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And oh, what a glorious state will be that common uniting, and united love! If two or three candles joined together make a greater flame and light, what would ten thousand stars united do? When all the love of angels and saints in full perfection shall be so united, as to make one love, to God that is one, and to one another, who are there all one in Christ; O what a glorious love will that be! That love and joy will be the same thing; and that one universal love will be one universal joy.
Little know we how great a mercy it is to be here commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves; and much more, to be effectually taught of God so to love one another. And did we all here live in such unfeigned love, we should be like to heaven, as bearing the image of the God of Love; but, alas! our societies here are small; our goodness, which is our amiableness, wofully imperfect and mixed with loathsome sin and discord; but there, a whole heaven full of blessed spirits will flame forever, in perfect love to God, to Christ, and one another.
Go then, go willingly, O my soul! Love joineth with light, to draw up thy desires! Nature inclineth all things unto union: even the lifeless elements have an aggregative motion, by which the parts, when violently separated, do hastily return to their natural adhesion. Art thou a lover of wisdom, and wouldest thou not be united to the wise? Art thou a lover of holiness, and wouldest thou not be united to the holy, who are made of love? Art thou a hater of enmity, discord, and divisions, and a lover of unity here on earth, and wouldest thou not be where all the just are one? It is not an unnatural union to thy loss; nothing shall be taken from thee by it: thou shalt receive by it more than thou canst contribute; it shall not be forced against thy will; it is but a union of minds and wills; a perfect union of loves. Let not natural or sinful selfishness cause thee to think suspiciously or hardly of it, for it is thy happiness and end. What got the angels that fell to selfishness, from unity? and what got Adam, that followed them herein? The further any man goeth from unity, by selfishness, the deeper he falleth into sin and misery from God. And what doth grace but call us back from sin and selfishness, to God's unity again? Doat not, then, on this dark, divided world. Is
not thy body, while the parts by an uniting soul are kept together, and make one, in a better state, than when it is crumbled into lifeless dust? And doth not death creep on thee by a gradual dissolution? Away, then, from this sandy, incoherent state; the further from the centre, the further from unity. A unity indeed there is of all things; but it is one heavenly life and light and love, which is the true felicitating union.
We dispute here whether the aggregative motion of separated parts (as in descensu gravium,) be from a motive principle in the part, or by the attraction of the whole, or by any external impulse. It is like that there is somewhat of all these; but sure the greatest cause is like to do most to the effect. The body of the earth hath more power to attract a clod, or stone, than the intrinsic principle to move it downwards; but intrinsic gravity is also necessary. The superior attractive love and loveliness must do more to draw up this mind to God, than my intrinsic holiness to move it upward; but without this holiness, the soul would not be capable of feeling that attractive influx. Every grace cometh from God, to fit and lead up my soul to God. Faith, therefore, believeth the heavenly state, and love doth, with some delight, desire it, and hope gapeth after it, that I may at last attain it.
They that have pleaded against propriety, and would have all things common in this world, have forgotten that there is a propriety in our present egoity, and natural constitution, which rendereth some accidental propriety necessary to us. Every man hath his own bodily parts, and inherent accidents; and every man must have his own food, his own place, clothing, and acquisitions; his own children, and therefore, his own wife, &c. But that the greatest perfection is most for community, as far as nature is capable of it, God would show us, in making the first receivers of the extraordinary pourings-out of his Spirit, to sell all, and voluntarily make all common, none saying, This or that is my own; which was not done by any constraining law but by the law or power of uniting love: they were first all as of one heart and soul. (Acts iv. 32.)
Take not, then, thy inordinate desire of propriety for thy health, but for thy sickness; cherish it not, and be not afraid to lose it, and
measure not the heavenly felicity by it: spirits are penetrable; they claim not so much as a propriety of place, as bodies do. It is thy weakness and state of imperfection now which maketh it so desirable to thee that thy house should be thine, and no one's but thine; thy land be thine, and no one's but thine; thy clothes, thy books, yea, thy knowledge and grace, be thine, and no one's but thine. How much more excellent a state were it, (if we were here capable of it,) if we could say, that all these are as the common light of the sun, which is mine, and every one's as well as mine! Why are we so desirous to speak all languages, but that we might understand all men, and be understood of all, and so might make our sentiments as common as is possible? Whence is it that men are so addicted to talkativeness; but that nature would make all our thoughts and passions as common as it can? And why else are learned men so desirous to propagate their learning, and godly men so desirous to make all others wise and godly? It seemeth one of the greatest calamities of this life, that when a man hath, with the longest and hardest study, attained to much knowledge, he cannot bequeath it, or any part of it, to his heir, or any person when he dieth, but every man must acquire it for himself; and when God hath sanctified the parents, they cannot communicate their holiness to their children (though God promise to bless them on their account.) Much less can any man make his grace or knowledge common: nature and grace incline us to desire it; but we cannot do it. For this end we talk, and preach, and write; for this end we study to be as plain, and convincing, and moving as we can, that we make our knowledge and affections as common to our hearers and readers as we can. And oh, what a blessed work should we take preaching and writing for, if we could make them all know, but what we know, and love what we are persuading them to love! There would then be no need of schools and universities: a few hours would do more than they do in an age. But, alas! how rare is it for a father of excellent learning and piety, to have one son like himself, after all his industry!
Is not the heavenly communion, then, desirable, where every man. shall have his own, and yet his own be common to all others? My knowledge shall be my own, and other men's as well as mine; my
goodness shall be my own and theirs; my glory and felicity shall be mine and theirs; and theirs also shall be mine as well as theirs. The knowledge, the goodness, the glory, of all the heavenly society, shall be mine, according to my capacity; grace is the seed of such a state, which maketh us all one in Christ, (neither Barbarian nor Scythian, circumcision nor uncircumcision, bond nor free,) by giving us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to love both our neighbors and ourselves, for Christ, and Christ in all: well might Paul say, all things are yours. But it is here but as in the seed; the perfect union and communion is hereafter. Earth and heaven must be distinguished; we must not extend our hopes or pretensions here beyond the capacity of our natures. As perfect holiness and knowledge, so perfect unity and concord, is proper to heaven, and is not here to be expected. The papal pretensions, of an impossible union in one governor of all the earth, is the means to hinder that union which is possible. But the state of perfection is the state of perfect union and communion. Hasten then upwards, O my soul, with the ferventest desires, and breathe after that state with the strongest hopes; where thou shalt not be rich, and see thy neighbors poor about thee, nor be poor, while they are rich; nor be well while they are sick, or sick while they are well; but their riches, their health, their joy, will be all thine, and thine will be all theirs, as the common light; and none will have the less for the participation of the rest; yea, communion will be part of every one's felicity; it constituteth the very being of the city of God. This celestial communion of saints in one holy church, above what is here to be attained, is now an article of our belief; but believing will soon end in seeing and enjoying.
V. The constitutive reasons from the heavenly life or practice.
Sect. 1. Seeing and loving will be the heavenly life; but yet it seemeth that, besides these, there will be executive powers, and therefore, some answerable practice. There are good works in heaven, and far more and better than on earth. For, 1. there will be more vital activity, and, therefore, more exercise for it; for the power is for action. 2. There will be more love to God and one another; and love is active. 3. There will be more likeness to God and our
Redeemer, who is communicative, and doth good, as he is good. 4. Our union with Christ, who will be everlastingly beneficent, as well as benevolent, will make us in our places also beneficent. 5. Our communion in the city of God will prove that we shall all bear our part as the members of the body, in contributing to the welfare of the whole, and in the common returns to God.
Sect. 2. But what are the heavenly works we must perfectly know when we come thither? In general we know; 1. That they will be the works of love to God and to his creatures; that is, such as love inclineth us to exercise. 2. And they will be works of obedience to God; that is, such as we shall do to please his will, and because he willeth them to be our duty. 3. They will be useful works to others. 4. They will be pleasant to ourselves, and part of our felicity. 5. And they will carry all to God, our end.
Sect. 3. And somewhat of them is particularly described in the Holy Scriptures: as, 1. We shall in concord with the holy society, or choir, give thanks and praise to God and our Redeemer. (Rev. xix. 5 1 Pet. iv. 11; Rev. vii. 4, and iv. 7, 11, and v. 13, and vii. 12, and xix. 1; Phil. iv. 20.) Whether there be any voice, or only such spiritual activity and exultation as to man, in flesh, is not to be clearly understood, is not fit for us here to presume to determine : it will be somewhat more high and excellent than our vocal praise. and singing is; and of which this beareth some analogical resemblance or signification. As all passions earnestly desire vent and exercise, so specially do our holy affections of love, joy, and admiration of God Almighty. And there is in us a desire of communion with many in such affections and expressions: methinks when we are singing or speaking God's praise in the great assemblies, with joyful and fervent souls, I have the liveliest foretaste of heaven on earth: and I could almost wish that our voices were loud enough to reach through all the world, and unto heaven itself: nor could I ever be offended (as many are) at the organs, and other convenient music, soberly and seasonably used, which excite and help to tune my soul in so holy a work, in which no true assistance is to be despised. No work more comforteth me in my greatest sufferings, none seemeth more congruous and pleasant to me while I wait for death, than