Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

thongh not of their first justification itself. But sure or life? Has Christ the highest room in eternally blessed be that hand of love, which thy heart and affections, so that, though thou hath drawn the free promise, and subscribed and canst not love him as thou wouldet, yet nothing sealed to that which ascertains us, both of the else is loved so much? Hast thou to this end grace which is the condition, and the kingdom made a hearty covenant with him, and delivered which on that condition is offered !

up thyself to him ? Is it thy utmost care and 12. Such are the essentials of this people of watchful endeavour that thou mayest be found God: not a full portraiture of them in all their faithful in this covenant; and though thou fall excellencies, nor all the notes whereby they may into sin, yet wouldst thou not renounce thy bargain, be discerned. I beseech thee, reader, as thou nor change thy Lord, nor give up thyself to any hast the hope of a Christian, or the reason of a other government for all the world ?-If this be man, judge thyself, as one that must shortly be truly the case, thou art one of the people of God judged by a righteous God, and faithfully answer in my text; and as sure as the promise of God is these questions. I will not inqure whether thou true, this blessed rest remains for thee. Only remember the time or the order of these workings see thou “abide in Christ,' and 'endure to the of the Spirit: there may be much uncertainty and end ;' for ' if any man draw back, his soul shall mistake in that. If thou art sure they are wrought have no pleasure in him. But if no such work in thee, the matter is not so great, though thou be found within thee; whatever thy deceived know not when or how thou camest by them. heart may think, or how strong soever thy false But carefully examine and inquire, Hast thou hopes may be; thou wilt find to thy cost, exbeen thoroughly convinced of a prevailing de- cept thorough conversion prevent it, that the rest pravation through thy whole soul ? and a pre- of the saints belongs not to thee. 60 that thou vailing wickedness through thy whole life ? and wert wise, that thou wouldst understand this, that how vile sin is ? and that, by the covenant thou thou wouldst consider thy latter end! That

yet hast transgressed, the least sin deserves eternal while thy soul is in thy body, and “a price in death ? Dost thou consent to the law, that it is thy hand,' and opportunity and hope before thee, true and righteous, and perceive thyself senten- thine ears may be open, and thy heart yield to ced to this death by it? Hast thou seen the the persuasions of God, that so thou mightest utter insufficiency of every creature, either to be rest among his people, and enjoy the inheritance itself thy happiness, or the means of removing of the saints in light! this thy misery? Hast thou been convinced, 13. That this rest shall be enjoyed by the that thy happiness is only in God, as the end ; people of God, is a truth which the Scripture, if and in Christ, as the way to him; and that thou its testimony be further needed, clearly asseris must be brought to God through Christ, or perish in a variety of ways: as, for instance, that they eternally ? Hast thou seen an absolute necessity are · fore-ordained to it, and it for them.—God of thy enjoying Christ, and the full sufficiency is not ashamed to be called their God, for he in him, to do for thee whatsoever thy case re- hath prepared for them a city. They are styled quires ? Hast thou discovered the excellency | vessels of mercy, afore prepared unto glory. of this pearl, to be worth thy selling all to buy In Christ they have obtained an inheritance, it? Have thy convictions been like those of a being predestinated according to the purpose of man that thirsts; and not merely a change in him who worketh all things after the council of opinion, produced by reading or education of his own will. And whom he did predes. Have both thy sin and misery been the abhorrence tinate, them he also glorified. Who can bereave and burden of thy soul? If thou couldst not his people of that rest which is designed for them weep, yet couldst thou heartily groan under the by God's eternal purpose ?_Scripture tells us, insupportable weight of both ? Hast thou re- they are redeemed to this rest. * By the blood nounced all thy own righteousness? Hast thou of Jesus we have boldness to enter into the turned thy idols out of thy heart, so that the holiest ;' whether that entrance means by faith creature hath no more the sovereignty, but is now and prayer here, or by full possession hereafter. a servant to God and Christ? Dost thou accept Therefore the saints in heaven sing a new song of Christ as thy only Saviour, and expect thy unto him who has 'redeemed them to God by justification, recovery, and glory, from him alone? | his blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and Are his laws the most powerful commanders of people, and nation, and made them kings and thy life and soul? Do they ordinarily prevail priests unto God!' Either Christ, then, must lose against the commands of the Aesh, and against his blood and sufferings, and never see of the the greatest interest of thy credit, profit, plea- | travail of his soul, or else “there remaineth a res:

6

to the people of God.' In Scripture this rest is who believe not the truth, but have pleasure in promised to them. As the firmament with stars, unrighteousness. The Lord Jesus shall come, so are the sacred pages, bespangled with these in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that divine engagements. Christ says ‘Fear not, little know not God, and that obey not the gospel of Alock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished you the kingdom.' 'I appoint unto you a king- with everlasting destruction from the presence of dom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that the Lord, and from the glory of his power.' Had ye may eat and drink at my table in my king- the ungodly returned before their life was expired, dom. All the means of grace, the operations of and been heartily willing to accept of Christ for the Spirit upon the soul, and gracious actings their Saviour and their King, and to be saved by of the saints, every command to repent and be him in his way, and upon his most reasonable lieve, to fast and pray, to knock and seek; to terms, they might have been saved. God freely strive and labour, to run and fight, prove that offered them life, and they would not accept it. there remains a rest for the people of God. The The pleasures of the flesh seemed more desirable Spirit would never kindle in us such strong desires to them than the glory of the saints. Satan after heaven, such love to Jesus Christ, if we should offered them the one, and God offered them the not receive what we desire and love. He that other; and they had free liberty to choose "guides our feet into the way of peace,' will un- which they would, and they chose the pleadoubtedly bring us to the end of peace. How nearly sures of sin for a season, before the everare the means and end conjoined ! • The kingdom lasting rest with Christ. And is it not a of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take righteous thing that they should be denied that it by force. They that follow Christ in the which they would not accept? When God regeneration shall sit upon thrones of glory: pressed them so earnestly, and persuaded them Scripture assures us, that the saints have the so importunately, to come in, and yet they would * beginnings, foretastes, earnests, and seals, of not, where should they be but among the dogs this rest here. The kingdom of God is within without ? Though man be so wicked, that he them. Though they have not seen Christ, yet will not yield till the mighty power

of

grace preloving him, and believing in him, they rejoice vail with him, yet still we may truly say, that he with joy unspeakable and full of glory; receiv- may be saved, if he will, on God's terms. His ing the end of their faith, even the salvation of inability being moral, and lying in wilful wickedtheir souls. They “rejoice in hope of the glory ness, is no more excuse to him, than it is to an of God. And does God seal them with that adulterer that he cannot love his own wife, or to Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of a malicious person that he cannot but hate his own their inheritance,' and will he deny the full pos- brother: is he not so much the worse, and desession? The Scripture also mentions, by name, serving of so much the sorer punishment ? Sinthose who have entered into this rest—as Enoch, ners shall lay all the blame on their own wills in Abraham, Lazarus, the thief that was crucified hell for ever. Hell is a rational torment by conwith Christ, &c. And if there be a rest for these, science, according to the nature of the rational sure there is a rest for all believers. But it is subject. If sinners could but then say, It was vain to heap up Scripture proofs, seeing it is the wrong of God, and not of us, it would quiet their very end of Scripture to be a guide to lead us consciences, and ease their torments, and make to this blessed state, and to be the charter and hell to them to be no hell. But to remember grant by which we hold all our title to it. their wilfulness, will feed the fire, and cause the

14. Scripture not only proves that this rest worm of conscience never to die. remains for the people of God, but also that it 15. It is the will of God, that this rest should remains for none but them ; so that the rest of yet remain for his people, and not be enjoyed the world shall have no part in it. • Without till they come to another world. Who should boliness no man shall see the Lord. Except a dispose of the creatures, but he that made them ? man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom You may as well ask, Why have we not spring of God. He that believeth not the Son shall and harvest without winter? or, Why is the not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him. earth below and the heavens above? as, Why have No whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor cove- we not rest on earth? All things must come to tous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance their perfection by degrees. The strongest man in the kingdom of Christ and of God. The must first be a child. The greatest scholar must wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the na- first begin with the alphabet. The tallest oak was Lions that forget God. They all shall be damned, once an acorn. This life is our infancy; and

6 p

1033

would we be perfect in the womb, or born at full wretched man that I am ! who shall deliver me?' stature ? If our rest was here, most of God's What makes them 'press towards the mark, and providences must be useless. Should God lose run that they may obtain, and strive to enter in,' the glory of his church's miraculous deliverances, if they are capable of rest in their present condiand the fall of his enemies, that men may have tion ?-And our bodies are incapable as well as their happiness here? If we were all happy, in- our souls. They are not now. those sunlike nocent, and perfect, what use was there for the bodies which they shall be, when this corruptible glorious works of our sanctification, justification, hath put on incorruption, and this mortal hath and future salvation ?--If we wanted nothing, put on immortality. They are our prisons and we should not depend on God so closely, nor our burdens; so full of infirmities and defects, call upon him so earnestly. How little should that we are fain to spend most of our time in rehe hear from us, if we had what we would have! pairing them, and supplying their continual God would never have had such songs of praise wants. Is it possible that an immortal soul from Moses at the Red Sea and in the wilder- should have rest in such a distempered noisome ness, from Deborah and Hannah, from David habitation. Surely these sickly, weary, loathand Hezekiah, if they had been the choosers of some bodies, must be refined, before they can be their condition. Have not thy own highest capable of enjoying rest. The objects we here praises to God, reader, been occasioned by thy enjoy are insufficient to afford us rest. Alas! dangers or miseries ? The greatest glory and what is there in all the world to give us rest? praise God has through the world, is for redemp-They that have most of it, have the greatest tion, reconciliation, and salvation by Christ; and burden. They that set most by it, and rejoice was not man’s misery the occasion of that ?— most in it, do all cry out at last of its vanity and And where God loses the opportunity of exercis- vexation. Men promise themselves a heaven ing his mercies, man must needs lose the happi- upon earth ; but when they come to enjoy it, it ness of enjoying them. Where God loses his Aies from them. He that has any regard to the praise, man will certainly lose his comforts. 0 works of the Lord, may easily see, that the very the sweet comforts the saints have had in return end of them is to take down our idols, to make to their prayers! How should we know what a us weary of the world, and seek our rest in him. tender-hearted Father we have, if we had not, Where does he cross us most, but where we proas the prodigal, been denied the husks of earthly mise ourselves most content? If you have a child pleasure and profit? We should never have you dote upon, it becomes your sorrow. If you felt Christ's tender heart, if we had not felt our- have a friend you trust in, and judge unchangeable, selves

weary and heavy laden, hungry and he becomes your scourge. Is this a place or state thirsty, poor and contrite. It is a delight to a of rest ? And as the objects we here enjoy are soldier, or traveller, to look back on his escapes | insufficient for our rest, so God, who is sufficient, when they are over; and for a saint in heaven is here little enjoyed. It is not here that he to look back on his sins and sorrows upon earth, hath prepared the presence-chamber of his glory. his fears and tears, his enemies and dangers, his He hath drawn the curtain between us and him. wants and calamities, must make his joy more We are far from him as creatures, and farther as joyful. Therefore the blessed, in praising the frail mortals, and farthest as sinners. We hear Lamb, mention his "redeeming them out of now and then a word of comfort from him, and every nation, and kindred, and tongue;' and so, receive his love-tokens to keep up our hearts out of their misery, and wants, and sins, and and hopes; but this is not our full enjoyment. making them kings and priests to God. But if And can any soul, that hath made God his porthey had had nothing but content and rest on tion, as every one hath that shall be saved by earth, what room would there have been for him, find rest in so vast a distance from him, and these rejoicings hereafter ?

so seldom and small enjoyment of him? Nor 16. Besides, we are not capable of rest upon are we now capable of rest, as there is a worthiearth.-Can a soul that is so weak in grace, so ness must go before it. Christ will give the prone to sin, so nearly joined to such a neighbour crown to none but the worthy. And are we fit as this flesh, have full content and rest in such a for the crown, before we have overcome? or for case? What is soul-rest but our freedom from the prize, before we have run the race ? or to resin, and imperfection, and enemies ? And can ceive our penny, before we have wrought in the the soul have rest that is pestered with all these, vineyard ? or to be rulers of ten cities, before and that continually? Why do Christians so we have improved our ten talents ? or to enter often cry out, in the language of Paul, “0 into the joy of our Lord, before we have well glory till

to come.

done, as good and faithful servants? God will do good ; to enjoy all the comforts of life, the not alter the course of justice, to give you rest fellowship of saints, the comfort of ordinances, before you have laboured, nor the crown of and much of Christ in all, than to lie rotting in

you

have overcome. There is reason the grave ? Therefore some further blessedness enough why our rest should remain till the life is there promised.--How else is it said, “We are

Take heed, then, Christian reader, come to the spirits of just men made perfect.' how thou darest to contrive and care for a rest Sure, at the resurrection, the body will be made on earth ; or to murmur at God for thy trouble, perfect, as well as the spirit. Does not Scripture and toil, and wants in the flesh. Doth thy po- tell us, that Enoch and Elias are taken up alverty weary thee? Thy sickness, thy bitter ready ? And shall we think they possess that enemies, and unkind friends ? It should be so glory alone ?—Did not Peter, James and John bere. Do the abominations of the times, the see Moses also with Christ on the mount ? yet sins of professors, the hardening of the wicked, the Scripture saith, Moses died. And is it likeall weary thee? It must be so while thou art ly that Christ deluded their senses, in showing absent from thy rest. Do thy sins, and thy them Moses, if he should not partake of that naughty distempered heart weary thee? Be glory till the resurrection ?-And is not that of thus wearied more and more. But under all Stephen as plain as we can desire ? Lord Jesus, this weariness, art thou willing to go to God thy receive my spirit.' Surely, if the Lord receive rest, and to have thy warfare accomplished, and it, it is neither asleep, nor dead, nor annihilated : thy race and labour ended? If not, complain but it is where he is, and beholds his glory. more of thy own heart, and get it more weary, | That of the wise man is of the same import : till rest seem more desirable.

• The spirit shall return unto God who gave it.' 17. I have but one thing more to add, for the Why are we said to have eternal life ; and that close of this chapter,—that the souls of believers to know God is life eternal ;' and that a believer do enjoy inconceivable blessedness and glory, ‘on the Son hath everlasting life? Or how is even while they remain separated from their the kingdom of God within us ?' If there be as bodies. What can be more plain than those great an interruption of our life, as till the resurwords of Paul—'we are always confident, know- rection, this is no eternal life, nor everlasting ing that whilst we are at home,' or rather, so- kingdom.- The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah journing, “in the body, we are absent from the are spoken of as suffering the vengeance of eterLord; for we walk by faith, not by sight. We nal fire.' And if the wicked already suffer eterare confident, I say, and willing rather to be ab- nal fire, then, no doubt, but the godly enjoy sent from the body, and to be present with the eternal blessedness. When John saw his glorious Lord.'—Or those, • I am in a strait betwixt two, revelations, he is said to be in the Spirit, and having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, to be carried away in the Spirit. And when which is far better.”—If Paul had not expected Paul was caught up to the third heaven, he to enjoy Christ till the resurrection, why should knew not 'whether in the body or out of the he be in a strait, or desire to depart? Nay, body. This implies, that spirits are capable of should he not have been loath to depart upon the these glorious things, without the help of their very same grounds ? For while he was in the bodies.—Is not so much implied, when John Hesh, he enjoyed something of Christ.—Plain says, ' I saw under the altar the souls of them enough is that of Christ to the thief, “To-day that were slain for the word of God? When shalt thou be with me in paradise:- In the par-Christ says, ' Fear not them who kill the body able of Dives and Lazarus, it seems unlikely but are not able to kill the soul,' does it not Christ would so evidently intimate and suppose plainly imply, that when wicked men have killed the soul's happiness or misery presently after our bodies, that is, have separated the souls from death, if there were no such matter. Our Lord's them, yet the souls are still alive? The soul of argument for the resurrection supposes that, Christ was alive when his body was dead, and 'God, being not the God of the dead, but of the therefore so shall be ours too.

This appears by living,' therefore Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, his words to the thief, To-day shalt thou be were then living in soul. If the 'blessedness of with me in paradise ;' and also by his voice on the dead that die in the Lord,' were only in rest the cross, • Father, into thy hands I commend ing in the grave, then a beast or a stone were as my spirit. If the spirits of those that were disblessed ; nay, it were evidently a curse, and not obedient in the days of Noah, were in prison,

For was not life a great mercy ? that is, in a living and suffering state ; then cerWas it not a greater mercy to serve God, and to tainly, the separate spirits of the just are in an

a blessing.

THE GREAT MISERY OF THOSE WHO LOSE THE

SAINTS' REST.

opposite condition of happiness. Therefore, | rather show thee what hopes thou hast before faithful souls will no sooner leave their prisons of thee, if thou wilt not sit still, and lose them. I flesh, but angels shall be their convoy; Christ, would far rather persuade thee to hearken in with all the perfected spirits of the just, will be time, before the door be shut against thee, than their companions: heaven will be their residence, tell thee there is no hope of thy repenting and and God their happiness. When such die, they returning. But if the foregoing description of may boldly and believingly say, as Stephen, the people of God does not agree with the state · Lord Jesus, receive my spirit;' and commend of thy soul, is it then a hard question, whether it, as Christ did, into a Father's hands.

thou shalt ever be saved ? Need I ascend up into heaven to know, that without holiness no man shall see the Lord;' or, that only the pure

in heart shall see God;' or, that 'except a man CHAPTER V.

be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God ? Need I go up to heaven, to inquire that of Christ, which he came down to earth to

tell us ; and sent his Spirit in his apostles to tell Sect. I. The reader, if unregenerate, urged to consider what the us; and which he and they have left upon record loss of heaven will be. 2. (I.) The loss of heaven particularly includes, 3. (1.) The personal perfection of the saints ; 4. (2.) God to all the world? And though I know not the himself ; 5. (3.) All delightful affections towards God ; 6. (4.) The secrets of thy heart, and therefore cannot tell tions of the loss of heaven : 8. (1.) The understanding of the un- thee by name, whether it be thy state or not ; consciences will make a true and close application. 11. (4.

) Their yet, if thou art but willing and diligent, thou affections will be more lively; 12–18. (5.) Their memories will mayest know thyself, whether thou art an heir be large and strong. 19. Conclusion of the chapter.

of heaven or not. It is the main thing I desire, 1. If thou reader, art a stranger to Christ, that if thou art yet miserable, thou mayest disand to the holy nature and life of his people, who cern and escape it. But how canst thou escape, art before described, and shalt live and die in if thou neglect Christ and salvation? It is as this condition, let me tell thee, thou shalt never impossible as for the devils themselves to be partake of the joys of heaven, nor have the least saved: nay, God has more plainly and frequently taste of the saints' eternal rest. I may say, as spoken it in Scripture of such sinners as thou Ehud to Eglon, “I have a message to thee from art, than he has of the devils. Methinks a sight God;' that, as the word of God is true, thou of thy case would strike thee with amazement shalt never see the face of God with comfort. and horror. When Belshazzar “saw the fingers This sentence I am commanded to pass upon of a man's hand that wrote upon the wall, his thee; take it as thou wilt, and escape it if thou countenance was changed and his thoughts canst. I know thy humble and hearty subjec- troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were tion to Christ would procure thy escape ; he loosed, and his knees smote one against another.' would then acknowledge thee for one of his peo- What trembling then should seize on thee, who ple, and give thee a portion in the inheritance of hast the hand of God himself against thee, not his chosen. If this might be the happy success in a sentence or two, but in the very scope of of my message, I should be so far from repining, the Scriptures, threatening the loss of an everlike Jonah, that the threatenings of God are not lasting kingdom! Because I would fain have executed upon thee, that I should bless the day thee lay it to heart, I will show thee—the nature that ever God made me so happy a messenger. of thy loss of heaven,—together with its aggraBut if thou end thy days in thy unregenerate vations. . state, as sure as the heavens are over thy head, 2. (I.) In their loss of heaven, the ungodly and the earth under thy feet, thou shalt be shut lose—the saints' personal perfection,—God himout of the rest of the saints, and receive thy por- self,—all delightful affections towards God-and tion in everlasting fire. I expect thou wilt turn the blessed society of angels and saints. upon me, and say, When did God show you the 3. (1.) The glorious personal perfection which Book of Life, or tell you who they are that shall the saints enjoy in heaven, is the great loss of be saved, and who shut out ? I answer, I do the ungodly. They lose that shining lustre of not name thee, nor any other; I only conclude the body, surpassing the brightness of the sun it of the unregenerate in general, and of thee, if at noonday. Though the bodies of the wicked thou be such a one. Nor do I go about to de- will be raised more spiritual than they were upon termine who shall repent, and who shall not : earth, yet that will only make them capable of much less, that thou shalt never repent. I had the more exquisite torments. They would be

« AnteriorContinuar »