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inheritance, that is, saints, sanctified souls; it is purchased for them, vouchsafed to them only; others have nothing to do with it ; no dirty dogs or filthy swine shall trample on this golden pavement; 1 Cor. vi. 9. Rev. xxi. 27. “ Without holiness no man shall see God,” Heb. xii. 14. No grace, no glory. The inhabitants of that city are called, yea, are really holy, Isa. Ixii, 12. But how come they by this high honour? have they a good title to it? I answer, Yes, they are partakers of it; so saith the text, ług tiiv pepida toū kdýpov, either that which falls to them by lot—then it is the decision of heaven, which is connected with having a part, Acts viii. 21 ; or else by a person's own choice, “ which," our Lord saith, “ shall not be taken away,”. Luke x. 42. This may suggest,
Obs. 6. That every saint of God is already partaker of a heavenly inheritance.
“ The promise,” or the mercy promised, " is sure to all the seed,” Rom. iv. 16. Why so? Because it is by grace on God's part, and by faith on ours: and God will have it so of his good pleasure.
A sincere Christian partakes of heaven,
(1.) In pretio, in purchase. The price is laid down for it; “it is a purchased possession,” Eph. i. 14.
(2.) In promisso, it is theirs by promise, as Canaan was Israel's by promise; and that land of promise was a type of this heavenly inheritance, James ii. 5.
(3.) In capite ; saints partake of heaven by their union to their Head who is in heaven. “ God hath made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus," Eph. ii. 6. O happy souls !
(4.) In primitiis, in the first-fruits or earnest. 2 Cor. v. 5, " Who hath also given unto us the earnest of his Spirit.” A pledge is restored, but an earnest is retained, because it is part of the bargain. A faith
ful man will not run back from his bargain, nor lose his earnest : nor will the covenant-keeping God; he is faithful who hath promised, who will also do it.
Secondly, The other branch of the text is not only the providing of an inheritance for his children, but also a preparing of them for that inheritance. Solomon saith, “ Wisdom is good with an inheritance,” Eccles. vii. 11. Alas, what should a fool do with a great estate? yet it often falls out so, that the worst men have most of the world : but, saith Mr. J. Dalleus on this text, “ It is not so here as in worldly things, that fall into the hands of those that are most incapable to improve them aright; but God gives a suitable share of true wisdom with this inheritance," as when Saul was anointed king, he was “ turned into another man," 1 Sam. x. 6. Alas, what is heaven to us unless we be fit for it? Our dear Lord Jesus who went to prepare a place for us, must also prepare us for that blessed place. In this second branch we have something implied and something expressed.
(1.) From that which is implied, may arise
Obs. 7. That every soul by nature is altogether unmeet for heaven.
2 Cor. iii. 5, “ Not that we are ékavor, sufficient or meet (for it is the same word) of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves.” Alas, what merit, either of congruity or condignity, can there be in man to obtain heaven? If he cannot think well, surely he cannot will well, or act well, to deserve or fit himself for such a mercy; especially since man by nature is a child of wrath, a slave of Satan, dead in sins, banished out of paradise, hath no heart to look that way, nay, hath enmity in his mind to what is good. God doth all : * the Sun of Righteousness shines on these de
* Dignatus est nos assumere.
graded souls ; he alone makes vessels of honour : he fills them with the treasures of grace, and fits them for glory : of unfit making them fit, * that is, meet for his glorious presence.
(2.) Here is something expressed, which is held forth in these two observations:
Obs. 8. That all those, and only those that shall eternally partake of the heavenly inheritance in the other world, are made meet for it in this world.
Obs. 9. That it is a transcendent mercy worth thanking God for, to be made meet for heaven.
Of the two last in their order.
First, That all those, and only those that shall partake of the heavenly inheritance in the other world, must be made meet for it in this world.
All that I shall do in the doctrinal part is,
DISTINCTIONS ABOUT MEETNESS FOR HEAVEN
WHAT HABITUAL MEETNESS IS-BOTH RELATIVE AND REAL.
I. For a more methodical proceeding in explaining this subject, I shall premise some Distinctions, by which you may understand what meetness for heaven is.
i Dist. There is a legal and evangelical meetness. f Since the fall of man, no mere man can fulfil all righteousness, or by his own power attain to any thing pleasing to God; so a legal meetness is not attainable. * Inhabiles habiles faciens. † Aptitudo legalis et evangelica.
“ We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God." *
2 Dist. There is a meetness of works, and of the person. In the covenant of works, the person was accepted for the works' sake; but in the covenant of grace, the work is accepted for the person's sake. If
“ be accepted in the Beloved,” God owns both person and offering, as he did Abel. But what proportion can the best services of the best men bear to an eternal reward ? nor can human sufferings purchase this glory to be revealed. I
3 Dist. There is a perfect, complete meetness for heaven. || This only is attained by “the spirits of just men made perfect :” for who upon earth can say “I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin ?” Alas, we know but in part, and so love but in part. Even Paul who was perfect in point of sincerity, yet was not already perfect in point of degree, but was pressing forward. R Christians here below are but in via non in patria, on the road to perfection, singing the song of degrees, and not on the heights of Zion. Sincerity is gospel perfection, and the Christian's preparation, together with a progressive motion.
4 Dist. There is an habitual and an actual meetness for heaven; 1 or, which may be thus distinguished, there is a hereditary right, and an aptitude or actual fitness for this inheritance. My text includes both, and I shall explain both; for they are both necessary in their place; and in this sense God's children are said to be “ counted worthy of the kingdom
* Rom. iii. 23, 24. viii. 2, 3, 8. Gal. iii. 10–13. + Aptitudo operum et personæ.
Eph. i. 6. Heb. xi. 4, 6. Luke xvii. 10. Rom. viii. 18. || Aptitudo perfecta et progressiva. § Heb. xii. 23. Prov. xx. 9. I Cor. xiii. 12. Phil. ii. 12–15.
Aptitudo habitualis et actualis.
of God,” 2 Thess. i. 5; and saith Christ, “ They shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy,” Rev. iii. 4; and therefore are we exhorted to “ walk worthy of God, who hath called us into his kingdom and glory," 1 Thess. ii. 12. It imports a conveniency, suitableness, or answerablenes in a limited gospel sense; like children of such a father, as heirs of such an inheritance, as candidates for such an office and honour. There is a (rò amètov) becomingness appertaining to every calling ; princes, magistrates, ministers, must have an adaptation and suitableness, to their profession; so here.
Well then, I shall speak particularly of this twofold meetness. First, of an habitual meetness, which is in opposition to perfect unmeetness, that is, a state of nature, or unregeneracy; and secondly, of an actual meetness, which is contra-distinct from imperfect meetness; and both are necessary.
If you inquire, what is that habitual meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light, without which men can never attain to it, or have eternal possession of it?
I answer, This habitual meetness consists in a twofold change, relative and real.
1. It consists in a relative change : this also is twofold, namely in justification and adoption.
(1.) The poor sinner is standing at God's bar as a guilty malefactor, under the dreadful sentence of a just condemnation, “ for all the world is become guilty,” úrùÒKoç subject to judgment before God,” Rom. iii. 19. Not a son of Adam can plead innocence ; it is well if we be as the blushing rose, the lily-whiteness is lost. " He that believeth not is condemned already,” John iii. 18, “and the wrath of God abideth on him,” ver. 36; it was on him when he was born, and it abides