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IV. Consider that a heart in heaven will be an ex cellent preservative against temptations, and a power. ful means to kill thy corruptions. God can prevent our sinning, though we be careless; and keep off the temptation which we would draw upon ourselves, and sometimes does so, but this is not his usual course, nor is this our safest way to escape. When the mind is
either idle, or ill employed, the devil needs not a great advantage. When he finds the thoughts let out on lust, revenge, ambition, or deceit, what an opportunity has he to excite us to practise these sins! Nay, if he finds but the mind empty, there is room for any thing that he chooses to bring in; but when he finds the heart in heaven, what hope can he have that any of his motions will take? Let him entice to any forbidden course, or show us the bait of any pleasure, the soul will return Nehemiah's answer, "I am doing a great work, and cannot come down." This will preserve us from temptation in several ways.
1. A heavenly mind will protect us from temptation, by keeping the heart employed. When we are idle, we tempt the devil to tempt us. As it is an encouragement to a thief to see your doors open, and nobody within, so it encourages satan to find your hearts idle; but when the heart is taken up with God, it will not have time to hearken to temptations; it will not have time to be lustful and wanton, ambitious or worldly.
2. A heavenly mind is fortified against temptation, because it clears the understanding in spiritual matters of the greatest importance. A man whose "conversation is in heaven," has truer and livelier apprehensions of things concerning God and his soul, than any reading or learning can beget. Though he may perhaps be ignorant in divers controversies and other matters that less concern salvation, yet those truths which most establish his soul, and preserve him from temptation, he knows far better than the greatest scholars. He has so deep an insight into the evil of sin, the vanity of the creature, the brutishness of sensual delights, that temptations have little power
over him; for these earthly vanities are satan's baits, which, though they may take much with the undiscerning world, yet with the clear-sighted Christian, they have lost their force. "In vain," says Solomon,
"is the net spread in the sight of any bird;" and usually in vain does satan lay his snares to entrap the soul that plainly sees them. We set our sentinels on the highest place that is near us, that they may discern all the motions of the enemy; and in vain does the enemy lay his ambuscades when we stand over him on some eminence, and see all he does. When the heavenly mind is above with God, we may far more easily from thence discover every danger that lies below, and the whole method of the devil in deceiving. Satan's temptations are laid on the earth: earth is the place, and earth is the ordinary bait. How shall these ensnare the Christian who has left the earth, and walks with God? Christians, do you not sensibly perceive, that when your hearts are seriously fixed on heaven, you immediately become wiser than before? Are not your understandings more solid; and your thoughts more sober; and your apprehensions more true than before?
It is this that makes a dying man usually wiser than other men, because he looks on eternity as near; and, knowing he must very shortly be there, he has more deep and heart-piercing thoughts of it, than he used. to have in the time of health and prosperity. Hence it is, that many who were cheated with the world, and bewitched by sin, then come to themselves, so far as to have a more correct judgment than they had; and that some of the most bitter enemies of the saints would give a world to be saints themselves, and would fain die in the condition of those whom they hated, even as Balaam, when he said, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his." Surely, a believer, if he improve his faith, may ordinarily have truer and more quickening apprehensions of the life to come, in the time of his health, than an unbeliever has at the hour of his death.
3. A heavenly mind is fortified against temptations,
because the affections are prepossessed with the high delights of another world. When a man is not affected with good, though his understanding clearly apprehends the truth, it is easy for satan to entice his soul. Mere speculations, however true, which sink not into the affections, are poor preservatives against temptations. He that loves most, and not he that knows most, will most easily resist the motions of sin. There is in a Christian a kind of spiritual taste, whereby he knows these things as well as by the mere reasoning faculty. The will as sweetly relishes goodness, as the understanding does truth, and here lies much of a Christian's strength. When thou hast had a fresh, delightful taste of heaven, thou wilt not be so easily persuaded from it. O that you would be persuaded to try this course, to be much in feeding on the hidden manna, to be frequently tasting the delights of heaven. How would this elevate thy resolutions, and make thee laugh at the follies of the world, and scorn to be cheated with such childish toys! If the devil had assaulted Peter on the mount, when he beheld the transfiguration of Christ, and Moses and Elias talking with him, would he so easily have drawn him to deny his Lord, with all that glory before his eyes? No! the devil took a greater advantage, when he had him in the high priest's hall, in the midst of danger and evil company, and his master appeared shorn of all his glory, and then he prevailed. So, if he should assault a Christian, when he is in the mount with Christ, what would such a soul say? "Get thee behind me, Satan: wouldst thou persuade me with trifling pleasures, and steal my heart from this my rest? Wouldst thou have me sell these joys for nothing? Is there any honour or delight, compared with this? Or can that be profit which loseth me this ?"
4. If the heart is set on heaven, a man is under God's protection; and therefore, if satan then assault him, God is more engaged to defend him. He will doubtless stand by us, and say, "My grace is sufficient for thee, and my strength shall be made perfect in thy
weakness." When a man is in the way of God's blessing, he is in less danger of sin's enticings.
Let me, then, entreat thee, Christian, whilst thou art exposed to temptation in this sinful world, to use much this powerful remedy. Keep close with God, by a heavenly walk, and, when temptation comes, turn thy thoughts to heaven. Thou wilt find this a surer remedy than any resistance thou canst make.
V. Consider that a heart set on heaven will preserve the vigour of all your graces, and put life into all your duties. It is the heavenly Christian that is the lively Christian; and, on the other hand, it is our strangeness to heaven that makes us so dull and lifeless. It is the end that quickens to the use of all the means; and the more frequently and clearly this end is beheld, the more vigorous will all our motions be. How unweariedly do men labour, and how fearlessly do they venture, when they have the prospect of a rich prize! How will the soldier hazard his life, and the mariner pass through stormy oceans, and compass sea and land, in the hope of acquiring an uncertain, perishing treasure! O what life then would it put into a Christian's endeavours, if he would frequently think of his everlasting treasure? We run slowly, and strive sluggishly, because we so little mind the prize. Thy life is in heaven, and thy strength is in heaven, and thence thou must daily fetch them, if thou wilt have them. For want of this recourse to heaven, thy soul is as a candle that is not lighted, and thy duties as a sacrifice which has no fire. Light thy candle at this flame, and feed it daily with oil from thence, and see if it will not shine. Fetch one coal daily from this altar, and see if thy offerings will not burn. Keep close to this reviving fire, and see if thy affections will not be warm. Thou bewailest thy want of love to God, lift up then the eye of faith to Heaven; behold his beauty, contemplate his excellencies, and see whether his amiableness will not fire thy affections, and his perfect goodness rejoice thy heart. Besides, the fire which you fetch from heaven for your sacrifices, is no false or strange fire: as your live
liness will be greater, so will it also be more sincere. A man may have a great deal of fervor in affections and duties, and all prove but common and unsound, when raised upon common grounds and motives. Your zeal will partake of the nature of those things by which it is actuated; the zeal therefore which is kindled by your meditations on heaven, is likely to prove an heavenly zeal; and the liveliness of spirit which you bring from the face of God, will be a divine life.
VI. Consider that frequent believing views of glory are the most precious cordial under the afflictions of life; first, to sustain our spirits, and make our sufferings far more easy; secondly, to keep us from repining, and make us endure them with patience and joy; and, thirdly, to strengthen our resolutions, that we forsake not Christ for fear of trouble. What will not a believer endure, when he thinks of the rest to which it tends? What if the way be rough? Can it be tedious, if it lead to heaven? O sweet sickness! sweet reproaches, imprisonments, or death, which conduct to our future rest. The Christian may say as David, "I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." He may say of the promise of this rest, as David of God's law, "Unless it had been my delight, I had perished in mine affliction." As therefore, thou wilt then be ready with David to pray, “Be not far from me, for trouble is near;" so let it be thy own chief care not to be far from God and heaven when trouble is near, and thou wilt then find him to be unto thee" a very present help in trouble." Then, "though the fig-tree should not blosson, neither should fruit be in the vine; though the labour of the olive should fail, and the fields should yield no meat; though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there should be no herd in the stall yet mayst thou rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of thy salvation." No sufferings are any thing to us, so far as we have the foresight of this salvation. Neither bolts, nor bars, nor distance of place can shut out these supporting joys, because they