« הקודםהמשך »
$ 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, methiuks 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 dealings 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, Zionsaid, 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. Be/wld, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy trails 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
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.(t) 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 attractire to thy thoughts? If they were within thy reach on 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 obedience, 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 he clothed upon with our house which isfroto Iteaven.(k) If our home were far meaner, sure we
(0 Gal. iv. «6. (A) 2 Cor. v. 1, 3
should remember it because it is our home. If you were but banished into a strange land, how frequently would your thoughts be at home? And why is it not thus with us in respect of heaven? Is not that more truly and properly our home, where we must take up our everlasting abode, than this, which we are every hour expecting to be separated from, and to see no more? We are strangers, and that is our country. We are heirs, and that is our inheritance; even an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us.(I) We are here in continual distress and want, and there lies our substance; even a better and an enduring substance.(m) Yea, the very hope of our souls is there; all our hope of relief from our distresses; all our hope of happiness, when here we are miserable; all this hope is laid up for us in heaven.(n) Why, beloved Christians, have we so much interest, and so few thoughts there? so near relation, and so little affection? Doth it become us to be delighted in the company of strangers, so as to forget our Father and our Lord? or to be so well pleased with those that hate and grieve us, as to forget our best and dearest friends? or to be so fond of borrowed trifles, as to forget our own possession and treasure? or to be so much impressed with tears and wants, as to forget our eternal joyandrest? God usually pleads ourproperty in us: and thence concludes he will do us good, even because we are his own people, whom he hath chosen out of all the world. Why then do we not plead our interest in him, and so raise our hearts above, even because he is our own God, and because the place is our own possession? Men commonly over-love and over-value their own things, and mind them too much. O that we could mind our own inheritance, and value it half as much as it deserves!
§ 18. (12) Once more, consider there is nothing but heaven worth setting our hearts upon. If God have them not, who shall? If thou mind not thy rest, what wilt thou mind? Hast thou found out some other god?
or something that will serve thee instead of rest? Hast thou found on earth an eternal happiness? Where is it? What is it made of? Who was the man that found it out? Who was he that last enjoyed it? Where dwelt he? What was his name? Or art thou the first that ever discovered heaven on earth? Ah, wretch! trust not to thy discoveries, boast not of thy gain till experience bid thee boast. Disquiet not thyself, in looking for that which is not on earth: lest thou learn thy experience with the loss of thy soul, which thou mightest have learned on easier terms; even by the warnings of God in his word, and the loss of thousands of 60uls before thee. If Satan should take thee up to the mountain of temptation, and show thee all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; he could show thee nothing that is worthy thy thoughts, much less to be preferred before thy rest. Indeed, so far as duty and necessity require it, we must be content to mind the tilings below: but who is he that contains himself within the compass of those limits? And yet if we ever so diligently contract our cares and thoughts, we shall find the least to be bitter and burdensome. Christians, see the emptiness of all these things, and the preciousness of the things above. If thy thoughts should, like the laborious bee, go over the world from flower to flower, from creature to creature, they would bring no honey or sweetness home, save what they gathered from their relations to eternity. Though every truth of God is precious, and ought to be defended; yet even all our study of truth should be still in reference to our rest: for the observation is too true, "that the lovers of controversies in religion, have never been warmed with one spark of the love of God." And as for minding the "affairs of church and state;" so far as they illustrate the providence of God, and tend to the settling of the gospel, and the government of Christ, and consequently to the saving our own souls, and those of our posterity, they are well worth our diligent observation: but these are only their relations to eternity. Even all our dealings in the world, our buying and selling, our eating and drinking, our building and marrying, our peace and war, so far as they relate not to the life to come, but tend only to the pleasing of the flesh, are not worthy the frequent thoughts of a Christian. And now doth not thy conscience say, that there is nothing but heaven, and the way to it, that is worth thy minding?
§ 19. Now, Reader, are these considerations weighty, or not? Have I proved it thy duty to keep thy heart on things above, or have I not? If thou say, Not, I am confident thou contradictest thy own conscience. If thou acknowledge thyself convinced of the duty, that very tongue of thine shall condemn thee, and that confession be pleaded against thee, if thou wilfully neglect such a confessed duty. Be thoroughly willing, and the work is more than half done. 1 have now a few plain directions to give you for your help in this great work; but, alas, it is in vain to mention them, except you be willing to put them into practice. However, I will propose them to thee, and may the Lord persuade thy heart to the work!
Directions how to lead a heavenly Life upon Earth.
% l« (I.) Hinderances to a heavenly life must be avoided; such as, § 2. (I) Living in any known sin; § 3. (2) An earthly mind; 4. (3) Ungodly companions; § 5. (4) A notional religion; 6. (5) A haughty spirit; § 7- (6) A slothful spirit; § 8. (7) ftesting in preparatives for a heavenly life, without the thing itself. § g. (II.) The duties which will promote a heavenly life are these: § 10. (1) Be convinced that heaven is the only trea sure and happiness; § 11, 12. (2) Labour to know your interest in it; § 13. (3) And how near it is; § 14. (4) Frequently and seriously talk of it; § 15. (5) Endeavour in every duty to raise jour affections nearer to it; § 16. (6) To the same purpose improve every object and event; § 17, 18. (7) Be much in the angelical work of praise; 5} 19- (8) Possess your souls with believing thoughts of the infinite love of God; § 20. (9) Carefully observe and cherish the motions of the Spirit of God; § 21. (10) Nor even neglect the due care of your bodily health.
§ 1. As thou valuest the comforts of heavenly conversation, I must here charge thee from God, to avoid carefully s'ome dangerous hinderances; and then