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XLI. We dwell here with sinful companions, like ourselves, in flesh. There holy angels and souls, with Christ, are all our company.
XLII. Our best friends and helpers are here, in part, our hinderers by sin. There all concur in the harmony of active love.
XLIII. Our errors and corruptions make us also hurtful and troublesome to our friends. But there both Christ and they forgive us, and we shall trouble them no more.
XLIV. Selfishness and cross interests here jar, and mar our conversation. There perfect love will make the joy of every saint and angel mine.
XLV. A militant church imperfectly sanctified here liveth in scandal and sad divisions. The glorious church united in God in perfect love hath no contention.
XLVI. Sin and error here turn our very public worship into jars. The celestial harmony of joyful love and praise is, to mortals, inconceivable.
XLVII. Weak, blind, and wicked teachers here do keep the most in delusion and division. There glorious light hath banished all lies, deceit, and darkness.
XLVIII. The wills of blind tyrants is the law of most on earth. The wisdom and will of the most holy God is the law of the heavenly society.
XLIX. Lies here cloud the innocency of the just, and render truth and goodness odious. All false judgments are there reversed, and slander is silenced, and the righteous justified.
L. Government is here exercised by terror and violence. But there God ruleth by light, love, and absolute delight.
LI. Enemies reproach, and persecution here annoy and tempt us. All storms are there past, and the conquerors crowned in joyful rest.
LII. The glory of divine love and holiness is clouded here by the abounding of sin, and the greatness of Satan's kingdom upon earth. But the vast, glorious, heavenly kingdom, to which this earth is but a point and prison, will banish all such erring thoughts, and glorify God's love and goodness for ever.
LIII. This is the world which, as corrupted, is called an enemy to God and us, and which, as such, we renounce in baptisin, and must be saved from. That is the world which we seek, pray, and wait for all our lives, and for which all the tempting vanities of this must be forsaken.
LIV. This body and world is like our riding clothes, our horse, our way, and inn, and travelling company; all but for our journey homeward. The other is our city of blessedness, and everlasting rest, to which all grace inclineth souls, and all present means and mercies tend.
LV. The very ignorance of nature and sensible things makes this life a very labyrinth, and our studies, sciences, and learned conversation, to be much like a dream, or puppet play, and a childish stir about mere words. But in heaven, an universal knowledge of God's wonderful works, will not be the least of the glory in which he will shine to saints.
LVI. Distance and darkness of souls here in flesh, who would fain know more of God and the heavenly world, and cannot, doth make our lives a burden by these unsatisfied desires. There glorious presence and intuition giveth full satisfaction.
LVII. Our sin and imperfection here render us uncapable of being the objects of God's full, complacential love, though we have his benevolence, which will bring us to it. But there we shall, in our several measures, perfectly please God, and be perfectly pleased in God for ever.
LVIII. All things here are short and transitory from their beginning, posting towards their end, which is near and sure, and still in our eye. So short is time, that beings here are next to nothing; the bubble of worldly prosperity, pomp, and fleshly pleasure, doth swell up, and break in so short a moment; as that it is, and is not, almost at once. But the heavenly substances, and their work, and joys, are crowned by duration, being assuredly everlasting.
Such, O my soul, is the blessed change which God will make.
The reasons and helps of my belief and hope of this perfection.
I. Natural reason assureth me, that God made all creatures fitted to their intended use; even brutes are more fit for their several offices than man is. He giveth no creature its faculties in vain; whatever a wise man maketh, he fits it to the use which he made it for; but man's faculties are enabled to think of a God, of our relation, and our duty to him, of our hopes from him, and our fears of him ; of the state of our souls related to his judgment; of what will befall us after death, reward, or. punishment, and how to prepare for it. This nature, and its faculties and powers, are not made in vain.
II. Reason assureth ine, that all men are bound by nature to prefer the least probability of a life of everlasting joy before all the prosperity of this world; and to suffer the loss of all this short vanity, to escape the least possibility of endless misery; and nature hath such notices of rewards and punishments after death, that irò man can say that he is sure there is no such thing. From whence it followethi, that all men are bound by the very law of nature, to be religious, and to seek first and most their salvation in the life to come. And if
it is certain that there is such a thing to be obtained; else God had made the very nature of man to be deceived by itself, and to spend the chief part, yea, all his life, through labour and suffering, for that which is not; and so made his greatest duty to be his greatest deceit and misery; and the worst men should be least deceived. But all this is not to be imputed to our wise and good Creator.
III. The universal sense of moral good and evil in all mankind, is a great evidence of another life. The vilest atheist cannot abide to be accounted a knave, a liar, and a bad man; nor will equal a vicious servant with another. All would be thought good, who will not be good. And doth not God make a greater difference than man? and will he not show it?
IV. The world is actually ruled mucli by the hopes and fears of another life, and cannot well be ruled without it, according to the nature of man; but the Almighty, most wise, and most holy God needs not, and will not rule the world by mere deceit.
V. The gospel of Christ hath brought life and immortality into a clearer light than that of nature; and it must be by believing in Christ that we must have our full satisfaction. Oh, what hath God done in the wonders of redemption to make us sure ! And against the doubts that are apt to rise from some hard particular text of Scripture, it must be considered, 1. That Christ and his apostles did put the ascertaining seal of the many uncontrolled miracles to the gospel doctrine, primarily; which doctrine, 1. Was delivered and sealed eight years before any of the New Testament was written, and almost seventy before the last. 2. And Christ did not speak in the language in which the gospel is written to us; so that being but a translation as to his own words the matter is the thing first sealed.
II. And that it was the two legislative mediators, Moses and Christ, who came with the great stream of uncontrolled miracles; it being necessary that men should have full proof that a law or doctrine is of God, before they believe it; but the priests and prophets after Moses, and the preachers and pastors of the christian church, who were not commissioned to bring men any new laws or gospel, but to proclaim and teach that which they received, needed no such new testimony of miracles.
III. The belief of every particular priest or prophet after Moses, or every pastor after Christ and his apostles, was not of the same degree of necessity to salvation as the belief of the law and gospel itself. Therefore, though all the holy Scripture be true, the law and the gospel must be much differenced from the rest.
IV. The history of the law and gospel have full, ascertaining, historical evidence; or else there is none such in the world. Therefore the doctrine must be true.
V. The prophecies fulfilled prove the gospel true.
VII. And the sanctifying work of the Spirit wrought by it, in all nations and ages, on serious believers, is a constant, divine attestation. VIII. And as my faith hath so sure a foundation, it con
my faith and hope, that it hath been so long and great a work of God, by his Word and Spirit on my soul, to raise it to believe, and love, and desire, that holy state of perfection and fruition which I hope for. That which hath made me so much better than I else had been, and turned my heart and life (though imperfectly) to things above the pleasures of the flesh, must needs be of God; and God would never send his
to work my
heart to deceit and lies, and give me such graces as shall all be frustrate; his Spirit is the earnest and first-fruits of glory.
IX. And all the course of religious and moral duty which he hath commanded me, and in which he hath employed my life, were never imposed to deceive me; I am sure, by nature and Scripture, that it is my duty to love God and my neighbour, to desire protection, and to serve God, and do good with all my time and power, and to trust God for my reward, believing that all this shall not be in vain ; nor that which is best be made my loss. O blessed be God for commands and holy duty; for they
are equal to promises. Who can fear that he shall lose by seeking God?
X. As God hath sealed the truth of his word as aforesaid, so he hath, by an instituted office and ordinance, sealed and delivered to myself his covenant with the gift of Christ and life, in baptism, and the Lord's supper.
XI. He hath given me such a love to holy things and persons, that I greatly long to see his church in perfect light, and love, and concord; oh! how sweet would it be to see all men wise, and holy, and joyfully praising God. Every Christian longs for this; and, therefore, such a state will be.
XII. I have found here the great benefit of the love and ministry of angels, such as is described in Psalm xci. They have kept me night and day, which confirmeth my hope that I shall dwell with them; for I love them better than men, because they love and serve God better.
XIII. That low communion which I have here with God by Christ and the Spirit, in his answer to my prayers, supports, comforts, experience, tends to more.
XIV. The pleasure which I have by love, in thinking of the happiness of my many, many, many holy departed friends, and of the glory of Christ, and the heavenly Jerusalem, is sure some hopeful approach towards their state.
XV. When I see the fire mount upward, and think that spirits are of a more sublime and excellent nature than fire; and when I see that all that is done in this world, is done by spiritual unseen powers, which move this gross and drossy matter, it puts mę past doubt, that my soul, being a spirit, hath a vast and glorious world of spirits to ascend to. God hath, by nature, put into all things an aggregative, uniting inclination : earth hath no other natural motion. The ascent of fire tells us its element is above; and spirits naturally incline to spirits, and holy spirits peculiarly are inclined to the holy.
XVI. I am sure, 1. By understanding that I understand, and by willing that I will, &c. 2. I am sure by these acts, that I have the power or faculties to do them: for none doth that which it cannot do. 3. And I know that it is a substance that hath these powers : for nothing can do nothing.
My soul, then, being certainly an intellective, volitive, vital substance, l. I have no reason to think, that God, who annihilateth not the least sand, will annihilate so noble a substance,