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of this inconstancy in heaven. If perfect love casteth out fear,(h) then perfect joy must needs cast out sorrow, and perfect happiness exclude all the relics of misery. We shall there rest from all the evil of sin and of suffering.
§ 11. Heaven excludes nothing more directly than esin, whether of nature or of conversation. “There shall in no wise enter any that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie."0) What need Christ at all to have died, if heaven could have contained imperfect souls? For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.(k) His blood and Spirit have not done all this to leave us after all defiled. What communion hath light with darkness ? and what concord hath Christ with Belial (1) Christian, if thou be once in heaven, thou shalt sin no more. Is not this glad news to thee, who hast prayed, and watched against it so long?. I know if it were offered to thy choice, thou wouldest rather choose to be freed from sin, than have all the world. Thou shalt have thy desire.—That hard heart, those vile thoughts which accompanied thee to every duty, shall now be left behind for ever. Thy understanding shall never more be troubled with darkness. All dark scriptures shall be made plain; all seeming contradictions reconciled. The poorest Christian is presently there a more perfect divine than any here. O that happy day, when error shall vanish for ever! When our understanding shall be filled with God himself, whose light will leave no darkness in us! His face shall be the scripture, where we shall read the truth. Many a godly man hath here, in his mistaken zeal, been a means to deceive and pervert his brethren; and when he sees his own error, cannot again tell how to undeceive them. But there we shall conspire in one truth, as being one in him who is the truth. We shall also rest from all the sin of our will, affection, and conversation. We shall no more retain this rebelling principle, which is still drawing us from God; no more be oppressed with the power of our corrup
(h) 1 John iv. 18. (1) Rev. xxi. 27.
rexed with their
shall enter God; no colo
tions, nor vexed with their presence: no pride, passion, slothfulness, insensibility, shall enter with us; no strangeness to God, and the things of God; no coldness of affections, nor imperfection in our love; no uneven walking, nor grieving of the Spirit; no scandalous action, nor unholy conversation : we shall rest from all these for ever. Then shall our will correspond to the divine will, as face answers face in a glass, and from which, as our law and rule, we shall never swerve. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.(m)
12. Our sufferings were but the consequences of our sinning, and in heaven they both shall cease together.- We shall rest from all our doubts of God's love. It shall no more be said, that, “ Doubts are like the thistle, a bad weed, but growing in good ground.”(n) They shall now be weeded out, and trouble the gracious soul no more. We shall hear that kind of language no more: “ What shall I do to know my state? How shall I know that God is my Father? that my heart is upright? that my conversation is true? that my faith is sincere? I am afraid my
sins are unpardoned; that all I do is hypocrisy; that • God will reject me; that he does not hear my pray
ers.” All this is there turned into praise. We shall rest from all sense of God's displeasure. Hell shall not be mixed with heaven. At times the gracious soul remembered God, and was troubled; complained, and was overwhelmed, and refused to be comforted; divine wrath lay hard upon him, and God afflicted him with all his waves.(0) But that blessed day shall convince us, that though God “ hid his face from us for a moment, yet with everlasting kindness will he have mercy on us."(p) We shall rest from all the temptations of Satan. What a grief is it to a Christian, though he yield not to the temptation, yet to be solicited to deny his Lord! What a torment to have such horrid motions made to his soul! such blasphemous ideas presented to his imagination! sometimes cruel
(m) Heb. iv. 10. Gen. ï. 2. (n) Dr. Preston.
thoughts of God, undervaluing thoughts of Christ, unbelieving thoughts of scripture, or injurious thoughts of Providence! to be tempted sometimes to turn to present things, to play with the baits of sin, and venture on the delights of flesh, and sometimes to atheism itself! especially when we know the treachery of our own hearts, ready, as tinder, to take fire as soon as one of these sparks shall fall upon them! Satan hath power here to tempt us in the wilderness, but he entereth not the holy city? He may set us on a pinnacle of the temple in the earthly Jerusalem, but the New Jerusalem he may not approach. He may take us up into un exceeding high mountain, but the mount Sion he cannot ascend; and if he could, all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them,(9) would be a despis. ed bait to a soul possessed of the kingdom of our Lord. No, it is in vain for Satan to offer a temptation more. All our temptations from the world and the flesh shall also cease. O the hourly dangers that we here walk in! Every sense, and member, is a spare; every creature, every mercy, and every duty, is a snare to us. We can scarce open our eyes, but we are in danger of envying those above us, or despising those below us; of coveting the honours and riches of some, or beholding the rags and beggary of others with pride and unmercifulness, If we see beauty, it is a bait to lust; if deformity, to loathing and disdain. How soon do slanderous reports, vain jeste, wanton speeches, creep into the heart! How constant and strong a watch does our appetite require !--Have we comeliness and beauty? what fuel for pride! Are we deformed? what an occasion of rępining? Have we strength of reason, and gifts of Jearning? O how prone to be puft up, hunt after applause, and despise our brethren! Are we unlearned ? how apt then to despise what we have not! Are we in places of authority? how strong is the tempta. tion to abuse our trust, make our will our law, and cut out all the enjoyments of others by the rules and model of our own interest and policy! Are we
(9) Matt. iv. 145-8.
inferiors? how prone to grudge at others' pre-eminence, and bring their actions to the bar of our judgment! -Are we rich, and not too much exalted ? Are we poor, and not discontented? Are we not lazy in our duties, or make a Christ of them? Not that God hath made all these things our snares; but through our own corruption they become so to us. Ourselves are the greatest snare to ourselves. This is our comfort, our rest will free us from all these. As Satan hath no entrance there, so neither any thing to serve his malice, but all things there shall join with us in the high praises of our great Deliverer. As we rest from the temptations, we shall likewise from the abuses and persecutions of the world. The prayers of the souls under the altar will then be answered, and God will avenge their blood on them that dwell on the earth.(r) This is the time for crowning with thorns: that for crowning with glory. “ Now, all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution:(s) then, they that suffered with him shall be glorified with him.(t) Now, we must be hated of all men for Christ's name's sake:(u) then, Christ will be admired in his saints that were thus hated.(w). We are here made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men; as the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things.(a) Men separate us from their company, and reproach us, and cast out our names as evil:"(y) but we shall then be as much gazed at for our glory, and they will be shut out of the church of the saints, and separated from us, whether they will or not. We can scarce pray in our families, or sing praises to God, but our voice is a vexation to them: how must it torment them then, to see us praising and rejoicing, while they are howling and lamenting! You, brethren, who can now attempt no work of God without losing the love of the world, consider you shall have none in heaven but will further your work, and join heart and voice with you in your everlasting joy and praise. Till then “possess
(r) Rev. vi. 9, 10. (s) 2 Tim. ii. 12. (t) Rom. viii. 17. (u) Matt. iv. 29. (26) 2 Thess. i. 10. (2) 1 Cor. iv. 9, 13. (y) Luke vi. 22. ye your souls in patience."(z) Bind all reproaches as a crown to your heads. Esteem them greater riches than the world's treasures. “ It is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled, rest with Christ.”(a)— We shall then rest from all our sad divisions, and unchristian quarrels with one another. How lovingly do thousands live together in heaven, who lived at variance upon earth! There is no contention, because none of this pride, ignorance, or other corruption. There is no plotting to strengthen our party, nor deep designing against our brethren.-If there bę sorrow or shame in heaven, we shall then be both sorry and ashamed, to remember all this carriage on earth; as Joseph's brethren were to behold him, when they remembered their former unkind usage. Is it not enough that all the world is against us, but we must also be against one another? O happy days of persecution, which drove us together in love, whom the sun-shine of liberty and prosperity crumbles into dust by our contentions! O happy day of the saint's rest in glory, when, as there is one God, one Christ, one Spirit, so we shall have one heart, one church, one employment, for ever! We shall then rest from our participation of our brethren's sufferings. The church on earth is a mere hospital; some groaning under a dark understanding, some under an insensible heart, some languishing under unfruitful weakness, and some bleeding for miscarriages and wilfulness, some crying out of their poverty, some groaning under pains and infirmities, and some bewailing a whole catalogue of calamities. But a far greater grief it is, to see our dearest and most intimate friends turned aside from the truth of Christ, continuing their neglect of Christ and their souls, and nothing will awaken them out of their security; to look on an ungodly father or mother, brother or sister, wife or husband, child or friend, and think how certainly they shall be in hell for ever, if they die in their present unregenerate state; to think of the gospel de