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never be attained without the use of the means. Reason tells us, that he that would arrive at London, must go by land or water, in ships, or on horseback, by a coach, or on foot, or by some means or other; or he can never come thither. So it is here, God hath prescribed means and methods for attaining eternal happiness, and bids us enter in at the strait gate, Matt. vii. 13, 14, "Yea, strive to enter in at the strait gate;" and adds, "That many shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able," Luke xiii. 24. How shall they then enter, that neither strive, nor seek, nor make any essay to enter? and how can they seek or strive, that have no strength; nay, that have no life, as is the case with an unregenerate sinner, who is dead in trespasses and sins? and till the grace of God infuse new life into him, with this new creature, he can neither stir hand nor foot in a spiritual sense, heaven-wards.
(3.) Nay, he that is not a new creature, hath no heart, mind, or will to be saved; and God saves no man against his will, but his grace makes men truly willing; and this change of the will is a considerable part of the new creation, and it is a sovereign act of free grace, thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power." None follow the Captain of our salvation to heaven, but volunteers, and there is great need of a vigorous will, for heaven must be taken by storm, "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." No man will be obedient, except he be willing; there must be the imprimis of a willing mind, before there be an active hand, a worshipping knee, or a walking foot; they whose spirits do not make them willing, will not remove from sin, or move one step heaven-wards; and hence it is, that our blessed Saviour chargeth men's rejection of him
* Psal. cx. 3. Matt. xi. 12. 2 Cor. viii. 12.
upon their wills, "You will not come to me that you may have life, and why will ye die, O house of Israel?" This is the true reason of sinners' undoing, they will not choose salvation, and so virtually and as a consequence, they destroy themselves. If a man will not eat, he cannot live; if a man drink poison, he will die; and he that will not use means of salvation, cannot be saved; "how shall we escape, if we neglect" much more wilfully reject "so great salvation?”* And how should it be otherwise, if men be not converted, and become new creatures?
(4.) What should the old creature do in heaven? heaven would be no heaven to him; the heavenly Jerusalem is another kind of thing than most take it to be. What wild, grovelling conceptions have sensual men of heaven? as though it were Mahomet's paradise, or the heathen's elysian fields, wherein men may gratify their senses, or wallow in pleasures. Alas, a man may say to these ignorant souls, as our Lord to Zebedee's children, "You know not what you ask;" you would go to heaven; yes, you would fain be saved, but do you know what heaven is? I will tell you briefly, heaven consists in a freedom from all sin, a perfection of grace, enjoyment of God, employment in divine praises, love, delight in God, meditation on him, together with the ecstacy and transport of all the soul's faculties in immediate communion with him. And what awkward conception hath a carnal, worldly man of these blessed privileges? they would be no advantage to him at all, but rather a torment to him who hates God, who runs from him, and cannot abide to come near him in any duty, who likes not the society of God's saints, delights in sinful practices, and dallies with Satan's temptations. Can men imagine they shall take cards and
* John v. 40. Ezek. xviii, 31. Hos. xiii. 9. Heb. ii. 3.
dice, cups and harlots with them to heaven? Nay, can men take fair houses, full bags, or worldly business into another world? Can they make great purchases, gather great rents, or break jests with their companions in a future state? Alas, a poor carnal heart is soon weary of duties, much more would he be in heaven; a sermon is too long, prayer is tedious, "when will the sabbath be gone?" Can those who hold such language be fit to enjoy God in an eternal sabbath of rest? nay, the poor guilty sinner cares not for coming near to God, the sight of God is terrible to him, as it was to fallen Adam; indeed without converting grace, introducing this new creature and divine nature, the soul would be altogether strange to God, or any converse with a holy and glorious God; even the sanctified themselves, by reason of the remainders of corruption in them, have often much ado to bring their hearts to converse with God, especially when they lie under a sense of guilt, even a Peter then cries out, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord;" much more will a graceless soul not dare to come near to God; "A hypocrite shall not come before him;" he will not, and God will not suffer him. But a gracious heart can truly say, "It is good for me to draw nigh to God."* Communion with God is his heaven upon earth; therefore this God will be his salvation, himself is his best heaven; but a carnal heart knows not what this means, and is therefore incapable of heaven.
* Luke v. 8. Job xiii. 16. Psalm lxxiii. 28.
SOME OBJECTIONS OF SINNERS ANSWERED, IN REFERENCE TO THEIR BECOMING NEW CREATURES.
IT is much if a carnal mind, with the devil's help, have not something to say against the thing itself, or attempts after it, by way of excuse.
1. Objection, Who can in this world be so qualified for heaven, the best come infinitely short. I have heard it said, that as the soul passeth out of the body, it is then perfected and qualified for its enjoyment of God; no man can expect it before; and though I cannot so delight in God, and his service now, yet I hope God will perfect my soul in the instant of its separation from the body. I answer,
(1.) There is a habitual and an actual adaptedness for heaven, as I have at large explained in a treatise on Col. i. 12, called "Meetness for Heaven,"* and every child of God, after the first impartation of grace to him, and change of his state and relation God-wards, is put into a capacity for communion with God, in this and in the other world, but increase in grace, and exercise of grace do daily capacitate him for further communion with God. No man can expect he will be a perfect man, till he be a man: perfection of degrees follows that of parts. You must first be in Christ, or else you will not arrive "at the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ," Eph. iv. 12, 13.
(2.) That man feeds himself with a vain, groundless hope of being saved, and perfected at death, who is careless and graceless in life, for he hath no promise to nourish such persuasion. Did God ever say, "Live
* Included in this Volume.- Ed.
as thou listest, and at the instant of death I will infuse spiritual life into thy soul, trust me for that at thy expiring breath, I will give thee that then, which will qualify thee for heaven, and make thee then in love with me, though thou never caredst for me all thy life long." Where do you find such a promise? and who but a mad man will put all to a desperate venture at the last gasp ? You have more reason to fear he will not, than to hope he will give you grace; nay, you have a dreadful threatening, that "because he called and you refused, you shall call and cry, and he will not answer,” Prov. i. 24-28. And you have a terrible instance of the fruitless cries of the foolish virgins, Matt. xxv. 10. And who are you that the great God should be at your beck? He can and will hear the least whimper of a child, but regards not the howling of a dog: he may and will say, "Go to the gods, the lusts you have served, I know you not, I own you not for mine." This is not a time for getting, but using grace; yea, death is a time for perfecting the work of grace. Woe be to that wretched man that hangs his eternal state on the uncertain working of the principle of life, in the moment of death.
2 Obj. But if I be not yet a new creature, I may be; there is time enough before me, I am young, and yet in my full strength, of a healthy constitution, and may live long: let old persons that are going off the stage, look after this new creation, I have other things to mind.
Answ. (1.) Alas, man, art thou certain thou shalt live till the next year, the next month, week, day, or hour? Have not many as young as thou art, gone to the grave before thee, and what assurance hast thou of thy life another moment? For "what is our life but a fleeting vapour?" it is a bubble, a blast, a shadow, a