Page images

those Heavenly Virtues which are implied in the Religion of the End; and as the Religion of the Means no further entitles us to Heaven than as it produces and promotes in us thofe Heavenly VirLues, fo it no further qualifies us for it. For when the Soul goes into Eternity, it leaves the Religion of the Means behind it, and carries nothing with it but only thofe Heavenly Virtues and Dispofitions which it here acquired by thofe Means. For as for Faith and Confideration,Hearing of Gods Word, and Receiving of Sacraments, &c. they are all but Scaffolds to that heavenly Building of inward Purity and Goodneß; and when this is once finifhed for Eternity, then must thofe Scaffolds all go down, as things of no further Ufe or Neceffity. But as for the Graces of the Mind, they are to ftand for ever, to be the Receptacles and Habitations of all heavenly Pleafure. And hence the Apostle tells us, that of those three Christian Graces, Faith, Hope, and Charity, Charity (which in the largest fenfe of it comprehends all Heavenly Virtue is the greateft; because the Two former, being but Means of Charity, fhall ceafe in Heaven, and be fwallowed up for ever in Vision and Enjoyment; but Charity, faith he, never faileth, 1 Cor. xii. 13.

By all which it is apparent that the Religion of the Means is no further ufeful to us, than as it is apt to produce and promote in us thofe heavenly Virtues, the practice of which is the most direct and immediate Means to the ultimate End of a Christian. Wherefore as a man may knock and file, and yet be no Mechanick, though the Hammer and File with which he does it are very ufeful Tools

[ocr errors]

Tools to the making of any curious Machine; so a man may pray, and hear, and receive Sacraments, &c. And yet be a very Bungler in the bleffed Trade of a Heavenly Life. For though it is true, these are excellent Means of Heavenly Living, yet as the Art of the Mechanick confists not in ufing his Tools, but in ufing them in fuch a manner, as is neceflary to the perfecting and accomplishing his Work; So the Art of one that pretends to the Heavenly Life, confifts not barely in praying and hearing, &c. but in using these Means with that Religious Skill and Artifice which is necessary to render them effectually fubfervient to the Ends of Piety and Virtue.

[ocr errors]

And thus I have given a general Account of the Means which are neceffary to our obtaining of Heaven, and which, as I have fhewed, are either fuch as tend more directly and immediately to it, or fuch as more remotely respect it. The first is the Practice of thofe Heavenly Virtues in the Perfection whereof the Happiness of Heaven confists; the fecond is the Practising of those Duties which are necessary to our acquiring and perfecting those Heavenly Virtues. And of these two Parts confifts the whole Chriftian Life, which takes in not only all thofe Virtues that are to be practised by us in Heaven, but also all those Duties, by which we are to overcome the Difficulty of thofe Virtues, and to acquire and perfect them. The first of thefe, for Distinction fake, we will call the Heavenly Part of the Chriftian Life, it being that part of it which we shall lead in Heaven, after we have learnt it here upon Earth; The fecond I fhall call the Warfaring or Militant Part of the Chriftian

[ocr errors]



Life, which is peculiar to our Earthly State,wherein we are to contend and strive with the manifold Difficulties which attend us in the Exercise of thofe Heavenly Virtues. Both which, I conceive, are implied in those words of the Apostle,Phil.i.27. Only let your Converfation be as becometh the Gospel, where the Greek word Jude, which we render, Let your Converfation be, ftrictly fignifies, behaving our felves as Citizens; or which, if we may have leave to coin a word, may be fitly rendered, Citizen it as becomes the Gospel. For the word implies that those of whom he speaks, were Denizens of fome Free City; for fo the word iTuμa, which Phil. iii.20. is rendered Conversation,strictly denotes a Citizenship, from woxital, Citizens; and is of the fame import with one, which Acts xxii. 28. is tranflated a Freedom, i.e. of the City of Rome; which denotes the State and Condition of thofe, who, though they dwelt out of that City, and fometimes remote from it, had yet the Fus Civitatis Romana, the Priviledges of it belonging to them. For thus Cicero defcribes it, Omnibus Municipibus duas effe Patrias, unam Natura, alteram Juris, Catonis Exemplo, qui Tufcu li natus, in Populi Romani Societatem fufceptus eft: i.e. 66 All fuch as are made free of the City have

two Countries, one of Nature, the other of Law; as Cato, for instance, who was born at te Tufculum, and afterwards admitted a Citizen of Rome. Which exactly agrees with the Nature of this Heavenly oxirupa, or Citizenship, which the Apostle here attributes to Chriftians, who though they belong at present to another Country, and live a great way off from the


Heavenly City; have as yet no Domicilium in Urbe, no actual poffeffion of any of its bleffed Manfions; are notwithstanding Free Denizens of it, and have by Covenant a Right to all those blessed Priviledges which its Inhabitants do actually enjoy. From whence it is evident, that the TonTEVEJDE, in that Text, refers to their being Citizens of Hea-ven, and as fuch, it earnestly exhorts them to behave themselves; to live as those who being now in a remote Country are yet συμπολίται τῶν ἁγίων, asthe Apoftle expreffes it, Eph. ii. 19. i. e. FellowCitizens with the Saints above; that are connaturaliz'd with them into that Heavenly Commonwealth. And being thus understood, the Apostles Advice will comprehend it in both thofe kinds of Means which I have before defcribed. For, to live as Citizens of Heaven, is, First, to live like those who are the Inhabitants of Heaven, to imitate their blessed Manners and Behaviour, in doing the Will of God upon Earth, as it is done by them in Heaand this takes in the Practice of all those Heavenly Virtues of which the Religion of the End confifts Secondly, To live like those that have a ToxiTuμa or Citizenship in Heaven, that are entitled by Covenant to the Priviledges and Immunities of it, but are as yet to win its Poffeffion by a continual Warfare and Contention with those manifold Difficulties and Oppofitions which lie in our way to it; and this takes in the Practice of all thofe Duties in which the Religion of the Means confifts. To live like Chriftians therefore, or as becomes the Gospel, is to live in the continual Ufe of both kinds of the Means of Happiness. So that the Chriftian Converfation confifting of these



E 4


Two, is the only full and Adequate Means by which Heaven can be obtained.

But that I may make this more fully appear, I fhall confider thefe two parts of it diftinctly, and indeavour to fhew how effectually each of them doth contribute in its kind, to our obtaining the Happiness of Heaven. And first, I shall begin with the Proximate Means, viz. The Practice of all thofe Heavenly Virtues, which are implied in the Religion of the End, and do make the Heavenly Part of the CHRISTIAN LIFE.


Concerning the Heavenly Part of the Chriftian Life, which is the Proximate Means of obtaining Heaven; fhewing what Virtues it confifts of, and how much every Virtue contributes to the Happines of



IRTUE in the general, confifts in a fuitable Behaviour to the State and Capacities in which we are placed; Now Man, who is the Subject of that Virtue we are here difcourfing of, is to be confidered under a threefold Capacity. The

Firft, Isofa Rational Animal; the

Şecond, Of a Rational Animal related to God; the


« PreviousContinue »