CHAP. V. How the Saints are Citizens of Heaven, opened in Nine Parti∣culars.
NOW the Saints are Citizens of Heaven, For, First, Their names are all inrold in Heaven, They are written in Heaven, in the 10. Luke 20. Re∣joyce in this, That your names are written in Heaven. In Heaven is the Books of life where all the Names of the Saints are written. Philip. 4. 3. Whose names (saith he) are written in the Books of life.
Secondly, The Saints are the Citizens of Heaven, for they have Christ their Head gone before to take possession of Heaven in their names, therefore they have a right to Heaven. As a man may be a Citizen, although he should travel in ano∣ther Country, yet his name being inrol'd there, and he having possession there, he may be said to be a Citizen though he be in a strange land for the present in his body: So the Saints have their names inrold in Heaven, they have Jesus Christ their head that is gone before in their names to take possession for them, and to provide Mantions for them; as in the 14. John.
Page 103 Thirdly, When ever they do actually beleeve, they do take up their freedom; Their names were there Inrold from all eter∣nity: and so Christ at his ascention went and took possessi∣on: but when they beleeve actually, they do as it were take up their freedom in that Citie. There's many men that are born free, yet there's a time when they take it up: and so others that have serv'd for their freedom, yet it may be a long time before they be made free: and so the Saints when they do actually beleeve they come to take up their freedom in the Citie of Heaven, and are made Free Burgesses of Heaven.
And hence (in the fourth place) They come no more to be as slaves; they are not bondslaves as before, they are delive∣red from bondage being made free of Heaven. As if so be that forreigners, or such as are slaves should come to be In∣franchized, then they have the same freedom as others have, and are admitted to the like City-priviledges, and they are no more to be accounted as slaves: so those that are by nature bondslaves to sin and Satan, yea, and such as are under the bondage of the Law, yet when they come to be∣leeve, they are infranchized in Heaven, and are delivered from the bondage of the Law, Sin, and Satan, they are said to be free-men of the Citie of Heaven.
Fiftly, All the Saints have right to all the common stock, Trea∣sury, and riches of Heaven; whatsoever priviledges belong to the Charter of Heaven, the Saints have right and title to them all. As in great Cities there is a Common stock and Treasury that is for publick occasions, and every Citizen hath some interest in it; so the Saints (I say) have interest in all the Common-stock and Treasury and all the riches that there are in Heaven.
Sixtly, The Saints are the Citizens of Heaven, they have for the present the same confirmation of their happy estate that the An∣gels and those blessed souls have that are rasident in Heaven: (I say) they have this priviledg now by being Citizens of Heaven, that though their bodies be not in the highest Heavens, yet they have their happiness confirmed as sure Page 104 as the Angels in Heaven have, and as any blessed souls in Abraham: bosom, look how they are confirmed in a happie estate so as they cannot be made miserable, so is every Be∣leever, though he lives in this world, he hath this privi∣ledg in being a Citizen of Heaven, that he is confirmed in a happie estate, that all the powers in hell and in the world can never make this soul to be miserable, and this is a migh∣ty priviledg of being a Citizen of Heaven, he is more pri∣viledged than Adam in Paradice, for Adam he was not confirmed and stablished when he was made in the state of innocencie, but every Beleever is confirmed and stablished as the Angels in Heaven are.
Seventhly, They have this priviledg, By being Citizens, they have priviledg of free-trade to Heaven. You know, that Free-men in the Citie have priviledg of Trade more than Forreigners have; Forreigners are fain to pay Custome and double taxes more than the Free-Citizens. So the Saints, they have the priviledg of Free-trade in Heaven, for any thing that doth concern them; they have a Free∣intercourse with Heaven which others have not.
Eightly, They have now for the present Communion with the Angels of Heaven: there is Cōmunion & Commerce between the Saints here and the Angels upon this ground, because they are fellow Citizens; and in that place of the Hebrews before quoted, We are come to the Heavenly Jerusalem, and to the innumerable company of Angels: There is a great deal of intercourse between the Saints and Angels here upon earth, the Angels look upon them as their fellow Citizens, and are ministring spirits for the good of the Elect, and they do very great services for the Church-men here in this world upon this ground, because they look upon them as their fellow Citizens.
Ninthly, They have the protection of Heaven, being the Citi∣zens of Heaven: I say, they have Heavens protection. As one that is a Citizen, he hath the protection of the Law of the Citie, & of the power of the Citie to defend him; hence we reade of Paul, that because he was a Roman it was dan∣gerous Page 105 to meddle with him, as in the 22. of Acts 25. verse, as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the Cen∣turion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned? As if he should say, Take heed what you do, I am free of the Citie of Rome: And mark, (saith the Scripture) when the Centurion heard that, he went and told the chief Captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest, for this man is a Roman, he hath the protection of the City. Thus the Saints are Citizens of Heaven, They are not Romans, but of the Heavenly Jeru∣salem, and when any are about to wrong one of them, they had need take heed what they do for he is a Citizen of Hea∣ven, the King of Heaven is his King to protect him; and he sits and laughs at the enemies of the Church: And the ve∣ry Angels themselves they are their guard, to guard all these Citizens, and to protect them, and this is the com∣fortable estate of all the people of God, that they are the Citizens of Heaven. Our City Converse. All this I note out of the signification of the word in the original, and with∣out the understanding of the propriety of the language, and the word, we should not have the understanding of this truth.
Wheresore my brethren it being thus, it should teach all the people of God to walk as becomes Citizens, not to be rude in their behavior; 'tis a dishonor to Citizens to be rude in their behavior, it's enough for Country people that never had any education to be rude; but certainly the Saints of God, they have the education of Heaven (this may be added for a tenth Particular) They have the holy Ghost to be their Instructer, to bring them up in holy and good manners that is sutable to Heaven, this the Saints have; and manifest it in your Conversations, be not rude in your way, prize your priviledg of being a Citizen of Heaven; it's that that cost Jesus Christ dear to purchase this infranchizement and liberty for you: we reade in the 22. of the Acts of the Captain when he heard that Paul was a Roman, in the 27. verse: their chief Captain came and said Page 106 to him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea. And the chief Captain answered, with a great sum obtained I this Free∣dom. And Paul answered, I was free-born. They were wont to give great sums to purchase freedoms of the City. Oh! this City that here we are speaking of, hath such priviled∣ges as is beyond any in the world: And no man or wo∣man can come to be free of this City but it is by a great purchase: No man can say as Paul did here, that he was born free; no, but if he came to be free of Heaven it was with a great purchase, it was with the purchase of the blood of Jesus Christ that was more worth than all the world. And if the Son makes you free, then you shall be free indeed, and therefore prize this as a great mercie; while you live here in this world, account it as a great mercie that you are a Citizen of Heaven, account your happiness to consist there, it is more than to have House and Lands here; for a man to have a freedom of some Citie, it is more than to have House and Land in the Wilderness: What though the Lord doth order things so as while thou livest in the wilderness of this world thou hast no habitation of thine own, yet certainly the Lord hath made thee free of Heaven, it was purchased for thee by the blood of Jesus Christ: Now by that price that it cost thou mayest con∣clude that there is some great matter in it, that thou art a free Denizen of Heaven.