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the grave, then a beast or a stone were as blessed; nay, it were evidently a curse, and not a blessing. For was not life a great mercy? Was it not a greater mercy to serve God and to do good, to enjoy all the comforts of life, the fellowship of saints, the comfort of ordinances, and much of Christ in all, than to lie rotting in the grave? Therefore some farther blessedness is there promised.—How else is it said, We are come to the spirits of just men made perfect?(k) Sure, at the resurrection, the body will be made perfect as well as the spirit. Does not scripture tell us, that Enoch and Elias are taken up already? and shall we think they possess that glory alone? Did not Peter, James, and John, see Moses also with Christ on the mount? yet the scripture saith, Moses died. And is it likely that Christ deluded their senses, in showing them Moses, if he should not partake of that glory till the resurrection?-And is not that of Stephen as plain as we can desire, Lord Jesus receive my spirit? (0) Surely, if the Lord receive it, it is neither asleep, nor dead, nor annihilated ; but it is where he is, and beholds his glory. That of the wise man is of the same import; The spirit shall return unto God who gave it.(m)-Why are we said to have eternal life; and that to know God is life eternal; and that a believer, on the Son hath everlasting life? or how is the kingdom of God within us? If there be as great an interruption of our life, as till the resurrection, this is no eternal life, nor everlasting kingdom.—The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are spoken of as suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.(n) . And if the wicked already suffer eternal fire, then no doubt but the godly enjoy eternal blessedness.—When John saw his glorious revelations, he is said to be in the spirit, and to be carried away in the spirit.(0) And when Paul was caught up to the third heaven, he knew not whether in the body or out of the body.(P) This implies, that spirits are capable of these glorious things, without the help of their bodies.- Is not so much implied when John says, I (k) Heb. xii. 22, 23. (1) Acts vii. 59. (m) Eccl. xii. 7. . (n) Jude ver. 7. (0) Rev. i. 10. iv. 2. (p) 2 Cor. xü. 2.
saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God?(9)When Christ says, Fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul,(r) does it not plainly imply, that when wicked men have killed our bodies, that is, have separated the souls from them, yet the souls are still alive?-The soul of Christ was alive when his body was dead, and therefore so shall be ours tvo. This appears by his words to the thief, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise; and also by his voice on the cross, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.(s) If the spirits of those that were disobedient in the days of Noah were in prison,(t) that is, in a living and suffering state; then certainly the separate spirits of the just are in an opposite condition of happiness. Therefore, faithful souls shall no sooner leave their prisons of flesh, but angels will be their convoy; Christ, with all the perfected spirits of the just, will be their companions; heaven will be their residence, and God their happiness. When such die, they may boldly and believingly say, as Stephen, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit! and commend it, as Christ did, into a Father's hands.
The greut Misery of those who lose the Saint's Rest.
$ 1. The reader, if unregenerate, urged to consider what the loss of heaven will be. § 2. (1.) The loss of heaven particularly includes, $ 3. (1) The personal perfection of the saints ; § 4. (2) God himself; 8: 5. (3) All delightful affections towards God; $ 6. (4) The blessed society of angels and glorified spirits. § 7. (II.) The aggravations of the loss of heaven : $ 8. (1) The uuderstanding of the ungodly will then be cleared; $ 9. (2) also enlarged; § 10. (3) Their consciences will make a true and close application; § 11. (4) Their affections will be more lively; § 12–18. (5) Their memories will be large and strong. § 19. Conclusion of the chapter.
1. If thou, Reader, art a stranger to Christ, and to the holy nature and life of his people, who are before described, and shalt live and die in this condition, let me tell thee, thou shalt never partake of the joys of heaven, nor have the least taste of the saints' eternal rest. I may say, as Ehud to Eglon, I. have a message to thee from God;(u) that as the word of God is true, thou shalt never see the face of God with comfort. This sentence I am commanded to pass upon thee; take it as thou wilt, and escape it if thou canst. I know thy humble and hearty subjection to Christ would procure thy escape; he would then acknowledge thee for one of his people, and give thee a portion in the inheritance of his chosen.-If this might be the happy success of my message, I should be so far from repining, like Jonah, that the threatenings of God are not executed upon thee, that I should bless the day that ever God made me so happy a messenger. But if thou end thy days in thy
(u) Judges iii. 90
ar rather pershut against and returning,
unregenerate state, as sure as the heavens are over thy head, and the earth under thy feet, thou shalt be shut out of the rest of the saints, and receive thy portion in everlasting fire. I expect thou wilt turn upon me and say, When did God show you the book of life, or tell you who they are that shall be saved, and who shut out? I answer, I do not name thee, nor any other; I only conclude it of the unregenerate in general, and of thee, if thou be such a one. Nor do I go about to determine who shall repent, and who shall not; much less, that thou shalt never repent. I had rather show thee what hopes thou hast before thee, if thou wilt not sit still, and lose them. I would far rather persuade thee to hearken in time, before the door be shut against thee, than tell thee there is no hope of thy repenting and returning. But if the foregoing description of the people of God does not agree with the state of thy soul, is it then a hard question, whether thou shalt ever be saved ? Need I ascend up into heaven to know, that without holiness no man shall see the Lord; or, that only the pure in heart shall see God; or, that except a man be born again he cannot enter into the kingdom of God? Need I go up to heaven, to inquire that of Christ, which he came down to earth to tell us, and sent his Spirit in his apostles to tell us; and which he and they have left upon record to all the world ?-And though I know not the secrets of thy heart, and therefore cannot tell thee thy name, whether it be thy state, or not; yet if thou art but willing, and diligent, thou mayest know thyself, whether thou art an heir of heaven or not. 'Tis the main thing I desire, that if thou art yet miserable, thou mayest discern and escape it. But how canst thou escape, if thou neglect Christ and salvation ? 'Tis as impossible, as for the devils themselves to be saved. Nay, God has more plainly and frequently spoke it in scripture of such sinners as thou art, than he has of the devils. Methinks a sight of thy case would strike thee with amazement and horror. When Belshazzar saw the fingers of a man's hand that wrote upon the wall, his countenance was
changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote onė against another.(w) What trembling then should seize on thee, who hast the hand of God himself against thee, not in a sentence or two, but in the very scope of the scriptures, threatening the loss of an everlasting kingdom! Because I would fain have thee lay it to heart, I will show thee—the nature of thy loss of heaven-together with its aggravations.
9 2. (I.) In their loss of heaven the ungodly lose the saint's personal perfection,—God himself,—all delightful affections towards God, and the blessed society of angels and saints.
$ 3. (1) The glorious personal perfection which the saints enjoy in heaven, is the great loss of the ungodly. They lose that shining lustre of the body, surpassing the brightness of the sun at noon-day. Though the bodies of the wicked will be raised more spiritual than they were upon earth, yet that will only make them capable of the more exquisite torments. They would be glad then, if every member were a dead member, that it might not feel the punishment inflicted on it; and if the whole body were a rotten carcase, or might lie down again in dust. Much more do they want that moral perfection which the blessed partake of: those holy dispositions of mind; that cheerful readiness to do the will of God; that perfect rectitude of all their actions. Instead of these, they have that perverseness of will, that loathing of good, that love to evil, that violence of passion, which they had on earth. 'Tis true, their understandings will be much cleared by the ceasing of former temptation, and experiencing the falsehood of former delusions. But they have the same dispositions still; and fain would they commit the same sins, if they could: they want but opportunity. There will be a greater difference between these wretches, and the glorified Christians, than there is betwixt a toad and the sun in the firmament. The rich man's purple and fine
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(@) Dan. v. 5, 6.