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os more value than all this world to us, especially if the whole weight of eternity should hang upon it, (as oftentimes it doth) then the loss of that portion of time, is the loss of foul, body, and hope for evermore.
Consider. 3. Much of that little precious time of departing fouls will be unavoidably taken up, and employed about the inexcusable, pressing calls and necessities of distressed nature; all that you can do for your souls must then be done only by fits and snatches, in the midst of many disturbances, and frequent interruptions: So that it is rarely found, that a dying man can pursue a serious meditation with calm and fixed thoughts: for besides the pains and faintings of the body, the abilities of the mind usually fail. Here also they fall into a sad dilemma ; if they do not with the utmost intention of mind fix their hearts and thoughts on Christ, they lose their comfort, if godly, and their souls if ungodly; and if they do, friends and physicians assure them they will destroy their bodies. These are the straits of men bordering close upon eternity; they must hastily catch a sew moments in the intervals of pain, and then are put by all again.
Consider. 4. There is no man living but hath somethi6g to do for his own foul in a dying hour, and something for others also.
Suppose the best that can be supposed, that the soul be in real union with Christ, and that union be aiso clear; yet it is seldom found but there are some assaults of Satan: Or if not, yet, how many relations and friends need our experiences and counsels at such a time? How many things" shall we have to do after our great and main work is done i And others have a great deal more to do, though as. sase as the former. O the knots and objections that are then to be dissolved and answered ! The usual onsets and assaults of Satan that are then to be relisted! And yet most dying persons have much more upon their hands than either of the former. The whole work of repentance and faith is to do when time is even done.
Consider. 5. Few, yea, very sew, are found furnished with wisdom, experience and faithfulness to give dying persons any considerable assistance in foul-affairs. It may be there; may be found among the visitants of the sick, now and then a person 'who hath a word of wisdom in his heart; but then cither be wants opportunity or courage and faithfulness to do the part of a true spiritual friend. Elihu describes the person so qualified as he ought for this work, Job xxxiii. 23, 24. and calls him. One among a thousand. Some are too close and reserved, others too trifling and impertinent; some are willing, but want abilitji others are able, but want faithfulness; some cat too deep by uncharitable cenforiousnefs; others Ikiu over the wound too (lightly, speaking peace where God and conscience speak none: So that little help is to be expected.
Consider. 6. How much therefore doth it deserve to be lamented, that, where there is so much to do, so little time to do it, and so sew to help in the best improvement of it, all should be lost as to their souls by earthly incumbrances and worldly affairs, which might have been done sooner and better in a more proper season ! O therefore let me persuade all men to take heed of bringing the proper business of healthful days to their sick beds. i
Inser. 4. What an excellent creature is the foul of man, -which is capable, net only of such preparatious for Cod, whilst it is in the body, but of such sights and enjoyments of Cod, -when it lives •without a body.
Here the Spirit of God works upon it, in the way of grace and sanctification, Eph. ii. 10. The scope and design of this his workmanship, is to qualify and make us meet for the lise of heaven, 1 Cor. vi. 5. For this self-fame thing, or purpose, our souls are wrought, or moulded, by grace, into quite another frame and temper, than that which nature gave them; and when he hath wrought out and finished all that he intends to be wrought in the way of sanctification, then (hall it be called up to the highest enjoyments, and employments for ever, that a creature is susceptible of.
Herein the dignity of the soul appears, that no other creatnre in this world, beside it, hath a natural capacity, either to be sanctified inherently in this world, or glorified everlastingly in the world to come; to be transformed into the image, and filled with the joy of the Lord. There are myriads of other souls in this world, besides ours, but to none of them is the Spirit of sanctification sent, but only to ours: The souls of animals serve only to move the dull and sluggish matter, and take in for a sew days the sensitive pleasures of the creation, and so expire, - having no natural capacity of, or designation for, any higher employment or enjoyment.
And it deserves a most serious animadversion, that this vast capacity of the soul for eternal blessedness, must of necessity make it capable of so much the more misery and self-torment, if at last it fail of that blessedness: For it is apparent they do not perish because they are uncapable, but because they are tin"willing: not because their souls wanted any natural faculty that others have, but because they would not open thole, they have, to receive Christ in the way of saith and obedience, as others
Think upon this, you that live only to eat, and drink, and sleep, and play, as the birds and beasts of the field do} What need was there of a reasonable soul for such. sensual employments? Do not your noble saculties speak your designation for higher uses? And will you not wife to exchange foals with the most vile and despicable animal in ibis world, if it were possible to be done i Certainly it were better for you to have no capacity of eternal blessedness (as they have not) if you do not enjoy it; and po capacity of torment beyond this life (as they have have not) if you must certainly endure it.
Inser. 5. If our souls and bodies must be separate shortly., how patiently should vie bear all lesser separations, that may and Vtw be made, betwixt us and any other enjoyments in this -world?
No union is fa intimate, strict, and dear, as that betwixt our fouls and bodies. All your relations and enjoyments in this world, hang looser from your souls than your bodies do: and if it he your duty, patiently and submissively, to suffer a painful parting pull from your bodies; it is doubtless your duty, tg suffer meekly and patiently a separation from other things, which are but a prelude to it, and a mere shadow of it. It is good to put such cases to ourselves in the midst of our pleasant enjoyments.
I have now many comfortable relatives in the world, wise, children, kindred, and friends; God hath made them pleasant to me, but he may bereave me of all these. Doth not providence ring such changes all the world over? Are not all kingdoms, cities, and towns, full of the sighs and lamentations of widows, orphans, and friends bereaved of their pleasant and useful relations? But if God will have it so, it is our duty to bound our sorrows, rcme.uhring the time is short, 1 Cor. vii. 39. In a sew days we must be stript much nearer, even out of pur own bodies by death.
God may also separate betwixt me and my health by fickness, so that the pleasure of this world shall be cut off from me; but fickness is cot death, though it be a'prelude and step towarda It: I may well bear this with patience, who must submissively bear sharper pains than these ere long. Yea, and well may 1 bear this submissively, considering that by such imbittering and weaning providences, God is preparing me for a much casier dissolution, than if I should live at ease in the body all my day?, till death comes to make so great and sudden a change upon me. . God may alia separate betwixt me and my liberty by restraint. It hath bees the lot of the best men that ever were in the world; and if it Oiould be ours also, we should not be much startled at it, considering these bodies of ours must be shortly pent up in a straiter, darker, and more loathsome place of confinement, than any prison in this world can be. The grave is a darker place, Job xvii. 13. and your abode there will be longer, Eccl. xi. 8;
Thele, and all other our outward enjoyments, are separable things,' and it is good thus to alleviate our loss of them.
Inter. 6. How heavenly should the tempers andframes (f thofe fouls be, who are candidates for heaven, and muff be so shortly numbered wtth the spirits of just men made perfect.
It is reasonable that we all begin to he, that which we expect to be for ever; to learn that way of living and conversing, which we believe must be our everlasting lise, and business in the world to come. Let them that hope to live with angels in heaven, learn to live like angels on earth, in holiness, activity, and ready obedience.
There is the greatest reason that our minds be there, where our fouls are to be for ever. A spiritual mind will be found possible, congruous, sweet, and evidential of an interest in rhat gsory, to all thole holy souls, who are preparing and designed for it.
1. It is possible, notwithstanding the dogs and entanglements of the body, to be heavenly-minded. Others have attained it, Phil. iH. 20. Two things make a heavenly conversation poiii* ble to men, viz.
(1) The natural abilities of the mind.
(a.) The gracious principles of the mind.
(1.) The natural abilities of the mind, which can, in a minute's time, dispatch a nimble messenger to heaven, and mount its thoughts from this to that world in a moment. The power of cogitation is a rich endowment of the soul, such as no other creature on earth is participant of. Though spiritual thoughts be not the natural growth of the soul, yet thoughts capable of feeing spiritualized are. And without this ability of projecting thoughts, all intercourse must have been cut off.
(2.) The gracious principles implanted in the soul, do actually incline the mind, and mount its thoughts heaven-ward. Yea, this will prove more than a possibility of a conversation in heaven; whilst saints tabernacle on earth, in bodies of flesiS, it will almost prove an impossibility that it should be otherwise, for these spiritual principles setting the bent and tendency of the
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heart heaven-ward, we must act against the very law of our new
nature, when we place our asfection! elsewhere.
2. A mind in heaven is most congruous, decorous and comely for thole that are the enrolled inhabitants of that heavenly city. "Where should a Christian's love be, but where his Lord is !. Oaf hearts and our homes do not ule to be loag asunder. It be comes you so to think, and so to (peak now, as those who make account to be shortly singing hallelujahs before the throne.
3. It is most sweet and delightful; no pleasure in this world is comparable to this pleasure; Rem. viii. 6. "To be spiritual"ly minded is lise and peace.'' It is a young heaven born in the soul in its way thither.
4. To conclude: it is evidential of your interest in it: an 1greeable frame is the surest title, Col. iii. 1, 1. Matth. vi. 21. If heaven attract your minds now, it will center them for ever.
Use z. This doctrine of the separation of the ipirits of the jnst from their bodies, as it lies before you in this discourse, affords a singular help to all the people of God, to entertain lovely and pleasant thoughts of that day; to make death not only an unregretted, but a most pleasant and desireable thing to their souls,
I know there is a pure, simple, natural sear of death, from which you must not expect to be persectly freed, by all the arguments in the world. And there is a reverential, awful sear of death, which it would be your prejudice and loss to have destroyed. You will have a natural, and ought to have a reverential sear of death: the one flow£ from your sensitive, the other from your sanctified nature. ',
But it is a third sort of sear, which doth you all the misehtef; a sear springing in gracious souls out of the weakness of their graces, and the strength of their unmor-tisied afflictions: a sear arising partly out of the darkness of our minds, and partly out of the sensuality and earthlincss of our hearts; this sear is that which so convulseth our souls when death is near, and imbitters our lives, even whilst it is at a distance. He that hath been over-heated in. his affections to this world, and over-cooled by diversions and temptations, neglects and intermissions, to that world, cannot chuse but give an unwilling shrug, if not a frightful screech at the appearance of death.
And this being the sad. case of too mmy, good and upright fonls for the main; and there being so sew, even amongst serious Christians, that have attained to that courage and complacence in the thoughts of- death, which the apostle speaks of,' 7. Cor. v. 8. to be both confident and willing rather to be absent "from the body, and to be present with the Lord;. I.will, from