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God to be enjoyed in the best reformed church, in the purest and most powerful ordinances here, as ne is in heaven? I know you will confess he is not. How little of God, not only the multitude of the blind world, but sometimes the saints themselves enjoy, even under the most excellent means, let their own frequent complainings testify, And how poor comforters are the best ordinances and enjoyments, without God, the truly spiritual Christian knows. Should a traveller take up his rest in the way? No, because his home is his journey's end. When you have all that creatures and means can afford, have you that which you sought for? I think you dare not say so. Why, then, do we once dream of resting here?
2. As we have not yet obtained our end, so we are in the midst of labours and dangers; and is there any resting here? What painful work lies upon our hands! Look to our brethren, to the godly, to the ungodly, to the church, to our own souls, to God; and what a deal of work, in respect of each of these,
lies before us! And can we rest in the midst of all our labours? We may, indeed, take some refreshing, and ease ourselves in the midst of our troubles. We may rest on earth, as the ark is said to have rested in the midst of Jordan; or as the angels, when they turned in, and rested themselves in Abraham's tent, but yet they would have been loath to take up their dwelling there. Should a soldier rest in the midst of battle, when he is in the thickest of his enemies, and the instruments of death compass him about? I think he cares not how soon the conflict is over; and though he may adventure upon war for the sake of obtaining peace, yet he is not so mad as to take that instead of peace. And are not Christians such soldiers? Have you not fears within, and troubles without ? Are we not continually in the thickest dangers ? I read, indeed, that Peter on the mount, when he had a glimpse of glory said, “ It is good for us to be here ;" but surely, when he was on the sea, in the midst of waves, he did not say, “ It is good to be here.” No, then he had other language, “Save, master, we perish.' And even his desires to rest on the mount, are represented in Scripture as arising from ignorance: « He knew not what he said." Methinks it should be ill resting in the midst of sicknesses and pains, persecutions and distresses : one would think it should be no suitable dwelling for lambs to be among wolves. The wicked have some slender pretence for their sin in this respect. They are among their friends, in the midst of their portion, enjoying all the happiness they are ever likely to enjoy. But it is not so with the godly. I say, therefore, to every one that thinks of rest on earth, as Micah, “ Arise ye, depart, this is not your rest, because it is polluted."
3. The nature of earthly things may convince you, that they cannot be a Christian's rest. They are too poor to make us rich; too empty to fill our souls ; too base to make us blessed ; and of too short continuance to be our eternal felicity. That which is the soul's rest, must be sufficient to afford it perpetual satisfaction ; but all things below delight us only with fresh variety. The content which any creature affords, abates after a short enjoyment. One recreation pleases not long; we must have a supply of new delights, or they will languish; nay, our pleasure in our society and friendship, especially if carnal, is strongest while fresh. All creatures are to us, as the flowers to the bee; there is but little honey in any single flower, and therefore they must have fresh variety, and take of each a superficial taste, and so to the next. Yea, some have gone through a variety of states, and, after tasting of the pleasures of their own country, travel for fresh variety abroad; and when they come home, they usually betake themselves to some solitary, corner, and sit down, and cry with David, “I have seen an end of all perfection;" or with Solomon, “ All is vanity, and vexation of spirit.” And can this be a place of rest for the soul ?
4. If all this convince you not, consult with experience, both other men's and your own. Many thousands and millions have made trial, but did ever one of them find a sufficient rest for his soul on this earth? Delights they have found, and imperfect temporary content; but rest and satisfaction they never found. And shall we think to find that which never man could find before us? If we had conquered to ourselves the whole world, we should perhaps do as Alexander is said to have done, sit down and weep because there are no more worlds to conquer. If I should send you forth as Noah's dove, to go through the earth to look for a resting place, you would return with a confession that you could find none. Go, ask honour, Is there rest here? Why, you may as well rest on the top of the tempestuous mountains. If you ask riches, Is there rest here ? Even such as in a bed of thorns; or were it a bed of down, yet you must arise in the morning, and leave it to the next guest that shall succeed you. If you inquire of worldly pleasure and ease, Can you give me any tidings of rest? Even such as the bird has in the net, or the fish in swallowing the deceitful bait. When the pleasure is sweetest, death is nearest. It is just such content and happiness as the exhilarating vapours of wine give to a man who is drunk. It causes a merry heart; it makes him forget his wants and miseries, and conceive himself the happiest man in the worla, till his sick vomitings have freed him of his disease, or sleep has dissipated the fumes that perverted his understanding, and then he awakes a more unhappy man than he was before. As the fancy may be delighted in a pleasant dream, when all the senses are overcome by sleep; so may the flesh or sensitive appetite, when the reasonable soul has become captivated by security: but when the morning comes, the delusion vanishes, and where is then the pleasure and happiness?
Or if you should go to learning, and even to the purest, most plentiful, most powerful ordinances, or compass sea and land to find out the most perfect church, and holiest saints, and inquire whether there your soul may rest,-you may indeed receive from these an olive branch of hope, as they are means to your rest, and have relation to eternity; but in regard
to any satisfaction in themselves, you would remain as restless as ever. O how well might all these answer many of us, with indignation, as Jacob did Rachel, “ Am I instead of God ?" Or as the king of Israel said to the messengers of the king of Assyria, when he required him to restore Naaman to health, “ Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sendeth to me to recover a man of his leprosy ?”
Doubtless neither court nor country, towns nor cities, shops nor fields, treasuries, libraries, solitude, society, studies, nor pulpits, can afford any such thing as rest. If you could inquire of the dead of all generations, or if you could ask the living through all dominions, they would all tell you, in the words of Solomon, “ All our days are sorrow, and our labour grief, and our heart taketh not rest." The holiest 'prophet, the most blessed apostle, would say, as one of the most blessed did, “Our flesh had no rest; without were fightings, within weré fears.” If neither Christ nor his apostles had rest here, why should we expect it ?
Or, if other men's experience move you not, do but take a view of your own.
Can you remember the estate that did fully satisfy you? Or if you could, will it prove a lasting estate? We may
say rest, as Paul of our hopes, “ If it were in this life only, we were of all men most miserable.”
If, then, either Scripture, or reason, or the experience of ourselves, and of all the world, will satisfy us, we may see there is no resting place here.
REPROVING OUR UNWILLINGNESS TO DIE.
Use Sixth.-Is there a rest remaining for the people of God? Why then are we so loath to die, and to depart hence that we may possess this rest? We linger, as Lot in Sodom, till God “ being merciful to us,” plucks us away against our wills. How rare is it to meet with a Christian, that can die with an un feigned willingness, at least, if worldly calamity con strain him not to be willing! I confess that death of itself is not desirable ; but the soul's rest with God, to which death is the common passage, is most desirable. As, however, we are apt to make light of this sin, and to plead our common nature in apology for it, let me here set before you its aggravations; and also propound some further considerations, which may be useful in guarding you against it.
The Aggravations of this Sin. First, I shall set before you some of the aggravations of this sin.
I. Consider how much infidelity lurks in this sin. There is either disbelief of the truth of that eternal blessedness, and of the truth of the Scripture which promises it to us; or at least, a doubting of our own interest therein ; or most usually a mixture of both these. And though Christians are usually most sensible of the latter, and therefore complain most against it; yet I am apt to suspect the former to be the main sin, and of greatest force in this business. O, if we but truly believed that there is indeed such blessedness prepared for believers, as the Scripture teaches, surely we should be as impatient of living, as we are now fearful of dying, and should think every day a year till our last day should come. Is it possible that we can truly believe, that death will remove us from such misery to such glory, and yet be loath to die? If it were the doubts of our interest in this rest, which alarmed us, yet a true belief of its certainty and excellency, would make us restless till our interest in it was cleared. If a man that is desperately sick to-day, believed he would arise well the next morning, or a man who