« PreviousContinue »
better than a thousand in the tents or palaces of are going? Merrily you run down the hill; wickedness, but because it is the exchange where but where is the bottom ? If you look but down we have news of heaven, and trade for an eter- from the top of a steeple, it may occasion an nity? And why is it better to be a door-keeper amazing fear ; what then should it cause in you in the house of God, than to fourish in the pros- to look down into hell, which is your eternity ? perity of sinners, but because God's house is the No good can possibly be small that is eternal ; porch or entrance to an eternity of delights ; and and no hurt or pain can be called little, that is the lowest room among the saints affords us a eternal : an eternal tooth-ache, or an eternal gout, better prospect into heaven, than the highest or stone, or fever, were a misery unspeakable ; state of worldly dignity? The ungodly are near but O what are these to an eternal loss of heato cutting down when they flourish in their ven, and to an eternal sense of the burning wrath greatest glory. Stay but a little, and he that of God Almighty! To be out of heaven a day, flourisheth will be withered and cast into the fire, and in hell that day, is a misery now unknown and the righteous shall see it when he is cut off, to sinners : but if it were as many thousand and shall seek him, but he is not to be found, for years as the earth hath sands, it were a greater the enemies of God, and all that are far from himn misery ; but to be there for ever, doth make the shall perish, their desire shall perish, their hope misery past all hope and all conceiving. O meshall perish, their way shall perish, and them- thinks the very name of eternity, should frighten selves, and all that they sought, loved, and de- the drunkard out of the ale-house, and the sleepy lighted in, shall perish, even the visible heavens sinner out of his security, and the lustful, sportand earth, which they abused, shall be consumed ful, voluptuous sinner out of his sensual delights! with fire. “Seeing then that all these things shall Methinks the very name of eternity should call be dissolved, what manner of persons ought we off the worldling to seek betimes a more enduring to be in all holy conversation and godliness, treasure, and should take down the gallant's looking towards and waiting for the coming and pride, and bring men to look after other matters appearance of our Lord ! Shall any man be ac-than the most do look after. Methinks to hear counted wise, that is not wise for eternal happi- the name of eternity should with men of any ness? Shall any man be counted happy that faith and reason, even blast all the beauty, sully must be most miserable to eternity ? Christian, the glory, sadden the delights, weaken the tempI charge thee to hold on, and look to thy soul, tations of the world, and make all its pleasure, thy words, thy ways, for it is for eternity. Opomp and splendour, to be to our apprehensions play not, loiter not, do nothing by the halves in as a smoke, a shadow, as the dust that we tread the way to eternity! Let the careless world upon.
Methinks to hear the name of eternity, do what they will; they despise, and know not should lay so odious a reproach on sin, and so what they despise; they neglect, and know nakedly open the folly, shame, and misery of the not what they neglect; but thou that seekest, ungodly, and so lively show the need and worth labourest, and waitest, knowest what thou seek- of faith and holiness, that men should be soon est, labourest, and waitest for. They sin and resolved in their choice, and soon be at the end know not what they do. They know not what of an ungodly course, and need no more words they are treasuring up for an eternity. But thou to make them the resolved servants of the Lord, knowest why thou hatest and avoidest sin.
before to-morrow. O methinks, that a thought Sinners, be awakened by the call of God; do of eternity should, with a believer, answer all you know where you are, and what you do? temptations, and put life into all his You are every man of you stepping into eternity? endeavours. Will you sin away, will you loiter away, will you If we were ever so cold, or dull, or sleepy, sell for nothing, an eternal glory? Is thy sinful one would think a serious thought of eternity lust, gain, mirth, gluttony, and excess of drink, should warm us, quicken us, and awake us! O a price to set upon eternity? If heaven be no Christians, shall we hear carelessly, or speak more worth to thee, art thou not as bad as Judas, carelessly of eternity ; shall we pray coldly, or who for thirty pieces of silver would sell his labour negligently for eternity ? Lord? O eternity, eternity! what hearts have ocean of joy will eternity be unto the sanctified. they that can so forget thee, neglect thee, and It hath neither banks nor bottom. O what a disesteem thee, when they stand so near thee ! O gulf of misery and woe will eternity be to the sleepy souls ; do you never use to rub your eyes, ungodly! Wonderful, that on their dying beds and look before you towards eternity ? And doth they quake not with the horror, and that they it not amaze you to see whither it is that you cry not out with greatest lamentation, to think
O what an
what a bottomless gulf of misery their departing the womb is not made to come into this world, souls must be cast into! To be for ever, ever, and see the sun, and converse with men, because ever under the most heavy wrath of God. This he hath no apprehensions of it. Our state here is the appointed wages of ungodliness ; this is the is a conjunction of the soul to a frail, distempered end of wicked ways ; this is it that sinners chose, body : and so near a conjunction, that the actions because they would not live to God; this they of the soul must have great dependence on the preferred or ventured on, before a holy, heavenly body; therefore our apprehensions are limited life ; and this is it that believers are labouring by its frailty ; and the soul can go no higher to escape in all their holy care and diligence. than the capacity of the body will allow. Our It is an infinite value that is put upon the blood apprehensions now are fitted to our use and of Christ, the promises of God, the ordinances benefit; we are now believers, and must live by and means of grace, and grace itself, and the faith: and therefore must not be beholders, and poorest duties of the poorest saints, because they live by sense. If eternity were open to men's are for an infinite, eternal glory. No mercy is natural sight, or we had here as clear and lively small that tastes of heaven, as all doth or should apprehensions of it, as those have that are there, do to the believer. No action is low that aims then it were no thanks, no praise to us to be beat heaven. O how lively should the resolutions lievers, or to obey and live as saints ; then God and courage of those men be, that are travelling, should not govern man, as man, here in the way fighting, and watching for eternity! How full by a law, but as a beast by sense, or as the glorishould be their comforts, that are drawn from fied that have possession. Where there are perthe foresight of infinite eternal comforts ; as all fect apprehensions of God and glory, there will things will presently be swallowed up in eter- be also perfect love, joy, and praise, and connity, so methinks the present apprehension of sequently perfect happiness ; and this were to eternity should now swallow up all things else make earth and heaven, the way and the end, to in the soul.
be all one. Perfect apprehensions are kept for Object. But, saith the unbeliever, if God have a perfect state of happiness. But here it is well made man for eternity, it is a wonder that there if we have such apprehensions as are fitted to are no more lively impressions of so infinite a the use of travellers and soldiers, as will carry thing upon the souls of all; our sense of is so us on, and prevail against the difficulties of our small, that it makes me doubt whether we are course. Moreover, the body, the brain, which made for it.
the soul in apprehending now makes use of, canAnsw. Consider, 1. That benumbness, sleep, not bear such apprehensions as are suitable to and death, is the very state of an unholy soul. the thousandth part of the greatness of the obHast thou cast thyself into a sleepy, senseless ject, without distraction. The smallest eye may disease, and wilt thou argue thence against eter- see the sun, but the greatest cannot endure to nity ? This is as if the blind should conclude gaze upon its glory; much less if it were at the that there is no sun, or that the eye of man was nearest approach. It is a mercy of mercies to not made to see it, because he hath no sight him- give us such apprehensions of eternity, as are self: or as if you should think that man hath meet for passengers to bring us thither; and it not any life or feeling, because your palsied is part of our mercy that those apprehensions limbs do not feel : or that the stomach was not are not so great as to distract and overwhelm us. made for meat, because the stomachs of the sick 4. The eternity of God must teach the abhor it.
soul contentment and patience under all la2. And for believers, you may see by their bours, changes, sufferings and dangers that are lives that they have some apprehensions of eter- here below. Believing soul, draw near ; look nity : why else do they differ from you, and deny seriously on eternity, and try whether it will not themselves, and displease the world and the flesh make such impressions as these upon thee. Art itself? Why do they set their hearts above, if thou weary of labours, either of the mind or they have not lively thoughts of an eternity ? body? Is not eternity long enough for thy rest?
2. But if you ask me, why their apprehensions Canst thou not afford to work out the day light are not a thousand times more lively about so of this life, when thou must rest with Christ to infinite a thing; I answer, their apprehensions all eternity ? Canst thou not run with patience must be suitable to their state. Our state here so short a race, when thou lookest to so long a is a state of imperfection; and so will our appre- rest? Canst thou not watch one hour with hensions be; but a perfect state will have perfect Christ, who must reign with him to all eternity? apprehensions. It is no proof that the infant in. Dost thou begin to shrink at sufferings for Christ,
when thou must be in glory with him for ever? I scales? In a word, if there be any man that How short is the suffering? How long is the escapes the foolish seductions of this world, anıl reward ? Dost thou begin to think hardly of uses it as not abusing it, and hath all his worldly the dealing of the Lord, because his people are accommodations as if he had none, it is he that here afflicted, and made the scorn and byeword fixes his eye upon eternity, and sees that the of the world ? Why, is not eternity long enough fashion of these lower things doth pass away. for God to show his love and bounty to his people No man can be ignorant of the necessity and in ? Is not the day at hand, when Lazarus and worth of a holy life, who discerns that the eternal the rich worldling both must hear, · But now God is the end of it. The right apprehensions he is comforted, and thou art tormented! Did of God's eternity, supposing him our end, which not that now, come time enough which was the is further to be manifested in its place, is a most entrance of eternity ? · Even Jesus, the author powerful antidote against all sin, and a most and perfecter of our faith, for the joy that was powerful composer of a distempered mind, and set before bim, endured the cross, despising the a most powerful means to keep up all the powers shame, and is set down at the right hand of the of the soul in a resolute, vigorous, cheerful mo. throne of God. Consider him that endured such tion to the eternal God, for whom and by whom contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye it was created. be wearied and faint in your minds.' Dost thou grudge at the prosperity of the
CHAP. VI. wicked, and prevalency of the church's ene- The next attribute of God that is to make its mies? Look then unto eternity, and bethink impress on us, is, that he is a Spirit. In this thee whether that be not long enough, for the one are these three especially comprehended : 1. saints to reign, and the wicked to be tormented. That he is simple, and not material or compoundWouldst thou have them in hell fibre their ed, as bodies are: 2. That he is invisible, and time? Dost thou begin to doubt of she coming not to be seen as bodies are : 3. That he is imof Christ, or the truth of his promises, because mortal and incorruptible, and not subject to death he doth so long delay ? O what is a thousand or change, as bodies are. years to eternity? Is there not yet time enough 1. As simplicity signifies unity, in opposition before thee, for Christ to make good all the pro- to multiplicity, we have spoken of it before. As mises in ? Were not those disciples sharply but it is opposite to all materiality, mixture or comjustly rebuked as, ' fools and slow of heart to position, we are now to speak of it.
The bebelieve,' that when their Lord had been but two lieving thoughts of God's immateriality and simdays dead, were unbelievingly saying, 'we hoped plicity, should have these three effects upon the this had been he that should have redeemed soul. 1. It should do much to win the heart to Israel. O remember, Christian, in all thy dark-God, and cause it to close with him as its feliness and ignorance of the difficult passages of city: because as he hath no matter or mixture, scripture, or of providence, that the things that so he hath nothing but pure and perfect goodare chained to eternity, cannot be perfectly un- ness, and therefore there is nothing in him to disderstood by him that stands in an inch of time: courage the soul. The creatures have evil in them but when eternity comes, thou shalt understand with their good, and by contrary qualities hurt them. Remember when things seemed crooked us, when they help us, and displease us when they in this world, and the best are lowest, and the please us : but in God there is nothing but infinite worst are highest, that eternity is long enough goodness. Should not the soul adhere to him, to set all straight. Remember when sinners where it is sure to find nothing but simple, pure, triumph, that eternity is long enough for their and unmixed good ? The creatures are all liacomplaints. In thy poverty, pain, and long- ble to some exceptions : in one thing they help est afflictions, remember that eternity is long us, but in another they hinder us; in one thing enough for thy relief. If thy sorrow be long, they are suitable to us, and in another thing unand thy comforts short, remember that eternity suitable ; but God is liable to no exceptions. is long enough for thy joys. Cannot we be con- This will for ever confound the ungodly that tent to take up short in this life, when we believe give not up themselves unto him: they did ever eternity? Dost thou stagger at the length or for a thing of nought forsake that God that was strength of thy temptations : and art thou ready purely and simply good, and against whom they to draw back and venture upon sin? Why what had no exceptions. Had there been any thing temptation can there be, that should not be lighter in God to discourage the soul, or which his most than a feather, if eternity be put against it in the malicious enemy could blame, the ungodly soul
had some excuse. But this will stop all the serviency to the Lord; but nothing should take mouths of the condemned, that they had nothing up the least of that estimation, those affections, to say against the Lord and yet they had no or endeavours that are his own peculiar. God mind to him, no hearts for him, in comparison will not accept of half a heart: a double-minded, of the vain, vexatious creatures.
double-hearted, double-faced, or double-tongued 2. The simplicity of God should make us know person, is contrary to the holy simplicity of a the imperfection and vanity of all the creatures saint. As we would not bow the knee to any that are compounded things, and so should help gods but one, so neither should we bow the heart to alienate us from them. Our friends have in or life to them. We should know what is God's them perhaps much holiness, but mixed with prerogative, and that we should keep entirely for much sin. They may have much knowledge ; him. A subordinate esteem, love, and desire but mixed with much ignorance. Their humility the creature may have, as it reveals God to us, is mixed with pride ; their meekness with some or leads to him, or helps us in his work : but it passions, their love with selfish ness, and a small should not have the least of his part in our esteem, matter will cause them to distaste us : they may love, or desire. This is the chastity, the purity, be much for God; but withal they may do much the integrity of the soul. It is the mixture, imagainst him. They help the church ; but through purity, corruption and confusion of our souls, their weakness they may lamentably detract or when any thing is taken in with God. See therewrong it: they are able to help us but in part; fore, Christian, that in thy heart thou have no and willing but in part; and they have usually God but one, and that he have all thy heart, soul, interests of their own, that are inconsistent with and strength, as far as thou canst attain it. Beours.
We have no quality, but hath some alloy. cause there will be still in imperfect souls, some Our houses, our families, our neighbours, our sinful mixture of the creature's interest with callings, our cattle, our land, our countries, God's, let it be the work of thy life to be watchchurches, ministers, magistrates, laws and judg. ing against it, casting it out, and cleansing thy ments, yea, even health, plenty, and peace itself, heart of it, as thou wouldst do with thy food if it all have their mixtures of bitterness or danger, fell into the dust. For whatever is added to God and those the most dangerous commonly that in thy affections, doth make no better an increase have least bitterness. But in God there is none there, than the adding of earth unto thy gold, of all this mixture, but pure uncompounded good. or of impurity unto thy meat, or of corrupted • He is light, and with him is no darkness.' In- humours and sickness to thy body. Mixture will deed there is somewhat in God that an ungodly make no better work. man distastes, and that seems in the state that It may be thy rejoicing, if thou have “the teshe is in to be against him, and hurtful to him : timony of a good conscience, that in simplicity as is his justice, holiness, truth, &c. But justice and godly sincerity, and not in fleshly wisdom, is not evil, because it doth condemn a thief or but by the grace of God, thou hast had thy conmurderer : meat is not bad, because the sick versation in the world. It is the state of hypodistaste it. It is the cross position of the sinful crisy when one God is openly professed and worsoul, or his enmity to the Lord, that makes the shipped and yet the creature lies deepest and Lord to use him as an enemy. Let him but be- nearest to the heart. come a subject fit for sweeter dealing from God, 2. The invisibility of God also must have its and he is sure to find it. Leave then the coin- due effects upon us. pounded, self-contradicting creature, and adhere 1. It must warn us, that we picture not God to the pure, simple Deity.
to our eye-sight, or in our fancies in any bodily 3. God's simplicity must draw the soul to a shape. Saith the prophet, ‘To whom will you holy simplicity, that it may be like to God. We liken God? or what likeness will ye compare that serve a pure simple God, must do it with unto him ?? So, ‘no man hath seen God at any simple pure affections, and not with hypocrisy, time; the only begotten Son, which is in the or a double heart. His interest in us should be bosom of his Father, he hath declared him; and maintained with a holy jealousy, that no other therefore we must conceive of him but as he is interest mix itself therewith. The soul should declared, ‘Not that any man hath seen the Father, attain to a holy simplicity by closing with the save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.' simple infinite God, and suffering nothing to be If you ask me, how then you should conceive of a sharer with him in our superlative affections. God, if not in any bodily shape ? I answer, get All creatures must keep their places in our hearts, all these attributes, and relations of God to make and that is only in a due subordination and sub- I their proper impre;s i pon thy soul, as now I am
teaching you, and then you will have the true is a spirit, if corporeal substances had not a baser conceiving of God : this question therefore is to kind of being than spirits : intelligence is a more be answered at the end of this discourse, when noble operation than sense.
If there be any have seen all the attributes of God together, thing properly called sense in heaven, it will be and heard what impression they must make upon as far below the pure intellectual intuition of the you.
Lord, as the glorified body will be below the 2. This must teach us, to think most highly glorified soul. But what that difference will be, of the things that are invisible, and more meanly we cannot now understand. Fix not your minds of these visible things. Let it be the property on sensible things. Remember that your God, of a beast, and not of a man, to know nothing your home, your portion are unseen : and therebut what he seeth or hath seen : let it be the fore live in hearty affections to them, and serious mark of the brutish infidels, and not of Christians, prosecution of them, as if you saw them. Pray, to doubt of the invisible things, because they are as if you saw God, heaven, and hell. Hear, as invisible; or to think that things visible are more if you saw him that sends his messenger to speak excellent or sure. As the senses are more ignoble to you. Resist all the temptations to lust, senthan the intellect, a beast having as perfect senses suality, and every sin, as you would do if you as a man, and yet no reasonable understanding, saw God stand by. Love him, fear him, trust so the objects of sense must proportionably be him, and serve him, as you would do if you bebelow the objects of the understanding, as such. held him. “Faith is the evidence of things not The grossest and most palpable objects are the seen.' Believing must be to you instead of seebasest. It is the subtle part that is called the ing; and make you as serious about things unspirits ; which being drawn out of plants or other seen, as sensual men are about things sensible. vegetables, is most powerful and excellent, and in every thing that you see, remember it is he valued, when the earthly dregs are cast away as that is unseen that appears in them. little worth. It is that subtle part in our blood lightens you by the sun; he warms you by the that is called the spirits, that hath more of the fire; he bears you by the earth. See him in all virtue of life, and doth more of the works than these by the eye of faith. the feculent, gross and earthly part. The air 3. The immortality, incorruptibility and inand wind have as true a being as the earth, and mutability of God, must a more excellent nature, though it be more gross 1. Teach the soul to rise up from these mortal, and they invisible. The body is not so excellent corruptible, mutable things, and to fix upon that as the invisible soul. Invisible things are as God who is the immortal, incorruptible portion real as visible, and as suitable to our more noble of his saints. invisible part, as visible things to our fleshly, 2. It must comfort and encourage all believers
in the consideration of their felicity; and sup3. The invisibility of God must teach us to port them under the failings of all mortal corlive a life of faith, and to get above a sensual ruptible things. Our parents, children, and life: and it must teach us to value the faith of friends are mortal: they are ours to-day, and the saints, as knowing its excellency and neces dead to-morrow : they are our delight to-day, sity. Invisible objects have the most perfectly and our sorrow or horror to-morrow: but our excellent reality; and therefore faith hath the God is immortal. Our houses may be burned; pre-eminence above sense. Natural reason can our goods may be consumed or stolen ; our live upon things not seen, if they have been seen, clothes will be worn out; our treasure here may or can be known by natural evidence. Subjects be corrupted. But our God is unchangeable, obey a prince that they see not : and fear the same for ever. Our laws and customs nay ishment which they see not: and the nature of be changed ; governors and privileges man is afraid of the devils, though we see them changed ; our company, employments, and habinot. But faith lives upon such invisible things, tation changed: but our God is never changed. as mortal eye did never see, nor natural, ordinary Our estates may change from riches to poverty : evidence demonstrate, but are revealed only by and our names that were honoured, may incur the word of God: though about many of its in- disgrace. Our health may quickly turn to sickvisible objects, faith hath the consent of reason ness, and our ease to pain : but still our God is for its encouragement. Value not sight and unchangeable for ever. Our friends are inconsense too much. Think not all to be mere un- stant and may turn our enemies : our peace may certainties and notions that are not the objects be changed into war; and our liberty into slavof sense. We should not have heard that God ery: but our God doth never change. Time will