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with him for ever in the building here spoken of, this house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2dly. Another qualification by which the heirs of glory are distinguished, is this, that they are new creatures, born from above, born again of the Spirit of God. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold all things are become new." Whereas, “ If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”—“ Except a man be born again," said the faithful and true Witness, “ he canot see the kingdom of God,” (John iii. 3. and verse 5.) “ Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot en. ter into the kingdom of God.” None but such as are born anew shall find access into this building of God, when death pulls down these earthly tabernacles. Heaven therefore is styled the inheritance of the saints in light. Nothing that is unclean can enter into that holy place. There must be a thorough change wrought in us before we can be admitted into the presence of God; for the Scriptures are peremptory on this head, that without holiness no man shall see God. Christ must be formed within us, before we can entertain the hope of glory. We only delude ourselves, if we look for happiness till our souls are renewed by the Spirit of God; for flesh and blood can never inherit the kingdom of heaven. A new heart must be given us, a new spirit must be put within us, before we can be fit for the sight and enjoyment of a holy God.
A partial reformation of manners will be of no avail far less a mere abstinence from some grosser kinds of sin. The very frame and temper of our minds must be altered. Our corruptions must not only be restrained, but morti. fied. In a word, we must put off the whole old man, as the Apostle beautifully expresses it, “and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."
3d. None shall dwell in this building of God, this house pot made with hands, eternal in the heavens, but those who live as pilgrims and strangers upon earth. If we seek the things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God, tben, and then only may we hope, that when he who is our life shall appear, we shall likewise appear with him in glory. It is one of the dis- . tinguishing characters of the wicked, that they mind earthly things. The children of God, on the other hand, have their conversation in heaven. They look upon that as their home, and view this world merely as a strange country, through which they must necessarily pass, before they can come to their Father's house. This heavenly temper is one of the most substantial evidences that are born from above; for every thing tends to the place of its original. And as it proves their divine birth, so it is likewise a certain pledge of their future glory; for God will never abandon his own offspring :-" If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in us, he that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken our mortal bodies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in us." He will certainly rebuild his own temples, and not suffer them to continue always under the ruins of death. I shall only add, in the
4th place, That a constant readiness to do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith, is another Scripture mark hy wbich the heirs of glory are distinguished. This plainly appears from the account which our Saviour gives us of the process of the last judgment, (Matt. xxv. 31.) “ Then shall the King say unto them opon his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from
the foundation of the world; for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” Which he afterwards explains thus: « in as much as ye did it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Upon this account, Paul exhorts Timothy, to charge them that are rich in this world, to do good, to be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying op for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” To the same purpose is that affectionate address of the apostle John, (1 John iii. 18, 19.) “ My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue only, but in deed and in truth; and hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him." Not that any thing done by us can merit a reward at the hand of God; for after we have done all, we are but unprofitable servants, we have done no more than was our duty; but these acts of obedience prove the sincerity of our faith and love. They are the genuine fruits of the new nature, and may lawfully be considered as evidences of our union with Christ, “ who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” Thus have I laid before you a few distin. guishing characters of the heirs of glory. These are the persons for whom God hath prepared this glorious building whereof my text speaks, this house not made wih bands, eternal in the heavens. And what I have said upon this head, will very much facilitate the
II. INQUIRY proposed, namely, How, or by what means, the saints come to know that they shall certainly possess this glorious inheritance, when the earthly house of this tabernacle is dissolved.
Whatever proves our relation to Christ, at the same time proves our title to all the blessed fruits of his sufferings and death; for all the promises of God are in him, yea and amen. “ He that spared pot his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall be not with him also freely give us all things." Whoever, then, can discover in himself those gracious qualifications which I formerly named, has a sufficient warrant to conclude that he is vitally united to the Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently an heir of that kingdom which he hath pur. chased. Thus Paul says of the primitive Christians, that " they took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing in themselves that they had in heaven a better and an enduring substance.” They knew it in themselves; by looking inwards, they discovered such traces of the divine image, they felt such a supernatural life begun in their souls, as could be produced by no other agent than the Spirit of God, and might therefore be looked upon as a sure presage of their future glory. You sce then how this assurance is commonly obtained. The Scriptures describe the persons who shall infallibly be saved. The Christian compares himself with this unerring rule; and finding that the essential characters agree to him, from thence he concludes the certainty of his own salvation.--He proceeds after this manner: God, who cannot lie, hath said, “ He that believeth shall be saved;" —after the most serious and impartial examination, I find reason to conclude that by grace I bave been enabled to believe-therefore I am persuaded that I shall be saved.
The first of these propositions is absolutely sure, hav. ing the truth and faithfulness of God for its foundation; the second, as it is a judgment or sentence of our own minds, must in its own nature be fallible, and hence it
is that believers have not all of them an equal assurance of their salvation. Though they are all persuaded, that he who believeth shall be saved, yet every one cannot say for himself, I am persuaded that I believe, and there. fore I shall be saved. Before a person can say this there must be a farther work of the Spirit of God, even a divine light shining upon our faith and other graces, and making them visible to ourselves. We may derive good ground of hope from a strict and careful examination of our own temper and practice, but cannot arrive at a full assurance, till, as the Apostle expresses it, (Rom. viii. 16.) « the Spirit bimself bear witness with our spirits, that we are the sons of God.” But when this divine Witmess concurs with his testimony, irradiating his own workmanship within us, and discovering to our own minds such lineaments of the new creature, as plain evi. dence that we are born of God, then our assurance is full and complete; and we can joyfully say, with the Apostle in the text, “We know, that if the earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” I now come to the practical improvement of the subject.
And, 1st. I must speak a few words to those who call themselves Deists. I know if
you our mouths, and bury the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; and yet I shall not cease to seek your good, and say from time to time what I can for your conviction. I seldom read the threatenings of the word, but I think of you with trembling; and I never read the comforts of it, but I think of you with pity. Pray, what assurance bave you got of a happy eternity? In what house are you to take up your everlasting abode? Alas, every thing be. yond the grave must be dark and fearful to you. You