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2. The Christian hath many privileges to enjoy which he must be meet for even in this world, as reconciliation, justification, adoption, joy in the Holy Ghost, peace of conscience, communion with God, audience of prayers, &c. All these God hath promised, and Christ hath purchased for his children; they are children's bread, and must not be given to dogs. God will not throw away his mercies on such as value them not, but scorn them; they set light by precious delicacies of his table. The whole slight the physician; the full soul loaths the honey-comb; the carnal heart will not thank God for pardon and grace; and can we think God will force his blessings on such ungrateful miscreants, that scorn both him and his kindness ? No, surely there are some that long for these blessings, and will thankfully accept them. * Yea, he will make you prize them, and part with all for them, or you shall never have them. What think you, doth not the great God take care to secure his own glory, as well as man's felicity? And would it not be dishonourable to God to bestow his richest treasures and blessings of grace on such as despise them, and take more pleasure in rooting in the sordid dunghill of sensual delights, than in seeking first the kingdom of God, which consists in “ righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Alas, “honour is not seemly for a fool.” These silly fools are not meet to sit as princes with the king at his table, because they want a wedding garment of suitable disposition for so high a privilege.f
* Matt. xxii. 5. ix. 12. Acts xiii. 46, 48. xxviii. 28.
ANOTHER REASON DRAWN FROM THE NECESSARY
CONSISTENCY OF A CHRISTIAN'S MEETNESS FOR SO GLORIOUS AN INHERITANCE.
7. The last reason why souls must be made meet for heaven is, because otherwise there would be no consistency or suitable adaptation of men to that holy place. If their natures be not changed, they will not have a suitableness of disposition to the glorious state above. The truth of this I shall demonstrate in these four particulars :
(1.) None but persons made meet for heaven will have any mind to leave the world, and go to God. Carnal, unconverted souls are totally unwilling to go hence; they fancy to themselves an eternity below; “ Their inward thought is, that their houses shall endure for ever," Psal. xlix. 11, yea, themselves; for they put far from them the evil day, and sing a requiem to themselves, as the fool in the gospel; and no wonder, for they live by sense, and know what they have here, but know not what they must have hereafter: like the old doting monk, that shewed his fine accommodations, saying, “These things make us unwilling to die.” It was a usual saying among the heathens, " that Christians only are contemners of death.” * This is applicable to sincere Christians; stoical apathy will not do it, but faith will. Julius Palmer, the martyr, said, “ To them that have their souls linked to the flesh, like a rogue's foot to a pair of stocks, it is indeed hard to die; but for him who is able to separate soul and body by the help of God's Spirit, it is no
* Soli Christiani sunt mortis contemptores.
more hardship for such a one to die, than for me to to drink this cup of beer;” nay, when the Christian is upon good terms with God, he desires to be loosed or dissolved, “and to be with Christ,” Phil. i. 23. Yea, it is the disposition of a soul meet for heaven, that he loves and longs for Christ's appearing, 2 Tim. iv. 8; but the sincere Christian who is not actually meet for heaven, though through grace he be habitually meet, often shrinks at the approach of death, and is glad to chide himself out, and say as a holy man did, “Go out, my soul, go out, what art thou afraid of?”* And surely a man is more acceptable to God, and comfortable in death, who hath set all things straight, and hath nothing to do, but surrender his soul into God's hands; this man will make his Lord welcome any hour of the day, or watch of the night; but the other is like a maid undrest and unready, though for the main she love her friend, and desire his coming, yet in the present juncture and under those circumstances, she is surprized and troubled that he should find her in such a state of dishabille. This is the case of the unmeet Christian.
2. None but souls meet for heaven are fit for death, through which all must pass. It is true, the apostle doth discover to us this mystery, which among the rest he might learn in the third heavens,f “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed ;” but this change is a peculiar dispensation at the end of the world, and may be regarded as equivalent to death. This is certain, the fruit of the curse, the sting of death will fasten its fangs on the unconverted soul, which is under the covenant of works, and not in Christ. It is only the sincere Christian that can sing that ÈTIVÈKIOV
• Egredere, mea anima, egredere. + 1 Cor. xv. 51. VOL. V.
song of triumph; or can make that brave challenge, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" Only our Captain Jesus hath disarmed death, and it is only for his members; others are left · to its rage,
“ death feeds on them;" it hath a full morsel of them. The first death kills the body, and the second death destroys the soul ; but “ blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection, on such the second death hath no power.”* O happy state of real saints! Christ, our David, hath conquered this Goliah : the ark of the covenant hath driven back this swelling Jordan : this serpent may hiss and hit, not hurt ; f strike down it may, not strike home; it may thrust God's children into the grave, not into hell: nay, our Lord sets his followers, who are thus meet for heaven, not only above danger by death, but fears of death, Heb. ii. 15; who can say as that gracious gentlewoman, a martyr, Written by me Ann Askew, that neither wisheth for death, nor feareth his might, and as cheerful as one that is bound for heaven. But oh the woful state of a graceless sinner! who is in nature's state, and loves and lives in sin, lies and dies in the old Adam. The saddest word in all the Bible is that pronounced twice in a breath by our blessed Lord, John viii. 21, 24, “ Ye shall die in your sins,” that is, under the guilt of your sins and sentence of condemnation. This appears awful from what he adds in the first place, “ whither I go you cannot come," that is, to heaven, where sinners cannot enter. You will say then, no man can enter into heaven, for all are sinners, even to the last breath. When men are regenerated, is it in articulo mortis,
* 1 Cor. xv. 55–57. Psal. xlix. 14. Rev. xx. 6.
in the passage of the soul out of the body ? May not all be changed alike then ? * I answer, It is true all are sinning to the last gasp when breathing out their souls; but,
(1.) You must distinguish between a state of sin, and having sin. The best have relics of original depravity as long as they live: the death of the body only will annihilate the body of death : death is not properly the punishment, but period of sin; it reigns not in God's children at present, it shall not remain in them when dead. The guilt of sin is already gone, “ for there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus,” Rom. viii. 1; and the pollution, the very being of sin is taken away, as soon as death strikes the stroke.
(2.) I see not but the mighty God can perfectly expel sin out of the soul, and also perfect defective graces, at the moment of the soul's separation from the body, as well as he did infuse a principle of grace into the soul, in an instant, at the soul's first conversion; for by death “ the spirits of just men are made perfect,” Heb. xii. 23. Mind it, it is just men, not wicked; God will not infuse grace into men ordinarily in their passage out of the world; as men live, so they die; † and if men imagine God will put another principle into their hearts just as they pass out of this world, as this is a daring presumption, so they will be mistaken; for how is a departing soul capable of such exercises or reflections as are necessary in the work of conversion ? Alas, the eyes, being set, the lips quivering, memory failing, and the body in a cold sweat, is unfit for any thing; their hopes giving up the ghost as their breath de
• In answer to this question, see three opinions in Dr. Tuckney, Theses et Præl. Theol. ubi videas præclare disputata, p. 269, -292.
+ Qualis vita, finis ita.