Billeder på siden
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

tender conscience, and so many enemies to struggle with every step of thy way to heaven, that thou are greatly discouraged and afraid this divine preparation is not wrought in thee. Enquire then yet further ; Are all these melancholy scenes both within and without, the matter of thy sincere grief and burden? Canst thog say, in this tabernacle, I groan, being burdened with the body of sin, as well as with the frailties and pains of nature? Canst thou say sincerely, that thy inmost desires are towards God and his glory in the present life, and towards his enjoyment in the life to come? Dost thou maintain a constant converse with heaven as well as thou canst, though it be so much broken, and so often painfully interrupted ? Hast thou a continual and settled aversion and hatred to sin, and a holy jealousy and fear of its defilements : Hast thou a restless breathing of soul after greater likeness to God, and greater communion with him $ Dost thou slelight in spiritual and holy conversation ; and does thy zeal for the hungur of God, and his Son Jesus, carry thee forth to those actiops jybich are suitable to thy station, for the advancement of religiop in the world ! Be assured then that God is training thee up for this heavenly state, and has in some measure prepared thee for it. God has begun in thee the business and blessedness of the upper world. Io the midst of all thy sorrows and com; plaints here below, peace be with thee, and joy in the Lord, for thy salvation and tby felicity shall be completed.”

III. "How vain, and idle, and unreasonable, are all the hopes of singers, that they shall ever arrive at heaven without any preparation for it here?”. There is nothing divine and holy begun in them in this world, and yet they hope to be made happy in the world that is to come; there is nothing of true grace wrought in their hearts here, and yet they vainly expect to be made perfect in pleasure and glory hereafter.

4 Think with thyself, Q carnal creature, that heaven will be a burden to thee; the powers, the appetites, and passions of thy sinful nature, will not suffer thee to relish the joys of the heavenly state. Dost thou imagine that a worm or serpent of the earth, or a swine which is ever tumbling in the mire, can be eptertained with the golden ornaments and splendors of a palace? Or will the stupid ass be delighted with the harmony of a harp or viol? No inore cau a soul of a carnal and sensual taste, and which is ever seeking and groveling after earthly gratifications be pleased or gratified with the refined enjoyments of the heavenly world. Thou must have a new nature, new appetites and affections, ere thou canst partake of the divine joys, or relish them if thou wert placed in the midst of them. Holy adoration of God, and bumble converse with him in worship, converse with the saints about divine things, perfect purity and devotion, with the inéditation of the excellencies of Christ, and the sight of him

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

in his ordinances, have never yet been the object of thy delight or joy : pay, they have rather been thy aversion ; and shouldst thou have the gates of heaven open before thee, and see what business the holy souls there are employed in, thou woulust find no desire to such sort of satisfactions; the place and the company would be thy burden, if thou couldst be let at once into the midst of them.

• " Think again, O sinful wretch, thy carnality of sool, thy supreme love of sensual and brutal joys, the secret malice or envy, the pride and impiety of thy heart, have prepared thee for another sort of company : thoa art fitted for hell by the very temper of thy spirit, for such are the inhabitants of that miserable world, and in thy present state there can be no admission for thee into beaven. Thou hast treasured up food for the worm that never dies, for the eternal anguish of conscience; thog bast made thyself fit fuel by indulgence of thy sinful and rebellious appetites and passions, for the fiery indignation of God; and every day thou persistest in this state, thy preparation for the dark regious of sin and sorrow is increased.” But this leads me to the last remark.

IV.“ How dangerous a thing it is for a sinner to continue a day longer in a state so unprepared for the heaveuly world.” Dost thou not know, whilst we are inhabitants in these regions of mortality, we are borderers upon death : and if we are unprepared for heaven, we are borderers upon damnation and hell? Our life is but a vapour, and the next puff may blow uis away into the regions of everlasting darkness, misery and despair. Alas! how much of this divine preparation do the best of saints stand in need of for an immediate entrance into heaven? What care do they take, how constant are their labours, and how fer vent their prayers to increase in this divine fitness, in these holy and heavenly qualifications ? And dost thou vainly imagine to exchange earth for heaven at once, and to be received into the pure and holy mansions of paradise, withont any conformity to God or Christ, or the rest of the inhabitants of that world?

Objection. But some idle and slothful creatures will be ready to object and say, if it be God who creates his people anew, according to his own image, and fits them for heaven; if we must be wrought up by his power and grace for the participătion of this glory, what can we do towards it ourselves? Or why are we charged and exhorted to prepare ourselves for heaven? Since then it is God must do this work, why may we not lie still, and wait till his grace shall prepare us ?

I answer, no, by no means ; for God is wont to exert bis grace only while creatures are in the use of liis appointinents, aud fajól their duty. This language therefore, and these excuses, seem to be the mere cavils of a carnal mind, or the voice of sloth

and indolence.' Those who have no inclination to prepare them. selves for the joys of the heavenly state, may wait and expect divine influences in vain, if they will never stir up themselves to practise what is in their own power, and to attempt what the gospel of grace demands.

In almost all the transactions of God with men, it is the way of his wisdom to join our diligence and his grace together; and there are many scriptures that give us suflicient notice of this. See how St. Paul argues with the Philippians, and stirs them up to zeal and activity in securing their own salvation by the hope of divine assistances : Phil. ii. 12, 13. Work out your own salvation, for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do. So said David to his son Solomon, when he appointed him to build the temple of tbe Lord; 1 Chron. xxviii. 20. Be strong and of good courage, and do it,--for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee, and will not fail thee nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work. This was the charge also that God gave to his people Israel ; Lev. xx. 7. Sanctisv yourselves, and be ye holy, keep my statutes; I am the Lord who sanctifieth you. So the Psalmist tells us ; Ps. iv. 3. The Lord hath set apart, or separated him who is godly for himself ; and yet, 2 Cor. vi. 17. The Lord commands his people to “ separate themselves unto him, to come out from amongst the sinners of this world, and be you separate, saith the Lord, and I will receive you." So in other places of scripture, divine wise dom commands sinners to fulfil their duty; Prov. i. 23. Turn ye at my reproof: And yet in Ps. lxxx. 3. the church prays, Turn us, O Lord, and we shall be saved. The case is very much the same even in the things that relate to this life, wherein divine assistance and blessing are connected with our diligence in duty. Solomon tells us ; Prov. x. 4. The hand of the diligent makeih rich; and yet verse 22. it is the blessing of the Lord that maketh rich also. We can never expect the favours of heaven, unless we are zealous to obey the commands of beaven.

When the sinful cbildren of men are found waiting on God in his own appoioted ordinances, then they are in the fairest way to receive divine communications, and be transformed into saints. If the blind man had not obeyed the voice of Christ; John ix. 7. and washed himself in the pool of Siloam, he could not expect to have received his eye-sight. If the man with the wiThered hand; Mat. xii. 10, 13. bad not used his own endeavours

to stretch forth his band at the command of Christ, I can bardly believe it would have been restored to its ancient vigour and usefulness. If the poor impotent creature bad not been waiting at the side of the pool of Bethesda ; Jobo v. 5-9. he had not met with the blessed Jesus, nor been bealed by his miraculons power. You will say, perliaps, tiat our blessed Saviour could


have visited him in his own house, could have directed his journey towards bis habitation, or have sent for him into the public, and healed bim there. No; our Lord did not chuse either of these ways; but while the man was waiting at the pool, where he had encouragement to hope for a cure, there the Lord found him, and healed him.

Let not any presuming sinner therefore, who is sensible of his own unfitness for heaven, dare to continue in a careless indifference about so important a concern: Let him not put off his own conscience with this foolish excuse, “ It is God must do all in us, and for us, and therefore I will do nothing myself.” Dost thou think, O soul, that this will be a sufficient answer to him that shall judge thee in the great and solemn day? May you not expect to hear the Judge reply terribly to such an excuse, “ You never sought after this preparation for heaven, and you must be plunged into bell, for which your own rebellion and slothfulness have prepared you."

But perhaps you will object again, What can so feeble, so sinful a creature as

I do towards this divine work? I answer, Canst thou not separate one quarter of an hour daily to think of thy dreadful circumstances, and thy eternal danger in a sinful and defiled state of soul ? Think of the uncertainty of life, and how sudden thy summons may be into the eternal and unchangeable state. Survey thyself in thy sinful condition both of heart and life, and see how unfit thou art for the company of all the holy ones above. Meditate on these thy perilous circumstances, till thy heart be deeply affected therewith; fall down before God in humble acknowledgment of thy former guilt and pollutions : Give up thyself to him with holy solemnity, to have thy heart turned away from every sin, and strongly inclineil to holiness and heaven. Commit thy soul, guilty and defiled as it is, into the hands of Jes!is the Mediator; entrust tby cause with him as an all-sufficient Saviour ; entreat that he would cleanse thee from all thy guilt and pollution, by the blood of his sacrifice, and the grace of his Spirit; that blood of atonement which has procured for sinners pardon and peace with God, and those operations of his grace which may sanctify thy sinful Nature. Address thyself to the exalted Saviour for healing influences from his hand to cure all the maladies of thy soul, to form thee after his image, and to make thee a son of God. Pray with holy importunity for this necessary and divine blessing, wait on God in secrét and in public; give him no rest night or day ; till tre has renetved' thy soul, and transformed thee into a new creature, and given thee a relish of the heavenly enjoyments : Dwell at the throne of grace till thou feelest thy heart drawn upward and heaven ward, and watch against every thing that would delile thiy soul anew, or make thee unfit to enter into the company of the blessed.

op Permit me here to dwell a little upon those motives that should awaken thee to bethiuk thyself ere it be too late, before the grave bas shut its mouth upon thee, and thou art consigned to the place of eternal misery. Awake, awake, O impenitent sjaders, wlto are as yet unprepared for the business and blessedness of the heavenly state ; awake and exert your souls in warm-est reflections on matters of infinite importance.

1. Think with yourselves how much the great God has done towards the preparation of sinful men for this heaven ; think seriously of his long-suffering goodness, and his sparing mercy, which should bave led you long ago to a melting sense of your own folly, and brought you back unto him by humble repentance. For what reason were his patience and his long-suffering exercised towards you if not for this very purpose ? Rom. ii. 4. Think of the blessings of nature with which he has surrounded you, and the comforts of this life wherewith he has furnished you, in order to allure your thoughts towards him, who is the suing of all goodpess; and to raise your desires towards him : It is he invites you, who will be the everlasting portion and happiness of his people, and in whose favour consists life and felicity; and dare not any longer neglect your preparation for this happiness, which consists in the enjoyment of God, lest you should be cut oX before you are prepared.

2. Consider again what Jesus the Son of God has done and suffered ; and consider what he is yet doing towards the preparation of souls for heaven: He came down to our world to undertake the glorious and dreadful work of the redemption of sinners from the curse of the law and the terrors of hell, and to procure a heaven for every rebellious creature that would return to God bis Father. Think of the agonies of his death with wbich he purchased mansions of glory for those that receive his grace in his own appointed inethods, those that are willing to have their hearts and minds formed into a suitable frame to receive this felicity. Remember that he is risen from the dead, he is ascended to prepare a place in glory for those that are willing to follow him through the paths of holiness. Hearken to the many kind invitations and allureinents of his gospel, which calls to the worst of sivners to return and live, and entreats and exhorts those who are in the ends of the earth, and upon the borders of hell, to look unto him that they may be saved; Isa. xlv. 22. Take heed that you, suffer not these seasons of his inviting love to slide away and vanish uniinproved ; take heed low you rebel against the language of the grace of his gospel, and thereby prepare yourselves for double apd

everlasting destruction. 3. Think aguin, 'what blessed assistances he has proposed to those who are desirous to be trained up for heaven; how in'any. thousand souls, as carnal, as sensual, and as criminal, as yours

« ForrigeFortsæt »