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Concerning the ultimate End of the Christian Life.
N order to our understanding, what is the Nature, Ufe, and Excellency of any Means, it is neceffary we fhould have a true and genuine Notion of thofe peculiar Ends which they drive at. For the nature of them, as they are Means, confifts in being ferviceable to fome End; but to what they are particularly ferviceable,must be collected from the nature of thofe particular Ends whereunto they are directed. And therefore till we know what thofe particular Ends are, it is impoffible we should know whether they are Means or no, or, which is the fame thing, whether they are ferviceable to any End or Purpofe.
It being therefore the Defign of this Work to explain the nature of the Chriftian Life, it will be neceffary (for the clearing of our way) to give fome account of the blefled End for which
it is intended; which will very much contribute to our right understanding of the great usefulness and fubferviency of each part of it thereunto. Therefore,
I. I fhall endeavour to fhew what is the peculiar End of the Chriftian Life.
II. Wherein the true Nature of this End confifts.
I. As for the End of the Chriftian Life, we are affured from Scripture, that it is no other but Heaven it felf, that state of endlefs Bliß and Happines which God hath prepared in the World above, for the reception of all thofe, who by patient continuance in well- doing feek for glory and honour and immortality. That this is the End of the Chriftian Life,is evident from hence, because 'tis every where propofed by our Saviour and his Apostles, as the Chief good of a Christian, and the Supreme Motive to all Christian Vertue. For fo S. John, that bofom-Favourite of our Saviour, affures us, that This is the promise which Chrift hath promised us, even Eternal Life, 1 John ii. 25. And if we look into the Gofpel of S. John, who hath more largely recorded our Saviours Sermons and Difcourfes than any other Evangelift, we fhall find Eternal Life ftill proposed by him as the fuperéminent Promise to encourage and perfwade men to the profession and practice of Chriftianity. For fo John iv. 36. 'tis propofed by our Saviour as that which is the Harvest of a Christian, to which like the Husbandman's ploughing and fowing, all our care and endeavour is to be directed; He that reapeth receiveth wages and gathereth fruit unto eternal life. Confonantly whereunto S. Paul tells
us, that he that foweth to the Spirit, fhall of the Spirit reap life everlasting, Gal. vi. 8. And this, as out Saviour tells us, is the great Reward which he gives to all thofe that hear and follow him, John X. 27, 28. and this is the great Argument which he every where infifts on, that he that believeth hath Life everlafting, that whofoever heareth his. word hath Life Everlasting, and that his Com-, mandment is Life Everlasting. And Rem. vi. 22. Everlasting Life is exprefly faid to be the End of having our fruit unto Holineß; and as fuch we are bid to direct our actions unto it, to believe in Chrift unto Everlasting Life, 1 Tim. i. 16, to do good, to this end, that we may lay hold upon Eternal Life, 1 Tim. vi. 18, 19. to look unto Fefus the author and finisher of our faith, mbo for the joy that was fet before him endured the croß, &c. Heb. xi. 2. And therefore Heaven is defcribed to be the Chriftian Canaan, to which we are to direct all our steps, whilft we are travailing through this World, Heb. xi. 14, 15, 16. And the whole Life of a Chriftian is expreffed by feeking it: Mat.. vi. 33. Heb. xiii. 14. Col. iii. 1. And the incorruptible Crown is affirmed to be as much the End of the race of the Chriftian Life, as those corruptible Crowns were of the races in the Olympick Games, 1 Cor. ix. 25. For it is to Eternal Glory that we are called, 1 Pet. v. 10. 2 Theff. ii. 14. and in the discharge of all that Ducy whereunto we are called, we are to look to this bleffed Hope as our great End and Encouragement, Tit. ii. 13.
This I have the more largely infifted upon, because of a great mistake that many perfons have
lain under in this matter; which is, that the Glory of God is the only ultimate End of a Chriftian, and that this is a diftinct End from Heaven; The first of which I confefs, is very true, but the laft abfolutely falfe. That the glory of God is the laft End of a Chriftian, is evident from thofe Texts which bid us do all to the glory of God, 1 Cor. X. 31. and which make the glory of God to be the point in which all the fruits of righteoufnes do concenter, Phili. 11. which propofe this as the End of all Religious Performan ces, that God in all things may be glorified, 1Pet. iv. 11. and affirm, that 'tis to this purpose that we are chofen to be Chriftians, that we fhould be to the Praife of his Glory, Eph. i. 12. But that the glory of God is no diftinct End from our being made partakers of the Happineß of Heaven, is as evident from hence, that this Glory confifts not in any thing that we can add or contribute to Him, whofe effential Glory is fo immenfe and fecure, that there is nothing we can do,can either Increase or Diminish it; and there is no other Glory can redound to him from any thing withour, but what is the Reflection of his own natural Rays. He understands himself too well, to value himself either the more or the lefs for the Praises or Difpraises of his Creatures. For he is enough of Stage and Theatre to himself, and hath the fame fatiffying Profpect of his own Glory in the midst of all the loud Blafphemies of Hell, as among the per petual Hallelujahs of Heaven. And having fo, it cannot be fuppofed that he should enjoyn us to Praise and Glorifie him for the fake of any Good or Advantage that can accrue to Himself by it, of