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which belong to our peace. Let us no longer suffer ourselves to be deceived by the vain illusions of dreams, but "lay up in store for ourselves a good foundation "against the time to come." Let us esteem it an inviolable maxim, that vain are all our hopes of living eternally in glory, unless we now possess the beginnings of glory in true holiness, and that none can attain the blessed resurrection of the body, whose soul has not first been raised from the death of sin. For in this sense too, these words in the Apocalypse hold true: "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first re"surrection; on such the second death hath no power."s It is certain, that "except a man be born of water and "of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of "God." Let every one, therefore, examine himself, whether he finds the Spirit dwelling in him as the author of a new life, by which he is dead to sin, the world, and himself, and lives to God. Let him inquire, whether he lives a kind of life, which is widely different from the ordinary course of mankind; which far excels the moral probity of Philosophers, the false religious zeal of Pharisees, the feigned sanctity of hypocrites, and the most splendid virtues, which men of any description can acquire by the unassisted powers of nature. Let him see if he possesses a life that elevates the mind above the vanishing enjoyments of this world, and keeps it fixed upon God, in contemplating, loving, praying to and praising him, and in imitating his excellencies;-a life, in fine, that exhibits evident traces of the life of God, and of that which Christ led on the earth. Since the prize under our consideration is of unbounded value,
f 1 Tim. vi. 19.
* Rev. xx. 6.
and since it is bestowed on very few, it is natural to conclude, that something peculiarly excellent must distinguish the character of such as are entitled to rank among those on whom it shall be conferred. "For I
say unto you, that except your righteousness shall "exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of hea66 ven." i 89
LXXXVIII. And assuredly that man is unworthy of everlasting life, who is not determined to prefer it to all other things, and to submit to any labour or exertion, how great soever, which the Divine wisdom has prescribed as a mean of attaining it. There is a story related by Marco Paulo the Venetian,* which, although strange, is well fitted to illustrate the present subject. The substance of it is as follows. A certain Tyrant in the country of Mulete, whose name was Aloadinus, formed a band of assassins, and availing himself of their unbridled ferocity, committed such ravages that he soon became a terror to all. To induce this execrable band of soldiers to hold themselves in readiness for whatever service he required, he had recourse to the following artifice. He had planted a garden for himself, situated in a most delightful valley, surrounded with lofty mountains, and furnished with every kind of pleasure, so as exactly to resemble the paradise of Mahommed, whose doctrines were held by himself and his subjects. The entrance was guarded by a well fortified castle, secured by a strong garrison; and there was no other way of entering or departing from the garden. Now pretending that God had intrusted him with the key of para
* Itiner. lib. i. cap. 28.
89 See NOTE LXXXIX.
dise, the Tyrant caused those whom he wished to render thoroughly obsequious to his orders, to be first intoxicated with a kind of poisonous liquor, and when by this means overcome with sleep, to be conveyed unconsciously into his enchanting garden, that when they awoke and found themselves in the midst of such extraordinary pleasures, they might imagine they were caught up into the paradise of God. But when they had scarcely begun to taste the numerous delights around them, being stupified by the same liquor, they were carried out of the paradise. After returning to their sober senses, they could not help lamenting that they had lost so great a felicity, and were perfectly willing to suffer death for the sake of being exalted to the perpetual enjoyment of such a life. The Tyrant thus imposed on simple young men, that, prepared to exchange the present life for that felicity, they might be prodigal of their blood, and might not shrink from the most hazardous enterprize. But if so gross a deception had so powerful an effect on the minds of men, to what noble efforts ought not we to be stimulated by the certain hope and the undoubted first-fruits of a solid and substantial felicity?
LXXXIX. God indeed has freely promised that future bliss to his people. It is " the gift of God through "Jesus Christ our Lord." Our title to eternal life is not founded on any merit of our own works, but solely on the satisfaction which Christ hath made in our stead. Let none, however, expect to obtain the possession of it otherwise than in the way of good works. The Apostle's earnest exhortation to all is, "Work out your own "salvation with fear and trembling." The attainment
J Rom. vi. 23.
k Philip. ii. 12
of so great a felicity is no easy or common matter. "The righteous" himself "is scarcely saved."
"strive to enter in at the strait gate." heavenly Jerusalem must be taken by a holy violence, nor can it be otherwise obtained. "The kingdom of "heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by "force." God "will render to every man according "to his deeds"; and he will adjudge eternal life to none but "them who by patient continuance in well"doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality." Now since a reward of such inestimable value is proposed, who can consider any labour undergone in the service of God, either excessive or fruitless?" There"fore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; foras"much as ye know that your labour is not in vain in "the Lord."P
xc. How can that labour be in vain, to which the Divine veracity has annexed a glorious reward, which the Divine goodness will bestow? Who that attends to these things would not exclaim with delight; " Oh! "how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up "for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought "for them that trust in thee before the sons of "men!" How great the consolation which the sure hope of this felicity is naturally calculated to administer to afflicted souls! If they are stripped of worldly wealth by the fraud and violence of unrighteous men ; thanks be to God that the happiness of the Christian by no means consists in possessions which moth or rust
1 1 Pet. iv. 18.
n Mat. xi. 12.
P 1 Cor. xv. 58.
m Luke xiii. 24.
• Rom. ii. 6, 7.
9 Ps. xxxi. 19.
doth corrupt, and which are exposed to the rapacity of thieves. What does he lose, from whom are taken away perhaps some small and naturally perishing things, to which he had given a place in his house, but not in his heart; whilst he retains the invaluable pearl of Divine grace unhurt by enemies, and is certain that the substantial treasures of glory are deposited, and kept safe for him with God, in the sacred treasury of the heavenly temple, nay, in the bosom of the Deity himself? If afflictions assail him, and particularly if he suffer for the sake of Christ and of righteousness, let it not seem hard to "suffer with Christ, that we "may be glorified together. For I reckon, that the "sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in "us." If the body be chastened with grievous diseases or pains, if the soul be harassed with sorrowful thoughts, if even the terrors of death approach, let the noble mind of the Christian look earnestly forward to futurity. Let him by faith anticipate those times, or rather those everlasting ages, in which the body, freed from all the pains of sickness, raised from the dust of death, and conformed to the glorious body of Christ, shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of his heavenly Father; in which the soul, delivered from all the conflicts of temptation, shall rejoice in God and the Lamb. Let him anticipate those ages, when he shall see, possess, and enjoy, without measure, and without satiety, all those felicities, which here, amidst the numerous troubles of life, and in spite of the rage and malice of the Devil, he believed, expected, and imvery perfectly tasted. Then resuming his courage, let him
r Heb. x. 34.
Rom. viii. 17, 18.