« Prev A Name in Heaven. Next »

A Name in Heaven

LUKE x. 20.

In this rejoice not, that the Spirits are subject to you: but rather rejoice, because your Names are written in Heaven.

IT is the Philosopher’s Opinion, that Joy (considering the effects which it accidentally produceth within) doth more harm in the World than sorrow and sadness; and they give this Reason, That Joy, naturally dilating the Spirits brings the Mind to a loose carriage, and takes the Sense of Weariness from about it: but sadness, contracting the Spirits, keeps the Mind within the limits of sobriety, and brings it to serious Thoughts. And the wise Man, in favour of this Opinion, tells us in Eccles. vii. 3. that 2Sorrow is better than Laughter, for by the sadness of the Countenance the Heart is made better.

But this seems a great Paradox, that joy should hurt, and sadness do good, that Sorrow should be better than Laughter. Is Hell better than Heaven? is not Hell a Place of sorrow? And who is made better by it? and is not Heaven a Place of Joy? And who is made worse by it?

The End of all our Motions and Desires is to avoid Sorrow, Perturbation, and to attain Rest and Delight; which is nothing else but the Sabbath of our Thoughts, and that sweet Tranquility of Mind which results from the Fruition of that Good whereto our Desires have carried us. The great End of Religion is to promote and stablish the Joy of the Soul, sin being the proper parent of Grief and Sorrow. Nay the great End of the coming of our Lord Christ was to bless the World with Peace and Joy, and therefore his Birth is called by the Angel that 3published the News of it (Luke ii. 10.) good Tidings of great joy to all People. The End of his Doctrine was to fill them with Joy; St. John xv. 11. These things have I spoken to you that my Joy might remain in you, and that your Joy might be full.

This then being the End of all our Desires and natural Motions, the End of Religion, the End of Christ’s coming and Doctrine, to fill us with Peace and Joy in believing; it no way interfereth either with the Opinion of the Philosopher, or the Doctrine of the Preacher to averr, that Joy is better than Sorrow, as Peace is better than Trouble, Light better than Darkness, Sweet better than Bitter, and Heaven better than Hell; the one being a Place of boundless Joy, the other a Place of endless Sorrow. That Joy therefore which the Philosopher charges with such mischievous Consequences, and which Solomon prefer’s Sorrow to, is that which results from the Presence and Fruition of improper and 4unsuitable Objects, or which runs into excess and inordinacy, into which the Nature of Man, since the Corruption and Disorder of the Faculties and Passions, is too apt to degenerate: For this is certain, that there is nothing we can delight in much, without sin, but those things that lie most remote from Sence, the things of the invisible World.

And hence it is that our Lord Christ here in the Text, calls off his Disciples from rejoicing much in that which yet was as lawful and likely a Cause of Rejoycing as any, viz. Victory over infernal Spirits, and Successes against the Powers of Darkness; to fix their Joy upon a Good, infinitely to be preferred to that, and desired before it, and that is, a Name written in Heaven. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the Spirits are subject to you; but rather rejoice, because your Names are written in Heaven.

In the Words you have,

5

A Prohibition,

An Exhortation:

Somewhat from which they are dehorted; somewhat to which they are invited.

That from which they are dehorted is, rejoicing in their Success over infernal Spirits; rejoyce not in this that the Spirits are subject to you.

That to which they are invited is, to rejoyce in a Mercy of a much nobler Nature, and that is, their Share and Interest in the Glory and Blessedness above; Rejoice that your Names are written in Heaven.

I shall begin with the Prohibition, and speak a little to that, Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the Spirits are subject to you.

You will think a (rejoice not) very unwelcome Entertainment when the Work ye come about is to rejoyce, to remember the Mercy of this Day, the Pangs and Throws the Lord brought ye through on this Day; the hopeful Son that took his Birth and Breath from this Day. 6This was doubtless a very great Mercy, if the Mother had been spared, though the Child had died, there had been Mercy in that, but that the Lord should preserve the Root and the Branch both; make your Honour the Mother of a Child, and that Child a Son, and that Son perfect, not a Monster, not misshapen, not born Blind, not Dumb, not Deaf, not deformed and crooked: How many Mercies are in this one Mercy! Now to afix a rejoice not, upon such a Cause of Joy as this, seems very unwelcome and unseasonable.

But I hope by that time I have done ye will justify my choice of this Text, which hath not the least Design to suppress your Joy; but to raise it from Objects of Sense to Spiritual Delights, from lower and lesser Mercies to greater and higher Priviledges, from a Name on Earth, to a Name in Heaven.

Rejoice not in this that the Spirits are subject to you.

7

This Prohibition of our Lord Christ doth clearly imply that this casting out of Devils, by the Power of the Disciples’ Ministry in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, was matter of great Joy to them; and one would think, if any thing in the World could justify the running out of their Joy below God, this casting out of Devils might.

For, I. It was a great and miraculous Gift of Jesus Christ.

II. It was a Gift foretold by the Prophets, as reserved for Gospel time.

III. It was a Victory over the most potent Enemy, who laughs to scorn all humane Power, a stronger than he must come and bind him.

IV. It was a Victory very conducing to the Honour of the Lord Christ, that his naked Disciples in his Name alone, could make the Powers of Hell submit and stoop; so that certainly here was in the Success of this Service sufficient Cause of Joy to the Disciples; and yet saith our Lord Christ to them, Notwithstanding, 8 in this rejoyce not. It is not an absolute Prohibition, but rather we may call it a cautionary Limitation, Rejoice not so much in this; though it was a true Ground of Joy, yet the Lord Christ takes them off from it, by raising their Hearts above it, to a higher and nobler Cause of Joy; and that for a twofold End.

1. To free them from the Danger of spiritual Pride, which is very apt to insinuate it self into our rejoycing: The Success of Duty is too apt to puff up and swell us beyond our Proportions. The Prosperity of the Creature in its Attempts, becomes a Temptation to sacrifice to its own Net, and burn Incense to its own Drag. When spiritual Pride mixeth it self with our Joy in God, we take from him more than we give to him, we rob him of his Glory, whilest we rejoyce in his Mercy.

Therefore the Lord Christ takes them off from this to a higher Object, the Devils are subject to you, it is true; the Power of the Gospel in 9 your Mouths and Ministry, hath cast Satan like Lightning from Heaven, it is true; and I know that your Hearts are filled with joy; for so it is said in the 17th verse, They returned again with joy. Well, saith the Lord Christ, Notwithstanding in this rejoyce not, why should your Affections, be terminated in these Things, when ye have a nobler Object for your joy to dilate it self upon, and that is, the Electing Love of God, your Portion in the eternal Mansions!

Your joy in the subduing Infernal Spirits may be your snare, whilst they are subjected to you one Way, spiritual Pride may subject ye to them in another; and so, though ye conquer, yet they will overcome; Therefore in this rejoice not.

2. To teach us that no external Mercy should terminate the Delight of our Souls, but that we should use all outward Benefits as a Ladder whereby to ascend to God in our Affections.

The Way to allay and moderate the Joy of the Soul, in common and 10present Mercies is to realize the Things of the Invisible World, and let out our Hearts much to the Glories above. The Design of Christ and the Gospel is to spiritualize the Christians Joy, and place it upon the chiefest Good; Therefore in this rejoice not, that the Spirits are subject to you.

Quest. But ye will say, why should we not?

Answ. I will give ye a threefold reason for it.

Reas. 1. Because this Gift may be given where the Love of God is not injoyed; Matt. vii. 22. Many will say to me on that Day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophecyed in thy Name, and in thy Name cast out Devils, and in thy Name done many wonderful Works; then will I profess unto them, I never knew ye, depart from me, ye that work iniquity. ver. 23. Many may cast out Devils in the Name of Christ, and yet after all be cast out themselves by Christ. Judas was one of them 11 that cast out Devils, and yet Judas was cast out himself.

That Injoyment, whatever it be (be it Gifts, be it Relations, be it Honours) which may be separated from the Love of God in Christ; can be no true Ground of Rejoicing. Therefore what our Lord Christ saith of casting out of Devils, I may (upon a Parity of Superiority of Reason) say of all things below which we place our Contentment in, and look upon as matter of Joy, Notwithstanding in this rejoice not.

Reas. 2. It is a Vanity to rejoice much in anything which we cannot rejoice in long. What the Apostle saith, 1 Corinth. xiii. 8, Prophecies shall fail, Tongues shall cease, Knowledge shall vanish away; the same I may say of all common and sublunary Mercies and Comforts, they shall fail and vanish. The Fashion of this World passeth away, 1 Cor. vii. 31.

What Pleasure can that Man take in his Expedition whose Voyage is for a Year, and his Victual but for 12a Day? who sets out for Eternity with the Pleasures and Contents of nothing but Mortality? Therefore though ye may have all that Heart can wish of the Comfort and Prosperity of this World, yet Notwithstanding in this rejoyce not.

Reas. 3. Why should we rejoice much in that which cannot rescue us out of the Hands of eternal Misery? None of these things which we glory in can: They are poor lying Delights, which like Jordan, empty all their Sweetness into a stinking and sulphurous Lake.

When I see the rich Man in the Parable clothed with purple, and fine Linnen, and faring sumptuously every Day,” Luke xvi. 19, methinks I could wish my Lot might lie at his Table, rather than with an Ulcerous Lazarus begging for Crumbs at his Door; but when I look again and find him paying his Reckoning in tormenting Flames, who would have his Pomp and Glory at this Price? He buyeth 13his Pleasures too Dear, who pays for them with the Loss of his Soul.

We may have all the Comforts that this World can afford, and yet die comfortless? May we be rejoicing in our Relations to Day, and yet shut out of all Relation to God to Morrow? then whatever we possess of the Comforts of this World, yet notwithstanding in this rejoyce not.

But rather rejoyce because your Names are written in Heaven.

And this brings me to the Exhortation, in which the true Ground of a Christian’s Joy is propounded, and preferred before all other. Rejoice not in this, &c. but rather in that, that your Names are written in Heaven. Joy in this Mercy is not absolutely prohibited, but a higher Joy is preferred; an interest in Heaven is another-guise Mercy than casting out Devils on Earth, and therefore rejoice much more in this than that.

The Expression is in manner of Speech, much like that of our Lord 14Christ, in John vi. 27, Labour not for the Meat that perisheth, but for the Meat that indureth to everlasting Life. that is, Labour not so much for this as for that, or rather for that than this.

Let us a little consider the Expression, Rejoice because your Names are written in Heaven.

The Lord Christ might have said, Rejoice in your Discipleship to me, that I have called ye out of the World; when not many wise Men after the Flesh, not many Mighty, not many Noble are called, 1 Corinth. i. 26.

Rejoice that ye have followed me in the Regeneration, and that ye are become new Creatures, when the whole World liveth in Wickedness, 1 John v. 19.

Rejoice that ye are inlightned in the Mysteries of the Gospel, when they are hid from the Wise and Prudent, Mat. xi. 25. But if Christ had fix’d their Joy in any of these, then the Fountain and Cause of all had been hid, and therefore our Lord Christ leads them to the Fountain from whence all these Privileges are derived, 15and that is, the electing Love of God, this being the Cause of all future Good to the Creature.

Are ye called out of the World? It is because your Names are written in Heaven.

Are ye begotten of God, and born again? It is because your Names are written in Heaven.

Are ye taken into Membership to Christ, and thereby become the Sons and Daughters of God? It is because your Names are written in Heaven.

Have you the Earnest of your Inheritance in the Sealings of the Spirit upon your Hearts? It is because your Names are written in Heaven.

Can ye subdue Corruptions within, and resist Temptations without? Are the Devils subject to you? It is because your Names are written in Heaven. Therefore rejoice not so much because the Spirits are subject to you; but rather Rejoyce because your Names are written in Heaven.

Query, But what is meant by having our Names written in Heaven? How must we understand this?

Answ. The Name is in Scripture Phrase frequently put for the Person. Acts i. 15. The Number of the Names together were about an Hundred and Twenty; That is, the Number of the Persons. Revel. iii. 4. Thou hast a few Names in Sardis, which have not defiled their Garments. A few, Names, that is, a few Saints in Sardis.

So that we are not to understand it, as if God did Litterally write down the Names of Men; but the Expression is to shew us what a Peculiar and Distinct knowlege God hath of Persons in the World.

When our Names are said to be written in Heaven, it is a way of Speaking borrowed from the Customs of Men, whose Names are Registered and Inrolled in some Publick Records, to keep in Memory, and assure them of their Freedom and Privilege in that Corporation.

The Apostle in Philippians iv. 3, speaks of Names written in the Book of Life; whose Names are in the Book of Life. And in Revel. xiii. 8, ye Read 17of Names written in the Book of the Lamb. All that dwell upon Earth shall Worship the Beast, whose Names are not written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the Foundation of the World. And here in the Text, ye Read of a Name written in Heaven.

They that have an Interest in the Electing love of God, that are his Chosen Ones, their Names are written in the Book of Life. But these lying in a fallen State with the rest of the lost World, must be redeem’d with the Blood of Christ, and when they come to share in the redeeming Love of Christ, then they may be said to have their Names written in the Book of the Lamb.

And when the Spirit of Grace hath changed and sanctified them, and given them a Right to eternal Life, then their Names may be said to be written in Heaven.

If ye share in the electing Love of God, ye shall also share in the redeeming Grace of Christ; and if ye are redeemed by Christ, ye shall 18 share in the renewing and sanctifying work of the Spirit.

If your Name is written in the Book of Life, it shall be written in the Book of the Lamb; and if it be in the Book of the Lamb, it shall be written in Heaven, and if it be written there, then Rejoice not that the Spirits are subject to you: But rather Rejoyce, because your Names are written in Heaven.

But I conceive that all these various Phrases of the Holy Ghost, signify one and the same Thing, to be written in the Book of Life, and in the Book of the Lamb, is all one in Sense, with this Phrase before us in the Text, of having our Names written in Heaven.

Now the writing our Names in Heaven, imports and implies Three things.

1st. The Foreknowledge of God; the Names of Believers are said to be written in Heaven, because they are as certainly and as distinctly 19known to God, as if their Names were written and recorded there.

God is said not to know the Wicked, Matthew vii. 23. But he knoweth all that are his, you only have I known of all the families of the Earth, Amos iii. 2. The Foundation of the Lord stands sure, having this Seal, the Lord knows them that are his. 2 Tim. ii. 19.

2d. The writing our Names in Heaven, implies an Interest in the Electing Love of God. Philip. iv. 3, whose Names are written in the Book of Life; that is, who are in an elected State, chosen to Salvation and eternal Life. The Book of Life is God’s immutable and eternal Decree, wherein, as in a Book, the Names of the Elect are written.

3d. The Writing the Name implies and supposes the begetting Faith in the Heart. A Man’s Name may be said to be written in Heaven, when he can by Faith apply the Promises of Life and Glory to his Soul, and see his Part in them, and 20 Title to them.

A Man’s Name is then written in Heaven, when by Faith in Christ he doth obtain a Right to the eternal Inheritance; and I will add this, when by a constant growth in Grace and Sanctification, he doth labour after a fitness for Participation and Possession.

For you must know that there is a double Right to Heaven, which every one must have that would Inherit.

The one is appendant to Faith, the other is annexed to the utmost Degrees of Grace and Holiness.

Faith gives a Title to Heaven and Blessedness; we have a right of Inheritance granted by Christ upon our first Believing, John i. 12. To as many as received him, to them gave he Power (in the Greek it is rather, he gave them the Right or the Priviledge) to become the Sons of God: And 21it is a great Privilege indeed, it is given but to few.

Behold what manner of Love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the Sons of God, 1 John iii. 1. This is the new Name in the white Stone, which none can know but they that receive it, Rev. ii. 17.

But then there is a Right of Fitness, and this lies in our Attainments in Grace; when we are sanctified throughout, when Grace is improved to the utmost, and our Measure filled up, then we have a Right of Fitness for Heaven, and a State of Glory.

We are decreed to this State by the Eternal Love of God from before the Foundation of the World; we are redeemed to it by the Blood and Death of Jesus Christ; we are called to it by the Preaching of the Gospel; but we are not actually entered into it, till we are renewed and sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

22

There are four Doctrines which the Words of the Text afford to us.

Doctr. 1. That rejoycing in outward Mercies is warrantable; the Lord Christ doth here allow of it, even when he preferreth the Joy of a Name written in Heaven before it.

Doctr. 2. That when the Lord vouchsafeth us any Matter of Rejoicing in the Mercies and Blessings which he bestoweth upon us, the best of us are too prone to take up with a carnal selfish Joy; this Doctrine is imply’d in that, Rejoice not.

Doctr. 3. That though rejoicing in outward Mercies is good and warrantable, yet to terminate our Joy, and let our Hearts rest in them, is evil and sinful.

Rejoice not in this, that is, not in this as the chief Good, not as the highest Cause of Joy, not so as to hinder your Hearts from a higher and nobler Matter of Rejoicing.

Doctr. 4. That a Right to, and Interest in the Glories of the World to come, is a greater Ground of Joy 23than anything this World can afford. The greatest Ground of Joy imaginable is to have a Name written in Heaven.

I shall pass by the Two former Doctrines, being only implyed in the Text, and speak a little to the Third, to make way to the Last, which I chiefly intend to insist upon.

Doctr. 3. That though rejoicing in outward Mercies is good and warrantable, yet to terminate our joy, and let our Hearts rest in them, is evil and sinful.

It proceeds from an evil Cause,
It hath an evil Effect.

1. It proceeds from an evil Cause, and that is inordinate Love of sensual Objects; for Joy in any thing is proportioned to Love, we never rejoice much in any thing but what we love much, now, to have the choicest Respects of an immortal Soul, laid out upon, and center in present and perishing Comforts, is a great evil.

2. It hath an evil Effect; hereby God is disparaged, the Lord Christ 24despised, the unseen Glories neglected, and the Soul in Danger of being misled and ruined. See Job xxi. from the 7th Verse to the 15th.

3. We hereby make a wrong Use of the Mercies of God, which are given to raise our Hearts, not for our Hearts to rest in; to elevate our Affections, not to terminate them; to Pully our Hearts up, not to Swallow them up!

Present Injoyments should be as a Glass for the Soul to take a view of the Goodness of God in; David saith, The Earth is full of his Goodness,” Psal. xxxiii. 5. you may injoy God in every Creature, and have an account of his Goodness from every Comfort.

To the believing Eye, there is a Transparency in the Creature; Faith can see divine Goodness and Bounty beaming thro’ every Mercy; and they that cannot, can never rightly use them, nor innocently injoy them.

25

The sensual Heart makes a Cloud to hide him, of that which God made for a Glass, in which we might see him. God made it for a Window to let in the Light of his Love, and we make it a Curtain to shut it out.

To let our Hearts rest in present Mercies is to make them our Images, our Idols, and this is the highest Abuse of God’s Mercy.

1. This God hath expressly forbidden, Thou shall not make for thy self the Likeness of anything in Heaven above. Exod. xx. 4. To make the Creature our chief Good, is to put it in the Room and Place of God, and to make to our selves an Image like God.

2. This hazzards the Continuance of our Mercies: When once we begin to set up Idols, it is time for God to pull them down: When once our Hearts center in them, he will quickly remove them, one of these Two things God always doth in this case.

26

Either he takes our Comforts away from us to recover our Respects to himself, or if he leaves them with us, then he withdraws himself.

Application.

Would you not have your Hearts should terminate in any thing below? Hearken then to a double Exhortation.

1. Whatever you Love, let it be also your Fear; Fear will be a Bridle to Love, nothing hath such Advantage upon us to Steal our Hearts from God, as the Things we love and delight in. Have you a Child or Relation you love, a Friend or Ccompanion you love, &c. O be jealous of them, for these, like Wine, and New Wine take away the Heart. Hos. iv. 11.

If what you love be not your Fear, it will be your Loss and Sorrow; if Samson had feared his Delilah as much as he loved her, he had sav’d both his Locks and his Life. Solomon’s Wives became his Woe, 27 Fondling Children often repay their Parents Dotage in Tears and Troubles, being Thorns in their Sides and a Grief to their Soul: Whatever thou overlovest look to find it to be thy Cross or thy Curse.

2. Then live above the Pleasures of thy Sense; what have you no nobler Delights? Have you not a God to delight in? A Christ to solace your Souls in Communion with? What a poor thing it is to put your Souls off with those Delights wherein the Bruits have as great a share as you. Where is peace with God? Where is joy in the Holy Ghost? Where is Peace of Conscience? Where is the Hope of Glory? Where is a Name written in Heaven? These are the only proper Pastime for immortal Souls. And this leads me to the Observation which I chiefly aim at.

Doctr. 4. The greatest Ground of Joy imaginable is to have a Name written in Heaven. An Interest in the Glories of the other World is a truer and nobler Cause of 28rejoycing than any thing which this World can afford.

I need produce no other Proof of the Truth of this Doctrine than the Authority of the Text it self; it stands clear in the Light of its own Evidence; the Lord Christ himself hath said it, and therefore we ought to believe it is so.

But why is it so?

Reas. 1. A Name written in Heaven is a rich Result of Electing Love. Love is the most comfortable Attribute in God, the best Name the Creature knows him by. God is Love, 1 John iv. 16. There are three things to be considered in it.

1. Love acts with a Priority to all other Attributes; Wisdom contrives the Good and Felicity of the Creature; Power and Providence maturate, and bring the Contrivements of Wisdom to pass; but Love hath the first hand in the Work. It was Love that first summoned the great Counsel held by all the Three 29 Persons in Elohim, when neither Men nor Angels existed.

It was Love that first pitched upon the Son, and laid him as the Foundation of the whole Structure of Man’s Salvation and Blessedness. Love sent Christ into the World, Love put him to Death, Love made him an Offering for Sin, John iii. 16. All the Attributes of God act in the Strength of Love; and all the Providences of God follow the Motions of Love.

2. Electing Love is the proper Source of all our other Mercies. So the Apostle makes it, Ephes. 1st. 3d, 4th. Who hath blessed us with all spiritual Blessings; How so? according as he hath chosen us in Christ; and what those spiritual Blessings are he tells you v. 6. he hath made us accepted in the Beloved.

In whom we have Redemption through his Blood, the forgiveness of Sins according to the Riches of his Grace, v. 7.

30

He hath abounded toward us in all Wisdom and Prudence. v. 8.

Having made known to us the Mystery of his Will. v. 9.

In whom we have obtained an Inheritance, v. 11. that is, a Name written in Heaven. All which the Apostle resolves again into Electing Love, verse 11. being predestinated according to the Purpose of him who works all things according to the Counsel of his own will.

3. Love is the only Attribute which God hath acted to the utmost: we have never seen the utmost of his Power, what God can do; but we have seen the utmost of his Love; He hath found a ransom for lost Souls; Job xxxiii. 24. He hath laid help upon one that is mighty, Psal. lxxxix. 19. He hath tabernacled Divinity in Flesh, 1 Tim. iii. 16. made his Soul an Offering for Sin, laid upon him the Iniquity of us all, Isai. liii. 11. made us the Righteousness of God in him, 2 Cor. v. 21, accepted us in the Beloved, Ephes. i. 6. made us to sit together in Heavenly 31Places in Christ Jesus, Ephes. ii. 6. written our Names in Heaven. How can divine Love put forth greater Efforts of it self than these?

It is infinite Love, and it gives the Soul Interest in an infinite Good, intitles it to an infinite Blessedness, and so fills the Soul with an infinite Satisfaction.

And is not an Interest in Electing Love the highest Cause of rejoycing? The Scripture compares the Love of God to Wine, Cant. i. 2. New Wine is said to make glad the Heart, Psal. civ. 15. but the Love of God is better than Wine; Cant. iv. 10. it gives a Name in Heaven, which causes an eternal Rejoycing.

Reas. 2. A Name written in Heaven is a Mercy with a Distinction, a peculiar appropriated Priviledge; David prays, Psal. cvi. 4, 5. Remember me, O Lord, with the Favour thou barest to thy People; but the Hebrew reads it thus, Record me, O Lord, in the good Will of thy People. God in good will to his People records 32their Names in the Book of Life, and there David would be recorded too; and why? That I may see the Good of thy Chosen, that I may rejoyce in the Gladness of thy Nation, that I may glory with thine Inheritance.

What if God give you Life, Riches, Relations, Honours? There is no Distinction in all this; can you prove your Title to the Love of God by any, or all of these? Solomon says no, Ecclesiastes ix. 1. No Man knows love or hatred by all that is before him. A Man may have Life, and yet be dead to God, dead in sin; a Man may be Rich and yet wretched, we may have Children, and yet be our selves Children of Wrath for all that; God doth not love us in giving us Sons, unless he give us his own Son: A Man may have Honour and yet not be honoured of God; Herod was honoured of the People, and yet eaten up of Worms, Acts xii. 21, 22, 23.

33

Peculiar Mercy causes peculiar rejoycing, common Mercies can cause but common Joy; a Name in Heaven is a Mercy with a Distinction, this is not the Lot of all, the Names of the greatest part of the World are written in the Dust, Jeremy xvii. 13, All that forsake thee shall be ashamed, their Names shall be written in the Earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the Fountain of living Waters. The Expression hath much in it, it travels with a Curse.

The Earth is opposed to Heaven; as a Name in Heaven imports the greatest Happiness, so a Name written in the Earth implys the greatest Misery.

The Earth is a Place of short Duration, it shall not last always; Heaven (that is the lower Heaven) and Earth shall pass away, our Lord Christ says, Matt. v. 18. A Name written in the Earth implys a short Duration, a Name of no Continuance; so says Bildad of the Wicked, Job xviii. 16; His Roots shall be dried up beneath, and above shall his Branch be cut off.

The Earth is a Place of Putrifaction and Corruption; what is buried in the Earth soon turns to Rottenness. so that a Name in the Earth implies Rottenness, according to that of Solomon, Proverbs x. 7. the Name of the Wicked shall rot.

The Earth is a Place of Oblivion, what is written in Heaven is recorded for ever, but what is written in the Dust is soon forgotten; so says Bildad of the Wicked, Job xviii. 17. His Remembrance shall perish from the Earth, and he shall have no Name in the Street.

V. 18. he shall be driven from light into Darkness, and chased out of the World.

V. 19. he shall neither have Son nor Nephew among his People, nor any remaining in his Dwellings.

V. 21. surely such are the Dwellings of the Wicked, and this is the Place of him that knows not God.

35

The Earth is designed for burning; it is decreed to be Fuel for the Conflagration of the great Day, when the Lord Christ shall be revealed from Heaven in flaming Fire, 2 Thes. i. 7, 8. So saith the Apostle, 2 Peter iii. 10, The Day of the Lord will come, in which the Heavens shall pass away with a great Noise, and the Elements shall melt with fervent Heat, the Earth also, and the Works that are therein, shall be burnt up. Whatever is of Affinity to Earth must feel the Flames of that trying Day; not only the Element of the Earth, but the Treasures of the Earth, the Pleasures of the Earth, the Names written in the Earth, earthly Affections, earthly Fruitions, earthly Designs, earthly Hearts, all must together make Fuel for that Fire: For the Earth and all the Works that are therein shall be burnt up.

You see what a Curse a Name written in the Earth is, and yet the Names of the greatest part of Men and Women in the World are written 36there; to have a Name written in Heaven is the Portion but of few, it is a special Privilege by which the Lord doth distinguish his from the rest of the World; and therefore to have a Name in Heaven, is Cause of Rejoycing indeed..

Reas. 3. A Name written in Heaven speaks the Soul in the highest Relation to God; you are his Children, his Sons and Daughters, the Adopted of the Lord, and what greater Ground of Joy imaginable

Whatever Excellency there is in the Relation, the Benefit of that Excellency redounds to the Correlate by Virtue of the Tie of that Relation.

What is it that first cloathes your Child with Honour and Name, but the Nobleness of his Descent; and how comes your Honour and Greatness to descend upon him but by being of the same Blood? It is the nearness of the Relation, that intitles him to all. So all that is in God, all his Excellency’s, all his Attributes, 37his Wisdom, his Power, his Love, his Justice, his Providence, all are yours, and work for your Benefit and Advantage, by Virtue of this Relation.

There is a twofold Relation to God,

A Relation { of Servants,
of Sons.

But the Difference between them is very great, especially in five Things.

1st. The Relation of Servants is a common Relation; all Creatures in the World are Gods Servants, as he is the great Master and Householder of Heaven and Earth. God hath Servants of all sorts, Good and Bad; he hath good and faithful Servants, Matt. xxv. 23, and he hath wicked and slothful Servants, verse 26. he hath some that Honour him, and some that rebel against him. God hath many Servants that take Wages of him, but do the Devils work.

All Creatures stand in this Relation 38to God, the very Devils themselves are subject to his Command, every Knee bows to him, both of things in Heaven, and things in Earth, and things under the Earth, Phil. ii. 10.

But the relation of Sons is a peculiar special Relation, that appertains but to few. God hath many Servants, but he hath but few Sons; he hath many in Subjection, but few in this Relation: All are his Subjects, but all are not his Sons and Daughters.

2. The Relation of Servants is a mercenary Relation; the Duty of that Relation is drawn forth by the Rewards of it; Servants work for Hire, it is Wages they chiefly look at. God hath many such Servants, that are meerly mercenarys in all their Duties. They know, God is a good Master, pays well, and keeps a good Table; his Commands are equal, and his Rewards are bountiful, therefore they own him. As many followed the Lord Christ when he was upon Earth, not because 39 of his Miracles, but because of his Morsels; not because they would be saved, but because they did eat of the loaves, and were filled, John vi. 26. It was not for the sake of his Person, but his Provision; not out of love to the Truth, so much as the Trenchard. The Lord Christ hath many such Servants now, that call themselves the Servants of Christ, and Ministers of Christ, but they are but Trenchard-Chaplains to him. It is the Salary they look at, more than the Service; Dignities, more than Duty; the Preferments of the Church, more than the Concernments of it: They have the Flesh-hook of the Law in their Hand, 1 Sam. ii. 13, 14. often to serve themselves, but the Book of the Law is in their Hand but seldom, whereby they should save themselves, and them that hear them, 1 Tim. iv. 16. These follow Christ indeed, but it is for the Loaves, no Wages, no Work: Like them in Malachy iii. 14, that cry out, What Profit is it to serve God?

40

But now the Relation of Sons is more ingenuous: Sons obey and serve in Ingenuity; not for Reward, but Duty, they Labour, because they Love. Not but that the Children of God may look at the Rewards promised. Moses was Ingenuous in all his Performances, and yet he had a Respect to the Recompense of Reward, Heb. xi. 26. Christ was a Son in the highest Relation, the Son of God’s choicest Regards, Matth. xvii. 5. and yet it is said of Him, in his enduring the Cross, and despising the Shame, that He had an eye to the Joy that was set before him, Heb. xii. 2. A Dutiful Child may look at his Inheritance; yet he would pay the Obedience of Children, though he were to receive no Father’s Blessing.

3. The Relation of Sons, is a Communicative Relation: The Relation of a Servant is not so. A Master doth not impart all his Mind, nor disclose his Secrets to his Servant; 41he lays upon him his Commands, but doth not betrust him with his Secrets. So saith our Lord Christ, John xv. 15. Henceforth I call you not Servants, for the Servant knows not what his Lord doth. But a Father will disclose and communicate his Heart to his Child; he will tell all his Mind, and Will, and Counsels, to his Son.

4. The Relation of Servants gives no Claim; it doth not intitle them to the Estate of their Lord: The Law allows them a present Maintenance, but no Share in the Inheritance.

But the Relation of a Son is Intitling; it gives a Claim. By Virtue of his Sonship, he hath a Title to what is his Father’s; his Father’s Riches, his Father’s Honours, &c.

If you are the Children of God, you are born Heirs, and your Inheritance is the greatest in this World or in the next; for God Himself is your Portion; and all He is, and 42all He hath, is the Lot of your Inheritance.

5. The Relation of Servants is not lasting; it is Arbitrary, founded in Will and Pleasure: You take one Servant, and put away another, at your Pleasure. But the Relation of a Son is abiding, it lasts for Ever, to the end of Being: So says our Lord Christ, John viii. 35, The Servant abides not in the house for ever, but the Son abideth forever. If you are the Children of God, you are taken into a Lasting Relation that shall never end: God is your Father for ever, and you are his Children for ever; it is an Everlasting Relation.

How should we rejoyce in this near Relation to the Great God! Sons and Daughters of God is the highest Title I ever heard of in the World. David was made but Son-in-Law to a King, not born a Son; he was not of the Blood-Royal, but by Favour taken in and 43 made a Son, and it was but a Son-in-Law neither, by Marriage, and this Sonship was but to a King, that dies like other Men, Psal. lxxxii. 7. and yet the Thoughts of it wrought to astonishment in him: Seemeth it a light thing to you to be Son-in-Law to a King? 1 Sam. xviii. 23. What is it then to be taken into an Eternal Sonship to an Everlasting Father, before whom the Kings of the Earth are as Grashoppers; that bringeth the Princes to nothing, and maketh the Judges of the Earth as vanity, Isa. xl. 22, 23.

Reas. 4. A Name written in Heaven, gives an assured Hope of Heaven: We are by this, for ever set free from all fear of miscarrying. If ye have a Title, never question the Possession: If the Right is yours, ye shall surely Inherit. When you look over a company of Deeds, and see the Name of such a particular Person run through them all, and expressly mention’d in the Conveyance, 44 and all things run in his Name; you conclude that Estate his, it belongs to him, and will come to him, for all the Law is on his side.

It is so in the Case in hand; if ye have a Name written in Heaven, the Estate is yours, the Conveyance is made to you: The Covenant is the Main Deed, which is sealed in the Blood of Christ, and therein the Inheritance is made-over and conveyed to you!

There is an inseparable Connexion between Election and Salvation: Tho’ there are many Links in the Golden-Chain that reach from one to the other, yet not one of them can be broken: Whom he did predestinate, them he called; and whom he called; them he justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified, Rom. viii. 30.

It is observable in what Tense the Spirit of God puts it; not in the Future, as a thing to be done, but in a Tense that notes it done 45 already, to shew the Certainty of it. If our Names are written in Heaven, we shall as surely share in the Glories of it, as if already in Possession; nay, we are already in Possession:

Partly in Christ, who is already enter’d upon the Inheritance in our Right; Heb. vi. 20, Whither the Forerunner is for us entered. Hence that of the Apostle, He hath made us sit together in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, Eph. ii. 6.

Partly by the Promise: We have the Deeds, though we do not enjoy the Estate; we keep the Title, though we do not possess the Inheritance.

Partly in the First-fruits of Glory, Rom. viii. 23, which we receive by the Spirit of God, and the Graces of the Spirit in our Hearts. Entrance upon the least Part of an Estate, gives a Right to the Possession, as well as Entrance upon the Whole: The least Turf of the Premisses, conveys the Inheritance, and gives Livery and Seisin of all the Demesus. 46Grace in the Heart, is a Turf of the Holy Land, the Land of Promise, whereby God doth actually Instate us in the Glorious Inheritance.

APPLICATION.

The First Use, shall be for Examination. Is a Name written in Heaven, the truest Cause of Rejoycing? Then let us see what Cause of Rejoycing we may have in our selves upon this Account. The Apostle’s Counsel is plainly to this Purpose, Gal. vi. 4, Let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoycing in himself, and not in another.

You have heard, That there can be no true Cause of Joy in the Heart, but a Name written in Heaven.

You have (Madam) set this Day apart for an Anniversary of Rejoycing in the Birth, and Life, and Hope of your Pleasant and Tender Son; and you do well: But doth your Joy begin here? or is God the 47beginning of it? Is a Name in Heaven the chief Ground of your Joy?

Quest. But you will Reply, Who can say his Name is written in Heaven? Who hath thus far known the Mind of the Lord? To whom hath he at any time opened the Sealed Book of his Secret Decrees? Was ever any Man admitted into the Regions above, to search the Eternal Records of the Divine Purpose?

Answ. Surely, No: But yet let me, in Answer to this, lay down Two Conclusions.

1. The Knowledge of this, That our Names are written in Heaven, is attainable: Why else are we commanded to make our Calling and Election sure? Wou’d the Lord Christ have call’d upon us to rejoyce, because our Names are written in Heaven, if it were a thing that cou’d not be known? Surely therefore it is no such Secret, as lies out of the reach of Faith’s Attainment.

48

Indeed, to Wicked, Unbelieving, and Impenitent Sinners, the Knowledge of this is impossible. How can a Man who forsakes God, know that his Name is written in Heaven, when God says, They that forsake him, their Names shall be written in the Earth? But Believers may attain to the Knowledge of this.

2. As the Knowledge of it is attainable, so it is evident from Scripture Instance, that many have attained to it: God hath sometimes unsealed the Book of his Decrees, and held it open to the Believing Eye; so that the Soul hath been inabled to read its Interest in Divine Love, by the Spiritual Opticks of Faith; For Faith is the Evidence of things not seen, Heb. xi. 1. Faith can make its passage trough all the Obstructions that lie in the way between a Soul at home in the Body, and an absent God; for that is the case of every Incarnate Christian. The Soul is as yet wrapt up 49 in gross Matter, imprison’d in Flesh, and confined to an abode in a tabernacle of Clay; and therefore distanced from God, and utterly uncapable of any farther Converse and Communion with him, than what is attainable by the Mediation of Faith.

Now Faith enters within the Vail, removes the Soul out of the Valleys of Sense, and sets it upon the highest Ground of Gospel-Consolation, that it may stand at the fairest advantage to get a Prospect into the Glory of the other World. Faith draws infallible Conclusions of the Goodness of its State, from the immutable Decrees of Electing Love: What else made Job say, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the Earth; and that though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for my self? Job xix. 25, 26, 27.

And what made St. Paul glory in the Lord Christ, crying out, Who 50loved me, and gave himself for me? Gal. ii. 20. And what made the Church say, with so much confidence, I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine? Cantic. vi. 3.

Ques. But the great Question is, How shall a Man be able to know, that his Name is written in Heaven?

Answ. There are certain Discoveries of this in a Man’s self; which if we attend to, we may have a sure Proof and Witness of.

1. Effectual Calling is a sure Proof of this: If the Call of God hath took hold of our Hearts, then our Names are written in Heaven. There is an inseparable Connexion between Election and Vocation; and therefore, when the Apostle bids us give all diligence to make our Calling and Election sure; though Election is before Calling (the one being an Immanent Act of God in Eternity; the other a Transient Act of God in Time), yet the Apostle puts the making our 51 Calling sure, in the first place; because a Man can never be sure he is Elected, till he is first Called.

Now then, if ye wou;d know whether your Names are written in Heaven; satisfie your selves in this, That the Call of God hath took effectual hold of your Hearts. Hath it brought your Souls off from everything below Christ, wholly to follow Christ? It is said, when Christ called Peter and Andrew, they presently left their Nets, and followed him, Matth. iv. 18, 19. Every Man hath his Nets, somewhat that his Soul is entangled in, till the Call of God take hold of him. Can you now, with Peter, when God calls; lay aside your Nets to follow him?

For it is not every Call, that will witness the Truth of our Election: There is an External Call of the Word, that is ineffectual, it prevails not upon the Sinner’s Heart, he turns a deaf Ear upon it; this Call leaves Sinners as it finds them, in their sins and lusts, Matth. xx. 16.

52

But then there is an Internal Call; when Word and Spirit go together, and work together, to bring the Soul off from Sin, and Lust, and Self, and World, and all to Jesus Christ, to live upon him as its Portion, and conform to Him as its Pattern. Now if thou art thus Called, then is thy Name written in Heaven: And therefore ye may’st go and rejoyce indeed; for if any in the World hath cause, thou hast.

2. If the Law of God be written in thy Heart, then thy Name is written in Heaven. It is one of the great Promises of the New Covenant, That God will write his Law in our Hearts, Heb. viii. 10.

Quest. Now you will say, What is this Law of God?

Answ. It is the Law of Love, the Law of Holiness, a Law that takes in all the Duties that God requires of us, a Law of Universal Obedience: Psal. xl. 8. Thy Law is in my 53 Heart; it is a Law that comprehends the whole Rule of the New Creature. The Law Within is a Counterpart of the Law Without; so that, look whatever the Word of God commands, the Soul is enabled to perform, when this Law is written in the Heart.

Quest. When is God said to write his Law in the Heart?

Answ. When He doth powerfully impress a Divine Principle of Grace, by his Holy Spirit, in the Heart. Believers are said to be the Epistle of Christ, written not with Ink, but with the Spirit of the Living God, 2 Cor. iii. 3. An Epistle, is nothing else but a Paper, with the Mind of a Man written in it, and sent to another: Believers, are the Epistle of the Living God; there his Mind, and Will, and Law is written, not in Tables of Stone, but in the fleshly Tables of the Heart.

So that if the Law of God be written in your Heart, then may you know that your Name is written in Heaven.

54

Converting Grace in the Heart, is the best Comment upon the Election of God; without which, the Eternal Decree concerning us, can never be read with Clearness, nor understood with Comfort. The Decree travails and brings forth, in a work of Grace in the Heart: The Mind of God, concerning our Eternal Condition, is best known by a sound Conversion; for there he speaks plainly; that Fountain of Love which ran under Ground before, now bubbles up, and breaks forth. In Election, God spake within Himself; but in Conversion, God speaks to the Soul: In Election, God wrote our Names in Heaven secretly; but in Conversion, we see them written there openly.

A Work of Grace in the Heart, carries in it a Four-fold Witness:

1. That we are the Objects of God’s Election.

2. That Sin is Pardoned through Christ’s Satisfaction.

55

3. That God is Reconciled by Christ’s Intercession.

4. That we are Secure, as to Eternal Salvation.

And the least of these is worth a whole World. Who would not be willing to know himself the Chosen of God? Who would not be glad to see Sin Pardoned? Who would not rejoice in a Friendship with God, whose Wrath burns to the lowest Hell? Who would not triumph, in an Assurance of being Saved for Ever? Now if Grace be wrought in thy Heart, this is thy Privilege, and may’st say, with Tamar, Gen. xxxviii. 25. Whose this Staff, and this Signet, and these Bracelets are, his am I. and thou may’st rejoyce in hope of Glory. No better Witness of our Names written in Heaven, than the Image of God engraven in the Heart: Say not, Who shall ascend to Heaven? &c. Rom. x. 6.

As Sinners need not descend into the Deep, to search for Hell, to see if 56their Names be written, by the Wrath and Vengeance of God, in Eternal Misery: No, they may find it nearer home; there is an Hell within them; there is the Stench and Filth of Hell, in their vile Affections; the Smoak and Flames of Hell, are in their burning and raging Lusts; the Darkness of Hell, in their blind Minds; and sometimes the Torments of Hell, in their guilty and self-revenging Consciences, that Worm that never dies, Mark ix. 44. So may Believers find a Heaven in their own Souls, a Heaven of Light, of Love, of Holiness, of Joy and Praise; the Kingdom of Heaven is within you.

3. If true Faith be wrought in thy Heart, then is thy Name written in Heaven. 1 John v. 10. He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself. Faith is a sure Fruit of Electing Love: As many as were ordained to Eternal Life, believed, Acts xiii. 48. God doth not (you 57see from hence) Elect us because we Believe, (Election upon Faith foreseen, is an Arminian Dream) but we Believe because we are Elected.; it is some of the first-fruits which Eternal Love brings forth in the Heart; final Unbelief, is a sad Witness of a reprobated State: So says our Lord Christ, Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, John x. 26.

Wou’d you know then whether your Name be written in Heaven? Then see what Faith is wrought in your Heart. Have ye ever truly closed with the Lord Jesus Christ? Do ye heartily embrace Him, upon the Terms He is offered in the Gospel? Can ye venture your Souls, your Salvation, your Eternal All, upon the single bottom of a Redeemer’s Righteousness? Have you ever made actual Application of the Blood and Righteousness of Christ to your own Consciences, to take off that Guilt of Sin whereby your Souls stand Bound-over to Wrath and 58Damnation? This is Faith of the Operation of God; and where-ever this Faith is found in the Heart, the Name of that Man, that Woman, is found in Heaven: And therefore well may the Apostle say, In whom believing, ye rejoyce with joy unspeakable and full of Glory, 1 Pet. i. 8.

4. If the Father’s Name be written in your Foreheads, then are our Names written in Heaven. In Rev. xiv: 1. it is said of those who stood with the Lamb upon Mount-Sion, That the Father’s Name was written in their Foreheads.

The Name of God is written in the Forehead, when we openly confess the Truths of God, and are not ashamed of Religion, nor ashamed to own God, and his Ways, and Ordinances, and People, in the midst of a Profane, Scoffing, and Adulterous Generation. Now says our Lord Christ, He who confesses me before men, (that’s the Name of Christ written in the Forehead) him will I 59 confess before my Father; that is, he shall have a Name written in Heaven.

Now where is the Name of God written? Do ye Repine at Difficulties, Shrink at Sufferings, Blush at being counted Religious? Are you Ashamed of Christ, his Ways, his Name, his People? why if so, his Name is not in your Foreheads.

Or can you lift up your Heads, and shew your Faces, in the Cause of Christ? It should be thus, God is not ashamed to be called our God, Heb. xi. 16. And will you be ashamed to be called his Children, his Saints, his Witnesses? Moses was not, when he esteemed the reproaches of Christ greater riches than theTtreasures of Egypt, Heb. xi. 26. He had the Father’s name in his Forehead.

5. If your great Work be, is to lay up treasure in Heaven, then your Names are written in Heaven. This is the Counsel of the Blessed Jesus, Matth. vi. 20. Lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven: and Luke xii. 33. 60 Provide your selves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not.

The Treasures of most Men are Perishing, Earthly Treasures, canker’d and Moth-eaten Treasures, Treasures of Vanity.

Christians! Where is your Treasure? Is it in this World, or the next? Is it in present Vanities, or future Glory? Is it in present Contentments, or in Everlasting Inheritance? Is it in Corn, and Wine, and Oil; or is it in the Light of God’s Countenance? Is it in Profits, Pleasures, and Honours; or is it in Grace and Glory? Do ye build, and plant, and sow in the other World, that hereafter ye may reap an Eternal Harvest of Blessedness? If so, then are your Names written in Heaven.

6. If your Conversations are in Heaven, then are your Names written in Heaven, Phil. iii. 20. Our Conversation is in Heaven. Many profess 61Hope of Heaven, but their Conversations are in the mean while upon the Earth: like that foolish Actor, that whilst his Eyes were fix’d upon the Earth, cry’d, O Heavens! they savour only Earthly Things; Earthly Profits, Earthly Comforts, Earthly Vanities.

Let a Man’s Profession be never so Heavenly, his Prayers and Duties never so Heavenly; yet if they are over-topp’d by an Earthly Conversation, that Man’s Religion is vain. The Scripture says expressly, If any man love the World, the love of the Father is not in him, 1 John ii. 15.

Never talk of a Name in Heaven, so long as your Hearts are buried in the Earth: Where your Hearts are, there your Names are: If your Hearts are Earthly, your Names are in the Earth, Carnal, Worldly, Sensual, Enemy to God, that is thy Name, and the Scripture gives thee no other, Jam. iv. 4, He that is a friend of the world, is the enemy of God.

Now what is your Life? How 62do ye live? Do ye live by Sense, or do ye live by Faith? Do ye live upon the Creatures, or upon the Promises?

It is said of the Vertuous Woman, Prov. xxxi. 14, that she fetcheth her food from far. So doth the true Believer; he uses the Blessings of the Creature, but he lives upon the Blessings of the Covenant.

From far.] That is, far out of the sight and ken of the Natural Eye: for it is Bread the World knows not of. The Natural Man is blind, and cannot see afar off. God hath set the world in their hearts, Eccles. iii. 11. They are strangers to this Joy.

From far.] A man’s life consists not in the abundance of things which he possesseth, Luke xii. 15. His Life is hid with Christ in God, Col. iii. 3; and from thence are the Comforts of his Life. He fetches his food from far: It is God in Christ, and the Glories of the other World that are the Bread of his Soul.

63

Do ye fetch your Food from far, or nearer home? Are you fed by Sense, with what is next; or doth Faith feed you, with Clusters fetch’d from the Holy-Land? Do ye serve Flesh, Lust, and Sins, and Times, (which is the basest Thraldom) or do ye serve God, and Christ, whose service is perfect freedom? Rom. vi. 16; His ye are whom ye serve. The Apostle Paul will tell you whom he serves; The Lord whom I serve in my spirit, Rom. i. 9. Forgetting the things behind, I press towards the mark, Phil. iii. 13. Outward Privileges, Carnal Contentments, Perishing Hopes, these were once the things before him; but now he hath turn’d about, and set his face the other way, and left them all behind him.

I press forward towards the mark. He is now ascending upon the wings of Faith and Love, above this Dung and Darkness, to the Regions of Light and Glory

64

If your Conversation be in Heaven, it is thus with you in one degree or other. Heavenly Concernments are your Work, and Heavenly Comforts are your Support. It is not the Fig-tree blossoms, nor the Olive’s labour, Hab. iii. 17, that can comfort and glad you; but it is Fruit from the Tree of Life, in the midst of the Paradise of God, that feeds you.

If thus your Conversation be in Heaven, then is your Name written in Heaven.

The next Use shall be by way of
Exhortation.

IS a Name written in Heaven the highest Cause of Rejoycing? And can you, upon examination, find that your Names are written there? Oh, then set your Selah upon this Mercy! Fix your Heart, your Joy, your Thankfulness upon this Privilege. Other things you may rejoyce in, in their place, and by the by; 65but here your Joy should be fixed. See how the Apostle breaks out into Thanksgiving for this, Ephes. i. 3, 4, 5, 6.

Ver. 3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus.

Ver. 4. According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world; that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.

Ver. 5. Having predestinated us to the adoption of Children, by Jesus Christ, to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.

Ver. 6. To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved.

His Heart dwells in triumph upon this Mercy; and so should ours also; the Lord Christ, here in the Text, commands it; Rejoyce, because your Names are written in Heaven.

Now give me leave to propound to you Six Considerations, which are very proper Motives to stir up 66your Hearts to the Practice of this Duty.

Consider (1.), There is no Name like this.

1. It is an Honourable Name: Isa. xliii. 4, Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been Honourable.

If God poureth Contempt upon the Creature, it must needs be vile and base: God is the true Fountain of Honour; if he puts Honour upon us, it is the truest Honour in the World.

2. It is a better Name than that of Sons and Daughters: Isa. lvi. 4, 5. Thus saith the Lord to the Eunuchs that keep my Sabbaths, and chuse the things that please me, and take hold of my Covenant; to them will I give in my house a place, and a name better than of Sons and Daughters. Though they have no Children, yet they shall be my Children; though they are without a Name in the World, yet they shall have a Name in my House.

67

Your Honour Rejoyces in the Name of a Son, this Day; and you do well: God forbid that I should make your Rejoycing void: Nay to encourage it, let me tell Your Honour, That God takes it kindly, that you own him, in the Mercies and Blessings of Providence. But I am, in Duty, to mind you of a better Name than that of Sons and Daughters; and this is it, to have a Name written in Heaven. To have a Child from God, is an inferiour Name to this of being call’d a Child of God. Solomon saith, If a Man beget an hundred Children, and live many years, and his soul be not filled with good, I say, that an untimely birth is better than he, Eccles. vi. 3.

3. It is a Durable and Lasting Name. A name in the world may be lost:

The Wicked may Defame it.

Wickedness may Corrupt it.

God may Blast it: Thou hast put out their name for ever and ever, Psal. ix. 5.

68

Time may eat it out of the Records of Honour.

But a Name written in Heaven, is a durable Name, it can never be blotted out: I will give them an everlasting Name, that shall never be cut off, Isa. lvi. 5. As the Inheritance is Incorruptible, so the Title is Unalterable, and the Heir Immortal.

Consider, (2.) A Name written in Heaven, is a Blessing that sweetens all our other Blessings. This Land is mine, and these Riches are mine, and this Child is mine, and this Honour is mine: yea, and God is mine, and Christ is mine, and the white Stone and the new Name is mine, and Heaven and Eternal Life is mine: Ay, this, this sweetens all.

What if you could be supposed to enjoy all Outward Blessings imaginable? the fairest Estate, the highest Honours, the sweetest Children, the richest Pleasures; yet in the midst of all these, if Conscience should secretly gripe you within, and tell 69you ye are Strangers and Enemies to God, ye have no part in Christ, no portion in his Death, your Names are blotted out of the Book of Life, ye are Children of God’s Curse: Oh, what a Heart-sinking would this cause, under all your Fruitions! This one thing left in doubt, I know not what will become of my Soul to Eternity, is enough to bring us into Streights, in the midst of all our Sufficiencies, Job xx. 22, to soure all our Possessions, and to make the face of all our Enjoyments look dim and unpleasant.

Consider, (3.) This is that which gives confidence and comfort in Death, and makes us strong to grapple with that King of Terrors.

What is it which makes even Believers themselves (many of them) shrink at the thoughts Death? Why it is want of Evidence, they have never seen their Names written in the Book of Life. The sight of this, by Faith, makes the Soul triumph 70over Death, and despise the Grave, and say with Simeon, Now, Lord, let thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Luke ii. 29, 30.

We know, (saith the Apostle, 2 Cor. v. 1.) that if our earthly tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

This we know, and are assured of; Well, and what is the fruit of this Assurance? He tells you, in the 2d and 4th Verses: In this we groan earnestly, desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from Heaven, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

What is Death, to the assured Believer, but a speedy Conveyance to the Possession of that Glory which Divine Love has Intitled him to from Everlasting?

Consider, (4.) Herein Joy can never run into Excess: In temporal things it may; it is possible and 71common to rejoice and delight in Outward Mercies too much; for they are every way disproportionable to the vast Capacity of the Soul; as unable to fill it, as the dim Light of a Candle is to give Day to the World, in the absence of the Sun.

Hear what the Prophet says in the Case, Isa. xxviii. 20, The bed is too short for a man to stretch himself upon it, and the covering too narrow for a man to wrap himself in it.

How unsuitable is a short Bed for a long Body! so are perishing Comforts to an Immortal Soul. And from hence it is that the Apostle adviseth, (in 1 Cor. vii. 30.) That they that rejoyce, should be as though they rejoyced not; that is, in worldly things. But in Spiritual and Eternal Concerns, Joy cannot exceed; for infinite Blessedness calls for infinite Joy and Delight.

Consider, (5.) This will be a lasting and perpetuated Joy. Therefore 72it is congruous and equal that we now Rejoyce in that which shall be our Joy for Ever. Other Joys have their Periods and Intermissions, their Terms, and Vacations; they ebb and flow, blossom and wither; a Fit of Sickness, or a pang of Conscience, extinguishes all: but this Joy is abiding; Your joy shall no man take from you, John xvi. 22.

It is true, That the Children of God have many causes of sorrow, if they look inward; strong Corruptions, hard Hearts, weak Graces, many Temptations: But yet in God they have continual cause of Rejoycing.

A Name in Heaven, is an induring ground of Comfort; not like these transient Shadows. Can Stability be moved, or Eternity expire?

Nothing is Matter of lasting Joy, but that Good which is commensurate in Duration to the Soul that is to be satisfy’d with it.

The Times we live in are changeable and uncomposed; the hatreds of Religion great; we see Distractions 73at Home, Distresses abroad; the Lord is shaking Heaven and Earth, Church and State: Our Experience tells us how mutable are the Wills, how fickle the Favours, how sudden the Frowns of Men; how vain the Hopes, how unsuitable the Delights, which are drawn out of broken Cisterns; how full of Dross and Dregs the most refined Comforts and Contents of the World are. Nothing can be an enduring Joy, but this, which our Lord Christ propounds in the Text, as Matter of Joy.

Who would not therefore retire from the Noise of Laughter, from the Courtships of flattering Gallants, the Clutter and Vain-glory of a distracted World, to solace his Soul in the Joys and Delights of the World to come?

Consider, (6.) What Heaven is; and that will raise your Hearts to glory in this Privilege, of a Name written in Heaven.

74

1. Heaven is the Habitation of the Great God, where He dwells in his Infinite Glory. So that a Name written in Heaven, imports our future Inheritance of that Glory; according to that of the Apostle, Col. iii. 4. When Christ, who is our life shall appear, then shall we appear with him in glory.

2. Heaven is a freedom from all Evil both of Sin and Suffering; so that a Name in Heaven, intitles us to a blessed Redemption from all Evil.

There is no Sin there. Grace weakens Sin, but it is Glory that abolishes it. Old Adam shall there be put off, never to be put on again. The Lord Christ will present his Church, in that day, faultless before the throne of his glory, with exceeding joy, Jude ver. 24.

There is no Affliction there: Sin and Sorrow came in together, and they shall go out together. There the Shunamite’s Son complains no more of his aching head, nor Mephibosheth 75of his lame feet. There Job’s blotches are perfectly cured, and Lazarus’s sores are all dried up.

3. Heaven is a Place of all Perfection. So that a Name written in Heaven, intitles us to a Perfection of State, which we cannot hope for in this World: Not as though I had already attained, or were already perfect, Phil. iii. 12.

All Perfection is above.

There is perfection of Faculties: The Understanding shall be elevated by the Light of Glory, into the Vision of God, 1 Cor. xiii. 12.

The Nature of God, the Mystery of Three in One, the Union of Two Natures in One Person, the Course of God’s Decrees, and Providence; these are the Deeps of God, and at present, there is Darkness upon the face of these Deeps; but there the glorified Eye shall see all.

The Will shall There be perfectly Holy, and swallowed up into the Will of God.

76

There is Perfection of Privileges; perfect Union and Communion. Here we lay hold of Christ; but There we shall have full Possession: Here we hang upon him, but There we shall dwell in his Embraces.

There is Perfection of Graces: Here the Children of God have Perfection of Parts, but not of Degrees.

Holiness in the best Saint Here, is mixed with some Dregs of Flesh and Defilement; but There it shall be compleat; we shall appear not having spot or wrinkle, Ephes. v. 27.

Love shall There be Perfect: Here we are either weary of the Act, or apt to make a change of the Object of our Love, ever and anon swerving and starting aside to the Creature; but then we shall act Love without ceasing, upon one and the same Object, without changing. There shall be an Eternal Solace and Complacency in God.

77

4. Heaven is the Abstract of all Blessedness, the Sum of all Felicity. Reckon up all Comforts and Pleasures, and Satisfactions, and Delights, and Happinesses, and put them all together, and then separate from them Finiteness and Imperfection, and that is Heaven.

So that a Name written in Heaven, imports our future Fruition of all Blessedness. Yet a little while, and ye shall be let into all this.

All the Objects of Joy which are scattered among the Creatures, are everlastingly heap’d up in Heaven: So that say what it is you delight and joy in, and I will shew it you there.

Is it Wealth? Why there are unsearchable Riches in Heaven,” Ephes. iii. 8. durable Riches, Prov. viii. 18. Unsearchable, and therefore without Bottom and without Bound: Durable, and therefore without End.

Do ye delight in Honour and Dignity? Why in Heaven, the 78 Glory of the Great God Himself shall be put upon you, Col. iii. 4.

St. John tells us, It doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know, when he shall appear, we shall be like him, 1 John iii. 2. Such honour have all his Saints, Psalm cxlix. 9.

Is it Pleasure you delight in? Why in Heaven there are Rivers of Pleasures, Psal. xxxvi. 8. In thy presence is fulness of Joy; at thy right-hand there are Pleasures for evermore, Psalm xvi. 11.

Do ye delight in Feasting? Why in Heaven there is Plenty and Variety, Fulness without Satiety; Bread of Life, the Tree of Life, the Fountain of Life.

Do ye delight in Musick? (it is not fit that such a Feast should be without it:) In Heaven the Saints and Angels are in one Concord, singing eternal Halelujah’s to Him that sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever.

Do you delight in stately and magnificent Structures? Why in Heaven 79is a house not made with hands, 2 Cor. v. 1. This is a City, whose walls are jaspar, whose foundations are precious-stones, whose gates are pearl, whose streets are pure gold, Rev. xxi. 18, 19, 21. whose Builder and Maker is God, 2 Cor. v. 1.

Thus you see Heaven is the Comprehension of all Good, the Abstract of all Felicity. And your Name is written upon all this; it is all yours, as the Apostle says, 1 Cor. iii. 21, 22. All things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours.

Ministers are yours, to Instruct you.

The World is yours, to Supply you.

Life is yours, to Prepare you for Heaven.

Death is yours, to Convey you to Heaven.

Things present are yours, to Support you in the Way.

Things to come are yours, to Reward you in the End.

80a

What then remaineth? but as David adviseth, Be glad in the Lord, and rejoyce, ye righteous, and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart, Psalm xxxii. 11.

Whatever ye enjoy in the World, yet let your Joy be in God. Have ye Riches, Honours, Pleasures, Children, Health, Beauty, Parts? &c. Notwithstanding, in this rejoyce not; but rather rejoyce, because your Names are written in Heaven.

THE END

80b
« Prev A Name in Heaven. Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |