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and love in his countenance ; they shall see him, and converse with him, as their nearest and best friend.
Thus shall they see him soon. The intervening moments fly swiftly, the time is even at the door, when they shall be admitted to this blessedness.
2. Let the consideration of this subject put us all upon inquiring, whether we ourselves are pure in heart. Is our religiou of that kind which has its seat chiefly in the heart, or doth it chiefly consist in what is outward in morality and formality? Have we ever experienced a change of heart; have we a right spirit renewed within us; have we ever seen the odiousness and filthiness that there is in sin; is it what we hate, wherever we see it; and do we especially hate it in ourselves, and loath ourselves for it; is it the object of our hatred as sin, and as it is against God?
And are there any that now hear me, who think themselves to be Christians, who do yet, either in their imaginations and thoughts, or in any secret practice, allow and indulge the lust of uncleanness, and live in such a way? If it be so, they had great need to bethink themselves whether or no they are not of that generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet are not cleansed from their filthiness. If they imagine that they are pure in heart, and live in such wickedness, their confidence is vain presumption. Inquire whether holy exercises and holy employments are the delight of your soul, and what you take pleasure in above all other things in which you can be engaged. Are the enjoyments that you choose, and take the greatest delight in, spiritual and heavenly enjoyments? Is the seeing of God, and conversing with him, and dwelling in his presence for ever, what you should of your own accord choose above all other things ?"
3. I would earnestly exhort those who hear me, to make to themselves a pure heart. Though it be God's work to give it, yet it is as truly your work to obtain it; though it be God's work to purify the heart, yet the actual, or rather the active procuring of it is your act.
All pure and holy exercises are man's acts, and they are his duty. Therefore we are commanded to make us a new heart, and a right spirit. Ezek. xviii. 31. “Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed, and make you a new heart and a new spirit; for why will ye die ?”
We must nột think to excuse ourselves by saying that it is God's work, that we cannot purify our own hearts; for though it be God's work in one sense, yet it is equally our work in another. James iv. 8. “ Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded.” If you do not engage in this work yourselves, and purify your own hearts, they never will be pure. If you do not get a pure heart, the blame of it will be laid to your own backwardness. The unclean soul hates to be purified; it is opposite to its nature; there is a great deal of self-denial in it. But be content to contradict the nature and bent of your own heart, that it may be purified; however grating it may be to you at first, yet consider how blessed the issue will be. Though the road be a little rough in the beginning, yet it will grow pleasanter and pleasanter, till at last it will infallibly lead to that lightsome and glorious country, the inhabitants of which do see and converse with God. Prov. iv. 18. “ But the path of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” If you would be in the way to have a pure heart,
1. Purify your hands : cleanse yourself from every external impurity of speech and behaviour; take heed that you never defile your hands in known wickedness; break off all your sins by righteousness; and take heed that you do not give way to impure lusts that would entice to sinful actions. If you set about the work of cleansing yourself, but when a temptation comes then plunge yourself into the mire again, you never will be likely to become pure; but you must be steady in your reformation and the amendment of your ways and doings.
2. Take heed you do not rest in external purity, but seek purity of heart in the ways of God's appointment; seek it in a constant and diligent attendance on all God's ordinances.
3. Be often searching your own heart, and seek and pray that you may see the filthiness of it. If ever you are made pure you must be brought to see that you are filthy; you must see the plague and pollution of your own heart.
4. Beg of God that he would give you his holy Spirit. It is the Spirit of God that purifies the soul. Therefore the Spirit of God is often compared to fire, and is said to baptize with fire. He cleanses the heart, as fire cleanses the metals ; and burns up the filth and pollution of the mind, and is therefore called the spirit of burning. Isai. iv. 4. “ When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judginent, and by the spirit of burning."
THANKSGIVING SERMON, Nov. 7, 1734.
Rev. xiv. 2.
And I heard a voice from heaven as the voice of many waters, and as
the voice of a great thunder, and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps.
We may observe in these words, (1.) What it was that John heard, viz. the voice and melody of a company praising God. It is said in the next verse that they sung a new song before the throne. (2.) Whence he heard this voice, “I heard,” says he, “a voice from heaven.” This company that he heard praising God was in heaven. It is said in the following verse, “They sung this song before the throne, and before the four living creatures, and the elders: but the throne of God, and the four living creatures, and the four and twenty elders, are all represented in these visions of John, as being in heaven. So that this voice was the voice of the heavenly inhabitants, the voice of the blessed and glorious company that is in heaven, before the throne of God there. (3.) The kind of voice, which is here set forth in a very lively and elegant manner; it is said to be as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunders, and as the voice of harpers harping with their harps. Hereby several things are represented in a very striking manner. 1. The distance of the voice. 2. That it was the voice of a vast and innumerable multitude : so that it was as the voice of many waters. How naturally does this represent the joint, continual, and loud voice of a vast multitude at a distance, that it resembled the voice of many waters. 3. The loudness of the voice. It was as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder; which describes the extraordinary fervency of their praises, and how lively and vigorous they were therein, and how that every one praised God with all his might. They all, joining together, sung with such fervency, that heaven did as it were ring with their praises. The noise of thunder, and the roaring of many waters, are the most great and majestic sounds ever heard upon earth, and are often spoken of in the scriptures as the mightiest sounds. John could not distinctly hear what they sang, but they being in heaven, at a great distance, he knew not what better to compare it to, than to the roaring of the sea, or a great thunder. Yet, 4. It was a melodious sound, signified by this expression, I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps. The harp was a stringed instrument, that David made much use of, in praising God. John represents the matter thus to us, That the voice which he heard, being at a great distance, it was indistinct; and being of such a vast multitude, and such a mighty fervent voice, that it seemed in some measure like distant thunder, or the roaring of water, and yet he could perceive the music of the voice at the same time: though it was in some respects as thunder and the noise of water, yet there was a sweet and excellent melody in it. In short, though these comparisons of which Jobo makes use, to signify to us what kind of a voice and sound it was that he heard, are exceedingly lively and elegant; yet this seems to be evident from them, that what he heard was inexpressible, and that he could find nothing that could perfectly represent it. That a voice should be as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder, and yet like the voice of harpers, is to us not easily to be conceived of. But the case was, that John could find no earthly sound that was sufficient to represent it; and therefore such various and different similitudes are aggregated and cast together to represent it. But thus much seems to be signified by it, that it seemed to be the voice of an innumerable multitude, and that they were exceedingly fervent and mighty in their praises : that the voice of this multitude was very great, and exceedingly full of majesty, and yet a most sweet and melodious voice at the same time.
Doctrine. The work of the saints in heaven doth very much consist in praising God.
I. Proposition. The saints in heaven are employed ; they are not idle; they have there much to do: they have a work before them that will fill up eternity.
We are not to suppose, when the saints have finished their course and done the work appointed them here in this world, and are got to their journey's end, to their Father's house, that they will have nothing to do. It is true, the saints when they get to heaven, rest from their labours and their works follow them. Heaven is not a place of labour and travail, but a place of rest.
Heb. iv. 9. There remaineth a rest for the people of God; and it is a place of the reward of labour. But yer the rest of heaven does not consist in idleness, and a cessation of all action, but only a cessation from all the trouble and toil and tediousness of action. The most perfect rest is consistent with
being continually employed. So it is in heaven. Though the saints are exceedingly full of action, yet their activity is perfectly free from all labour, or weariness, or unpleasantness. They shall rest from their work, that is from all work of labour and self-denial and grief, care and watchfulness, but they will not cease from action. The saints in glory are represented as em
. ployed in serving God, as well as the saints on earth, though it be without any difficulty or opposition. Rev. xxii. 3. “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him." Yea, weare told, that they shall serve God day and night, that is, continually or without ceasing ; Rev. vii. 15. “ Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple.” And yet this shall be without any manner of trouble, as it follows in the next verse. “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on thern nor any heat.” In this world saints labour as it were, in the wearisome heat of the sun, but there, though they shall still serve God, yet shall the sun not light on them nor any heat. In one sense, the saints and angels in heaven rest not day nor night, Rev. iv. S; that is, they never cease from their blessed employment. Perfection of happiness does not consist in idleness, but on the contrary, it very much consists in action. The angels are blessed spirits, and yet they are exceedingly active in serving God. They are as a flame of fire, which is the most active thing that we see in this world. God himself enjoys infinite happiness and perfect bliss, and yet he is not inactive, but is himself in his own nature a perfect act, and is continually at work in bringing to pass his own purposes and ends. That principle of holiness that is in its perfection in the saints in heaven, is a most active principle ; so that though they enjoy perfect rest, yet they are a great deal more active than they were when in this world. In this world they were exceedingly dull and heavy, and inactive, but now they are a flame of fire. The saints in heaven are not merely passive in their happiness. They do not merely enjoy God passively, but in an active manner. They are not only acted upon by God, but they mutually act towards him, and in this action and re-action consists the heavenly happiness.
II. Proposition. Their employment consists very much in praising God.
John the beloved disciple had often visions of heaven, and in almost every instance had a vision of the inhabitants as praising God. So in the fourth chapter he tells us that he looked, and behold a door was opened in heaven, and he was called up thither, and that he saw the throne of God and him that sat on