selects them out now from among the rest of mankind, 1 Cor. vi. 11. “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. Eph. ii. 2. In time past ye walked according to the course of this world,” &c. They will be separated after this life, Matth. xxv. 32. “He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats;" and that will be a cleanly separation, not only in respect of manner of life, but of place.

Mot. 2. The most part will be found refuse, Matth. xxii. 14. “For many are called, but few are chosen." Christ's flock is but a very little flock, in comparison of the devil's drove, Luke xii. 32. The former are few, but the latter many, Matth. vii. 13, 14. The gospel-net has about it, the bad to be cast away, as well as the good to be gathered into vessels, Matth. xiii. 47. And since the most part will be cast out, should not each of us be saying, Master, is it I?

Mot. 3. Consider it is not easy to get to heaven, Matth. vii. 14. “ Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Luke xiii. 24. Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." It is a business of the greatest difficulty to get up the holy hill. Many have seemed to have been set fair on the way to it, who have miserably fallen short. The Israelites in the wilderness were an emblem of this, Heb. iv. 1. Nay, they that do get there, have a great pinch in getting forward, 1 Pet. iv. 18. The righteous are scarcely saved. There is all reason for the utmost diligence and circumspection, according to the apostle's exhortation, Phil. ii. 12. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Our work is great, our strength small, our enemies are many, and their opposition is great: these require striving, wrestling, fighting, using violence, &c.

Lastly, It is not a matter to be careless and indifferent about, whether we shall get there or no. There are two things about it, that may move us to the deepest concern. (1.) The greatness of the happiness or misery that is before us. No tongue can express, nay nor heart conceive, the happiness of heaven, and the misery in hell. The one is shadowed out to us by the best things here, the other by the worst; but as heaven is better than the best here, hell is worse than the worst. (2.) The eternity of that happiness or misery. That is it that accents the joys and praises in heaven, and the wo and shriekings of the damned. Happiness without end, misery without end, are happiness and misery in perfection.

What may help you in this ivquiry, as to your own state, is the matter of communion with God here in his tabernacle of ordinances. Of which you may observe the three following things.

1. That is our essay-piece for heaven: they whom God admits to communion with him in ordinances, he will never debar from communion with him in heaven: and they that never get communion with him in the lower house, being capable of it, will never get it in heaven.

2. The same kind of qualifications are necessary for the one as for the other. The answer to both questions is one.

3. Lastly, Wherefore just as you were living in this world under ordinances, so may you expect your lot in the other world.

Let these things move you therefore seriously to think on this important matter, and the Lord give you understanding in all things.


Psalu xv. 2.
He that walketh uprightly.-


His is the first character of one that shall be an inhabitant of hea

It is taken from his walk, that is, his habitual and ordinary course of life. Men's walk in this world is the sign of the place and state they are making to in another world. His walk is upright ; he is upright in heart and life ; or perfect and entire, namely, in the way of gospel perfection.

The text affords this doctrine.

Doct. It is such as walk uprightly now, that shall dwell in heaven hereafter,

In handling this doctrine, I shall,
I. Unfold this character of walking uprightly.

II. Confirm the point, that such as walk uprightly now, shall dwell in heaven hereafter.

III. Apply the subject.

I. I shall unfold this character. He that shall dwell in heaven hereafter, walks uprightly now. And he that walks uprightly,

1. Is sincere in the frame and disposition of his heart. Hence prays the Psalmist, “Do good, O Lord, unto those that be good, and to them that are upright in their hearts,” Psal. cxxv. 4. There cannot be uprightness of life without uprightness of heart. If the cripple is made to go straight, his legs must have a new set; and if men be brought to walk uprightly, their hearts must get a new set

Vol. V.


by converting grace. An unsound heart will certainly make an unholy life, agreeable to that, Psal. Ixxviii. 37, “ Their heart was not right with God, neither were they stedfast in his covenant.” All the religion of an unregenerate man is but hypocrisy, hateful to God, and unprofitable to himself. God made man upright; and he lost his uprightness. When God new-makes him, he makes him upright again ; gives his heart a set and bent towards God and holiness. So that the choice and desire of his soul is conformity to the will of God in all things.

2. He walks entirely in the interests of religion. This is the walk of the man that is within the covenant, Gen. xvii. 1. Walk before me, and be thou perfect. It is the same word in the text. He is evangelically perfect in parts, though not in degrees. The apostle explains it, Jam. i. 4.“ Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." His religion consists of holiness and righteousness, Luke i. 74. He is conscientious and tender in his duty to God, and to his neighbour. Try him in the matters of piety, he is in the interests of religion there; try him in the matters of morality, he is in the same interests there : for he walks entirely and perfectly. Vessels fitted for destruction, some of them chuse the one half of religion, making painted hypocrites; others the other half, making mere moralists; others cast off all show of piety and morality too, making practical Atheists. The vessels fitted for glory, chuse, embrace, and walk in the whole of religion, piety, and morality.

3. He walks uniformly, his walk and religion is of a piece, Col. iv. 12.—“ that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” It was a piece of the Baptist's character, that he was consistent with himself, not here and there according to the blowing of the wind, Luke vii. 24. Men may hide and discover their art as they please : but nature will out. They whose religion is artificial, are never uniform in it; there are always some things wherein they have no use for it, but lay it aside as what would mar the course of their corrupt nature. Hence many will be flaming hot in some opinion of religion, and key-cold in the duties of love to their neighbour: in their personal walk something like Christians, but in their relative duties divested of conscience towards God; in the matters of God seeming to be somewhat, but in their dealings with men stark naught. But religion is made natural in some sort to the vessel of glory, namely, in respect of their new nature, and being natural will be of a piece.

4. He walks in the way of known duty universally, like Zacharias and Elizabeth, whose character is, that they “walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless,” Luke i. 6. Wheresoever he perceives God to call him, he follows, and so follows the Lord fully; not sticking at, or willingly failing in any commanded duty. Such are they who are fitted for the upper Canaan, Numb. xiv. 24. It was David's character in opposition to Saul, that he would be universal in his obedience, Acts xiii. 22, “ I have found David,-a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all mine own will." And Saul lost the kingdom, but it was established for ever. And it is always the characters of the vessels fitted for destruction, whatever their attainments be, One thing thou lackest, Matth. x. 21. Hence,

(1.) He that walketh uprightly, will not walk on in gross pollutions of the outward man: that cannot be universal obedience that has such a seen gross defect. Psal. xxiv. 3, 4, “ Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord ? and who shall stand in his holy place ? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart; who hath not lift up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.” Psal. cxix. 1. “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.” The upright want not their spots, sins of daily infirmity : but a course of wallowing in the mire of drunkenness, sensuality, filthiness, swearing, lying, &c. I doubt if that be found the spot of God's people, 1 Cor. vi. 11. And such were some of you, says Paul to the Corinthians, that is fornicators, &c. verse 9, 10. but ye are washed, &c. Gal. v. 19, “ Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness," &c.

(2.) He that walketh uprightly, will not allow himself in any known sin whatsoever, seen or unseen to the world. Hence David says, "I was upright before him : and I kept myself from mine iniquity,” Psal. xviii. 23. Such a bias of the heart and way as leads to the indulgence of any sin, speaks a heart parted between the Lord and lusts. The upright man is at odds with sin as sin, and therefore with all that is known to be sin.

5. He walks as under the eye of God. Hence said the Lord to Abraham, Walk before me, Gen. xvii. 1. And says David, I have set the Lord always before me, Psal. xvi. 8. Knowing him to be his witness in all things, and believing his omniscience with application, he studies to approve himself unto God. “Our rejoicing is this, says the apostle, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world,” 2 Cor. i. 12. There is a spice of Atheism in hypocrisy. The careless sinner forgets God, and minds not that the eye of God is upon him : the presumptuous sinner, if he can carry the matter securely as to the world's part,

[ocr errors]

stands not on the Lord's knowledge of his crime, Psal. xxxvi. 1. “The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes.” But the upright man deals with God, as if the eyes of all men were on him; and with men, as knowing that the eye of God is upon him. And his main care is to approve himself to God, whether the world approve or condemn him.

6. He walks singly, 2 Cor. i. 12, above cited. The upright man is opposite to the double minded man, who in the language of the Holy Ghost bath a heart and a heart, Psal. xii. 2, that is a double heart. This singleness was a bright part of the character of the primitive Christians, of whom it is said, Acts ii. 46, that," they did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart;” but it is a rare character with us. The upright man walks singly,

(1.) In opposition to deceitfulness, Col. iii. 22. He dare not deal deceitfully with God, like those who with the mouth showed much love, but their hearts went after their covetousness. Hence the upright man is content that God would search and sift him, as desiring to be open before him : Psal. cxxxix. 23, 24. “ Search me, O God, says David, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts. And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” He abhors deceitful men, as knowing it is an abomination to the Lord. He dares not use the by-ways and tricks that others stand not upon; but deals singly towards God and man.

(2.) In opposition to selfishness, Eph. vi. 5. They will labour to be single in their aims and designs, for the honour of God in the chief place, and their own and their neighbour's good in the next. Selfishness is a devouring deep that swallows up all due concern for the honour of God, and the good of others; and sacrifices all to one's own interest : so that self is all that such seek in their religious performances, and worldly business. Where it predominates, there is no room for uprightness.

7. Lastly, He walks constantly in the paths of uprightness, John viii. 31, “ If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.” IIe walketh, which denotes a continued action; he perseyeres in the Lord's way; uprightness is his constant course in the whole of his life.

A good man may do an ill thing, and an ill man may do a good thing : but it is the habitual course of a man's life that denominates him a good or ill man. For men to take their

ligion by fits and starts, and now and then to make conscience of their duty to God and to man: and anon to shake all loose again, and walk like men of Belial without yoke : that is not the upright walking that is the character of those who shall be inhabitants of heaven. Remember that saying of Christ's, “ He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved,” Matth. xxiv. 13.

« VorigeDoorgaan »