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things, and how they act the part of Antichrist in thus letting and hindring the Course of the Christian Religion.
In the mean time I shut up all with this Prayer, that God would give Light to those Heathens, Jews and Mahumet ans that fit in Darkness and in the Shadow of Death, and that in order to this, he would first guide the Feet of us Christians into the Way of Peace, Amen.
DISCOURS E the Eighth.
MATTH. V. Ver. x, xi, xii. Blessed are they which are perfecuted for Righteous
ness fake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Or, as it may be read from the Close, Great is their Reward in Heaven.
T has been ever a great Occasion of
Dissatisfaction to some Men that there I
should be any such thing as Evil in
the World. A greater yet, that this Evil should often fall upon good, and sometimes upon the best of Men. But the greatest of all is, that not only good Men should meet with Evil, but that their very Goodness should betray them into it; that suffering should not only be the Portion of the Righteous, but that Men should suffer for the Sake of their Righteousness. It seems hard indeed that a Righteous Man should suffer, but much more that he should suffer for bis being Righteous, and that Affliction should not only be the Lot, but also the Effect and Consequence of his Vertue. For if Honesty and Integrity cannot be a Defence and Privilege against Evil, yet one would expect it should not be a Procurer of it, and that if the Man were not the better for his Vertue, yet at least he should not be the worse.
THESE. have been always as perplext Appearances in the Moral, as any that arise in the Natural System of the World, a frequent Trouble and Discouragement to the Good and Pious, and a more frequent Occasion of Triumph to the Atheistical and Prophane, who have raised from hence their most plausible Objections both against the Being and the Order of Divine Pravidence, which by these greatest Difficulties of it they have been incouraged either to Deny or to Condemn.
WITH the two first of these Difficulties I am not at present concern’d, nor shall I determin of what Force the last and greatest might be, were this the last State of things, and the Allconcluding Scene of the World. Perhaps it might then be strong enough to conclude what some are now so weak as to wish and believe. But certainly with the Supposition of an After-state the Objection is so far from being Desperate, that I can see nothing Difficult in it: And I think 'tis here sufficiently answer'd by that ample Com
pensation promis’d by our Saviour to all those whose faithful Adherence to a good Cause, shall at any time engage them in Sufferings and Affilictions. For fays he, Blessed are they which are persecuted for Righteousness" sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Which last Words (as our Saviour afterwards explains them) contain not only a Promise of Heavenly Happiness in general, but of a greater Degree and Measure of it, and intitle the Sufferers for Religion, those who undergo Persecution for Righteousness fake, to a more than ordinary weight of Glory. So that hence arise two Propositions to be distinctly consider'd:
FIRST, That there are Degrees in that Glory. which shall be the Reward of Saints in Heaven.
SECONDLY, That one of the highest Degrees
of it shall be the Reward of those who suffer Persecution for the sake of Righteousness.
That there are Degrees of Glory, tho' by some a much contested, is yet I think a moit certain and unquestionable Truth. The Certainty of which I shall endeavour to establish upon these few evident Principles.
FIRST, I confider that this must needs be the natural and necessary Result of things. And here I defire only it may be granted me, That there are some certain Dispositions of Soul necessary to relish and enjoy the Happiness of Heaven. "This I think is a Supposition that need
not be disputed, since even to the Enjoyment of
fensible Good there is requisite a Proportion of - Sense. The Ear must be tunably set to relish
the Charms of Musick, and the Palate must be rightly disposed to find any Pleasure in the sweetest Delicacies. And if these grosser Objects that have a more natural Affinity with the Organs
of Sense, and Atrike hard upon them, will yet
affe&t them without some more particul'ar inward Preparation; there is greater reason to think that the Delights of Heaven that are so far above the Level of our Natures, so pure and so refined, cannot be tasted but by a suitable Difposition of Soul. The Necessity of which ap
pears so great, that I am apt to think Practical Discourse of (as a late worthy Writer of our Death, p.76. Church does) that the whole Moral
Excellency of some Vertues is their Qualification for the Happiness of another State, they being of no great consequence to the present Order of this World.
WELL then, if certain Difpofitions of Soul be required to fit us for the Happiness of Heaven, then it follows, that the inore disposed any Souí is for the Glories of Heaven, the more happy she must needs be in the Enjoyment of them. And if so, then 'twill be necessary to say, either that all Souls are equally disposed, which would be to contradie the Sense and Experience of the whole World; or if one be better disposed than another, then in proportion one will also be more happy than another. The Consequence is
plain and necessary, If there must be a Moral Qualification of Soul to fit a Man for Happiness, then certainly the more qualified the more happy. Which has made me often wonder at the Self-inconsistency of those who allowing a vertuous Frame and Temper of Mind to be a Natural Disposition for Happiness, do yet deny greater Degrees of Glory to greater Degrees of Vertue. Indeed if a Moral Disposition of Soul did not fit us for Happiness, the case were otherwise; but since 'tis allowed to do that, I cannot conceive but that the Degrees of Happiness must follow the Degrees of Vertue. And indeed how can he that thinks at all, think otherwise, but that a Soul well purg'd and purify'd, that has undergon a long Course
of Mortification, till she is throughly awakened into the Divine Life and Likeness, and is arrived to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, Eph. 4. 13. must find more Happiness in the Vision of God, than a Soul just pregnant with the Divine Form, and that carries away with her only the first Rudiments of Spiritual Life! Certainly that Soul which is most like God will be most happy in the Fruition of him. This is no more than what may be concluded from the meer natural necessity of things, without having recourse to any positive Order of God about it. But neither may that be fup. posed to be wanting. For,
SECONDLY, I consider that the same may be concluded from the Justice and Goodness of God, as well as from the Nature of things. And firit,