Page images
PDF
EPUB

or thinks himself in the faireft way of acquiring, but is liable to be loft by Ten Thousand accidents, wholly out of all Mortal Power either to foresee or prevent. And yet the Uncertainty of this World is not more notorious than (without the Light of Religion) is the Uncertainty of what shall be hereafter. And therefore what a confus d and wretched State mult that Life needs be, which at present hangs every minute in doubt and uncertainty of every good thing it either wishes or enjoys; & which must shortly terminate, as an Atheistical Philosopher expressid ar his Death, in a great Leap into the Dark? Now this being allow'd, as it cannot be deny'd, to be the present condition of the World; should we not esteem it a mighty advantage to be exempted from the common lot, and to find some fure-footing, fome certainty in this unsecure and flippery Pilgrimage upon Earth? and at the same time to be deliver'd from the Darkness and Perplexities of a Future State? In all the difficultys that' attend Human Life, in all the changes and chances of this Frail, Unftable and Perillous Condition of Mortality ; to have One plain Guide to direct us, One ftrait Path, that if we'refolutely ftick to it and are entirely purpos d, neither for Hopes por Fears, Danger nor Interest, 'ever to fwerye from it, will infallibly lead us to

Safety

[ocr errors]

Safety and Security, how unvaluable a Bleffing muft this needs be? How would it put us out of the reach of those Evils, to which Man is born as Naturally as the Sparks fly Upmard? How safe and fearless would it make Prosperity? How easy, nay how comfortable, nay bow advantageous, nay how glorious would it render Adversity ? In every Itate of Life, in every alteration of Circumstances and Outward Accidents, how steady, how unconcern'd, how constant to ourselves, (which is the chief Glory of a great Mind,) would it make and preserve us! But above all, what unspeakable Consolation would it afford to have a blessed Afsurance of Future Glory , to have our Minds establish'd with Confidence towards God and Hopes full of Immortality? Now this short, but very comprehensive saying of the wisest of Men, this plain but useful Obfervation in my Text, will serve, if well confider'd and duely practis'd, to all those great purposes I have mention'd. Religion Only can refore us to that State of security which was ac firft forfeited by Sin. Righteousness and Integrity, the governing all our Actions by the fixt and unalterable Principles of Conscience and Honesty, and ever adhereing stedfastly to our Plain Duty, whatever temptations there may be to draw us from it, is the Only wise, the Only safe Course, that

will never fail to bring us to the Journeys end, that we contend for, Happyness; that will make our Way, (be it never so beset with hardships ) paslable to us; and when our Travel is over, moft certainly bring us Peace at the laft. And that Man can never be truly miserable, can never but be full of Security and Comfort, tho' all the Calamities and Disgraces and Poverty and Pain, that the Devil was suffer'd to inflict upon Holy Fob, should by permission of the fame Providence, be his Lot, who can truly say with that same Holy Man (Job 27.5,6.) Till I dye I will not remove my. Integrity from me ; My Righteousness I hold faft and will not let it go, My Heart shall not reproach me so long as I live. David assures us He that do's these things Jhall never Fall; for, as his Son speaks in my Text, Walking Uprightly be walketh Surely.

The Phrase which the Wise Man here makes use of, Walking Uprightly, may be taken either in a more wide and general, or else in a more restrain'd and particular Sense.

If we take it in the first Sense, as Upright, ness and Righteousness fignify usually in Scripture all manner of Holyness and Vira tue, (εν και δικαιοσμώη συλλήβδω σασ' αρετη εφι) by Walking Uprightly will be meant at large the guiding all ones Actions by the Rules of Religion, an Uniform and Exact Obedience to all the Laws of God.

[ocr errors]

If we take it in the second more restrain'd and proper fignification, as Uprightness fignifies Justice, Integrity and Sincerity; by Walking Uprightly will be meant more particularly a constant use of Honesty, Plainness and Simplicity in all our Dealings, in Opposition to Guile and Hypocrisy, Craft and Worldly Wisdom.

And in both these Senses it will be easy to fhew that Walking, Uprightly is walking Surely. I begin with the First.

Now he may juftly and properly be faid to walk Surely, who can secure a happy Event to his Axions against all Contingencies or Chances whatever. And that the Man who acts constantly according to the dictates of Religion and Virtue can do so, will be Evident from the Principles upon which all his Actions are grounded; which are These, That there is an Almighty and Allwife Being that overlooks and takes account of all that is done upon Earth; A God who, tho' his Throne is in Heaven, yet his Eyes behold, bis Eyelids try the Children of Men. And that this God has appointed a Day of Recompence and a Future fate either of Happiness or Misery, each Eternal, to be the Portion of every Man according to the Quality of the Works that he do's here in the Flefh. From which Principles he naturally gathers, that it is his chiefeft Interest, his only Concern, so to act in this World, as to obtain the endless Happyness, and es cape the Everlasting Misery of the other. And can there be a more Infallible and Sure Conclusion than this? When a Man is perfuaded that he Acts always in the fight of his Judge, from whom he expects a certain Retribution of Bliss, or Woe to all Eternity; is there any thing in the World can give him any Security or ground of Confidence, but the performing the Duties to which Glory and Immortality are annex’d, and eschewing the Evils to which Shame and Destruction and Eternal Death are as inseparably link'd? No certainly. When he is once convinc'd of the Truth of these Principles, there is no other way but this of promising to himself any manner of safety as to his Everlasting State; and as to whatever may be had on This side of That State, What will it profit him to gain the whole World and to lose his own Soul? To act so contrary to a Man's own Eternal Interest, is to act against Natural Reason, as well as Reveald Religion; and to contradict Nature, as well as to defy Grace. This is so plain, that it need not, one would think, be insisted upon,

that granting the first Principles of the Upright Man to be True, namely that there is an Allseeing God, who will certainly bring all Mankind to Judgment, that then He who

has

« PreviousContinue »