It was the saying of a servant of Christ, "Every day a Christian spends on earth is a day lost in heaven." He meant it of the place, not the company, for what makes heaven, but union and communion with God in Jesus Christ? This being attainable in this life, what keeps a Christian from living in heaven while he lives upon earth? Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, 1 John 1:3. Our conversation is in heaven, said another apostle, Phil. 3:20. And I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, Galatians 2:20.
These were men on the earth, subject to infirmities as we are, yet living in heaven. And there are yet in this declining, wanton, Christ-denying age, a generation upon earth thus living, whose lives and graces, though hidden under a mean outside, under many reproaches and infirmities, yet shine inwardly with the glory of Christ upon them who, though they are in the world, yet follow the Lord with a different spirit than the spirit of the world; and among these hidden ones of the Lord, this blessed man (the Preacher of these sermons, of whom the world was not worthy) was such a one who, while he was upon earth, lived in heaven. And as you may easily perceive, the end and scope of these sermons is to wind up your heart to a like frame and posture, viz., to take it off of perishing vanities, and to set it on that which is the real and durable substance.
We see upon what weak shoulders the fair neck of all worldly pomp and glory now stands, and how the Lord is winding up and putting an end to the glories of the kingdoms of men, who have not contributed their strength and power to the advancing, but rather to the pulling down and eclipsing of the glory of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Besides what the world tells us, never has an age had more examples laid before them of the world's vanity than in our days. Therefore, our hearts should sit loose to all things that cannot stretch themselves to eternity. The Apostle's reason is full of weight,
It remains that both they that have wives, be as though they had none; and they that weep as though they wept not; and they that rejoiced as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy as though they possessed not; and they that use the world as not abusing it.
And this exhortation he puts on by this argument, The time is short, or as the word is, "The remainder of our season is now folding up, as a veil or curtain into a narrow room."
Time is short and life shorter, and the end of all things is at hand. We have greater things to mind and to set our hearts upon. The divinity of this holy man's spirit did much appear in this, that having much of the comfort that earth could afford him, he still looked upon all creature contentments with the eyes of a stranger, and in order to the raising of his soul to a more holy, humble, serviceable, self-denying walking with God. For a man who enjoys little or nothing in this world to speak much of the world's vanity and emptiness, and of taking the heart off that, is not as much as when a man is surrounded with the confluence of creature comforts then, by a Divine spirit, to tread upon the neck of these things, and to be caught up into third Heaven, bathing, solacing, and satisfying itself with sweet and higher enjoyments, with the more savory and cordial apprehensions it has of Jesus Christ. This is comparable to the one who is made a partaker of the Divine nature, and who lives above the world in the enjoyment of the world.
So now, reader, you have these sermons twice printed: once in the practice of this holy man and once again in these papers which we present to you in this preaching style (though we confess things might have been more contracted) because we find this more desired, more acceptable to his hearers and, if we mistake not, more working upon the affections and more profitable to the greatest number of Christians.
The Lord Jesus be with your spirit, and go along with these, and all his other precious labors, to the furtherance of the joy of your faith, building you up in the inner man, and directing you in the way to your eternal rest.
Thomas Goodwin, William Bridge, William Greenhill, William Adderly, John Yates, Sydrach Simpson, Philip Nye.