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ways, strengthen thee when thou art weak, cheer thee when thou art drooping, and comfort thee with the comfort wherewith he himself hath been so often comforted of God! This is he that will always be blowing at the spark of thy spiritual life, and drawing thy soul to God, and will say to thee, as the Samaritan woman, “ Come and see one that hath told me all that ever I did;" one that hath loved our souls to the death. Is not this the Christ? Is not the knowledge of God and him eternal life? Is it not. the glory of the saints to see his glory? Come to this man's house, and sit at his table, and he will feast thy soul with the dainties of heaven; travel with him by the way, and he will die rect and quicken thee in thy journey to heaven; trade with him in the world, and he will counsel thee to buy the pearl of great price. If thou wrong him, he cali pardon thee, remembering that Christ hath pardoned his greater offences; if thou be angry, he is meek, considering the meekness of his heavenly Pattern; or, if he fall out with you, he is soon reconciled, when he recollects that in heaven you must be everlasting friends. This is the Christian of the right stamp, and all about him are better for him. How unprofitable is the society of all other sorts of Christians in comparison with this! If a man should come from heaven, how would inen long to hear what reports he would inake of the other world, and what he had seen, and what the blessed there enjoy! Would they not think this man the best companion, and his discourses the most profitable? Why then do you value the company of saints no more, and inquire no more of them, and relish their discourse no better? For every saint shall go to heaven in person, and is frequently there in spirit, and hath often viewed it in the glass of the gospel. For my part, I had rather have the company of a hea venly-minded Christian, than of the most learned disputants, or princely commanders.
§ 13. (8) No man so highly honoureth God as he whose conversation is in heaven. Is not a parent disgraced, when his children feed on husks, are clothed
in rags, and keep company with none but rogues and beggars? Is it not so to our heavenly Father, when we who call ourselves his children feed on earth, and the garb of our souls is like that of the naked world, and our hearts familiarly converse with, and cleave to the dust, rather than stand continually in our Father's presence? Surely we live below the children of the King, not according to the height of our hopes, nor the provision of our Father's house, and the great preparations inade for his saints. It is well we have a Father of tender bowels, who will own his children in rags. If he did not first challenge his interest in us, neither ourselves nor others could know us to be his people, But when a Christian can live above, and rejoice his soul with the things that are unseen, how is God honoured by such a one! The Lord will testify for him, “ This man believes me, and takes me at my word; he rejoiceth in my promise, before he hath possession; he can be thankful for what his bodily eyes never saw; his rejoicing is not in the flesh, his heart is with me; he loves my presence, and he shall surely enjoy it in my kingdom for ever. Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. Them that honour me I will honour.” How did God esteem bimself honoured by Caleb and Joshua, when they went into the promised land, and brought back to their brethren a taste of the fruits, and spake well of the good land, and encouraged the people! What a promise and recompense did they receive!
§ 14. (9) A soul that doth not set its affections on things above, disobeys the commands, and loses the most gracious and delightful discoveries, of the word of God. The same God that hath commanded thee to believe, and to be a Christian, hath commanded thee to seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God, and to set your affections on thing's above, not on things on the earth.(f) The same God that hath forbidden thee to murder, steal, or commit adultery, hath forbidden thee the neglect of this great
(f) Col. iii. 1, 2.
duty, and darest thou wilfully disobey him? Why not make conscience of one, as well as the other? He hath made it thy duty, as well as the means of thy comfort, that a double bond may engage thee not to forsake thy own mercies. . Besides, what are all the most glorious descriptions of heaven, all those discoveries of our future blessedness, and precious promises of our rest, but lost to thee? Are not these the stars in the firmament of scripture, and the golden lines in that book of God? Methinks thou shouldst not part with one of these promises, no not for a world. As heaven is the perfection of all our mercies, so the promises of it in the gospel, are the very soul of the gospel. Is a comfortable word from the mouth of God of such worth, that all the comforts in the world are nothing to it? And dost thou neglect and overlook so many of them? Why should God reveal so much of his counsel, and tell us beforehand of the joys we shall possess, but to make us know it for our joy? If it had not been to fill us with the delights of our foreknown blessedness, he might have kept his purpose to himself, and never have let us know it till we came to enjoy it. Yea, when we had got possession of our rest, he might still have concealed its eternity from us, and then the fears of losing it would have diminished the sweetness of our joys. But it hath pleased our Father to open his counsel, and let us know the very intent of his heart, that our joy might be full, and that we might live as the heirs of such a kingdom. And shall we now overlook all? Shall we live in earthly cares and sorrows, and rejoice no more in these discoveries, than if the Lord had never wrote them? If thy prince had but sealed the a patent of some lordship, how oft wouldst thou cast thine eyes upon it, and make it thy delightful study, till thou shouldst come to possess the dignity itself! And hath God sealed thee a patent of heaven, and dost thou let it lie by thee, as if thou hadst forgot it?-0 that our hearts were as high as our hopes, and our hopes as high as these infallible promises.
joys we shall posounsel, and twwhy should neglect and
15. (10) It is but equal that our hearts should be on God, when the heart of God is so much on us.If the Lord of glory can stoop so low, as to set his heart on sinful dust, methinks we should easily be persuaded to set our hearts on Christ and glory, and ascend to him in our daily affections, who so much condescends to us.. Christian, dost thou not perceive that the heart of God is set upon thee, and that he is still minding thee with tender love, even when thou forgetest both thyself and him? Is he not following thee with daily mercies, moving upon thy soul, providing for thy body, preserving both? Doth he not bear thee continually in the arms of love, and promise that all shall work together for thy good, and suit all his deal. ings to thy greatest advantage, and give his angels charge over thee? And canst thou be taken up with the joys below, and forget thy Lord who forgets not thee? Unkind ingratitude! When he speaks of his own kindness, hear what he says, Zion said, the Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, she may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.(g) But when he speaks of our regards to him, the case is otherwise. Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people hath forgotten me days without number.(h) As if he should say, “ You will not rise one morning, but you will remember to cover your nakedness, nor forget your vanity of dress; and are these of more worth than your God? of more importance than your eternal life? And yet you can forget these day after day.”—Give not God cause thus to expostulate with us. Rather let our souls get up to God, and visit him every morning, and our hearts be towards him every moment.
16. (11) Should not our interest in heaven, and our relation to it, continually keep our hearts upon it? There our Father keeps his court. We call him, Our Father, who art in heaven. Unworthy children! that
(g) Isaiah xlix. 14, 46 (h) Jer. ii. 32.
can be so taken up in their play, as to be mindless of such a Father. There also is Christ our head, our husband, our life; and shall we not look towards him, and send to him as oft as we can, till we come to see him face to face? Since the heavens must receive him, until the times of restitution of all things; let them also receive our hearts with him. There also is new Jerusalem, which is the mother of us all.(0) And there are multitudes of our elder brethren. There are our friends and old acquaintance, whose society in the flesh we so much delighted in, and whose departure hence we so much lamented; and is this no attractive to thy thoughts? If they were within thy reach ou earth, thou wouldest go and visit them, and why not oftener visit them in spirit, and rejoice before-hand to think of meeting them there? “ Socrates rejoiced that he should die, because he believed he should see Homer, Hesiod, and other eminent persons. How much more do I rejoice, said a pious old minister, who am sure to see Christ my Saviour, the eternal Son of God, in his assumed flesh; besides so many wise, holy, and renowned patriarchs, prophets, apostles," &c. A believer should look to heaven, and contemplate the blessed state of the saints, and think with himself, “ Though I am not yet so happy as to be with you, yet this is my daily comfort, you are my brethren and fellow-members in Christ, and therefore your joys are my joys, and your glory, by this near relation, is my glory; especially while I believe in the same Christ, and hold fast the same faith and obedi ence, by which you were thus dignified, and rejoice in spirit with you, and congratulate your happiness in my daily meditations.
17. Moreover, our house and home is above. For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Why do we then look no oftener towards it, and groan earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.(k) If our home were far meaner, sure we
(1) Gal. iv, 26. (k) 2 Cor. v. 1, 2