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Surprize, will be too strong for our weak
So much for the second Thing we were to consider in the Successfulness of a good Chriftian, his laying the Foundation on a Rock, which is his firm Faith in Chrift.
III. The third Part of the Successfulness of a good Christian, described in my Text, is in the Superstructure of a good Life. This is put here as a Part of his Success and Felicity, as well as of his Duty; and it follows very naturally from laying a good Foundation of Faith in Chriít. For all Virtue may be easily built upon the Belief of Christ's Doctrine, I mean the Doctrine of this very
Sermon on the Mount; the excellent Morals here taught, with the Belief of the Promises and Threatnings relating to a future State therein contained, and the Means of Grace directed to. And when good Life is built upon this holy Faith, what a stately Structure and Pile of Building does it make ? The good Chriftian has the Comfort to reap the daily Fruits of his Labour, in subduing his Corruptions, in removing that Rubbish, and then in rearing the comely Fabrick of all Christian Virtues, not only such Virtues as are calculated for a Time of Peace and Quiet; for these the Hypocrite can likewise seemingly put in Practice ; but the other more difficult Virtues, which are necessary to encounter Persecution, and all Hardships from the World, as well as some strong evil Habits, fixed in our corrupt Natures, or acquired by long Custom. When we thus add to our Faith, Virtue, and make a regular Progress, learning one
Virtue after another, and one Degree of Virtue after another, it is like making a strong Building of well polished Stones, and other well seasoned Materials, with all the Finishing and Ornaments of the best Artists, both comely to the Sight, and commodious for Habitation.
IV. The fourth Part of the Successfulness of the good Christian, in this his fpiritual Building, is in the Firmness and Durableness of it, in that it stood firm against all Shocks and Trials. Now this is not so to be understood, as if a good Christian were altogether impregnable against Sin in this World, or that Temptations never made any Impression upon him ; but only, that he is not totally overthrown by any Temptations, so as to become either an Apoftate to the Christian Faith, or totally overcome by vicious Practice; as a well built House may, by Stress of Weather, have some of its Tyles or Shingles blown off, which may be easily repaired afterwards, while the House itself stands; such Damages are not like the overthrowing the House itself, when it was built upon a bad Foundation. Now it is no hard Matter to apprehend the Reason of the different Effects of Persecutions, or other
great Temptations, upon the Religion of the Hypocrite ; for that all his Religion was built on a fight, fandy Foundation. Such, for Example, is the Principle of being always of that Religion, which is uppermost in the World, and has the most secular Honours and Wealth annexed to it. This being a slippery Foundation, which is only contrived for fair and Summer Weather, must naturally give Way to the great Storms of
Persecution and other Temptations, set forth here by the excessive Rains, Floods, and Winds assaulting that House. Some ingeniously conjecture, that by these three, the falling of the Rains, the coming of the Floods, or Freshes, and the blowing of the Winds, are meant the several Ways that Temptations prevail ; namely, by their Suddenness, their Impetuosity, and their Importunity ; by which three, the Devil easily oversets the weak Foundations and Night Buildings of fashionable Religions, outward Civility, imperfect Refolutions, and good, but feeble Defires, which are no more able to abide the Shock of such Batteries, than a flight Damın is able to resist a strong Fresh or Current.
V. The last part of the Successfulness of a good Christian is, that his Religion, like a well built House, answered the Ends of a lasting Habitation: It is not to serve a Turn in this World, as a great many take up a Profession, and perhaps drive on violently in it; but it is a Religion fitted for Eternity. And as a well contrived and well built House, after all the Trouble and Expence of building, yields a Man abundance of Ease, Conveniency, and Accommodation, and sweetly answers all the Designs of the Builder; so it is with this Building of Religion, whent it is solidly laid on good Principles, and an handfome Superstructure of all Christian Virtues built upon it ; and when it hath resisted the various Shocks of Temptation in this World, it will afford a lafting, and quiet Habitation to all Eternity
So much for the Successfulness of the Labours of a good Christian, as far as it is described in the Text, by comparing him to a wise Man, who built his House upon a Rock; and the Rain descended, and the Floods came, and the Winds blew, and beat upon that House ; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a Rock.
I find Time will not allow our considering the Description here given of a bad Christian, who is one that heareth Christ's Sayings, and doth them not, nor the Unsuccessfulness of his Labour; which I must therefore refer to another Opportunity. The proper
Use we are to make of what has been said, is, to consider seriously the Happiness of that Christian, who, to his Knowledge and Faith of Christ's Doctrine, adds fincere Obedience to his holy Laws. Let us lay the Foundation of our spiritual Building aright in our Faith in Christ, that is, in a serious Belief of his Doctrine; then, upon this Foundation let us superstruct all manner of Christian Virtue ; and whatever Defects we discover from Time to Time by the Prevalency of Temptations, let us continually repair them by Repentance'; and not only so, but let us always study to add new Ornaments of Christian Graces to our Building in Religion, and to keep those shining and bright which we have. For if our Foundation is ever so well laid, and Christian Virtues ever so well superstructed, as Houses that are not kept clean and sweet by constant Care and Diligence, will quickly grow noisome, like nasty Prisons; so it is with our best Buildings and Labours in Religion; if there is not a constant, daily Care to
purge out the Filth of Vice, and to brighten our Graces and Virtues, all Things will quickly run into great Disorder. And if the Devil can once lull us into this Drowsiness and Security, we shall quickly be in the Case of Solomon's Sluggard with his House. Eccl. x. 18. By much Slothfulness the Building decayeth, and through Idleness of the Hands the House droppeth through. To all other Properties then of a wise Builder, let us add this of a continual Diligence to keep every Thing in good Order and Repair, according to the Advice of the Apostle St. Peter, with which I shall conclude, 2 Pet. i. 5. Giving all Diligence, says he, add to your Faith, Virtue; and to Virtue, Knowa ledge ; and to Knowledge, Temperance; and to Temperance, Patience; and to Patience, Godliness; and to Godliness, Brotherly-kindness ; and to Brotherly-kindness
, Charity. For if these Things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren, nor unfruitful in the Knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
To him, with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, &c.