Page images
PDF
EPUB

famitys and Mischiefs, all the Disorders and Troubles of this World are visibly produc'd by the Lufts and Passions and Sins of Men; and the Evil that Man fuffers, do's as naturally spring up from the Evil thar He do's, as any noyfom Weed or poisonous Plant do’s 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 Dictates of Religion, which even Naturally promote our Welfare here, in reference even to Temporal Enjoyments.

Of which I shall instance in but a few, but those the chiefeft, and that briefly;

And first for Reputation and Good Name, the tendereft Concern of a Generous Soul; Is there any Man generally in better Efteem and Credit, than the Man who has given the World Proof, that he scorns to do an unworthy or base Thing? Do's any thing caft a greater Luftre than Virtue, and that even in the Eyes of those that have None themselves is not this confess’d even by Hypocrisy itself, which is an extorted 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

N

Relil

[ocr errors]

Relish to all the Other Enjoyments of it, What Truer Friend to that, what kinder Help to Nature, what greater Preservative of the true use of all our Facultys of Body as well as Mind, than Virtue? But As Righteousness tendeth to Life, so He that pursueth Evil

pursueth it to his Own Death, in the Chapter immediately before This, and the 19th Verse. It is Vice and Luxury, Debauchery and Intemperance, that destroy and lay wait the moft vigorous and flourishing Conftitutions, that bring Trembling in the Joints and Rottenness in the Bones. It is Envy and Malice that Prey upon the Heart, and Gnaw the very Vitals of the Wretch that is possess’d by them. It is Anger and Fury and Revenge that set the Soul upon the Rack, and make the Spirits boyl up, and run over, and bring the Body into those Agonys and Convulsions that will destroy it in a short time, which fometimes One Fit alone has done. Whereas the Virtuous Man whose Spirits move calmly, whose Passions Ebb and Flow in Obedience to Reason, preserves a constant and orderly Temper of Body owing to the Evenness and Serenity of his Mind. In short, as Religion and Virtue tend directly to the preservation of the Health of the Body as well as the Soul, so we shall find Sin and Vice as constant Enemys to both, and as successful in haft

ning on Temporal, as they are sure in procuring at last Eternal Death.

3dly. In Respect of the Ease and the Quietness of this Life, without which Life itself is an Insupportable Burthen, the Good and Virtuous Man has Infinitely the Advantage of the Wicked. As Trouble and

Care, and Anxiety were the Fruits of Sin, and a great and heavy part of the Curse that was laid upon Mankind for the First Transgression; so nothing but Innocence and Righteousness can redeem us from 'em, and restore, and secure Quiet and Peace again to Us. The Virtuous Man, whose chief Study, it is never to offend his good God, cheerfully trusts and depends on him for the Happiness of this Life and that which is to come: And by this means makes the good Things of this World, which he thankfully Possesses and Innocently Uses, yield the more folid Comfort and Pleasure; and Even the Evil things thereof, when they fall to his Lot, he bears not only with Content and Submislion, but with Satisfaction and Thankfulness too, having the Joys before Him in which all his Sorrows shall end. This is a State that gives such inward Repose of Mind, such Peace of Heart, such Spiritual Consolation, as if it were poflible to be false, carrys more solid Comfort at

N 2

present, present, than all the Deceitful and Unfatisfying Pleasures of the most Diffolute and Voluptuous Life. This is that Peace which the World cannot give, which passes all Understanding, which it is more Happy to Feel than it is easy to Express. This is that which makes all a Christians Enjoyments truly Comfortable, and that allays the Bitterness of the moft afflicting Crosses, that animates againft the sharpest and moft dreadful Conflicts with all outward Evils. Let a Man live under the Sense of God's reconciling Love, and he passes andauntedly and cheerfully thro' whatever befals him; as when this is withdrawn, he is presently Overwhelm’d with Darkness and Horror, the Sweetest Blessings are Taftless and the Lighteft Afflictions Intolerable. But to a Mind Conscious of its Own Integrity and God's Favour, nothing can be wanting to perfect its Felicity. In His Favour is Life, says the Psalmist; but not content with fo mean an Expression, in another place he fays, Thy Loving Kindness is better than the Life itself. And a Soul thus assurd of God's Love, and relying upon his Goodness, and Establish'd upon His Truth, what can be able to unsettle or discompose? Thus is the Just Man's inward Peace secur'd, and his Humility, and Condescention, and Gentleness, and Charity, and all the rest of those

Chriftian

r

Christian Virtues that so admirably dispose People or Societys to live in Peace and good Understanding with their Neighbours, secure his Outward Tranquillity as much. These are Dispositions of Mind that the least of all expose us to affronts or injurys from abroad, never offend nor provoke the powerful or the great,

but
engage

the Love, and attract the good will of all round about us; and as St Peter speaks, Who is He that will harm you, if ye be Followers of that which is Good?

But besides this Natural Effect of Righteousness, and the Exercise of all the Dutys of Religion, there are Secondly, Many Express Promises of the Divine Favour and the Protection of his good Providence watching over and defending all them who truly truft in him and Conscientiously Obey his Holy will and Commandments: The Eyes of the Lord are over the Righteous, and He will keep him in all his Ways. He has engag‘d himself to be their Shield and Defence, to preferve the Obedient from, or support them under, or deliver them out of all their Trouble; and of this his Çareing for the Righteous he has given us so many and so Emphatical Declarations in his Word, that it would be needless to instance any, and endless to inftance all; we need buț open

the

N 3

« PreviousContinue »