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Richard Sibbes :: The Ninth Sermon - Isaiah 25:9

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THE GLORIOUS FEAST OF THE GOSPEL
The Marriage Feast
Between
Christ and His Church

 


The Ninth Sermon — Isaiah 25:9

 

And it shall be said in that day, lo, this is our God, we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord, we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

In the worst age of the Church, that the Church may not be swallowed up with fear, in the worst times, God doth prepare promises for his people. It was the case of our blessed Saviour himself to his poor disciples, that they might not be overwhelmed with sorrow. Therefore he adds Sacraments to Passover, and the New Testament to the Old, and all to confirm faith, knowing that our hearts are very subject to be daunted.

 

The Lord promises here a Feast of fat things, and all things pertaining to a Feast, the best of the best, and removal of all that may hinder joy as taking away the veil, which hinders them from the sight of it. And then death is swallowed up in victory, as it is already in our Head, who is gloriously triumphing in heaven. And then all tears shall be wiped from all faces. There is a vicissitude of things, they are now in a valley of tears but it will not be always thus, time shall come when all tears shall be wiped away; and the cause of all tears are sorrow. The rebukes of his people shall be taken away, the scandal that lies upon the best things shall be taken away. The worst things go under a better representation and the best things under a veil, but one day as things are, they shall be. The God of truth will have truth to be clear enough. And all this is sealed up with the highest Authority that admits of no contradiction. The LORD of Hosts hath spoken it.

 

We came the last day to these words; Lo this is our God…

 

Wherein we may consider first of all, that God hath left to his Church rich and precious promises, such as is spoken of before, a Feast and removal of all hindrances whatsoever. He not only vouchsafes heaven when we die, and eternal happiness; but in this world in our way he vouchsafes precious promises to support our faith, that we may begin heaven upon earth. What these promises are, we showed the last day.

 

The second observation was, in that God’s people are here in a state of expectation. It shall be said, Lo we have waited for him. We are in a condition of waiting while we live in this world, because we are not at home. Our state requires waiting, heaven requires settledness and rest. There all appetites, all desires shall be satiated to the full. Our estate here is a passage to a better state, and waiting is a disposition fit for such a condition.

 

And in this there is good and imperfection. Good that we have something to wait for; imperfection that we are to wait for it, that we have it not in fruition. And till we be in heaven we are in a state of waiting. In the Revelations, Come Lord Jesus, come quickly (Revelation 22:20) there is a glorious state of a Church set forth, but while all is done, it hath not what it would have. We cannot be in such a state in the world, but there is place for a desire, namely immediate and eternal communion with Christ in heaven. And therefore, It shall be said in that day, Lo this is our God, we have waited for him.

God will have us continue in a state of waiting

 

I will add a little to this gate of waiting before I go farther. God will not have our condition presently perfect, but have us continue in a state of waiting.

It’s his pleasure we should live by faith not by sight

 

First of all, it is his pleasure that we should live by faith, and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). We have sense and feeling of many things, he reserves not all for heaven. How many sweet refreshments have we in the way? But the tenor of our life is by faith, and not by sight. God will have us in each a condition.

We are not yet fitted for sight of Glory

 

Again, we are not fitted for sight of the glory to come here; our vessels are not capable of that Glory. A few drops of that happiness so overcame Peter in the transfiguration, that he knew not himself.

Because God would have us enjoy the best at last

 

God is so good to us that he would have us enjoy the best at the last; the sweeter is heaven, by how much the more difficult our way thither is. Heaven is heaven, and happiness is happiness, after a long time of waiting. For waiting enlarges the capacity and desires of the soul to receive more, it commends the happiness afterwards. And therefore God keeps the best for the last because he will never interrupt the happiness of his children, when they be in heaven, there is a banishment of all cause of sorrow. He will have a distinction between the Church militant and triumphant. He will train up his children here before he brings them to heaven. He will perfume his Spouse, and make her fit for an ever-lasting communion with him in heaven.

Waiting is not an empty thing

 

The third thing is that as there be promises, and these promises are not presently fulfilled, which put us in a state of waiting; so God gives grace to uphold in waiting. Waiting is not an empty time to wait so long and no grace in the meantime; but waiting is a fitting time for that we are to receive afterwards.

 

We see in nature in the winter, which is a dull time to the spring and harvest, and the times are very cold; yet it ripens and mellows the soil, and fits it for the spring. There is a great promotion of harvest in winter, it is not a mere distance of time. So between the promise and heaven itself, it is not a mere waiting time and there is an end; but it is a time which is taken up by the Spirit of God in preparing the heart in subduing all base lusts, and in taking us off from ourselves and whatsoever is contrary to heaven. The time is filled up with a great deal of that which fits us for glory in heaven.

God fits heaven for us and us for heaven

 

The gracious God that fits us for heaven, and heaven for us, fits us with all graces necessary for that condition. As faith to believe, patience to wait for, and to depend on that which he sees not to be above sense, a grace of hope to wait for that which he believes to be an anchor to his soul in all conditions whatsoever, and then a grace of patience to wait meekly all the while, and then long suffering patience lengthened out. As the tediousness is long between us and heaven, so there be lengthening graces. We would have all presently, How long Lord, how long (Psalm 13:1). We are so short, even David and others and therefore God gives grace to hold out and lengthen our spiritual faith, and hope, and perseverance, and constant courage to encounter with all difficulties in the way. When the spirit of a man beholds heaven, and happiness, and God, it makes him constant in some sort, as the things he beholds, for the Spirit transforms him to the object. Now he beholds a constant Covenant, and as faith looks upon a constant God, constant happiness, and constant promises, it frames the soul suitable to the excellency of the object it lays hold upon.

 

And then the Spirit of God in the way to heaven, subdues all evil murmurings and exceptions in suffering us not to put forth our hands to any iniquity, though we have not what we would have, he keeps us in a good and fruitful way. For to wait is not only to endure, but to endure in a good course, fitting us for happiness till grace end in glory.

 

In the fourth place, God will perform all his promises in time. As the Church faith here, This is the Lord, we have waited for him, now he hath made good whatsoever he hath said.

As there is a time of waiting, so there will be a time of performing; God is Jehovah

 

To enlarge this point a little, as there is a time of waiting, so there will be a time when God’s people shall say, Lo this is the Lord, we have waited for him. Why, God is Jehovah, a full and pregnant word, a word of comfort and stay for the soul in this word Jehovah. He is a God that gives a being to all things and a being to his Word, and therefore what he saith, he will make good. He is Lord of his Word. Every man’s word is, as his nature and power and ability is, the word of a man, or the word of an honest man. But being the Word of God, he will make all good.

God is faithful; he has bowels of compassion towards his people

 

And then he will make all good because he is faithful. God, he saith it, and he will do it, you need no more reason then pity to his people, his bowels of compassion. The hearts of people would fail, if he should stay too long. And therefore out of his bowels in his time, which is the best time, not only because he is faithful, but because he is loving and pity-full, he will make good all his promises. And then he will do it.

Because the grace we have is but an earnest of what we shall have

 

For what is grace, but an earnest of that fullness we shall have in heaven? What is peace here, but an earnest of that peace in heaven? And what is joy here, but an earnest of fullness of joy for evermore? And will God lose his earnest? Therefore we shall enjoy what God hath promised, and we expect because we have the earnest. It is not a pledge only, for a pledge may be taken away, but an earnest which is never taken away, but is made up in the full bargain. Grace is made up in glory, as beginnings are made up with perfection. Where God lays a foundation, he will perfect it. Where God gives the first fruits, he will give the harvest.

 

But it will be a long time before, because he will exercise all grace to the uttermost. You see how Abraham was brought to the last. In the mountain God provides for a sacrifice when the knife was ready to seize on Isaac’s throat.

Our faith should answer God’s dealing

 

We should answer with our faith God’s dealing, that is, if God defer let us wait, yea wait to the uttermost, wait to death. He is our God to death, and in death, and forever. If God perform his promise at the worst, then till we are at the lowest we must wait.

Waiting is the character of God’s people

 

And therefore one character of a child of God from others is this: “Give me the present,” saith the carnal beastly man, “the world.” But God’s people are content to wait. He knows what he hath in promise is better than what he hath in possession. The gleanings of God’s people are better than the others’ harvest. The other cannot wait, but must have present payment. God’s child can wait, for he lives by faith. And therefore we should learn patiently to wait for the performance of all God’s promises.

Directions to help waiting; God’s time is the best time

 

And to direct a little in that remember some rules, which every man may gather to himself, as God’s time is the best time. Deus est optimus arbiter opportunitatis, the best discerner of opportunities. And, in the mountain will God be seen. Though he tarry long, he will come, and not tarry over-long, and then all the strength of the enemy is with God. Robur hostium apud Deum, the strength of the enemy is in his hand, he can suspend it when he pleases.

God will effect things though by contraries

 

Then though God seems to carry things by contrary wages to that he promises, which makes waiting so difficult; yet he will bring things about at last. He promises happiness, and there is nothing but misery; he promises forgiveness, and opens the conscience to cry out of sin. But Luther’s rule is exceeding good in this case. Summa ars, the greatest art of a Christian is, credere credibilia, etcetera, and sperare dilata, to hope for things a long time, and to believe God when he seems contrary to himself in his promise.

 

Times are in God’s hands

 

But though God doth defer, yet in that day he doth perform. It is set down indefinitely, for it is not fit we should be acquainted with the particular time. And therefore he saith, in that day, he sets not down a particular time, but in that day wherein he means to be glorious in the performance of his promise. There is a time and a set time, and there is a short time too in regard of God, and a fit time. If the time were shorter than God hath appointed, then it were too short, if longer, too long. My times, saith David, are in thy hands (Psalm 31:15). If they were in the enemies hands, we should never be out, if in our own, we would never enter. If in our friends, their good will would be more than their ability. He saith not, my time, but my times are in thy hands, that is my times of trouble, and times of waiting. And it is well they be in God’s hands, for he hath a day and a certain day, and a fit day to answer the waiting of all his people.

 

And when that day is come, you see how their hearts are enlarged, they will say, This is the Lord, we have waited for him.

 

When God means to perform his promise either in this world or in the world to come, the world to come specially when there shall be consummation of all promises, God shall enlarge the hearts of his people. This is the Lord, we have waited for him, this is the Lord; he repeats it again and again.

 

Our soul is very capable being a spiritual substance, and then God shall fill the soul and make it comprehend misery, or comprehend happiness, when every corner of the soul shall be filled. And then having bodies too, it is fit they should have a part; so the whole man shall express forth the justice or mercy of God.

 

For the nature of the thing it cannot be otherwise, every member of the body shall be fit to glorify God. What the Psalmist saith of his tongue, Awake my glory, he may say of every member, do thy office in glorifying the Lord and rejoicing in the Lord. Pectus facit disertos, the heart makes a man eloquent and full. So the performance of any promise fits the heart so full of affections, the affections are so enlarged. And therefore we must not have affections to a court kind of expressions, as they in old time, and the like court-eloquence, when men might not speak fully. But when joy possesses the heart to the full, there be full expressions. This is the Lord, this is the Lord, let us rejoice in him. And therefore there seems so many tautologies in the Psalms, though they be not tautologies [needless repetitions], but mere exuberancies of a sanctified affection.

 

O beloved, what a blessed time will that be, when this large heart of ours shall have that that will fill it! When the best parts of us, our understanding, will, and affections shall be carried to that which is better and larger then itself, and shall be as it were swallowed up in the fullness of God! And that is the reason of the repetition of the word, This is the Lord, this is the Lord.

 

And it follows, We will rejoice and be glad in his salvation (Isaiah 25:9). When a gracious heart is full of joy, how doth he express that joy! A wicked heart, when it is full of joy is like a dirty river that runs over the banks, and carries a deal of filth with it, dirty expressions. But when a gracious heart expresses itself being full of joy, it expresses itself in thanks and praises, in stirring up of others. Lo this is our God, we will rejoice and be glad in his salvation. Is any merry, saith the Apostle, Saint James, Let him sing (James 5:13).

There’s suitable action for every affection

 

God hath affections for any condition. Is a man in misery? Let him pray. This is a time of mourning. Doth God perform any promise and so give cause of joy? Let him sing. There is action for every affection, affection for every condition, and this may stir us up to begin the employment in heaven, on earth here. We shall say so in heaven, Lo this is the Lord, we have waited for him.

In performances of promises be much in thankfulness

 

For every performance of promises, be much in thankfulness. Our conversation is in heaven, saith the Apostle. And what is the greatest part of a Christian’s conversation, but in all things to give thanks. Here the Holy Church saith, their matter of praise was too big for their soul, and therefore they break out in this manner. And so oftentimes a child of God, his heart is so full, that it is too big for his body in the expression of matter of praise. But it is his comfort, that in heaven he shall have a large heart, answerable to the large occasion of praise. I will not enlarge myself in the common place of thanksgiving.

 

In this condition we can never be miserable, for it springs from joy, and joy disposes a man to thankfulness, and upon thankfulness there is peace and can we be miserable in peace of conscience? Therefore saith the Apostle, in all things give thanks, and let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6). And what will follow upon that, when I have made known my requests and paid my tribute of thanks? then the peace of God which passes understanding shall guide your mind (Philippians 4:7). When we have paid to God the tribute we can pay him, then the soul, as having discharged a debt, is at peace. I have prayed to God, I have laid my petition in his bosom, I am not in arrears for former favours, therefore the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds. Hanna had prayed once, went not away but prayed again. The happiness of heaven follows the actions of heaven, praisings being the main employment of heaven, the happiness and comfort of heaven follows.

 

And howsoever these promises be fulfilled in heaven, yet they have a gradual performance on earth. For he speaks certainly of the state of the Jews yet to come, wherein there shall be accomplishment of all these promises.

Experience of God’s performances should stir up waiting

 

We ought to treasure up experiences

We have waited for him, he will save us. Experience of God’s performance stirs them up still to wait for him and rejoice in his salvation. Experience stirs up hope. The beginning of a Christian and midst, is to hope for the end, and surely our beginning should help the latter end. All a Christian’s life should help the end, all former things should come in and help his latter.

 

Beloved, we are too backward that way to treasure up the benefit of experience. There be few of year, but might make stories of God’s gracious dealings with them, if all were kept, the comforts past and for time to come, and all little enough. It was David’s course, Thou art my God from my mother’s womb, and upon thee have I hanged ever since I was born, fail me not when I am old (Psalm 71:6-9). Go along with God’s favours and use them as arguments of future blessings. As former victories are helps to get the second victory. Every former favour helps to strengthen our faith.

God an inexhausted fountain

 

In the next, God is an inexhausted fountain, and when we have to deal with an infinite God, the more we take of him, the more we offer him. It is no good plea to say, you have done courtesies, therefore do them still. But we cannot honour God more than from former experience to look for great things from the great God.

 

We have waited for him, he will save us, we have waited for him, and we will rejoice in his salvation. That which a child of God gives thanks for and rejoices in, and labors for, is more and more experience of his salvation. We will rejoice in his salvation. There is not a stronger word in all the Scripture, nor in nature, he doth not say rejoicing in this or that benefit, but in his salvation. That is in deliverance from all evil, we will rejoice in his preservation. When he hath delivered us, we will rejoice in his advancement of us, and we will rejoice in his salvation. And therefore when the wisdom of heaven would include all in one word, he uses the word Jesus, all happiness in that word, that pregnant full word, a Saviour.

God’s carriage towards his children is salvation

 

So that God’s carriage towards his children is salvation. He is the God of Salvation, or a saving God. And God sent his name from heaven and the angels brought it, the name of JESUS. Therefore look to the full sense of it. We have a Saviour that will answer his name as he is Jesus, so he will save his people from their sins; and therefore we will rejoice in his salvation. God dealt with us like a God, when he delivered us from all misery, from all sins, and advanced us to all happiness that nature is capable of. As he said before, He will wipe away all tears from all faces, and take away the rebukes of all people. He will punish the wicked with eternal destruction. And if he advances a people he will be salvation, then which he can say no more.

 

Our joy and happiness is in the enjoyment of God

 

And this shows that the children of God rejoice more than in anything else in salvation, because it is the salvation of God, and because God is salvation itself. Heaven were not heaven, if Jesus, and God in our nature were not there. And therefore the Apostle saith, I desire to depart, not to be dissolved, and to be with Christ for that is better (Philippians 1:23). The sight of God, specially in our nature, God the second person taking our nature that we might be happy, will make us happy forever. In loving God, and joying in God, and enjoying God, makes full happiness; but that is not the cause of joy in heaven, but the cause of all is God’s influence into us. Here in the world happiness is mediate, in God’s revealing of himself to us by his Holy Spirit in the use of means, in his dealings and deliverances, letting us see him by his grace, to see him and joy and delight in him forever. It is no good love that rests in any blessings of God for themselves. It is a harlotry affection, to love the gift more then the giver. So the Saints of God they do all desire to see him as they may and to joy in God, and enjoy God himself, and to see God in our nature, and to be with him forever. Before he spake of a Feast and if the Feast-maker be not there, what is all? In a funeral Feast there is much cheer, but the Feast-maker is gone. In heaven there is joy, but where is God, where is Christ, he that hath done so much suffered so much for us, that hath taken possession of heaven, and keeps a place for us there? What is heaven without him? Salvation severed from him is nothing.

 

We shall say when we are there, “Lo here is David, Abraham, Saint John, here the Martyrs.” Yes, but here is Christ, here is God, here is our Saviour the cause of all. And the seeing of him in them that he will be glorious in his Saints, that makes us rejoice. We shall see all our friends in heaven, there we shall see the excellency of the happiness of Christ, his love, his grace, his mercy.

The joy of a Christian ends in glorying

 

The words are expressed with a kind of glorying, Lo, this is our God. So that the joy of a Christian ends in glory and in the highest degree of glory. As you have it, We glory also in tribulation, we glory in hope of glory (Romans 5:2-3), nay we glory in God as ours reconciled. And if we glory in him now as a God reconciled, what shall we do in heaven? Can a worldling glory in his riches, his greatness, his favour from such a man as Haman did? And shall not a Christian glory in his God and make his boast in his God?

Begin to glory in God here

 

And therefore in this world we should learn to glory, before we come to that glory in heaven, specially when we be set upon by anything that is apt to discourage us, glory then in our Head. Perhaps a Christian hath no wealth, no great rents to glory in but he hath a God to glory in, let him glory in him. The world may take all else from him, but not his God. As the Church in (Song of Solomon 5:9-10) the virgins put the Church to describe her beloved, what is thy beloved more then another beloved? My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest of ten thousand.

 

Then she goes on in particulars, my beloved is thus and thus, and if you would know what my beloved is, this is my beloved. So a Christian that hath a spirit of faith, should glory in God here, for heaven is begun here, and he should glory in Christ his Saviour, and should set Christ against all discouragements, and oppositions. If you will know what is my beloved, this is my beloved, the chief among ten thousands (Song of Solomon 5:10). Our God is in heaven, and doth whatsoever he pleases in heaven, and earth, and the deeps, yea we make our boast of God (Psalm 115:3; Psalm 135:6), saith the Psalmist when there is occasion. This is the Lord, this is our God, we have waited for him; specially in times of afflictions, and what is the reason? This will hold out to eternity. This is our God. As in the Revelations, it is a plea and a glory forever, for God is our happiness. As the schoolmen say, “He is our objective happiness, and our formal happiness, he is our happiness, as he is ours.” And he is ours in life, and death, and forever, so there is always ground of glory; only God doth discover himself to be ours, by little and little, as we are able to bear him. He is ours in our worst times, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46), yet my God still.

 

He is our God to death, and he is ours in heaven. This is our God, we will rejoice in him and therefore well may we boast of God, because in God is everlasting Salvation. If we boasted in anything else, our boasting would determine with the thing itself, but if we rejoice in God, we rejoice in that which is of equal continuance with our souls, and goes along with the soul to all eternity.

Interest in God and Christ is the ground of all rejoicing; therefore we are to make good that interest while we are here

 

And therefore we should learn to rejoice in God, and then we shall never be ashamed. It is spoken here with a kind of exalting, a kind of triumphing over all oppositions, Lo, this is our God. Beloved this, that God is our God, and Christ is ours, is the ground of rejoicing, and of all happiness. All joy, all comfort is founded upon this, our interest in God; and therefore we must make this good, while we live here, that God is our God, and that we may do so. Observe this: Christ is called Emanuel, God with us. God in the second person is God-man, and so God with us, and the Father in Emanuel is God with us too. So we are God the Father’s because we are his. All things are yours saith the Apostle, whether Paul, or Apollo, things present, things to come (1 Corinthians 3:22). Why? Because you are Christ’s. Yes, but what if I be Christ’s, Christ is God’s. So we must be Christ’s, and then we shall be God’s; if Christ be ours, God is ours, for God is Emanuel in Christ. Emanuel, God is with us in Christ, who is with us. God is reconciled to us in God and man in our nature. And therefore get by faith into Christ, and get union and get communion. By prayer open our souls to him, entertain his speeches to us by his Word, and Spirit, and blessed motions, and open our spirits to him, and so maintain a blessed intercourse.

By acquaintance with him

 

Make it good that God is our God, by daily acquaintance. These speeches at the latter end are founded upon acquaintance before. This is our God. Grace and glory are knit together indissolubly. If God be our God here, he will be ours also in glory, if not here, not in glory. There is a communion with God here, before communion with him in glory, and therefore make it good that God be our God here, first by union with him. And then maintain daily acquaintance with him, by seeing him with the eye of faith, by speaking to him, and hearing him speak to us by his Spirit, joining in his ordinances. And then he will own us, and be acquainted with us. In heaven we shall say, Lo, this is our God. We have had sweet acquaintance one with another, He by his Spirit with me and by my prayers with him. Our Saviour Christ will not be without us in heaven, we are part of his mystical body, and heaven were not heaven to Christ, without us. With reverence be it spoken, we are the fullness of Christ, as he is the fullness of his Church.

The Church cannot be without Christ, nor Christ without the Church

 

And if he should want us, in some sort, he were miserable, he having fixed upon us, as objects of his eternal love. In what case were he, if he should lose that object? And therefore as we glory in him, he glories in us. Who is this that comes out of the wilderness? who? his beloved. And, woman is this thy faith? He admires the graces of the Church, as the Church admires him, This is the Lord.

 

The Church cannot be without him, nor he without the Church.

In heaven nothing in it is but admirable

 

These words are spoken with a kind of admiration. Lo, this is the Lord, we will rejoice in him. So I say, as there is thanks and joy, so there is admiration, lo, behold. This is a God worthy beholding, and so he wonders at the graces of his children. Beloved there is nothing in the world worthy of admiration. Sapientes non est admirare. It was a speech of the proud Philosopher, A wise man will not admire, for he knows the ground. But in heaven the parts are lifted up so high that there is nothing but matter of admiration, things that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath entered into the heart of man to conceive of (1 Corinthians 2:9). They be things beyond expression and nothing is fit for them, but admiration at the great things vouchsafed to the Church.

 

And as with admiration so with invitation that is the nature of true thankfullness; there is no envy in spiritual things. No man envies another the light of the Scriptures, but lo, behold with admiration and invitation of all others, This is the Lord.

 

Let us therefore rejoice beforehand at the glorious times to come, both to ourselves and to others, be stirring and exciting one another to glory, and rejoice in God our salvation.

Be not offended at the meanness of the church nor with religion, for there’s a glory to come

 

And therefore learn all to be stirred up from hence, not to be offended with Christ, or with religion. Be not offended, saith Augustine, with the poverty of religion. Everything to the eyes of the world is little in religion. A Christian is a despised person, and the Church, the meanest part of the world, in regard of outward glory. But consider with the littleness, and baseness, and despisedness of the Church, the glory to come. Time will come when we shall rejoice, and not only see, but boast with admiration to the stirring up of others, Lo, this is the Lord. And therefore say with our Saviour Christ, happy is he that is not offended with me (Matthew 11:6), nor with religion.

 

There is a time coming that will make amends for all. Who in the world can say at the hour of death, and day of judgment, “Lo, this is my riches, this my honours?” Alas the greatest persons must stand naked to give account, all must stand on even ground to hold up their hands at the great bar. We may say to the carnal presumptuous man, “Lo this is the man that put his confidence in his riches.” And none but reconciled Christians can say, Lo this is our God. Therefore take heed of being offended with anything in religion.

Be not afraid to die, for heaven is our rest and center

 

Again if time to come be so transcendently glorious, let us not be afraid to die, let us not be over much cast down, for it shall end in glory. And let us be in expectation still of good times, wait for this blessed time to come, and never be content with any condition, so as to set up our rest here. We may write upon everything, Hic non est requies vestra; Our rest is behind, these things are in passage. And therefore rest content with nothing here. Heaven is our center, our element, our happiness, and everything is contentedly happy, and thrives in its element. The birds in the air, the fish in the sea, beasts on the earth, they rest there as in their center. And that is our place forever, it is heaven, it is God. The immediate enjoying of God in heaven, that is our rest, our element, and we shall never rest till we be there. And therefore he is befooled for it in the Gospel, that sets up his rest here. Whosoever saith I have enough, and will now take contentment in them, he is a fool. There is a rest for God’s people, but it is not here.

Neither rest in any measure of grace or comfort here

 

Neither rest in any measure of grace, or comfort. What is faith to sight? We have hope, an Anchor, and Helmet, that keeps up many a soul, as the cork keeps from sinking. What is this hope to the fruition of what we hope for? Here we have love, many love tokens from God. Yes, but what is love to union? Ours is but a love of desire, we are but in motion here; we lie in motion only and our desires are not accomplished. What is this love to the accomplishing of the union with the thing beloved forever? Here we have communion of Saints; but what is this communion of Saints, to communion with God forever? We have infirmities here as others, which breeds jealousies and suspicion; but we shall have communion in heaven, and there shall be nothing in us to distaste others, but everlasting friendship. Yea our communion shall be with perfect souls. Our communion of saints here is our heaven upon earth, but it is communion with imperfect souls. Peace we have, yes, but it is peace intermixed. It is peace in the midst of enemies. There we shall have peace without enemies. Christ doth now rule in the midst of enemies. In heaven he shall rule in the midst of his friends. So that we can imagine no condition here though never so good, but it is imperfect. And therefore rest not in anything in the world, no not in any measure of grace, any measure of comfort, till we be in heaven. But wait for the time to come, and rejoice in hope by which we are saved. Wait still, and though we have not content here, yet this is not our home, this is a good refreshment by the way. As when the Children of Israel came from Babylon, they had wells by the way, as in Micah, they digged up wells. So from Babylon to Jerusalem we have many sweet refreshments; but they be refreshments far off the way.

 

God digs many wells, we have breasts of consolation to comfort us, but they are but for the way. And therefore let us answer all temptations, and not take contentment with anything here. It is good, but it is not our home. Cui dulcis peregrinatio non amat patriam. If we have eternity, love heaven, we cannot be over much taken with anything in the way.

Be not overmuch dejected for the desolation of the Church

 

And so for the Church, let us not be over much dejected for the desolation of the Church, but pray for a Spirit of faith, which doth realize things to the soul, and presents them as present to the soul, sees Babylon fallen, presents things in the Scripture phrase and in the words, Babylon is fallen, for as much as all the enemies of the Church fall. Mighty is the Lord that hath spoken, and will perform it. And as the angel saith, it is down. So time will come ere long, when it shall be said, It is down. The Church shall be gathered, and then, Lo, this is our God.

 

It was the comfort of the believing Jews that the Gentiles would come. And why should it not be the comfort of the Gentiles that there be blessed times for the ancient people of God, when they shall all cry, and say, Lo, this is our God; We have waited for him long, and he will save us. Therefore be not over much discouraged, for whatsoever present desolation the Church lies under. If it were not for this, we were of all men most miserable (1 Corinthians 15:19), as Paul saith. But there be times to come when we shall rejoice, and rejoice forever, and make boast of the Lord. If it were not, we were of all men most miserable. Howsoever happiness is to come, yet of all persons he is most happy, that hath Christ and heaven.

The foretaste of heaven is better than all worldly happiness

 

The very foretaste of happiness is worth all the world, the inward peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, the beginnings of the Image of God, and of happiness here is worth all the enjoyments of the world. Ask of any Christian whether he will hang with the great and worldling, and be in his condition; he would not change his place in grace, for all his glory. And therefore set heaven aside; the very first fruits is better, than all the harvest of the world. Let us therefore get the soul raised by faith to see her happiness, we need it all. For till the soul get a frame raised up to see its happiness here, specially in the world to come, it is not in a frame fit for any service. It will not stoop to any base sin where the affections are so possessed they look upon all base courses as unworthy of their hope. What, I that hope to rejoice forever with God in heaven, that am heir of heaven, that have the Image of God upon me, that am in Covenant with God, to take any bestial course, to place my happiness in things meaner than myself, that have God to delight in, a God in Covenant that hath taken me into Covenant, with himself. So I say in all solicitations to sin, get ourselves into a frame that may stand firm and immovable.

 

In all troubles let us know we have a God in Covenant, that we may joy in him here, and rejoice with him in heaven forever hereafter.

 

FINIS.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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