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“ glory of God.” We having all from God, our S E R M. very being, our souls and bodies, and the powers, and faculties of both, and therefore we should give him the glory of his own gifts ; our souls and bodies were not only made by him at firft, but are likewise redeemed by him, and “ bought with a price,” and therefore, as the apostle argues, “ we should glorify “ him in our bodies, and in our souls, which are his.”
IV. and lastly, we should in all our actions have a particular regard to the honour and advantage of religion, the edification of our brethren, and the peace and unity of the church, because in these things we do in a peculiar manner glorify God. In vain do men pretend to seek the glory of God by faction and division, which do in their own nature so immediately tend to the dishonour and damage of religion. Next to the wicked lives of men, nothing is so great a disparagement and weakning to religion, as the divisions of Christians; and therefore instead of employing our zeal about differences, we should be zealous for peace and unity, “ that with one mind, " and one mouth, we may glorify God, even the “ Father of our Lord Jesus Christ".
SERMON. CCXI. Doing good, a fecurity against injuries
I PET. iii. 13.
of that which is good?
SER M. blameable conversation, that the heathen might have CCXI. nooccasion, from the ill lives of Christians, to reproach
christianity; particularly he cautions them against that abuse of christian liberty, which, it seems, too many were guilty of, casting off obedience to their fuperiors under that prètence; telling them, that nothing could be a greater scandal to their religion, nor raise a more just prejudice in the minds of men against it: and therefore he strictly chargeth them with the duty of obedience in their several relations; as of subjects to their governors, of servants to their masters, of wives to their husbands; and in short, to practise all those virtues, both among themselves and towards others, which are apt to reconcile and gain the affections of men to them; to be charitable and compasfionate, courteous and peaceable one towards another, and towards all men; not only to abstain from injuty and provocation, but from revenge by word of deed; and instead thereof, to bless and do good, and by all possible means to preserve and pursue peace. Ver. 8.9. “ Finally, be ye all of one mind, having
compassion one of another ; love as brethren, be pi“ tiful, be courteous, not rendring evil for evil, or “ railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing; know“ ing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should in“ herit a blessing.”
And to encourage them to the practice of these virtues, he tells them, that they could by no other means more effectually consult the safety and comfort of their lives, ver. 10. “ For he that will love life, and see good “ days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his
lips that they speak no guile ; let him eschew evil, “ and do good; let him seek peace and ensue it. "
And this was the way to gain the favour of God, and to engage his providence for our protection, ver.
prayers : but
12. “ For the eyes of the Lord are over the righte-S ERM,
CCXI. ous, and his ears are open unto their “ the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.”
And that this would also be the best way to reconcile men to us, and to gain their good-will, and to prevent injuries and affronts from them, ver. 13. “And who is he that will harm you ?” &c.
In thefe words we have, first, a qualification fupposed, “ If ye be followers of that which is good.”
Secondly, the benefit and advantage we may reafonably expect from it, viz. security from the ill ufage and injuries of men. “Who is he that will harm you?”
First, the qualification supposed is, that we be “fol* lowers of that which is good.” But what is that? The apostle takes it for granted, that every body knows it, and he had given instances of it before. He does not go about to define or explain it, but appeals to every man's mind and conscience, to tell him what it is. It is not any thing that is disputed and controverted, which some men call good, and others evil; but that which all are agreed in, and which is universally approved and commended by heathens as well as Christians; that which is fubftantially good, and that which is unquestionably so. It is not zeal for lesser things, about the ritual and ceremonial part of seligion, and a great strictness about the external parts of it, and much nicety and scrupulousness about things of no moment, as the Pharisees “ tything of inint," &c. about meats and drinks,” and “ the observa“ tion of days,” and the like; but a pursuit of "the
weightier things of the law,” a care of the great duties of religion,“ mercy, and justice, and fidelity," those things “ wherein the kingdom of God confifts, “righteousness and peace.” Such as these the apofle had initanced in, as substantial and unquestionable
«« Be ye
SERM.parts of goodness, things which admit of no dispute, CCXI.
but do approve themselves to the reason and conscience of all mankind; and the practice of these he calls
following of that which is good *.”
followers of that which is good :" the word is peepenilai, “If ye imitate the good you see in others;” in one copy the word is Swai, “ If ye be zealous “ of that which is good.” And this is not amiss. Zeal about lesser and disputable things is very unsuitable and misbecoming : but we cannot be to earnest and zealous in the pursuit of things which are substantially and unquestionably good, it is good, and will become us to be zealously affected about such things. Some things will not bear much zeal, and the more earnest we are about them, the less we recommend ourselves to the approbation of sober and considerate nien. Great zeal about little and doubtful things, is an argument of a weak mind, infatuated by superstition, or over-heated by enthusiasın : but nothing more becomes a wise man, than the serious and earnest pursuit of those things which are agreed on all hands to be good, and have an universal approbation among all parties and professions of men, how wide soever their differences may be in other matters. This for the qualification supposed, “ If ye be followers “ of that which is good.” I proceed to the
Second thing in the text, the benefit and advantage which may be reasonably expected from it, and that is, security from the ill usage and injuries of men. “Who is he that will harm you ?" &c. The apostle doth not absolutely fay, none will do it; but he speaks of it as a thing fo very unreasonable, and upon all accounts fo unlikely and improbable, that we may reasonably presume, that it will not ordinarily and of
See more of this, vol. VI. se:m. CII. p. 314.
tën happen. Not but that good men are liable to be SERM.
CCXI. affronted and persecuted, and no man's virtues, how bright and unblemished soever, will at all times, and in all cases, exempt him from all manner of injury and ill treatment: but the “ following of that which is “good” (as I have explain’d it) doth in it's own nature tend to secure us from the malice and mischief of men, and very frequently does it, and, all things consider'd, is a much more effectual means to this end, than any other course we can take; and this the apostle means when he says, “Who is he that will harm you?” &c.
And this will appear, whether we consider the nature of virtue and goodness; or the nature of man, éven when it is very much depraved and corrupted ; or the providence of God.
I. If we consider the nature of virtue and goodness, which is apt to gain upon the affections of men, and secretly to win their love and esteem. True goodness is inwardly esteemed by bad men, and many times had in very great esteem and admiration, even by those who are very far from the practice of it; it carries an awe and majesty with it; fo that bad men are very often with-held and restrained from harming the good, by that fecret and inward reverence which they bear to goodness.
There are several virtues, which are apt in their own nature to prevent injuries and affronts from others. Humility takes away all occasion of insolence from the proud and haughty; it baffles pride, and puts it out of countenance. Meekness pacifies wrath, and blunts the edge of injury and violence. Suffering evil for good is apt to allay and extinguish enmity, to subdue the roughest difpofitions, and to conquer even malice itself. And there are other virtues, which are apt in their own nature to oblige men, and gain their gocdVOL. XI.