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much to your comfort and usefulness in life. Reflect seriously, what is true happiness? Does it consist in distance from God, or in nearness to him? surely you cannot be a christian, surely you cannot be a rational man, if you doubt, whether communion with the great Father of our spirits be a pleasure and felicity: and if it be, then surely they enjoy most of it, who keep him most constantly in view. You cannot but know in your own conscience, that it is this which makes the happiness of Heaven; and therefore the more of it any man enjoys upon earth, the more of Heaven comes down into his soul. If you have made any trial of religion, though it be but a few months or weeks since you first became acquainted with it, you must be some judge of it upon your own experience, which have been the most pleasant days of your life. Have they not been those, in which you have acted most upon these principles; those in which you have most steadily and resolutely carried them through every hour of time, and every circumstance of life? The check which you must in many instances give to your own inclinations, might seem disagreeable; but it would surely be overbalanced in a most happy manner, by the satisfaction you would find in a consciousness of self-government; in having such a command of your thoughts, affections, and actions, as is much more glorious than any authority over others can be.

§. 5. I would also intreat you to consider the influence, which such a conduct as this might have upon the happiness of others. And it is easy to be seen, it must be very great; as you would find your heart always disposed to watch every opportunity of doing good, and to seize it with eagerness and delight. It would engage you to make it the study and business of your life, to order things in such a manner, that the end of one kind and useful action might be the beginning of another; in which you would go on as naturally, as the inferior animals do in those productions and actions by which mankind are relieved or inriched; or as the earth bears her successive crops of different vegetable supplies. And though mankind be, in this corrupt state, so unhappily inclined to imitate evil examples rather than good, yet it may be expected, that while your light shines before men, some seeing your good works will endeavour to transcribe them in their own lives, and so to glorify your Father which is in Heaven*. The charm of such beautiful models would surely impress some, and incline them at least to attempt an imitation; and every attempt would dispose to another.

* Matt. v. 16.

And thus, through the divine goodness, you might be entitled to a share in the praise, and the reward, not only of the good you had immediately done yourself, but likewise of that which you had engaged others to do. And no eye, but that of an all-searching God, can see, into what distant times or places the blessed consequences may reach. In every instance of which these consequences appear, it will put a generous and sublime joy into your heart; which no worldly prosperity could afford, and which would be the liveliest emblem of that high delight which the blessed God feels, in seeing and making his creatures happy.

§. 6. It is true indeed, that amidst all those pious and benevolent cares, afflictions may come, and in some measure interrupt you in the midst of your projected schemes. But surely these afflictions will sit much lighter, when your heart is gladdened with the peaceful and joyful reflection of your own mind, and with so honourable a testimony of conscience before God and man, Delightful will it be, to go back to past scenes in your pleasing review, and to think, that you have not only been sincerely humbling yourselves for those past offences, which afflictions may bring to your remembrance; but that you have given substantial proofs of the sincerity of that humiliation, by a real reformation of what has been amiss, and by acting with strenuous and vigorous resolution on the contrary principle. And while converse with God, and doing good to men, are made the great business and pleasure of life, you will find a thousand opportunities of enjoyment; even in the midst of these afflictions, which would render you so incapable of relishing the pleasures of sense, that the very mention of them might in those circumstances seem an insult and a reproach.

§. 7. At length, death will come: that solemn and important hour, which hath been passed through by so many thousands who have in the main lived such a life, and by so many millions who have neglected it. And let conscience say, if there was ever any one of all these millions, who had then any reason to rejoice in that neglect; or any one, among the most strict and exemplary christians, who then lamented that his heart and life had been too zealously devoted to God? Let conscience say, whether they have wished to have a part of that time, which they have thus employed, given back to them again, that they might be more conformed to this world; that they might plunge themselves deeper into its amusements, or pursue its honours, its possessions, or its pleasures, with greater eagerness than they had done? If you were yourself dying, and a dear friend or

child stood near you, and this book and the last chapter of it should chance to come into your thoughts, would you caution that friend or child against conducting himself by such rules as I have advanced! The question may perhaps seem unnecessary, where the answer is so plain and so certain. Well then, let me beseech you to learn how you should live, by reflecting how you would die, and what course you would wish to look back upon, when you are just quitting this world, and entering upon another. Think seriously; what if death should surprise you on a sudden, and you should be called into eternity at an hour's or a minute's warning, would you not wish that your last day should have been thus begun; and the course of it, if it were a day of health and activity, should have been thus managed ? Would not you wish that your Lord should find you engaged in such thoughts and in such pursuits? Would not the passage, the flight from earth to heaven be most easy, most pleasant in this view and connection? And on the other hand, if death should make more gradual approaches, would not the remembrance of such a pious, holy, humble, diligent and useful life, make a dying bed much softer and easier, than it would otherwise be? You would not die, depending upon these things; God forbid that you should! sensible of your many imperfections, you would, no doubt, desire to throw yourself at the feet of Christ, that you might appear before God, adorned with his righteousness, and washed from your sins in his blood. You would also with your dying breath ascribe to the riches of his grace every good disposition you had found in your heart, and every worthy action you had been enabled to perform. But would it not give you a delight worthy of being purchased with ten thousand worlds to reflect, that his grace bestowed upon you had not been in vain*; but that you had, from an humble principle of grate ful love, glorified your heavenly Father on earth, and in some degree, though not with the perfection you could desire, finished the work which he had given you to do +; that you had been living for many past years as on the borders of heaven, and endeavouring to form your heart and life to the temper and manners of its inhabitants?

§. 8. And once more, let me intreat you to reflect on the view you will have of this matter, when you come into a world of glory, if (which I hope will be the happy case) divine mercy conduct you thither. Will not your reception there be affected by your care, or negligence, in this holy course? Will it appear

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an indifferent thing in the eye of the blessed Jesus, who distributes the crowns, and allots the thrones there, whether you have been among the most zealous, or the most indolent of his servants? Surely you must wish, to have an entrance administered unto you abundantly, into the kingdom of your Lord and Saviour and what can more certainly conduce to it, than to be always abounding in this work †? You cannot think so meanly of that glorious state, as to imagine, that you shall there look round about you with a secret disappointment, and say in your heart, that you over-valued the inheritance you have received, and pursued it with too much earnestness. You will not surely complain, that it had too many of your thoughts and cares; but on the contrary, you have the highest reason to believe, that if any thing were capable of exciting your indignation and your grief there, it would be that amidst so many motives and so many advantages, you exerted yourself no more in the prosecution of such a prize.

§. 9. But I will not enlarge on so clear a case, and therefore conclude the chapter with reminding you, that to allow yourself deliberately to sit down satisfied with any imperfect attainments in religion, and to look upon a more confirmed and improved state of it as what you do not desire, nay, as what you secretly resolve that you will not pursue, is one of the most fatal signs we can well imagine, that you are an entire stranger to the first principles of it.

A Prayer suited to the State of a Soul, who desires to attain the Life recommended above.

"BLESSED God, I cannot contradict the force of these reasonings: Oh that I may feel more than ever the lasting effects of them! Thou art the great fountain of being, and of happiness; and as from thee, my being was derived, so from thee my happiness directly flows; and the nearer I am to thee, the purer and the more delicious is the stream. With thee is the fountain of life; in thy light may I see light! The great object of my final hope is to dwell for ever with thee. Give me now some foretaste of that delight! Give me, I beseech thee, to experience the blessedness of that man who feareth the Lord, and who delighteth greatly in his commandments; and so form my heart by thy grace, that I may be in the fear of the Lord all the day long || !

#2 Pet. i. 11. † 1 Cor. xv. 58. Psal. xxxvi. 9. § Psal. cxii. 1. || Prov. xxiii. 17.

"To thee may my awakening thoughts be directed; and with the first ray of light that visits mine opening eyes, lift up, O Lord, the light of thy countenance upon me! When my faculties are roused from that broken state in which they lay, while buried, and as it were annihilated in sleep, may my first actions be consecrated to thee, O God, who givest me light; who givest me, as it were, every morning a new life and a new reason! enable my heart to pour out itself before thee, with a filial reverence, freedom and endearment! And may I hearken to God, as I desire he should hearken unto me! may thy word be read with attention and pleasure! may my soul be delivered into the mould of it, and may I hide it in mine heart, that I may not sin against theet! Animated by the great motives there suggested, may I every morning be renewing the dedication of myself to thee, through Jesus thy beloved Son; and be deriving from him new supplies of that blessed spirit of thine, whose influences are the life of my soul !

"And being thus prepared, do thou, Lord, lead me forth by the hand to all the duties and events of the day! In that calling, wherein thou hast been pleased to call me, may I abide with thee; not being slothful in business; but fervent in spirit, serving the Lords! May I know the value of time, and always improve it to the best advantage, in such duties as thou hast assigned me; how low soever they may seem, or how painful soever they may be! To thy glory, O Lord, may the labours of life be pursued; and to thy glory may the refreshments of it be sought! Whether I eat, or drink, or whatever I do, may that end still be kept in view, and may it be attained! And may every refreshment, and release from business, prepare me to serve thee with greater vigour and resolution!


May mine eye be watchful to observe the descent of mercies from thee; and may a grateful sense of thine hand in them add a savour and a relish to all! And when afflictions come, which in a world like this I would accustom myself to expect, may I remember that they come from thee; and may that fully reconcile me to them, while I firmly believe, that the same love which gives us our daily bread, appoints us our daily crosses; which I would learn to take up, that I may follow my dear Lord¶, with a temper like that which he manifested, when ascending Calvary for my sake; saying like him, the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it**? And when I

§ Rom. xii. 11.

Psal. iv. 6.
1 Cor. x. 31.

+ Psal. cxix. 11.
Mark viii. 34.

1 Cor. vii. 20. ** John xviii. 11.

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