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courfed, it hence follows, that the main difference between Virtue and Heaven is only Gradual; that Virtue is the Beginning of Heaven, and Heaven is the Perfection of Virtue, And if fo, then as the lomeft Degree of true Virtue is a step Heaven-wards, fo every farther Degree is a nearer Approach towards the Heavenly state. So that as we grow in Grace, and proceed from one Degree of Virtue to another, we draw nearer and nearer to that blessed Condition in which we shall be all pure Virtue with out any finful Alloy or Intermixture. And this is the true State and Condition of Heaven.
CHA P. II.
Concerning the Means by which this Great End of the Chriftian Life is to be attained,
T is to be confidered that the great Design of
fuch a fublime Degree of Purity and Perfection as is requifite to capacitate us for the Enjoyment of a Heavenly Blifs, it was neceffitated in order hereunto, to strain our Duty to a greater height than any preceding Law had done before it. For the End of all Gods Laws is the Happiness of his Subjects; and therefore that they may be effectual Means to promove this End, it's neceffary that the Duties they enjoyn fhould be fuch as the Nature of our Happiness requires. Now in the first state
of our Nature, which was that of Innocence; we feem to have been defign'd only for a Terrestrial Paradife, that is, to enjoy the pleasures of a pure mind inhabiting a fenfitive and animal bos dy, and therefore had we food (which God forefaw we should not, and therefore defign'd us for a more raised and heavenly condition) our happiness would have been what it is now in this world, though in a higher degree, viz, a com pound of fpiritual and bodily delights, to be enjoy'd in a state of earthly immortality which would have been of a much inferior nature to that pure ftate of fpiritual happiness whereunto we are now defigned and directed: And to ferve this former end in the poffeffion of which man was placed in the state of Innocence, God gave him the Law of Nature, which feems to have been nothing elfe but only Right Reafon dictating to us what is neceffary to be done in order to this our Earthly Happiness. And accordingly the Duties of this Law were of a much lower ftrain than the Duties of Christianity; they being intended for the Means and Inftruments of a much lower Happiness. For in this our Earthly and Animal State, Right Rea fon could require nothing of us but what was fubt fervient to our Earthly and Animal Felicity; which was only a mixture of bodily and mental, fenfitive and rational pleasure, and nothing could be good for us but what tended thereunto, nos thing evil but what did obstruct and oppofe it. But now that our Happiness is placed in another World, and in fuch vastly different Enjoy ments from thofe of a Terreftrial Paradife, we must proceed upon other Principles. For now
every Action is Good or Bad, Wife or Foolish, as it ferves or hinders our happiness in the World to come. And therefore it is highly reasonable that now we should live at a different rate, than what we were obliged to in that Animal state wherein we were firit Created; that we should fubmit our earthly to our heavenly Intereft, and renounce the Joys and Pleafures of this Life, whenfoever they stand in competition with the fpiritual Felicities of the Life to come. Now we are no longer to look upon this World as our Native Country, but as a Foreign Land; and fo we are to reckon our felves Strangers and Pilgrims upon Earth; and accordingly to ufe the conveniencies of this Life as ftrangers do their Inns, not to abide or take up our habitation in them, but only to bait and away, and refresh our felves that fo we may be the better enabled to perform our Journey to the Eternal World. For the fcene of our Happinefs being shifted from an Earthly Immortality, to an Heavenly; and confequently the Happiness it felf being now much more fublime and pure and fpiritual than it would have been, had it continued Earthly, it's necessary that our Nature should be exalted with it, and that we fhould be raised as high above the condition of meer Earthly Creatures, as that is above the rank, and quality of an Earthly Happiness ; otherwise it will be impossible for us to relish and enjoy it.
Now every Agent hath need of more or fewer Means proportionably as he is farther off, or nearer to the End he drives at. As for inftance, the Husbandman that hath a fat and fruitful Soil to fow his Seed in, is nearer to the attaining of a good D 4
Harvest,than he that hath a barren or ftony Ground to work upon; and therefore hath much less to do. For whereas the latter, before he can plow and fowe, must manure his Ground and gather out the ftones of it; the former needs only plow up the fertile Earth, and caft his Seed into it. Or to come closer to the cafe in hand; a man that is meerly ignorant is in a much nearer capacity of true Knowledge, than he whofe mind is altogether prejudiced with erroneous Principles; and therefore needs much fewer Helps and Means to attain it. For his mind being perfectly difengaged, is like a fair Paper, on which as there is nothing writ, fo there is nothing to be blotted out; So that all that he hath to do, is to enquire after and receive the Truth when it is fairly propofed to him. But as for the Prejudiced man, he hath a great deal to unlearn, before he can be capable of Learning; a great many falfe Principles to be expunged, before ever the true Notions of Things can be imprinted on his Understanding.
If therefore we would take a true account of all thofe Means that are neceffary to our attaining of Heaven, we must confider what a vaft diftance we are from it in this corrupt and degenerate state of our Nature. If we were in a state of Indifference between Vertue and Vice we fhould be much nearer Heaven than we are; For then, as we should be without those Heavenly virtues in the free Exercife whereof the ftate of Heaven confifts; fo we. fhould be without all that Repugnance and Averfation to them which renders them fo difficultly attainable; and ourNature being already in ane Equilibrium would by the least over-weight of Motive be prefently inclined to Virtue and Goodness. But,
alas! in this corrupt ftate whereinto we are funk, our Nature runs Evil-wards with a very strong and prevailing Biafs; and is not only void of virtue, but averfe to it. And this fets us at a far greater distance from the bleffed End of our Religion than otherwise we should be. For every Degree of vicious Inclination that is in us, is a Remove from Heaven, a Defcent from that Perfection of Virtue. wherein the Heavenly Blessednefs confifts. And iffo, how remote from Heaven are the Generality of men in the Beginning of their Progress thither when to their natural Corruption they have fuperadded by their finful Courfes fo many inordinate Inclinations and inveterate finful Habits; when by a long feries of wicked Actions, they have raised and blown up their Concupifcence into fuch raging flames of Luft as generally they do! And being thus far gone back from our End, there are fundry Means, which otherwife would have been perfectly needless and fuperfluous, that are now become abfolutely neceffary thereunto. For had we begun our Progrefs towards Heaven from a ftate of Indifferency between Virtue and Vice, we had had no more to do but to practise those feveral virtues of Religion, of which the Heavenly Life and state confifts; to love and to contemplate, to adore, and to obey God, and behave our felves justly and charitably towards one another; all which would have been fo eafie, that we should have had no occafion of any Inftrumental Duties to facilitate them to us. Whereas now starting Heaven-wards, as we generally do, from a moft corrupt and degenerate State, there are fundry other Means which we must use as Inftruments that are necessary to