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righteousness.' To foresee the great reward in heaven, will convince you that instead of being terrified by sufferings, you should "rejoice and be exceeding glad." Are you to lie in prison, or to burn in the flames? so did many thousands that are now in heaven. And do you think that they repent it now? Ignatius, Polycarp, Cyprian, and many such holy men, were once used as hardly as you are now, and put to death by cruel men. Rogers, Bradford, Hooper, Glover, and multitudes with them, were once in prison and burnt in the flames; but where are they now, and what is the end of all their pains? Now whether do you think the case of Bonner or Bradford to be best? Now had you rather be Gardiner or Philpot? Now which think you doth most repent; the poor Waldenses that were murdered by thousands; or the popes and persecutors that murdered them?
Direct, xvi. 'When you are dismayed under the burden of your sins, the greatness of your corruptions, the weakness of your graces, the imperfection of your duties, look up to the blessed souls with Christ, and remember that all those glorified spirits, were once in flesh as you now are, and once they lay at the feet of God, in tears, and groans, and cries as you do: they were once fain to cry out of the burden of their sins, and mourn under the weakness of their graces, as you now do.' They were once as much clogged with flesh as you are; and once as low in doubts and fears, and bruised under the sense of God's displeasure. They once were as violently assaulted with temptations, and had the same corruptions to lament and strive against as you have. They were once as much afflicted by God and man; but is there any of the smart of this remaining?
Direct, xvn. ' When you are deterred from the presence of the dreadful God, and think he will not accept such worms as you, look up to the blessed souls with Christ; and remember how many millions of your brethren are there accepted to greater familiarity than that which you here desire.' Remember that those souls were once as dark and distant from God, and unworthy of his acceptance as you now are. A fearful child receiveth boldness, to see his brethren in his father's arms.
Direct, xvm. ' When you are afraid of satan lest he should prevail against you and devour you, look up to (he blessed souls with Christ; and see how many millions are there safely landed, that once were in as dangerous a station as you are.' Through many tribulations and temptations they are arrived at the heavenly rest: satan once did his worst against them: they were tossed on the seas of this tempestuous world; but they were kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation, and so may you.
Direct, xix. 'When you would duly value all your present means and mercies, and see whither they tend, look up then to the souls with Christ, and see whither the like mercy hath conducted them.' The poorest cottage and the hardest fare are great mercies, as they tend to endless blessedness. This now and heaven after, is great; though the thing in itself be never so small. Heaven puts the value and signification upon all your mercies. The wicked make cyphers of their greatest blessings, by separating them in their esteem and use, from God and heaven, which is the measure of their estimate.
Direct, xx. 'When you see divisions among believers, and hear one for this party, and another for that, and hear them bitterly censuring each other, look up then to the saints with Christ, and think what perfect love, and peace, and concord is among them.' Consider how unlike our factions and schisms are to their fervent love and unity. And how unlike our jarring strifes and quarrels are to their harmonious praise of God. Remember in what work it is that they are so happily united, even love and praise incessant to Jehovah: and then think, whether it would not unite the saints on earth, to lay by their contendings for the preeminence in knowledge, (covered with the gilded name of zeal for the truth of God,) and to employ themselves in love and praise, and to shew their emulation here, in striving who shall love God and each other with the more pure heart and fervent love, and who shall praise him with the most heavenly alacrity and delight. Consider whether this work of blessed souls be not like to be more desirable and excellent, than the work of self-conceited, wrangling sophisters. And whether there be any danger of falling into sects and factions, or falling out by emulations or contentions, while we make this work of love and praise the matter of our religious converse. And consider whether almost all the schisms that ever vexed the church of God, did not arise, either by the pastors striving "who should be the greatest V or by the rising up of some sciolist or gnostic, proudly pretending to know more than others, and to vindicate or bring to light some excellent truth which others know not, or oppose. And when you see the hot contendings of each party, about their pretended orthodoxness or wisdom (which James iii. is purposely written against), remember how the concord of those blessed souls doth shame this work, and should mak<it odious to the heirs of heaven.
Direct, x x i. 'When you are afraid of death or would find more willingness to die, look up to the blessed souls with Christ, and think that you are but to pass that way, which all those souls have gone before you; and to go from a world of enmity and vanity, to the company of all those blessed spirits.' And is not their blessed state more desirable than such a vain, vexatious life as this? There is no malice, nor slandering, nor cruel persecuting; no uncharitable censures, contentions, or divisions; no ignorance, nor unbelief, nor strangeness unto God; nothing but holy, amiable, and delightful. Join yourselves daily to that celestial society: suppose yourselves spectators of their order, purity, and glory, and auditors of their harmonious praises of Jehovah. Live by faith in a daily familiarity with them: say not that you want company or are alone, when you may walk in the streets of the heavenly Jerusalem, and there converse with the prophets and apostles, and all the glorious hosts of heaven. Converse thus with them in your life, and it will overcome the fear of death, and make you long to be there with them: like one that stands by the river side, and seeth his friends on the further side, in a place of pleasure, while his enemies are pursuing him at his back, how gladly would he be over with them? And it will embolden him to venture on the passage, which all they have safely passed before him. Thus death will be to us as the Red sea, to pass us safe to the land of promise, while our pursuers are there overthrown and perish. We should not be so strange to the world above, if we thus by faith conversed with the blessed ones. . Direct, xxii. 'When you are overmuch troubled for the death of your godly friends, look up to that world of blessed souls, to which they are translated, and think whether it be not better for them to be there than here; and whether you are not bound by the law of love, to rejoice with them that are thus exalted.' Had we but a sight of the world that they are in, and the company that they are gone to, we should be less displeased with the will of God, in disposing of his own into so glorious a state. All these improvements may be made by a believer, of his daily converse with the souls above. This is the communion with them which we must hold on earth; not by praying to them, which God hath never encouraged us to do; nor by praying for them: (for though it be lawful to pray for the resurrection of their bodies, and the perfecting of their blessedness thereby, yet it being a thing of absolute certainty as the day of judgment is, we must be very cautious in the manner of our doing this lawful act; it being a thing that their happiness doth not at all depend on, and a thing which will-worshippers hath shewed themselves so forward to abuse, by stepping further into that which is unlawful; as the horrid abuses of the names, and days, and shrines, and relics, of real or supposed saints, in the papal kingdom sadly testifieth). But the necessary part of our communion with the saints in heaven, being of so great importance to the church on earth, I commend it to the due consideration of the faithful, whether our forgetfulness of it is not to be much repented of, and whether it be not a work to be more seriously minded for the time to come. And I must confess I know not why it should be thought unlawful to celebrate the memorial of the life or martyrdom of any extraordinary servant of God, by an anniversary solemnity, or a set, appropriate day: it is but to keep the thankful remembrance of God's mercy to the church: and sure the life and death of such, is not the smallest of the church's mercies here on earth. If it be lawful on November the fifth to celebrate the memorial of our deliverance from the Powder-plot, I know not why it should be thought unlawful to do the like in this case also: provided, 1. That it be not terminated in the honour of a saint, but of the God of saints for giving so great a mercy to his church. 2. That it be not to honour a saint merely as a saint, but to some extraordinary, eminent saints: otherwise all that go to heaven must have festivals kept in remembrance of them; and so we might have a million for a day. 3. That it be not made equal with the Lord's day, but kept in such a subordination to that day, as the life or death of saints is of inferior and subordinate respect, to the work of Christ in man's redemption. 4. And if it be kept in a spiritual manner, to invite men to imitate the holiness of the saints, and the constancy of the martyrs, and not to encourage sensuality and sloth. CHAPTER XI. Directions about our Communion with the Holy Angels.
1 Luke xxii. *4. 26.
Direct, i. 'Be satisfied in knowing so much of angels as God in nature and Scripture hath revealed; but presume not to inquire further, much less to determine of unrevealed things.' That there are angels, and that they are holy spirits, is past dispute; but what number they are, and of how many worlds, and of what orders and different dignities and degrees, and when they were created, and what locality belongeth to them, and how far they excel or differ from the souls of men, these and many other such unnecessary questions, neither nature or Scripture will teach us how infallibly to resolve. Almost all the heretics in the first ages of the church, did make their doctrines of angels the first and chief part of their heresies; arrogantly intruding into unrevealed things, and boasting of their acquaintance with the orders and inhabitants of the higher worlds. These being risen in the apostles' days, occasioned Paul to say, " Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility, and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind a."
Direct, li. 'Understand so much of the ministry of angels as God hath revealed, and so far take notice of your
» Col. ii. IB.