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proaches, penuries which men are subject to in
Others are yet more highly affected with the
poor low descriptions of the kingdom of heaven, which I have found in books and sermons, for too dry, yea, and gross; which describe heaven principally as a place, and give it such circumstances of beauty, firmness, security, light and splendor, pleasant society, good neighbourhood, as they think will moft commend an earthly habitation. True indeed, the Holy Ghost, in scripture, is pleased to condescend so far to our weak capacities, as to describe that glorious state to us by such things, as we best understand, and are apt to be most taken with, and do most gratify our senses in this world ; as a kingdom, paradise, a glorious city, a crown, an inheritance, &c. But yet, it is not the will of God, that his enlightened people should reft in such low notions of eternal life: For in other places, God speaks of the state of glory, according to the nature and excellency of it, and not according to the weakness of our understanding; and describes it at another rate, calling it the life of angels ; and here, the beholding of God (Matt. v. 8.) a coming unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ Ephes. iv. 13. God's being all things in us, i Cor. xv. 28. It is called a knowing of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ, John xvii. 3. In a word, which is as high as can be spoke, higher indeed than can be perfectly understood, it is called a being like unto God, i John iii. 21. We shall be like unto him. But this use is not so much for reproof as it is for information.
2. Here is matter of reproof, yea and of just indignation against the grois, low, sensual, earthly life of professors, who yet hope to be the children
of the resurrection, and to be as the angels of God in heaven. What! hope to be like them then, and yet altogether unlike them now! I speak not in a paflion, but out of a just indignation that I have conceived against myself, and against the generality even of saints themselves. I am not going to speak of covetousness, commonly so called; there is a sin much like to it, which is not indeed a single sin, but an evil and unfeemly temper, which is earthly mindedness, or minding of earthly things; or if you will, because I would not be mir understood, a living upon the creature, or a loving of the creature with a distinct love. Oh! the insensible secrecy, and insuperable power of this creature-love! I cannot sufficiently exclaim against it. Why do we spend noble affections upon such low and empty nothings! Are we called with such a high calling, think you, that our conversation should be so low? Is the fulness of the fountain your's, and do ye yet delight to fit down by, and bathe yourselves in the shallow streams? Is your life hid with Christ in God? Why then do
your bound in the creature ? Have you laid up your treasure in the blessed God? What do your hearts then so far from it? Is your happiness in heaven? Why then is not your conversation there too? Do you count it your bliss to see God? What then mean those fond and wanton glances that ye
cast upon created coinforts, and that unchaste love which you bestow upon things below? I mean, not only the bleatings of the sheep, and the lowings of the oxen ; I speak not of the grosser sort of earthlymindedness, sensuality, or covetousness, but of that
more refined and hidden creature love; a loving o friends, relations, health, liberty, life, and that not in God, but with a love distinct from that love wherewith we love God. To love all these in God, and for his fake, and as flowing from him, and partaking of him, and with the same love wherewith we love God himself, is allowed us; but to love them with a particular love, as things distinct from God, to delight in them merely as creatures, and to follow them as if some good, or happiness, or pleasure, were to be found in them distinct from what is in God; this is a branch of spiritual adultery, I had almost faid idolatry. To taste a sweetness in the creature, and to see a beauty and goodness in it, is our duty; but then it must be the sweetness of God in it, and the goodness of God which we ought alone to taste and see in it. As we say, Uxor splendet radiis mariti, the wife shines with the rays of her husband; fo, more truly, every creature shines but by a borrowed light, and commends unto us the goodness, and sweetness, and fulness of the blessed Creator. You have heard that the glorified souls shall live upon God alone, entirely, wholly, eternally; and should not the less glorious souls, I mean gracious fouls, do fo too, in some degree? Yea even we who are upon earth, and do yet creatures, should behcld all the scattered beams of goodness, sweetness, perfection that are in these creatures, all united and gathered up in God, and so feed upon them only in God, and upon God in all thein. It is the character of wicked and godless men that they set up, and drive a trade for themselves; live in a way distinct from God, as
though they had no dependance upon him, they love the world with a predominant love; they enjoy creature-comforts in a gross, unspiritual manner ; they dwell upon the dark side of their mercies; they treasure up riches, not only in their chests, but in their hearts; they feed upon the creature, not only with their bodies, but their
very souls feed upon them: and thus, in a word, they live without God in the world. All this is no wonder, for that which is of the earth must needs be earthly, John iii. 31. But is it not a monstrous thing, that a heavenly soul should feed upon earthly trash? I speak without any hyperbole; the famous king of Babylon, forsaking the society of men, and herding himself with the beasts of the earth, and eating grass with the oxen, was not so absurd a thing, nor half so monstrous or unfeemly as the children of the most high God, forsaking the true bread of souls, and feeding upon the low fare of carnal men, even created sweetness, worldly goods. Nay, a glorious ftar falling from its own sphere, and choaking itself in the dust, would not be such an eminent piece of baseness; for what is said of the true God in one sense, John iii. 31.
is true of the truly godly in this sense, He that cometh from heaven is above all ; i. e. above all things that are below God himself.
3. Shall this life of angels be also the life of saints ? This may then serve as a powerful consideration to mortify in us the love of this animal life, to make us weary of this low kind of living, and quicken us to long after fo blessed a change. Well might the apostle say indeed, that to die was gain, Phil. i. 21. For, 'is not this gain, to exchange