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Yet this is as good an Argument, as to say, that all Men are not callid to the same State of Goodness, or Perfection, because they are admitted to different Rewards in the other Life.
For it is as right Reasoning, to say, God rewards frail and imperfect Men, therefore they were callid to no higher Perfection; as to say that because God rewards different Degrees of Goodness, therefore Men are not call'd to one and the same Goodness.
For as God could reward none, unless he would reward such as had Failings, so their Difference in their Failings may make them Objects of his different Mercy and Rewards, though the Rule from which they fail'd, was common to them all,
IT therefore plainly appears, that the different Degrees of Glory in another Life, are no more a Proof that God calls fome Persons to different and lower States of Goodness, than others, than his pardoning Variety of Sinners is a Proof that he allow'd of those Kinds of Sin, and did not require Men to avoid them. For it is full as good an Argument to say, God pardons some Sinners, therefore he did not require them to avoid such Sins, as to say God rewards different Degrees of Goodness, therefore he did not call People to higher Degrees of Goodness.
So that the different Degrees of Glory in the World to come are no Objection against this Doctrine, that all Christians are called to one and the fame Piety and Perfection of Heart.
LASTLY, it may be farther objected, that although the Law of God calls all Men to the fame State of Perfection, yet if there are different Degrees of Glory given to different Degrees of Goodness, this shews that Men may be saved, and happy, without aspiring after all that Perfection to which they were called.
It may be answered, That this is a false Conclusion : For though it may be true, that People will be admitted to Happiness, and different Degrees of Happiness, though they have not attained to all that Perfection to which they were called; yet it does not follow that any People will be saved who did not endeavour after that Perfection. For surely it is a very different Case, to fall short of our Perfection after our best Endeavours, and to stop short of it, by not endeavouring to arrive at it. The one Practice may carry Men to a high Reward in Heaven, and the other cast them with the unprofitable Servant into outer Darkness.
THERE is therefore no Foundation for People to content themselves in any lower Degrees of Goodness, as being sufficient to carry them to Heaven, though not to the highest Happiness in Heaven.
For consider, thou hearest there are different Degrees of Glory; that they are proportioned to different States of Goodness in this Life, thou wilt therefore content thy self with a lower Degree of Goodness, being content to be of the lowest Order in Heaven. Thou wilt have only so much Piety as will save thee.
But consider how vainly thou reasonest; for though God giveth different Rewards, it is not in the Power of Man to take them of himself. It is not for any one to say I will practice so much Goodness, and so take such a Reward. God seeth different Abilities and Frailties in Men, which may move his Goodness to be merciful to their different Improvements in Virtue: I grant thee that there may be a lower State of Piety which in some Persons may be accepted by God.
But consider, that though there is such a State of Piety that may be accepted, yet is that it cannot be chosen, it ceases to be that State as soon as thou chusest it.
God may be merciful to a low Estate of Piety, by reason of some pitiable Cir
cumstances that may attend it;
attend it ; but as soon as thou chusest such an Estate of Piety, it loses those pitiable Circumstances, and instead of a low State of Piety, is changed into a high State of Impiety.
So that though there are meaner Improvements in Virtue, which may make fone Persons accepted by God, yet this is no Ground for Content or Satisfaction in such a State ; because it ceases to be such a State, and is quite another thing, for being chosen and satisfy'd with.
It appears therefore from these Considerations, that notwithstanding God may accept of different Degrees of Goodness, and reward them with different Degrees of Glory in another Life, yet that all Christians are called to one and the same Perfection, and equally obliged to labour after it.
Thus much may suffice to give the Reader a general Notion of Perfection, and the Necessity of endeavouring after it.
WHAT it is, and what holy Tempers it requires, will, I hope, be found sufficiently explained in the following Chapters,
The Nature and Design of Chri
stianity, that its sole End is to deliver us from the Misery and Disorder of this present State, and raise us to a blissful Enjoyment of the Divine Nature.
HE Wisdom of Mankind has for several Ages of the World been enquiring into the Nature
of Man, and the Nature of the World in which he is placed.
THÉ Wants and Miseries of human Nature, and the Vanity of worldly Enjoyments, has made it difficult for the wifeft Men to tell what human Happiness was, or wherein it consisted.
It has pleased the infinite Goodness of God, to satisfy all our Wants and Enquiries by a Revelation made to the World by his Son Jesus Christ.