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but I found none.” Wherefore hath God given to men the tongue of the learned, but that they might know to speak a word in season to him that is weary? Isa. I. 4; that they may strengthen the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees; and say to them that are of a feeble heart, Be strong, fear not,” Isa. xxxv. 3. The charge that our Saviour gives to Peter holds universally; “Thou, when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren," Luke xxii. 32.-By prayer : so that each member of Christ's church sues for all; neither can any one be shut out from partaking the benefit of the devotions of all God's saints upon earth. There is a certain spiritual traffic of piety betwixt all God's children, wherein they exchange prayers with each other, not regarding number so much as weight. Am I weak in spirit, and faint in my supplications? I have no less share in the most fervent prayers of the holiest suppliants than in my own; all the vigour that is in the most ardent hearts supplies my defects; whilst there is life in their faithful devotions, I cannot go away
unblessed. Lastly, where there is a communion of inward graces and spiritual services, there must needs be much more a communication of outward and temporal good things, as just occasion requireth. Away with those dotages of Platonical or fanatical communities. Let properties be, as they ought, constantly fixed where the laws and civil right have placed them; but let the use of these outward blessings be managed and commanded by the necessities of our brethren: “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the
power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to-morrow
I will give, when thou hast it,” Prov. iii. 27, 28. These temporal things were given us not to engross and hoard up superfluously, but to distribute and dispense: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith,” Gal. vi. 10.
Such, then, is the union of God's children here on earth, both in matter of judgment and affection. And the beneficial improvement of that affection, whether in spiritual gifts or good offices, or communicating of our earthly substance, where the heart is one, none of these can be wanting; and where they all are, there is a happy communion of saints. Sect. XXIV. The union of the saints on earth
with those in heaven. As there is a perfect union betwixt the glorious saints in heaven, and a union (though imperfect) betwixt the saints on earth, so there is a union partly perfect, and partly imperfect, between the saints in heaven and the saints below
upon perfect in respect of those glorified saints above; imperfect in respect of the weak returns we are able to make to them again. Let no man think, that because those blessed souls are out of sight, far distant in another world, and we are here toiling in a vale of tears, that we have therefore lost all mutual regard to each other; no, there is still, and ever will be, a secret but unfailing correspondence between heaven and earth. The present happiness of those heavenly citizens cannot have abated aught of their knowledge and charity ; but must needs have raised them to a higher pitch of both. They, therefore, who are now glorious
earth; comprehensors,* cannot but in a generality retain the notice of the sad condition of us poor travellers here below, panting towards our rest, together with them; and in common wish for the happy consummation of this our weary pilgrimage, in the fruition of their glory. That they have any perspective whereby they can see down into our particular wants, is that which we find no ground to believe. It is enough that they have a universal apprehension of the estate of Christ's wayfaring church upon the face of the earth, Rev. vi. 10, and, as fellow members of the same mystical body, long for a perfect glorification of the whole.
As for us wretched pilgrims, who are yet left here below, to tug with many difficulties, we cannot forget that better half of us which is now triumphant in glory. Oye blessed saints above, we honour your memories so far as we ought; we do with praise recount your virtues ; we magnify your victories; we bless God for your happy exemption from the misery of this world, and for your estate in that blessed immortality; we imitate your holy examples; we long and pray for a happy consociation † with you; we dare not raise temples, dedicate altars, direct prayers to you; we dare not, finally, offer any thing to you
you are unwilling to receive, nor put any thing upon you which you would disclaim as prejudicial to your Creator and Redeemer. It is abundant comfort to us, that some part of us is in the fruition of that glory, whereto we (the other poor labouring part) desire and strive to aspire; that our head and shoulders are above water, whilst the other limbs are yet wading through the stream.
* Beings able to comprehend. + Union together.
Sect. XXV. A recapitulation and sum of the
whole treatise. To wind
up all : My son, if ever thou look for sound comfort on earth, and salvation in heaven, unglue thyself from the world, and the vanities of it; put thyself upon thy Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; leave not till thou findest thyself firmly united to him, so as thou art become a limb of that body whereof he is Head, a spouse of that Husband, a branch of that stem, a stone laid upon that foundation. Look not, therefore, for any blessing out of him; and in, and by, and from him, look for all blessings: let him be thy life; and wish not to live longer than thou art quickened by him; find him thy wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption; thy riches, thy strength, thy glory. Apply unto thyself all that thy Saviour is, or hath done. Wouldst thou have the graces of God's Spirit? fetch them from his anointing. Wouldst thou have power against spiritual enemies ? fetch it from his sovereignty. Wouldst thou have redemption ? fetch it from his passion. Wouldst thou have absolution ? fetch it from his perfect innocence. Freedom from the curse? fetch it from
Satisfaction ? fetch it from his sacrifice. Cleansing from sin? fetch it from his blood. Mortification? fetch it from his grave. Newness of life: fetch it from his resurrection. Right to heaven? fetch it from his purchase. Audience in all thy suits ? fetch it from his intercession. Wouldst thou have salvation ? fetch it from his session* at the right hand of Majesty. Wouldst thou have all? fetch it from him who is “ one Lord, one God
* Sitting down.
and Father of all, who is above all, through all, and in all,” Eph. iv. 5, 6. And as thy faith shall thus interest thee in Christ, thy Head, so let thy charity unite thee to his body, the church, both in earth and heaven. Hold ever an inviolable communion with that holy and blessed fraternity. Sever not thyself from it, either in judgment or affection. Make account there is not one of God's saints upon earth, but hath a property in thee, and thou mayest challenge the same in each of them: so that thou canst not but be sensible of their passions ; and be freely communicative of all thy graces, and all serviceable offices, by example, admonition, exhortation, consolation, prayer, beneficence, for the good of that sacred community.
And when thou raisest up thine eyes to heaven, think of that glorious society of blessed saints who are gone before thee, and are now there triumphing, and reigning in eternal and incomprehensible glory; bless God for them, and wish thyself with them; tread in their holy steps, and be ambitious of that crown of glory and immortality which thou seest shining on their heads.