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while thou hangést on God by faith, neither sin, earth, nor hell, can move thee. Christ will stick closer to thee than a brother, and he is above all enemies, with whom is no variableness nor shadow of turning (0)His love to thee will not be, as thine was on earth to him, seldom and cold, up and down. He that would not cease nor abate his love, for all thine enmity, unkind neglects, and churlish resistances; can he cease to love three, when he hath made thee truly lovely? He that keepeth thee so constant in thy love to him, that thou canst challenge tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword, to separate thy love from Christ, how much more will himself be constant? (0) Indeed, thou mayest be persuaded, “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."(9) And now, are we not left in the apostle's admiration, What shall we say to these things? () Infinite love must needs be a mystery to a finite capacity. No wonder angels desire to look into this mystery.(3) And if it be the study of saints here, to know the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, of the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge,(1) the saints' everlasting rest must consist in the enjoyment of God by love.
§ 13. Nor hath joy the least share in this fruition.--Tis that, which all the former lead to, and conclude in; even the inconceivable complacency which the blessed feel in their seeing, knowing, loving, and being beloved of God. This is the white stone, which no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth it.(u) Surely this is the joy which a stranger doth not intermeddle with.(w) All Christ's ways of mercy tend to and end in the saints' joys. He wept, sorrowed, suffered, that they might rejoice; he sendeth the Spirit to be
(0) James i. 17. (p) Rom viïi. 35. (9) Rom. viii. 38, 39. (r) Rom. viï. 31. (s) 1 Peter i. 12. (1) Ephes. iii. 18, 19. (u) Rev. i. 17. (W) Prov. xiv. 10.
their comforter; he multiplies promises; he discovers their future happiness, that their joy may be full.(x) He opens to them the fountain of living waters, that they may thirst no more, and that it may spring up in them to everlasting life.(y) He chastens them, that he may give them rest.(z) He makes it their duty to rejoice in him alway, and again commands them to rejoice.(a) He never brings them into so low a condition, wherein he does not leave them more cause of joy than sorrow. And hath the Lord such a care of our comfort here. Oh, what will that joy be, where the soul being perfectly prepared for joy, and joy prepared by Christ for the soul, it shall be our work, our business, eternally to rejoice! It seems the saints' joy shall be greater than the damned's torment, for their torment is the torment of creatures prepared for the devil and his angels ;(6) but our joy is the joy of our Lord.(c) The same glory which the Father gave the Son, the Son hath given them,(d) to sit with him in his throne, even as he is set down with his father in his throne.(e) Thou, poor soul, who prayest for joy, waitest for joy, complainest for want of joy, longest for joy; thou then shalt have full joy, as much as thou canst hold, and inore than ever thou thoughtest on, or thy heart desired. In the mean time, walk carefully, watch constantly, and then let God measure out to thee thy times and degrees of joy. It may be he keeps them till thou hast more need. Thou hadst better lose thy comfort than thy safety. If thou shouldest die full of fears and sorrows, it will be but a moment, and they are all gone, and concluded in joy inconceivable. As the joy of the hypocrite, so the fears of the upright, are but for a moment. God's anger endureth but a moment; his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning (J) O blessed morning! poor, humble, drooping soul, how would it fill thee with joy now, if a voice from hea
(r) John xvi. 24. (y) John iv. 10, 14. (z) Psalm xciv. 12, 13. (a) Phil. iv. 4. (6) Matt. xxv. 41. (c) Matt. xxv. 21. (d) John xvii. 22. (e) Rev. iii. 21. () Job xx. 5. Psalm xxx. 5.
ven should tell thee of the love of God, the pardon of thy sins, and assure thee of thy part in these joys! What then will thy joy be, when the actual possession shall convince thee of thy title, and thou shalt be in heaven before thou art well aware?
§ 14. And it is not thy joy only; it is a mutual joy, as well as a mutual love. Is there joy in heaven at thy conversion, and will there be none at thy glorification? Will not the angels welcome thee thither, and congratulate thy safe arrival ?-Yea, it is the joy of Jesus Christ; for now he hath the end of his undertaking, labour, suffering, dying, when we have our joys; “ when he is glorified in his saints, and adunired in all them that believe;(9) when he sees of the travail of his soul, and is satisfied.”(h) This is Christ's harvest, when he shall reap the fruit of his labours; and it will not repent him concerning his sufferings, but he will rejoice over his purchased inheritance, and his people will rejoice in him. Yea, the Father himself puts on joy too, in our joy. “ As we grieve his Spirit,(i) and weary him with our iniquities ;(k) so is he rejoiced in our good.” O how quickly does he now spy a returning prodigal, even afar off! How does he run and meet him! And with what compassion does he “ fall on his neck, and kiss him, and put on him the best robe, and a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet, and kills the fatted calf to eat and be merry!”(1) This is indeed a happy meeting; but nothing to the embracing and joy of that last and great meeting.–Yea, more; as God doth mutually love and joy, so he makes this his rest, as it is our rest. What an eternal sabbatism, when the work of redemption, sanctification, preservation, glorification, is all finished and perfected for ever! “ The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty. He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy, He will rest in his love, He will joy over thee with singing."(m) Well may we then rejoice in our
(g) 2 Thess. i. 10.
(h) Isa. liii. 11. (i) Eph. iv. 30.
God with joy, and rest in our love, and joy in him with singing.
15. Alas! my fearful heart scarce dares proceed. -Methinks I hear the Almighty's voice saying to me, “ Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge!"(n) But pardon thy servant, O Lord, I have not pried into unrevealed things. I bewail that my apprehensions are so dull, my thoughts so mean, my affections so stupid, and my expressions so low, and unbeseeming such a glory. I have only heard by the hearing of the ear: oh, let thy servant see thee, and possess these joys; and then shall I have more suitable conceptions, and shall give thee fuller glory; I shall abhor my present self, and disclaim and renounce all these imperfections. “ I have uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.(0) Yet I believed, and therefore have I spoken.”(p) What, Lord, canst thou expect from dust, but levity? or from corruption, but defilement? Though the weakness and irreverence be the fruit of my own corruption, yet the fire is from thine altar, and the work of thy commanding. I looked not unto thy ark, nor put forth my hand unto it, without thee. Wash away these stains also in the blood of the Lamb! Imperfect, or none, must be my service here. O take thy Son's excuse, “ The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."(9)
. CHAP. II.
The great Preparatives to the Saint's Rest.
$ 1. The happiness of Christians in having a way open into Para
dise. There are four things which principally prepare the way to enter into it: § 2, 3. particularly, (1.) The glorious appearing of Christ; $ 4. (2.) The general resurrection ; $ 5–8. (3.) The last judgment; § 9, 10. and (4.) The Saint's coronation ; § 11. Transition to the subject of the next chapter. .
the band finto the
• $ 1. The passage of paradise is not now so blocked up, as when the law and curse reigned. Wherefore finding, beloved Christians, “ a new and living way consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, the flesh of Christ, by which we may with boldness enter into the holiest, I shall draw near with fuller assurance."(r) And finding the flaming sword removed, shall look again into the paradise of our God. And because I know that this is no forbidden fruit, and withal that it is good for food, and pleasant to the spiritual eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one truly wise and happy; I shall, through the assistance of the Spirit, take and eat thereof myself, and give to you according to my power, that you may eat. The porch of this temple is exceeding glorious, and the gate of it is called Beautiful. Here are four things, as the four corners of this porch.--Here is the most glorious coming and appearance of the Son of God;that great work of Jesus Christ in raising our bodies from the dust, and uniting them again to the soul;—the public and solemn process at their judgment, where they shall first themselves be acquitted and justified, and then with Christ judge the world ;-together with their solemn coronation, and receiving the kingdom.
§ 2. 1. The most glorious coming and appearance of the Son of God may well be reckoned in his
(r) lleb. X. 19, 20, 22.