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chan leading of armies, facking of towns, pillaging of cities, drenching of fields with blood, and barbarously conquering the world! What is that to the taking of the kingdom of heaven? and taking it with such violence, ardour and arms as the laws of military discipline, in the christian ceconomy, do require ? We must fight our way to that kingdom, and seize the crown. Hold fast that which thou hast, that no one take thy
Here's a kingdom, that cannot be moved or shaken. A throne, that can never be undermin’d. A crown that brings no cares or fears, no sorrows or disquietment to the wearer. A crown of life and joy! Here's employment for mind and thought, for heart and affection, throughout the time of life, to study and secure the kingdom of heaven and glory.
III. He must assure himself of his title to this kingdom. He must know himself to be heir thereof and in the way to poffeßion. What good will it do me, that there are riches in the world, as long as I have no right to them: What will it fignify, that there is such a kingdom, while we have no interest in it! This is work for our time; to make our calling and election sure, to that kingdom and the glories of it. This will include a study of the divine covenant, by which the kingdom is secured: Ofthe terms and capitulations, on which it is offer'd to us : Of the graces and qualifications, that are prescribed: The nature of that repentance towards God, and that faith in the Lord Jesus, upon which we shall be entituled to that kingdom : A search and view of our spirits, that we may there find the prescribed qualifications and endowments : An afsurance of our integrity towards God in all those graces and spiritual actions, that carry the promise of the eternal kingdom; that we may be able to rejoyce in God, and rejoyce in hopes of the glory of God; and to rejoyce with such an hope, as will not make us ashamed at the day of our account and expected entrance into the kingdom.
IV. He must be useful in that orb of life in which divine providence has placed him. Every one has some relation or other to those about him. It is not in our power to choose the sphere, in which we first appear in the world. It may not be in our power, fairly and honestly to
rise much above the sphere in which we first appeard. If any can do so, they should proportionably shine according to their elevation. But goodness and usefulness in the world, must be the christian's carc. Whether high or low, something may be done for God and man. The rich have many ways wherewith to benefit all about them. The poor may be rich in grace; and may instruct, advise, direct those about them ; may glorify God by their faith, humility and patience; may be exemplary in virtue, and by prayer, obtain mercy for themselves and others. The removal of a serious, praying person is a greater loss, than the world is aware of. But here's work for life! to be serviceable and significant in the world.
V. He must prepare for, and be ready to be dismissed from the world, at his Lord's call and pleasure. He must be ripening for heaven, and willing to go at the summons. We may wonder what the Antediluvian inhabitants of the earth found themselves to do for seven or eight hundred years together. If, like Enoch, they walked with God, and were preparing for a blessed eternity, they had good work, and work enough for their time. But since very few did so, or look'd after a better world, they might (one should think) be weary of this. Weary of eating and drinking and building, and planting, and running the same round, for so many hundred years together. The christiani's life is much shorter. But as short as it is, there is (usually) time to lay hold on eter. nal life ; and having so laid hold on it, to be willing to go it. This we have to do, to be made inect for the inheritance of the saints in light; and then to be content (or even desirous) to be dismist hence, and go to the inheritance of the luminous faints therein. To be willing to leave the world, and pass off cheerfully from the stage of it, as being well assured, that when the earthly tabernacle is disolved, we shall have a building of God (and with God); an house not made with hands (and incomparably more excellent than all that are) eternal in the heavens.
Here's employment for our fleeting days! Here's work, for which it might be worth while to be born! This will answer the dignity of human nature, and all the extent of its powers! Pity, that any should be unacquainted with this business, which is so necessary and noble! Sad, that any should have time hanging upon their hands, and vacant days, they
know. not how to employ; while an endless life, an eternal kingdom, and a blessed eternity is to be obtained and secured.
S E C T. XVI.
The Christian Institution inspires the inost noble
Principles and Ends of Action and Conduct of Life ; the most pure and generous Aims that Human converse can admit of,
HE spirit of man is capable of great refinement, and an exaltati
on above animal and earthly principles. Men naturally live to themselves, and look but little beyond themselves and some selfish interest. They work and labour, attend their shops and mind their estates for themselves and their own sensual benefit. They covet an offspring, and support their families and live reputably, for their own private satisfaction and pleasure. They atchieve publick, laudable works for their own honour and fame; found hospitals and schools for their own glory, or for quieting an accusing conscience, or in honour to, and to procure the intercession of, some angel or saint in heaven; or for satisfaction to heaven for some heinous offences. Very evil ends are apt to mix themselves with the most costly and (outwardly) charitable benefactions. Not that we would judge of particulars. But sometimes the springs of action are o pened, and then they appear to be ill and immoral enough. And where history informs us, that the men themselves were naught, the principles. of their fine exploits cou'd not be very good.
The moralift looks to and upon the intended) end of actions. From thence arises much of their morality (or goodness) or immorality; their rewardableness or demerit. No man thinks himself obliged to another for an act or work, that was never designed for him. Religious morality
carries the intention to God, and sets him up as the ultimate end of all. The first cause and soveraign author of all ought to be acknowledged as such; that is, should have the honour and glory of all. In whom we live, to him we ought to live and devote (or design to his glory) all the moral actions of life. Herein, the morality of the heathen world must be extremely debased or even enervated. The multitude of their Gods would confound the mind and intention. One might take it ill, that he is more honoured than another. Or if one must be ultimately intended (which yet is not distinctly taught) the intention will be dissipated and scatter'd between a multitude of subordinate deities. Then the deities they imagined, were not very excellent, venerable Beings in their own nature. They were not only finite, but small, diminutive Beings (comparatively to what a deity must be). Nor were their excellencies mightily transcendent. They had their humours and passions, their intrigues and contentions, and could scarce be worthy, in themselves, of all the honour and devotion of the world. Besides, there should be some connection between the causality and finality of things. He that is the intended end of all things should be (some way or other) the chief cause of all things. Then, things will have their dependence on him, and owe their original chiefly to him. So far then as the heathens denyed the causality of their Gods, so far, it should scem, they cut off from them that regard and honour, that makes them the end of all. Thereupon the Epicurean Gods would soon sink from that regard and honour. They are supposed neither to have made the world, nor to govern it, or be much concerned about it. The God of the Peripatetics, so far as it is supposed, that he could not help what he did, that he made all things by necessity of nature, ar that all things necessarily sprung from the necessary energy of his life and esence, will be debarr’d the honour of a voluntary cause and the dues (or duties) that are suitable thereto. Indeed all the effects (as being absolutely necessary) will be deprived of any voluntary intention and ability for moral service. And the other sages among them did much abridge the causality of God. But where the divine caufality was, in some measure acknowledged, the divine finality (or the intending God, as ultimate end) was egregiously neglected. How little do we read such morality (or morality so crown'd) among them? Rcafon (or right rcafon, as it is called)
is, therein almost deified among them; whence a grave author observes, Usque adeò ut in libris illis, quos tanti faciendos efe Suprà diximus, Aristotelis ad Nicomachum, et Marci Tullii de officiis, de religione deque pietate adversus Deum, (quod mirum sanè videri debet) nihil planè traditum sit aut constitutum. Amyrald. Calv. Def. p. 200. So that their morality may be said to be a rational, not a religious, morality. The great end of morality, God and his glory, is, (as it were, sacrilegioully) overlook'd and omitted. Which sadly intimates that the supreme love of God (or love to God), as the governing principle is also wanting.
But the christian institution advances the most noble and sacred principles and ends. The most facred principles ;
1. Supreme love to God must govern all. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength (all the ardour of our spirit must be exerted in his love) and with thy mind (thy mind must be employed in the knowledge of him, to in flame the love) This is the first and great command
II. There must be a love to mankind, for God's sake; as his workmanship, as bearing some natural image of him, as capable of serving and honouring God, and of being happy in him for ever. This is a most generous, disinterested, or un selfish love.
III. There must be a strong love to the church of God; as the house of God; his tabernacle among men; to the members of the church, as the members of Christ, the redeemed of the Lord, the justified and fanctified in Christ Jesus, the candidates of heaven, and heirs of the eternal Inheritance.
IV. Love to self is here sanctified; the soul is to be preferr'd to the body; we love ourselves for God's sake; and study the eternal salvation, that we may love admire and glorify him in perfection, in the heavenly fociety.