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great house of the world, that we may have our consummation in the new heaven. For, so soon as ever the old is past, Behold, saith God, I will make all things new. Yea, the passage of the one is the renewing of the other: as the snake is renewed, not by putting on any new coat, but by leaving his slough behind him: the gold is purified, by leaving his dross in the fire. Therefore he adds, not, I will, but, I do make all new : and because this is a great work, behold a great agent; He, that sat upon the throne, said, Behold I make all new.
A throne signifies majesty; and sitting, permanence or perpetuity. God says, Heaven is my throne, in the psalm: but, as Solomon's throne of ivory and gold was the best piece of his house ; so God's throne is the most glorious heaver), the heaven of heavens; for you see, that, though heaven and earth pass away, yet God's throne remained still, and he sitting on it: neither sin nor dissolution may reach to the Imperial Heaven, the seat of God.
Here is a state worthy of the King of Kings: all the thrones of earthly monarchs, are but pieces of his footstool. And, as his throne is majestical and permanent, so is his residence in it; He sat in the Throne. St. Stephen saw him standing, as it were ready for his defence and protection: St. John sees him sitting, as our Creed also runs, in regard of his unalterable glory. How brittle the thrones of earthly princes are, and how they do rather stand than sit in them, and how slippery they stand too, we feel this day, and lament. O Lord, establish the throne of thy servant our king, and let his seed endure for ever. Let his throne be as the sun before thee for evermore; and as the moon, a faithful witness in heaven. But, howsoever it be with our earthly gods, of His kingdom there is no end. Here is a Master for Kings; whose glory it is to rise up from their thrones, and throw down their crowns at his feet, and to worship before his footstool. Be wise, therefore, Oye kings; be learned, ye rulers of the earth: serve this Lord in fear, and rejoice in him with trembling.
Yea, behold here, since we have the honour to serve him whom kings serve, a Royal Master for us. It was one of our sins, I fear, that we made our Master, our God; I mean, that we made flesh our arm; and placed that confidence in him, for our earthly stay, which we should have fixed in heaven. Our too much hope hath left us comfortless : Oh, that we could now make God our Master, and trust him so much the more, as we have less in earth to trust to. There is no service to the King of Heaven; for both his throne is everlasting and unchangeable, and his promotions certain and honourable: he, that sits on the Throne hath said it, To him that overcomes will I give to sit with me in my throne; even as I overcame, and sit with my Father in his throne. Behold, ye ambitious spirits, how ye may truly rise to more than ever the sons of Zebedee desired to aspire to. Serving is the way to reigning. Serve him, that sits upon the Throne, and ye shall sit yourselves upon the Throne with him.
V. This is the Agent; the ACT is fit for him; I make all things nere". Even the very Turks in their Alcoran, can subscribe to that of Tertullian, Qui potuit facere, potest et reficere. I fear to wrong the Holy Majesty with my rude comparison. It is not so much to God, to make a world; as for us, to speak: He spake the word, and it was done. There is no change, which is not from him. He makes new princes, new years, new governments; and will make new heavens, new earth, new inhabitants: how easy then is it for him, to make new provisions for us! If we be left destitute, yet where is our faith? Shall God make us new bodies, when they are gone to dust ? shall he make new heavens and new earth; and shall not He, whose the earth is and the fulness thereof, provide some new means and courses of life for us, while we are upon earth? Is the maintenance of one poor worm more than the renewing of heaven and earth? shall he be able to raise us when we are not, and shall he not sustain us while we are?
Away with these weak diffidences; and, if we be Christians, trust God with his own: Wait thou on the Lord, and keep his ways, and he shall eralt thee; Psalm xxxvii. 34. He will make all things new. And shall all things be made new, and our hearts be old? Shall nothing but our souls be out of the fashion? Surely, Beloved, none but new hearts are for the new heavens: except we be born anew, we enter not into life. All other things shall, in the very instant, receive their renovation: only our hearts must be made new beforehand, or else they shall never be renewed to their glory:
St. Peter, when he had told us of looking for new heavens and new earth, infers this use upon it; Wherefore, beloved, seeing ye look for such things, be diligent, that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless ; 2 Peter iii. 14. Behold, the new heavens require pure and spotless inhabitants. As ever therefore we look to have our part in this blessed renovation, let us cast off all our evil and corrupt affections, put off the old man with his works, and now, with the new year, put on the new; labour for a new heart, begin a new life.
VI. That, which St. John says here, that God will say and do in our entrance to GLORIFICATION, Behold I make all things new ; St. Paul saith he hath done it already, in our regeneration, old things are passed away, all things are become new'; 2 Cor. v. 17, out of Isaiah xliii. 18, 19. What means this, but that our regeneration must make way for our glorification; and that our glory must but perfect our regeneration? And God supposes this is done, when there are means to do it. Why do we then still, in spite of the Gospel, retain our old corruptions; and think to go to the weddingfeast in our old clothes ? if some of us do 110t rather, as the Vulgate reads that; Judg. x. 6, Addere nova veteribus, add new sins to our old; new oaths, new fashions of pride, new complements of drunkenness, new devices of filthiness, new tricks of Machiavelism: these are our novelties, which fetch down from God new judgments upon us, to the tingling of the cars of all hearers, and for which Topheth was prepared of old. If God have no better news for us, we shall never enjoy the new heaven with him. For God's sake therefore, and for our soul's sake, let us be wiser, and renew our covenant with God; and, seeing this is a day of gifts, let my Newyear's-gift to you be this holy advice from God, which may make you happy for ever. Let your New-year's-gift to God be your hearts, the best part of yourselves, the center of yourselves, to which all our actions are circumferences: and, if they be such a present, as we have reason to fear God will not accept, because they are sinful; yet, if they be humbled, if penitent, we know he will receive them; A contrite and a broken heart, O God, thou wilt not despise; Psalm li
. 17. And, if we cannot give him our hearts, yet give him our desires, and he will take our unworthy hearts from us; I will take the stony hearts out of their bodies, Ezek. xi. 19; and he will graciously return a happy New-year's-gift to us, I will put a new spirit within their bowels, and will give them a heart of flesh; Ezek. xi. 14.
He will create a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within us; so, as he will make a new heaven for us, he will make us new for this heaven : he will make his tabernacle in us, that he may make ours with him: Behold, the Tabernacle of God is with men, &c.
The superstitious Lystrians cried out amazed, that gods were come down to them in the likeness of men : but we Christians know, that it is no rare thing for God to come and dwell with men; Ye are the Temples of the living God, and I will dwell among them and walk there; 2 Cor. vi. 16. The faithful heart of man is the tabernacle of God. But because, though God be ever with us, we are not always so with him; yea, while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord, as St. Paul complains; therefore wilí God vouchsafe us a nearer cohabitation, that shall not be capable of any interposition, of any absence: Behold, the Tabernacle of God is with men.
But, besides this tabernacle of flesh, time was when God dwelt in a material visible house with men. He had his tabernacle first, which was a moving temple; and then his temple, which was a fixed tabernacle; 2 Chron. vii. 16: both of them had one measure; both one name. But, one said upon that, Ezek. xlii. Mensus est similitudinem domus ; that both the Tabernacle and Temple (52987) were similitudes of God's house, rather than the house itself: 80 say I, that they were intended for notable resemblances both of the holy Church of God upon earth; 1 Pet. ii. 5; and of the glorious Sanctuary of heaven. This is the true 5 of God, which word signifieth both a Temple, Ezra iv. 1, and a Palace, Dan. i. 4; because he dwells where he is worshipped, and he is magnificent in both. It is the material tabernacle which is alluded to; the immaterial, which is promised: a tabernacle, that goes a thousand times more beyond the glittering Temple of Solomon, than Solomon's Temple went beyond the Tabernacle of Moses. Neither let it trouble any man, that the name of a Tabernacle implies fitting and uncertainty. For as the Temple, howsoever it were called by na, A house of Ages; yet lasted not (either the first, I mean, or second) unto five hundred years: so this house, though God call it a Ta. bernacle, yet he makes it an everlasting habitation; cuyuz' aiuvos, Luke xvi. 9; for he tells us, that both age and death are gone, before it come down to men.
But why rather doth the tabernacle of God descend to men, than men ascend to it? Whether this be in respect of John's vision, to whom the New Jerusalem seemed to descend from heaven; descendi, as one saith, innotescenda, and therefore it is resembled by all the riches of this inferior world, gold, precious stones, pearl : or, whether heaven is therefore said to descend to us, because it meets us in the air, when Christ Jesus, attended with innumerable angels, shall descend to fetch his elect; 1 Thess. iv. 16; or, whether this phrase be used for a greater expression of love and mercy, since it is more for a prince to come to us, than for us to go to his court: certainly, God means only in this to set forth that perpetual and reciprocal conversation, which he will have with men; They shall dwell with God, God shall dwell with them. Our glory begins ever in grace: God doth dwell with all those in grace, with whom he will dwell in glory. Every Christian carries in his bosom a shrine of God: Know ye not that Christ Jesus is in you? saith St. Paul; 2 Cor. xüi. 5. Wheresoever God dwells, there is his Temple: “ Wilt thou pray in the Temple? pray in thyself,” saith Austin.
Here is the Altar of a clean heart, from which the sweet incense of our prayers, as a pleasant perfume, is sent up into the nostrils of God. Here are the pure Candles of our faith erer burning before God, night and day; never to be extinguished. Here is the spiritual shew-Bread, the bread of life standing ever ready upon the table of the soul. Here doth the Ark of the heart, in the inwardest of the breast, keep the Law of God, and that Manna that came down from heaven. Here God dwells, and here he is worshipped.
Behold, what need we care whither we go, while we carry the God of Heaven with us? He is with us as our companion, as our guide, as our guest. No impotency of person, to cross of estate, no distance of place, no opposition of men, no gates of hell, can separate him from us: He hath said it, I will not leave, nor forsake thee. We are all now parting one from another; and now is loosing a knot of the most loving and entire fellowship, that ever meet in the Court of any Prince. Our sweet Master, that was compounded of all loveliness, infused this gracious harmony into our hearts. Now we are saluting our last; and every one is, with sorrow enough, taking his own way. How safe, how happy shall we be, if each of us shall have God to go with him! Certainly, my Dear Fellows, we shall never complain of the want of masters, of friends, while we find ourselves sure of him: nothing can make us miserable, while we are furnished with him. Shall we think he cannot fare ill, that hath money in his purse; and shall we think he can miscarry, that hath God in his heart? How shall not all comfort, all happiness accompany that God, whose presence is the cause of all blessedness? He shall counsel us in our doubts, direct
us in our resolutions, dispose of us in our estates, cheer us in our distresses, prosper us in our lives, and in our deaths crown us.
And if such felicity follow upon God's dwelling with us in these smoky cottages of our mortality, where we, through our unquiet corruptions, will not suffer ourselves to have a full fruition of God; what happiness shall there be in our dwelling with God, in those eternal tabernacles of rest and glory! Beloved, there is no loss, no misery, which the meditation of heaven cannot digest.
We have lived in the eye of a Prince, whose countenance was able to put life into any beholder. How oft hath that face shined upon us, and we have found our heart warm with those comfortable beams! Behold, we shall live with that God, in whose presence is the fulness of joy.
We have lived in the society of worthy men; yet, but men; subject to all passions, infirmities, self-respects: which of us all can have escaped without some unkindnesses, detractions, emulations ? Earthly Courts can be no more without these, than these can be without corruption: there, we shall live in the company of innumerable angels, and the spirits of just and perfect men; neither can there be any jar in those Hallelujahs, which we shall all sing to God; Rev. xix. 3.
We have lived to see the magnificence of earthly princes, and to partake of it; in their buildings, furnitures, feasts, triumphs; in their wealth, pomp, pleasures: but, open your eyes, and see the New Jerusalem, the City of the great King of Saints, and all these sublunary vanities shall be contemned. Here you shall see a foursquare city; the walls of jasper; the foundations garnished with all precious stones; twelve gates of twelve pearls; the houses and streets of pure gold, like shining glass: a crystal river runs in the midst of it; and on the banks of it grows the tree of life, ever green, ever fruitful: this is for the Eye. The Ear shall be filled with the melody of angels, ever singing, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty. The Taste shall be satisfied with manna, the food of angels; with the fruit of the tree of life; with that new wine, which our Saviour hath promised to drink with us in his kingdom. These are the dim shadows of our future blessedness. right hand, () God, are pleasures for evermore; and such pleasures, as if they could be expressed or conceived, were not worthy of our longings, nor able to satisfy us. Oh, that we could so much the more long to enjoy them, by how much less we are able to comprehend them!
When St. Paul made his Farewell Sermon to the Ephesians, he fetched tears from the eyes of his auditors, so full of holy passion was his speech; especially with that one clause, And now, behold, I know, that henceforth you all, through whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more; Acts xx. 25. A sad clause indeed, You shall see my face no more! The mind of man cannot endure to take a final leave of any thing that offends it not: but the face of a friend, of a companion, hath so much pleasure in it, that we cannot without much sorrow think of seeing it our last.