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sire which is necessary to qualify thee for the enjoyment of this blessedness. And is it not a matter both of shame and terror, that thou shouldst desire thy blessedness so faintly, as not to know whether thou truly desire it at all? It is true, that a certainty, amongst such as may be sincere, is very little common; but whenee proceeds it, but from their too common, indulged sloth; out of which all this is designed to awaken thee. And the commonness whereof doth as little detract from the reproach and sinfulness, as from the danger of it. It is but a poor defence, for what is intrinsically evil in itself, that it is common.
But further, as the case is, this is so reproachful a thing, even in common estimate,—not to desire heaven and eternal glory, or to desire it with very cold and careless desires—that there are few will profess it, or own it to be their temper; much few. er that will undertake to excuse or justify it. It is so evilly thought of, that among merely sober and rational men, it can never find an advocate, or any that will afford it patronage. The generality pretend a desire of going to heaven and being with God. If any be so observant of themselves as to know, and so ingenuous as to confess it otherwise with them, they complain of it as their fault, and say, they would fain have it redressed but are far from assuming that confidence, to defend or plead for it. Consider then, wilt thou persist in such a temper and disposition of mind as all men condemn; and be guilty of so odious a thing, as shall be censured and blamed by the common concurrent vote and judgment of mankind ; Thou wouldst be ashamed to stand forth and profess openly to men, that thou desirest an earthly felicity more than a blessedness in heaven'; or at least, that thou art so indifferent, and the scales hang so even with thee, that thou canst hardly tell which way they incline most. And art thou not ashamed that this should be thy usual temper; how much soever thou conceal it from the notice and observation of the world? Moreover, how can it escape thy serious reflection, that if thou pretend it otherwise with thee, it is but to add one sin to another, and cover thy carnality with hypocrisy and dissimulation ? Yea, while thou continuest in that temper of spirit, not to desire this blessedness as thy supreme end, the whole of thy religion is but an empty shew, an artificial disguise : it carries an appearance and pretence, as if thou wast aiming at God and glory, while thy heart is set another way, and the bent of thy soul secretly carries thee a counter-course. Hath not religion an aspect towards blessedness? What mean thy praying, thy hearing, thy sacramental communion, if thou have not a design for eternal glory? What makest thou in this way, if thou have not thy heart set towards this end?
Nor is it more dishonest and unjust, than it is foolish and absurd, that the disposition and tendency of thy soul should be di
rectly contrary to the only design of the religion thou professest and dost externally practice. Thy profession and desires are nothing but self-contradiction. Thou art continually running counter to thyself; outwardly pursuing what thou inwardly declinest. Thy real end (which can be no other than what thou really desirest and settest thy heart upon) and thy visible way are quite contrary : so that while thou continuest the course of religion, in which thou art engaged, having taken down from before thine eyes the end which thou shouldst be aiming at, and which alone religion can aptly subserve, thy religion hath no design or end at all, none at least which thou wouldst not be ashamed to profess and own. Indeed this temper of heart I am now pleading against, an undesirousness or indifferency of spirit towards the eternal glory, renders religion the vainest thing in the world. For whereas all the other actions of our lives have their stated, proper ends, religion hath in this case none at all; none to which it hath any designation in this nature, or any aptness to subserve. This monstrous absurdity it infers, and how strange it is, that it should not be reflected on? That whereas if you ask any man of common understanding, what he doth this or that action for, especially if they be stated actions, done by him in an ordinary course, he can readily tell you, for such and such an end: but ask him why be continues any practice of religion, he cannot say (in this case) for what. For can any man imagine what other end religion naturally serves for, but to bring men to blessedness? Which being no other thing than what hath been here described; such as are found not to desire it really and supremely, as their end, can have no real attainable end of their being religious at all. To drive on a continued course and series of actions in a visible pursuit of that which they desire not, and have no mind to, is such a piece of folly, so fond and vain a trifling, that as I remember, Cicero reports Cato to have said concerning the sooth-sayers of his time, he did wonder they could look in one another's faces and not laugh, (being conscious to each other's impostures, and the vanity of their profession ;-) so one would as justly wonder, that the generality of carnal men, (who may shrewdly guess at the temper of one another's minds) do not laugh at each other, that they are jointly engaged in such exercise of religion, to the design whereof the common and agreed temper of their spirits do so little correspond. As if all were in very good earnest for heaven, when each one knows for himself, and may (possibly with more truth than charity) suppose of the rest, that if they might always continue in their earthly station, they had rather never come there; and therefore that they desire it not supremely, and so not as their end at all. Consider it then, that thy no-desire of this blessed state quite dispirits thy religion, utterly ravishes away its soul, leaves it a dead, foolish, vain thing, renders it an idle
impertinency, not a mean to a valuable end. This desire is the life of religion ; all duties and exercises of piety are without it, but empty formalities, solemn pieces of pageantry; every service done to God, but the sacrifice of a fool, if not animated by the desire of final blessedness in him, and be not part of our way thither, a means designed to the attainment of it; which nothing can be, that we are not put upon by the virtue of the desired end. Without this, religion is not itself. A continuance in welldoing, is as it were the body of it; and therein a seeking honor, glory, and immortality, the soul and spirit. The desire of a heavenly country must run the whole course of our earthly pilgrimage: it were otherwise a continued error, an uncertain wandering, no steady tending towards our end : so that thou art a mere vagrant, if this desire do not direct thy course towards thy Father's house. And methinks all this should make thee even ashamed of thyself, if thou canst not find this desire to have a settled residence, and a ruling power in thy soul. Then,
(2.) Sense of praise should signify something too, as the apostle, whatsoever things are-pure, lovely, &c. If there be any virtue,--any praise, think of these things. And hath not the eternal glory those characters upon it of purity and loveliness beyond all things? Is it not a laudable and praise-worthy thing, to have a mind and heart set upon that? The blessed God puts a note of excellency upon this temper of spirit: but they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, &c. Heb. 11. 16. This renders them a people worthy of him who hath called them to his kingdom and glory; fit for him to own a relation to. 1 Thes. 2. 12. Had they been of low, terrene spirits, he would have accounted it a shame to him, to have gone under the name and cognizance of their God. But inasmuch as they desire the hearenly country, have learned to trample this terrestrial world, cannot be contained within this lower sphere, not satisfy themselves in earthly things; they now discover a certain excellency of spirit, in respect whereof, God is not ashamed to own a relation to them, before all the world to be called their God; to let men see what account he makes of such a spirit. Yea, this is the proper, genuine spirit and temper of a saint, which agrees to him as he is such. He is begotten to the eternal inheritance. A disposition (and therein a desire) to it is in his very nature, (the new nature he hath received,) implanted there from his original.' He is born spirit of Spirit, and by that birth is not entitled only, but adapted and suited also to that pure and spiritual state of blessedness. That grace, by the appearance whereof men are made christians, teachers also, instructs to this very thing, to look for this blessed hope, the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ : that which you know consummates that blessedness. For when Christ, who is their
life, shall appear, then shall they also appear with him in glory; by the participation of the divine nature, their spirits escape and get up above this corrupt, impure world. That new nature is a holy flame that carries their hearts upwards towards heaven.
Further, such desires appear hence to be of divine original, an infusion from the blessed God himself. That nature is from him immediately in which they are implanted. The apostle speaking of his earnest, panting desire, to have mortality swallowed up of life, presently adds, he that wrought us to the self-same thing is God. 2 Cor. 5. 4. They are obedient desires; the soul's present answer to the heavenly call, (Heb. 3. 1.) by which God calls it to his kingdom and glory. This glory is (as hath been formerly noted) the very term of that calling. Thes. 2. 12. The God of all grace hath called us unto his eternal glory, by Christ Jesus. 1 Pet. 5. 10. The glorified state is the mark, the prize of the high calling of God in Christ. Phil. 3. 14. It is the matter of the apostle's thanksgiving unto God, on the behalf of the Thessalonians, that they were called by his gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thes. 2. 14. When the soul desires this glory, it obediently answers this call. This is a compliance and subjection of heart to it. How lovely and becoming a thing is this, when God touches the heart with a stamp and impress of glory, and it forthwith turns itself to that very point, and stands directly bent towards the state of glory; is not wayward or perverse, but herein yields itself to God, and complies with the divine pleasure. Such desires have much in them of a child-like ingenuity; to desire the sight of a father's face; when this is the intimate sense of the soul, Shew me the Father and it suffices. To desire the fullest conformity to his nature and will, to be perfect as that heavenly Father is perfect, what doth better become a child ? They are generous desires; they aim at perfection, the highest that created nature is capable of; not contented to have had some glances of divine glory, some strokes and lines of his image, but aspiring to full-eyed visions, a perfect likeness. They are victorious desires ; they (as it were) ride in triumph over the world and every sublunary thing; they must be supposed to have conquered sensual inclinations, to have got the mastery over terrene dispositions and affections. With what holy contempt and scorn of every earthly thing doth that lofty soul quit this dirty world and ascend, that is powerfully carried by its own desire towards that blessed state. The desire of such a knowledge of Christ, as might transform into his likeness, and pass the soul through all degrees of conformity to him, till it attain the resurrection of the dead, and become like a risen, glorified Jesus; such a desire I say, if it make all things seem as loss and dung in comparison, (even a formal, spiritless religion itself,) will it not render this world the most despicable
dunghill of all the rest ? Try such a soul if you can, tempt it down to enjoy a flattering, kind world, or to please it when angry and unkind. When desires after this glory are once awakened into an active, lively vigor, when the fire is kindled, and the flame ascends, and this refined spirit is joyfully ascending therein, see if you can draw it back, and make it believe this world a more regardable thing. Why should not all those considerations make thee in love with this blessed frame of spirit, and restless till thou find thyself uncapable of being satisfied with any thing but divine likenes ?
6. That while we cannot as yet attain the mark and end of our desires, we yield not to a comfortless despondency in the way, but maintain in our hearts a lively joy, in the hope that hereafter we shall attain it. We are not all this while persuading to the desire and pursuit of an unattainable good. Spiritual desires are also rational, and do therefore involve hope with them; and that hope ought to infer and cherish joy. Hopeless desire is full of torment, and must needs banish joy from that breast which it hath got the possession of. It is a disconsolate thing, to desire what we must never expect to enjoy, and are utterly unlikely ever to compass. But these desires are part of the new creature, which is not of such a composition, as to have a principle of endless trouble and disquiet in itself. The Father of mercies is not so little merciful to his own child, to lay it under a necessity, from its very natural constitution, of being for ever miserable by the desire of that which it can never have. It had been very unlike the workmanship of God, to make a creature to which it should be necessary to desire, and impossible to enjoy the same thing. No: but as he hath given holy souls, (as to the present case,) great incentives of desire, so doth he afford them proportionable encouragement of hope also ; and that hope intervening, can very well reconcile desire and joy, and lodge them together in the same bosom. So that as it is a thing capable of no excuse, to hear of this blessedness and not desire it; so it would be, to desire and not expect it, to expect it, and not rejoice in it, even while we are under that expectation. And it must be a very raised joy that shall answer to the expectation of so great things. If one should give a stranger to Christianity an account of the christian hopes, and tell him what they expect to be and enjoy, before long; he would sure promise himself, to find so many angels dwelling in human flesh, and reckon, when he came among them he should be as amidst the heavenly quire; every one full of joy and praise. He would expect to find us living on earth, as the inhabitants of heaven, as so many pieces of immortal glory lately dropped down from above, and shortly again returning thither. He would look to find, every-where in the Christian world, incarnate glory sparkling through the overshadowing vail; and wonder how this earthly sphere should be