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remember that there is thine everlasting rest. Study its excellency, study its reality, till thy unbelief is silenced, and thy faith prevail. If thy judgment be not yet drawn to admiration, use those sensible helps which I lately laid down. Compare thy heavenly joys with the choicest on earth, and so rise up from sense to faith. If yet this mere consideration prevail not, then plead the case with thy heart. Preach to thyself upon this text of heaven; instruct, convince, reprove, examine, admonish, encourage, and comfort thy own soul from this celestial doctrine. Draw forth those several considerations of thy rest, on which thy several affections may work, especially that affection or grace which thou intendest to exercise. If it be love, show it the loveliness of heaven, and how suitable it is to thy condition. If it be desire, consider of thy absence from this lovely object. If it be hope, consider the possibility and probability of thy obtaining it. If it be courage, consider the singular assistance and encouragements which thou mayest receive from God, the weakness of the enemy, and the necessity of overcoming. If it be joy, consider its excellent ravishing glory, thy interest in it, its certainty, and the nearness of the time when thou mayest possess it. If thy heart draw back, force it to the work. If it loiter, spur it on. If it step aside, command it to return. If it would slip away and leave the work undone, use thine authority; keep it close to the business till thou hast obtained thine end.
Stir not away, if possible, till thy love flame, till thy joy be raised, till thy desire or other graces be vigorously exercised. Call in assistance also from God; mingle ejaculations with thy cogitations and soliloquies, till having seriously pleaded the case with thy heart, and reverently pleaded the case with God, thou hast pleaded thyself from a forgetful sinner to a mindful lover, from a lover of the world, to a thirster after God, from a fearful coward to a resolved Christian, from an unfruitful sadness, to a joyful life. In a word, what cannot be done one day, do the next, till thou hast pleaded thy heart from earth to heaven,- from conversing
below, to walking with God; and till thou canst lay thy heart to rest, as in the bosom of thy Redeemer, in this meditation of thy full and everlasting rest.
AN EXAMPLE OF HEAVENLY CONTEMPLATION.
HAVING showed thee how thou must engage in this duty, I shall now, by way of example, show thee the manner in which thou must perform it. All we have done has been but to set the instrument, thy heart, in tune; and now we come to the music itself. All this has been but to excite in thee an appetite; it follows now, that thou approach to the feast, that thou sit down and take what is presented before thee, and delight thy soul “ as with marrow and fatness.” Whoever you are that are children of the kingdom, I have this message to you from the Lord, “ Behold my dinner is prepared; the oxen and fatlings are killed: come, for all things are now ready.” Heaven is before you, Christ is before you, the “exceeding and eternal weight of glory” is before you. Make not light of this invitation; put not off your own mercies with excuses. Whoever thou art, whether rich or poor, though in alms houses or hospitals, though in highways or hedges, my commission is, if possible, to compel you to come in : “ Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.” The manna lies about your tents. Walk forth into the wilderness, gather it up, take it home, and feed upon it. The remaining work, therefore, is only to use your understandings for the warming of your affections, and to fire your hearts by the help of your heads.
Actings of Judgment. Rest! how sweet the sound ! It is melody to my ears: It is a reviving cordial to my heart. Rest! not as the stone that rests on the earth, nor as the flesh shall rest in the grave. Nor is it the satisfying of our fleshly lusts, nor such a rest as the carnal world desires. Rest we shall from all our labours, as the way and means to rest, but yet that is the smallest part. O blessed rest! when we shall never rest day nor night, saying, Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty; when we shall rest from sin, but not from worship, from suffering and sorrow, but not from solace and joy. O blessed day! when I shall rest with God, when I shall rest in the arms and bosom of my Lord! when my perfect soul and body shall together perfectly enjoy the most perfect God! when God, who is love itself, shall perfectly love me, yea,“ rest in his love" to me, as I shall rest in my love to him; and “rejoice over me with joy and singing," as I shall rejoice in him !
How near is that most blessed, joyful day! It comes apace.
6 He that shall come, will come, and will not tarry.” Though my Lord seem to delay his coming, yet a little while and he will be here. What are a few hundred years when they are over ? How surely will his sign appear; and how suddenly will he seize upon the careless world, even as the lightning that shines from east to west in a moment! Methinks I even hear the voice of his forerunners! Methinks I see him coming in the clouds, with his attending angels in majesty and glory.
Now blessed saints that have believed and obeyed, this is the end of your faith and patience; this is that for which you prayed and waited. Do you now repent your sufferings and sorrows, your self-denying and holy walking ? Are your tears of repentance
now sweet or bitter ? O see how the Judge smiles upon you! There is love in his looks; the titles of Redeemer, Husband, Head, are written in his amiable, shining face. Hark! he calls you. O joyful sentence pronounced by that blessed mouth! “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world !" See how your Saviour takes you by the hand; the kingdom is yours; there is your place before his throne. The Father bids you welcome to the crown of glory; however unworthy, you must be crowned. This was the project of redeeming grace,—this the purpose of eternal love. O blessed grace! O blessed love! O the frame my soul will then be in! O how love and joy will fill my bosom! But I cannot express it! I cannot conceive it!
This is that joy which was procured by sorrow; this is that crown which was procured by the cross. My Lord wept that my tears might now be wiped away ; he bled that I might now rejoice; he died that I might now live. This weeping, wounded Lord, shall I behold: this bleeding Saviour shall I see, and live with him that died for me.
that can exalt so vile a wretch! free to me, though dear to Christ! O sovereign grace that has chosen me, when thousands were forsaken!
Here I shall live with all the saints! O comfortable meeting of my old acquaintance with whom I prayed, and wept, and suffered,with whom I spake of this day and place! I see the grave could not contain you; the earth and sea must give up their dead. This is not like our cottages of clay; nor like our prisons, or earthly dwellings. This voice of joy is not like our old complainings, our groans, our sighs, our impatient moans; nor this melodious praise like the scoffs and revilings, the oaths and curses which we heard on earth. This body is not like the body we had, nor this soul like the soul we had, nor this life like the life we lived. We have changed our place, we have changed our state, our thoughts, our looks, our language; we have changed, for the greater part,
O free mercy,
our company, and the rest of our company is itself changed. Where is now the body of sin, which vexed themselves and all about them? Where are now our different judgments, our divided spirits, our exasperated passions, our strange looks, our uncharitable censures? Now we are all of one name, of one judgment, of one heart, of one glory. O sweet reconciliation! O happy union! which makes us first to be one with Christ, and then to be one among ourselves !
Thou shalt never suffer thy old temptations from Satan, the world, or thy own flesh. Thy body will no more be such a burden to thee; thy pains and sicknesses are all now cured; thou shalt be troubled with weakness and weariness no more. Thy head is not now an aching head; nor thy heart an aching heart. Thy hunger and thirst, thy cold and sleep, thy labour and study, are all gone. O what a mighty change is this! From the dunghill to the throne! from a vile body, to a body as bright as the sun in the firmament ! from complainings under the displeasure of God, to the perfect enjoyment of him in love! from all my fearful thoughts of death, to this most blessed joyful life! O what a blessed change is this! Farewell sin and suffering for ever; farewell my hard and rocky heart; farewell my proud and unbelieving heart; farewell my atheistical, worldly, sensual, carnal heart; farewell repentance, confession, and supplication; farewell the most of hope and faith; and welcome love, and joy and praise. Welcome most holy, heavenly nature, which as it must be employed in beholding the face of God, so is it full of God alone, and delights in nothing else but him. O who can question the love which he so sweetly tastes, or doubt of that which with such joy he feels? Whatever mixture is in the streams, there is nothing but pure joy in the fountain. Here I shall be encircled with eternity, and come forth no more; here I shall ever live, and ever praise my Lord. My face will not wrinkle, nor my hair be gray; but this mortal shall have put on immortality, and this corruptible incorruption, and death shall be swallowed up in victory. “O death, where is now