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You whose hearts are set on heaven, who are daily laying up a treasure there, here is a welcome messenger, to tell you more than perhaps you have well considered, of the nature of your future blessedness, and to illustrate the map of the land of promise, and to bring you another cluster of its grapes : here is a useful help to make you know that holiness doth participate of glory, and that heaven is at least virtually in the seed of grace. Though this life be properly called a life of faith, as contradistinct from the intuition and fruition hereafter, as well as from the lower life of sense; yet is it a great truth, and not sufficiently considered and improved, that we have here moie than faith, to acquaint us with the blessedness expected. Between faith and glory, there is the spirit of holiness, the love of God, the heavenly desires, which are kindled by faith, and are those branches on which the happy flower and fruit must grow: they are the name and mark of God upon us: they are our earnest, our pledge and the first fruits. And is not this more than a word of promise only? Therefore though all christians must live by faith, marvel not that I tell you, that you may, you must have more than faith. Is not a pledge and earnest, a first-fruits more? Therefore have christians, not only a Spirit to evidence their title, but also some foretaste of heaven itself. For faith in Christ is to recover us to God, and so much as we have of God, so much of fruition; and so much as faith hath kindled in you of the love of God, so much foretaste you have of heaven; for you are deceived, if you think, that any one notion speaketh more to you of heaven and of your ultimate end, than the love of God. And though no unsound, ill-grounded faith will serve to cause this sacred love, yet when it is caused, it over-tops this cause; and he that perceiveth the operation of a strong effectual love,
fth an acquaintance with God and heaven which is above that believing. Faith seeth the feast, but love is the tasting of it. And therefore it is, that the holiest souls stick closest unto God, because (though their reasoning faculty may be defective) they know him by the highest and most tenacious kind of knowledge which this world affordeth, (as I have lately shewed elsewhere.) Here you have described to you, the true witness of the Spirit; not that of supposed internal voices, which they are usually most taken up with, who have the smallest knowledge and faith, vol. i. 2
and love, and the greatest self-esteem, or spiritual pride, with the strongest phantasies and passions: but the objective and the sealing testimony, the divine nature, the renewed image of God, whose children are known by being like to their heavenly Father, even by being holy as he is holy. This is the Spirit of adoption, by which we are inclined, by holy love to God and confidence in him, to cry Abba Father, and fly unto him: the Spirit of sanctification is hereby in us the Spirit of adoption: for both signify but the giving us that love to God, which is the filial nature, and our Father's image.
And this treatise doth happily direct thee to that faithful beholding God in righteousness, which must here begin this blessed assimilation, which full intuition will forever perfect. It is a happy sign that God is about to repair our ruins and divisions, when he stirreth up his servants to speak so much of heaven, and to call up the minds of impatient complainers, and contentious censurers, and ignorant self-conceited dividers, and of worldly, unskilful, and unmerciful pastors, to look to that state where all the godly shall be one, and to turn those thoughts to the furtherance of holiness, to provoke one another to love and to good woiks, which too many lay out upon their hay and stubble, and to call men from judging and despising each other (and worse than both these) about their meats and drinks, and days, to study righteousness and peace, and joy in the holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ (in which his kingdom doth consist) is acceptable to God, and approved of men, that are wise and good. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. While the contentious for meats will destroy the work of God, (Rom. 14. 17. 20.) the union between peace and holiness is so strict, that he that truly promoteth one promoteth both, Heb. 12. 14. Jam. 3. 17. The true way of our union is excellently described, Eph. 4. 11, 16. If any plain, unlearned readers shall blame the accurateness of the style, they must remember, that those persons have not the least need to hear of heaven, and to be drawn up from the vanities of earth who cannot digest a looser style. As God hath endued the worthy author with a more than ordinary measure of judiciousness, even soundness and accurateness, of understanding, with seriousness, spirituality, and heavenly mind; so we have for our common benefit, the effects of all these happy qualifications, in this judicious, heavenly discourse. And if my recommendations may in any measure further your acceptance, improvements and practising of so edifying a treatise, it will answer the ends of him who waiteth with you in hope for the same salvation.
BLESSEDNESS OF THE RIGHTEOUS.
PSALM XVII. 15.
As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness.
1. A proemial discourse. II. A reflection upon some foregoing verses of the psalm, by way of introduction to the text III. A consideration of its somewhat various readings, and of its literal importance. IV. A discussion of its real importance so far as is necessary to the settling the subject of the present discourse.
I. The continual mixture of good and evil in this present state of things, with its uncertain fluctuations, and subjection to perpetual changes; do naturally prompt a considering mind to the belief and hope of another, that may be both more perfect, and more permanent. For certainly it could never be a design adequate (or any way agreeable) to the divine wisdom and goodness, that the blessed God should raise such a thing as this lower creation out of nothing, only to give himself the temporary pleasure of beholding the alternate joys and sorrows of (the best part thereof) his reasonable creature seated in it: nor a delight at all proportionable to an eternally happy Being, when he hath connaturalized such a creature to this sensible world; only to take notice how variously the passions he hath planted in him, may be moved and stirred by the vaiiety of occasions which he shall thence be presented with; and what sudden and contrary impressions may be made upon his easy passive senses, by the interchanged strokes and touches of contrary objects; how quickly he can arise him into a transport of high contentment and pleasure, and then how soon he can again reduce him to a very paroxysm of anguish and despair. It would discover us to have very vile and low thoughts of God, if we did not judge THE BLESSEDNESS
it altogether unanswerable to his perfections, to design no further thing in creating this world, and placing such a creature as man in it, than only to please himself for a while with such a spectacle, and then at last clear the stage, and shut up all again in an eternal, silent darkness. If we could suppose a man furnished with such power, he would surely add little to the reputation of his being wise or good beyond other men, by a design so to use it. Much less can we think it worthy of God to perpetuate such a state of things as this, and continue a succession of such persons and actions as we now behold in the world, through eternal generations, only to perpetuate to himself the same pleasure in the exercise of his immense power upon created natures, over which he hath so infinite advantage.
And indeed nothing can be more unconceivable, than that the great Creator and Author of all things, should frame a creature of so vast comprehension as the spirit of man, put into it a capacity of knowing and conversing with himself, give it some prospect of his own glory and blessedness; raise thereby, in many, boundless unsatisfied desires after him, and unexpressible pleasure in the pre-conceived hope of being received into the communion of that glory and blessedness; and yet defeat and blast so great an expectation, by the unsuspected reducement of the very subject of it again to nothing. Yea, and that he should deal herein (as in that case he must) the most hardly with the best: and that such souls, whose mere love and devotedness to him, had made them abandon the pleasures of this life, and run through whatsoever difficulties for his sake, should fare worse than the very worst; were beyond all the rest, most utterly unimaginable, and a thought which pagan-reason hath not known how to digest or entertain. If (saith one, and he speaks the sense of many others, as well as his own) E/ psv h a^a <roTg
<^c with the dissolution of our bodies, the essence of the soul, whatsoever that be, should be dissolved too, and forever cease to be any thing; I know not how I can account them blessed, that never having enjoyed any good as the reward of their virtue, have even perished for virtue itself. Dionys. Halicar. Antiq. Rom. lib. 8.
Wherefore it is consequent, that this present state is only intended for trial to the spirits of men, in order to their attainment as of a better state in a better world: that is, inasmuch as the infinitely wise and blessed God had given being to such a creature as man, in which both worlds (the material and the immaterial) did meet; and who, in respect of his earthly and spiritual natures, had in him somewhat suitable to each. And whereas this creature had lost (with his interest) his very inclination to the spiritual objects, enjoyments of the purer, immaterial world (wherein alone his true blessedness could con