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Judge to punish them, they would create a hell to themselves by reflecting upon their sins, which will bring them torment and anguish, and horror for ever.
Thus from what I have spoken you may see something of the doleful state that the enemies of God shall be cast into. And this may be a powerful persuasive to you to flee from the wrath to come, and to seek after the kingdom of heaven.
The sum of all is this; they are entirely and eternally miserable, they shall in hell be dead to all the joys and hopes of life; nay to all the hopes of dying, but alive to all the agonies, to all the torments of death for ever.
We hence learn to understand this world with all its allurements: which can
afford us no true content, as appears from the testimony of God, and the experience of man: por is it of a permanent continuance. The sudden change that death makes will cause a quicker sense of misery in hell.
I shall now pass on to the second use from this doctrine of the divine and blessed rest of the saints in the next world, which is this : from hence we may be instructed how to disparage this world with all its temptations, with all its allurements, whereby it deludes and destroys the souls of men.
There is a necessity to make use of the revelation of heaven and to compare this world with it, to take us off from its inviting efficacy ; because that which diverts us from heaven, from seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness thereof is this world. This is the great temptation that the devil makes use of unto that end. And the world hath this advantage from its being present. It is the expression of the apostle, Gal. 1. 4. 6 who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world.” The world is that which we converse with, it is that which is hourly incumbent upon our senses. And so you shall find the force of that temptation upon Demas, the apostle puts it upon this, “ Demas hath forsaken us, having loved this present world.” And the great disadvantage that heaven has, is this, because it is a state that is future. And distance in time hath the same effect that distance in place hath. Distance in place makes objects of immense greatness as nothing to us; it lessens the angles of the eye so, that stars of the first magnitude are but like glittering spangles and sparks of light, though one of them be sixty times bigger than the whole earth. Though heaven is so glorious a blessedness, yet men look upon it at a vast distance, and so it lessens their esteem of it. And though God hath made such a revelation of this blessed state, that if reason ruled us we should abhor all things in comparison of it; yet because it is not at hand, lower things prevail with men, which are visible to their senses.
Now I shall endeavour to make a right comparison between this world and this heavenly blessedness, and show you what heaven is, and by a just deduction, I shall show you that there is nothing but folly and madness, or something worse, that can possibly incline the heart of men to neglect heaven, and pursue the world. Let us but consider and compare heaven, this eternal rest I have been speaking of, and this world, in these two respects, and you shall see, if you put them in the balance of the sanctuary, how light this world is, and how that exceeding eternal weight of glory will turn the scales ; and accordingly you shall choose and pursue the things above. Heaven I told you consists in two things, to sum up what I then spoke: it is a state of perfect satisfaction, and a state of eternal satisfaction. Psal. 17. 15. “ As for me I shall behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness." What this likeness is, whether or no it be the essential glory of God, or whether it be that glory that eminently shines in the human nature of the Son of God, or whether it be that likeness of God, that shall appear in every saint, in every one of the blessed; take it as comprehending all these, “ we shall be satisfied with God's likeness,” in the next state, which is a state of true life; and in the eternal exercise of all the faculties of life. Now compare this world and heaven in both these respects, and you will see an infinite disproportion. First, for the world and all its offers to us cannot afford us true content: and, Secondly, if it could, we have no permanent continuance; and you shall see in both these respects how incomparably heaven exceeds it.
1. This world can afford us no truc and perfect content. And for this we have both the testimony of God, and the universal testimony of mankind. . We have God's testimony in his word ; so that if you will believe him that knows what is in the creature, and that put into it all those degrees of comfort and goodness that are in it; if you believe him he tells you that all worldly things have but the appearance of happiness, 1 John 2. 16. All that is in pleasure, riches, honour, is but' vanity in masquerade, vanity gilded over with the appearance of happiness, and men are deceived with false titles and empty names. There is no such thing as true pleasure, true riches, and true honours in this world. These are too high titles for things below the moon; all the colour and false appearance of these things is maintained by those solecisms in language which are current in the world. We call them riches and pleasures and the like, but in truth they do not answer those names. Therefore the heart is still empty and full of anguish amidst all these things. Nay the very senses are not satisfied with them.
“ The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing." Eccl. 1. 8. All this world cannot fill the emptiness of the eye, or the ear. Pray do but consider the wise and tender mercy of God to us, that he hath made these things, although necessary for the support of the present life, and some way refreshing and ornamental, yet nevertheless he hath not given them such a degree of good as shall satisfy the soul of man. What is the reason of it? It is his wise love. Wise love, that you may seek for happiness in himself. He hath declared what the world is, that you may not be deceived with it; he hath made it to be empty and unsatisfying, that you may seek for happiness in himself. I remember an observation of a philosopher, speaking of the wisdom and goodness of divine providence in making the winds in this natural world, that so they may be instrumental to men's discovery of foreign parts, that they may not be confined to the country where they are born.
The application is easy: the desires and affections in man are as the winds. God hath given you these desires to make you
seek after heaven. The affections are given to us, that not being satisfied with this world, we may seek after the world that is future.
Now what the wise man saith concerning riches, is applicable to all other things in the world, “ wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not ?” Upon that which doth not answer the title of it? You may call it substance, but it will never satisfy you. Will you set your hearts upon the world, which can never answer your affections, that can never give you true and perfect joy, where you cannot obtain rest for your souls ? This should make you to seek earnestly after the kingdom of heaven. It is true, if there were not a revelation made of this happiness, all the arguments that I shall use would be of no effect; if you were as the heathen world, upon whom the Sun of Righteousness never rose, who never had a state of immortality and blessedness revealed to them. If you did think that because the soul and body are born together and live together, therefore they shall die together : that when one shall be resolved into the dust, the other shall vanish into the air; then it were wisdom for you to make the best of what you have at present. But when God hath promised us a heavenly and eternal rest, for a person to make the world his happiness, it is just as if a person should have the purest meats, and should choose to feed
upon husks ; or should pitch upon acorns, when he hath the choicest fruits of the earth to eat of.
Now to express this to you by a familiar and plain similitude, suppose that the moles, which are blind naturally, and never saw the light of the sun, nor the beauty of this visible world, if they keep their holes, and think there is no better state, and feed upon mean and bitter roots, and think there is no better food, you do not marvel at it. But if you see the birds of the air that behold the light of the sun, and feed upon sweet and pleasant fruits; if you should see them run into the holes and caves of the earth, you could not but wonder. If a heathen confine himself to the things of this lower world, and make them his happiness, he is like a blind mole that knows no better things to feed upon and delight himself with than these perishing pleasures. But for christians, those that pretend to believe and expect a heavenly eternal rest, that they should mind this world so as to neglect heaven; it is the most amazing prodigious folly.
For both reason and sense tell them that this world cannot give them true content. And we have the concurrent testimony both of God and man, for all persons must grant it, there is no true and perfect satisfaction here.
2. Suppose there were, there is no permanent continuance of it. It is an inseparable adjunct to all our enjoyments here, they are but temporal, they are but for a short space. For you are liable to one of these two things, either you shall have your end shortly, or they shall have their end. With reference to all you enjoy and possess, you shall have your end in dying; or your riches and enjoyments shall make themselves wings and fly away from you, before you leave the world. However, they shall not attend you one step beyond the grave, not one, not one moment beyond death.
Where sense is so convincing, one would think we should need no other argument to make us lay it to heart. 1 Cor. 7. 31. “ For the fashion of this world passeth away,” where the apostle intimates the vanity of it, it is but a fashion, it is but a shadowy happiness, there is but a mere appearance. This fashion passeth away, and what should more cause our undervaluing of it than this? Suppose it were greater than it is in its own nature, yet if it be always in a fleeting posture, if the most substantial happiness here is but like a heap of snow before the heat of the sun, like a shadow that flies away at noon-day-light. If it be but the shadow of a shadow, or less, if one would speak any thing more diminutively; how great a folly is it to set our hearts upon it? Of Christ's kingdom it is said there shall be no end; but this world is always in a flux, always lapsing, and tending towards its period.
I remember Seneca speaking of his master Attalus, that which cured him of the inordinate love of the world, was the sight of the triumphs of Rome, where there was all the magnificence, and splendour, and grandeur of the world made most conspicuous : after he had stood some hours in seeing all, saith he, I have seen all this pomp and magnificence put in such order, and passing slowly along, yet it is all gone; and why should I esteem and love this which is so transient and momentary ? Why are we struck with wonder and amazement at this ? It is but a vain pomp, and passeth away; the scripture tells us so," the world passeth away, and the lusts thereof; but he that doth the will of God abideth for ever." | John 2. 17.