« PreviousContinue »
14p: Prov. xxviii. 14. Happy is the man that feareth alway, but he that hardeneth his heart thall fall into mischief.” He trembles to think of going back from God, has a horror at the thought. He walks softly and warily, as one afraid to be taken off his feet; and he holds the faiter, the more he sees his hazard. There is,
[2.] The finoke of self-loathing, fur former fins and departures from God: Ezek. xxxvi. 31.' “ Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own fight for your iniquities, and for your abominations." They that are near will remember with self-loathing what they were when they were far off : Pfal. lxxiii. 22. “ So foolish was I and ignorant, I was as a beast before him.” They who have not seen their wretched cafe while at a distance from God, they go back again quickly ; for the fore that is not sufficiently probed, though scurfed over, will break out again. There is,
[3.] The smoke of diffatisfaction with the corrupt nature, in that there should be so much as a principle of back-drawing, the least inclination in them to go away: Rom. vii. 24. “ O wretched man that I am !' who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?” They will be looking with an evil eye on the corruption of nature, which makes them capable of departing, and will be longing to be beyond the reach of temptations to depart from the Lord.
(2.) You will know by the flame that will be rising there. There being a live coal from the altar, there will be a threefold flame.
[1.] A flame of love to the house they have come to for the Master's sake, Luke, xxiv. 29. 32. The glory of that house cast open by the blood of
Christ, darkens all created excellency with them, so that their hearts say, “ This is my rest.” Pfal. Ixxim.
“ Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none on the earth that I defire beside thee.” They are like the servant, Exod. xxi. 5. who, from love to his master, would not
go out free. They have made choice of God in Christ for their God; and when they reflect on the bargain, they do not repent their choice. If they had it to make a thousand times, they would not alter. - There is,
(2.) A flame of desires, desires to stay : Pfal. cxix. 10. “ With my whole heart have I fought thee; O let me not wander from thy commandments !" They see Satan and a corrupt heart standing ready to yoke, to carry them back to their father's house again; but they are persuaded in their hearts, while they are with God, they are where they are better, yea, where they are best ; and they desire not to go back, they desire to stay, and therefore are denying the suits of ungodliness and worldly lufts, which would carry them back, Tit. ü. 12.-.-There is,
(3.) A flame of hatred against the fashion of their father's house : Psal. ci.
so I will fet no wicked thing before mine eyes; I hate the work of them that turn aside, it shall not cleave to me.” They laathed them, they therefore left them, and came away
from them. They do not love them, and therefore hate to go back to them. They have abandoned the sweet morsel, and abhor to take it up again : Psal. xcvii. 10. “ Ye that love the Lord, hate evil; he preferveth the souls of his faints, he delivereth them out of the hands of the wicked.” Those fashions wounded their consciences, defiled their souls, grieved the Holy Spirit, contradicted the law of righteousness ; therefore they hate them.
Thus, you see, those who have diawn near to God in heaven, have determined to abide there. They have taken God as their God, to abide by, and with him for ever. And hence we may conclude two things in regard to them.
1. That they are no more people of this world. Heaven was cast open to them by Jesus Christ, a way was made for them into the holiest of all, and they have drawn near by this way to God in Chrift, to abide there. It is indeed true, they are yet in the world, but they are not any more of it, they are chosen out of the world, John, xv. 19. Though their bodies be still in this world, their : fouls have by faith taken wing, have left this for that world, which is not seen, and have got in within the vail. ---Thus it is, for the god of this world is not their God. They have renounced the devil, no more to serve and obey him to their ruiri, but to resist him as their enemy, and the enemy of their God. They are to have an irreconcileable war with him, till he be bruised under their feet. The world's portica is not their portion, i John, ii. 15. 16. They look beyond things that are seen, which may fill the hand, but can never fill the heart. . They seek after profits more solid, pleasures more pure and sweet, than the world can afford... They will not, like the men of the world, cry, “ Who will fhew us any good ?”. Pfal. iv. 6. ;. but as answering Christ's call, Song, iv. 8. « Corne with me from Lebanon, my spouse.” What others take upon their back, yea, place in the chief room of the heart, they put under their feet, and are fighting with it, that they may overcome it. The
way : Rom. xii. 2. « And be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”. To be only neighbour-like, is not
their religion. They are pilgrims and strangers in the world, who will be diftinguished by their way from the natives. For they who take the way the world muit periíh with it.
2. They are people of another world, they are of that world where life and immortality reign. They have had access into heaven while on earth, and they have drawn near to it by faith. Wönder not at this, for if there be a foul here who has drawn near to God with a true heart, in the fullt afsurance of faith, and taken God in Chrift for their God, they may well be said to be in heaven, and to be creatures of another world. For,
(1.) Their Head is in heaven, even Jesus Christ, who is as really umited to the believer, as the head of a living man is to his body. There is as real an union and communion betwixt Christ and them, as betwixt the head and the body : Col. ii. 19. “ He is the head, from which all the body, by joints and bands, having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God." This union the Spirit descending from Christ, and faith ascending from the true heart, conftitutes; and this the facrament feals.
(2.) Their heart is in heaven, for their treasure, their stock, and portion is there : Matth. vi. 21. “ l'or where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Their heart is divorced from the world and their luits, it is away before them, in some measure, to the place where they themselves are to be for ever. They have got a view of the glory and treasures of the upper house, and after these their souls are breathing. (3.) Their life is there, for Christ is there : “ l'or you are dead, and your
life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, thall appear, then fhall we allo appear
Col. iii. 3. 4.
with him in glory.” Their principle of life is the Spirit of Christ, by whom they live. It is a hidden life indeed, hid from the world, often from themselves. They see not their dignity, it doth not yet appear what they are, but as really as they have taken God in Christ for their God, the Spirit of Christ dwells in them. And hence, their life can never be extinguithed, for it lies not in the grace of God within them, but in that without them in Chrift.
(4.) Their hand is in heaven, even faith, that long arm of the foul, by which it can reach from earth to heaven, even to his seat; for by it, as was fhewn, we draw near to God. Faith penetrates through the vail, and reits not, till it rest in God himlelf, who draws near to us in his word, the word of the everlasting gospel.
(5.) Their conversation is in heaven, Phil. iii. 20. They are citizens there, their great trade is there. The King of heaven is their King, their Lord, Head, and Husband; and to they wait their orders from heaven, and do not take up with every thing which offers, according to the inclinations of their own corrupt hcarts. The laws of heaven are their rule, for they are put in their mind, and written in their inward parts, Heb. viii. 10. They are not disposed to do as others do, but to hear what the Lord says to them. The word from heaven is their oracle, with which to consult in all their way. Their hope and expectation is from heaven. The work of heaven is their work, which is, to serve and to do the will of Christ's Father which is in heaven. --So much for the first thing, taking God for your God in Christ, without doubting of your welcome. The
2. Thing in drawing near with full assurance of faith was, That having taken. God for your