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things : it is indeed more frequently, abundantly, and explictly promised to God's ancient people, as an ingredient in the covenant made with him, and a recompense for an external performance of their law. The gospel does not so clearly propound it, nor so much insist on it, as it does not principally belong to the evangelical covenant; yet as the celestial blessings, though not openly tendered in the Jewish law, were mystically couched therein, and closely designed for the spiritual and hearty practisers of religion ; so is the collation of temporal accommodations to be understood as belonging to all pious Christians. There is a codicil, as it were, annexed to the New Testament, in which God signifies his intention to furnish his children with all that is needful and convenient for them : bis bounty does not fail us even here. This shown from various texts of Scripture. Thus is piety profitable as having the promises of this life; but infinitely more so is it as having the promises of the life to come, or as procuring a title to those incomparably more excellent blessings of the other world, that incorruptible, undefiled, and never fading inheritance, reserved for us in heaven: this topic enlarged on. Infinitely profitable then must that be which procureth those things for us; and in these respects great reason had St. Paul to say, that godliness is profitable for all things.
THE PROFITABLENESS OF GODLINESS.
I TIMOTHY, CHAP. IV.-VERSE 8.
But godliness is profitable for all things.
How generally men, with most unanimous consent, are devoted to profit, as to the immediate scope of their designs and aim of their doings, if with the slightest attention we view what is acted on this theatre of human affairs, we cannot but discern. All that we see men so very serious and industrious about, which we call business; that which they trudge for in the streets, which they work or wait for in the shops, which they meet and crowd for at the exchange, which they sue for in the hall, and solicit for at the court, which they plough and dig for, which they march and fight for in the field, which they travel for at land, and sail for (among rocks and storms) on the sea, which they plod for in the closet, and dispute for in the schools, (yea, may we not add, which they frequently pray for and preach for in the church ?) what is it but profit ?* Is it not this apparently, for which men so eagerly contest and quarrel, so bitterly envy and emulate, so fiercely clamor and inveigh, so cunningly supplant and undermine one another; which stuffeth their hearts with mutual hatred and spite, which tippeth their tongues with slander and reproach, which often embrueth their hands with blood and slaughter; for which they expose their lives and limbs to danger, for which they undergo grievous toils and drudgeries, for which they distract
Deû, 86 dBodù às péya dúvardov tartaxoû. Aristoph. Plut.
their mind with cares, and pierce their heart with sorrows; to which they sacrifice their present ease and content, yea, to which commonly they prostitute their honor and conscience ? This, if you mark it, is the great mistress, which is with so passionate rivality every where wooed and courted; this is the common mark which all eyes aim and all endeavors strike at; this the hire which men demand for all their pains, the prize they hope for all their combats, the harvest they seek from all the year's assiduous labor. This is the bait by which you may inveigle most men any whither; and the most certain sign by which you may prognosticate what any man will do : for mark where his profit is, there will he be. This some professedly and with open face, others slily and under thin veils of pretence, (under guise of friendship, of love to public good, of loyalty, of religious zeal ;) some directly and in a plain track, others obliquely and by subtile trains; some by sordid and base means, others in ways more cleanly and plausible; some gravely and modestly, others wildly and furiously; all (very few excepted) in one manner or another, do clearly in most of their proceedings level and drive at.*
This practice then being so general, and seeing that men are reasonable creatures, that it is so cannot surely proceed from mere brutishness or dotage; there must be some fair color or semblance of reason, which draweth men into, and carrieth them forward in this way. The reason indeed is obvious and evident enough; the very name of profit implieth it, signifying that which is useful or conducible to purposes really or seemingly good. The gain of money, or of somewhat equivalent thereto, is therefore specially termed profit, because it readily supplieth necessity, furnisheth convenience, feedeth pleasure, satisfieth fancy and curiosity, promoteth ease and liberty, supporteth honor and dignity, procuretli power, dependencies, and friendships, rendereth a man somebody considerable in the world; in fine, enableth to do good, or to perform works of beneficence and charity. Profit is therefore so much affected
* Prima fere vota, et cunctis notissima templis,
Divitiæ ut crescant, &c.-Juv. Sat. x. Omnes ad affectum atque appetitum utilitatis suæ naturæ ipsius magisterio atque impulsione ducuntur.–Salv. ad Eccl. Cath. 2.
and pursued, because it is, or doth seem, apt to procure or promote sonje good desirable to us.
If therefore a project should be proposed to us very feasible and probable to succeed, in pursuance whereof assuredly we might obtain great profit; methinks in consistence with ourselves, and conformably to our usual manner of acting, we sbould be very ready to embrace and execute it. Such a project it is which in my text, by a very trusty voucher and skilful judge of such things, and one who had himself fully experimented it, is proposed : which in itself is very practicable, so that any of us may, if we have a mind to it and will be at the pains, throughly compass and carry it on; which will exceedingly turn to account, and bring in gains upto us unspeakably vast; in comparison whereto all other designs which men with so much care and toil do pursue, are very unprofitable or detrimental, yielding but shadows of profit, or bringing real damage to us.
It is briefly this, to be religious or pious; that is, in our minds stedfastly to believe on God (such as nature in some measure, and revelation more clearly, declareth him,) in our hearts earnestly to love and reverence bim, through all our practice sincerely and diligently to observe his laws. This is it which St. Paul affirmeth to be profitable for all things,' and which it is my intent, by God's help, to recommend unto you as such ; demonstrating it really to be so, by representing some of those numberless benefits and advantages which accrue from it, extending to all conditions and capacities of men, to all states, all seasons, and in effect to all affairs of life.
It hath been ever a main obstruction to the practice of piety, that it hath been taken for no friend, or rather for an enemy to profit; as both unprofitable and prejudicial to its followers : and many semblances there are countenancing that opinion. For religion seemeth to smother or to slacken the industry and alacrity of men in following profit many ways: by charging them to be content with a little, and careful for nothing ; by diverting their affections and cares from worldly affairs to matters of another nature, place, and time, prescribing in the first place to seek things spiritual, heavenly, and future ; by disparaging all secular wealth, as a thing, in comparison to virtue and spiritual goods, very mean and inconsiderable; by check
ing greedy desires and aspiring thoughts after it; by debarring the most ready ways of getting it, (violence, exaction, fraud, and flattery,) yea, straitening the best ways, eager care and diligence; by commending strict justice in all cases, and always taking part with conscience when it clasheth with interest ; by paring away the largest uses of wealth, in the prohibition of its free enjoyment to pride or pleasure; by injoining liberal communication thereof in ways of charity and mercy; by engaging men to expose their goods sometimes to imminent hazard, sometimes to certain loss; obliging them to forsake all things, and to embrace poverty for its sake.
It favoreth this conceit to observe that often bad men by impious courses do appear to thrive and prosper ; wbile good
seem for their goodness to suffer, or to be nowise visibly better for it, enduring much hardship and distress.
It furthereth the prejudice that some persons void of true piety or imperfectly good, (some dabblers in religion,) do not from their lame, slight, and superficial performances, feel satisfactory returns, such as they did presume to find; and thence, to the defamation of piety, are apt to say with those men in the prophet, • It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts ?' Yea, that sometimes very pious men, being out of humor and somewhat discomposed by the urgent pressures of affliction, the disappointments and crosses incident to all men here in this region of trouble, are apt to complain and express themselves dissatisfied, saying with Job, • It profiteth a man nothing that he should delight himself with God. What advantage will it be unto me, and what profit shall I have if I be cleansed from my sin ?' or with David, • Verily I bave cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency: for all the day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning.'
To these considerations, disadvantageous in this respect to piety, may be added, that the constant and certain profits emergent from it (although incomparably more substantial, and to the mind more sensible than any other) are not yet so gross and palpable, that men, who from being immersed in earth and fesh are blind in error, dull of apprehension, vain and inconsi