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predominant character. Therefore, while your temper and practice are agreeable to such a prayer: that is, while you are disposed to spend your time that God gives you in sin and impenitence, you are perpetually insulting heaven with such petitions, and that too in a manner much more expressive and strong than if you should utter them in words. And can you quietly bear the thought of this horrid blasphemy, which you are constantly breathing out against heaven? Can you wish and pray for another year for this purpose ? What though you should not die this year? Will this exempt you from death in another, or from the punishment of misspent life? Alas! no; this will only render you a greater criminal, and a more miserable wretch in eternity. One year of sinning will make a dreadful addition to your account.

Therefore conclude, every one for himself, “It is of little importance to me whether I die this year, or not; but the only important point is, that I make a good use of my future time, whether it be longer or shorter.” This, my brethren, is the only way to secure a happy new year : a year of time, that will lead the way to a happy eternity.

SERMON XXXV.

AN ENROLMENT OF OUR NAMES IN HEAVEN THE NOBLEST

SOURCE OF JOY.

LUKE x. 20.-Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not, that

the spirits are subject unto you ; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven."

This is the answer Christ gave to his disciples, when returned from their mission, flushed with victory over the most mighty and most malignant enemies, the infernal powers. Lord, say they, even the devils are subject to us, through thy name. This they probably mentioned with a tincture of vanity, and were secretly proud of their new power, which their Master had given them. Though they owned it was his gift, they gloried in it, as conferring some new honour and dignity upon themselves. And probably like the rest of their countrymen, their heads were filled with notions of the temporal kingdom of the Messiah, and his conquests over the other nations of the earth in favour of the Jews; and inferred that they should have an irresistable power over their enemies on earth, from the power they had been enabled to exercise over evil spirits, so much more mighty, and seemingly unconquerable.

Their Lord and Master, among other things in his answer, checks this secret vanity, and points out to them a superior cause of joy. Rejoice not in this; that is, re

* A Sermon preached at Hanover, in Virginia, Jan. 14, 1759.

joice not so much as you do, rejoice not principally in this, that the spirits, (that is, evil spirits,) are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven; as if he should say, “ Though you may safely rejoice in the victory you have obtained through my name over the powers of hell, yet you ought to take care that it be not a vain, selfish, carnal joy, a joy springing from the gratification of your own ambition. And take care also, that it does not run into excess; for I will show you a much greater cause of joy than even this; and that is, that your names are written in heaven. It is possible, that while you are casting the devil out of the bodies of others, your own souls may be under his power, and you may be his miserable slaves for ever. But since your names are written in heaven, you are safe; and that is cause of joy indeed. Rejoice in this above all other things.”

How should we rejoice, and perhaps boast, if the mighty powers of hell were subject unto us, and we could make them fly at a word? But the meanest Christian is more happy than this, and has cause of greater joy.

For the further explication of the text, it is only necessary to inquire, what is meant by their names being written in heaven?

Heaven is here compared to a city or corporation, in which a list or record is kept of all the citizens or freemen who are entitled to its privileges and immunities. And, therefore, to have our names written in heaven, signifies to be citizens, or freemen of the heavenly city; that is, to have a right to an inheritance there, and to all its privileges and enjoyments.

This naturally suggests a very important inquiry, the decision of which may hold us all in an anxious suspense: “How may I know (may each of us ask) whether my unworthy name be written in heaven? who can open and

read the records of heaven, and show me whether my name is registered there?"

I answer, This is a secret that may be discovered; for all that have their names written in heaven, may be distinguished by their characters, their temper, and practice, while upon earth. And their characters are such as these :

1. They are deeply sensible of the vanity of all earthly things, and that heaven alone is a sufficient portion and happiness. All that are registered as citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, have a superlative esteem of that privilege, and count all things but loss in comparison of it, Matt. vi. 24–26, and xiii. 45, 46. And is this your character? Are your hearts in heaven? or are your highest affections confined to the earth?

2. All that have their names written in heaven have a heavenly nature; a nature very different from that of the men of this world, and like that of the citizens of heaven? And is this your temper? or is it earthly and sensual?

3. All that have their names written in heaven have a peculiar love for all their fellow-citizens, who are heirs of heaven. They love them as members of the same corporation with themselves. 1 John iii. 14.

4. If your names are written in heaven, it is the chief business and concern of your life to obtain an interest in heaven. This is not the object of languid, lazy wishes, or of lukewarm, spiritless prayers; but of your vigorous, anxious, persevering desires. And do you thus seek the kingdom of heaven? Matt. xi. 12; Luke xvi. 16.

These marks must suffice at present to assist you in selfexamination; and I beg you would bring them to your hearts, and see if they will stand this test.

If your names are written in heaven, then my text authorizes me to tell you, this is the greatest cause of joy

your in

you can possibly have; a joy that may swallow up every other joy. But on the other hand,

If your names are not written in heaven, there is nothing in the world that can happen to you, that can be a cause of rational, lasting joy to you.

I. If your names are written in heaven, this is the greatest cause of joy you can possibly have; a joy that may swallow up every other joy. This will appear by an induction of particulars.

Are you rich in this world? Has God blessed dustry and frugality, so that you are in easy, affluent circumstances ? This is cause of joy and gratitude to God, as it furnishes you with the materials of earthly happiness, frees you

from many anxieties, and painful wants, and puts it in your power to enjoy the generous pleasure of doing good with your substance.

substance. But what is this, when compared with the blessings of the sanctified use of riches, and the assurance that God has given you, that all things shall work together for your good? what is this to the unsearchable riches of Christ, and that fulness of grace and glory, in which you have an interest? Rejoice more in this than in thousands of gold and silver.

Or if you are not in affluent circumstances, are you above extreme want, and able by your labour and industry to provide yourselves and your dependents with the necessaries of life? This is the happiness of most, even of the poor in our country; and this is cause of joy. But what is this to the happiness of having provision made for your subsistence through everlasting ages? Is it not superior cause of joy, that when you are stripped of all the enjoyments of the present life, you shall also be delivered from all its wants and labours, and shall not only have a bare sufficiency, but a rich overflowing abundance of happiness equal to the capacities of your souls in their highest en

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