The Lord's Prayer
By Thomas Watson
The Second Petition in the Lord's Prayer
"Your kingdom come." Matthew 6:10
Secondly, the kingdom of heaven implies a glorious
fruition of all good. Had I as many tongues as hairs on my head,
I could not fully describe this. It is a place where there is no lack of
anything. Judges 18:10. It is called "the excellent glory." 2 Peter 1:17. I
might as well measure the skies, or drain the ocean—as set forth the glory
of this kingdom. The kingdom of heaven is above all hyperbole. Were the sun
ten thousand times brighter than it is, it could not parallel the luster of
this kingdom. Apelles' pencil would but blotch it, angels' tongues would but
lessen it. I can but give you the shadowings of it. Do not expect to
see it in all its orient colors—until you are mounted above the stars! But
let us not stand afar off, as Moses, to behold this Canaan—but enter into
it, and taste the honey. The privileges of this heavenly kingdom are:
(1) We shall have an immediate COMMUNION with God
himself, who is the inexhaustible sea of all happiness. This
divines call "the beatific vision." The psalmist triumphed in the enjoyment
he had of God in this life. "Whom have I in heaven but you?" Psalm 73:25. If
God, enjoyed by faith, gives so much comfort to the soul—how much more when
he is enjoyed by immediate vision! Here we see God darkly through the glass
of ordinances; but in the kingdom of heaven we shall see him "face to face."
1 Cor 13:12. We shall have an intellectual sight of him; we shall see him
with the eyes of our mind; we shall know him as much as the angels in heaven
do. Matthew 18:10; we shall know as we are known. 1 Cor 13:12.
We shall have a full knowledge of God, though not
know him fully; as a cup in the sea is full of the sea, though it holds not
all the sea. To see and enjoy God will be most delicious; in him are beams
of majesty, and affections of mercy. God has all excellencies concentrated
in him—the good in which are all good things. If one flower should have the
sweetness of all flowers—how sweet would that flower be! All the beauty and
sweetness which lies scattered in the creature—is infinitely to be found in
God. To see and enjoy him, therefore, will ravish the soul with delight. We
shall see God so as to love him, and be made sensible of his love; and when
we shall have this sweet communion with him, he shall be "all in all;" light
to the eye, manna to the taste, and music to the ear. 1
(2) In the kingdom of heaven, we shall, with these eyes,
see the glorified body of JESUS CHRIST. The Savior makes it a
great part of the glory of heaven—to view the glory of his human nature.
"That they may behold my glory." John 17:24. When Christ was transfigured
upon earth, it is said, that "his face did shine as the sun, and his
clothing was white as the light." Matthew 17:2. If the glory of his
transfiguration was so great, what will the glory of his exaltation
be! Much of the glory of God shines in Christ, by virtue of the
hypostatic union. "In him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."
Col 2:9. Through Christ's humanity, as through a bright mirror, we may see
some beams of the divine majesty shine forth. Our capacities will be
enlarged to a wonderful degree, to receive this glorious object! We will not
only see God's glory—but some of his glory shall be put upon us. "Glory will
be not only present—but within." Bernard. A beggar may behold the glory of a
king and not be the happier; but Christ's glory shall be ours, "We shall be
like him." 1 John 3:2. We shall shine by his beams.
(3) In the kingdom of heaven we shall enjoy the society
of "an innumerable company of ANGELS." Heb 12:22.
But is there not enough in God to fill the soul with
delight? Can the sight of angels add to its happiness? What need is there of
the light of torches, when the sun shines?
Besides the divine essence, the sight of angels is
desirable. Much of God's curious workmanship shines in the angels; they are
beautiful, glorious creatures; and as the several strings in a lute make the
harmony sweeter, and the several stars make the sky brighter, so the society
with angels will make the delight of heaven the greater; and we shall not
only see them with the glorified eye of our understanding—but converse with
(4) In the kingdom of heaven, we shall have sweet society
with glorified SAINTS. Oh! what a blessed time will it be when
those who have prayed, wept, and suffered together—shall rejoice together!
We shall see the saints, in their white linen of purity, and see them as so
many crowned kings: in beholding the glorified saints, we shall behold a
heaven full of suns. Some have asked whether we shall know one another in
heaven? Surely, our knowledge will not be diminished—but increased! The
judgment of Luther and Anselm, and many other divines is, that we shall know
one another; yes, the saints of all ages, whose faces we never saw! And,
when we shall see the saints in glory without their infirmities of pride and
passion—it will be a glorious sight. We see how Peter was transported when
he saw but two prophets in the transfiguration; but what a blessed sight
will it be when we shall see the whole glorious company of prophets, and
martyrs, and holy men of God! Matthew 17:3. How sweet will the music be,
when all shall sing together in concert in the heavenly choir! And though,
in this great assembly of saints and angels, "one star may differ from
another in glory," yet no such weed as envy shall ever grow in the
paradise of God! There shall be perfect love, which, as it casts out
fear, so also envy. Though one vessel of glory may hold more than another,
every vessel will be full.
(5) In the kingdom of heaven there shall be
incomprehensible JOY. When the saints' union with Christ is
perfected in heaven, their joy shall be full. All the birds of the heavenly
paradise sing for joy! What joy, when the saints shall see the great gulf
crossed, and know that they are passed from death to life! What joy, when
they are as holy as they would be, and as God would have them to be! What
joy to hear the music of angels; to see the golden banner of Christ's love
displayed over the soul; to be drinking that water of life which is sweeter
than all nectar and ambrosia! What joy, when the saints shall see Christ
clothed in their flesh, sitting in glory above the angels! Then they shall
enter into the joy of their Lord. Matthew 25:21.
Here on earth, joy enters into the saints; in heaven
"they enter into joy." O saint of God, who now hang your harp upon the
willows, and mingle your drink with weeping, in the kingdom of heaven your
water shall be turned into wine; you shall have so much felicity that your
soul cannot wish for more. The sea is not so full of water—as the heart of a
glorified saint is of joy. There can be no more sorrow in heaven—than
there is joy in hell.
(6) In heaven HONOR and DIGNITY are put upon the saints.
A kingdom implies honor. All that come into heaven are kings.
1. They have a royal crown. Rev 2:10. "I will give
you a crown of life." A crown is the sign of royal power. This crown is not
lined with thorns—but hung with jewels; it is a never-fading crown! 1 Peter
2. The saints in heaven have their royal robes.
They exchange their sackcloth, for white robes. "I beheld a great multitude,
which no man could number, clothed with white robes." Rev 7:9. Robes
signify their glory, white their sanctity.
3. They sit with Christ upon the royal throne. Rev
3:21. We read in 1 Kings 6:32, the doors of the holy of holies were made of
palm-trees, and open flowers covered with gold — an emblem of that victory,
and that garland of glory, which the saints shall wear in the kingdom of
heaven. When all the titles and ensigns of worldly honor shall lie in the
dust—the saints' honor shall remain.
(7) In the kingdom of heaven we shall have a blessed
REST. Rest is the end of motion; heaven is the blessed center
where the soul acquiesces and rests. In this life we are subject to unquiet
motions and fluctuations. "We were troubled on every side" (2 Cor 7:5). We
are like a ship on the sea having the waves beating on both sides; but in
the kingdom of heaven there is rest. Heb 4:9. How welcome is rest to a weary
traveler! When death cuts asunder the string of the body—the soul, as a
dove, flies away, and is at rest. This rest is when the saints shall lie on
Christ's bosom—that hive of sweetness, that bed of perfume.
(8) The saints in the kingdom of heaven shall have their
BODIES richly bespangled with glory. They shall be full of
brightness and beauty. As Moses' face shined, that the people were not able
to behold the glory (Exod 34:30); so the bodies of the saints shall shine
seven times brighter than the sun, as Chrysostom says; they shall have such
a resplendence of beauty on them, that the angels shall fall in love with
them; and no wonder, for they shall be made like Christ's glorious body.
Phil 3:21. The bodies of glorified saints need no jewels—when they shall
shine like Christ's body.
(9) The heavenly kingdom is ETERNAL. It is an
eternal fruition, they shall never be put out of the throne. "They shall
reign forever and ever." Rev 22:5. It is called "the everlasting kingdom" (2
Peter 1:11), and an "eternal weight of glory." 2 Cor 4:17. The flowers of
paradise, of which the saints' garland is made, never wither. If there
could be a cessation of heaven's glory, or the saints had but the least fear
or suspicion of losing their felicity—it would infinitely abate and cool
their joy. But their kingdom is forever—the rivers of paradise cannot
be dried up. "At your right hand there are pleasures forevermore." Psalm
16:2: The kingdom of heaven was typified by the temple which was built with
stone, covered with cedar overlaid with gold—to show that the fixed
permanent state of glory abides forever. Well may we pray, "Your kingdom
 What are the PROPERTIES of the kingdom of heaven?
(1) The glory of this kingdom is SOLID and SUBSTANTIAL.
The Hebrew word for glory signifies a weight—to
show how solid and weighty the glory of the celestial kingdom is. The glory
of the worldly kingdom is airy and imaginary, like a blazing comet, or a
dream. The earth hangs like a ball in the air, without anything to uphold
it. Job 26:7. The glory of the heavenly kingdom is substantial, it has
twelve foundations. Rev 21:14. That which God and angels count glory, is
(2) The glory of this kingdom is SATISFYING.
"With you is the fountain of life." Psalm 36:9. How can they not be
satisfied—who are at the fountainhead? "When I awake, I shall be satisfied
with your likeness," that is, when I awake in the morning of the
resurrection, having some of the beams of your glory shining in me—I shall
be satisfied. Psalm 17:15. The creature says, concerning satisfaction, "It
is not in me." Job 28:14. If we go for happiness to the creature, we go to
the wrong place. Heaven's glory alone, is commensurate to the vast desires
of an immortal soul. A Christian bathing himself in these rivers of
pleasures, cries out in divine ecstasy, "I have enough!" The soul is never
satisfied until it has God for its portion, and heaven for its haven.
Dissatisfaction arises from some defect—but God is an infinite good, and
there can be no defect in that which is infinite.
(3) The glory of heaven's kingdom is PURE and UNMIXED.
The streams of paradise are not muddied. All are clear, all are delightful.
There gold has no alloy. There is no bitter ingredient in that glory—it is
pure as the honey which drops from the comb. There, the rose of Sharon grows
without thorns. There is—ease without pain, honor without disgrace, life
without death. "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no
more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has
passed away." Revelation 21:4.
(4) The glory of this kingdom is constantly EXHILARATING
and REFRESHING. There is fullness—but no excess. Worldly
comforts, though sweet—yet grow stale in time. A down-bed pleases awhile—but
soon we are weary and must rise. Too much pleasure is a pain; but the glory
of heaven never surfeits or nauseates; because, as there are all rarities
imaginable, so every moment fresh delights spring from God into the
(5) The glory of this kingdom is distributed to EVERY
individual saint. In an earthly kingdom the crown goes but to
one, a crown will fit but one head; but in that kingdom above, the crown
goes to all. Rev 1:6. All the elect are kings. Earthly inheritances are
settled chiefly upon one heir; but in the kingdom of heaven all the saints
are heirs. "Heirs of God, and co-heirs with Christ." Romans 8:17. God has
land enough to give to all his heirs!
(6) Lucid and TRANSPARENT. This kingdom of
heaven is adorned and bespangled with light. 1 Tim 6:16. Light is the glory
of the creation. "The light is sweet." Eccl. 11:7. Hell is a dark
dungeon; fire—but no light. Matthew 22:13. The kingdom of heaven is a
transparency, all embroidered with light, clear as crystal. How can there be
lack of light, where Christ the Sun of Righteousness displays his golden
beams? "The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the
glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp." Rev 21:23.
(7) The glory of this kingdom is adequate and
proportionable to the desire of the soul. In creature fruitions,
that which commends them, and sets them off to us, is suitableness.
The contentment of marriage lies not in beauty or portion—but in
suitableness of disposition. The excellence of a feast is, when the food
is suited to the palate. One ingredient in the glory of heaven is—that it
exactly suits the desires of the glorified saints. We shall not say in
heaven, "Here is a dish, I do not love!" There shall be music to suit
the ear in the anthems of angels; and food which suits the glorified
palate in the hidden manna of God's love.
(8) The glory of this kingdom will be SEASONABLE.
The seasonableness of a mercy adds to its beauty and sweetness, like apples
of gold to pictures of silver. After a hard winter in this cold climate, is
it not seasonable to have the spring flowers of glory appear, and the
singing of the birds of paradise come? When we have been wearied, and tired
out in battle with sin and Satan, will not a crown be seasonable?
 The kingdom of heaven infinitely EXCELS all the kingdoms of the earth.
(1) It excels in its ARCHITECT. Other kingdoms
have men to raise their structures—but God himself laid the first stone in
this kingdom. Heb 11:10. This kingdom is of the greatest antiquity. God was
the first King and founder of it; no angel was worthy to lay a stone in this
(2) This heavenly kingdom excels in ALTITUDE.
It is higher than any kingdom. The higher anything is, the more excellent it
is. Fire being the most sublime element, is most noble. The kingdom of
heaven is seated above all the visible orbs. There is—
1. The airy heaven, which is the space from the
earth to the sphere of the moon.
2. The starry heaven, the place where the planets
are, of a higher elevation, as Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars.
3. The empyrean heaven, which Paul calls the third
heaven; where Christ is, there the kingdom of glory is situated. This
kingdom is so high that no scaling ladders of enemies can reach it; so high
that the old serpent cannot shoot up his fiery darts to it. If wicked men
could build their nests among the stars, the least believer would be vastly
(3) The kingdom of heaven excels all others in SPLENDOR
and RICHES. It is described by precious stones. Rev 21:19. What
are all the rarities of the earth, compared to this kingdom — coasts of
pearl, rocks of diamonds, islands of spices? What are the wonders of the
world to it — the Egyptian pyramids, or the temple of Diana? What a rich
kingdom is that, where God will lay out all his cost! Those who are poor in
the world, soon as they come into this kingdom, grow rich—as rich as the
angels. Other kingdoms are enriched with gold, this is enriched with the
(4) The kingdom of heaven excels all other kingdoms in
HOLINESS. Kingdoms on earth are for the most part unholy; there
is a common sore of luxury and uncleanness running in them. Kingdoms are
stages for sin to be acted on. "All the tables are covered with vomit and
there is not a spot without filth." (Isaiah 28:8); but the kingdom of heaven
is so holy, that it will not mix with any corruption. "Nothing impure will
ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful." Rev
21:27. It is so pure a soil, that no serpent of sin will breed there. There
beauty is not stained with lust, and honor is not swelled with
pride. Holiness is the brightest jewel of the crown of heaven.
(5) The kingdom of heaven excels all other kingdoms in
its PEACEFUL nature. It is a kingdom of peace. Peace is the glory
of a kingdom. One peace is better than countless victories. A king's crown
is more adorned with the white lily of peace, than when beset with
the red roses of a bloody war. But where shall we find an
uninterrupted peace upon earth? Either there are home-bred divisions, or
foreign invasions. "There was no peace to him who went out, nor to him who
came in." 2 Chron 15:5. But the kingdom of heaven is a kingdom of peace;
there are no enemies to conflict with; for all Christ's enemies shall be
under his feet. Psalm 110:1. The gates of that kingdom always stand open:
"The gates shall not be shut at all;" to show that there is no fear of an
assault of an enemy. Rev 21:25. When the saints die they are said to enter
into peace. Isaiah 57:2. There is no beating of drums or roaring of cannons;
but the voice of harpers harping, in token of peace. Rev 14:2. In heaven,
"righteousness and peace kiss each other."
(6) The kingdom of heaven excels all other kingdoms in
MAGNITUDE; it is of vast dimensions. Though the gate of the
kingdom is narrow, and we must pass into it through the narrow gate of
mortification—yet, when once we are in it, it is very large. Though there
are an innumerable company of saints and angels—yet there is room enough for
them all. The kingdom of heaven may be called by the name of that well in
Gen 26:22, Isaac "called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the
Lord has made room for us." You who are now confined to a small cottage,
when you come into the celestial kingdom, shall not be straitened for room.
As every star has a large orb to move in, so it shall be with the saints,
when they shall shine as stars in the kingdom of heaven.
(7) The kingdom of heaven excels in UNITY. All
the inhabitants agree together in love. Love will be the perfume and music
of heaven. As love to God will be intense—so to the saints. As
perfect love casts out fear—so it casts out envy and
discord. Those Christians who could not live quietly together on earth
(which was the blemish of their profession) in the heaven shall be all love;
the fire of strife shall cease; there shall be no vilifying, or censuring
one another, or raking into one another's sores—but all shall be tied
together with the heart-strings of love. There Luther and Zwingli are
agreed. Satan cannot put in his cloven foot in there, to make divisions.
There shall be perfect harmony and concord, and not one jarring string in
the saints' music. It were worth dying—to be in that kingdom!
(8) This kingdom exceeds all earthly kingdoms in JOY and
PLEASURE, and is therefore called paradise. 2 Cor 12:4. For
delight, there are all things to cause pleasure; there is the water of
life clear as crystal; there is the honeycomb of God's love
dropping. It is called "entering into the joy of our Lord." Matthew
25:23. There are two things which cause joy.
 Separation from sin shall be complete—and then joy
follows. There can be no more sorrow in heaven—than there is joy in hell.
 Perfect union with Christ. Joy flows from union
with the object. When our union with Christ shall be perfect—our joy
shall be full. If the joy of faith is so great, what will the joy of
sight be? 1 Peter 1:8. Joseph gave his brethren provision for the
way—but the full sacks of corn were kept until they came to their father's
house. God gives the saints a taste of joy here—but the full sacks
are kept until they come to heaven. Not only the physical parts, the outward
senses, the eye, ear, taste—but the heart of a glorified saint shall be
filled with joy. The understanding, will, and affections, are such a
triangle as none can fill but the Trinity. There must needs be infinite joy,
where nothing is seen but beauty; nothing is tasted but love. "You will fill
me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."
(9) This kingdom of heaven excels all earthly kingdoms in
PERFECTION. Other kingdoms are defective, they have not all
provision within themselves—but must traffic abroad to supply their needs at
home, as King Solomon sent to Ophir for gold. 2 Chron 8:18. But there is no
defect in the kingdom of heaven; it has all commodities naturally supplied.
Rev 22:2. There is the pearl of great price, the morning star, the mountains
of spices, the bed of love; there are those sacred rarities, wherewith God
and angels are delighted!
(10) This kingdom of heaven excels all others in HONOR
and nobility. It not only equals them in the ensigns of royalty,
the throne and white robes—but it far transcends them. Other kings are of
royal blood—but they in this heavenly kingdom, are born of God. Other kings
converse with nobles; the saints glorified are fellow commoners with angels!
They have a more noble crown; it is made of the flowers of paradise,
and is a crown which can never fade away. 1 Peter 5:4. They sit on a better
throne. King Solomon sat on a throne of ivory overlaid with gold (1
Kings 10:18); but the saints in heaven are higher advanced, they sit with
Christ upon his throne! Rev 3:21. They shall judge the princes and great
ones of the earth. 1 Cor 6:2. This honor have all the glorified saints.
(11) This kingdom of heaven excels all others in
HEALTHFULNESS. Death is a worm which is ever feeding at the
root of our gourd! Earthly kingdoms are often hospitals of sick people;
but the kingdom of heaven is a most healthful climate. There are no
physicians there—for there is no sickness there. There is no passing
death-bell. "Neither can they die any more." Luke 20:36. In the heavenly
climate, there are no ill vapors to breed diseases—but a sweet, aromatic
healing fragrance coming from Christ; all his garments smell of myrrh,
aloes, and cassia.
(12) This kingdom of heaven excels in DURATION, it abides
forever. Suppose earthly kingdoms to be more glorious than they
are, their foundations of gold, their walls of pearl, their windows of
sapphire; yet they are corruptible and fleeting. "I will cause to cease the
kingdom." Hos 1:4. Troy and Athens now lie buried in their ruins; corn now
grows where Troy once stood. Mortality is the disgrace of all earthly
kingdoms; but the kingdom of heaven has eternity written upon it—it
is an everlasting kingdom. 2 Peter 1:11. It is founded upon the strong
pillar of God's omnipotence. The saints shall never be turned out of this
kingdom, or be deposed from their throne, as some kings have been—but shall
reign forever and ever! Rev 22:5.
How should all this affect our hearts! What should we
mind but this kingdom of heaven, which more outshines all the kingdoms of
the earth than the sun outshines the light of a candle!
This glory in the
kingdom of heaven shall be begun at death—but not be perfected until the
 WHEN shall this kingdom of heaven begin?
(1) The saints shall enter upon the kingdom of glory
immediately after death.
Before their bodies are buried, their souls
shall be crowned. "Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ." Phil
1:23. From this connection, departing, and being with Christ, we see
clearly that there is a speedy passage from death to glory; no sooner is the
soul of a believer divorced from the body—but it immediately goes to Christ!
"Absent from the body, present with the Lord." 2 Cor 5:8. It would be better
for believers to stay here on earth—if immediately after death they were not
with Christ in glory; for here the saints are daily increasing their grace;
here they may have many foretastes, sweet tastes of God's love: so that it
would be better to stay here, if their soul should sleep in their body, and
they should not have a speedy sight of God in glory.
But the consolation of believers, is that they shall not
stay long from their kingdom. Quick as a wink—and they shall see God. It
will not only be a blessed change to a believer, from a desert to a
paradise, from a bloody battle to a victorious crown—but a sudden
change. No sooner did Lazarus die—but he had a convoy of angels to conduct
his soul to the kingdom of glory. You who now are full of bodily diseases,
with scarcely a pain free day, saying, "My life is spent with grief!" (Psalm
31:10); be of good comfort, you may be eternally happy before you are aware!
Before another week or month is over, you may be in the kingdom of glory,
and then all tears shall be wiped away! "I assure you: Today you will be
with Me in paradise!" Luke 23:43.
(2) The glory in the kingdom of heaven will be fully
perfected at the resurrection and general day of judgment. Then
the bodies and souls of believers will be reunited. What joy will there be
at the reunion and meeting together of the soul and body of a saint! Oh,
what a welcome will the soul give to the body! "O my dear body, you
often joined with me in prayer, and now you shall join with me in praise;
you were willing to suffer with me, and now you shall reign with me; you
were sown a vile body—but now you are made like Christ's glorious body; we
were once for a time divorced—but now we are married, and crowned together
in a kingdom, and shall mutually congratulate each other's felicity."
 The certainty and infallibility of this kingdom of glory.
That this blessed kingdom shall be bestowed on the
saints—is beyond all dispute.
(1) God has promised it. "It is your Father's
good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Luke 12:32. "I appoint unto you a
kingdom." Luke 22:29. "I bequeath it as my last will and testament." Has God
promised a kingdom—and will he not make his promise good? God's promise is
better than any bond. "In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie,
promised." Titus 1:2. The whole earth hangs upon the word of God's power;
and cannot our faith hang upon the word of his promise?
(2) There is a price laid down for this kingdom.
Heaven is not only a kingdom which God has promised—but which Christ
has purchased; it is called a purchased possession. Eph 1:14. Though
this kingdom is given us freely—yet Christ bought it with the price of his
blood; which is a heaven procuring blood. "Having boldness to enter into the
holiest (that is, into heaven) by the blood of Jesus." Heb 10:19. The cross
of Christ is the key of paradise! Christ's blood is the key which opens
the gates of heaven! Should the saints not obtain this kingdom—then
Christ should lose his purchase. Christ on the cross was in hard travail.
Isaiah 53:11. He travailed to bring forth salvation to the elect: should not
they possess the kingdom when they die—Christ would lose his travail; all
his pangs and agonies of soul upon the cross would be in vain.
(3) Christ prays that the saints may have this kingdom
settled upon them. "Father, I want those you have given me to be
with me where I am, and to see my glory." That is, in heaven. John 17:24.
This is Christ's prayer, that the saints may be with him in his kingdom, and
be bespangled with some of the beams of his glory. Now, if they should not
go into this heavenly kingdom, then Christ's prayer would be frustrated; but
that cannot be, for he is God's favorite. "I know that you hear me always;"
and besides, what Christ prays for, he has power to give. John 11:42.
Observe the manner of Christ's prayer, "Father, I will;" Father,
there he prays as man; "I will," there he gives as God.
(4) The saints must have this blessed kingdom by virtue
of Christ's ascension. "I ascend unto my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God." John 20:17. Where lies the comfort of this? Jesus
Christ ascended to take possession of heaven for all believers. As a husband
takes up land in another country in behalf of his wife, so Christ went to
take possession of heaven in behalf of all believers. "I go to prepare a
place for you." John 14:2. My ascension is to make all things ready against
your coming: I go to prepare the heavenly mansions for you.
The flesh that Christ has taken into heaven, is a sure
pledge that our flesh and bodies shall be where he is before long. Christ
did not ascend to heaven as a private person—but as a public person, for the
good of all believers; his ascension was a certain forerunner of the saints
ascending into heaven.
(5) The elect must have this blessed kingdom, in regard
of the previous work of the Spirit in their hearts. They have the
beginning of the kingdom of heaven in them here. Grace is
heaven begun in the soul. Besides, God gives them the first-fruits of the
Spirit. Romans 8:23. The first-fruits are the comforts of the Spirit. These
first-fruits under the law were a certain sign to the Jews of the full crop
of vintage which they would after receive. The first-fruits of the Spirit,
consisting of joy and peace, assure the saints of the full vintage of
glory they shall be ever reaping in the kingdom of God. The saints in
this life are said to have the pledge of the Spirit in their hearts. 2 Cor
5:5. As a pledge is part of payment, and an assurance of payment in full to
be made in due time—so God's Spirit in the hearts of believers, giving them
his comforts, bestows on them a pledge, or taste of glory, which further
assures them of that full reward which they shall have in the kingdom of
heaven. "Believing, you rejoice;" there is the pledge of heaven. 1
Peter 1:8. "Receiving the end of your faith," salvation; there is the
full payment; ver 9.
(6) The elect must have this blessed kingdom by virtue of
their union with Jesus Christ; they are members of Christ, therefore they
must be where their head is. Indeed, the Arminians hold, that a
justified person may fall from grace, and so his union with Christ may be
dissolved and the kingdom lost. But I ask them—can Christ lose a member of
his body? Then he is not perfect; and if Christ may lose one member
of his body, why not as well all, by the same reason? He will then be
a head without a body; but be assured a believer's union with Christ cannot
be broken, and so long he cannot be hindered of the kingdom. John 17:12.
What was said of Christ's natural body, is as true of his mystical. "A bone
of him shall not be broken." John 19:36. Look how every bone and limb of
Christ's natural body was raised up out of the grave, and carried into
heaven; so shall every member of his mystical body be carried up into glory.
(7) We read of some who have been translated into this
kingdom. Paul had a sight of it, for he was caught up into the
third heaven. 2 Cor 12:2. And the converted thief on the cross was
translated into glory. "Today shall you be with me in paradise." Luke 23:43.
By all that has been said, it is most evident that believers have a glorious
kingdom laid up for them in heaven, and that they shall go to this kingdom
when they die. None doubt the certainty of the heavenly kingdom—but such as
doubt the verity of Scripture.
 We should pray earnestly, "Your kingdom come."
(1) Because it is a kingdom worth praying for.
It exceeds the glory of all earthly kingdoms, it has gates of pearl. Rev
21:21. We have heard of a cabinet of pearl—but when did we hear of
gates of pearl? In that kingdom is the bed of love, the mountains of
spices; there are the cherubim, not to keep us out—but to welcome us into
the kingdom. Heaven is a kingdom worth praying for; nothing is lacking in
that kingdom which may complete the saints' happiness; for, wherein does
happiness consist? Is it in knowledge? We "shall know as we are
known." Is it in royal fare? We shall be at the "marriage supper of
the Lamb." Is it in rich apparel? We shall be "clothed in long white
robes." Is it in exquisite music? We shall hear the choir of angels
singing. Is it in dominion? We shall reign as kings, and judge
angels. Is it in pleasure? We shall enter into the joy of our Lord.
Surely then this kingdom is worth praying for! "Your kingdom come." Would
God give us a vision of heaven for a moment, as he did Stephen, who saw "the
heavens opened" (Acts 7:56), we would be overwhelmed! "You have made known
to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with
eternal pleasures at your right hand." Psalm 16:11. How importunately would
we put up this petition, "Your kingdom come!"
(2) We must pray for this kingdom of glory, because God
will not bestow it on any without prayer. "To those who seek for
glory and immortality" (Romans 2:7); and how do we seek but by prayer? God
has promised a kingdom, and we must by prayer put the bond in suit. God
is not so foolish as to throw away a kingdom on those who do not ask for it!
And certainly, if Christ himself, who had merited glory, did pray, "Now,
O Father, glorify me with your own self" (John 17:5), how much more ought we
to pray for the excellent glory who have this kingdom granted as a charter
of God's mere grace and favor!
(3) We must pray that the kingdom of glory may come, that
by going into it we may make an end of sinning. I think
sometimes, what a blessed time it will be, never more to have a sinful
thought! though we must not pray, "Your kingdom come," out of discontent,
because we would be rid of the troubles and crosses of this life. This was
Jonah's fault; he would die in a fit, because God took away his gourd;
"Lord," says he, "take my life from me." Jonah 4:3. But we must pray, "Your
kingdom come," out of a holy design that the fetters of corruption may be
pulled off, and we may be as the angels, those virgin spirits, who never
sin. This made the church pray in Rev 22:20, Veni, Domine Jesus
[Come, Lord Jesus].
(4) Because that all Christ's enemies shall be put under
his feet. The devil shall have no more power to tempt, nor wicked
men to persecute; the anti-christian hierarchy shall be pulled down, and
Zion's glory shall shine as a lamp, and the Turkish strength shall be
(5) We must pray earnestly that the kingdom of glory may
come, that we may see God "face to face," and have an uninterrupted and
eternal communion with him in the empyrean heaven. Moses desired
but a glimpse of God's glory. Exod 33:18. How then should we pray to see him
in all his embroidered robes of glory—when he shall shine ten thousand times
brighter than the sun in its meridian splendor! Here, in this life, we
rather desire God than enjoy him; how earnestly therefore
should we pray, "Your kingdom of glory come!" The beholding and enjoying
God will be the diamond in the ring, the very quintessence of glory! And
must we pray, "Your kingdom come"? How then are they ever like to come to
heaven who never pray for it? Though God gives some profane people "daily
bread" who never pray for it—yet he will not give them the kingdom of
heaven—who never pray for it! God may feed them—but he will never
Use 1. For information.
(1) From all this, you see that nothing within the whole
sphere of true religion, is imposed upon unreasonable terms. When
God bids us serve him, it is no unreasonable request; out of free grace he
will enthrone us in a kingdom. When we hear of repentance—steeping our souls
in brinish tears for sin; or of mortification—beheading our king-sin, we are
ready to grumble, and think this is hard and unreasonable. "But, do we serve
God for nothing?" Is it not infinite bounty to reward us with a glorious
kingdom? This kingdom is as far above our thoughts, as it is beyond
our deserts. No man can say, without wrong to God, that he is a hard
master; for though he sets us about hard work—yet he is no hard master. God
gives double pay; he gives great perks in his service—sweet joy and peace;
and a great reward after, "an eternal weight of glory!" God gives the
spring-flowers, and a crop; he settles upon us such a kingdom as exceeds our
faith. Such as mortal eye has not seen, nor can it enter into the heart of
man to conceive. 1 Cor 2:9. Alas, what an infinite difference is there
between duty enjoined, and the kingdom prepared! What is the shedding of a
tear—compared to an eternal crown! So that God's "commandments are not
grievous." 1 John 5:3. Our service cannot be so hard—as a kingdom is sweet.
(2) See hence the royal bounty of God to his children,
that he has prepared a kingdom for them, a kingdom bespangled with glory;
infinitely above the model we can draw of it in our thoughts! The
painter going to draw the picture of Helena, as not being able to draw her
beauty to the life, drew her face covered with a veil; so, when we speak of
the kingdom of heaven, we must draw a veil, we cannot set it forth in all
its orient beauty and magnificence; gold and pearl do but faintly shadow it
out. Rev 21:21. The glory of this kingdom is better felt—than expressed.
Those who inherit this kingdom are "clothed with white
robes." Rev 7:9. White robes denote three things:
 Their DIGNITY. The Persian were arrayed in white, in
token of honor.
 Their PURITY. The magistrates among the Romans were
clothed in white—to show their integrity. Thus the queen, the Lamb's wife,
is arrayed in fine linen, pure and white, which is "the righteousness of the
saints." Rev 19:8.
 Their JOY. White is an emblem of joy. "Eat your bread
with joy, let your garments be always white." Eccl 9:7, 8.
The dwellers in this kingdom have "palms in their
hands," in token of VICTORY. Rev 7:9. They are conquerors over the world:
and, being victors, they have now palm-branches. They sit upon the throne
with Christ. Rev 3:21. Thus the saints in glory, after their heroic
victories, shall sit upon a throne with Christ. It is royal bounty in God,
to bestow such an illustrious kingdom upon the saints. It is a mercy to be
pardoned—but what is it to be crowned! It is a mercy to be
delivered from wrath to come—but what is it to be invested with a glorious
kingdom! "Behold, what manner of love is this!" Earthly princes may bestow
great gifts and donations upon their subjects—but they keep the kingdom to
themselves. Though king Pharaoh advanced Joseph to honor, and took the ring
off his finger and gave it to him—yet he would keep the kingdom to himself.
Gen 41:40. But God enthrones the saints in a kingdom. He thinks nothing too
good for his children. We are ready to think much of a tear, a prayer, or to
sacrifice a sin for him; but he does not think much to bestow a kingdom upon
(3) See hence, that true religion is no ignominious
disgraceful thing. Satan labors to cast all the odium and
reproach upon it that he can; that it is devout frenzy, ingrain folly. Acts
28:22. "As concerning this sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken
against." But wise men measure things by the outcome. What is the
outcome of a pious life? It ends in a kingdom. Would a prince regard the
slightings of a few frantics, when he is going to be crowned? You who are
beginners, bind their reproaches as a crown about your head; despise their
censures as much as their praise: a kingdom is coming.
(4) See what contrary ways the godly and the wicked go at
death! The godly go to a glorious kingdom—the wicked go to a foul
prison! The devil is the jailer, and they are bound with the chains of
darkness. Jude 6. But what are these chains? Not iron chains—but worse; the
chain of God's decree, decreeing them to torment; and the chain of
God's power, whereby he binds them fast under eternal wrath! The
deplorable condition of impenitent sinners, is that they do not go to a
kingdom when they die—but to a dreadful prison. Oh, think what horror and
despair will possess the wicked, when they see themselves engulfed in
misery, and their condition hopeless, helpless, endless! They are in
a fiery prison, and there is no possibility of getting out. A servant under
the law, who had a hard master—at every seventh year might go free; but in
hell there is no year of release when the damned shall go free—the fire, the
worm, the prison are eternal! If the whole world, from earth to heaven, were
filled with grains of sand, and once in a thousand years an angel should
come and fetch away one grain—how many millions of ages would pass before
that vast heap of sand would be quite spent! Yet, if after all this time the
sinner might come out of hell, there would be some hope: but this word
"FOREVER!" breaks the heart with despair!
(5) See that which may make us in love with holy duties;
that every duty spiritually performed brings us a step nearer to the
kingdom! The end makes the means loveable. He whose
heart is set on riches, counts trading pleasant, because it brings him
riches. If our hearts are set upon heaven, we shall love duty, because it
brings us by degrees to the kingdom; we are going to heaven in the way of
duty. Holy duties increase grace; and as grace ripens, so glory hastens. The
duties of piety are irksome to flesh and blood—but we should look upon them
as spiritual chariots to carry us apace to the heavenly kingdom! The
Protestants in France call their church paradise; and well they might,
because the ordinances led them to the paradise of God. As every flower has
its sweetness, so would every duty, if we would look upon it as giving us a
lift nearer heaven!
(6) It shows us what little cause the children of God
have to envy the prosperity of the wicked. "Who needs a full
purse when he owns a treasury"? Seneca. The wicked have the "waters of a
full cup wrung out to them." Psalm 73:10. As if they had a monopoly of
happiness: they have all they can desire; nay, they have "more than heart
can wish." Psalm 73:7. They steep themselves in pleasure! "They take
the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ." Job 21:12. The
wicked are high when God's people are low in the world. The goats
scramble up the mountains of prosperity—when Christ's sheep are
below in the valley of tears! The wicked are clothed in purple, while the
godly are in sackcloth.
The prosperity of the wicked is a great stumbling-block.
This made Asaph say, "Truly I have cleansed my heart in vain." Psalm 73:13.
But there is no cause of envy at their prosperity, if we consider two
things. First, this is all they have! "Son, remember that you in your
lifetime received your good things:" you had all your heaven here. Luke
16:25. Luther calls the whole Turkish empire a bone which God casts to dogs.
Secondly, that God has laid up better things for his children. He has
prepared a kingdom of glory for them. They shall have the beatific vision:
they shall hear the angels sing in concert; they shall be crowned with the
pleasures of paradise forever. Oh, then do not envy the flourishing
prosperity of the wicked! They go through pleasant way—to execution! The
godly go through foul way—to coronation!
(7) Is there a kingdom of glory coming? See how happy all
the saints are at death! They go to a kingdom! They shall see
God's face, which shines ten thousand times brighter than the sun in its
meridian glory. The godly at death shall be installed into their honor, and
have the crown royal set upon their head. They have in the kingdom of heaven
the quintessence of all delights; they have the water of life clear as
crystal; they have all aromatic perfumes; they feed on the manna of angels;
they lie in Christ's bosom, that bed of spices. There is such a pleasant
variety in the happiness of heaven, that after millions of years it will be
as fresh and desirable as the first hour's enjoyment!
In the kingdom of heaven, the saints are crowned with all
those perfections which they are capable of. The desires of the glorified
saints are infinitely satisfied; there is nothing absent that they could
wish might be enjoyed; there is nothing present that they could wish might
be removed. Those who are arrived into this kingdom would be opposed to come
back to the earth again, for it would be much to their loss. They would not
leave the fullness and the sweetness of the olive, to court the bramble; the
things which delight us here on earth—they would scorn. What are golden
bags—compared to the golden beams of the Sun of Righteousness?
In the kingdom of heaven there is glory in its highest
elevation; in that kingdom is knowledge without ignorance, holiness without
sin, beauty without blemish, strength without weakness, light without
darkness, riches without poverty, ease without pain, liberty without
restraint, rest without labor, joy without sorrow, love without hatred,
plenty without surfeit, honor without disgrace, health without sickness,
peace without war, contentment without cessation! Oh, the happiness of those
that die in the Lord! They go into this blessed kingdom! And if they are so
happy when they die, then let me make two inferences.
 What little cause have the saints to fear death! Are
any afraid of going to a glorious kingdom? What is there in this world
that should make us desirous to stay here? Do we not see God dishonored—and
how can we bear it? Is not this world "a valley of tears"—and do we weep to
leave it? Are we not in a wilderness among fiery serpents—and are we afraid
to go from these serpents? Our best friends live above. God is ever
displaying the banner of his love in heaven, and is there any love like his?
Are there any sweeter smiles, or softer embraces than his? What news is so
welcome—as leaving the world and going to a kingdom? Christian, your dying
day will be your wedding day—and do you fear it? Is a slave afraid to be set
free? Is a virgin afraid to be matched into the crown? Death may take away a
few worldly comforts—but it gives that which is better; it takes away a
flower and gives a jewel! It takes away a short lease and gives land of
inheritance. If the saints possess a kingdom when they die, they have no
cause to fear death. A prince would not be afraid to cross the sea, though
tempestuous—if he were sure to be crowned as soon as he came to shore!
 If the godly are so happy when they die, that they go
to a kingdom, what cause have we to mourn immoderately for the death of
godly friends? Shall we mourn for their advancement? Why should we shed
tears immoderately for those who have all tears wiped from their eyes? Why
should we be swallowed up with grief—for those who are swallowed up with
joy? They are gone to their kingdom! They are not lost—but gone a little
before us! They are not perished—but translated into heaven! They are
removed for their advantage; as if one should be removed out of a smoky
cottage—to a palace. Elijah was removed in a fiery chariot to heaven. Shall
Elisha weep inordinately because he enjoys not the company of Elijah? Shall
Jacob weep when he knows his son Joseph is advanced and made chief ruler in
Egypt? We should not be excessive in grief when we know our godly friends
are advanced to a kingdom.
I confess when any of our relations die in their
impenitence, there is just cause of mourning—but not when our friends take
their flight to glory. But though we are to weep to think any of our flesh
should burn in hell—yet let us not be cast down for those who are so highly
advanced at death—as to a kingdom. Our godly friends who die in the Lord,
are in that blessed estate, and are crowned with such infinite delights,
that if we could hear them speak to us out of heaven, they would say, "Weep
not for us—but weep for yourselves!" Luke 23:28. We are in our kingdom, weep
not for our advancement, "but weep for yourselves," who are in a sinful
sorrowful world. You are tossing on the troublesome waves—but we have got to
the haven: you are fighting with temptations, while we are wearing a
victorious crown, "Weep not for us—but weep for yourselves."
(8) See the wisdom of the godly. They have the
serpent's eye in the dove's head. They are "wise virgins."
Matthew 25:2. Their wisdom appears in their choice. They choose that which
will bring them to a kingdom; they choose grace, and what is grace but
the seed of glory! They choose Christ with his cross—but this cross
leads to a crown! Moses chose "rather to suffer affliction with the people
of God." Heb 11:25. It was a wise, rational choice, for he knew that if he
suffered, he would reign! At the day of judgment, those whom
the world accounted foolish—will appear to be wise. They made a prudent
choice—they chose holiness; and what is happiness, but the quintessence
of holiness? They chose affliction with the people of God; but, through
this purgatory of affliction they pass to paradise! God will
proclaim the saints' wisdom before men and angels.
(9) See the folly of those who, for vain pleasures and
profits, will lose such a glorious kingdom; like that cardinal of
France who said, "He would lose his part in paradise, if he might keep his
cardinalship in Paris." I may say (as Eccl 9:3), "Madness is in their
heart." Lysimachus, for a draught of water, lost his empire; so, for a
draught of sinful pleasure, these fools will lose heaven! We too much
resemble our grandfather, Adam, who for an apple lost paradise. Many for
trifles, to get a dollar more in the shop or bushel—will venture the loss of
heaven. It will be an aggravation of the sinner's torment, to think how
foolishly he was undone; for a flash of impure joy—he lost an eternal weight
of glory! Would it not vex a king, to think he would lose his kingdom—for a
feather! Such are those who let heaven go—for a song. This will make the
devil insult at the last day, to think how he has befooled men, and made
them lose their souls and their happiness for "lying vanities." If Satan
could make good his brag, in giving all the glory and kingdoms of the world,
it could not countervail the loss of the celestial kingdom. All the tears in
hell are not sufficient to lament the loss of heaven!
Use 2. For reproof.
(1) It reproves such as do not look after this kingdom of
glory, and live as if all we say about heaven were but a fiction.
That they mind it not appears, because they do not labor to have the
kingdom of grace set up in their hearts. If they have some thoughts of this
kingdom—yet it is in a dull, careless manner; they serve God as if they
served him not; they do not put forth their strength for the heavenly
kingdom. How industrious were the saints of old for this kingdom! "Reaching
forth unto those things which are before;" the Greek word is
epekteinomenos, 'stretching out the neck," a metaphor from racers, that
strain every limb, and reach forward to lay hold on the prize. Phil 3:13.
Luther spent three hours a day in prayer. Anna, the prophetess, "departed
not from the temple—but served God with fasting and prayers night and day."
Luke 2:37. How zealous and industrious were the martyrs to get into this
heavenly kingdom! They wore their fetters as ornaments, snatched up torments
as crowns, and embraced the flames as cheerfully as Elijah did the fiery
chariot which came to fetch him to heaven; and do we not think this kingdom
worth our labor?
The great pains which the heathens took in their Olympic
races, when they ran but for a crown made of olive intermixed with gold,
will rise up in judgment against such as take little or no pains in seeking
after the kingdom of glory. The dullness of many in seeking after heaven is
such, as if they did not believe there was such a kingdom; or as if heaven
would not countervail their labor; or as if they thought it were indifferent
whether they obtained it or not, which is as much as to say, whether they
were saved or not; whether they were crowned in glory, or chained as galley
slaves in hell forever.
(2) It reproves those who spend their sweat more in
getting the world than the kingdom of heaven. "Their mind is on
earthly things." Philippians 3:19. The world is the great Diana they
cry up, as if they would fetch happiness out of the earth—which God has
cursed; they labor for honor and riches. Like Korah's household, "The earth
swallowed them up!" Numb 16:32. It swallows up their time and thoughts. If
they are not pagans, they are infidels. Like the serpent, they lick the
dust! Oh, what is there in the world that we should so idolize it, and
Christ and heaven are to be disregarded as worthless? What has Christ done
for you? Died for your sins! What will the world do for you? Can it pacify
an angry conscience? Can it procure God's favor? Can it escape death? Can it
bribe the glorious judge? Can it purchase for you a place in the kingdom of
heaven? Oh, how are men bewitched with worldly profits and honors—that for
these things they will let go paradise! It was a good prayer of Bernard,
"Let us so possess temporal things, that we do not lose eternal things."
(3) It reproves such who delay and put off seeking this
kingdom until it be too late; like the foolish virgins who came
when the door was shut. Delay brings danger. People let the lamp of life
blaze out, and when the symptoms of death are upon them, and they know not
what else to do, will look up to the kingdom of heaven. Christ bids them
seek God's kingdom first, and they will seek it last; they put
off the kingdom of heaven to a death-bed, as if it were as easy to make
their peace with God—as to make their will. How many have lost the heavenly
kingdom through delays and procrastinations! Plutarch reports of Archias,
the Lacedemonian, that when, being among his cups, one delivered him a
letter and desired him to read it immediately, being of serious business, he
replied, "I will mind serious things tomorrow;" and that night he was slain.
You who say that you will look after the kingdom of heaven tomorrow—you know
not but that you may be in hell before tomorrow! Sometimes death comes
suddenly: it strikes without giving warning. What folly is it to put off
seeking the kingdom of heaven until the day of grace expires; until the
whole life is spent. As if a man should begin to run a race when his last
breath is in his mouth.
(4) It reproves such as were once great zealots in
religion, and seemed to be touched with a coal from God's altar—but have
since cooled in their devotion, and left off pursuing the celestial kingdom.
"Israel has cast off the thing that is good." They have left off the house
of prayer, and gone to play-houses; they have left off pursuing the heavenly
kingdom. Hos 8:3.
Whence is this?
 For lack of a supernatural principle of grace.
That branch must needs die—which has no root to grow upon. That which moves
from a principle of life endures—as the beating of the pulse. But that which
moves from an artificial spring only, when the spring is down, the motion
ceases. The hypocrite's religion is artificial, not vital; he acts from the
outward spring of applause or gain, and if that is down, his motion towards
 From unbelief. "An evil heart of unbelief—in
departing from the living God." Heb 3:12. "They believed not in God." Psalm
78:22. "They turned back;" 5:41. Sinners have hard thoughts of God: they
think they may pray and hear; yet be never the better. Mal 3:14. They
question whether God will give them the kingdom at last; then they turn
back, and throw away Christ's colors; they distrust God's love, and no
wonder they desert his service. Unbelief is the root of apostasy!
 Men leave off pursuing the heavenly kingdom, from
some secret lust nourished in the soul, perhaps a wanton or a covetous lust.
Demas, for love of the world, forsook true religion. One of Christ's own
apostles was caught with a silver bait. Covetousness will make men
betray a godly cause, and make shipwreck of a good conscience. If there
is any lust unmortified in the soul—it will bring forth the bitter fruit
either of scandal or apostasy.
 Men leave off pursuing the kingdom of heaven out of
timidity. If they persist in religion, they may lose their places of
profit, perhaps their lives. The reason, says Aristotle, why the chameleon
turns into so many colors—is through excessive fear. When carnal fear
prevails, it makes men change their religion as fast as the chameleon does
its colors. When many of the Jews, who were great followers of Christ, saw
the swords and staves, they deserted him. What Solomon said of the sluggard,
is as true of the coward: he says, "There is a lion outside!" Proverbs
22:13. He sees dangers before him; he would go on in the way to the kingdom
of heaven—but there is a lion in the way! This is dismal. "If any man draws
back (in the Greek, if he deserts, as a soldier, from his colors), my soul
shall have no pleasure in him." Heb 10:38.
Use 3. For trial. Let us examine whether we
shall go to this kingdom when we die. Heaven is called a "kingdom prepared."
How shall we know this kingdom is prepared for us?
If we are prepared for the kingdom.
How may that be known?
1. By being heavenly people. An earthly heart
is no more fit for heaven, than a clod of dust is fit to be a star; there is
nothing of Christ or grace in such a heart. It were a miracle to find a
pearl in an ash heap; and it is as great a miracle to find Christ, the pearl
of price, in an earthly heart. Would we go to the kingdom of heaven? Are we
(1) Are we heavenly in our contemplations? Do our
thoughts run upon this kingdom? Do we get sometimes upon Mount Pisgah, and
take a prospect of glory? Thoughts are as travelers: most of David's
thoughts traveled heaven's road. Psalm 139:17. Are our minds heavenlized?
"Walk about Zion, count the towers thereof, mark well her bulwarks," Psalm
68:12, 13. Do we walk into the heavenly mount, and see what a glorious
situation it is? Do we count the towers of that kingdom? While a Christian
fixes his thoughts on God and glory, he does as it were tread upon the
borders of the heavenly kingdom, and peep within the veil. As Moses had a
sight of Canaan, though he did not enter into it, so the heavenly Christian
has a sight of heaven, though he is not yet entered into it.
(2) Are we heavenly in our affections? Do we set
our affections on the kingdom of heaven? Col 3:2. If we are heavenly, we
despise all things below—in comparison with the kingdom of God; we look upon
the world but as a beautiful prison; and we cannot be much in love
with our fetters, though they are made of gold. Our hearts are in heaven. A
stranger may be in a foreign land to gather up debts owing him—but he
desires to be in his own kingdom and nation: so we are here awhile as in a
strange land—but our desire is chiefly after the kingdom of heaven, where we
shall be forever. The world is the place of a saint's abode, not his
delight. Is it thus with us? Do we, like the patriarchs of old,
desire a better country? Heb 11:16. This is the temper of a true saint, his
affections are set on the kingdom of God: his anchor is cast in heaven, and
he is carried there with the sails of desire.
(3) Are we heavenly in our speech? Christ, after
his resurrection, spoke of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. Acts
1:3. Are your tongues turned to the language of the heavenly Canaan? "Then
those who feared the Lord, spoke often one to another." Mal 3:16. Do you in
your visits, season your discourses with heaven? There are many who say,
they hope they shall be saved—but you shall never hear them speak of the
kingdom of heaven. You will hear them speak of their wares and recreations,
or of some rich purchase they have gotten—but nothing of the kingdom. Can
men travel together in a journey, and not speak a word of the place they are
traveling to? Are you travelers for heaven, and never speak a word of the
kingdom you are traveling to? Herein many discover they do not belong to
heaven, for you shall never hear a good word come from them. The words
are the looking-glass of the mind, they show what the heart is.
(4) Are we heavenly in our trading? Is our
traffic and merchandise in heaven? Do we trade in the heavenly kingdom by
faith? A man may live in one place, and trade in another; he may live in
Ireland, and trade in the West Indies; so we trade in the heavenly kingdom.
Those who do not trade in heaven while they live—shall never go to heaven
when they die. Do we send up to heaven, volleys of sighs and groans? Do we
send forth the ship of prayer there, which fetches in returns of
mercy? Is our communion with the Father and his Son Jesus? 1 John 1:3. Phil
(5) Are our lives heavenly? Do we live as if
we had seen the Lord with bodily eyes? Do we emulate and imitate the angels
in sanctity? Do we labor to copy out Christ's life in ours? 1 John 2:6. It
was a custom among the Macedonians, on Alexander's birth-day, to wear his
picture around their necks set with pearl and diamond. Do we carry Christ's
picture about us, and resemble him in the heavenliness of our lives? If we
are thus heavenly, we shall go to the kingdom of heaven when we die; and
truly there is a great deal of reason why we should be thus heavenly in our
thoughts, affections, and lives—if we consider that the main end why God has
given us our souls, is, that we may mind the kingdom of heaven.
Our souls are of noble extraction, they are akin to
angels. Now, is it rational to imagine that God would have breathed into us
such noble souls—only to look after sensual objects? Were such bright stars
made only to fall to the earth? Were these immortal souls made only to seek
after dying comforts? Had this been the only end of our creation, to eat and
drink, and converse with earthly objects, worse souls would have served us:
animal natures would have been good enough for us. What need our souls to be
rational and divine, to do that work only which a beast may do?
Great reason we should be heavenly in our thoughts,
affections, lives, if we consider what a blessed kingdom heaven is. It is
beyond all hyperbole. Earthly kingdoms scarcely deserve the names of
cottages, compared with it. We read of an angel coming down from heaven,
who set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth. Rev
10:2. Had we but once been in the heavenly kingdom, and viewed the
superlative glory of it, how might we, in holy scorn, trample with one foot
on the earth, and with the other foot upon the sea? There are rivers of
pleasure, gates of pearl, sparkling crowns, white robes; and should not this
make our hearts heavenly? It is a heavenly kingdom, and such only go into it
who are heavenly.
Use 4. For exhortation to all in general.
(1) If there is such a glorious kingdom, believe this
great truth. It should be engraved upon our hearts as with the
point of a diamond, that there is a blessed kingdom in reversion. "Truly,
there is a reward for the righteous." Psalm 58:11. Let us not hesitate
through unbelief. Doubting principles is the next way to denying
them. Unbelief, like Samson, would pull down the pillars of true
religion. Be confirmed in this, there is a kingdom of glory to come; whoever
denies this, cuts asunder the main article of the creed, "life everlasting."
(2) If there is such a blessed kingdom of glory to come,
let us take heed lest we miss this kingdom; let us fear lest we
lose heaven by shooting short. Trembling in the body, is a malady; in
the soul, a grace. This fear is not a fear of doubt or distrust, such as
discourages the soul, for such fear frights from piety, it cuts the sinews
of endeavor; but it is a holy fear, lest we miss the kingdom of
heaven; it is a fear of diligence; it quickens us in the use of means, and
puts us forward, that we may not fail of our hope. "Noah moved with fear,
prepared an ark." Heb 11:7. Fear is an alarm to awaken sleepy Christians; it
guards against carnal security; it is a spur to a sluggish heart. He who
fears he shall come short of his journey, rides the faster. And indeed this
exhortation to fear lest we miss this kingdom, is most necessary, if we
consider two things:
 There are many who have gone many steps in the way to
heaven, and yet have fallen short of it. "You are not far from the
kingdom of God;" yet he was not near enough. Mark 12:34.
How many steps may a man take in the way to the kingdom
of God, and yet miss it?
He may be adorned with civility; he may be
moral and upright; he may be prudent, just, temperate; he may
keep all the laws of the land; all which is good—but not enough to bring a
man to heaven.
He may hang out the flag of a glorious profession, and
yet fall short of the kingdom. The Scribes and Pharisees went far; they sat
in Moses' chair, were expounders of the law; they prayed, gave alms, were
strict in the observation of the Sabbath; if one had got a thorn in his
foot, he would not pull it out on the Sabbath-day, for fear of breaking the
Sabbath. They were so externally devout in God's worship, that the Jews
thought, that if but two in all the world went to heaven, the one would be a
Scribe, and the other a Pharisee. But the mantle of their profession, was
not lined with sincerity; they did all for the applause of men, and
therefore missed heaven. "Except your righteousness shall exceed the
righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall never enter into the
kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:20.
A man may be a frequenter of church ordinances, and yet
miss the kingdom. It is a good sight to see people flock as doves to the
windows of God's house; it is good to lie in the way where Christ passes by;
yet, be not offended, if I say, one may be a hearer of the word, and fall
short of glory. Herod heard John the Baptist gladly—yet beheaded
John—instead of beheading his sin. The prophet Ezekiel's hearers came with
as much delight to his preaching, as one would do to a piece of beautiful
music. "You are to them as a very lovely song of one that has a pleasant
voice, and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words—but they
do them not." Ezek 33:32. What is it to hear one's duty, and not do it? It
is as if a physician prescribed a good remedy—but the patient would not take
A man may have some trouble for sin, and weep for it, and
yet miss the heavenly kingdom.
Whence is this?
A sinner's tears are forced by God's judgments; as water
which comes out of a distillery is forced by the fire. Trouble for sin
is transient, it is quickly over again. As some that go to sea are sea-
sick—but when they come to land are well again; so hypocrites may be
sermon-sick—but this trouble does not last, the sick-fit is soon over. A
sinner weeps—but goes on in sin; his sins are not drowned in his tears!
A man may have good desires and yet miss the kingdom.
"Let me die the death of the righteous." Numb 23:10.
Wherein do these desires come short?
They are sluggish. A man would have heaven—but
will take no pains. As if one should say, he desires water—but will not let
down the bucket into the well. "The desire of the slothful kills him, for
his hands refuse to labor." Proverbs 21:25. The sinner desires mercy but not
grace; he desires Christ as a Savior—but not as he is the Holy One; he
desires Christ only as a bridge to lead him over to heaven. Such desires
as these may be found among the damned!
A man may forsake his sins, oaths, drunkenness,
uncleanness—and yet come short of the kingdom. He may forsake gross sins,
and yet have no reluctance to heart-sins, such as pride, unbelief, and the
first risings of malice and lust. Though he dams up the stream, he
lets alone the fountain! Though he lops and prunes the branches,
he does not strike at the root of it. Though he leaves sin for fear
of hell, or because it brings shame and poverty—yet he still loves sin; as
if a snake should cast off her skin—and yet retain her poison! "They set
their heart on their iniquity." Hos 4:8. It is but a partial forsaking of
sin; though he leaves one sin, he lives in some other. Herod reformed very
much. "He did many things;" but he lived in incest. Mark 6:20. Some leave
drunkenness, and live in covetousness; they forbear swearing, and live in
slandering. It is but a partial reformation, and so they miss of the kingdom
of glory. Thus you see there are some who have gone many steps in the way to
heaven, and yet have come short. Some have gone so far in profession, that
they have been confident their estate has been good, and that they should go
to the kingdom of heaven, and yet have missed it. "When once the master of
the house is risen up, and has shut to the door, and you begin to stand
without, and to knock, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us." Luke 13:25. How
confident were these of salvation! They did not beseech—but knock, as if
they did not doubt but to be let into heaven; yet to these Christ says, "I
never knew you; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity." Therefore fear
and tremble, lest any miss of this kingdom of heaven.
 This fear is necessary—if we consider what a loss it
is to lose the heavenly kingdom. All the tears in hell are not
sufficient to lament the loss of heaven! Those who lose the heavenly
kingdom, lose God's sweet presence, the ravishing views and smiles of his
glorious face. God's presence is the diamond in the ring of glory!
"In your presence is fullness of joy." Psalm 16:11. If God is the fountain
of all bliss, then, to be separated from him, is the fountain of all misery.
Those who lose the heavenly kingdom, lose the society of
angels; and, what sweeter music than to hear them praise God in concert?
They lose all their treasure, their white robes, their sparkling crowns;
they lose their hopes. "Whose hope shall be cut off." Job 8:14. Their hope
is not an anchor—but a spider's web. If hope deferred makes the heart sick,
what is hope disappointed? Proverbs 13:12. They lose the purpose of their
being. Why were they created—but to be enthroned in glory? Now, to lose
this, is to lose the end of their being, as if an angel should be turned to
a worm! There are many aggravations of the loss of this heavenly kingdom.
The eyes of the wicked shall be opened to see their loss;
now they care not for the loss of God's favor, because they know not the
worth of it. A man who loses a rich diamond, and took it but for an ordinary
stone, is not much troubled at the loss of it; but when he comes to know
what a jewel he lost, he laments. He whose heart would never break at the
sight of his sins, breaks at the sight of his loss. When the wife of
Phinehas heard the ark was lost, she cried out, "The glory is departed." 1
Sam 4:21. When the sinner sees what he has lost, that he has lost the
beatific vision, he has lost the kingdom of heaven—he will cry out in horror
and despair, "The glory, the everlasting glory, is departed!"
2. A second aggravation of the loss of this kingdom will
be, that sinners shall be upbraided by their own conscience. This
is the worm which never dies, a self-accusing mind. Mark 9:44. When sinners
shall consider that they were in a fair way to the kingdom; that they had a
possibility of salvation; that though the door of heaven was narrow—yet it
was open; that they had the means of grace; that the jubilee of the gospel
was proclaimed in their ears; that God called but they refused; that Jesus
Christ offered them a plaster of his own blood to heal them—but they
trampled it under foot; that the Holy Spirit stood at the door of their
heart, knocking and crying to them to receive Christ and heaven—but they
repulsed the Spirit, and sent away this dove; and that now, through their
own folly and foolish wilfulness, they have lost the kingdom of heaven; a
self-accusing conscience will be terrible, it will be like a venomous worm
gnawing at the heart.
3. A third aggravation of the loss of heaven will be, to
look upon others that have gained the kingdom. "There will be
weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out!"
Luke 13:28. The happiness of the godly in heaven, will be an eyesore to the
damned in hell. When the wicked shall see those whom they hated and
scorned—exalted to a kingdom, and shine with robes of glory, and they
themselves miss the kingdom--it will be a dagger at the heart, and make them
gnash their teeth for envy!
4. A fourth aggravation is, that this loss of the kingdom
of heaven is accompanied with the punishment of sense. He who
leaps short of the bank, falls into the river; such as come short of heaven,
fall into the river of fire and brimstone! "The wicked shall be turned into
hell!" Psalm 9:17. How dreadful is that! If to have but a spark of God's
anger light upon the conscience be so torturing here on earth, what will it
be to have mountains of God's wrath thrown upon the soul? "Who knows the
power of your anger?" Psalm 90:11. The angel never poured out his vial—but
some woe followed. Rev 16:3. When the bitter vials of God's wrath are poured
out, damnation follows. Dives cries out, "I am tormented in this flame."
Luke 16:24. In hell there is not a drop of mercy. There was no oil nor
frankincense used in the sacrifice of jealousy. Numb 5:15. In hell there is
no oil of mercy to assuage the sufferings of the damned, nor incense of
prayer to appease God's wrath.
5. A fifth aggravation of the loss of this kingdom will
be to consider on what easy and reasonable terms men might have had this
kingdom. If indeed God had commanded impossibilities, to have
satisfied divine justice in their own persons—it would have been another
matter. But what God did demand was reasonable, and was for their good,
which was to accept of Christ for their Lord and Husband—and to part with
that which would ruin them. These were the fair terms on which they might
have enjoyed the heavenly kingdom. Now, to lose heaven, which might have
been had upon such easy terms—will be a cutting aggravation. It will rend a
sinner's heart with rage and grief, to think how easily he might have
prevented the loss of the heavenly kingdom!
6. It will be an aggravation of the loss of heaven for
sinners to think how active they were in doing that which lost them the
kingdom. What pains they took to resist the Spirit and to stifle
conscience! They sinned until they were out of breath. "They weary
themselves to commit iniquity." Jer 9:5. What difficulties men went through!
How much they endured for their sins! How much shame and pain! How sick was
the drunkard with his cups! How sore in his body was the adulterer! What
marks of sin he carried about him! What dangers men adventure upon for their
lusts! They adventure God's wrath! Oh, how will this aggravate the loss of
heaven! How will it make men curse themselves to think what pains they were
at to lose happiness! How will it sting men's consciences to think that had
they but taken as much pains for heaven as they did for hell—they had not
7. It will be an aggravation of the loss of this kingdom,
that it will be irreparable: heaven once lost can never be recovered.
Worldly losses may be made up again. If a man loses his health—he may have
it repaired; if he is driven out of his kingdom—he may be restored to it
again as king Nebuchadnezzar was, "My honor returned unto me, and I was
established in my kingdom." Dan 4:36. But those who once lose heaven—can
never be restored to it again. After millions of years they are as far from
obtaining glory as at first. Thus you see how needful this exhortation is,
that we should fear lest we fall short of this kingdom of heaven.
What shall we do that we may not miss this kingdom of
glory? Take heed of those things which will make you miss heaven.
(1) Take heed of spiritual SLOTH. Many
Christians are settled upon their lees; they are loath to put themselves to
too much pains. It is said of Israel, "They despised the pleasant land."
Psalm 106:24. Canaan was a paradise of delights, a type of heaven; yes—but
some of the Jews thought it would cost them a great deal of trouble and
hazard in the getting, and they would rather go without it. "They despised
the pleasant land." I have read of certain Spaniards that live where there
is a great store of fish—but are so lazy that they will not be at the pains
to catch them—but buy from their neighbors. Such sinful sloth is upon the
most, that though the kingdom of heaven is offered to them—yet they will not
put themselves to any labor for it. They have some faint wishes and desires.
"O that I had this kingdom!" They are like a man who wishes for venison—but
will not hunt for it. "The soul of the sluggard desires, and has nothing."
Proverbs 13:4. Men would be content to have the kingdom of heaven if it
would drop as a ripe fig into their mouths—but they are loath to fight for
it. O take heed of spiritual sloth! God never made heaven to be a hive for
drones. We cannot have the world without labor, and do we think to have the
kingdom of heaven? Heathens will rise up in judgment against many
Christians. What pains did they take in their Olympic races when they ran
but for a crown of olive or myrtle intermixed with gold; and do we stand
still when we are running for a kingdom? "Slothfulness casts into a deep
sleep." Proverbs 19:15. Sloth is the soul's sleep. Adam lost his rib when he
was asleep. Many a man loses the kingdom of heaven when he is in this deep
sleep of sloth.
(2) Take heed of UNBELIEF. Unbelief kept
Israel out of Canaan. "So we see that they could not enter in because of
unbelief." Heb 3:19. And it keeps many out of heaven. Unbelief is an enemy
to salvation, it is a damning sin; it whispers thus, "To what purpose is all
this pain for the heavenly kingdom? I had as good sit still." "And they
said—There is no hope." Jer 18:12. Unbelief destroys hope; and if you cut
this sinew, a Christian goes but lamely in religion, if he goes at all.
Unbelief raises jealous thoughts of God; it represents him as a severe
judge; it discourages many a soul, and takes it off from duty. Beware of
unbelief. Believe the promises. "The Lord is good to the soul that seeks
him." Seek him earnestly and he will open both heart and heaven to you. Lam
3:25. [God does not fail those who desire him.] Do what you are able, and
God will help you. While you spread the sails of your endeavor, God's Spirit
will blow upon these sails, and carry you swiftly to the kingdom of glory.
(3) If you would not miss the heavenly kingdom, take heed
of imagining the way to be easier than it is; as though it were
but a sigh, or, "Lord have mercy." There is no going to heaven at a leap;
one cannot leap out of Delilah's lap into Abraham's bosom. The sinner is
"dead in trespasses." Eph 2:1. Is it easy for a dead man to restore himself
to life? Is regeneration easy? Are there no pangs in the new birth? Does not
the Scripture call Christianity a warfare and a race? And do
you imagine this easy? The way to the kingdom is not easy—but a mistake
about the way is easy.
(4) If you would not miss the heavenly kingdom, take heed
of delays and PROCRASTINATION. [Delay brings danger.] It is a
usual delusion, "I will mind the kingdom of heaven—but not yet; when I have
gotten an estate, and grown old, then I will look after heaven." But
suddenly, death surprises men, and they fall short of heaven. Delay
strengthens sin, hardens the heart, and gives the devil fuller possession of
a man. Take heed of adjourning and putting off seeking the kingdom of heaven
until it is too late. Caesar, deferring to read a letter put into his hand,
was killed in the senate-house. Consider how short your life is; it is a
candle which is soon blown out. [The life of everyone living is fleeing
away.] Delay not the business of salvation a day longer; sometimes death
strikes, and gives no warning.
(5) If you would not come short of the kingdom of
heaven—take heed at PREJUDICE. Many take a prejudice at religion,
and on this rock dash their souls. They are prejudiced at Christ's person,
his truths, his followers, his ways.
1. They are prejudiced at Christ's PERSON.
"And they took offense at him." Matthew 13:57. What is there in Christ that
men should be offended at him? He is the "pearl of great price." Matthew
13:46. Are men offended at pearls and diamonds? Christ is the wonder of
beauty. "Fairer than the children of men." Psalm 45:2. Is there anything in
beauty to offend? He is the mirror of mercy. Heb 2:17. Why should mercy
offend any? He is a Redeemer. Why should a captive slave be offended at him
who comes with a sum of money to ransom him? The prejudice men take at
Christ, is from the inbred depravity of their hearts. The eye that is
sore cannot endure the light of the sun: the fault is not in the sun—but in
the sore eye. There are two things in Christ against which men are
 His BASENESS. The Jews expected a monarch for
their Messiah; but Christ came not with outward pomp and splendor. His
kingdom was not of this world. The stars which are seated in the brightest
orbs are least seen. Christ, who is the bright morning-star, was not much
seen; his divinity was hidden in the dark lantern of his humanity, all who
saw the man did not see the Messiah. The Jews stumbled at the baseness of
 Men are prejudiced at Christ's STRICTNESS. They
look upon him as austere, and his laws as too severe. "Let us break their
bands, and cast away their cords from us." Psalm 2:3. Though to a saint,
Christ's laws are no more burdensome than wings to a bird—yet to the wicked
his laws are a yoke; and they love not to come under restraint, therefore
they hate Christ. Though they pretend to love him as a Savior, they hate him
as he is the Holy One.
2. They are prejudiced at Christ's TRUTHS.
 Self-denial. A man must deny his righteousness. Phil
3:9. He will graft the hope of salvation upon the stock of his own
 He must deny his unrighteousness. The Scripture seals
no patents to sin; it teaches us to deny all "ungodliness and worldly
lusts." Titus 2:12. We must divorce those sins which bring in pleasures and
 Forgiveness of injuries. Mark 11:25. These truths men
are prejudiced at; they can rather lack forgiveness from God, than they can
3. They are prejudiced at Christ's FOLLOWERS.
 Their paucity. There are but few, in comparison, who
embrace Christ; but why should this offend? Men are not offended at pearls
and precious stones, because they are few.
 Their poverty. Many who wear Christ's livery are low
in the world; but why should this give offence? Christ has better things
than these to bestow upon his followers; such as the holy anointing, the
white stone, the hidden manna, and the crown of glory. All Christ's
followers are not humbled with poverty. Abraham was rich with gold and
silver, as well as rich in faith. Though not many noble are called—yet some
noble are. "Many of them believed, including a number of the prominent Greek
women as well as men." Acts 17:12. Constantine and Theodosius were godly
emperors. So that this stumbling block is removed.
 Their scandals. Some of Christ's followers, under a
mask of piety, commit sin, which begets a prejudice against religion; but
does Christ or his gospel teach any such thing? The rules he prescribes are
holy. Why should the master be thought the worse of, because some of his
servants prove bad?
4. They are prejudiced at Christ's WAYS. They
expose them to sufferings. "Let him take up his cross and follow me."
Matthew 16:24. Many stumble at the cross. There are, as Tertullian says,
"silken Christians," who love their ease; they will follow Christ to
mount Tabor, to see him transfigured—but not to mount Golgotha, to suffer
with him. But, alas! what is affliction, compared to the glory which
follows! The weight of glory makes affliction light. O take heed of
prejudice, which has been a stumbling-stone in men's way to heaven, and has
made them fall short of the kingdom!
(6) If you would not miss the kingdom of heaven—take heed
of PRESUMPTION. Most men presume all is well with their souls,
and take it as a principle not to be disputed—that they shall go to heaven
when they die. The devil has given them opium, to cast them into a deep
sleep of carnal security. The presumptuous sinner is like the leviathan,
made "without fear;" he lives as bad as the worst—yet hopes he shall be
saved as well as the best; he blesses himself and says that he shall have
peace, though he goes on in sin. Deut 29:19. This is the same as if a man
would drink poison—yet not fear but he will have his health.
But whence does this presumptuous hope arise? Surely from
a conceit that God is made up of all mercy. It is true that God is
merciful—but he is just also. "Keeping mercy for thousands, and
that will by no means clear the guilty." Exod 34:7. If a king proclaimed
that those only should be pardoned, who came in and submitted, ought any
still persisting in rebellion, to claim the benefit of the pardon? Do you
hope for mercy who will not lay down your weapons—but stand out in rebellion
against heaven? None might touch the ark but the priests: none may touch
this ark of God's mercy—but holy, consecrated people. Presumption is the
great devourer of souls. A thousand have missed heaven—by putting on the
broad spectacles of presumption.
(7) If you would not miss the heavenly kingdom, take heed
of the delights and pleasures of the FLESH. Soft pleasures harden
the heart; many people cannot endure a serious thought—but are for comedies
and romances; they play away their salvation. "Men are caught by pleasure,
as fish by the hook." Cicero. Pleasure is the sugared bait men bite at—but
there is a hook under it! "They sing with tambourine and harp. They make
merry to the sound of the flute." Job 21:12. "How terrible it will be for
you who sprawl on ivory beds surrounded with luxury, eating the meat of
tender lambs and choice calves. You sing idle songs to the sound of the
harp. You drink wine by the bowlful, and you perfume yourselves with exotic
fragrances." Amos 6:4-6.
The pleasures of the world keep many from the pleasures
of paradise! Beard speaks of one who had a room richly hung with beautiful
pictures, he had most lovely music, he had the rarest beauties, he had all
the candies and dainties to gratify his senses with pleasure; and swore that
he would like to live one week in such a state, though he were sure to be
damned in hell the next day! One observes, that the dogs of Sicily while
hunting among the sweet flowers, lose the scent of the rabbit; so, many
while hunting after the sweet pleasures of the world, lose the kingdom of
heaven. "It is," says Theophylact, "one of the worst sights—to see a sinner
go laughing to hell."
(8) If you would not fall short of the kingdom of
heaven—take heed of WORLDLY-MINDEDNESS. A covetous spirit
chokes holy affections, as the earth puts out the fire. The world hindered
the young man from following Christ; he went away sorrowful, which extorted
these words from our Savior: "How hard it is for rich people to get into the
Kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle
than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!" Luke 18:24-25. "The
riches of the world are the snares of the devil!" Bernard. Riches are golden
snares. If a man were to climb up a steep rock, and had weights tied to his
legs, it would hinder him in his ascent. Just so, many golden weights will
hinder us from climbing up the steep rock which leads to heaven. "They are
entangled in the land, the wilderness has shut them in." Exod 14:3. So it
may be said of many, they are entangled in earthly affairs, the world has
shut them in.
The world is no friend to grace. The more
the babe sucks—the weaker the mother is. Just so, the more the world
sucks—the weaker our grace is.
"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If
anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." 1 John 2:15.
Had a man a monopoly of all the wealth of the world; could he heap up riches
to the stars--yet his heart would not be filled. Covetousness is never
satisfied. Joshua could stop the course of the sun—but could not stop Achan
in his covetous pursuit of the wedge of gold. He whose heart is locked up in
his chest, will be locked out of heaven. Some ships which have
escaped the rocks--have been wrecked upon the sands. Just so, many who have
escaped gross sins--have been wrecked upon the world's golden sands!
(9) If you would not come short of the kingdom of
heaven—take heed of indulging any SIN. One millstone will drown,
as well as more; one sin lived in will damn, as well as more. If any
one sin reigns—it will keep you from reigning in the kingdom of heaven.
Especially keep from sins of your natural constitution; your darling sin; "I
kept myself from my iniquity," that sin which my heart would soonest
decoy and flatter me into. Psalm 18:23. As in the hive there is one master
bee--so in the heart there is one master-sin. Oh, take heed of this!
How may this darling-sin be known?
1. That sin for which a man cannot endure the arrow of a
reproof, is the bosom-sin. Herod could not brook to have his
incest meddled with, that was a touch me not. Men can be content to
have other sins declaimed against; but if a minister puts his finger upon
the sore, and touches upon that one special sin—then their eyes flash with
fire, they are enraged, and spit the venom of malice!
2. That sin which a man's heart runs out most to, and he
is most easily captivated by—is the Delilah in the bosom. One man
is overcome with wantonness, another by worldliness. It is a sad thing for a
man to be so bewitched by a beloved sin—that if it asks him to part with not
only one half the kingdom—but the whole kingdom of heaven, he must part with
it to gratify that lust!
3. That sin which most troubles a man and flies in his
face in an hour of sickness and distress—is the sin he has allowed himself
in, and is his complexion-sin. When Joseph's brethren were
distressed, their sin in selling their brother came into their
remembrance. "We are truly guilty concerning our brother," etc. Gen 42:21.
So, when a man is upon his sick-bed, and conscience shall say, "You have
been guilty of such a sin, the sin of slandering or uncleanness," conscience
reads a man a sad lecture, and affrights him most for one sin; that is the
4. That sin which a man is least inclined to part with,
is the endeared sin. Of all his sons Jacob could most hardly part
with Benjamin. "Will you take Benjamin away!" Gen 42:35. So says the
sinner, this and that sin I have left—but must Benjamin go too? Must
I part with this delightful sin? That goes to the heart!
As with a castle which has several forts about it, the
first and second forts of which are yielded, when it comes to the main
castle, the governor will rather fight and die than yield it. Just so, a man
may allow many of his sins to be demolished; but when it comes to one—which
is like the taking of a castle—he will never yield to part with that; surely
that is the master-sin. Take heed especially of this sin; the strength of
sin lies in the beloved sin, which, like a cancer striking at the
heart, brings death.
I have read of a monarch, who being pursued by the enemy,
threw away the crown of gold on his head, that he might run the faster. Just
so, the sin which you wore as a crown of gold must be thrown away, that you
may run the faster to the kingdom of heaven. Oh, if you would not lose
glory, mortify the beloved sin! Set it, as Uriah—in the forefront of the
battle to be slain. By plucking out this right eye—you will see the
better to go to heaven!
(10) If you would not fall short of the kingdom of
heaven—take heed of inordinate PASSION. Many a ship has been lost
in the storm; and many a soul has been lost in a storm of unruly passions.
Every member of the body is infected with sin, as every branch of wormwood
is bitter; but "the tongue is full of deadly poison." James 3:8. Some
care not what they say in their passion; they will censure, slander, and
wish evil to others. How can Christ be in the heart—when the devil has
taken possession of the tongue? Passion disturbs reason, it is a
temporary insanity. Jonah in a passion flies out against God. "I do well
to be angry, even unto death." Jon 4:9. What! to be angry with God, and to
justify it? "I do well to be angry;" the man was not well in his wits.
Passion unfits for prayer. "I want men everywhere to lift up holy
hands in prayer, without anger or disputing." 1 Tim 2:8. He who prays in
anger may lift up his hands in prayer—but he does not lift up holy
hands. Water, when hot, soon boils over; so, when the heart is heated with
anger, it soon boils over in fiery passionate speeches. Some curse others in
their passion. Let those whose tongues are set on fire, take heed that they
do not one day in hell desire a drop of water to cool them! Oh, if you would
not miss the heavenly kingdom—beware of giving way to unbridled passions.
Some say, "words are but wind;" but they are such a wind as may blow them to
(11) If you would not fall short of the heavenly
kingdom—beware of too much indulging the sensual appetite. "Make
no provision for the flesh." Romans 13:14. The Greek word, to make
provision, signifies to be caterers for the flesh. "Whose god is
their belly." Phil 3:19. The throat is a slippery place. Judas received the
devil in the sop; and often the devil slides down in the liquor. Excess in
food and drink clouds the mind, chokes holy affections, and provokes lust.
Many a man digs his own grave with his teeth. The heathen Seneca could say,
"I am great and born to greater things than to be a slave to my body." He
was higher born than to be a slave to his body. To pamper the body, and
neglect the soul, is to feed the slave and to starve the wife. Take such a
proportion of food as may recruit nature—but do not surfeit it. Excess in
things lawful has lost many the kingdom of heaven. A bee may suck a
little honey from the leaf—but put it in a barrel of honey, and
it is drowned! To suck moderately from the creature, God allows; but
excess engulfs men in perdition.
(12) If you would not fall short of the kingdom of
heaven—take heed of injustice in your dealings. Defrauding lies
in two things:
1. Mixing commodities, as if anyone should mix bad wheat
with good, and sell it for pure wheat, which is to defraud. "Your wine mixed
with water." Isaiah 1:22.
2. Giving scant measure. "Making the ephah small." Amos
8:5. The ephah was a measure which the Jews used in selling: they made the
ephah small; they gave not full measure. I wish this were not the sin of
many. "He is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand." Hos 12:7.
Can they be holy—who are not just? "Shall I count them pure
with the wicked balances?" Micah 6:11. Is his heart sincere—who has false
weights? Many cannot reach heaven—because of their over-reaching.
(13) If you would not miss the kingdom of heaven—take
heed of evil company. There is a necessary commerce with men in
buying and selling, or, as the apostle says, we must go out of the world—but
do not voluntarily choose the company of the wicked. 1 Cor 5:10. "I
have written unto you not to keep company." 1 Cor 5:11. Do not incorporate
into the society of the wicked, or be too much familiar with them. The
wicked are God-haters. "Should you love those who hate the Lord?" 2 Chron
19:2. A Christian is bound, by virtue of his oath of allegiance to God in
baptism, not to have intimate converse with such as are God's sworn enemies.
What company can Christ's doves have—among birds of prey? What company can
virgins have—among harlots? The company of the wicked is very defiling, it
is like going among those who have the plague.
"They mingled among the pagans and adopted their evil
customs." Psalm 106:35. If you mingle bright armor with rusty, the bright
armor will not brighten the rusty—but the rusty armor will spoil the bright.
By mixing with the wicked—you are apt to receive hurt. The bad will sooner
corrupt the good, than the good will convert the bad. Pharaoh taught Joseph
to swear—but Joseph did not teach Pharaoh to pray. There is a strange
attractive power in evil company to corrupt and poison the best
dispositions; they damp good affections. Throw a fire-ball into the
snow—and it is soon quenched. Among the wicked, the heat of zealous
affections is lost. By holding familiar correspondence with the wicked, they
will dissuade us from strict godliness, and debar us our liberty and
pleasure. "This sect everywhere is spoken against." Acts 28:22.
Hereupon he, who before looked towards heaven, begins to
be discouraged, and gradually declines from holiness. There steals upon him
a dislike of his former religious course of life; he thinks he was righteous
overmuch, stricter than needed. There is instilled into his heart a secret
delight of evil. He begins to like foolish scurrilous discourse; he can hear
true religion spoken against, and be silent, nay, well pleased; he loves
vanity, and makes sport of sin. He is by degrees so metamorphosed, and made
like the company he converses with, that he now grows into disgust and
hatred of his former sober ways. He is ill-affected towards godly men,
transformed into scoffing Ishmael, a breathing devil; and becomes at last as
much the child of hell as any of that graceless damned crew he conversed
with! And what is the end of all? A blot in the name, a moth in the estate,
a worm in the conscience. Oh, if you would not miss the kingdom of heaven,
beware of evil company! Bad company is the bane and poison of the youth of
this age. Such as were once soberly inclined, by coming among the profane,
grow familiar, until at last they keep one another company in hell.
(14) If you would not miss the kingdom of heaven—take
heed of parleying with the fleshly part. The flesh is a bosom
traitor. When an enemy is gotten within the walls of a castle, it is in
great danger of being captured. The flesh is an enemy within—it is a bad
master. It says, "There is a lion in the way!" It discourages from religious
strictness; it says as Peter did to Christ, "Spare yourself;" it says as
Judas, "Why all this waste? Why all this praying? Why do you waste your
strength and strength in piety? Why all this waste?" The flesh cries out for
ease and pleasure. How many, by consulting with the flesh, have lost the
kingdom of heaven!
(15) If you would not fall short of heaven—take heed of
carnal relations. Our carnal friends are often bars and
hindrances in our way to heaven; they will say, "Piety is preciseness and
singularity. "A wife in the bosom, may be a tempter. Job's wife was so. "Do
you still retain your integrity? Curse God, and die!" Job 2:9. "What! still
pray? What do you get by serving God? Job, where are your earnings? What can
you show you have had in God's service—but boils and ulcers? And do you
still retain your integrity? Throw off God's livery, renounce religion!"
Here was a temptation handed over to him by his wife. The woman was made
of the rib, the devil turned this rib into an arrow, and would have shot Job
to the heart—but his faith quenched this fiery dart! Beware of carnal
We read that some of Christ's kindred laid hold on him,
and would have hindered him when he was going to preach. "They said—He's out
of his mind!" Mark 3:21. Our kindred sometimes would stand in our way to
heaven, and, judging all zeal rashness, would hinder us from being saved.
Such carnal relations Spira had; for having consulted with them whether he
should remain constant in his orthodox opinion, they persuaded him to
recant; and so, abjuring his former faith, he fell into horror and
despondency of mind. Galeacius, Marquis of Vice, found his carnal relations
a great block in his way; and what ado had he to break through their
temptations! Take heed of a snare in your bosom! It is a brave saying
of Jerome, "If my parents should persuade me to deny Christ, if my wife
should charm me with her embraces—I would forsake all, and fly to Christ."
(16) If you would not fall short of the kingdom of
heaven—take heed of falling away. Beware of apostasy. He misses
the prize—who does not hold out in the race; he who makes shipwreck of the
faith—who cannot come to the haven of glory. We live in the fall of the
leaf; men fall from that goodness they seemed to have; some are turned to
error, others to vice; some to drinking and dicing; the very mantle of their
profession is fallen off. It is dreadful for men to fall off from hopeful
beginnings. "The apostate," says Tertullian, "seems to put God and Satan in
the balance, and having weighed both their services, prefers the devil's
service, and proclaims him to be the best master; in which respect he is
said to put Christ to open shame." Heb 6:6. This is sad at last. Heb 10:38.
If you would not miss the glory, take heed of apostasy. Those who fall away,
must needs fall short of the kingdom.
What MEANS must we use—that we do not fall short of the
kingdom of heaven? (Continued in part 3)