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to dwell with the bride, the Lamb's wife, for ever. Solomon built a glorious house for Pharaoh's daughter. This is of the true Solomon's building for his elect, whom he loved before the world was.
Besides it must be a glorious house, for it was purchased at a vast expence, even the blood of the Son of God, an expence which eternity will be too short to reckon. He was wise who paid the price, just who received it, and also a Father who would not put his Son to needless cost. What an unspeakably glorious purchase must the house then be ?
The indispensable necessity for washing and purifying, to fit persons for dwelling in the house, shews it to be glorious. There will be spots and uncleanness in the fairest palace on earth; but "there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie." Those who are to be inhabitants, must first be washed in the laver of regeneration; every day they must wash their feet from their daily infirmities; and at death they must be washed every whit clean; and all in the clean water of Christ's blood and Spirit.
Lastly, It is an everlasting house. It is eternal in the heavens. This lodging house of the body goes quickly to the dust; the lower house of this earth will go up in purple flames; but that house in the heavens will endure for ever.
1. Behold and admire the happiness of the saints. Though they knew not where to lay their heads on earth, yet if this tabernacle were dissolved they have a glorious house ready for them. Others may know of a house under ground, a grave, a vault for the body. But the saints have a house above the earth, yea above the clouds, a happy and glorious receptacle for the soul.
2. Is it not surprising that the saints should be alarmed at death, the way to their own house? What the worse was Mordecai that it was Haman that brought him the king's horse, and led his bridle through the street of the city. A child of God is not ill situated in the very valley of the shadow of death, for his Lord is with him. When persons are near their own house, though they have a few rugged steps and the night be dark and stormy, yet they are not easily discouraged, because they know they will soon be home. Alas for our carnality and want of faith.
Lastly, Seek a house now, into which you may be received when your earthly house is dissolved. There is such a house, and you may have it. O set to work now for this house. It is a house of
which you may obtain a lease, not for the term of life, for there is no dying there, but an everlasting lease, for this house changes no tenants. It is a house which you will get rent free, except the singing of glory, glory and praise to God the builder and owner, and to the Lamb, the purchaser of the house.
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.
THERE are three ways by which we may know a thing, first by sense, thus we know the fire to be hot, and ice to be cold. Secondly, by rational evidence, thus when we see a house, we know that there has been a builder; and a beautiful world, we know that there is a God, because none of them could make themselves. Thirdly, by the testimony of others, by human testimony, as by history we know what was done before we were in the world; and by divine testimony, or revelation, we know the truths of the gospel. The first of these cannot be pretended in the present case, for heaven and the glory to come fall not now under our bodily senses. As for the inward spiritual sense and feeling of what is heavenly it falls in with rational evidence. As for the third, that of testimony, there can no human testimony make us know this. As for divine testimony in the scripture, it comes not so low as to the case of particular persons by name, saying to such and such a saint heaven is thine. As to extraordinary revelation, Paul speaks here of other believers as well as himself, of whom we have no ground to think they had extraordinary revelation. As to the ordinary testimony of the Spirit, it proceeds upon rational evidence. "The Spirit beareth witness with our spirit that we are the sons of God." Therefore I conclude this knowledge in the text, is upon rational evidence, from the marks and signs of a gracious state of which the believer may be conscious, being founded on the word of God.
Doctrine. They who look for heaven when they die, should have rational evidence of their title to it, while they live.
There is great need of this doctrine, for presumption in the wicked, and slothfulness in the saints, make hopes of heaven whereof men can give no rational account, very plentiful. Do you
hope, do you know that heaven will be your landing place? Then I would ask you, how do you know this, upon what grounds? You have not been wrapt up to the third heavens, and read your title there. You will not pretend, I hope, extraordinary revelation sent down to you. Beware of that, we have a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed." But whatever you may pretend that way, if your title cannot be made good by the word, it is but a delusion. "To the law, and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Well then, what rational evidence according to the scripture, have you for it? How can you make good your title by the word, which contains the laws of the kingdom? If you cannot do that, and yet hope and think you know it, it seems you have dreamed it. And take heed, lest it be no more but a dream. Therefore they who look for heaven when they die, should have rational evidence of their title to it while they live. Here I shall, I. Shew of what we should have rational scriptural evidences. II. What it is to have rational evidences for heaven. III. I will shew that the saints may have such evidences.
IV. I will give the reasons of the doctrine. I am according to this plan,
1. To shew of what we should have rational scriptural evidences. What is it we should know.
The text tells us, it is that we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. If we prepare aright for eternity, we will not be content with less than this. Sure I am we will not be content with less in a matter of far inferior importance. The term of Whitsunday is drawing near, and among those of us that have tack, there will be riding and running till they know, that if the term were come, they have a house and land to remain upon, or another place to which they can go. And why less diligence in this affair? The apostle does not say, perhaps we will get a building-no, eternity is too great a matter to venture upon a perhaps, or a may be, if it be within the compass of our power to carry it farther. Nay, what is more, he says not, that we know we will have it, we will get it, but we have it already. Eternity is too great a matter to be uncertain about for the shortest time.
Here is a mystery, the saints have the house of glory already; though they be still on earth, and have not an inch of ground which they can call their own. I will unriddle this to you in two things. 1. The saints have heaven in right and title, as the young heir has the land, into possession of which he is not yet entered. 2. They have the hold of heaven already, like a man that has had some preVOL. III.
cious thing fallen into a well, and searching for it with an instrument, whenever he finds the thing upon it, he cries out with joy, I have it, I have it.
I. The saints have heaven in right and title.
1. God from eternity designed heaven for them, and them for heaven, "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ? The lines have fallen in pleasant places for them, even in the pleasant land. The lot of electing love hath given them their inheritance there. Eternal love puts its everlasting arms underneath them, and that lifts them up in time from the pit, "Thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back." This is a sure foundation of right. It cannot be overturned, for it is of God's own laying, "The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his." And when they are solemnly admitted into their house, the Judge will recognize this title of theirs, saying, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." For God does with the heavenly, as he did with the earthly Canaan. "When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel."
2. Christ has purchased it for them. "God hath appointed us to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. The first Adam forfeited the house of glory for himself and all his posterity, the fallen angels forfeited their part too, and now they have no right to it. But O happy saints, they had a near kinsman, that was mighty, and he redeemed the mortgaged inheritance. Job xix. 25-27. The house of heaven was a mighty purchase indeed! The united stock of men and angels would no more have redeemed it, and fixed our title to it, than a barley corn would have redeemed an estate. But there is infinite value in the precious blood of the Son of God.
The saints' maker is their
dowry house. A house "God is not ashamed to
3. God is theirs and Christ is theirs. husband. And heaven of course is their suitable to the quality of their husband. be called their God; for he hath provided for them a city." They are by regeneration and adoption, sons of the house, therefore heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ." And now may each of them say, "My beloved is mine, and I am his." And therefore all is theirs. The house and all its pertinents. Yea "all things are theirs and they are Christ's." If the Lord of the house be their
husband, who can question their right to the house. Is not the body more than meat, and the builder, and purchaser, and owner, more than the house.
4. Christ has taken possession of heaven in their name. "Whether the forerunner is for us entered even Jesus." He is keeping their room for them till they come. I go, said he, to prepare a place for you. Thus their title is fixed, their place is secured for them. At death they will enter into actual possession of what they have already got infeftment in Christ their head. Christ was a public person, representing all the heirs of glory. In their name and stead, he obeyed, died, rose again, ascended, and sat down in glory. So that the apostle makes no doubt to tell us, that believers on earth" are in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."
Lastly, God has promised it to them. "In hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie, promised before the world began." This is their charter for heaven registered in the Bible; to which the King has appended his broad seal, the holy sacraments, a red bloody seal, with this inscription, Remember me. Though he be no debtor to them, he is debtor to his own faithfulness. Though they could never purchase the house, yet our Lord could dispone it to them freely, being his own purchase. "Fear not little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." And to make sure work, the promise is made to Christ. "He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." And O the comfort of this dispensation! Unbelief will not stand to blaspheme and say, will God ever make out the promise to thee? But will it dare question if God will make good his promise to his own Son, especially when the thing promised was purchased with his own blood.
II. The saints have the hold of heaven already.
1. They have it in the covenant. "He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure; for this is all my salvation and all my desire." Now if all the believers' salvation and desire be in it, surely heaven is in it; for how low soever the desire of others may be, the desire of the saints is no less. Hast thou heard and believed, that thou hadst lost heaven and exposed thyself to hell by sin, and thou wast going about mourning without the sun for the loss, and seeking to get it repaired, and thou hearest of the covenant and laid hold upon it for time and eternity; then know thou, that that moment heaven was found, and thou mightest have cried out, I have it, I have it. The covenant is the chariot in which Christ carries his saints to glory; and as we use to say of people, that they are gone to such a place, when the coach in which