« הקודםהמשך »
more excellent differ from the rest. As the noblest of creatures, so the noblest of Christians, are they whose faces are set most direct for heaven. Such a heavenly saint, who hath been wrapt up to God in his contemplations, and is newly come down from the views of Christ, what discoveries will he make of those superior regions! how high and sacred is his discourse! enough to convince an understanding hearer, that he hath seen the Lord, and that no man could speak such words, except he had been with God. This, this is the noble Christian. The most famous mountains and trees are those that reach nearest to heaven, and he is the choicest Christian whose heart is most frequently and most delightfully there. If a man have lived near the king, or hath seen the sultan of Persia, or the great Turk, he will be thought a step higher than his neighbours. What then shall we judge of him that daily travels as far as heaven, and there hath seen the King of kings, hath frequent admittance into the divine presence, and feasteth his soul upon the tree of life? For my part, I value this man before the noblest, the richest, the most learned, in the world.
§ 5. (3) A heavenly mind is the nearest and truest way to a life of comfort. The countries far north, are cold and frozen, because they are distant from the sun. What makes such frozen uncomfortable Christians, but their living so far from heaven? And what makes others so warm in comforts, but their living higher, and having nearer access to God? When the sun in the spring draws nearer to our part of the earth, how do all things congratulate its approach! The earth looks green, the trees shoot forth, the plants revive, the birds sing, and all things smile upon us. If we would but try this life with God, and keep these hearts above, what a spring of joy would be within us! How should we forget our winter sorrows! How early should we rise to sing the praise of our great Creator! O Christians, get above. Those that have been there, have found it warmer; and I doubt not but thou hast sometime tried t thyself. When have you largest comforts? Is it not when thou hast conversed with God, and talked with the inhabitants of the higher world, and viewed their mansions, and filled thy soul with the fore-thoughts of glory? If thou knowest by experience what this practice is, I dare say thou knowest what spiritual joy is. If, as David professes, the light of God's countenance more gladdens the heart than corn and wine, then surely they that draw nearest, and most behold it, must be fullest of these joys. Whom should we blame then, that we are so void of consolation, but our own negligent hearts? God hath provided us a crown of glory, and promised to set it shortly on our heads, and We will not so much as think of it. He bids us behold and rejoice, and we will not so much as look at it; and yet We complain for want of comfort. It is by believing we are filled with joy and peace, and no longer than we continue believing. It is in hope the saints rejoice, and no longer than they continue hoping. God's. Spirit work eth our comforts, by setting our own spirits on work upon the promises, and raising our thoughts to the place of our comforts As you would delight a covetous man by showing him gold; so God delights. his people by leading them, as it were, into heaven, and showing them himself, and their rest with him. He does not cast in our joys while we are idle, or taken up with other things. He gives the fruits of the earth while we plow, and sow, and weed, and water, and dung, and dress, and with patience expect his blessing; so doth he give the joys of the soul. I intreat thee, Reader, in the name of the Lord, and as thou valuest the life of constant joy, and that good conscience which is a continual feast, to set upon this work seiously, and learn the art of heavenly-mindedness, ind thou shalt find the increase a hundred fold, and he benefit abundantly exceed thy labour. But this s the misery of man's nature; though every man laturally hates sorrow, and loves the most merry ind joyful life, yet few love the way to joy, or will ndure the pains by which it is obtained; they will ake the next that comes to hand, and content them
selves with earthly pleasures, rather than they will ascend to heaven to seek it; and yet when all is done, they must have it there, or be without it. : .
§ 6. (4) A heart in heaven will be a most excellent preservative against temptations to sin. It will keep the heart well employed. When we are idle, we tempt the devil to tempt us; as careless persons make thieves. A heart in heaven can reply to the tempter, as Nehemiah did, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come. It hath no leisure to be lustful or wanton, ambitious or worldly. If you were but busy in your lawful callings, you would not be so ready to hearken to temptations; much less if you were also busy above with God. Would a judge be persuaded to rise from the bench, when he is sitting upon life and death, to go and play with children in the streets ? No more will a Christian, when he is taking a survey of his eternal rest, give ear to the alluring charms of Satan. The children of that kingdom should never have time for trifles, especially when they are einployed in the affairs of the kingdom; and this employment is one of the saint's chief preservatives from temptations.
5.7. A heavenly life is the freest from sin, be cause it hath truer and livelier apprehensions of spiritual things. He hath so deep an insight into the evil of sin, the vanity of the creature, the brutishness of fleshly, sensual delights, that temptations have lite tle power over him. In vain the net is spread, says Solomon, in the sight of any bird. And usually in vain doth Satan lay his snares for the soul that plainly sees them. Earth is the place for his temptations, and the ordinary bait; and how shall these ensnare the Christian, who hath left the earth, and walks with God? Is converse with wise men the way to make one wise? much more is converse with God. If travellers return home with wisdom and experience, how much more he that travels to heaven? If our bodies are suited to the air and climate' we most live in; his understanding must be fuller of light, who lives with the Father of lights. The men of the world that dwell below, and know no other conversation but earthly, no wonder if their understanding be darkened, and Satan takes them captive at his will. How can worms and moles see, whose, dwelling is always in the earth ? While this dust is in their eyes, no wonder they mistake gain for godliness, sin for grace, the world for God, their own wills for the law of Christ, and, in the issue, hell for heaven. But when a Christian withdraws himself from his worldly thoughts, and begins to converse with God in heaven, methinks he is, as Nebuchadnezzar, taken from the beasts of the field to the throne, and his reason returneth unto hiin. When he hath had a glimpse of eternity, and looks down on the world again, how doth he charge with folly his neglects of Christ, his fleshly pleasures, his earthly cares! How doth he say to his laughter, it is mad! and to his vain mirth, what doth it! How doth he verily think there is no man in bedlam so truly mad, 28 wilful sinners, and unworthy slighters of Christ and glory! This makes a dying man usually wiser than others, because he looks on eternity as near, and hath more heart-piercing thoughts of it, than he ever had n health and prosperity. Then many of the most biter enemies of the saints have their eyes opened, and, ike Balaam, cry out, О that I might die the death of the righteous, and that my last end night be like his ! Yet let the same men recover, and lose their apprelension of the life. to come, and how quickly do they Ise their understandings with it! Tell a dying siner of the riches, honours, or pleasures of the world, nd would he not answer, “What is all this to me, ho must presently appear before God, and give an count of all my life?” Christian, if the apprehendI nearness of eternity will work such strange effects
on the ungodly, and make them so much wiser an before; O what rare effects would it produce thee, if thou couldest always dwell in the views of od, and in lively thoughts of thy everlasting state! irely a believer, if he improve his faith, may ordirily have more quickening apprehensions of the life
to come, in the time of his health, than an unbeliever hath at the hour of his death.
§ 8. A heavenly mind is also fortified against temptations, because the affections are thoroughly prepossessed with the high delights of another world. He that loves most, and not he that only knows most, will most easily resist the emotions of sin. The will doth as sweetly relish goodness, as the understanding doth truth ; and here lies much of a Christian's strength. When thou hast had a fresh delightful taste of heaven, thou wilt not be so easily persuaded from it. You cannot persuade a child to part with his sweetmeats, while the taste is in his mouth. 0 that you would be much on feeding on the hidden manna, and frequently tasting the delights of heaven! How would this confirm thy resolutions, and make thee despise the fooleries of the world, and scorn to be cheated with such childish toys. Had the devil set upon Peter in the mount of transfiguration, when he saw Moses and Elias talking with Christ, would be so easily have been drawn to deny his Lord? What, with all that glory in his eye? No. So, if he should set upon a believing soul, when he is taken up in the mount with Christ, what would such a soul say? “ Get thee behind me, Satan: Wouldest thou persuade me hence with trifling pleasures, and steal my heart from this my rest? Wouldest thou have me sell these joys for nothing? is any honour or delight like this? or can that be profit, for which I must lose this?" But Satan stays till we are come down, and the taste of heaven is out of our mouths, and the glory we saw is even forgotten, and then he easily deceives our hearts. Though the Israelites below, eat, and drink, and rise up to play, before their idol, Moses in the mount will not do so. O, if we could keep the taste of our souls continually delighted with the sweetness above, with what disdain should we spit out the baits of sin!
9. Besides, whilst the heart is set on heaven, a man is under God's protection. If Satan then assault us, God is more engaged for our defence, and will
pleasures, and thou persuade