, and trifle, of infidelity. O Christian! if thou wouldst live and live at thy ease, and say, O that I could continually in the presence of thy Lord, lie in get my heart to heaven! How many read books, the dust, and he will thence take thee up. “Learn and hear sermons, expecting to hear of some of him to be meek and lowly, and thou shalt find easier way, or to meet with a shorter course to rest unto thy soul. Otherwise thy soul will be comfort, than they are ever like to find in scriplike the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose ture. Or they ask for directions for a heavenly waters cast up mire and dirt;' and instead of life, and if the hearing them will serve, they will these sweet delights in God, thy pride will fill be heavenly Christians ; but if we show them thee with perpetual disquiet. As he that hum- their work, and tell them they cannot have these bles himself as a little child, shall hereafter be delights on easier terms, then they leave us, as greatest in the kingdom of heaven; so shall he the young man left Christ, sorrowful. If thou now be greatest in the foretastes of that kingdom. art convinced, Reader, that this work is necesGod dwells with a contrite and humble spirit, sary to thy comfort, set upon it resolutely: if to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive thy heart draw back, force it on with the comthe heart of the contrite ones.' Therefore, mand of reason; if thy reason begin to dispute, "humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and produce the command of God, and urge thy own he shall lift you up. And when others are cast necessity, with the other considerations suggestdown, then thou shalt say, there is lifting up ; ed in the former chapter. Let not such an inand he shall save the humble person.'
comparable treasure lie before thee, with thy 7. (6.) A slothful spirit is another impediment hand in thy bosom ; nor thy life be a continual to this heavenly life. And I verily think, there vexation, when it might be a continual feast, only is nothing hinders it more than this in men of a because thou wilt not exert thyself. Sit not good understanding. If it were only the exer- still with a disconsolate spirit, while comforts cise of the body, the moving of the lips, the grow before thine eyes, like a man in the midst bending of the knee, men would as commonly of a garden of flowers, that will not rise to get step to heaven, as they go to visit a friend. But them, and partake of their sweetness. This I to separate our thoughts and affections from the know, Christ is the fountain ; but the well is world, to draw forth all our graces, and increase deep, and thou must get forth this water before each in its proper object, and hold them to it till thou canst be refreshed with it. I know, so far the work prospers in our hands; this, this is the as you are spiritual, you need not all this strivdifficulty. Reader, heaven is above thee, anding and violence ; but in part you are carnal, dost thou think to travel this steep ascent with and as long as it is so, there is need of labour. out labour and resolution ? Canst thou get that It was a custom of the Parthians, not to give earthly heart to heaven, and bring that backward their children any meat in the morning, before mind to God, while thou liest still, and takest they saw the sweat on their faces with some thine ease ? If lying down at the foot of the labour. And you shall find this to be God's hill, and looking toward the top, and wishing usual course, not to give his children the tastes we were there, would serve the turn, then we of his delights till they begin to sweat in seekshould have daily travellers for heaven. Buting after them. Judge, therefore, whether a “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and heavenly life, or thy carnal ease, be better ; and, the violent take it by force. There must be as a wise man, make thy choice accordingly. Yea, violence used to get these first-fruits, as well as let me add for thy encouragement, thou needest to get the full possession. Dost thou not feel not employ thy thoughts more than thou now it so, though I should not tell thee? Will thy dost ; it is only to fix them upon better and heart get upwards, except thou drive it? Thou more pleasant objects. Employ but as many knowest that heaven is all thy hope, that nothing serious thoughts every day upon the excellent below can yield thee rest ; that a heart, seldom glory of the life to come, as thou now dost upon worldly affairs, yea, on vanities and imper- others, thinking it enough that we have daily to tinencies, and thy heart will soon be at heaven. do with it, though we never drink for the refreshOn the whole, it is the field of the slothful, ment of our own souls. that is all grown over with thorns and nettles ; 9. (II.) Having thus showed thee what hinand the desire of the slothful killeth his joy, for derances will resist thee in the work, I expect his hands refuse to labour ; and it is the slothful that thou wilt resolve against them, consider man that saith, “There is a lion in the way, a them seriously, and avoid them faithfully, or else lion is in the streets.' — As the door turneth upon thy labour will be in vain. I must also tell thee, his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed. that I here expect thy promise, as thou valuest The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom; it the delights of these foretastes of heaven, to grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth,' make conscience of performing the following though it be to feed himself with the food of life. duties ; the reading of which, without their conWhat is this but throwing away our consolations, stant practice, will not bring heaven unto thy and, consequently, the precious blood that bought heart. Particularly, be convinced that heaven them ? For he that is slothful in his work, is is the only treasure and happiness ;-labour to brother to him that is a great waster.' Apply know that it is thy own,—and how near it is ;this to thy spiritual work, and study well the frequently and seriously talk of it;—endeavour meaning of it.
to raise thy affections nearer to it in every duty; 8. (7.) Contentment with the mere prepara- —to the same purpose improve every object and tives to this heavenly life, while we are utter event ;-be much in the angelical work of praise; strangers to the life itself, is also a dangerous -possess thy soul with believing thoughts of and secret hinderance. When we take up with the infinite love of God; carefully observe and the mere study of heavenly things, and the no- cherish the motions of the Spirit of God ;-nor tions of them, or the talking with one another even neglect the due care of thy bodily health. about them; as if this were enough to make us 10. (1.) Be convinced that heaven is the only heavenly. None are in more danger of this treasạre and happiness, and labour to know what snare, than those that are employed in leading a treasure and happiness it is. If thou do not the devotions of others, especially preachers of believe it to be the chief good, thou wilt never the gospel. O how easily may such be deceived ! set thy heart upon it; and this conviction must While they do nothing so much as read and sink into thy affections; for if it be only a notion study of heaven ; preach, and pray, and talk of it will have little efficacy. If Eve once supposes heaven ; is not this the heavenly life? Alas ! she sees more worth in the forbidden fruit, than all this is but mere preparation: this is but col- in the love and enjoyment of God, no wonder lecting the materials, not erecting the building if it have more of her heart than God. itself: it is but gathering the manna for others, judgment once prefer the delights of the flesh and not eating and digesting it ourselves. As before the delights of the presence of God, it is he that sits at home may draw exact maps of impossible your heart should be in heaven. As countries, and yet never see them, nor travel it is ignorance of the emptiness of things below, toward them, so may you describe to others the that makes men so overvalue them ; so it is ig. joys of heaven, and yet never come near it in norance of the high delights above, which is the your own hearts. A blind man, by learning, may cause that men so little mind them. If you see dispute of light and colours ; so may you set a purse of gold, and believe it to be but counforth to others that heavenly light, which never ters, it will not entice your affections to it. It enlightened your own souls, and bring that fire is not the real excellence of a thing itself, but its from the hearts of your people, which never known excellence, that excites desire. If an warmed your own hearts. What heavenly pas- ignorant man see a book, containing the secrets sages had Balaam in his prophecies, yet how little of arts or sciences, he values it no more than a of it in his spirit! Nay, we are under a more common piece, because he knows not what is in subtle temptation, than any other men, to draw it; but he that knows it, highly values it, and can us from this heavenly life. Studying and preach- even forbear his meat, drink, and sleep, to read ing of heaven more resembles a heavenly life, it. As the Jews killed the Messiah, while they than thinking and talking of the world does ; and waited for him, because they did not know him ; the resemblance is apt to deceive us. This is so the world cries out for rest, and busily seeks to die the most miserable death, even to famish for delight and happiness, because they know ourselves, because we have bread on our tables; it not; for did they thoroughly know what it is, and to die for thirst, while we draw water for they could not so slight the everlasting treasure.
11. (2.) Labour also to know that heaven is | lief, when he hath invited them so often and so thy own happiness. We may confess heaven to affectionately, and suffered the agonies that they be the best condition, though we despair of en. should suffer. Wretches that we are! to be joying it ; and we may desire and seek it, if we keeping up jealousies of our Lord, when we see the attainment but probable ; but we can should be rejoicing in his love. As if any man never delightfully rejoice in it, till we are in could choose Christ, before Christ hath chosen some measure persuaded of our title to it. What him, or any man were more willing to be happy, comfort is it to a man that is naked, to see the than Christ is to make him happy. Away with rich attire of others ? What delight is it for a these injurious, if not blasphemous thoughts ! If man that hath not a house to put his head in, to ever thou hast harboured such thoughts in thy see the sumptuous buildings of others? Would breast, cast them from thee, and take heed how not all this rather increase his anguish, and make thou ever entertainest them more. God hath him more sensible of his own misery? So, for written the names of his people in heaven, as a man to know the excellencies of heaven, and you use to write your names or marks on your not know whether ever he shall enjoy them, goods; and shall we be attempting to raze them may raise desire, and urge pursuit, but he will out, and to write our names on the doors of hell ? have little joy. Who will set his heart on another But blessed be God, whose foundation standeth man's possessions? If your houses, your goods, sure ; and who • keepeth us by his power through your cattle, your children, were not your own, faith unto salvation ! you would less mind them, and less delight in 13. (3.) Labour to apprehend how near thy them. O Christian ! rest not, therefore, till you rest is. What we think near at hand, we are can call this rest your own : bring thy heart to the more sensible of than that which we behold at a bar of trial : set the qualifications of the saints distance. When judgments or mercies are afar on one side, and of thy soul on the other, and off, we talk of them with little concern ; but when then judge how near they resemble. Thou hast they draw close to us, we tremble at, or rejoice the same word to judge thyself by now, as thou in them. This makes men think on heaven so must be judged by at the great day. Mistake insensibly, because they conceit it at too great not the scripture's description of a saint, that a distance; they look on it as twenty, thirty, or thou neither acquit nor condemn thyself upon forty years off. How much better were it to remistakes. For as groundless hopes tend to conceive the sentence of death in ourselves, and fusion, and are the greatest cause of most men's to look on eternity as near at hand! While I damnation ; so groundless doubts tend to, and am writing, and thinking of it, it hasteth near, and are the great cause of the saint's perplexity and I am even, entering into it before I am aware. distress. Therefore, lay thy foundation for trial While thou art reading this, whoever thou art, safely, and proceed in the work deliberately and time posteth on, and thy life will be gone 'as a resolutely, nor give over till thou canst say, either tale that is told.' *If you verily believed you thou hast, or hast not yet, a title to this rest. O! should die to morrow, how seriously would you if men did truly know, that God is their own think of heaven to-night! When Samuel had told Father, and Christ their own Redeemer and Saul, • To-morrow shalt thou be with me ;' this Head, and that those are their own everlasting struck him to the heart. And if Christ should habitations, and that there they must abide and say to a believing soul, · To-morrow shalt thou be happy for ever ; how could they choose but be with me ;' this would bring him in spirit to be transported with the forethoughts thereof! If heaven beforehand. Do but suppose that you a Christian could but look upon sun, moon, and are still entering into heaven, and it will greatly stars, and reckon all his own in Christ, and say, help you more seriously to mind it. * These are the blessings that my Lord hath pro- 14. (4.) Let thy eternal rest be the subject of cured me, and things incomparably greater than thy frequent serious discourse; especially with these ;' what holy raptures would his spirit feel! those that can speak from their hearts, and are
12. The more do they sin against their own seasoned themselves with heavenly nature. It comforts
, as well as against the grace of the gos- is great pity Christians should ever meet together, pel, who plead for their unbelief, and cherish dis- without some talk of their meeting in heaven, trustful thoughts of God, and injurious thoughts or of the way to it, before they part. It is pity of their Redeemer ; who represent the covenant so much time is spent in vain conversation, as if it were of works, and not of grace: and and useless disputes, and not a serious word Christ as an enemy, rather than a Saviour ; as if of heaven among them. Methinks we should he were willing they should die in their unbe- meet together on purpose to warm our spirits with discoursing of our rest. To hear a Chris- | in secret or public prayer, with hope to get thy tian set forth that blessed, glorious state, with heart nearer to God, before thou risest up. life and power, from the promises of the gospel, When thou openest thy Bible, or other book, methinks should make us say, “Did not our hope to meet with some passage of divine truth, hearts burn within us, while he opened to us the and such blessing of the Spirit with it, as will scriptures?" If a Felix will tremble when he give thee a fuller taste of heaven. When thou hears his judgment powerfully represented, why art going to the house of God, say, 'I hope to should not the believer be revived, when he hears meet with somewhat from God to raise my afhis eternal rest described ? Wicked men can fections, before I return; I hope the Spirit will be delighted in talking together of their wicked give me the meeting, and sweeten my heart with ness; and should not Christians then be delighted those celestial delights; I hope Christ will apin talking of Christ ; and the heirs of heaven in pear to me in that way, and shine about me with talking of their inheritance ? This may make light from heaven ; let me hear his instructing our hearts revive, as it did Jacob's, to hear the and reviving voice, and cause the scales to fall message that called him to Goshen, and to see from my eyes, that I may see more of that glory the chariots that should bring him to Joseph. than I ever yet saw. I hope, before I return, O that we were furnished with skill and resolu- my Lord will bring my heart within the view of tion, to turn the stream of men's common dis- rest, and set it before his Father's presence, that course to these more sublime and precious I may return as the shepherds from the heavenly things! and, when men begin to talk of things vision, “glorifying and praising God, for all the unprofitable, that we could tell how to put in a things I have heard and seen.”' When the Inword for heaven, and say, as Peter of his bodily dians first saw that the English could converse food, Not so, for I have never eaten any thing together by letters, they thought there was some that is common or unclean.' O the good that spirit enclosed in them. So would by-standers we might both do and receive by this course! admire when Christians have communion with Had it not been to deter us from unprofitable God in duties—what there is in those scriptures, conversation, Christ would not have talked of in that sermon, in that prayer, that fills their our giving an account of every idle word in the hearts so full of joy, and so transports them day of judgment. Say then, as the Psalmist, above themselves. Certainly God would not when you are in company,' Let my tongue cleave fail us in our duties, if we did not fail ourselves. to the roof of my mouth, if I prefer not Jerusalem Remember, therefore, always to pray for your above my chief joy. Then you shall find it minister, that God would put some divine mestrue, that a wholesome tongue is a tree of life.'sage into his mouth, which may leave a heavenly
15. (5.) Endeavour, in every duty, to raise thy relish upon your spirit. affections nearer to heaven. God's end in the 16. (6.) Improve every object and every event, institution of his ordinances was, that they should to mind thy soul of its approaching rest. As be as so many steps to advance us to our rest, all providences and creatures are means to our and by which, in subordination to Christ, we rest, so they point us to that as their end. God's might daily ascend in our affections. Let this sweetest dealings with us at the present, would be thy end in using them, and doubtless they not be half so sweet as they are, if they did not will not be unsuccessful. How have you been intimate some further sweetness. Thou takest rejoiced by a few lines from a friend, when you but the bare earnest, and overlookest the main could not see him face to face! And may we sum, when thou receivest thy mercies, and fornot have intercourse with God in his ordinances, gettest thy crown. O that Christians were skilthough our persons be yet so far remote? May ful in this art! You can open your Bibles ; learn not our spirits rejoice in reading those lines, to open the volumes of creation and providence, which contain our legacy and charter for heaven? to read there also of God and glory. Thus we With what gladness and triumph may we read might have a fuller taste of Christ and heaven the expressions of divine love, and hear of our in every common meal, than most men have in celestial country, though we have not yet the a sacrament. If thou prosper in the world, let happiness to behold it! Men that are separated it make thee more sensible of thy perpetual prosby sea and land, can by letters carry on great perity. If thou art weary with labour, let it and gainful trades ; and may not a Christian, in make the thoughts of thy eternal rest more the wise improvement of duties, drive on this sweet. If things go cross, let thy desires be happy trade for rest ? Come then, renounce more earnest to have sorrows and sufferings for formality, custom, and applause, and kneel down ever cease. Is thy body refreshed with food or