Page images
PDF
EPUB

compense, we shall do it in private, as well as in the view of the world; knowing that wherever we are, we are under God's eye, who alone can make us happy or miserable for ever. In a word, if we seriously mind the glory that is set before us, we shall be as curious of our thoughts and secret purposes as if they were to be exposed upon an open theatre; considering that they are all open and naked to that God with whom we have to do, and upon whom the hope of our immortal happiness depends. For to what purpose should we dissemble and play the hypocrites, unless we could impose upon the Almighty, and make him believe that we are good when we are not, and so steal to heaven in a vizard ?

Fourthly and lastly, From hence it is visible, what great reason we have to be cheerful under the afflictions and miseries of this world, considering what glories and felicities there are prepared for us in the world to come: indeed all the miseries of this world are more or less, as we have more or less reason to be supported under them ; but when we consider that our time here is but a moment, compared with our everlasting abode in the world to come, our present happiness and misery will appear to be very inconsiderable. We are now upon our journey towards our heavenly country, and it is no great matter how rough the way is, provided that heaven be our journey's end : for though here we want many of those accommodations which we may expect and desire, yet this is but the common fate of travellers, and we must be contented to take things as we find them, and not look to have every thing just to our mind. But all these difficulties and in

[ocr errors]

conveniencies will shortly be over, and after a few days will be quite forgotten, and be to us 'as if they never had been : and when we are safely landed in our own country, we shall look back from the shore with pleasure and delight upon those boisterous seas which we have escaped, and for ever bless the storms and winds that drove us thither. Wherefore hold, O my faith and patience, a little longer, and your work will soon be at an end, and all my sighs and groans within a few moments will expire into everlasting songs and hallelujahs : Νύν μεν αι ημέραι ημών πονηραι, άλλαι δέ τινες εισιν αγαθαι, ας νυξ ου διακόπτοι. έσται γάρ ο Θεός αυτών φώς αιώνιον, καταλάμπων αυτάς τα φωτί της εαυτού δόξης. . “ Now our days are dark and gloomy, “ but the bright glorious day is dawning, which “ night shall never interrupt; for God himself is the “ eternal sun, that enlightens us with the bright

rays of his own glory.” And what is a little cloudy weather compared with an everlasting sunshine ? Doubtless these light afflictions, which are but for a moment, are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. Let us therefore comfort ourselves with these things, and while we are groaning under the miseries of this life, let us encourage ourselves with this consideration; that within a little, little while all our tears shall be wiped from our eyes, and there shall be an everlasting period put to all our sorrows and miseries; when we shall be removed from all the troubles and temptations of a wicked and ill-natured world, be past all storms, and secured from all further danger of shipwreck, and be safely landed in the regions of bliss and immortality. And can we complain of the foulness of a way that leads into a

66

[ocr errors]

paradise of endless delights, and not cheerfully undergo these short though bitter throes, which, like the Virgin-mother's, will quickly end in songs and everlasting magnificats? Cheer up therefore, O my crest-fallen soul, for thy bitter passion will soon be at an end; and though now thou art sailing in a tempestuous sea, yet a few leagues off lies that blessed port, where thou shalt be crowned as soon as thou art landed : and then the remembrance of the storms thou hast passed will contribute to the triumphs of thy coronation; and all the bad entertainments "thou meetest with in this life will but make earth more loathsome to thee while thou art here, and heaven more welcome when thou comest there; and these thy light afflictions, which are but for a moment, will work for thee a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 2 Cor. iv. 17.

CHAP. VI.

Of the necessity of mortification, to the obtaining of eternal

life. I COME now to the second thing proposed, namely, that the eternal life and happiness of good men depends upon their mortifying the deeds of the body': and that it doth so, I shall endeavour to prove,

First, From God's ordination and appointment. Secondly, From the nature of the thing.

I. From God's ordination and appointment. God, who is the supreme Governor of the world, hath proposed eternal life as an encouragement to those who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality : and supposing that wicked men could enjoy the happiness of the other world, yet it would be inconsistent with the wisdom of his government to admit them to it. For should he reward offenders with eternal happiness, who would be afraid of offending him ? And if once he rules with such a slack and indulgent rein, as to take away all reason of fear from his subjects, his government must immediately dissolve into anarchy and confusion. And therefore to prevent this, he hath fairly warned us by his reiterated threats, that if we live in disobedience to his laws, we shall be for ever banished from that kingdom of happiness which he hath prepared for those that love and fear him: so in Rom. viii. 13. we are assured, that if we live after the flesh, we shall die : and in Gal. v. 19, 20, 21. we are told, that the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God: and so 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. Know ye not (says the apostle) that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived : neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And to the same purpose the same apostle tells us, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of God, Ephes. v. 5. All which dreadful denunciations must be supposed to be conditional; for else they are not consistent with the promise of pardon to those that truly repent: so that the meaning of them is plainly this; that if we persevere in these lusts of the flesh, and do not mortify them, we shall have no part nor portion in the kingdom of God. Hence the apostle exhorts us, Coloss. iii. 5, 6. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth, fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: for which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience. Which implies, that if they did mortify these lusts, the wrath of God should not come upon them; but if they did not, they should be liable to the divine indignation among the children of disobedience. By all which it is apparent, that according to God's free ordination and appointment, our eternal happiness and welfare depends upon our mortifying the deeds of the body, since God hath so ordained, that if we do mortify them, we shall live, and that if we do not, we shall be for ever excommunicated from the regions of life and immortality.

II. This is also apparent from the nature of the thing. For if God had not excluded those that live in their sins from eternal life, by his own free ordination, yet they must have been excluded, the future happiness being so inconsistent with a vicious state, that it is impossible ever to reconcile them. For the thing itself implies a contradiction, and is not an object of any power, no not of omnipotence itself; and God may as well make white to be black, while it is white, as a vicious soul to be happy, while

« PreviousContinue »