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for as groundless hopes tend to confusion, and are the greatest cause of most men's damnation, so groundless doubtings tend to perplexity, and are a great cause of the disquiet of the saints. Lay, therefore, thy grounds of trial safely and advisedly; proceed in the work deliberately and methodically; follow it to an issue resolutely and perseveringly. Suffer not thy heart to give thee the slip, and get away before a judgment is passed; but make it stay to hear its sentence. or twice, or thrice will not do it, if a few days of hearing bring not the cause to an issue, follow it on with unwearied diligence; give not over till the work be done, and till thou canst say either thou art, or art not a member of Christ, either that thou hast, or that thou hast not yet a title to this rest. Be sure thou rest not in wilful uncertainties. O if men truly knew that God is their own Father, and Christ their own Redeemer, and heaven their own everlasting habitation, how could they choose but be delighted with the forethoughts of it? Well, then, this is my advice to thee, that thou follow on the work of self-examination, till thou hast got assurance that this rest is thy own. This will draw thy heart unto it; and feed thy spirit with fresh delights, which else will be but tormented so much the more, to think that there is such rest for others, but none for thee.

III. Labour to apprehend how near Think seriously of its speedy approach. we think is near at hand, we are more than that which we behold at a distance. hear of war or famine in another country, or in a distant age, it troubles us not; so, if we hear of peace and plenty a great way off, or of a golden age that shall fall out, nobody knows when, it scarcely rejoices us. But if judgments or mercies begin to draw near, then they affect us. If we were sure we should see the golden age, then it would rejoice us. When the plague is in a town but twenty miles off, we do not fear it; nor much, perhaps, if it be in another street; but if once it come to the next door, or if it seize on one in our own family, then we begin to think on it

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more feelingly. When judgments or mercies are afar off, we talk of them as marvels; but when they draw near to us, we look on them as truths. This makes men think on heaven so insensibly, because they conceive of it at too great a distance. They look on it as twenty, or thirty, or forty years of; and this it is that dulls their sense. As wicked men are fearless and senseless of judgment, " because sentence against their evil works is not speedily executed;" so are the godly cheated of their comforts, by supposing them further off than they are. This is the danger of putting the day of death far from us. When men promise themselves longer time in the world than God has promised them, and judge of the length of their lives by the probabilities they gather from their age, their health, their constitution, this makes them look at heaven as a great way off. If the rich fool in the gospel had not expected to live many years, he would surely have thought more of providing for eternity, and less of his present stores and possessions; and if we did not think of staying many years out of heaven, we would think on it with far more joyful thoughts than we usually do. This expectation of long life does both the wicked and the godly inconceivable harm. How much better were it "to receive the sentence of death in ourselves," and to look on eternity as near at hand! Surely, reader, thou now standest at the door, and hundreds of diseases are ready waiting to open the door and let thee in. Have not the thirty or forty years of thy life that are past been quickly gone? Are they not a very little time when thou lookest back on them? And will not all the rest be shortly so too? Dost thou not feel that building of flesh shake, and perceive thy house of clay totter? Look on thy hour-glass, see how it runs: look on thy watch, how fast time flies. What a short moment is between us and our rest; what a small step is it from hence to eternity! While I am thinking and writing of it, it hastens near, and I am even entering into it, before I am aware. While thou art reading this, it approaches, and thy life will be gone "as a tale

that is told." Mayest thou not easily foresee thy dying time, and look upon thyself as ready to depart? If you verily believed you would die to-morrow, how seriously would you think of heaven to-night! The condemned prisoner knew before that he must die; but when he hears the sentence, and knows he has not a week to live, then how does his heart sink within him! The apprehension of the nearness of eternity makes men's thoughts of it quick and piercing, and puts life into their fears and sorrows, if they are unprepared for it; and into their desires and joys, if they have assurance of its glory.

IV. Be much in serious conversation concerning your rest, especially with those that can speak of it from their hearts, and are themselves imbued with a heavenly nature. It is a pity that Christians should ever meet together without some talk of their meeting in heaven, or of the way to it before they part. It is a pity so much precious time should be spent by Christians in vain discourse, foolish janglings, and useless disputes, without one word of heaven among them. Methinks we should meet together on purpose to warm our spirits, by discoursing of our rest. To hear a minister or a private Christian set forth that blessed glorious state, with power and life, from the promises of the gospel, methinks should make us say, as the two disciples, " Did not our hearts burn within us while he opened to us the Scripture," while he opened to us the windows of heaven? Get then together, fellow Christians, and talk of the affairs of your country and kingdom, and comfort one another with such words. If worldlings when they get together will be talking of the world, should not Christians delight themselves in talking of Christ, and the heirs of heaven in talking of their inheritance?

V. Labour in every duty to raise thy affections nearer to heaven. A man's attainments and receivings from God are correspondent to his own desires and ends; that which he sincerely seeks, he finds. God's end in the institution of his ordinances was, that they may be as so many stepping stones to our rest, and as

the stairs by which, in subordination to Christ, wo may daily ascend to it in our affections. Let this be thy end in using them, as it was God's end in ordaining them, and doubtless they will not be unsuccessful. Though men be personally far asunder, yet they may, even by letters, have a great deal of intercourse. How have we been rejoiced by a few lines from a friend, though we could not see him face to face! And may we not have intercourse with God in his ordinances, though our persons are yet so far remote ? May not your spirits rejoice in reading those lines, which contain our legacy and charter for heaven? With what gladness may we read the expressions of divine love, and hear of the state of the celestial country! With what triumph and shoutings may we applaud our inheritance, though we have not yet the happiness to behold it!

VI. Improve every object thou seest, and every event of Divine Providence, to remind thy soul of its approaching rest. As all creatures and providences are means to our rest, so they point us to that as their end. God's sweetest dealings with us at present, would not be half so sweet as they are, if they had no relation to eternity. Thou takest but the bare earnest, and overlookest the main sum, when thou receivest thy mercies, and forgettest thy crown. 0 that Christians were more skilled in this heavenly art! You open your bibles, and read there of God and of glory. O learn also to open the creatures, and to open the events of Providence, to read of God and glory there. If thou prosper in the world, let this make thee more sensible of thy everlasting prosperity. If thou be weary of thy labours, let this make thy thoughts of rest more sweet. If things go adversely with thee in the world, let this make thee desire more earnestly that place where all thy sorrows and sufferings shall cease. Is thy body refreshed with food or sleep? Remember how thou shalt be refreshed with the fruits of the tree of life, which grows in the midst of the paradise of God; and with the water of life, which flows from before his throne. Art thou delight

ing thyself in the society of thy friends? Remember the everlasting delight thou shalt have in the society of "the spirits of just men made perfect." Dost thou near the raging noise of the wicked, the confusions. of the world, and the tempest of wars? Why, think of the blessed agreement in heaven, of the melodious harmony of saints and angels, where there is nothing but love and union, and where we shall for ever solace ourselves in perfect peace, under the wings of the Prince of peace. Thus you see what advantages to an heavenly life every creature and condition affords us, if we had but hearts to apprehend and improve them.

VII. Be much in the angelical work of praise. As the most heavenly spirits will have the most heavenly employment, so the more heavenly the employment, the more will it make the spirit heavenly. Hence the work of praising God, being the most heavenly work, is likely to raise us to the most heavenly temper. This is the work of the saints and angels in heaven, and this will be our own everlasting work. Preaching, and prayer, and sacraments shall cease in heaven, but praise, and thanksgiving, and triumphant expressions of love and joy shall abide for ever. "The liveliest emblem of heaven that I know upon earth is, when the people of God, in the deep sense of his excellency and bounty, from hearts abounding with love and joy, join together, both with heart and voice, in the cheerful and melodious singing of his praises."

Little do we know how much we wrong ourselves by shutting out of our prayers the praises of God, or allowing them so narrow a place as we usually do, while we are copious enough in our confessions and petitions. O Christian, I entreat thee remember this. Let praise have a larger place in thy duties. Keep ready at hand matter to feed thy praise, as well as matter for confession and petition. To this end, study the excellencies and goodness of the Lord, as often as thy own necessities and vileness. Study the mercies which thou hast received, or which are promised, as often as thou studiest the sins thou hast committed.

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