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only like adding another pair of shoes to a body in
Thou mayest hire more servants, new paint thy rooms, make more fine beds, eat out of plate, and put on richer apparel, and these will help thee to be as happy, as golden staves, or painted shoes, will help a dead man to walk.
See here, therefore, the true nature of all worldly show and figure, it will make us as great as those are, who are dreaming that they are kings, as rich as those who fancy that they have estates in the moon, and as happy as those who are buried with staves in their hands.
Now this is not carrying matters too high, or imposing upon ourselves with any subtleties of reasoning, or sound of words; for the value of worldly riches and honours can no more be too much lessened, than the riches and greatness of the other life can be too much exalted. We do not cheat ourselves out of any real happiness, by looking upon all worldly honours as bubbles, any more than we cheat ourselves by securing honours that are solid and eternal.
There is no more happiness lost by not being great and rich, as those are amongst whom we live, than by not being dressed and adorned as they are, who live in China and Japan.
Thou art no happier for having painted cielings, and marble walls in thy house, than if the same finery was in thy stables; if thou eatest upon plate it maketh thee just as happy as if thy horses wore silver shoes.
To disregard gold, jewels, and equipage, is no more running away from any real good than if we only despised a feather, or a garland of flowers.
So that he who condems all the external show and state as equally vain, is no more deceived, or carried to too high a contempt for the things of this
life, than he that only condemns the vanity of the vainest things.
You do not think yourself imposed upon, or talked out of any real happiness, when you are persuaded not to be vain and ambitious as Alexander.
And can you think that you are imposed upon, or drawn from any real good, by being persuaded to be as meek and lowly as the holy Jesus?
There is as much sober judgment as sound sense in conforming to the fulness of Christ's humility, as in avoiding the height and extravagance of Alexander's vanity.
Do not, therefore, think to compound matters, or that it is enough to avoid the vanity of the vainest men. There is as much folly in seeking little as great honours; as great a mistake in needless expense upon thyself as upon any thing else. Thou must not only be less vain and ambitious than an Alexander, but practise the humility of the blessed Jesus.
If thou rememberest that the whole race of mankind are a race of fallen spirits, that pass through this world as an arrow passes through the air, thou wilt soon perceive that all things here are equally great and equally little, and that there is no wisdom or happiness, but in getting away to the best advantage.
If thou rememberest that this life is but a vapour, that thou art in the body, only to be holy, humble, and heavenly-minded, that thou standest upon the brinks of death, resurrection, and judgment, and that these great things will suddenly come upon thee, like a thief in the night, thou wilt see a vanity in all the gifts of fortune, greater than any words can express.
Do but, therefore, know thyself, as religion has made thee known, do but see thyself in the light, which Christ has brought into the world, and then thou wilt see that nothing concerns thee but what.
concerns an everlasting spirit that is going to God; and that there are no enjoyments here that are worth a thought, but such as may make thee more perfect in those holy tempers which will carry thee to heaven.
perfectly devoted to God.
HRISTIANITY is not a school for the teach
ing of moral virtue, the polishing our manners, or forming us to live a life of this world with decency and gentility.
It is deeper and more divine in its designs, and has much nobler ends than these; it implies an entire change of life, a dedication of ourselves, our souls and bodies unto God, in the strictest and highest sense of the words.
Our blessed Saviour came into the world not to make any composition with it, or to divide things between heaven and earth, but to make war with every state of life, and to put an end to the designs of flesh and blood, and to show us, that we must either leave this world to become sons of God, or, by enjoying it, take our portion amongst devils and damned spirits.
Death is not more certainly a separation of our souls from our bodies, than the Christian life is a separation of our souls from worldly tempers, vain indulgencies, and unnecessary cares.
No sooner are we baptized, but we are to consider ourselves as new and holy persons, that are entered upon a new state of things, that are devoted to God, and have renounced all to be fellow-heirs with Christ, and members of his kingdom.
There is no alteration of life, no change of condition, that implies half so much as that alteration which Christianity introduceth.
It is a kingdom of heaven began upon earth, and by being made members of it, we are entered into a new state of goods and evils.
Eternity altereth the face and nature of every thing in this world, life is only a trial, prosperity becometh adversity, pleasure a mischief, and nothing a good, but as it increaseth our hope, purifieth our natures, and prepareth us to receive higher degrees of happiness.
Let us now see what it is to enter into this state of redemption.
Our own church, in conformity with Scripture, and the practice of the purest ages, makes it necessary for us to renounce the pomps and vanities of the world, before we can be received members of Christian communion.
Did we enough consider this, we should find that whenever we yield ourselves up to the pleasures, profits, and honours of this life, that we turn apostates, break our covenant with God, and go back from the express conditions, on which we were admitted into the communion of Christ's church.
If we consult either the life or doctrines of our Saviour, we shall find that Christianity is a covenant, that contains only the terms of changing and resigning this world for another that is to come.
It is a state of things that wholly regards eternity, and knows of no other goods and evils but such as relate to another life.
It is a kingdom of heaven, that has no other interests in this world than as it takes its members, out of it, and when the number of the elect is complete this world will be consumed with fire, as having no other reason of its existence than the furnishing members for that blessed society, which is to last for ever.
I cannot here omit observing the folly and vanity of human wisdon, which, full of imaginary projects, pleases itself with its mighty prosperities, its lasting establishments in a world doomed to destruction, and which is to last no longer than till a sufficient number are redeemed out of it.
Did we see a number of animals hastening to take up their apartments, and contending for the best places, in a building that was to be beat down, as soon as the old inhabitants were safe out, we should see a contention full as wise as the wisdom of wordly ambition.
To return. Christianity is, therefore, a course of holy discipline, -solely fitted to the cure and recovery of fallen spirits, and intends such achange in our nature, as may raise us to a nearer union with God, and qualify us for such high degree of happiness.
It is no wonder, therefore, if it makes no provision for the flesh, if it condemns the maxims of human wisdom, and indulges us in no worldly projects, since its very end is to redeem us from all the vanity, vexation, and misery, of this state of things, and to place us in a condition where we shall be fellow-heirs with Christ, and as the angels of God.
That Christianity requires a change of nature, a new life pefectly devoted to God, is plain from the spirit and tenour of the Gospel.
The Saviour of the world saith, that except a man be born again, of water and the Spirit,
John iii. 5. he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. We are told, that to as many as received him, to them he gave power to become the sons of God, which were born, not of blood, nor of John i. 12. the will of the flesh, nor of the will of inan, but of God.
These words plainly teach us, that Christianity implies some great change of nature; that as our