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Certainly it is a high honour to have a hand in such a work it is more than Alexander's conquest of the world. "Let him know, that he which converteth a sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins," James v. 20. This increaseth the church militant, and by consequence the church triumphant. It is not the usual employment of angels, or glorified spirits: God's ordinary method is to effect this by Moses and the prophets, and not by raising persons from the dead, either to bring the glorified from heaven, or the wicked from hell, to declare what they have seen or felt in the other world. O therefore let us use all means to bring home souls to God; "On some let us have compassion, using gentleness; others let us save with fear, pulling them out of the fire." Let us, whether ministers or † others, struggle hard to save sinners; for God's sake, for Christ's sake, for the church's sake, for sinners' sake, for our own sakes; for every soul converted by us, adds a jewel to our crown; yes, is our very crown of rejoicing," 1 Thess. ii, 19, 20.
3. That it is the glory of the creature to be a candidate for heaven; such souls are joined already to the celestial inhabitants, "to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven; to God the judge of all." Such honour have all his saints, above kings and princes on earth; though never so poor and contemptible in the eyes of the world, they are precious in God's eyes, and truly honourable.‡ Hence the apostle James stirs up attention, when he introduces this paradox, James ii. 5, "Hearken, my beloved brethren, hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom?" * Luke xvi. 31. + Jude, 22, 23. Isa. xliii. 4.
It is true, they are in disguise, but yet kings; the world knows them not, but these silly heads are destined to wear a diadem. O happy souls! Who would not be of this number? Theodosius accounted it a higher honour to be Christ's servant, than emperor of the world. You are happy here, and will be happier hereafter. Your estate lies much in reversion. Oh have pity upon your never-dying souls! Scorn and trample upon riches, pleasures, and honours of this world. Set yourselves for another world. Get furnished with saving grace, which is the seed of immortality. Avoid soul-destroying sins. Attend on ordinances. Walk according to the rule of the divine word. "Worship God in the spirit. Rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."† Give up yourselves in covenant to God, seek his glory, be jealous of yourselves, search your hearts, make him witness of your actions, and daily put your souls into his hands. Thus lay hold on eternal life. By this means you will be of the number of saints here, and the spirits of just men made perfect in heaven.
4. That Christian love and unity is a blessed thing. The saints on earth and in heaven are become one; and shall not the saints on earth be one? Divisions are odious and dangerous among all sorts of people, but scandalous and ominous among church members. It is the devil's maxim, as well as Machiavel's, divide et impera; make division and get dominion: ruin enters in at this door. Our Saviour saith, "Every kingdom divided against itself, is brought to desolation." Histories make this clear,
How earnest is the blessed
both in church and state. apostle about this, 1 Cor. i. 10, "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
* 1 John iii. 1.
+ Phil. iii. 3.
Matt. xii. 25.
that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." Alas! that factious spirits should open the veins and cut asunder the sinews of Christ's mystical body. Woe to us! for our divisions there are great thoughts of heart. What a number of bonds do these sever; the bond of doctrine, of discipline, of love, and of the spirit; and many mutual endearings and strong obligations; they are against Christ's prayer for unity, against the seals of the covenant, against our mutual promises, and against all that is dear to us. What pathetic language doth Paul employ to promote union, Phil. ii. 1, 2, "If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercy, fulfil ye my joy that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind :" words that might charm the most boisterous spirits into concord and unity. Alas, alas, alas, that a legion of devils should agree in one man, and not half so many Christians agree in one society! Why should we grieve the Spirit, unchurch ourselves, provoke God to remove the candlestick from us? how contrary is this to the spirit of the primitive Christians! Acts ii, 42, 46; and their unity was a means of their augmentation, the "Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved," ver. 47. But dissensions much discourage such as are coming in; they say, we will be no part of that company who cannot agree amongst themselves. It is true, Paul and Barnabas may be in such a paroxym about a small circumstance, that they may part at present; however the fit goes off, and they are reconciled. But it is observed of some professing Christians, that if differences arise, they will
never be friends again, "The sun goes hundreds of times down upon their wrath,"* and they will hearken to no terms of accommodation. Alas! how unlike is this to a christian spirit! Drunkards will fall out and squabble, but in the morning they are friends and shake hands. How unlike to that wisdom which is from above; that is "first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be intreated," James iii. 17. O that God would pour down a spirit of love, mildness, and forgiveness among us! But I shall say no more of this, except repeating the apostle's caution, Gal. v. 15, “If you bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
5. Serviceableness of God's people on earth to one another is a grand christian duty; as believers must not hurt, so they must help each other heavenwards. Members of the body should have the "same care one for another;"† this is God's great design in giving a variety of gifts for profit and mutual edification; for there is variety of duty incumbent upon Christians. Sometimes they must warn the unruly who are in danger of falling into sin; then comfort the feeble-minded, wounded with the sense of guilt; they should support the weak, who are staggering, ready to fall, instruct the ignorant, resolve the doubting, settle the wavering, rouse the slothful and indifferent, by provoking them to love and to good works,|| and by exciting one another to prayer, to attendance on public ordinances, and to a personal covenanting with God. Oh what need to strengthen "one another, to lift up the hands that hang down, to confirm the feeble knees," and to answer objections and cases of conscience. Christians have enough to do if they look + 1 Cor. xii. 25. + 1 Thess. v. 14. Heb. x. 24. § Zech. viii. 21. Isa. ii. 3. Jer. 1. 4, 5. Heb. xii. 12.
Eph. iv. 26.
about them, and duly consider one another; they certainly need abundance of knowledge, grace, and tender compassion, that they may be able to admonish one another; what need to bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ; not judging or despising one another in smaller matters, but seeking to please our neighbours, for their good to edification; not "putting a stumbling-block before the weak," &c. These are duties of great importance and require great diligence and discretion; this will be a means to exercise. our own, and draw out the gifts and graces of others; and by this means others' gifts will become ours. The contrary omission is a sad symptom of apostacy or tendency thereto; and this mutual communion is proposed as a remedy against such a declining, Heb. x. 25, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching." No man must say as Cain, "Am I my brother's keeper?" No, God expects we should watch over one another for mutual advantage. What if any be missing in the last day through our neglect? O Christians, let us delight in the society of those here on earth, with whom we hope to have communion in heaven. David accounts the saints on earth, "Excellent ones, in whom was all his delight;" and, "Let the righteous smite me," saith he, "it shall be a kindness; and let him reprove me, it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head; for faithful are the wounds of a friend." O what a mercy if we could by divine assistance, help one another towards heaven!
6. It is a great comfort to surviving relations, to hope upon good grounds, that their departed friends
*Rom. xv. 14. † Gal. vi. 2. Rom. xiv. 13. xv. 2. 1 Cor. viii. 9. Psalm xvi. 3. cxli. 5. Prov. xxvii. 6.