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worse than the devil's iron fetters of sin, and dismal rewards of flames and torments ? If you need not God and heaven, be it known to you, God needs not you; but can distrain for a revenue of glory to his justice in your necessary confusion, because you would not voluntarily submit to his terms for so glorious an inheritance.
WHAT ACTUAL MEETNESS FOR HEAVEN IS IN THE
EXERCISE OF CHRISTIAN GRACES ?
SECONDLY, The next general topic on which I am to treat, is to ascertain what is the soul's actual meetness for this glorious inheritance, supposing the existence of the aforesaid habitual meetness, both relative and real. For all a Christian's work is not done when his state is changed, and he becomes a convert or saint; nay, his work doth but now begin as a saint, to obtain an actual meetness for glory. This, this is the business of a child of God: the former hath a remote meetness; this produces a proximate or nearer capacity for hea
The former renders the Christian's state safe, this pleasant and comfortable. This is the man that hath set all things in order for another world, that hath nothing to do, but to pass over the Jordan of death into the Canaan of heaven; this is the man that is in the best sense meet for heaven, fit to take his flight into another world. Interpreters think this word ikavos, sufficient, or meet, answers to the Hebrew word 17, dai, Lev. xii. 8, “ If she be not able to bring a lamb:" in the Hebrew, thus, “If her hand find not sufficiency of a lamb.” The word is attributed to God, who is, '70 5x, “ God all-sufficient,” Gen. xvii. 1. But as God is sufficient and adequate to the circumstances of all his creatures, so by the same almighty grace he will make creatures adapted to his mind and purposes. So then this word is rather to be rendered by idoneus, meet, than dignus, worthy; yet worthy in a gospel, qualified sense. Observe it, those judge themselves most unworthy, whom God and man oft judge most fit and worthy, Luke vii. 4 ; they said," he is worthy for whom he should do this;" but verse 6, himself saith, “ I am not worthy thou shouldst enter under my roof.” And thus it is with a gracious soul, looking up and seeing the holiness of God's infinite majesty; looking forward and beholding the momentous duration of eternity and purity of heaven; looking inward and backward, and seeing his many iniquities and great deformity. Oh, cries the sensible Christian, Who is fit for heaven? O how unmeet am I for this glorious state, this high honour? It is true, but grace makes of rebels, subjects; of subjects, servants; of servants, sons; of sons, heirs; of heirs he so disposeth and qualifieth them, that nothing will content them beneath this inheritance of the saints in light; and their spirits shall be so adapted to it, that the great God will judge them "worthy to obtain that world and the resurrection from the dead, and equal to angels, as being the children of God, and the children of the resurrection :" see Luke xx. 35, 36. As the Christian by conversion is a man cut out for heaven, so while he lives he is and must be still squaring, hammering, planing, and increasing his meetness for it; and as God is said to work us for the self-same thing, 2 Cor. v. 5, katepyaráuevos, by curious modes of efficacious grace, to put sinners into a capacity for glory; as goldsmiths who burnish gold; and carvers or artificial engravers in wood and stone, who make one part of their work fit another. So also Christians themselves must "work out their own salvation,” Phil. ii. 12, kategyásofs, that is, leave nothing undone which God hath enjoined you to do in this world, in order to a due preparation for heaven. This in general is a meetness.
More particularly, this actual meetness for heaven consists in these four things :--A lively exercise of suitable graces-A clear evidence of our spiritual state -A despatching of work from our hands being mortified to time, and longing to be in heaven.
1. A lively exercise of suitable graces: that is, such
graces as actually capacitate for glory; it is true every grace doth qualify for glory, for grace is glory begun, and glory is grace consummated. But there are some graces that have a direct tendency to this point, and whereby a Christian doth, as it were, “lay hold on eternal life,” as the word is, 1 Tim. vi. 12, 19, for example,
(1.) The grace of faith, which “is the substance of things hoped for, and evidence of things not seen,” Heb. xi. 1. It ventures all upon a promise; “sees him that is invisible," verse 27, and represents heavenly objects as close at hand, “and embraceth them," verse 13, donaoápevol, drawing the objects to them, as the word signifies. Overlooking or overcoming all these worldly, visible things, faith spies something beyond time or clouds, of more worth than all the world, and hazards all for the obtaining of it. When faith is upon the wing, it soars above the sun, and fetcheth down heavenly realities and incomes into the soul. It acts the part of the spies, and brings a cluster of the grapes of Canaan; even “joy and peace in believing;” yea, “joy unspeakable and full of glory;"
even, when the actings of the faith of adherence are the very lowest the Christian dares commit the keeping of his soul into his Creator's hands; and is persuaded, that “God will keep that which he hath committed to him.”* And this composedness is an antedating of heaven. Alas, saith be, I know not certainly how I stand for heaven; I dare not yet say iny faith will end in the saving of my soul; but this I dare say, God is merciful to souls ; Christ died for sinners; he is faithful that hath promised ; the covenant is well ordered and sure, some souls shall be saved, and why not I? I hang on his free grace, I come with tears in my eyes, confession in my mouth, grief in my heart for my sins ; I am weary of my burden, and labour in my progress God-wards, who can tell but I may find rest? He hath said, " those that thus come to him he will in no wise cast out;" I will venture this way; I have tried all other ways, but they are vain ; it is but losing my labour, which I am sure I shall not, if my faith be but sincere. This soul is on the confines of the promised land; and is meet for this inheritance.
(2.) Hope. As faith brought heaven down to the soul's eye, so hope carries out the soul to this future enjoyment. This anchor is cast into the vast ocean of eternity, but finds sure anchor-hold, for it “enters into that within the veil,” Heb. vi. 19. The believer sees heaven opened, and himself in God's time advanced with Lazarus into Abraham's bosom, and is content at present to bear the roughness and affronts he meets with in his way, saying, these things will be mended when I get home. Nay, the scripture saith,“ we are saved by hope,” Rom. viii. 24. Hope anticipates what is in reversion, and like a young heir takes up upon trust, and lives as an expectant of that inheritance to which he is heir. Thus the Christian gets everlasting consolation, because “ he hath a good hope through grace,” 2 Thess. ii. 16. O, saith the believer, divine revelation hath so fully demonstrated the reality of future glory, that my faith no inore doubts of it than of going to bed at night, and why should not "my flesh and spirit rest in hope ?” Psal. xvi. 9. Why should not then my heart be glad ? Why may not my glory rejoice? Yes, “I will rejoice in hope of the glory of God, for my hope will not make me ashamed,” Rom. v. 2, 5. I dare venture my hopes and my all on this blessed covenant bottom. “ My soul, hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him, and that for ever,” Psal. xlii. 11.
* Rom. xv. 13. 1 Pet. i. 8. iv. 19. 2.Tim. i. 12.
(3.) Love. That is a grace that shines brightest in its proper sphere above; but the more it is exercised here below, the more of heaven. Love assimilates the soul most to God, and raiseth it to a heavenly life. “God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him," i John iv. 16. The soul that is carried out to God in a pure flame of holy love, hath mounted already into the highest region, and bathes itself in those pure streams which cheer and transport the spirit into a continued ecstacy. The more love, the more preparedness for hea
“ If love be increased and abound, our hearts will be established unblameable—at his coming,” 1 Thess. iii. 12, 13. Yea, the more love, the more of heaven; for what is our love, but a reflexion of God's love? 1 John iv. 19. O, saith the Christian, I feel the sacred beams of the Sun of Righteousness warming my heart; methinks those heavenly emanations have set me in a flame, and while I am musing, the fire burns ; when I am praying or praising God, my soul mounts