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been thy property always to have mercy, I most humbly beseech thee, let me not then want it, when I shall stand most in need of it; but save me by thy mercy, who must otherwise be condemned by thy justice: that so hearing that joyful sentence from thee, my most gracious and compassionate Judge, "Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord;" I may with angels and archangels, and all the company of heaven, adore, and sing thy praises, O blessed JESUS, to all eternity. Amen.
O LORD, who hast declared that thou wilt hereafter call every one of us to a strict account for our thoughts, our words, and our actions; and according as we shall have done well, or ill, wilt reward us with everlasting happiness, or punish us with everlasting misery: do thou, by the influence of thy Holy Spirit, teach me to be ever mindful of my great account; and so to order my whole conversation in this world, that when the last trumpet shall sound, to awaken me out of my grave, and to summon me before thy Judgment-seat, I may arise with joy, and not with grief, and be placed by thy angels on thy right hand, ready to be numbered amongst those blessed souls that shall receive that joyful welcome from thee, their gracious Judge and Saviour, " Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Grant this my most important request, I most humbly beseech thee, O blessed LORD and Saviour. Amen, Amen.
DISCOURSE UPON HEAVEN.
HAVING finished what I thought fit to say on Death and Judgment, in order to engage men to a serious preparation for them; I come now to consider the third of the Four last Things, as they are usually styled, viz. Heaven.
In speaking to which, I shall do these several things following:
First, I shall shew the locality of it; that Heaven is a certain, real, determinate, and fixed place. Secondly, I shall endeavour to explain, in some measure, wherein the happiness of it does consist.
Thirdly, I shall say something of the qualification for it, or what is to be done by us in order to the attaining of it.
Fourthly, I shall shew that there are different degrees of glory and happiness in Heaven.
Fifthly, What the consideration of them does require from us.
Of the Locality of Heaven.
By Heaven, we understand not
manner of being only, but a certain, real, determi
nate, and fixed place in the upper regions of the world, appointed by GOD, to be the receptacle of all holy and blessed souls, after that they shall have been tried, and given an account of themselves, before the Judge of the world, our Lord and Saviour JESUS CHRIST, and been found worthy by him to be eternally happy; all such shall then accordingly be invited by him to take possession of it in those most gracious words, "Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Matt. xxv. 34.
Now that there is such a certain, real, determinate, and fixed place, no sober Christian can well doubt, who reads those words of our LORD, St. John xiv. 2, 3. "In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also." But yet for the greater confirmation of it, the same thing is intimated to us very plainly in some other places of the Holy Scripture, Heb. ix. 12. "By his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." This was the place of which our Saviour spake to his disciples, "What if you should see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?" that is, to Heaven, from whence he came and in several other places to the same purpose.
Besides, it is all along in Scripture described as a place inhabited by several intelligent beings. It is sometimes therein called by the name of Paradise, 2 Cor. xii. 4, in allusion to the garden of Eden, (which was a real place,) because of its being a most pleasant and delightful place. And in the Revelations, chap. ii. 7, it is called the "Paradise of GOD," still further to denote the inconceivable and unutterable pleasure and delight of it. It being usual among the Hebrews, to express the greater excellency of any thing, by adding those words of GOD Bp. Greene's Discourses.
to it, as the river of God, the city of GoD, and the like. It is the place which God the Father honours with his more immediate presence, who is therefore often called the " King of Heaven;" and in the Lord's Prayer, "Our Father, which art in Heaven." It is the place also, where the Son of Gon has his residence," at the right hand of his Father," from whence he is styled "the LORD of Heaven," 1 Cor. xv. 47. Where also GOD the Holy Ghost, the third person in the blessed Trinity, inhabits, with the Father and the Son; and he is therefore said "to be sent down from Heaven," when he came down upon the apostles at the day of Pentecost, 1 Pet. i. 12. And moreover, this place is the court of the great King, where all his glorious ministers, the angels, stand ready to obey his commands, who are therefore styled, "the angels of Heaven," Matt. xxiv. 36. And lastly, it is in Scripture frequently put in opposition to Hell, which is doubtless a real and determinate place of misery. All which places do plainly shew the exceeding whimsicalness and folly of such enthusiasts, who tell us of a Heaven within, and that the notion of a local Heaven is too mercenary and carnal, and savours more of Mohammedanism, than of real truth.'
This excellent place is now indeed more plainly discovered to us, since the light of the Gospel shined upon us; and with this great addition, that both soul and body shall be united together again at the resurrection, and therein enjoy unspeakable happiness for
It must be acknowledged, indeed, that from the earliest times, some notion of the happiness of good souls, somewhere after their departure from this life, seems to have been the persuasion of all such as had any notion of the soul's immortality. Which might probably be from hence: That God Almighty, in his great mercy and goodness, to comfort the hearts, and support the spirits of good men, while they
continue in this state of mortality, this valley of tears, and for their encouragement to be good and virtuous, did vouchsafe to infuse into men's minds, now and then, some glimmerings of better things to come, which should hereafter, in his due time, be brightened up upon them, when a more glorious scene should begin to be displayed upon the world.'
And for this reason, it is not improbable that GoD was graciously pleased, in the first ages of the world, to allow Enoch, a person of consummate piety and virtue, the particular privilege of not seeing death, by translating him, soul and body together, into Heaven by angels; as he did Elijah afterwards, it is very likely, for the same reason.
Nay, further, might not this notice be derived down by tradition from father to son by the first patriarchs; and after the deluge, from Noah to his sons, and so to their children after them! which tradition being by degrees, in a long course of time, greatly corrupted, their poets (who were also their philosophers) built upon it a new notion of the Elysian fields, for the abode of the souls of the righteous after death. To complete the description of which, they employed the utmost stretch of their fancy, to fill them with all manner of delights which could be thought of for the soul's entertainment.
These were afterwards, by some of their learned philosophers, changed for places in the ethereal regions, which the divine Plato called 'the islands of the blessed,' where they should enjoy all happiness, and be free from all evil. And the great Cicero fixes the soul in the empyrean orb after its separation from the body, where it shall want nothing that can contribute to its utmost joy and delight. But neither he, nor any of the rest of the philosophers of old, had any notion of the resurrection of the body, to be joined together again with the soul, and then to partake with it in happiness.
As these were poor mean notions, invented or