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2. By commanding us to follow them, 2 Thef.3.70 9. For your selves know howo ye ougbt to fobowo sam to make our selves an example for you to follow us, Phil
. 3. 17. Be followers soget ber of me, and mark obem that fo walk, as ye bave us for an infample, 1 Cor. 4. 16. I befoscl you be followers of me, i Thef. 1.6. Té became fo lowers of us, and of ibe Lord: So well are both examples confident.
2. The likeness of other mons cafes to ours, is grcatly useful to our diređion and encouragement. If wc arc to travel in daxgerous w sies, we will be glad to hear how others have sped before us ; and if we were to deal with a crafty deceiver, wc would willingly advise with others that have dealt with him. If we be colcarn any Trade or Artifice, we would lcarn it of them who with belt success have practised it before us. If wc are fick of any diseas, we are glad to calk with them that have had the same, and have been cured of it; to hear what means they used for their cure. In all fuch cases rcason tcachcth us, both to observe how others were affected; whether their cafe and ours were the fame; what course they took ; and how they sped; especially if they were persons known to us, and the likeness of their case well known; and if they were such as for wisdom and fidelity we could truft: So is it in this great business of our salvation. We have nothing to do, but what many thousands have done before us; nothing to suffer but what they have luffered; no temptation to refift, but what they have been assaulted with, and overcame, 1 Cor. 10.13. and we want no grace, no help or comfort, but what they did attain : And the
glory which we look and hope for, they posfefs
. To look to i ben therefore, muft nccds be ufeful to us in this our wilderness Gate.
3: And as experience is a powerful Teacher ; lo. to be the Matter of other mens experiences, and so netiny, and so wife, and in fuch vari:us cafés, and in so many ages, muft needs be very
We that are born in the last ages of the world, have the benefit of the experience of all the world that have gone before us : Therefore is the Scripture written so much historically ; that all who are there mentioned, may Atill be our inftru&ors. Even the firdt brethren that were born into the world, were so plain a discovery of the neture of fin and Aa11 3
useful to us.
grace, and of the difference of the womains and the Scrpcats Iced, that their history is useful to all generations. And Abel by his faith, and facrifice, and righteousness, being dead (by malignant cruelty) yet fpe akerb, Heb. 11. 4. He that will but soberly look back to all the worlds experience, may quickly be resolved, whether wisdom or folly, labour or idlencis, godlie nels or ungodliness, temperance or sensuality, furthering the Gospel of Chrift, or perfecuting it, have sped better at the lead, and hath proved bch to the ađors upon full experience.
I shall therefore here give you some dirc&tions how you may believingly follow the Saints. And first observe that the duty hath thcsc parts, which you muft diftin&ly mind; 1. To take sbene for your examples under Abrif, and fo to fix your eyes upon them, and look at tbem, and mind them as examples, mufi be minded : 2. To improve these examples which you look upon: And that is, i. For your direction in dury, and for your warning againtt fin: 2. To your encouragement and confolation.
Dircd. 1. Look after bem to their end, and consider 3. Whither they are gonc: We see nothing of them atcer death, but the corpfe which we leave in duft and darkness : But Faith can atrend their souls to glory, and fee were they now are ; even with Cbrift, according to his promise, fobn 12. 36. Pbil. 1:23. John 17. 24. with Angels, and with one another, in the hea. venly fociety, the City of God.
a. What they are doing : And Faith can see that they are bebolding God, and their glorified Redeemer, Mattb. 5.8. Heb. 12. 14. 1 fobn 3.2. They are loving God with perfc& Love, 1 Cor. 12. & 13. 1, 2, &c. They are praifing him with perfe&t alacrity and joy; saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, &c. Rev. 4. 8. They are so far minding the fate of the world, as to cry, How long, O Lord, boly and true, doft tbou not judge and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of tbe eartb: And they are waiting in wbite Robes, till their felono fervants also, and their brethren tbat shall be killed as they were, shall be fulfilled, Rev. 6.10;11. Tbey are rejoycing mben the enemies of Christ and bis Cburob are fubdued, Rcv. 18:20. And they shall judge the mlignant Angels and the world, 1 Cor.4.2,3. And this fecmcth
not to bc.only an approbation of Cbrifts final Judgment : For 1. Judging is very often put in Scripture for governing : As in the book of the Judges, it is faid, fuch and such a one judgre Ifrael; that is, ruded them according to the Laws of God. 3. And a Kingdom and Reign is often promised to the Saints: Tobim that puercomstb wili I grant to fit with me in my Thrones even as I also ovároame, andiam fet down with my Father ix bonis Tbrone, Rev. z. 21. Which mult needs signific some participation in power of Government, and not only in splendor of Glory. And fo Chrift cxpoundeth, Mattb. 19. 28. Lake 12. 30. Te mbich bave followed me, insbe regeneration shall fet on twelve Thrones judging tbe welve Tribes of Israel. (And of God it is said, Pfal.9.4. Tbou fateft in tbe Thrones judging right.) It is too jejunc and forced an exposition of them that fay this is spoken only of the power which the Apofles had in their miniftration on earth: And as absurd is the other, that it is spoken only of Apostles, Paftors, and Saints, and Mutyrs in specie that their successors shall be Popes and Prelatss, and great men in the world, and the Saints be uppermoft after Conftantines conversion. As if the promisc mcant only to reward one man, because another fuffered for Christ, and God had promised chefe great things, not to the perfons mentioned, but io orbers that thould be their fucceffors ; yea as if that Venom then poured into the Church, were all the benediion. And though I know not what changes are yet to come before the final Judgment, yet the Millenaries opinion, who reftrain all this to an carthly temporal reign of fome Saints for a thousand years, doth seem as unfuisfactory on many accounts. It is most likely therefore that as the wicked (who are now very like them) muft be hereafter of the same Region and Society with the Deviland his Angels,(Mattb.25.41.) And as the godly shall be like and equal to the Angels, Luke 20.36, fo we thall be of the same Society with the Angels; and confequently thall have their employment. And as the Angels havt a Ministerial Steword hip or Superintendency over men and their affairs (as many Scriptures fully thew) so also fhall the Saints : And it is not likely that this is wholly deferred till the refurre&tion; but as they have a Glory before that with Chrif and his Angels; so they have now their part in this Superintendency
before, though both
will be greater at the Refurre&tion. If any say, what-use will there be of our fuperiority, after the world is destroyed? I answer, 1. The Apostle Peter plainly teheth us (though some would force his words into the dark) that We according to bis promise, exped niedo Heaven and a new Earth, in which dwellerb righteousness. And the Creation groaned to be delivered from the bondage of corruption into tbe glorious liberty of the Sons of God, Rom. 8.21. And the Heavens muft contain Cbrift, tillsbetimes of Reftitution of all tbings, wbicb God barb spoken by the mouth of all bis boly Propbets, fince sbe world began, AQs 3. 21. 2. And he that said, the Saints fhalts judge tbe Angels, scometh to intimate, that the Devils with the wicked will be in a fate of subjection or servitude to them hereafter. Certain it is, that Michael and his Angels Ihall be the conquerours of the Dragon and his Angels, Rev, 13.7, 9. And that the Serpents bead Mall be bruised by all the womans furd, though chicây by the Caprain of our Galvation. But this thall now suffice concerning their employment.
3. Bchold also by Faith what the departed Saints are now enjoying. And what is said of their place and work will tell you that. They enjoy the sigbs of their glorified Head, Joh. 17.24.
They are with bim in Paradise, and therefore also enjoy the fight of the Glory of God: Being absent from the body, tbey are present with the Lord, 2 Cor. 5.8. They fee not as in a glass, as here they did, but with open face. They cnjoy the pleasures of a morc perfc& knowledge of God and all his wondrous works, than this world affords. They arc happy in their works, in the perfect Love and Praises of God; and they are nied with the pleasures of his Love to them. This is their tiu!cion.
4. Let Faith also behold what evils they are delivered from. g. From a heavy drofly body which since the fali hain been an enemy, a prison and fetters to the soul: and thercfore they here groaned to be better cloatbed, 2 Cor. 5.4, 5. Rom. 8. 21. 2. From the worlds temptations : 3. From wicked mens niklice and persecutions : 4. From fickness, pain, neceffiries,labours, weariness, and all the troublesome effeas of lin : 5. From all troublesome passions, defires, anger, discontent, dilappointments, griefs, and cares, and scars of evil. 6. Specially from the fears or Hell, and the doubts of their own lacerity
and salvation and from the defertions of God, and the ici. rible sense of his displeasure. 7. From the troubles and crrours of ignorance, and all our natural imperfection. 8. From the fears of death, which now is more painful than death it felf. 9. From the suggeftions of Satan, and his malicious vex. ing disquicting temptations, and from his flattering allure. ments, which are much worse. 10. From the company, and the tempting or grieving examples of ungodly mnen. 11. From all linic sell, and all our moral imperfections and defeats. 12. And finally from all danger, and fcar of ever lofing the felicity they possess. These are the immunities of the bleflcd.
2. When Faith hath seen the Saints in Glory, look back and think next what they were lately bere on caribs that it may help you to compare your state and theirs. And here you will fcc 1. That they were lately in flesh, as we now are. They had bodies as droslic, as vile, as frail, as burdensome as ouis arc. It cost them as dear (not as it doth the sensual, but) as ic doth the temperate person now to keep ibens up a while for the service to which they were appointed. 2. They had pains and ficknesses as wc have. The souls in Heaven have escaped thither from bodies which have lain as long tormented with the Srooc, with Stranguries, Collicks, Gripes, Convulsions, Consumprions, Feavers, and other the moft tedious, painful and lochsome diseases, as sober men on earth now feel. 3. Satan was as malicious to them, as he is to us, and to many of them as troublesome: he haunted them with as ugly temptations, to the greatest fins, to unbelief, and pride, and despair, and felf.murder, and horrid blasphemy, as he doth any osus. (Yca he did so by Christ himself, Mattb. 4.) 4. They met with as many allurements to worldliness, sensuality, pride and luft in the worlds deceiving baits, and Matteries, as now we do ; and were fain to proceed every step towards Heaven, by conflict and conqueft as we muft do. 5. They were in as many wants and Araits ; in as poor, and low, and despised a Mate, as we are now: They were compted to cares, and murmurings, and discontents, through their wants and crossis, as well as we. 6. They bave been in dangers, and in fears, and mary a lime at the brink of death, before it came : and put to cry to God Bbbb