תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

SERM. There was no more to be found among the
XI. Jews, the mighty man, and the man of war,

the judge and the propbet, the prudent and
the ancient, the captain of fifty, and the bo-
nourable man, the counsellor, the cunning
artificer, and the eloquent orator. What
could be expected but immediate ruin to
such a country? And the prophet attributes
it to the just providence of God punishing
that degenerate people for their iniquities;
for, says he, verse 8, 9, Jerusalem is ruined,
and Judab is fallen, because their tongue and
their doings are against the Lord, to provoke
the
eyes

of his glory; the fbew of their countenance doth witness against them, and they declare their finas Sodom. But notwithstanding all this evil, and indeed whatever confusion may happen at any time in the world, whatever distress

may come upon particular men, or any number of them, the case of mankind is not absolutely and universally un. happy: It shall be well with some, and the difference of mens conditions principally depends on their moral characters. As this is clearly insinuated in what I already observed from the prophet's account of the misery of the Jews, and the ruin of their nation by their crimes, it is expressly and

very

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

11

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

fery folemnly declared in the text, say ye to Serm. the righteous it shall be well with him: Do XI.

not imagine that I mean to pronounce one 0

event to you all, or to put good and bad
upon a level; the wise and righteous ruler
of the universe will distinguish men, and all
other moral agents, by their dispositions and
behaviour, and will render to them accord-
ing to their works.

This certainly is a doctrine of the greatest
importance; the very being of religion de-

pends upon it: Unless we are persuaded, * that virtue is good, and vice ill for us, what

can induce our minds to choose the one and

refuse the other? And as it is of the utmost be importance, fo'no principle is more evi

dent: It has been the support of anxious
disturbed minds in all the changes of their
state, even in the deepest affliction; though
some good men have had difficulty enough

to keep themselves always in the affectionate 3 belief of it. - In such a case as that which

the text refers to, it was very necessary that
it should be earnestly and warmly incul-
cated, that the righteous, by its influence,
might maintain their integrity, and not turn
away from their righteousness, either through
evil example, or the temptations which
Vol. I.

S

might

SERM. might accompany public, almost universal, XI. calamities. But at all times it is most wore

thy. of our serious attention, as eminently useful to engage our inviolable adherence to the cause of virtue, and that we may escape the corruption that is in the world. I

hall therefore in the following discourse, first, endeavour to explain this subject, by Thewing you who are the righteous, and in what sense it shall be well with them, or, they shall be happy. Secondly, I will consider upon what evidence the prophet's assertion rests, or how it appears that there is a connection between righteousness and felicity. *. Firf, I am to explain this subject, by Thewing you who are the righteous, and in what sense it fhall be well with them, or, they Shall be happy. It is the more needful to consider carefully this important diftinguishing character, because men are apt to run into mistakes concerning it, to place it in things wherein it doth not at all confift, at least which are very remote from its effence. Not but that the notions of right and wrong, or moral good and evil; are obvious to the human mind, and their difference eafily difcerned; the ideas of sensible qualities are

not

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

not more clear and distinct: But in this SERM;

XI. mixed state, when men are neither perfectly good nor bad, the exact boundaries are not so easily fixed, especially when an application is made of these characters to particular persons, and we judge concerning ourselves, in which case prejudice and self-partiality often miflead men; and superstition, a very prevailing evil among mankind, contributes to these errors, by leading them to imagine, that there is righteousness and religion in those things, which have really nothing to do with it. - In general the righteous is be, in whofe heart the morally good or pious, virtuous and pure affections rule, and whose practice is habitually conducted by their directon ; the man who loves God above all things with his heart and soul, who fears bim and eschews evil, whom no allurement of worldly pleasure, profit, or honour, no fear of worldly loss or fufferings can persuade to desert his duty, to act against his conscience, or wilfully and deliberately to trangress any divine law known to him: Not the person who is altogether free from any infirmities, which, strictly fpeaking, may be called fine ful, and who never, through the whole

Sa

course

ŞErm.course of his life, has by ignorance or surXI. prise been drawn into those indeliberate ac

tions, which upon a review he cannot juftify. If this were the sense of righteousness, who could pretend to it? For there is not a just man that liveth upon the earth and hnnętb not. But it has pleased God graciously to accept of men upon lower terms, even upon the terms of fincerity, upon a predominant inclination and purpose of heart to do his will, appearing by the fruits of piety, temperance, justice, and charity, habitually in their lives.

These are the righteous with whom it shall be well, for they are the objects of God's approbation and favour, according to the settled unalterable rule of proceeding in his moral government. It is true, this is particularly and very expressly taught in the facred scriptures: The prophets with one consent declare, that the upright man, though not wholly free from moral defects, pleases God; and they preach the doctrine of repentance, promising in God's name the remission of all their fins to such as fincerely comply with it, or, that if the wicked forsake bis ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, -the Lord will have mercy

on

« הקודםהמשך »