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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.(1) 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 joy and rest? God usually pleads our property 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 then too much. O that we could mind our own inheritance, and value it half as much as it deserves !
s 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?
(1) 1 Pet. i. 4.
(m) Heb. x. 34.
(n) Col. i. 5.
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 dwoli 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 souls 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 no thing 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 things below: but who is he that contains himself within the compass of those limits? And yet if we ever so dili gently 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 las borious 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 pra cious, and ought to be defended; yet even all our stud of truth should be still in reference to our rest: for the observation is too true, “ that the lovers of controvet sies 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, the are well worth our diligent observation, but these are only their relations to eternity. Even all our dealing in the world, our buying and selling, our eating and drinking, our building and marrying, our peace an
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. I 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!
CHAP. XII. Directions how to lead a heavenly Life upon Earth. § 1. (I.) Hinderances to a heavenly life must be avoided; such as,
§ 2. (1) Living in any known sin; § 3. (2) An earthly mind; § 4. (3) Ungodly companions; § 5. (4) A notional religion; Š 6. (5) A haughty spirit; § 7. (6) A slothful spirit; § 8. (7) Resting in preparatives for a heavenly life, without the thing itself. & 9. (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 your 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; § 19. (8) Possess your souls with believing thoughts of the intinite 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 musť here charge thee from God, to avoid carefully some dangerous hinderances; and then
faithfully and diligently to practise such duties as will especially assist thee in attaining to a heavenly life.And (I.) the hinderances to be avoided with all possible care, are, living in any known sin,-an earthly mind, —the company of the ungodly,-a notional religion, -a proud and lofty spirit,-a slothful spirit, -and resting in mere preparations for this heavenly life, without any acquaintance with the thing itself.
§ 2. (1) Living in any known sin, is a grand impediment to a heavenly conversation. What havock will this make in thy soul! O the joys that this hath destroy. ed! the ruin it hath made amongst men's graces! The soul-strengthening duties it hath hindered! Christian Reader, art thou one that hath used violence with thy conscience? Art thou a wilful neglecter of known du. ties, either public, private, or secret? Art thou a slave to thine appetite, or to any other coinmanding sense? Art thou a proud seeker of thine own esteem? Art thou a peevish and passionate person, ready to take fire at every word, or look, or supposed slight? Art thou a de ceiver of others in thy dealings, or one that will be rich, right or wrong? If this be thy case, I dare say heaven and thy soul are very great strangers. These beams in thine eyes will not suffer thee to look to heaven; they will be a cloud between thee and thy God. When thou dost but attempt to study eternity, and gather comforts from the life to come, thy sin will presently look thee in the face, and say, “These things belong not to thee How shouldest thou take comfort from heaven, wbt takest so much pleasure in the lust of the flesh?” Hori will this damnp thy joys, and make the thoughts of that day and state become thy trouble, and not thy delight Every wilful sin will be to thy comforts, as water to the fire; when thou thinkest to quicken them, this will quench them. It will utterly indispose and disable thee, that thou canst no more ascend in divine meditation than a bird can fly when its wings are clipped. Sin cuts the very sinews of this heavenly life.. O man! what a life dost thou lose! What daily delights dost thou sell for a vile lust! If heaven and hell can meet together, and God become a lover of sin, then mayest thou live
in thy sin, and in the tastes of glory; and have a conversation in heaven, though thou cherish thy corruption. And take heed lest it banish thee from heaven, as it does thy heart. And though thou be not guilty, and knowest no reigning sin in thy soul, think what a sad thing it would be, if ever this should prove thy case. Watch, therefore; especially resolve to keep from the occasions of sin, and out of the way of temptations. What need have we daily to pray, Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil!
| 3. (2) An earthly mind is another hinderance carefully to be avoided. God and miammon, earth and heaven, cannot both have the delight of thy heart. When the heavenly believer is blessing himself in his God, and rejoicing in hope of the glory to come; perhaps thou art blessing thyself in thy worldly prosperity, and rejoicing in hope of thy thriving here. When he is comforting his soul in the views of Christ, of angels and saints, whom he shall live with for ever, then thou art comforting thyself with thy wealth, in looking over thy bills and bonds, thy goods, thy cattle, or thy buildings, and in thinking of the favour of the great, or the pleasure of a plentiful estate, of larger provision for thy children after thee, of the advancement of thy family, or the increase of thy dependents. If Christ pronounced him a fool, that said, Soul, take thy ease, thou hast enough laid up for many years; how much more so art thou, who knowingly speakest in thy heart the same words! Tell me, what difference between this fool's expressions and thy affections? Remember, thou hast to do with the Searcher of hearts. Certainly, so much as thou delightest, and takest up thy rest on earth, so much of thy delight in God is abated. Thine earthly mind may consist with thy outward profession and cominon duties; but it cannot consist with this heavenly duty. Thou thyself knowest how seldom and cold, how cursory and reserved, thy thoughts have been of the joys above, ever since thou didst trade so eagerly for the world. O the cursed madness of many that seem to be religious! They thrust themselves into a multitude