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coursed, it hence follows, that the main difference · between Virtue and Heaven is only Gradual; that Virtue is the Beginning of Heaven, and Heaven is the Perfection of Virtue, And if so, then as the lowest Degree of true Virtue is a step Heaven-wards, so every farther Degree is a nearer Approach towards the Heavenly state. So that as we grow in Grace, and proceed from one Degree of Virtue to another, we draw nearer and nearer to that blessed Condition in which we shall be all pure Virtue without any sinful Alloy or Intermixture. And this is the true State and Condition of Heaven.
CHA P. II.
Concerning the Means by which this Great
End of the Christian Life is to be ata tained,
T is to be considered that the great Design of
Christianity being to advance our Natures to fuch a sublime Degree of Purity and Perfection as is requisite to capacitate us for the Enjoyment of a Heavenly Bliss it was necessitated in order hereunto, to strain our Duty to a greater height chan any preceding Law had done before it. For the End of all Gods Laws is the Happiness of his Suba jects; and therefore that they may be effectual Means to promote this End, it's necessary that the Duties they enjoyn should be such as the Nature of our Happiness requires. Now in the fis& ftate
of our Nature, which was that of Innocence; we seem to have been design?d only for a Terrestrial Paradise, that is, to enjoy the pleasures of a pure mind inhabiçipg a sensitive and animal bos dy, and therefore had we stood ( which God foresaw we should not, and therefore design'd us for a more raised and heavenly condition) our happiness would have been what it is now in this world, though in a higher degree, viz, a com pound of spiritual and bodily delights, ito be enjoy'd in a state of earthly immortality which would have been of a much inferior nature to that pure state of spiritual happiness whereunto we are now defigned and directed: And to ferve this · former end in the possession of which man was placed in the state of Innocence, God gave him the Law of Nature, which seems to have been nothing elfe but only Right Reafon dictating to us what is mecefàry to be done in order to this our Earthly Happiness. And accordingly the Duties of this Law were of a much lower strain than the Duties of Christianity; they being intended for the Means and Instruments of a much lover Happiness. For in this our Earthly and Animal State, Right Rea son could require nothing of us but what was lub? fervient to our Earthly and Animal Felicity, which was only a mixture of bodily and mental, sensitive and rational pleasure, and nothing could be good for us but what tended thereunto, nos thing evil but what did obstruct and oppose it. But now that our Happiness is placed in ano ther World, and in such vastly different Enjoy menes from those of a Terrestrial Paradise, wis muft proceed upon other Principles. For now
every Action is Good or Bad, Wise or Foolish, as it serves or hinders our happiness in the World to come. And therefore it is highly reasonable that now we should live at a different rate, chan what we were obliged to in that Animal state wherein we were firit Created; that we should submit our earthly to our heavenly Interest, and renounce the Joys and Pleasures of this Life, whenfoeyer they stand in competition with the spiritual Felicities of the Life to come. Now we are no longer to look upon this world as our Native Country, but as a Foreign Land; and so we are to reckon our selves Strangers and Pilgrims upon Earth ; and accordingly to use the conveniencies of this Life as strangers do their Inns, not to abide or take up our habitation in them, but only to bait and away, and refresh our felves that so we may be the better enabled to perform our Journey to the Eternal World. For the scene of our Happia ness being shifted from an Earthly Immortality, to an Heavenly; and consequently the Happiness it self being now much more fublime and pure and fpiritual than it would have been, had it continuo ed Earthly; it's necessary that our Nature Thould be exalted with it, and that we should be raised as high above the condition of meer Earthly Cream tures, aš that is above the rank, and quality of an Earthly Happiness; otherwise it will be imposible for us to relish and enjoy it.
Now every Agent hath need of more or femer Means proportionably as he is farther off, or nearer co the End he drives at. As for instance, the Husbandman that hath a fat and fruitful Soil to fow his Seed in, is nearer to the attaining of a good
Harvest, Harvest,than he that hath a barren or story Ground to work upon; and therefore hath much less to do. For whereas the latter, before he can plow and sowe, mult manure his Ground and gather out the stones of it; the former needs only plow up the fertile Earth, and' cast his Seed into it. Or to come closer to the cafe in hand; a nian that is meerly ignorant is in a much
nearer capacity of true Knowledge, than he whose mind is altogether prejudiced with erroneous Principles; and therefore needs much fewer Helps and Means to attain it. For his mind being perfectly disengaged, is like a fair Paper, on which as there is nothing writ, so there is nothing to be blotted out ; So that all that he hath to do, is to enquire after and receive the Truth when it is fairly proposed to him. But as for the Prejudiced man, he hath a great deal to unlearn, before he can be capable of Learning ; a great many false Principles to be expunged, before ever the true Notions of Things can be imprinted on his Understanding.
If therefore we would take a true account of all those Means that are necessary to our attaining of Heaven, we must consider what a vast distance we are from it in this corrupt and degenerate staté of our Nature. If we were in a state of Indifference between Vertue and Vice we should be much nearer Heaven than we are ; For then, as we should be without those Heavenly virtues in the free Exercise whereof the face of Heaven consists; so we. hould be without all that Repugnance and Aversation to them which renders them so difficultly attainable;and ourNature being already in an Aquilibrium would by the least oner-weight of Motive be presently inclined to Virtue and Goodness. But,
alas! in this corrupt state whereinto we are fuok, pur Nature runs Evil-wards with a very strong and prevailing Biass; and is not only void of virtue, but averse to it. And this sets us at a far
greater distance from the blessed End of our Religion than otherwise we should be. For every Degree of vicious Inclination that is in us, is a Remove from Heaven, a Defcent from that perfection of Virtue. wherein the Heavenly Blessedness consists. And if so, how remote from Heaven are the Generality of men in the Beginning of their Progress thither; when to their natural Corruption they have superadded by their sinful Courses so many inordinate Inclinations and inveterate sinful Habits ; when by a long series of wicked Actions, they have raised and blown up their Concupiscence into such raging flames of Lust as generally they do! And being thus far gone back from our End, there are sundry Means, which otherwise would have been perfe&ly needless and fuperfluous, that are now become absolutely necesary thereunto. For had we begun our Progress towards Heaven from a state of Indifferency between Virtue and Vice, we had had no more to do but to practise those feveral virtues of Religion, of which the Heavenly Life and state consists ; to love and to contemplate, to adore, and to obey God, and behave our felves justly and charitably towards one another;all which would have been so eafie, that we should have had no occasion of any Instrumental Duties to facilitate them to us. Whereas now starting Heaven-wards, as we generally do, from a most corrupt and degenerate State, there are fundry other Means which we must use as Inftruments that are necessary to