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that inordinate love and solicitude for the body, mortify them all at once. We are indeed so far to comply with the pleasure of our Maker, as not to despise the mean abode which he hath assigned us for awhile in the body. But withal, to take heed lest we so cross and resist it, as to make caring for the body our whole business ; which he hath only enjoined us in subserviency to an unspeakably greater and more important business. Its health and welfare ought upon very valuable accounts to be carefully preserved by all prudent means: but to indulge its slothful desires, and comply with its licentious wild cravings, is far beneath us, a base unmanning of ourselves, and would signify, as if so absurd a conceit had passed with us into a settled judgment, that a reasonable immortal spirit was created only to tend and serve a brute. It is monstrous to behold, with how common consent multitudes that professedly agree in the belief of the immortal nature of their souls, do yet agree to debase and enslave them to the meanest servility to their mortal bodies ; so as these are permitted to give laws to them, to prescribe them rules of living, and what their daily employment shall be. For observe the designs they drive, and what is the tendency of their actions and affairs (whence the judgment is to be made concerning their inward thoughts, deliberations, and resolves,) and is not the body the measure and mark of them all? What import or signification is there in this course, of a design for futurity? And (which increases the folly of it to a wonder) they can make a shist to go on thus from year to year, and take no notice of the absurdity! They agree to justify each one himself, and one another. The commonness of the course takes away all sense of the horrid madness of it. And because each doth as the rest do, they seem to imagine they all do well, and that there is nothing exceptionable in the case ; and go on : as the silly sbeep, Non qua eundum est sed qua itur : not the way they ought, but which they see others go before them. Sen.
But if any place could be found for calm and sober thoughts, what would be reckoned a greater impertinency, than to be at so great pains for maintaining a bodily life, without considering what that life shall serve for? to employ our utmost care to live, but to live for we know not what? It becomes us to be patient of the body, not fond : to treat and use our bodies as things shortly to be put off and laid aside : to care for them, not for their own, but the work's sake we have to do in them, and leave it to them to indulge and paraper the body, who expect never to live out of it: not to concern ourselves, that the circumstances of our bodily state be such as will gratisy our appetites, but answer the ends for which our Maker thought fit we should live awhile in the body: reckoning with ourselves, we are lodged in these mean receptacles (though somewhat commodious, yet) but for a little while, and for great purposes, and more minding our journey and home, than our entertainment in our inn : contentedly bearing the want of bodily accommodations that are not easily to be compassed, and the pressure of unavoidable bodily infirmities; not much pitying ourselves because of them; nor deeply regretting it, if wants and pains pinch our flesh; nay, though we see the outward man perishing, so we can but find the inward renewing day by day.
[3.] That we set ourselves with the whole intention of our souls, to mind the concernments of the future state, the invisible things of the other world ; and direct the main stream of our thoughts, desires, hopes, and joys, thitherward. For how highly justifiable and becoming is it, that we principally mind the state and things we were made for ? We should therefore make these familiar to ourselves, and use our spirits to those more noble and pleasant themes: recounting often, how unwor. thy it is of them to grovel in the dust, or choose the objects of their converse by such measures only as are taken from sense. It is an iniquity which, though God may be so gracious to us as to forgive, we should not easily forgive to ourselves, that we have so often chosen to converse with empty trifles, while so great things have invited our thoughts in vain. Their remoteness from sense hath little of excuse in it, and unworthy a reasonable creature. Methinks they should be ashamed to allege it, who consider themselves furnished with an intellectual
power, that doth in many other instances, control the judgment of sense, and impeach it of falsehood. Would we not blush to profess it for a principle, that there is nothing real that exceeds the sphere of our sense ?' We would reckon it a part of modesty not to ascribe too much to our own understandings, or presume too far upon our intellectual ability, against the judgment of sage and knowing persons. How is it then, that we think it not immodest, to oppose the apprehensions of our dull and incapacious sense to the common faith and reason of all good and wise men, that are or have been in the world, as well as our own? If we have not seen what the state of things is in the other world, are we not told? and have we not enough to assure us, that, it is He hath told us, whose nature cannot suffer him to impose upon us, or represent things otherwise than they are ? Who else can be the author of so common a persuasion ? If any man had been the first inventor of the opinion,—that there is another state of things to succeed to this, would he not have assumed it to himself that he was so? would he not have owned it, and gloried in it? Or would not some or other of his proselyted disciples have preserved his name and memory, and transmitted them to posterity ? Could so vast a sect be without a head or master, known and celebrated among men ?
Less plausible opinions find some owners; Why is it not said, who was the first broacher of this ? And if he can find no other parent for it, but He who was the Parent of our beings, how grateful should such a discovery be to us, both for his sake and its own? Upon his account, we should surely think it worthy to be believed; and upon its own, to be considered and seriously thought on, with greatest delight and sense of pleasure.
Many things that we reckon considerable upon much lower accounts, we so believe, as to let them engage our hearts, and influence our practice, upon much lower evidence. How entirely are men's spirits taken up many times about meaner matters, whereof they have only a (much more uncertain and fallible) report from one another! What pretence can we have, less to regard the testimony of him that made us, discovering to us things so great, so important, so rational in themselves, even though they had not been so expressly revealed ? Let us therefore drive the matter to a clear and short issue, and come to a resolution with ourselves; have we reason to believe such things, or no? If we can so far impose upon ourselves, as to think we have not; or be tempted into so abject, so unrequired, and so unwarrantable a self-denial, so base an esteem of our own beings, as to account the things of this earth and present world have enough in them to answer any ends we can suppose ourselves made for; let us no longer mock the world, by pretending to believe what we believe not. But if this be our settled judgment, and we will avow and own it, that we believe these things ; let us no longer expose and make ourselves ridiculous, by counteracting our own professed belief in matters of such moment, pretending to believe and disregarding them at the same time. It is absurd and foolish, to believe such things and not mind them much, or not let our souls and our practice be commanded and governed by them : not to have any desires, and cares, and hopes, and joys, influenced thereby to the uttermost. How rational is it, here to be deeply solicitous, that by the unsuitableness of our own spirits we defeat not our own expectations! How pleasant and delectable (that danger being provided against,) to sit down and compare our present with our expected state, what we are, with what we hope to be ere long! To think of exchanging shortly, infirmity, pollution, darkness, deformity, trouble, complaint; for power, purity, light, beauty, rest and praise ! How pleasant, if our spirits be fitted to that state! The endeavor whereof is a further congruity in the present case, namely,
[4.] That we make it our principal business to intend our spirits, to adorn and cultivate our inward man. What can more
if we reckon we have somewhat about us made for inmortality, than to bestow our chief care upon that immortal part? Therefore, to neglect our spirits, confessedly capable of so high an estate, to let them languish under wasting distempers,
or lie as the sluggard's field, overgrown with thorns and briars, is as vile a slur as we can put upon ourselves and our own profession. We should therefore make this the matter of our earnest study. What would be the proper improvements and ornaments of our spirits, and will most fitly qualify them for the state we are going into; and of our daily observation how such things thrive and grow in us. Especially, we should not be satisfied, till we find in ourselves a refinedness from this earth, a thorough purgation from all undue degrees of sensual inclination and affection, the consumption of our dross by a sacred fire from heaven, a spirit of judgment and of burning, an aptitude to spirítual exercises and enjoyments, high complacency in God, fervent love, a worshiping posture of soul, formed to the veneration of the eternal wisdom, goodness, power, holiness; profound humility and abnegation of ourselves, a praiseful frame of spirit, much used to gratulations and thanksgivings, a large and universal love, imitating as much as is possible the divine, a pronenss to do good to all, a steady composure and serene temper of spirit, the repose and rest of a contented mind, not boisterous, nor apt unto disquiet, or to create storms to ourselves or the world, every way suitable to the blissful regions, where nothing but perfect purity, entire devotedness to God, love, goodness, benignity, well-pleasedness, order, and peace, shall have place forever.
This we ought to be constantly intent upon, as the business of our lives, our daily work, to get our spirits so attempered and fitted to heaven, that if we be asked, What design we drive? What are we doing? we may be able to make this true answer, We are dressing ourselves for eternity. And since nothing is required hereto, that is simply impossible, nothing but what is agreeable to our natures, and would be a perfection to them; how worthy and commendable an ambition were it, to be always aspiring ? not to rest or take up beneath the highest pitch of attainable excellency in these kinds ? reckoning every degree thereof as due to our natures, and that they have not what belongs to them, while any thing of real intrinsic moral goodness is yet wanting; and not only due, but necessary, and what we shall have need of in reference to the state we are shortly to enter upon; that except such things be in us, and abound, we cannot have an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom. And should we, pretending to such an expectation, omit such endeavors of preparing ourselves, it were a like thing as if an unbred peasant should go about to thrust himself, with an expectation of high honors and preferments, into the prince's court; or as if a distracted man should expect to be employed in the greatest and most intricate affairs of state; or an uninstructed idiot take upon him to profess and teach philosophy.
Therefore let us consider: Are we conscious of no upfitness
for that blessed state? to dwell in the presence of the holy God? to be associated with the heavenly asseinbly of pure intellectual spirits ? to consort and join with them in their celebrations and triumphant songs ? Can we espy no such thing in ourselves, as an earthly mind, aversion to God, as pride, disdain, wrath, or envy, admiration of ourselves, aptness to seek our own things with the neglect of others, or the like? And do not our hearts then misgive, and tell us we are unready, not yet prepared to approach the divine presence, or to enter into the habitation of his holiness and glory? And wbat then have we to do, but set ourselves to our preparatory work; to set our watches, make our observations, take strict notice of all the deflexions and obliquities of our spirits, settle our methods, and hasten a redress ? Do not we know this is the time and state of preparation ? And since we know it, how would the folly torture us, by reflection, of having betrayed ourselves to a surprisal! None are ever wont to enter upon any new state without some foregoing preparation. Every more remarkable turn or change in our lives, is commonly (if at all foreknown) introduced by many serious forethoughts. If a man be to change his dwelling, employment, condition, common discretion will put him upon thinking how to comport with the place, business, converse, and way of living he is next to betake himself to. And his thoughts will be the more intense, by how much more momentous the change. If he be to leave his country, with no probability of returning; if he be designed to a station, the circumstances whereof carry any thing of awfulness in them; if to public business, if on court attendances, with what solemnity and address are such things undertaken! How loth and ashamed would one be, to go into such a condition, being totally unapt, not at all knowing how to behave himself in it! But what so great change as this can the nature of man admit, that a soul, long shut up in flesh, is now to go forth from its earthly mansion, and return no more; expecting to be received into the glorious presence of the eternal King, and go act its part among the perfected spirits that attend his throne! How solicitous endeavor of a very thorough preparation doth this case call for! But how ill doth the common course of men agree to this, who never have such matters in their thoughts, who so. much neglect not their very hogs as they do their spirits !
[5.] That we have much conversation with God. He is the only full and permanent good; therefore the endeavor of becoming very inward with him, doth best agree with the expectation of a state perfectly good and happy. To expect this, and converse only with shadows and vanishing things, is to expect to be happy without a happiness; or that our happiness should betide us as a casual thing, or be forced upon us at last whether we will or no. But since our happiness in God is on his part