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be both witness and judge, may settle this important point within himself. We are all Christians. Be
But are we poor in spirit ? Are we humble, 'meek, and pure in heart? Do we pray without ceasing ? Have we nailed all our carnal appetites and desires to our Saviour's cross, “ living no longer to ourselves, but to him that died for us?” This is the true description of a Christian, by the testi. mony of that gospel which we acknowledge to be Christ's. And those, who are entire strangers to these dispositions of mind, know not, to be sure, the way of peace. These I earnestly intreat and beseech to rouse themselves, and shake off their indolence and sloth, lest, by indulging the vile de sires of the flesh, they lose their souls for ever. But if there are any among you, and, indeed, I believe there are some, who with all their hearts aspire to these Christian virtues, and, by their means, to that kingdom, which can never be shaken* ; “Be strong in the Lord, have your loins girt about with truth, and be sober, and hope to the end.” You will never repent of this holy warfare, where the battle is so short, the victory so certain, and your triumphal crown, and the peace procured by this conflict, will last for ever.
* Ασαλευτών. .
That Holiness is the only Happiness on this Earth.
The journey we are engaged in is indeed great, and the way up-hill ; but the glorious prize, which • is set before us, is also great, and our great and valiant captain, who has long ago ascended up on high, supplies us with strength. If our courage at any time fails us, let us fix our eyes upon him, and, according to the advice of the Apostle, in his divine Epistle to the Hebrews, “ Look unto Jesus,” removing our eyes from all inferior objects, that, being carried up aloft, they may be fixed upon him, which the original words seem to import* ; then being supported by the spirit of Christ, we shall overcome all those obstacles in our way, that seem most difficult to our indolent and effeminate flesh. And, though the way from the earth towards hea. ven is by no means easy, yet even the very difficulty will give us pleasure, when our hearts are thus eagerly engaged, and powerfully supported. Even difficulties and hardships are attended with particular pleasure, when they fall in the way of a courageous mind; and, as the poet expresses it, “ Serpents, thirst, and burning sands, are pleasing to virtue. Patience delights in hardships: and honour, when
εις Ιησεν αφορώμεν. Ηeb. xii. 2.
it is dearly purchased, is possessed with the greater satisfaction *."
If what we are told concerning that glorious city obtain credit with us, we will cheerfully travel towards it, nor will we be at all deterred by the difficulties that may be in the way. But, however, as it is true, and more suitable to the weakness of our minds, that are rather apt to be affected with things present and near, than such as are at a great distance, we ought not to pass over in silence, that the way to the happiness reserved in heaven, which leads through this earth, is not only agreeable, because of the blessed prospect it opens, and the glorious end to which it conducts, but also for its own sake, and on account of the innate pleasure to be found in it, far preferable to any other way
of life that can be made choice of, or, indeed, imagined, Nay, that we may not, by low expressionst, derogate from a matter so grand and so conspicuous, that holiness and true religion, which leads directly to the highest felicity, is itself the only happiness, as far as it can be enjoyed, on this earth. Whatever naturally tends to the attainment of any other advantage, participates, in some measure, of the nature of that advantage. Now, this way to perfect felicity, if any thing can be so, is a means that, in
Sepens, sitis, ardor arenæ
LUCAN, lib. ix. 9. + Μικρολογία.
a very great measure, participates of the nature of its end* ; nay, it is the beginning of that happiness, it is also to be considered as a part of it, and differs from it, in its completest state, not so much in kind, as in degree: so that in scripture it has the same names : as for instance, in that passage of the Evangelist, s. This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true Godt;" that is, not only the way to eternal life, but also the beginning and first rudiments of it, seeing the same knowledge, when completed, or the full beatific vision of God, is eternal life in its fulness and perfection. Nor does the divine apostle make any distinction between these two : “ Now, says he, we see darkly through a glass, but then we shall see openly, or, as he expresses it, face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know, as I also am knownt.' That celestial life is called an inheritance in lights, and the heirs of it, even while they are sojourning in this earth, children of the light|l, and, expressly, light in the Lord. “ You were, says the apostle, sometime darkness, but now are ye light in the Lords.” They will be there perfectly holy, and without spot; and even here they are called holy, and in some respect, they are so. Hence it is, that those who are really and truly good and pious, are, in scripture, often called blessed, though they are not fully and perfectly so. « Blessed is the man
+ John xvii. 3. || 1 Thess. v. 5.
1 Cor. xiii. 12. Eph. v. 8.
that feareth the Lord*. And blessed are the undefiled in the way t.”
Even the philosophers give their testimony to this truth, and their sentiments on the subject are not altogether to be rejected : for they, almost unanimously, are agreed, that felicity, so far as it can be enjoyed in this life, consists solely, or at least principally, in virtue: but as to their assertion, that this virtue is perfect in a perfect life, it is rather expressing what were to be wished, than describing things as they are. They might have said, with more truth and justice, that it is imperfect in an imperfect life; which, no doubt would have satisfied them, if they had known, that it was to be made perfect in another place, and another life, that truly deserves the name, and will be complete and perfect. In this, however, we heartily agree with them, that virtue, or, as we rather choose to express it, piety, which is absolutely the sum and substance of all virtues, and all wisdom, is the only happiness of this life, so far as it is capable thereof.
And if we seriously consider this subject but a little, we shall find the saying of the wise king Solomon, concerning this wisdom, to be unexceptionably true.
“ Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.”
Doth religion require any thing of us more, than that we live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world ? Now what, pray, can be more pleasant or peaceable than these? Temperance is always * Psal. cxii. 1.
+ Psal. cxix. 1.