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thofe, whofe Unhappiness it will be to be SERM. IV. too well-acquainted with the Original. Here the Body preffed down the Soul, and the earthly Tabernacle the Mind, that mufed upon many Things: But when the Soul fhall be clothed with refined Matter, which will not encumber her in her Operations; her whole Duration will be one continued Stretch of Thought, without any Pause or Intermiffion. And what a Mifery muft it be to be thinking still; and yet to have little or nothing to think on, but endless Mifery? To be at once deprived of all fenfual Delights, and cut off from the Enjoyment of rational and fubftantial Blifs, is a Mifery that we cannot now conceive, and-may we never feel!
That this may never be our Portion, let us, IIIdly, Attend to fuch practical Inferences, as arise from what I have before laid down.
ift, Beware of evil Habits. It is impoffible to overcome intirely our first Nature; and it is next to impoffible to overcome long ftanding Habits, which are our Second Nature. To deftroy the Power of Vice is like laying the Ax to the Root of the
SERM.IV.Tree: And it is not one Stroke, however
vigorous, or one Endeavour, which will
Sleep, into which they fink back again, cr overcome by the dead Weight, which hangs upon them." Take Care then of your Actions: Every evil Action is a Step towards an evil Habit; and every evil Habit is a Step towards that bottomlefsGulph, from which there is no Return. For when once ill Habits are rivetted in the Soul, you are miserable for ever, by a Neceffity of Nature: you have made yourself an Object incapable of Mercy, and indisposed to receive the Communications of the divine Favour. Let it be acknowledged that a fincere and thorough Repentance, implying an entire Change of the Heart, can never
be too late; but let it be likewife granted, SERM.IV. that a late Repentance is very seldom in this Senfe fincere. If the Man were reinstated in his former Health, Eafe poffibly might recant the Vows, that were made in Pain, as null and void.
2dly, As you are to avoid evil Habits, be fure betimes to acquire good Habits, as the neceffary Qualifications for Heaven. Some feem to think, that Religion confists in fome broken disjointed Acts of Piety: But let them not deceive themselves: True Religion confifts in the inward Frame of the Mind, in the standing Bent of the Inclinations, in fettled Habits of Piety constantly refiding in the Breaft, and, as often as there is Opportunity, breaking forth into outward Acts. Thus a Man fhall think himself devout, if he now and then occafionally fays his Prayers, and frequents the public Worship; though he often abfents himself upon every flight Occafion, upon no Occafion at all. But let him not deceive himfelf: If he were really devout, he would have a Relish for Acts of Piety, his Heart would cleave ftedfaftly unto God: and then he would not neglect private or public Prayers upon frivolous Pretences. Thus again a Man shall think himself cha
SERM. IV. ritable, because he now and then performs occafional tranfient Acts of Charity: But he alone is a charitable Man, who loves Mercy and Charity, and fheweth that he loves them, by the main Tenor and Current of his Actions; who, with a strong Benevolence of Soul, is glad to relieve proper Objects of Charity when he can; and fincerely forry when he cannot. And yet the very forrows of the Charitable give more fubftantial Satisfaction than the Joys of the Selfish. For Compaffion for the Distrest (a Sorrow of which the Charitable are most fufceptible) gives them to understand, that the habitual Difpofition of their Mind is right: And he, who does not feel that lovely Difpofition within, muft want a Pleasure, the Absence of which no other Pleasure can counterbalance. He is a thoroughly good Man, who has often tried and found his Virtue genuine, and clear of all Oftentation; who, inftead of boasting or complaining, loves to conceal the Good he does, and the Ills he suffers; who thinks that Happiness scarce any at all, which is folitary and uncommunicated; as Paradise was no Paradise to Adam, till he had a Partner of it. Till we have acquired an habitually-good Bent of Temper, we have not acquired thofe Qualifications, which
are the main Ground-work and Founda-SERM.IV.
tion of our future Happiness: We are not meet to be Partakers of the Inheritance of the Saints in Light.
Therefore, 3dly, Let us all confider, that our future Mifery or Happiness depends upon our prefent Behaviour. Our Happinefs in Manhood depends upon those early Accomplishments, which we have acquired in our younger Years. If that proper SeedTime of Life be neglected, we must expect no Harvest in the Autumn of it. Juft fo our Felicity in another Life must be owing to the Preparations we make for it here. And what we must be to all Eternity, will be the Confequence of what we have been in this World.
There is a certain Fool-hardinefs prevailing among us in Relation to a future State. Men live as carelessly or profligately, as if they never were to depart this Life; and then depart this Life with as much Stupidity and Hardness of Heart, as if they never were to live again. They ruth unprepared into the Prefence of the juft, the holy Legislator of the whole World, as inconfiderately and audaciously, as the Horfe rushes to the Battle, a Creature not capable of being frighted with Confequences, because incapable of reflecting