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rest" (Mic. ii. 10), that is hereafter. “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (Heb. iv. 9). Our home we count the place of our repose : now there is no rest and content in this world, which is a place of vanity, misery, and discomfort. Yea, to the children of God there are stronger motives than crosses to drive them from the world, daily temptations, and our often falling by them. Crosses are grievous to all, but sin is more grievous to the godly; and nothing makes them more weary of the world than the constant indwelling and frequent outbreaking of corruption and sin. “Oh wretched man that I am ! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. vii. 24.) The Apostle was exercised with many crosses, but this doth make him complain in the bitterness of his soul, not of his misery, but of his corruption which he found continually rebelling against God. Many complain of their crosses, that complain not of sin; to loath the world for crosses alone, is neither the mark nor work of grace: a beast can forsake the place where he findeth neither meat nor rest : but because we are sinning here, whilst others are glorifying God, this is the trouble of the saints.
3. They believe and look for a better estate after this life is over: “We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor. v. 1). No man can be a right sojourner on earth, who doth not look for an abode in Heaven : for that which doth most effectually draw off the heart of man from this world, is the expectation of a far better state in the world to come: “ While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen : for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Cor. iv. 18). Heathens could call the world an inn, but they had only glimmering conceptions of another world : a Christian that believeth it, and looketh for it on God's assurance, he is only the joyful stranger, and the pilgrim. Common sense will teach us the necessity of leaving this world, but faith can only assure us of another ; they are believers and expectants of Heaven.
4. They do not only look for it, but seek after it. We read of both looking, and seeking: “ They declare plainly that they seek a country” (Heb. xi. 14). “ Here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Heb. xü. 14). Seeking implieth diligence in the use of means : all the life of a Christian is nothing but the seeking after another country, every day advancing a step nearer to Heaven; and therefore their molitevpa, their conversation, is said to be in Heaven (Phil. iii. 20). This is their great business upon earth, to do all to eternal ends : all other works and labours are but upon the by and subordinate to this. Their main care is to obtain this blessed condition, therefore they use word, sacraments, that they may grow in grace, faith, repentance, new obedience. Every degree in grace is another step towards Heaven: “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee, in whose heart are the ways of them. They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeared before God” (Psalm lxxxiv. 5,-7). Some of the saints are in patria ; others in via, still bending homeward.
5. Because they are so, the children of God are dealt with as strangers. Difference of scope and drift will procure alienation of affection: “Wherein they think it strange, that you run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of vou” (1 Peter iv. 1). And, “If ye were of the world, the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you" (John xv. 19). Other cannot be expected, but that the servants of the Lord should be ill-rewarded and treated here, not only out of the world's ignorance, they know not our birth, breeding, expectations, hope: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John üïi. 2); but enmity, as the different carriage of the one puts a disgrace upon the course of life which the other doth affect, the one fixeth their home here, the other looketh for it elsewhere; and the world is sensible this is an excellency, and therefore those that are at the bottom of the hill, envy and malign those that are at the top.
USE.—Are we thus minded? There are two sorts of men in the world, the one is of the Devil, and the other is of God; for all men seek their rest and happiness on earth, or rest in Heaven. Naturally, men were of the first number, for the rational soul without grace accommodateth itself to the interests of the body, but when sublimated and transformed by grace, the world cannot satisfy it, and it can find nothing there which may finally quiet its desires; for the new life infused hath other aims and tendencies. As saints are new born from Heaven, so for Heaven; and therefore the new nature cannot satisfy itself in the enjoyment of the creature, with the absence of God. The Apostle saith, “ while at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord" (2 Cor. v. 6). In this life we are not capable of the glorious presence of God; it is not consistent with our mortality. And our being present with him in the Spirit, is but a taste that doth provoke rather than cloy the appetite: “Ourselves also which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the
adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Rom. viii. 23). These • tastes do but make us long for more; they are sent down from Heaven to
draw us up to that place of our rest, where this glory and blessedness is in fulness. Now which sort are you of, the city of God, or under the dominion of Satan, and the power of worldly lusts?
1. There are some that take up here, and never consider whence they are, nor whither they are a-going; as Christ saith, “ I know whence I am, and whither I go." They look altogether for the present, and if they be well for the present, they are contented. Alas ! in what a miserable case are these men, though they mind it not ! they seem to me to be like men that are going to execution. A man that is going to the gallows, for the present is well, hath a great guard to attend him, an innumerable multitude of people to follow him; you would think that hardly could a man be such a sot and fool as to think all this should be done for his honour, and not for his punishment; and should only consider how he is accompanied, but not whither he goeth. Many such fools there are in the world, that only consider how they are attended and provided for, but never consider whither they are a-going. Oh, wretch! whither goest thou ? may we say to one that should pride himself in the resort of company to his execution ; dost thou not see thou art led to punishment, and after an hour or two, these will leave thee hanging and perishing infamously as the just reward of thine offences ? So many that shine now in the pomp and splendour of worldly accommodations, and are merry and jocund as if all would do well ; alas, poor creatures, whither are they a-going? “They take the timbrel, and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ; they spend their days in
wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave" (Job xxi. 12, 13). Ye still live, and are going to punishment, but mind it not ; but your wealth, and honours, and servants, and friends will all leave you to your own doom; and yet you are merry and jocund as if your journey would never end, or not so dismally; as if you were hastening to a kingdom, and not to an eternal prison; one moment puts an end to all their joy for ever.
2. There are others that wean their hearts from this world, and make it their care that they may carry themselves becoming their celestial extraction; as their souls were from above by creation, so all their hopes, and desires, and endeavours are to attain to that region of spirits ; much more as being renewed by grace, do they aim at the perfection and accomplishment of that life which is begun in them, and so being made partakers of the Divine nature, do they escape the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Peter i.4); they are convinced of a better estate than the world yieldeth, and believe it, and look for it, and long for it, and labour for it. Now, of which number are you? or, if you cannot decide that, because more goeth to the assuring of our interest than the world usually taketh to be necessary for that end and purpose, of which number do you mean to be? Will you be at home in the world, or seek the happiness of the world to come? that is, in other terms, do you mean to be Pagans under a Christian name, or Christians indeed ? you have but the name if you be not strangers and pilgrims here upon earth. All Christ's disciples, indeed, are called to sit loose from the world, and to have a high and deep sense of the world to come : as to the other world, they are no mere strangers and foreigners, “but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God" (Eph. ii. 19). They are of a family, part of which is in Heaven and part on earth; “ of whom the whole family in Heaven and earth is named" (Eph. iii. 15); some of their brethren have got the start of them, and are with God before them, but the rest are hastening after as fast as they can. They are sufficiently convinced that the earth is no place for them, they are strangers there, and the contentments thereof uncertain and perishing ; but they are no strangers to Heaven, and the blessed society of the saints, whose privileges they have a full right to now, and hope one day to have as full a possession, and an intimate communion with their Father and all their brethren.
Now, that you may resolve upon this, and carry yourselves suitably, I shall,
1. Give you some motives.
1. He that taketh up his rest in this world, or any earthly thing, is but a higher kind of beast, and unworthy of an immortal soul. The beasts have an instinct that guideth them to seek things convenient for that life which they have, and therefore a man doth not follow the light of reason, that seeketh to quiet his mind with what things the world affordeth, and only relisheth the contentments of the carnal and bodily life, that is satisfied with his portion here (Psalm xvii. 14). All their business and bustle is to have their wills and pleasure for a little while, as if they had neither hopes nor fears of any greater things hereafter: “Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish” (Psalm xlix. 20), because he merely inclineth to present satisfactions; for reason is as a middle thing between the life of faith, and the life of sense ; it were no great matter whether you were men or dogs, or swine, if reason be only given you for the present world, and present satisfactions : all your sense of the world to come and conscience is as good as nothing.
2. None are of so noble and divine a spirit as those that seek the heavenly kingdom. Amongst men, the ambitious, who aspire to crowns and kingdoms, that aim at perpertual fame by their virtues and rare exploits, are judged persons of greater gallantry than covetous muck-worms, and brutish epicures, yet their highest thoughts and designs are very base in comparison of Christians, “ who by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory and honour and immortality” (Rom. ii. 7), and whom nothing less will content than the enjoyment of God himself. Their desires are after him : “ Whom have I in Heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee?” (Psalm lxxiii. 25.) So that as man being immortal should provide for some place of perpetual abode, so herein the Christian excelleth other men, that nothing less will satisfy him than what God hath promised his people hereafter. The threshold will not content him, nothing but the throne.
3. What a sorry immortality, mock eternity, do they choose instead of the true one, when they neglect the pursuit of this heavenly country. If they look no higher than this world, all that they can rationally imagine is perpetuating themselves, and their names, and posterity by successive generations : “ Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling-places to all generations; they call their lands by their own names” (Psalm xlix. 11). This is styled Nodosa Æternitas, when they live in their children after death ; but, alas! to how few men's share can this fall? and those who may in likelihood expect it, who are lords of fair rents, fair lands, houses, and heritages, how often are they disappointed ? But if their hopes should succeed, and they should make themselves this way eternal, yet when the pageantry of this world is over, the great ungodly men of the world, who have names, lands, families, in the general resurrection shall be poor, base, contemptible; whereas he that made it his business to look after the world to come, shall be glorious for ever.
4. When once our qualification is clear, every step of our remove out of this world is an approach to our abiding city: “ Our salvation nearer than when we believed" (Rom. xiii. 11); and, “ though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Cor. iv. 16).
5. Every degree of grace makes your qualification clearer : “Giving thanks unto the Father, who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (Col. i. 12); and, “ Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold of eternal life" (1 Tim. vi. 19). Evidences are increased, when ripening for Heaven, more and more.
2ndly, Let us carry ourselves as such as count our best estate in this world as the house of our pilgrimage.
1. Let us, with great joy and delight of heart, entertain the promises of the life to come, resolving to hold and hug them, and esteem them, and make much of them till the performance come : “ These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on earth" (Heb. xi. 13).
2. Let us take heed of what may divert us, and besot us, and hinder
us in our hearenlr journey: “ Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Pet. ii. 11). A relish of the pleasures that offer themselves in the course of our pilgrimage, spoileth the sense that we have of the world to come, and weakens our care in the pursuit of it.
3. Let us be contented with those provisions that God in his providence affordeth us by the way, though they be mean and scanty: “Having food and raiment let us be content, for we brought nothing into the world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out”' (1 Tim. vi. 7, 8); we came into the world contented with a cradle, and must go out contented with a grave; therefore, if we want the pomp of the world, let it not trouble us ; we have such allowance as our heavenly Father seeth necessary for us till our great inheritance cometh in hand.
4. If the world increase upon us, we should take the more care that we may have the comfort of it in the world to come : “ Their works do follow them” (Rev. xiv. 13); “ Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail they may receive you iuto everlasting habitations” (Luke xvi. 9). There is no way to show our weanedness in a full estate, nor to keep our hearts clean, or to express our deep sense of the world to come but this.
DOCTRINE II.—That during this estate, and the inconveniences thereof, God's children find matter of rejoicing in his word.
Ist, Let us consider how this point lieth in this text.
1. The Psalmist had a sufficient sense of the inconveniences of the house of his pilgrimage, his absence from God; for therefore he counts it a pilgrimage, the many affronts and dishonours that are done to God in the world, which go near to a gracious heart, who espouseth God's quarrel and interest; therefore he saith, “Horror hath taken hold upon me, because men keep not thy law;" nay, and possibly his own afflictions and troubles, for many interpreters suppose him now expelled from Jerusalem, and driven to wander up and down in the forests and wildernesses, yet then could he comfort himself in God, and pass over his time in meditating on the precepts and promises. The troubles and inconveniences of our pilgrimage are easily disregarded by them that have no sense of them, or are slight-hearted, or whose time of trial is not yet come, but then is strength of grace seen, when we can overcome sense of trouble by the encouragements which the bare naked word of God offereth. If David were now in exile, it was a trouble to him not to enjoy the ordinances and means of grace with the rest of God's people ; but to deceive the tediousness of it by God's word, that is the trial. If we can depend upon the promise, when nothing but the promise is left us, there are no difficulties too great for the comfort of God's word to allay.
2. The Psalmist speaketh not of what he would do, but what he had done: “ thy statutes have been my songs.” Experience of the comfort of the word is more than a resolution to seek it there : in his resolution he would have been a pattern of duty, but now he is a president of comfort.
That which hath been may be; God, that hath given a promise and comfort to his saints before, will continue it in all ages.
3. The Psalmist speaketh not of an ordinary joy, but such as was ready to break out into singing, which noteth the heart is full, and can hold no longer without some vent and utterance. As Paul and Silas were so full of joy, that they sang at midnight in the stocks.