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gathered, and the green and sour fruit is yet left on earth. But, oh! what a heavy judgment is it, to the needy world, which wants such lights, as God is taking in. But we are not the choosers. It is well if we be obedient learners, and can follow such to life in the holy path.

The text read to you, hath so much matter of instruction that will excuse me if I scarce name the most. It is part of Paul's vindication against the accusers of his person and ministry, which were some erroneous judaizing teachers. He confesseth that glorying is an inexpedient thing, and sounds like folly; but yet, in case of necessary defence, it may be modestly and sincerely done. Especially the opening of those divine revelations and gifts which make for the strength of the faith of others. The explication shall be taken in as we go.

Observ. 1. It is no new thing for the wisest and holiest of Christ's ministers to be accused even by the teachers of Christianity.

For 1. There are many erroneous teachers, that are confident they are in the right, and oppose the teachers of truth as if they were the erring men.

2. And there are worldly, proud, malignant hypocrites, who bring their unsanctified hearts into the sacred office, and manage it as men do common trades, but with greater enmity and strife.

3. And there are abundance of ignorant or half-wise injudicious men, who have self-conceitedness enough to be peremptory and confident, but neither knowledge nor humility enough to perceive their own weakness and mistakes.

Use 1. Therefore let it not become a scandal to you, if you hear some teachers accusing and vilifying others.

2. And think not that a minister is erroneous or faulty, merely because others, though of great name, do accuse him, or so represent him. It hath still been so, and while Satan is Satan, and man is corrupt man, and there is so much darkness, and so much worldly temptations, and cross interests, it will be so; and preachers will be made the common and dangerous hinderers of preachers; and where they have power, will silence them, and disgrace their work.

Observ. 2. Glorying or boasting, is in itself an inexpedient thing. It savours of pride, and selfishness, and folly, when it is not necessary and just. And therefore all Christians should be backward to it.

Observ. 3. Yet that which is so inexpedient, may, on just occasions, become good, and a duty.

That is, 1. When it is made needful to God's honour and the vindication and success of our ministry and the truth. And,

2. When these are our true needs. And, 3. When we speak nothing but the truth.

Use 3. Oh, that men knew how great a sin it is, by their confident errors and rash accusations, to put Christ's ministers upon such a defence; much more to seek their silence and destruction.

2. And here you see that inconveniences will not excuse us from necessary duties; nor prove that all is unlawful which hath such. What is it in this confused and imperfect world that hath not its inconveniences. In government, both monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy, absolute and limited, have their many inconveniences. In churches, the power of people andpastors, equality and subordination, riches and poverty, severity and lenity, to use discipline or neglect it, have their inconveniences. In worship, imposed words or free, and all human forms and modes have their inconveniences. In houses, a married life and a single, to have children and to have none, to have servants or none, to have much business or little, to be high or low, rich and poor, to rule gently or severely, have all their inconveniences. In our conversations, to be yielding or not, to converse with few or many, with high or low, to speak or to be silent, have all their inconveniences.

And yet there are men that on one side can silence Christ's faithful ministers by hundreds or thousands, and persecute the true members of Christ, and cast out true discipline, and corrupt the churches, and justify all this by urging some inconveniences. And there are others that can unchurch most churches in the world, and separate from their worship, and think the charge of inconveniences will justify all. And so we should have no government, no ministry, no worship, no families, wives, or children, or servants, no books, no trades, no food, no physic, if all mere inconveniences forbid them.

By this our instance, Solomon may be understood, what it is to be wise and righteous overmuch, some are so wise and righteous (materially, not formally) that they can find faults in all persons, all duties, all speeches, all actions, and on pretence of doing all better, would hinder us from doing what we can, and

undo all as if it were for amending. Not but that inconveniences may make actions sinful; but the great part of christian prudence lieth in holding the balance, and trying wisely whether the good or hurt, the benefit or inconvenience do weigh down; we shall never preach or pray, nor converse with mankind without some inconveniency.

Observ. 4. Divine revelations acquainting the soul with heaven, are matters most worthy of lawful, humble, modest glorying.

It was Paul's heavenly visions which he gloried in as his advancement, when he had mentioned his many persecutions and sufferings in the way.

These tend to that perfection and felicity of souls : in these men have to do with the glorious Jehovah, the angelic choir, the heavenly society, our glorified Head, our highest hopes, and matter of the greatest everlasting joys. Oh, if God would but give you and me this heavenly sight, and let us but once see what Paul saw, what little things would crowns and lordships seem to us when we look down from such a height! What trifling should we think most of the bustles of this world ! What toys and dreams, their wealthy honour and sinful delights! I should then say, 'Now I see what it is that we seek and hope, and suffer for, what it is to enjoy God and our Redeemer : and therefore now I know what it is to be a believer, a saint, a man indeed.' Oh! what a help to mortification would such a sight of paradise be? How easily should we after resist temptations, deny the flesh, contemn the world, and hate our sins. Oh! how it would overcome all these distrustful trembling fears of death, and make us long, and groan, and cry to be with Christ. What life would it put into all holy duty. How easily should we bear our short afflictions. How would it mellow our sour, contentious minds toward one another, and teach us better whom to love and live in peace with, than pride and worldliness or faction will teach us.

Fellow Christians, though you and I may not expect such raptures and ecstacies as Paul's; yet we have the gospel of Jesus, a divine revelation of this same heavenly glory; not to be set light by, because we see it not ourselves. It is by the Son of God that saw it, and now is there preparing it for us ; it is sealed by a certain word, and the heavenly beams are sent down from him upon our hearts, to show it us, and lead us up. We are capable of a lively belief, of the full assurance of hope, of

your hearts.

the pledges, earnest, and first-fruits ; and of rejoicing with unspeakable, glorying joy. We are capable in our manner, and are sure of traffic for heaven, and with heaven, of sending up our treasures, and there conversing in spirit, as in the city which is our home, and hearing hy faith the joyful harmony of the heavenly songs and praises of Jehovah. Here we are capable of such a powerful touch with the loadstone of divine love, or to have our spirits so refined and sublimated, as shall make it as natural to them to make upward towards Christ, and long for full and perfect union. Oh! had we lived as believers should have lived, how much more of heavenly-mindedness, and delight might we have attained than we have done. Oh! thank God for the gospel revelation, and beg grace to bring it in power on

And then, let worldlings take their earthly portions ; we can spare them all that hindereth not the gathering and edification of the church, and the heavenly interest of souls.

Observ. 5. There is a third heaven and heavenly paradise, where are the concerns and hopes of holy souls.

Paul was taken thither up; had he no interest there, no hopes, no friends, no business there; why, then, should he have been rapt up thither? How many heavens there be, and why it is here called the third; I will not interrupt your more necessary thoughts, by conjecturing inquiries. Most say, the air is called the first; the starry heaven the second; and the place of the glorified spirits the third ; but these are vain conjectures. No man knoweth how many there be; the globes or stars, are at vast distance from each other; some great philosophers have been tempted to think, that world is infinite, as an adequate effect of infinite power, because God hath no unactive power ;

all this is profane rashness. The heavens, which are our inheritance, are the place where perfect glorious spirits shall live in blessed society with Christ and one another; joyfully beholding the glory of God, and feeling the delights of mutual love ; and yet there are different degrees of glory from the different degrees of the capacity of spirits; whether also from any difference in the place, and communicating causes, we shall shortly better know : there are more sorts of spirits than we can now know. Though I know not how to receive Aquinas's doctrine, that no two angels are of the same species; the diversity, as well as the incomprehensible glory and numbers, are unknown to us. Those that God employeth under Christ as his pursuivants,

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messengers, and servants for his church, are called angels, Whether there be orders over orders, quite above angels, and how angels differ from the perfected spirits of the just, we know not.

As it is designed for saints, its glory consisteth, 1. In the glory of the place.

2. In the perfecting and glorifying the natures and persons that enjoy it.

3. In the glory of the heavenly society, Christ, angels, and saints.

4. In the glory of their high and excellent work, to love and magnify God for ever.

5. In the communication of the joyful love, and light, and life of God, upon these glorified spirits. Oh! what doth every one of these words signify! Is not this a paradise indeed, that is a place of purest, greatest pleasure ?

Usė 1. And are we not taught by such a glass às this, how great and how good a God we serve ? Oh, look up to the heavens and see what he is by that which he hath made. Yea, it is said, (Psalm cxiii.6,) that he humbles himself to behold the things in heaven, as well as upon earth. O sinners ! what a God do you despise, neglect, and forget! and what a heaven do you sell for fleshly lust, and to feed a corruptible body for the grave! O Christians!. what a God have we to serve and fear, and how zealously and purely should we serve him! What a God have we to trust and hope in, and how great a sin is it to distrust him! What a heaven have we to seek and hope for, ånd how cheerfully and constantly should we do it! Alas! our cold hearts, and slothful lives, and worldly cares, and sinking spirits, beseem not such a God and heaven. Were we designed but to inhabit the sun, or some resplendent star, how high is it above this earth? Shall we creep only on earth and feed on dust, and defile our souls as if we were preparing them by sin for hell, when we have a third heaven and paradise to look up to, and seek and hope for?

Doth Satan say, 'What is that to thee, that is so far above thee?' It is to us; it is the place where the glory of God is which we seek; where our glorified Head is. The place of holy spirits, whither also Enoch and Elias were translated; where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob live; whither Christ's Spirit went at death, and where he received the believing thief; where Lazarus is in Abraham's bosom, which Stephen foresaw, and to

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