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my soul should be thus tantalized with the sight of that which I cannot at present enjoy; well, since it is thy pleasure I am content to wait and descend to take my lot with my fellow men; only I shall be stretching out neck and arms, and be looking for, and hasting to the coming of my dear Lord. Come Lord Jesus, come quickly, make haste my beloved, and be thou like to a roe, or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.
But you will say, such a height of meetness for the the heavenly inheritance as you have described is not practicable or attainable in this life; if none be saved but such as you have described, woe be to all the world. I answer, [i.]
Most part of men are not capable of this actual meetness, not having what is habitual : namely, a relation to God, and a principle of saving grace; and no wonder if unexperienced persons call this enthusiasm, and unintelligible nonsense, for wisdom is too high for a fool; it is not to be thought strange if some speak evil of what they know not, and turn real experience into ridicule. Alas, they have no grace, how then can they exercise it? how can they evidence a title to heaven that have none ? how can they despatch their work, that never have begun it to purpose ? or be mortified to things below, who have their portion in this present life, who were never divorced from their lusts, and have no treasure above? We may pity such souls, for salvation is far from the wicked.
(ii.) Wisdom is however justified of her children. Sanctified souls know what these things mean, and though the best complain of their low attainments, yet the weakest, sincere Christian can set to his seal, that part of these things he hath found in his bosom as to sincerity, and is aiming at further degrees, and is not
content to sit down short of perfection, but is “ pressing toward the mark for the price of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” Phil. iii. 14.
[iii.] There is a great difference in the attainments of Christians in this world. Some active, vigorous souls get nearer to God than others; some are children, some fathers, others are young men, that are strong, and the word of God abides in them, and they have overcome the wicked one, 1 John ii. 12-14. The meanest child God hath in his family will own and follow his father, though some dare. not say, he is my father; but some are grown up to great intimacy with God, as that choice man of God, Mr. Holland, who said, on his death bed, “Speak it when I am gone, and preach it at my funeral, that God deals familiarly with man."
[iv.] Yet it is every one's duty to endeavour after the highest pitch of meetness that is attainable in this life; for as it is the nature of true grace, to become deeper and deeper, like the waters in Ezekiel's vision, and ascend higher and higher, as the flame or rising sun; so the Christian dares not but obey God's command to grow in grace, and he sees it necessary to comply with our Lord's direction, Matt. xxiv. 44, “Therefore be ye also ready;" and this is one reason am the rest which I shall next add, for what a a pious, dying minister of my acquaintance said, “That the best preparation of the best man, is all little enough when we come to die,” But more of this anon.
SOME REASONS STATED WHY THOSE MUST BE MADE
MEET FOR HEAVEN HERE, WHO HOPE TO BE
II. The next thing in the doctrinal part, is to assign reasons for this point, that all those and only those that are made meet for the heavenly inheritance in this world, shall eternally partake of it in the world to
In handling this I shall endeavour not only to evince the truth of it, but to convince conscience of its necessity, and persuade compliance with it.
1. It is fit persons be made meet, because no man by nature is meet for heaven. Men are estranged from God, “even from the womb," Psal. lviii. 3; and are those fit to live with God till brought nigh? Man is shapen and conceived in sin, Psal. li. 5; and is he fit to dwell with a holy God till sanctified ? Man is dead “in trespasses and sins,” Eph. ii. 1; and is such a dead block meet to converse with the living God ? Man “is darkness,” Eph. v. 8; and “what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness ? and what communion hath light with darkness ?” 2 Cor. vi. 14. Man by nature is a “child of wrath,” Eph. ii. 3; and how can dried stubble dwell with consuming fire ? Alas, we are all enemies to God in our minds, Col. i. 21. yea, “enmity itself,” Rom. viii. 7; and “can two walk together except they be agreed ?” Amos iii. 3. Can the sin-avenging God and the guilty sinner hold intimate correspondence till they be reconciled ? O no, it will never be. Heaven and hell will as soon unite as God and an unregenerate sinner. Will the holy God take such vipers into his bosom? Can you imagine
God will deface or lay aside his immaculate holiness, to take you from the swine-stye into his holy sanctuary? What cleanly person could endure to have a filthy hog with him in his parlour or bedchamber? “ Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee?” Psal. xciv. 20. No, no, “God is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity,” with pleasure and delight, Hab. i. 13. If God should take men from the dunghill into his palace, others would conclude that God is reconciled to sin, that it is a harmless thing, and not that abominable thing which his soul hates. No, it can never be; graceless sinners, so remaining cannot dwell with God, Psal. v. 4, 5.
2. Because this is the divine ordination and appointment, that there should be a connexion between grace and glory, holiness and happiness, Psal. lxxxiv. 11. As sin and hell are joined by divine commination, so grace and heaven are knit together by divine promise. So Rom. ii. 7, 10, “To them who by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality, God will render eternal life.” This is a connexion of grace, not of merit; of promise, not of debt; yet inviolable, for God's justice and truth are engaged in it. It is fit the infinite God should distribute his mercies to whom, and upon what terms he pleaseth; now he hath said peremptorily, “without holiness no man shall see the Lord,” Heb. xii. 14. All things are ordered and wrought after the counsel of his will, Eph. i. 11. First, he chose them “before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy,” Epli. i. 4. They are redeemed to be holy, Tit. ii. 14; called with a holy calling, 2 Tim. i. 9; and therefore they are holy brethren that are partakers of this heavenly calling, Heb. iii. 1. Let wicked scoffers mock on to their guilt and cost. Such there are in the world, and
such must they be if they think to inherit heaven. It is God's ordination; you must be saints in this world, or never crowned as saints in the other; though you might be canonized for saints by men when gone, consider, sinner, whose word shall stand ? God's or thine ? Thou hopest to go to heaven without saintship, or meetness for it: God saith it, yea, swears it, Heb. iii. 18, that thou shalt never enter into his rest. This is God's counsel, that men must be brought through sanctification to salvation, 2 Thess. ii. 13; and can you think to overturn his appointed will, or counteract his counsels? Must the earth be forsaken for thee? Must the immutable God falsify his word to save thee against his will, yea, against thy will ? For thou wilt not come to him for life: God will not be merciful to any who wickedly continue transgressors. The eternal determination of heaven is recorded in that chain of salvation, Rom. viii. 30, and all the men on earth and devils in hell cannot break one link of it. Predestination, vocation, justification, salvation, or glorification. Go try to turn day into night, or winter into summer, or to stop the course of the sun, before thou thinkest of diverting the proceedings of grace in the salvation of souls; but it is vain to attempt either; for his counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure.
3. It is the design of God in all his ordinances to make souls meet for heaven. “ It has pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Ministers and ordinances were given for perfecting of the saints. This is the means of conversion, “the power of God to salvation ; * the means of edification, of resolution of doubts, consolation and confirmation ; so are the seals of the covenant given to this end, to
* 1 Cor. i. 21. Eph. iv. 11–13. Rom. i. 16.