« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
well as to himself. This is it that makes heaven home to them; namely, that it is Christ's Father's house, where we may be assured of welcome, being married to the Son, and being his Father's choice for chat very end. He brings them in for his father's fake, as well as for his own: they are the blessed of his Father; who, as he is the fountain of the Deity, is also the fountain of all bleffings conferred on the children of men. They are there to whom God designed well from eternity. They were blessed in the eternal purpole of God, being elected to everlasting life: at the opening of the book of life, their names are found written therein. So that, bringing them to the kingdom, he doth but bring them to what the Father, from all eternity, designed for them: being faved by the Son, they are saved according to his si. e. the Father's purpose, 2 Tim.i. g. They are these to whom ihe Father has foken well. He spake well to them ia his word, which must no receive its full accomplish. ment. They had his proinise of the kingdom, lived and died in the faith of it: and now they come to receive the thing promised, Unto them he has done well. A gift is often in seripture called a blefing : and God's bleffing is ever real, like Ifaac's bltffing, by which Jacob became his heir : they were all by grace joftified, sanctified, and made to persevere unto the end; now they are raised up in glory, and being tried, Hand in the judgment: what remains then, but that God crown his own work of grace in them, in giving then their kingdom, in the full enjoyment of himself for ever? Finally, They are there whom God has confecrated; the which also is a scripture notion of blessing, i Cor. . 16. God set them apart for himself, to be kings and priests unto him; and the Mediator introducern them as such to their kingdom and priesthood.
Secondly, Christ introduceth them as heirs of the kingdom to the actual poffeffion of it. Come, ye bleffed, inherit the kingdom. They are the children of God, by regeneration and adoption : And if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, Rom. viii. 17. Now is the general assembly of the firit. born before tbe throne; their minority is overpaft, and the time appointed of the Father for their receiving of their inheritance is come. The Mediator purchased the inheritance for them with his own blood; their righis and evidences were drawn long ago, and registred in the Bible; nay, they had infeftment of their inheritance in the per. son of Jesus Chrift, as their proxy, when he afcended into heaven, whither the forerunner is, for us, entered, Heb vi.20. Nothing remainech, but ihat they enter into perfonal possession thereof, which begun at death, is perfected at the lat day; when the faints, in their bodies as well as their fouls, go into their kirgdom.
Lastly, They are introduced to it, as these it was prepared for from the foundation of the world. The kingdom was prepared for them in the cternal purpole of God, before they or any of them had a being, which shews it to be a gift of free grace to shem, It was
from eternity the divine purpose, that there should be such a kingdom for the elect; and that all impediments which might mar their access to it, should be removed out of the way; and withal, by the fame eternal decree, every one's place in it was determined and set apart, to be reserved for him, that each of the children coming home at length into their Father's house, might find his own place awaiting him and ready for him; as at Saul's table David's place was empty, when he was not there ro occupy it himself, 1 Sam. xx. 25. And now that the appointed time is come, they are brought in to take their several places in glory, set apart and reserved for them, till they Mould come at them.
Use. I fall but up my discourse on this subject, with a word of application, (1.) To all who claim a right to this kingdom, (2.) To these who have indeed a right to it. (3.) To these who have not a right thereto,
First, since it is evident, there is no promiscuous admiffion into the kingdom of heaven, and none do obtain it, but there whose cluim to it is folemnly tried by the great Judge, and, after trial, luttained as good and valid; it is necessary that all of us impartially try and examine, whether, according to the laws of the kingdom, concained in the holy scriptures, we can verify and make good our claim to this kingdom? The bopes of heaven, which most men have, are built on such fandy foundations, as can never abide the trial; having no ground in the word, but in their own deluded fancy : such hopes will leave those who entertain them, miferably disap
pointed at last. Wherefore it is not only our duty, but our in. terest, to put the matter to a fair trail, in time. If we find, we have no right to heaven indeed, we are yer in the way; and what we have not, we may obtain: but if we find we have a right to it, we will then have the comfort of a happy prospect into eternity; which is the greatest comfort one is capable of in the world. If ye enquire, How.ye may know whither ye have a right to heaven, or not? I answer, ye must know that by the state ye are now in. If ye are yet in your natural state, ye are children of wrath, and not children of this kingdom: for that stare, to them who live and die in it, issues in eternal misery. If you be brought into the state of grace, you have a just claim to the state of glory; for grace will certainly issue in glory at length. This kingdom is an inheritance, which none but the children of God can juftly claim: now we be. come the children of God, by regeneration and union wiih Christ his Son; and if children, then keirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Chrift, Rom. viii. 17. There then are the great points, upon which one's evidences for the state of glory do depend. And wherefore I refer you to what is faid on the late of grace, for clearing of you as to your right to glory.
If you be heirs of glory, the kingdom of God is within you, by virtue of your regeneration and union wth Christ. (1.) The king
dom of heaven has the throne in thy heart, if thou hast a right to that kingdom: Christ is in thee; and God is in thee; and having chosen him for thy portion, thy soul has taken up its everlasting relt in him, and gets no kindly rest but in him ; as the dove, until the came into the ark. To him the soul habitually inclines, by virtue of the new nature, the divine nature, which the heirs of glory are partakers of, Pfal. lxxiii. 25.
~ Whom have I in heaven but thee.” “And there is none upon earth that I defire besidcs thee,” (2.) The laws of heaven are in thy heart, if thou art an heir of heaven, Heb. viii. 1o. I “ will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts.” Thy mind is enlightened in the knowledge of the laws of the kingdom, by the Spirit of the Lord, the instructor of all the heirs of glory: for whoever may want instruction, sure an heir to a crown fhall not want it." It is written in the prophets; and they fall all be taught “ of God,” John vi. 45. Therefore though father and mother leave them early, or be in no concern about their Christian education, and they be soon put to work for their daily bread; yet they shall not lack teaching. Withal thy heart is charged, and thou bearest God's image, which consists in righteousness and true holiness, Eph.iv.24. Thy soul is reconciled to the whole law of God, and at war with all known fin, In vain do they pretend to the holy kindgom, who are not holy in heart and life; for without holinesi no man jhall see the Lord, Heb. xii. 14. If heaven is a rest, it is for spiritual labourers, and not for loiterers. If it is an eternal triumph, they are not in the way to it, who avoid the spiritual warfare, and are in no care to subdue corrup, tion, relift temptation, and to cut their way to it, through the oppolition made by the devil, the world, and the flesh. (3.) The treasure in heaven is the chief in thy esteem and desire, for it is your treasure, and where your treasure is, there will your heart be also, Matth. vi. 21. If it is not the things that are seen, but the things that are not seen, which thy heart is in greatest care and concern to abtain; if thou art driving a trade with heaven, and thy chief business lies there; it is a sign thy treasure is there, for thy heart is there. But if thou art of these, who wonder why so much ado about heaven and eternal life, as if less might serve the turn: thou art like to have nothing ado with it at all. Carnal men value themselves moft on their treasures i pon earth; with them, the things that are not seen, are weighed down by the things that are seen,
and no losses do so much affect them as earthly losses: but the heirs of the crown of glory will value themselves molt ond their treasures in heaven, and will not put their prirate estate in the balance with their kingdoni: nor will the loss of the former go so near their hearts, as the thoughts of the loss of the latter. Where these first-fruits of heaven are to be found, the eternal weight of glory will surely follow after; while the want of them must be adınitted, according to the word, to be an unconteftible evidence of an heir of wrath.
Secondly, Let the heirs of the kingdom behave themselves suitable to their character and dignity. Live as having the faith and hope of this glorious kingdom : let your conversation be in heaven, Philip. iii. 20. Let your souls defight in communion with God while ye are on earth, since ye look for your happiness in communion with him in heaven. Let your speech and actions favour of heaven: and, in your manner of life, look like the country to which ye are going; that it may be said of you, as of Gideon's brethren, Judges viii. 18. Each one resembled the children of a king. Maintain a holy contempt of the world, and of the things of the world. Although others, whose earthly things are their best things, do set their hearts upon them; yet it becomes you to set your feet on them, since your beft things are above. This world is but the country, through which lies your
road to Immanuel's land; therefore pass through it as pilgrims and strangers; and dip not into the incumbrances of it, so as to retard you in your journey. It is unworthy of one born to a palace, to set his heart on a cottage, to dwell there: and of one running for a prize of gold, to go off his way, to gather the stones of the brook: but much more is it unworthy of an heir of the kingdom of heaven, to be hid among the fuff of this world, when he should be going on to receive his crown. The prize set before you, challengeth your outinost zeal activity and diligence; and holy courage, resolution, and magnanimity, become those who are to inherit the crown. Ye cannot come at it, without fighting your way to it, through difficulties froin without, and from within: but the kingdom before you is sufficient to balance them all, tho' ye should be called to resist even unto blood. Prefer Christ's crofs before the world's crown; and wants in the way of duty before ease and wealth in the way of sin ; Choose ræther to suffer affliction with the prople of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin för a jenfon, Heb. *i 25. In a common inn, strangers (perhaps) fare better than the children: but here lies the difference, the children are to pay nothing for what they have got ; but the ftrangers get their bill and must pay compleatly for all they have had. Did we consider the wicked's afterreckoning for all the fmiles of common providence they meet with in the world, we would not grudge them their good things here; nor take it amifs that God keeps our belt things last. Heaven will make up all the faints loftes, and all tears thall be wiped away from their eyes there.
It is worth observing, that there is such a variety of scripture notions of heaven's happiness, as may fuit every afflicted cale of the faints. Are they oppreysed? The day corneth, in which they shall have the dominion. Is their honour laid in the duft? A throne to fit upon, a crown on their head, and a fceptre in their hand, wili raise it up again. Are they reduced to poverly? Heaven is a treasure. If they be forced to to quit their own habitations, yet Christ's Father's house is ready for them. Are they driven to the wilderness? There is a city prepared for them. Are they banished from their native country? They fhall inherit a better country. If they are deprived of publick
ordinances, the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple there, whither they are going; a temple, the doors of which none can shut: if their life be full of bitterness, heaven is a paradise for pleasure. If they groan under the remains of spiritual bondage, there is a glo. rious liberty abiding them. Do their defiled garments make them alhamed? The day cometh, in which their robes shall be white, pure and spotless. The battle against flesh and blood, principalities and powers, is mdeed fore; but a glorious triumph is awaiting them. If the t'il and labours of the Christian life be great, there is an evertasting rest for them in heaven. Are they judged unworthy of Society in the world? they shall be admitted into the society of angels in hea. ven. Do they co.nplain of frequent interruption of their communion with God? There they shall gon no more out, but fhall see his face for evermore. If they are in darkness here, eternal light is there. If they grapple with death, there they shall have everlasting life. And to sum
all in one word, He that overcometh Mall inberit all things, Rev. xxi. 7. He shall have peace and plenty, profit and pleafue, every thine desirable ; full satisfaction to his most enlarged desires Let the expe&tants of heaven, then, lift up their heads with joy, gird up their loins, and fo run, as they may obtain; trampling on every thing that may hinder them in the way to the kingdom. Let them never account any duty too hard, nor any cross too heavy, nor any pains too much, fo as they may obtain the crown of glory.
Lastly, Let those who have no right to the kingdom of heaven, be stirred up to seek it with all diligence. Now is the time, wherein the children of wrath may become heirs of glory: and when the way to everlasting happiness is opened, it is no time to fit ftill and loiter. Raise up your hearts towards the glory that is to be res vealed, and do not always ly along on this perising eatth. What can all your worldly enjoyments avail you, while you have no solid ground to expect heaven, after this life is gone? These riches and honours, profits and pleasures, that must be buried with us, and cannot accompany. us into another world, are but a wretched portion, and will leave men comfortless ac long run. Ah! why are men so fond, in their life-time to receive their good things! why are they not rather in care, to secure an interest in the kingdom of heaven, which would never be taken from them, but afford chem a portion, to make them happy through the ages of eternity! if you desire honour, there you may have the highest honour, and which will last, when the world's honours are laid in the dust; if riches, heaven will yield you a treasure; and, there are pleafures for evermore. O! be not despisers of the pleasant land, neither judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life: but inarry the heir, and beaven shall be your dowry; close with Christ, as he is offered to you in the gospel, and ye fhall inherit_all things. Walk in the way of holiness, and it will lead you to the kingdom. Fight against fin and Satan, and ye shall receive the crown. Forsake the world, and the doors of heaven will be open to receive you. HEAD