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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : XXI. THE CHURCH.

The Riches Of Bunyan by John Bunyan

XXI. THE CHURCH.

FROM THE PREFACE TO THE |HOLY CITY.|

UPON a certain First-day, I being together with my brethren in our prison-chamber, they expected that, according to our custom, something should be spoken out of the word for our mutual edification; but at that time I felt myself -- it being my turn to speak -- so empty, spiritless, and barren, that I thought I should not have been able to speak among them so much as five words of truth, with life and evidence: but at last it so fell out that providentially I cast my eye upon the 11th verse of the 21st chapter of this prophecy of Revelation; upon which when I had considered awhile, methought I perceived something of that Jasper, in whose light you there find this holy city is said to come or descend: wherefore, having got in my eye some dim glimmerings thereof, and finding also in my heart a desire to see further thereinto, I, with a few groans, did carry my meditation to the Lord Jesus for a blessing. This he did forthwith grant, according to his grace; and helping me to set before my brethren, we did all eat and were all refreshed; and behold also, that while I was in the distributing of it, it so increased in my hand that, of the fragments that we left after we had well dined, I gathered up this basketful. Methought the more I cast my eye upon the whole discourse, the more I saw lie in it. Wherefore, setting myself to a more narrow search, through frequent prayer to God -- what first with doing, and then with undoing, and after that with doing again -- I thus did finish it.

But yet, notwithstanding all my labor and travail in this matter, I do not, neither can I, expect that every godly heart should in every thing see the truth and excellency of what is here discoursed; neither would I have them imagine that I have so thoroughly viewed this holy city, but that much more than I do here crush out is yet left in the cluster. Alas, I shall only say thus: I have crushed out a little juice to sweeten their lips withal; not doubting but in a little time more large measures of the excellency of this city, and of its sweetness and glory, will by others be opened and unfolded, yea, if not by the servants of the Lord Jesus, yet by the Lord himself, who will have this city builded and set in its own place.

CHURCH-FELLOWSHIP.

It is the ordinance of God, that Christians should be often asserting the things of God to each other; and that by their so doing, they should edify one another.

The doctrine of the gospel is like the dew and the small rain, that distilleth upon the tender grass, wherewith it doth flourish and is kept green.

Christians are like the several flowers in a garden, that have upon each of them the dew of heaven; which being shaken with the wind, let fall their dew at each other's roots, whereby they are jointly nourished and become nourishers of one another.

Church-fellowship, rightly managed, is the glory of all the world. No place, no community, no fellowship is adorned and bespangled with such beauties, as is a church rightly knit together to their Head, and lovingly serving one another.

The church and a profession are the best of places for the upright; but the worst in the world for the cumberground.

THE CHURCH A LIGHT.

The Holy Ghost is well pleased to bring in the shining virtues of the church, under the -- notion of a shining moon; because, as the church herself is compared to the moon, so her virtues are as naturally compared to a shining light: as Christ saith, |Let your light so shine;| and again, |Let your loins be girded, and your lights burning.| For indeed, while we are here, that church and congregation of the Lord doth most shine, and most send forth the golden rays and pleasant beams of Christianity, that is most in the exercise of the aforementioned virtues. Take away the moon, and the night is doubtful; or, though the moon be in the firmament, if she hath lost her light, the night is not thereby made more comfortable. And thus, I say, it is first with the world, where there is no church to shine, or where there is a church that doth not so shine that others may see and be lighted.

SPIRITUAL CHARACTER OF THE CHURCH.

She meddleth not with any man's matters but her own; she comes all along by the king's highway; that is, only by the rules that her Lord hath prescribed for her in his testament. The governors of this world need not at all fear a disturbance from her, or a diminution of aught they have. She will not meddle with their fields nor vineyards, neither will she drink of the water of their wells. Only let her go by the king's highway, and she will not turn to the right hand or to the left, until she has passed all their borders It is a false report that the governors of the nations have received against the city, this new Jerusalem, if they believe according to the tale that is told of her, that she is and has been of old a rebellious city, and destructive to kings, and a diminisher of their revenues. She is not for meddling with any thing that is theirs, from a thread even to a shoe-latchet. Her glory is spiritual and heavenly, and she is satisfied with what is her own. 'Tis true, the kings and nations of this world shall one day bring their glory and honor to this city; but yet not by outward force or compulsion: none shall constrain them but the love of Christ, and the beauty of this city. |The Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.| The light and beauty of this city, these only shall engage their hearts and overcome them.

Indeed, if any shall, out of mistrust or enmity against this city and her prosperity, bend themselves to disappoint the designs of the eternal God concerning her building and glory, then they must take what follows. Her God in the midst of her is mighty; he will rest in his love, and rejoice over her with singing, and will UNDO all that afflict her. Wherefore, associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall he broken in pieces; for God is with us.

WARNING TO THE PROFESSOR.

He that sins himself out of the church, can find no good in the world; and they that have sinned God out, can find no good in the church. A church that has sinned God away from it, is a sad lump indeed. You, therefore, that are in God's church, take heed of sinning yourselves out thence; also take heed, that while you keep in, you sin not God away, for thenceforth no good is there. |Yea, woe unto them when I depart from them, saith the Lord.|

CHURCH-ORDER.

It is hard to have all things according to rule in the day of the church's affliction, because of the weakness and fearfulness of some, and because possibly those who have most skill in that matter may for a time be laid up in chains. But when the church has rest and quietness, then as she praises God, so she conceives and brings forth governors and good government and rule among her members. David, a man of blood, could not build the house to the Lord, which peaceable Solomon, that man of rest, afterwards did. When armies are engaged and hot in battle, it is harder to keep them in rank and file than when they have rest and time for discipline.

THE CHURCH IN AFFLICTION.

When the church of God is afflicted, both heaven and hell have their hand therein; but from a differing consideration, and to a diverse end. From heaven it comes, that we may remember we have sinned, and that we may be made white and tried; but from hell, that we might sin the more, and that we might despair and be damned.

SATAN'S HOSTILITY TO THE CHURCH.

Satan has tried many ways to be at amity with the church -- not because he loves her holiness, but because he hates her welfare. And that he might bring about his enterprise, he sometimes has allured her with the dainty delicacies of this world, the lusts of the flesh and of the eyes, and the pride of life. This being fruitless, he has attempted to entangle and bewitch her with his glorious appearance as an angel of light; and to that end he has made his ministers of righteousness, preaching up righteousness, and contending for a divine and holy worship. But this failing also, he has taken in hand at length to fright her into friendship with him, by stirring up the hellish rage of tyrants to frighten and molest her; by finding out strange inventions to torment and afflict her children; by making many bloody examples of her own bowels before her eyes, if by that means he might at last obtain his purpose. But behold, all has been in vain; there can be no reconciliation. And why, but because God himself maintains the enmity? God hath put enmity between the devil and the woman; between that old serpent called the devil and Satan, and the holy and beloved and espoused wife of Christ.

SECURITY OF THE CHURCH.

Gold is a metal so invincible and unconquerable, that no fire can consume it: it may burn it indeed, and melt it; the dross indeed doth consume and give way to the power of the fire, but the gold remains and holds its ground, yea, it gets ground even of the furnace and fire itself; for the more it is burned and melted, the more it recovers its color, and the more it shakes off its dross and dishonor.

Just thus it is with the people of God, and hath been so even from the beginning: the more men oppressed them, the more they grew. His church has been now for many hundred years in the king of Babylon's furnace; all which time she hath most gloriously endured and withstood the heat; and at last, when the fire hath done its worst against her, behold, there comes out a city of gold. Wherefore, let her be bold to say, even before she comes out of the fire, |When I am tried, I shall come forth as gold.|

So long as the church endured hardship and affliction, she was greatly preserved from revolts and backslidings; but after she had turned her face from the sun, and had found the plain of Shinar, Genesis 11, that is, the fleshly delights that the pleasures and profits and honors of this world afford, she, forgetting the word and order of God, was content to dwell in the land of Babel.

As the sins of God's people brought them into captivity, so their sins can hold them there; yea, and when the time comes that grace must fetch them out, yet the oxen that draw this cart may stumble, and the way, through roughness, may shake it sorely. However, heaven rules and overrules: and by one means and another, as the captivity of Israel did seem to linger, so it came out at the time appointed, in the way that best pleased God, that most profited them, and that most confounded those that were their implacable enemies. This therefore should instruct those that yet dwell where the |woman| sitteth, to quietness and patience.

To quietness; for God rules and has the disposal of things. Besides, it is a kind of arraigning of his wisdom, to be discontent at that which at present is upon the wheel. Above all, it displeases him that any should seek, or go about to revenge their own injuries, or to work their own deliverances; for that is the work of God: nor is he weak, nor has he missed the opportunity; nor does he sleep, but waketh, and waiteth to be gracious.

This also should teach them to be patient, and put them upon bearing what at present they may undergo, patiently Let them wait upon God; patiently let them wait upon men, and patiently let them bear the fruits of their own transgressions; which though they should be none other but a deferring of the mercy wished for, is enough to try, and crack, and break their patience, if a continual supply and a daily increase thereof be not given by the God of heaven.

And before I conclude this, let me add one word more, to wit, to exhort them to look that they may see what God at present may be doing among the Babylonians.

When God had his people into Babylon of old, he presented them with such varieties there as he never showed them in their own country. And is there nothing now to be seen by them that are not yet delivered from that oppression, that may give them occasion to stay themselves and wonder? What, is preservation nothing? What, is baffling and befooling the enemies of God's church nothing? In the Maryan [Footnote: Upon the accession of Mary to the throne of England, the sanguinary laws against heretics were revived, and those shocking scenes of cruelty followed which have fixed upon this princess the epithet of Bloody Queen Mary. Her gloomy bigotry caused that two hundred and seventy-seven persons should be committed to the flames, including prelates, private clergymen, laymen of all ranks, women, and even children.

Among the number were archbishop Cranmer, bishops Ridley. Latimer, and Hooper, John Rogers, John Bradford, and John Philpot.

Bishops Latimer and Ridley were burnt together. When they came to the stake, Dr. Ridley embraced Latimer fervently, and bade him be of good heart; he then knelt by the stake, and after earnestly praying together, they had a short private conversation. A lighted fagot was laid at Dr. Ridley's feet, which caused the other to say, |Be of good cheer, Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day, by God's grace, light up such a candle in England, as I trust will never be put out.| When Dr. Ridley saw the flame approaching him, he exclaimed, |Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.| Latimer ceased not to say, |O Father of heaven, receive my soul.|

Sanders, another martyr, was offered a pardon; but he rejected it, and embraced the stake, saying, |Welcome the cross of Christ! welcome, everlasting life!| Fox's Book of Martyrs and Hume's Hist. Eng] days here at home, there were such sweet songs sung in the fire, such sweet notes answering them from prison, and such providences, like coals of burning fire, still dropping here and there upon the heads of those that hated God, that it might, and douhtless did, make those that did wisely consider of God's doings, think God was yet near in behalf of his despised and afflicted people.

Deep things are seen by them that are upon the waters. |They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters, these see the works of the Lord and his wonders in the deep.| Indeed it oft falls out that the church sees more of God in affliction, than when she is at rest and ease; when she is tumbled to and fro with waters, then she sees the works of God and his wonders in the deep. And this makes persecution so pleasant a thing; this makes |the ark go upon the face of the waters.| She sees more in this her state, than in all the treasures of Egypt.

Nothing is more natural to the church, while in a wilderness condition, than such cups and draughts as the cup of the Lord's fury, the cup of trembling, the cup of astonishment.

Hence she is said to be clothed in sackcloth, to mourn, to weep, to cry out, and to be in pain as a woman in travail. Since the church in the wilderness has been so persecuted, so distressed, so oppressed, and made the seat of so much war, so much blood, and so many murders of her children within her, can it be imagined that she drank of more of these cups? Yes, yes, she has drunk the red wine at the Lord's hand, even the cup of blood, of fury, of trembling, and of astonishment; witness her own cries, sighs, tears, and tremblings, with the cries of the widows, children, and orphans within her.

But all these cups are of pure gold. They are of God's ordaining, appointing, filling; and also sanctified by him for good to those of his that drink them. Hence Moses chose rather to drink a brimmer of these, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.

The sourness, bitterness, and wormwood of them, therefore, is only to the flesh, that loveth neither God, nor Christ, nor grace. The afflictions, therefore, that the church in the wilderness hath met with, these cups of gold, are of more worth than are all the treasures of Egypt; they are needful and profitable, and praiseworthy also, and tend to the augmenting of our glory when the next world shall come.

Besides, they are signs, tokens, and golden-marks of love, and jewels that set off the beauty of the church in the sight of God the more. They are also a means by which men are proved to be sound, honest, faithful, and true lovers of God; to be those whose graces are not counterfeit, feigned, or unsound, but true, and such as will be found to praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.

And this has been the cause that the men of our church in the wilderness have gloried in tribulation, taking pleasure in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, and in distresses, for Christ's sake. Yea, this is the reason why they have bade one another rejoice, when they fell into divers temptations, saying, |Happy is the man that endureth temptations;| and, |Behold, we count them happy that endure.| And again, |If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye.|

These, therefore, are vessels of pure gold, though they contain such bitter draughts, at which we make so many wry faces before we can get them down.

Do you think that a Christian, having even this cup in his hand to drink, would change it for a draught of that which is in the hand of the woman that sits on the back of the scarlet-colored beast? No, verily; for he knows that her sweet is poison; and that his bitter is to purge his soul, body, life, and religion, of death.

God sends his love-tokens to his church two ways; sometimes by her friends, sometimes by her enemies. When they come by the hand of a friend, as by a minister, a brother, or by the Holy Ghost, then they come smoothly, sweetly, and are taken, and go down like honey. But when these love-tokens come to them by the hand of an enemy, then they are handed to them roughly. Pharaoh handed love-tokens to them roughly; the king of Babylon handed these love-tokens to them roughly. They bring them of malice; God sends them of love. They bring them and give them to us, hoping they will be our death; they give them therefore with many a foul curse; but God blesses them still.

Nor is this cup so bitter but that our Lord himself drank deep of it, before it was handed to his church. He did, as loving mothers do, drink thereof himself, to show us it is not poison, also to encourage us to drink it for his sake, and for our endless health. Therefore the cup is called Christ's cup: |Are ye able to drink of the cup that I drink of? Ye shall indeed drink of my cup.| Here you see they are joined in a communion in this cup of affliction.

But these are not all the cups that belong to the church in the wilderness. There is also a cup, out of which, at times, is drunk what is exceeding sweet. It is called the cup of consolation, the cup of salvation; a cup in which God himself is, as David said, |The Lord is the portion of my cup.|

This cup, they that are in the church in the wilderness have usually for an after-draught to that bitter one that went before. Thus, as tender mothers give their children plums or sugar to sweeten their palate after they have drunk a bitter potion, so God gives his children the cups of salvation and consolation after they have suffered awhile: |For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation aboundeth by Christ.|

Some of these cups are filled until they run over; as David said his did, when the valley of the shadow of death was before him: |Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.|

This is that which the apostle calls |exceeding| -- that which is beyond measure. |I am,| says he, |filled with comfort; I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.|

Now he has one answering the other: |Thou hast made summer and winter; thou hast made the warm beams of thy sun answerable to the cold of the dark night.| This may yet be signified by the building of this house, this type of the church in the wilderness, in so pleasant a place as the forest of Lebanon was. Lebanon! Lebanon was one of the sweetest places in all the land of Canaan. Therefore we read of the fruit of Lebanon, of the streams from Lebanon; the scent, the smell, the glory of Lebanon; and also of the wine and flowers of Lebanon.

Lebanon! That was one thing that wrought with Moses to desire that he might go over Jordan, that he might see that goodly mountain, and Lebanon. The glory and excellent beauty of the church Christ also setteth forth by comparing her to Lebanon: |Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as a honeycomb; honey and milk are under thy tongue, and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.|

I know there are extravagant opinions in the world about the kingdom of Christ, as if it consisted in temporal glory in part; and as if he would take it to him by carnal weapons, and so maintain it in its greatness and grandeur. But I confess myself an alien to these notions, and believe and profess quite the contrary, and look for the coming of Christ to judgment personally; and betwixt this and that, for his coming in Spirit and in the power of his word; to destroy antichrist, to inform kings, and so to give quietness to his church on earth: which shall assuredly be accomplished when the reign of the beast, the false prophet, and the man of sin is out.

Let this teach men not to think that the church is cursed of God, because she is put in a wilderness state. Alas, that is but to train her up in a way of solitariness, to make her Canaan the more welcome to her. Rest is sweet to a laboring man.

Yea, this condition is the first step to heaven; yea, it is a preparation to that kingdom. God's ways are not as man's: |I have chosen thee,| saith he, |in the furnace of affliction.| When Israel came out of Egypt, they were led of God into the wilderness. But why? That he might have them to a land that he had espied for them, that he might bring them to a city of habitation.

The world know not the way of the Lord, nor the judgment of our God. Do you think that saints that dwell in the world, and that have more of the mind of God than the world, could so rejoice in God, in the cross, in tribulations and distresses, were they not assured that through many tribulations is the very road to heaven?

Let this then encourage the saints to hope, and to rejoice in hope of the glory of God, notwithstanding present tribulations. This is our seed-time, our winter: afflictions are to try us of what mettle we are made; yea, and to shake off worm-eaten fruit, and such as are rotten a core.

Troubles for Christ's sake are but like the prick of an awl in the tip of the ear, in order to hang a jewel there.

Let this also put the saints upon patience. When we know that a trial will have an end, we are encouraged to exercise patience. I have a bad master, but I have only a year to serve under him, and that makes me serve him with patience. I have but a mile to go in this dirty way, and then I shall have my path pleasant and green, and this makes me tread the dirty way with patience.

I am now in my rags; but by that a quarter of a year is come and gone, two hundred [Footnote: That is, pounds: a large income in the England Bunyan's day.] a year comes into my hand; wherefore I will wait and exercise patience. Thus might I multiply comparisons.

Be patient, then, my brethren. But how long? |To the coming of the Lord.| But when will that be? |The coming of the Lord draweth nigh.|

How unseen the strength of the church under persecution is of all that are without her. Alas, they think that she will be run down with a push; or, as they said, |What do these feeble Jews? Will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish which are burnt? Alas, if a fox go up, he will even break down their stone wall.|

But do you think these men saw the strength of the Jews? No, no; their pillars were within, and so were shadowed from their eyes. David himself could not tell what judgment to make of the way of the world against the people of God, until he went into the sanctuary of God.

How then can the world judge of the condition of the saints? Alas, had they known the church's strength, surely they would not have so furiously assaulted her. But what have they got by all they have done, either, against the Head or body of the church?

She has yet being in the world, and will have, shall have, though all the nations on earth should gather themselves together against her. Nor is it the cutting off of many that will make her cease to flourish. Alas, were she not sometimes pruned and trimmed, her boughs would stand too thick. Those therefore that are taken away with God's pruning-hooks, are removed that the under branches may grow the better.

No man needs be afraid to let Jesus Christ be chief in the world: he envies nobody; he designs the hurt of none: his kingdom is not of this world, nor doth he covet temporal matters: let but his wife, his church, alone, to enjoy her purchased privileges, and all shall be well; which privileges of hers, since they are soul-concerns, make no infringement upon any man's liberties. Let but faith and holiness walk the streets without control, and you may be as happy as the world can make you. I speak now to them that contend with him.

But if seasonable counsel will not go down, if hardness of heart and blindness of mind and so perishing from the way shall overtake you, it is but what you of old have been cautioned of: |Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.|

The very name of Jesus is the very tower of the Christian church, and that by which she frights the world, not designedly, but through their misunderstanding; for neither she nor her Jesus is for doing them any hurt. However, this is that which renders her yet, in their eye, terrible as an army with banners.

Always when antichrist made his inroads upon the church in the wilderness, to slay, to cut off, and to kill, yet some of the pillars stood; they were not all burnt in the fire, nor cut down. They said indeed, |Come, let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.| But what then? There is a difference betwixt saying and doing; the bush was not therefore consumed because it was set on fire; the church shall not be consumed, although she be afflicted.

And the reason is, because God has his reserve: therefore if Abel falls by the hand of Cain, Seth is put in his place; if Moses is taken away, Joshua shall succeed him; and if the devil break the neck of Judas, Matthias is at hand to take his office. God has a succession of pillars in his house; he has to himself a reserve.

They therefore brought out Faithful, to do with him according to their law; and first they scourged him, then they buffeted him, then they lanced his flesh with knives; after they had stoned him with stones, they pricked him with their swords; and last of all, they burned him to ashes at the stake. Thus came Faithful to his end. Now I saw in my dream that Christian went not forth alone, for there was one whose name was Hopeful -- being so made by the beholding of Christian and Faithful in their words and behavior in their sufferings at the fair -- who joined himself unto him; and entering into a brotherly covenant, told him that he would be his companion.

Thus one died to bear testimony to the truth, and another rises out of his ashes, to be a companion with Christian in his pilgrimage.

|And she bare a son, and called his name Seth; for God, saith she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.| Gen.4. When Seth comes, then the ground is made good again; then a living saint is found to stand, and maintain that truth which but now his brother bled for.

THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE CHURCH.

Thy children shall all be holy or righteous, and |great shall be the peace of thy children; and the nations of them that are saved shall walk in the light of it.| Surely the Holy Ghost would never have spoken such a word as this if he had not intended to show us that at the day of the setting up of this Jerusalem, a great harvest of sinners shall be gathered by the grace of the gospel. But the truth is, the Scriptures go with open arms towards the latter end of the world, even as if they would grasp and compass about almost all people then upon the face of the whole earth with the grace and mercy of God: |The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.|

Never was fair weather after foul, nor warm weather after cold, nor a sweet and beautiful spring after a heavy and nipping and terrible winter, so comfortable, sweet, and desirable and welcome to the poor birds and beasts of the field, as this day will be to the church of God. Darkness! it was the plague of Egypt; it is an empty, forlorn, desolate, solitary, and discomforting state. Wherefore light, even the illuminating grace of God, especially in the measure that it shall be communicated unto us at that day, it must needs be precious. In light there is warmth and pleasure. It is by the light of the sun that the whole universe appears unto us distinctly, and it is by the heat thereof that every thing groweth and flourisheth; all which will now be gloriously and spiritually answered in this holy and new Jerusalem. O how clearly will all the spiders and dragons and owls and foul spirits of antichrist, at that day, be discovered by the light hereof. Now also will all the pretty and little birds in the Lord's field, most sweetly send forth their pleasant notes, and all the flowers and herbs in his garden spring. Then will it be said to the church by her husband and Saviour, |Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away; for lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; the fig-tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vine with her tender grapes give a good smell.| You know how pleasant this is, even to be fulfilled in the letter of it, not only to birds and beasts, but to men; especially it is pleasant to such men as have for several years been held in the chains of affliction. It must needs therefore be most pleasant and desirable to the afflicted church of Christ, who hath lain now in the dungeon of antichrist for. above a thousand years. But, Lord, how will this lady, when she gets her liberty and when she is returned to her own city, how will she then take pleasure in the warmth and spangling beams of thy shining grace, and solace herself with thee in the garden, among the nuts and pomegranates, among the lilies and flowers, and all the chief spices!

|And in the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.|

This tree of life is the Lord Jesus Christ; and that he is here called a tree, is to show how fruitful and exceeding advantageous he in all his benefits will be to the inhabitants of this city. This is the tree under whose branches the fowls of heaven shall now most safely lodge, and find relief from the hot and fainting beams of the persecuting sun of this world.

In that he saith this city hath a tree of life in it, he alludes to the garden of Eden, the pleasant paradise that God began the world withal; whereby he signifies, that as the world began with a paradise, so also it shall end with a paradise, when sin and Satan have done their worst. This new Jerusalem shall be the wind-up of the world; and in it shall stand the tree of life, as there stood one in the goodly garden which was the beginning thereof.

Now this tree of life being in the midst of this city, it signifies that the inhabitants of it shall be sweetly shadowed, refreshed, and defended with its coolness, and also sweetly nourished and comforted with its dainties. |As the apple-tree is among the trees of the wood, so is my Beloved among the sons. I sat under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.| Indeed the shadow of this tree of life, as always it is refreshing to the tempted and weary, so now it will be far more: |They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn and grow as the vine, and the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon.| His shadow will make us return, that is, to our first love -- to the days of our youth, to our young, fresh, tender, and flourishing faith, love, and self-denial, that we received in the day of our espousals.

O they will be green, savory, reviving, flourishing, growing Christians that shall walk the streets of the new Jerusalem.

Now there shall be a oneness of judgment and understanding in the hearts of all saints; they shall be now no more two, but one in the Lord's hand.

Alas, the saints are yet but as an army routed, and are apt sometimes through fear, and sometimes through forgetfulness, to mistake the word of their Captain-general the Son of God, and are also too, too prone to shoot and kill even their very right-hand man. But at that day all such doing shall be laid aside, for the knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea: which knowledge shall then strike through the heart and liver of all swerving and unsound opinions in Christ's matters; for then shall every one of the Christians call upon the name of the Lord, and that with one pure lip, or language, to serve him with one consent.

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