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these things? So without a pure heart, and holy and heavenly affections, we cannot taste any thing of heaven, or of this rest prepared for the people of God. If you speak of heaven to a carnal man, it is just as if a master of philosophy, or the mathematics, should come and read to an illiterate ignorant man the sublime notions, and profound mysteries of these noble sciences : no more can a carnal man relish the things of heaven. If an angel should come and speak to him, he would say, give me this world, and the things here below, and keep heaven above. I shall now proceed to speak of the excellencies of this rest.
i. First, This rest that remains to the people of God is a holy rest; it is called a sabbath rest.
Now in the opening of this, there are two things considerable. 1. It is a holy rest, in ceasing from sin, as the scripture speaks.
2. It is a holy rest, as it consists in the exercise of all those holy and heavenly parts of worship which is proper to heaven; and such is the rest of a sabbath.
1. For the first of these; as it imports a ceasing from sin. There is a threefold freedom and rest from sin. (1.) There is a freedom from the dominion of sin, and this is that privilege which the saints have in their measure in this life.
We read our Saviour tells the Jews, John 8. 34, 35. "whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin; and the servant abideth not in the house for ever, but the Son abideth for ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." That is the truest and noblest freedom, to be freed from the servitude of sin, that bondage, that enslaves our more excellent part, our immortal part, the soul; that is most royal and excellent liberty; and this is obtained by the Son of God; that is, if you look upon the state of sin, wherein we are involved by nature, look upon it as a part of the curse fallen upon mankind, upon account of his apostacy from God; and so our Saviour hath purchased this privilege for a believer, that he should be rescued from this bondage of sin, for sin hath these two great evils that go along with it; it is not only a provocation to God, exposing a man to the wrath of God, and making him obnoxious to the divine displeasure; but sin does also defile and debase the human nature, and so hath in it the greatest curse that the reasonable creature is capable of; it makes a man
unlike to God, and viler than the earth he treads upon; and like the brute beasts, it degrades him to the lowest servility. There is nothing in the world like sin, it provokes God to give a man over to his own heart's lusts, and to forsake him for ever, and to pronounce a curse upon him," he that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still." Rev. 22. 11. And those that fall under this curse, are under the greatest servility. The wicked are all his slaves. Take that man that is of the civilest conversation in the world, till he be sanctified and renewed by Christ, he is a slave, and under the command of some lust, though it be not visible to you, and it hath a throne in his heart, and reigns there." But now," saith the apostle, Rom. 6. 22. "being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life." Observe, here he speaks concerning the present sanctified state of the people of God, that are freed from sin, from its power and reign: whoever is not thus free, he hath no interest in Christ, nor ever felt the blessed effects of his death. This is one step and degree to that rest the apostle speaks of in the text.
(2.) There is a freedom from the relics or the being of sin, a freedom that imports an absolute and complete purifying and cleansing from all kinds and degrees of sin whatsoever; and this is that which is meant here. The apostle speaks of this to the Ephesians, "Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish." Eph. 5. 2, 6, 27. This design of Christ's death is carrying on while the saints are in this world; it is carrying on by the providences of God, whether prosperous or afflictive, and also by the ordinances of God, and the Spirit of God, who makes both ordinances and providences effectual upon the soul. But this entire freedom from sin is only attained when we come to heaven. And you may observe here the great wisdom of God, that as sin brought in death, so now with respect to the people of God, death is that which abolisheth sin, that puts an end to all sin; he hath made that which is in itself a penalty of sin, to be instrumental for the entire clearing and purifying the soul from
sin. For when this mortal flesh is laid down in the grave, the soul shall be cleansed from all remaining pollutions, there shall not be so much as a spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. In the 12th of Hebrews, where we have the state of the gospel church represented both as militant and triumphant: "you are come, says the apostle, "to Mount Sion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels; to the general assembly and church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things than the blood of Abel." The spirits of just men made perfect, doth signify an absolute and entire freedom from all sin, which is the greatest imperfection and debasing of the soul.
(3.) There is another freedom from sin, which is in heaven; and that is a freedom from all molesting temptations, from all things that might disturb their peace, that might endanger their fall. You shall find the two Adams, both the first and second, although they were perfectly innocent, yet they were both liable to temptations; and the first Adam fell by a temptation, and lost more grace in one moment, than we can ever recover in this world in all ages. You all know how cheaply and easily he parted with his happiness, by the subtle temptation of satan. The second Adam was tempted too by the wicked one; but saith Christ," the prince of this world cometh, and findeth nothing in me." There was no corruption in Christ to work upon. The temptations of satan surrounded him in the wilderness, but could not surprise him, they could not fasten any thing upon him; but yet our Lord Jesus was liable to temptation. But in heaven, O blessed rest, where the arrows of the tempter can never reach. There is not only a freedom from sin, and all possibility of that sinning, but there is a freedom from any thing that might disturb that blessed rest, as it often falls out in the world; but by the grace of God, when the saints are tempted, they reject the temptation, and overcome the tempter. We read of that holy and chaste creature Joseph, when a grateful temptation offered itself, he refused it with abhorrence," how can I do this great, wickedness, and sin against God ?" So the heavenly grace God communicates to his people, makes them victorious over both
pleasant and terrible temptations; "we are more than conquerors" (saith the apostle)" through Christ that hath loved us." And there is a most divine joy which ariseth in the soul when we have this testimony of our sincerity, that we resist temptations. But now in heaven there shall be nothing of this. Here the people of God keep their innocence, and preserve their purity, yet they are disturbed by temptations. "I besought the Lord thrice," saith the apostle when he was buffeted by satan, "there was given unto me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of satan buffetted me, lest I should be exalted above measure. this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me: and he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee." 1 Cor. 22. 7. But in heaven there shall be no buffeting of satan, no molesting us by temptation. O blessed rest! when the soul shall be freed from sin, sin which is the greatest evil in its own nature, the highest provocation to the holy God, and the most burthensome thing in the world to a holy soul which is a continual body of death. O blessed rest! when the soul shall be freed from sin, and all the degrees of it! when the soul shall be raised above all temptations; when it shall be in the light of God's countenance for ever, where nothing shall disturb our most joyful exercise in the serving and praising of God. Do but consider what a happy state this is; and indeed till you are so far freed from sin as to be out of love with it, and to hate it, with an irreconcileable hatred, you cannot be partakers of this privilege, and heaven itself would be no heaven to you. If you do not look upon sin as the greatest evil, and upon holiness as the most glorious good, and most desirable excellency, you cannot be capable of this blessed rest.
2. It is a holy rest, as it includes in it not a bare cessation from sin, but also an exercise of all those holy and heavenly duties which are proper to this state of rest. The word that is used here, in the original, signifies the rest of a sabbath: now the rest of a sabbath, had two things considerable in it.
(1.) The rest of a sabbath was commemorative of their deliverance from the Egyptian bondage; and in this respect that command is no more, as to us: the Jewish rest was a duty enjoined with respect to their state of servitude, wherein they had been harassed so long in Egypt, and the rest of that day was in itself a duty upon that account: indeed the rest that we have
now upon the Lord's day, may be typical of our rest in heaven, but it hath no retrospect on the servility which the Jews suf
(2.) The rest of the sabbath was relative, in order to the performance of all solemn services which God required on that day. For if you consider rest in itself, that is, bodily rest, it is a thing not pleasing and grateful to God in itself; but it hath respect to some more noble end; that is without interruption they might attend upon the service of God in the tabernacle, or temple, or other places of worship, where God was called upon. And so this heavenly rest includes in it the performance of all those acts of duty, and homage, and thankfulness which are the immortal work and business of the saints above.
Now for the opening of this to you, the following things are to be noticed.
In order to this perfect service of God in heaven, the spirits of the saints are exalted in their natural faculties to the highest degree of natural perfection, that so they may be prepared for this service. Their understandings are most clear, and com posed there is the exaltation of the soul in all its power and faculties, to the highest degree of natural perfection. This is included in the expression of the apostle, where he speaks of the heavenly state, Heb. 12. 23. " ye are come to the spirits of just men made perfect."
All these powers and faculties have supernatural endowments, which are the highest perfection (I spoke of their natural perfections before) all heavenly graces are infused into the soul, and that in the highest degree; so that as your jewels of great price are set in the finest gold, so then the graces of God's spirit are most fully given to the human soul, when it is raised to its highest perfection. Thus in the understanding, there is a perfect knowledge of God. Light is that which is spoken of as the character of heaven; it is called, "the inheritance of the saints in light;" and so saith the psalmist, "in thy light we shall see light.' In the will and affections there is a most entire and ardent love of God, which is its highest perfection. In the whole soul there is that joy and that peace that may make all the faculties united to glorify God.
(3.) From the soul raised to the highest degree of its natural perfection; and from those supernatural perfections that are