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deal of care is to be used, when we go to feast with the King of heaven; but that is not the greatest, much less all the care of a Christian. If God prepare a supper, we should prepare ourselves to be fit guests, (so much is resolved upon by all ;) the only danger is, left we do not think this preparation looks so far back as it really doth. It is not the preparing just a little at that time, the putting on a grave and serious deportment when we come thither, when perhaps we are wicked and ungodly at other times; but an holy life is the true preparation of our souls to be God's guests.
Whatsoever care and exactness we use, and whatsoever extraordinary ornaments we put on, immediately before our approaches to him; - yet -- that a constant good behaviour towards God and man, is the main thing we are to look after,-is the sum of what I have to say in the following particulars. The
First of which I have already begun, and it is nothing but this, That boliness
is to be a Christian's constant employment; and the great business of his life. It is not a quality of which we have use only at certain times, nor is it a strickness at some seasons that gets us a liberty in the rest of our lives to be loose and careless; nor a folitary retiredness now and then, that shall make an amends for all our neglects or breaches of our duty ; but it is a walking with God, a patient running of the race which he hath set before us, and a daily dying unto the world, insomuch that the apostle faith; We must be boly in all manner of conversation. We ought not to think that we have done enough, when we separate and fet apart some small share of our time for holy purposes, before we come to the table of the Lord, or against an holy time ; but every day, in a due measure and proportion, ought to be holy unto the Lord. We should learn, not only to purify ourselves for a set number of days, as if we had appointed or ordered so much time to be spent in holiness, and so much in fin; but to behave ourselves as if we did account our whole life an op
Vol. IV. Ff p ortunity portunity of serving God, and a season of cleansing ourselves from all that filthiness of flesh and spirit, which will hinder us to see the face of God.
The next thing I would have observed, is, that this holiness confifts of a&tions of divers forts, and is exprefed in different manners. It is diversified, not only by the objects about which it is employed; but the state of the subject wherein it is, will not permit that all the acts of it should be of one kind and value. Some of them respect God, others our neighbours, and the rest ourselves ; and all these we can do at some times with a better understanding and greater devotion, than at other times it is possible for us to do. For we begin this life of holiness, when we are baptized into the Christian faith, and take upon us those facred, engagements to be his servants. We are ever after this under a religious tie and vow; and the next step which we take to the discharge of it, is to be catecbifed and instructed in Christ's religion, which is all that a child is capable of. And then when we come to years
of discretion, we are to advance ftill forward by confirmation, to a serious profession that we stand to our first covenant, and will be true and faithful to our Lord. Now all our life after is but an afferting of our truth and fincerity in this holy covenant, and at making good our promise wherein we stand engaged. Which when we labour conscientiously to perform, then do all the actions of our lives become holy;--not equally so in all instances, but in their several kinds and degrees.
THERE is another ching likewise that must be confessed, That though all ačtions of holiness have a regard to God, as they are parts of our obedience to his commands ; yet some of them have a more particular respect to him, and are more industriously intended to his honour. Though all holy actions look towards him, yet some of them are more particularly under the light of his countenance. His glory is to be always our end; but sometimes we are said more particularly to glorify his name. As when we advance him highly in our own Ff2
thoughts; thoughts; or when we proclaim his exc. cellencies to the world. When we pay our, acknowledgements to him for blessings received, or wait on his bounty for things that we need. In a word, prayer and praises, meditation of him, and defires after him, reading and hearing of his holy word, with such like actions, are of that sort wherein we do as it were behold his face, and do more sensibly taste of his goodness.
IT MUST, in the next place, be considered, that these several acts of religion are mutually preparative one to another. The daily sacrifice makes the weekly more acceptable. Continual prayer, makes us more fit for prayer on the Lord's day.
The morning and evening spent well, make us ready to spend a whole day better. Our extraordinary devotions, make us more folemn in our ordinary duties; and the Lord's day employed well, makes every day to be spent the better. Meditation and retired thoughts, fit us for prayer; and prayer again nourisheth and feeds our me