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wherein his true Happiness does consist, it must needs be agreeable to the Will of God, that Man should endeavour to attain that Happiness, for which he was intended. The Consequence of which is, that it is no Blemish to our Obedience, that we are moved by the Considerations of that Happiness, which God has made to be the Reward of it.
To judge rightly therefore of the Motives upon which Men act in their religious Concerns, we must judge of the Nature of the Happiness they propose to themselves ; and this, I think, we may admit as a Rule in this Case; that as long as Men seek after that Happiness which is natural and proper, and intended for them by God, so long they act upon Motives agreeable to the Will of God.
The Happiness in which Men are capable of having any Share, or for which they have any Desires, is either that which belongs to this World, or that which belongs to the World to come. That future Rewards are proper Incitements to Virtue and Religion, is plain from hence; that God has proposed them as such, and sent his only and well beloved Son into the World, to bring Life and Immortality to Light
through tbrough the Gospel. But these future Rewards do not alter the Nature of Religion, or give God a better Title to our Obedience than he had before ; they contain not the "Reasons and Evidences of the Obligations we were under to the Supreme Creator, but they are added as proper Movements to the Will and Affections of Men, and to raise their Minds above the Temptations of this World, which so easily beset them. The particular Rewards promised in the Gospel being Matter of divine Revelation, to reject them, is Want of Faith ; to admit them, is an Act of Religion towards God, with refpect to that Faith, which is the Foundation of our receiving them ; but with respect to the Influence of the Rewards them. selves, they do not make any Thing to be a religious Duty, which is not so in itself ; they do not make any Thing cease to be Religion, which was Religion before.
As to the Happiness of this present Life, we can, I think, as little question whether God intended Men to be happy here, as we can, whether he intends them to be happy hereafter : the natural Desires of Men after this Happiness, the necessary Connection between Virtue and Happiness, and the
Goodness of God towards his Creatures, will not permit us to make any Doubt of it : and if God intended Men for Happiness here, to pursue this Happiness by the most justifiable Means, i. e. by the Means of Virtue and Religion, must needs be agreeable to his holy Will; and consequently the Prospect of the Peace and Tranquillity of this Life, is a proper Motive to Religion.
Under the old Law we find the Promises of this Life were expressly made to religious Obedience by God himself; a Demonstration, I think, that the Motives of this World are not in their own Nature destructive of religious Obedience.' Long Life, temporal Peace and Prosperity in the flourishing Condition of their Country, fruitful Seasons, and plentiful Harvests, are Inducements always proposed to the Jews to keep the Commandments : nor may we pretend to say, that these Promises were peculiar, and only proper to the Jews, unless we think that it was peculiar to the yers to desire long Life, Prosperity, and Plenty: for Motives founded in natural Desires must be as extensive as the Desires themselves; and having been propounded by God as Motives of Religion to one Nation, it fhews they are proper for all. The Jews had indeed an express Promise of temporal Felicity, if they continued obedient : other Nations, if they believe God to be the Governor of the World, must have Assurance of the like Reward ; for to suppose God to govern the World, infers his Care of a religious obedient People: and therefore our Saviour gives it as an Instance of Want of Faith, where Men distrust the Goodness of God in providing for them, whilst they endeavour to serve him. But further ; even under the Gospel we are assured, that Godlinefs has the Promises of the Life that now is, and of that which is to come.
To encourage ourselves therefore in our Duty and Obedience, with the Hopes that God will reward us here with Life, Health, and Prosperity, is no Blemish to our Religion; but indeed is an Act of Faith in God, as Governor of the World ; and a proper Inducement to make us, in all we say or do, to look up to him who is the Giver of every good and perfect Gift, both in this Life and in the next.
Our Saviour reckons but two general Heads of Religion, the Love of God, and the Love of our Neighbour ; but the second
of these plainly infers another, the Love of ourselves ; for since we are to love our Neighbour as ourselves, it is evident that we may and ought to love ourselves. A corrupt and irreligious Affection can be no Rule of Duty; and if we are bound to love others according to the Measure of the Love we have for ourselves, it is evident at least that we may, consistently with the Nature of Religion, love ourselves as much as we are bound to love others : and since it is our Duty to promote the present Ease, and Happiness, and Prosperity of our Neighbours, it must be agreeable to the Mind of our blessed Saviour, that we should take the fame Care of ourselves : and if this be a lawful Care, it must needs be allowed, that it is never better employed than when it makes us obedient towards God, in Hopes of his Favour and Protection.
Having now, if not too largely, yet at least as far as the present Occasion will give Leave, endeavoured to clear the first Thing proposed; I shall proceed to the second; namely,
How plainly and evidently these Principles lead us to Works of Charity and