Page images
PDF
EPUB

of our Ease, and a desire to be free from Cares and Burthens, than of any true Nobleness of Mind. If we would live to excel lent purpose indeed, if we would shew true Bravery of Spirit, and true . Piety towards God, let us live as our Blessed Lord and his Apostles did. Let us not fly Temptations, but overcome them; let us not fit at Home, amusing ourselves with our pleasing Contemplations, when we may be useful

and beneficial Abroad. Let us so order our Devotions, towards God, that they may be a Means of promoting our Worldly Business and Affairs, and doing Good among Men. Let us take our fit Times of Retirement and Abstraction, that we may the more freely converse with God, and pour out our Souls before him ; but let this be only to the end, that we may appear Abroad again more brisk and lively, in vanquishing, the Temptations that come in our way, and more prompt and readily difposed to every good Work: This is to imitate our Lord Jesus, to walk as we have him for an Example. This is a Life more suitable to the Contrivance and the Genius of his Religion, which is more accommodated to Cities and Publick Societies, than to Cloysters and Desarts. And, laftly, This is to walk in a Conformity to his Command, who hath bid us make our Light so to fine before Men, that Mat.5.16. they may see our good Works, and glorify our fa. ther which is in Heaven.

But, Fourthly and Lastly, If it be a Thing so necessary that every Man should do Good

in

in his Life, as hath been represented, then how much to be reproved are they, that do no Good 'till their Death? That live scraping. ly and uncharitably, and uselesly to the World, all their Lives long, and then when they come to die, think to Atone for their Sins and Neglects of this kind, by shewing fome extraordinary Bounty to the Poor, or devoting some part of their Estates to Publick or Pious Uses.

I must confess, this kind of proceeding, doch to me seem just like the Business of putting off a Man's Repentance to his Deathbed. It is absolutely necessary, that a Man should repent, though it be never so late; and so it is, that he should do Good: If he have done little Good in his Life, he is bound, as he loves his Soul, to shew some extraordinary, uncommon Instances of Charity, and a Publick Spirit, when he comes to die. But then it is here, as it is with the long delay. ing of Repentance, the deferring it so long, has robbed the Man of the greatest Part of the Praise, and the Comfort he might have expected from it. His Rewards in Heaven will be much less, though his good Deeds should be accepted, but he is infinitely uncertain, whether they will òr, no. It must be a very great Act of Generosity and Charity, that can obtain a Pardon for a whole Life of Uncharitableness.

Let us all, therefore, Labour and Study to do Good in our Lives, let us be Daily giving Evidences to the World, of our kind and

charitable

charitable Disposition, and let not that be , the First which is discovered in our Last Will

and Testament. If God hath blessed us with

Worldly Goods, let us distribute them as we 1

see Occasion in our Life-time, when every one may see we do it voluntarily; and not ftay, 'till we must be forced to part with them, whether we will or no; for that will blast the Credit of our good Deeds, both with God and Man.

I have said enough concerning the First Point, recommended in the Text, viz, doing Good, I now come briefly to treat of the other, that is, Rejoicing, which is equally a Part of the Business of this Day.

There is no Good (faith Solomon) in any Earthly Thing; or there is nothing better for any Man than to Rejoice and to do Good.

The Rejoicing here recommended, is capable of Two Senses, the First more General, and more concerning us as Christians; the other more Particular and which more immediately concerns us, as we are here met upon this Occasion.

In the First Place, by Rejoicing, we may take to be meant, a constant Habit of Joy and Chearfulness; so that we are always contented and well pleased, always free from. those Anxieties and Disquiets, and uncomfortable Reflections, that make the Liyes of Mankind miserable. This now is the Perfection of Rejoicing, and it is the utmost de. gree of Happiness that we are here capable of. It must be granted, indeed, that not

many

16.

Phil. 4.4

many

do arrive to this State ; but yet, I doubt not but that it is a State that may be attained, at least in a great measure, in this world. Otherwise the Holy Men in Scripture, and particularly the Apostles of our Lord, would

never have recommended it to us fo often * Thell. s. as they have done. Rejoice evermore, faith

St. Paul to the Thessalonians. And to the
Philippians, Rejoice in the Lord always; and again,
I say, Rejoice.

The way to attain to this happy Condition, doth consist chiefly in these Three Things : First, A great Innocence and Vertue, a behaving ourselves so in the World, that our Consciences shall not reproach us. This St.

Paul lays as the Foundation of Rejoicing. This 2 Cor. 1. (faith he) is our Rejoicing, the Testimony of our

Conscience, that in Simplicity and godly Sincerity, I have had my Conversation in this World. It is in vain to think of any true solid Joy, or Peace, or Contentment, without a hearty Practice of all the Duties of our Religion, fo that we can satisfie ourselves of our own Sincerity before God.

And then, Secondly, To make us capable of this constant Rejoicing, besides the Innocence of our Lives, there must go a firm and hearty Persuasion of God's particular Providence ; a Belief that he not only dispenseth all Events that come to pass in the World, even the most inconsiderable ; but that the Measure of the Dispensations of his Providence, is infinite Wisdom and Goodness, and nothing else ; So that nothing doth or ever can hap

pen

12.

[ocr errors]

pen to us in Particular, or to the World in General, but what is for the best. Now when we firmly believe this, and frequently attend to it, how can we be either solicitous for the future, or discontented at the presenç Events of Things, let them fall out never fo cross to our Desires and Expectations ? This is the best Antidote in the World (and an effectual one it is) against all Trouble and, Vexation, and Uneasiness, that can happen to us upon any Occasion whatsoever ; to wit, the Consideration that all Things are managed by an infinitely Wife and Good God, and will at last prove for the best, how unaccountable foever they appear to us at present. And this is that which the Wise Man insinuates in the Verse before the Text, when he faith, that God hath made every thing beautiful in his Season.

Thirdly, Another Requisite, both for the procuring and preserving this continual Chearfulness and Rejoicing, is, A frequent and fixed Attention to the great Rewards of the other World, which God hath promised to all that truly love him, and endeavour to please him. This Consideration will extreamly add to our Comfort, and contribute to our Rejoycing, under all the Miseries and Amictions that we can possibly fall into, namely, that whatsoever Condition we are in here, we shall certainly, in a little Time, be in a most happy and glorious one, and the worse our Circumstances are in this Lite, the greater (if we be Good) shall be our H

Happi

« PreviousContinue »