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For our conversation is in heaven.—Phil. iii. 20.
HERE is the opposite carriage of sound believers, and the reason of it. The false christians minded earthly things, and the true christians had their conversation in heaven. The people of God and the people of the world are of divers, dispositions; the one are under the power and influence of the wisdom of the flesh, and the other are under the government of a heavenly mind. The natural life in them is overruled by grace. Now our way should be with the wise above; not with the worldly wise who mind earthly things, but with the godly wise whose conversation is in heaven.
The word πολίτευμα, which we translate ‘conversation,’ noteth our manner of living as burghers and citizens, not of earth, but of heaven; that is the city where we are free, and have the right of citizens, though we dwell on earth. Many that dwelt out of the city of Rome had the jus civitatis Romanae, the privileges of the city of Borne belonging to them; as the privilege of being a free man of Rome belonged to one that lived in Judea: Acts xxii. 28, ‘And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, I was free born.’ So we, though we are not in heaven, yet carry ourselves as belonging to heaven.
Doct. That a good christian should behave himself as a denizen of the heavenly city. I shall show you—(1.) What it is; (2.) Why.
I. What. I will open that in these considerations—
1. That heaven is a city. A city is taken for three things—
[1.] A place fit for a comfortable and safe habitation.
[2.] For a political society and community living in that place, or at least belonging to it.
[3.] For the condition and estate belonging to that place and community. All these respects are proper here.
[1.] A city is put for a place or habitation, consisting of many houses; for multitudes and vicinity of buildings make a city in this sense. So is heaven a city, a place fitted and furnished from the creation of the world to be the habitation of the blessed; and so it is called ‘a city which hath foundations,’ Heb. xii. 10, because it standeth on the eternal love of God, Mat. xxv. 34, the everlasting merit of Christ, Heb. ix. 12, and his unchangeable covenant: 1 Peter i. 15, ‘The word of God endureth for ever, and this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.’ The best things in the world stand upon an earthly foundation, which soon mouldereth away and faileth. We and all things 148about us are subject to great uncertainties. If a man be but two or three years absent from an earthly city, he will see a new face of things when he cometh again, all things are altered and changed from what he left them; but in heaven there is the same face of things to all eternity. Here we have no μένουσαν πόλιν, ‘no abiding city,’ Heb. xii. 14. Again, this city is said to be ‘prepared for us,’ Heb. xi. 16. It is fitted by the goodness and love of God. He had not done enough to answer his love in the covenant if he had not prepared a better place than the world to be the mansion and residence of his people. To be a God to any is to be an infinite and eternal benefactor. Our Saviour proveth the resurrection from these words, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living,’ Mat. xxii. 32.
[2.] Sometimes it is taken for a political society and community, or a corporation under one magistracy or governing power, and ruled by the same laws, and enjoying the same common privileges and immunities. So it is said, Eph. ii. 19, ‘Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;’ Heb. xii. 22, 23, ‘Ye are come to Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.’ This is a part of our happiness, that we and the holy angels and blessed saints make up but one community that shall for ever serve and praise the Lord.
[3.] It is taken for the condition and estate of those societies which all the members enjoy there, and the same common privileges; the estate is glorious and everlasting. In the city of God there are eternal honours, riches, and pleasures, peace, safety, full and enduring joy; nothing is wanting which the heart of man can desire; the estate is answerable to the place and company, full and perfect happiness. Well, then, here are all things which may be comprised in the name of a city; here is habitation, society, and estate. The habitation is heaven; the society, saints and angels; the estate, perfect peace and eternal happiness, none of which can be found in the world. It is true they that are in their pilgrimage are not admitted to the full of these privileges till they come home to their own city and country. We are not yet capable of reigning with God, and being admitted into his immediate presence. But though the possession of our full privileges be deferred, with patience we must wait for it; partly because we have a title by God’s grant; the new covenant is the charter of this corporation, and it will in time bring us to heaven, as it hath done others before us; partly because if the time of our pilgrimage seem long and tedious, it will shortly expire, and then beginneth our everlasting rest; partly because, besides actual right to eternal life, we have here some first fruits of this blessed estate. That part above have the full possession of it, but we have the first-fruits; we have justification, and immunity from God’s wrath and curse: Rom. viii. 33, ‘Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.’ We have adoption: Eph. i. 5, ‘Having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ.’ Sanctification: Eph. v. 25, 26, ‘Christ 149hath loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify it.’ Peace of conscience: Rom. v. 1, ‘Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.’ The use of ordinances, which may put us in mind, and quicken us to seek after the country to which we do belong. So that this is the city of God.
2. That believers have a right to the heavenly city. By nature we are of another corporation, of the earthly society, not belonging to the holy city of God, but to the kingdom of Satan, strangers to the commonwealth of Israel and the city of God: Col. i. 12, 13, ‘Who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.’ It was the mercy of God to translate us into another state and society of men. He found us unmeet, as being under the curse and power of Satan, dead in trespasses and sins; hut he drew us out of this corrupt estate, changing our hearts, and pardoning our sins, and by a strong hand rescuing us from the power of the devil, that he might put us under the blessed government of Christ; and then ‘we are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God,’ Eph. ii. 19; and Heb. xii. 22, ‘We are now come to the city of the living God.’ While we are in the way, as soon as converted, upon our sincere faith in Christ we are admitted and incorporated into this blessed city. Not only at last in the close of our days, but now when our hearts are turned to the Lord: Eph. ii. 6, ‘He hath made us sit together with him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.’ We have a right, though not full possession. Christ is entered, and sat down as head of all the faithful.
3. Being made burgesses of heaven, our manner of living must be suitable; partly because it is the wisdom of God to place all things in their proper places. As in nature, so in a way of grace; light bodies are uppermost and heavy bodies below; so also in a way of grace. Sometimes we read that heaven and glory is prepared for us, Mat. xxv. 34; and sometimes that we are prepared for heaven and glory; Rom. ix. 23, ‘Vessels of mercy which he hath afore prepared unto glory.’ There must be a suitableness between the receiver and the thing received, and therefore we must be made meet for this blessed estate. From heaven we received our first spiritual being, and there is the final consummation of it, and there we must converse, and thither we must tend. And partly out of gratitude on our part. Our lives must suit and agree with our heavenly calling: 1 Thes. ii. 12, ‘Walk worthy of God, who hath called you to his kingdom and glory.’ We must live as those that have a present right, and one day shall have full possession. Shall God advance us to such an estate, and shall we lie grovelling in the dirt, as if we had not such high and blessed hopes, and slight all this mercy and goodness?
4. This suitable manner of living consists partly—(1.) In the exercise of those graces which belong to this blessed estate; (2.) In the constant use of the means, whereby we may attain it; (3.) In such a course of living as suiteth with the properties of it.
[1.] There are certain graces which belong to it, which are given to us for that end and purpose. It is an unseen felicity, and therefore requireth faith to believe it. It is a future felicity, and therefore requires 150hope to expect it. It is our chief felicity, and therefore requires love to desire it.
(1.) We must certainly believe this blessed estate in the world to come. Faith is at the bottom of all, and therefore deal seriously with your hearts: John xi. 26, ‘Believest thou this?’ Most men here talk of it; take it up from the common report by a human credulity, but are not settled in the firm belief of it by the illumination of the Holy Spirit: Eph. i. 17, 18, ‘That the Father of glory may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of him; the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.’ This faith goeth before affection, and affection to heavenly things before mortification to earthly things: Heb. xi. 13, ‘These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.’ Are you verily persuaded that there is eternity at the back of time? that God intends such great things for penitent believers? Surely men’s boldness in sinning and coldness in. holy duties showeth their faith is not firm and sound. Sense telleth you that here is no abiding city, for we have seen the ruin of so many castles, palaces, cities, states, and kingdoms, which formerly flourished in great splendour, power, and strength, that now lie in the dust and do not appear. We need not tell you, you must die; graves and skulls show you that; but faith only can tell us there is an abiding city to come, and we must believe it before we can seek after it. Therefore can you depend upon Christ’s fidelity and the truth of his promises for the happiness of the world to come? Why, then, if you believe as christians, do not live as infidels. If heaven be not a dream, let not your godliness be but a vain show. We have Christ’s word for the reality of it; and for his fidelity, we may be assured that he would not delude us with vain hopes: John xiv. 2, ‘In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; I go to prepare a place for you.’ Wherefore should God flatter a worm, or what need he to court creatures into an imaginary happiness? Surely there is a quiet resting-place prepared for saints in the heavens. God never told us of anything but it came to pass. He told the old world of a flood which should drown the ungodly, and that was a thing as much unseen as heaven and hell is by us: Heb. xi. 7, ‘By faith, Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house.’ Those that accepted his warning fared well, and others were drowned in the flood. He told the old patriarchs of Christ’s coming in the flesh; and rather than go back from his word, the Son of God must come and die. God, that hath kept touch with the world hitherto, will not fail at last. Thus should you rouse up a languid and drowsy faith.
(2.) We must look for this blessed estate by hope, which is acted by serious and heart-warming thoughts. A believer is not already in heaven, but his better part is there; his heart and mind are there, and he expects one day to be there glorified: Titus ii. 13, ‘Looking for the blessed hope;’ Jude 21, ‘Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life;’ and here in the text, ‘From whence we look for a saviour.’ 151Surely they whose minds and thoughts are strangers to heaven do not live in the world as if they were in heaven. Can a man look for any great benefit, and not think of it? It is against the common experience of mankind. If you were adopted to a rich inheritance, would you not think of it? And do they expect such a glorious estate that never look up all the week long, or have such slight thoughts as rather damp and put out this holy fire than kindle it and keep it alive in you; rather shun all sober and lively thoughts of the life to come, lest they should awaken them out of their security, and that dull form of religiousness wherein they please themselves? Oh, therefore think often and much of that glorious estate, when you shall enjoy the endless sight and love of God, and live with all his blessed ones, and praise and serve him to all eternity. Can you travel one whole day toward such a city, and never think of the place you are going to? Is it your drift to get home, and shall home be never seriously thought of? Have we thoughts enough and to spare for other things, and none for Christ and heaven? If the carnal are delighted in minding earthly things, the souls of the godly should much more be heavenly. Surely if your conversations be in heaven, you would oftener think of it. The great instrument of the soul, next to sound belief, is serious consideration, not cursory and heartless thoughts, but such as are pressing, deep, and ponderous.
(3.) Love bends our desires that way, as well as hope sendeth our thoughts thither. And besides looking, there must be longing; and where the treasure is, there will the heart be also. If you have laid up treasure in heaven, you will be there in heart and mind, in affection and thoughts: Col. iii. 2, ‘Set your affections on things above, and not on things that are on earth.’ That place is your home where you desire to be. If heaven be your home, you still groan and long to be there. But it is the world that is your home, and heaven a strange place, when you are loath to go out of the one, or get into the other. Yea, believers, such as love the world, they do not prize it, they do not love it; but they that believe it long after the enjoyment of this city move than for anything in the world. Have you the heart of christians, and love the world more than heaven? Is any happiness like the enjoyment of God? or do you meet with any such company upon earth as you shall have in heaven? Here we live mixed with hypocrites and unbelievers, as the wheat with the chaff, obnoxious to the calamities of the earthly life; and shall not all this wean us from a vain and vexatious world, that we may long to be at home? What is it tempts you, maketh your desires so cold? Is it the enjoyment of a plentiful portion in the world? It is a curse to be ‘written in the earth,’ Jer. xvii. 13, as it is our felicity and joy to have our ‘names written in heaven,’ Luke x. 20. Which city is best in your account, and where lieth your portion, in the fruition of the world or the vision of God? Ps. xvii. 14, 15, ‘From men which are thy hand, O Lord; from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose bellies thou fillest with thy hid treasure: they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes. As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.’ Surely it is not the partial fruition of God maketh you so loath to depart, for those kind of enjoyments do not divert you from God, but draw you 152to him; having a taste, you will long for more. Earth is not heaven when it is at best, nor can you find Mount Sion or the city of the living God in the wilderness. Oh, therefore, if you have any love to God, long for heaven, where you have most of God. Here you have his presence with you, but you are absent from him: 2 Cor. v. 8, ‘We are willing rather to be absent from the body, that we may be present with the Lord.’
[2.] In the constant use of the means whereby we may attain it. There is no coming to the end of the journey but by the way, nor obtaining the happiness but by the means. The great difficulty of a christian lieth not so much in a respect to the end as to the means. There is some difficulty about the end, to convince men of an unseen felicity, that they may believe it and accept it as their happiness, look and long for it as such a happiness doth require. But we have a quick ear for offers of happiness, whilst usually we snuff at the conditions of duty and obedience as troublesome. Paul had a great desire of the happiness, yet he doth not stick at the means: ‘If by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead,’ Phil. iii. 11. All would be blessed, but they do not come to this resolution, ‘If by any means.’ Balaam could say, Num. xxiii. 10, ‘Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his;’ but he loved the wages of unrighteousness. If wicked men are said to despise eternal happiness, it is not as happiness, nor eternal; they like happiness well enough, for all that love themselves would be happy; nor as eternal, for man, that hath lost the right object of his desires, hath not lost the vastness of them; he would be happy for ever; but it is in conjunction with the means that they dislike it. Thus the ‘Israelites despised the pleasant land, and murmured in their tents,’ Ps. cvi. 24, 25. What ailed them? The land was a good land, flowing with milk and honey. Ay! but the spies had told them of the giantly strength and stature of the men. Heaven is a good place, but the strictness of holy walking is disliked. We must submit to use all holy means to obtain it. What are they? We do not now speak of the title, but the conversation: Rom. ii. 7, ‘To them who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality, eternal life.’ When we walk in God’s way, when our actions plainly tend to heaven. The believers of the old testament ‘declared plainly that they sought a country,’ Heb. xi. 14. How? By resolving to seek till they find; by being content to be pilgrims in the world, and not giving over till they saw some place of eternal rest. This is the fault of most christians, their actions do not declare plainly that they are for God and heaven, nor doth the course of their lives show it. If they are tending thither, then two things will show it—continuance, and patient continuance, in well doing.
(1.) Continuance. When we walk in all holy conversation and godliness. Men’s end is seen in their constant course, when in all their actions they study to please God. They believe there is such an estate, and they know the excellency and glory thereof, and therefore would not for all the world weaken their hopes, or darken and cloud their interest, nor offend that God from whom they expect it: 1 Cor. xv. 58, ‘Always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you 153know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.’ A christian aimeth at heaven in all his business, civil and sacred: Acts xxiv. 15, 16, ‘And have hope towards God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.’ He goeth about his earthly business with a heavenly mind; in his attendance upon God in the ordinances: Acts xxvi. 6, 7, ‘And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come.’ It is to get more of God and heaven into his heart; more of the first fruits, more of his title and interest, more preparation of heart, new excitement of affections to God and heaven. He heareth that his soul may live; he prayeth that he may live; receiveth that he may take these pledges of heaven out of God’s hand. He heareth the word, be cause there are the promises of eternal life, or directions in the way that leadeth thither. He prayeth, that he may come as near as he can to his Father, and have as much familiarity with him as a soul dwelling in flesh possibly can have. He cometh into the assemblies of God’s people, because they are the favourites of heaven.
(2.) Patient continuance, whatever temptations he meeteth with to the contrary: Rom. viii. 18, ‘But I reckon that the sufferings of the present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us;’ 2 Cor. iv. 17, ‘For our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.’ These things do not greatly move him. It is for heaven, so that a christian is still travelling to God, improving all business and all conditions to this end, comforting himself with these hopes; so that he is either living for heaven in seeking it, or upon heaven by the joy and hope he deriveth from thence; he is still acting for this blessedness, or encouraging himself by this blessedness, because he expecteth, one day to be glorified with God; thence he fetches his solaces and supports. This carriage is not by fits, but it is their constant course: ‘Their conversation is in heaven.’
[3.] The course of our living must suit with the properties of this happy estate. (1.) It is a great happiness; (2.) It is a pure happiness; (3.) A happiness that lieth in heaven.
(1.) It is a great happiness, and therefore must not be slightly sought after. No slight thing will become God and heaven; all zeal and diligence is necessary to be exercised. There must be seeking: Col. iii. 1, ‘Seek things above;’ Heb. xi. 14, ‘They seek a country.’ Working: Phil. ii. 12, ‘Workout your salvation.’ Labouring; there must be diligence to get what we seek: John vi. 27, ‘Labour for the meat that endures.’ Watching, Luke xxi. 36. Striving: Luke xiii. 24, ‘Strive to enter in at the strait gate.’ Pressing hard: Phil, iii. 14, ‘I press toward the mark.’ We seek it because we want it; here we have it not. We work and labour for it, because heaven will not come with a cold wish, or a few faint and feeble or heartless endeavours. Is this becoming everlasting glory? Is this all we do for God and heaven? We watch, that we may keep up our heavenly affections, and be found in a constant preparation at Christ’s coming: 2 Peter iii. 14, ‘Give all diligence, that you may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.’ We strive because we meet with difficulties within and without; without are temptations, and within are corruptions. And we press forward that every day we may be a step nearer. The life of a christian is a continual motion and nearer approach to the heavenly city. If we do thus, this is to have our conversation in heaven, when the thoughts and hopes put life and vigour into our graces and duties.
2. It is a pure happiness, not a Turkish paradise, but an immaculate and sinless estate; to see God and be like him. Therefore then our conversation is in heaven, when we purify ourselves yet more and more: 1 John iii. 2, 3, ‘Behold, now we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself as he is pure.’ We expect to be presented faultless before the presence of his glory, Jude 24. Therefore now we strive every day more to be without blame before him in love. Christians have a carnal notion of heaven if they look only upon it as a state of personal contentment. No; it is not that alone, but a state of exact conformity to God; and the more pure and holy you are, the more heaven-like are your conversations; as heaven is the perfecting of that life which is begun here by the Spirit.
3. It is a heavenly happiness; and therefore true believers should be drawing off their hearts from earthly things, that they may wholly breathe and aspire after heavenly things. Worldly and sensual inclinations turn us to another happiness, and make the heart dead and sense less. We seek our heaven and happiness here in the world, rather than in the salvation of the blessed: Luke xvi. 25, ‘Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things.’ Because he lived a life of pomp and ease; he was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. If we enlarge ourselves in this kind of life, we discharge God from giving us any other happiness. You shall have riches, you shall have honours, because you do so greedily seek after them, but you shall have no more. Sure it is the mortified, self-denying conversation that becometh the citizens of heaven; for they do not seek for their happiness here, but elsewhere: 1 Peter ii. 11, ‘I beseech you, as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.’ The citizens of this world must make a fair show in the flesh, to be somebody here, have such provision for their sensuality, or they are comfortless; but the citizens of the other world seek to excel in grace, to be filled with the wisdom that is from above, to entertain communion with God, to get more assurance of his love; for this manner of living suiteth with their hopes. They mortify their members which are upon earth, but seek to cherish and increase the graces of the Spirit which come from God, and lead them to God.
1. They are made for eternity, and God has given them an immortal spirit that will never perish; and therefore they cannot be satisfied with things that perish in the using. An immortal soul cannot be contented with a mortal happiness: Eccles. xii. 7, ‘Then shall the dust return 155to the earth as it was, and the spirit unto God that gave it.’ The make and constitution of man showeth the estate he was made for. Some things were made for heaven and not for earth, as the angels, who are pure spirits; and some things for earth and not for heaven, as the beasts, who have bodies, but a material spirit. Some things were made both for earth and heaven, as man, who hath a mortal body and an immortal spirit. He was made for earth, the place of bodies, in his passage; for heaven as his home, which is the region of spirits. Now the children of God observe the cause for which they were made, and for which they were sent into the world; and therefore regard present things only in their passage, and prepare themselves for the upper place of their abode. The whole drift of their conversation tends that way; that is the estate most in the eye of their faith, hope, and love; they believe it, look and long for it, and prepare for it.
2. They are new made or born again, and the tendency of the life of grace is to God and heaven: 2 Peter i. 4, ‘Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these we might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruptions that are in the world through lust.’ It is the divine Spirit which is the true Spirit, which carrieth them so far above the world to things to come. The sanctifying Spirit formeth us for this very thing: 2 Cor. v. 5, ‘Now he that hath wrought us to this self-same thing is God, who also hath given us the earnest of the Spirit.’ He frameth and fitteth men in this life for a state of glory. The heart of a christian is more and more suited to the happiness promised in the gospel; and as they are fitted for it, so they are inclined to it. A christian is born from above, and seeks to get thither. As all things tend to the place of their original, or have a propensity to the place whence they came, as fire and air work upward—you cannot keep them down—so the new nature has a new tendency. Fishes desire to be in the water, and fowls in the air; they have a peculiar nature to carry them to those places. They that have an earthly and worldly nature are all for the world, and relish nothing but the pleasures of the world. Our souls naturally are inclined to earthly things, but being renewed, have a tendency to heavenly things. Love, which is the heart of the new creature, inclines us to be with God and Christ: Phil. i. 23, ‘Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ;’ 1 Thes. iv. 17, ‘And so shall we ever be with the Lord;’ Col. iii. 1, ‘If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above,’ &c. So it inclines us to perfect grace, and freedom from sin, and full likeness to God, never to dishonour God more; as little seeds by degrees work through the thick clods of earth, and grow up to stalk and flower. In short, the illuminate soul can only discern these things; the sanctified soul is inclined to them.
3. There is no condition of rest and tranquillity here in the world; so that a christian is in effect driven hence by the relics of sin, multitude of temptations, manifold afflictions. Though the new nature be strongly inclined to God and heavenly things, the old corrupt nature, having the advantage of things present, would sorely tempt us from him. Therefore God ordereth our condition so that we find little else but occasions of groaning in the world. Within we find the relics of sin, and that maketh us long and wait. If any had cause to complain 156of afflictions, Paul much more; yet he complains not of that, but of in dwelling sin: Rom. vii. 24, ‘wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’ A very beast driven to a place where there is neither ease nor rest will groan under it; but yet temptations on every side molest us and trouble us, and afflictions also. How soon and how often is our worldly happiness interrupted, even then when we think ourselves past all hazards and fears of change! Ps. xxx. 6, 7, ‘In my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. Lord, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong; thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.’ No man ever slept upon a carnal pillow but had his rest disturbed before his nap was over. It is tedious for us to think of such a mutable condition; but let us look upon God’s design in it. God ordereth it that we may always think of our remove, and prepare ourselves to rest in our proper place.
Use 1. To press us to this constant and earnest pursuit after heavenly things. Let thoughts, conferences, discourses, actions still show that you are for God and heaven. When you are alone, oh, think of heaven, where your God and Christ is, and where you in a little time hope to be. When you are in company, comfort one another, warm one another with discourses of heaven: ‘With these words,’ saith the apostle. When you are doing anything for God, let heaven put life into your endeavours; doing anything in the world, let heaven regulate and measure your actions; do it so as you may be true to your great end. When you are suffering anything, loss of estate, credit, and esteem in the world, if it be for heaven, it may be the better borne: I have a better and a more enduring substance. Look not to the state in which you are, but that into which you are a-going. In short, be sure you do not want this evidence that your conversation is in heaven.
Motives to enforce it.
1. You are bound to it by oath in baptism: Col. iii. 1, ‘If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above.’ You are bound to such a heavenly life; you are planted into the likeness of Christ’s death and resurrection. The sacramental resurrection enforceth the obligation; the real resurrection enforceth the effect.
2. The more heavenly you are in your lives, your right is the more evident, and you are more ready for possession. You are in the next meetness: Col. i. 12, ‘Who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.’ A man reconciled to God and sanctified is in a remote meetness; but the heavenly-minded, the heavenly walkers, are in the next preparation. The first meetness gives us a right, the next meetness a ripeness, like a shock of corn that comes in in its season.
3. This heavenly conversation doth more honour God in the world; when we carry ourselves as men of another world, we do the better convince them of the reality of our profession and hopes. By your serious diligence you condemn the world: Heb. xi. 7, ‘Noah condemned the world.’ Make the world wonder: 1 Peter iv. 4, ‘They think it strange you run not with them into the same excess of riot.’ Awaken the world to think of God: 2 Thes. i. 11, 12, ‘Wherefore we pray always for you, that God would count you worthy of his calling, and fulfil all 157the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you.’ Christ is glorified and you rewarded.
But what is this heavenly conversation? When we so believe as to prize it, so prize it as to seek after it in the first place.
[1.] Do we believe it? Surely they that are drowned in the cares of the world and voluptuous living have no sense of the world to come. That is known by mortification rather than confident presumption: 1 John v. 4, 5, ‘And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?’
[2.] Do we prize and esteem it? for nothing is sought and laboured for but what is prized. Do we prize it, not with a speculative, but practical esteem? Rom. ii. 18, ‘Thou approvest the things that are excellent.’ The practical esteem is that which draweth our hearts. Is it our treasure? Mat. vi. 19, ‘Lay up treasure in heaven.’ Do you esteem it comparatively above all other things? Mat. xiii. 45, 46, ‘Sell all to buy the pearl of great price.’ All is nothing in comparison of this blessed estate. Do you esteem it copulatively, cross and crown, means and end? Ps. cvi. 24, ‘They despised the pleasant land, and believed not his word;’ Phil. iii. 11, ‘If by any means I may attain unto the resurrection of the dead.’
[3.] Do you seek it? What do you do for it? Our great business in this life is seeking after heaven. Many would be glad their souls might be saved at last, but we cannot believe they are in earnest. Where is that seeking, watching, striving, working, that serious diligence, those lively endeavours, that conscionable care for obtaining so great a benefit? What! seek it, and have no heart to pray for it, hear and meditate of it? Alas! for seeking, watching, working, striving, men are as far from these as they are like to be from heaven itself.
[4.] Do you seek it in the first place, so that all other works and labours are but by the by and subordinate to this? Alas! how can you say so, when religion is looked upon by the by, and you are out of your element when you are employed in the duties of it? You cannot endure to be long held to prayer, or hearing the word; your hearts are not suited to these things.
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