CHAP. VI. How the Saints have their Conversation in Heaven, Opened in Nine Particulars.
BUt now, our Conversation should be answerable; and now we come more fully up to the scope of the Apo∣stle; But our Conversation is in Heaven.
The Conversations of the Saints that are free Citizens of Page 701 Heaven ought to be answerable; though their Co-habitati∣ons be in this world, yet their Conversation it should be in Heaven; in the 7. of Dan. 10. 18. there you reade of the excellent estate of the Saints, But the Saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever: That that is translated here, The Saints of the most High, it is not only meant of the Most High God, but the Saints of the high Places, so 'tis translated by some, for the Saints are the Saints of high places in regard of their interest in Hea∣ven, and in regard of their Conversations sutable to the place, in the 2. Ephe. 6. And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in Heavenly places in Christ Jesus. The Saints are set in Heavenly places, Heavenly dignitie, Hea∣venly privileges, Heavenly prerogatives, yea, and they themselves may be said to be in Heavenly places though their bodies be upon the earth, their souls are in Heavenly places, their Conversation is in Heaven, They are the Saints of the High God, and they are set in high places.
You will say, What is this Conversation that is in Heaven that is here spoken of. I shall open it in these particulars.
The first is, The aim and scope of their hearts, it is Hea∣ven-ward that the Saints look at, as their aim and scope is Heaven, they look upon themselves in this world as pil∣grims and strangers, Heaven's their home, and their eye is there, their end, their scope, whatsoever they do it is for Heaven some way or other to fit them for Heaven, and to lay in for Heaven against they shall come and live there, their Conversation therefore is in Heaven: All that they do, eating, drinking, going about their business, yet I say their aim it is Heaven. I remember it's reported of Anaragorus a Philosopher, that being asked wherefore he liv'd, he said, he was born to contemplate the Heavens, he made it the end of his life for which he was born to con∣template Heaven; Being a Phylosopher and having under∣standing in the motions of the Heavens, he took such de∣light in it, that he accounted it the end for which he was born. So the Saints look at Heaven as their Center that Page 108 they aim at, that's their scope: we (saith the Apostle) do not look at things that are seen, but at things that are not seen, nothing in the Earth is our scope, but Heaven is our scope, and so their Conversations may be said to be in Heaven in that respect.
Secondly, Their Conversations are in Heaven, for they are acted by Heavenly principles in all their waies.
Heavenly principles you will say, What are they?
This is a Heavenly Principle, That God is all in all: that's a Principle that the Saints are guided by, in Heaven they look upon God to be all in all unto them, so do the Saints here, in what they do, in what they are, in what they enjoy, they act upon this Principle, that it's God that is all in all, whatsoever I see in the creature, yet it's God that is all in all to me, I act by vertue of this Princi∣ple.
That God the infinite First-being, is infinitely worthy of all love for himself, that's a Heavenly Principle: the Saints that are in Heaven, they look upon the infinite ex∣cellencie and glorie of God, they look upon him as the First-Being of all things, having all excellencie, and glo∣rie enough to satisfie all creatures for ever, and look upon him as infinitly worthy of all love and service for himself; know this is a heavenly Principle: So the Saints their conversation is in Heaven, they are acted by heavenly prin∣ciples; I look upon such and such things in the world whereby I may go in credit, encrease, or comfort, this is an earthly principle: But when my heart is so upon God, that it looks upon him as infinitly excellent and worthy of all love, service, fear, honor, and worship for himself alone, whatsoever becomes of the creature God is worthy of all for that infinite excellencie in himself; this is a heavenly principle: and for one to be acted in his life by such a prin∣ciple as this is, this is to be acted by heavenly principles, not by such low, and base principles as the men of the world are, but by heavenly principles.
Thirdly, Their Conversations are in Heaven. For here Page 109 though they live in the world, they have communion with the God of Heaven that is above in the whol course of their lives. In the 1. Epistle by John 1. chap. you have divers excellent expressions about our communion with God. In the 3. verse, That which we have seen and heard declare we un∣to you, That ye also may have fellowship with us, and truly, our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And then in another Scripture we reade of the Communi∣on of the holy Ghost, Thereis Communion with the Fa∣ther, Son, and holy Ghost. Now what makes Heaven but God? we say, where the King is there's the Court, where God is there's Heaven, let God be where he will. There is some controversie among some, where the Saints shall be after the Resurrection; some think it shall be still here, and yet with all the glory that the Scripture speaks of. Now it's no great matter where it be, so it be where God is, those that have Communion with God, they are in Heaven, their Conversation is in Heaven: now it's that that is the life of the Saints, their Communion with God; thy life it is to have communion with the Creature, that is for thee to close with the contents of the Creature, and the facul∣ty that is in man to tast any thing, or to have any delight in any thing in this world, when there is a sutable object to the facultie, that's his Communion with the Creature; As now a Drunkard, there is a kind of Communion that he hath meerly with lude company, and with the creature to please his sence for a while, there's all the communion that he hath: But what a different Conversation is this, for one meerly to please his sence in meat and drink a lit∣tle while, and another to have communion with Father, Son, and holy Ghost? The Saints here in this world have not an Imaginary but a Real Communion with the Father Son and holy Ghost.
Communion, you will say, what's that?
By Communion with God we mean this, The acting of the soul upon God, and the receiving in the influence of the goodness and love and mercy of God into the soul: Page 110 When there is a mutual acting of the soul upon God and God upon the soul again; as when friends have Commu∣nion one with another, that is, that one acts for the Com∣fort of the other, there is a mutual imbracing and opening of hearts one upon another for the satisfying of the Spirits one of another: So communion with God is the mutual actings of the soul upon God, and God upon the soul a∣gain: The Saints they see the face of God, and God de∣lights in the face of the Saints: And they let out their hearts to God, and God lets out his heart to them. We cannot expresse this to strangers, a stranger shall not meddle with this joy, this is a mystery, a riddle to the car∣nal world. Do but you consider this, that what Commu∣nion you have with your lude company, to sit, and eat, and drink, and play, and tell stories all day long, this you think is a brave life; but now, that the communion of the Saints is raised higher, and the comfort of the Saints is not in such poor, low, base things as thine is, the Saints have comfort in God the Father, Son, and holy Ghost, in an infinite higher way, and in that respect their Conver∣sations are said to be in Heaven: And especially when they are with God in his Ordinances they cannot be content except they have Communion with God there, it's note∣nough for them to call upon the Name of God, to kneel down and to use some humble broken hearted expressions; Oh but, what communion have I with God and Jesus Christ and the holy Ghost in my duties at this time! I come to the Word and other Ordinances, Oh! but what communion have I with God in them? I cannot be satisfied except I tast and see how good the Lord is; I cannot go a∣broad about my businesse but with a heavy heart except I hear some thing from Heaven this morning; all the com∣fort of their lives do depend upon this, in having commu∣nion with Father Son and holy Ghost.
Fourthly, Their Conversation may be said to be in Hea∣ven, Because they do live according to the Laws of Heaven: They do not here in this world live according to the Laws Page 111 of men, & the lusts of men, but they look for their directi∣on from Heaven, What rule is there from Heaven to guide me? There must be some word from the God of Heaven to order and guide them in their waies, or else they cannot tell how to sute with them; Indeed while they live in the Cities of the world they must obey the Laws of men, but still it is in order to the Laws of Heaven, the main thing that they submit to, is the Statute Laws of Jesus Christ the great Law giver; because there is a Law of Heaven that doth require them for to obey the Laws of men that are ac∣cording to those Laws of Heaven, therefore they do obey them; but the Laws of Heaven are those that the Saints look after for their direction in all their waies, such and such a thing I have a mind to, but will the Law of Hea∣ven justifie me in this? have I any word from Jesus Christ to guide me in such a way? I dare not do otherwise than according to the Will and Scepter of Christ, they must be my rule in all my waies: whereas before thy lust was thy rule, and thy own ends thy rule; and the common course of the world thy rule; but now the Laws of Heaven are thy rule; and therfore their Conversations are in Heaven be∣cause they are guided by the Laws of Heaven: Heaven is their aim, They are acted by heavenly Principles, They converse with the God of heaven, And then fourthly, They live according to the Laws of heaven.
Fiftly, Their thoughts and hearts are set upon heaven, as he saith, The soul is where it loves rather than where it lives; where the heart is there's the soul, there the man may be said to be. Now the Saints have their hearts in heaven, their thoughts in heaven, their meditations in heaven, working there, When I awake I am alwaies with thee (saith David.) And Oh how sweet are the thoughts of heaven unto the Saints! While thou art mudling in the world, and plodding for thy self in the things of this world, If God should come to thee and say, Where art thou? as he said to Adam; yea sometimes while thou art at prayer and hearing the Word, Where are thy thoughts, and about Page 112 what? even as we say in the proverb, are running about a Wool-gathering.
But now come to one whose Conversation is in Heaven, he keeps his thoughts and meditations there continually, meditating on the glorious things that are reserved in Hea∣ven. As I remember I have read of that holy man, Mr. Ward that being in the midst of a dinner, and people won∣dering what he was a musing about, he presently breaks out, For ever, for ever, for ever, for almost half a quarter of an hour he could not be still'd, but he cries, for ever, for ever, for ever. So far as any man or woman hath their Conversation in Heaven their thoughts are there, thinking Oh eternity, eternitie, to be for ever in Heaven, to live for e∣ver with Christ and God, and Oh the Crown of glory that is there! when will that blessed day come when I shall come to enjoy those good things that are there? his thoughts will be there, and he is longing to be there, his love and de∣sires and affections will be working there. It's said of the people of Israel, Acts, 7. 39. That their hearts turned back again to Egypt; they never returned in their bodies to Egypt, but their hearts were there, they would fain have the Onions and Flesh-pots that were in Egypt, their hearts were there. So it may be said of many, that though they come and hear the Word, yet their hearts are in their shops, their hearts are after their covetousness; but it's contrary with the Saints, Though they live here in this world, yet their hearts are in Heaven: As I remember it's written of Queen Mary, that she said, If they rip'd her open they should find Callis in her heart; And so it may be said of Saints, whose Conversations are in Heaven; I speak not of all Professors of Religion, for it's said of bodies, (when Paul speaks of the resurrection) there are bodies Celestial, and bodies Terrestial, so I may say, There are Professors Celestial, and Professors Terrestial, but as for such whose Conversations are in Heaven, who walk with God, and live here the lives of Heaven upon Earth, If they were rip'd up, you should find Heaven in their hearts; un-rip many Page 113 mens hearts, and there's nothing but the earth, unclean∣ness, and baseness; suppose God should come this mo∣ment, and rip up all your hearts, and disclose them to all the men of the world, what a deal of filthy stuff would be found in many of your hearts? but for such whose Con∣versations are in Heaven, they would be ready to have God unrip their hearts when he pleaseth, Lord, try, Lord, search me, Lord, examine and see what is in my heart; I'le but put this now to you as in the Name of God, and let con∣science answer, What do you think would be found in your hearts if they should be unrip'd now? and if your consciences tell you, Oh Lord! if my heart should be rip'd up now, there would be a filthy deal of ugly and abomina∣ble stuff there, surely I have not had my Conversation in Heaven, my heart hath been sinking even down to low, and base things: but now, for those whom this text concerns, it will be an exceeding comfort to them; and I hope that there are divers of you that may be able to say, if the Lord should at this present rip our hearts and shew them to all the world, I hope the world should see that Heaven is stam∣ped upon our hearts. We account it sad weather when we cannot see the Heavens for many daies, when we cannot see Heaven many times for a week together; and we ac∣count it an ill dwelling where men dwell in narrow lanes in the City, so that they can scarce see the Heavens except they go abroad in the fields. My brethren, surely it's a sad time with a gracious heart when any one day passes without converse with Heaven, without the sight of Hea∣ven, and meditations of Heaven, and having their hearts there. Thus it should be with Christians whose Conver∣sations are in Heaven, they should never love such dwellings wherein they cannot see the beams of the Sun; It's a most comfortable thing for to see the light, a man that dwels in some dark house, it's very comfortable for him to walk out into the open air, and to behold the Heavens; Oh my brethren! our souls dwell in dark houses every one of us; for our bodies are to our souls like a dark and low celler, Page 114 but the Lord gives us liberty to go abroad, to be conversing with the things of Heaven that he hath revealed in his Word and in his Ordinances: And as many Citizens that live in dark rooms & keep a long time close to their work, yet at such times as they cal days of Recreation, they walk abroad in the Fields and take the fresh air, and oh how de∣lightsom is it to them! The same should be to a gracious heart that hath a great many businesses (indeed) in the world, I but on the Lords day, Oh that he may now en∣joy God in his Ordinances more than before; his thoughts are upon those waies wherein he may come to have more of Heaven, Oh! that I may come to converse more with God than at other times! And upon that the Sabbaths are the joy of his soul, his delight, he longs after the Sab∣bath, he thirsts after Ordinances, for indeed his heart is in them, for he finds there is more of Heaven in them than in other things; and in that regard the Saints having their thoughts and hearts in Heaven, thus he proves to have his Conversation to be in Heaven. Moses never came to Canaan, and yet God gave Moses a sight of it, carried him up to mount Nebo. Heavenly meditations are as it were mount Nebo, whereby when the heart is raised a little upon the mount, it's able to see Heaven, & behold the glorious things there. The Scripture speaks of Lucifer, that he had his nest among the stars: A Saint hath as it were his nest, his dwel∣ling among the stars, yea, above the stars in the highest Hea∣vens. As 'tis with wicked men, that when they seem to draw nigh to God, yet their hearts are far from him; then they are in their shops, they are among their ships when they seem to be worshipping of God: So when the Saints seem in regard of their bodies to be far from God, yet their hearts are in Heaven in the mean time.
Sixtly, For the opening of a Heavenly Conversation, it consists in this, When in the course of mens lives they do converse and delight in the same things that are done in Heaven, they make their happiness the same happiness that is in Heaven, and make their exercise to be the same exercise that is in Heaven: As for in∣stance, Page 115 What is there in Heaven? There is the fight of the face of God; Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. And the Angels, Alwaies behold the face of God. So the Saints may be said to have their Conversations in Heaven because their exercise here while they live, it is in the behol∣ding the face of God, in standing before God seeing his face; the greatest delight and contentment of their souls, it is, that they can see somewhat of God,
What's to be done further? The Work of Heaven, it is in the Praisings and Blessings of God. What do the Saints and Angels of Heaven, but continually blesse, and magni∣fie, and praise the Name of that God whom they see to be so infinitly worthy of all praise, and honor from his crea∣tures? Then is a mans Conversation in Heaven when as he doth the same things, when he joyns with Angels & Saints in doing of the same work, of magnifying and blessing and praising God.
What's done in Heaven, but the keeping of a perpetual Sab∣bath? Then are our conversations in Heaven, when we de∣light in Gods Sabbath, yea and indeed to keep a constant Sabbath unto God, though busied about earthly things, yet still we keep a Sabbath to God, in resting from sin, and being spiritually imployed. And that's a Sixth thing.
Seventhly, Then our Conversation is in Heaven, When in Earthly imployments, yet we are Heavenly: when we use earthly things after a heavenly manner; it is not the place that God looks at so much, where his Saints are, But what they do: Though while we live in the earth we use earth∣ly things, yet when we can use them in an heavenly man∣ner, then our Conversation may be in heaven though we upon earth.
As thus first, When in the use of earthly things, we do quickly passe through earthly things to God, we make use of them, but we do not stick in them; we make them the means to passe through to God, and get quickly through: a carnal heart sticks in the things of the earth, mingles with the earth; but a spiritual, and heavenly heart makes Page 116 earthly things but as Conduit• for conveyance of him to heaven, we here carry about with us the flesh, and because we have so much earth, we have need of these earthly things, I but they are means of conveyance to Spiritual and Heavenly things.
And then, When we use Earthly things as Heavenly, that is, we take a rise of earthly things to meditate of Hea∣ven; upon the enjoyment of any thing in this earth we raise up our thoughts to the things of Heaven; when we see the light, to remember then the glorious light of Heaven, and of the inheritance of the Saints which are in light; when we cast any sweetnesse in the creature, If these things be so sweet, Oh what is heaven and God then that is the Fountain of all good things! Thus to make all earthly things to be but as heavenly rises to us, That's a heavenly Conversation, that in the use of earthly things doth quickly passe through to God, and that makes spiri∣tual and heavenly rises of earthly things.
Eightly, Then is our Conversation Heavenly when the Saints in their Converse together are Heavenly: when the Saints in their converse do look upon themselves as the Citizens of Heaven, and converse as it beseems those of such a Coun∣try. When as Country men are abroad in forreign parts and they meet together, and there be conferring about the state of their country in their own language, and aboue their friends, and what things there are there among them, they will say one to another, (as English men) me thinks we are in England now; our converse is as if: we were in England. So when the Saints in their meetings, they do not meet to jangle, and wrangle, but they meet to con∣verse of Heaven, and to confer about their Country, and every one telling news of Heaven, there's none of the Saints that walk close with God, but when they meet together may tell one another some tidings of Salvation from above. When Country men meet together in any place common∣ly the first question is, What news is there from our Coun∣trey, from England; So the Saints when they meet toge∣ther Page 217 if they be of Heavenly Conversations, They will be talking somwhat of Heaven before they go: what news of our Countrie? what news from Heaven? though they may have leave to refresh themselves being poor earthlie creatures here, with somthing of the earth, yet they will have some talk of Heaven before they part one with ano∣ther: This is a Heavenlie Conversation when the Commu∣nion of the Saints of Heaven is in Heavenlie things.
The ninth and last thing wherein the Conversation of the Saints in Heaven is, is this, That their great trade while they are upon the earth it is for Heaven: Though they be not in their bodies there, yet their trading is there, and that's the special thing that seems to be noted in the verie word in the text; now their chief trade it is in Heaven, the Saints * that have Heavenlie Conversations they do not trade for trifles as other men do, but they trade for great things, for high things, in the 3. of Collos. saith the Apostle there, If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things that are above where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God: set your affections on things above and not on things on the earth. They seek the things of God, even those things where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God, set your affections on things a∣bove and not on things on the earth; they seek after these things, they merchandize for those goodlie Pearls.