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Acts 20. 24.
SERM. of this world, any further than to get well out of them, and
to use them so as may be most for his interest in those great and glorious things which are not seen.
This is the way, therefore, to keep your spirits also from sinking under any trouble or difficulty you meet with here below; for by looking at the things that are not seen, you will be so taken and enamoured with them, that you will think nothing too great to suffer, nothing too hard to do for the attainment of them : as we see in St. Paul, when it was told him by the Holy Ghost that bonds and afflictions waited for him in every city; " But none of these things,” saith he,
move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received.” And when the brethren besought him
with tears not to go up to Jerusalem, because of the troubles ch. 21. 13. that would there befal him; he answered roundly, “ What
mean ye to weep and to break my heart? For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the Name of the Lord Jesus.” This was the true Christian
spirit indeed; but how came the Apostle by it? By his [2 Cor. 4. looking at things not seen. “Our light affliction,” saith he, 17.]
“which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.” His eye was at Heaven, and therefore he was resolved that nothing upon earth should hinder him from
going thither: in which he did but follow the example of Heb. 12. 2. his and our great Lord and Master, “ Looking unto Jesus,
the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Moreover, this is the way not only to withstand, but overcome the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the Devil ; for they being all taken from things that are seen, he that
looks only at the things that are not seen, can never be 2 Cor. 5. 7. taken with them. He“ walking by faith, and not by sight,”
lives out of their reach, and hath the power of God Himself 1 John 5. 4. engaged to overcome and keep them under. “ For this is
the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” [Luke 1.6.] This is the way also to "walk in all the Commandments
and Ordinances of the Lord blameless,” and so in the narrow path that leads to life; for he that is always looking upon Almighty God as the Governor of the world and of all things in it, cannot but make it his constant care and study in all things to obey and please Him; and having the place he is going to always in his eye, will walk directly to it, whilst others ramble about, going they know not whither.
This is the way too whereby we may go, when we will, from earth to Heaven, and see, as St. John did, what they are doing there; how they worship and fall down before the Eternal God, and the Lamb that sitteth upon the throne. How Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses and Elias, and all that ever lived and died in the true faith and fear of God, how they employ and recreate themselves together; how happily they live; how cheerfully they look; how pleasantly they sing their Hallelujahs; and how they join with the Angels and Archangels, in crying to one another, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts, Heaven and earth is full of Thy glory. Glory be to Thee, O Lord, most high.” Thus all who rightly look at the things which are not seen, even while they are upon earth, “ They have their conversation Phil. 3. 20. in Heaven; from whence also they look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ."
This also is the way to “be meet to be partakers of the Col. 1. 12. inheritance of the Saints in light.” They who, while they are in this world, look only at the things which are seen ; when they go into the other, if they should be admitted into Heaven, they could know nobody there, nor what they are doing, having never seen any such thing before ; and so would be altogether unfit for that holy society, and incapable of their celestial joys: whereas they who have accustomed themselves to look at the things which are not seen, when they go to Heaven, neither the place, nor the company, nor the employment, will seem strange to them; for they had been used to it before, and had their eye all along upon it. And therefore they will no sooner come into that blessed assembly, but they will immediately strike up with them in singing forth the praises of the Most High God.
SERM. Lastly, this is the way to use the means of grace, so as LXII.
really to obtain grace by them. Neither can it be done any other way: he that looks only at the things which are seen, can never pray to any purpose ; for he doth not see Him he prays to; he cannot hear the Word of God as such, in that he doth not look upon Him whose word it is. And in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, though he may eat the bread and drink the wine which he doth see, he cannot possibly receive the body and blood of Christ; for they are not seen : whereas, they who look at the things which are not seen, they find and feel wonderful life, and vigour, and efficacy in these holy institutions : all the while they are upon their knees, their eyes and their hearts are wholly upon God, to whom they pray, and upon their Advocate at His right hand, in whose Name they do it: all the while they are singing psalms, or hymns, or spiritual songs, they join with all the invisible host of Heaven in praising and glorifying their Almighty Creator, and most merciful Redeemer: all the while they are hearing the Word of God
read or expounded to them, though they see only a man 1 Thess. 2. speaking, they “receive it not as the word of man, but as it
is in truth, the Word of God, which effectually worketh in them who thus believe.” And when they are at our Lord's table, looking not at the bread and wine, or any thing else they see, but only at Christ Whom they do not see, they verily and indeed receive His most blessed body and blood, to preserve both their souls and bodies to eternal life.
Wherefore by our thus using the means of grace, we may grow, as in all other, so particularly in this grace, of looking always at the things which are not seen, which will excite and quicken all other graces in us, and put us upon the constant exercise of them; for if we go, as we ought, every day to the house of God, where we have nothing to do with any thing that is seen, but only with what is not seen, and accordingly look at the things which are not seen there, we shall learn by degrees to do so every where else too; and then we shall live like Christians indeed : for wheresoever we are, our thoughts will be always running upon God as
present with us, and upon our Saviour as interceding for us ; our hearts will be always in Heaven, where our treasure is; and we shall never be easy in our minds, but whilst we are doing something in order to our getting to it: that when we leave all these things which we now see, we may go to those which we do not yet see, but hope for, through the merits of the Eternal Son of God; to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever.
OF TRUST IN GOD.
PSALM ix. 10.
And they that know Thy Name will put their trust in Thee;
for Thou, Lord, hast never failed them that seek Thee.
As all men desire to live happily in the world, there are none but may do so if they will, notwithstanding all the crosses and troubles they meet with in it; for our happiness doth not depend upon any thing without us, but is seated wholly in our own breasts, where nobody can deprive us of it, unless we ourselves consent. If all be right there, and we continue steadfastly resolved to keep it so, nothing that falls out will be able to discompose or move us. Though storms and tempests should arise and beat upon us, we shall still be serene and calm within ; and so as happy as we can expect to be in this mortal and imperfect state.
But this happy temper of mind there are but few attain to in this life, nor any without great study and application; for it is not to be gotten from any thing, or all things upon earth, but must be fetched from Heaven, if we ever have it; for we find by our own experience that our souls are of that nature, that nothing which God hath made can satisfy or terminate our desires; but how much soever we have, our desires still run on and on, ad infinitum, and so can never rest till they come to an infinite good; such as none is but God.
But He is such an infinite good, that in Him we have all, and more than we can possibly desire. And therefore if our souls be once fixed on Him, there they rest as in