The Lord's Prayer by Thomas Watson File 11 (... continued from file 10) 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;' and how dreadful is that! Psa 9: 17. If to have but a spark of God's anger light upon the conscience be so torturing here, what will it be to have mountains of God's wrath thrown upon the soul? 'Who knoweth the power of thine anger?' Psa 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 lenify the sufferings of the damned, nor incense of prayer to appease God's wrath. 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 justice in their own persons, it had 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. 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. It was felo de se. 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, and adventure the laws of the land. 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 he]1, they had not lost it! 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 lose his health he may have it repaired by physic; if he be driven out of his kingdom he may be restored to it again as king Nebuchadnezzar was, 'Mine honour returned unto me, and I was established in my kingdom.' Dan 4: 36. King Henry VI was deposed from his throne, and restored to it again. But they 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.' Psa 106: 24. Canaan was a paradise of delights, a type of heaven; ay, 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 of their neighbours. Such sinful sloth is upon the most, that though the kingdom of heaven be offered them, yet they will not put themselves to any labour for it. They have some faint wishes and desires. O that I had this kingdom! They are like a man that wishes for venison, but will not hunt for it. 'The soul of the sluggard desireth, and has nothing.' Prov 13: 4. Men could 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 labour, and do we think to have the kingdom of heaven? Heathens will rise up in judgement 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 casteth into a deep sleep.' Prov 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 pains for the heavenly kingdom? I had as good sit still; I may come near to heaven, yet come short of heaven. '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 seeketh him:' seek him earnestly and he will open both heart and heaven to you. Lam 3: 25. Deus volentibus non deest [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 endeavour, 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 mistake by 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 per saltum [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 fancy 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 procrastinations. Mora trahit periculum [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 on a sudden, 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 till it be 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 taper soon blown out. Animantis cujusque vita in fuga est [The life of everyone living is fleeing away]. The body is like a vessel tunned with breath: sickness broaches it, death draws it out. 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. They are prejudiced at his person. 'And they were offended in him.' Matt 13: 57. What is there in Christ that men should be offended at him? He is the 'pearl of great price.' Matt 13: 46. Are men offended at pearls and diamonds? Christ is the wonder of beauty. 'Fairer than the children of men.' Psa 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 prejudiced:  His meanness. The Jews expected a monarch for their Messiah; but Christ came not with outward pomp and splendour. 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 hid in the dark lantern of his humanity, all who saw the man did not see the Messiah. The Jews stumbled at the meanness of his person.  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.' Psa 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 Saviour, they hate him as he is the Holy One. Men are prejudiced at the truths of Christ.  Self-denial. A man must deny his righteousness. Phil 3: 9. He will graft the hope of salvation upon the stock of his own righteousness.  He must deny his unrighteousness. The Scripture seals no patents to sin; it teacheth us to deny all 'ungodliness and worldly lusts.' Tit 2: 12. We must divorce those sins which bring in pleasures and profit.  Forgiveness of injuries. Mark 11: 25. These truths men are prejudiced at; they can rather want forgiveness from God, than they can forgive others. Men are prejudiced at the followers of Christ.  Their paucity. There are but few, in comparison, that embrace Christ; but why should this offend? Men are not offended at pearls and precious stones, because they are few.  Their poverty. Many that 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; 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. 'Honourable women which were Greeks' believed. 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? Men are prejudiced at the ways of Christ. They expose them to sufferings. 'Let him take up his cross and follow me.' Matt 16: 24. Many stumble at the cross. There are, as Tertullian says, delicatuli, 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 to the glory that follows! The weight of glory makes affliction light. Adimant caput, non coronam [Let them take the head, but not the crown]. 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. Men presume all is well, and take it as a principle not to be disputed, that they shall go to heaven. The devil has given them opium, to cast them into a deep sleep of 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 saith, he shall have peace, though he goes on in sin. Deut 29: 19. As if a man should 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 too. '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? Dost thou hope for mercy who wilt not lay down thy 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 persons. Presumption is heluo animarum, 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. Homilies capiuntur voluptate, ut pisces hamo [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 take the timbrel and harp; and rejoice at the sound of the organ.' Job 21: 12. 'That lie upon beds of ivory, that chant to the sound of the viol, that drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments.' Amos 6: 4, 5, 6. The pleasures of the world keep many from the pleasures of paradise. What a shame is it, that the soul, that princely thing, which sways the sceptre of reason, and is akin to angels, should be enslaved by sinful pleasure! Beard, in his Theatre, speaks of one who had a room richly hung with fair pictures, he had most delicious music, he had the rarest beauties, he had all the candies, and curious preserves of the confectioner, to gratify his senses with pleasure, and swore he would live one week as a god, though he were sure to be damned in hell the next day. Diodorus Siculus observes, that the dogs of Sicily while hunting among the sweet flowers, lose the scent of the hare; 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 is a dunghill spirit, it chokes good affections, as the earth puts out the fire. The world hindered the young man from following Christ; abiit tristis, he went away sorrowful, which extorted these words from our Saviour: 'How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!' Luke 18: 23, 24. Divitiae saeculi sunt laquei diaboli [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; so too 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 child sucks, the weaker the nurse is; and the more the world sucks and draws from us, the weaker our grace is. 'Love not the world.' I John 2: 15. Had a man a monopoly of all the wealth of the world; were he able to empty the western parts of gold, and the eastern of spices; could he heap up riches to the starry heaven, yet his heart would not be filled. Covetousness is a dry dropsy. 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 that have escaped the rocks, have been cast away upon the sands; so, many who have escaped gross sins, have been cast away 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, and one sin lived in will damn, as well as more. Ubi regnat peccatum, non potest regnare Dei regnum. Jerome. If any one sin reign, it will keep you from reigning in the kingdom of heaven. Especially keep from sins of presumption, which waste conscience, vastare conscientiam (Tertullian); and the sin of your natural constitution; the peccatum in deliciis (Augustine); thy darling sin; 'I kept myself from mine iniquity,' that sin which my heart would soonest decoy and flatter me into. Psa 18: 23. As in the hive there is one master bee, so in the heart one master-sin: Oh, take heed of this! How may this sin be known? 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 noli me tangere [touch me not]. Men can be content to have other sins declaimed against; but if a minister put his finger upon the sore, and touches upon one special sin, then igne micant oculi [their eyes flash with fire], they are enraged, and spit the venom of malice. 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 ask 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. 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 verily guilty concerning our brother,' &c. Gen 42: 21. So, when a man is upon his sick-bed, and conscience shall say, Thou hast 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 complexion-sin. 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 ye 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 that 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; so a man may suffer many of his sins to be demolished; but when it comes to one, that 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 humour striking to 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; so the sin which thou didst wear as a crown of gold must be thrown away, that thou mayest 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 brevis insania, a short frenzy. 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 will, therefore, that men pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath.' I Tim 2: 8. He that prays in wrath 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 coo] 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 hell. (11) If you would not fall short of the heavenly kingdom, beware of too much indulging the sensual appetite. 'Make not provision for the flesh.' Rom 13: 14. The Greek word, pronoian poiein, 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 meat and drink clouds the mind, chokes good affections, and provokes lust. Many a man digs his own grave with his teeth. The heathen could say, Magnus sum et ad majora natus quam ut sim corporis mei mancipium [I am great and born to greater things than to be a slave to my body]. Seneca. 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 temperately 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. 'Thy wine mixed with water.' Isa 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 which 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. I Cor 5: 10. 'I have written unto you not to keep company.' I Cor 5: 11. Do not incorporate into the society of the wicked, or be too much familiar with them. The wicked are God-haters and 'Shouldest thou love them that 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: it is a thing of bad report. What do Christ's doves among birds of prey? What do virgins among harlots? The company of the wicked is very defiling, it is like going among them that have the plague. 'They were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works.' Psa 106: 35. If you mingle bright armour with rusty, the bright armour will not brighten the rusty, but the rusty armour will spoil the bright. Such as have had religious education, and have some inclinations to good, by mixing with the wicked, 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 ill 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 goodness. 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 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 good 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, till 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 taken. The flesh is an enemy within: it is a bad counsellor; it says, There is a lion in the way; it discourages from religious strictness; it says as Peter did to Christ, 'Spare thyself;' it says as Judas, 'What needs all this waste?' What needs this praying? Why do you waste your strength and spirits in religion? What needs 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 locks in our way to heaven; they will say, Religion is preciseness and singularity. A wife in the bosom may be a tempter. Job's wife was so. 'Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die.' Job 2: 9. What! still pray? What dost thou get by serving God? Job, where are thy earnings? What canst thou show thou hast had in God's service, but boils and ulcers? And dost thou still retain thy 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 his fiery dart. Beware of carnal relations. 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 is beside himself' 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 advised 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, si mater mihi ubera ostendat, &c. 'If my parent should persuade me to deny Christ, if my mother should show me her breast that gave me suck, if my wife should go to 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 off. Beware of apostasy. He misses the prize who does not hold out in the race; he who makes shipwreck of the faith 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, and others to shoring; 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: 3 8. If you would not miss the glory, take heed of apostasy. Those who fall away, must needs fall short of the kingdom. What, then, must we do? (1) If we would not come short of this heavenly kingdom, let us be much in the exercise of self-denial. 'If any man will come after me, let him deny himself.' Matt 16: 24. He who would go to heaven must deny self righteousness. Cavendum eat a propria justitia [We must beware of our own righteousness]. 'That I may be found in him, not having mine own righteousness.' Phil 3: 9. The spider weaves a web out of her own bowels; so a hypocrite would spin a web of salvation out of his own righteousness. We must deny our civility in point of justification. Civility is a good staff to walk with among men, but it is a bad ladder to climb up to heaven. We must deny our holy things in point of justification. Alas! how are our duties chequered with sin! Put gold in the fire, and there comes out dross; so our most golden services are mixed with unbelief. Deny self- righteousness; use duty, but trust to Christ. Noah's dove made use of her wings to fly, but trusted to the ark for safety! Let duties have your diligence, but not your confidence. Self-denial is via ad regnum [the way to the kingdom]. There is no getting into heaven but through this strait gate of self-denial. (2) The second means for obtaining the kingdom is serious consideration. Most men fall short of heaven for want of consideration. We should often consider what a kingdom heaven is. It is called regnum paratum, a kingdom prepared, which implies something that is rare and excellent. Matt 25: 34. God has prepared in his kingdom such things as 'eye has not seen nor ear heard.' I Cor 2: 9. Heaven is beyond hyperbole. In particular in this celestial kingdom are two things. A stately palace, and a royal feast. The stately palace is large and has several storeys. The dimensions of it are twelve thousand furlongs, or, as it is in some Greek copies, twelve times twelve thousand furlongs, a finite number put for an infinite; no arithmetician can number these furlongs. Rev 21: 15. Though there be an innumerable company of saints and angels in heaven, yet there is infinitely enough room to receive them. The palace of this kingdom is lucid and transparent; it is adorned with light, and the light is sweet. Hell is a dark dungeon, but the palace above is bespangled with light. Col 1: 12. Such illustrious beams of glory shine from God, as shed a brightness and splendour upon the empyrean heaven. This palace of the kingdom is well situated for good air and a pleasant prospect. There is the best air, which is perfumed with the odours of Christ's ointments; and a most pleasant prospect of the bright morning-star. The palace is rich and sumptuous. It has gates of pearl. Rev 21: 21. It is enriched with white robes and crowns of glory; it never falls to decay, and the dwellers in it never die. 'They shall reign for ever and ever.' Rev 22: 5. There is also a royal feast. It is called 'the marriage-supper of the Lamb.' Rev 19: 9. Bullinger and Gregory the Great understood this of the magnificent supper prepared in the kingdom of heaven. A glorious feast it will be in respect of the founder. The glorified saints shall feast their eyes with God's beauty, and their hearts with his love. A delicious feast it will be in respect of the festivity and holy mirth. What joy shall there be in the anthems and triumphs of glorified spirits! Saints and angels shall twist together in an inseparable union of love, and lie in each others' sweet embrace. A royal banquet it will be, where there is no surfeit, because a fresh course is continually served in. The serious consideration of what a kingdom of heaven is, would be a means to quicken our endeavours in the pursuit after it. What causes men to make voyages to the Indies but the consideration of the gold and spices which are to be had there? Did we survey and contemplate the glory of heaven, we should soon take a voyage, and never leave till we had arrived at the celestial kingdom. The Lord's Prayer by Thomas Watson (continued in file 12...) ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: watlp-11.txt .