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'The Truth of which Proposition, if
taken in the strictness of its Terms, is self Evident and Undeniable upon these two accounts;
1A, Because there are None Just, i.e. There is no Man so Righteous on Earth, but has Sios enough to deserve more Evils, than in this World can happen to him. · 2dly, Because no Evil happens; Every Evil thar Men suffer, tho' to outward appearance never fo Casual, being ordain'd by the Wise and Just appointment of God.
But tho' both these Assertions are unquestionably true, and will be allo of good Úse to explain, and of strong Force to prove what the wirest of Men here intends; yet the Words of the Text are not to be so Itrict. ly taken. Such a Proposition as they would then make, namely That no Evil ever happening, and there being No Man Just, tho' undoubtedly Certain , yet would be very impertinent ; tho'a very great, yet so very plain a Truth, that a Man not so Wise as Solomon would have thought it needless, if nor ridiculous, to lay it down for a Maxim. By the Just therefore here, as in the usual Language of Scripture, we are to understand, not the Man of consummate un linoiog Righteousness,for where will such be found? Never was any Man such, Except One, who was God also, Even the Man Christ Jesus. But He is the Just Man in the Text, whose Uniform and Serious and Conscientious, tho' not absolute and unerring Obedience, is for the fake of that perfect Righteousness of Christ, approv'd by God; who know: ing our Frame, and pitying our Weakness, is graciously pleas'd to accept of Hearty Endeavours, instead of Exact Performances, and Sincerity, instead of Perfection. It is indeed a Notorious and Deplorable Truch, that since that firit Aportacy and Rebellion in Paradise, and the forfeiture of Original Righteousness by Our first Parents, there has never been any of their Offspring entirely Righteous; and that if the best of Ussay, Tbat. He has no Sin, be deceives Himfelf, and the Truth is not in Him. It is never, cheless molt Certain, that there have been in all Ages, many Persons who have foorder’d their Lives , fearing God and having respect to his Laws, and endeavouring to keep a Conscience void of offence , towards God and towards Men, that in the main, notwithitanding many Human Infirmities and Failings, they may be justly accounted Good and Holy and Righteous Men. The Word of God himself stiles them lo, and quite through the Holy Scriptures, tho? they teach us that in strictness all Men are
Sinners, there is yer a manifest Distinction made between the Righteous and the Ungodly, the Wicked and the Just, as pare ticularly in this very Verse of the Text, There shall no Evil happen to the Juft, but the Wicked shall be fill'd with Mischief.:
By which words,There shall no Evil happen to the Juft, we are not to conceit, that there is any Privilege or Exemption promis’d to, the Just from the Common Infirmities, and Weaknesses, the Usual Calamities and Di. fasters to which Our Being is Subject. Man is Born to Trouble as the Sparks fly upward, Job 5.7. nor without reason are those Tears, which he sheds at his first Entrance into this troublesome World, Cui täntum in Vita restat sufferre Malorum; This is but a Suitable beginning of that Life, the whole Course of which, if not continually Exercis'd with Miseries and Sorrows, yet is always'expos’d and lies Open to them. But the scope and chief Intent of the Words are, thae Religion and Virtue are the likeliest Preservative againt the Miseries and Evils, that are so frequent in the World, and which are the undoubted Product and Offspring of Vice andfin ;: That Virtuous and Good Men are likeliest to pass thro the Waves of this Tempestuous World, with least rolling and disturbance, that they meet with no Affin &tions, but what by right using they may
improve improve into Blessings, that generally Peace and Prosperity are the Attendants of Religion and Piety; Godlinefs having the Promise of this Life, as well as of that which is to come.
And this will appear, both from the Na. tural Tendency of Virtue, and the Exercise of those Duties that Religion enjoins ;
And from the promis' Favour of God, and the Protection of his good Providence, ever Watching over them that Serve and Obey Him.
And first from the Natural tendency of all Virtuous Actions, and the Exercise of those Duties that our Holy Religion enjoins.
As it is most certain, that there had been no Evil in the Earth, if Man had not transgress’d the Law of his Maker, no Misery, if there had been no Sin; so if now all the Laws of God were duly kept and univer. sally obey’d, all the Miseries that afflict the Sons of Men would soon vanish, and a kind of Heaven upon Earth would commence If, as. We daily Pray, The Will of God were done in Earth as it is in Heaven, Man might live almost as happily here, as the Angels and Bleffed Spirits there : poflest eyen now of that Peace, and tasting those Joys, that differ rather in degree than kind, from chose which are to be the Portion of his Everlasting Inheritance. For All the Ca.
lamities and Mischiefs, all the Disorders and Troubles of this world, are visibly produc'd by the Lusts and Passions and Sins of Men ; and the Evil that Man suffers, does as na. turally spring up from the Evil that He does, as any ncisom Weed or poifonous Plant , does from its proper Seed, when it is sown into the Ground. The only way therefore to attain Happiness, and get out of the reach of Misery, is to preserve our, Virtue, and obey the Didates of Religion, which even Naturally promote our wel fare here , in reference even to Temporal Enjoyments. ,
Of which I fall instance in but a few , but those the chiefest, and that briefly; : :
And first for Reputation and good Name, the teodereft Concern of a Generous Soul; Is there any Man generally in better Esteem and Credit , than the Man who has given the World Proof, that he scorns to do an unworthy or base Thing? Does any thing cast a greater Luftre than Virtue, and thas even in the Eyes of those that have None themselves? Is got this confess'd even by Hypocrisy itself, which is an excorted Acknowledgment, a forced Tribute which Vice itself pays to Virtue?
Then adly, If we consider Health, the very Salt of Life, that Seasons and gives a