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their Time in reading godly Books, and such other Exercises and Amusements, they think it is all that is required of them ; it is with them the Sum and Perfection of Religion.
God forbid that I should blame any body for doing these Things ! On the contrary, I would encourage every one in the Practice of them: for, as I said before, they are necessary Duties ; so necessary, that it is impossible to be religious, to any great Purpole, without a conscientious Respect unto them. But this is the Thing I blame, The Thinking that we have no other Work to do in the World but this. The being so taken up with these Things, as to neglect all the other weighty Business of our Callings, and the Duties which our Families, our Neighbours, our Country do call for at our Hands. As God hath not confined Religion to Cloisters and Desarts, so neither hath he shut it up in Churches or Closets : But he hath so contrived it, that it may flourish in our Cities, and in our Fields, in our Shops, and in our Markets, even in all the Places where our Employment lies. God never intended that Reli gion should be an Enemy to Business and an active Life; but rather an Instrument to promote the one, and encourage the other, We then serve God best, when we make our religious Offices and Contemplaplations a Means to advance the diligent Pursuit of our Callings, and the doing Good in the World. We are then most devout, when we most benefit others. And it is the most acceptable Sacrifice to God, to be useful in our Generations.
This, I am sure, was the Thing that our Saviour proposed to himself: For tho', as I said, he had his Time of Retirement, wherein he
up to Meditation and Prayer, yet the Design hereof was, that he might the next Moment more illustriously appear in the World as a Pattern of good Works. His Devotions did not spend themselves in unprofitable Ardors, and for his own Content and Satisfaction only, but they influenced his Actions, and made him niore busy, more vigorous in the Discharge of that Employment that God had committed to him : Nay, whenever the Duties of his Calling and the Duties of Devotion, properly so called, came into Competition, we find that he made the latter give way to the former. As we have a famous Instance in his preferring Acts of Charity before the exact Observation of the Sabbath; and he backed his Pradices herein with a memorable Axiom, which he had made a standing Rule in all such cases, that God will have Mercy, and not Sacrifice. Not that to offer Sacrifice was not a Duty, or that God would refuse them when they were devoutly offered ; but that of the two he rather delights in Works of Mercy; and that if both cannot come together, the former must give Place; we then beft expressing our Love to God, whom we have not seen, when we express our Love to Men, whom we have seen, as St. John tells
And this leads me to the Third Thing, wherein we are to propose our Saviour to our Imitation, and it shall be the last I shall consider at this Time) namely, his boundless Love and Charity.
Of all his other Virtues and excellent Qualities, this was most conspicuous in him, and this was that which he most res commended to our Practice. His whole Life was but one continued illustrious Expression of Kindness and Charity. Never was any Person in the World known to be so sweet, so obliging, so compassionate, so kind, as was our Lord Jesus. How eager, , how insatiable a Thirst had he to do all the Good he could to Mankind ! How did he seek Opportunity to oblige and to benefit every body! He went up and down to see who stood in need of his presence and Assistance, either for Soul or Body ; and whoso did, never failed of it. So intent was he upon doing Offices of Charity to others, that he often neglected himself,
and would rather deny himself the due ri
Satisfactions of Nature, than that they
should not be benefited. How many fick they
Persons did he restore to their Health,
Joints, and Dumb to their Speech, and
poffeffed and distracted Persons to their right Minds ? Nor was he lefs kind to the Souls than the Bodies of Men. How zeal. ous, how constant, how laborious, how
indefatigable was hé in preaching the glad . # Tidings of God's Grace and Favour to all
poor Souls! How did he take every Opportunity of making Men better by his
Discourses ! No Conversation that he was y engaged in, though the Subject of it was 3 never so ordinary and indifferent, but he
would improve it to the Purposes of doing 1 Good to Mens Souls, taking every Occa* fion that offered itself in Discourse, to raise N up
the Minds of the Hearers from carnal and sensible Things, to fpiritual and heavenly.
Oh, with what Plainness and Condescention would he instruct the Ignorant! With what Power would he convince Gainsayers! With what Freedom, and with what Authority would he reprove Vice and Sin where-ever he found it!
Oh, how gently would he deal with weak Persons, never breaking a bruised
Reed, nor quenching the Flax that had the least Smoak in it !
Oh, how affectionately would he embrace all those that came unto him, and how tenderly would he even weep over those that obstinately refused their own Mercy! Witness, the kind Tears that ran down his Cheeks when he beheld his incorrigible City. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, (faith he) thou that killedst the Prophets, and stoned them that were sent unto thee! Hozó often would I have gathered thee as a Hen gathereth her Chickens under her Wings, but
would not ! but now your House is left unto you defolate : and then the gentle Jesus wept. What should I say more of the large, intense, universal Charity and good Will with which our Saviour endeavoured to oblige the World. The Time would fail to reckon up the Instances of it. The Sum of all is, as he lived a Miracle of Love, so he died one. That same Jesus, who had every Moment of his Life been doing Good to some one or other; and that same Jesus, that had never received any other Requital from the World for all this Goodness, but Affronts and Injuries, Contempt and Reproaches; yet this fame Jesus, so far was his Love from being abated by all this unworthy Usage, that, as if what he had hitherto done for Mankind had sig