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By the Kingdom of Grace here we are to understand the happy State of the Gofpel, begun at Christ's coming into the World, and continu'd by preaching the glad Tidings and Means of Salvation ever since. Of this is to be understood that of John the Baptist, who gave the sirst notice of the Approach of it; faying, Resent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, Mat. 3. 1. meaning the Kingdom of the Mefflas, or the State of the Gofpel. Thus is it understood likewise in Mat. 11. 12. where the Kingdom of Heaven is said to suffer violence. And generally in all the Parables of our Saviour, where the Kingdom of Heaven is liken'd to various and sundry things, it is to be understood of this Gofpel-Dispensation, or the Kingdom of the MeJJias.
Now the Kingdom of Heaven, in this fense, being the same with the Christian Church, into which we are admitted by our Baptism, cannot be meant in this place of our Catechism, because this is included in the sirst Privilege, before treated of; by which we are made rhe Members of Christ, that is, of Christ's Church, and are thereby admitted to all the Grace and Favour of this Gospel-Administration. But the being made an Inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven, being mention'd here as a distinct Privilege, and indeed the top and completion of all the test, must be understood of the Kingdom of Glory hereafter; which is that happy and glorious State of Saints and Angels with God in the World to come. In this Sense we are to understand it, in all thofe Places where the Entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven, is promis'd as the Reward of the Righteous; and the Exclusion from it, is threaten'd as the Punishment of the Wicked: as Mat. 25. 1 Cor 6. So is it meant likewise in that of our Saviour, Not every one that faith, Lord I Lord! shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; hut he that doth the Will of my Father which is in Heaven, Mat. 7. 21. That is, not they that barely profess Christianity, shall be admitted to a State of future and eternal Happiness; but they that practise and live accordingly. Indeed the Profession alone is sufficient to gain admittance into the visible Church or Kingdom of Grace here on Earth ; but nothing less than a sutabie Life and Practice can procure an Entrance into the Church Triumphant, or Kingdom of Glory hereafter in He ven.
In this fense we are to take these Words in our Catechism, when we are said to be made Inheritors of the Kingdom dom of Heaven; namely, of a future State of eternal Bliss and Glory, a State of the greatest Joy and Blessedness that our Natures are capable of receiving ; a State, in which all the Crowns, Kingdoms, and Glories of this World, fall vastly short of the Happiness of it; yea, are but Shadows and Trifles, if compar'd with it. In a word, a State of that unspeakable Happiness, that Eye bath not seen, nor Ear heard, nor hath it enter'd into the Heart ef Man to conceive the great things that are prepaid and to be injofd in it. This then is the Kingdom. But,
II. What is it to be an Inheritor of this Kingdom of Heaven? Why, in short, 'tis to be an Heir to it, as a Son is to the Inheritance of his Father: Hence our Text tells us, If Onldren, then Heirs, Heirs of God; that is, he makes us Heirs to this Kingdom; and Joint-Heirs isoith Christ, his only Son, and our elder Brother. So that this is not like earthly Kingdoms and Inheritances, that go only to the elder Brother: no, God makes all his Children Heirs and Joint-partakers of his heavenly Kingdom : for if Children, then Heirs, See. and if a Son, then an Heir thro' Christ, Gal. 4. 7. For which reason, all the People of God are styl'd Heirs of Salvation, Heb. 1. 14, that is, 'tis fecur'd to, and entail'd upon them. And our Catechism calls them Inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Now this shews us the Tenure by which we hold this heavenly Kingdom, which we are here, and frequently elsewhere told in Scripture, is by Inheritance, which gives us the title of Heirs ; and in the last Sentence, we are bid to inherit the Kingdom prepar'd for us. Of all Tenures, you know, that oflnheritance is reckon'd the best, because 'tis unlimited and perpetual: that which is held by Lease, expires : and that which is held by Lives, dies likewise and falls away: but what is held by Inheritance, or, in Pee, is our own for ever. Now this is the Tenure by which wehold this heavenly Kingdom to which we are Heirs; 'tis by Inheritance for ever: Con/eye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdomof Heaven, &c.
And as Inheritance is the best Tenure: so that of a Kingdom is the highest and best Inheritance. A small Cottage, or a little Spot of Earth, may be held by Inheritance; but this is not to be nam'd with the noble Inheritance of a Kingdom, which ai&rds all that heart can wish. Again,
All that we hold of this World by Inheritance, must be left to our Heirs, because we cannot live always here to1 enjoy it; but the Kingdom of Heaven, of which we are made Inheritors, will be everlasting ; and we shall always live ourselves, and be happy in the Enjoyment of it: Hence St. 'Peter styles it an Inheritance immortal, incorruptible, undented, and that fadeth not away ; but reserv'd for ever in Heaven for us: i Pet. 1. 4. And as the Inheritance is incorruptible; so he tells us, ver. 23, 24. 'That we are bom of an incorruptible Seed, and begotten again to a lively Hope of possessing and enjoying it for ever.
Moreover, all earthly Inheritances may be forfeited or lost, they are liable to Violence, Rapine and Consiscation, with many other Disasters. Yea, all earthly Kingdoms may be shakenj the Crowns may be taken from the Heads of Princes, and their Honour laid in the Dust. Yea, we read of some who have voluntarily resign'd their Crownfi, to be rid of the Cares, Fears, and Troubles that lay under them. Whereas this Heavenly Kingdom, which Christians are made to inherit, is never to be lost or forfeited; 'tis above the Violence, Malice, or Malignity of Enemies; 'tis entirely ("red from all Fears and Cares, and out of the reach of all Misfortunes. We receive a Kingdom, faith the Apostle, that cannot be mov'd, Heb. 12. 28. a Kingdom that can neither: be moV'd from us, nor we from it. This is indeed the principal Flower of this Crown of Glory, that it fadeth not away, but is eternal in the Heavens l 'tis the chiefest Jewel in this Heavenly Diadem, that 'tis everlasting, and lusters not Diminution or Decay 5 we hold it by Inheritance for? ever, and by a Right that shall never be taken from us. But how is this Inheritance convey'd to us in our Baptism, wherein (our Catechism tells us) we are made Inheritors of this Kingdom of Heaven? This is the
IIId Thing propounded to be spokert to, which will lead us from the Tenure, to consider our Title to this heavenly Kingdom. For the better understanding whereof, we must note,
1. That we are not born to this Inheritance, and so can have no natural Right to it 5 for we are all born in Sin, and come into the World Heirs of Hejl and Damnation. That sirst Sin Which shut our sirst Parents out of Paradise, had for ever excluded all their Posterity ouc of the Kingdom of Heaven-) if some other way had not
Vot. I. $ been been found out for their Salvation. And therefore we must know,
2. That all the R'ght and Title we have, or can pretend to this heavenly Kingdom, is deriv'd to us intirely thro' the Mercy and Merits of Jesus Christ: For the Apostle tells us, 'That we are Sons and Heirs only thro' Christ, Gal.
4. 7. and elsewhere, Not by Works of Righteousness which we have done, but according to his Mercy he fav'd us, by the washing os Regeneration, and the Renewing os the Holy Ghost, -which he shed on us abundantly thro" Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being juflisy'd by his Grace, we should be made Heirs according to the Hope of eternal Life: Tit. 3.
5, 6, 7. So that we must know,
3. That by this means, we have a sirm and indefeasible Title to the Kingdom of Heaven: for as an Heir hath a legal Right and Claim to his Inheritance, so hath God vouchsafed to his Heirs thro' Christ a legal Claim and Title to his Kingdom in Heaven.
But how come they by this Claim? Why, sundry ways 5 as,
(1.) They have it by a Right of Purchase : not indeed their own, for they have nothing of value sufsicient for such a Purchase; but our blessed Saviour's, whofe Merits were sufsicient, not only to atone for the Sins, but to procure the Happiness of all Mankind: For he laid down his Life, and gave himself a Ransom for all; 1 Tim. 2. 6. And shed his own precious and invaluable 'Blood, as the 'Price of their Redemption; 1 Pet. 1. 18, 19. By which means, we are bought with a Trice out of the hands of our Enemies, and Heaven is become our purchas'd Pcsfeffion, Eph. 1. 14. Again,'
(2.) The Children of God may claim this Inheritance by a Right of Promise, it being made over to them by the Word back'd with the Oath of God, for their greater Security: For so the Apostle tells us, That God willing to shew to the Heirs of'Promise the Immutability of his Counsel, confirm'd it by an Oath ; that by two immutable things, wherein it was impossible for God to lye, they might have the stronger Assurance and Consolation : Heb. 6. 17, 18.
Lastly, This Inheritance is made theirs by a Deed of Gift: for tho it be purchas'd by Christ, and promis'd by our heavenly Father; yet, in respect of us, tis purely a Gift, who could neither merit nor effect it for ourselves. Fear not) little Flock, faith our Saviour, 'tisyour Father's
Pleasure 'pleasure to give you a Kingdom, Luke 12. 32. All earthly Princes receive their Crowns from him 5 and all the Saints' owe this Crown of Glory intirely to his Good-will and Pleasure.
Hence the Apostle styles eternal Life the Gift of God 5 Rom. 6. tilt. 'Twere Arrogance to ascribe this either to the Merit of our Works, or the Purchase of our own Industry^ who can neither deserve or do any thing in Proportion to it; By Grace ye are sav'd, faith the same Apostle, not of your JelveSi is is the Gift of God, Eph. 2. 8. And not by Workt of Righteousness which we have done, but by his Mercy he sav'd us; by the Washing of Water, and renewing of the Holy Ghost : Tit.,J. 5, 6.
Thus I have shew'd you somewhat of the Glory of this Kingdom, the Title we have to It, and the Tenure wo hold it by.
But still it may be afk'd, How these great things are made over to us in 'Baptism? Are all that are bastiz'd, Partakers of these great Privileges? No! For
Tho these great things are promis'd and tender'd to all^ yet this Promise is not absolute, but conditional; something is to be done on our Part, to make us capable of them: Baptism is the Seal of the Cdvenant, in which these things are sign'd andseal'd on God's part; but some Duties and Conditions are reejuir'd to be perform'd by us, without which we are never like to be the better for them, as will be shew'd hereafter. In the mean time we may learn! hence,
1st, The Sense and Truth of those. Words of St. Peters In the ist Epist. chap. 3. ver. 21. The like Figure whereitnto, even Baptism, doth now also save .us; not the putting away the Filth of the Flesh, but the Answer of a good Conscience towards God.. Where the saving of Noah and his Family in the Ark from the common Deluge, is made & Type or Figure of that Salvatiosl we now receive by Baptism : in both which these is a Salvation by Water; as well as from it; for the fame Water that was the Destruction of some, was the means of Salvation unto others, by bearing Up the Ark that prescrv'd them. And as they in the Ark were sav'd from perishing by Water; so we now in the Church, by the Waters of Baptisms are sav'd from feverlasting Destruction;
Another , Figure hereof, was the Children df tsraeH passing thro' the Eted Sea; where the fame Water that
F a drowns