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is absolute only for the Present, and reaches not the Future, but only upon Condition, supposing that we persevere in the present Dispofition; which, considering the Mutability of our Wills, and the Multitude of our Temptations, and the frequent Examples of Apoftacy, is a Thing not only of uncertain, but of hazardous Consequence.
And as we are not, cannot be absolutely sure that we shall not miscarry, fo, on the other hand, 'tiş most certain, that we shall be unspeakably miserable if we do. For a Man to fall off from his last End, and only true Good, without any Hopes or Possibility of Recovery, is a thing that can hardly be thought of without Confusion and Amazement. Now let a Man put these two things together, That whether he shall be saved, or no, is a Matter of a depending and uncertain Issue; and that if he miscarry, his Case is intolerable; and then tell me whether this be not a just Cause for Trouble and Sadness; and whether this Salvation, this uncertain Salvation, be not to be wrought out with Sorrow and Mourning, as well as with Fear and Trembling?
CERTAINLY it is : And were it not for this, it would be no easie thing to give an Ac. count, why Gravity, Seriousness, and Sobriety of Spirit should be such decent and commendable Qualities in Men. For otherwise, Why should not a Man give himself up to the ut. most Gaity and Jollity, and express it in all manner of odd Postures and Gestures, up to the Height of an Antick Dissoluteness? I say, Why should not a Man do this? But only because this is not agreeable to the Part he is to act ; who being in a State of Probation and Doubtfulness, and having fo great an Interest depending, ought rather to temper and correct the Luxuriancy of his Spirit, with some Grains of Sadness, and Pensiveness; and beware of laughing too much here, lest it should be his Turn to weep and mourn hereafter.
These are the principal Causes of Mourning. And from hence we may gather, who the Chriftian-Mourners are, who are concern'd in this Beatitude ; those, namely, whose Mourning proceeds upon these, or such like Grounds; which are at last reducible to either of these two Principles, Zeal for the Honour and Glory of God, or a Concern for the Good of Mankind. They who mourn upon the Score of Piety or Charity, are true Christian-Mourners.
It remains that we now consider, in the last place, wherein consists their Blessedness. St. Austin, in his Confessions and Meditations, very frequently speaks of the Grace of Tears; and as often prays for it: And well he might, since it is attended with such happy Effects, and has fuch a Blesfedness intailed upon it. Its Blessedness is both present, and to come.
What the present Blessedness is, we may learn from the Wise Man, who tells us, That by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. It is fo;
for by this it becomes more soft and tender for all Divine Impressions, for the Love of God, for Devotion, for Charity to our Neighbour, for Mercy and Compassion, for Repentance, and the like. It is also hereby made more serious, more considerative and reflecting, more recollected, more settled and composed; which is to be considerably better. For, as Sorrow is the Principle of Consideration, so is Consideration the Principle of Repentance and Well-living, according to that of the Pfalmist, I considered my own ways, and turned my feet to thy testimonies, Pfal. 119.
AND of all this we have a very signal Example in the Nation of the Jews, who, till the Tine of the Babylonish Captivity, were very gross and carnal, notwithstanding racles of God, both in their Deliverance out of Egypt, and in their Passage through the Wilderness. And when they were brought into the Land of Canaan, tho' they had such open
and clear Testimonies of the Divine Presence among them; so many Prophecies, so måny Miracles, and so many Apparitions of Angels; yet we find them ever now and then relapfing into Idolatry. But after the Captivity, when they had gone through a Course of Sorrow and AFfliction, they presently began to behave themselves more orderly; and seem'd, like Gold, to refine upon the Trial of the Furnace: For we do not read, that after that Time they ever fell into Idolatry. And accordingly, God began
to deal with them now no longer as Children, but as Persons of some Maturity, by withdrawing from them his Visible Presence, and the Spirit of Prophecy ; thinking them to have learnt enough already in the School of Amiction, to supersede all other Methods of Instruction and Discipline. And from that Time forwards, the Minds of Men began to be more generally erected towards Heaven, and the Good Things of a better Life; when they saw that the strictest Observers of the Law fell oftentimes into those Evils which were denounced against the Tranfgreffors of it. By which means they were, by degrees, prepared for the Reception of the Gospel
This is the present Blessedness of those that mourn: What the future is we are told by our Saviour; who says, they shall be comforted; that is, shall be received into a State or Place of Bliss and Happiness, Joy and Delight ; and be infinitely rewarded in Heaven for all their pious and charitable mourning upon Earth: According to that of the Psalmist, Psal. 126. He that now goes on his way sorrowing, and bringeth forth. good seed, Mball
, doubtless, come again with joy, and bring his leaves with him. They shall be received into the City of God, the New Jerusalem, where there is no more Mourning, nor Cause of Mourning; and where not only all Sin, but even those very Vertues which are founded upon the least Imperfection shall be done away. Here therefore there will be no Room left even
for Godly Sorrow; but all shall be Joy and Gladness, Harmony and Thanksgiving. And, Bleffed are they who fo mourn here, that they may enter into this Joy of their Lord hereafter.
DISCOURSE the Third.
MATTH. V. Ver. v.
Blessed are the meek, for they fall inherit the
HE Judgment of God differs fo ve
ry widely from that of Man, that T
his Thoughts are feldom as our
Thoughts, nor his Ways as our Ways. But in nothing is the Difference fo sig. nal, as in the Conclusions concerning Good and Evil, Happiness and Misery.
Our Judgments are seldom conformable to the Divine in Matters of mere Truth and Notion, but much seldomer in Practical Maxims, and Moral Resolutions. Here, if any where, is chiefly to be found that vain Philosophy, which we are caution'd against by the Apostle, Col. 2. 8. and that Tradition of Man, and thofe Rudiments of the World, which are not after Christ. Herein it is that the Wisdom of God, and the Wisdom