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produce in the literate, studious sort of men? What joy then should it be to us, to know by faith the God that made us; the creation of the world; the laws and promises of our Creator; the mysteries of redemption and regeneration ; the frame of the new creature; the entertainment of the spirits of the just with Christ; the judgment which all the world must undergo; the work and company which we shall have hereafter; and the endless joys which all the sanctified shall possess in the sight and love of God for ever! How blessed an invention would it be, if all the world could be brought again to the use of one universal language! Or if all the churches could be perfectly reconciled, how joyful would the author of so great a work be! Should we not then rejoice, who foresee by faith a far more perfect union and consent than ever must be expected here on earth?
Alas! the ordinary lowness of our comforts doth tell us that our faith is very small! I say not so much the sorrows of a doubting heart,' as the little joy which we have in the forethoughts of heaven, when our title seemeth not much doubtful to us: for those sorrows shew that such esteem it a joyful place, and would rejoice if their title were but cleared. But when we have neither the sorrow nor solicitousness of the afflicted soul, nor yet the joy which is any whit suitable to the belief of such everlasting joys, we may know what to judge of such an ineffectual belief; at best, it is very low and feeble. It is a "joy unspeakable, and full of glory," which unseen things should cause in a believer; (1 Pet. i. 6-8.) because it is "an exceeding eternal weight of glory" which he believeth; 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18.
8. Finally, learn to die also as believers. The life of faith must bring you to the very entrance into glory: where one doth end the other begins. As our dark life in the womb by nutriment from the mother, continueth till our passage into the open world. You would die in the womb, if faith should cease before it bring you to full intuition and fruition. "By faith Joseph when he died made mention of the departing of the children of Israel;" Heb. xi. 22. Joseph's faith did not die before him. "These all died in faith, confessing that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth, and declaring that they sought a better country;" Heb. xi. 3 They that live by faith, must die in faith; yea, and die by faith too. Faith must fetch in their dying comforts. And
O how full, and how near a treasure hath it to go to! To die to this world, is to be born into another. Beggars are best when they are abroad. The travail of the ungodly is better to them than their home: but the believer's home is so much better than his travail, that he hath little cause to be afraid of coming to his journey's end; but should rather every step cry out, 'O when shall I be at home with Christ!' Is it earth or heaven that you have prayed for, and laboured for, and waited, and suffered for till now? And doth he indeed pray, and labour, and suffer for heaven, who would not come thither?
It is faith which overcometh the world and the flesh, which must also overcome the fears of death, and can look with boldness into the loathsome grave, and can triumph over both as victorious through Christ. It is faith which can say, 'Go forth, O my soul; depart in peace: thy course is finished thy warfare is accomplished: the day of triumph is now at hand: thy patience hath no longer work: go forth with joy the morning of thy endless joys is near; and the night of fears and darkness at an end. Thy terrible dreams are ending in eternal pleasures; the glorious light will banish all thy dreadful spectres, and resolve all those doubts which are bred and cherished in the dark. They whose employment is their weariness and toil, do take the night of darkness and cessation for their rest; but this is their weariness: defect of action is thy toil; and thy most grievous labour is to do too little work; and thy incessant vision, love and praise, will be thy incessant ease and pleasure; and thy endless work will be thy endless rest! Depart, O my soul, with peace and gladness! Thou leavest not a world, where wisdom and piety, justice and sobriety, love, and peace, and order do prevail; but a world of ignorance and folly, of brutish sensuality and rage, of impiety and malignant enmity to good; a world of injustice and oppression, and of confusion and distracting strifes! Thou goest not to a world of darkness and of wrath, but of light and love ; from hellish malice, to perfect amity; from Bedlam rage, to perfect wisdom; from mad confusion, to perfect order; to sweetest unity and peace; even to the spirits of the just made perfect, and to the celestial, glorious city of God! Thou goest not from heaven to earth, from holiness to sin, from the sight of God, into an infernal dungeon; but from
earth to heaven, from sin and imperfection into perfect holiness; and from palpable darkness, into the vital splendour of the face of God! Thou goest not among enemies, but to dearest friends; not amongst mere strangers, but to many whom thou hast known by sight, and to more whom thou hast known by faith, and must know by the sweetest communion for ever. Thou goest not to unsatisfied justice, nor to a condemning, unreconciled God; but to love itself, to infinite goodness, the fountain of all created and communicated good; to the Maker, Redeemer, and Sanctifier of souls; to him who prepared heaven for thee, and now hath prepared thee for heaven. Go forth then in triumph, and not with terror, O my soul! The prize is won: possess the things which thou hast so long prayed for, and sought! Make haste and enter into thy master's joy! Go view the glory which thou hast so long heard of; and take thy place in the heavenly choir; and bear thy part in their celestial melody! Sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God; and receive that which Christ in his covenant did promise to give thee at the last. Go boldly to that blessed God, with whom thou hast so powerful a Mediator, and to the throne of whose grace, thou hast had so oft and sweet access. If heaven be thy fear or sorrow, what can be thy joy? And where wilt thou have refuge, if thou fly from God? If perfect, endless pleasures be thy terror, where then dost thou expect content? If grace have taught thee long ago to prefer the heavenly and durable felicity, refuse it not now when thou art so near the port. If it have taught thee long ago to be as a stranger in this Sodom, and to renounce this sinful world and flesh, linger not now as unwilling to depart; repent not of thy choice when all that the world can do for thee is past, repent not of thy warfare, when thou hast got the victory; nor of thy voyage, when thou art past the storms and waves, and ready to land at the haven of felicity.
Thus faith may sing our nunc dimittis,' when the flesh is loathest to be dissolved.
But we must live by faith if we would thus die by faith. Such a death doth not use to be the period of a fleshly, worldly life; nor of a careless, dull and negligent life. Nature, which brought us into the world, without our forecast or care, will turn us out of the world without it. But it will
not give us a joyful passage, nor bring us to a better world without it. It costeth worldlings no small care to die in an honourable and plentiful estate, (if that they may fall from a higher place than others, and may have something to make death more grievous and unwelcome to them, and may have a greater account to make at judgment; and that their passage to heaven may be as a camel's through a needle). And may a believing, joyful death be expected, without the preparations of exercise and experience in a believing life? Nature is so much afraid of dying, and an incorporated soul is so incarcerated in sense, and so hardly riseth to serious and satisfying apprehensions of the unseen world, that even true believers do find it a work of no small difficulty, to desire to depart, and be with Christ, and to die in the joyful hopes of faith. A little abatement of the terrors of death, a little supporting hope and peace, is all that the greater part of them attain, instead of the fervent desires, and triumphant joys, which the lively belief of endless glory should produce. O therefore make it the work of your lives! of all your lives! your greatest work, your constant work, to live by faith; that the faith which hath first conquered all the rest of your enemies, may be able also to overcome the last; and may do your last work well, when it hath done the rest.
Directions how to Live by Faith. And, first, how to Strengthen Faith. And, secondly, the Natural Truths presupposed to be considered.
THE Directions which I shall give, as helps to live by faith, are of two ranks. 1. Such as tend to the strengthening of your faith. 2. Such as tell you how to use it.
Direct. 1. The first is the greatest part of our task: for no man can use that faith which he hath not; nor can use more of it than he hath. And the most common reason why we use but little, is because we have but little to use.
But on this subject (supposing it most weighty) I have written many treatises already; (the Second Part of "The Saints' Rest;""The Unreasonableness of Infidelity;" and last of all, "The Reasons of the Christian Religion;" besides others which handle it on the bye). And somewhat is said in the beginning of this discourse. But yet because in so great a matter I am more afraid of doing too little than too much, I will here give you an index of some of the chief helps, to be close together before you for your memories, to be the constant fuel of your faith.
In the work of faith it is first needful that you get all the perquisite helps of natural light, and be well acquainted with their order and evidence, and their usefulness to befriend the supernatural revelations; for it is supposed that we are men before we are Christians; we were created before we were redeemed; and we must know that there is a God, before we can know that we have offended him, or that we need a Saviour to reconcile us to him. And we must know that we have reasonable souls, before we can know that sin hath corrupted them, or that grace must sanctify them. And we must know, that whatsoever God saith is true, before we can believe that the Scripture is true, as being his revelation. Faith is an act of reason, and believing is a kind of knowing, even a knowing by the testimony of him whom we believe, because we have sufficient reason to believe him.
2. And next we must be well acquainted with the evidence of supernatural truth, which presupposeth the aforesaid natural verities. I shall set both before you briefly in their order.
1. Think well of the nature of your souls, of their faculties or powers, their excellency and their proper use and then you will find that you are not mere brutes, who know not their Creator, and live not by a law, and think not of another world, nor fear any sufferings after death; but that you have reason, freewill, and executive power to know your Maker, and to live by rule, and to hope for a reward in another life, and to fear a punishment hereafter. And that, as no wise artificer maketh any thing in vain, so God is much less to be thought to have given you such souls and faculties in vain.
2. Consider next how all the world declareth to you,