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bring souls onward to this glorious inheritance. Now, sirs, consider, shall you receive this grace of God in vain? Shall all the ordinances be lost upon you? You must give account of sabbaths, sermons, and sacraments, shall they be the savour of death unto death to you, or the savour of life unto life? Alas, how do poor ministers toil and travel, pray and watch, weep and sigh to the breaking of their loins, and spending of their spirits, to bring you to God and heaven, and you pretend kindness to us, but have no real kindness to your own souls; we dare not but warn you in the name of Christ, lest you fail of the grace of God, and fall short of this inheritance; "We watch for your souls as those that must give an account: O let us do it with joy and not with grief," Heb. xiii. 17. If it be uncomfortable to us, it will be unprofitable to you. Must our sweat and labour be in vain? But it will not be in vain to us, for our work is with the Lord, we shall not lose our reward. God will pay the nurse, though the child die. Our crown will be given us, if we be faithful, though we be not successful, for that is in God's hands; but woe be to those souls that have sat under powerful ordinances, and that miss of this inheritance! O woe, woe to you, you cannot lose heaven, but be plunged into a deeper hell. Oh, ease our hearts, and save your own souls: kill us, and destroy yourselves; murder yourselves, and you again crucify Christ, whose person we represent. Rather give us leave to espouse you to one husband, noμoσáμnv, I have fitted you, says the apostle, as things that are pieced together, glued or sodered, (let us do so with you,) "that we may present you as chaste virgins to Christ," 2 Cor. xi. 2. Would to God this were the fruit of our labours!
4. This is the design of all God's providential dis
pensations: mercies, afflictions, smiles, and frowns come upon this errand to make souls meet for heaven. Cords of love draw, rods of wrath drive the poor sinner from hell to heaven. The sunshine of love
comes to melt and thaw our frozen hearts that God may set a stamp upon us. The loving-kindness of God leads to repentance; Rom. ii. 4. O what an influence will God's unlimited goodness have upon an ingenuous spirit. As the sun attracts vapours from the earth, so this Sun of righteousness should and will, if our sturdy hearts hinder not, raise our hearts heaven-wards. It is pity we should stop here at the streams, and not be led up to the fountain. May this long-suffering of the Lord be your salvation ; 2 Pet. iii. 15. May love constrain you to love God; may these loadstones so attract you, and these grapes of Canaan enamour you, that you may never rest till you appear before God in Zion. And what are all God's rods and redoubled strokes for, but to awaken you out of security, beat your fingers off from the world, weaken your corruptions, and cleanse and furbish your souls, as vessels for the high shelf of glory? "For our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory," 2 Cor. iv. 17. How is that? Surely by working the soul into a fitness for that glory. This furnace melts away the dross of our hearts. Seatossings clear the water of grace; the dark night fits for a pleasant morning; these pangs prepare us for deliverance; these blustering storms make us produce the peaceable fruits of righteousness, being sanctified by the Spirit, and improved by faith. Affliction is God's physic, which produces sickness, but afterwards is the means of health; and shall we frustrate God's design in this also? What, are you content with a heaven here,
and a hell hereafter? Nay, can you be content with a hell in both worlds? Must these be preludes to everlasting burnings? God forbid. Look at the Lord's end in these sufferings, and let it be yours.
5. The time of this life is the only time men have given them to be made meet for heaven. This life is an introduction to an eternal state. It is a seminary for another world. Gal. vi. 7, 8, "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap: he that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap life everlasting." Sowing seed is preparatory to reaping; yet men must expect only to reap that kind of grain which is sown; none can think to reap wheat who sowed oats; and you know there is more abundance in the reaping than in the sowing. So in this case, hell torments will be more exquisite and permanent, than the profit and pleasure of the sinner in sinning. Heaven's joys will infinitely surmount the Christian's labours and sorrows in this world; and there is great equity in both cases, for the object sinned against is infinite, and satisfaction can never be made by a finite creature; also the grace, from whence flows eternal life, is infinite, and will have an endless duration. But the point I am upon is to demonstrate the necessity of making meet for heaven in this world, or it will never be done: now or never. When the door is shut, the gulf fixed, and the soul loosed from the body, and has launched out into the vast ocean of eternity, there is no returning back to get the oil of grace, nor equipping the soul for another world. Eccles. ix. 10, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest." Time lasts not, but floats away apace; but what is everlasting depends upon it. In this world we
we either win or lose eternal felicity.* The great weight of eternity hangs on the small and brittle thread of life. "Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation;" 2 Cor. vi. 2. This is our working day, our market time; surely it becomes us to lay that foundation well, which bears such a superstructure; to cast that anchor safely which is entrusted with a vessel so richly laden. O sirs, sleep now, and awake in hell, whence there is no redemption. Suppose by misdemeanour you had forfeited your estate and life, and upon much intercession, the king should cause an hourglass to be turned, and set you a work to do, or lesson to learn; if you performed it you are pardoned and promoted, if not, tortured and executed: O how diligent would you be! What pains would you take? The case is your own, sirs; heaven and hell are before you; according to your improvement or non-improvement of this hour of life, so must you fare; dream not of a purgatory; "as the tree falls, so it lies. You enter by death into an unchangeable state, only the body at the resurrection will be joined to the soul to be partner with it in weal or woe, bliss or bane for ever. state here is [tempus operis] the time of working; hereafter [mercedis] of reward. O look, before you leap into another world.
6. The Christian must be made meet here for the inheritance above, because he hath abundance of work to do, and privileges to gain, in order to the full possession of this blessed inheritance above. We have many graces to exercise, duties to perform, corruptions to subdue, temptations to resist, burdens to bear, mercies to improve, that will never be managed aright without a mind qualified for managing them. And observe it, the same disposition is requisite for
* Hic aut accipimus, aut amittimus vitam æternam.
making a Christian meet for any duty, that is requisite to make him meet for glory; the same habitual principle, and drawing it forth into lively exercise. Not only must the man of God be perfect, "thoroughly furnished unto all good works," 2 Tim. iii. 17; but every Christian, that is "a vessel unto honour, must be sanctified and so meet for his master's use, and prepared unto every good work," 2 Tim. ii. 21. Alas, an unsanctified heart is unfit for spiritual service. Solomon saith, "The legs of the lame are not equal,” he halts and goes limping, "so is a parable in the mouth of fools," Prov. xxvi. 7. How awkwardly and bunglingly doth he go to work in sacred things; just as an unskilful person handles a lute, a viol, or instrument of music; or as the men of Ephraim could not frame to pronounce Shibboleth aright, Judg. xii. 6. There must be a suitableness betwixt the agent and acts: no carnal heart can do any one good work well; materially he may do what is good, but not formally as good; in a good manner, for a good end; acceptably to God, or profitably to himself; "For they that are in the flesh cannot please God; and without faith it is impossible to please him." And can we think God will carry them to heaven that never struck a right stroke, or never did one hour's work for him, that he would accept? A graceless sinner is like the fruitless vinetree, that is not meet for any work, but is cast into the fire for fuel; just so that branch which is professionally in Christ, which beareth not fruit," is taken away, and cast into the fire and burned.” * The divine wisdom is seen in suiting means to the end, object to the faculty, back to the burden; now graceless sinners are not fit for God's work, and if they be not fit in this world, they will never be fit.
*Rom. viii. 8. Heb. xi. 6. Ezek. xv. 3-5. John xv. 2-6.