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Thus it is sufficient to the happiness and good government of this world, that men do no injury to each other, and that they express mutual civilities and respects, that they take care of those whom nature has endeared to them, and that they be in ordinary cases helpful to others ; and therefore this is all, that the state of this world requires. But that divine and universal charity, which teaches us to love all men as ourselves, even our enemies, and those who hate and persecute us ; to forgive the injuries we suffer, and not to revenge and retaliate them, not to render evil for evil, nor railing for railing, but on the contrary, blessing : I say, this wonderful virtue does not only lie extremely cross to self love, but is hardly reconcileable with the state of this world: for the practice of it is very dangerous when we live among bad men, who will take advantage of such a bearing and forgiving virtue, to give great occasions for the constant exercise of it, and nothing but a particular providence, which watches over such good men, can secure them from being an easy prey to the wicked and unjust : nay, we see, this is not practicable in the government of the world ; civil magistrates are forced to punish evil doers, or the world would be a Bedlam ; and therefore those who have thought such public executions of justice, to be inconsistent with tăis law of forgiving injuries, and not revenging ourselves, have made it unlawful for christians to be magistrates, because hanging, or whipping, or pilloring malefactors, is not forgiving them, as certainly it is not: A very absurd doctrine, which makes it necessary that there should always be heathens in every nation, to govern even a christian kingdom, or that the christian world should have no government at all, though nominal and profest christians have as much need of government as ever any heathens had. But this forgiving enemies is only a private virtue not the rule of public government ; which shews, that the state of this world is so far from requiring this virtue, that it will admit only the private exercise of it, and that too under the protection of a particular providence, to defend those good men who must not avenge themselves. Vow such virtues as the state of this world does not require, we must conclude, are only in order to the next, and that though we do not so well discern the reason and use of this divine chari. ty here, yet this temper of mind is absolutely necessary to the happiness of the other worla ; and for that reason it is, that Christ requires the exercise of it now; for we cannot imagine any other reason why our Savior should make any acts of virtue, which the state of this world does not require the present exercise of, the necessary terms and conditions of our future happiness, bui vuly that such dispositions of mind are as necessary to qualify us to rel
ish those divine pleasures, as our bodily senses are to perceive the delights and pleasures of this world. This is a mighty obligation on us to obey the laws of our Savior, as the methods of our advancement to eternal glory ; not to dispute his commands, how uneasy or unreasonable soever they may now appear, for the reasons of them are not to be fetched from this world, but from the next; and therefore are such, as we cannot so well understand now, because we know so little of the next world ; but we may safely conclude that Christ knows a reason for it, and that we shall quickly understand the reason of it, when we come into the other world : and therefore we should endeavor to exercise all those heights of virtue, which the gospel recommends to us, for as much as we fall short of these, so will our glory and happiness abate in the other world.
3ly, Though the state we enter on at death, be in a great measure unknown to us, yet this is no reasonable discouragement to good men, nor encouragement to the bad : 1. It is no reasonable discouragement to good men; for though we do not know what it is, yet we know it is a great happiness ; so it is represented to us in scripture, as a kingdom, and a crown, an eternal kingdom, and a never fading crown: now would any man be unwilling to leave a mean and homely cottage to go and take possession of a kingdom, because he had never yet seen it, though
he had heard very glorious things of it, from very faithful and credible witnesses ? For let us consider a little in what sense the happiness of the other world is unknown.
1. That it is not such a kind of happiness as is in this world, that it is like nothing, which we have seen or tasted yet : but a wise and good man cannot think this any disparagement to the other world, though it would have been a real disparagement to it, had it been like this world : for here is nothing but vanity and vexation of spirit, rothing but an empty scene, which makes a fine show, but has no real and solid joys: good men have enough of this world, and are sufficiently satisfied, that none of these things can make them happy, and therefore cannot think it any disadvantage to change the scene, and try some unknown and unexperienced joys; for if there be such a thing as happiness to be found, it must be something which they have not known yet, something that this world does not afford.
2. When we say, that the state of the other world is unknown, the only meaning of it is, that it is a state of such happiness, so far beyond any thing we ever experienced yet, that we cannot form any notion or idea ofit; we know that there is such a happiness,we know in some measure wherein this happiness consists, viz. In seeing God, and the blessed Jesus, who loved us, and gave himself for us ; in praising
our great Creator and Redeemer ; in conversing with saints and angels ; but how great how ravishing and transporting a pleasure this is, we cannot tell, because we never yet felt it; our dull devotions, our imperfect conceptions of God in this world, cannot help us to guess what the joys of heaven are ; we know not how the sight of God, how the thoughts of him, will pierce our souls ; with what extasies and raptures we shall sing the song of the Lamb; with what melting affections perfect souls shall embrace ; what glories and wonders we shall see and know ; Such things as neither eye hath seen,
heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive. Now methinks this should not make the thoughts of death uneasy to us, should not make us unwilling to go to heaven ; that the happiness of heaven is too great for us to know, or to conceive in this world : For,
3. Men are naturally fond of unknown and untried pleasures ; which is so far from being a disparagement to them, that this itself raises our expactations of them, that they are unknown : In the things of this world, enjoyment usually lessens our esteem and value for them, and we always value that most, which we have never tried ; and methinks the happiness of the other world should not be the only thing we despise, before we try it ; all present things are mean, and appear to be so, when they are enjoyed :