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Fix therefore this great truth in your mind, that you are made for heaven; to labour here, and to enjoy your Maker eternally hereafter. This is the basis of all our hopes, and ought to be the end of all our actions. The Scripture declares it in a hundred places, and the whole series of our stupendous redemption supposes it. Nay, the very incapacity of all fublunary things, to satiate the vast depres of a human beart, teaches us, that our final content dwells in a bigher region ; and consequently, that whosoever seeks it in this world, will in the end meet with nothing but disappointment. Our salvation therefore is our grand concern, because it is the very, end of our creation ; for what deferves the name of a matter of concern, but that, on which depends a great advantage, or an exceffive damage ? Now what can we hope for
in this world comparable to the enjoyment of God? Or what can we fear, that bears any equality with the torments of hell ?
Between things finite and infinite, there is no proportion.
Tho' we take false measures in the management of temporal concerns, future care may retrieve a past misfortune : wisdom bought at our own expence is generally more useful, than that we receive from nature, or instruction. In a word, if bad success attend one enterprise, good may crown the second. Fortune grows weary of perfecuting her enemies, no less than of favouring her friends : her frowns are as short-lived as her smiles; fo that, as no man can expect a continual train of pro
fperity, be ought not to apprehend a constant Adversity. But tho' all the evils, that ever befell the whole species, were concenter'd in the Jame person ; if (in the end) be saves his soul, be must be pronounced happy; for those must expire with his last breath; but salvation is happiness above imagination, and (what enbances its value) without end.
But on the other side, tho' we sparkle in folk, and glitter in filver; if we die the death of the rich glutton, and change our stately palace for a grave in hell, what will our past titles and equipage avail us ? Shall we be less miserable, because once we were happy ?
Alas! nothing finks deeper into the hearts of the damnd, than the sad remembrance, that once they might bave been happy.
Remind those unfortunate creatures (the world was pleased to stile witty and prudent) of their vast atchievements, will they not confess, those encomiums were ill placed? Seeing they have negle&ted their great concern, and wearied themselves in trifles, which they might have wanted without disadvantage, and could not purchase without pain ? Seeing they forgot the only business, that deserved their thoughts and required their application? The doleful burthen of their eternal lamentation demonstrates, that the title of folly suits better with their conduct, than that of prudence ; and that they fling up all claim to the elogium of wits, to take that of madmen. We fools counted their life madness, Wild, v. 4. Fools that we were ! with what an air of assu
rance did we laugh at those (as men, without brains, without reason) who made the purchase of heaven their business, and a happy eternity, the subject of their sollicitude ? Who contemned temporal concerns, as trivial and childish, below the care of a wise man, and the very thoughts of a Christian? How are they reckon'd among the children of God, ver. 5. Ob ! how the scene is changed! Their folly bas raised them above the stars, and our topping parts have plunged us below the center; they fing eternal Alleluia's in the choirs of the blessed, whilst we high and lament among the damned: therefore have we gone astray. The conclufion is admirable, but it comes too late ; tho the damned are excellent Logicians, they will remain bad Christians to all eternity.
Our salvation is not only our greatest concern, but our only concern. We have no bufiness in this world, but to secure our happiness in the next : God had no other dengn in our creation, but our felicity and his own glory. For this end be endowed us with an understanding to krow him, and with a will to love him. Our only business therefore is, to. tend to this end, and all those actions, that look another way, are excentrical. My businefs is not to fit at the helm of the government, to make a figure in the world, to purchase titles, or buy lordships; but to save my foul ; and if I save it, I have answered the end of my creation, tho' I live in poverty, and die in contempt. But if I damn it, tho' I
gain the world, I have done nothing. For, in fine, I have only done, what I should not have done, and have neglected what I should not have deferred one moment; so that I have been laboriously idle
. Again, our salvation is our bufness alone, because it is in our power alone to purchase it. We can strike up bargains, and make contracts, by proxy ; but all men must work out their
falvation in person : for, as the enjoyment of God is personal, so is the deserving of this blessing also ; and, as no man is damned but for his own fins, jo no man will be saved but for his own virtues. In fine, it is our only business
, because on this alone depends eternity: other concerns look not beyond time. Grandeur and wealth, and the whole train of temporal advantages, cannot out-live fome few years; but this looks into eternity : it passes with us into the other world, and only begins when life ends. In a word, this is the one thing necessary of all men: they may be happy without title or escutcheon, without beauty or applause ; but cannot without the enjoyment of God. I doubt not, dear Reader, but you
believe these truths. But, alas! all the damn'd souls are of the same perfuafon ; they believed, as we do ; and by misfortune we live, as they did: and as our lives resemble theirs, God send our death proves not a copy of theirs. If you intend to profit, leave the bare theory to come to practice. The Pagan philosophers composed as fine panegyricks of virtue, as Christians: but
the practice of virtue renders us virtuous, not the knowledge. What hgnifies it to know the way to heaven, unless we walk in it? To believe we were made for God, unless our works answer our belief ? Let therefore this prime article influence your whole conduct, and that it may more forcibly work upon you, have it always in view. I have a soul to save, and this is my great, nay, my only concern. If I bring this to a happy issue, I am made for ever ;
if I miscarry, all is loft for eternity ; for who can be more happy, than he who enjoys God; or who more miserable, than he who feels the flames of Hell?