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tures already quoted.-The angels will attend thee at thy death, they will wait on thy foul removing from the body, and convey it away home to your Father's houfe in glory: Luke, xvi. 22. “ And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bofom." When the child comes out of its mother's belly into this world, fome inhabitants here receive it, and take care of it; and when the foul of a believer comes out of the body, and is born into another world, the angels, inhabitants there, take it, and convey it away to their country. This honour have all the faints. Let us attend,

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II. To the peculiarity of this manifestation and intercourfe with heaven.--The angel flood by me. They were all in the fame fhip, but none knew what paffed betwixt the Lord and Paul; none faw nor heard the angel but Paul himself. And two things are here remarkable.

1. There were many ftrangers to God in the fhip; but Paul was his own, and with him God keeps communion; but with none of them, though in the fame ship with him.-Whence obferve, that there is a fecret conveyance of intercourse with heaven to those who are the Lord's, in the midst of a crowd of perfons who know nothing of the matter. Many a time matters go on betwixt God and a gracious foul, as betwixt Jonathan and David, when they only knew the matter, 1 Sam. xx. 39. The Lord knoweth who are his, and who are not, however mixed the multitude may be, 2 Tim. ii. 19. Whatever fair appearances a hypocrite puts on, he can fee through the disguise; and however iniquity prevail in his own, he can difcern the pearl of faith and love in a dunghill of corruption. The arrow is fhot at venture, but

the

Communion

the Spirit of the Lord directs it. with God, and intercourfe with heaven, lies in inward, not in external things: 1 Tim. iv. 8. "For bodily exercise profiteth little, but godlinefs is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." Every perfon might fee who went to the table, what visible thing was done there, who received the bread and wine. But what paffed in the retirements of the heart there, whofe fpikenard fent forth the smell, who received Christ into their hearts, whofe faith and love were exercifed, with whom the idol of jealousy was preserved, or who put the knife to the throat of it; the whole is a fecret betwixt God and the foul itfelf.-The improvement of this is, to learn, that it is a fad thing to have been where that intercourse with heaven was, and to have had no fhare of it; to be perfons whom God goes by, and comes by, manifefts his grace on the right hand, and on the left hand, while they have no fhare of it. We have no ground to doubt but communion with God was enjoyed by fome in that church-yard, and at the Lord's table. O! what was your share of it? If you have had none, it is a token, either that you were dead in your fins, and in a state of alienation from God, and not come out of the devil's family, though you were by profeffion among God's children: Amos, iii. 3. "Can two walk together, unless they be agreed ?" Dead folk cannot converse with the living, nor dead fouls have communion with the living God. Habitual estrangement from communion with God, is a black mark of a graceless state, 2 Cor. vi. 16. Let that ftir you up yet to come out from among them, and leave the congregation of the dead, while yet there is hope.- Or it is a token, that ye were afleep, and all out of cafe for communion with VOL. II. D d

God.

God. And if that was the cafe, O but it was illtimed! Song, v. 1. 2. Ye have flipt a precious Reseason, ye know not if ever it may return. view, therefore, your carriage and way at this occafion; awaken timeoufly, and repent, elfe you may come to get an awakening ftroke from the Lord, which may go very deep: 1 Cor. xi. 30. "For this caufe many are weak and fickly among you, and many fleep."-Learn to blefs God, be thankful, and walk worthy of your privilege, you who have had the distinguishing mercy of communion with God. To whom much is given, much alfo fhall be required. Did he bring you into his banqueting-houfe? Then follow on in the way of holiness, as ftrengthened by what you have experienced. bestowed on you be Let not his grace in vain.-Here a queftion may be proposed, How may a perfon know whether he had communion with God or not? Anf. Communion with God confifts in the Lord's vouchsafing the influences of his grace to the foul, and the foul's returning them again in the exercise of grace. There are many marks of grace. I offer you two distinguishing ones from the text.

Mark 1. The foul's giving itself wholly to the Lord, without exception of any thing, and standing to it: Whofe I am. People may give their hand, tongue, many things of theirs to the Lord, but none but these who have communion with him, will honeftly give themselves wholly, without exception of one luft, or one crofs, to him; and being deliberate, they ftand to it. This is an evidence that the Lord has given himself to them, and they have received him by faith; for man's heart will never give their all to the Lord, till it receive better.

Mark 2. Has religion now become your bufi

nefs?

nefs? Whom I ferve. Have ye truly renounced the service of the devil, and of lufts, taken on the yoke of Christ in all its parts, making religion no more a by-hand work, to ferve yourselves of it, but your chief work, your continual work, to ferve the Lord in it? If you have had thefe, you have had communion with God; if not, you have not had it.-To this fome may reply, But, alas! I have not had what I would wish to have been at. In answer to this, confider what is remarkable here: There were others who were the Lord's, befides Paul, in this fhip; Luke, at leaft, whom, though the Lord left not without communion with himself in that dark hour, yet Paul only had the vifion of the angel. You will accordingly obferve, that every faint is not admitted to the fame degree of communion with God, fome enjoy more than others. All the disciples were not taken up to the mount of transfiguration, but only three of them. John was the beloved difciple, though Jefus loved them all, except the son of perdition. Some may be brought farther forward at one time, others at another time. Some may be full to the brim, when the enjoyments of others are very scanty. There is no reafon to complain. here; for,

(1.) Ordinarily God proportions his people's prefent lifting up to their former down-cafting: Ifa. xl. 4. "Every valley fhall be exalted." Some need more communion with God in the way of conviction and humiliation, others in the way of comfort; but the heaviest heart, and the most humbled fpirit, needs the greateft outletting of comfortable manifeftations. And if God fpeak moft comfortably to thofe who moft need it, it is unjuft to complain.

(2.) The greateft privilege is ordinarily followed Dd 2

with

with the greatest piece of work, 1 Kings, xix. 7. God has hard pieces of fervice to put into fome people's hands beyond others. Paul must appear before Cæfar for the defence of the gospel, and therefore ftood in most need of this manifeftation to comfort and fortify him:

(3.) The backs of God's people are ordinarily ftrengthened in proportion to their burdens; and therefore the more liberal feast that a faint gets, he may expect the greater trial. If we compare the life of Ifaac and Jacob, you will obferve, that the latter had the greatest enjoyments of God; but fo also had he the greatest trials of the two.

As a fuitable improvement of what has now been obferved, let us, who have had communion with God in any measure, however small, not overlook the mercy, but thankfully entertain it. There is real communion with God in these two things. (1.) In longing defires after Christ: Pfal. xxvi. 9. "With my foul have I defired thee in the night, yea, with my spirit within me will I feek thee early." When the foul is touched with a defire of him above all perfons and things, longing for the enjoyment of him as their portion, longing for his blood to fprinkle them, and his Spirit to fanctify them, it is an evidence of the Lord's difcovering himself in fome measure to that foul.There is real communion with God, (2.) In real love to him, well-pleafedness with his covenant: Matth. xi. 6. "And bleffed is he, whofoever shall not be offended in me." There can be no true love to Christ, which is not produced by his love to the foul: 1 John, iv. 19. " We love him, because he first loved us." And no heart will be truly fatisfied with the covenant, with the tenor, benefits, and duties of it, but that which, by the influences of the Spirit, is framed in conformity

to

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