תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

them, may raise desire and urge pursuit, but he will have little joy. Who will set his heart on another man's possessions? If your houses, your goods, your cattle, your children, were not your own, you would less mind them, and less delight in them. Ö Christian! rest not, therefore, till you can call this rest your own; bring thy heart to the bar of trial: set the qualifications of the saints on one side, and of thy soul on the other, and then judge how near they resemble. Thou hast the same word to judge thyself by now, as thou must be judged by at the great day. Mistake not the scripture's description of a saint, that thou neither acquit nor condemn thyself upon mistakes. For as groundless hopes tend to confusion, and are the greatest cause of most men's damnation; so groundless doubts tend to and are the great cause of the saint's perplexity and distress. Therefore lay thy foundation for trial safely, and proceed in the work deliberately and resolutely, nor give over till thou canst say, either thou hast, or hast not yet, a title to this rest. O! if men did truly know, that God is their own Father, and Christ their own Re. deemer and Head, and that those are their own everlasting habitations, and that there they must abide and be happy for ever; how could they choose but be transported with the fore-thoughts thereof! If a Christian could but look upon sun, moon, or stars, and reckon all his own in Christ, and say, These are the blessings that my Lord hath procured me, and things incomparably greater than these; what holy raptures would his 'spirit feel!

§ 12. The more do they sin against their own comforts, as well as against the grace of the gospel, who plead for their unbelief, and cherish distrustful thoughts of God, and injurious thoughts of their Redeemer; who represent the covenant, as if it were of works, and not of grace; and Christ as an enemy, rather than a Saviour; as if he were willing they should die in their unbelief, when he hath invited them so often, and so affectionately, and suffered the "gonies that they should suffer. Wretches that we are to be keeping up jealousies of our Lord, when we should be rejoicing in his love. As if any man could choose Christ, before Christ hath chosen him; or any man were more willing to be happy, than Christ is to make him happy. Away with these injurious, if not blasphemous, thoughts ! If ever thou hast harboured such thoughts in thy breast, cast them from thee, and take heed how thou ever entertainest them more. God hath written the names of his people in heaven, as you use to write your names or marks on your goods; and shall we be attempting to raze them out, and to write our names on the doors of hell? But blessed be God, whose foundation standeth sure;(h) and who keepeth us by his power through faith unto salvation.(0) .

13. (3) Labour to apprehend how near thy rest is. What we think near at hand, we are more sensible of than that which we behold at a distance. When judgments or mercies are afar off, we talk of them with little concern, but when they draw close to us, we tremble at or rejoice in them. This makes m'en think on heaven so insensibly, because they conceit it at too great a distance; they look on it as twenty, thirty, or forty years off. How much better were it to receive the sentence of death in ourselves,(k) and to look on eternity as near at hand! While I am thinking and writing of it, it hasteth near, and I am even entering into it before I am aware. While thou art reading this, whoever thou art, time posteth on, and thy life will be gone as a tale that is told. If you verily believed you should die to-morrow, how seriously would you think of heaven to-night! When Samuel had told Saul, To-morrow shalt thou be with me; this struck him to the heart. And if Christ should say to a believing soul, To-morrow shalt thou be with me : this would bring him in spirit to heaven before-hand. Do but suppose that you are still entering into heaven, and it will greatly help you more seriously to mind it.

§ 14. (4) Let thy eternal rest be the subject of thy frequent serious discourse; especially with those that can speak from their hearts, and are seasoned them

(h) 2 Tim. ii. 19.

(i) i Pet. i. 5.

(k) 2. Cor. i. 9.

[graphic]

selves with a heavenly nature. It is pity Christians should ever meet together, without some talk of their meeting in heaven, or of the way to it, before they part.-It is pity so much time is spent in vain conversation, and useless disputes, and not a serious word of heaven among them. Methinks we should meet together on purpose to warm our spirits with discoursing of our rest. To hear a Christian set forth that blessed glorious state, with life and power, from the promises of the gospel, methinks should make us say, Did not our hearts burn within us, while he opened to us the scripture?(1) If a Felix will tremble, when he hears his judgment powerfully represented, why should not the believer be revived, when he hears his eternal rest described? Wicked men can be delighted in talking together of their wickedness; and should not Christians then be delighted in talking of Christ; and the heirs of heaven, in talking of their inheritance? This may make our hearts revive, as it did Jacob's to hear the message that called him to Goshen, and to see the chariots that should bring him to Joseph. O that we were furnished with skill and resolution, to turn the stream of men's common discourse to these more sublime and precious things! and, when men begin to talk of things unprofitable, that we could tell how to put in a word for heaven, and say, as Peter of his bodily food, Not so, for I have never eaten any thing that is common ❤❤tiņģētiņ2/2ņēmēģ22\/2222222222222 /22??2?Â2âÒti/2?Â?Â2Òtiti ceive by this course! Had it not been to deter us from unprofitable conversation, Christ would not have talked of our giving an account of every idle word in the day of judgment.(m) Say then as the Psalmist, when you are in company, Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.(n) Then you shall find it true, that a wholesome tongue is a tree of life.(0)

$ 15. (5) Endeavour in every duty to raise thy affections nearer to heaven. God's end in the institution of his ordinances, was, that they should be as so many

(1) Luke xxiv. 32. (m) Matt. xii. 36.
(n) Psalm cxxxvii. 6. (0) Prov. xv. 4.

steps to advance us to our rest, and by which, in subordination to Christ, we might daily ascend in our affections. Let this be thy end in using them, and doubtless they will not be unsuccessful. How have you been rejoiced by a few lines from a friend, when you could not see him face to face! And may we not have intercourse with God in his ordinances, though our persons be yet so far remote? May not our spirits rejoice in reading those lines, which contain our legacy and charter for heaven? With what gladness and triumph may we read the expressions of divine love, and hear of our celestial country, though we have not yet the happiness to behold it! Men that are separated by sea and land, can by letters carry on great and gainful trades; and may not a Christian, in the wise improvement of duties, drive on this happy trade for rest? Come, then, renounce formality, custom, and applause, and kneel down in secret or public prayer, with hope to get thy heartı nearer to God before thou risest up. When thou openest thy Bible, or other book, hope to meet with some passage of divine truth, and such blessing of the Spirit with it, as will give thee a fuller taste of heaven. When thou art going to the house of God, say, “ I hope to meet with somewhat from God, to raise my affections, before I return; I hope the Spirit will give me the meeting, and sweeten my heart with those celestial delights; I hope Christ will appear to me in that way, and shine about me with light from heaven; let me hear his instructing and reviving voice, and cause the scales to fall from my eyes, that I may see more of that glory than I ever yet saw. I hope, before I return, my Lord will bring my heart within the view of rest, and set it before his Father's presence, that I may return, as the shepherds from the heavenly vision, glorifying and praising God for all the things I have heard and seen.” When the Indians first saw that the English could converse together by letters, they thought there was some spirit enclosed in them. So would by-standers admire, when Christians have communion with God in duties, what there is in those scriptures, in that sermon, in this prayer, that fills their hearts sc

full of joy, and so transports them above theniselves. Certainly God would not fail us in our duties, if we did not fail ourselves. Remember, therefore, always to pray for your minister, that God would put some divine message into his mouth, which may leave a heavenly relish upon vour spirit. .

§ 16. (6) Improve every object, and every event, to mind thy soul of its approaching rest. As all providences and creatures are means to our rest, so they point us to that, as their end. God's sweetest dealings with us at the present would not be half so sweet as they are, if they did not intimate some farther sweetness.Thou takest but the mean earnest, and overlookest the main sum, when thou receivest thy mercies, and forgetest thy crown. O that Christians were skilful in this art! You can open your Bibles; learn to open the volumnes of creation and providence, to read there also of God and glory. Thus we might have a fuller taste of Christ and heaven in every common meal, than most men have in a sacrament. If thou prosper in the world, let it make thee more sensible of thy perpetual prosperity. If thou art weary with labour, let it make the thoughts of thy eternal rest more sweet. If things go cross, let thy desires be more earnest to have sorrows and sufferings for ever cease. Is thy body refreshed with food or sleep? remember the inconceivable refreshment with Christ. Dost thou hear any good news? remember what glad tidings it will be to hear the trump of God, and the applauding sentence of Christ. Art thou delighted with the society of the saints ? remember what the perfect society in heaven will be. Is God communicating himself to thy spirit? remember the time of thy highest advancement, when both thy conmunion and joy shall be full. Dost thou hear the raging noise of the wicked, and the confusions of the world? think of the blessed harmony in heaven. Dost thou hear the tempest of war? remember the day when thou shalt be in perfect peace, under the wings of the Prince of Peace for ever. Thus every condition, and creature, affords us advantages for a heavenly life, if we had but hearts to improve them.

« הקודםהמשך »