The ASSURANCE OF THE FAITHFULL: OR, The Glorious Estate Of the Saints in Heaven, DESCRIBED: And the certainty of their future Happiness mani­fested by REASON and Scripture. By M. D. Batchelor of Divinity.

Parva non sunt contemnenda fine quibus magna constare non possunt. Seneca.
Ratio fide praecedente plurimum valet. Aug. Epist. 222.
Ratio subsequatur fidem ut intelligat fidelis quid credat. Ambros. de fide contra Arrianos.

LONDON. Printed by J. R. for Edward Man, at the Sign of the Swan in the Strand, near York-house. 1670.

To the Right Honorable Lady ELIZABETH, Countess Dowager of Northumber­land, &c.


I Was afraid to venture these Meditations from the Pulpit to the Press, through a mixed multitude a­lone without a Protection; for although they have had the happiness to be well received in a famous Audience, especially from the Persons of Quality who have perswaded me to suf­fer them to appear in publick: [Page]I knew not but that they might meet with some morose and ill-natur'd Zoilus, whose common practice is to bespatter the best approved Writings of our age; but since your Honour favours them with your acceptance, I have been delivered from all ap­prehension: I fear no more the mistakes of the ignorant, and the malice of our sensual Wits, because I am certain that eve­ry one will have some esteem and respect for those Labours, that are honoured with the Ap­probation and Allowance of a person of that singular Wisdom and Piety; And not onely my private benefit hath obliged me to this Dedication, but also that [Page]of my Friends unto whom I do not onely discover the unspeak­able Excellencies of Heaven, but besides I reveal unto them the means of attaining unto that blessed End. The former they shall find in the Sermon, and the latter they may meet with in the Preface, in your Honour, and in your most Exemplary life; A life that makes you appear an Ornament amongst our English Nobility, and especially to the most noble Families that are re­lated unto your Honour, The most noble Fa­mily of the Howards. One of them God hath blest with a numerous increase of Persons of the greatest worth: A Life wor­thy of our admiration, in that it shews us Piety, Vertue, Wisdom, [Page]Goodness, and Honour, as so many Celestial Lights shining together in the same Sphere; A Miracle in Grace as well as Na­ture! A Blessing it is to our Na­tion in this unhappy Age, that we have some such Noble Souls, that seem to be Angels Incar­nate, sent amongst us by the Di­vine Appointment on purpose to maintain the Honour of Re­ligion against the encroachings of Schism and Profaness. It is unto such Heavenly Spirits, Ma­dam, that Christ promiseth a Crown of Life; not onely to encourage them in a faithful management of his, and their Spiritual concerns, but also to oblige them to a total Resigna­tion [Page]of themselves and interests to the disposition of his Provi­dence, and to enable them to bear worldly misfortunes, and present affliction with less pain. I do therefore offer the description of that extraordina­ry felicity unto your Honour, as a seasonable meditation, where your Piety, Madam, may meet with Antidotes able to preserve your Noble Mind from the sence of all evil events: And as the Original shall one day be worthy your acceptance, be pleased now to look favour­ably upon this Representation, which will afford your Honour a sight of those precious Jew­els that enrich the Heavenly [Page]Crown. Here is also the Assu­rance that Faith and Reason do give of that Glorious Estate un­to the Faithful: God preserve your Honour in much health and prosperity, with all your Noble Relations; It is the hear­ty desire, and shall always be the Prayer of

Your Honours most Faithful and devoted Servant M. D'Assigny.

The Assurance of the Faithful: OR, Heavens Glory made manifest. In a Sermon upon these words of the 2d Chapter of the Revelations, the latter part of the 10th verse.

‘I will give thee a Crown of life.’

WHen a Glorious Victory is assured, what faint-hearted Souldier will shun the encounter? When the price of a Race is inestimable, who will not run to obtain it? or when Re­wards are promised, whose acquisition will procure unto us immortal satisfactions, who will delay the performance of the Task? who will not be encouraged to labour after the purchase? Such is the nature of the Victory over our Spiritual enemies of the price of Virtues race, and of those Coelestial Rewards that invite as to the accomplishment of our great Task of obedience to the supreme Authority. They are such as becomes an In­finite bounty to bestow: such as have required both an In­finite power to create, and blood of an infinite value to re­deem. They are such as are carefully laid up in those hea­venly mansions where all things are suitable unto that Majesty, that discovers it self there invested with an incomprehensible Glory. It seems Christ the eternal Son of God, who is very well acquainted with these supernatural Excellencies, had no mean esteem of their value and power, seeing that he judges them sufficient to recompense, and able to encourage the Mar­tyrs [Page 2]in violent persecutions. He judges them worth their labours and sufferings. Therefore in his letters to his seven beloved Churches of Asia minor, that were threatned with the furious assaults of the enemies of the truth, he annexes to his reproofs and exhortations a blessed declaration of the greatness of Heavens glory, as the assured Reward of their faithfulness, that these future hopes might fill them with the contempt of the present difficulties, raise their spirits in the midst of temporal afflictions with the joyful expectation of that inestimable happiness, and oblige them to encounter all opposition with an inflexible courage and patience. These advantages promised to their perseverance are many and glo­rious, yet he summes them up in such different Titles as had some relation either to the present estate of those Congre­gations, or unto those things that were most in esteem in those Regions where they were situated. Unto the Ephesians, he presents them under the notion of the fruits of the Tree of Life, either because the soils did yield most excellent fruit­trees, and especially one called by the Naturalists Arbor vitae, whose fruit is of an extraordinary vertue, or because that Church was in a decaying condition: Christ promiseth there­fore Heaven as a Soveraign Remedy to all the evils that did torment them, borrowing an expression from that wonder­ful Tree that was appointed to preserve man in the estate of Innocency in his perfection from all those weaknesses. Unto them of Pergamus Christ calls the rewards of Heaven, a white Stone, because that City being a place of Judicature, and the Residence of a Proconsul, they were acquainted with the manner of absolving the accused, which was by casting a white stone into a Pot; Christ thereby intimating the joyes of the Saints in Heaven much like unto those of a Criminal, when he received from his Judge a white stone of absolution instead of a black one of condemnation which he had de­served. Thus unto the Church of Smyrna for other reasons which we shall examine, he calls the glories of Heaven, a Grown of life. This last name signifies more than appears [Page 3]at the first aspect: you may perceive the superficial part of the blessedness and glories of Heaven. It will be worth your while to know their extraordinary value, that they may be also unto you an encouragement to Duty. Both our Saviours goodness that holds them out unto us, and offers them to our contemplation here, and to our fruition hereafter; and their own excellencies do invite us to enquire into them, that we may know what we have to expect from Gods liberality, and that accordingly we may order our endeavours. To the end you may meet with satisfaction in this inquisition, we shall labour to represent unto you the glorious estate of the Elect in Heaven with the same Colours that it appears in my Text: And first we shall see what is this Crown of life, and wherefore it is so called. Secondly, the Assurance that the Text gives of this Estate unto the faithful, which we shall prove as well by Reason, as the Authority of Scripture. But before we proceed, we shall make some few observations.

It were no ordinary Presumption to engage in a perfect de­scription of this Crown of Life; when our weak capacities that are confined by our senses to this lower sphere, cannot at present ascend to a full contemplation of coelestial bodies that enrich the Firmament, much less can we attain unto a clear apprehension of higher and more divine objects. Their superlative excellency frees them from the profanation and acquaintance of Judgements that converse onely amongst the meanest beings. An ancient Crecian petitioned the Hea­then gods, that he might be admitted to behold the Sun at a near distance. Fide non cae­pitur, spe non attingitur, charitate non apprehendi­tur; acquiri potest, estima­ri non potest vita eterna. Szeged. It would be in vain to entertain the same curiosity in this case, and to desire to come now to a perfect knowledge of this supernatural condition, because whiles ignorance and prejudice do possess our Understandings, and vanity our Wills, we are neither worthy nor capable to re­ceive such sublime notions. St. Paul's modesty therefore becomes us who are not favoured with unspeakable Vi­sions; He dares not venture to describe those mysteries that were reserved for his experience and sense: That eye hath not [Page 4]seen, ear hath not heard, and that are not entered into the heart of man. Yet we must not so far mistake the Apostles Practice, and our own Duty, as to make his discretion the cause of our negligence, and to forbid all meditations of Heaven as unlawful, because he recommends unto us so­briety in our inquiries, and as impossible because of its di­stance from our climate. This respectful ignorance is unsea­sonable in this unbelieving age: a friend unto Sensuality and Atheisme, and an enemy of those comforts which such consi­derations do yield to sweeten the bitterness of our earthly sorrows. Besides, this were to condemn Christs intention, and to frustrate his design. Wherefore doth he offer them to the contemplation of his Churches, and proposes them as the assured recompense of the labours of the faithful? Wherefore do the sacred Writers mention unto us so often the advantages of the other life? but that we should know, admire, and expect these Riches of Gods goodness; that we should endeavour to attain unto them, and that the hopes of immortal Bliss might make us bear temporal misfortunes, and the present unhappiness of the world with less repug­nancy. Heb. 12.2. It is the design of St. Pauls Exhortation, Let us run, saith he, the race that is set before us, 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. That we may follow this glorious example of our Saviour, and arrive at last at the same felicities, they are shewed unto us afar off: the distance as of all other objects that present themselves to our senses, lessens their greatness, and our present esteem of their worth; and those things that interpose between them and us, occasions this ingenuous Confession of the Apostle, Now we see through a glass darkly, we know in part, and we pro­fess in part.

This imperfection proceeds partly from the weakness of Man's judgement, and partly from the sublimity and excel­lency of the possessions of Heaven; which are repre­sented [Page 5]unto us by those earthly things that have but a faint resemblance with their qualities and nature. Besides these advantages of the life to come are as many as glorious, and therefore it is impossible to find a perfect Relation, a perfect Image of the several parcels of Heavens Glory in any one excellency of the World. When they should meet all in one Center, and joyn their dispersed beams and powers, they would not be able to represent one of the Rayes of eternal felicity; and when such a significant word might be invented that could comprehend all the comforts, the blessedness, and all the pomp of the World; it would not be sufficient to shew us the least part of the happiness of this life. Divers names are therefore borrowed from these earthly vanities to shadow those realities, because of some weak relation that they have with this blessed condition: Its Joyes are ex­pressed by a Marriage, its Glory by the Sun and Stars, its In­dependency and Power by a Royalty, our Holiness by the Priesthood, our abode by a City fenced with Rubies and Diamonds, paved with Chrystal and Saphyrs, and enriched with Gold and the most precious Stones. Amongst the se­veral Descriptions employed to give us a sight of Heavenly Bliss, I find none of so large an extent, and of such an uni­versal Comprehension as that in my text, I will give thee a Crown of life. In which words the sweetness and pleasures of that estate, the Glory, the Splendor, the Majesty, and pomp of it do jointly appear together; for it is a life, a true life, full of all innocent delights that will render it both real and pleasant, and that will free us from all Syncopes that do now frequently interrupt our life. Besides it shall be a Crown of life, the glories will be answerable to the plea­sures of it: it shall be a living Crown, Hebraisme. as some will have the words rendted: Those excellent enjoyments that we shall possess, and that supream degree of honour unto which we shall be promoted signified by this Crown, shall continue with us for all eternity in the same unchangeable condition, therefore St. 1 Pet. 5.4. Peter calls it a Crown of Glory that fadeth not [Page 6]away. 1 Cor. 9.25. [...]. And St. Paul [...]. The Hebrew word used in such like occasions, to express the sublimest felicity of Christ, and of his Saints, signifies as well the plenty as the eternity of their advantages. He encompas­sed about. Psal. 21.3. We may hereby understand that this Crown of life shall intitle them to innumerable and immor­tal satisfactions: it shall therefore be a true life. How wrongfully do we abuse this pleasant Title in bestowing it upon the present unworthy subsistency of the soul and body? O miserable estate! how vainly do we flatter our beings with this gratefull conceit? Can that ever be a life, that drags us continually to our Grave, that causeth us to die as soon as we begin to breathe, and that is joyned unto death by the inward Principles of our existence? Can that be a life that carries death in its bosome, that makes us sensible of a thousand deaths before we breathe forth the last gasp, and that is interrupted by sleep, idleness, and sickness, (as by so many deaths) which deprive us of the benefits of life, by which it is to be esteemed rather than by the continuance of the soul with the body, at least in the judgement of a wise Moralist, who hearing of a wicked man that was lately ex­pired in a very old age; Diu fuit, said he, sed non diu vixit. At this rate how unworthy is our present subsistence of the pleasing and glorious title of life. This therefore is promised in my text in opposition to that which we now lead to ex­press the excellency and reality of that Heavenly Life, free from those miseries which now do attend us: Tolerantia transitoria Co­rona aeterna, pugna modica merces immen­sa, poena levis gloria inesti­mabilis, dabo tibi post mor­zem pro morte vitae aeterni­tatem Aug. de civit. Dei. As if our Sa­viour should thus compare them together for the encourage­ment of the faithful. What if my interest doth expose you to your enemies cruelty? what if you are forced to lay down your lives in the maintenance of my cause? what reason have you to prize so inconsiderable a loss? when the Ex­change brings unto you Returns of a more unspeakable value. Grudg not to part with this shadow of life; Grieve not to surrender it: Refuse it not when I shall require it: I have another life in reserve for you, whose advantages do as high­ly excel those of this present being, as the Crown doth the [Page 7]other enjoyments of the body; a life both glorious and plea­sant, Erit status omnium bono­rum aggrega­tione perfe­ctus. Boetius de consol. where nothing shall be wanting to increase your satis­factions, but cares, trouble, and pain, which now do cause us to relish the sweetness of our earthly pleasures. I will give thee, &c. This expression presents us with the greatest vari­ety of Excellencies. That they may better appear unto you, take a view of them, and of that supernatural estate of Heaven in these following propositions.

1. It shall be an unseparable union of the soul and body for all eternity. We shall live no more upon condition to die. The fear of death that doth usually torment us more than the sense, shall then cease with the cause: Men shall never be disquieted with those importune Apprehensions that disturb us, as they did Belshazzar in the midst of his carousing Cups, and that cause us to be weary of life as that Roman was, who being pursued by the cruelty of the Triumvirat, offered himself freely to his Enemies pleasure to be delivered by death of the daily fear of dying.

But then we shall be secure both from the sense and ap­prehension of death, and of all approaching evils; and we shall rest in that blessed Tranquility that shall never have cause to dread an alteration; there shall be no more divorce made between the soul and body, it shall not be possible to separate that most loving couple. Gods Wisdom and Power shall joyn them together in such a manner, that neither Time nor any Accident shall be able to cause a separation. For God, upon whose pleasure all his Creatures do depend, shall remove all deadly principles, and grant us an eternal conti­nuance; which shall proceed not onely from his immutable Decree, and immediate influence, but also from the na­ture and manner of the union of the two parties, that shall no longer be entertained by the assistance of the Creatures, and a supply from the Elements; but onely by a greater cor­respondency, by more spiritual and more sutable Embraces. At present although the soul hath a natural tendency to en­liven, to move and inform the body between them, there is [Page 8]a vast difference that can never consent unto any conjunction without the mediation of the vital spirits extracted from the more subtil and purer substance of the meats refined by their successive concoctions. But then our Bodies shall depose, and cast off that gross and earthly matter, and become more convenient companions of the soul by a nearer assimilation to that Celestial being; For this mortal must put on immor­tality, and this corruptible must put on incorruption, as St. Paul teaches at large in the 1 Cor. 15 Chap. where he further de­clares the Mystery of the Resurrection, and of the estate of our bodies, in the 42, 43, 44. Verses. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. From hence we may discover the future substance of our Bodies, which shall be almost as subtil as those earthly Spirits raised by the ordinary systole and diastole, Mercat. lib. 1. par. 4. clas. 4. quast. 120. the two motions of the heart, which Spirits have the nearest access to the soul of man, and by which it is tied to its present residence; for this blessed life and its eternity is established upon a resemblance and nearer relation between the soul and body, whose beings must be rendred more conformable before they can be se­cured from a dissolution, or from the sense of violence; because that onely this conformity is able to render the com­munion unseparable, and to free it by that means from the insults and affronts of all enemies. It is therefore most cer­tain that it shall not be in the power of any beings to put us to the sufferance of pain; for as the pain which proceeds from the body is derived from an apprehension or a possibi­lity of separation from that being upon which it depends, or from that which tends unto it: As the pain of the soul doth from a seeming or a real separation from God the fountain of all good, or from that which stands us in some manner instead of God: It cannot be imagined how they shall be able to suffer who are adorned with the qualities of immor­tality, whose beings are free from alteration, and not subject [Page 9]to the least weakness, and whose senses shall never receive any contrary impressions, nor convey unto the appetite any evil apprehensions: Our bodies shall be no more marked with wounds and scars, nor feel the effects of the enemies cruelty and malice. What a glorious advantage is this? we shall be armed against the assaults of all casualties: we shall be secure from all attempts: we shall no more tremble at the sight of a danger: neither corruption within, nor injuries from without shall be able to alter that perfect and happy con­stitution of our beings: In one word, nothing shall ever in­terrupt or disturb us in the sweet enjoyment of heavenly Bliss; For God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes, Heb. 4.9. and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, nor shall there be any more pain: for the former things shall be passed away: as is expresly promised in Revel. 21.4. For that reason this glorious Estate is called a Rest, because it shall free us from all inconveniences that now do encrease our labours: it shall not consist in a shameful cessation from all action, bur rather from those troublesome and un­grateful operations, unto which our mortal condition do now condemn us. Therefore it was typified under the Law by Moses Sabbath, in which none were to be employed in ser­vile work but were commanded to consecrate that day in the service of God: it was also signified by the structure of the Tabernacle, in which some learned Rabbies do take notice, that Iron that is the emblem of War, affliction and trouble was not used, that being the visible Type of this glorious Tabernacle of Heaven, where Gods presence shall for ever dwell with his people: It intimates, that in this Immortal Sanctuary not made with hands, In gloria coe­lesti mira se­renitas perfe­cta securitas aeterna foelici­tas. Bernard. sup. cant. Serm. 2.12. no Iron shall be mingled with the Gold and Jewels that enrich and adorn Gods Pa­lace; no sorrow, no sickness, no disturbance, nor displea­sure shall ever come near us; but as a Father very well ex­presseth himself: In Heaven there shall be a wonderful tran­quility, a perfect security, and an eternal felicity.

So I pass to the next advantage of this Heavenly life, and [Page 10]that is, A perfect Independency, and a freedom from the Creature; a freedom from all those wants that do oblige us to crave assistance from inferiour beings; a freedom from the Elements, and their Authority, and from all obligations to mean subsistances; for this blessed life shall advance us to that perfection that we shall not stand in need of those things that we do now enjoy; we shall be enabled with those glorious qualities that shall make us be content in the enjoy­ment of our selves; and when something should be wanting to the accomplishment of our happiness which we shall not possess in our selves, as we shall be promoted to the fruition of God; we shall there find it in him; we shall there meet with all that sweetness and variety of Excellencies of which we see but the shadows in the Creature. Psal. 36.8. There we shall be abundantly filled with the fatness of his house: And we shall drink out of the rivers of his pleasures. It is impossible that any thing should be ever wanting to them that shall be ad­mitted to a perfect communion with God the Author and Creator of all things, to them who shall live under the daily expressions of his mercy and goodness: His Almighty Power inclinable to render them happy, shall continually supply and entertain them with immortal enjoyments, and furnish them with those things that are not to be expressed by the creature: 1 Cor. 12.4. The Greatness of Gods liberality doth make us conceive his Royal favours somewhat proportionable to his Infinite Be­ing. Alexander could not give so little a summe to Pericles as 10 Talents: God will be no less noble to the Children of his bosome, to those that he is obliged to raise to the highest felicity. But those things that shall serve to encrease our satisfactions shall not be like those that we now possess: they shall not put us to any expence to obtain them, nor to any trouble to preserve them; they shall not weary and torment us as earthly riches do, nor oblige us to abase our selves; besides they shall have this other advantage, they shall proceed immediately from God: It is far more pleasant to drink of the Fountain, than to sup of the stream; it is a [Page 11]greater satisfaction to behold the Sun, than to feel some in­direct reflections of the beams: O how pleasant, and what an Angelical satisfaction will it be to continue for ever in the loving embraces of that gracious God from whom all good is derived? What advantage will it be that we shall there relish true pleasures without the least mixture of evil? for they shall immediately flow unto us from Gods Essence, from an eternal contemplation of his face, and an immediate enjoyment of his favour: we shall receive from Gods hand what he conveys unto us by other beings, and that in a greater abundance, and with far more satisfaction: for our blessngs are not so natural when they come from the fruitfulness of the Earth, and the influences of the Heavens, as when they proceed from a divine Bounty without any mediation. How sweet therefore will our Heavenly comforts appear unto us, when God out of the tenderness of his Love shall freely be­stow them? when in this Celestial Court every one shall have an equal access to the supream Authority, and depend onely upon God both for our subsistance, and for those in­effable things that will contribute to our happiness; A blessed Society, a glorious Abode, Holy and pleasant Employs, the benefits of an eternal Peace, with inestimable Riches, shall be appurtenances of this Crown of life, but the satisfaction that will flow from thence, shall be swallowed up in that O­cean of Joy which Gods immediate presence and glory will create in our souls, that will become so many Heavens, where the invisible Being will manifest himself in an extraordinary manner. Therefore St. John promiseth, Rev. 21.3. God will dwell with us, and we shall be his people, and God himself shall be with us, and be our God. And elsewhere, He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be my Son. Besides I find this other advantage in an immediate supply of our wants from God, That we shall thereby be freed from that slavery that increases at present our discontents: It is no small disgrace to the Nobility of our Nature, that we should so impatiently pursue after, and so covetously embrace the [Page 12]vanities of the world, and things meaner than our selves; it gives also no little occasion of disturbance to be obliged to labour after the possession of that which can furnish us no real content, and that rewards our expectation and desires with disappointment. But then as we shall immediately re­ceive from Gods overflowing abundance, innumerable satis­factions, we shall no longer discredit our selves by mean complacencies, and by the discovery of our natural weak­ness and necessities; we shall no longer weary our selves in the pursuance of things unable to satisfie us with content: Upon God we shall depend, in his favour we shall be satis­fied, and by his happiness we shall be happy; not as we are at present, for the happiness of the world is increased as much by our wants, as by our enjoyments; but then as the constitution of our beings, and our estates shall be altered, we shall no longer know pleasure and felicity by their con­traries: in God we shall meet with the true and genuine taste of all Excellencies without the least mixture of evill. Unto this glorious dependency upon God, which St. Paul styles, Rom. 8.21. A freedom from the bondage of corruption, and the li­berty of the Saints. God labours at present to bring and train us up, by weaning our affections from the world, and by inspiring nobler desires, that are not to be concerned for the possessions of this life. 1. Cor. 7.30. It is the drift of St. Pauls Exhortation, who wills us To be indifferent in the use of the creatures, and not to abuse our selves, or them by any fond Embraces, or im­patient wishes for that which is to subsist but for a moment. It is the concern of us all that aspire to this independency, not to fix our hearts, nor our happiness upon the world, but to be always ready to part with that which is but an impediment to our perfection and felicity; for that reason God exercises us with wants and afflictions, and prepares us for a Crown, as Philip of Macedo did Alexander his son, by actions and employments suitable to the Majesty that we are one day to represent, and to the Excellency of that estate unto which we shall be promoted.

3. This glorious dependency upon God, that shall free us from all dependency upon the creature, shall proceed from an inward and perfect communion and unspeakable u­nion with this supream Being; we shall be united unto him by our affections; Gods love shall be no more clouded with judgments and trials; it shall shine upon us without in­terruption; our love in requital shall return him continual expressions of thankfulness; our desires shall rest in his suf­ficiency: all the motions of our soul shall tend to his Glory: We shall also be united unto God as the members are uni­ted unto the Head, by an inward and continual infusion of his divine Spirit in our souls, and by an humble submission to the motions of divine Wisdom that shall govern us; or as the subjects are one with their Prince, so God shall be one with us; 1 Cor. 15.2. he shall reassume the supream Authority which he exerciseth at present by a Mediator, and shall appear as our soveraign Lord, whose glory will be our interest; we shall also be united unto God by such a manner as is not to be ex­pressed. Joh. 17.24. Admirald de vita aeterna. Such will be this union as shall promote us to an inward sight of God, to a perfect resemblance with him, and to an eternal familiarity with God the Father; such will be this union, that we shall enjoy with the Incomprehensible Being the same felicity, Rev. 21.9. and be swallowed up in the immen­sity of his glory, Rev. 21.11. This union is signified unto us by a marriage, because Christ considered there not only as a Mediator, but as God, shall enter into a stricter alliance with men, and shall become one with them in an unspeakable manner. Therefore St. Paul styles it a great mystery. Ephes. 5.32. At present we are united unto God by the Holy Ghost, that is called the Spirit of Christ, by the reception of his benefits in the Sacraments, and by Prayer that causeth a continual enter­course and correspondency to be entertained between God and our souls: But then these imperfect unions shall cease, and give place to a more perfect and glorious, Ephes. 3.19. to a limited participation of all the divine Attributes that are communi­cable, to such a union, as shall raise us above all natural capaci­ties, [Page 14]our divine Estate unto which God designs us! By the present we may judge of the future: [...]. Vide colos. 1. 19. de Christo. What means our graci­ous God to bestow that cost, to employ those glorious Agents in our present satisfaction, if he intended not to bring us to a condition suitable to these hopeful beginnings? What means the Father to sacrifice his onely begotten Son, to ex­pose him to all the affronts that nature is able to receive? What means he to send the Holy Spirit to enrich us with his most precious and divine Graces? Is it onely to restore our natures to their Primitive Integrity, that needed not the con­currency of such a Saviour, nor the expressions of so great a Love? or is it onely to fit us for an entrance into the Angeli­cal Hierarchies? I hey would not have been so inquisitive into that estate which they would have then understood; and the Sacred Trinity had never been employed in such a manner in mans Redemption, nor had never honoured him with those unspeakable testimonies of divine love, if God had not intended him for an estate near unto himself. The holy Angels had never been ministring Spirits unto us, unless we had been the adopted sons of God, and unless there had been something in us that is to be worthy of their services and la­bours which God designs for his eternal enjoyment: Where­fore is it also that our nature is advanced to an Hypostatical union with the divine Word? is it onely to enable Christ for the office of a Mediator? or is it not also to declare un­to what honour God would promote the rest of mankind, were they as he is, free from error and vice? Wherefore do we labour to bring our lives and affections to a conformity with Christ, but that we that are his brethren might enjoy in some measure that advantage which he possesseth before us, and be united unto God, if not in the same unseparable manner, yet in such as may have some relation with that; wit­ness Christs Words in his Prayer to God at the eve of his Pas­sion, John 7.21, 22, 23. I pray for them that they all may be one, as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them, that they may [Page 15]be one even as we are one, I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one. Unity is the perfection, as well as foundation of number; all things have a natural tendency to it in the world: Therefore the Church of Christ of several Nations, being called to a participation of the rules of his goodness; 1 Cor. 15.28. they must first as the Rivers that run into the O­cean unite with God the ocean of all good, before they can come to the enjoyment of those endless joyes and pleasures that are onely there to be found. Other Reasons and pas­sages of Scripture may be alledged for this Truth, which makes St. Paul fly out into an Admiration, and St. John breathe forth nothing but wishes; all the holy Martyrs em­brace and hug the Flames that did convey them into this e­state. Was it not sufficient, O blessed God, that thou shouldest deliver man from his deserved punishment? was it not sufficient that thou shouldest render him capable of thy favours? But must such a favour be granted? must thou ad­mit him to a participation of the divine Nature by this un­speakable Union? St. Peter. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and goodness of our God! You know not mortal men what God hath reserved for them that fear him! What may we not expect from his love when we shall come to this estate? If there be any good at Gods disposal, any sweetness, any pleasure and benefit in heaven or in earth, it shall be theirs, and in their possession, Rom. 8.32. unto whom he hath at present given his Son and Spirit, and will also give himself, as St. Paul tells us.

Besides, this Union shall cause an interrupted Commu­nion between God and our souls. God shall pour his bles­sings upon us in abundance, and we shall render unto him unfeigned testimonies of thankfulness; We shall spend Eter­nity in his praises, and he shall spend his Treasuries upon us; we shall think of nothing but how to glorifie him, and he shall strive to satisfie us: we shall contend in mutual offices of Love and Friendship. O happy contention! O blessed communion! unto which our present Piety and Religion [Page 16]intends to bring us. We have now a communion with God in holy duties, and by his divine Spirit, for no other end but that we might thereby be prepared for his eternal communion in Heaven.

In this Union and Communion with God, consists the chief happiness of the creature; for besides that they shall remove from us whatsoever looks like an evil, they shall pro­cure unto us advantages suitable unto that supernatural ho­nour and estate, Isa. 64.4. Which eye hath not seen, &c. Our present knowledge shall be changed into sight; our hope into fru­ition; our love to God into endless transports; our desires shall be satisfied, our Prayers granted and turned into eternal Allelujahs; our understandings shall be no more darkened with ignorance; our wills no more corrupted with vice; a blessed perfection shall reign within us: And this shall pro­ceed from an immediate infusion of divine Knowledge, and a communication of spiritual qualities; that shall fit us for the vision of God, for we shall see his Face, and his Name shall be in our foreheads. Revel. 22. We know, saith St. John, when God shall appear, we shall be like him: For we shall see him as he is; not only with our corporal eyes we may see that inaces­sible light which always accompanies the visible declaration of his Glory and Power; but also with the eyes of our souls we shall behold as much of the essence of God as the creature can perceive he will expose himself to our view: And there­fore we shall be transformed into his resemblance; we shall be as so many Images of the Godhead, so many living Pi­ctures of his Infinite Being, representing his glorious per­fections as a clear fountain doth the body of the Sun, or rather as Moses face did the brightness of the beams with which the Divine Majesty was cloathed upon the Mount Sina; God will imprint in us the noble Characters and lineaments of his Es­sence: therefore well might David promise to himself, As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness, I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness. So that this blessed life shall not so much consist in the union of the soul and body, as [Page 17]in the union of both soul and body with God our Creator.

In the next place, in this life there shall be an excellent order and subordination in our souls; all the passions and af­fections shall be ruled by the command of our Reason: These inward motions shall not cease, but they shall be bound to their good behaviour; they shall no more offer to raise a rebellion within us to disturb our tranquility; they shall not be capable of evil impressions, Isa. 32.18. nor bear the marks of corrupted nature: There shall be a beautiful symmetry between the parts of our soul and body, insomuch that per­fection and integrity shall appear within and without. How happy shall that life be when we shall perfectly enjoy our selves! when all our affections shall endeavour to accomplish our felicity! These are our present enemies; they procure all the inconveniences that happen unto us, whether in our bodies or estates, by perswading us to embrace that seeming good, which proves our deadly poyson. But then they shall be no more corrupted by the sight of apparant advantages, nor tempted to betray our interest for a vain enjoyment: they shall always carry us to the performance of Duty, and to that real good which shall fully satisfie us with content. Un­less they be thus reformed, it is not possible for man to taste happiness in the most blessed Estate: For what are Honours, Riches, and the greatest Blessings, to one tormented with the desire of an increase, or to a peevish discontented soul that apprehends a change, or sees a happiness afar off which it pre­fers to the present, or to one whose passions gaul him: The least pain is sufficient to qualifie the greatest pleasures: there­fore in this happy life unruly passions shall cease with out­ward inconveniences: they shall suffer us to relish the sweet­ness of our possessions; they shall rather awaken our senses, and give them a fuller and a quicker apprehension of the ex­cellency of the heavenly delights: and although our happi­ness shall not be confined to those pleasures that are furnished by our senses, for they are not sufficient inlets to receive as much as the soul requires to accomplish her felicity; be­sides, [Page 18]it is not proper that the Bliss of so excellent a part should depend upon its correspondency with the baser, or that it should borrow its satisfaction from its union with the body; Caro spiritu­alis effectae per omnes sensus suos multimo­dis exuberabit delitiis. Laur. yet it is most certain, that they shall not want a share of those pleasures in which the soul shall so freely swim; they shall not be brutish, or such as Mahomet promiseth to his Mufulmans, but they shall be sutable unto the spiritual body of the Righteous, and far excelling the base and rotten plea­sures of this miserable life, in quality, for they shall be with­out the least mixture of bitterness in the quantity; for they shall be proportion'd to our capacities, and in the durance; for they shall be continual without interruption, and eternal, as David informs us, Psal. 16.11. speaking unto God. In thy presence is fulness of joy, and at thy right hand are pleasures for ever­more.

5. This life shall be a life of Holiness and Righteousness; a life of Piety and Justice, and of sobriety, a life of integri­ty; for then we shall be arrived to the supreme degree of perfection, as well as of happines; we shall come to that perfect stature of regeneration which is in Christ Jesus our Lord: The works of the Devil shall then be utterly de­stroyed, and that great disorder which his Apostacy hath caused shall then be reformed. In Heaven no impure thing shall enter, Rev. 21. Heb. 12.14. For without holiness none shall see God. The glo­rified shall never be able to offend their God, for the inward motions of the soul being rightly disposed, according to his Will, and our affections perfectly reformed, the outward actions of the body must needs be conformable. When there should be another Serpent to tempt us, and another Eve to assist him, they could never prevail upon us, because we shall be no more in a possibility of sinning, for our under­standings shall be no more capable of mistakes, nor our wills corrupted with importune desires, nor our actions forced from us against our election; And besides this blessed dis­position from whence shall proceed a constant practice of the Commandments of God, he will also by his continual in­fluence [Page 19]to strengthen our resolutions, and determine our wills, that they shall abhor whatever might displease him; the sight of his holiness shall convey the same disposition into our minds, as St. John tells us: and his infinite power shall be engaged [...] [...]eserve them whom his love hath espoused, and for whom he hath been at so vast an expence to raise them to that estate; Therefore God we shall for ever adore with all the powers of the soul and body; his service we shall attend with delight, our brethren we shall love without dis­simulation. How pleasant will this life be when there shall be a continual Emulation between God and his creatures, and between themselves, who shall exceed in love and affecti­on? when all the glorified in Heaven shall interchange daily expressions of kindness; when there shall be a perfect agree­ment, a living correspondency, a sweet fellowship, a delight­ful conversation, without envy or malice, without care or tediousness. This is sufficient to render us most happy, when all other things should be wanting, for happiness consists ra­ther in a perfect disposition of the mind, than in a plentiful enjoyment of outward advantages. But besides, our bodies shall be adorned with heavenly qualities; the present shall see a most happy change with the visible substance, Conveniens est us sicut damnati ha­bent extremas tenebras ita beati habeant extremam lu­cem. Basil. lib. Hexa. Caro sine moln & pondera sine deformita­te ita ut sit a­nimae orna­mentum non tormentum Aug. Serm. 139. de tem­por. c. 3. and other qualities shall be added with which we are not at present ac­quainted: It is therefore needless to question whether we shall know one another, seeing we shall scarce know our selves, the change will be so great: It is certain that we shall move without trouble, we shall ascend without help; our strength shall be encreased; our deformities removed; our infirmities deposed; our appearance shall be full of majesty and glory: as Daniel informs us; They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever, In which words you may further observe a difference in the glories of Heaven sutable to their inclinations and employments on earth; for the one shall shine as the Firmament, the other as the Stars: a sensible distinction shall be both in the nature, and the [Page 20]greatness of their Rewards; for according to the several dis­positions of men, and their several capacities; God will ac­cordingly bestow upon them his riches, and his glory: There­fore a Father adviseth us to enlarge our perfections, and the fa­culties of the soul by a continual exercise in humane sciences, that they may be then more capable to receive and contain the mysteries of Gods Wisdom, and better able to bring forth glorious actions for this eternal Sabbath is an estate where all our abilities shall be in the highest perfection; where we shall act and move without the least inconveniency: Occa­sions we may have to exercise our Vertues, not such as will cause us to suffer, but such as without that strength of nature we should find a default in our happiness. It is therefore our wisdom now to accustom our selves to that which shall be our employment for ever, and upon which shall depend our satisfaction and glory; which shall be revealed in us, as St. Rom. 18.18. Paul informs us; In our souls by a perfect enjoyment of su­pernatural excellencies; in our bodies, that shall be free from all weakness, and beautified with glorious qualities. Therefore this estate is called a Crown of Life; for as the Crown is of a round and a perfect figure, it is most proper to express the infiniteness and perfection of those heavenly delights that shall accompany that life: besides, the Crown is the sacred emblem of joy and honour; this expression therefore pre­sents us with the notion of the most pleasant, and the most honourable estate together; for there is nothing more ac­ceptable than life, nor more glorious than a Crown: and that we may better understand wherefore Christ promiseth Heaven under this notion, we must take notice that chiefly four sorts of persons were dignified with a Crown amongst the Ancients: Kings to express their Authority and supream Command: A new married couple at the nuptial Feasts therefore by the Greeks they were called [...] and [...]. The Priest in the solemn Sacrifices, to render the of­fering more acceptable, and the devotion more glorious, or rather to shew what qualification was anciently required [Page 21]in one that presented to the Divinity the Homages of the people; Another sort were crowned, they who had given open testimony of their valour and cunning, either in pri­vate Disputes, and Plays allowed by authority, or in a publick War, in the maintenance of the general interest: To these several sorts of Crowns were given, which were in value and esteem according to the nature of the vertuous action. Now the faithful in Heaven shall be Kings, enjoying a supream command over the infernal Spirits and damned Souls. They shall be Priests, Rev. 2.26. sending up unto God the perfume of their praises, They shall be married unto Christ in love and affection. In these several respects this Crown may be­come them. But our Saviour in this promise hath more especially an eye to the Crowns that were the rewards of a generous Perseverance; that had obtained the Victory; for he mentions the difficulties that were to be overcome; A death to be endured; and adds this encouragement, I will give thee O faithful soul, a Crown of Life.

It was the ancient custom to crown the Temples of the dead Bodies when their lives had been exemplary: Plin. by this ceremony the Heathens did express a Reward that was due to a vertuous life, and the Honour which a righteous Soul hath purchased to himself: What they performed to the Body, Christ promiseth to do unto both Soul and Body: I will give thee, &c.

You have seen the Picture of this Crown with many Jew­els of the greater bulk; an infinite number of the lesser sort of Pearls and Flowers we shall never know but by ex­perience: And so I proceed to a brief consideration of the Assurance that my Text gives of this Estate unto the faith­ful: I will give thee, &c.

It is no wonder to see Julian the Apostate a professed ene­my of Christ, a promoter of Gentilism, upbraid Christians with the easiness of their belief, and scoff at this perswasion, That there is a Crown of Glory to reward the Righteous. It is no marvel if amongst the Heathens, men nursed up with pre­judices [Page 22]against the Truth, ignorant of the power and good­ness of our God, should call in question the Articles of the Resurrection of the dead, and of the happiness of another life; but that in the bosom of Christianity, under the most visible expressions of Gods Omnipotency, Justice and Mer­cy; there should be some of that dull apprehension as not to understand, and of those strange principles, as to oppose these sacred and beneficial Truths, it may seem at first very strange. But see what manner of men are capable of this folly amongst us, and you will cease from admiring; they are the Disciples of Diagoras and Epicurus rather than of Christ, men that are degenerated into beasts by their conde­scention to bruitish pleasures, whose souls are sunk into their senses, and have lost both the use and knowledge of the noblest functions; they are those that defie Heaven by their crimes, whose lives are a scandal, and their persons a reproach to the society: And do you wonder wherefore they are ene­mies to these truths, that are no friends to the peaceable en­joyment of their lusts, that lay before their eyes the punish­ments that are reserved for them? do you wonder if these graceless wits cannot comprehend an estate so far above their capacities, and contrary to the present: let their natural abilities be never so great; such know no other life but that of the senses, no other felicity but the carnal, nor other de­lights but of the body; 1 Cor. 2.14. and how is it possible that such should have the least apprehension of that supernatural condition that shall raise man and all his faculties to the highest perfecti­on of activity. It is a mystery but onely to them whose minds are inlightned by the Spirit of God; they also have no clear insight into this estate: Therefore Christ in my Text pities the weakness of our capacities, and adds to his promise of heavens glories sufficient reasons to convince us of the reality of these Rewards: They are contained in these Particulars. 1. In the Qualities of the person that pro­miseth, and his engagement; 2. In the nature of the Recom­pence, or in that excellent relation between the estate of the [Page 23]faithful on earth, and that in Heaven: other reasons shall be added, drawn from the rules observed in the disposition of the Creatures. The person that promiseth this Crown of Life, is described in the 8th verse of this Chapter; The first and the last, which was dead, and is alive. By which words is intimated his sufficiency for the performance: for thereby are signified his Divinity and Humanity, his death, by which he purchased this celestial Diadem for us; his Almighty Power, and his Truth, that are engaged to see us in the posses­sion of it.

1. Christs Death hath given us an unquestionable Right to this Crown, and to all its dependencies: Before in the estate of Innocency we had a natural claim to Heaven, In coelumque redire animas coelum (que) ve­nire. Manil. lib. 4. by reason of our soul that is an immaterial substance conformable to the celestial Beings: so that by this law of Nature established in the Creation, which assignes unto every thing a final resi­dence where first it had its derivation: if man had continued in his integrity, he had always continued in that glorious Right, and might have called for an entrance into that Seat of Glory and happiness: But this natural Priviledge hath been forfeited by Rebellion. The soul by sin hath lost together the Title to demand, and the Power to deserve an admission; and hath seen it self banished out of Heaven by the procure­ment of its two great adversaries Guilt and Corruption. But Christ by his death hath overcome them, and all impediments; by his Blood he hath satisfied an offended Justice, Heb. 9.12, 14 and ob­tained for us an eternal redemption. Therefore he is said to be a propitiation for us, and our peace, Rom. 3.25. Eph. 2. by whom we have an access to the Father. And in 10 Heb. 19, 20. St. Paul teacheth, We have boldness to enter in to the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us through the vail, that is to say, his flesh. But the Infinite merits of our Redeemer have not onely re-established us in our former Right, but purchased for us a degree of Perfection and Ho­nour, Aug. lib. 12. de Civit. far above that unto which we might have ascended by the strength of Nature in the estate of Innocency, accord­ing [Page 24]to the judgement of the Fathers, and of St. Paul, who in Rom. 5. therefore mentions many advantages which we have received by Christ, for one lost by Adam, and tells us, that the blood of the former is far more effectual and bene­ficial unto us than the transgression of the latter hath been hurtful: So that by this means, Gods eternal Justice is en­gaged to bring us to this estate which hath been lawfully pur­chased for us: Heb. 9.24. In order thereunto Christ hath transported our nature, and introduced it into the highest heavens, that it might take possession in our names of Immortality and Bliss. Eph. 2.6.

2. But the goodness of our Title to Heaven, into which Christ is entred, had not been sufficient to secure us the fruiti­on, unless he had been enabled with a power sutable to so great an undertaking: therefore we are informed, That all power is given to him in heaven and in earth. That God hath put all things under his feet; That he sits at the right hand of God with the Scepter of an Almighty power in his hand. This is signified in the former description, by being alive from the dead, Rom. 1.4. an infallible testimony of the Divinity of our Saviour. As many difficulties, I confess, will strive to hinder our en­trance into Heaven, as there were nations that did oppose the Israelites passage into the promised Land; our selves and Affe­ctions are not the least. But what cannot he overcome, by whom all things were created in Heaven and in Earth, vi­sible and invisible, Dan. 4.35. &c. who doth according to his will in the Army of Heaven, and amongst the Inhabitants of the Earth, and none can stay his hand, or say unto him what dost thou. What difficulties will be able to frustrate his design, unto whom the Elements, the dumb Creatures, the Devils, and all things do yield obedience, who hath conquered Death in its own Territories; who hath an Infinite Wisdom, as well as Power, to bring to pass his intentions: So that what Christ pro­miseth, he is fully able to perform.

3. Christ is Truth it self; he is not subject to change, nor able to deceive us: He is not as Xerxes was, he crowned his Steers man in the morning, and beheaded him in the [Page 25]evening. He is not thus unconstant in his Affections and Promises. The heaven and the earth shall pass, Matth. 5. but one jot of his word shall not pass until all be fulfilled. Seeing therefore that he hath promised to bestow this Crown of life upon every faithful soul, he will preserve them here by his spirit, he will convey and guard them at their separation from the Body, by the ministry of his Angels, and will at last receive them unto this glorious estate. Here are sufficient securities for this Immortal Reward; Gods almighty Power, his eternal Justice, his Infinite Goodness and Love, and his unchangeable Truth, are all engaged to see the faithful crowned with Glory; so that it is as impossible that they should fail of their expectation, as it is impossible that God should deny himself. St. Pauls Perswasion, Jobs Confidence, and the Assurance of the holy men, were grounded up­on this infallible foundation. Were we possessed with the same spirit, we should not need to seek for any o­ther confirmation of this Truth than the authority of Scripture, that often repeats the promise of this Crown unto the faithful. But this sensual age will scarce do God that justice, to give credit to his Word, as if he could have a design to deceive us, whose glory is our happiness and perfection; as if he were an enemy to our good, who gives us whatever we enjoy; as if there were dan­ger to expect the Rewards of Honesty and Vertue, and to yield obedience when both Duty and Interest do re­quire it: Consider the folly of our Modern Witts; ex­traordinary advantages are promised unto men to oblige them to actions full of honour and satisfaction, when there should be no such future advantages; it is their present concern to entertain this perswasion, because it is a friend to Piety, and it tends to strengthen their resolutions, to appease their discontents, and to fill our souls with a glorious expectation: As that Athenian, [Page 26]that in his greatest poverty, did feel the contentments of the wealthiest Citizens; Men should labour to com­fort themselves in their present miseries, with the assu­rance of a more blessed estate, and suffer their hopes to frustrate the design of worldly misfortunes. It seems therefore strange, that Rational Beings should be so great enemies of their good, as to discredit this bene­ficial perswasion, and willingly to deprive themselves of an Antidote able to fortifie their souls against the venom of evil. The excellency of that estate, the vileness of ours, and our natural unworthiness, may justly fill us with wonder and admiration. But we are not to que­stion this Truth, when not onely Scipture but Reason also is able to convince us that it is certain, according to the natural course of things, that he that is faithful unto Christ, must needs attain unto the greatest happi­ness. I understand the word faithful in the largest ac­ception for a vertuous man; faithful in the management of the several interests with which God hath intrusted him; for one whose life and profession is conformable to Christianity; who labours to reduce his Passions to reason; his desires to content, his wants to sufficiency, and that endeavours to strengthen himself with all the natural and revealed perswasions that are intended to assist our Vertue against the inconveniencies that assault us. Such a one hath a degree of happiness begun in him, and if he continues, exercise will bring him to that perfect disposition of the mind, and to that noble temper as may brave all the attempts of evil. The Stoicks, by the strength of nature, did attain unto a seem­ing insensibility, witness the resolution of Possidonius, in the midst of the tortures of the Gout, he could never be forced to confess it to be a pain: witness Anaximan­der, pounded in a morter, he laughed at the folly and cruelty of the Tyrant. How much more power shall [Page 27]man have over himself, when his resolution is backt by such strong perswasions as Christianity teaches, when such divine helps do assist him, as the graces of the holy Ghost, an invincible hope, and a well-grounded faith, that makes him rejoyce in tribulation. It is therefore plain, that he that practises the Rules of Christianity, must needs be happy, not onely in regard of himself, that he renders thereby capable of happiness, but also in re­gard of those with whom we have a communication, that are invited by an amiable correspondency, and good offices to the same returns and behaviour; and in re­spect of God, who cannot but vouchsafe his blessings and his favour to that Being that is inspired with so noble an ambition, and that in obedience to his holy Laws labours to arrive to perfection and holiness. But besides this reason which onely proves a natural hap­piness attainable by a vertuous Christian in this life, we may meet with others in that great proportion or rela­tion between the estates of the faithful on earth and of the Saints in heaven. Cast your eyes upon both, and tell me, what hinders a soul washed in the blood of Christ, adopted amongst the sons of God, united unto him by his divine Spirit; what hinders a soul full of heavenly affections, a soul that bears the Image of God, from an immediate fruition of his presence and favour? If therefore that be granted that may be proved by the experience of the faithful as well as by the authority of Scripture; that they do really enjoy a present corre­spondency with their Creator, and that they do not in vain flatter themselves with the conceits of an extraordi­dinary possession, of the graces of the divine Spirit, be­cause they feel the inward operation of this spirit in their souls, Unius Sp. Sancti opus est regeneratio. Ambros. de Sacr. and see a notable change in their dispositions and affections wrought in them by his power alone, that fashions us in the womb; if this be granted with the [Page 28]other priviledges of the Elect, we shall find no difficulty to believe the happy consequences that do naturally flow from thence; that God that favours them with such powerful helps, in order to their perfection, must needs design them for a greater happiness than their present mortality and weakness are capable of: That he would never be at such vast expence and care as to provide us with such divine qualities onely for this transitory Be­ing, were our souls to be smother'd in our graves; that this blessed change that appears in our souls and bo­dies, and that raises us to a capacity of being happy, and to a resemblance with God, tends to prepare us for a more worthy communion with him; and that otherwise he would never have honoured us with such special tokens of his Love, nor given us by them an ex­pectation of greater advantages. This proceeding were not consistent with the Wisdom, Power, Goodness, Ve­racity and Immutability of God, to receive us into his intimate acquaintance, to bestow upon us the unspeak­able mercies that are suitable to it to make us expect future happiness, and the eternal fruition of his pre­sence in Glory, and then to suffer us to be cut off by death without hopes of life; so that besides that the condition of the Elect on Earth, and their present sancti­fication have a necessary tendency to glorification, God would never have undertaken to render us happy, did he not really resolve to make us so.

But set aside these considerations, and look upon a true Christian as he appears to the eyes of the world: You shall find his description given by a Heathen Phi­losopher to a Roman Emperour to this purpose; He despises the World and all its enjoyments, he sticks close to his Profession, maugre all his enemies; he rejoyces in Wants and Persecutions, and sings merrily in the flames; his soul is full of hopes, and they strengthen him against [Page 29]all present evils. What is therefore able to disturb the happiness of such a soul that is ravished with its own enjoyments, and that contemns now all things else? Justi afflictio­nem requiem putant. Lact. lib. 8. mor. what hinders the same power that hath freed the faith­full from the slavery of sin and the world, and made us able to contemn the miseries of our present condition, to free also the body from all subjection to the Elements? When therefore I see a Christian so far advanced in the Race of Perfection as to leave in a little time the rest of the world at such a vast distance behind, I must needs conclude that he will make a considerable progress if he continues his course: Or when I behold a Painter chalk out to the life a fair face, I do easily judge that his pencil will be able to add many graces, and com­pleat it. Thus when I see the first Essayes of a Chri­stian to be so glorious in this life, I am forced to con­clude that the end of his work will be far more in the other. If Paul and Silas, in their Chains, can sing for joy; St. Peter sleep secure with pleasure at the Eve of the day intended for his Execution, and all the holy men meet with happiness and content in the most sen­sible Penury, and the sharpest Afflictions; How much more happy and content shall they be in that Life, that shall not be subject to want, to disgrace and inconve­niency; in that Life where all things shall be as per­fect and glorious as themselves; when therefore Christ should never have promised this estate unto the faithful, he that is sensible of their present condition, and of the honour and perfection unto which they have been advanced, he may justly conceive that they will arrive to an estate suitable to these promising beginnings. In the next place, if we cast an eye upon the natural or­der which is observed in the disposition of the Crea­tures, we shall find sufficient Reasons to be perswaded of this Truth.

All the Beings in the world do generally attain unto those Ends unto which their Creation did design them. And shall man only be excepted? Shall not he arrive to his glorious end, to happiness? for which he was cre­ated, as may appear by his endeavours and desires to obtain it, and by the constitution of his Being? Shall not he attain unto this estate when the union of the soul and body seems to promise it to him, in case he renders not himself incapable of it? Shall not he come to the fruition of God in whom onely his happiness dwells? Is it possible that the power and wisdom that appears so wonderfull in his composition, and that de­clares a particular esteem of him by an over-ruling Pro­vidence, should onely design him for a world of mise­ry, and then tumble him in the dust, without any further care of this Master-piece of the Creation? Or is it possible, that God should suffer such a consi­derable species of Creatures to be cast away for ever, and to miss of their blessed End, and none of them to attain unto felicity, unto which it appears that he in­tended them at their Creation, by granting unto them noble faculties, capable of Bliss?

We see that all visible things were made with an in­tent to turn to the benefit of some Beings more Per­fect. And for whom was Man created? The more he excels the rest in Perfections, the more honourable con­ceit we may justly have for him for whose Glory he came into the world: And from the nature of man, and the place of honour that he maintains amongst the Creatures, we may conclude, that this Prince of the lower World was created onely for the enjoyment of the Prince of the superiour, and that he unto whom all visible things do render Homage, owes his Respects and Being only unto the Creator. Our nature therefore designs us for the immediate fruition of God, and those [Page 31]inward suggestions that perswade us to make our fre­quent addresses unto him, especially at the sight of im­minent dangers, do proceed from this design, and do tend as well to prepare us for a more immediate cor­respondency, as to supply our present necessities: And how is it possible to be advanced to that honour with­out a disposition, and without inward and outward qualities sutable to that estate. From hence we may confirm the promise of this Crown of Life, and shew how every part is consistent with the condition of a glorified Creature, and absolutely required for the ac­complishment of our happiness.

Examine also, I beseech you, wherefore Man onely of all creatures enjoyes a being between the spiritual and the sensitive? wherefore doth he participate of both? Not that he might fall down to a greater conformity with Beasts, for that is against the order of Nature, that teaches all things to aspire to perfection, but rather that he might endeavour to ascend to a higher degree; for no other intent man was made with a possibility of elevation, with capacious faculties, and with noble and aspiring affections, but that they might raise him above that rank in which he was first placed and nearer his Creator. Beatitudo in excelso est sed volenti peno­trabilis. Sen. Epist. 65. Therefore mankind was intended for a glori­ous and a happy End; whoever employs all his endea­vours to attain unto it, can never miss of his purpose; and if so many do never come to that perfect Estate, they may thank their unworthy behaviour, and vicious dispo­sition. But Christ that promiseth this Crown unto the faithful, removes the grand impediments of Salvation, Guilt and Corruption, and brings them to that estate. So that besides the helps of nature, they only have an Al­mighty Power, and an Infinite goodness for their assi­stants.

We may therefore conclude from the former reasons, [Page 32]That there is such an Estate as happiness: That man was designed for it: that it is possible for him to ar­rive unto it: that whoever is faithful to Christ, and la­bours to follow the rules prescribed by him, must needs according to the natural course of things become hap­py, which cannot be in a perfect manner, but by an union and communion with his God. That this happiness is not attainable in this life, I need not spend my labours in vain to prove, therefore it must be in another.

Now this Crown is called a Gift: I will give thee, &c. It is freely bestowed notwithstanding our undeservings; it is recovered for us by the blood of Christ, and en­riched with more precious Jewels, because of his Infi­nite merits; and the means by which we are raised to this Estate, is procured unto us by our Saviours suffer­ings and Ascension. So that what Nature had intended, and was not able to perform, because of our Apostacy and revolt from a dependency upon God, grace doth fully accomplish in the faithful.

In the last place, I might bring to confirm this truth the common Reasons upon which the Heathens did build the hopes of a future happiness, and of another life: Of the Justice of God, that will render unto every one according to his deeds: Of the Goodness of God, that cannot be forgetfull of those that mind the advance of his Glory on Earth; and of the Power of God, able to reward them that lead a just and a religious life. From hence Zoroastes, that learned Genius and great Prince taught his Disciples, That the chief care of man should be so to behave himself now, that he might come to happiness hereafter: Many other reasons may be brought to confirm this important truth, but I cannot include them all in so narrow a compass as a Sermon. Some, I know, stumble at the difficulties of the Resurre­ction of our bodies, when it is proved to them by [Page 33]their experience that it is possible: Si ergo potent est Deus facere quod non fuit nonne potest reparare quod fuit? Aug. lib. de catech. Serm. 1. Secret dont oncomprent que quoy que le corps meure. Les formes font pourtant aux cendres leur demeure. Consider I beseech you, if a lesser power be not required, to restore what was than to create, or to make what was not: Where was this world before its Creation? and if that be doub­ed, where was this age 200 years ago? not so much as in appearance, yet now it subsists. Why shall not there­fore that same intelligent Being, who created the World, and who onely is able to have formed us in the womb, with all our members so well proportioned, be able to restore us to our subsistance again, seeing there is as great a disposition in the essential parts of the body re­duced to ashes, to return to their former shapes, as there is in the original substance to dilate it self, and form the several members of a man. I might here al­ledge the natural experiments which some have tried with success: That have given occasion to believe, that the forms of things do remain in their ashes: The herb called by the Greeks It signifies not onely a Palm, but a­nother herb mentioned by Dioscor. lib. 4. cap. 151. and by Coel. Rodigin. Resurrectio non est contra naturam. Aug. in Sent. suis. [...] doth rise again out of the dust, when it hath been consumed to ashes: This causes the Fable of the Phaenix. I could also bring Nature and Providence to attest this truth; both are full of sacred emblems of the Resurrection: they are as incredible, did they not daily appear before our eyes. The faithful there­fore may brave this and all other difficulties in the lan­guage of St. Paul, I am perswaded that neither death nor life, &c. shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. And henceforth is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge shall give me at that day. I will give thee a crown, &c.

Cast your eyes Cristians once more upon this Crown of Life; View the Blessedness; the Riches, the Glory and Honour of this Estate; and tell me whether this deserves not our obedience, and a perseverance in Duty: It shall be free from all weakness, pain, fear, and in­conveniency; [Page 34]it shall be accompanied with unspeakble joyes and pleasures; with the fruition of all good; with the Vision of God, and with an eternal communion and union with him; It shall be adorned with all perfecti­ons, holiness and content. O rich and glorious Crown! O Immortal Reward! How long shall we be at such a distance from thee? Earthly Crowns are troublesome, and the more glorious they are, the more heavy; insomuch that Dioclesian having exchanged one for a Spade, and the Empire for a Garden; when some were sent to per­swade him to return to his former State, he told them they would never have undertaken that message unto him, if they had but seen the Ranks of Trees, and the Musk­melons that he had planted, with the pleasure that he did feel in that retired condition. But this Crown is of ano­ther nature; the glories and honours are sweetned with unspeakable delights, and there is no such wait as should make us weary of the carriage: Let therefore this consi­deration encourage us to encounter Death without fear, seeing it is a passage into this immortal Bliss, and to pre­pare our selves for its enjoyment by a behaviour worthy of a Crown. Be faithful unto the interest of Christ, and his Religion; maintain his honour in the management of your several employes; follow his sacred footsteps; shake off all vicious inclinations and customs: make it your business to reform your lives and affections; labour to relish the true pleasures of the soul, and wean your selves from all worldly enjoyments, that they may not hinder your entrance into this estate. Into which God of his mercy receive us, for the sake of his dear Son, and our Saviour, Christ Jesus. Amen.


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