« PreviousContinue »
2 Pet. iii. 12, "Looking for, and hasting to this blessed day,” and state. Do not you see how fast the blessed society is hasting home into the arms of their beloved ? O why do you lag behind ? Linger not like Lot in Sodom : lift up your feet and follow your leaders. It hath been said of old by some godly souls, Let us flee into the celebrated country above, there is our Father, there is rest, there is all.* You can have no rest here; the only rest is above with God. How must we haste, say you? I answer, Get your work done, your corruptions subdued, your graces perfected, read and practise what you find Paul did, Phil. iii. 12–14. Study the emphasis of the expressions d'aw, "I follow after," with utmost eagerness, ÉTEKTELVÓLevos, stretching out head and hands like runners in a race.
(6.) Be content to leave this world, and go home. Say as David, Psal. cxx. 5, 6, “Woe is me, that I dwell in Meshech," this tiresome world. When shall I launch forth into that serene ocean of bliss? O that I may be delivered from this body of clay, and of death together; “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly."*
" Heaven is my home, I shall never be quiet till my soul land there; I am content to live, but willing to die, that I may be with Christ. “Tome to live is Christ, and to die gain; I groan earnestly, desiring to be clothed upon with this heavenly house.”+ Are you yet in love with your fetters ? Are you not weaned from this earth? Is not your life labour and sorrow ? God will tire us out, by increasing our burdens, so that new troubles come daily upon us; “sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." | Never expect that your tears should be fully wiped off here,
• Fugiendi citò ad clarissimam patriam, ibi pater, ibi requies, ibi omnia.
of Rev. xxii. 20. Phil. i. 21. 2 Cor. v. 2. # Psal. xc. 10. Matt. vi. 34,
The truth is, we are daily making new work for repentance and affliction: we cannot cease from our own work till we enter into that blessed rest.
(7.) Persevere to the end of your days; hold fast till he come. “Be not weary of well doing, for in due time you shall reap, if you faint not: he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.”
The promise is performed to those who overcome. Hold on, hold out in God's work, or else you lose all : "Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward, 2 John, 8; there must be a "patient continuance in well-doing,” or no "eternal life. The husbandman doth not sow and reap in one day. It is true, the Hyperboreans sow shortly after sun-rising, and reap before sun-set, because the half year or a portion of it, is one continual day with them. So it is in some sense to the saints after the day-star is risen in their hearts;* yet still they must have long patience, till reaping time come. Honour God, and do credit to religion by adhering close to God in the greatest difficulties.
(8.) Put yourselves into God's hands by faith and prayer. God alone is able to “keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, Jude, 24. You cannot keep yourselves, you are “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.” He gives power to the faint; but see that your hearts be sincere and sound in God's statutes, that you may not be ashamed. If you have no root in yourselves, you will endure but for a time; yea, you may have a taste of the powers of the world to come, yet may fall away. I Be up
• Heb. iv. 10. Gal. vi. 9. Matt. xxiv. 13.
Rom. ii. 7. + 2 Pet. j. 19. James v. 7,8. 1 Pet. i. 5. Psal. cxix. 80. # Mark iv. 16, 17. Heb. vi. 5, 6.
right and conscientious before God; fear none of those things that may come on you : keep God's way, and God will keep you: though your beginning be small, your latter end shall increase. Small measures of
grace shall be preserved and crowned, when great gifts wither. Be persuaded that God is “able to keep that which you have committed to him against that day," 2 Tim. i. 12.
(9.) Live as candidates for immortality. Live as expectants of heaven, whither you are travelling, “let your conversation be in heaven.”* Labour to do God's will here upon earth, with such faithfulness, cheerfulness, zeal, and constancy, as it is done in heaven. Live by heaven's laws, act with heavenly hearts, managing all your business in a heavenly manner for right ends, improving common objects for heavenly purposes. O discover a heavenly disposition in all you do! The pearl grows
in the sea, and shines in the light. Labour to increase, though covered with waves of persecution, and shine bright in the firmament of the church; yea, so living below, and conversing with God above, that the “ life of Jesus may be manifest in your bodies.”+ O beware of sin, which will obstruct your progress, obscure your evidences, increase your present trouble, and render your journey to heaven more tedious.
(10.) Do what you can to draw others with you heaven-wards. There is room enough, there are many mansions. The greater the number, the greater the joy. There is no envy in spiritual things. O that all my neighbours, friends, kindred may be saved! Counsel, instruct, admonish, persuade sinners to come in: every soul you bring unto God, will be a new pearl in your crown of glory. It is not only the business of ministers, but of private Christians to endeavour after the
. Phil. üi. 20. + 2 Cor. iv. 10.
salvation of all about them. “O that Ishmael might live before thee,” saith Abraham ! * Surely the everlasting welfare of men's souls should lie near your hearts. Study to do them good; “Exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Consider one another to provoke unto love ;t do what you can to save one another's souls : and know this, that "he which converteth a sinner from the error of his ways, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins," James v. 20.
3. The last branch of this use, is for comfort and encouragement to God's children. Because,
(1.) Nothing that befalls you here shall be able to separate you from the love of God; tribulations, or distresses, or persecution, or whatever else you can name: nay, you shall be “ more than conquerors,” even triumphers, "through him that loved you,” Rom. viii. 35, 37. It is true, we do not know what is before us, public or personal trials : but “fear none of those things that you may suffer; be faithful unto death." I
(2.) This yields comfort to such as have buried their pious friends and relations. You need not mourn or sorrow as others which have no hope; for they sleep in Jesus, and shall come again with him. || At present they are safely preserved from all the miseries of this wretched life; they would be loth to be sent back into the body again, to miss one day those joys which now they possess. They may say as our Saviour, to the daughters of Jerusalem, “Weep not for us, but weep for yourselves;” † we are landed safe, but you are in the storm, weather-beaten, and in great hazard.
(3.) The worst things by the favour of God shall # Gen. xvii. 18.
+ Heb. iii. 13. Rev. ii. 10. || 1 Thess. iv. 13, 14. § Luke xxiii. 28. VOL. V.
prove beneficial : “All things work together for good to them that love God.”* Temptations make you
” more cautious, and send you to the throne of grace. Persecutions quicken grace, afflictions are for your profit; yea, the out-breakings of corruptions humble you, make you jealous, send you into your own hearts; bless God if it be thus with you, and it will be so if you be God's children.
(4.) Death itself will be an advantage to you, the sting of it is plucked out, the grave is sweetly perfumed ; and though it be an enemy to nature, yet it is the best friend grace hath; it is a trap-door to let you slip into heaven. A believer's motto, when dying, is
well for the present, and will be better shortly;" it is but shutting the eyes and opening them in heaven. By death the real saint goes,-from absence, into God's immediate presence-from defects in grace, to perfection-from deep sorrow, to the height of joy-from weary tossings, to perpetual rest—from busy working, to abundant reward +-from the shameful cross to a glorious crown-from conflicts of sin, to uninterrupted holiness—from persecution by men, to divine approbation and enjoyment-from human intercourse, to converse with angels from deep disgrace, to highest dignity—from restraint in prison, to present libertyfrom rending division, to complete unity-from languishing famine, to a celestial feast—from having nothing, to enjoying all things—from use of means, to the ultimate end—from assaults of temptation, to consolation and joy-from sad desertions, to perpetual fruition-from perplexing fears, to endless peacefrom sad diseases, to complete cure from midnight
* Rom. viii. 28.
+ 1 Cor. xiij. 10. Luke vi. 35.
Heb. xii. 23. Matt. xxv. 21. Rev. xiv. 13.