God's eternal Preparations for his dying Saints.
2 CORINTH. 5. 1.
TOo many men in the world are like un∣wise Merchants that have two ships at sea;* one little old rotten one, full of things of an inferior value; another, a goodly ship, and full fraught, and richly loaden; yet possibly, out of som parti∣cular and fond respect, hee may more minde that rotten bark, then that state∣ly ship, which call's for more serious thoughts, and more fervent prayers. Our immortal souls are goodly ships, indeed, sparks of Divinitie, our bodies are poor brittle houses of clay, (for the best of the sons of men dwel in no better.) Now, to have the strength of our thoughts, the vigor of our affections, the greatest stream of our endeavors, to run out to minde our bodies, it is a preposterous care; yet most men in the world are sick of this distemper; and therefore I shall desire you to set before you a better copie, that doth bespeak, yea, challenge, yea, com∣mand your imitation of it: Paul, hee well knew the worth of his immortal soul, and therefore laye's out his most serious thoughts Page 2 about it, and the eternal welfare thereof. The words contain Paul's account of the sweet support that hee had under bitter trou∣bles.
Bee pleased to cast your eye upon the 4th Chapter, there you shall finde him toss'd upon a most troublesom sea of affliction; yet hee count's them all but light in the 17th verse: a strange Pa∣radox at least to the carnal heart and ears.
[ 1] 1. You see how triumphantly hee here speake's, Wee know, not not onely in the singular, but in the plural number, not onely for himself, but wrapp's in the Saints with him, Wee.
[ 2] 2. Not onely conjecturally, that is Popish language, a dull, groundless hope of salvation onely; but wee know, where is an evidence and a certaintie.
[ 3] 3. What did hee know? why those lessons well worth the lear∣ning for all those that will bee good Scholars in the school of Christ, and would bee able to hold out, if their Master bee provok'd to whip them. Wee know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, wee have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eter∣nal in the heavens: that if, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, etsi, although (saith Grotius upon the place) Although our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved. Here you have a description of the brittleness of our bodie;* a poor Venice-glass, goodly, beautiful, useful, but easily broken: every word (almost) hath an emphatical intimation; it is but an House: Houses, you know, will bee out of repair, houses will fall in time; it is but an earthly house, and therefore may bee re∣solved into its first principle; it is our earthly house of this Ta∣bernacle; the Tabernacle was a moveable house. When the children of Israël were to travel through the wilderness, they had Tents, they had Tabernacles, moveable houses, fasten'd with a few cords and pins, easily removed. If our earthy house of this tabernacle were dissolved, soul and body though knit together, though the soul bee the darling, as the Psalmist speak's, Psal. 35. 17. yet that knot must bee untied, when they have been married forty, fifty, threescore years together; it needs no cutting asunder of the knot, it will break of it self, the lamp will burn out: all this shewe's the mortalitie of our bodie, but then that which hee doth intend, is principally and more explicitely to shew you that wee have indeed an eternal provision made for us in heaven.
Page 3 Lay two things that have an opposition together,* one will illustrate another, and make it appear more clearly, as Logicians speak: so saith Paul, Wee know that wee have a building with God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. When hee had before spoken of an house that was made of man; Carpenters build houses: but there is somthing reserved for the Saints, which is God's own making, and that in a more immediate way; man indeed is made 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, but here it is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, hee being the more special immediate maker of this piece of work-manship, God's own preparing, none can do it but God himself, and hee doth not use any instrument therein.
Wee have a building of God.* Great honor, that whilest poor Saints live here upon earth, Angels shall bee their servants, and all creatures to attend them; and God himself in heaven hath been preparing a house for them, even from eternitie what house? a house not made with hands. So in Hebr. 11. 10. A Citie whose builder and founder is God; wee look for such an one.
Eternal in the heavens: that was earthly, that was a Taberna∣cle, that was subject to dissolution; that was earthly, this is hea∣venly; that was but a Tabernacle, a very temporary house, this is eternal.
And here was Paul's certaintie, this hee was sure of, which is a great matter, a glorious priviledg. But there is one word which link's all together, and that must not bee forgotten, and that is the first in the Text, For; What did support Paul? What was his cordial in those great extremities, that hee did not sink when wave upon wave came flowing in upon him? saith hee, For wee know:* hee had beheld those things that were eternal, Wee look not upon those things that are temporal, but those that are eternal: and here hee, look'd upon them with an eye of certaintie, For wee know; and from these premisses deduce's this sweet Conclusion.
O that you and I had such faith to do the same, if God should cast us into as great a sea of troubles, as ever Paul was plunged into, that wee might say, These are nothing! why so? For wee know, that though the very sentence of death should not onely bee pass'd, but executed upon us, by these troubles, by the furious malice of unreasonable men,* yet they cannot make us miserables as hee is truly happy indeed that cannot bee made miserable: hee Page 4 is a rich Citizen indeed, that cannot bee undon by the Devil and all his Agents; wee know God hath prepared a house for us, where hee will entertain us with everlasting happiness. Out of the words (had I time) I might handle these three Propositions.
First,* That God hath been pleased to make eternal provision for all his Saints in heaven.
Secondly,* That it is possible for his Saints to have a certaintie of this, that God hath built such a house for them in heaven, where hee mean's to entertain them eternally.
Thirdly,* The certain evidence of this to their own hearts, would bee a most sweet and soveraign cordial under the bitterest troubles that can befall them.
Let us begin with the first, and that I shall onely handle at this time; but before I make any further entrance upon it, give mee leave onely to premise this one thing:
The best of Saints dwell here in poor tabernacles: the best of Saints, all Adam's sons have no better a portion, then to dwell in poor earthly Tabernacles. Som men are very great, so great, that they are called Gods, Psal. 82. yet even they must die like men. It is ap∣pointed for all men once to die, Hebr. 9. 27. And in the same Dialect doth the Psalmist speak in another place,*Verily man in his best e∣state is altogether vanitie; not onely man when hee lie's sick un∣der a great long Ague, or a Feaver, or the Stone, or the Gout; not onely under infirmities of old age, which is a kinde of sick∣ness, but verily man in his best, take him in flore; take any young man, when hee hath strength, and vigor, and marrow, and all heat, all advantages nature can afford him, yet in his best hee is altogether vanitie. Old men must die, and young men may die: I beleeve you have many instances of both; it may bee it hath cost som of you many bitter and brinish tears: wee are all poor Te∣nents at will; it is true, wee are Tenents for life, but yet that life is but for a moment; and so indeed our lease is but from moment to moment. O that wee were so wise as to consider it, and therefore to carry our selvs like Pilgrims and strangers here, and abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against our immortal souls, as the Apostl•Peter beseecheth his beloved, 1 Pet. 2. 11. Do not reckon your selvs at home, make account you are but in a journey, you are But 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, in an Inn; it is to no purpose to go build there, Page 5 to go plant there a garden, to go furnish your chamber, you are but for a nights lodging; the very Stoïcks (Epictetus, and others) could speak that language: O that wee could bee the more active, while our candles are burning, because wee know not how soon they may bee extinguished; God let's not alwaies the candle burn out,* somtimes it is put out: O that wee could bee active as our Savior Christ was, I will do my Father's work while it is day, while it is light, the night cometh when no man work's, Joh. 9. 4. O that wee would so consider, that wee dwell in these brittle houses of clay,* that wee would redeem time, redeem precious opportunities; Eternitie dependeth upon every moment;* there are many that sell away their time to the first temptation in the morning: many young Gentlemen, Citizens, and others, for whom their fathers have had many wearisom journeys and thoughts, night and day, to get good estates; now they think themselves Gentlemen, the first thing they do in a morning, after they have spruced, and pow∣dered,* and combed, and tricked up themselves, then they sell them∣selves and their talent of time to the next temptation, at the next tavern, at the next gaming-house: the Lord put it into the hearts of the ho∣norable Governors of this Citie, to look to those snares, those pit-falls, that have undon many thousand young men; and where many of your estates, after you have gotten them with a great deal of care and industrie, are thrown away with the sha∣king of the elbow (as they say); they sell away their time, so far are they from redeeming time: little do they minde eternitie, and and consider, that at the best they also dwell in houses of clay, and that in their best estate they are altogether vanitie; this I premise.
There are three things will conduce (if God please to help mee in the middest of many weaknesses) to open this point, That hee hath made eternal provision to entertain all his Saints in heaven.
1. I'le give you the〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉of it, by way of demonstration, that it is so.
2. The 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or grounds of it, how it come's to pass that it should bee so.
3. What the Nature of this Eternitie is.
* For the first, there are these hints which I hope will help to clear it: If the Lord did not intend eternal provision for his Saints in heaven, why hath hee given them immortal souls, capable of eter∣tie? Page 6 God and Nature (saith the Philosopher) never do any thing in vain: let us say, God, and his wisedom and grace never doth any thing in vain. There are many desperate disputes (never did wee expect to hear such in England, especially in these times of Re∣formation) against the immortalitie of the soul, in defiance to that cleer light of God's Word even here. There is a house eternal in the heavens, for what? for a mortal bodie? for a mortal soul? what need's an eternal house for a mortal soul?* Paul desired to bee dis∣solved and to bee with Christ: it seem's Paul, who was guided by the Spirit of God, Philip. 1. 21. hee thought hee had an immortal soul, else why did hee desire to die, that hee might bee with Christ? hee had better have stayed here; hee did enjoy much of Christ here; why would Christ himself have given such an answer to the Thief, Luke 23. 42, 43. Lord, remember mee when thou comest into thy Kingdom; why, saith hee, this day shalt thou bee with mee in Paradise: It is a poor evasion they have, that Christ should say to him,*Verily, I say unto thee to day, there they would have the comma, thou shalt bee with mee in Paradise; then the answer is not full to the Thief's question; for then they overthrow the Scri∣ptures, and make it nothing, and withall, manifestly pervert the original, as the Spirit of God speak's it unto us; but this is the first thing, God hath given you immortal souls, and therefore reserv's it for you.
2ly.* The Lord hath proclaimed, that hee hath appointed a day (though it bee concealed) that there shall bee a resurrection of all his Saints, their souls and bodies shall bee re-united. It is most desperate doctrine the Socinians have up and down in their books, they have a delentur, they tell you your souls shall bee blotted out. Who would have thought wee should ever have so far complied with Socinians and Arminians, as many people do? I hope it is ignorantly; but, to speak the very Socinians language, they rec∣kon the soul shall bee blotted out, no eternitie afterwards: but why soul and bodie re-united? Surely, for som further end; hath not Jesus Christ said, Joh. 6. 39, 44. hee hath it twice, I came down to do my Father's will, and the will of my Father is this, that all that hee hath given mee shall com to mee, and I will loose none of them: so again, ver. 44. and I will loose none of them; not the least member, not the least finger, not a joint in the mystical bodie of Christ shall bee lost; for Page 7 this is certain,* (and it is a most sweet truth) As by the death of Christ the hypostatical Vnion was not dissolved, not the humane Nature separated from the Divinitie; so by the death of a Saint, the mystical V∣nion is not dissolved; neither bodie or soul are dis-jointed or separated from Christ, the very dust of a Saint is still in Christ's keeping, and (though in a most mysterious way, yet) both soul and bodie are united to him; though many of your friends may bee lost in the sea, and eaten by fishes, though many of them shot to pieces with bullets, and torn with Cannon, &c. yet still the mystical Union is undis∣solved; and though it is true Jesus Christ will send for wicked men at the day of Judgment, as a Judg send's for a Prisoner, the She∣riff, or who ever the officer bee, when hee intend's to execute him, commanding that such a Prisoner bee brought to the place of Execution;* yet hee raise's his Saints, not as a Judg, but as an head: hee raise's them by vertue of Vnion with himself, as a father send's for his Son home from the Vniversitie, that hee may more re∣fresh him, and satisfie him, and cloth him, &c. it may bee hee think's hee hath had short Commons there, that now hee may com and bee entertained with the fatling,* even as the Father did entertain his Prodigal son, and much more then wee are capable here upon earth; but then
3ly.* There is a day of Judgment, when they shall have possession of this eternitie; Com yee blessed of my Father enter into the Kingdom. heretofore the Kingdom of Christ hath been in them, entered into them, but now they must enter into the Kingdom; heretofore som•joy entered into them, but now they must enter into their Master's joy, bee possessed of joy, of a Kingdom; and then fourthly, and
Lastly,*Jesus Christ himself hath prepared Mansions: Joh. 14. 2. Mansions are not tabernacles, but durable houses: I go to my Father to prepare a place for you, and thither you shall com, and there are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you; (a most ingenuous melting speech) room enough in heaven for all the Saints; though God hath never so many children, yet every one shall bee his heir; and though Jesus Christ have never so many subjects, yet every one shall bee a King; why? because hee himself is their reward, hee himself is their Crown, hee himself (as Austine saith) Page 8 is their Inheritance; every one an house, every one a Mansion in heaven? yes, God himself is their habitation, who is eternal.
Now the Grounds,* why it come's to pass:
1. God and the Father hath resolved it from eternitie; it is resolved from eternitie that it should bee so; their names are written in the book of life; thou John, and thou Elisabeth, and thou Mary, and thou Zacharie, you are book'd down; there is the particularitie, there is the certaintie; your names are written in heaven, rejoyce in it, Luke 10. 20.
2.*Jesus Christ hee likewise hath taken care to doe his part, hee hath purchased this place for you; it is a purchased possession, Ephes. 1. 14. As hee did purchase it, so hee possessed it, hee kept it; hee reserveth heaven for you, as well as preserveth you for heaven; the Crown is reserved for you in heaven, 1 Pet. 1, 4.
3.* The Spirit, which is an eternal Spirit,a in concurrence with God the Father, and God the Son, hee hath been preparing, and polishing,b and fashioning his Saints, that they may bee meet for heaven, Col. 1. 12. and so you see a joynt concurrence, that all their operations may bee of equal extent; not as the Arminians would say, and their followers, that make the death of Christ larger then either the Decrees of God, or the Application of the Spirit; here the three glorious Persons in the Trinitie joyntly concur that all the Decrees may bee made good, that all the promises may bee accomplished, and that all your prayers may bee answered: and so in this eternal house reserved for you, you shall then see all these three effected.
Now for the nature of eternitie▪*and there I shall onely hint that which is the description of the learned Boëtius, Eternitie is such an unbounded possession of life, as is perfect and altogether.
1. There is a Possession:* a possession, that is, a tenure, both firm and quiet. In heaven you are not subject to any uncertainties, to a∣ny intercisions, to any interruptions, you shall never bee turned out of that house; it is above Thievs or Robbers, Mat. 6. 20.
2. It is a possession of life, nothing is properly eternal, but that that is living; Eternitie being a duration according to immanent acts, (as the School-men speak) and those immanent acts do pre∣suppose life;* now life for life, or life upon life, skin upon skin, so som Page 9 render that place in Job, (indeed the Anatomist's will tell you▪ you have many skins, three or four at least) life upon life, one after an∣other. You'l venture all to save your life which you most e∣steem.
Life is most precious: it is an high pitch of love, when you com to venture it for God, it being most dear to you; and therefore the fitter to set forth Eternitie: it is a possession of life.
3. Interminabilis, without bounds, no end of this happiness: [ 3] God is absolutely eternal, both without begining, and without end, but this shall have no end, as much as creatures, as much as An∣gels are capable off; it is an unbounded, an infinite possession (as it were) of life; and that
4. Perfect; whereas now the best of Creatures, Angels, have [ 4] but onely an imperfect Eternitie, onely an Eternitie à parte pòst, for time to com.
5. Altogether; you are fully, entirely, and wholely possessed of it, and [ 5] all at once; you have whole heaven, the first moment you com to hea∣ven: Time is Nunc fluens, but Eternitie is Nunc stans; a standing moment, that hath a co-existencie to time past, time present, time to com; that is the nature of it; and that house you shall have in heaven, shall have this eternitie added to it, to the happiness of having the fruition of God himself. [ 6]
By way of Instruction;* Let poor carnal men that wallow in lust, and take so much pains to gratifie the Devil, in making provision for their flesh,* consider how dear they pay for them, and what they lose: Alas poor souls! you pamper your bodie, you paint your hous, you adorn it, but all this while you take a great deal of pains to very little purpose, for you lose Eternitie. Cyprian bring's in in the Devil triumphing over poor carnal people at the last day of Judgment: Here are the souls that I never died for; and, (in a way of upbraiding Jesus Christ) here are the souls that thou laid'st down thy life for, and under-went'st so much trouble and contradiction of sinners for, and now they are mine and not thine:* O what a sad triumph to you, though the Devil will re∣joice in it! As all the Saints in heaven, and Angels rejoyce at the conversion of a sinner, at the return of a Prodigal, Luke 15. so when any one is recovered into the snares of the Devil, all the Devils in hell keep holy-day (as it were), triumph in it, when Page 10 they can get a man, such a man especially that hath lived not in a Sodom and Gomorrah, but in Capernaum, in a London, lifted up to heaven by the meanes of the Gospel, and lived in godly Fa∣milie, brought up under a godly Parent, it may bee in a Univer∣sitie under a good Tutor; and if hee can get such an one, how will the Devil triumph? But, poor soul! little do'st thou ima∣gine what a looser thou art, no less then the eternal happiness of an immortal soul; and to make it more dreadful to thee, that so thou may'st (if the Lord please) endeavor to rescue thy self out of those snares in which thou hast been entangled all this while: do but think a little what hell is, and what things are eternal in hell.
1. There is an Eternitie of that,* which Divines call pana damni everlastingly destroyed, from the power and presence of God e∣verlastingly [ 1] separated: O that is a sad word, Depart, depart yee ursed.* How do many good women grieve and mourn when their Husbands are to go to sea, or go a far journey, or in the publick service in a Military way, though they think (it may bee) it is but for som Months, or for a year, and have very probable hopes, if not certain, that by the blessing of God they shall return in ordi∣nary course; but what will you bee, when soul and bodie shall com to part, not onely themselvs by death, but thou partest with thy Savior eternally, though thou may'st own him as an husband, and challenge him as thine and com and speak good words in a complemental way to him,* as they in the Gospel. Luke 13. 26. 27. Wee have eaten and drunk in thy presence, wee have been baptized; wee have been thus often at thy Table, wee have been kinde to our Minister, and wee have don these and these things for the publick: O but Christ will not own you, you have not endeavored to finde a spiritual building in your souls, and therefore you cannot expect an eternal building in heaven, that is a certain Argument: but this will bee your doom, Depart, everlastingly to turn the back upon Jesus Christ, and to bee out of all hopes, all the least possibilitie of mercie, and to bee sent packing into hell, and there chained up: O then when that thou comest with that unprofitable servant, to bee cast into utter darkness, where is nothing but weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, then thou wilt weep over thy self, bemoan thy re∣medile's condition, and gnash thy teeth with envie, when thou (like Dives) shalt see Lazarus in Abraham's bosom; thy self being pos∣sibly Page 11 an Alderman, Common-council man, Knight, (I speak not to any particularly, but promiscuously to all); or, it may bee, a servant of Christ, whom thou hast scoffed,* shall bee in Abraham's bosom, having judged thee to lie in hell eternally; he•e is poena damni; the loss of eternitie it self: and is not this much? but yet here is more.
2. Here is the punishment of sense. Besides the loss of God, (a Saint [ 2] would count it a hell but to loose the sight of God) to bee under eternal torments, to frie in hell, to bee everlastingly destroyed, to bee ever∣lastingly lashed,* to have stripes, and it may bee many stripes everla∣stingly, this is to bee truly miserable. They that are ignorant shall have som stripes, and one lash in hell will bee lamentable, because it will bee eternal: but to bee eternally lashed, and that with many stripes, O what a loss is here: I cannot but pity you who scoff us poor souls for your sakes, and bee charitable even to those that are without, and desire heartily your deliverance from this mi∣serie.
3. But here is an Eternitie likewise, as of fire without thee to [ 3] torment thee, so an eternal flaming conscience within, a worm that never die's, a fire that will never bee extinct. What was that that made Caligula, as great a man as hee was, an Emperor, run under a bed, when it thundered; there was a terrified conscience within: and you hear much talk of Furies that the Heathens had that haunted them; it was hell in their consciences, and this will gnaw thee to Eternitie; O how wilt thou check and chide thy self, and bee upon a perpetual rack within, (I doubt som of us know what it means already, by horrors and terrors of conscience) to think I out-lived so many Ministers, I persecuted so many Saints, I trifled a∣way so many Gospel-seasons, I neglected the day of my visitation; conscience tell's thee this was thy fault, God will bee justified in thy confusion,* and though thou hast an eternal loss, yet thou hast right from God, and it is charged upon thy self, that it is thy will not, that did undo thee; Why will you die, O house of Israel? Ezek. 18. 31. But you'l say next by way of Question,
How can it bee just with God,* if wee dwell in houses of clay, in brittle houses, and fining but temporally, to punish us e∣ternally?
Wee would sin eternally if God did leave us to our selvs; there is not a wicked man in this congregation, but hath that within him that would betray him to sin against God eternally,* if God should leave him;
Yea, when thou comest to hell, if thou shouldest lie there Mil∣lions of years,* thou can'st never satisfie God; and therefore thou having offended an infinite God, must undergo an infinitie of torments. It would bee som comfort to a wicked man, if after hee were there Millions of Millions of years, there som hopes of recove∣rie out of it. Origen had an opinion, that all wicked men should bee saved at such a time, som think the Devils at last; but the Scripture is contrary, therefore satisfie your selvs with this, there will bee no interruption,* nor redemption; what shall a man give for the change of his soul? If a man win the whole world, and loose his own soul, what will it profit him? what shall a man give for the change thereof? If you could conceive that one of the numerous stars in hea∣ven should fall at the end of a 1000,* 1000. years, when all the stars are fallen that you should bee released, there would bee som comfort. Divines use these comparisons: If at the end of 10. mil∣lions of millions of years you should but fetch one sand out of the Sea-shore, or a Bird pick out but one drop of water out of the Sea, when all this were spent, all this were exhausted, if then there would bee but a little abatement of torments, there would bee som refreshment; but (brethren) such shall bee locked up in hellish chains, there is no abatement, no remitting. O consider what you do, and what losers you are, and how dearly, how exceeding dearly you pay for som transitorie, momentanie pleasures here below: there is the first Use.
An Use of Expostulation:* Is it thus that God hath made eternal provision for his Saints in heaven? then (brethren) I beseech you give mee leave a little to expostulate the case with you: How come's it to pass that you do not more minde Eternitie? Do you beleeve this Doctrine to bee true, That God hath provided such an eter∣nal house in heaven? why do you not then more contemplate it? The contemplation of that glorious house that God hath reserved for you in heaven for all his Saints, would have an admirable influence Page 13 upon us; if any thing in the world should melt us, that would de it. Do not bound your thoughts, and circumscribe them, in the consideration of that which hath no bounds: minde that much here upon earth, upon which you must live for ever in heaven; and, to encourage you, there will bee these advantages:
1.* If you look backwards so the eternitie of God's election: Good nature, (I mean new nature, for that onely is good nature) there is no good nature, but so far as there is (at least) som com∣mon work of the Spirit of God; so far as men get ground of self-love by som work of the Spirit, so much good nature they have, and no more) If there bee the least spark of it, as there is in all the Saints of God, it will fill them with ingenuitie, and it will engage them to serve God in their eternitie; that is to bee constant, to bee faithful even to the death; not to bee a back-slider, nor re∣volter, nor like the false spies that brought up an ill report of the land of Canaan; then
2.* When you look forward, it would have a most happy influ∣ence upon you, nothing would make you such active and such passive Christians, as to consider Eternitie, and that Jesus Christ hath purchased Eternitie for you. Paul would bee content to bee a Fool, to bee any thing, to bee nothing; why? hee did judg it most reasonable, 2 Corinth. 5. 14, 15. that if Christ did die for him, that hee might live, then it was that hee might live to Jesus Christ▪ why? Be∣cause you shall live with him hereafter. There is nothing in the world will keep you more above troubles,* brethren, when shakeing and sinking times shall com, then such considerations; who are the generation of people now in the world, that are most unshaken in England, in any of the Protestant Churches, where there are streams of blood, where there are such confusions and distractions, as wee have had sad experience of; why they whose eternal condition is safe,*being in a good hand; I have an immortal soul, which God hath taken possession of, and that shall bee everlastingly happy; and as it will keep you above troubles,* so indeed it will keep you a∣bove trifles, above vanities; what is the reason that the vanities of this world do so much carry men away? because they do not know, or minde Eternitie. It is an admirable expression that Damas•en hath, hee saith, that those that will live according to God, they must exercise pleasures, whether necessarie, or natural, onely in transitu, Page 14as they pass by: it were a rare thing now to have such a disposition of soul: you enjoy pleasures and comforts in the world, and many of you swim in them, and you have the world at will, but you should onely take it in transitu, as you are going home to your Father's house just as a Scholar coming from the Vniversitie, is going to his Father's house, but hee is content to bait in an Inn. Nothing in the world will sublimate your souls more, then to minde Eternitie; the Lord make you more apprehensive of it.
Again,* would you have all the sad differences, that are now a∣mongst many people of God, in London and in England, (for these indeed are the sad provoking ones) would you have them swallowed up, then let your thoughts bee more possessed of Eterni∣tie: here is so many heats of Disputes, and so many contestati∣ous, a great deal of Religion is turned into arguing and dispu∣ting, (the Lord grant wee do not loose much of the life and vi∣gor of practical Christianitie by these fierie Disputes) which should bee buried, being most unbecoming Brethren. O how many bitter provocations, how much opposition, how much censuring, yea, how much persecuting of one another do these differen∣ces cost? I dare say, the want of the consideration of Eternitie, is a great occasion; and if your souls were more full of that, if you thought you should live in heaven together, you would shake hearts and hands more lovingly here upon earth.* It is a notable storie of Ovidius Pollio, that invited Augustus to supper, and while his man was preparing for, and setting forth. Supper, hee broke a glass, and the man of the house, (the great Emperor Augustus being to com) hee was so trou∣bled at it, that hee condemned his Servant to bee cast into the Sea, that hee might bee devored of Fishes: when the Emperor heard of this, hee took all the glasses, and broke them in pieces, and said, Better never a glass in the world, then one man should bee lost for them. Wee had heretofore many Disputes about Cerimonies, and wee have as many now a∣bout meer externals, I dare say, that are no waies essential to Chri∣stianitie. A man may bee of this opinion, and that opinion, I speak of external forms; I would have every fundamental truth pre∣cious, and what hath an influence, and what concern's our Reli∣gion and the substance of it: but for som externals, and for som cir∣cumstances that wee have so much heat about, about this form, and that form and circumstance, better a great many such glasses as Page 15 som of them are, (to say no more) were laid aside, if not broken all to pieces, at least put up in a cup-board a while, (give the com∣mon adversarie so much present advantage) then it should cost so much blood, as it possibly may doe, so much heat amongst Saints, a∣mongst brethren, (I am very confident of both sides are many such dear Saints of God, that will spend Eternitie together) and if heaven were capable of any sorrow, this would bee a great part of it, that they did so much quarrel upon earth together: O consider it, consider it! the Lord fill your thoughts and mine too more and more with Eternitie, that so your hearts may cling and cleave more together, that you betrary not all to the common Ene∣mie.
Brethren, I must say as Chrysostom, (God know's, if my heart deceive mee not, I desire to speak it with deep respect to this ho∣norable renowned Citie, and with sense of the Condition of all the Saints of God in England, and Scotland too) to his hearers, hee would never leave preaching against swearing, till they left swea∣ring; and as often as you are pleased to employ mee to serve your souls in this way, I shall never leave pressing Peace and Love, till there bee more love amongst Saints, and amongst Brethren, that while you dwel in these houses of clay together, you may not fall out, because you shall all one day dwel in the same eternal house to∣gether. Will you give mee leave to tell you a plain storie, out of Livie,* concerning Menenius Agrippa, There was a great difference, betwixt the Inferiors and Superiors, several Opinions, and they com∣plained that those men of place got away all from them, and therefore they would have them circumscribed, and confined, and kept short; hee come's like a witty subtile Orator to them, and use's this Parable; saith hee, The stomack in the bodie, that swallow's all, what shall wee have don with the Stomack? A great deal of meat it eat's, the Head must contrive, and the Mouth take in, and the Hands reach it to the Mouth: O (say they) the Stomack must bee kept short; the Stomack was kept short a while, but then the Hands were enfeebled,* and the Head starved, and the Mouth closed up, and all the Bodie is in a confusion, when the Stomack was not fed. I intend not any particular, as to your Citie, I beseech you▪ mistake mee not; I'le suggest the Application, and leave you fur∣ther to enlarge it; I'le say it seriously, that the People of God are Page 16 like the stomack to the bodie, they help to maintain the whole; and I say it most confidently, there is never a wicked man in this Congregati∣on, nor in any other part of the Christian world, but bee may bless God for the Presence of Saints amongst them; for it is the children that God take's care for: when the hous is built, the scaffold shall com down, and go to the fire; it may bee, when the corn is ripe, and carried in, the hedg is designed to bee burned: God care's not for wicked men, but in reference to the corn, no more then a Carpenter care's for his Scaffold, but in reference to his hous. Make much of the people of God, crie them not down, because they are of this opinion, and that opinion, differing in som lesser matters, if they bee Saints;*the innocent shall deliver the land: Sodom could not bee undon,* as long as Lot was there; and I am confident there is not a Saint in London, nor in England, though hee may bee perhaps uneven in his practise, (the Lord reduce him) hee may have som unsound opinions, (the Lord recover him) and I wish wee might all set to do it, with a Spirit of Meekness, and Wisedom, and Evi∣dence of God's truth; but yet I say, the meanest of God's Saints, as hee hath preparations for in heaven, so is hee a pawn and pledg of mercie here upon earth: therefore they that persecute them, drive away God's blessing from themselvs. And let mee say this to the Saints, (I would I could speak as in the name, and bee in the power of God, in such language as may stick with you); Little do you consider that the third Partie make's account to rais themselvs in your ruines. For the Quarrel (we must speak out, the Quarrel) is not INDEPENDENCIE, nor PRESBYTERIE; Quarrel at bottom is the power of Godliness; and I am verily per∣swaded, as I am speaking in this honorable Assemblie at this time, if the difference between them were compounded, (as I doubt not but in God's good time it may bee) you'l have another Controversie rise (unless you can reconcile the seed of the Woman, and the seed of the Serpent) for that is but their stalking-horse, and their pre∣tence, because they see there is a difference between those you call Presbyterians and Independents,* which they endeavor to improve to carry on their own designs: just like men that see two school∣boys fighting, set them on, and cry, Well don, good boys, &c! Here they cry out against this Presbyterian, and that Presbyteri∣an, and com into another shop, and there they will cry out on Page 17 the other side, to exasperate their spirits, that so at last when you have gotten bloody noses, and can fight no longer, then they may get the better of you both: this is their project.
I beseech you, suffer not your selvs in any Convention, or publick meeting whatsoever, to bee seduced by a fine cunning speech that will talk of Presbytery and the Covenant, &c. things very good, but then there com's in a clause in the conclusion of his speech, that drive's on his own design, and you shal in the mean time, if his Rhetorick overcom you, do his and the Malignants work; and God forbid, the Citie of London should do it. Give me leave to be earnest, wherin the good of so many thousand souls, the Kingdom, both Kingdoms, yea, the cause of the Protestant Churches abroad is so much concerned; (I speak it, as if I were to die and answer it immediately after Sermon) shake your hands and hearts, and though there bee som difference in opinion, it is a thousand times less evill then to suffer men that are Enemies to Christ, and his Kingdom, Covenant, and Presbytery, and Scripture-reformation in their hearts, to prevail; O let there bee such thoughts of Eter∣nitie, where you shal dwel together, let that possess your souls so that you may sweetly and seasonably close, and not betray your selvs to a third partie: For your encouragment consider what is Eternal in Heaven: Why brethren, there is an eternal freedom from all evil; and an eternal enjoyment of all good which wil make you infinitely happy.
By way of thankfulness;*bless God therefore, bless him all yee poor Saints, that have any hopes, any spiritual building, any foundation of that,* any thing of Jesus Christ in your souls, bless the Lord for it; adore, admire free grace, and say eternity wil bee little enough for your thoughts,* how to advance that God, that hath prepared an Eternitie of blessedness for you; First, you are a people of acquisition,: You are purchased: 1 Pet. 2. 9. Christ Jesus was at great cost and charges to recover you,* you have a purchased Possession; Ephesians 1• 1•. You have a purchased Spirit,* that fit's and prepare's you for it; O let God have the glory of it; and now I beseech you, let this bee your great care that you do live according to your hopes; that is one thing, I shal bespeak (Ile have don presently) live according to your hopes; If you hope to live eternally in heaven, do not pro∣stitute Page 18 those rich hopes, do not bee praevaricatores spei, as the Fa∣ther elegantly speak's; O do not delude, do not prevaricate those eternal hopes of yours: Let Christ bee the scope of your life, fol∣low him in the way,*that you may attain him at your journeys end; let this bee your care; Saints should burn heer like a Lamp, which is fed with Aromatical Oyle, when it is extinguished, it will leave a very sweet smell: O thus should Saints live; you'l say,
Q. How should wee do this? how?
A.* A few directions: First,
Take heed of carnall company;* flie and shun them; there are no Drunkards in Heaven; I mean such as live and dye drun∣kards impenitently, no such persons in Heaven, that live impe∣nitently in their sins; Away from mee all such, God hath heard the voice of my weepings:* What shall I do to convers with such men heer, that I must bee everlastingly separated from at the day of judgment! what shall I live with such men, that I shal judg at the last day! Ile rather judg my self for any carnall compliance, or conversation with them.* Secondly, Let this bee your care, Vse creatures onely as your servants, not as your friends, if God have provided an Eternitie, do not all things heer, as if you were at home; but do things heer, as it were in your way to the Kingdom; as the Painter said, who being ask't why hee was so exact in his Painting, why (said hee) these pieces are for E∣ternity. I pray for Eternitie, and I desire to act in my place, as a Governor of a City, Alderman, Parliament-man, whatsoever condition I live in, as a Minister, I do it for Eternity, and so labor to keep your hearts above all comforts: It is a great mistake,*Austin hath it, that men do use things they should en∣joy, and enjoy things they should onely use:* Wee make use of God onely and seek not to enjoy him, but wee enjoy those things, wee should but onely use; that is, Creatures, wee make them our Friends, that wee should make onely our servants.
Thirdly,*Have your conversation in Heaven, O speak heavenly language, walk by a heavenly rule, begin heavenly imployment, let every Sabbath day bee to you an Epitome of Heaven: when ever you com to an Ordinance think, now I am in a corner of the Kingdom of Heaven: and carry your selvs so to sing praises to God, and admire and adore his mercies, and to powr out Page 19 Hallelujahs to him, as if you were in Heaven. And then in the fourth and last place: Bee much in communion with God; for what is Heaven,* but the ful pitch of Communion with God, bee glad of address to God, com not to prayer, as to a task, but as to a sweet priviledg, com not to it onely to enjoy such blessings from God in prayer, but also to enjoy thy God in prayer, and to have a sweet communion and fellowship with thy Savior there, and that there may bee som illapses of his spirit into thy spirit, and som irradiations of the Sun of righteousness, some beams to fall up∣on thy soul, this is heaven. And therefore I beseech you in the last place, (and so I shall dispatch, I'le not meddle with the o∣ther two points,* but by way of Motive) If it bee so, Take a friendly caution, beware as you love eternal happiness of an immortal soul, do not let things lie at six and sevens, (as they say) at meer uncertainties any longer, but give diligence as to make your calling and election, so likewise to make your eternal mansions reserved for you in Heaven, as sure to you, give dili∣gence: 2 Peter 1. 10. Now I should have added the two next points, one is to shew you,
That it is possible to attain such a certainty,* and the other is to shew you,
That it is a soveraign Cordiall,*in the greatest troubles; but I'le wrap them up, I see the time is gone; onely two Motives:
First,* Though to attain such a certainty bee difficult, yet it is possible; there is not onely a Faith of adherence, by which you rest upon Christ for salvation,* but a Faith of evidence, by which you know Christ to bee your Savior;*that all Saints have, and this la∣ter they may have; the one is required to the Esse of a Christian, to the beeing, but this to the wel-beeing of a Christian; therefore som of Gods Saints want it, and the best of Gods Saints have it not at all times, but somtimes to prepare them for a cross, som∣times to chear them under a cross, as Paul and Silas, when they were in the prison,* somtimes to reward and crown them after a cross, after great troubles: Let mee add this further:
There is that Divines call certainty of the thing,* and of the Person, the certaintie of the thing, it depend's upon Gods decree, upon the mightie and invincible power of the spirit of God, upon the efficacie of the death and intercession of Jesus Christ;* of the Page 20 thing it shall bee made good; the Saints shall com to Heaven; but then certaintie of the Person, that is more or less, as God is pleased to dispens himself; Somtimes the Saints pay a little fine, have a little legal humiliation, then they pay a great deal of rent, it may bee more trouble about their Sanctification afterwards:* somtimes they pay a great Fine, when they are converted, lye long under a spirit of bondage, then after six or seven or more years, the spirit of adoption take's possession of them, (it may bee) they never meet with a cloudy day many years afterwards, heer is Certitudo subjecti, as God please's to dispens himself, and this may bee the Portion of many Saints, not onely as an extra∣ordinary priviledg to Abraham and Paul, (as the Papists would make us beleeve) but as a priviledg common to the Saints; that is, they are all capable of it, and they may attain it, if God pleas, according to the ordinary rules of his word▪ Wee know saith Paul, Rom. 8. 35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? &c. Hee saith not onely of himself, but of others; but how com you to this certaintie? there is a threefold seal thereof.
There are are the promises of God,* which are yea, and Amen in Christ, and they are seal'd in his blood; though thy name bee not written there, yet it is included, and Faith will spie and pick it out; As when you have the Commandement, (the Papists use this as a great Argument;) Is no man sure that hee is in the pro∣mise, because John or Zachary is not in the promise? so you may as well say no man is obliged in the Commandement, because his name is not there; now as you must apply the Commandements, so the promises, and Faith will fetch out thy name that is wrap∣ped up in the general: And secondly,*
As there is the blood of Jesus Christ, to seal the promises, in whom they are all Yea and Amen, 2 Corinthians 1. So there is the seal of the Sacraments, a publick standing visible seal, where∣by things are made more credible to us, though they are as true in themselvs as things can bee; yet by a present visible representa∣tion, to help your sens, you shall have the material Elements, as it is Austins comparison; When a man is upon the ground, that bee may bee raised towards Heaven, hee must make use of his hands, leaning upon the earth: So that wee may bee lifted up to Heaven, Jesus Christ hath appointed these things sensible to help our Faith; and then thirdly,
Page 21 There is the Privie Seal of the holy Spirit, which by a secree work doth reallize and particularize the two former;*Grieve not the holy Spirit, whereby you are sealed to the day of redemption: Ephes. 4. 30.* So that it is possible, God enabling them fiducially to ap∣ply such promises to themselvs, and to see the work of grace clearly in their hearts; and that the certainty of their salvation shall bee sealed to them; 1 Joh. 5. 7. There are three that bear witness in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the holy Ghost, and these three are one; All the the three glorious Persons concur as to work so to confirm our Salvation. The Testimonie, the Record is, v. 11. That God hath given to us eternal life, and this life it in his Son. v. 8. There are three that bear witness on earth, the spirit, and the Water, and the Blood, and these three agree in one, which seem's to bee the Spirits Testimonie in the work of Vocation, the Testi∣monie of Water in Sanctification, and of Blood in Justification, ra∣ther then the Sacraments,*&c.
It is a most sweet and excellent thing, if you could attain this: Brethren, it is the very next door to Heaven, to bee sure of Hea∣ven: the very next thing to the being in Heaven, is to have a cer∣tainty of Heaven; you are in the Suburbs, you are in the Porch, you have entered Paradise, that glorious Palace, when you com once to this assurance; O sweet! it is a very Heaven here upon earth; Peace of conscience that passe's understanding, and joy in the holy Ghost, which is unspeakable and glorious, these are the words the Scripture here use's of it, as of the first fruits of Heaven:* Now what is this? why it is indeed the beleeving and the eying of those things that are eternal, and a certain knowledg, as Paul speak's there in that place, 2 Corinthians 4. 17. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more ex∣ceeding and eternal weight of glory; Paul a man of great crosses, yet you see in the midst of all had the greatest comforts, a light af∣fliction; hee had told you a sad story before of his troubles,* that would (it may bee) fink your hearts and mine, yet here light afflictions, which were but for a moment, they were great and long, yet hee call's them light and momentanie; what is the reason? why, they work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; worketh out, as the spirit of God carrie's you through, not by way of merit; a far more exceeding weight of glory,Page 22 as the Spirit of God prepare's them for Heaven, so Heaven is prepared for them; and you shall finde, it is prepared in this method, by affliction; as in the 1 Peter 5. 10. The God of grace that hath called you to his eternal glory, make you perfect after you have suffered a while; this Hyperbolical weight of glory, which Paul tryed in his afflictions did uphold him.
It is not moral Philosophers apprehensions, that could sup∣port them; there was Aristides, and Socrates, and others, that might bee called the Puritans among the Heathens, who went very far and suffered much, Socrates to death; yet doubtless if they had nothing but meer morality, it would not have comforted them.
As moral Philosophy wil not carry a man thorow when he com's to suffer, so it is not Jesuitical fancies which som Papists have that can yield solid comfort; It is a thing worth knowing, I would eve∣ry one knew it;* it is indeed in Hospinian, & you wil finde it in the excellent Book of that man of God, that now is triumphing in Heaven, hee wil tel you how the Jesuits use to raise a man to kil a King, som of them the new Romanists com to venter them∣selvs very far, and wil expose themselvs to suffer much, to that which they think Martyrdom, as the old Roman Heathens, and others did, who threw themselvs somtimes into the greatest troubles, even to death it self; (Popularitie and Vain-glory, and self-respect, and such considerations may do much:) How do they raise a man to kil a King? First, they bring him to such a place, and there they shew him a consecrated Knife, and so many consecrated beads hanging upon it, and then they deliver it into his hand, O heer is the sword of Gideon, Jephtah, &c. and pray to God to bless him, and prosper him, then they carry him to an Altar, there they shew him the picture of Jacobus Clemens that kill'd Henry the third to animate him, and then they fain (as they can act a part most diabolically) and seem to envy him, O to what a height of happiness art thou advanced, that canst kil a King. (It is a dangerous Religion, whose principles lead to that, to eat their Maker, and kill their King;) yet this you see they do, and this wil heighten a poor man for a while, and som of them are so desperate and proud, and vainglorious, they wil do it, but this wil not last, this will not bee a sufficient Cordial, the soveraign Cordial of all, is to behold Eternitie, to Page 23 see him that is invisible, as Moses did, and to see the things that were Eternal, as Paul heer did.* One asked the great Duke of Saxonie, How came you to bee upheld in so many troubles, you have met withall? Saith hee, I felt the Divine consolations of the Martyrs: If God should let wicked men prevail, and the disaffe∣cted partie of both Kingdoms (who now it is clear are joyned, and Ireland I doubt in too) I am afraid they have all one design, if God should suffer them so far, and leave the Saints of God so far to themselvs, to give advantage to them, to suffer wicked men to prevail, yet God wil carry on his cause. The Revelation wil prove true, they cannot undo us, they can but send us to Heaven: I could tel you a sad storie (which I had from the foun∣tain) of a Gentleman, that had don very good service to his Country in the Parliament, who was one of the Eleven, came to take his leave of one of the greatest Subjects in the Kingdom, by his place, said to him this, when hee came for a Pass to go over Sea, Hee thank'd him for his kindness, saying, Had the plot prevail'd on the other side, you had not been so kindely dealt withal; Therefore let us labor to acquaint our selvs with the true, yet the divine Consolations of the Martyrs, at least som taste of them, then let the Devil, and all the Malignants in Hell, and on earth do their worst, yet they cannot everlastingly undo us; God may suffer them to bring us into a suffering condition, but when wee suffer with Christ, wee shal raign with Christ, and bee crowned with Christ, there is a Mansion in Heaven reserved for us after wee shal have judged those that live and dye Enemies to us, & to Jesus Christ. Now the Lord in his rich mercie, give you to finde such a sure foundation of this spiritual building, even Jesus Christ, layed up in your hearts, that you may have a certain Evidence of this eternal building: Amen.