תמונות בעמוד

gaging in any faction in religion ; because it is an hundred to one, but thy zeal will be so employed about leso fer things, that the main and subltantial parts of religion will be neglected. Besides that a man deeply engaged in heats and controversies of this nature, shall very hardly escape being poffeffed with that fpirit of uncharitableness and contention, of peevishness and fierceness, which reigns in all factions, but more especially in those of religion.

V. The due care of our souls consists in the even and constant practice of the several graces and virtues of a good life; or, as the Apostle expresseth it, in exercising ourselves always to have a conscience void of offence towards God and men.

For herein is religion best seen, in the equal and uniform practice of every part of our duty; not only in serving God devoutly, but in demeaning our felves peaceably and justly, kindly and charitably, towards all men; not only in restraining ourselves from the outward act of sin, but in mortifying the inward inclination to it, in subduing our lusts, and governing our pallions, and bridling our tongues. As he that would have a prudent care of his health and life, must not only guard hmfelf against the chief and common diseases which are incident to men, and take care to prevent them; but mult likewise be careful to preserve himself from those which are esteemed less dangerous, but yet sometimes do prove mortal: he must not only endeavour to secure his head and heart from being wounded, but must have a tender care of every part; there being hardly any disease or wound so flight, but that some have died of it: In like manner, the care of our souls consists in an universal regard to our duty, and that we be defective in no part of it. Though we ought to have a more especial regard to those duties which are more considerable, and wherein religion doth mainly consist; as, piety towards God, temperance and chastity in regard of ourselves, charity towards the poor, truth and justice, goodness and kindness towards all men : but then, no other grace and virtue, though of an inferior rank, ought to be neglected by us.

And thus I have endeavoured, as plainly and briefly



as I could, to declare to you in what instances the due care of religion and our souls doth chiefly confift.

And I would not have any man think, that all this is an easy business, and requires but little time to do it in ; and that a small degree of diligence and industry will. ferve for this purpose : to malter and root out the inveterate habits of fin, to bring our pasions under the command and government of our reason, and to attain to a good degree of every Christian grace and virtue; that faith, and hope, and charity, humility, and meekness, and patience, may all have their perfect work; and that, as St. James says, we may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing ; nothing that belongs to the perfection of a good man, and of a good Christian. And this, whenever we come to make the trial, we shall find to be a great and a long work.

Some indeed would make religion to be a very short and easy business, and to consist only in believing what Chrilt hath done for us, and relying confidently upon it: which is so far from being the true notion of Christian faith, that, if I be not much mistaken, it is the very

definition of presumption. For the Bible plainly teacheth us, that, unless our faith work by charity, and purify our hearts, and reform our lives ; unless, like Abraham's faith, it be perfected by works, it is but a dead faith, and will in no wise avail to our justification and falvation. And our blessed Saviour, the great author and finisher of our faith, hath no where, that I know of, said one word to this purpose, that faith separated from obedience and a good life will save any man: but he hath said very much to the contrary, and that very plainly. For he promiseth blessedness to none but those who live in the practice of those Christian graces and virtues which are particularly mentioned by him in the beginning of his excellent sermon


mount, Matth. v. 3. 4. &c. of humility, and repentance, and meekness, and righteousness, and mercifulness, and purity, and peaceableness, and patience under persecution and sufferings for righteoulness sake. And afterwards, in the same sermon, Matth. vii. 21. Not every one (faith he) that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven ; but he that doth the will of my Father which is in heaven. And again, Z 2


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24. Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doth them, I wili liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock. And afterwards he tells us, y 26. 27. that whosoever builds his hopes of eternal happiness upon any other foundation, than the faith of the gospel, and the practice of its precepts, doth build his house upon the fan?; which, when it comes to be tried by the rain and the winds, will fall; and the fall of it will be great. And elsewhere, John xiii. 17. If ye know these things, hetty are ye if ye do them. And he does very severely check the vain confidence and presumption of those who will needs rely upon him for falvation without keeping his commandments : Why call ye me, (says he), Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Luke vi. 46.

Does any man think that he can be saved without lo. ving God and Chrift? And this (saith St John) is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, 1 John v. 3; and again, i John ii. 4. He that saith, I know him, and by the fame reason, he that saith, I love him, and keepeth not his commandments, he is a liar, and the truth is not in him. John xiv. 15. If ye love me, (faith our blessed Lord), keep my commandments; and again, y 21. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that Joveth me.

Does any man think, that any but the children of God Mall be heirs of eternal life? Hear then what St. John faith, i John iii. 7. Little children, let no man deceive you : he that doih rightecufiess, is righteous, even as he is righteous; and again, v 10. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: he that doth not righteousness, is not of God.

In a word, this is the perpetual tenor of the Bible, from the beginning of it to the end : Gen. iv. 7. doft well, (faith God to Cain), shalt thou not be accepted? And again, If. iii. 10. 11. Say ye to the righteous, it shall be well with him : for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. Wo unto the wicked, it shall be ill with him : for the reward of his hands shall be given him. And in the gospel, when the young man came to our Saviour to be instructed by him, whai good thing he should do ihat he might inherit eternal life? our Lord gives him this short and plain advice, Matth. xix. 17. If thou wilt enter into

If thou life, keep the commandments. And, in the very last chapter of the Bible, we find this folemn declaration, Blefa sed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and enter in through the gates into the city; that is, into heaven, which the Apostle to the Hebrews calls the city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. So vain and groundless is the i, magination of those who trust to be saved by an idle and inefectual faith, without holiness and obedience of life.

I proceed now, in the Second place, to convince us all, if it may be, of the necessity of minding religion and our souls. When we call any thing necessary, we mean that it is so in order to some end, which cannot be attained without it. We call those things the necessaries of life, without which men cannot sublist, and live in a tolerable condition in this world : and that is necessary to our cternal happiness, without which it cannot be attained.

Now, happiness being our chief end, whatever is necessary to that is more necessary than any thing else ; and, in comparison of that, all other things not only may, but ought to be neglected by us.

Now, to convince men of the necessity of religion, I shall bricfly few, that it is a certain way to happiness ; that it is certain that there is no other way but this ; and that, if we neglect religion, we shall certainly be extremely and for ever miserable.

1. That religion is a certain way to happiness. And for this we have God's express declaration and promise; the best assurance that can be. He that cannot lie hath promised eternal life to them who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality. All the happiness that we can desire, and of which the nature of man is capable, is promised to us upon

the terms of religion ; upon our denying ungodliness, and worldly lufts, and living soberly, and righteously, and godly in this present world: A mighty reward for a little service; an eternity of happiness, of joys unspeakable and full of glory, for the diligence and industry of a few days; a happiness large as our wishes, and lasting as our souls.

2. It is certain also, that there is no other way to happiness but this. He who alone can make us happy, hath


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promised it to us upon these and no other terms. He hath faid, that if we live after the fiein, we shall die; but if by the Spirit we mortify the deeds of the flejh, we fhall live ; that without holiness no man shall see the Lord; and that he that lives in the habitual practice of any vice, of covetoufness, or adultery, or malice, or revenge, full not enter into the kingdoin of God. And we have reason to believe him concerning the terms of this happiness, and the means of attaining it, by whose favour and bounty alone we hope to be made partakers of it.

And if God had not faid it in his word, yet the nature and reason of the thing doth plainly declare it : for religion is not only a condition of our happiness, but a necessary qualificat on and disposition for it. We must be like to God in the temper of our minds, before we can find any felicity in the enjoyment of him. Men mutt be purged from their lusts, and from those ill-natured and devilish passions, of malice, and envy, and revenge, before they can be fit company for their heavenly Father, and meet to dwell with him who is love, and dwells in love.

3. If we neglect religion, we shall certainly be extreniely and for ever miserable. The word of truth hath said it, that indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, Jivall be upon every soul of man that doth evil. Nay, if God should hold his hand, and should inflict no positive torment upon sinners; yet they could not spare themselves, but would be their own executioners and tormentors. The guilt of that wicked life which they had led in this world, and the stings of their own consciences, muft necessarily make them miserable, whenever their own thoughts are let loose upon them; as they will certainly be in the other world, when they shall have nothing either of pleafure or business to divert them.

So that if we be concerned, either to be happy hereafter, or to avoid those miseries which are great and dreadful beyond all imagination, it will be neceffary for us to mind religion ; without which we can neither attain that happiness, nor escape those miseries.

All that now remains is, to persuade you and myself feriously to mind this one thing necessary. And to this end I shall apply my discourse to two farts of persons;


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