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as long as we live ; we may and shall have heaven for our eternal resting place. 5. Let it be considered, that if our lives be not a journey toovards heaven, they will be a journey to hell. We cannot continue here always, but we must go somewhere else. All mankind after they have been in this world a little while, go out of it, and there are but two places that they go to ; the two great receptacles of all that depart out of this. world ; the one is heaven ; whither a few, a small number in comparison, travel ; the way that leads hither, is but thinly occupied with travellers. And the other is hell, whither the bulk of mankind do throng. And one or the other of these must be our journey’s end ; the issue of our course in this world. I shall conclude by giving some directions: 1. Labor to get a sense of the vanity of this world, or the vanity of it on account of the little satisfaction that is to be enjoyed here ; and on account of its short continuance, and unserviceableness when we most stand in need of help, viz. on a death bed. All men, that live any considerable time in the world, see abundance that might convince them of the vanity of the world, if they would but consider. Be persuaded to exercise consideration, when you see and hear, from time to time, of the death of others. Labor to turn your thoughts this way. See if you can see the vanity of this world in such a glass. If you were sensible how vain athing this world is, you would see that it is not worthy that your life should be spent to the purposes thereof; and all is lost that is not some way aimed at heaven. 2. Labor to be much acquainted with heaven. If you are not acquainted with it, you will not be likely to spend your life as a journey thither. You will not be sensible of the worth of it; nor will you long for it. Unless you are much conversant in your mind with a better good, it will be exceeding difficult to you to have your hearts loose from these things, and to use them only in subordination to some
thing else, and to be ready to part with them for the sake of that better good. Labor therefore to obtain a realizing sense of a heavenly world, to get a firm belief of the reality of it, and to be very much conversant with it in your thoughts. 3. Seek heaven only by Jesus Christ. Christ tells us that he is the way, and the truth and the life, John xiv. 6. He tells us that he is the door of the sheep. “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved; and go in and out, and find pasture,” John x.9. If we therefore, would improve our lives as a journey towards heaven, we must seek it by him, and not by our own righteousness; as expecting to obtain only for his sake, looking to him, having our dependance on him only for the purchase of heaven, and procuring it for us by his merit. And expect strength to walk in a way of holiness, the way that leads to heaven, only from him. 4. Let Christians helf, one another in going this journey. There are many ways that Christians might greatly help and forward one another in their way to heaven, by religious conference, and otherwise. And persons greatly need help in this way, which is, as I have observed, a difficult way. Let Christians be exhorted to go this journey, as it were in company, conversing together while their journey shall end, and assisting one another. Company is very desirable in a journey, but in none so much as in this. Let Christians go united, and not fall out by the way, which would be the way to hinder one another ; but use all means they can to help one another up the hill. This is the way to be more successful in travelling, and to have the more joyful meeting at their Father's house in glory.
Triou BELIEvest that THERE is on E GoD ; Thou DoEST well ; THE DEVILs ALso BELIEVE AND TREMBLE.
OBSERVE in these words.... l. Something that some depend on, as an evidence of their good estate,and acceptance, as the objects of God's favor, viz. a speculative faith, or belief of the doctrines of religion. The great doctrine of the existence of one only God is particularly mentioned ; probably because this was a doctrine wherein especially there was a visible and noted distinction between professing Christians and the heathens, amongst whom the Christians, in those days, were dispersed : And therefore this was what many trusted in, as what recommended them to, or at least was an evidence of, their interest in the great spiritual and eternal privilèges, in which real Christians were distinguished from the rest of the world. 2. How much is allowed concerning this faith viz. That it is a good attainment; “Thou doest well.” It was good as it was necessary. This doctrine was one of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity ; and, in some respects, above all others, fundamental. It was necessary to be believed, in order to salvation : And a being without the belief of this doctrine, especially in those that had such advantage to know, as they had, whom the apostle wrote to, would be a great sin, and what would vastly aggravate their damnation. This belief was also good, as it had a good tendency in many respects.
3. What is implicitly denied concerning it, viz. That it is any evidence of a person's being in a state of salvation. The whole context shews this to be the design of the apostle in the words: And it is particularly manifest by the conclusion of the verse; which is the 4. Thing observable in the words, viz. The argument by which the apostle proves, that this is no sign of a state of grace, viz. that it is found in the devils. They believe that there is one God, and that he is a holy, sinhating God ; and that he is a God of truth, and will fulfil his threatenings, by which he has denounced future judgments, and a greatincrease of misery on them ; and that he is an Almighty God, and able to execute his threatened vengeance upon them. Therefore the DocTRINE I infer from the words, to make the subject of my present discourse, is this : Nothing in the mind of man, that is of the same nature with what the devils experience, or are the subjects of, is any sure sign of saving grace. If there be anything that the devils have, or find in themselves, which is an evidence of the saving grace of the Spirit of God, then the apostle’s argument is not good; which is plainly this: That which is in the devils, or which they do, is no certain evidence of grace. But the devils believe that there is one God. Therefore, thy believing that there is one God, is no sure evidence that thou art gracious. So that the whole foundation of the apostle's argument, lies in that proposition ; that which is in the devils, is no certain sign of grace. Nevertheless, I shall mention two or three further reasons, or arguments, of the truth of this doctrine. I. The devils have no degree of holiness; and therefore, those things which are nothing beyond what they are the subjects of, cannot be holy experiences. The devil once was holy ; but when he fell he lost all his holiness, and became perfectly wicked. He is the greatest sinner, and, in some sense, the father of all sin. John viii. 44. “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth ; because there was no truth in him : When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own ; for he is a liar, and the father of it.” 1 John iii. 8. “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning.” He is spoken of, as by way of eminence, “THE wicked on E.” So Matth. xiii. 19. “Then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart.” verse 38. “The tares are the children of the wicked one.” 1 John ii. 13. “I write unto you young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one.” Chap. iii. 12. “Not as Cain who was of that wicked one.” Chap. v. 18. “Whosoever is born of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” So the devils are called evil spirits, unclean spirits, powers of darkness, rulers of the darkness of the world, and wickedness itself. Eph. vi. 12. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood ; but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Therefore, surely, those things which the minds of devils are the subjects of, can have nothing of the nature of true holiness in them. The knowledge, and understanding which they have of the things of God and religion, cannot be of the nature of divine and holy light, nor any knowledge that is merely of the same kind. No such impressions as are made on their hearts can be of a spiritual nature. That kind of sense which they have of divine things, however great, cannot be a holy sense. Such affections as move their hearts, however powerful, cannot be holy affections. If there be no holiness in them, as they are in the devil, there can be no holiness in them as they are in man ; unless something be added to them beyond what is in them, or they are in the devil. And if any thing be added to them, then they are not the same things ; but are something beyond what devils are the subjects of ; which is contrary to the supposition; for the proposition which I am upon, is, that those things which are of the same nature, and nothing beyond what devils are the subjects of, cannot be holy experiences. It is not the subject that makes the affection, or experience, or quality, holy; but it is the quality that make, the subject holy.