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ourselves by the same rule. He tells us, when God shall judge every one according to his works (the great business of the judgment day,) eternal life shall be the portion of them, who by patient continuance in well-doing, sought glory, and honor, and immortality : (Rom. 2. 6. 7.) which are but other expressions of the same thing. What can be more plain? They shall have eternal life and glory that seek it; whose hearts are towards it. Again, speaking of true christians, daxgitixws, (that is in a way of contradistinction from Pseudo-christians, such as he saith were enemies of the cross,) he gives us among other, this brand of these latter, that they did mind earthly things, and tells us, their end should be destruction ; but gives us this opposite character of the other, our conversation is in heaven; (Phil. 3. 18.-20.) our trade and business, our daily negotiations, as well as the privileges of our citizenship lie there, as his expression imports, and thence intimates the opposite end of such, whence we look for a Saviour; not destruction, but salvation. And in the same context of Scripture, where they that are risen with Christ, and who shall appear with him in glory, are required to set their mind on things above, and not on things on the earth : (Col. 3. 1, 2, 3, 4.) that we may understand this, not to be their duty only, but their character, we are immediately told, they who follow not this counsel, and mortify not their earthly members. (those lusts that dispose men towards the earth, and to grovel in the dust, as the graces of the Spirit dispose them heavenward, and to converse with glory) are the children of disobedience, upon whom the wrath of God cometh. The faith, the just live by, is the substance of things hoped for, &c. Heb. 1, 13, 16. Such believers are confessed, avowed strangers on earth ; and seekers of the better, the heavenly country, whence it is said, God will not be ashamed to be called their God; plainly implying, that as for low, terrene spirits, that love to creep on the earth, and embrace dunghills, God will be ashamed of them; he will for ever disdain a relation to them, while and as such. And if we will be determined by the express word of our great Redeemer, to whom we owe all the hopes of this blessedness; when he had been advising not to lay up treasure on earth, but in heaven, he presently adds, Where your treasure is, there will your hearts be also. Mat. 6. 19, 20, 21. If thy treasure, thy great interest, thy precious and most valuable good be above, that will attract thy heart, it will certainly be disposed thitherward.
Yet here it must carefully be considered, that inasmuch as this blessedness is thy end, that is, thy supreme good (as the notion of treasure also imports,) thy heart must be set upon it above any other enjoyment; else all is to no purpose. It is not a faint, slight, cver-mastered inclination that will serve the turn, but (as all the forementioned scriptures import) such as will bespeak it a man's business to seek heaven, his main work; and give
the flesh; in which they shall not hunger, nor thirst, nor feel want : and when they have thus stated the matter in their own thoughts, we cannot beat them out of it, but that they desire to go to heaven (namely, the heaven of their own making ;) when, did they conceive it truly and fully, they would find their hearts to abhor it, even as hell itself. Therefore here we should exercise an authority over ourselves, and awaken conscience to its proper work and business; and demand of it, is it not reasonable these divine discoveries should take place with me; hath not God spoken plainly enough? why should my heart any longer hang in doubt with me, or look wishfully towards future glory, as if it were an uncouth thing ? or is it reasonable to confront my own imaginations to his discoveries ? Charge conscience with the duty it owes to God in such a case; and let his revelations be received with the reverence and resignation which they challenge ; and in them study and contemplate the blessedness of awakened souls, till you have agreed with yourself fully how to conceive it. Run over every part of it in your thoughts; view the several divine excellencies which you are hereafter to see and imitate : and think what every thing will contribute to the satisfaction and contentment of your spirits. This is a matter of unspeakable consequence. Therefore, to be as clear as is possible, you may digest what is recommended to you in these more particular directions.
(1.) Resolve with yourselves, to make the divine revelation of this blessedness the prime measure and reason of all your apprehensions concerning it. Fix that purpose in your own hearts, so to order all your conceptions about it, that when you demand of yourselves, what do I conceive of the future blessedness? and why do I conceive so ? the divine revelation may answer both the questions. I apprehend what God hath revealed, and because he hath so revealed. The Lord of heaven sure best understands it, and can best help us to the understanding of it. If it be said of the origin of this world, riger vošusy, it may much more be said of the state of the other, we understand it by faith : (Heb. 11. 5.) that must inform and perfect our intellectuals in this matter.
(2.) Therefore reject and sever from the notion of this blessedness, whatsoever is alien to the account Scripture gives us of it, Think not that sensual pleasure, that a liberty of sinning, that an exemption from the divine dominion, distance and estrangedness from God (which by nature you wickedly affect) can have any ingrediency into, or consistency with, this state of blessedness.
(3.) Gather up into it whatsoever you can find by the scripture-discovery to appertain or belong thereto. Let your potion of it be to your uttermost, not only true, but comprehensive and full, and as particular and positive, as God's revelation will war
rant: especially remember it is a spiritual blessedness, that consists in the refining and perfecting of your spirits by the vision and likeness of the holy God, and the satisfying of them thereby for ever.
(4.) Get the notion of this blessedness deeply imprinted in your minds; so as to abide with you, that you may not be always at a loss, and change your apprehensions every time you come to think of it. Let a once well-formed idea, a clear, full state of it be preserved entire, and be (as a lively image ) always before your eyes, which you may readily view upon all occasions.
2. That having well fixed the notion of this blessedness in your minds, you seriously reflect upon yourself, and compare the temper of your spirit with it; that you may find out how it is affected thereto; and thence judge in what likelihood you are of enjoying it. The general aversion of men's spirits to this so necessary work of self-reflection, is one of the most deplorable symptoms of lapsed degenerated humanity. The wickedness that hath over-spread the nature of man; and a secret consciousness and misgiving hath made men afraid of themselves, and studiously to decline all acquaintance with their own souls; to shun themselves as ghosts and spectres; they cannot endure to appear to themselves. You can hardly impose a severer task upon a wicked man, than to go retire an hour or two, and commune with himself; he knows not how to face his own thoughts: his own soul is a devil to him, as indeed it will be in hell, the most frightful, tormenting devil. Yet, what power is there in man, more excellent, more appropriate to reasonable nature, than that of reflecting, of turning his thoughts upon himself? Sense must here confess itself outdone. The eye that sees other objects cannot see itself: but the mind, a rational sun, cannot only project its beams, but revert them; make its thoughts turn inward. It can see its own face, contemplate itself. And how useful an endowment is this to the nature of man? If he err, he might perpetuate his error, and wander infinitely, if he had not this self-reflecting power; and if he do well, never know without it the comfort of a rational self-approbation : which comfort paganish morality hath valued so highly, as to account it did associate a man with the inhabitants of heaven, and make him lead his life as among the gods (as their pagan language is ;) though the name of the reflecting power conscience, they were less acquainted with; the thing itself they reckoned as a kind of indwelling deity, as may be seen at large in those discourses of Maximus Tyrius, and Apuleius, both upon the same subject, concerning the god of Socrates. And another giving this precept. Familiarize thyself with the gods, adds, Euç ñ dsvīs suga oè déos ó συνεχώς δεικνυς εαυτούς την έαυσέ ψύχην, αρεσκομένην μέντο τους απονεμομένους, ποιέσαν δε όσα βάλεται ο δαίμων, ον εκάςω παραάς την &c.έτος δέ εςιν εκάς και νες noch nóyos. Marc. Anton. lib. “ and this shalt thou do if thou bear
thy mind becomingly towards them, being well pleased with the things they give, and doing the things that may please thy dæmon or genius, whom ( saith he) the most high God (which they mean by Jupiter) hath put into every man, as a derivation or extraction fronı himself (áróoradua) to be his president and guide ; namely, every one's own mind and reason. And this mind, or reason in that notion of it, as we approve ourselves to it, and study to please it, is the same thing we intend by the name of conscience. And how high account they had of this work of self-reflection, may appear in that they entitled the oracle to that document, guãds oeautòv know thyself, Ecælo descendit, came down from heaven esteeming it above human discovery, and that it could have no lower than a divine original ; and therefore consecrating and writing it up in golden characters in their delphic temple (as Pliny informs* us) for a heavenly inspired dictate.
Among christians that enjoy the benefit of the gospel-revelation, in which men may behold themselves, as one may his natural face in a glass, how highly should this self-knowledge be prized, and how fully attained? The gospel discovers, at the same time, the ugly deformities of a man's soul, and the means of attaining a true spiritual comeliness; yea, it is itself the instrument of impressing the divine image and glory upon men's spirits : which when it is in any measure done, they became sociable and conversable with themselves, and when it is but in doing it so convincingly, and with so piercing energy, lays open the very thoughts of men's hearts, (Heb. 4. 12.) so thoroughly rips up and dissects the soul, so directly turns, and strictly holds a man's eye intent upon himself ; so powerfully urges and obliges the sinner to mind and study his own soul; that where it hath effected any thing, been any way operative upon men's spirits, they are certainly supposed to be in a good measure acquainted with themselves, whatever others are. Therefore the apostle bids the Corinthians, if they desire a proof of the power and truth of his ministry, to consult themselves, examine yourselves, and presently subjoins, know ye not your own selves ? (2 Cor. 13. 5.) intimating, it was an insupposable thing they should be ignorant. What! christians and not know yourselves ? Can you have been under the gospel so long, and be strangers to yourselves? none can think it. Sure it is a most reproachful thing, a thing full of ignominy and scandal, that a man should name himself a christian, and yet be under gross ignorance, touching the temper and bent of his soul. It signifies, that such a one understands little of the design and tendency of the very religion he pretends to be of, that he was a christian by mere chance that he took up and continues his profession in a dream. Chris
* Hist. Mundi. The wisdom and significancy of which dedication Plato also in Alcibiad. 1.) takes notice of.
tianity aims at nothing, it gets a man nothing, if it do not procure him a better spirit, it is an empty insignificant thing, it hath no design in it at all, if it do not design this. It pretends to nothing else. It doth not offer men secular advantages, emoluments, honors; it hath no such aim to make men in that sense rich, or great, or honorable, but to make them holy, and fit them for God. He therefore loses all his labor and reward, and shows himself a vain trifler in the matters of religion, that makes not this the scope and mark of his christian profession and practice; and herein he can do nothing without a constant self-inspection. As it therefore highly concerns, it well becomes a christian under the gospel, to be in a continual observation and study of himself, that he may know to what purpose he is a christian ; and take notice, what (or whether any) good impressions be yet made upon his spirit; whether he can gain any thing by his religion. And if a man enter nipon an inquiry into himself, what more important question can he put than this, In what posture am I as to my last and chief end? how is my spirit framed towards it? This is the intendment and business of the gospel, to fit souls for blessedness: and therefore, if I would inquire, what am I the better for the gospel ? this is the sense and meaning of that very question, Is my soul wrought by it to any better disposition for blessedness ? Upon which the resolution of this depends, Am I ever likely to enjoy it, yea or no ? That which may make any heart not deplorably stupid, shake and tremble, that such a thing should be drawn into question : but the case with the most requires it, and it must be so. It is that therefore I would fain here awaken souls to, and assist them in; that is, propound something (in pursuance of the present direction) which might both awaken them to move this great question, and help them in discussing it. Both which will be done in shewing the importance of this latter ultimate question in itself, and then the subserviency of the former subordinate one, towards the deciding it. These two things therefore I shall a little stay upon :—to shew and urge the requisiteness of debating with ourselves, the likelihood or hopefulness of our enjoying this blessedness, and—to discover that the present habitude, or disposedness of our spirits to it, is a very proper apt medium, whereby to judge thereof.
(1.) As to the former of these. Methinks our business should do itself: and that the very mention of such a blessedness, should naturally prompt souls to bethink themselves. Doth it belong to me? have I any thing to do with it? Methinks every one that hears of it should be beforehand with me, and prevent me here. Where is that stupid soul that reckons it an indifferest thing to attain this blessed state, or fall short of it? When thou hearest this is the common expectation of saints, to behold the face of God, and be satisfied with his likeness, when they awake; canst thou forbear to say with thyself, and what shall be