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God above others. This was not made good to them in this world; for they confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Where then is the blessing spoken of, and signified by the great words of that promise, that God was their God? They met with no such condition in this world, as was answerable to the greatness of the promise. From hence the Apostle argues, that they had a firm persuasion of a future happiness: For they that say such things, declare plainly that they seek a better country, that is, an heavenly : wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; since he hath prepared for them a city, And though the promise of God to Abraham did immediately design the land of Canaan, and the earthly Jerusalem ; yet the Apostle extends it to that which was typified by it, viz. an heavenly country, the Jerusalem which is above, which, at the ioth verse of this chapter, is called a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. And now, feeing God hath designed and prepared so great a happiness for them in another world, well might he be called their God, notwithstanding that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth; that is, though the full meaning and importance of this promise was not made good to them in this world, yet it was accomplished to the full in the happiness which was designed for them in another life. “And God need not be ashamed to be called their God; implying, that if nothing had been meant by it beyond this world, this promise, of God's being their God, would have fallen shame. fully short of what it seemed to import. And this I conceive to be the true reason why our Saviour lays so much weight upon this promise, as to pitch upon it for the proof of the resurrection; that is, of a future state of happiness in another world.
There are many considerations apt to persuade good men of another life after this: as, that mankind is generally possessed with this hope and persuasion; and that the more wise and virtuous men have been, the more plainly have they apprehended the hopes of immortali. ty, and the better have they been contented to leave this world, as if, seeing farther than other men, they had a clearer prospect of the happiness they were entering upon ; but, above all, that God hath made our con
dition in this world so troublesome and unsettled, as if he had designed on purpose to make us seek for happiness elsewhere, and to elevate and raise our minds to the hopes and expectation of a condition better and more durable, than any that is to be met with in this world; which, considering the goodness of God, and his gracious providence and care of good men, is a thing of itself extreinely credible.
Having thus, as briefly as I could, dispatched the two particulars which I propounded to speak to for the explication of the text, I should now shew what influence these confiderations ought to have upon our lives and practice.
And if this be our condition in this world, and these our hopes and expectations as to another life ; if we be strangers and pilgrims on the earth, and look for a better country, that is, an heavenly : this ought to have a great influence upon us, in these following respects, which I shall at present but very briefly mention. : 1. Let us intangle and incumber ourselves as little as we can in this our pilgrimage ; let us not engage our affections too far in the pleasures and advantages of this world; for we are not to continue and settle in it, but to pass through it. A little will serve for our passage and accommodation in this journey; and beyond that, why should we so earnestly covet and seek more? .
2. If we be strangers and pilgrims, then it concerns us to behave ourselves blamelessly and inoffensively, remembering that the eyes of people are upon us, and that those among whom we live, will be very curious and observant of our manners and carriage.
3. Let us be chearful and patient under the troubles and afflictions of this present life. They who are in a strange country must expect to encounter many injuries and affronts, and to be put to great difficulties and ha. zards; which we should endeavour to bear with that chearfulness, as men that are upon a journey use to bear foul ways and had weather, and inconvenient lodging and accommodations.
4. The consideration of our present condition and fu» ture hopes should set us above the fondness of life, and the slavilh fear of death. For our minds will never be
raised to their true pitch and height, till we have in some good measure conquered these two passions, and made them subject to our reason. As for this present life, and the enjoyments of it, what do we see in them, that should make us so strangely to dote upon them? Quæ lucis miferis tam dira cupido ? This world at the best is but a very indifferent place; and he is the wisest man that bears himself towards it with the most indifferent affection; that is always willing to leave it, and yet patient to stay in it as long as God pleases.
5. We should always prefer our duty and a good conscience before all the world ; because it is in truth more valuable, if our souls be immortal, and do survive in another world. For (as our Saviour argues) what is a man profited, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his foul ? And thus St. Paul reasoned with himself from the belief of a resurrection of the juft and unjust : For this cause (faith he) I exercise myself alway to have a conscience void of offence both toward God, and toward men.
6. Lastly, If we be sojourners and travellers, we should often think of our end, and carefully mind the way to it. Our end is everlasting happiness, and the way to it is a constant, and sincere, and universal obes dience to the commandments of God. When the young man in the gospel inquired of our Saviour the way to eternal happiness, saying, Good master, what good thing Jall I do, that I may inherit eternal life his answer to him was, If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. We may easily mistake our way; for strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it. Therefore we should often pray to God as David does, Psal. cxix. 19. I am a stranger in the earth, hide not thy commandments from me ; and Pfal. cxxxix. 23. 24. Search me, O God, and know my heart : try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wica ked way in me, and lead me in the way everlafting.. .,
S E RM O N LXIX. Good men strangers and sojourners upon earth.
H E B. xi. 13. And confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
The whole verse runs thus : These all died in faith, not having received the promises,
but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that ihey were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
The second sermon on this text.
T Have lately in this place (upon a particular day and
occasion) begun to handle these words; I shall brief
ly give you the heads of what hath been already delivered, and proceed to what remains. And that which I designed from this text was, to represent our present condition in this world, and to awaken our minds to a due sense and confideration of it. It is the same condition that all the saints and holy men that have gone before us were in in this world ; and we may all of us say with David, Psal. xxxix. 12. I am a stranger with thee, and a fojourner, as all my fathers were.
It is very frequent, not only in scripture, but in other authors, to represent our condition in this world by that of pilgrims and Sojourners in a far country. For the mind, which is the man, and our immortal souls, which are by far the most noble and excellent part of ourselves, are the natives of heaven, and but strangers and pilgrims here on the earth ; and when the days of our pilgrimage shall be accomplished, are designed to return to that heavenly country from which they came, and to which they belong. And for the explication of this metaphor, I infifted only upon two things, which seem plainly to be designed and intended by it.'
1. That our condition in this world is very troublesome and unsettled : They confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on ihe earth.
2. It implies a tendency to a future settlement, and the hopes and expectation of a happier condition, into which we shall enter when we go out of this world.
And these I told you are two very weighty and useful considerations; that we should both understand our prefent condition in this world, and our future hopes and expectation after our departure out of it; that so we may demean ourselves suitably to both these conditions ; both as is fit for those who look on themselves as pilgrims and fojourners in this world, and likewise as it becomes those svho seek and expect a better country, and hope to be partakers of a blessed immortality in another world. .
I. That our condition in this world is very troublesome and unsettled ; and this is principally intended by the metaphor of strangers and pilgrims. Such was the life of the Patriarchs here spoken of in the text; they had no constant abode and fixed habitation, but were continually wandering from one kingdom and country to another; in which travels they were exposed to a great many dangers and sufferings, affronts and injuries; as we read at large in the history of their travels in the Old
Testament. And such is our condition in this world ; it is often troublesome, and always uncertain, and unsettled : so that whatever degree of worldly félicity any man is possessed of, he hath no security that it shall continue for one moment.
II. Our condition in this world being a state of pil-grimage, it implies a tendency to a future settlement, and the hopes and expectation of a happier condition into which we shall enter so soon as we leave this world. For so it follows immediately after the text : They confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth : for they that say such things, declare plainly that they seek a country. They that fazy fuch things; that is, they that acknowledge themselves to have lived in such a restless and uncertain condition in this world, travelling from one place to another, as the Patriarchs Abraham, Ifaac, and Jacob did; and yet pretend to be persuaded of the goodness of God, and the faithfulness of his promise, in YOL. IV.