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der a senseless heart; some languishing under unfruitful weakness, some bleeding for miscarriages and wilfulness, and some in such a lethargy that they are past complaining.
As now our friends' distresses are our distresses, so then our friends' deliverance will be part of our own deliverance. How much more joyous is it now to join with them in their days of thanksgiving and gladness, than in their days of humiliation, when they sit in sackcloth and ashes! How much more joyous will it be, then to join with them in their perpetual praises and triumphs, than to hear them now bewailing their wretchedness, their want of light, of life, of joy, of assurance of grace, of Christ, of all things!
But a far greater grief it is to our spirits, to see the spiritual miseries of our brethren,-to see such a one with whom we took sweet counsel, and who zealously joined with us in God's worship, now fallen off to sensuality, turned drunkard, worldling, or a persecutor of the saints; to see our dearest and most intimate friends, turned aside from the truth of Christ, and confident in the grossest errors; to see many who are connected with us by the nearest ties, neglecting Christ, and their souls, while nothing will awaken them out of their sinful security; to look an ungodly father or mother, brother or sister in the face; to look on a carnal wife, or husband, or child, or friend, and to think how certainly they will be in hell for ever, if they die in their present unregenerate state. Blessed be that approaching day, when our eyes shall no more behold such sights, nor our ears hear any more such tidings. To think of the gospel departing, of our sun setting at noon-day, of poor souls left willingly dark and destitute, and with great pains extinguishing the light that should guide them to salvation,-what sad thoughts are these! Who could then take the harp in hand, or sing the pleasant songs of Sion? But blessed be the Lord who has frustrated our fears, and who will hasten that happy day, when Zion shall be exalted above the mountains, and her gates shall not be shut day nor night; when "the sons of them that afflicted
her, shall come bending unto her, and all they that despised her, shall bow themselves at the soles of her feet; and they shall call her, The City of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel."
(8.) We shall rest from all our own personal sufferings. Though this may seem a small thing to those that live in continual ease, and abound in all kind of prosperity; yet methinks, to the daily afflicted soul, it should make the fore-thoughts of heaven delightful. As all our senses are the inlets of sin, so they are become the inlets of sorrow. Fears devour us, and darken our delights as the frosts nip the tender buds. Cares consume us, and feed upon our spirits, as the scorching sun withers the delicate flowers. O the multitude of tender membranes, nerves, muscles, veins, arteries, and every one a fit subject for pain, and fit to communicate that pain to the whole.
But O the blessed tranquillity of that region, where there is nothing but sweet, continued peace! No succession of joy there, because no intermission. Our lives will be but one joy, as our time will be changed into one eternity. O healthful country, where none are sick! O fortunate land, where all are kings! 0 place most holy, where all are priests! How free a state, where none are servants, save to their supreme Monarch! No more shall the poor man be tired with his incessant labours. No hunger, or thirst, no cold, or nakedness: no pinching frosts, no scorching heats. No more shall our faces be pale or sad; our groans and sighs will be done away; and God will wipe away all tears from our eyes. No more parting asunder of friends, nor voice of lamentation heard in our dwellings. No more breaches, nor disproportion in our friendship, nor any trouble accompanying our relations in life; as of parents over their children, or magistrates over their subjects, or ministers over their people. No more sadness for our study lost, our preaching lost, our entreaties lost, the offer of Christ's blood lost, our dear people's souls lost. Oh! what room can there be for any evil, where the whole is perfectly filled with God? Then shall "the ransomed
of the Lord return and come to Sion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."
(9.) We shall rest from all the labour and pain of duty. The conscientious magistrate now cries out, O the burden that lieth upon me! The conscientious parent, that knows the preciousness of his children's souls, and the constant pains required to their godly education, cries out, O the burden! The conscientious minister, when he reads his charge, 2 Timothy iv. 1, and views his pattern, Acts xx. 18-31,—when he hath tried a while what it is to study, and pray, and preach, according to the weight and excellency of the work, to go from house to house, and from neighbour to neighbour, and to beseech them night and day with tears, and, after all, to be hated and persecuted for so doing, no wonder if he cry out, O the burden! and be ready to relinquish the work like Jonah, and with Jeremiah to say, "I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name; for his word is made a reproach to me, and a derision daily." How long may we study and labour before one soul is brought over to Christ; and when it is done, how often do the snares of error again entangle them! How many receive the doctrine of delusion, before they have time to be built up in the truth! The first new strange apparition of light so amazes them, that they think they are in the third heaven, when they are but newly passed from the suburbs of hell; and they are presently as confident as if they knew all things, when they have not half light enough to acquaint them with their own ignorance; but, after ten or twenty years' study, they usually become of the same judgment as those whom they despised. Seldom does a minister live to see the ripeness of his people; but one sows and plants, another waters, and a third reaps and receives the increase. In short, every relation, state, age, has a variety of duty. Hence every conscientious Christian cries out, "O the burden! or, O my weakness, that makes it so burdensome!" But
in heaven we shall no more feel duty to be a burden. We shall not, indeed, be relieved from the service of God; but we shall have strength equal to it. Here, even "the youths faint and are weary, and the young men utterly fall:" but there, "they that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
IX. The last jewel in our crown is, that it is an everlasting rest. This crowns the whole; without this, all else were comparatively little or nothing. The very thought of leaving it would embitter all our joys; and it would pierce us the more, because of the singular excellencies which we must forsake. It would be a hell in heaven to think of losing it; as it would be a kind of heaven in hell, had the damned but the hope of at last escaping. How can we take delight in any thing, when we remember how short that delight will be? How can it but spoil our pleasure, when we see it dying in our hands? How could I be happy, if I had not my eye fixed upon eternity? When methinks I foresee my dying hour, my friends waiting for my last gasp, and closing my eyes, saying, He is dead; when methinks I see my coffin made, my grave prepared, and my friends there leaving me in the dust,-what is there on earth that can afford me pleasure? It utterly disgraces the greatest glory in my eyes, if you can but truly call it mortal. I can value nothing that shall have an end, except as it leads to that which hath no end; or as it comes from that love which hath neither beginning nor end. O happy souls in hell, should you but escape, O miserable saints in heaven, should you be dispossessed after millions of ages! This word Everlasting, contains the accomplished perfection of their torment, and of our glory. O that the careless sinner would but seriously study this word Everlasting! Methinks it would startle him out of his deepest sleep. O that the gracious soul would believingly study this word Everlasting! Methinks it would revive him in the deepest agony. And must I, Lord, thus live forever? Then will I also ove
forever. Must my joys be immortal? And shal not my thanks be also immortal? Surely, if I shall never lose my glory, I will never cease thy praise. "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God. be honour and glory, forever and ever. Amen!"
THE CERTAINTY OF THE HEAVENLY REST.
HAVING thus described the Heavenly Rest, we shall now proceed to the confirmation of this truth, and though this may seem needless, in regard of its own clearness and certainty, yet in regard of our distance and infidelity, there is nothing more necessary. Though I have all along sufficiently confirmed what I have said by the testimony of Scripture, yet I will here briefly state a few distinct proofs of this important truth.
I. This rest is fore-ordained for the saints, and the saints are also fore-ordained for it. "Now," says the apostle," they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he hath prepared for them a city." The saints themselves are called, "vessels of mercy, before prepared unto glory." In Christ they have obtained the inheritance, "being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." And we are elsewhere told, that "whom he did predestinate, them he also glorified." "He hath from the beginning chosen them to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth."
Now, though the intentions of the weak and unwise may be frustrated, yet "the thoughts of the Lord shall surely come to pass, and as he hath purposed, it shall stand." "The counsel of the Lord