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for a better world, than better spirits; that seem to think all the happiness they are capable of on earth, is bound up in this or that external state of things ? Not that the care of all public concernments should be laid aside; least of all, a just solicitude for the church's welfare : but that should not be pretended, when our own interest is the one thing with us. And when we are really solicitious about the church's interests, we should state them aright. God designs the afflictions of his people for their spiritual good, therefore that is a much greater good than their exemption from suffering these evils; otherwise his means should eat up his end; and be more expensive than that will countervail ; which were an imprudence no man of tolerable discretion would be guilty of. We should desire the outward prosperity of Sion, for it is a real good; but inasmuch as it hath in it the goodness, not of an end, but only (and that but sometimes neither) of a means ; not a constant but a mutual goodness; not a principal, but a lesser subordinate goodness; we must not desire it absolutely, nor chiefly, but with submissive limited desires. If our hearts are grieved to hear of the sufferings of the church of God in the world, but not of their sins; If we more sensibly regret at any time, the persecutions and oppressions they undergo, than their spiritual distempers, their earthliness, pride, cold love to God, fervent animosities towards each other; it speaks an uninstructed, carnal mind. We take no right measures of the interests of religion, or the church's welfare, and do most probably mistake ourselves as much in our judging of our own; and measure theirs by our mistaken model. And this is the mischievous cheat many put upon
their own souls, and would obtrude too often
others too; that overlooking the great design of the gospel, to transform men's spirits and change them into the divine likeness, they think it is religion enough to espouse a party, and adopt an opinion; and then vogue themselves friends to religion according to the measure of their zeal for their own party or opinion ; and give a very preg. nant proof of that zeal, by magnifying or inveighing against the times, according as they favor or frown upon their empty, unspirited religion. It being indeed such (a secret consciousness whereof they herein bewray) as hath no other life in it, than what it owes to external favor and countenance. And therefore all public rebukes are justly apprehended mortal to it; whereas the substantial religion that adequately answers the design, and is animated by the spirit of the gospel, possesses the souls of them that own it, with a secure confidence, that it can live in any times, and hold their souls in life also. Hence they go on their way with a free unsolicitous cheerfulness, enjoying silently in their own bosoms, that repose and rest which naturally results from a sound and well-composed temper of spirit. They know
their happiness depends upon nothing without them.*
That they hold it by a better tenure than that of the world's courtesy. They can be quiet in the midst of storms, and abound in the want of all things. They can in patience possess their own souls, and in them a vital spring of true pleasure, when they are driven out of all other possessions. They know the living sense of these words, That the good man is satisfied from himself: that to be spiritually-minded is life and peace: that nothing can harm them that are followers of the good : that the way to see good days, is to keep their tongue from evil, and their lips from speaking guile, to depart from evil and do good, to seek peace and pursue it. They cannot live in bad times; they carry that about them that will make the worst days good to them. Surely they can never be happy in the best times, that cannot be so in any. Outward prosperity is quite besides the purpose to a distempered soul; when nothing else troubles, it will torment itself. Besides, we cannot command at pleasure the benign aspects of the world, the smiles of the times; we may wait a life's-time, and still find the same adverse posture of things towards us from without. What dotage is it to place our blessedness in something to us impossible, that lies wholly out of our power; and in order whereto we have nothing to do, but sit down and wish; and either faintly hope, or ragingly despair? We cannot change times and seasons, nor alter the course of the world, create new heavens and new earth. Would we not think ourselves mocked, if God should command us these things in order to our being happy? It is not our business, these are not the affairs of our own province (blessed be God it is not so large) further than as our bettering ourselves may conduce thereto; and this is that which we may do and ought: it is our proper work, in obedience and subordination to God as his instruments, to govern and cultivate our own spirits, to intend the affairs of that his kingdom in us (where we are his authorized viceroys,) that consist in righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. We can be benign to ourselves, if the world be not so to us; cherish and adorn our inward man; that though the outward man be exposed daily to perish (which we cannot help, and therefore concerns us not to take thought about it,) the inward man may be renewed day by day. We can take care that our souls may prosper, that through our oscitant neglect they be not left to languish and pine away in their own iniquities. They may be daily fed with the heavenly hidden manna, and with the fruits of
* Ιδιω' τα πα' σις και χαρακτηρ, 'εδε' ποτε 'εξ εαυτά προσδοκά ωφελειαν η βλα' βην, αλλ' απο' των εξω· Φιλοσο' φα φα' σις και χαρακτηρ, πα σαν ' ωφελειαν και βλα' βην 'εξ εαυτά προσδοκά. It is the condition and character of a common man to expect happiness or injury, not from himself, bat from things external, it is that of a philosopher to expect all happi. ness from himself.
the paradise of God; they may enjoy at home a continual seast, and with a holy freedom luxuriate in divine pleasures, the joys wherewith the strangers intermeddle not, if we be not unpropitious and unkind to ourselves.
And would we know wherein that sound and happy complexion of spirit lies, that hath so much of heaven in it: It is a present gradual participation of the divine likeness. It consists in being conformed to God; it is, as the moralists tell us, Denique ut breviter tibi formulam scribam ; talis animus sapientis viri esse debet qualis Deum deceat. (Sen. epist.) If one would give a short compendious model of it, such a temper of mind as becomes God; or to give an account of it, in his own words, who prescribes it, and who is himself the highest pattern of this blessed frame. It is to be transformed in the renewing of our minds so as to be able to prove what is the good, and perfect, and acceptable will of God; (Rom. 12. 2.) that is, experimentally to find it in ourselves, impressed and wrought into our own spirits, so as to have the complacential relish and savour of its goodness, excellency and pleasantness diffused through our souls. Where remember, this was written to such as were supposed saints; whence it must be understood, of a continued progressive transformation, a renewing of the inward man day by day, (as is the apostle's expression elsewere.) It is a more perfect reception of the impress of God, revealing himself in the gospel; the growth and tendency of the new creature, begotten unto the eternal blessedness, towards its mature and most perfect state and stature in the fruition thereof.
And it is this I am now pressing; inasmuch as some account hath been already given (according as we can now imperfectly guess at it, and spell it out) what the constitution of the holy soul is, in its glorified state, when it perfectly partakes the divine likeness; that when we find in ourselves any principles, and first elements of that blessed frame, we would endeavor the gradual improvement thereof, and be making towards that perfection. This therefore being our present work, let it be remembered wherein this participated likeness of God hath been said to consist; and labor now the nearest approach to that pitch and state. Your measures must be taken from what is most perfect, come now as near it as you can, and as that pagan's advice is; “ If yet thou art not Socrates, however live as one that would fain be Socrates.” Epictet. Though yet thou art not perfect, live as one that aims at it, and would be so. Only it must be considered, that the conformity to God, of our present state, is in extent, larger and more comprehensive than that of our future; though it be unspeakably less perfect in degree. For there is no moral excellency (that we have any present knowledge of) belonging to our glorified state, which is not in some degree, Becessarily to be found in saints on earth. But there
are some things which the exigency of our present state makes necessary to us here, which will not be so in the state of glory; repentance, faith, as it respects the mediator, in order to our future happiness; patience of injuries, pity to the distressed, &c. These things, and whatsoever else, whose objects cease, must be understood to cease with them. In short, here is requisite all that moral good which concerns both our end and way; there, what concerns our end only.
Yet is the whole compass of that gracious frame of spirit, requisite in this our present state, all comprehended in conformity to God. Partly, inasmuch as some of these graces, which will cease hereafter, in their exercise, as not having objects to draw them forth into act, have their pattern in some communicable attributes of God, which will cease also, as to their denomination and exercise; their objects then ceasing too, as his patience towards sinners, his mercy to the miserable. Partly inasmuch as other of those graces now required in us, though they correspond to nothing in God that is capable of the same name, as faith in a Saviour, repentance of sin (which can bave no place in God) they yet answer to something in his nature, that goes
under other names; and is the reason whereof he requires such things in us. He hath in his nature that faithful. ness and all sufficient fulness, that challenges our faith ; and that hatred of sin, which challenges our repentance for it, baving been guilty of it. His very nature obliges him to require those things from us, the state of our case being considered. So that the sum even of our present duty lies in receiving this entire impression of the divine likeness, (in some part invariably and eternally necessary to us, in some part necessary with respect to our present state.) And herein is our present blessedness also involved. If therefore we have any design to better our condition in point of blessedness, it must be our business to endeavor after a full participation of that likeness, in all the particulars it comprehends. You can pitch your thoughts upon no part of it, which hath not an evident direct tendency to the repose and rest of your spirits. I shall commend only some few instances, that you may see how little reason and inducement a soul conformed to the holy will of God, hath to seek its comforts and contents elsewhere. Faith corresponds to the truth of God, as it respects divine revelations. How pleasant is it to give up our understandings to the conduct of so safe a guide; to the view of so admirable things as he reveals! It corresponds to his goodness, as it respects its offers. How delectable is it to be filling an empty soul from the divine fulness! What pleasure attends the exercise of this faith towards the person of the Meditator, viewing him in all his glorious excellencies, receiving him in all his gracious communications by this eye and hand. How pleasant is it to exercise it in reference to another world!
living by it in a daily prospect of eternity; in reference to this world, to live without care in a cheerful dependance on him that hath undertaken to care for us !
Repentance is that by which we become like the holy God : to whom our sin hath made us most unlike before. How sweet are kindly relentings, penitential tears, and the return of the soul to its God, and to a right mind! And who can conceive the ravishing pleasures of love to God! wherein we not only imitate, but intimately unite with him, who is love itself. How pleasant to let our souls dissolve here, and flow into the ocean the element of love! Our fear corresponds to his excellent greatness, and is not (as it is a part of the new creature in us) a tormenting, servile passion, but a due respectfulness and observance of God; and there is no mean pleasure in that holy awful seriousness unto which it composes and forms our spirits. Our humility, as it respects him, answers his high excellency ; as it respects our own inferiors, his gracious condescension. How pleasant is it to fall before him! And how connatural and agreeable to a good spirit, to stoop low, upon any occasion to do good! Sincerity is a most God-like excellency; an imitation of his truth, as grounded in his all-sufficiency, which sets him above the necessity or possibility of any advantage by collusion or deceit: and corresponds to his omnisciency and heart-searching eye. It heightens a man's spirit to a holy and generous boldness : inakes him apprehend it beneath him to do an unworthy, dishonest action, that should need a palliation, or a concealment.* And gives him the continual pleasure of self-approbation to God, whom he chiefly studies and desires to please. Patience, a prime glory of the divine majesty, continues a man's possession of his own soul, his liberty, his dominion of himself. He is (if he can suffer nothing) a slave to his vilest and most sordid sions at home, his own base fear, and brutish anger, and effeminate grief, and to any man's lusts and humors besides, that he apprehends can do him hurt. It keeps a man's soul in a peaceful calm, delivers him from that most unnatural) selftorment, defeats the impotent malice of his most implacable enemy, who fain would vex him, but cannot. Justice, the great attribute of the Judge of all the earth, as such ; so far as the impression of it takes place among men, preserves the common peace of the world, and the private peace of each man in his own bosom, so that the former be not disturbed by doing of mutual injuries, nor the latter by the conscience of having done them. The brotherly love of fellow-christians; the impression of that special love, which God bears to them all, admits them
*As that noble Roman whom his architect (about to build him a house) promised to contrive it free from all his neighbors inspection; he replies, nay, if thou have any art in thee, build my house so that all may see what I do. Vell. Pat. p. 32.