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one State or the other. For as Heaven is the center of all that is virtuous, pure, and holy, and all that is good tends thither by a natural Sympathy; fo Hell is the center of all Impiety and Wickedneß, and all that is bad doth naturally prefs and fink down thither, as towards its proper place and Element; and fhould not the divine Vengeance concern it felf to exclude wicked Souls out of Heaven, yet their own Wickedness would do it. For that is a place of fuch inacceffible Light and Purity, that no Impurity or Wickedness can approach it, but muft of neceffity be beaten off with the dreadful lightnings of its Glory, and tumbled headlong down as oft as it effays to climb up thither; as on the other hand, fhould not God by an immediate Vengeance precipitate wicked Souls into Hell, yet their own Wickedness by the mighty weight of its own Nature, would inevitably prefs and fink them down into that miferable Condition. What egregious Nonfenfe therefore is it, for wicked men to talk of going to Heaven! Alas! poor Creatures what would you do there! There are no wanton Amours among thofe heavenly Lovers ; no Rivers of Wine among their Rivers of pleasure to gratifie your unbounded Senfuality; no Parafites to flatter your lofty Pride, no Miferies to feed your meagre Envy; no Mifchiefs to tickle your devilish Revenge; nothing but chafte and divine, pure and fpiritual Enjoyments, fuch as your brutish and devilish Appetites will eternally loath and naufeate. Wherefore if we mean to go to Heaven, and to be happy there, we muft now endeavour to difpofe and attemper our Minds to it; which is no other way to be done, but by leading a heavenly Life and
and Conversation; which by degrees will habituate and naturalize our Souls to the heavenly Virtues, and fo work and inlay them into the Frame and Temper of our Minds, that 'twill be our greatest pleasure to be exerting and exercising them. And then our Souls will be dreffed and made ready for Heaven, and when we go from hence to take poffeffion of its Joys, they will be all fo agreeable to our prepared Appetites, that we fhall presently fall to and feed upon them with infinite Guft and Relish. But till by living a heavenly Life we have difpofed our felves for Heaven, we are utterly incapable of enjoying it. So that now things are reduced to this Iffue, that either our Sins or our Souls muft die, and we must neceffarily shake hands either with Heaven or our Lufts. And therefore unless we value eternal Happiness fo little as to exchange it for the fordid and trifling pleasures of Sin, and unless we love our Sins fo well as to ranfom them with the bloud of our Immortal Souls, it concerns us fpeedily to engage our felves in this heavenly Life and Converfation. For this is an eternal and immutable Law, that if we will be wicked, we must be miferable.
CHA P. IV.
Concerning the militant or warfaring Part of the Chriftian Life, by which we are to acquire and perfect the heavenly Virtues; fhewing how effectually all the Duties of it conduce thereunto.
AVING in the former Chapter given a large Account of the heavenly Part of the Chriftian Life, and fhewn how directly and immediately the Practice of all the Virtues that are comprehended in it tends to the heavenly State, and how naturally they all grow into eternal Happinefs; I fhall in the next Place endeavour to give fome brief Account of that Part of the Chriftian Life which is purely militant, and which wholly confifts of those inftrumental Duties, by the Ufe of which we are to conquer the difficulties of those heavenly Virtues, and to acquire and perfect them. Which Difficulties, as I fhewed before, Chap. 2. are the inbred Corruptions of our own Nature, together with thofe manifold Temptations from without, by which they are continually provoked and excited and fo to fubdue and conquer these, as that they may neither take us off from, nor clog and indifpofe us in the Exercife of the heavenly Virtues, is the great Design and Business of this warfaring Part of the Chriftian Life.
That I may therefore handle it diftinctly, I fhall divide it into three Parts, and endeavour
with as much Brevity as I can; First, To explain the Duties of each Part, and to fhew how they all conduce to our conquering the Difficulties of the heavenly Virtues,and to the acquiring and perfecting them; and, Secondly, Topreß the Duties of each Part with proper and suitable Arguments.
In this Part of our Christian Life therefore there
1. Our Beginning or Entrance into it, which is in Scripture called, Repentance from dead works. 2. Our Course and Progreß in it, and this is nothing but a holy Life.
3. Our Perfecting and Confummation of it, and this is final Perfeverance in well-doing. Each of which have their proper and peculiar Duties, which I fhall endeavour in this Chapter to explain. and enforce.
Concerning thofe Duties that are proper to our Beginning and Entrance into this warfaring Part of our Chriftian Life; fhewing how they all conduce to the fubduing of Sin, and acquiring the heavenly Virtues.
This first Part of our militant Life being nothing but our Initial Repentance, or the first turning of our Souls to God from a ftate of wilful Sin and Rebellion, the Duties that are proper to it, and by which this turn of our Souls is to be introduced and performed, may be reduced to these fix Heads,
1. A hearty and firm Belief of the Truth of our Religion.
2. A due Confideration of its Motives, and a balancing of them with the Hardships and Difficulties we are to undergo.
3. A deep and through Conviction of our great need of a Mediator to render us acceptable to God.
4. A hearty Sorrow, Shame,and Remorfe for our Sins past.
5. Earnest Prayer to God for Aid and Affiftance to enable us effectually to renounce them.
6. A ferious and well weighed Refolution to forfake and abandon them for ever.
I. It is neceffary to our good Beginning of this our Chriftian Warfare, that we fhould heartily believe the Truth and Reality of our Religion. For our hearty Belief of the Gospel is in Scripture reprefented as the main and principal Weapon by which we are to combate against the World and our own Lufts. And hence it is called the fhield of faith, and the breastplate of faith, which are the two principal parts of Armour of Defence, denoting that an hearty Belief of the Gospel is the principal Defence of a Chriftian against all the fiery darts of Temptation; the Armour of Proof that guards our Innocence, and renders us Invulnerable in all our fpiritual Conflicts. For, above all things, faith the Apostle, take the field of faith whereby ye fhall be able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one, Eph. vi. 16. And as it is the principal part of our defenfive, so it is alfo of our offenfive Armour. For fo we find all the Victories and Triumphs of thofe glorious Heroes, Heb. xi. attributed to this irrefiftible Weapon of their Faith. 'Twas by Faith that they defpifed Crowns, confronted