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welcome.” But, alas! most Christians' may give the answer that follows, ver. 2. I sleep, but my heart waketh. Christ's gracious offers and invitations are heard by us, as betwixt sleeping and waking: and so is it seen in the sorry entertainment we give them, and hence follows the poor life that many of us lead.
So much for the first thing in communion,-mutual interest.
2dly, This communion hath converse in it. It stands, not only in the mutual interest that each hath in another, but also in converge one with another. This is what the apostle hath in 1 John i. 3. where we have two communions or fellowships spoke of; the fellowship of Christians with one another, and the fellowship that Christians have with the Father and Son: and that this second fellowship is mutual, as hinted in ver. 7. If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanselh us from all sin. They then that know best by experience, what it is to be with Christ on earth, in walking with him and in him, will know best what it is to be with him where he is. The greatest enjoyments of Christ here, are the best helps to conceive of what is to be received in heaven.
3dly, This converse breeds likeness to Christ. The nearer a man is to Christ, the more converse he hath with him ; the more like he grows to Christ. Compare 2 Cor. ii. 18. with 1 John iii. 2. Paul speaks of Christians in this life, John of the same persons in the next lịfe ; and both speak of likeness to Christ, and as wrought the same way, by seeing and beholding of kis glory. Perfect likeness to Christ, flows from a perfect beholding of his glory, and a begun likeness to him, from a begun beholding of his glory by faith. The apostle, in 2 Cor. ii. 7. speaks of the glory of the counteuance of Moses, which was such, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold his face, which glory was to be done away.
. In this the apostle respects that passage in Exodus xxxiv, 29–35. It is this, that Moses, returning from the mount, after his second forty days abode there, had, by his long con. verse with God, a beam of heavenly glory impressed on hiş
face. Whether it continued all his life after or not, the word is silent about it; and therefore we should not be positive, But this may safely be drawn from it, that the more near and continued that our converse with Christ on earth be, the more heavenly likeness to Christ is impressed on the soul. Hath not this been known to many, that when they had been long struggling and striving with, and bewailing of a body of death, and of strong corruptions and distempers, that rendered them unlike to Christ, and lothsome in their own eyes; if he be pleased (as oft he doth) to draw near to them, and to cause them to approach to him, as Psalm Ixv. 4. how suddenly and how sweetly is likeness to Christ wrought in the scul ? True nearness to Christ, and converse with him, hath always this effect. Communion with Christ, if real, is always the life of grace, and the bane of corruption. And let all examine and judge their enjoyments, by this plain and sure test. Have you any thing that you call communion with Christ? Doth it not, in some measure, mortify your lusts, and enliven the grace of God in you? If it do not work both in you, it is not of the right sort.
4thly, This converse with Christ, and this likiness to him, breeds love and delight. It is not possible it should be otherwise. So great mercies in themselves, so great blessings to us, and so much of God's love to us, shining in the giving of them, must raise love and delight. This is one of the fruits of communion with Christ : Cant. ii. 3. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
The tree of life, Jesus Christ, hath a refreshing shade to the weary scorched traveller; and he hath fruit for the hungry soul. Sit down under his shadow, eat of his fruit, and you must find it sweet to your taste. O taste and see that the Lord is good, Ps 1. xxxiv. 8. If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious, 1 Pet. ii. 3. See how the same apostle speaks of the communion that believers have wiih Christ, i Pet. i. 8, 9. W hom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him mot, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.
So that ye may perceive, that what the Lord is pleased to afford to his people here, in communion with Christ, gives a great help to believers, to know better what it is to be with
Christ where he is, than any unbeliever can ; and that they who have the greatest experience of these things, have an advantage in this matter beyond ordinary believers.
So much of these four things I thought fit to premise : That the glory of the heavenly state is greatly in the dark to Christians while on earth: That the only light wherein any thing of it can be known, is the light of the word : That this light of the word, is light only to the eye of faith ; and, lastly, That faith is helped in this discovery, by experience.
It now follows, to speak unto this that heaven stands in, in being with Christ where he is. And this I would give in these four things :
1. It stands in perfect iminediate presence with Christ. All the presence that Christ affords, and his people now enjoy here, is, in regard of this, but absence from the Lord: 2 Cor. v. 6, 8. Knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. I am sure, that there are few Christians, but think, that if they did but enjoy that of Christ that Paul did often, they would think it a great presence. But Paul counts, that as long as he dwelt in the body, he was but absent from the Lord. Perfect presence is, when all on both sides is present; all of Christ, and all of the Christian. But now all of Christ is not with us, and all of us is not with him. On his part, we have Christ's Spirit, word, and grace. On our part, there is present with him, our hearts, and the workings of our faith, and love, and desire towards him. But this
But this presence is imperfect, and mixed with much distance and absence. And this sort of presence with Christ is but mediate. There are some midses, glasses, and helps, which, though useful now, will be useless one day, 1 Cor. xiii. 10, 11, 12. Yet this imperfect presence, and mediate, is more excellent in itself, and more valued by every one that hath tasted it, than the ut. most that this world, and the things of it, can give to a worlda ling, Psal. iv. 6, 7.
2. This being with Christ where he is, hath in it perfect and full fruition and enjoyment of Christ. And here, words and
thoughts shrink far below the greatness of this matter. What it is to enjoy Christ, who can tell ? Believers are partakers of Christ, are in him, and he in them. Faith, when strong, grasps at him, and cleaves to him. Love, when flaming, embraceş him straitly; holds him fast, and will not let him go, Cant. iii. 4. When Christ's love to us burns and shines, and our love to him is kindled thereby, how sweet is this enjoyment! But aļl this is far short of what shall be enjoyed, when we shall be with him where he is. The difference is far greater betwixt these two, than there is betwixt the loving husband and the beloved wife, entertaining correspondence by letters to one another, in differen: and far distant countries. Thereby they communicate their heart, and love, and mind to one another. And this is very comfortable ; especially when this intercourse may be speedy, and in an instant, as it is betwist Christ and believers ; Isa. Ixv. 24. And it shall come to pass, (and blessed be he that this often comes to pass), that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet sperking, I will hear. There is no length of time required to carry the believer's mind to Christ in heaven; and as speedily can he send his mind to them again. But this is far short of the comfort of seeing face to face.
3. This presence, this enjoyment, is in the best state and place. It is where he is. And surely our Lord is well lodged above. All the presence we haye with, and enjoyment we have of Christ, is not where he is, but where we are. And here we are on the dunghill of this earth ; having sin cleaving to us to provoke him, and misery on us to grieye us. Hence it is both amazing grace in him to grant any thing of his presence and fellowship to us; and hence all that we enjoy of it, is attended with manifold imperfections, inseparable from our state while we are where we are, and not to be removed from us till we are where he is,
4. This is to be for ever. The greatest blessing hath the longest dyration; if duration were a proper word to be used of eternity, which is justly called a perpetual now.
Christ's presence now where we are, is a choice blessing.
Believers would fain have it, when they are without it; and would fain have more of it, when they haye a little of it; and when
they have much of it, they would fain keep it. But they cannot always have his presence when they would ; nor can they always keep it, when they have got it. It may please him to awake and leave them, Cant. iii. 5. and viii. 4. even when they are best pleased with his company. And even then he is our beloved, and his love to us the same, when standing behind our wall, when looking forth at the window, shewing himself (or flourishing) through the lattice; as when his left hand is under our head, and his right hand doth embrace ys, Cant. ii. 6, 9. Christ's sweetest visits to his people where they are, are often imbittered (to say so) with the thoughts and fears of his withdrawing. “ Now, saith the believer, I have ~ a clear sky; but how soon may the weather change, and « clouds return again !" But in the state of glory above, when we shall be with him where he is, no fears, no ground, or suspicion of any such thing, shall ever enter into the heart of any of the glorified. The state of grace is a sure state, of God's making. No vessel of grace and mercy shall ever be emptied of it. But it is not a sure state to every believer's thinking; for sears of miscarrying may be, where no real danger is. But the state of glory is not only sure and unchangeable, as it is of God's gracious making, but it is so as to every glo. rified person's thinking. No pillars in the upper house can shake, Rev. iii. 12. Pillars in the lower house may shake, but never are removed. But in heaven, there is no danger, no fear, nor any cause of either, to eternity. Ife shall be ever with the Lord, I Thess. iy. 17.
APPLICATION. 1. Şee how great Christ's interest is in our salvation ; how juştly he is called our Saviour. He hath bought and redeemed the kingdom for the heirs, and the heirs for the kingdom. He as slain is made the way to it, Heb. x. 19, 20. He is the guide to heaven, and Captain of çur salvation, Heb. ii. 10. He wills it to them in his testament, Luke xxii. 29. ; welcomes them to heaven, when he calls them by death, Acts vii. 59. ; and he, as fully enjoyed, is heaven itself.
2. Wonder not at this, that few are saved. From this doctrine
you may see the causes thereof. We find Christ teach,