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and we must make our beds in darkness: corruption is our father, and the worm our mother and our sister;" Job xvii. 13, 14. The inexorable leveller is ready at your backs to convince you by irresistible argument, that dust you are, and to dust you shall return. Heaven should be as desirable, and hell as terrible to you as to others. No man will fear you after death; much less will Christ be afraid to judge you; Luke xix. 27. As the kingdoms and glory of the world were contemned by him in the hour of his temptation; so are they inconsiderable to procure his approbation. Trust not therefore to uncertain riches: value them but as they will prove at last. As you stand on higher ground than others, it is meet that you should see further. The greater are your advantages, the wiser and better you should be; and therefore should better perceive the difference between things temporal and eternal. It is always dark where these glowworms shine, and where a rotten post doth seem a fire.
Your difficulties also should excite you; you must go as through a needle's eye to heaven. To live as in heaven in a crowd of business and stream of temptations from the confluence of all worldly things, is so hard, that few such come to heaven. Withdraw yourselves therefore to the frequent, serious forethoughts of eternity, and live by faith.
Had time allowed it, I should have come down to some particular instances: as, 1. Let the things unseen be still at hand to answer every temptation, and shame and repel each motion to sin.
2. Let them be still at hand to quicken us to duty, when backwardness and coldness doth surprise us. What! shall we do any thing coldly for eternity?
3. Let it resolve you what company to delight in, and what society to be of, even those with whom you must dwell for ever. What side soever is uppermost on earth, you may foresee which side shall reign for ever.
4. Let the things invisible be your daily solace, and the satisfaction of your souls. Are you slandered by men? Faith tells you, it is enough that Christ will justify you. O happy day! when he will bring forth our righteousness as the light, and set all straight, which all the false histories or slanderous tongues or pens in all the world made crooked. Are you frowned on or contemned by men? Is it not enough that you shall everlastingly be honoured by the
Lord? Are you wronged, oppressed, or trodden on by pride or malice? Is not heaven enough to make you reparation? And eternity long enough for your joys? O pray for your malicious enemies, lest they suffer more than you can wish them!
2. Lastly, I should have become on the behalf of Christ, a petitioner to you for protection and encouragement to the heirs of the invisible world. For them that preach, and them that live in this Life of Faith. Not for the honours and riches of the world; but for leave and countenance to work in the vineyard, and peaceably travel through the world as strangers, and live in the communion of saints as they believe. But, though it be for the beloved of the Lord, the apple of his eye, the people that are sure to prevail and reign with Christ for ever; whose prayers can do more for the greatest princes than you can do for them, whose joy is hastened by that which is intended for their sorrow; I shall now lay by any further suit on their behalf.
But for yourselves, O use your seeing and foreseeing faculties! Be often looking through the prospective of the promise and live not by sense on present things; but live as if you saw the glorious things which you say you do believe. That when worldly titles are insignificant words, and fleshly pleasures have an end, and faith and holiness will be the marks of honour; and unbelief and ungodliness the badges of perpetual shame, and when you must give account of your stewardship, and shall be no longer stewards, you may then be brought by faith unto fruition, and see with joy the glorious things that you now believe. Write upon your palaces and goods that sentence; "Seeing all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for, and hasting to the coming of the day of God?" 2 Pet. iii. 11.
HEBREWS xi. 1.
Now Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
In the opening of this text, I have already shewed, that 'it is the nature and use of faith to be instead of presence and sight; or to make things absent, future, and unseen, to be to us as to our estimation, resolution and conversation, as if they were present, and before our eyes: though not as to the degree, yet as to the sincerity of our acts."
In the handling of this doctrine, I have already shewed, that this faith is a grounded, justifiable knowledge, and not a fancy, or ineffectual opinion; having for its object the infallible revelation and certain truth of God; and not a falsehood, nor a mere probability, or 'verisimile.' I have shewed how such a faith will work; how far it should carry us if its evidence were fully entertained and improved; and how far it doth carry all that have it sincerely in the least degree; and I have shewed some of the moving considerations, that should prevail with us to live upon the things unseen, as if they were open to our sight.
I think I may suddenly proceed here to the remaining part of the application, without any recital of the expl or confirmation, the truth lying so naked in the
he life of faith and the life of sense, are the two ways that all the world do walk in to the two extremely different ends which appear when death withdraws the veil. It is the ordination of God, that men's own estimation, choice and endeavours, shall be the necessary preparative to their fruition. Nemo nolens bonus aut beatus est.' Men shall have no better than they value, and choose, and seek. Where earthly things are highest in the esteem, and dearest to the mind of man, such persons have no higher nor more durable portion. Where the heavenly things are highest and dearest to the soul, and are practically preferred, they are the por
tion of that soul. Where the treasure is, the heart will be; Matt. vi. 21. The sanctifying Spirit doth lead the spiritual man, by a spiritual rule in a spiritual way, to a spiritual, glorious, durable felicity. The sensual part, with the sensual inclination communicated to the corrupted mind and will, doth by carnal reasonings, and by carnal means, pursue and embrace a present, fading, carnal interest; and therefore it findeth and attaineth no more. "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other;" Gal. v. 17. "They that are after the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God. If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, the same is none of his. If we live after the flesh, we shall die; but if by the Spirit we mortify the deeds of the body, we shall live;" Rom. viii. 5—14. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. He that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sowéth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap everlasting life." As a man is, so he loveth and desireth; as he desireth, he seeketh, and as he seeketh, he findeth and possesseth. If you know which world, what riches a man prefers, intends and liveth for, you may know which world is his inheritance, and whither he is going as to his perpetual abode.
Reason enableth a man to know and seek more than he seeth and faith informeth and advanceth reason, to know that by the means of supernatural revelation, that hy no other means is fully known. To seek and hope for no better than we know, and to know no more than is objectively revealed, (while we hinder not the revelation) is the blameless imperfection of a creature that hath limited faculties and capacities. To know what is best, and yet to choose and seek an inferior, inconsistent good; and to refuse and neglect the best, when it is discerned, is the course of such as have but a superficial opinion of the good refused, or a knowledge not awakened to speak so loudly as may be effectual for choice; and whose sensuality mastereth their wills and reason, and leads them backward: and those that know
not, because they would not know; or hear not, because they would not hear, are under that same dominion of the flesh, which is an enemy to all knowledge, that is an enemy to its delights and interest. To profess to know good, and yet refuse it; and to profess to know evil, and yet to choose it, and this predominantly and in the main, is the description of a self-condemning hypocrite. And if malignity and opposition of the truth professed be added to the hypocrisy, it comes up to that pharisaical blindness and obdurateness, which prepareth men for the remediless sin.
Consider then but of the profession of many of the people of this land, and compare their practice with it, and judge what compassion the condition of many doth bespeak. If you will believe them, they profess that they verily believe in the invisible God; in a Christ unseen to them; in the Holy Spirit, gathering a holy church to Christ, and employing them in a communion of saints. That they believe a judgment to come, upon the glorious coming of the Lord; and an everlasting life of joy or torment thereupon. All this is in their creed: they would take him for a damnable heretic that denieth it; and perhaps would consent that he be burned at a stake. So that you would think these men should live as if heaven and hell were open to their sight. But O what a hypocritical generation are the ungodly! How their lives do give their tongues the lie! (Remember that I apply this to no better men.) It is a wonder that such men can believe themselves, when they say they do indeed believe the Gospel: and shews what a monster the blind, deceitful heart of an impenitent sinner is. In good sadness can they think that they truly believe that God is God, and yet so wilfully disobey him? That heaven is heaven, and yet prefer the world before it? That hell is hell, and yet will venture upon it for a lust, or a thing of nought? What! believe that there is at hand a life of endless joy, and no more mind it! but hate them that set their hearts upon it! Do they believe, that except a man be converted and new born, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven? as Christ hath told them, Matt. xviii. 3. John iii. 3. 5. and yet never trouble their minds about it, to try whether they are converted and new born or not? Do they believe God, that no man shall see him without holiness? (Heb. xii. 14) and yet dare they be unholy? and perhaps deride it? Do they