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light, the Israelites would not have had the less; but to enjoy that light alone, while their neighbours lived in thick darkness, must make them more sensible of their privilege. Distinguishing mercy affects more than any mercy. If Pharaoh had passed as safely as Israel, the Red Sea would have been less remembered. If the rest of the world had not been drowned, and the rest of Sodom and Gomorrah not burned, the saving of Noah had been no wonder, nor Lot's deliverance so much talked of. When one is enlightened, and another left in darkness; one reformed, and another by his lust enslaved; it makes the saints cry out, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world ?() When the prophet is sent to one widow only of all that were in Israel, and to cleanse one Naaman of all the lepers,(g) the mercy is more observable. That will surely be a day of passionate sense on both sides, when there shall be two in one bed, and two in the field, the one taken. und the other left.(h) The saints shall look down upon the burning lake, and in the sense of their own happiness, and in the approbation of God's just proceedings, they shall rejoice and sing, Thou art righteous, O Lord, who wast, art, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus ()
6. (4) But though this rest be proper to the saints, yet it is common to all the saints; for it is an association of blessed spirits, both saints and angels; a corporation of perfected saints, whereof Christ is the head; the communion of saints completed. As we have been together in the labour, duty, danger,. and distress; so shall we in the great recompence and deliverance. As we have been scorned and despised; so shall we be owned and honoured together. We, who have gone through the day of sadness, shall enjoy together that day of gladness. Those, who have been with us in persecution and prison, shall be with us also in that palace of consolation. How oft have our groans made, as it were, one sound! (f) John xiv. 22.
(g) Luke iv. 25, 27. (h) Luke xvii. 34, 36. (0) Rev. xvi. 4,
our tears, one stream! and our desires, one prayer! But now all our praises shall make up one melody; all our churches, one church; and all ourselves, one body; for we shall be all one in Christ, even as he and the Father are one.(k) 'Tis true, we inust be careful not to look for that in the saints which is alone in Christ. But if the fore-thought of sitting down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven, (1) may be our lawful joy; how much more the real sight, and actual possession! It cannot choose but be comfortable to think of that day, when we shall join with Moses in his song, with David in his psalms of praise, and with all the redeemed in the song of the Lamb for ever;(m) when we shall see Enoch walking with God;(n) Noah enjoying the end of his singularity; Joseph of his integrity; Job of his patience; Hezekiah of his uprightness; and all the saints the end of their faith.(o) Not only our old acquaintance, but all the saints, of all ages, whose faces in the flesh we never saw, we shall there both know and comfortably enjoy. Yea, angels, as well as saints, will be our blessed acquaintance. Those, who now are willingly our ministering spirits,(p) will willingly then be our companions in joy. They, who had such joy in heaven for our conversion.(9) will gladly rejoice with us in our glorification. Then we shall truly say, as David, “I am a companion of all then that fear thee;"(T) when we are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and unto an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, who are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant.(s) 'Tis a singular excellence of heavenly rest, that we are fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.”(1)
(k) John xvii. 21.(1) Matt. vii. 11. (m) Rev. xv. 3. (n) Gen. v. 24. (0) 1 Pet. i. 9. (p) Heb. i. 14. (9) Luke sv. 7, 10. (r) Psa. cxix. 63. (5) Heb. xii. 22, 24. (1) Eph. ii. 19.
§ 7. (5) As another property of our rest, we shall derive its joys immediately from God. Now we have nothing at all immediately, but at the second or third hand, or how many, who knows? From the earth, from man, from sun and moon, from the ministration of angels, and from the Spirit, and Christ.Though, in the hand of angels, the stream savours not of the imperfection of sinners, yet it does of the imperfection of creatures; and as it comes from man, it savours of both. How quick and piercing is the word in itself!(u) yet many times it never enters, being managed by a feeble arm. What weight and worth is there in every passage of the blessed gospel! Enough, one would think, to enter and pierce the dullest soul, and wholly possess its thoughts and affections; and yet how oft does it fall as water upon a stone! The things of God which we handle are divine; but our manner of handling is human. There is little we touch, but we leave the print of our fingers behind. If God speaks the word himself, it will be a piercing, melting word indeed. The Christian now knows by experience, that his most immediate joys are his sweetest joys; which have least of man, and are most directly from the Spirit. Christians, who are much in secret prayer and contemplation, are men of the greatest life and joy; because they have all more im mediately from God himself. Not that we should cast off hearing, reading, and conference, or neglect any ordinance of God; but to live above them, while we use them, is the way of a Christian. There is joy in these remote receivings; but the fulness of joy is in God's immediate presence.(w) We shall then have light without a candle, and perpetual day without the sun; “for the city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God enlightens it, and the Lamb is the light thereof: there shall be no night there, and they need no candle, neither light; for the Lord God giveth them light, and they shall reign for ever and ever.”() We shall then
(w) Heb. iv. 12. (w) Psalm xvi. 1. (r) Rev. xxi. 23. xxii. 5.
have enlightened understandings without scripture, and be governed without a written law; for the Lord will perfect his law in our hearts, and we shall be all perfectly taught of God. We shall have joy, which we drew not from the promises, nor fetched home by faith or hope. We shall have communion without sacraments; without this fruit of the vine, when Christ shall drink it new with us in his Father's kingdom, (y) and refresh us with the comforting wine of immediate enjoyment. To have necessities, but no supply, is the case of them in hell. To have necessities supplied by means of the creatures, is the case of us on earth. To have necessity supplied immediately from God, is the case of the saints in heaven. To have no necessity at all, is the prerogative of God himself.
9 8. (6) A farther excellence of this rest is, that it will be seasonable. He that expects the fruit of his vineyard at the season, (2) and makes his people “ like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season,”(a) will also give them the crown in his season. He that will have a word of joy spoken in season to him that is weary,(l) will surely cause the time of joy to appear in the fittest season. They who “ are not weary in well doing, shall, if they faint not, reap in due season."(c) If God “ giveth rain” even to his enemies, “both the former and the latter, in his season, and reserveth the appointed weeks of harvest, and covenants that there shall be day and night in their season;"(d) then surely the glorious harvest of the saints shall not iniss its season. Doubtless he that would not stay a day longer than his promise, but brought Israel out of Egypt on the self-same day when the four hundred and thirty years were expired, (e) neither will he fail of one day or hour of the fittest season for his people's glory. When we have had in this world a long night of darkness, will not the day of breaking, and the rising of the Sun of righteousness, be then seasonable? When we have passed a long and tedious (y) Matt. xxvi. 29. (z) Mark xii. 2. (a) Psal. i. 3. (6) Isa. i. 4. (c) Gal. vi. 9. (d) Jer. v. 24. xxxiii. 20. (e) Exod. xii. 40, 41. journey, through no small dangers, is not home then seasonable? When we have had a long and perilous war, and received many a wound, would not a peace with victory be seasonable? Men live in a continual weariness, especially the saints, who are most weary of that which the world cannot feel. Some weary of a blind mind; some, of a hard heart; some, of their daily doubts and fears; some, of the want of spiritual joys; and some, of the sense of God's wrath. And when a poor Christian hath desired, and prayed, and waited for deliverance many years, is it not then seasonable? We grudge that we do not find a Canaan in the wilderness; or the songs of Sion in a strange land; that we have not a harbour in the main ocean, nor our rest in the heat of the day, nor heaven before we leave the earth: and would not all this be very unseasonable ?
$ 9. (7) As this rest will be seasonable, so it will be suitable. The new nature of the saints doth suit their spirits to this rest. Indeed their holiness is nothing else but a spark taken from this element, and by the Spirit of Christ kindled in their hearts; the flame whereof, mindful of its own divine original, ever tends to the place from whence it comes. Temporal crowns and kingdoms could not make å rest for saints. As they were not redeemed with so low a price,(f) neither are they endued with so low a nature. As God will have from them a spiritual worship, suited to his own spiritual being, he will provide them a spiritual rést, suitable to their spiritual nature. The knowledge of God and his Christ, a delightful complacency in that mutual love, an everlasting rejoicing in the enjoyment of our God, with a perpetual singing of his high praises; this is a heaven for a saint. Then we shall live in our own element.-- We are now as the fish in a vessel of water, only so much as will keep them alive : but what is that to the ocean? We have a little air let into us, to afford us breathing: but what is that to the sweet and fresh gales upon Mount Sion? We have a beam of the sun to lighten our darkness, and a wann ray to keep us from freezing: but then we shall live
(f) 1 Peter i. 18