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their ability to live above, their sublime nature, their acting like Angels, their reflex acts, their immateriality, the addresles God makes to them, the threatnings and promises of the Gospel, the Devil's busie endeavours to undermine them, the presages they have, the joy they feel, the torments of Conscience, they endure sometimes, all proclaim, the certainty of an eternal state or condition they are intended for.
This eternal state imprinted on our Natures, discover'd to the Gentiles, proclaim'd by the Son of God, preach'd by Angels, confirm'd by Apostles, reveald to Christians, believ'd in the World, as it relates either to Bliss or Misery, to Joy or Torment, to Honour or Dishonour ; lo how to enjoy the one, and avoid the other, must, in all 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 Luíts, when he hath given them Souls ca-pable, not only of labouring and seeking after, but obtaiping a Kingdom which fades not away; and when we sweat, and toil, and labour, to make provision for twenty, thirty, forty years, what do we do, but proclaim our obligation to be infinitely more concernd, 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 an 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 felves from the wrath to come.
He that takes a view of God's proceedings and dealings with Men, ever since the Creation of the World, cannot but stand amaz'd at the cost, and labour, and pains, and means, and motives, and arguments, God hath usd to make men fenlible 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 suitable and agreeable to the nature of the end. And Heaven being a holy Place, perfect Holiness reigning there, it's not to be imagin'd, how perfection of Holiness can be enter'd upon, without a considerable progress in Holiness here, no man reaching the highest step of a Ladder without the lowermost; and one might as well flatter himself, that his Trade by such a time 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 inno cence, which is above, is to compleat what is begun here, and what purity there is in those everlasting Mansions, is to crown that Sanctity, the Soul arrived to here, and the Light that shines there, is only to mingle with that wbich did illuminate the Soul in this lower World, so that if there be no light in our Spirits here, there can be no Light mingled with it hereafter, for God is Light, and his Heaven is nothing else but Light, and as Light cannot mingle with Darkness, nor Fire with Snow; fo 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, fo numerous, so potent before the Law, under the Law, and under the Gospel, that one may justly admire, the whole World doch 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-liy'd Patriarchs with sinful men, to improve the light of Nature, that Primar of Di. vinity, 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 honour'd him, and the signal Blessings he bestow'd on those that made him their highcft 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 Supreme Law-giver, buç God raised, and sent forth Preachers of Righteousness to give them notice of his Will, and their Duty; and when all Fleh had corrupted its ways, Noah, and his Sons in all likelihood, became Preachers itinerant, who in those hundred and twenty years, which God allotted the Rebels for Repentance, travelled about the habi. table World, and forwarn'd every nian, and bid them by Prayer, and serious turning to God, secure his favour here, and his more neceflary Mercy hereafter. And soafter the Floud, when Vice and Folly had made men forget the stu: pendous Deluge, the Almighty had sent on their Fathers, to cool their Hellish Lusts, Abraham is set up as a mark of God's Love and Bounty, and on him are conferr'd both the upper and nether Springs of Mercy, that by his pious Example, the vicious Generation might be recalled from their evil ways, and persuaded into serious thoughts of another World, and so on vill Moses his time; in a word, in Abraham's Posterity were such wonders wrought, as were enough, had not men shut their eyes, to engage them to all that strictness and circumspection, which Heaven and a better Life requires.
Under the Law, God was so far from being weary of using means, and taking paims with Men in order to this end, that he seem'd to have reserv'd those Ages for larger and fuller Demonftrations of his Power and Munificence ; and if the People of Lyftra had any ground for their exclamation, the Jews had far greater reason to
cry out, That God was come down to Ads 14. 11. them in the likeness of men. For
while other Countries were left in darkness, and, like Moles, suffer'd to wander in the shadow and valley of Death, they, as if they had been made of purer Clay, seem'd to be the Darlings of Providence, and the Favourites of Heaven. · Heaven bow'd to them, and under its protection they went, as under a Canopy of State, and might, with greater reason than the Sultan, have challeng'd that lofty Title, The Madow of God; and with that Persian Emperour, styled themselves, Kinsmen of the Stars. Their eyes saw Miracles almost every day; and with their daily Bread, they receiv'd daily Prodigies ; Six hundred thousand men faw the Red Sea divided. They saw how with the blast of God's Nostrils, the Waters were gathered together, how the Floods stood upright as an Heap, and the Depths were congealed in the heart of the Sea. The Enemy laid, I will pur. sue, I will overtake, I will divide the Spoil ; my Lust shall be satisfied upon them, I will draw my Sword, my Hand shall destroy thein. But the Almighty blew with his Wind, the Sea covered them, they fank as Lead in the mighty Waters. This the Hebrews faw, They saw it and re