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Rest any of us be hardened through the des ceitfulness of fin.:
The great promise which Christ hath given us, is that of eternal happiness with himself; and to quicken our endeavours after it, these two things require our serious and daily consideration ; viz...
What is necessary on our part; in order to eternal happiness; and
How constant our care should be to do that daily, which is so indispensably res quired of us. }i, . . is
That which is necessary on our part is; in short, a godlike temper, and difpoftion of mind. Though our Saviour hath purchased for us a liberty to enter into that holy and blissful place above; yet to prea pare us for its such a frame of heart is requisite, as will make it, to us a place of happiness indeed. Now that must needs be a divine frame; or a temper suitable to the nature of God. For we must not think, that the mere possession of heaven makes the spirits of men happy; nor that a quiet griefless condition is that wherein Vol. IV, Z
all happiness doth confift. Happiness, which is compleat and perfect, muft an fwer all the faculties of the fouls and God must be the glorious object for us to enjoys that is, to admire, and love, and delight in, toʻall eternity. There must be therefore a likeness of temper, and a likeness of mind; because unlikeness naturally carries with it disagreeableness and averfion, which is no more reconcilable with happiness, than love is with hatred.
To live happily with God and Chrift, we must be of the fame difpofitions : And It was for this great reason, that when Chrifto lived with us upon earth, he gave us fo many spiritual and divine laws. They were not purely arbitrary commands, proceeding from God's abfolute and uncontroulable pleasure, merely to try and exercise our obedience ; but they were intended as wise and gracious methods, to polith our minds, to perfect our nature, and to raise it by degrees to fuch an high and noble pitch, that it might come near to the most perfect and bleffed nature of his Fa
ther, for the enjoyment of whom he came to fit us.
And thus therefore it appears, that the thing which is neceffary on our parts in order to eternal happinefê, is a godlike temper and disposition of mind. Which being thoroughly considered, it will manifestly appear, that to obtain this requires our daily and constant care. For it is a thing of no sudden dispatch; but that which requires all the time a man can find in his whole life to do it well. Those virtues which ferve to perfect us, and to make us like unto God, are not poured out all in an instant; much less can they become prefently habitual. There is required a constant course of repeated actions to acquire and fix them; and this requires constancy of practice. Day by day, fome part or other of this necessary work must be dispatched: otherwise, the difficulties of it will increafe ;*in this refpect like fem cular business, which when it comes in upon us in abundance, grows under our hands by being neglected, though but for a day. Z2
In the prosecution of this matter, let us consider, what labour the very beginnings call for. The first talk we are to go about is, to rèEtify our corrupt nature; which is a thing that obligeth us to continual attendance and care over it, because it is like a fort of soil, which is apt of itself to run to weeds. We brought with us from the womb, the seeds and principles of evil. And as these appear betimes, lo they rise quickly to a great height. Here then the work should be early, for the save ing of tiine; to cultivate our nature from our youth ; with a quick hand to check those vices, which are like poisonous weeds in us; and to make them die daily, as the man grows..
Pride, anger, spitefulness, envy, sensuality, inordinate self-love, roughness, and intractability of spirit, and whatever comes under the notion of ill-nature,--these are very noxious things, that spring out of us, and that stain and vitiate the whole man „more and more daily; and therefore require constant diligence to root them out
what what we can, while the mind is yet soft, tender, and pliable: because when once the devil cultivates, and custom confirms them, they will be the harder and harder to be rooted out. Many a soul is spoiled and ruined, for want of good education in time. The practice of sin brings delight with it; pleasure makes it customary; custom renders it habitual; and when that which was a fault, comes to be wickedness, studied, acted, repeated vice, and deeply rooted ---the labour in clearing the foul of it, will be as different in proportion, as it is between weeding out a little shrub, and plucking up a large tree.
This confirms the matter that I am now upon, namely, that in new moulding our hearts to fit ourselves for eternal happiness, we should do something every day that is considerable. For the time we lose or neglect, vice gains; and thereby becomes more difficult to be fubdued and mortified. Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard bis spots? Then (says the prophet) may ye also do good, that are accus tomed to do evil. To break an habit, espe