Some would have heaven, but if God save them he must save their sins also, for they do not mean to part with them; and how heaven can hold God and such company together, judge you. As they come in at one door, Christ and all those holy spirits with him would run out at the other. Ungrateful wretches, that will not come to this glorious feast, unless they may bring that with them which would disturb the joy of that blissful state, and offend all the guests that sit at the table with them, yea, drive God out of his own mansion-house.
A second sort would have heaven, but—like him in Ruth, chap. 4:2-4, who had a mind to his kinsman Elimelech’s land, and would have paid for the purchase, but liked not to have it by marrying Ruth, and so missed of it—some seem very forward to have heaven and salvation, if their own righteousness could procure the same—all the good they do, and duties they perform, they lay up for this purchase—but at last perish, because they close not with Christ, and take not heaven in his right.
A third sort are content to have it by Christ, but their desires are so impotent and listless, that they put them upon no vigorous use of means to obtain him; and so, like the sluggard, they starve, because they will not pull their hands out of their bosom of sloth to reach their food that is before them. For the world they have mettle enough, and too much; they trudge far and near for that, and when they have run themselves out of breath, can stand and ‘pant after the dust of the earth,’ as the prophet phraseth it, Amos 2:7. But for Christ and obtaining interest in him, O how key-cold are they! There is a kind of cramp invades all the powers of their souls, when they should pray, hear, examine their hearts, draw out their affections in hungerings and thirstings after his grace and Spirit. It is strange to see how they [who] even now went full soop to the world, are suddenly becalmed—not a breath of wind stirring to any purpose in their souls after these things—and is it any wonder that Christ and heaven should be denied to them, that have no more mind to them?
Lastly. Some have zeal enough to have Christ and heaven, but it is when the Master of the house is risen, and hath shut to the door, and truly then they may stand long enough rapping, before any come to let them in. There is no gospel preached in another world. But as for thee, poor soul, who art persuaded to renounce thy lusts, to throw away the conceit of thy own righteousness, that thou mayest run with more speed to Christ, and art so possessed with the excellency of Christ, thy own present need of him, and [of] salvation by him, that thou pantest after him more than [after] life itself, in God’s name go and speed, be of good comfort; he calls thee by name to come unto him, that thou mayest have rest for thy soul. There is an office in the Word where thou mayest have thy soul and its eternal happiness insured to thee. Those that come to him, as he will himself in no wise cast away, so [he will] not suffer any other to pluck them away. ‘This day,’ saith Christ to Zacchaeus, ‘is salvation come to this house,’ Luke 19:9. Salvation comes to thee, poor soul, that openest thy heart to receive Christ; thou hast eternal life already, as sure as if thou wert a glorified saint now walking in that heavenly city. O sirs, if there were a free trade proclaimed to the Indies, enough gold for all that went, and a certainty of making a safe voyage, who would stay at home? But alas, this can never be had. All this, and infinitely more, may be said for heaven; and yet how few leave their uncertain hopes of the world to trade for it? What account can be given for this, but the desperate atheism of men’s hearts? They are not yet fully persuaded whether the Scripture speaks true or not; whether they may rely upon the discovery that God makes in his Word of this new found land, and those mines of spiritual treasure there to be had, as certain. God open the eyes of the unbelieving world, as he did the prophet’s servants, that they may see these things in our hearts. By faith Moses saw him that was invisible.
Third Argument. Earthly things, when we have them, we are not sure of them. Like birds, they hop up and down, now on this hedge, and anon upon that; none can call them his own. [We may be] rich to-day, and poor to-morrow; in health when we lie down, and arrested with pangs of death before midnight; joyful parents, one while solacing ourselves with the hopes of our budding posterity, and may be, ere long, knocks one of Job’s messengers at our door to tell us they are all dead; now in honour, but who knows whether we shall not live to see that buried in scorn and reproach? The Scripture compares the multitude of people to waters—the great ones of the world sit upon these waters. As the ship floats upon the waves, so do their honours upon the breath and favour of the multitude; and how long is he like to sit that is carried upon a wave? One while they are mounted up to heaven, as David speaks of the ship, and then down again they fall into the deep. ‘We have ten parts in the king,’ say the men of Israel, II Sam. 19:43; and in the very next verse Sheba doth but sound a trumpet of sedition, saying, ‘We have no part in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse;’ and the wind is in another corner presently, for it is said, ‘Every man of Israel went up from after David, and followed Sheba.’ Thus was David cried up and down, and that almost in the same breath. Unhappy man he, that hath no surer portion than what this variable world will afford him. The time of mourning for the departure of all earthly enjoyments is at hand. We shall see them, as Eglon’s servants did their lord, fallen down dead before us, and weep because they are not. What folly then is it to dandle this vain world in our affections, whose joy, like the child’s laughter on the mother’s knee, is sure to end in a cry at last, and [to] neglect heaven and heavenly things, which endure forever?
O remember Dives stirring up his pillow, and composing himself to rest! —how he was called up with the tidings of death before he was warm in this his bed of ease, which God had made for him in flames; from whence we hear him roaring in the anguish of his conscience. O soul! couldst thou get but an interest in the heavenly things we are speaking of, these would not thus slip from under thee.