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reasonable is it to expect to obtain that which is so great without effort! Men will seek worldly riches and honours that are worth so little, and cannot make them happy, and will soon vanish away, with great and indefatigable labour and diligence ; and shall men expect to obtain such eternal glory and blessedness in a slack and cold way of seeking it? How unlike the nature and importance of this blessedness do men treat it that seck it in a cold and careless manner! and can it be expected that God will also treat it so unlike its value, as to bestow it upon such seekers ?
3. Hence we may solve the difficulty of some Christians mecting with so much affliction and darkness in the world. Some godly persons are the subjects of very great outward afflictions, and some are the subjects of great spiritual darkness ; some truly godly persons spend great part of their lives in the dark, in exercising doubts, and anxious thoughts, and distressing fears. And oftentimes God's people make this an argument against themselves. They argue that if God loved them, and had made them his children, he would never leave them in such darkness and distress, he would give them more of the light of his countenance. They are ready to say with themselves, if God loves me, why does he not give me more comfort, why does he see me in such darkness, and does not comfort me? But what we have heard may solve all the difficulty. If their happiness throughout all eternity be so great, of how little consequence is it what may be their condition for that short moment they continue in this world! What if they are in the dark, what if they walk in darkness and are exercised with great trouble! how little difference will it make, though it be cast into the scales, when weighed against that far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory! It will prove lighter than vanity. If God gives eternal happiness to them, that is evident proof of bis love, and all the darkness and sorrow they can meet with in this world are not worthy to be mentioned. All this darkness, how long soever continued, if we compare it with future glory, vanishes into nothing.
4. This subject furnishes solid ground of consolation to the righteous. What can be matter of greater joy and comfort to any person than to consider that he is entitled to such eternal blessedness? Here is sufficient consolation under all adversity: whatever changes we meet with in the world, this may be matter of abundant comfort under the greatest and heaviest trials. In these things a Christian may well rejoice, though the fig-tree should not blossom, and there should be no fruit in the vine. Having this firm support and consolation, a Christian will not
fear though the carth be removed, and the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.
Let these things, therefore, comfort thee, who fearest and lovest God and trustest in Christ. What a glorious hope, and incorruptible and undefiled, and never-fading inheritance, are reserved in heaven for thee! Hence I would answer an objection or two, that unbelief in the saint may be ready to make against what has been said.
1. Some may be ready to say, this glory and blessedness are so great and wonderful that it seems too great to be given to such creatures as men are; it seems almost incredible that God should so exalt and advance worms of the dust.
Answer. The death and sufferings of Christ make every thing credible that belongs to this blessedness. If God has not thought his own Son too much for us, what will he think too much for us? If God did not spare him, but gave him even to be made a reproach, and a curse, and a victim to death for us, no blessedness, however great, can be incredible which is the fruit of this. Rom. viii. 32. “ He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” If God would so contrive to show his love in the manner and means of procuring our happiness, nothing can be incredible in the degree of the happiness itself: if nothing be too much to be given to man, and to be done for man in the manner of procering his happiness, nothing will be too much to be given to him as the happiness procured, and no degree of happiness too great for him to enjoy. If all that God does about it be consistent, his infinite wisdom will also work to make their happiness and glory great in the degree of it.
2. Some Christians may still be ready to object. It is not too great to be bestowed on others, yet it seems to me too great to be bestowed on such an unworthy creature as I; it seems incredible that God should ever give such glory to such an one as I am, that am so mean, and so worthless, and vile.
I not only was once unworthy, but I am so unworthy still, I am so blind, I have so much sin, and so little goodness, I commit so much sin, and do so little good, that it appears incredible that I should have a title to such blessedness. I can far more easily think that others will possess it than myself.
Answer. It is no way incredible that infinite grace should bestow it on the meanest and unworthiest. God's design is to glorify his free grace, and this is one way by which free grace is glorified, viz. by bestowing such great blessedness on the most unworthy. This is of a piece with the rest. Every thing
in the work of redemption is wonderful, and therefore one of the names by which Christ is called, is Wonderful. As grace is wonderful in the means of procurement, viz. giving Christ to die, and wonderful in the degree of happiness procured; so it is won,terful with respect to the subjects of it, that they are in themselves so mean and unworthy.
5. This subject furnishes ground of solemn exhortation to natural men, earnestly to seek this blessedness. And here you may well consider,
1. How poor you are who have no heaven but this world ! In this exceeding and eternal glory of which you have heard, you have no lot or portion; you have nothing but a little part of this clod of earth; and what is all that you have worth? If you have a little more land than some of your neighbours, or if
you are in a way to make more money than others, if your accommodations are better than others', and you have more worldly conveniences and pleasures than others, or if you are promoted a little higher among men than some others are, what a poor portion is this; and how miserable are you who have no better happiness that you can call your own! How happy do these things make you, what great satisfaction do they yield to you! Are such things as these the rivers of pleasure that you choose for your portion ? O, how miserable are you that have your portion in this life! When a few days are passed you must go to the grave and into eternity, and then your glory shall not descend after you; and how wretched are they of whom it may be said, when they have done with worldly enjoyments, that they have received their consolation! Luke vi. 24.
2. To what misery are you exposed! You not only have no lot in this happiness and glory, but you are hanging over endless misery, and are in danger every day of being irrecoverably lost.
3. You have now an opportunity to obtain this blessedness. It is true that now you are exposed to this misery, but yet this glory is offered to you; the time is not past wherein the offer.is made; you have yet an opportunity to be made happy for ever. The opportunity you now have to obtain the happiness of another world is worth ten thousands of this world.
But here I would say something by way of direction in answer to this.
Inquiry. What must I be brought to, in order to get to heaven?
Answer. 1. You must be brought entirely to renounce all hope of obtaining heaven by any thing that you can do by your own strength, -that you cannot do it either directly or indirectly. Many are sensible that they cannot get to heaven by
their own strength directly, but yet they hope to do it indirectly; they hope by their own strength to bring themselves to a disposition to close with Christ, and accept of him for a Saviour; they are hoping to bring themselves to a compliance with the terms of salvation. You must be brought off from all confiding in your own strength; and you must also be brought to renounce your own righteousness as the price of heaven. The consideration of what has been said of the glory and happiness of the saints, may show us the exceeding folly of those that think to purchase so great happiness by their own right
What a vain thought have men of their performances to think them a sufficient price to offer to God to purchase such glory of him! How would God dishonour himself, and dishonour such riches of his own goodness, if he should bestow them on men for their righteousness, and should accept their miserable performances as the price of them!
2. Your heart must be brought to close with him who has purchased heaven. Renouncing all other ways, your heart must entirely close with him, and adhere to him, as the way, the truth, and the life. Your heart must be drawn to him, and it must be pleasing and sweet to you to have heaven as a free gift, as the fruit of mercy and saving grace, and you must assuredly believe that Christ is a sufficient Saviour, and your soul must acquiesce in the way of salvation by him, by his blood and his righteousness, as a wise, holy, sufficient, and excellent way.
Your heart must incline to Jesus Christ as a Saviour above your own righteousness and all other ways. Your delight must be in this holy way of salvation.
3. You must choose the God of heaven for your Portion. You must be of the same temper and disposition with the psalmist, who says, Ps. lxxiii. 25, " Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none on the earth whom I desire beside thee.” You must esteem and relish the enjoyment of him far above all other things. You must be brought to see that there is that in the enjoyment of God and communion with him that is far better than all the profits or pleasures of the world. It must be so with you, that if you could have your choice of all kinds of happiness you could devise, and have which you would, and in what degree you would, to all eternity, this would be what you would far prefer.
4. Your heart must be brought sincerely to close with the employments of heaven. In heaven they are not idle, but they are continually employed, and their employments are holy employments; they spend their time wholly in holy exercises : in contemplating on God, in praising and serving him. Rev. xxii. 3. “ And there shall be no more curse : but the throne of God
and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him." If ever you go to heaven, your heart must be brought beforehand to such a temper as freely to choose such employments, you must have a relish of them, and must account them excellent and delightful employments.
5. You must be pure in heart, and clean in hands. The pure in heart alone shall see God. Matt. v. 8. They that shall ascend into God's holy bill, are those that are of pure hearts and clean hands. Ps. xxiv. 4. You must hate and abhor all sin, and allow none in your life. Sin must become to you a great burden. You must loathe yourself for it, and fight and strive against it, to purge yourself more and more from it; striving more and more to mortify sin, earnestly desiring and seeking to be more holy, more conformed to the will of God, and to walk more becoming a Christian.
6. You must be brought to sell all for heaven. Matth. xiii. 44, 45, 46. Heaven must be to you like the treasure hid in a field ; or like the pearl of great price. If you would have heaven, you must take it as your whole portion; you must in your heart part with all other things for it, and it must be your manner actually to part with them whenever they stand in the way of your getting forward towards heaven. If you would have heaven, you must sell your worldly profit and your credit, and the good will of your neighbours, and your worldly pleasures and conveniences, and whatever stands in your way. Many flatter themselves that they shall obtain heaven without this, and think they have a right to heaven, though they were never brought to this, but they are sure to find themselves disappointed.
7. You must never expect to go to heaven in any other than a strait and narrow way. Some expect to get heaven who are not walking in a narrow way. The way they are walking in is a way of indulging their ease and of shifting off the hard and difficult parts of religion. It is not the way of self-denial, and toil, and labouriousness, but they walk in a broad way, a way wherein they are not pinched, but can go on without labour, or watchfulness, or bearing the cross. But such as these, let their hopes be what they may, and their profession what it may, and their pretences to experiences what they may, are not like to get to heaven. To some, the way that the scripture has laid out is too narrow and strait; thorefore they are endeavouring to get to heaven, in a broad way, but it is in vain for you to contrive this. If you can find out any way of getting to heaven that is not a strait and narrow way, it will be a way that you are the first inventor of. If you go thither, you must go in the way of the footsteps of the flock. If you would go to heaven, you must be content to go there in the way of self-denial and sufferings, VOL. VIII.