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to submit to, for mortifying their Vanities, and amending their Lives.
For, (which is of all others the last and dreadfulleft Aggravation,) those Miseries and Tortures have no End, no Refreshment, no Intermission. But the sharpest AMictions we endure in this Life, will quickly have a Period : They have their Interval of Ease and Comfort ; and those Sorrows, which we feel upon a Religious Account, are largely recompensed with Spiritual Consolations, and sweet Peace of Mind. Do not then grudge a little present Grief; but mourn earnestly for thy Sins, and bend thy utmost Thoughts and Care to the Subduing and Reforming them; that this short Anxiety inay deliver thee from eternal Despair, and Anguilh unconceivable ; and those few Tears of Repentance, may secure to thee a Portion of Everlasting Joy with the Blessed.
O happy Reverse of all their Griefs and Sufferings, which the Righteous Shall find in that Day! when they shall stand full of Hope and humble Confidence before that Judgment-Seat, from which their Haughty and Merciless Oppressors, confounded with Fear, and amazed with Guilt, shall strive and wish in vain to hide their trembling Heads. When he, who now stands tamely at the Bar of Men, and innocently suffers, shall then be advanced to a Throne, and placed among the Saints and Martyrs, to alist at the Tryal of his, once insulting, Judges. When the Poor and Meek shall have great Boldness, while the Proud and great Sinner quakes at the Presence of God and the Lamb. Wher that Piety and godly Fear, that Abstinence and severe Virtue, that patient Enduring for Christ's fake, which is now thought just Matter of Derision and Contempt, and counted Folly and Religious Madness, shall then be acknowledged by its most fatyrical Scorners, to be indeed the True, the Only Wisdom. When the Remembrance of past Miseries shall be sweet, and They,
whose wicked Malice exercised such Patience, shall be struck Dumb with fad Remorse and Bitterness of Sout. When all, who devoted themselves to God and his Service, shall be transported with Raptures of Joy; and all those who disregarded or despifed them, shall Weep and Lament. When the Afflicted and Perfecuted fhail bless his bitter Cup, and feel more refined, more fubstantial Delights from it, than sensual Pleasures, or uninterrupted Prosperity could ever bring to the most Voluptuous and Fortunate. When the plain Dress of the Humble, and Sackcloth of the Penitent, shall shine glorious as the Sun; and all the gay Pomp and glistering Jewels of the proud and gaudy Sinner shall be trampled under Foot like Dung. When the Cottage shall take place of the Court, Patience appear more eligible than the most boundless and arbitrary Power; the honest Obedience of an humble Faith, more Wise, than the nicest Cavils of the fubtlest Wit; and a good Conscience more useful Learning, than the most elaborate Systems of Philosophy. When the Contempt of Riches shall approve it self the greatest Treasure ; Devout Prayer the most delicious Entertainment; Silence and Caution the best Conversation. When Good Works shall plead better than the most accurate Eloquence; Alms prove the most prevailing Advocate; Self-denial the most exalted Pleasure ; and the Conquest of ill Habits the most glorious Triumph.
If then this be, (and this most assuredly is) a true Representation of that decisive Day: If this the different Fate and Effect of these fo very different Persons and Practices ; Consider, I conjure thee, the Circumstances of those Damned. And harden thy self from this Reflection, to endure a Little now, when That little will secure thee against enduring infinitely more hereafter. Make tryal of thy felf, and if the flight Difficulties of a Religious Life seem tedious and tirefome; turn the Argument against thy sensual Inclina
tion, and think, how one who links under these, will be able to dwell with exquisite and Everlasting Tor
Nor is this a trifling needless Enquiry, but absolutely necessary, and of mighty Moment. For Matters are so ordered, that perfect Ease can be no Man's Portion in both Worlds. They who chuse their good Things here, cannot have them hereafter too ; nor shall any Man, who indulges Sense and Pleasure upon Earth, Rejoice and Reign with Christ in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Suppose then, that, from your Entrance into the Body to this very Day, you had enjoyed the utmost your Heart could possibly desire, of all which this World calls Happiness; Honours, Riches, Pleasures, without Check, or Stint, or Interruption : Yet what Good would all this do to you, if it should please God just now to strike you with Death? Do not you plainly fee, without my prosecuting this Argument any farther, that all below is Vanity and mere Nothing, and that the Love of God and a Religious Life is the only thing which can stand you in any stead? This will stick by you, when all the rest forsake you. This is neither destroyed by Death, nor afraid of Punishment, but Triumphs over both; fills the Man with Confidence and joyful Expectation at the dreadful Day of Judgment; and fets him above all the Terrors and dismal Apprehensions of Hell and its Tortures. But then, This is the peculiar Privilege of the Servants of God; for how is it possible for the Men who practise and delight in Wickedness, to think of Death and Judgment, without Fear and Perplexity of Heart? How should they enjoy Quiet, and be easy in their Minds, if they think at all what is coming apace upon them? Let then the Love of God prevail over that of Sin. But if thou art not yet perfect enough to be acted by this noble Principle; Let at least the Love of thy self reclaim thee, and the Fear of Hell
restrain and deter thee from a Course, which must end
at last in thy utter and inevitable Ruin. Psal. cxi. 10. This, says the Scripture, is the begin
ning of Wisdom ; for he who is Proof against the Fear of God, cannot persevere in any thing that is good; as having no manner of Principle that can save him, no Curb upon his Mind that can awe, or hold him in, from running headlong into the Snares of the Devil
CH A P. XXV.
E fervent in Prayer, serving the Lord, says the ApoB ttle. And such indeed it highly concerns every
one to be in his Service. For what is the Rom. xii. 11.
End we propose, by dedicating our felves in folemn Vows to Christ? Or to what purpose do we renounce the World and its Vanities; but that these sacred Ties may engage our utmost Watchfulness and Diligence, to consecrate our Persons and Actions, to conform our selves to the Image of God, by living to him, and like him, and much above'the Rate of common Men? Let not therefore these good Resolutions cool
upon your Hands ; but be zealous in Piety and Virtue. Consider that you shall shortly receive an ample Recompence for all your holy Labours, and see a happy End of Grief, and Fear, and Hardship. Be content with Travel and Pain for a very little while, and
you shall be sure to find Rest, and Peace Matth. xi. 28.
and Joy to your Souls. The Yoke is easy and 30. 2 Cor. iv. 16. the Burden is light; but the Weight of Glory
is far more exceeding and eternal. Be but you careful to discharge your part, and then you need
never doubt God's making good his. Support and encourage your self with the full Affurance of obtaining the Crown ; but take heed, that Assurance do not degenerate into Presumption ; nor the Prospect of Bliss, which should excite a more active and chearful Obedience, become an Occasion of spiritual Security and Sloch.
I remember an Instance of a person irresolute and wavering in the Concerns of his Soul, divided between Hope and Fear, who in his Prayers was earnestly intreating, to be assured of his own Perseverance; and expressing, how happy he should think himself, could he bút be satisfied in this point. Whereupon he was immediately answer'd from within, Well, and supposing you could be assured of this, how would you proceed then ? Do but act now, as you would think your self obliged to do in that case, and never question your persevering. This comfortable Reply settled his Mind; and, instead of indulging any curious Enquiries into Events, or anxious Doubts concerning the Success of his Endeavours; he immediately applied himself to consider what God expected from him, and to set about the Performance of That, without more to do. Trust in the Lord, and be doing good, says the Pfal- Psal
. xxxvii. mift ; commit thy way to him, and he shall bring it to pass.
The great and common Obstacle to vigorous Virtue is the dreadful Notion Men form to themselves of the Difficulties attending it, `and how laborious a thing Religion is. And true it is, Exalted Piety will cost many a fore Conflict. But even this Consideration may be fome Encouragement too; when we consider, that the Hardship of the Undertaking, and the Violence of the Opposition, add to the Glory of the Fight ; and entitle the Conqueror to a Crown fo much brighter, as the Toil and Hazard of the Day he won, was greater. For the more a Man subdues him