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them, first sit down with the builder of the tower, and consider what will be needful to be done to complete and finish the spiritual building of a Christian; what it will stand us in to be true disciples of the holy Jesus, and a fit habitation for himself and his divine Spirit to dwell in: that so, counting the cost beforehand, we may manage this great affair with such prudence and caution, as that we may at length bring it to a happy conclusion.

I. And first, let us consider the nature of the building, and what kind of structure it is that we are to raise : that is, let us inquire what that is which Christ hath made the great end of his disciples' actions, to which all their endeavours must tend; as a prudent builder first lays his design, and often reflects upon it, and then proceeds accordingly.

Now the end which our holy Saviour requires us chiefly to propose and aim at is threefold: first, that in all things we may glorify our great and good Creator; 2, that we may live up to the dignity of our excellent nature, and most holy profession; 3, that we may make ourselves really and entirely happy. And to those that have read the scripture, this is so evident, that it needs no particular proof. And what can more become us than to have such aims as these, and constantly to regulate all our actions by them? For as for the first of them, what can be more our duty, and that bound upon us by all the reason in the world, as well as the commands of our religion, than in every thing we do to endeavour to advance his glory, from whom we at first received our being, and whose good providence it is that continually supports it, and preserves to us the free use of all, our powers and faculties ?

And as for our living up to the dignity of our excellent nature, this is what is bound upon us by the law of our creation, by which every creature is obliged to live and act like itself; only the irrational creatures do it by instinct, as they are led and guided by their Maker, without reflecting upon their own actions, and cannot do otherwise : whereas man, having a reasoning power within him, whereby he knows what it is to live and act like a man, and that he ought to do so, has withal a liberty of choice; so that he can do contrary to what he knows to be his duty, if he pleases.

But now, this liberty of ours is no excuse for our abusing it, and running counter to our reason, and degrading ourselves in so vile a manner, but rather very much the contrary; and is a very cogent argument to a constant care and circumspection, lest we be drawn into brutish practices when our nature is so much above them, and make so ill a use of that freedom of acting, which so eminently distinguishes us from the beasts, as by it to sink ourselves to a level with them. And all the world must own, that nothing is more highly reasonable, and fitting to be done, than for a rational creature and a free agent to make use of his reason and his liberty, in doing what is most suitable to the dignity of his nature; and in choosing those things before all others, which will add new degrees of perfection to it.

As for our living worthy of our most holy profession, as well as our excellent nature, nothing can be more reasonable than when a man has given himself up to the guidance of such a Master, whose wisdom is unquestionable, and whose whole endeavour is to promote his good, and has tied himself by the most sacred and inviolable obligations, to observe such a discipline as is directly conducive to his greatest interest; nothing can be more reasonable than for him to act agreeably, and conform his whole life to such excellent rules, and comply with all the directions of so good a guide.

And as for a man's endeavouring by all due means to make himself really and entirely happy; to this every one finds a very great and uncontrollable desire. Every man would be happy if he could, and it is his Creator's design that he should be so; and though we are often fatally mistaken as to what is our happiness, and about the means to attain it, (and which mistakes religion only can thoroughly rectify,) yet happiness in general is what we all do naturally and earnestly press after, and endeavour to attain.

So that we see that which the Christian religion doth direct us to as our end is most worthy of us; highly agreeable to our reason, and such as must be approved of even by those that act contrary to it. And though the last branches of it but now mentioned be subordinate to the first, yet there is such a perfect harmony between them, that he that aims at one must in effect aim at the other likewise, (as whoever would be truly happy must live like a man and a Christian; and that is the best course he can take to glorify God,) and the very same endeavours are proper to attain them all.

Thus noble and compact is that building which our Lord requires his followers to raise; thus exact the symmetry of its parts, and so inseparably linked together, that he who builds in this manner will indeed erect a most glorious structure, that will last for ever. II. But then, secondly, it must be seriously considered by what means we may be best able to complete so great a work; lest having with much cost and labour laid the foundation, and are not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock us, saying, These men began to build, but were not able to finish: that is, lest having begun well in the great affair of religion, and proposed to ourselves the right end of the actions of a man and a Christian, and made some advances towards it, we should be at a stand, and able to proceed no further, and thereby become the scorn and triumph of the great enemy of souls, and of profligate, wicked men; who are never better pleased, than when they see hopeful beginnings in piety come to nothing; and make great use of such instances to discourage men from attempting what so few are able to go through with.

To prevent this therefore, which is of such ill consequence to religion in general, as well as to those that are particularly concerned, we should sit down and count the cost, seriously inquire which way we shall best be able to go on successfully with this spiritual building, and compute at what expense it may be finished : that is, we must endeavour to inform ourselves of the most effectual means in order to the great end before mentioned, and in the due use of them vigorously and constantly pursue it ; and then no fear of success.

Now our Lord having told us in the introduction to these parables we are discoursing of, Luke xiv. 26, 27—33, and in the close of them, as likewise in several other places, that self-denial and contempt of the world, and a patient bearing the crossd, or un

d Mark viii. 34.

c Matt. x. 37.

dergoing with courage and constancy whatever troubles and afflictions, or other discouragements we shall meet with for his sake; that this is absolutely necessary to our being his true disciples: we shall consider these particulars, as the most effectual means for our great end; the best way we can take, and which of necessity we must take, to build up ourselves as a holy temple for the Spirit of God to inhabit, and carry on the great work to perfection.

I. And first, self-denial is a necessary means in order to this great end, and without which no man can truly glorify his Creator, nor live up to the dignity of his own nature and holy profession, nor consequently ever be truly and entirely happy.

Now by self-denial is meant, first, the curbing and restraining the irregular and inordinate appetites and affections of our corrupt, sinful nature, and bringing them into subjection to the wise and good government of right reason and religion; and by no means suffering the interests of the soul to be disregarded for the sake of any sensual enjoyments :

And, secondly, it is likewise entirely to subjugate our wills to the will of God, and make all our choices in conformity to his good pleasure; and when at any time he chooses for us, and disposes of us into such and such circumstances and condition of life, how averse soever our inclinations may be to it, to say, with our blessed Lord, and with the same sincerity and entire resignation, Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.

Nor is this all; for, thirdly, we must submit our understandings too, without the least reserve, to whatever truths God hath been pleased to reveal to man

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