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glory, think on the other hand, what can be gained instead of it.
Fancy yourself living in all the ease and pleasure that the world can give you, esteemed by your friends, undisturbed by your enemies, and gratify, ing all your natural tempers. If you could stand still in such a state, you might say that you had got something; but alas! every day that is added to such a life, is the same thing as a day taken from it, and shows you that so much happiness is gone from you; for be as happy as you will, you must see it all sinking away from you; you must feel yourself decline; you must see that your time shortens apace; you must hear of sudden deaths; you must fear sickness; you must both dread and desire old age; you must fall into the hands of death; you must either die in the painful, bitter sorrows of a deep repentance, or in a sad, gloomy despair, wishing for mountains to fall upon you, und seas to cover you. And is this a happiness to be chosen ? Is this all that you can gain by neglecting God, by following your own desire, and not labouring after Christian perfection ? Is it worth your while to separate yourself from God, to lose your share in the realms of light, to be thus happy, or I may better say, to be thus miserable, even in this life? You may be so blind and foolish, as not to think of these things; but it is impossible to think of them without labouring after Christian perfection. It may be you are too young, too happy, or too busy to be affected with these reflections; but let me tell you, that all will be over before you are aware; your day will be spent, and leave you to such a night as that which surprised the foolish virgins. And at midnight there was a great cry made, Behold the bride
Matt. xxv. 6. groom cometh, go ye out to meet him.
The last hour will soon be with you, when you will have nothing to look for, but your reward in
another life; when you will stand with nothing but eternity before you, and must begin to be something that will be your state for ever.
I can no more. reach heaven with my hands, than I can describe the sentiments that you will then have; you will then feel motions of heart that you never felt before; all your thoughts and reflections will pierce your soul, in a manner that
you never before
experienced; and you will feel the immortality of your nature by the depth and piercing vigour of
your thoughts. You will then know what it is to die; you will then know, that you never knew it before, that you never thought worthily of it; but that dying thoughts are as new and amazing, as that state which follows them.
Let me therefore exhort you to come prepared to this time of trial; to look out for comfort, whilst the day is before you: to treasure up such a fund of good and pious werks, as may make you able to bear that state, which cannot be borne without thein. Could I any way make you apprehend, how dying men feel the want of a pious life; how they lament time lost, health and strength squandered away in folly; how they look at eternity, and what they think of the rewards of another life, you would soon find yourself one of those, who desire to live in the highest state of piety and perfection, that by this means you may grow old in peace, and die in full hopes of eternal glory.
Consider again, that besides the rewards of the other life, the labouring after Christian perfection, or devoting yourself wholly to God, has a great reward even in this life, as it makes religion doubly pleasant to you. Whilst you are divided betwixt God and the world, you have neither the pleasures of religion, nor the pleasures of the world; but are always in the uneasiness of a divided state of heart. You have only so much religion as serves to disquiet you; to check your enjoyments; to show you a hand-writing upon the wall; to interrupt your pleasures; to reproach you with your follies; and to appear as a death's-head at all your feasts; but not religion enough to give you a taste and feeling of its proper pleasures and satisfactions. You dare not wholly neglect religion; but then you take no more of it, than is just sufficient to keep you from being a terror to yourself: and you are as loath to be very good, as you are fearful to be very bad. So that you are just as happy as the slave, that dares not run away from his master, and yet always serves him against his will. So that instead of having a religion that is your comfort in all troubles, your religion is itself a trouble, under which you want to be comforted; and those days and times hang heaviest upon your hands, which leave you only to the offices and duties of religion. Sunday would be very dull and tiresome but that it is but one day in seven, and is made a day of dressing and visiting, as well as of divine service: you do not care to keep away from the public worship, but are always glad when it is over. This is the state of a half-piety; thus they live who add religion to a worldly life; all their religion is mere yoke and burden, and is only made tolerable by having but little of their time.
Urbanus goes to church, but he hardly knows whether he goes out of a sense of duty, or to meet his friends. He wonders at those people who are profane, and what pleasure they can find in irreligion; but then he is in as great a wonder at those who would make every day a day of divine worship; he feels no more of the pleasures of piety, than of the pleasures of profaneness. As religion has every thing from him but his heart, so he has every thing from religion but its comforts. Urbanus likes religion, because it seems an easy way of pleasing God; a decent thing, that takes up but little of our time, and is a proper mixture in life. But
if he was reduced to take comfort in it, he would be as much at a loss as those who have lived without God in the world. When Urbanus thinks of joy, and pleasure, and happiness, he does not think at all of religion. He has gone through a hundred misfortụnes, fallen into variety of hardships; but never thought of making religion his comfort in any of them; he makes himself quiet and happy in another mauner. He is content with his Christianity, not because he is pious, but because he is not profane. He continues in the same course of religion, not because of any real good he ever found in it, but because it does it him no hurt.
To such poor purposes as these do numbers of people profess" Christianity. Let me, therefore, exhort you to a solid piety, to devote yourself wholly unto God, that entering deep into religion you may enter deep into its comforts, that serving God with all your heart, you may have the peace and pleasure of a heart that that is at unity with itself. When your conscience once bears you witness, that you are stedfast, im, moveable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord, you will find that your reward is already begun, and that you could not be less devout, less holy, less charitable, or less humble, without lessening the most substantial pleasure that ever you felt in your life. So that to be content with any lower attainments in piety, is to rob ourselves of a present happiness, which nothing else can give us.
You would, perhaps, devote yourself to perfection, but for this or that little difficulty that lies in your way; you are not in so convenient a state for the full practice of piety as you could wish. But consider that this is nonsense, because perfection consists in conquering difficulties. You could not be perfect, as the present state of trial requires, bad you not those difficulties and inconveniences to struggle with. · These things therefore, which you
would have removed, are laid in your way, that you may make them so many steps to perfection and glory.
As you could not exercise your charity, unless you met with objects, so neither could you show that you had overcome the world, unless you
had many worldly engagements to overcome. If all your
friends and acquaintance were derout, humble, heavenly-minded, and wholly intent upon the one end of life, it would be less perfection in you to be like them. But if you are humble amongst those that delight in pride; heavenly-minded amongst the worldly; sober amongst the intemperate; devout amongst the irreligious; and labouring after perfection amongst those that despise and ridicule your labours; then are you truly devoted unto God. Čonsider therefore that you can have no difficulty but such as the world lays in your way, and that perfection is never to be had, but by parting with the world. It consists in nothing else. To stay therefore to be perfect, till it suits with your condition in the world, is like staying to be charitable till there were no objects of charity. It is as if a man should intend to be courageous some time or other, when there is nothing left to try his courage.
Again; You perhaps turn your eyes upon the world; you see all orders of people full of other cares and pleasures; you see the generality of clersy and laity, learned and unlearned, your friends and acquaintance, mostly living according to the spirit that reigneth in the world; you are, perhaps, content with such a piety, as you think contents great scholars and famous men; and, it may be, you cannot think that God will reject such numbers of Christians. Now all this is amusing yourself with nothing; it is only losing yourself in vain imaginations: it is making that a rule which is no rule, and cheating yourself into a false satisfaction. As you are not censoriously to damn other people; so