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tality to light in the gospel.” The Lord Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness, has dispelled the darkness of the Gentiles, and the shadows of the Jews, and rendered the blessed and eternal state so clear and so visible, that every eye may see it. Our assurance of it is upon infallible principles. And though the excellent glory of it is inexpressible, yet it is represented under variety of fair and lovely types to invite our affections. Besides, God makes an earnest offer of life to us in his word; he commands, counsels, excites, urges, nas entreats and beseeches with infinite tenderness, that men will accept of it. Thus the apostle declares, “ now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead be reconciled to God.” Is it not evident then beyond the most jealous suspicion, God is desirous of our happiness? Can we imagine any design, any insincerity in his words ? Why should heaven court a worm? It is his love to souls that expresses itself in that condescending compassionate manner, to melt and overcome the perverse and hardened in sin.
And as his words, so his works are a convincing argument of his will : his most gracious sustaining and supporting of sinful men, his innumerable benefits conferred upon them, in the provision of good, and preservation from evil, are for this end, that by the conduct of his merciful providence they may be led to repentance, and received into his favour. And the temporal judgments inflicted on sinners, are medicinal in their nature, and in his design to bring them to a sight and abhorrence of sin, to prevent their final ruin : if they prove mortal to any, it is from their obstinate corruption. The time allowed to those who are obnoxious to his justice every hour, is not a mere reprieve from torment, but a space of repentance to sue out a pardon : they are spared in order to salvation. “ The Lord is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to tepentance.” 2 Pet. 3. 9.
But, above all his other works, the giving of his Son to be a sacrifice for sin, is an incomparable demonstration how much he delights in the salvation of men. Since. God has been at such cost to put them into a capacity of obtaining the kingdom of unchangeable glory, far transcending the earthly paradise that was forfeited by sin, we have the strongest assurance that he desires their felicity. And how guilty and miserable will those sinners be, that when Christ has opened heaven to us by his blood, refuse to enter into it ? When Brutus, the most noble Roman, propounded to a philosopher his design to restore Rome to liberty, he replied, that the action would be glorious indeed, but that so many servile spirits that tamely stooped under tyranny, were not worthy that a man of virtue and courage should hazard himself to recover that for them, which they did so lightly esteem. The redemption of mankind is without controversy the master-piece of God's works, wherein his principal attributes appear in their excellent glory. But how astonishing is the unworthiness of men, who wretchedly neglect salvation, which the Son of God purchased by a life full of sorrows, and a death of infinite sufferings? Blessed Redeemer! May it be spoken with the humble, affectionate, and thankful sense of thy dying love, why didst thou give thyself a ransom for those who are charmed with their misery, and with the most foul ingratitude disvalue so precious a redemption ? How justly shall they be for ever deprived of it? “ Behold, ye despisers, and wonder and perish.”
2. Consider, this glorious blessedness shall be the portion of all that unfeignedly choose it, and earnestly seek it. This motive was inclosed in the first, but deserves a separate consideration. And of this we have infallible assurance from the word of God," who cannot lie. Godliness has the promise of the life to come. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation." The hope of a christian is so certain, that it is compared to " an anchor fastened in heaven.” And besides the fidelity of his word, God has given us security of the reward, the life of his Son. This methinks should turn the current of our desires and endeavours to heaven. For notwithstanding all our toil and sweat, the labour of the day and the watchings of the night for the obtaining earthly things, yet we many times fall short of our aims and hopes. It was the observation of the wisest man, “ I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to all.” Indeed such is the order of divine providence in the world, there must be different conditions of men here : some rich, others poor ; some noble, others mean; some in command, others in subjection. And from hence it is also evident, that neither dignity, nor riches, nor pleasures are the happiness of man. For it is not becoming the wisdom and goodness of God to make that the last end of the reasonable creature, which though sought with sincerity and diligence, may not be obtained, or of which without his own consent he may be deprived. But civil distinctions and qualities are of no value and consideration with respect to the obtaining or excluding from heaven. The rich and honourable that are in an exalted state, have not a more easy ascent and entrance into the kingdom of God than those who are in the lowest degree. The stars appear with the same bigness to him that stands in the deepest valley as on the highest hill. Is there any difference between the souls of the rich and great in the world, and the souls of the poor and despised? Are they not equally the offspring of God, and equally ransomed by the most precious blood of his Son ? Are they not equally capable of eternal rewards ? Are not the promises of the heavenly kingdom, equally addressed to every one that has an immortal soul, that is faithful to his duty and covenant with God ? This should inspire all with flaming desires, and draw forth their utmost industry, " and make them steadfast and una moveable, always to abound in the work of the Lord, knowing our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.”
. I know the carnal will is impetuous and impatient of delay; and earnest for what is present, with the neglect of the future glory. But the unreasonableness of this is evident to all: for it is not a new and strange thing to sow in hopes of reaping a harvest, for men to be industrious and active on land and sea for future advantage. Nay, it is the constant practice of the world : the merchant, the husbandman, the student, the soldier, and every man in the circle of his calling are visible instances of this and though many times the most flourishing hopes are blasted, they are not discouraged. And is it not a sight full of wonder, to observe men cheerful in labours and hardships in the service of the world, to carry it so lightly as if they had wings, and all for a poor and uncertain recompence, and to be slow and languid in their endeavours for a reward as great and as sure as God is glorious and true ? How many ambitiously strive to please å prince, and wait long in his service, who is but a man, and therefore variable in his temper and state, sometimes is not willing to do what he can, and sometimes cannot do what he would to reward his servants? And is there not infinitely more reason we should labour to please God, who is the most liberal, and rich, and “ certain rewarder of all that seek him?"
3. Consider how gracious the terms are upon which heaven is promised in the gospel. Our Saviour's laws are so holy, just, and in their own nature so good to men, even in their present performance, that their own excellence, and equity, and sweetness, is sufficient to recommend them without a respect to the glorious reward of obedience. For what can be more desirable than conformity to the nature of the blessed God? What pleasure is coinparable to that which springs from a pure conscience, from a godly, righteous and sober conversation? How joyful is the performance of that service which more immediately is directed to the honour of the divine majesty ? In prayer, and other sacred actions, we draw near to the fountain of felicity, and receive from his fulness. In the affectionate praises of God, we are companions of the angels. And are not integrity and honesty in our dealings with men more easy and comfortable than fraud and oppression ? Is it not troublesome to be always under a mask, to use arts and disguises to avoid the reproach and revenge that attend unjust actions when discovered ? Are temperance and chastity as hurtful to the body, as luxury and lasciviousness, the essential parts of carnal felicity? How miserable is man when the heart is rent with numberless vanities, the affections distracted between various objects! How quiet and composed, when the heart is united to God as the supreme good, and the affections joyfully conspire in his service! Can it then bé pretended that the yoke of Christ is heavy, and his law hard ? Or are his promises uncertain, and his reward small? No, “his commands are not grievous ; in the keeping them there is a great reward,” a present paradise. Religion will make us happy hereafter in the enjoyment of God, and happy here in obedience to his holy will. Such is his goodness, that our duty and happiness are the same.
But it will be said, that the gospel requires “ us to pluck out the right eye, and to cut off the right hand, and to take up the cross of Christ; that is, to mortify the dearest lusts, and to submit to the sharpest sufferings for his honour, that we may be eternally happy.
To this I answer:
lishes such objects as pleasantly insinuate with the carnal senses, and it is bitter as death to bind up the affections from them. But grace gives a “ new divine nature to the soul,” and makes it easy to abstain from fleshly lusts. To make this more clear by a sensible instance : suppose a diseased person, whose stomach is oppressed with corrupt humours, and his throat and mouth so heated with choler and continual thirst, that he thinks it impossible, though for his life, to abstain from immoderate drinking. If a physician by some powerful medicine cleanses the stomach, and tempers the internal heat, he then can easily restrain himself from excess. Thus a carnal man that is full of false estimations, and irregular desires, while there are pleasures without, and passions unsubdued within, though his salvation depends on it, thinks it impossible to restrain the exorbitant appetites of flesh and blood. The “ Gentiles thought it strange, christians did not run with them to the same excess of riot.” But divine grace so clarifies and enlightens the mind, so purifies and elevates the afa fections, that it is not only possible, but easy to abstain from unlawful pleasures. St. Austin before his conversion was astonished, that many in the vigour of youth, and in a frail world lived chastely; and reflecting upon himself, was encouraged by this thought, that which such and such observe, why shall it be impossible to me to observe ? and upon serious trial, by the prosperous influence of heaven, was a conqueror over all carnal temptations, * Nay after his holy change, the withholding his heart from vitious delights, was inexpressibly more sweet than his former enjoying of them. And are there not many visible examples of holy heavenly christians, to whom grosser sensual pleasures are unsavory and contemptible ? You may as well tell the number of the stars, as of those who have practised religion in its strictness and purity, and by their enlightened conversations directed us in the way to heaven. And are their bodies taken from the vein of a rock, and not composed of flesh and blood as well as others ? Are their passions, like Solomon's brazen sea, unmoveable by any winds of temptations ? Are they entirely exempted from the impression of objects, and the lower affections ? No, they are alive, and sensible of those things that ravish the affections of carnal men, but by the power of grace despise and
* Quam suave carere suavetatibus istis?