« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
fear though the earth be removed, and the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.
Let these things, therefore, comfort thee, who fearest and lovest God and trustest in Christ. What a glorious hope, and incorruptible and undefiled, and never-fading inheritance, are reserved in heaven for thee! Hence I would answer an objection or two, that unbelief in the saint may be ready to make against what has been said.
1. Some may be ready to say, this glory and blessedness are so great and wonderful that it seems too great to be given to such creatures as men are; it seems almost incredible that God should so exalt and advance worms of the dust.
Answer. The death and sufferings of Christ make every thing credible that belongs to this blessedness. If God has not thought his own Son too much for us, what will he think too much for us? If God did not spare him, but gave him even to be made a reproach, and a curse, and a victim to death for us, no blessedness, however great, can be incredible wbich is the fruit of this. Rom. viii. 32. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ?" If God would so contrive to show his love in the manner and means of procuring our happiness, nothing can be incredible in the degree of the happiness itself: if nothing be too much to be given to man, and to be done for man in the manner of procuring his happiness, nothing will be too much to be given to him as the happiness procured, and no degree of happiness too great for him to enjoy. If all that God does about it be consistent, his infinite wisdom will also work to make their happiness and glory great in the degree of it.
2. Some Christians may still be ready to object. It is not too great to be bestowed on others, yet it seems to me too great to be bestowed on such an unworthy creature as I; it seems incredible that God should ever give such glory to such au one as I am, that am so mean, and so worthless, and vile. I not only was once unworthy, but I am so unworthy still, I am so blind, I have so much sin, and so little goodness, I commit so much sin, and do so little good, that it appears incredible that I should have a title to such blessedness. I can far more easily think that others will possess it than myself.
Answer. It is no way incredible that infinite grace should bestow it on the meanest and unworthiest. God's design is to glorify his free grace, and this is one way by which free grace is glorified, viz. by bestowing such great blessedness on the most unworthy. This is of a piece with the rest. Every thing
in the work of redemption is wonderful, and therefore one of the names by which Christ is called, is Wonderful. As grace is wonderful in the means of procurement, viz. giving Christ to die, and wonderful in the degree of happiness procured; so it is wonderful with respect to the subjects of it, that they are in themselves so mean and unworthy.
5. This subject furnishes ground of solemn exhortation to natural men, earnestly to seek this blessedness. And here you. may well consider,
1. How poor you are who have no heaven but this world! In this exceeding and eternal glory, of which you have heard, you have no lot or portion; you have nothing but a little part of this clod of earth; and what is all that you have worth? If
have a little more land than some of your neighbours, or if you are in a way to make more money than others, if your accommodations are better than others', and you have more worldly conveniences and pleasures than others, or if you are promoted a little higher among men than some others are, what a poor portion is this; and how miserable are you who have no better happiness that you can call your own! How happy do these things make you, what great satisfaction do they yield to you! Are such things as these the rivers of pleasure that you choose for your portion? O, how miserable are you that have your portion in this life! When a few days are passed you must go to the grave and into eternity, and then your glory shall not descend after you ; and how wretched are they of whom it may be said, when they have done with worldly enjoyments, that they have received their consolation! Luke vi. 24.
2. To what misery are you exposed! You not only have no lot in this happiness and glory, but you are hanging over endless misery, and are in danger every day of being irrecoverably lost.
3. You have now an opportunity to obtain this blessedness. It is true that now you are exposed to this misery, but yet this glory is offered to you; the time is not past wherein the offer is made; you have yet an opportunity to be made happy for ever. The opportunity you now have to obtain the happiness of another world is worth ten thousands of this world.
But here I would say something by way of direction in answer to this.
Inquiry. What must I be brought to, in order to get to heaven?
Answer. 1. You must be brought entirely to renounce all hope of obtaining heaven by any thing that you can do by your own strength,—that you cannot do it either directly or indirectly. Many are sensible that they cannot get to heaven by
their own strength directly, but yet they hope to do it indirectly; they hope by their own strength to bring themselves to a disposition to close with Christ, and accept of him for a Saviour; they are hoping to bring themselves to a compliance with the terms of salvation. You must be brought off from all confiding in your own strength; and you must also be brought to renounce your own righteousness as the price of heaven. The consideration of what has been said of the glory and happiness of the saints, may show us the exceeding folly of those that think to purchase so great happiness by their own right
What a vain thought have men of their performances to think them a sufficient price to offer to God to purchase such glory of him ! Ilow would God dishonour himself, and dishonour such riches of his own goodness, if he should bestow them on men for their righteousness, and should accept their miserable performances as the price of them!
2. Your heart must be brought to close with him who has purchased heaven. Renouncing all other ways, your heart must entirely close with him, and adhere to him, as the way, the truth, and the life. Your heart must be drawn to him, and it must be pleasing and sweet to you to have heaven as a free gift, as the fruit of mercy and saving grace, and you must assuredly believe that Christ is a sufficient Saviour, and your soul must acquiesce in the way of salvation by him, by his blood and his righteousness, as a wise, holy, sufficient, and ex
Your heart must incline to Jesus Christ as a Saviour above your own righteousness and all other ways. Your delight must be in this holy way of salvation.
3. You must choose the God of heaven for your Portion. You must be of the same temper and disposition with the psalmist, who says, Ps. lxxiii. 25, “ Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none on the earth whom I desire beside thee." You must esteem and relish the enjoyment of him far above all other things. You must be brought to see that there is that in the enjoyment of God and communion with him that is far better than all the profits or pleasures of the world. It must be so with you, that if you could have your choice of all kinds of happiness you could devise, and have which you would, and in what degree you would, to all eternity, this would be what you would far prefer.
4. Your heart must be brought sincerely to close with the employments of heaven. In heaven they are not idle, but they are continually employed, and their employments are holy employments; they spend their time wholly in holy exercises: in contemplating on God, in praising and serving him. Rev. xxii. 3. " And there shall be no more curse : but the throne of God
and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him.” If ever you go to heaven, your heart must be brought beforehand to such a temper as freely to choose such employments, you must have a relish of them, and must account them excellent and delightful employments.
5. You must be pure in heart, and clean in hands. The pure in heart alone shall see God. Matt.v.8. They that shall ascend into God's holy hill, are those that are of pure hearts and clean hands. Ps. xxiv. 4. You must hate and abhor all sin, and allow none in your life. Sin must become to you a great burden. You must loathe yourself for it, and fight and strive against it, to purge yourself more and more from it; striving more and more to mortify sin, earnestly desiring and sceking to be more holy, more conformed to the will of God, and to walk more becoming a Christian.
6. You must be brought to sell all for heaven. Matth. xiii. 44, 45, 46. Heaven must be to you like the treasure hid in a field ; or like the pearl of great price. If you would have heaven, you must take it as your whole portion ; you must in your heart part with all other things for it, and it must be your manner actually to part with them whenever they stand in the way of your getting forward towards heaven. If you would have heaven, you must sell your worldly profit and your credit, and the good will of your neighbours, and your worldly pleasures and conveniences, and whatever stands in your way. Many flatter themselves that they shall obtain heaven without this, and think they have a right to heaven, though they were never brought to this, but they are sure to find themselves disappointed.
7. You must never expect to go to heaven in any other than a strait and narrow way. Some expect to get heaven who are not walking in a narrow way. The way they are walking in is a way of indulging their ease and of shifting off the hard and difficult parts of religion. It is not the way of self-denial, and toil, and labouriousness, but they walk in a broad way, a way wherein they are not pinched, but can go on without labour, or watchfulness, or bearing the cross. But such as these, let their hopes be what they may, and their profession what it may, and their pretences to experiences what they may, are not like to get to heaven. To some, the way that the scripture has laid out is too narrow and strait; therefore they are endeavouring to get to heaven, in a broad way, but it is in vain for you to contrive this. If you can find out any way of getting to heaven that is not a strait and narrow way, it will be a way that you are the firet inventor of. If you go thither, you must go in the way of the footsteps of the flock. If you would go to heaven, you must be content to go there in the way of self-denial and sufferings, VOL. VIII.
you must be willing to take up the cross daily and follow Christ, and through much tribulation to enter into the kingdom of hea
6. This subject furnishes ground of solemn exhortation to the godly, to strive earnestly after holiness of life. What manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conversation and godliness, who have received such infinite mercy of God, and entertain such glorious hopes; seeing God has admitted you to such happiness, earnestly to labour that you may walk in some measure answerably'; seeing God has admitted you to the happiness of children, walk as children. Eph. v. 1. Be ye therefore followers of God as dear children ; imitate your heavenly Father; be ye holy, for he is holy. Seeing that you are admitted to the blessedness of disciples and friends of Jesus, and walk as the friends of Christ, imitate your glorious Lord and head. Here consider several things: particularly,
1. What great love God hath bestowed upon you in choosing you to such unspeakable blessedness before the foundation of the world. How wonderful was the love of God in giving his Son to purchase this blessedness for you, and how wonderful was the love of the Son of God in shedding his own blood to purchase such glory for you! how ought you therefore to live to God's glory! Let me therefore beseech, by those great mercies of God, that you give yourself up a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And be not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. Give the utmost diligence that you may keep all the commandments of God: study that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God; study that in all things you may be found approved, seeing God hath so loved you; strive earnestly that you may bring forth the fruits of the love of God, and seeing Christ hath so loved you, see that you love one another; let love le without dissimulation ; be ye kindly affectioned one with another with brotherly love; be of the same mind one towards another, in honour preferring one another; have fervent charity among yourselves. Seeing God hath mercy on you,
be ye merciful as your Father which is in heaven is merciful. Look not every one on his own things; be pitiful, be courteous; be ready to distribute, willing to communicate ; be kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another. Christ hath thus loved you while an enemy; therefore recompense to no man evil for evil, but contrariwise blessing; do good to them that do evil to you. Such things as these become those that are the heirs of the glory that we have heard of.
2. Consider how much above the world that blessedness is which God has given ; how therefore ought you to live above