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Τ Η Ε
Nature, Usefulness, and Necessity of it,
in order to a Serious Life.
CH A P. I. The Nature of our Souls. The Eternal State they are
designd for. The Means God hath made use of, to fit Men for everlasting Bliss. All these Means ineffectual without Conhderation.
HAT we are design’d for Nobler
Businesses in this World, (an Happiness, which Beasts arrive to as well as we) the, great Souls we carry in our Breasts, do evidently. demonstrate. These being capable of knowing God, of delighting in him, and conversing with him for ever, we may rationally suppose, That those, who suffer the Profits and Pleasures of this present World, to engross their Affections, go aItray and err from the great end of their Creation.
While the Atheist laughs at the Immortality of his Soul, and the Prophane sells his better part to the Devil, the Religious, who will prove the only wife Man in the end, and who hath none of those clouds and mists, the other are troubled with, before his eyes, sees clearly what a Treasure the bountifull hand of Heaven hath bestow'd on him, in shedding abroad so Excellent, fo Angeliçal a Being in his Body, a foul that can build her Nest among the Stars of Heaven, walk through yonder Mansions, and taste of the Rivers which make glad the City of God; a Sout which can wing her above the Clouds, and survey the Crowns and Scepters laid up for those that dare despise the World, and have their conversation in Heaven; a Soul which can live in paradise, while the Body is in trouble, and rejoyce in him who is All in All, while the fierce Winds are whistling about her ears. The vast reach of these Souls, we have,
for they can comprehend whole Worlds, and dive into the Causes, Ends, and Designs of Things, and in a moment flie from one end of the Earth unto the other, their fitness to receive Divine Illumination their strong defires after Immortality, their fecret actings without the help of a Body, their hopes of Heaven, their fears of Hell, their capacity of feeing Things to come, their ability to live above, their sublime Nature, their acting like Angels, their reflex Acts, their Immateriality, the Addresses God makes to them, the threatnings and promifes of the Gospel, the Devil's bufie endeavours to’un. dermine them the presages they have, the joys they
, the torments of Conscience they endure some. times, all proclaim the certainty of an Eternal, State or Condition they are intended for.
This Eternal State imprinted on our Natures, discovered to the Gentiles, proclaim'd by the Son of God, Preach'd by Angels, confirm’d by Apostles, reveald to Christians, believed in the World, as it relates either to Bliss or Misery, to joy or Torment, to Honour or Dishonour; so how to enjoy the one and avoid the other, must, in alf probability, be the great object which God design’d Men's Souls should be chiefly employ'd about.
For as there cannot be a thing of greater moment than Eternity; so he must be a Sot or a Beast, that can imagine, that God who ever intends the noblest Creatures for the noblest Ends, will give Men leave to busie themselves about picking of straws, and pleasing a few sensual Lufts, when he hath given them Souls capable, not only of labouring and seeking after, but ob taining a Kingdom which fades not away; and when we sweat, and toil and labour to make provision for 20, 30, 40, years, what do we do, but proclaim our obligation to be infinitely more concerned, how to provide for that State which must never have an end?
And as it was the Goodness and Wisdom of God, to make us capable of everlasting duration; so we should be injurious to both, if we did not suppose, that God hath order'd and appointed means, whereby it's possible to save our selves from the wrath to come. He that takes a view of God's Proceedings B 2
and Dealings with Men, ever since the Creation of the World, cannot but stand amazed at the cost, and labour, and pains, and means, and motives, and arguments, God hath used to make Men sensible of their everlasting Interest, and to engage them to a serious preparation for that World they must live for ever in.
This serious Preparation must necessarily be a holy, blameless, spotless Life ; for the Means must ever be sutable and agreeable to the nature of the end. And Heaven being a Holy Place, perfeit Holiness reigning there, it's not to be imagined, how perfection of Holiness can be entred upon, without a considerable progress in Holiness here, no Man reaching the highest step of a Ladder with out the lowermost; and one might as well flatter himself, that his Trade by such a tiine will bring him in Ten thousand Pounds, when he is so far from minding his Trade, that he contrives only how to run with others into excess of Riot.
Who ever hoped for a crop of Corn without sowing any ? Or who ever expected Tulips should grow in his Garden without planting such Roots as must produce them ? the Innocence which is above, is to compleat what is begun here; and what purity there is in these everlasting Mansions, is to crown that Sanctity, the Soul arrived to here; and the Light that shines there, is only to mingle with that which did illuminate the Soul in this lower World; so that if there be no light in our Spirits here, there can no light mingle with it hereafter, for God is Light, and his Heaven is nothing else but Light, and as Light cannot
miogle with Darkness, nor Fire with Snow; 10 Holiness hereafter can mingle with no Soul, but what comes attended with the light of Holiness.
And indeed to plant this Holiness in Men, the means have been so various, so numerous, so potent before the Law, under the Law, and under the Gospel, that one may justly admire the whole World doth not stand Candidate for Heaven, and all the Inhabitants of the Earth do not take the Kingdom of God by Violence. : Before the Law, the continual pleadings of the long-liv’d Patriarchs with sinful Men, to improve the Light of Nature, that Primar of Divinity, the many Visions, Revelations, Dreams, Signs, Wonders, Voices from Heaven, the Ministery of Angels, God's Patience, Forbearance, Long-suffering, and sometimes exemplary Justice, the Examples of Holy Men, God's Love to those that honoured him, and the signal Blessings he bestow'd on those that made him their highest and chiefest good; what were all these but so many Calls and Entreaties, that men would by Holiness, prepare for a future Happiness?
No sooner did the World drop into Luxury and contempt of the Supream Law-giver, but God raised and feat forth Preachers of Righteousness, to give them notice of his Will, and their Duty; and when all flesh had corrupted its ways, Noah and his Sons, in all likelihood became Preachers itinerant, who, in those 120 Years, which God allotted the Rebels for Repentance, travelled about the habitable World, and forewarned every Man, and bid them by Prayer, and serious turning