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cannot confine our faith and thoughts, although they may confine our flesh. Christ and faith are both spiritual, and therefore, prisons and banishments cannot hinder their intercourse. Even when persecution and fear have shut the doors, Christ can come in, and stand in the midst, and say to his disciples, "Peace be unto you." Paul and Silas can be in heaven, even when they are locked up in the inner prison, and their bodies scourged, and their feet fast in the stocks. The martyrs found more rest amidst the flames, than their persecutors amidst all their pomp and tyranny, because they foresaw the flames they escaped, and the rest to which that fiery chariot was conveying them. It is not the place that gives rest, but the presence of Christ in it. Why then, Christian, keep thy soul above with Christ; be as little as may be out of his company, and then all conditions will be alike to thee; for that is the best estate to thee, in which thou possessest most of him. Nothing can make us rejoice in tribulation, except we can draw our joy from heaven. How came Abraham to leave his country, and follow God he knew not whither? Why, because "he looked for a city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." What made Moses choose to suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, and to esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt? It was because " he had respect to the recompense of reward.” Yea, it is evident that our Lord himself drew encouragement under his sufferings from the foresight of his glory: "For the joy that was set before him," says the apostle, " he endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." Who, indeed, can wonder that pain, and sorrow, poverty and sickness, should be exceedingly grievous to that man who cannot see the end; or that death should be the king of terrors to him who cannot see the life beyond it? He that looks not on the end of his sufferings, as well as on the sufferings themselves, must needs lose the whole consolation: "And if he see not the peaceable fruits of
righteousness," which they afterwards yield, they cannot to him "be joyous, but grievous." This is the nobie advantage of faith; it can look on the means and the end together. This also is the reason why we pity ourselves more than God pities us, though we love not ourselves so much as he loves us; and why we would have the cup to pass from us, when he will make us drink it up. We pity ourselves with an ignorant pity, and would be saved from the cross, which is the way to save us. God sees our glory as well as our suffering; and sees our suffering as it conduces to our glory: he sees at once our cross and our crown, and therefore, pities us the less, and will not let us have our wills. Believe me, brethren, this is the great reason of our mistakes, our impatience, our censuring of God, our sorrow at sickness and at death; we gaze on the evil itself, but fix not our thoughts on what is beyond it. If we did but clearly see heaven, as the end of all God's dealings with us, surely none of his dealings would appear grievous. If thou canst but learn this way to heaven, and get thy soul acquainted there, thou needest not be unfurnished with the choicest cordials, to revive thy spirits under every affliction; thou knowest where to have them whenever thou needest them: thou mayest have arguments at hand to answer all that the devil or the flesh can say to thy discomfort. If thou wouldst end
thy days in peace, and close thy dying eyes with comfort, die daily; live now in heaven; be much with Christ, and thy soul shall bless the day thou tookest this counsel.
VII. Consider that a heart set on heaven, makes a man profitable to all about him. When a man is in a strange land, how glad is he to meet with one of his own nation! how delightful is it to them to talk of their country, of their acquaintance, and of the affairs of their home! Now with a heavenly Christian thou mayest have such a discourse; for he has been there in the spirit, and can tell thee of the glory and rest above. O, how refreshing are his expressions; how his words pierce and melt the heart; how they transform the
hearers into other men, so that they think they are in heaven all the while! How does his "doctrine drop as the rain, and his speech distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass!" His feeling, sweet discourse of heaven, is like the box of precious ointment, which being poured on the head of Christ, filled the house with the odour of its perfume. All that are near may be refreshed by it. This is the companion who will watch over thy ways, who will strengthen thee when thou art weak, who will cheer thee when thou art disconsolate, who will comfort thee with the same comforts where with he himself has been so often comforted.
VIII. Consider that a heart set on heaven is honourable to God. No man so highly honours God, as he who has his conversation in heaven: and without this we deeply dishonour him. Is it not a dishonour to our Father in heaven, when we who call ourselves his children, feed on earth, and the garb of our souls is like that of the world, when we might have daily admittance into his presence chamber? Surely we live not as becomes the children of a King, even of the great King of all the world; we live not according to the height of our hopes, nor according to the plenty that is in the promises, nor according to the provision of our Father's house, and the great preparations which he has made for his saints. But O, when a Christian lives above, and rejoices in the things that are unseen,-how does God take himself to be honoured by him! "Them that honour me," says God, "I will honour; but they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed."
IX. If thou neglect this duty of keeping thy heart in heaven, thou disobeyest the express command of God, and dost lose the comfort of the sweet parts of Scripture, and frustrate the prepartions he has made for thy joy.
1. Thou disobeyest the command of God. He has not left it as a thing indifferent, and at thy own choice, whether or not thou wilt have thy heart in heaven.
He has made it thy duty, as well as thy interest, that so a double bond may tie thee not to forsake thy own mercies. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above; set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth." The same God that has commanded thee to believe, and to be a Christian, has commanded thee to set thy affections above. The same God that has forbidden thee to murder, to steal, to commit adultery, has forbidden thee to neglect this great duty, And darest thou disobey him? Why makest thou not conscience of the one duty, as well as of the other?
2. Thou losest the comforts of the sweetest parts of Scripture. All those glorious descriptions of heaven, all those discoveries of our future blessedness, all God's revelations of his gracious purposes towards us, all his precious promises of rest, are lost to thee. Are not these the stars in the firmament of the Scripture, the golden lines in the book of God? Of all the Bible, methinks, thou shouldst not part with one of these promises, no, not for a world. As heaven is the perfection of all our mercies, so the promises of it in the gospel, are the very soul of the gospel. That word which was sweeter to David than the honey and the honey-comb, and to Jeremiah the joy and rejoicing of his heart, the most pleasant part of this thou losest.
3. Thou dost frustrate the preparations of Christ for thy joy, and makest him speak in vain. Is a comfortable word from the mouth of God of so great worth, that all the comforts of the world are nothing to it? And dost thou neglect and overlook so many of them? Why should God reveal so much of his counsel, and tell us beforehand of the joys we shall possess, but that he would have us know it for our joy? If it had not been to make our present life comfortable, and fill us with the delights of our future blessedness, he might have kept his purpose to himself, and never have let us know till we came to enjoy it, nor have revealed it to us till death discovered what he meant to do with us in the world to come; yea, when we had got pos
session of our rest, he might still have concealed its eternity from us; and then the fears of losing it again would have bereaved us of much of the sweetness of our joys. But it has pleased our heavenly Father to open his counsel, to let us know the designs of his heart, to acquaint us with the eternal extent of his love; and all this that our "joy may be full," and we may live as the heirs of such a kingdom; and shall we now overlook all, as if he had revealed no such matter? Shall we live in earthly cares and sorrows, as if we knew of no such blessedness? O that our hearts were as high as our hopes, and our hopes as high as these infallible promises !
X. Consider it is but just that our hearts should be on God, when the heart of God is so much on us. If the Lord of glory can stoop so low, as to set his heart on sinful dust, surely one would think we should be easily persuaded to raise our hearts on high to Christ and glory, to ascend to him in our daily affections, who condescends to us. Oh! if God delighted no more in us, than we in him, what would we do! In what a deplorable case would we be! Christian, dost thou not perceive that the heart of God is set upon thee, and that he remembers thee with tender love, even when thou forgettest both thyself and him? Dost thou not find him following thee with daily mercies, moving upon thy soul, providing for thy body, and preserving both? Does he not bear thee continually in the arms of love, and give his angels charge over thee, and promise "that all things shall work together for thy good?" And canst thou find in thy heart, to be taken up with earthly toys, and to forget thy Lord, who forgets not thee? When he speaks of his own regards to us, hear what he says:- "But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, she may forget, yet will I not forget thee: Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands, thy walls are continually before me." But when he speaks of our