Page images
PDF
EPUB

ted to all the circumstances of meanness, to all the de-S ER M.

CCXII. grees of contempt, to all kind of hardship and sufferings, for the benefit and salvation of men, sweat drops of blood, and at last poured it all forth in full streams, to save us from eternal misery and ruin; and is any of us better than “the Son of God, the heir of all “things, and the elder brother of us all ?” Shall any of us, after this, think ourselves too good to be em-. ploy'd in that work which God himself disdained not to do, when he appeared in the likeness and natureof man?

If we would esteem things rightly, and according to reason, the true privilege and advantage of greatness is, to be able to do more good than others; and in this the majesty and felicity of God himself doth chiefly consist, in his ready and forward inclination, and in his infinite power and ability to do good.' The creation of the world was a great and glorious design ; but this God only calls his work; but to preserve and fupport the creatures which he hath made, to bless., them and do them good, to govern them by wise laws, . and to conduct them to that happiness which he defigned for them, this is his reít, his perpetual fabbath, his great delight and satisfaction to all eternity: to do good is our duty and our business, but it is likewise the greatest pleasure and recreation, that which tefresheth the heart of God and man. ; :

I have insisted the longer upon this, that those who are thought to be above any calling, and to have no obligation upon them, but to please themselves, may be made sensible, that according to their ability and opportunity, they have a great work upon their hands, and more business to co than other men: which if they would but seriously mind, they would not only please God, but, I dare say, satisfy and please themlelves much better than they do in any other course. I

E 2

know

SERM. know it is a duty particularly incumbent upon the CCXII. the lower part of mankind, to be diligent in their parti

cular calling, that so they may provide for themselves and their families; but this is not so proper for this place, and if it were, the necessity of human life will probably prompt and urge men more powerfully to this, than any argument and persuasion that I can use. I proceed therefore, in the

Second place, to offer fome considerations to excite our care and diligence in this great work, which God hath given us to do in this world, I mean chiefly the business of religion, in order to the eternal happiness and salvation of our souls. And to this purpose I shall offer five or six arguments, reserving the great motive and consideration in the text to the last, " Becaule " there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor “ wisdom in the grave, whither thou goest.”

I. Let us consider the nature of our work, which is such, as may both excite and encourage our diligence and care about it. It is indeed a service, but such as is our “ perfect freedom ;" it is the service of God, whom to serve is the greatest honour that man or any oiher creature is capable of; it is obedience, but even obedience, considering our ignorance and frailty, is much wiser and safer for us, than a total exemption from all law and rule ; for the laws which God hath given us, are not imposed upon us merely for his will and pleasure, but chiefly for our benefit and advantage. So that to obey and please God, is in truth nothing else but to do those things which are really best for ourselves.

Besides that this work of religion will abundantly recompense all the labour and pains it can cost, if we consider the fruit and end of it, which is the “ falva“ tion of our souls ;" so St. Paul assures us, Rom. vi.

22. 22. that if we have “ our fruit unto holiness, our end SERM: “ shall be everlasting life.” Nay, this work dothu not want it's present encouragement and reward, if we consider the peace and pleasure which attends it; “ Great peace,” faith David, “ have they which love " thy law, and nothing shall offend them.” Religion doth not design to rob men of the true delights of life, of any lawful pleasure and enjoyment, it only appoints them their due place, and season, and measure, without which they cannot be truly taftful and pleasant : If we make pleasure and recreation our bu. siness, it will become a burden, and leave a fting behind it; but if we make it our great business to be good, and to do good, we shall chen take true pleafure in our recreations and refreshinents, we shall ss eat our bread with joy, and drink our wine with a « merry heart," as Solomon expresseth it, a little before the text. Religion doth not ordinarily debar men of any contentinent, which they can wisely and safely take, in any of the enjoyments of this life, but directs us to do those things which will yield the truest and most refined pleasure, and so governs us in the use and enjoyment of worldly comforts, that there shall be no bitterness in them, or after them; and in truch, after all our search and enquiry after pleasure and happiness, we shall find that there is no folid and lasting pleasure, but in living righteously and religiously; and the pleasure of this is so great, that a heathen philosopher, speaking of a virtuous life according to the true precepts of philosophy, breaks out into this rapture and transport concerning the wonderful pleasure of it, Vel unus dies vere & ex præceptis tuis allus peccandi immortalitati eft anteferendus, “even one “ day truly spent according to thy precepts, is ro be se valued above an immortality of sinring,". There sin.

[blocks in formation]

is.

SER M. is no life so pleasant as that of the pious and good man,
CCXII.

-- who being contented with himself, every thing about

him contributes to his chearfulness, Gratior it dies,
& foles melius nitent, “ the day passeth more plea-
“ fantly, and the sun shines brighter to him ;” and
every object which he beholds is more delightful, be-
cause the man is at peace and ease within himself.
: II. Let us consider how great our work is, and then
we shall easily be convinced what care it requires, what
diligence it calls for from us. Very few persons, I
doubt, are sufficiently sensible, how much thought and
consideration, how much care and vigilancy, how
firm a resolution and earnest contention of mind is ne-
cessary to the business of religion, to the due cultivat-
ing and improving of our minds, to the mortifying
and subduing of our lusts, to the mastering and go-
verning of our passions, to the reforming of our tem-
pers, to the correcting of all the irregularities of our
appetites and affections, and to the reducing of our
crooked wills, which have been long obstinately bent
the wrong way, to the streightness of that rule which
God hath given us to walk by.

Few, I fear, consider how much pains is necessary
to the storing of our minds with good principles, and
to the fixing and riveting in our souls all the proper
motives and considerations to engage us to virtue, that
in all the occasions of our lives they may have their
due force and influence upon us. Few of us take pains
to understand the just bounds and limits of our duty,
and so to attend thereto, as to be always upon our
guard against the infinite temptations of human life,
and the many malicious enemies of our souls, that we
may not be circumvented by the wiles of the devil,
nor caught in those inares which he lays before us in
our ways, that we may not be wrought upon by the

infinuations

[ocr errors]

infinuations, nor over-reached by the deceitfulness of'S E R M.

CCXII. How few consider what care and watchfulness of ourselves, what constancy and fervency of prayer to God is necessary to the due discharge of every part of our duty; or to the right exercise of every grace and virtue! besides an earnest imploring of the divine assistance, there is required likewise a particular care and application of mind, that we may fail in no point; and that, as St. James expresseth it, “ we may be en" tire, wanting nothing ;” that our faith and our hope, our devotion and our charity, our humility and our patience, and every other grace may be exercised in the best manner, and “ have it's proper work.”

III. Consider, what incredible pains men will take, what diligence they will use for bad purposes, and for ends infinitely less considerable, ut jugulent homines, surgunt de noéte latrones, ut teipfum ferves, non expergifcere, “ thieves will rise and travel by night to rob '“ and kill, and shall we use no care, no vigilance to “ fave ourselves ?” What drudges and Naves are many men to their sensual pleasures and lusts ? How hot and fierce upon revenge? And what hazards will they run to satisfy this unreasonable and devilish pasion; and thereby to make way for a speedy and bitter repentance, which always treads upon the heels of revenge ? For no sooner hath any man executed his rage upon another, but his conscience presently turns it upon himself.

How industrious do we see men at their recreations and sports, taking really more pains for the sake of pleasure, than the poor man does that works for his living?

What a violent thrist, and insatiable covetousness poffefleth some men after learning and knowledge ?

hovy

vel

V man exe

E 4

« EelmineJätka »