THE SAINTS INHERITANCE.
But to the Saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent in whom is all my delight.
THey that understand the whole Psalme to foresee the Messiah, and foretell of Christ, make this place parallel with that of Iohn 17.19. And for their sake I sanctifie my self, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. But here in the beginning of the Psalme, David prayes to God for preservation, and for deliverance out Page 120 of some great evill, that it seems was upon him, or that he was in danger of. The argument that he useth, is, First his trust in God, as in the first verse, Preserve me O God, for in thee do I put my trust. And it was not an ungrounded and unwarranted trust, but that which proceeded from his interest he had in God, as in the se∣cond verse, O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, thou art my Lord: thou art mine, and my onely God, in whom is all my confidence. But what if Da∣vid should now perish in this distresse, should God be any looser by it? Da∣vid seems to acknowledge this, that though he should not be preserved, yet God was bound to preserve his own name, and his own cause; as it followes in the second verse, my goodnesse extendeth not to thee. Though I should live, yet it is little that I could do for thee. But to the saints that are in the earth, Though my goodnesse extendeth not unto thee, yet may I be of use to thy people, and unto thy Saints while I live; for it extends to Page 121 them, and they are those that my soul closeth with and hath delight in. O, therefore do I desire to live, and to be preserved, that I may be usefull to them, that are thy Saints.
It is a great argument to prevail with God, when any of you are in danger, and seek for preservation, if your hearts work thus to God, that the desire you have to be preserved is, that whatever you are, and whatever you can do, may extend to the Saints, that you may live to be of use and ser∣vice in the world to Gods people. Many of you when you apprehend your selves to be in trouble, you then cry to God to be preserved: but to what end? wherefore would you be preserved? wherefore would you live? If we may judge of your ends according to your practise, you would live that you may have more time to satisfie your lusts, that you may have more time to dishonour God, that you may have more time to do mischief in the places where you live. There is this in the heart, and God sees it: Page 122 God sees whatsoever will be after in your lives; God sees before what was in your hearts when you cried to be preserved. But now one that is gra∣cious, he desires therefore to be pre∣served: O, saith he, that I might live to be of use in that place where God hath placed me. If God should take me away now, my conscience tells me that it is little service that I have done for him. I have been of little use in the place where God hath set me, O, that I might be preserved for this end, that what I am, or have, or have been might extend to the Saints on earth, even the excellent in whom is all my delight. Thus you have the scope of the words, and the depen∣dance of them. And in them there are these two things observable.
For the first, the high esteem that David had of the Saints, & the Saints Page 123 that were on earth, the Excellent. The point is this, that the Saints of God, those that are godly, are the excellent in the earth.
Then secondly, from this that he saith, in whom is all my delight. Ob∣serve this, that a gracious heart above all things in this world, takes the most contentment in the Saints of God; he is much delighted in them.
The first is but a preparation to the second: therefore I shall passe it over briefly. They are the excellent in the earth, therefore my delight is in them.
They are the excellent in the earth. Let them be what they will in regard of their outward meanness, yet there is an excellency in them. Iob scraping upon the dunghill; and Ieremy sticking in the mire in the dungeon, yet they had more glory and beauty upon them, then the greatest Potentates of the earth when they sate upon their thrones. Though they lie among the pots (as the Psalmist saith) yet are they Page 124 as Doves, their wings are the wings of Doves, whose feathers are of gold, and silver; Psalm. 68.13. beau∣tifull and glorious. You know the judgement that the holy Ghost pas∣seth upon the Saints in old time, that were outwardly mean enough, there is as much meanness on them as the ma∣lice of the world could put: the Text saith,*they had tryalls of mockings, of scourgings, of bonds, and imprisonments, they were sawen assunder, they were tem∣pted, they wandred in sheepskins, & goats skins: destitute, afflicted, tormented. What kind of creatures were these, surely they were some wretched men, and women that were thus hunted up and down to wander in sheeps∣skins and goats-skins, destitute, afflict∣ed and tormented? No such matter, they were such of whom the world was not worthy: v. 38. that is the judgement of the holy Ghost upon such, the world was not worthy of them.
The men of the world would have thought, and did think that they were such as were not worthy to live in the Page 125 world: but the judgement of the holy Ghost was such, that the world was not worthy of them. I remember Chrysostome hath this interpretation of the phrase, they are such as are worth more then all the world, more then many thousands of the world; one of them is worth more then all the men of the world besides. It is a truth so; one Saint of God, though never so mean, one poor youth, one servant that is truly gracious, is worth more then all the men of the world besides that are not so. All the Monarchs and Princes on earth, have not that excel∣lency in them that one poor child or servant hath that is gracious, and be∣longs to God.
But the ordinary interpretation is thus, they are such as have that excel∣lency, as that the world is not worthy to enjoy them, they are not worthy of their presence, that they should so much as live among them; they are rather fit to be set as stars in heaven, & be before the Lord in his glory: the world is not worthy of them.
Page 126But what is there in the Saints that makes them the excellent in the earth? The Saints that are the excellent. The word in the originall signifies the magnificent ones; those that have magnificent spirits, and are exceeding glorious.
There is this in them (that I may briefly passe over this first.)
*They have the image of God upon them, and therefore they must needs be the excellent on earth. The image of God makes them to resemble God in that which the creature is able to conceive of; That which is the height of Gods excellency: though it be true, whatsoever is in God is God himself: yet we conceiving of God according to our manner of speaking, there is something of God that appears most excellent, and glorious. And it must needs be in regard of that expression, because grace is called the image of God. Now when we draw the image of a thing, we draw it as near as we can according to that which is the most proper excellency of that thing. Page 127 If I would draw the image of a man, I do not draw the likenesse of a piece of flesh, a beast hath that as well as a man; or I do not draw feet or legs, or the back parts of a man: but when the image of a man is drawn, his face is chiefly looked after to be drawn, which is the most excellentest part of man; and there we endeavour to ex∣presse his life, and spirit as much as can be: for that is the most excellent part; and though the spirit cannot be drawn, and there can be no picture of it; yet because it is shewen most in the face, that is, as near as we can go, that is drawn there.
So the image of God, is that where∣in the creature resembles God in height of excellency and glory. It is not every resemblance of God that is Gods image: there are some things that set out some of the glory of God, and they are but called Gods foot∣steps, or his back parts. All the resem∣blance of God in his creatures; and the expressions of his power, and wisedome; the invisible things of Page 128 God that we see in the creature, they are all but his footsteps, and back∣parts; they are not his image, Why? because they do not resemble God in that which he hath set out to us to be the height of his glory. What is that? The holinesse of God, that is the height of his excellency. Therefore it is said of God him•elf,*holy and reve∣rend is his name. Gods name comes to be reverend by holinesse: were it not for his holinesse, notwithstanding all the rest, (if it were possible to separate them) his name would not be re∣verend. Therefore when the Saints in heaven glorifie God for his chiefest excellency, it is thus *holy, holy, holy. We find not in Scripture any of Gods Attributes thrice repeated, Wise, Wise, Wise, or Almighty, Almigh∣ty, Almighty, but holy, holy, holy, be∣cause the excellency of God consists chiefly in Holinesse: the LORD on∣ly is Holy.*
Now because where grace is in the creature, resembling this holinesse of God, there is that principle whereby Page 129 the creature is able to act as God him∣self acts: for that is holinesse, the working of God to his own end in all things suitable to his nature. So when the creature works to God as his last end, and in some measure is suitable to that God with which the creature hath to doe, here is the Image of God.
Therefore the Scripture expresseth grace by these 4. things, as
- The Image of God.
- The Life of God.
- The glory of God, and
- The Divine nature.
There are these 4. expressions for the work of grace.
The Image of God, it resembles God in his excellency. The life of God himself, Ephes. 4. alienated from the life of God, that notes acting like God himself. And then it is the glory of God himself; and the divine na∣ture, 2. Pet. 1.3. So that there must needs be excellency in the Saints that have grace that is of this na∣ture.
Page 130Certainly, there is more of God in the meanest Saint, in the meanest gra∣cious man or woman; there is more of the glory of God, then in all the world besides, then in heaven and earth. Take all the creatures, all the glory of God in the heavens, in the Sunne, Moon, and Stars, and put all into one. Take all the glory of God in the seas, those vast Oceans, and put that into one; take all the glory of God that appears in the earth, all the riches of the earth, and all arts and sciences, and what you will; put all into one, and the meanest youth or servant that hath the least degree of grace, hath more of the glory of God then all this is. There is more of the shining of God in the least degree of grace in the poorest Christian in the world, then there is in all these crea∣tures. If there were a quintessence of all the excellency, and glory, extract∣ed, and drawn, and put into one, yet there were not so much of God, God could not see so much of himself in that one creature that should have the Page 131 excellency of all creatures put toge∣ther, as he sees in the meanest Saint that hath the work of grace.
And surely then they are the excel∣lent of the earth, if there be so much of God in them.
The work of grace is that which hath most of God in it; and where∣soever it is, it is that which is the pro∣per work of Gods eternall love; it is a beam of it, therefore there is a great deal of excellency in it. Take all other creatures, and it is possible to enjoy all the good that is in all the creatures in heaven and earth (excepting this one∣ly, the grace of God) through the bounty of God, and the pleasure of God.
There is nothing that the creature hath, but may be communicated as a fruit of Gods generall bounty except spirituall blessings in Christ: but where ever this is, though in the least degree, it is of that nature, that it can∣not come but onely from the eternall election of God. It is that which is the principle of Eternall life, wheresoever Page 132 it is, it is that which will grow up to eternall glory.
All common gifts will never grow up to glory, though they grow up to the height of glory, but the grace of God, true grace, it is of the same na∣ture with eternall glory. Therefore for the kind of it, it is the greatest good that ever God did, or that ever he will communicate to any creature for all eternity. I say, where ever God hath communicated any dramme of grace,* that is the greatest good that ever God did, or ever will commu∣nicate to all eternity, to any of his creatures, therefore it is exceeding excellent.
Onely excepting the work of God in the hypostaticall union of the two natures, wherein he joyned the hu∣mane, and the divine nature together in one person; excepting that, the work of grace in any soul is the grea∣test work that ever God did from all eternity, or that ever he will do, for the kind of it.
Now that which hath so much of Page 133 God in it, & comes from the eternall election and love of God; and is the greatest work that ever was done, or ever shall be done; and the greatest good that ever was, or shall be com∣municated to any creature for ever, truly this must needs be the greatest excellency. For God made the world for that end, that he might commu∣nicate his excellency, and glory to the world, to the creature. Now that which was the greatest thing that God intended from all eternity; for the communicating of all his glory, it must needs make the creature excel∣lent. This is the first thing, that the Saints are the excellent on earth in regard of the image of God upon them, and the work of grace in them.
But secondly, they are the excellent of the earth, in regard of the separa∣ting of them for God: they are those that God set his thoughts upon from all eternity, that they might enjoy him. The great counsels that God wrought from all eternity, especially Page 134 were set on work upon this great thing of separating of certain creatures for himself from the rest of the world.
Now when God shall set as it were (to speak after the manner of men) his thoughts and counsels on work from all eternity to set apart a few creatures for himself; if these can be known who they are, certainly, we cannot but look on them as the excellent on earth: Now wheresoever we see the work of grace in any, we may by that know that these God hath separated for himself, as setting his infinite wise∣dome on work from all eternity above that. That was the thing he was most exercised in before the world, about the work of separating such and such for himself. The Psalmist saith, O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? How long will ye love vanity and seek after leasing? But know, that the Lord hath set a part him that is Godly, for himself. Psalm. 4.2.3. Here you see that God hath set apart the godly for himself, they are those that Page 135 are dedicated, & consecrated to God, therefore there is a wonderfull excel∣lency put upon them.
*As you know any thing that is de∣dicated and consecrated, though it be never so mean in it self, yet being once dedicated, being once made a consecrated thing, there is a great deal of excellency put upon that thing. As in the law, if it were but a piece of wood in the Tabernacle, if it were but a Badgers skin; if it were but brasse or goats hair or any such thing that were meane in it self, yet if it were once consecrated and made holy to God, they looked upon it as having a great deal of excellency on it.
Now I reason thus; if a piece of wood, or a little hair, or leather con∣secrated to God had an excellency in it: what then hath an immortall soul, that hath the graces of the spirit, as so many pearls in it, when that is consecrated & set apart to God to the glory and praise of his grace to all e∣ternity; here must needs be much ex∣cellency and most eminent prehemi∣nences.
Page 136When a thing is consecrated we look on it no more according to the quality of the thing, but to the conse∣cration. As I remember I read of some people in India, that when they have but lost an Apes tooth that was con∣secrated to their god, they will give an unspeakable summe of money for the redemption of it again, because it was a thing that was consecrated to their god. So I read of another that being raised from a mean birth, he took this way to make himself to be highly esteemed of the people, he had a golden bason that he used to wash his feet in, he took that and made an idoll of it, and consecrated it, and then every one fell down, and wor∣shipped it when it was consecrated. Nay, saith he, if this which was mean before it was set apart to this use, comes so to be honoured, then I that am mean by birth, being set apart to the government, may as well be ho∣noured by you.
Thus then if the superstition, and will of man having consecrated a Page 137 thing, thinks he puts so much excel∣lency on it, how much more when God himself, and the great and spe∣ciall work of the holy Ghost that he is designed to, it is a speciall work of his office to consecrate souls to God, and to set them apart to himself, what an excellency must this needs be that is put upon them? They are the excellent of the earth. That is the se∣cond.
*Thirdly, if we consider that rela∣tion that the Saints have to God; they are the nearest relations that can be exprest. Of children to parents; they are the children of God. Of a spouse to her husband; they are the spouse of Iesus Christ, the second person in Trinity; and in that regard they are more nearly united to God then the Angels themselves are, in being the spouse of the Son of God. Yea the very members of his body, they have a nearer relation in that respect to the divine nature, to the second person in Trinity then the Angels themselves: for they have not such a relation as Page 138 this, therefore they are the excellent of the earth.
*Again, fourthly, if we consider the great priviledges that the Saints have, we shal see them the excellent of the earth. Not to speak of their delive∣rance from sin and guiltinesse, and those immunities that they have from others. But consider they have this priviledge, that God in all his attri∣butes and works, he is continually working for their good.
There is this excellent prerogative of the Saints, there is no attribute of God but it is continually working good to every Saint of God. There is no work of Gods providence, but it works and acts continually for their good.
It would be a mighty excellent ho∣nour put upon any man, if but such an honourable assembly as the Parlia∣ment, should take thought for such an one, and all their purposes and plots, and councels all the time they are sit∣ting should tend to the good of such an one in particular, taking notice in Page 139 particular of him. It is that which I said, all your wisdome, and power and mercy, and faithfulnesse, and the infi∣nite alsufficiency of God is continual∣ly every moment working, not onely for the good of those that love God in generall, but for every particular Saint of God. God takes speciall no∣tice of them, and sets all his attributes continually on work for their good, & wellbeing.
And the heavens continually work for them. They have this priviledge, that the whole world is made for them, God hath given them the world, they are the heirs of the world; as it is said of Abraham, he was the heir of the world. Rom. 4. Abraham had little himself, yet he had the world. Now the children inherit their fathers estate; if the world were A∣brahams inheritance, then it is the in∣heritance of every child of Abraham: for so the children of Abraham are heirs to all that Abraham had, that is, as far as concerns them, therefore they that are his heirs, are heirs like¦wise Page 140 of the world, so the Apostle saith, 1 Cor. 3.22.23. All are yours, and you are Christs, and Christ is Gods. So that God, and the creatures are theirs, here is a mighty priviledge indeed.
Again, the priviledges that they have in all the good of the Covenant of grace, Whatsoever good there is in the Covenant of grace, all the rich promises in the Covenant of grace are the priviledges of the godly Saints. It is admirable priviledges that the pre∣cious promises in the Scripture speak of, to have interest in them all.
*Besides, not onely the promises, but the immunities that come from the Covenant of grace, as this; that they are not to stand or fall for their eternall estate, by any thing that they are able to do themselves, they are freed from this, their eternall estate hangs not on that which they can do. Whereas others, that are not saints, that are not in the Covenant of grace, their eternall estate hangs on their endeavours, and actions, God dealing with them according to the Covenant Page 141 of works, being in that condition: though they may be such as may after come to be Saints, and as God hath elected, and in love may look on them as he intends towards them: but for the present they are in such a condi∣tion, as that they know not, but that their eternall estate depends on that which they do themselves. Now to be delivered from this, to have this immunity that such a thing of such a consequence, as our eternall estate should depend upon a sure foundation, upon that which is done by Christ, and done already; it is an infinite pri∣viledge. Others cannot challenge to themselves this priviledge, that God will accept of their endeavours; do what they can, yet not being in the Covenant of grace, those endeavours are not accepted. That it pleaseth God to accept the will for the deed; it is one of the priviledges of the Saints, that comes by the Covenant of grace: but it belongs not to others, they have not to do with this immu∣nity and priviledge. So I might name Page 142 divers others, but then I should go out too far.
*Again, this is a glorious priviledge of accesse to the throne of grace, to come to God in prayer. God gives them the key of all his treasures to come, and open them, and take what they will; it is a glorious priviledge that belongs to the Saints in any con∣dition. God gives them a gracious praying heart, and that is the key of all the treasures of God, of all the ex∣cellencies of God, that they have li∣berty to come and take out what they will, be it unto thee as thou wilt. These are the excellent of the earth, that have these priviledges.
*Again, they are the excellent in earth in regard of that which comes from them. As the work of grace is so excellent as hath been spoken of: so every gracious action that comes from a gracious heart there is a won∣drous excellency in it. There is not any one gracious action, but it hath more excellency then heaven and earth. Not onely grace it self, but any Page 143 action that comes from grace, hath more of God in it, and God more de∣lights in it, then in all other things in heaven or earth.
*It is an expression of Luther, (though he were a great advancer of faith, yet he was also an advancer of holinesse as well as of faith; therefore speaking of any gracious work of a godly man or woman, saith he, preciosa &c. it is more precious then heaven and earth. And then he goes on with another expression I had rather be able to per∣form any one gracious act, of the poo∣rest woman, or maid; of the poorest Christian that is, then to be able to do all that ever Alexander, or Iulius Caesar had done. The least act that comes from faith, from a sanctified heart, he had rather be able to do it, then to get all the victories of Iulius Caesar and Alexander: all their triumphs and trophies were nothing to the least breathing of the work of grace in those that are godly, that which comes from them are exceed∣ing excellent. Now I reason, they Page 144 must needs be excellent, that have such excellent things come from them. As when there were such ex∣cellent things came from the body of Paul,*that had such virtue in them, that had such virtue in them, that noted that there was a great deal of excel∣lency that God conferred upon that Apostle, and a great deal of honour that was put upon him: So when there comes flowing such precious liquor, such precious things from the Saints, as an holy action is, it shews that there is a great deal of excellency in them.
*Which (by the way) should teach us to abound in holy duties; though our actions as they are from us cor∣rupted, we look on them as despica∣ble, yet know that God looks on them as the most glorious things in the world, any breathing of a gracious heart, therefore he despiseth not the broken heart, nor the sighing of a contrite spirit. Psalm. 51.17. God can despise Monarchs, and Princes of the world: but God cannot despise a broken Page 145 heart, nor any breathings from it. Though thou mayest despise it thy self, and look on it as despicable, the Lord cannot despise it: he sees so much excellency in it, though it be mixed with thy corruptions; yet there is that remainder of excellency in it, if there be but so much as may denomi∣nate it a gracious act, it is a glorious thing in the eye of God.
Lastly, (to name no more) the ex∣cellency of the Saints appears in this, the great use that they are of in the world. As especially this is one thing that God attains in them his great aim and end in creating the whole world. Were it not for a few gracious men, and women, what glory should God have in all the world? They are those that hold up the glory of God in the world, by which God hath his glory actively; for that is that God aims at. It is true God can force glory in spight of mens hearts, he will be glorified in spight of Devils: but God hath no active glory, but from gracious, god∣ly people (I speak of the inferiour Page 146 world) it is onely the godly that God hath glory from. Therefore were it not for them God (in some kind) had made all the world for nothing. Now those that are imployed in such a great work, and are of this great use in the world, as to bring to God that which he made the world for, the main, and great end that he made hea∣ven and earth for; certainly these are principall in Gods esteem, and excel∣lent. God can say I have my end in these: Take any town where there are but two or three that are godly, what glory hath God but of these? So for other places where hath God glory but for a few contemptibile ones? They are these that God glorifies in high and great services: these are the lights of the world, the salt of the earth: they are these that are the bles∣sings of the world wheresoever they are; they are these for whom the world continueth so as it doth. There is a notable expression in Isaiah, In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt, and with Assyria, even a blessing in the Page 147 middest of the Land, whom the Lord of hosts shall blesse, saying, blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance. Isaiah 19.24.25. Wheresoever they are in a Kingdom, or a family, or a town, they are a blessing in that King∣dome, in that town, and in that fami∣ly. Israel shall be a blessing in the middest of the Land. These are they that are the excellent of the earth.
I would now willingly be over this that I may come to the other, but one∣ly there is a word or two of applica∣tian. And that is.
First, to shew what a vast difference there is between those that are godly, & those that are wicked. Many things I might shew that the Scripture ex∣presseth of wicked ones in all their glory: let all the glory of the world be put upon them, yet the Scripture speaks exceedingly contemptuously of them. I must not spend time in those expressions, onely one, and that is Daniel. And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not Page 148 give the honour of the Kingdome: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the Kingdom by flatteries. Daniel 11.21. It is spoken (as most Interpreters carry it) of Antiochus Epiphanes, he is called a vile person, we may observe that David doth here more fully set out the love and affection he bears to∣wards those that feare God by the contrary effect of hatred wherewith he doth prosecute the wicked, as in the 4. v. of this Psalm, & in the 4. vers. of the foregoing Psalm, the Psalmist saith, In whose eyes a vile person is con∣temned, but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. Psalm. 15.4. Of this Antiochus there are three things ob∣served, yet he is called a vile person. First, he was a great enemy to many sinnes. Secondly, when the Iews wrote to him, because they feared his wrath, he being a persecutor of the Iews; there were some that lived in Samaria that were Samaritans that wrote to him to desire his favour, that were not their own selves Iews, but Samaritans: and Iosephus saith, they Page 149 wrote to him in this stile, To An∣tiochus, &c. Antiochus the mighty God; they gave him this title of honour. He was a great man on earth accounted where he lived; among the Samari∣tans, a mighty god; yet the Scripture calls him a vile person. And then his name Epiphanes, which is as much as illustrious or glorious. He hath that title of almighty god, and illustrious, and glorious, and yet he was a vile person. Thus it is, where God sees not the work of grace.
*The consideration of this might give us some hope that there will be a time wherein God will appear for his Saints. It is not probable that God will alwayes suffer his Iewels to be trodden under feet in the world; that God will alway look upon such as are excellent on earth, and see them so abused in the world, & so contempti∣ble as they are; surely this will not be alwayes, God hath this time to make it manifest to the world, that they are the excellent of the earth. They are now Iewels, yet they are such as are Page 150 in the dirt, and so are despised & con∣temned: but there is a promise, that the Lord their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his Land. Zach. 9.16. As the stones of a Crown, God will lift them up and make them honou∣rable.
And there is another Text which is very observable; for every one to take notice of Gods intention to make these excellent ones famous on earth. The governours of Iudah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Ierusalem shall be my strength in the Lord of hosts their God. Zach. 12.5. There was a time when the governours of Iudah despi∣sed those that were gracious & godly; but God hath promised that the go∣vernours of Iudah shall be convinced of their errour, and shall say in their hearts the inhabitants of Ierusalem shall be my strength in the Lord of hosts their God: However now through the ca∣lumnies of the world; however now through the reproaches that are cast Page 151 upon the Saints of God, it falls out many time, that even the governours of Iudah despise and contemne them, and say they are seduced people, that they are factious and turbulent, and so their hearts are against them, & hate, and abhorre them, & look upon them with such an evill eye, as those that they name puritans: yet there is a time promised when the governours of Iu∣dah shall say in their hearts the inha∣bitants of Ierusalem are my strength in the Lord of hosts. O ye inhabitants of Ierusalem, Gods Church and peo∣ple, his sanctified ones (for Ierusalem typified the estate of Gods people un∣der the Gospell; Gods sanctified ones under the Gospell) shall be such as the governours of Iudah in their hearts shall say, My strength is in them. I see they are my best subjects, my chief strength is in them, and they are of principall use for me, and my King∣dom is upheld in peace for them, and there is the blessing of God on them, they shall be my strength in the Lord of hosts their God. Now I see God is Page 152 their God; God hears their prayers, and hath done much for them, we are convinced of it. O this will be a bles∣sed time, when it shall be that the governours of Iudah shall say so.
Blessed be God that they do say so in any measure, that the governours of Iudah say at all of the inhabitants of Ierusalem, of the godly, that their strength is in them: that they may see those that are the excellent of the earth, in any measure to be truly the excellent of the earth.
It were a ruefull spectacle, and would draw tears of bloud, to see the excellent ones to have that usage that they have had. But now to see those excellent ones countenanced in a pu∣blick way, especially in publick courts of Iustice, it is glorious, when the governours of Iudah shall do it. And this we are to pray for, that it may be more and more seen amongst us, and to say no more; let us learn to honour them that God hath honoured: since they are excellent ones, and God hath put excellency upon them, do Page 153 you so too, look on them according as God esteems them. It is observed, that God in the time of the law did not require them to offer in sacrifice, Lions and Eagles, those brave crea∣tures; but Lambs and Doves, mean creatures, he would have offered in sacrifice. So God doth not regard the brave spirits of the world that strut it out; but if there be any that be gra∣cious and godly though they he never so poor and mean, as Lambs and Doves, God honours and respects them, they are a sacrifice to him; the broken heart is a sacrifice to God.*The sacr•fices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O Lord, thou wilt not despise. Therefore when God would lift up himself in glory, he saith, *He that dwells in the high and lofty place. What of him? he looks to those that are of humble, and contrite hearts, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. As if there were no other subject in the world worth looking upon, he looks onely to them. As a thing that is before ones eye that he prizeth, his Page 154 eye is fastned on that: so God looks on them as if they were the onely ob∣ject to be looked at; therefore let them be looked at by us with reve∣rence in our hearts: it is fit that we should honour those that God ho∣nours.
*Therefore it is observed in the message of the King of Babylon to Hezekiah, 2 Chron. 32.31. When He∣zekiah was sick, and God had given him a sign of his recovery that the sun did go backward: It was a wondrous honour that God put on him that the sun should go backward. The ambas∣sadours of the king of Babylon came to congratulate with Hezekiah after his recovery: but what was the busi∣nesse? not onely to congratulate with him for his recovery; but to enquire of the great miracle, so the Text saith, the ambassadours of the Prince of Babylon were sent unto him to enquire of the won∣der that was done in the land; Why did they enquire of this wonder? there were many wonders done, but they were not sent to enquire of others but Page 155 of this. Because they worshipped the sun for their god and because their god had put such an honour upon He∣zekiah; they perceived the altering of the sun that it went backward, and they enquired of the matter, concern∣ing the alteration in the sun, and after enquiry there was news that it was for the sake of Hezekiah. Now because they worshipped the Sun as their god, and so apprehended that their god had put such an honour upon He∣zekiah, they honoured him too. Though Hezekiah were king of the Iews, and they were enemies one to another, Ierusalem and Babylon, yet when God had honoured him, they sent to congratulate one another, then they put honour and respect one upon another upon that occasion.
That should teach us, if the heathens when they see their God put honour on any, they honour such as God ho∣nours, then when you see or hear that God honours gracious & godly men, and women, do you so too; prize them, let them have high esteem in your Page 156 hearts. You have heard this day what honour God puts upon his Saints, therefore learn you to honour them. And much might be said, to draw the hearts of all people to the love of the people of God. Somewhat for the people of God; to walk as excellent ones, not to defile one another. And for others, if they would be those here in the world that be excellent and glorious; it is not the outward things of the world that hang on you; as clothes, and riches that make you ex∣cellent ones in the eye of God, but it is grace, and godlinesse. By faith the fathers obtained good report.
Some think there is no way to get esteem, but by outward bravery, great livings, fine clothes and the like; and men think that the way to be ac∣counted more eminent then others, is to be rich, and to wear fine cloaths & get honours and such like; but these are fading and not permanent. So there are many ministers that think to get esteem if they be honoured before great ones, and go brave. But you Page 157 know by experience, that a faithfull godly minister, that walks faithfully, and conscionably, he gets more esteem in the hearts and consciences not onely of those that are godly, but of those that have enlightned con∣sciences, then a hundred of those; and they vex at it that they should do so; Why? they go a way to work to get more esteem, but they are deceived; they look at excellency where it is not. It is not such things, but in the work of grace, that prevails with the consciences of men. Boniface the mar∣tyr when he was asked the question,* if he might have the sacrament, if he would drink it in a wooden challice? saith he, the time was that there were wooden cups and golden priests, but now there are golden cups & wooden priests. There was a time in the pri∣mitive times, they were very mean, they were content with wooden ves∣sels; but the men were gold in regard of grace, and godlinesse, and so they were highly esteemed; but now they have golden cups, that is a great deal Page 158 of bravery and glory; but they have wooden priests, those that have no true excellency in them. *The heart of the wicked is little worth. It may be his estate, his houses, his lands may be somewhat worth, but what is his heart worth? he hath nothing in him∣self to commend himself. But now the excellency of Gods people is in that, it is in the soul and heart.
It were an uncomfortable thing to any of you, if suppose you have a ser∣vant along with you where you go, and all the respect you have is for your servants sake; if any entertain you into their house, it is not out of respect to you, but respect to your man; they love your man, and for his sake they entertain you; this would deject your hearts if you should know that you have no respect for any good in your selves, but for your servants sake. So the men of the world, they have respect, but what is it for? for their riches, for their honour, for their brave cloaths, for their money; all servants under them, they have no Page 159 respect for any thing in themselves, they have no spirituall excellency; especially when they are to deal with God, and the consciences of men, they have no respect. But godly men have not so many servants to gain respect by outward things: but that respect they have of Gods Saints, and in the consciences of men they have it from an internall excellency. But we let this go.
The second point follows, The ex∣cellent of the earth. In whom is all my de¦light.
It is but little that can be done I see, though it were the point I in∣tended most. That that hath been said already makes way abundantly into the heart, that if they be the excel∣lent of the earth, there is cause that we should delight in them.* That is the point, that a gracious heart takes great delight in the Saints on earth.
First in their persons.
Or secondly in their society, and communion with them.
Or rather thus; they take de∣light Page 160 in them, severally and joint∣ly.
If they look upon any one Saint of God, they have deligt in him▪ but they have more to look on all the Saints together jointly; so they can say their souls delight in them, there is a sweet complacency taken in them jointly. And that is that which I shall speak to at this time; The delight that is to be taken in the Saints jointly together. There is delight in the Saints in re∣gard of the sweetnesse of their society and communion with them. For so this delight of David is to be taken in a large sence; not onely in one parti∣cular, because of the good that he saw in their persons: but in regard of all the good he saw in them, and by them in joyning with them take them alto∣gether jointly. All the good that came from them; so he delighted in them. There is a great deal of delight and contentment to be had in the Saints of God, especially jointly.
If you look at one sometimes (though in never so mean a condition) Page 161 there is a great deal of delight there. As Doctor Tayler the Martyr, that we read of in the book of Martyrs coming to Bradford, he professed that it coun∣tervailed all his trouble in prison, that he was acquainted with that Angel of God Iohn Bradford, meaning him in particular. And another that pro∣fessed that he had rather be with Cato, (a heathen) for his morall excellen∣cies, in prison then with Cesar in the Senate in all his pomp. To be shut up with one godly man is a great deal of delight and contentment: what a great deal of delight is there then in their being together, and in that way wherein most of their excellencies appear? such delight is in them joint∣ly.
*First, because the most comfor∣table communion that possible can be is enjoyed with them, and in them: for
First, is it not a most delightfull thing to see a company of godly peo∣ple together to behold the resplen∣dent beauty, and glory of the graces Page 162 of Gods spirit? If there were nothing else, what a delightfull thing is it saith the heart? The very sight of good men is pleasing and delightfull to those that look upon their faces: wis∣dome makes their faces shine. The seeing of the resplendent grace of God in them is very delightfull. What is the delight of God, but the seeing of the shining of his glory in his works? especially when God sees that which is the shining of his highest glory, as his own grace and holinesse, that God delights in most. So when a gracious heart sees his own image, & that grace that God hath wrought in him, he sees it resplendently in others, it is a de∣lightfull object.
Again, there is a comfortable com∣munion with them in regard of the fragrancie of grace. The beauty of grace is delightfull, but the fragrancy, the breathings of grace, are sweet in the heart. The beholding of it is de∣lightfull to the eye, but the workings of their grace is exceeding sweet, and comfortable to the heart: Therefore Page 163 saith the Church, Let my beloved go down into the gardens, among the beds of spices to feed in the gardens, and to gather spices. Cant. 6.2. All the Churches of God in the world are as the garden of Christ; and every particular Church in that garden is as a bed of spices; and every particular Saint is as the seve∣rall parts of that bed, & especially the fragrant smell is very sweet.
It is said of Alexander, his very body was of such a constitution, that where ever he went there was a sweet savour came from his body. Certain∣ly, where there is but one of Gods children, there is sweetnesse from him; but where there is a company joyntly, there is a wonderfull un∣speakable sweetnesse comes from them, it is exceeding comfortable to a gracious heart to be among them.
Again, their communion is comfor∣table and delightfull jointly, in regard of the nearnesse; there being no com∣munion under heaven, wherein there is that nearnesse one to another, as of Page 164 the Saints. Observe, (that you may see how near they come together, and are made one, and so are exceeding delightfull one to another) any thing the more spirituall they are, the more they are united; the more corporeall they are, the lesse union. A heap of stones are not united, as the severall beams of the sun, a thousand of them are united in one point, because they are of a spirituall nature. So it is with the spirits of men, the more carnall any men, and any society is, the lesse union: therefore the reason why the people of God many times are di∣vided, and not united is, because they are carnall, *Are ye not carnall, saith the Apostle,when there were divisions? were you spirituall you would be more united one to another, but car∣nall men are carnally minded.
It is with spirituall society in re∣gard of spirituall union, as it is with the society of wickednesse. There is bodily, fleshly wickednesse, and there is spirituall wickednesse. Now those that joyn together in grosse bodily Page 165 wickednesse, they are not so closely united as those that joyn in spirituall wickednesse. A companion of drun∣kards or whoremongers, they take de∣light in one another, and joyn in wickednesse, but it is corporall, there∣fore they soon fall out, and fly in the faces one of another. But those that joyn in spirituall wickednesse, as poli∣tick ambitious men, men that joyn in mischief in a spirituall way, they keep mighty close, and you cannot easily break their bond of union; they will suffer much before they will discover one another, and break union one with another, because their union is in a way of spirituall wickednesse. So on the contrary, when any are united in the spirit of holinesse, they are mighti∣ly united, there is no such union under heaven as that.
We read of the curtains of the Ta∣bernacle, Exod. 26. there were some of them that were made of purple, & scarlet, and fine linen, and their teaches that held them together were pure gold. There were others of goats hair, Page 166 and their buckles were brasse. So it may set out the different condition of men in the Church: There are some in the Church that are truly gracious and godly, that excell in grace; and they are united by tacks of gold; their union is mighty strong and glorious in their hearts. There are others in the Church, outward professours that are carnall, that are goats hair, goats in the Church; and they maintain a union too, but it is but brasse, the ground and bottome of the union is but mean; it is not such a gol∣den union, as the union of the hearts of Gods people; there are no people under heaven so united as they.
It is true, through their corrupti∣on, there is a great deal of dissention (as there is corruption in the best) but that is as farre as they are carnall; the more spirituall they grow, the more near is their union one to an∣other, and the more entire is their love,*My beloved is one, saith Christ to his Church, she is the choice of one Page 167 of her that bare her, and the daughters saw her and blessed her. There is an onenesse, and intirenesse in the hearts of the Saints, and this makes them to be blessed by those that behold them, and makes their communion very de∣lightfull.
That is the first particular, their communion is most delightfull of all other communions: therefore David saith, all my delight is in them, taking them together.
But then in the second place, A gracious heart must needs delight in the Saints, if you take them jointly; because that when they are together, there God is worshipped: the so∣lemnest worship that God hath is from the Saints joyned together. As I told you before that the glory that God had in the world was from them all: but the solemnity of Gods worship cannot be but from them jointly to∣gether. Therefore the great delight of a gracious heart is to be with the saints when they are jointly together: because there the name of God is ho∣noured, Page 168 and they worship God in a so∣lemne way; God is honoured among them.
Christ himself much delights in the Saints when they are joyned to∣gether in the duties of holy worship, do but compare two Texts of Scri∣pture, that will both make us in love with the Saints, and delight in joynt communion with them. Compare Psalm. 22.22. with Heb. 2.12. The Psalme is a prophesie of Christ; and generally all interpreters go this way, that it is so, it appears by the Psalme that Christ especially is meant: the Text saith, I will declare thy name unto my brethren in the middest of the con∣gregation will I praise thee. It is the promise of Christ to declare the name of his father to his Church and peo∣ple, and in the middest of the congre∣gation he shall praise God. Mark it, in Heb. 2.12. the Apostle applies it to the Saints joyned together, saying, I will declare the name unto my bre∣thren, in the middest of the Church, will I sing praise unto thee. This was after Page 169 Christ had been in the flesh, yet the Apostle applies this to the Church, in the middest of the Church, will I sing prayse unto thee. This they gather hence, that Christ he delights in being with his people when they are jointly together, because of the solemne worship of God, that is tendered to God by them, and he joynes with them in it as a delightfull work: as they are together to praise God, Christ is praising him; as they wor∣ship, Christ is worshipping. Now eve∣ry Saint of God hath the spirit of Christ in him, and so he delights in the society of the Saints on this ground, because there is worshipping of God, and God is praised solemnly among them. If there be any place in the world, wherein God hath solemne worship, it cannot be grieve a gra∣cious heart, that he is not with them, for his heart is with them, he delights to be with them, especially in such a work as that; it grieves him that he cannot be there.
It is a note of an Interpreter that I Page 170 have met with upon Isaiah. 6. where the Angles cry Holy, holy, holy, Lord of Hosts, the Prophet cryes, Woe unto me for I am undone, &c. saith he, upon this ground, because he could not joyn with those blessed creatures, and so magnifie, and praise, and wor∣ship God; that he through his sin∣fulnesse was not able to joyn with them, he cryes, Woe is me, I am un∣done. So when any gracious heart doth but hear, that there is a people in the world that are precious ones, the excellent on earth, that joyn in the worship of God, and honour God in his own way, and enjoy communi∣on with God, and I cannot joyn with them, woe to me that there should be any let or hinderance that I cannot come and joyn with them: for my heart is there, my delight is in the Saints when they are jointly together: because Gods solemne worship is there.
But thirdly, my delight is in the Saints jointly, in regard of the won∣derfull delight God hath in them. A Page 171 gracious heart must needs delight in them, because God himself takes so much delight in them: but especially when they are jointly together. There are speciall expressions in Scripture of Gods taking delight in the Saints jointly, as in Zephany Zeph. 3.17. The Lord thy God in the middest of thee is mighty: he will save, he will re∣joyce over thee with joy: he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. What expressions are here of Gods delighting in his people! The Lord thy God will rejoyce, he will rejoyce over thee with joy; he will love, he will rest in his love, and joy, and joy over thee with singing. And in Isaiah, you shall find that the Church is called Hephzibah, Gods delight: Thou shalt no more be termed, Forsaken; neither shall thy Land any more be termed, Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzi bah, and thy land, Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. Isaiah 62.4. it is a wondrous delight that God hath in his Saints.
Page 172There are wonderfull expressions in Scripture for the manifesting of Gods delight, even to admiration; especially in the Church jointly to∣gether. They are such expressions as we could not think or invent: as na∣mely, that he calls his people his por∣tion, his pleasant portion, for the Lords portion is his people: Iacob is the lot of his inheritance. Deut. 32.9. God calls them his inheritance, the lot of his inhe∣ritance: Ier. 12.7. he calls them the dearly beloved of his soul; Exod. 19.5. he calls them his peculiar treasure. Now therefore if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people. God hath treasures in the world; the creatures that are called the good treasures of the Lord: Deut. 28. but his people are called his peculiar treasure, there is a particularity: There is another kind of excellency in the people of Gods delight, then in all o∣ther creatures; they are his common treasure, but his people are his pecu∣liar treasure. God calls them his glo∣ry, Page 173 I will glorifie the house of my glory, I will place salvation in Zion for my glo∣ry. Isa. 46.13. The crown of his glory, Isa. 60.7. he calls them the Throne of his glory, Isa. 62.3. Thou shalt be a Crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royall diadeem in the hand of thy God. In severall places that I cannot stand on. His glory, the House of his glory, the Crown of his glory, the Throne of his glory. He calls them the royall Diadeem, he calls them his ornament, an ornament set in Majesty and glory. There are the expressions, and more I might name of Gods delighting in his people. Therefore if God delight in them and find satisfaction, much more should we.
Christs speaks of his Church,*O my sister, my spouse, my heart is ravished with thee. It is a strange expression, for Christ himself to be ravished with his people. It is an expression beseeming the Church, to have said so to Christ, but for Christ to say to the Church, it is wonderfull. And again, My love, Page 174 my dove, my undefiled one, Cant. 2. and at that very time when the Church was in a state of security, that Christ should call her his love, his dove, his undefiled; all to expresse the abun∣dance of delight in his people. Well if God have such delight in them, much more should the Saints.
Again, if we consider further, the presence of God among his people, it is another argument why the Saints of God should take so much delight in other Saints, especially when they are joyned together, because God is present there. The Lord is here, is the name of all their assemblies, *The Lord dwells, and hath his tabernacle in Sion. It is a strange expression concerning the presence of God, in that he makes his people his habitation. As the people of God call God their habita∣tion: so God calls his Church his ha∣bitation. God dwells in Sion. Psal. 90. Would you not delight to keep house with God? Where Gods people are, God keeps house: and we should long to have it our own house, and not Page 175 come as strangers. A man may come as a stranger, and take a bit, and be refreshed in a family; but it is not his house, But now Gods peo∣ple when they go to others of the Saints they see God there, and they have that house for their house. It is called (as I told you) the house of his glory; that house that God de∣sires to dwell in; he hath a mighty love to that house, to dwell among his people. In Psalm. 132. there are many great and excellent expressions. For the Lord hath chosen Zion, he hath desired it for his habitation, Psal. 132.13, 14. God desires Zion; what is Zion, but onely his Saints and peo∣ple joyned together? Zion was a type of the Church: so now all the Saints of God together are Zion. Now God hath a desire to this habitation. God dwells in the high and holy place, the highest heaven is God habitation; but though God have such a house in hea∣ven, yet he is not (as it were) contented with that house, but he desires an∣other house: he hath a desire to Zion Page 176 to be his habitation, and the house where his honour dwelleth. You know a Prince may have some houses of meaner regard, when he goes to his sport, he may have a mean house to lodge in for a while: but his pallace where he shews his Majestie, and ho∣nour, that is more glorious. So the people of God, and the Church, is called the house of Gods honour, it is not a mean house, but a house of ho∣nour.
Further, it is that house that he means to dwell in for ever, he loves it so well. This is my house, I will dwell in it for ever. I am so well pleased with it, I will rest in it for ever. Surely, we have cause to rest our hearts in Gods people, when God finds rest there, and for ever.
It may be some of you are some∣times acquainted with the people of God, & at the first delight in them: but your hearts being carnall you soon grow weary of them. It is not so with God, he delights in his people, and rests there, and rests there for ever.
I answer, in two regards God is said to dwell among his people in a spe∣ciall manner.
First, because he makes himself known to his people, more then to all the world besides. There are none that know the counsell and mind of God, so as his Saints do. God is known in Iudah. Psal. 29.9. There God opens himself, In his Temple every man speaks of his glory.
Secondly, because God communi∣cates himself most among his people, God is said to be in heaven. Why? but because there he manifests his glory more then in other places; therefore heaven is his habitation. If that be his habitation where he manifests himself more, then his people are his habita∣tion, because he manifests himself most there.
Secondly, heaven is the place of Gods residence, because he commu∣nicates Page 178 himself most there: then also Gods people are his residence, he communicates himself there. And he communicates himself to them in a speciall manner, in four regards.
- 1. He communicates to his people more choise mercies.
- 2. He communicates mercies more fully.
- 3. He communicates mercies more powerfully.
- 4. More universally, then to o∣thers.
1. He communicates goodnesse a∣mong his people and Saints more choisely, more choise mercies of God. There is a remarkable place in the Psalmes, The Lord that made heaven and earth blesse thee out of Zion. Psalm. 143. ult. He saith not the Lord that made heaven and earth blesse thee, ei∣ther out of heaven or earth, but out of Zion, as nothing that the choise mer∣cies that God hath to communicate are out of Zion; among his people joyned together in the way of wor¦ship. Would you desire that God Page 179 should blesse you with the chief mer∣cies that he hath? look upon God as blessing out of Zion; out of Zion God communicates his choisest mercies: therefore it concerns all to be in Zion, that they may have God to blesse them out of Zion; there runs the sweetest of Gods mercies indeed in Zion.
Again, God communicates his mer∣cies more fully among his people then any other way. Psalm. 36.7, 8. How excellent is thy loving kindnesse, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatnesse of thy house, and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. They shall be abundantly satisfied; how? not with the creatures, but with the fatnesse of thy house. Neither with thy communication to them alone. God hath abundance of mercies for his Saints alone: but when they are a∣mong the Saints jointly together, then they shall be abundantly satisfied with Page 180 the fatnesse of his house, and he sha•l make them drink of his rivers of plea∣sures. While they are alone in cor∣ners, they may have many sweet drops of pleasure from God, but when they are joyned with the Saints, there are rivers of pleasure, and delight that come to their hearts: therefore there is great delight to be had in the Saints of God when they are joyned to∣gether.
Thirdly, he communicates them more powerfully, mark, in Psal. 133.3. As the dew of Hermon, and the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded a blessing, even life for ever more. There was blessing, & the Lord commanded it: there went a powerfull work of Gods grace upon the hearts of people there, when they were joyned to∣gether in Zion: there God command∣ed the blessing. If you would have God speaking powerfully to com∣mand a blessing on your souls you must be among his people, you must joyn in a holy fellowship with his Page 181 people; there God commands it.
In the last place, more universally all the goodnesse of God is commu∣nicated among his people, therefore the Church is called the perfection of beauty; Psam. 50. that some translate, the universality of excellency and beauty. There is a universality of all among the Church and people of God. And in another place, All my springs are in thee. Psam. 87. speaking of joyning with the people of God, that is, all my springs of truth that are revealed to me; all the springs of com∣fort that I have communicated to my soul, all the springs of grace that I have; to quicken me, they are all in thee in the joynt society and commu∣nion with Gods people, I find all. Thus we see the presence of God a∣mong his people in regard of the com∣munication of himself to them, and therefore what a great deal of cause there is to joy, and delight in the Saints jointly together.
Again further there is abundance of cause to delight in them joyned to∣gether, Page 182 in regard of their admirable priviledges as they are joyned toge∣ther. They have priviledges as they are alone, but as they are joyned they have committed to them the oracles of God, Rom. 3.2. all the ordinances by which God conveyes himself. To them are committed the seal of the covenant, you cannot singly have the seal of the covenant, but joyned with the people of God, closing with them. To them is committed the very power of Iesus Christ: saith the Apo∣stle, When ye are together with the power of Iesus Christ, 1 Cor. 5.4. a glorious priviledge. Yea, further, take this one thing they are inheritours to all the promises that ever God made to the Church from the beginning of the world. There is no society of Saints that joyn in Christian fellowship, but they are so. See a remarkable place for that in Isa. 54.17. No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgement thou shalt con∣demn: this is the heritage of the ser∣vants Page 183 of the Lord, and their right∣eousness is of me, saith the LORD. That promise that God made to the Churches before, this is their heri∣tage. And conceive of this one now that is of great use, that all that is said in Scripture concerning Gods delight to be among his people, and in Zion, all were but to type out the excellent condition of Gods Church in the times of the Gospell. The most of the expressions are of Gods delight a∣mong his people in the time of the law: but know that all those expres∣sions were but meer types, and there is a great deal more in the Antitype then in the type: therefore the Saints of God joyned under the Gospell have abundance more of the glory of God, of the presence of God, and of privi∣ledges, then Zion had, or Ierusalem could have; because that was but a type of their happy condition under the time of the Gospell.
*It is an observable place that we have in the Hebrews, it is said concerning the state of the Church, that the law Page 184 had but a shadow of good things to come. Heb. 10.1. and not the very image of the things. It is not so much as an image: observe, a shadow is not so much as an image; but an image is not so much as the thing it self: but that was not an image, but a shadow. As a Painter that takes an image, he draws first the dark shadow with a cole, there is a great deal of difference be∣tween that shadow, and the image in beauty: so much difference there is between all the glory of God in the Church in the time of the law, and that glory of God that is among his people in the time of the Gospell▪ We may safely say, there is the like diffe∣rence between Gods manifesting of himself to his people then, and now; as between a dark shadow drawn with a cole in comparison of an image. But mark, it was but a shadow of the image; that which we have now is but an image. As there is not so much in a shadow as in the image, so there is not so much in the image as in the thing it self. The presence of God and all his Page 185 goodnesse to his people, and his glory to his people now, it is but an image to that which shall be; there shall be another presence of God, another communication, and revelation of God hereafter, in another kind then there is now; all that we have now is but an image of that which shall be; all that was in the law was but a sha∣dow of that image: therefore we should have a great deal of delight in the Saints.
Much might be said further, for delighting in them now, because they are those that we shall live for ever with in heaven hereafter. Look to the Saints especially together, they are those that we shall live eternally toge∣ther with in heaven, therefore they are those that we should delight in. They are those that we shall be joyn∣ed with for ever in everlasting hale∣lujahs, before him that sis upon the throne, and the Lamb. Look upon any Saint, though he be never so mean in gifts and abilities, thou and he shall alway joy in the presence of God in glory.
Page 186Yea to be among Gods people is heaven it self▪ they are not onely those that we shall be with in heaven, but it is heaven. Behold, saith the Lord, I create a new heaven and a new earth. Isa. 65.17. The state of the Church is cal∣led heaven, For what is there in hea∣ven but is here? I might shew the re∣semblance of heaven, and that which is in heaven is here among us, and therefore if heaven be a place to be delighted in, the Saints are.
Therefore have a high esteem of the Saints, close with them, and come into as near communion as is possible. If they be so excellent, and to be de∣lighted in, then especially when they are joyned together labour all to come in, and joyn with the Saints in the nearest union that is possible, in that fellowship wherein you may (as near as can be) have fellowship onely with them, especially that have the appearance of such.
The mixture of our communion doth much hinder our delight. Cast dirt into the fire, and it will damp it: Page 187 so the mixture of ungodly ones, their spots and blemishes hinder the delight of Gods people one in another. But now to come among those that your hearts may close with, that you have comfortable evidence, that they are not meer talkers of religion and pro∣fessours at large, but that the image of God is on them, O what closing is there with their hearts, and what ad∣mirable good might we enjoy in the communion and society of them. Therefore know that it is one of the greatest blessings that you are capable of in this world to have the nearest communion with the Saints next to your immediate communion with God himself; it is that which you should so esteem; and your hearts should work after. Mark that Text Psalme. 36. what is said of our joyn∣ing with the people of God, how ex∣cellent is thy loving kindnesse, where∣in appears the excellency? They shall be satisfied with the fatnesse of thy house. It is a fruit of the excellency of the loving kindnesse of God for peo∣ple Page 188 to be of Gods house, and to par∣take of the fatnesse of it. To have abundance of Gods creatures, and to have an estate, and friends, it is a fruit of Gods kindnesse: but to joyn with Gods people in a way of worship and in the nearest union, that is a fruit of the excellent loving kindnesse of God to admiration. How excellent is thy loving kindnesse? it was so excellent that he was not able to expresse the excellency of it.
It is made in Scripture to be the proper inheritance even of the elect of God; to enjoy communion with the people of God, in the type, it is a fruit of the very inheritance of the elect of God; so as it is opposed to all the va∣nities of the world. Mark what God saith by Isaiah,*Vanity shall take them away, but he that putteth his trust in me shall possesse the Land, and shall inherit the holy Mountain and shall say, cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling block out of the way of my people, For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name Page 189 is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy place; with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
Here is a firm inheritance indeed, the Saints shall possesse the holy mountain. God dwelleth on high, in the highest heavens, and the Saints that are of a contrite and humble spi∣rit with him. Do you not perceive a joyfull revolution of the Saints, they shall be dwellers with God himself in eternity. Iob saith, I shall see my Re∣deemer with these very eyes; though for a while, they be as it were, closed up in darkness, yet at last they shall be glorified. Nay, every part of the bo∣dyes of the Saints shall be glorified, Christ shall make our vile bodies like his glorious body, saith S. Paul. There is no question, but his body is glorified throughout; there cannot be the least shade of darkness, for he is the Sun of righteousness, & so shall all the just, they shall shine as the Sun; every glorified Saint by the reflecti∣on, Page 190 not onely of their mind, but if their ocular body upon one another by a mutuall reciprocation of their beams, every one shall shine in every one. The glory of the soul shall trans∣fuse it self, and redound to the body. Saint Paul in effect speaks as much; as it is sowen a naturall body, it riseth a spirituall body: As the soul here is swallowed up of the body, to the bo∣dy as it were shall be swallowed up of the soul, in a word both soul and bo∣dy shall be turned into glory, and the glory shall be to the Saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent in whom is all my delight.