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· Direct. XII. · When you are tempted to think meanly of the kingdom of Christ, as if his Aock were so small, and poor, and sinful as to be inconsiderable, look up to the world of blessed souls which dwell above.' And there yon shall see no such paucity, or imperfections, or blemishes, as are here below. The subjects there are such as dishonour not their king. Christ's kingdom is not of this world". If you would know it in its glory, look up to the world where it is glorious. If when you hear men contemn the kingdom of the saints of Christ, and at the same time did but see, (as Stephen did,) a glimpse into that kingdom, and all the glory of the blessed there, what thoughts would you have of the words which did dishonour it?
Direct. XIII. "When you hear sinners boast of the wisdom or numbers of their party, and appealing to the learned or great ones of the world, look up to the blessed souls with Christ, and ask whether they are not more wise and numerous than all the sinners upon earth. The greatest doctors are ignorant and unlearned in comparison of the meanest soul with Christ: the greatest monarchs are but worms in comparison of the glorified spirits with God. If they say to you, Are you wiser than so many and so wise and learned men? ask them, Are you, or all the ungodly, wiser than all the blessed souls with Christ? Let the wiser party carry it.
Direct. xiv. When you are tempted to be weary of a holy life, or to think all your labour is vain, look up to the blessed souls with Christ, and there you will see the end of holiness.' There you will see that of all the labour of your lives, there is none that you are sure to gain by; and that in “ due time you shall reap, if you faint not; and if you sow to the Spirit, of the Spirit you shall reap everlasting life and that when you have “done the will of God,” if you “ have but patience, you shall inherit the promise P.” Ask yourselves, whether any of those blessed souls repent now of the holiness of their lives on earth ? or their mortifying the flesh, and denying themselves the delights of sin?
Direct. xv. When you are tempted to turn back in the day of trial, and to forsake Christ or his cause when persecution ariseth, then look to the blessed souls above, and see what is the end of suffering for the sake of Christ and n Jolm xviii. 36. o Gal. vi.8, 9.
p Heh. x. 36.
righteousness.' To foresee the great reward in heaven, will convince you that instead of being terrified by sufferings, you should " rejoice and be exceeding glad." Are you to die in prison, or to burn in the flames ? so did many thousands that are now in heaven. And do you think that they repent it now? Ignatius, Polycarp, Cyprian, and many such holy men, were once used as hardly as you are now, and put to death by cruel men. Rogers, Bradford, Hooper, Glover, and multitudes with them, were once in prison and burnt in the flames; but where are they now, and what is the end of all their pains ? Now whether do you think the case of Bonner or Bradford to be best? Now had you rather be Gardiner or Philpot ? Now which think you doth most repent; the poor Waldenses that were murdered by thousands; or the popes and persecutors that murdered them?
Direct. XVI. "When you are dismayed under the burden of your sins, the greatness of your corruptions, the weakness of your graces, the imperfection of your duties, look up to the blessed souls with Christ, and remember that all those glorified spirits, were once in Aesh as you now are, and once they lay at the feet of God, in tears, and groans, and cries as you do : they were once fain to cry out of the burden of their sins, and mourn under the weakness of their graces, as you now do. They were once as much clogged with flesh as you are; and once as low in doubts and fears, and bruised under the sense of God's displeasure. They once were as violently assaulted with temptations, and had the same corruptions to lament and strive against as you have. They were once as much afflicted by God and man; but is there any of the smart of this remaining?
Direct. xvii. · When you are deterred from the presence of the dreadful God, and think he will not accept such worms as you, look up to the blessed souls with Christ; and remember how many millions of your brethren are there accepted to greater familiarity than that which you here desire. Remember that those souls were once as dark and distant from God, and unworthy of his acceptance as you now are. A fearful child receiveth boldness, to see his brethren in his father's arms.
Direct. xvIII. · When you are afraid of satan lest he should prevail against you and devour you, look up to the
blessed souls with Christ ; and see how many millions are there safely landed, that once were in as dangerous a station as you are. Through many tribulations and temptations they are arrived at the heavenly rest: satan once did his worst against them: they were tossed on the seas of this tempestuous world; but they were kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation, and so may you.
Direct. xix. "When you would duly value all your present means and mercies, and see whither they tend, look up then to the souls with Christ, and see whither the like mercy hath conducted them. The poorest cottage and the hardest fare are great mercies, as they tend to endless blessedness. This now and heaven after, is great; though the thing in itself be never so small. Heaven puts the value and signification upon all your mercies. The wicked make cyphers of their greatest blessings, by separating them in their esteem and use, from God and heaven, which is the measure of their estimate.
Direct. xx. · When you see divisions among believers, and hear one for this party, and another for that, and hear them bitterly censuring each other, look up then to the saints with Christ, and think what perfect love, and peace, and concord is among them. Consider how unlike our factions and schisms are to their fervent love and unity, And how unlike our jarring strifes and quarrels are to their harmonious praise of God. Remember in what work it is that they are so happily united, even love and praise incessant to Jehovah : and then think, whether it would not unite the saints on earth, to lay by their contendings for the preeminence in knowledge, (covered with the gilded name of zeal for the truth of God, and to employ themselves in love and praise, and to shew their emulation here, in striving who shall love God and each other with the more pure heart and fervent love, and who shall praise him with the most heavenly alacrity and delight. Consider whether this work of blessed souls be not like to be more desirable and excellent, than the work of self-conceited, wrangling sophisters. And whether there be any danger of falling into sects and factions, or falling out by emulations or contentions, while we make this work of love and praise the matter of our religious converse. And consider whether almost all the schisms that rising up than others hich others
ever vexed the church of God, did not arise, either by the pastors striving “who should be the greatest 9," or by the rising up of some sciolist or gnostic, proudly pretending to know more than others, and to vindicate or bring to light some excellent truth which others know not, or oppose. And when you see the hot contendings of each party, about their pretended orthodoxness or wisdom (which James iii. is purposely written against), remember how the concord of those blessed souls doth shame this work, and should make it odious to the heirs of heaven.
Direct. xX1. When you are afraid of death or would find more willingness to die, look up to the blessed souls with Christ, and think that you are but to pass that way, which all those souls have gone before you; and to go from a world of enmity and vanity, to the company of all those blessed spirits.' And is not their blessed state more desirable than such a vain, vexatious life as this? There is no malice, nor slandering, nor cruel persecuting; no uncharitable censures, contentions, or divisions; no ignorance, nor unbelief, nor strangeness unto God; nothing but holy, amiable, and delightful. Join yourselves daily to that celestial society: suppose yourselves spectators of their order, purity, and glory, and auditors of their harmonious praises of Jehovah. Live by faith in a daily familiarity with them : say not that you want company or are alone, when you may walk in the streets of the heavenly Jerusalem, and there converse with the prophets and apostles, and all the glorious hosts of heaven. Converse thus with them in your life, and it will overcome the fear of death, and make you long to be there with them : like one that stands by the river side, and seeth his friends on the further side, in a place of pleasure, while his enemies are pursuing him at his back, how gladly would he be over with them? And it will embolden him to venture on the passage, which all they have safely passed before him. Thus death will be to us as the Red sea, to pass us safe to the land of promise, while our pursuers are there overthrown and perish. We should not be so strange to the world above, if we thus by faith conversed with the blessed ones. Direct. xxII. · When you are overmuch troubled for the death of your godly friends, look up to that world of blessed souls, to which they are translated, and think whether it be not better for them to be there than here ; and whether you are not bound by the law of love, to rejoice with them that are thus exalted.' Had we but a sight of the world that they are in, and the company that they are gone to, we should be less displeased with the will of God, in disposing of his own into so glorious a state.
9 Luke xxii. 24. 26.
All these improvements may be made by a believer, of his daily converse with the souls above. This is the communion with them which we must hold on earth ; not by praying to them, which God hath never encouraged us to do; nor by praying for them: (for though it be lawful to pray for the resurrection of their bodies, and the perfecting of their blessedness thereby, yet it being a thing of absolute certainty as the day of judgment is, we must be very cautious in the manner of our doing this lawful act; it being a thing that their happiness doth not at all depend on, and a thing which will-worshippers hath shewed themselves so forward to abuse, by stepping further into that which is unlawful; as the horrid abuses of the names, and days, and shrines, and relics, of real or supposed saints, in the papal kingdom sadly testifieth). But the necessary part of our communion with the saints in heaven, being of so great importance to the church on earth, I commend it to the due consideration of the faithful, whether our forgetfulness of it is not to be much repented of, and whether it be not a work to be more seriously minded for the time to come.
And I must confess I know not why it should be thought unlawful to celebrate the memorial of the life or msrtyrdom of any extraordinary servant of God, by an anniversary solemnity, or a set, appropriate day: it is but to keep the thankful remembrance of God's mercy to the church : and sure the life and death of such, is not the smallest of the church's mercies here on earth. If it be lawful on November the fifth to celebrate the memorial of our deliverance from the Powder-plot, I know not why it should be thought unlawful to do the like in this case also: provided, 1. That it be not terminated in the honour of a saint, but of the God of saints for giving so great a mercy to his church. 2. That it be not to honour a saint merely as a saint, but to some