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who believe not the truth, but have pleasure in un. righteousness.(z) The Lord Jesus shall come in flaming tiré, to take vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power."(a) Had the ungodly returned before their life was expired, and been heartily willing to accept of Christ for their Saviour and their King, and to be saved by him in his way, and upon his most reasonable terms, they might have been saved. God freely offered them life, and they would not accept it. The pleasures of the flesh seemed more desirable to them than the glory of the saints. Satan offered them the one, and God offered them the other, and they had free liberty to choose which they would, and they chose the pleasures of sin for a season, before the everlasting rest with Christ. And is it not a righteous thing, that they should be denied that which they would not accept? When God pressed them so earnestly, and persuaded them so importunately to come in, and yet they would not; where should they be but among the dogs without? Though man be so wicked, that he will not yield, till the mighty power of grace prevail with him, yet still we may truly say, that he may be saved, if he will, on God's terins. His inability, being moral, and lying in wilful wickedness, is no more excuse to him than it is to an adulterer, that he cannot love his own wife; or to a milicious person, that he cannot but hate his own brother: is he not so much the worse, and deserving of so much the sorer punishment? Sinners shall lay all the blame on their own wills in hell for ever. Hell is a rational torment by conscience, according to the nature of the rational subject.-If sinners could but then say, “ It was long of God, and not of us," it would quiet their consciences, and ease their tor. ments, and make hell to them to be no hell. But to remember their wilfulness, will feed the fire, and cause the worm of conscience never to die.(6) (3) 2 Thess. ii. 12. (a) 2 Thess. i. 7.-9. (6) Mark. ix. 44.
6 15. It is the will of God that this rest should yet remain for his people, and not be enjoyed till they come to another world.-Who should dispose of the creatures, but he that made them? You may as well ask, why have we not spring and harvest without winter? or why is the earth below, and the heavens above? as, why we have not rest on earth? All things must come to their perfection by degrees. The strongest man must first be a child. The greatest scholar must first begin in his alphabet. The tallest oak was once an acorn.—This life is our infancy: and would we be perfect in the womb, or born at full stature? If our rest was here, most of God's providences must be useless. Should God lose the glory of his church's miraculous deliverances, and the fall of his enernies, that men may have their happiness here? If we were all happy, innocent, and perfect, what use was there for the glorious works of our sanctification, justification, and future salvation ?- If we wanted nothing, we should not depend on God so closely, nor call upon him so earnestly.—How little should he hear from us, if we had what we would have? God would never have had such songs of praise from Moses at the Red Sea and in the wilderness, from Deborah and Hannah, from David and Hezekiah, if they had been the chusers of their condition.-Have not thy own highest praises to God, Reader, been occasioned by thy dangers or miseries? The greatest glory and praise God has through the world, is for redemption, reconciliation, and salvation by Christ: and was not man's misery the occasion of that?-And where God loses the opportunity of exercising his mercies, man must needs lose the happiness of enjoying them. Where God loses his praise, man will certainly lose his comforts. Oh the sweet comforts the saints have had in return to their prayers! How should we know what a tender-hearted Father we have, if we had not, as the prodigal, been denied the husks of earthly pleasure and profit? We should never have felt Christ's tender heart; if we had not felt ourselves weary and heavy laden, hungry and
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thirsty, poor and contrite. It is a delight to a soldier, or traveller, to look back on his escapes when they are over; and for a saint in heaven to look back on his sins and sorrows upon earth, his fears and tears, his enemies and dangers, his wants and calamities, must make his joy more joyful. Therefore the blessed in praising the Lamb, mention his redeeming them out of every nation, and kindred, and tongue; and 80 out of their misery, and wants, and sins, and making them kings and priests to God. But if they had had nothing but content and rest on earth, what room would there have been for these rejoicings here, after?
16. Besides, we are not capable of rest upon earth.-Can a soul that is so weak in grace, so prone to sin, so nearly joined to such a neighbour as this flesh, have full content and rest in such a case? What is soul-rest, but our freedom from sin, and imperfections, and enemies? And can the soul have rest that is pestered with all these, and that continually! Why do Christians so often cry out in the language of Paul, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me?(c) What makes them press towards the mark, and run that they may obtain, and strive to enter in, if they are capable of rest in their present condition ?-And our bodies are incapable, as well as our souls. They are not now those sun-like bodies which they shall be, when this corruptible hath put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality. They are our prisons, and our burdens; so full of infirmities and defects, that we are fain to spend most of our time in repairing them, and supplying their continual wants. . Is it possible that an immortal soul should have rest in such a distempered noisome habitation? Surely these sickly, weary, loathsome bodies, must be refined, before they can be capable of enjoying rest.--The objects we bere enjoy are insufficient to afford us rest. Alas! what is there in all the world to give us rest?-They that have most of it, have the greatest burden. They that set most by it, and rejoice most in it, do all
(c) Rom. vii. 24.
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cry out at last of its vanity and vexation Men promise themselves a heaven upon earth; but when they come to enjoy it, it flies from them. He that has any regard to the work of the Lord, may easily see, that the very end of them is to take down our idols, to make us weary of the world, and seek our rest in him. Where does he cross us most, but where we promise ourselves most content? If you have a child you dote upon, it becomes your sorrow. If you have a friend you trust in, and judge unchangeable, he becomes your scourge. Is this a place or state of rest? And as the objects we here enjoy are insufficient for our rest, so God, who is sufficient, is here little enjoyed. It is not here that he hath prepared the presence-chamber of his glory. He hath drawn the curtain between us and him. We are far from him as creatures, and farther as frail inortals, and farthest as sinners. We hear now and then a word of comfort from him, and receive his love-tokens, to keep up our hearts and hopes; but this is not our full enjoyment. And can any soul that hath made God his portion, as every one hath that shall be saved by him, find rest in so vast a distance from him, and so seldom and small enjoyment of him? Nor are we now capable of rest, as there is a worthiness must go before it. Christ will give the crown to none but the worthy. And are we fit for the crown, before we have overcome? or for the prize, before we have run the race? or to receive our penny, before we have work. ed in the vineyard ? or to be rulers of ten cities, before we have improved our ten talents ? or to enter into the joy of our Lord, before we have well done as good and faithful servants ? God will not alter the course of justice to give you rest before you have laboured, nor the crown of glory till you have overcome. There is reason enough why our rest should remain till the life to come. Take heed then, Christian Reader, how thou darest to contrive and care for a rest on earth; or to murmur at God for thy trouble and toil, and wants in the flesh. Doth thy poverty weary thee? thy sickness, thy bitter enemies, and unkind friends? It should be so here. Do the abominations of the times, the sins of professors, the hardening of the wicked, all weary thee? It must be so, while thou art absent from thy rest. Do thy sins, and thy naughty distempered heart, weary thee? Be thus wearied more and more. But under all this weariness art thou willing to go to God thy rest? and to have thy warfare accomplished ? and thy race and labour ended? If not, complain more of thy own heart, and get it more weary, till rest seem more desirable.
§ 17. I have but one thing more to add, for the close of this chapter,-that the souls of believers do enjoy inconceivable blessedness and glory, even while they remain separated from their bodies. What can be more plain than those words of Paul, We are always confident, knowing that whilst we are at home, or rather sojourning, in the body, we are absent from the Lord, (jor we walk by faith, not by sight.) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and be present with the Lord ?(d) Or those, I am in a strait betuixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better?(e) If Paul had not expected to enjoy Christ till the resurrection, why should he be in a strait, or desire to depart? Nay, should he not, have been loth to depart upon the very same grounds ? for while he was in the flesh, he enjoyed something of Christ.- Plain enough is that of Christ to the thief; “ To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”(f)-- In the parable of Dives and Lazarus, it seems unlikely Christ would so evidently intimate and suppose the soul's happiness or misery presently after death, if there were no such matter.(9) —Our Lord's argument for the resurrection supposes, that, God being not the God of the dead, but of the living,(h) therefore Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were then living in soul.-If the blessedness of the dead that die in the Lord,(0) were only in resting in
(d) 2 Cor.'v. 6, 8. (e) Phil. i. 23.
(f) Luke xxiii. 49. ) Rev. xiv. 13.