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of God be in your mouths. Walk humbly. Though you be adorned
1. Consider Satan will think it worth his pains to rob you of it, however little there be of it. The prince of darkness will set himself against the least ray of light. His experience tells him, that it is easiest to crush people's goodness in the bud, and not to let the flame spread.
2. Our Lord is very tender of small beginnings, where there is "A bruised some good thing found in a person toward himself.
reed he will not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench." Be not you careless of that, of which he is so tender. Though you have not felt a full shower of influences, but only a few drops, yet let not these go away.
3. Great things may arise from small beginnings. The cloud like a man's hand, may soon darken the heavens if cherished. The grain of mustard seed may soon become a tree; and a little leaven will leaven the whole lump. "And then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord."
Lastly. The less you have, you had need take the more care not to lose it, and be the more diligent to improve it.-If you be set any way with a small stock, then double your diligence, and keep closely to your work.
Advices 1. Do not sit down contented with any measure that you have attained. Alas! little satisfies people in religion. He that does not exert himself to grow, will assuredly decay. "Do not think that you have already attained, or are already perfect; but follow after, if that you may apprehend that for which also you are apprehended of Christ Jesus." Labour to make two talents of your one by industry. The fire will be extinguished by withholding fuel, as well as by throwing water upon it.
2. Keep up a holy jealousy over your own hearts. You hear that the goodness of some is as the early cloud, and the morning dew, it passeth away. This should make us say, each for himself, Lord is it I?"He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool." If you be saying with Hazael, "Am I a dog, that I should do this?" Look that you be not the dog, that will be among the first to do it.
3. Put what you have in the Lord's hand. Depend upon him and wait about his hand for more influences. For this purpose be much in prayer. You may come to get that in secret, which you have not got at the table.
Lastly, And what I say to one I say to all, watch. The time is short. Watch, and ere long you shall be in that place, where the gates are not shut by day, and there is no night there. But if any man draw back, the Lord's Spirit will have no pleasure in him. Amen.
Forenoon Sermons, Ettrick, Feb. 13, 1715.
RATIONAL EVIDENCES FOR HEAVEN, ILLUSTRATED.
2 CORINTHIANS v. 1.
For we know, that, if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
THE breach which the Lord made amongst us so suddenly last Sabbath, is a loud call to us all to be making ready, and to be always ready for another world.* We all know that we must die: none of us know how, or when. Let us then be sparing of our judgment, and take the lesson to ourselves. Luke xiii. 1—5.
To pursue this providential call, with the call of the word, I have chosen this text. That persons may go to heaven without clear evidence for heaven, I doubt not. But it has often been a very serious consideration to me, to think, that although there are very few people with whom we can meet on a death bed but have hopes of heaven; yet there are so very few that can give any rational scriptural grounds and evidences of their hope. This determined me some time ago, to urge the seeking of evidences, that whatever God in holy sovereignty may do, yet people may not through mere sloth and laziness, make but a leap in the dark into eternity, if they will be warned.
In the words of the text there are three things.
1. Something supposed. Two things are here supposed.
1. That the body will die and return to the dust. If our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved. This, if, is not for doubting, but supposes it beyond all doubt. Consider what the body is. It is but a house. And observe who is the inhabitant of this house. It is the soul. The body is our house. The soul is the man, and is as much preferable to the body, as the inhabitant is to the cottage in which he dwells. Observe also what kind of a house it is. It is an earthly house. A mud wall house patched up of earth. A house merely for the short time we are to be on earth. Nay, it is rather a tabernacle or a tent. It is the tent in which the soul dwells or sojourns, as persons do in a tent. Paul was a tent maker, and he
A healthy old man fell down dead, a little way from the church. See the Author's memoirs, at the above date.
takes a lesson of his frailty from what used to be among his hands. A house may be weak, but a tent is still weaker.
Consider also what death is. It is a dissolving of the tent, a loosing of the frame of it, and then it falls down. Our bodies are not castles and towers that must be blown up, or battered down by main force not even ordinary houses that must be pulled down with strength of hand. But tents, where there is nothing more to do but to loose the cords, and pull up the pins, and immediately it lies along.
2. It is supposed that the saints when they die, make an exchange much for the better. When they are turned out of this earthly house they are received into a "building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." Some by this understand the glorified condition of the body, when it shall be spiritual, immortal, and incorruptible. But that cannot be, for that does not take place till the resurrection. This immediately after death, Verse 8, "We are confident, says the apostle, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." It is meant of the glorious state of the saints in another life, even of that glory in which the souls of believers shall dwell, when they depart out of this tabernacle.
3. We have in the text a confident application of this blessed privilege of having a building of God. It is applied with the greatest assurance by the apostle in his own name, and in the name of other saints that walked in the view of heaven. We know that we have. Not so much by extraordinary revelation, as by certain signs, and evidences grounded upon the testimony of the word without us, and of our own spirits and God's Spirit within us. For whatever the apostle himself enjoyed of revelation was not common to the saints as this is.
4. There is the blessed influence this had on their suffering patiently intimated in the particle. For we know. They bore sufferings without fainting, chap. iv. 16. Because they had the glory of heaven in their view. And they knew assuredly, that they would attain it after death. Therefore they were not afraid of suffering. Doctrine I.-The body is only the house of the soul, and but an earthly house too. As a man lodgeth in his house, so does the soul in the body till death come, and it departs from it. I shall here shew,
I. What kind of a house the body is to the soul.
II. I shall take notice of some of the peculiarities of this house. I. We are to shew what kind of a house the body is to the soul.
1. It is only a lodging house. The soul is not sent to dwell in it,
but to sojourn and lodge in it, while on the way to another world. "We are strangers and sojourners, as all our fathers were." The body is our lodging house. Heaven or hell is our dwelling house, where we will abide for ever.
2. It is a weak house. The soul in the body is not lodged as in a tower or castle. It is not a fort, but a weak house that is broken soon up by disease and soon broken down by death. The strongest body is such. For the walls are but of mud, a house of clay, Job iv. 19. and cannot stand long nor abide a severe shock.
Let none deceive themselves with respect to their strength. There are no stones in the walls of this house; no brass nor iron in it. It must needs then be a weak house. "Is my strength the strength of stones? or is my flesh brass?" No, only mud refined and tempered by the Creator's hand, but now disordered by sin. We may indeed be fine, but must be weak.
The foundation of it is in the dust. Job iv. 19. Were a house of clay built upon a rock it might stand long. But founded on dust, it must quickly sink with its weight. Man is maintained out of the earth. Some have a greater heap of dust to stand upon than others, but still the earth supports us, and will swallow us up.
The pillars of the house are ready to give way very quickly. The strong men, the legs, bow themselves. Eccles. xii. 3. A day's sickness or two will make them not able to bear up the weight of the house. So the man must lie because he cannot stand. The keepers of the house are but weak. A little thing will set them a trembling. 3. It is a house that is daily in danger. Though a house were very weak, yet if nothing were to touch it, it might stand a long time. But our house is in danger daily and hourly. It is in danger from without. There are storms to blow it down, and a very small blast will sometimes do it. Though we walk not among swords, daggers, and bullets, yet a stumble in the highway may do it; as small a thing as a pear, yea a stone in fruit, has laid the house on the ground. It is in danger also from within. There are disorders to undermine the house. There are the seeds of a thousand deaths in our mortal bodies; which sometimes quickly, sometimes leisurely undermine the house, and make it fall down about our ears ere ever we are aware. The seeds of diseases, when we know not, are digging like moles under the mud walls, and soon destroy the house.
Moreover it is a dark house in which often the danger is never seen till it be past remedy. How many dangers come to the house from without which are never seen from the windows, nor perceived by the eyes till they arrive. But we cannot see what is doing within the house, the dissolution thereof may be going on apace.